Game Development Reference
and throughout each level is paramount. There has to be a reason why the bad
guys are at said location in such vast numbers.
The genre is the story. Genres have certain rules that they follow, and the
success of the story is not only how well you understand those rules but how
well you can play with them. F. E . A . R . -style horror shooters, for example, rely
on suspense, on handicapping the character somehow, and on using the un-
known. Military shooters are all about warfare, technology, and geopolitics.
The slow play. Some players are likely to take days, weeks, or even months
between play sessions, and that means they may not remember the fine details
of the plot. Therefore, it's important to seed stories with hints and reminders
of past events.
6.4 A Very Short History of the FPS
The early history of the first-person shooter is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Some
believe the first shooter was Maze Wars . However, Jim Bowery, the creator of Spasim ,
claims that his game was the first real FPS. Spasim was a multiplayer 3D space sim,
where players flew in virtual space, piloting wire-framed space vehicles. Both were
created in the early 1970s.
The next big stride forward in FPS technology came from arcade games. In the
1980s, Atari's Battlezone , a tank sim, allowed players to move through a virtual world
and battle AI enemies.
Other games continued to push the genre forward, but the breakthrough was
probably id Software's Wolfenstein 3-D , which was purportedly created by thirteen
people in only two months (one of them being the legendary John Carmack). And
so began the modern era of the single-player FPS. The main character is an American
soldier named B.J. Blazkowicz. There are countless Nazi thugs, guard dogs, and
rooms with hidden treasure and food, guns and ammo, and the ubiquitous med kits,
a convention in FPS games to this day.
The following year, id Software released the game that both defined and kicked
the genre into high-gear: Doom . The story was simple, yet resonant, and fit the
run-and-gun gameplay perfectly. The player is a space marine sent to Mars for as-
saulting a senior officer after disobeying an order to kill innocent civilians. The
rebellious soldier who bucks authority has been a mainstay of shooters ever since,
from Doom straight through to Gears of War . On Mars, the space marine works for
the Union Aerospace Corporation, a faceless conglomerate doing secret experiments
with teleportation. Well, of course, something goes wrong. Suddenly creatures from
Hell come out of the deportation gateways, and everyone is either brutally killed or
turned into a zombie. Only one human is left alive. The player. The story was retold
for Doom 3 and made into a widely panned movie in 2005. Many FPS games since
have used this as a template for their own narratives.