Hovertank 3D

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Hovertank 3D
Hovertank 3D title screen.jpg
Hovertank 3D title screen
Developer(s)id Software
Director(s)Tom Hall
Designer(s)Tom Hall
Programmer(s)John Carmack, John Romero
Artist(s)Adrian Carmack
EnginePrototype of Wolfenstein 3D engine
Genre(s)Vehicular combat game, first-person shooter[3]

Hovertank 3D,[1] also known under a variety of other names (Hovertank or Hovertank One[a]), is a vehicular combat game developed by id Software and published by Softdisk in April 1991.


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 or scientists), both by the government and by large corporations. However, the cities are also full of mutated humans, strange creatures and enemy hovertanks.


Hovertank 3D gameplay

The player must drive a hovertank through the levels and try to 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 number of people safely rescued, and how fast the operation was completed. All damage to the hovertank is repaired at the end of the level.



John Carmack's research in the game's engine took six weeks, two weeks longer than any id engine before it. The engine written for this game was expanded upon with texture mapping to make Catacomb 3D, and then later still with raycasting for the well-known Wolfenstein 3D. Following the engine's completion, the id staff decided on the nuclear Armageddon theme and developed the game. Adrian Carmack is said to have enjoyed drawing the monsters and other ghoulish touches.[4] The credits are John Carmack and John Romero as programmers, Tom Hall as game designer and Adrian Carmack as game artist.


The source code to the game, now owned by Flat Rock Software, was released in June 2014 under GNU GPL-2.0-or-later in a manner similar those done by id and partners.[5]

Impact and Reception[edit]

Hovertank 3D is a landmark in first person game graphics. Other 3D games at the time, such as flight simulators and other games (such as Alpha Waves) that had more detailed environments, were noticeably slower.[4] A similar engine was used by MIDI Maze for the Atari ST in 1987 and Wayout for the Atari 8-bit family from 1982.


  1. ^ The name Hovertank is used on the MS-DOS title screen. Hovertank 3-D is a name used in the start menu in Softdisk's 1992 Gamer's Edge release. Hovertank One is used on the box art and floppy disks of a 1991 mail-order release.


  1. ^ a b "id Software: Hovertank 3D". id Software. Archived from the original on March 21, 2007.
  2. ^ "How id built Wolfenstein 3D using Commander Keen tech". Gamasutra.
  3. ^ Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture. Random House. 83. ISBN 0-375-50524-5. Hovertank was the first fast-action, first-person shooter for the computer. Id had invented a genre.
  4. ^ a b Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture. Random House. 89. ISBN 0-375-50524-5.
  5. ^ Larabel, Michael (June 6, 2014). "id Software's Softdisk Open-Sources Some Really Old Games". Phoronix. Retrieved June 6, 2014.

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