Before Halo and Call of Duty, there was Wolfenstein 3D. It practically invented the first-person shooter genre back in 1992 and today it’s celebrating its 20th birthday with a free in-browser version of the game.
The fact that a wildly popular PC game that was advanced in the early ’90s is now easily playable in a web browser should give an idea of how far we’ve come when it comes to video games. Still, shooting your way through the Nazi-filled halls of Castle Wolfenstein remains pretty fun.
Bethesda has also released “director’s commentary” on the game from id Software co-founder John Carmack. He points out that id Software actually made some rudimentary 3D-like games before Wolfenstein, including Hovertank and Catacomb 3-D.
Then Wolfenstein 3D — based on an Apple II game from 1981 called Castle Wolfenstein — introduced enemies that could be seen from eight different angles, which added a three-dimensional aspect missing from previous games where you were basically attacked by menacing cardboard cutouts.
Fun fact: The maps in the game were so simple, they were occasionally designed in a single day. Also, Carmack considered letting people drag dead bodies around for stealth purposes, but later decided just blasting people was much more fun. Luckily for us, that principle still holds true for many games today.