Firstperson shooter

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File:Doom ingame 2.png
Doom, one of the games that defined the first-person shooter genre.

A first-person shooter (FPS) is a combat computer or video game where the player's on-screen view of the game world simulates that of the character. According to this simple definition, a game like Battlezone, or many flight simulators would be included. However, in the early 1990s, the term came to define a very specific genre of game with a first-person view, almost always centered around the act of aiming and shooting with multiple styles of weapons and limited ammunition. On-rails shooters are often viewed from a first-person perspective.

The modern FPS genre emerged during the early 1990s, at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic 3D graphics in realtime. The breakthrough games were id Software's Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. The latter, in particular, defined the genre so emphatically that FPS games were commonly referred to as "Doom clones" for a significant period after its release.

First-person shooters have been subject to substantial controversy due to the levels of violence included in some games, and the visual realism that can be more inherent in the shooting of things in a first-person perspective.

Overview

The first-person shooter can be considered a sub-genre of shooter games, though almost all other two dimensional shooter games, especially shoot'em ups, are more concerned with the gameplay mechanic of dodging than of precise aiming. The term FPS has generally come to refer to games where the player has full control over a (usually humanoid) character and can interact directly with the environment.

Many third-person shooters (where the player sees the game world from a viewpoint above and behind the main character) are commonly treated as first-person shooters, due to similarities in gameplay. In some cases (for example, Unreal Tournament 2004, Command & Conquer: Renegade, Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath or Duke Nukem 3D) it is possible to toggle the game between both viewpoints.

Sub-genres

The realism in FPS games can vary from arcade shooters, which are fast paced and have unrealistic elements (such as the player being able to shrug off bullets or falling large distances) to levels approaching reality, where players are routinely killed by a single shot. In practice, most games fall somewhere between the two.

Distinct sub-genres exist, which use a similar viewpoint and mechanics, but emphasise different aspects of gameplay. These are now generally regarded as being distinct from FPSs by computer games magazines, and include:

Some FPS games strive to increase the realism of graphics and game environments, while retaining unrealistic gameplay. As a result, in many games the player has exaggerated physical capabilities and resiliency that allow him to make manoeuvres such as "grenade jumping", which is an action that allows the player to gain an extension to normal jumps by blast effects. The extended jump is possible with other game weapons and can thus have different names: for instance, the Quake series allows "rocket jumping". Other maneuvers common in FPS games are straferunning and circlestrafing.

For many, the appeal of the FPS lies in immersive frantic blasting with a touch of verisimilitude, humour, puzzle-solving and claustrophobia. For others, the single player mode in story-oriented games can have compelling narratives which allow for added element of drama in the games.

Game conventions

  • One of the genre conventions is that crates, barrels and similar objects are used often to "decorate" levels, in an attempt to give the player a more detailed and interactive environment. Crates are many times used to provide a jumping boost, whilst many barrels tend to be explosive (a legacy from Doom). The over use of crates has led to humorous commentary on the subject, as can be seen [1].
  • The player normally begins with a single weak weapon, ranged or not, most likely the weakest. As he progressively obtains stronger weapons, so do the enemies become more difficult, in an attempt to balance the difficulty level of the game.
  • Another traditional convention lies with the necessity of pushing buttons and levers so as to open doors and allow for the progression of the player. In earlier games, the button and the door it opens would frequently be on opposite sides of the level for no logical reason. This convention has diminished somewhat in favor of scripted events, although it is still quite visible in some games.

Platforms and hardware development

The primary platform for modern FPSs has traditionally been the PC, though there have been notable games on other platforms, and the number of releases on consoles are increasing steadily.

FPS are among the most demanding programs for computing resources, persuading many users to upgrade computers that are still suitable for more mundane tasks, such as online browsing and office work. According to IDC analyst Roger Kay, high-end games serve as a catalyst for the mainstream personal computer market. FPS games can stretch the capabilities of CPUs and the graphics cards ([2]). The rise of the genre has been a significant driver in the market for consumer graphics cards, particularly with regard to support for hardware acceleration of 3D graphics. Recently, consumer HMDs have been introduced which should further drive developments in virtual reality technology and better game play by providing a more immersive experience.

Online play and mods

Most FPSs feature competitive and/or co-operative online multiplayer modes. Players of these games often form into teams, or "clans" and participate in organised tournaments and championships. Some of these contests have sufficient prize funds to allow players to turn partially or even fully professional.

Among modern video game styles, FPSs were the first genre to gain a widespread online gaming community. This was due to a deliberate policy of innovation by games developers (notably by id Software), aided by the combination of two technical factors: The relatively small number of moving objects in the game world (particularly in early games) reduces the amount of information to be transmitted across the network, and the relatively large distances between player avatars (compared to, say, fighting games) mitigates the effect of the inevitable network lag. Despite these effects, these games remain highly sensitive to network speed, and complaints about lag are still common.

Many FPS games are designed with a core game engine, separate from the graphics, game rules, and levels. This enables developers to reuse or license the core software for other games. This "plug-in" design, combined with the general-purpose nature of the PC (compared to consoles) allows amateur programmers to add new elements to games, such as new rules, characters or weapons without having access to the underlying technology. This process is known as "modding", from modification.

Indeed, it is a common characteristic of FPSs that players and enthusiasts are able to create their own levels (see level design) or even change overall graphical appearance and gameplay for distribution to other fans. Normally, this distribution must be done for free in order to abide by the developer's license. This has contributed to the longevity both of the genre and of individual games. Some games even serve as a basis for total conversions, where all of the game content is replaced, leaving only the basic game engine intact. Many games now include the software the designers used to make levels, such as UnrealEd for the Unreal series. The amount of custom levels made for a game is heavily affected by how popular the game is and the size of the community available to play the map. For example, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory increases the potential audience for a user-created level by allowing a custom level to be downloaded when a player connects to a server, as opposed to requiring the levels to be downloaded and installed in advance.

The communities of amateur programmers around FPS games can often become recruiting grounds for development companies; Valve Software have taken this as far as recruiting the core development teams of mods and releasing their product commercially.

History

(See first person shooter graphics engines for a history of FPS graphic engines)

The first-person shooter, as the phrase is currently understood, emerged in the early 1990s. However, the modern genre is a logical extension of earlier games, particularly those involving 3D graphics. While these early games are not First-Person Shooters in the modern sense, many of them come very close in gameplay terms, and many others contained ideas which later influenced the modern genre.

Beginnings

It is not clear exactly when the first FPS was created. There are two claimants, Spasim and Maze War. The uncertainty about which was first stems from the lack of any accurate dates for the development of Maze War — even its developer cannot remember exactly. In contrast, the development of Spasim is much better documented, and the dates more certain.

The initial development of Maze War probably occurred in the summer of 1973. A single player made their way through a simple maze of corridors rendered using fixed perspective. Multiplayer capabilities, with players attempting to shoot each other, were probably added later in 1973 (two machines linked via a serial connection) and in the summer of 1974 (fully networked).

Spasim was originally developed in the spring of 1974. Players moved through a wire-frame 3D universe, with gameplay resembling the 2D game Empire. Graphically, Spasim lacked even hidden line removal, but did feature online multiplayer over the world-wide university-based PLATO network.

1979-1990: Arcades and home computers

The next significant games arrived in the video arcade boom of the late 1970s. The 1979 game Tail Gunner was the first commercial game to provide a first-person perspective. Players could not move through the simulated world, but fought off opponents from a fixed point in space.

1980's Battlezone, a tank combat simulator, allowed players to move around the game world in their battle with computer-controlled enemies, and thus became the earliest widely-available first-person shooter in arcades. It was a resounding commercial success.

In the early 1980s, the home computer market grew rapidly. While these machines were relatively low-powered, limited first-person-perspective games appeared early on. Star Raiders (1979) gave the player the perspective of a spaceship pilot flying through a streaming 3D starfield; motion was unrestricted, but the environment consisted only of stars and individual moving objects. Phantom Slayer (1982) restricted the player to 90-degree turns, allowing "3D" corridors to be drawn with simple fixed-perspective techniques. In both games, computer-controlled opponents were drawn using bitmaps.

Numerous other "tricks" were used by programmers to simulate 3D graphics. Examples include two early games from Lucasarts, Rescue on Fractalus (1984) which used fractal techniques to generate an alien landscape for the player to fly over, and The Eidolon (1985) which scaled simple bitmaps to create the illusion of 3D.

Later in the decade, the arrival of a new generation of home computers such as the Atari ST and the Amiga increased the computing power and graphical capabilities available, leading to a new wave of innovation.

The first true 3D flat-polygon (hidden surface) game was the single-player role-playing game The Colony, in 1987. It lacked most modern graphical features such as textures and colors. Other FPS games of the flat-polygon era include Faceball 2000, and MIDI Maze, notable for its networked multiplayer feature (communicating via the computer's MIDI interface, of all things).

1991-1993: Defining the genre

By 1990 the technology to render very simple flat-colored 3D worlds was widespread, and was being used extensively in simulator games such as Abrams M1, LHX: Attack Chopper, and others.

In April 1991, the then-unknown id Software released Hovertank 3D. Various assumptions about the game world simplified the processing sufficiently to allow real-time rendering of a 3D maze. The game environment was a simple flat grid-based map, with enemies rendered as sprites. Later the same year, a modified version of the same game engine, adding texture-mapped walls, was used in Catacomb 3D, which also introduced the concept of showing the player's hand on-screen, strengthening the illusion that the player is literally viewing the world through the character's eyes.

File:Wolf3dtitle.jpg
Wolfenstein 3D title screen

In 1992, id improved the technology by adding support for VGA graphics in Wolfenstein 3D which suprisingly was only created by 13 people in 2 months. With these improvements over its predecessors, Wolf 3D was a hit, and marked the emergence of the modern FPS genre.

A lesser-known predecessor to Wolf 3D is Ultima Underworld (1992), developed by Looking Glass Studios and marketed by Origin Systems. Unlike Wolf, Underworld supported many true 3D features such as non-perpendicular walls, walls of varying heights, and inclined surfaces. A technology demo of this game was, in fact, John Carmack’s inspiration for Wolfenstein 3D’s game engine.

Wolfenstein 3D was soon surpassed by id's next game, the genre-defining Doom (1993). While still using sprites to render in-game opponents, Doom added texture-mapping to the floor and ceiling, and removed some of the restrictions of earlier games. Walls could vary in height, with floor and ceiling changing levels to create cavernous spaces and raised platforms. In some areas, Doom removed the ceiling altogether to create the outdoor environments that were generally lacking in previous genre games. However, there were still significant limitations on the environment; all surfaces were strictly horizontal or vertical, and a map could not "stack" floors one above another.

While the graphical enhancements were notable, Doom's greatest innovation was the introduction of network multiplayer capabilities. While similar multiplayer modes had existed in previous mainframe- or arcade-based games, Doom was the first mass-market game to gain a significant following dedicated to multiplayer (usually, but not exclusively, LAN-based) contests, and guaranteed persistence of the FPS in gaming formats; the real thrill of these already-atmospheric games comes from blasting human opponents, be they friends or strangers on the Internet. Doom was also one of the earliest FPS games to gain an active community of fans producing add-on maps.

1994-2000: After Doom

Doom dominated the genre for years after its release. Every new game in the genre was held up against id's masterpiece, and usually suffered by comparison. However, some developers wisely chose not to attack Doom head-on, but instead to concentrate on its weaker aspects, or expand the new genre in alternative directions.

Marathon (1994), together with its sequels Marathon 2: Durandal (1995) and Marathon: Infinity (1996), included a strong plot, revealed through a series of computer terminals, a radical change from the simplistic "blast anything that moves" style of most earlier FPSs. Unfortunately, these games did not reach a wide audience, being released on the Apple Macintosh platform, and only Durandal being released on the PC.

System Shock (1994) and System Shock 2 (1999) combined an FPS-style viewpoint and controls with role-playing game and horror gameplay elements. Both games received huge praise from critics and huge cult followings, but limited mainstream success.

The 1995 game Descent used a fully 3D polygonal graphics engine to render opponents (previous games had used sprites). It also escaped the "pure vertical walls" graphical restrictions of earlier games in the genre, and allowed the player six degrees of freedom of movement (up/down, left/right, forward/backward, pitch, roll and yaw).

In 1996 id Software released their eagerly-anticipated Quake which significantly enhanced the network gaming concept introduced by Doom. Like Descent, it used a 3D polygonal graphics engine to render enemies, but, again, Quake's greatest influence was felt in network-based multiplayer gaming. Quake was the first FPS game to really break out of the LAN and gain a widespread fanbase dedicated to multiplayer Internet gaming.

Quake also innovated by actively encouraging user-made modifications. These "mods" contributed to its longevity and popularity with players; in some cases (such as Team Fortress) they even developed a semi-independent existence.

Duke Nukem 3D, also released in 1996, was the first game using what proved to be the most popular engine of the decade (12 released titles), Ken Silverman's Build engine. Build was outwardly similar to Doom's engine, but the internals (and many engine features) were radically new and different. The game itself was a new take on the shooter, with main character Duke characterizing himself by way of witty, egotistical one-liners and interaction with all sorts of goofy objects, from blowing up urinals to tossing cash at strippers. Duke, and Build, are also notable for having one of the simplest map editors of any 3D game ever made.

In 1997, GoldenEye 007 was released for the Nintendo 64 and was praised for its realistic setting (incorporating elaborate bullet-hit detection, impressive artificial intelligence and animation, and well-designed environments based on the GoldenEye movie's sets) and a varied split-screen multiplayer deathmatch mode. Console first-person shooters have for many years been criticised for having control schemes less precise than the keyboard and mouse of PC titles, yet GoldenEye overcame such complaints to be considered the first great FPS for a console.

Also released that year was the first Western-based shooter by LucasArts: Outlaws. The game was mostly played through the Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone. Another popular game on the "Zone" was another LucasArts title, Jedi_Knight: Dark Forces II a game with a Star Wars theme. Jedi Knight is distinctive from a technological standpoint because it uses a Negative-Space engine instead of the more common brush engine, like Quake-derived games use. Jedi Knight is still active and is still being modded by enthusiasts today at locations like The Massassi Temple. The lasting popularity of both Jedi Knight and GoldenEye is interesting considering their nature as film licences, relatively few of which are highly-regarded by gamers.

In 1998, the game Half-Life was released, featuring a single-player game with a notable narrative focus directing the action and the goals of the player. The tremendous success of the game encouraged the creation of many more games with a similar focus on story-based action. Half-Life also produced many successful mods, such as the hit Counter-Strike. Counter-Strike continues, seven years later, to be the most popular multi-player FPS in the world; a feat of no small achievement in a market of ever-changing consumer tastes.

Also in 1998 Thief, the Dark Project was released. It was considered by many critics to be one of the first FPSs to successfully implement stealth elements. Some deemed it a "first-person sneaker". Another game released in the same period that contributed to expanding the genre was Shogo: Mobile Armor Division because of its heavy anime influence and strong emphasis on story and characters, although the game never made great commercial successes and is relatively unknown.

Another game of 1998, Starsiege: Tribes, while not a major commercial success, was also very influential. Supporting large numbers of players, vehicles, wide-open landscapes and innovative movement mechanics provided by the jetpack all players spawned with, Tribes can be considered the ancestor of many modern multiplayer-focused shooters including Battlefield 1942 and contributed greatly to the creation of the massively multiplayer FPS genre (including World War II Online and PlanetSide).

1999 was another important year for FPS, as two competing franchises were pitched head-to-head: Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament. Both games were widely acclaimed by game-industry critics and laid the basis for their respective franchises to continue onward: the Unreal Tournament series with Unreal Tournament 2003 and later Unreal Tournament 2004, and the Quake series with Quake 4, released October 2005.


The 2000s

Counter-Strike has helped establish a new sub-genre, the team-based multiplayer FPS games.

In 2000, Deus Ex was released, a single-player FPS that blended elements from RPG and adventure games. It featured many side-quests and multiple ways of completing each mission. This game also had a character building system similar to an RPG where the player gained experience points for completing various objectives, which were then spent on upgrades for your character. Additionally, it incorporated stealth elements that first appeared in Thief: The Dark Project.

In 2001, Operation Flashpoint was released, creating a new level of realism in an FPS environment with extensive vehicles and aircraft, seamless indoor / outdoor environments, and view distances an order of magnitude longer than anything else released before it in the genre. Also, Halo: Combat Evolved was released for the Xbox, a first person shooter with third-person vehicle usage. The game was acclaimed for its artificial intelligence used to control the game's enemies, and key features of its gameplay have since become genre standards. For example, the game's limited weapons inventory (two weapons at any given time), and recharging shield on top of a non-recharging health supply have been widely imitated.

In 2002 Battlefield 1942 was released, including easily-operated vehicles, aircraft, and ships. The game featured class based infantry combat system in a World War 2 setting, and proved to be a highly popular multiplayer game (though it could still not match the popularity of Counter-Strike, which as of 2005, continues to dominate the genre as far as popularity). Meanwhile, in the world of consoles, Metroid Prime was released. It was an FPS for the Nintendo GameCube, set in a comparatively large world that focused more on exploration than combat; due to this focus, many critics referred to it as a first-person adventure game. It featured state-of-the-art graphics and a lock-on based targeting system similar to that used in Nintendo's first-party title The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

In 2004, many sequels to older games were released, along with some newcomers:

  • Painkiller, Far Cry: both titles featured vast and highly detailed environments, indoors and out. Also, they had sophisticated AI and physics systems rounding out the feature set.
  • Doom 3: Made use of a new graphics engine featuring hitherto unseen real-time lighting and shadows, used exclusively to create an atmosphere of fear and danger for the player. Essentially a "re-telling" of the original Doom story, and in many ways a throwback to some of the techniques used in earlier FPSes, the main selling point for the game was actually its graphics engine. Using cutting-edge technologies, id Software created one of the most powerful graphics engines to date. As with previous Doom and Quake engines, it is being widely licensed to developers.
  • Halo 2: The sequel to Halo with enhanced graphics and sound, and new game features such as hijacking vehicles, dual-wielding weapons and online multiplayer support.
  • Half-Life 2: Making extensive use of shaders, AI with squad tactics, Havok middleware physics engine and relatively large maps for its level of graphic detail. The level of detail seen in the game is perhaps best exemplified by the complex character facial models developed especially for the game. The behind-the-scenes character engines can use voice recognition software, and the mouths of the models in the game will move according to what the character is saying and will express emotions when combined with script; this innovation vastly reduced the development time required to animate such complicated motions.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: A 3D version of the classic Metroid games for the NES and SNES. While still retaining the original action/adventure elements and large levels, it also became an FPS. Although, it is coined by Nintendo as an FPA {First Person Adventure} up until a recent interview with one of its creators where they admitted it was just an FPS.

There have been many attempts to combine the FPS genre with role-playing (RPG) or real-time strategy (RTS) games. The Half-Life mod Natural Selection blended a multiplayer FPS with some RTS elements. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory blended some RPG elements with an experience and skill-based point system that can work across matches. Battlefield 2 has a stats tracking similar to Enemy Territory, and a complicated scoring system. Not to mention being able to command the whole team.

Controversy

Some groups have blamed first-person shooters — the usual poster boy for video game violence — for certain spree killings. For example, there was much controversy in the United States that the Columbine High School massacre was a result of the attackers having played a great deal of the FPS Doom. In fact, one of the attackers created levels for Doom, the most popular being one called "UAC Labs", which can still be found on the Internet to this day as the Harris levels. Years later, there was much speculation in the UK media that the Beltway sniper attacks were inspired by first-person shooters and games such as Grand Theft Auto that have first-person shooter elements.

Some claim that the system of rewards and punishment in violent video games like Doom systematically teaches participants to be violent. But opponents to this view counter that such games actually prevent violent behavior by providing a safe outlet for aggression. Over two hundred published scientific studies have tackled this subject in an attempt to find which of these views is correct.

There is no clinical proof that violent video games such as FPSs contribute to violent behavior, and the majority of studies on the subject conclude that a causal link does not exist. For example, after a study commissioned by the U.S. government reached this conclusion in 1999, Surgeon General David Satcher said "we clearly associate media violence to aggressive behavior. But the impact was very small compared to other things. Some may not be happy with that, but that's where the science is." The most comprehensive meta-study of the available research, by psychologist Johnathan Freedman, found that the majority consensus from the available research was that a causal link between violent video games and violent behavior does not exist.

It is important to distinguish between correlational and causal links. If some people are naturally predisposed to violence, independent of playing video games, then they may choose to purchase and play such games in greater numbers than those who abhor violence. Therefore, those who play video games may actually be more violent than those who do not, but it would be unjustified to conclude that the video game increased violent tendencies. The most obvious example of this would be gender differences — the population of violent video game players includes a higher percentage of males than the general population, and so would be expected to exhibit more aggressive tendencies.

Most FPS games have a voluntary ESRB rating of T (for Teen) or M (for Mature audiences), but sale of these games to children in the USA was not moderated or enforced until late in 2003, when it was announced that a number of major retail outlets such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, which account for a large share of video game sales, would begin restricting sales of "M"-rated games to people under the age of 17. There is no national law in the United States prohibiting sale of such games to children, but bills have recently been proposed that would prohibit the sale of games to customers under the ESRB rating's age. Video game industry professionals oppose such a law, citing that the ESRB is a voluntary rating and similar rated materials are not regulated, such as the MPAA film rating system's minumum age for movie patrons.

List of notable titles and development houses

Selected list of FPS developers

This is a short list of developers of first-person shooters who have achieved both critical and popular success, selling many units, developing lucrative intellectual properties into series of titles and/or creating strong followings that transcend the core FPS gaming audience and touched the mainstream media:

  • 3D Realms: 3D Realms is also notable as an old developer, having its beginnings in Apogee Software, a veteran of shareware PC gaming. It has released only two FPS titles: Shadow Warrior (1997) and Duke Nukem 3D (1996), they were very popular, however — especially Duke Nukem 3D, which was a smash hit. Development on a sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem Forever, continues after many years of secret production.
  • Bungie Studios: Bungie is a developer who has trodden outside of the FPS genre on a number of occasions. Their first success in the genre comes from the critically acclaimed Marathon (1994), a game for the Apple Macintosh, notable at the time for having a story and letting the player look up and down, among other things. Their breakthrough to the mainstream FPS world came with the Xbox flagship title Halo.
  • Epic Games (formerly Epic MegaGames): Another developer from the pre-FPS days of computer gaming has not been active in the FPS market as long as some others, but with the release of the widely acclaimed Unreal (1998) (which spawned a large series of games, many of them with well supported, thriving mod communities) and with the popularity of the Unreal engine amongst developers, the company has become a major player in the scene.
  • id Software: Developers of the extremely successful Doom (1993) and Quake (1996) series, they are one of the old school of game developers that has its beginnings in pre-FPS gaming, and is considered by most gamers as the original definer and populizer of the genre. Their technology has also been used in creating many other highly successful games. The developer's involvement with mod communities is limited in comparison to others, but its games have none the less spawned some of the most well known mod types: capture the flag and Team Fortress among them.
  • LucasArts: LucasArts was a phenomenally successful PC game developer in the 1990s and continues that success today, though perhaps not with the same vigour. It has developed unique franchises and exploited both the Indiana Jones and the Star Wars IPs. Two of the most successful entries to their Star Wars collection of titles are Star Wars: Dark Forces and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, which are recognized by critics as amongst the best Star Wars and FPS games produced to date.
  • Rare: Rareware is a recognizable name to console fans for many different titles, but their foray into first-person shooter territory is especially notable because it produced the first successful console FPS: GoldenEye 007 (1997). It was also one of the most popular titles on the Nintendo 64. Their next FPS, Perfect Dark (2000), was described as a "spiritual sequel" to GoldenEye, based around Rare's own characters and storyline rather than the James Bond licence.
  • Raven Software: Raven Software is generally most credited for being a pseudo sister company for id Software, since they have been collaborating together from as early as Doom. Since then, Raven have been using all of id's game engines, which has led to the notable creation of Heretic, Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force, and the controversial Soldier of Fortune games. In 2002 LucasArts employed them to produce a sequel to Jedi Knight, which ultimately resulted in the creation of the critically acclaimed Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and spinoff sequel Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Currently, Quake 4 is Raven's latest game.
  • Red Storm Entertainment: The developer of the long running Rainbow Six (1998) series of Tom Clancy affiliated tactical realism first-person shooters have found great success with this franchise.
  • Valve Software: Valve's inclusion in this list rests on the immense success of their first game, Half-Life (1998). Its mod, Counter-Strike had an effect on popular culture comparative to that of Doom, in that it created yet again mass awareness for the genre in the mainstream. Additionally, it was highly supportive of the modding community: so far it had brought numerous mods into its official line, which included but was not limited to Team Fortress Classic, Counter-Strike, and Day of Defeat. Valve has released the sequel of their game, Half-Life 2, which has a publically available SDK including mapping, animation, and sound tools; as well as source for the game logic in Half-Life 2.

Selected important games in FPS development

A chronoglogical listing attempting at listing the more "ground-breaking" or "influential" games from this genre, mainly the more popular or well known examples:

Maze War (1973)
Battlezone (1980)
3D Monster Maze (1981) — Sometimes claimed to be the first 3D game for a home computer, requiring the player to navigate a 3D maze in the first person avoiding a lurking dinosaur.
Ultima Underworld (1992) — An “unsung hero” of the FPS genre, and perhaps the first game to belong to it properly. The player character could defeat enemies with projectile weapons (bows, crossbows) or with melee weapons (swords, cudgels, etc.). Technologies such as walls of varying heights, non-perpendicular walls, inclined surfaces, and swimming were ahead of their time. A moderate commercial success, it was soon overshadowed by subsequent titles that nonetheless used inferior technology.
Wolfenstein 3D (1992) — The first resounding commercial success of the FPS genre. Also a turning point in the history of shareware. Although limited to perpendicular walls and floors and monochrome ceilings and floors, the game became very popular as many players’ first encounters with the first-person perspective in a computer game.
Pathways Into Darkness (1993) — Arguably the earliest first-person shooter for the Apple Macintosh, mixes RPG and adventure elements with action. Also noteworthy for being the "spiritual prequel" to Marathon and Halo.
Doom (1993) — This game was as influential in the future of the FPS genre as any game has ever been. Much closer to a true 3D experience than Wolf 3D (but still perhaps less so than Ultima Underworld), it added walls of varying heights and new lighting effects. Much of the controversy over video-game violence was attributed to this title.
Descent (1994) — Some consider this game to the first true 3D FPS. This game was very unique among FPSs at the time when most FPSs were considered Doom-clones. The player flew into robot infested mines in a hovercraft with a full six degrees of freedom of movement. Enemies were represented by true 3D polygon meshes, which Quake would later use, and the representation of the world geometry removed most of the 2.5D limitations that Doom had.
Marathon (1994) — The first in a trilogy - possibly the most popular series among veteran Mac users; notable for its extremely complex storyline.
Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995) — This game, based on the Star Wars franchise, was LucasArts's attempt to corner the FPS market. Through its particular variety of gameplay additions, rather than its use of a popular franchise, Dark Forces sticks out as a remarkably playable example of an early FPS. While less noted than other titles, it is arguably as influential in the genre.
Duke Nukem 3D (1996) — This early FPS is better remembered by more fans of the genre than even Doom. Serious fans generally accept Doom as more important, but Duke was more widely publicised in its time and so has a greater mass appeal.
Quake (1996) — The first true 3D "standard" FPS (Descent being the notable exception), it started the move to true 3D in the FPS genre. It also started the big wave of popularity of online multiplayer games by allowing multiplayer games to take place over the internet.
GoldenEye 007 (1997) — The first successfully implemented FPS on a console, GoldenEye was acclaimed for a strong, realistic single-player mode and a highly popular multiplayer section.
Unreal (1998) — One of the first FPS games to take place in large, open terrain, and a technological and visual breakthrough at the time.
Starsiege: Tribes (1998) — The first FPS to seamlessly integrate first person shooting with vehicles driven from a third person perspective.
Half-Life (1998) — Used a lot of scripted events to tell its story and set the mood; the level of artistry inherent to both the story and gameplay raised the standards of the FPS industry to new heights.
Soldier of Fortune (1999) — Using a highly modified Quake 2 engine, Soldier of Fortune added location-based damage, as well as other less important advances.
Thief (1998) — The first first-person "sneaker".
Rainbow Six (1998) — The first realistic, squad-based FPS to gain a wide following and acclaim. Numerous sequels have been made. The first FPS game to fall into the "simulation" category.
System Shock 2 (1999) — This was one of the first games to successfully implement an interesting story and RPG elements into the gameplay.
Counter-Strike (1999) — Still the most popular FPS "game", Counter-Strike is a Half-Life MOD that quickly won popular acclaim and helped redefine the multiplayer genre.
Deus Ex (2000) — An RPG-FPS hybrid and a massive success that many critics cited as an example of "video games as art."
Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) — The first successful FPS on a console since GoldenEye, Halo also featured an expanded role for vehicles in game and cinematic elements which appealed to a wide audience.
Battlefield 1942 (2002) — The most successful large scale, vehicle-based FPS in the vein of Tribes, BF1942 has popularized an expanding genre of massive-scale online FPS games.
Metroid Prime (2002) — Classic Metroid gameplay merged with an FPS.
Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002) — Saber dueling was very well implemented with advanced melee fighting.
Doom 3 (2004) — The first game to calculate all lighting in real-time and to use an unified lighting system (with no lightmaps).
Half-Life 2 (2004) — Direct sequel to Half-Life. The game continued the narrative techniques of the first title, but the implementation of the physics engine was particularly noteworthy. This can be considered the first FPS game to make extended use of physics puzzles.

A partial list of "notable", "ground-breaking", and "influential" FPS games:

.kkriegerAmerica's ArmyBloodBrothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 C&C Renegade Call of Duty series — Clive Barker's UndyingDamage IncDaikatana Delta Force seriesFar CryGiants: Citizen Kabuto Halo 2HereticHeXen Hired GunsHidden and DangerousIGIKen's LabyrinthKingpin (computer game)MechWarriorMedal of HonorNitemare 3DNo One Lives ForeverOperation FlashpointPainkillerPerfect DarkPlanetSideReturn to Castle WolfensteinRise of the TriadSinSerious SamShadow WarriorStar Trek: Voyager Elite ForceStar Wars: BattlefrontThe Stone ThrowersSpecial ForceTeam Fortress ClassicTerminatorTrespasserTurok: Dinosaur HunterTron 2.0Under AshVirtua CopHitman: Codename 47

For a comprehensive list of the genre, see the list of computer and video games by genre.

See also

External links

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