Screenshot of gameplay
|Programmer(s)||John Carmack, John Romero|
|Engine||Early Wolfenstein 3D engine|
|Genre(s)||Vehicular combat game, First-person shooter|
Hovertank 3D is a vehicular combat game developed by id Software and published by Softdisk in April, 1991. It is considered a significant precursor of the first-person shooter genre, made popular by id Software's subsequent releases, Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. It is sometimes inaccurately claimed to be the first 3D game for DOS, although it was preceded by several others which incorporated free movement within 3D environments, including Interphase, Mech Warrior, Corporation, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Elite, Alpha Waves, Starglider, and Starglider 2. The game used the same combination of scaled sprites and drawn walls that would later show up in Catacomb 3D and Wolfenstein 3D, but the walls in Hovertank 3D were in solid color, without any textures.
Hovertank 3D is set during a nuclear war. In Hovertank 3D, the player controls Brick Sledge, a mercenary hired by an unknown organization (referred to by the game as the "UFA") to rescue people from cities under the threat of nuclear attack (largely political activists), both by the government and by large corporations. However, the cities are also full of mutated humans, strange creatures, armed guards, and enemy hovertanks.
The player must drive a hovertank through the levels and try and find the people Brick is supposed to rescue. There are also many enemies in the levels, who are hunting down the people as well as the player. The player can keep track of both people and enemies in the radar box at the bottom of the screen. There is also a timer that counts how long until the nuke is dropped. Once all the living people are collected a yellow teleporter appears somewhere in the level, and the player must find it to win. Then the player receives their fee, based on the amount of people safely rescued, and how fast the operation was completed. All damage to the hovertank is repaired at the end of the level.
This title is a landmark in first person game graphics. Other 3D games at the time, such as flight simulators and other games that had more detailed environments, were noticeably slower. John Carmack's research in the game's engine took six weeks, two weeks longer than any id engine before it. Afterwards, the id staff decided the nuclear Armageddon theme and developed the game. Adrian Carmack is said to have enjoyed drawing the monsters and other ghoulish touches.