247
Chapter 10
First-Person Shooters
A
-  (FPS)  a kind of videogame that is
distinguished by a 3D character’s eye view of the world and fast-
paced, oen violent, gameplay that requires players to react rapidly and
acquire physical skills. “First person” refers to the camera position—as
opposed to the third-person view of the main character used in most
graphical adventures and computer role-playing games (CRPGs)—and
shooter” to the player’s most common action. Later examples of the type
have added a variety of other elements to the gameplay, including puzzle
solution, exploration, and an increasing focus on (usually linear) narrative,
but physical combat is still the core of the form’s appeal. e speed and
immediacy of the FPS make it perhaps the type of videogame most analo-
gous to lm, though it is clearly more closely related to the violent action
of e Terminator (1984) than to the pensive montages of La Jee (1963).
First-person perspective games based on combat evolved early in the
history of videogames. e rst example may have been Maze War (1973;
also known as Maze) designed by Steve Colley, Greg ompson, and
Howard Palmer, a game created at a Californian NASA center, which
allowed several players to enter a 3D maze drawn using simple lines and
shoot at each other. Isolated examples of similar gameplay appeared over
the next two decades in such works as the tank-combat-based Battlezone
(1980 Atari) designed by Ed Rotberg, Voyager I (1981 Avalon Hill)
designed by William Volk—in which the player must destroy a ship full
of berserker robots—the UK-developed games 3D Monster Maze (1981 J.
K. Greye Soware) designed by Malcolm Evans and Driller (1987 Major
Developments; also known as Space Station Oblivion in the United States),
248 Science Fiction Video Games
and Ultima Underworld: e Stygian Abyss (1992 Blue Sky Productions)
designed by Paul Neurath, a CRPG with a fantasy setting that focuses on
real-time combat in 3D perspective. e FPS form, however, is gener-
ally regarded as having begun with the American game Wolfenstein 3D
(1992 id Soware [id]) designed by John Carmack and John Romero, in
which the player must ght their way through various covert missions in
a not especially serious version of World War II, including slaughtering
an army of mutant zombies and assassinating Adolf Hitler (who is wear-
ing a suit of mechanical armor). is game has a uidity and immediacy
lacking in its predecessors, partly as a result of technical improvements
that allowed it to use more realistic, rapidly updating visuals; the result-
ing sense of intensity has come to dene the form.
Wolfenstein 3D was followed by Doom (1993 id) designed by John
Romero, John Carmack, Tom Hall, and Sandy Petersen, which made
the form famous, and then by a wave of similar games including Quake
(1996 id) designed by John Carmack, American McGee, Sandy Peterson,
John Romero, and Tim Willits; Unreal (1998 Epic Games) designed by
Cli Bleszinski and James Schmalz; and the broadly parodic and mildly
pornographic Duke Nukem 3D (1996 3D Realms) designed by George
Broussard and Todd Replogle. e UK-developed Aliens Versus Predator
(1999 Rebellion) took something of a dierent approach, concentrating
on evoking a sense of vulnerability more than on carefree mayhem. e
Marathon Trilogy (from 1994 Bungie Studios [BS]) and System Shock (1994
Looking Glass [LG]) designed by Doug Church added linear stories, an
element almost entirely absent from Doom, though this innovation did
not attract much attention at the time. Meanwhile, two concepts popu-
larized by Doom and its successors had a major eect on videogames in
general: competitive (and later cooperative) games between several play-
ers in temporary online worlds and the creation and free distribution
of new content by the game’s players as well as by its developers. Almost
all early FPSs were science ction (sf); a rare exception is the sword and
sorcery Heretic (1994 Raven Soware; 1995 revised as Heretic: Shadow of
the Serpent Riders) designed by Brian Rael.
In the late 1990s, developers devoted considerable eort to expanding
the boundaries of FPS design. Half-Life (1998 Valve) added a credible and
well-integrated linear story, created by the sf writer Marc Laidlaw. e ste-
ampunk and sorcery game ief: e Dark Project (1998 LG; 1999 revised
as ief Gold) designed by Greg LoPiccolo, Doug Church, and KenLevine
introduced gameplay that depended more on stealth and subtle trickery

Get Science Fiction Video Games now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.