Thursday, November 11, 2010

Castle Wolfenstein





I am a child of the 60's.  Not the 1960's, though I was born in 1969, but rather, I am a child of the Commodore 64 era.  Pictured above is the first game I can remember playing that had anything to do with World War II.  The player is the green guy.  The SS guards walked around and the player had to use stealth and timing to open up the golden chests to collect various items.  The zig-zag grid on the right is a set of stairs. 

I actually believe I played the Apple-II version before playing the C-64 one.  For some reason, I remember the game having different graphics, simpler ones if you can believe it.

The sequel to this game was "Beyond Castle Wolfenstein," and I played it all the way through (as I did the first one).  It basically played the same way, if memory serves.

From there, we move to the first 3d 1st person shooter - Affectionately known as "Wolf3d" because that was the file name you used in order to play.  I know I've talked about it before, but I remember first seeing the game in a Sears store.  It was the demo.  This was back in the days of dial-up and floppy disks.  In fact, the kid playing the game made me a copy to take home.  This was a newly developed method of distribution called "Shareware."  You could play a demo (limited) version of a game for free, downloadable on the bulletin boards.  What got me hooked, though, was the fact that it looked 3D!  All I saw was the tip of the gun and the world in front of and around me.  Similar to this:

Eventually, graphics got better, worlds more realistic, gameplay more intense in a game called "Return to Castle Wolfenstein:"


If I remember correctly, this was one of the first 3d shooters my Dad ever played.  He was hooked.  I tried to show him the 'historical' version of Wolf3d (and even Duke3d), but he would have none of that. I still have a copy of this floating around somewhere. I may need to break it out of its shell and fire it up again.

What made me think of all this?  Well, being home sick from work while watching various WWII historical documentaries probably had a lot to do with it.  I watched a show called "Patton 360" along with several other shows on this Veteran's Day, and eventually fired up "Battlefield 1942" for a little Nazi-killing.

The Wolfenstein series is based on fictional experiments that Hitler and his upper echelon were conducting.  Hitler and the Nazis were such a definitive enemy that many, many games have been built around eliminating them.  In fact, there are libraries of games based on WWII - so many, in fact, that at one time there was an outcry for game developers to STOP making them.

As I get older, I am drawn more and more to the desire to role-play the scenarios and battles that so many people lived and gave up their lives.  I don't mean that as anything suggesting a trivialization of the lives lost or what veterans went through during those battles.  In fact, I am seeking just the opposite.  I am not a vet, instead growing up at a time when I was free (because of the sacrifices of those who came before me) to go to college instead of being required to enlist.  Now that I am passed the age of being able to serve, I love to learn more and more about those who DID serve, those who DO serve.  And reliving those battles gives me a sense of connection to a time and place that I would not have otherwise.  Even watching the documentaries on TV is not the same as taking on the role of some of the personnel in the midst of those scenarios.

I am so grateful for the men and women who dedicate their lives, or have given their lives, so that we may enjoy the life we have in these United States.  Though I did not mean for this post to take on a message for Veteran's Day, there is really no way that it could not have.  I am free because others paid a price which I will never be able to pay back, and I am forever indebted to our armed forces.  Thank you from the deepest part of my heart.

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