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id Software: A history in games

Why the Rage creator is considered the FPS daddy...

You only need to look at the select list of key id Software titles below to understand why the developer has something of a legendary status in the world of video games.

With the likes of Doom and Quake to its name, the studio is considered the father of the modern day first-person-shooter and creator of the multiplayer formula that has made the FPS genre the most popular on the planet.

The chaps at id Software will be the first to point out that they created the iconic Deathmatch but they aren't the kind to rest on their laurels. Instead the developer has managed to produce a spread of industry changing titles throughout its lifetime making it one of the most important studios in gaming history.

Here's why:

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Commander Keen

After making technological breakthroughs in the side-scrolling platform genre during employment with Softdisk, id founders John Carmack, John Romero and Tom Hall independently produced Commader Keen, a Mario-style side-scroller for PC.

And it's that Mario style that was so significant. With Commander Keen, John Carmack had managed to develop a game engine that could replicate smooth, scrolling platforming that was synonymous with Nintendo's NES system. It was an effect that had never been achieved on PC before.

But id Software was also making waves in terms of distribution as well. There were six episodes of Commander Keen in total, with the first one being released free as shareware with a previously unheard of try-before-you-buy concept.

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Wolfenstein 3D

Although id made some pioneering breakthroughs in pseudo-3D first-person gameplay with the likes of Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3-D in 19991, it's Wolfenstein 3D that many today recognise as the game that popularised the modern FPS genre.

Inspired by the Wolfenstein games of the 1980s, Wolfenstein 3D saw players gunning down scores of Nazi soldiers. But while the original Castle Wolfenstein had a strong stealth element, Wolfenstein 3D focused on visual prowess, fast-paced action and a requirement of quick reflexes that most gamers would claim to own today but were only on show in the arcades at the time.

Wolfenstein 3D was distributed using the same shareware model as Commander Keen and was a big commercial success.

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Doom

If you're wondering how Space Marines became such popular protagonists in video games, you probably need look no further than Doom. Taking the role of an unnamed soldier in a sci-fi world of grotesque alien monsters, this was where id's popularity soared as the studio kicked the FPS genre into the stratosphere.

While it may have built on the foundations of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom is id Software's most important title.

It pioneered key elements of the modern day FPS that are now taken for granted. Immersive, 'realistic' pseudo-3D graphics, the birth of the Deathmatch, co-op networked multiplayer and customisable modding opportunities? You can direct your thanks towards Doom for such features being so prominent today.

The fact that it is still a household name today and thoroughly played by a passionate and well established following only emphasises its significance.

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Doom II

With id's path clearly set thanks to the megaton impact of Doom, the sequel was little more than an evolution. There were no major steps forward in terms of technology or gameplay other than some minor structural changes to level design and the inclusion of new monsters and the double-barrelled Super Shotgun - a piece that would become something of an id signature.

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