Project: First Person Shooter History

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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-17 @ 22:27

Game 3 Complete!

Doom

The third "arrow key shooter", I was interesting to see how the extra two years since W3D would allow the gameplay, graphics and sound to develop. I'm definitely ready for mouse look now though!

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Getting it running
This was the first game that came with a setup executable, which I like as I can be sure the game will be running at the maximum "settings" my system can do. Unfortunately I had sound issues with my AWE32... Soundblaster FM synthesis music it is then! Otherwise, I didn't have any issues getting it to run in MS-DOS mode in Windows 98, just run doom.exe and I was good to go.

Gameplay

The gameplay is very similar to the other arrow key shooters, although sprint was mapped by default to both left and right shift, so I could both turn and sprint (left shift) and shoot and sprint (right shift) - yay for sensible game ergonomics! Rotation speed is still too slow - there were several occasions where a dude would spawn behind me and I'd take multiple hits, or about 100 health before Doom Guy had turned his fat ass around.

Whilst there is no minimap, Doom does benefit from a full-screen map (activated by pressing tab) that uncovers as you explore. There are pick ups, I assume in every level, that turns on the whole map so you can see where you haven't explored. The map is very useful, particularly as you can still move around whilst in map view, which feels a bit like driving a car through an obstacle course in a top down view. I found myself doing this a lot later on in levels when most of the enemies have been cleared when busy backtracking.

The levels have been improved significantly through the development of two technologies - vertical change and angled surfaces. This creates the potential for much more enjoyable (and less mazey) levels. This is the first game where the levels can give off the impression I am running around an actual "place" rather than a game level / maze. However, whilst the technology appeared to be there to create a place rather than level, the level design itself is still very mazey and gamey, like a designer has created a hamster obstacle course with demons, not a place that has a function whilst still being fun to play (like half life). In particular there is a lot of symmetry, like cruise ship central stairs which I feel doesn't make the most of the technology, and I found myself running up a set of stairs and having to turn left and then right and seeing that they actually met up in a loop.

The game still uses keys to lock and unlock certain parts of the levels and I was still backtracking (sometimes four times) to unlock, lock, teleport, etc to get to the exit door, but the map at least means you are rarely lost. I am definitely getting bored of keycards now.

Shooting remains enjoyable in Doom, in particular the shotgun (which is pretty much your default gun after a couple of levels), which has a nice thump to it, and the plasma rifle, which fires very rapidly; demons make an "owwy" sound for every hit so you can feel the damage with the plasma rifle :D Doom is my favourite arrow shooter so far for pure gameplay.

I complete the game in about 6 hours on medium difficulty, although that included dying a million times. Thankfully quicksave and quickload had my back. I liked how the boss from episode one ends up a regular baddy in later episodes which makes me appreciate how the stakes have been raised (still a ******* though).

Graphics and Performance
From a technical standpoint this is huge leap over W3D, with the verticality, non 90 degree angled walls, much higher quality sprites and less weird perspective and texture shimmer. Outside environments really show off the engine, and there is even some form of lighting engine. I see walls light up when I fire my pistol and flickery lights are deliberately, and effectively, used to make quite a scary atmosphere in places (disclaimer - I am a wimp).

It continued to play nice with much more modern hardware and gameplay is not tied to the framerate. I'm tempted to see how it runs on my 386SX 4MB RAM PC which will probably be unplayable.

Sound

Doom is the first game in my list that supports AWE music, so I was keep to try it out. However, this would just give a very loud, high pitched whine when loading up the game (that continued when the game was closed). I ended up using standard Soundblaster music, which to be fair is much better than the simple loops in W3D. One tune in particular really adds to the atmosphere. Soundeffects continue to the basic but effective; the weapon sounds in particular are thumpy and visceral.

Was it fun?
Yes, but 3 episodes is definitely enough (although that could just be retro shooter fatigue!)

Should you play it?
Yes, it makes a much better starting point than W3D for actually having fun in a retro shooter.

Screenshots
These really show off the huge leap in technology from Wolfenstein 3D!

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No video this time, I was too busy dying.
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby xjas » 2019-1-21 @ 06:31

Almoststew1990 wrote:Image

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These are mesmerizing, almost seamless... Nice job on them.

I'm impressed with how quickly you're beating & reviewing these BTW. I don't think I ever even beat the original Doom episodes. Great write-ups!

You're just about to hit my two very favorites of all the o.g. FPSes (ROTT & Descent), so looking forward to what you make of 'em. I still play both to this day. :)
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-21 @ 20:00

Game 4 - as "complete" as it's going to get

Rise of the Triad
This game promised to inject a bit of humour and liveliness into quite a grim and brown shooter genre and is known for its lightness of tone, jump pads and dog! Unfortunately I just couldn't get along with it.

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Getting it running
Many aspects of the game can be configured via setup.exe, and sound via sndsetup.exe (or something). I had no issues getting it up and running.

Gameplay
This was the first game I could use WASD and the mouse comfortably. I mean, I'm using a rollerball dell mouse that I suspect has flatspots on it, so it really doesn't roll very well (especially in a fast paced game like this!) but it made a welcome change from using tank controls on the arrow keys.

This game has a noticable shift in tone to a lighthearted almost arena shooter from the late 1990s. It has jump pads, pick ups for things like elastic, god, flying and doggie modes. You have an absolutely ludicrous sprint speed (which comes in handy when you're lost) and it does have an enjoyable tone after shooting serious demons in serious hell, or nazis.

In practical terms this means that the game is very vertical - sprint pads will catapult you to a second height level where keys will be located (yes still keys going on). Dudes with MP40s will step on them and shoot you from the air, you can Drunk Missile several dudes at once with a 360 shot and it can be quite fun.

However, I just couldn't get on with it. The levels are murderously complicated with progression to the level exit hidden behind the most obscure hidden panel activated by a switch on the otherside of the map, hidden behind a pillar you need to push out the way, that you don't know is pushable because 99.9% of pillars are not pushable. Some hidden areas are locked, you can't just push/ click on it, you need to activate a trip switch on the floor (or normal switch elsewhere) that is naturally hidden itself. I struggled to complete levels even following youtube videos on it. As someone who's enjoyment was wearing a bit thin with this kind of shooter, the nasty level design really killed any fun I was having with the shooting and jumping gameplay. Either I'm a thickybobo or this really is not fun level design, even for the era.

It's based on a Wolfenstein 3D engine (and was going to be sequel to W3D at one point but that didn't happen), and retains the cube 90 degree angle walls. It's a huge step back from Doom and the difficult maps are made much worse by this.

In the end, I gave up after completing the first episode. It's too much of a step back from Doom.

I complete the first episode in about 3 hours on medium difficulty, with not many deaths but backtracking four or more times trying to find where to go next.

Graphics and Performance
Whilst the gameplay received a big upgrade from W3D, unfortunately the graphics were a let down, being back in a Minecraft world. Yes, lighting has been improved and the first person perspective much better than the trippy W3D style, but the worlds felt incredibly hamster maze like, compared to Doom's (albeit very gamey) actual world.

Still no performance issues; gameplay is not tied to the framerate.

Sound

AWE32 sound worked perfectly on this with instrumental music rather than just FM synthesis, which did make a nice change. Unfortunately, the music just isn't very good, being very fast paced, high-pitched almost cartoony music. I grew tired of it very quickly of its 2 minute loop after spending 30 minutes or in each level!

Was it fun?
No

Should you play it?
No - play Doom for a early FPS, play Quake III if you want an arena style shooter that doesn't make you want to gouge your eyes (and ears) out.

Screenshots

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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby amadeus777999 » 2019-1-23 @ 12:10

Great work!

Doom does still look amazing - any chance for a DoomII review?
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-23 @ 20:25

I've sort of gone past 1994 now so probably not! I'm also getting a bit worn down on these sorts of FPS games. I might come back to it if in the early 2000s I'm longing for some fast shooty action ;)
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-23 @ 20:28

Game 5 Complete (Shareware)

Heretic

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With RoTT being a let down, I jumped into Heretic feeling a bit burned out on this whole project, thinking I could smash out the shareware version I have in an hour or two to power through to where things get interesting - Descent, Duke Nukem 3D and Quake. Whilst I certainly did do just that, I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would!

Getting it running
Another Setup executable that lets you configure stuff before launching the game, another game running without issues. I really was expecting more problems getting these DOS games running.

Gameplay
Based off the Doom engine, I was back to arrow key tank controls, but they're second nature to me now!

Heretic feels like a halfway house in tone between very miserable Doom and OTT ROTT. It's not got the miserable music and satanic imagery but is still grounded (literally) with fun pickups like flying mode and "upgrade all my weapons for a minute" mode. The slower pace was welcome.

I was glad to be back in the Doom Engine and out of RoTT's upgraded Wolf3D engine. Varying corner angles and verticality are back! Whilst I felt Doom did not make the most of this engine to create levels that feel like places (if that was even a design consideration at the time at all!), Heretic definitely does try to create an actual environment and not a game level. Buildings, harbours, paths, stairways all actually create a believable world rather than just a game level that looks a bit like a very square dungeon.

This was reflected in the level design being not very mazey at all, and actually being nearly intuitive to navigate! Just finding my way around was not a pain and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

I can't stress how much the level design helped me enjoy the game from navigating to creating a world I am fighting through.

There are a range of magic-y weapons which effectively reflect pistol / shotgun / automatic gun, just as Doom had these style of weapons. This is the first game where ammo was a little hard to find and let to some tense fights against otherwise easy enemies, which did add positively to experience, knowing I couldn't use my laserdeathray3000 to get myself out of this corner. The enemies too are varied with giant bat things being the cannon fodder (who get an upgrade to 'pistol' making them more of a threat in groups), to melee focussed grunts who can take a lot of damage but walk slowly, to green elite soldier things that shoot green magic doing a fair bit of damage, and flying mages who can do a lot of damage.

I completed the shareware, with a grin on my face, in about 90 minutes.

Graphics and Performance
Graphics are an improvement over Doom, partially due to lighting and water usage and partially down to the way the engine has been used to create the levels. A few more colours have been used to create a more vibrant world.

Still no performance issues; gameplay is not tied to the framerate.

Sound
Just as with Doom, AWE32 sound didn't work so I went back to soundblaster / Adlib compatible FM synthesis. The music was largely forgettable apart from a couple of tunes later on (particularly in the Cathedral level). As with Doom (and RoTT) sound effects are functional but forgettable.

Was it fun?
Yes

Should you play it?
Yes, as a good twist on the Doom experience.

Screenshots
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby xjas » 2019-1-23 @ 22:18

Almoststew1990 wrote:Rise of the Triad

[...]

However, I just couldn't get on with it. The levels are murderously complicated with progression to the level exit hidden behind the most obscure hidden panel activated by a switch on the otherside of the map, hidden behind a pillar you need to push out the way, that you don't know is pushable because 99.9% of pillars are not pushable. Some hidden areas are locked, you can't just push/ click on it, you need to activate a trip switch on the floor (or normal switch elsewhere) that is naturally hidden itself. I struggled to complete levels even following youtube videos on it. As someone who's enjoyment was wearing a bit thin with this kind of shooter, the nasty level design really killed any fun I was having with the shooting and jumping gameplay. Either I'm a thickybobo or this really is not fun level design, even for the era.

It's based on a Wolfenstein 3D engine (and was going to be sequel to W3D at one point but that didn't happen), and retains the cube 90 degree angle walls. It's a huge step back from Doom and the difficult maps are made much worse by this.

[...]

AWE32 sound worked perfectly on this with instrumental music rather than just FM synthesis, which did make a nice change. Unfortunately, the music just isn't very good, being very fast paced, high-pitched almost cartoony music. I grew tired of it very quickly of its 2 minute loop after spending 30 minutes or in each level!


Wow, I'm gonna have to vehemently disagree with you on this. I love ROTT - it has a lot of flaws & I can see where the level design would piss you off (playing on easier difficulties makes the touchplates and pushwalls way more visible BTW), and episode 4 really kind of sucks, but it really tried to push the genre in its own direction before everything got formulaic & copycat-ridden. I don't mind the Wolf3D style engine and enjoy the tricks they used to push it beyond its limits (they managed "room over room" a good couple years before Build came along...) but what makes it stand out for me is the impression the developers took a dud sequel project and made it into the game they wanted by throwing every goofy idea they had in, regardless of whether it was "safe" to do so.

I'd take ROTT any day over Duke3D even though the latter "technically" a far better & well regarded game. ROTT's multiplayer modes & maps are bat-shit nuts and an absolute riot over LAN with a bunch of friends BTW. Granted it's pretty hard to get a game going today...

Guess we're gonna agree to disagree on the gameplay. However, saying the music is bad is fighting words. :P ROTT has one of my favorite GM soundtracks of all time. 90% of Lee Jackson's tracks are genius and really shine with a good sound module. Bobby Prince's songs aren't as in-your-face memorable (except Work Day) but fill in the game well for a bit of variety. (Bobby Prince did great work with Doom's hair metal score but he was really working to a formula.)
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-23 @ 22:51

I can see it being quite fun as an multiplayer arena shooter as the core shooting people is quite fun with the jump pads and crazy weapons, but only when you know the maps inside out. As a level based single player shooter with spawling mazey levels, well as I said, I just couldn't get on with it.

The music you linked sounds nice when calmly sat browsing the net, but hearing that sort of thing for half an hour whilst trying to find the frickin' key still gets annoying! Compared to something like this (which I tried to hyperlink to in my Doom review but missed it) https://youtu.be/SlCQApL4g38?t=1560 is more my style.

I think once I've done Decent and Duke 3D I'm out OPL/AWE/GM music (which my AWE32 can't seem to do) and onto CD and wave sound, which is a bit sad :(
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby xjas » 2019-1-23 @ 23:00

^^ Fair enough! I've played ROTT so long I expect most of the tricks it likes to throw at you. I can think of a couple Descent maps that are grindy key-hunts too, but I like the exploration aspect so that never bothered me much.

Dunno if you know this already, but the AWE32 hardware synth needs a TSR to function as a GM module. It's not "hooked up" to the MPU-401 by default, so you need to map it there using AWEUTIL. Descent at least has built-in AWE support, don't remember for Duke3D.
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-23 @ 23:26

Yes Descent is currently a massive grind as it is literally set in mines, yay :D I've done the first episode so far and I am beginning to lose interest especially as the difficulty has ramped up (or my patience has ramped down!). The AWE32 mode at least sounds fantastic in Descent, but whilst supported, sounds terrible in Duke 3D (you may have seen LGRs "building a 486 PC" and a later one where he changed his AWE to a SB Pro 2.0; he had a CT3900 and mine is a CT3910, and they sound the same in Duke3D).

I gave the aweutil a quick go (it only coming up with FM reverb, which seems to be set to max, and "TSR enabled"), still no GM though. Ah well, I can hear GM any time really, I'm more interested in hearing AWE32 specifically.

As an aside I used Descent's built in screenshot utility and took some ant sized screenshots :p

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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby amadeus777999 » 2019-1-24 @ 14:34

Almoststew1990 wrote:I've sort of gone past 1994 now so probably not! I'm also getting a bit worn down on these sorts of FPS games. I might come back to it if in the early 2000s I'm longing for some fast shooty action ;)


Come on, Doom II is in dire need of a high quality review...

Whining aside,
I have to do some serious reading before commenting further but what I could glimpse from Rott overlaps with my impression. I strongly disliked it back then.
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Tertz » 2019-1-26 @ 03:37

- Catacomb Abyss
- Doom
+ Doom 2
- Rise of the Triad
- Heretic
- Descent
+ Terminator: Future Shock
- Outlaws
+ Redneck Rampage [or Blood]
- Quake II
- SiN (demo only for the moment)
- Quake III (Demo only)
- No One Lives Forever 2

"-" for what is secondary or not deserves the primary attention (mb played later). subjectively
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby rasz_pl » 2019-1-26 @ 10:28

Almoststew1990 wrote:Game 4
This was the first game I could use WASD and the mouse comfortably


thats because you skipped:

NJRoadfan wrote:Its not quite a FPS in the strictest sense, but Ultima Underworld beat Wolf 3D to the market and had a much more sophisticated game engine to it. Many of the developers went one to create famous FPS franchises.


Ultima Underworld left a huge legacy. It was the first fully 3D (doom still 2.5D, cant make slopes, cant look up etc) textured FPS game, and introduce AWSD+mouse controls while being released _before_ Wolf3D! Bindings are not quite the way we use them now, but pretty close ;).
I read rumors John Carmack saw Ultima Underworld, was very impressed by graphical capabilities, but not the performance :) and decided to do a better one (doom). Still no slopes in Doom, no arbitrary geometry, no looking up/down, and no flying ;P
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-28 @ 07:46

Game 6, er, complete....

Descent
Image

I was quite looking forward to Descent; I let it sneak onto the list as something a little different after all the first person shooters I've had to play in this history of first person shooters - crazy, I know. Unfortunately this is another one that I couldn't gel with and I didn't finish.

Getting it running
This is the first game I had issues getting running - the framerate is tied to the CPU speed. I was going to mess around with cache settings but then I thought I'd try "Descent+" which I also have in my DOS games collection. For whatever reason, this version of the game was not tied to framerate, but runs at 60/75fps, which is probably still slightly too fast.

It uses a setup executable which included options for VR gaming, which was very odd!

Gameplay
The major difference between this and all the other 3D shooters, as you probably know, is that it has 6-way control, essentially needing the arrow keys and WASD. It actually controls quite nicely with this combination, and after a while I was doing complicated key presses to half turn, half strafe around corners.

Where it went wrong for me was the mazey levels. It's intentionally set in mines, whether for artistic merit or graphical/engine limitations I don't know, and as a result it had an uphill battle to hold my attention. In any event, the mines are feel intentionally confusing, with multiple paths going to the same place and hidden doors, as well as doors in the ceiling and floor now that 6-way movement is possible. In fact, considering I was well aware I didn't like mazey games when I started this project, I'm not sure why it would be a "break" which it is probably the worst yet as the mazes are in a 3D space not 2D plane!

The combat feels quite good, with punchy lasers that get upgraded several times over the course of the game. Flying around with Level 4 quad lasers or plasma guns and dispatching the low level enemies with one key press is a good feeling. It's not perfect though, big red dudes with homing missiles are a bit too clever and will shoot homing missiles at you before you're even in the room; enemy spawners which trigger when you pass an undisclosed door need to **** off when you're flying around the level repeatedly trying to find the key (yup still key hunting) and accidentally trigger them again. However there is a wide variety of enemies all with different combat styles; some annoying some satisfying. Whilst playing this I got a real sense of deja vu; I think I played this at somepoint in the 90s on our original Windows 98 PC as I remember the big red homing missile dudes and the relief of finding the exit passage watching the explodey cinematic.

What doesn't feel good is the massive "ship bob" your viewpoint has throughout the game. Being low on health and trying to accurately shoot someone quite far away really doesn't work when you're ship is constantly moving up and down by about half a cube.

I managed 8 levels before I decided I've got **** to do, or rather games to play, and gave in. Partly because it was too hard and partly because of the mazey levels. Most of the games I've played on middle or 3/5 difficulty; this one should have been a wimpy 2/5 difficulty :(.

Graphics and Performance
A second major difference between this and previous games is that it is fully 3D. 3D enemies, player and environment, but the claustrophobic environments really don't show this off. As a result I feel that Doom and Heretic look better than Descent, even though they're 2.5D games.

Still no performance issues given I was using overclocked 1999 kit to play a 1994 game.

Sound
AWE32 sound is back baby, and sounds great! Descent seems to have given some thought as to how to make the most of the AWE capabilities and had high quality music and sound effects. The tunes themselves were not great or memorable, (in fact they were quite annoying actually) but the sound quality was very high. The same is true for the sound effects - Sometimes I forgot I was using 1995ish sound hardware as it just sounded... normal.

Was it fun?
Nah

Should you play it?
Yes, for the 6-way experience, but if you're thick and impatient like me don't expect it to be fun for long!

Screenshots
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-1-29 @ 22:54

Game 7 Complete!

Duke Nukem 3D

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After Descent turned out to be just a bit too... something, I was hoping that the comparatively simple Duke Nukem 3D would allow me to get back to mindless fun. And I was absolutely right - what a game!

Getting it running
I had no problems getting it running. It's the first game that has graphical options as well as sound options.

Gameplay
This was another game that worked very well with mouse control. It's a bit odd not being able to look up and down (at least by default) but your auto aim allows you to shoot up and down reliably once you get to trust it (like Doom) ;) . The core gameplay of running, jumping (First game with a jump key, and it took me three hours to realise it!) and shooting is incredibly enjoyable due to a refreshing lack of niggling frustrations when you play. There is no getting lost in a cube/grid based map, no crazy head/ship bob like in Descent. Few hidden areas and rarely are very hidden ones required to progress the story, and I didn't get lost at all.

The levels in Duke 3D look like places. Hopefully, gone are the days of running around a maze a game designer created (with the intention of getting you lost!), as Duke and the build engine effortlessly create a world; a fun but believable world. I'm not saying it's realistic, but the unbelievable gameplay is happening in a truly believable world, for the first time. It's crazy that we went from Wolfenstein 3D to this in four years!

Yes, keycards are still here, but I only needed to use a walkthrough once (and that was on an annoying spinny cog puzzle) and the levels are intuitively laid out so that you're I didn't actually get lost or have to back track much at all. The levels are also short enough that progression is steady. In fact, it might be a bit too short, but I understand there is a fourth episode that I might have to track down after this project!

Duke controls very well with the mouse and keyboard; on the second difficulty I had had no issues with getting stuck in a rut and actually beat the developer's time for the final boss fight in Episode 3! (I got 54 seconds or something). I'm not sure if circle strafing was a thing back then, but it makes combat very enjoyable and "empowering" being able to literally run rings around enemies. Of course, I died quite a lot, the game has a habit of spawning duded behind you, but quick save and quick loading means its rarely an issue. In fact, this might be the first game on the list that doesn't have a lives system? Ammo is usually slightly sparse to keep the tension on but never enough to think that you're doomed and need to reload an earlier save.

There are gadgets which are of varying use; it seems that these have been experimented with in a few games and Dukes are mostly useful with scuba gear and jetpacks essential at some points. However, I didn't use the holoduke at all (intentionally) and I only activated steriods (which makes you run really fast and presumably tank more damage) when I instinctively hit the R reload key.

Overall, the gameplay is great fun. Mostly this is due to the removal of a lot of frustrations of earlier games that allow the core gameplay to shine through finally.

Graphics and Performance
My introduction to the build engine. It can create some great looking places with high quality lighting and textures (for 1996). It's quite a leap over Doom, Heretic and Descent, but then I remember that Quake came out (later) in the same year...

This was the first game where there was the odd performance hiccup, running at 800 * 600, fully software. It was completely playable the whole time but during hectic sections I could see my framerate drop to well under 30 for a few seconds. The trade off for this performance hit was very nice graphics (coming from 3xx * 2xx gaming). It's odd to see my processor finally "have to do something" where performance has been a non issue so far.

Sound
Duke 3D supports AWE32. The test (which plays the theme) is quite disappointing and misleading as it sounds terrible on the AWE32, due to the guitars I think, and I was very tempted to just go Soundblaster OPL3 instead. However the rest of the soundtrack is very good in AWE32, and is quite electronic and pulsey which sounds good through OPL and AWE32. There are some stand out tracks like Aliens, Say Your Prayers! and Plasma(which play back to back) which really create a fantastic mood (albeit contrasting with the permentantly silly and brilliant tone).

Was it fun?
You bet your balls it was!

Should you play it?
Absolutely.

Screenshots

This is the first game where the built in screenshots are actually useable! I didn't know that it would only save 35 screen shots before overwriting from the beginning, so we've only got the last 35 to pick from! This is annyoing as I did some nice screenshots with the hud removed and my gun lowered, all of which were overwritten.

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I must be remembering that film wrong...
Intel 4770K 4.4GHz | 12GB DDR3 1600MHz | Nvidia 1070ti | 750GB EVO SSD
Athlon 3200+ 2.4GHz | 2.25GB DDR1 | Nvidia GeForce 7950 GT 512MB | 250GB HDD
Slot 1 PIII 650MHz | 256MB PC100 | Nvidia MX440 | AWE32 CT3910
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-2-01 @ 20:56

"Game" 8 Completed

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This is another game that does not need any introduction... Unless you're me and you haven't played it before other than 10 minutes in DOSbox! (Possibly?) the first AAA game to use 3D graphics everywhere - no sprites for enemies or 2.5D here!

It also doesn't have a title screen, so up there is a thrilling picture of the main menu.

Getting it running
I had no problems getting it running. I went with the standard software version, as you need the registered version to run GLQuake. A cursory google showed that the full version is not easily obtainable and is sold still through a number of digital stores so I left it at that.

Gameplay
This defaulted to mouse and keyboard but still doesn't feel quite like a modern game with moving the mouse up and down moving you forwards and backwards not mouse look. There is also still copious auto aim to help out with the verticality of the game.

This game is very dark and moody in tone and has contrasted nicely with Duke 3D; no pop culture, one liners or pixellated boobage here. The colour palette in particular is just brown and brown. Perhaps it would have looked better on a CRT (or a modern monitor with good black/white/contrast), but on my reasonable LCD screen it looked a bit washed out.

I really liked the 3D projectiles in Quake; the nail gun in particular with its alternate fire, recoil and projectiles looking very cool and being satisfying to use (I might make a gif of it firing if I can be arsed as that means digging out my tripod again). Unfortunately the arsenal is limited. There are only three types of guns, with each gun getting an upgraded version - Shotguns, nail guns and RPG/Rockets. This is a bit disappointing after Duke 3D and I don't know if there are more guns in the full version. Given the setting isn't limiting it to real guns I would like to see a longer distance single shot gun and a "futurey gun" to complete the set. Ammo is slightly scarse (all these games seem to have got ammo availability quite early on which is a pleasant suprise) making it tense but auto switch is much cleverer than Duke 3D (or maybe the lack of variety helps more); Duke 3D would often auto switch from shotgun to "most powerful weapon", likely an RPG you're conserving ammo for, instead of the "next gun". With only three guns, I never found myself in close quaters switching from Shotgun to Rockets and blowing myself up.

The levels themselves are a lot more linear than Duke 3D, but whilst still managing to feel like logical, interconnected rooms rather than a maze. As a result, I didn't get lost once and I was also drawn into this hellish world but the graphics and sound effects. None of the early/mid 90s frustrations were present. Well, yes OK, key searching is still bloody here (just die out already) but the challenge is more killing the dudes in between you and it rather than tracking it down. The small levels themselves make it quite easy to find them.

There are a variety of enemies in Quake (well, the shareware Quake) from zombie dudes, knight dudes in armour, Big Dudes with grenade launchers and chainsaws and finally BigFoot Dude who shooters lightning at you out its mouth. Each has a different attack strategy and each can be dangerous in their own way if stuck in a corner.

Overall, the gameplay is fun. It is easy to play with no niggles stopping your enjoyment and allowing the good to shine through, just like Duke 3D. Unfortunately I think I prefer Duke 3D to this (pls no ban!) just because of the tone. This take itself very seriously, and whilst it would have blown my socks off so hard in 1996 that I'd still be crawling around on the floor looking for them now, in 2019 it is slightly quaint and dated quite poorly, whereas Duke 3D sort of is what it is and hasn't been replaced. Yup, I now consider myself a Duke fan :)

The shareware only took about an hour to complete, with about 10 deaths and quickloads on medium difficulty. I'm not sure it really counts as enough to do a "full" review like this, but oh well.

Graphics and Performance
This is a bit step up from Duke 3D, technically, and this would have been especially noticable in 1996 as they came out less than a year apart (and I think Duke references Quake by saying "Im not scared of any quake" during an earthquake scene), and actually looks "late 90s Windows PC gaming" instead of "Early and Mid 90s DOS gaming", if you know what I mean. Having said that, I think I prefer Duke 3D to look at, as it is just more colourful and the places it makes are just... nicer I guess?

This is the first game that really taxed my PC, in 640 * 480 at 728MHz on a P3. It must have killed OG Pentiums in 1996! as I was getting between 75fps in small corridors and about 20fps in larger rooms with lots of angry dudes shooting at me. I'm hoping this should improve when 3D acceleration comes into play.

Sound
I did not have any music as you need the registered (CD) version to get CD audio. This would make it the first game on my list to not have any synthesised music I believe? However, my AWE32 works just fine (even in games like Mafia) so it clearly doesn't mind doing fully wave "modern sound card duties".

Was it fun?
Yes in a 7/10 C+ kind of way.

Should you play it?
Yes - its place in game in PC history is rightfully earned, just be prepared for it to belong in gaming history.

Screenshots
I made use of the screenshot capture tool again. Enjoy your PCX converted to BMP in Windows 98 Paint converted to PNG by Imgur ;)

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Intel 4770K 4.4GHz | 12GB DDR3 1600MHz | Nvidia 1070ti | 750GB EVO SSD
Athlon 3200+ 2.4GHz | 2.25GB DDR1 | Nvidia GeForce 7950 GT 512MB | 250GB HDD
Slot 1 PIII 650MHz | 256MB PC100 | Nvidia MX440 | AWE32 CT3910
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Wolven » 2019-2-06 @ 12:50

This defaulted to mouse and keyboard but still doesn't feel quite like a modern game with moving the mouse up and down moving you forwards and backwards not mouse look. There is also still copious auto aim to help out with the verticality of the game.


Use the console command +mlook and you get the free mouse look setting, just like more modern FPS games.

That said. My first play-trough of Quake was with keyboard only. I didn't even know mouse look was a thing back then...
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby rasz_pl » 2019-2-06 @ 19:23

Almoststew1990 wrote:I had no problems getting it running. I went with the standard software version, as you need the registered version to run GLQuake. A cursory google showed that the full version is not easily obtainable and is sold still through a number of digital stores so I left it at that.


$2 on Steam, not playing GLQuake gave you just a slimmer of the full experience :(

Almoststew1990 wrote:This defaulted to mouse and keyboard but still doesn't feel quite like a modern game with moving the mouse up and down moving you forwards and backwards not mouse look. There is also still copious auto aim to help out with the verticality of the game.


that default was for beginners only, as Wolven already mentioned everyone at least a bit experienced configured input to his preferences, and used +mlook. Everything was customizable.

Almoststew1990 wrote:This is the first game that really taxed my PC, in 640 * 480 at 728MHz on a P3. It must have killed OG Pentiums in 1996!


512x384 timedemo above 30 fps on P200 and 3dfx back in the day, over 60fps with Voodoo2

Almoststew1990 wrote: as I was getting between 75fps in small corridors and about 20fps in larger rooms with lots of angry dudes shooting at me. I'm hoping this should improve when 3D acceleration comes into play.


seems you didnt run fastvid? (linear framebuffer access)
GLQuake was a staging ground for Quake 2 engine, and removed most of the frame drop bottlenecks visible in software mode of first quake

Almoststew1990 wrote:I did not have any music as you need the registered (CD) version to get CD audio.


3 words: nine inch nails
again, seems you missed >half the game :(
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n8iU7abqkQ

Almoststew1990 wrote:Yes - its place in game in PC history is rightfully earned, just be prepared for it to belong in gaming history.


still perfect for retro lan parties, offers all the gameplay modern quakeworld does
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2019-2-10 @ 12:43

Game 9 Complete!

Outlaws

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This game was recommended to me on another forum (I think). From Lucas Arts of all companies! I did a bit of googling and it decided it would make a nice contrast from the grungy Dooms and Quakes I'd be playing up to this point, as it is set in the wild west.

I got a copy from eBay for less than £5, and it ended up being a new, sealed copy which was interesting!

Getting it running
What's all this, I have to run Windows before I can install or launch my game!? What is this madness!?

That's right, it's my first Windows game in this project. It installed without any issues and had a few video and sound options (direct draw and a "Multimedia" version for both... and Glide). It actually comes on two disks and you swap half way through the game. I assume to accommodate the cutscenes.

Gameplay
Outlaws is a medium paced shooter - it's not runny jumpy Rise of the Triads, but it's not Hitman either. Set in the Wild West, you shoot dudes rather than monsters for a change, with conventional, period weapons ranging from a pistol, rifle and shotgun. Sounds quite boring, but it's made a nice change as I thought.

This was the first game that defaulted to mouse look vertically and horizontally, which was refreshing. At first I could hear my mouse rolling not very smoothly, sometimes sliding rather than rolling over the desk, sometimes rolling lumpily and I died a few times when I tried to turn around and nothing happened. This pushed me from "can't be arsed" to "ehhh fine" and I finally cleaned my ball and tracky nib things inside the mouse which had solidified, compacted dust and whatnot in there. Nice, but at least it rolls very smoothly now!

Unfortunately looking up and down doesn't work very well in-game as it (looks like) it uses the build engine so your perspective goes very stretched and weird when looking away from horizontal. This effects the gameplay quite a lot as the targeting is way off when shooting up and down, you can see puffs of smoke no where near your crosshairs! It isn't helped by enemy sprites not being where the game thinks they are when the perspective stretches; numerous times I could see puffs of smoke from my bullets hitting the wall directly behind a dude as if the bullet went through them.

The guns themselves are quite satisfying. The starting pistol has a rapid fire mode, and the single-barrel shotgun is satisfying to use. Reloading is manual (although this is also the first game with reloading in, now I think about it!) and you have to hold/repeatedly tap the reload key to put more rounds into your six shooter (or any gun). The double barrel shotgun is very disappointing. It's effective range is very short and had a very wide spread of fire. It's useless.

There is actually a stealth element to this game too, with throwing knives and a comically overpowered punch. You can approach enemies from behind to dispatch them without them shooting first. I played on easy (I got rinsed on medium difficulty so dropped it to easy because I've got **** to do) and never needed to stealth around. It plays well as run and gun shooter, on easy mode.

The presentation is another aspect which really sets Outlaws apart from the other shooters "to date". It actually has cutscenes which are cartoony. Someone who knows about films would probably say they're of a certain filmic style, but I don't know much about films, so I'll just say they're very effective and interesting to watch with unusual camera angles such as wide shots that hold for a long time as you and your horse slowly walk across, shots of half a face, shots from the ground that actually mimic the odd perspective in game... Makes for interesting watching.

Whilst the levels are clearly wild west places, in a cubic 2.5D kind of way, the levels retain a disappointing amount of maziness and I'm still looking for bloody keys.

The story itself is not that interesting. Dude comes home to find his wife killed by bandits (which we see) and his daughter kidnapped. Dude is an ex Marshall, and goes after the gang killing Under Bosses one by one to reach the Boss Boss. You get flashbacks as you progress which get more and more detailed as the story progresses, showing Dude's Dad getting capped and Dude (being a child at the time) picking up a gun but being unable to bring himself to shoot. Lo and behold when you get to the Boss Boss, it's the same guy, but it ends up being your daughter that braps him this time. Yes, I did just spoil that for the no-one that is going to play it!

It's only 9 levels long, which is about the length of one episode in the previous games! However the levels are about 30 minutes long. It took me about 5 hours to complete, including restarting and distractions

Graphics and Performance
I have a feeling this is a build engine game, however, running in windows I had to stick with 640 *480 to get acceptable performance. This is the first game to make use of 3D acceleration; the manual references two Voodoo 1 cards, and has two glide acceleration versions (2.1 and 2.3 I think?). I ran it is in software after watching a video of the accelerated version and decided it didn't look much better than the software version, and couldn't be bothered to install my Voodoo 3, which might not even work anyway. I didn't have any framerate issues at 480p software on my 728MHz P3.

Sound
This uses either wav of CD audio. The quality is nice, but the music is forgettable western stuff. Sound effects were slightly sub-par. Overall, nothing to see here, sadly.

Was it fun?
Yes on easy mode running and gunning!

Should you play it?
Yes - it's an interesting less well known shooter.

Screenshots
No in game screenshot tool and I couldn't use FRAPS so it's back to camera pictures!

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Intel 4770K 4.4GHz | 12GB DDR3 1600MHz | Nvidia 1070ti | 750GB EVO SSD
Athlon 3200+ 2.4GHz | 2.25GB DDR1 | Nvidia GeForce 7950 GT 512MB | 250GB HDD
Slot 1 PIII 650MHz | 256MB PC100 | Nvidia MX440 | AWE32 CT3910
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Re: Project: First Person Shooter History

Postby clueless1 » 2019-2-10 @ 16:27

I'm really enjoying reading your playthroughs. :) The key with Descent is to get a good keyboard mapping. I found one that works great for me:
Arrows for pitch and turn (default)
WASD for accelerate, slide left, reverse and slide right
R and V for slide up/down
primary gun spacebar
secondary gun C
everything else default.

Can't wait for you to get to Quake 2. One of my favorite FPS of all time including modern games. I recently played through on original hardware with Voodoo2 SLI and had a blast. Thanks for this thread!
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