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First Person Shooters (Games) Graphics Software Entertainment Games

From Doom To Dunia — the History of 3D Engines 117

notthatwillsmith writes "It's difficult to think of a single category of application that's driven the pace of desktop hardware development further and faster than first-person shooters. Maximum PC examined the evolution of FPS engines, looking back at the key technologies that brought games from the early sprite-based days of Doom to the fully 3D-rendered African Savannah as rendered by Far Cry 2's Dunia engine. It's truly amazing how far the state of the art has moved in the last 16 years."
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From Doom To Dunia — the History of 3D Engines

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  • Wolfenstein 3D? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sprins ( 717461 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @06:47AM (#28864073)

    I miss Wolfenstein 3D (the original game) in the list. AFAIK that was the 1st 3D FPS some time before DOOM. I understand that "From DOOM to Dunia" alliterates better, but to disregard Wolfenstein 3D alltogether?

  • by SurfMan ( 969573 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @07:10AM (#28864175)
    It's a shame the article doesn't mention Descent. It featured epic 6 degrees of freedom. Enjoyed that game very much *sigh*
  • Re:Wolfenstein 3D? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @07:34AM (#28864279) []

    With 9 games to it's credit, it's probably more worthy than some others that were mentioned.

  • Re:Wolfenstein 3D? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chaos Incarnate ( 772793 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @07:57AM (#28864429) Homepage
    Then by that logic, neither was Doom.
  • The Dark Engine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sapphire wyvern ( 1153271 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:20AM (#28864595)

    Shame they didn't mention the Dark Engine, which was used for Thief, Thief II, and System Shock II, and basically drove the creation of the 3d stealth game as it now exists. Since Thief II and System Shock II are frequent visitors to "Best PC Game Ever" listings, the engine behind them seems notable. The switch to Unreal II for Thief III killed the ability to have large maps, which is one of the major shortfalls of that installment compared to the earlier games in the series. The same applies for the legendarily disappointing Deus Ex II.

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:17AM (#28865137)

    Where is descent 1 / descent 2 they where true 3d and you could fly upside down, side to side have rooms on top rooms and more.

  • Re:The Dark Engine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:22AM (#28865171) Homepage Journal

    I'm not sure what you mean. Deus Ex always used the Unreal Engine.

  • by Admiral_Grinder ( 830562 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:28AM (#28865275)
    Much difference gameplay wise? Probably not. Realize that part of the FPS experience is it being a visual experience. Most of the time when new game and/or engine comes out they brag about how many objects it can handle. It is possible that one model from L4D contains the same amount of polygons that all of Quake 1 (as in the number of polygons you encounter throughout the whole game).
  • unique renderers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bobtree ( 105901 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:39AM (#28865441)

    The one thing I missed most from all the old software rendered games is how distinctive their visuals are. When everything shifted to hardware the look of 3d games became very uniform, only to slowly differentiate with improving art and tech as time went on. The new programmable hardware again allows more freedom in rendering approaches, and now the top end engines are effectively all specialized shader pipelines. After 5-10 years of very homogenous looking games it's a most welcome change.

  • by amn108 ( 1231606 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:12AM (#28865877)
    I believe the blame lies in the, umm how should I best call it, a sort of like "geologically active" field of science - I mean everybody is trying to create a perfect 3D renderer and perfect all they have, before they can settle in and start writing good stories. I truly believe this is one of the show-stoppers for developing good games. Look at it - just about every developer starts by actually REINVENTING the wheel here - make their own engine, and THEN build some game on top of it, while the engine actually gets more exposure. This is in our nature - we are divided between being storytellers and fantasts and on the other side being pragmatic scientists and mathematicians. In the old days the resources were so limited and the possibilities so inviting, many people created wonderful stories that captivated the gamers with their imaginary worlds, although executed on a much moderate plane of presentation. Today, it is like peeping through the keyhole into a world of ACTUAL possibilities - the hardware is so powerful, it just tickles all gaming studios to try and top the previous level of enslaving the machine - BEFORE they actually start thinking about storytelling. Think about it - you said it yourself - the hardware some years back, especially the hardware renderers - allowed for quite little innovation - it was all textures and polygons, and not many at that - few could break free of that prison, and even fewer tried, so almost every game looked the same. Of course I am generalizing, it is always possible to be creative using whatever resources at disposition, but let us consider the majority here - and they did not innovate much because everyone just saw those same polygons and that same DirectX. Nobody did voxels anymore for one - because we were past that "era" and the new era was all about hardware pipelines, but those were immature. When we finally be getting freedom that true and mature raytracers will give us, along with good particle simulators and what not - maybe the creative potential will be inspired forth again. Until then, the new platform of creativity today may well be Adobe Flash platform - the 90s repeat themselves all over - not enough power to simulate reality but enough power to captivate gamers with good stories with useful execution.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @04:04PM (#28872341) Homepage

    The portal rendering engine used by Descent has been rumored to be a simple extension of the Doom engine

    Whoa, that would surprise me (not that it's impossible). Going from a raycasting engine which allows essentially arbitrary 2D geometry but very limited geometry in the 3rd dimension, to a texture mapping engine that is restricted to deformed rectangular prisms but allows them to be oriented arbitrarily wrt the world axes isn't a simple extension of any sort. Hell, the enemies were fully 3d texture mapped without any restrictions (but a low poly count of course). That's basically ripping up the innermost guts of the engine and replacing it with something very different. Completely new data structures, and a completely new rendering algorithm... at that point, what of the old engine would you even be using?

  • by mattack2 ( 1165421 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:39PM (#28876069)

    P.S. Global warming is a fraud, there is no such thing.

    [citation needed]

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup