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First Person Shooters (Games) Games

Wolfenstein 3-D Celebrates 20 Years With Free Browser-Based Version 160

Dr Herbert West writes "20 years ago today, id software released Wolfenstein 3D, inspired by the classic Apple II game, Castle Wolfenstein. To celebrate, Bethesda Softworks on Wednesday released a free, browser-based version of the iconic first-person shooter. Users can pick which level they wish to play in the browser version, even the secret levels."
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Wolfenstein 3-D Celebrates 20 Years With Free Browser-Based Version

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  • Ah, game journalism (Score:3, Informative)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Thursday May 10, 2012 @06:30PM (#39960239)

    The game is a remake of the classic Apple II game, Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

    Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a remake made in 2001. The Apple II games by Muse Software were Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein. Wolfenstein 3D was not an official remake of them, but it was inspired by them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by narcc ( 412956 )

      Again, Bonch finds a way to shill for Apple.

      Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein were available for a number of platforms. The C64 version was by far superior, of course.

      • Of corse. The Commodore was five years more advanced in technology than Apple II....... I wonder if there was an Amiga port of Wolfenstein.

      • by Creepy ( 93888 )

        Many games were ported in those days, probably more-so than these days. Castle Wolfenstein was indeed written for the Apple ][ first by Silas Warner, who is quite possibly the weirdest person I've ever met (while at Microprose/Spectrum Holobyte, and RIP). Beyond Castle Wolfenstein was simultaneously written for Apple ][ and C64.

  • RTCW was a 2001 release. I was playing W3D *waaaaay* before that.

    Good to see the classics making a comeback, tho.

    • Good to see the classics making a comeback, tho.

      Is it always a good thing? It's the same game you can play in DOSBox already. We've already seen lot of remakes of the classic adventure games, for example. I think it is also important to grasp what aspects made them so memorable, and then make completely new games based on those observations.

      • You really need to watch the Bethesda "video podcast" of John Carmack playing Wolfenstein 3D and commenting on it - it's fascinating stuff.
        Particularly as he brings up exactly the point you're talking about and how the big studios, with multi-year plans for a single game can make really epic stuff but loose out on a lot of the ingenuity and flexibility a small group of people can have. If you plan to make a game in just a couple of months, you can perfect the gameplay or pull and scrap "features" as necessa

        • Fuck you, youtube^Wgoogle, I'm not going to create an account just because someone somewhere thought someone else somewhere else might possibly be sometimes in future be offended by pixels of red color.

        • Thanks, dude! Very interesting clip. :)
  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @06:37PM (#39960305)

    Was there a game that came before Return To Castle Wolfenstein. ÂAnd was it ever ported to a more advanced machine than the Apple II (like Atari or Comodore)?

    • the one I think you're thinking of is Wolfenstein 3D, which is what the version referenced in the Summary is, it's regarded by many as the First FPS game
      • by narcc ( 412956 )

        Which is strange as there were a few FPS games designed by Carmack before Wolfenstein 3D (The Catacomb 3D series) with near identical game play.

    • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @06:43PM (#39960369)

      Yes, the original Castle Wolfenstein was an Apple }{ game. It was a top down monochrome shooter, with some nifty speaker tricks to emulate speech. Very cool game for the time (1982?)

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      The summary is confused. RTCW is an FPS from the early aughts. Castel Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein are the two Apple II games that inspired Wolf 3d. Those are available on the big 3 6502 computers (Apple, Commodore, Atari), and on DOS.

      They are great games. Pull out your favorite 8-bit and play.

    • It seems there were some attempts to make a Wolf3D source port, but nothing really major. Seems there was better luck making a "remake" of it as an overhaul mod for ZDoom. Just google Wolf3D TC for ZDoom and you should be able to find it.
  • Logged on to play. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @06:44PM (#39960371)

    They wanted my fucking bitrthdate so I gave them 1/1/1900.

    WTF, is our fucking legal system so screwed that having some dipshit fucking form where anyone can lie is preferable to to just letting anyone play?!?

    Nevermind don't answer that. That was rhetorical.

    DOn't want to get the pedant NAzis all worked up here.

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      I did the same, and it actually told me I couldn't play. I think it was some bad interaction with noscript or requestpolicy. However, it saved a cookie saying that I failed verification. Had to delete that before I could try again... and it worked. PITA.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well I 1 upped you man..

      My birthdate is 13/32/1874

      It was totally fine with that.. playing now..

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      I put my birth year as 1200. I'm actually surprised it was accepted.

    • Okay, I agree with you, but where the fuck have you been? Every website on the goddamned internet right now that has adult content has to have one of those age restriction things. They've always been pointless. Its always been such that any kid can enter 1900 and get in. Where have you been?

      I'm pretty sure there's some dumb legislation that requires it.

      I just wish we could be smart enough that we could set your age as a browser setting, and websites could automatically query for it like a cookie witho
  • Slow as hell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dwedit ( 232252 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @06:50PM (#39960407) Homepage

    Yes, let's take a game originally coded in tight X86 assembly language, then shit all over it by converting it into super slow Javascript.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have a quad-core CPU and a mid-range GPU that pushes more FLOPs than a PS3, so I can run Crysis at decent framerate.
      But this version of the game stutters horribly and gets less than 10 frames/sec when enemies appear.

      F------. Would not play again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I have a quad-core CPU and a mid-range GPU that pushes more FLOPs than a PS3, so I can run Crysis at decent framerate.
        But this version of the game stutters horribly and gets less than 10 frames/sec when enemies appear.

        Yeah, Internet Explorer 6 sucks.

      • Your GPU is irrelevant since it's not used in this Javascript version. But yes, I agree with your general sentiment.

        • by dingen ( 958134 )
          Chrome supports hardware accelerated canvas elements now, which means your GPU is actually relevant.
          • That's assuming the game uses the canvas element. From a cursory look at the page's source, it doesn't appear to use it but I could be wrong.

      • Runs smooth as butter on my ageing 2GHz Core 2 Duo, in Chrome.

      • Mobile Core 2 Duo, 1.6GHz, Intel 945 Express graphics, 1GB RAM, and Win7, and it's sooth as silk, even with enemies.

        I guess your computer just sucks.... :)

      • MacBook Air running Chrome. Entry level specs. Game runs perfectly.

        I mean it sucks as a game (now - back in the day I loved it) but it runs on this platform far faster than it ever did back on my 1992 PC, which was probably an 80386DX40, from memory.
      • I have a quad-core CPU and a mid-range GPU that pushes more FLOPs than a PS3, so I can run Crysis at decent framerate. But this version of the game stutters horribly and gets less than 10 frames/sec when enemies appear.

        If that comment was shown to the original makers of the game back in the day, they would have probably just jumped out of the window.

    • Just what I was thinking. The original game ran faster on my '486. Hell, Doom II ran faster than this on my '486.

      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        wow that's amazing considering it would run fine on a 25mhz 286! (not doom though, doom is pretty drag ass on an average 386, its passable on a DX40)

      • Quake 3, in browser, runs better than this. And this is Wolfenstein.

        However, Quake 3 in browser requires you to install a plugin with software libraries. Quake 3 or Doom II the normal games require you to install the game software and data to your machine.

        This is being scripted inside of a webpage, and run inside your existing browser code. They're limited on what they can do, and it runs like ass, but it works on any computer, regardless of OS, and there's nothing to install, patch, update, or config
    • Re:Slow as hell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by monkeyhybrid ( 1677192 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:22PM (#39960767)

      What's wrong with that? I think it's pretty cool to see classics like this ported to 'super slow Javascript'. Kind of puts things in perspective when a game I saved up to buy all those years back (after playing the hell out of a magazine demo) and also led me to save up more money to upgrade from my AdLib soundcard to a SoundBlaster Pro (so I could hear more than what seemed like white noise sound effects), is now fully playable in my web browser, for free, with no install, and barely touching my CPU.

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      It's not the language, it's the developers. Last year, just for fun, I wrote a Wolfenstein 3d style raycaster (with sprite support, and all the extras, even used the graphics from Wolf3d) in javascript. It ran smooth as silk even on the browser in my old BB OS6 phone. Not that I did anything special to optimize it or anything, just a simple by-the-book implementation.

      I figure the developers had to go out of their way screw this up. Their version runs like shit.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      You're forgetting that most PCs had a top speed of about 16 mHz in 1992, and Wolfenstein played well on them. The new machines are more than 100 times faster, so a slow sloppy language works.

      The original 6502 (or was it 6508?) chip these games were first programmed in (Apple, C64, etc) had only 1mHz clock speeds. They probably had to be programmed in assembly because C would have been too slow.

  • by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @06:55PM (#39960457) Homepage

    It's hard to tell from looking at it now, just how much of a revelation Wolfenstein3D really was. Compared to modern games, the graphics look like crap, and even back then, we had games with better graphics in the cut scenes, but we all knew that cut-scenes were pre-rendered, slowly, on much bigger machines. The idea that our simple desktop systems could create that level of 3D realism on the fly was astonishing! The first time I saw it, I kept wondering if it was going to make my CPU explode from all the calculations it must be performing.

    • by I.M.O.G. ( 811163 ) <spamisyummy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:19PM (#39960731) Homepage
      I recall the same experience... Prior to seeing Wolfenstein3D, I had graduated from Intellivision [wikipedia.org] to the Nintendo NES, and that constituted my main gaming exposure, other than some early versions of Flight Simulator. Wolfenstein3D blew me away with the graphics possible on a computer, and I probably jumped out of my seat a number of times as the immersion was like nothing I'd seen before. A lot of games with impressive graphics since then, but nothing like that first impression... Kind of a cool experience, yields a different sort of appreciation I think compared to that of younger gamers who have a more modern sense of graphics expectations.
    • There were cut-scenes back then?

    • Wolfenstein 3D was interesting to me as a kid but the real revelation was when I finally got ahold of Doom II (on a CD!). That game changed my young life.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @09:15PM (#39961919)

      I remember having a friend describe Wolfenstein 3D to me before I actually saw it. I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I kept thinking it would have to be static images, like those old RPGs in which you looked in the four cardinal directions simultaneously (e.g. Moraff's World), and couldn't imagine how you could have a shooter like that. Realtime 3D really was amazing to see for the first time. Moreso even than seeing actual 3D with active shutter glasses many years later.

    • Too bad you didn't have a look at Ultima Underworld, which was released 2 months before Wolfenstein 3D, and had way better 3D graphics (with a lower framerate)

  • I can't believe how familiar that first level was to me. Didn't get lost at all. Amazing the things we remember.
    • I was thinking the same thing. I even paused a few times before certain corners, with some kind of subconscious memory of being ambushed hundreds of times. Sure enough, Nazi guard.
    • by MrP- ( 45616 )

      I played the game a lot as a kid and was good at it but today I got killed after walking through the first door and gave up and closed the tab.

      Something in my brain broke when I turned like 15 and now I can't play games, I just get annoyed 5 seconds in. Sigh.

  • I'm pretty sure that my old 386 DX 40 -- of which I played Wolfenstein 3D through several times via my gravis game pad -- can't even manage 1% of the power of my current MacBook Pro; but yet this browser based bloat really knows how to suck up my resources for something that's so simple compared to today's games.

    Maybe I should be playing this on my PC instead, since JavaScript is such a resource hog? My PC is an i7 at 4Ghz with a GTX 580. Maybe it can manage better? Then again, some of my modern game
    • What kind of crap computers do you people have? My 6 year old mobile 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo runs it just fine. I suppose a crap browser with a crappy, slow Javascript interpreter might make it chug, but that's not the game's fault. That's your crap computer....

      • by JackAxe ( 689361 )
        According to you, your computer is crapper than mine. It's even slower than my last MacBook Pro 17". You should consider upgrading your computer.

        I'm sure if I booted into Windows, I'll get better performance than under OS X with the bloat that is JavaScript; but for Wolfenstein in the browser with crappy sound, it's not worth it; besides, DOSBOX handles it just fine and uses less CPU -- I double checked 32% CPU with full audio and most of the resources are just for emulation.
        • I have plenty of other computers, including a 16GB quad core desktop. It's just that when I tried this online Wolfenstein, I happened to be using the six year old laptop. And it ran fine. I'm sure on the quad core, I could run Wolfenstein, Crysis, 3 or 4 virtual machines, and 274 Firefox tabs all at the same time, and it would still work pretty well.

          I stand by my comment that the computers that people have that won't run this are crap.

    • by anss123 ( 985305 )

      Maybe I should be playing this on my PC instead, since JavaScript is such a resource hog?

      I wouldn't be so quick to blame Javascript. I tried the game in IE8, which isn't exactly known for its javascript performance, and while the the game isn't working 100% it does run.

      That means the game renders 3D through the DOM. Not canvas or anything more fancy. A quick check with FireBug let me change the colors and positions of various game elements, by simply browsing through the DOM and finding the right element.

      Textures seem to be lots and lots of 1px wide images.

      A game manipulating thousands

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:17PM (#39960725) Journal

    * Castle Wolfenstein: 1981 (on the Apple ][. Atari and Commodore shortly thereafter)
    * Beyond Castle Wolfenstein: 1984
    * Hovertank 3D: 1991 First FPS
    * Wolfenstein 3D: 1992
    * Return to Castle Wolfenstein: 2001. A very, VERY different game!

    • by xQx ( 5744 )
      You can see a video of hovertank on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7juV9zo5Tk

      Amazing to see how similar level 1 of hovertank is to level 1 of wolf 3d. It looks like all they've done for Wolf level 1 was to reskin the walls and put in new sprites!

      Did anyone else get completely pissed off that game journalists for the next fifteen years _always_ called DOOM the first 3D FPS??
      • While the fact is wrong, the attribution wasn't... Hovertank, Wolfenstein 3d, and DOOM were all John Carmack/John Romero games. It isn't like they are giving the wrong person credit.
    • Er, in terms of FPS's, I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIDI_Maze [wikipedia.org] Midi Maze beats your Hovertank game by around 4 years (1987)...

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Er, in terms of FPS's, I think Midi Maze beats your Hovertank game by around 4 years (1987)...

        Try Maze War (1974).

    • Don't forget rise of the triad

    • by BigSes ( 1623417 )
      Wow, and you missed Spear of Destiny, that came shortly after Wolfenstein 3D. Its not an expansion to Wolf 3D, its a completely stand alone game. I own it, original box and all. Thanks for the histroy lesson.
  • by Walking The Walk ( 1003312 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:10PM (#39961231)
    As of this posting, the port linked in the article doesn't work on Opera 11.64 (Win 32). Luckily, Wolfenstein 3D has already been ported to a 4KB Java applet [java4k.com], for the 2011 Java4K competition. Go play it there instead.
    • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:01PM (#39962271)

      That's nothing like the original Wolfenstein 3D. The graphics are crap compared to the real thing (no animations -- bad guys go from living to dead in one frame), and the level layout doesn't even match. It's cool that they got it in 4 KB and all, but I can't imagine anyone preferring that version to Bethesda's.

      • by fbjon ( 692006 )
        Never mind the level layout in the 4 KB applet: You can't strafe, you can't turn and move at the same time, you can't slide along walls, only one weapon with infinite ammo, slow AI, no running, etc.. It's basically a completely different game.
    • by anss123 ( 985305 )
      I got the game running on Opera 11.62, though the doors look mighty strange when looked at from an angle. But other than that it runs fine with both sound and music.

      The game also sort of runs in IE8, just that the game half-freezes after opening doors (one can still shoot, and be shot at by enemies). IE6 gives an JavaScript error though.
  • it's sad not to have that great little music playing. the music playback seems improved too.

    else this is the first 3D javascript game ever that runs acceptably!, though I have a fast PC (athlon II X2).

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      else this is the first 3D javascript game ever that runs acceptably!

      According to other posters (I haven't checked) it doesn't use canvas. It runs pretty good if you consider that.

      There are zillions of other 3d games that use canvas with significantly better performance. If you count games that use webgl canvas, you'll find quite a few very impressive 3d games written in javascript.

  • It used to be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horst-Wessel-Lied [wikipedia.org] in the original PC version

  • Try picking a lock without sound. You're supposed to get a click when one of the three digit numbers hits, but I had no sound, so I was playing the state lottery to kill Hitler. I did it once. The worst part is if you died, thats it, restart. So not only did you have to get a three digit combination right, you had to use that dagger to slay guards and make your way to the bottom of the bunker and out with 1 life.
  • Sitting here in Germany (and being a German), I get this message when I call the link:

    "Sorry, your IP address shows you are coming from a country that requires us to block access to this particular site."

    Thanks you, Germany, Thank you very much for taking such good, loving and thoughtful case of your children.

    • by BigSes ( 1623417 )
      It has plenty of swastikas and other Nazi symbolism. Pretty sure thats illegal where you're from. Cheer up though, you get the interesting pornography!
  • Wish it was a download. The web version sucks.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes