Rise of the Triad

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Rise of the Triad
Cover art by Les Dorscheid
Developer(s)Apogee Software
Apogee Entertainment (Ludicrous Edition)
Nightdive Studios (Ludicrous Edition)
Publisher(s)Apogee Software
Apogee Entertainment (Ludicrous Edition)
New Blood Interactive (Ludicrous Edition)
Director(s)Tom Hall
Producer(s)Tom Hall
George Broussard
Scott Miller
Designer(s)Tom Hall
Joe Siegler
Marianna Vayntrub
Programmer(s)Mark Dochtermann
Jim Dosé
William Scarboro
Artist(s)Chuck Jones
Tim Neveu
Susan Singer
Composer(s)Robert Prince
Lee Jackson
Andrew Hulshult (Ludicrous Edition; 2013 remake soundtrack)
EngineModified Wolfenstein 3D engine
Kex Engine (Ludicrous Edition)
Platform(s)DOS, iOS,[1] Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
December 21, 1994 (shareware)
February 17, 1995 (full version)
February 6, 2010
Ludicrous Edition
Microsoft Windows
July 31, 2023
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
September 29, 2023
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Rise of the Triad: Dark War is a first-person shooter video game, developed and published by Apogee Software (now 3D Realms) in 1995. The player can choose one of five different characters to play as, each bearing unique attributes such as height, speed, and endurance. The game's story follows these five characters who have been sent to investigate a deadly cult, and soon become aware of a deadly plot to destroy a nearby city. Its remake was designed by Interceptor Entertainment and released by Apogee Games in 2013. The shareware version of the game is titled Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins.

The game began as a follow-up game to Wolfenstein 3D, but was soon altered and became a stand-alone game. It includes both single-player and multi-player functions, allowing individuals to connect with other gamers and tackle missions as a team. It is powered by a modified version of the Wolfenstein 3D engine and it was supposed to be called Wolfenstein 3D II: the Rise of the Triad. The idea was scrapped by id Software and Apogee Software bought the license of that game.


Like most early first-person shooter games, the single-player mode's objective is to collect keys in order to proceed through the levels. Occasionally, special tactics and simple problem-solving skills are required to reach locations. Although most levels are fairly linear, there are some maps which have multiple exits.

The player chooses between five characters: Taradino Cassatt, Thi Barrett, Lorelei Ni, Doug Wendt, and Ian Paul Freeley. The characters differ in three characteristics: hit points, speed, and accuracy. Taradino Cassatt is the only character available in the shareware version of the game and has average statistics: average hit points, average speed, average accuracy.

Certain enemies can beg for their life if they take enough damage, or fake their death. Some enemies dodge the player's attacks, while others lie on the ground to ambush the player. Other enemies can shoot nets to restrain the player, or steal and use weapons from the player. There are also four bosses. All enemies are digitized actors, mostly played by Apogee employees and their friends and family.

On random occasions, there are an especially large amount of gibs produced when an enemy is killed, presenting the player with a "Ludicrous Gibs!" message. The amount of gibs can be controlled through the options menu, which allows the player to set the graphics to various levels of goriness, from completely bloodless to extreme.

There are 13 weapons in the game, divided into three groups: bullet weapons (using infinite ammunition), missile weapons (using limited ammunition), and magic weapons. The missile weapons constitute the bulk of the arsenal, and usually have a wide area of effect. Magic weapons, like missile weapons, hold limited ammunition. Players can carry a total of four weapons at once: all three bullet weapons (a single pistol, dual pistols, and a submachine gun) and either a missile or a magic weapon.

Only one power-up can be active at once, and power-up effects last for a limited time.

Jump pads catapult a player in the air. By stepping onto one, the player character is propelled straight up, while by running up to it the player character can make long jumps. Jump pads are often required for getting past certain obstacles or reaching a ledge to retrieve a key. They can also be used for collecting powerups and bonuses.

Destructible objects such as ornaments or plants may block secret doors. If light poles and firepots are shot, the area dims. Glass can be shattered by shooting or running through it.

Bonuses are awarded for various achievements whenever a level is completed. Examples are picking up all the missile weapons in a level, using all the healing items, or ending a level with minimal hit points remaining.


The multiplayer mode (called COMM-BAT in the game) allows up to eleven players simultaneously. Each can have separate uniform colors, but in team mode, teams are defined by uniform color.

There are nine multiplayer modes. These include a standard deathmatch mode, and the similar "Score More", which assigns different points depending on the weapon and way that a kill was done. Other modes consist of collecting or destroying as many triad symbols as possible. There are a few "tag" multiplayer modes, similar to the children's game, where a player must tag another player or moving symbols. There is also a "Hunter" mode, in which a "prey" player with no weapons has to be hunted by the rest, and a capture the flag mode. Options that can be set for a multiplayer game include player attributes, and whether or not health refills, missile weapons, or traps are spawned.


A team of special operatives, known as the HUNT (High-risk United Nations Task-force) is sent to San Nicolas Island to investigate deadly cult activity taking place in an ancient monastery. Their boat, the only way back, is destroyed by patrols, and the team soon learns that the cult plans to systematically destroy nearby Los Angeles. The operatives, now unable to return whence they came, are then left to fight their way into the monastery on the island and eventually put a stop to the cult's activities.

During its early stages of development, Rise of the Triad was initially meant to serve as the sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, titled Wolfenstein 3D II: Rise of the Triad. The presence of the Walther PP pistol, the MP 40 submachine gun, the Bazooka, and the outfits worn by the enemies allude to Nazi Germany and imply the original aforementioned intent for the development of ROTT.

Development history[edit]

Original concept[edit]

Rise of the Triad began its life as a follow-up to Wolfenstein 3D (though it reportedly shares some similarities with Hall's "Doom Bible", which laid out Hall's conception of the video game Doom and even shares the name of one of the protagonists). The working titles of the game were Wolfenstein II[2] and Wolfenstein 3D: Rise of the Triad.[3] It was to use the same game engine code as Wolfenstein 3D, and have new levels, art, and characters. The artwork took around six months to do.[2] As the game was getting into deeper development, project leader Scott Miller was contacted by John Romero, informing Miller that the project had been cancelled. Miller suspected that this was because id Software did not want to draw the spotlight away from their upcoming game, Doom.[3] In order to keep as many of the numerous game assets the team had already created from going to waste, Tom Hall came up with a new storyline which still incorporated the Nazi themes seen in the Wolfenstein series, however they would ultimately depart from plotlines involving Nazis, with the final narrative concerning a cult apparently inspired by the Californian folk legend of the Dark Watchers or 'los vigilantes oscuros'.[3]

According to the Apogee website, the original storyline was the following:

After the fall of Hitler, the true powers behind him have drawn into seclusion, planning their next strategy for world domination. Three large corporations guided Hitler as a puppet, and now plan the subjugation of the planet to their organization, the Triad. Their new plan: having developed nuclear weapons and new V-3 rockets to carry them, they plan to get a stranglehold on the world with the threat of Armageddon.[4]


The engine is an enhanced variant of the Wolfenstein 3D engine. The level design uses 90-degree walls and unvarying floor and ceiling heights in individual maps, limitations that are vestiges of the Wolfenstein 3D engine. However, the Rise of the Triad engine also includes features not possible with the original Wolfenstein 3D engine, such as elevation, panoramic skies, simulated dynamic lighting, fog, bullet holes, breakable glass walls, and level-over-level environments (made possible by "gravitational anomaly disks", suspended objects that collectively form stairs, floors, etc.).[citation needed] The level layouts were created with Tile Editor version 5 (TED5), which was also released with "Extreme Rise of the Triad" for users to customize their own maps.[5]

Developers of Incredible Power[edit]

The team behind Rise of the Triad called itself The Developers of Incredible Power (DIP). Its name was created by Tom Hall, the lead designer of ROTT. Other members of DIP included Mark Dochtermann, Jim Dosé, Steve Hornback, Chuck Jones, Nolan Martin, Tim Neveu, William Scarboro, Joseph Selinske, Susan Singer, and Marianna Vayntrub. Rise of the Triad was the only game released by DIP. A second game that was planned, Prey, never took off, but its title and parts of the original design were eventually recycled by Human Head Studios. The team was disbanded, and some of the members worked on the bestseller Duke Nukem 3D. Others started their own companies or left the computer games business. Scarboro died from an asthma attack in 2002.[6]

Cut elements[edit]

Several planned elements were cut from the game, including female versions of certain enemies, like Low Guards, Strike Force soldiers, and the Overpatrol. Originally the game was going to load both sets of guards into memory, then determine randomly which to place at each appropriate point. This had the side effect of making memory requirements much higher than normal for the time, so in order to conserve performance, the alternate versions of the enemies were removed. Stills of the alternate enemies can be seen during the credits, as "actors who were cut from the game". Other cuts survived, like the ROTT Reject Level Pack (stages that were cut) and some artwork (some can be found on the CD). There is a motion capture session that was not used in the final game, but can be found online.[7]


Game releases[edit]

As most Apogee games, the game was distributed as shareware, with the first episode released for free. The shareware episode, which contains ten original levels, is titled Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins. This version has some limitations, including the ability to play only as Taradino Cassatt, and the availability of only four of the multiplayer modes. A "Deluxe Edition" of the shareware version, marketed in retail by LaserSoft, contains three extra levels, and three extra multiplayer levels that are not available on any other version.[8]

There were several versions of the full or paid game, which included three new episodes. The floppy disk and CD versions both contain 32 game levels for the three new episodes, with the CD version containing more multiplayer levels. Site License version contains several multiplayer levels, and allowed the game to be played in multiplayer mode in up to 11 different computers in a single network, without each requiring a different copy of the game.

In 2009, Rise of the Triad was released on GOG.com through DOSBox, making it compatible with Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS.[9]

Expansion packs[edit]

On July 25, 1995, Apogee released a Reject Level Pack as freeware online. This pack was a collection of multiplayer maps deemed unsuitable for the original release. Some of these were serious attempts at levels (one even attempted to recreate a popular deathmatch level ((1-5) from Doom), and some were not (like one played inside the popular character Dopefish). The final level of the pack causes the game to crash intentionally.

There was an official retail add-on level pack released by Apogee for ROTT entitled Extreme Rise of the Triad also released in 1995. The add-on was produced by two key members from the original team, Tom Hall and Joe Siegler. Generally the maps produced in this add-on are considerably harder than the original game's maps due to tricks that Hall and Siegler had learned in the editor since the release of the original. It also includes some user made level editors, a random level generator from Apogee, maps, and sound files. The levels were released as freeware on September 1, 2000. The remaining materials on the Extreme ROTT CD were released as freeware online as part of a "ROTT Goodies Pack" on February 15, 2005.

There were a few other level packs released from Apogee, including Lasersoft Deluxe Shareware Maps. They are identical to the released shareware packs, except that they include six exclusive levels. After Lasersoft went out of business, Apogee released these levels in October 1999.

Another was a level called "Wolf3D", which was done by Siegler as an exercise to see if he could replicate the level geography from Wolfenstein 3D in Rise of the Triad, as Rise of the Triad uses the same basic game engine. The level copies the complete level geography from Episode 1 Level 1 of Wolfenstein 3D. Some of the adjoining levels were added, but not completely.

The final release from Hall and Siegler was the "Ohio RTC" pack. This is a four level multiplayer pack which was designed for a group in Ohio that was holding a game tournament called 'BloodFest 96'. After the tournament was over, the pack was released online for everyone.

The final level to be released by anyone from the original team was one level done by Siegler called "You & Spray" (Spray was an internal nickname given to the NME boss character by the developers). This was done by Siegler as a gag in 1998, mostly as a personal exercise to see if he could remember how to still use the level editor. After mentioning its existence online, Siegler was cajoled into releasing it in November 2000. It was posted for download at the Rise of the Triad page on the Apogee website.[10]

Source code[edit]

The source code to Rise of the Triad was released under the GNU GPL-2.0-or-later on 20 December 2002. Fans of the game ported it to AmigaOS, Linux, Mac OS, Xbox, Dreamcast, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS (homebrew) and 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows.[11] This has led to the game being included in the Fedora software repository, which downloads the free source port engine used as well as a free installer which downloads the shareware version's data.


On September 6, 2020, during 3D Realms' "Realms Deep 2020" livestream, the game was shown running on Nintendo Switch and confirmed for modern platforms (Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One) for a 2021 release.[12][13] At Realms Deep 2022, this was re-announced as Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition, co-developed by Nightdive Studios and Apogee Entertainment and co-published by Apogee Entertainment and New Blood Interactive. It will be released on the aforementioned platforms, as well as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.[14] A demo was released on June 19, 2023.[15] It was released on July 31, 2023 (September 29, 2023 for consoles), coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the 2013 remake.[citation needed] It features the option to toggle between the OPL and MIDI versions of the original soundtrack and the 2013 remake's soundtrack by Andrew Hulshult.


Scott Miller estimates that the game eventually sold around 110,000 copies.[24]

A reviewer for Next Generation assessed that Rise of the Triad is an entertaining but ultimately undistinguished Doom replica which fails to rank with the best of the genre. Remarking that the game "has its own style but never strays far enough from the Doom herd to fully break free", he gave it three out of five stars.[21]

The iOS version was not very well received and has Metacritic and GameRankings scores of respectively 49/100[17] and 49.00%.[16]


In 2009, Scott Miller said that Rise of the Triad would be remade.[25] Gameplay footage of the new Rise of the Triad was revealed at QuakeCon 2012. The game was designed by Frederik Schreiber and his company Interceptor Entertainment and was released on July 31, 2013, through Steam and GOG.com.


  1. ^ "Rise of the Triad: Dark War". Slide to Play. Archived from the original on December 11, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  2. ^ a b A ntoniades, Alexander (April 8, 2014). "Apogee Software: When the sultans of shareware went retail". Gamasutra. UBM Tech. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Edwards, Benj (August 21, 2009). "20 Years Of Evolution: Scott Miller And 3D Realms". Gamasutra. UBM Tech. p. 5. Archived from the original on August 8, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  4. ^ "3D Realms Site: Rise of the Triad Original Spec". Legacy.3drealms.com. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  5. ^ Apogee Software September 1996 Catalog, Page 7.
  6. ^ "3D Realms News: William Scarboro Has Died". Legacy.3drealms.com. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  7. ^ Joe Siegler. "Rise of the Triad Unused Video Capture Sessions". Youtube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11.
  8. ^ Greentree, Derek (1995). "Rise of the Triad Official FAQ Version 3.00". 3DRealms.com. Archived from the original on 2014-11-10. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  9. ^ "New release: Rise of the Triad: Dark War". GOG.com. CD Projekt. March 3, 2009. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  10. ^ "3D Realms Site: Rise of the Triad". Legacy.3drealms.com. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Rise of the Triad ... for linux". Slide to Play. Archived from the original on February 7, 2003. Retrieved December 22, 2002.
  12. ^ "Rise of the Triad Remastered Reveal". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  13. ^ Prescott, Shaun (2020-09-07). "Classic '90s FPS Rise of the Triad is getting a remaster next year". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  14. ^ Boudreau, Ian (September 16, 2022). "Rise of the Triad returns, thanks to a boomer shooter super group". PCGamesN. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
  15. ^ Wilson, Mike (April 16, 2023). "'Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition' Receiving Demo During Steam Next Fest in June". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Rise of the Triad: Dark War for iOS (iPhone/iPad)". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 9 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Rise of the Triad: Dark War for iPhone/iPad Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  18. ^ "Rise of the Triad: Dark War - Review". Coming Soon Magazine. 1995. Archived from the original on 3 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Review of Rise of the Triad: Dark War (1995)". The DOS Spirit. 10 October 2010. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  20. ^ Golding, Marc (14 January 2004). "Rise of the Triad: Dark War (PC) review". HonestGamers. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Rise of the Triad". Next Generation. Imagine Media (6): 108. June 1995.
  22. ^ "Rise of the triad". PC Team (in French). Posse Press (2): 48–49. May 1995. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Das Dungeon-Duell: Heretic vs. Rise of the Triad" [The Dungeon Duel: Heretic vs. Rise of the Triad]. PC Joker (in German). Joker-Verlag (2): 12–13. February 1995. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  24. ^ Edwards, Benj (2009-08-21). "20 Years Of Evolution: Scott Miller And 3D Realms". Gamasutra. UBM. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  25. ^ Edwards, Benj (August 21, 2009). "20 Years Of Evolution: Scott Miller And 3D Realms". Gamasutra. UBM Tech. p. 9. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2013.

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