The Long Strange Saga of Wolfenstein 3D On The Apple IIGS

(I originally wrote this article as part of my series, “Illuminating The Lamp” for The Lamp! online newsletter. This story appeared in the January 2004 issue, and is here represented for your enjoyment.)

DER FUEHRER’S FACE – Wolfenstein 3D

We are going to diverge this month from our regularly scheduled review of The Lamp! for 1999. Instead, I want to focus on the story of Wolfenstein 3D, which has been mentioned several times in this series so far. This time, the information I can share is gathered from sources other than the Lamp publications, so I will be indeed “illuminating” the Lamp. Previously you have heard bits and pieces of the tale; but you’ve never heard the entire story before now. Consider it a sidebar off of the last column.

The story will be presented in four major parts. The first looks at Castle Wolfenstein, the game that inspired it all; the second deals with the PC development of Wolfenstein 3D on the PC; the third with the Apple IIGS development; and the fourth with comments about the game itself.

THE SAGA BEGINS

The games you play when you first learn how to use a computer are sometimes the ones that stay with you the longest. They may have been simplistic, stupid, or even annoying by your standards of today, but they were special to you, because you spent hours and hours playing them and learning about your computer, sometimes by hacking them. This is especially the case for those who were introduced to a computer while they were in school, and “grew up” with it. And if you started with your Apple II in the early 1980’s, you had some great games on which to spend your time.

One of the pioneering Apple II companies that provided games for the platform was MUSE Software. Founded in 1978 by Silas Warner and Ed Zaron, they got their start by selling software on cassette tape for the Integer BASIC-only Apple II. As the technology advanced, they moved on to disk-based and assembly language programs. Several key events occurred in the early 1980’s that had an impact on what was to come later.

In the area of sound, two significant things happened. First, MUSE released a program called The Voice, which allowed the recording and playback of sound on an Apple II. It was very low quality, since the speaker on the Apple II could produce 1-bit sound (clicked “on” or “off”), but the results were intelligible. At about the same time, the company had been able to improve the production of their software cassettes by making use of Flight 3, a professional recording studio. This studio had developed techniques of enhancing the audio signal for MUSE’s data cassettes by running it through a graphic equalizer. This improved the tapes so much that MUSE advertised them as “Super-Load” cassettes.

Hi-resolution graphics had been part of games produced by MUSE software from the very beginning. One of their non-entertainment products was a word processing program called Super-Text, which as a text-based program was limited to the 40-column resolution inherent to the Apple II and II Plus. As a possible enhancement, Warner had designed a hi-res character generator to allow 70 columns of upper and lowercase text to be displayed on the graphics screen. Unfortunately, the hi-res screen took up 8K of RAM, nearly one fourth of the available RAM on a disk-based Apple II, and so this plan was abandoned.

Finally, MUSE had worked on some new techniques to access data on an Apple DOS disk more rapidly than was typically possible.

In early 1981, at the time these technologies had been completed and were available at MUSE, Silas Warner visited his local 7-Eleven one evening. There, he saw for the first time a new Williams Electronics arcade game, Robotron: 2084. This color game had the player running around a two-dimensional field, shooting in any of eight directions at robots that were threatening the world’s last family of humans. As he looked at the Robotron game,

…[I] realized that this would do really nicely if I built it with the hi-res character generator. But it was such a cliche’ … just robots and science-fiction gadgetry and all the trappings of that era. The whole concept of the game was just a big cliche’. And I wondered, ‘what else could you do with it?’ And then I saw The Guns Of Navarone and realized what you could do with it.

The 1961 World War II movie, The Guns Of Navarone involved the use skill and cunning for an elite force to break into a heavily guarded Nazi fortress; Warner’s game would require use of strategy to break out of a heavily guarded Nazi prison. The player could shoot (in eight different directions) at Nazi soldiers, or hold a gun on them and interrogate them, or even go though the pockets of a dead soldier to look for loot. It was not necessarily the point of the game to shoot at everything that moved to successfully complete it.

Castle Wolfenstein screenshot

Castle Wolfenstein screenshot - Photo credit: personal

Warner put everything into the game. The hi-res character generator was used to manipulate the graphics; the new disk routines helped speed up disk access; and The Voice was used to make guards that actually spoke to (or yelled at) the player when spotted. To create the voices used in the game, he went to the same recording studio that recorded their “Super Load” cassettes, and spent a morning saying phrases like “Achtung!” into a microphone. Six months later, MUSE released Castle Wolfenstein.

The resulting game was unique in several ways. Softalk magazine made a brief first comment on the game in the September 1981 issue: “Castle Wolfenstein from Muse (Baltimore, MD) combines an arcade-type game with a more complex adventure/fantasy game. Scenario puts the player in the role of an Allied soldier as World War II rages across Europe. Player is captured but must find the Nazi war plans and escape from the castle. Sound effects include guns firing and Nazis shouting – in German.” Their later more comprehensive review was enthusiastic about the game, and it soon appeared at the top of the Softalk Top 5 Strategy list at the end of each issue, right ahead of Warner’s other popular game, Robot War. Their brief description of the game when the top software of 1981 was listed mentioned that it was the first game to successfully fuse strategy, home-arcade, and fantasy. That description also mentioned that the room layout would change with each new game. It was simply a great game idea that had not yet been tried, and it resulted in a best seller that MUSE later translated to several other platforms, including the Atari 800, Commodore 64, and the IBM PC.

As with many hit games (or books or movies), Castle Wolfenstein spawned a sequel. In 1984, MUSE released Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, which Warner helped design but did not directly write. The premise of this game was not significantly different from the first, although this time the goal was to infiltrate Hitler’s headquarters, plant a bomb, and then escape before it went off. More strategy and stealth was needed than in the first game; it was necessary to collect security passes and bribe guards to progress through the game. Doing too much shooting would draw attention and increase the odds that you would be caught and arrested. It was also possible to search a guard at gunpoint, rather than killing him. (Strategy features like this have unfortunately not survived to the present day.)

FAST FORWARD

MUSE Software did not survive past 1987, mainly due to management problems that resulted in the loss of the company’s marketing department. As time passed, players moved on from the two Wolfenstein games and on to the next big thing. Nevertheless, a good concept is always ripe for another sequel, and this did eventually come about. When it did appear, the programmers again demonstrated break-through concepts.

John Romero got his start writing Apple II software, which he submitted to Nibble, inCider, and A+ Magazine. He badly wanted to work with a company in the computer industry, and eventually managed to get jobs first at Origin (the company that produced the Ultima series of games), then Inside-Out Software, then UpTime disk magazine, and eventually at Softdisk. Although he did have some submissions of games for the Apple II edition of Softdisk, he told the owner that he wanted to learn how to program for the IBM PC (since the Apple II platform was dying out), and so worked on their disk magazine, Big Blue Disk, and later helped start another disk publication, the Gamer’s Edge.

Working with Romero at Softdisk was John Carmack, who had likewise previously written programs for the Apple II before starting at Softdisk. Both were focused primarily on game playing and design. However, the work they did for Gamer’s Edge eventually began to feel restrictive. They wanted to create games for the PC that were more complex, games that had better graphics and sound. Unfortunately, it was necessary in writing for Gamer’s Edge to program for the lowest common denominator computer that most subscribers owned, which precluded writing games that made use of the latest video and sound cards and computer power. Doing work on their own terms began to be an attractive option.

Apogee was a small shareware software company that created games more advanced than those Romero and Carmack could do at Softdisk. They used a unique concept in selling their games, one in which the game was written as three large parts or chapters. The first part was completely unlocked, not crippled in any way, and was freely available for download from the thousands of computer BBS systems across the country (and the world). To play the second and third parts and complete the game required payment of a shareware fee. This method made it possible for potential customers to get a good feel for the game play and to spur the desire to buy the rest of the game and finish it. (Like a good multi-part story, the end of one part of the game often involved a crisis that required the playing the next part to resolve.) The success of this method resulted in good sales for Apogee and good royalties for its programmers.

Dangerous Dave screenshot

Dangerous Dave screenshot - Photo credit: personal

Romero and Carmack, under the name of “id Software” (a company that didn’t yet officially exist), sold a successful shareware game in 1990 through Apogee called Commander Keen: Invasion Of The Vorticons. Starting in 1991, they made the company name official, and continued to write games that they sold through Apogee using its shareware model. For a while, they had to continue to help with Softdisk, while new programmers came up to speed on taking over the Gamer’s Edge (which Romero and Carmack had started). They created several side-scrolling games, including Dangerous Dave (Romero had originally released the first version of this for the Apple II for UpTime magazine, and then later a conversion to the PC) for Softdisk, and the Commander Keen series for Apogee.

With the help of Tom Hall and Adrian Carmack (no relation), who also had worked at Softdisk, Romero and Carmack began to work on an entirely new concept. They had previously done games that involved moving through a 3D environment (Hovertank and Catacombs 3D), but they wanted a more exciting game, one that involved using the 3D environment to shoot at enemies. Viewing the screen would be like looking through the eyes of the player; turning to the left or the right, or moving forwards or backwards would cause things to move in perspective as it would in real life. Additionally, the ability to move would also allow aiming at an enemy. After tossing around various ideas, they decided to reach back to their Apple II roots and do Silas Warner’s Castle Wolfenstein in 3D. They conceived a game that had the same premise as the original game, escaping from a Nazi stronghold. During the game, it was necessary to collect weapons and kill bad guys (Nazis), while trying to stay alive by finding food and ammunition. Because their new game added a weapon at the bottom of the screen pointing forward with the movements of the player, id created the genre of the “first person shooter”. (They had also considered adding features from the original Castle Wolfenstein, such as opening chests and capturing guards, but eliminated them as it slowed down the pace of the game.)

The programmers contacted Silas Warner, and he did give permission to use the Wolfenstein concept in a game. id Software was ready to release Wolfenstein 3D in 1992, after six months of game development (oddly, the same time as it took Warner to create the original game). As with most of their other games, it was written to run under MS-DOS on Intel-based PCs. Following their desire to make games that pushed the frontiers of computing, Wolfenstein 3D was more hardware intensive than previous games they had written. For best game play it required a fairly fast PC and capable video card; in fact, it is likely that games like Wolfenstein 3D and its successor, DOOM, were responsible for motivating PC users to upgrade their machines in order to get best game play.

The game was a very popular download, and quite profitable for id; at one point, it was bringing in $120,000 a month in shareware fees. Additionally, people learned how to hack into the game and create their own levels that could be used with the original game “engine”, extending the game play further and enhancing its popularity. Building on the first person shooter concept, Romero and his partners pushed it further with their next hit game. In DOOM, it was possible for rooms be nearly any shape (Wolfenstein 3D required all rooms to be composed of right angle corners) and allowing multiple floors in a single level (although it was not possible to cross underneath or over an area). DOOM II added new weapons and the ability to play competitively or cooperatively with other players on a network. They then used their growing expertise to write a new, more powerful 3D game engine for Quake, which increased the complexity of the virtual world and of the game play, as well as improving network play.

RETURN TO THE APPLE II

As with the original Castle Wolfenstein, the popularity of Wolfenstein 3D and its descendants from id Software resulted in requests for conversions to enable the games to play on other platforms. Even console game manufacturers were interested in having it ported to their machines. In January 1994, a company called Imagineer released (under license) a version of the game for the Super Nintendo (SNES). However, Nintendo insisted on removal of the Nazi references, blood (which was changed to sweat), and rabid dogs (changed to rats). The 16-bit graphics available on the SNES also decreased the quality of the appearance of the game. In August, a version for the Atari Jaguar was released, in which the graphics were much improved. By October 1994, MacPlay released a conversion for the Macintosh. As versions of the game appeared on these other platforms, and the knowledge that the SNES ran on the same 65816 processor as did the Apple IIGS, it was speculated that a IIGS port was entirely possible. By mid-to-late 1994, rumors were surfacing that this was actually going to happen. The production of this IIGS version of Wolfenstein 3D did not come easily, however.

Vitesse, an Apple II software company that had produced several utilities for the Apple IIGS, had also begun to publish games. In August 1994, Vitesse released Ultima I GS, a conversion and enhancement of the older Apple II DOS 3.3 classic. They had announced and promised two other games, Mind Shadow and Tracer Sanction for the IIGS for 1995 (but never actually released them). But the one game that they hoped would be a huge seller for them was a IIGS port of Wolfenstein 3D. To bring this about, Vitesse contacted id Software and asked them for a license to do a port of the game.

This part of the story gets somewhat complicated. Interplay had handled some of the Wolfenstein 3D conversions for id Software, and assigned “Burger” Bill Heineman to do the Super Nintendo version of the game. Heineman actually used an Apple IIGS to do his SNES development, and so was simultaneously doing work that would allow a IIGS port to be done in the future. Unfortunately, he and Interplay disagreed with this parallel work, and he was dismissed from the company. Heineman and Steve Parsons then founded a new company, Logicware, to do similar work.

At this point, Heineman’s Logicware, Vitesse, and id together agreed to allow Logicware to work on a IIGS port of Wolfenstein 3D, which Vitesse would market. However, the agreement apparently did not involve a significant monetary compensation for Logicware up front, and after he had completed about ninety percent of the game conversion, other better paying projects began to demand his attention.

By this time, a post made by Lowell Erbe of Vitesse in December 1994 had generated considerable excitement. He stated that an Apple IIGS conversion of the hit Wolfenstein 3D was soon to be released. He stated, “We’re just wrapping up Wolfenstein 3D and should begin shipping within the next two weeks.” (This confident statement was likely made based on a progress report from Heineman.) A pre-release price of $39.95 was offered if ordered before January 1, 1995, with a price increase to $49.95 after that date. Vitesse was also at that time struggling to get a IIGS fax program, Faxination, completed and shipped, but that had been falling behind schedule and did not appear until March 1995, and that as a less-than-full release version (v0.1.5).

Scott Everts worked at Interplay, and had previously done the artwork for the Macintosh version of Wolfenstein 3D. He was a big fan of the Apple IIGS, and really wanted the company to do a IIGS version of the game. After Heineman began the IIGS version, Everts worked during his Christmas holiday in 1994, downsampling the Mac version’s artwork from 128×128 pixels to 64×64 pixels and 16 colors for the IIGS. He made a number of posts on GEnie about the coming game; he confirmed in January that Bill Heineman was the programmer doing the conversion, and that this port of Wolfenstein 3D was based on the Macintosh “Third Encounter” version of the game. Because the game play and graphic manipulation was highly processor-intensive, an accelerator was strongly recommended. He also promised that the IIGS version would be true to the original PC game, and would not be like the Super Nintendo “sanitized” version that had been so disappointing to fans of the game. It was to be as much like the original as was technically possible.

The various previous translations of the game that had appeared had not necessarily included the same levels as were in the original PC game. The Super Nintendo and Jaguar versions came with thirty levels that were modifications of levels in the original game. The Macintosh version of the game used these thirty modified levels, plus the original sixty PC levels. In fact, the Macintosh release of Wolfenstein 3D came in three different flavors: One with three levels (the shareware trial), one with thirty levels, and one with all ninety levels. It was planned that the Apple IIGS conversion of the game would include all of these levels, the sixty levels of the original PC game (divided into six missions of ten levels each), and the thirty modified levels that appeared in the Super Nintendo, Jaguar, and Macintosh shareware versions.

Customization of the game was, as mentioned above, a popular feature for PC gamers. These level files (which contained the maps, items, and artwork for a series of levels) would have a quite different format on the IIGS than it had on the PC, and so it was not possible to play existing customized PC Wolfenstein 3D levels. However, Everts said that Heineman was including in the IIGS version the ability to load new levels, if a programmer created them (although a level editor was not planned for the final release).

Soon after Everts made his post, Lowell Erbe of Vitesse again posted a promise that the game release was imminent: “We’re working out some final details and a few bugs.” He could not promise a specific date it would be available, but hoped to begin shipment of it by February 1995.

DELAYS, DELAYS

In February, posts began to appear indicating that there were problems with the conversion process. It appeared that the sixty additional levels were causing problems. There was also mention of a dispute of some sort regarding that contract for the game, a dispute that was contributing to the delay. This problem was still ongoing in April. Heineman himself posted a message on GEnie in May to explain part of what was going on. He said that there was a disagreement between he and his former employer, problems that required involvement of lawyers and the need for him to at least temporarily stop working on Wolfenstein 3D (it was indirectly involved in this legal matter).

No further posts about this appeared on GEnie until August; Vitesse then claimed that they were still waiting for Heineman to fix bugs, and this was holding up the game release. By September, Everts again came online stating that he had heard that if Heineman didn’t get the game completed by the end of the month, Vitesse planned to cancel the project and refund those who had pre-paid for it. He also expressed frustration about having done work on the art of the game, and then to learn that it would not be shipped. A later post by Everts in November reiterated that statement that Vitesse was not to blame for the cancellation of the project, and “they have been doing everything possible to get Bill to finish it.”

Then in December 1995 it was announced that Vitesse was contacting customers who had earlier paid in advance for Wolfenstein 3D for the IIGS, asking if they were still interested in the game. A representative of the company had gone to far as to (again) predict a release date (unofficial), this time for late January 1996. However, after two days of making these phone calls, Vitesse had to stop the process and rescind the predicted January date. The reason given was that a different programmer had been contacted to complete Wolfenstein 3D, and that id Software now insisted on a new contract.

SHEPPY TAKES OVER

Eric Shepherd had a reputation as a talented programmer for the Apple IIGS, and had released a number of utilities, under his shareware name “SheppyWare” as well as with Softdisk G-S. He began to work with Logicware in September of 1995, when rumors were still flying about whether or not the IIGS conversion of Wolfenstein would ever be completed. At this time Heineman had his hands full of projects that Logicware had been contracted to do, beside the IIGS Wolfenstein 3D project. He was completing work on translation of Wolfenstein 3D for the 3DO game console, and then had to move on immediately to create a version of DOOM II, also for the 3DO.

Vitesse’s contract with id Software had expired by this time. Logicware managed to get a new contract with id, but the new contract did not allow them to sell the game, but rather stated that Logicware had to make it available as freeware. The reason for this odd change was likely what happened in August, 1995. At that time, id Software uploaded to CompuServe the source code for Wolfenstein 3D (not including the graphics or the code for the levels). It would not have then been appropriate to allow Logicware to make the game for sale.

Sheppy volunteered to take over the project near the end of 1995. What had already been completed was getting the 3D game engine functional, and it was thought that all that was necessary to complete it was to make the game save function and the sound work. Since the game could not be sold and would therefore not generate any revenue, it was moved to a low priority level, and was worked on amidst as many as four other paying projects.

At the time Shepherd took on the Wolfenstein 3D project, he stated on GEnie, “Keep in mind that the last 10% of a program requires 90% of the work. Although Wolfenstein 3D for the IIGS is nearly finished, the part that’s left to do is the hardest part — making sure it works flawlessly and as fast as possible. That’s my job here.” He also asked to not be contacted with e-mails asking about the game or about progress on it, as responding to them would take away from time he could be working on programming.

Much of Sheppy’s development work was done on a Macintosh running an Apple IIGS emulator, first Gus and later Bernie ][ The Rescue. The primary reason for doing the work had to do with the time needed to compile the source code. On a 10 MHz accelerated IIGS, Wolfenstein 3D took over 90 minutes to compile; when running on the Gus emulator on a 120 MHz PowerPC 604 Mac, it would compile in only 15 to 20 minutes. From the start of the 1996 until spring, he worked (intermittently) on the sound and music drivers, fixed cosmetic bugs and speed problems, and optimized the code. In June he started adding the music to the game, and began to quietly seed beta versions of the game to select testers.

FINE TUNING

The music presented a particular problem in making this conversion. The first music that they worked with was that used in the Macintosh version of the game, translated into synthLAB format for the IIGS. However, Interplay (not id Software) held the copyrights for this particular music; and since Logicware did not have a license from Interplay for the music, it could not be used. A further problem was that the music slowed down the game play too much. As a result, Sheppy removed the music that played during the game, and then accepted an offer by Tony Gonzales to have new music created for the game introduction. (Gonzales had done music for other games Heineman had written).

At this point the game was sufficiently functional to allow a demonstration to be given at KansasFest 1996. It was announced at that conference that open beta testing would begin on Genie "in a few weeks", and that the final version of Wolfenstein 3D would be released as freeware, which had not previously been publicly announced.

Beta testing of Wolfenstein 3D for the IIGS was announced during September 1996. An FAQ posted on the Logicware web site at that time stated that a pause mode had been added, the sound effect player was being replaced by a more efficient one, music had been added, and new art work had been added. Sheppy even went so far as to predict that it would be ready for release by Christmas 1996. This testing progressed to the point that a more general beta release was announced for November.

By this time, however, Sheppy had realized that not only the music but also the sound effects they were using in the game were owned by Interplay. These also could not be used. Furthermore, when he examined the sounds used in the original PC version, he did not feel that their quality was very good. Therefore, the sounds were completely removed from the demo before it was released.

The general beta was released on November 17, 1996. This beta/demo version included the first three levels of the game, did not include the ability to save a game in progress, and of course did not have any sound effects. As on the PC version, the game pushed the computer to its limits, and required an Apple IIGS with a hard drive having at least 2 MB of free space, 4 MB of available RAM, as well as the strong recommendation for an accelerator.

The December 1996 issue of GenieLamp A2 included a review by editor Doug Cuff of this beta version of the game. He awarded the game "five lamps", the highest rating a reviewed product could be given. He pointed out that without an accelerator, significant slowdowns would occur; this was especially noticeable especially during combat, when shooting would be delayed.

To solve the problem with the sounds, Sheppy accessed the Logicware stock sound library, found some appropriate for the game, and installed them. With that problem taken care of, it would seem that not much was left to complete the game. But then more contributions appeared from a European source.

NINJAFORCE

When the first screen shots of Wolfenstein 3D for the IIGS appeared on the Internet during 1996, members of a German Apple IIGS programming group named Ninjaforce saw how the artwork had changed from the 256 color originals in the PC version of the game, to the 16 color versions that could be used on the IIGS. One of the Ninjaforce team, known as Clue, felt that he could do better, and so contacted Bill Heineman to ask if he could work on that part of the project, work that he would do for free. By the time he got an initial approval from Heineman, Sheppy had taken over, and Clue had to repeat the process with him. This would be a problem because the original artist, Scott Everts, would likely not be happy about having his work replaced. Additionally, Sheppy knew that it would be a lot of work to make the changes.

Initially, Clue sent Sheppy new artwork for the menus in the game. The quality of the work impressed him. Clue then asked permission to re-do that artwork throughout the game. He sent some samples to try, and although Sheppy was not enthusiastic about it initially, he found the improvement in the appearance of the game to be amazing. After the decision was made to make these changes, the promised release in December 1996 had to be delayed.

For a game that was to be available in December, every month of delay seemed interminable. Clue would respond to Sheppy's pleas for final artwork that, "It's not perfect yet!" Part of this delay had to do with the process of needing to pixel-edit nearly every graphic in the game, after making a conversion from the original PC art. Finally, by the spring of 1997, this large task was complete.

Another part of the game that Ninjaforce impacted was the spoken voices and some of the sound effects in the game. Since the Ninjaforce programmers were from Germany, they were eminently suited to speak the German phrases that appeared in the game. In fact, some of the phrases in the original PC version of the game didn't even make sense. In one place, a guard shouts, "Haben Sie Führerschein?" which means "Do you have driving license?" One of Ninjaforce's members, Dreamer, asked his grandfather to speak the phrases that were wanted for the game. These were recorded in April 1997, and appeared in the final version. As a result, the IIGS version of Wolfenstein 3D is the only version in which authentic German voices and pronunciations were used in the game.

MORE DELAYS

So the new artwork was done, the sounds were fixed; why didn't the summer of 1997 see the release of Wolfenstein 3D? According to Sheppy, he and Logicware had "an artistic dispute on another project", and he was fired from the company. For several months, he did not do any work on Wolfenstein 3D. By fall of 1997 he arranged with Heineman to resume work on it. At this point, Sheppy had moved several hundred miles away, and was working for Be, Inc.

As he resumed work on it, the major concern was performance. In an online chat on Delphi, programmer Nathan Mates suggested a different technique of graphic rendering; when Sheppy tried it, the speed increase was dramatic. He also implemented additional features, such as the preferences screen, and the Open-Apple-number key combinations to change the screen size (helpful for those with slower processors that needed a smaller screen to update).

Further mention of the game in The Lamp! did not appear until January 1998, when the final, true release date was announced: Valentine's Day, February 14, 1998. Then even at this late date, the game almost didn't make it out the door. At 2:30 pm on February 13th, beta tester Tony Diaz found a major bug that would cause the game to crash. Sheppy worked throughout the rest of the day to find and fix the bug. He sent a release build of the game to his testers at 10:00 pm, asking them about whether it should or should not be released. He finally got approval from them all, got the final release packaged up, and uploaded it at 11:58 pm on February 13.

THE FINAL PRODUCT

The result of all of the work and the delays was a much better game than would have appeared if it had followed the original timeline that Vitesse had wanted back in 1994 and 1995. Rather than simply being done to make a profit, Sheppy and his team of beta testers worked on it as a labor of love, trying to create the very best game they could.

Earlier concerns about the game not working with an AppleDesign keyboard on a IIGS turned out to be incorrect. The game had been so greatly anticipated that even the Apple IIGS emulator Bernie ][ The Rescue was modified in such a way as to make it possible to play the game. Sheppy sweetened the deal further by releasing a Wolfenstein 3D Scenario Converter, making it possible to play custom levels that had been designed for the Macintosh version of the game.

A feature that didn’t appear in the original documentation file for the game was the ability to capture a screen shot of the current game screen and save it in the Wolfenstein 3D game directory.

The original game by id Software included some special codes (“cheats”) that made it possible to get help if you were in trouble. This attribute was carried through even into the translations that were done for the Super Nintendo, 3D0, and Jaguar, and of course for the Apple IIGS version. These codes included some “Easter eggs” as well:

SARAH Get 100 health back
IDDQD Toggle “god” mode on and off
BURGER Set max ammo to 999 instead of 99, and gives 999 ammo
WOWZERS Get all weapons and max ammo
LEDOUX Get both keys and god mode
SEGER Gives you both keys
MCCALL Immediately jump to next level
APPLEIIGS Make secret doors visible on automap (shows player’s head)
SHEPPY Get an extra life
GETAJOB Replaces certain Hitler portraits with Steve Jobs
BARBARIAN Replaces certain Hitler portraits with Bill Gates
HARDWIRED Replaces certain walls with Tony Diaz
LIBRARIAN Replaces certain walls with Tony Ward
MEIJERDUDE Replaces certain walls with Dave Miller
DONHO Replaces certain walls with Ryan Suenaga

(By the way, the appearance of the player in “god” mode is more cool on the IIGS than on the other platforms. On the IIGS he is wearing sunglasses; on other platforms, he has shining red eyes.)

SQUASHING BUGS

A maintenance update to version 1.0.1 appeared shortly after Wolfenstein 3D‘s original release. In March 1998 a patch program was available to download, which fixed a crash occurring in certain low memory situations, and changing the startup music to continue playing while a scenario was being selected.

In April, Wolfenstein 3D players began to mention that their systems were becoming unstable after playing Wolfenstein 3D. Sheppy eventually tracked down the problem to a bug in the system software that is triggered only when applications attempt to patch the system software following the rules documented in Apple’s Technical Notes. Wolfenstein 3D uses a Toolbox patch to work around another system software bug. Sheppy fixed this problem by changing his code to not follow Apple’s own rules, but use a different patching method that is more transparent to the operating system. The version 1.1 update that fixed this was released on May 1, 1998, and included a completely rewritten sound code section (which allowed more sounds to be played at once), increased keyboard configuration options.

AFTERMATH

To say that Wolfenstein 3D for the Apple IIGS was “popular” would be an understatement. It even became an event at KansasFest 1998, with a “KFest Shootout” planned as a contest. In January 1999, Ryan Suenaga listed it as one of the two best freeware products of 1998, tying with Kelvin Sherlock’s GShisen.

The Wolfenstein 3D Scenario Converter, a casualty of falling shareware payments in the Apple IIGS community, was changed from a $5 fee to freeware in September 1999.

It is safe to say that the game as it was finally released was a far better conversion than would have appeared if it had stayed the commercial product that Vitesse had originally wanted it to be. Certainly, Bill Heineman is an excellent programmer, and would have come up with a great game if he had been able to apply the time to it. However, when Sheppy took over the project and continued to plug away at it even after there was no longer any chance of financial compensation for all of his work, it became a matter of making it perfect. Wolfenstein 3D on the IIGS is one of the most complex and demanding games that ever appeared for that computer, and a credit to the dedication to the platform demonstrated by Sheppy and his contributors.

You can download the game from Eric Shepherd’s web site here.

References

—–. “A Funny Thing Happened….” The Lamp!: Feb through Dec 1998.

Beerman, Marcel ‘Doc’. “Q&A with John Romero about DOOM (III) Part I”. Project Doom. <www.projectdoom.com/romero.html> (Dec 2003).

—–. “Beyond Castle Wolfenstein”. Home Of The Underdogs. <www.the-underdogs.org/game.php?name=Beyond+Castle+Wolfenstein> (Dec 2003).

—–. “Castle Wolfenstein”. Wolfenstein.Org. <wolfenstein.org/fanclub/castle_wolfenstein.phtml> (Dec 2003).

Cuff, Douglas. PD_QUICKVIEW, “Wolfenstein 3-D IIGS (Demo)”. GEnieLamp A2, Dec 1996.

Kai, Satoshi. “Wolfenstein Fundamentals: The History Of The Game Unprecedented”. The Wolfenmania Chronicles. <www1.linkclub.or.jp/~clubey/Mac%20Wolf/fundamentals.html> (Dec 2003).

—–. “Hey Mister Postman”. GEnieLamp A2, Jan through Dec 1995, Jan, June, July, and Oct 1996.

—–. “Hey Mister Postman”. GEnieLamp A2, Apr 1997.

—–. “Marketalk News”. Softalk, Sept 1981:32.

—–. “The History Of John Romero And John Carmack”. Micro Mart. <www.micromart.co.uk/content/features/default.asp?Category=Article&ID=1376>

—–. Moby Games. <www.mobygames.com> (Dec 2003)

Ninjaforce. “Haben Sie Führerschein?”, Feb 13, 2000. NinjaForce Web Site. <www.ninjaforce.com/html/special_wolf_interview.html> (Dec 2003).

—–. “Interview with Daikatana Creator John Romero”. Prima Games. <www.primagames.com/news/interview/921/> (Dec 2003).

Romero, John. “John Romero’s Dangerous Dave Page”. Planet //Rome.Ro. <rome.ro/article_saga_dave.htm> (Dec 2003).

Shepherd, Eric. Email, 2003/12.

Tommervik, Margot. “Marketalk Reviews: Castle Wolfenstein”. Softalk, October 1981: 55-58.

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2 Responses

  1. 1
    Antoine Vignau May 9th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Wouah, it took four years for that game to be released! I did not know that. Dead machine on a dead market with people working freely on that project, I understand the delay.

    Thanks Guys, Wolf 3D is a great program.

    Antoine

  2. 2
    Jesse Blue September 29th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Hehe, even with commercial products, delays like these can happen.

    All the best,

    Jesse Blue / Ninjaforce

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