Rise of the Triad: Dark War (abbreviated as ROTT) is a first-person shooter video game that was first released on February 17 1995 and developed by Apogee Software (now known as 3D Realms). The members of the development team involved referred to themselves as "The Developers of Incredible Power." The shareware version, which contains ten original levels, is titled Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins. The player can choose one of five different characters to play as, each bearing unique attributes such as height, speed, and endurance.
Rise of the Triad was initially, during its early stages of development, meant to serve as the sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, titled Wolfenstein 3D II: Rise of the Triad. The presence of the MP40 sub machinegun and the outfits worn by the enemies are allusory to Nazi Germany and imply the original aforementioned intent for the development of ROTT.
Overall, the gameplay is straightforward and often linear, like that of other games developed during the same period of time (such as Doom). The objective is to kill as many enemies as possible along with the 'bosses', and to collect keys in order to complete successive levels. Occasionally special tactics and simple problem-solving skills are required to reach seemingly unreachable locations. Although most maps are fairly linear, there are some maps that were intentionally designed to avoid that, which have multiple exits.
Each character bears unique characteristics; for instance, Doug Wendt moves rather slowly yet can sustain a particularly large amount of damage, while Lorelei Ni has fewer hit points but is very quick and accurate. Taradino Cassatt is the shareware character and has average statistics: good health, good speed, good accuracy.
Most of the playable characters in ROTT share the names of characters in Tom Hall's Doom Bible, which was the original design document for id Software's Doom. Most of the ideas in the design document were not used in Doom. Ian Paul Freeley is meant as a joke for "I pee freely".
Notably, one enemy, the Lightning Guard, can snatch a missile/magic weapon or armor from the player if the Lightning Guard finds himself close enough to the player; the Lightning Guard can then use the stolen weapons. These same enemies sometimes beg for their life if the player has delivered enough damage to them. If they are left alive while pleading for their lives, they would fake their death but get back up and start attacking once again after a brief duration of time.
The Strike Team guards tumble and roll to either side to dodge the player's fire and Low Guards can sometimes be found lying on the ground, waiting to ambush the player once the player walks up to where they are reposing. Overpatrols shoot nets that restrain you in one spot until you either manage to wiggle out or cut through with a knife that you can obtain from a statue that wields a knife.
All enemies are digitized actors, mostly played by Apogee employees and their friends and family.
A major element of gameplay found in Rise of the Triad is the many hazards that the player can encounter in the environment. There are many different hazards that vary in the amount of damage that they may inflict on actors in the game and in how they do so. Hazards serve as obstacles and render the gameplay more challenging.
An example of hazards in the game are "spinblades," which are stacks of gyrating blocks to which large blades are attached. These cause any players or enemies to lose health rapidly when in contact with them.
Enemies are susceptible to traps as well, as they will walk into flamejets and spinblades. In fact, at the start of the third shareware level, a dozen enemies are cut down by the spinblades regardless of the player's actions. Generally, at least one dismembered hand giving the finger will fly by at that point, provided the "violence" setting is high enough (the game can be set so that no blood is shown, or increasing amounts, including "gibs" (see below) at its highest setting).
Bullet weapons have infinite ammo.
Missile weapons have limited ammo that varies. The missile weapons constitute the bulk of the entire available arsenal in ROTT and include:
Magic weapons, like missile weapons, hold varying limited ammo, depending on the weapon. There are two magic weapons, which are:
Players can carry a total of four different arms at once; all three bullet weapons and a missile or magic weapon--a realistic limitation that is the first of its kind to be found in an FPS.
Note: The player can still die while in God or Dog mode by stepping outside the boundaries of the map, i.e., falling outside the fortress. The game manual states that this is "to make things somewhat fair."
Jump pads are often required for getting past certain obstacles or reaching a ledge to retrieve a key, etc. They can also be used for collecting powerups and bonuses; the latter is often arranged in an arc such that the player can collect all of them if the jump is timed right.
If a player jumps over an "outer" (perimeter) wall of the level (even in Mercury mode, or the God or Dog modes), they fall outside the fortress and lose a life.
At the end of the game there are two special bonuses: the DIP (Developers of Incredible Power) bonus, which is awarded for finding all three hidden DIP balls in the game, and the genocide bonus that is awarded for killing/destroying every one of a particular type of enemy in the game. The bonus is received once for every enemy type completely annihilated.
Two rather humorous bonuses included the Democratic and Republican bonuses, of which there were two each. The Republican bonuses were awarded for acquiring all the missile weapons and for destroying all of the plants on the level; this was thought to parody traditional Republican attitudes toward defense and environmental policies. The Democratic bonuses were awarded for not using handguns and for using all of the "shrooms" powerups on the level; the former is a jab at the party's association with gun control and the latter reflecting the party's perceived lenient attitude towards drug use. There is also one other bonus, the "Bonus Bonus", which is supposed to be very hard to obtain and requires the player to receive every single bonus that can be given in the game.
Gibs, short for giblets, are the result of an enemy (or a player) coming into contact with an explosion; the flying bits and pieces of gore to which the actors in the game become reduced. The concept was first introduced in the computer game Doom. On random occasions, there may be an especially gratuitous amount of gibs produced, presenting the player with the comical and famous Ludicrous Gibs! message. There is even a cheat code, EKG, which activates the EKG Mode and tremendously ups the amount of gibs produced every time an actor meets an explosion. This could also be controlled through the options menu, which allowed the player to set the graphics to various levels of goriness, from completely bloodless to extreme. Gibs would eventually and similarly appear in 3D Realms' next first-person shooter, Duke Nukem 3D. The Quake series would then elevate the use and the sheer quantity of gibs.
Gibs make an appearance in the Game Over screen: the player's boots are left smoldering (part of the player's lower legs are still in them), and there is a pile of gibs around them, with the text "Game Over." This happens regardless of the level of goriness set by the user.
An item in the form of a floating digitized image of the head of Scott Miller, who was the president of Apogee when the game was developed and released, is located in a secret area. (This is sometimes known as "Scott's Mystical Head" due to the audio clip that plays when it is picked up.) When it is picked up, the player is rewarded with 2,764,331 points; the numbers are the digits of Apogee's past phone number, which was 1-800-276-4331.
If the parameter "dopefish" is added to the executable, a sample of burping is heard and Scott's Mystical Head is seen spinning in circles on the screen. The names of the levels change to somehow pertain to dopefish and on one level, "Eight Ways to Hell", there is a secret area where a series of walls spells out "Dopefish Lives!" in the Commander Keen language, Standard Galactic Alphabet. Also, the graphics data for episode 2 boss Sebastian Krist includes an unused animation frame that shows him holding a Dopefish plushie.
ROTT uses a pushwall system similar to that of Wolfenstein 3D, whereby a pushed wall would move until it hit a restricting object (either a stop flag or another wall). If a pushwall exits the boundaries of the level, the game quits with the error message "PushWall Attempting to escape off the edge of the map". During testing, someone encountered this error and joked, saying "I'm free!" which led to a drawing of a pushwall flying joyfully into space. The drawing and error message ended up in the final version of the game, and can be seen through the level select cheat in the secret level "This causes an error."
|Normal||Standard deathmatch. Players compete for the most kills.|
|Score More||The same as normal, but rewarding more difficult kills: Killing with bullet weapons scores more than killing with missile weapons (2 points instead of 1). Killing an airborne player scores more killing than one on the ground (again, 2 points instead of 1). Killing an airborne player with a bullet weapon scores 3 points Landing on another player and crushing them scores the most (4 points).|
|Collector||Players compete to collect as many triad symbols as possible. No weapons.|
|Scavenger||The same as Collector, but with weapons.|
|Hunter||One random player is chosen as "prey", and has no weapons. The other players (the hunters) must kill them for points. After a certain time, another player becomes prey, the previous prey becoming a hunter.|
|Tag||Based on the children's game. A random player is "it". They must tag another player by running up to them and pressing their use key to score a point. This player then becomes "it".|
|Eluder||Players must tag Eluders, which are moving triad symbols.|
|Deluder||Similar to Eluder, but the Eluders must be destroyed for points.|
|Capture the Triad||Essentially the same rules as Capture the Flag (for FPS games), with triad symbols in place of flags. It is probably the first computer or video game incarnation of CTF.|
There are many options that can be set for a multiplayer game, allowing a level of customization similar to many later games. These include player attributes, and whether or not things like health, missile weapons or traps are spawned in levels.
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 only two developers from the original team, Tom Hall & Joe Siegler. Generally the maps produced in this add-on were considerably harder than the original game's maps due to tricks that Tom & Joe had learned in the editor since the release of the original. The Extreme ROTT CD also had several other goodies on it. There were some user made level editors, a random level generator from Apogee, maps, sound files, etc. It didn't sell very well, and had rather short shelf life. However, after the game came off retail shelves, most of these materials were rendered unavailable. The levels ended up being 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. One was the 'Lasersoft Deluxe Shareware Maps'. They were identical to the released shareware packs, except that a shareware company back then named Lasersoft paid Apogee to design 6 exclusive levels for their shareware release of the game. After this company went out of business, Apogee released these levels in October 1999.
Another was a level called 'Wolf3D', which was done by Joe as an exercise to see if he could replicate the level geography from Wolfenstein 3D in Rise of the Triad. As ROTT uses the same basic game engine, Joe theorized that it should be possible to do this. The Wolf3D level for ROTT copied the complete level geography from Episode 1 Level 1 of Wolfenstein 3D, down to the exact placement of characters, doors, secret areas, and artwork. Some of the adjoining levels to this were added, but not completely.
The final release from Tom and Joe 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'. It took place in February 1996. 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 Joe Siegler entitled 'You & Spray'. Spray was an internal nickname given to the NME boss character by the developers. This was done by Joe as a gag in 1998, mostly as a personal exercise to see if he could remember how to still use the level editor. Joe has said that he initially didn't plan on releasing that, but after mentioning its existence online, he was cajoled into releasing it in November 2000.
All of the levels in this section can be downloaded at the ROTT page on the Apogee website.
The source code to Rise of the Triad was released under the GNU General Public License on 20th of December 2002. Shortly thereafter, fans of the game ported it to Linux, Mac OS, Xbox, Dreamcast and Nintendo DS (homebrew) and 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows.
Some of the members worked on the bestseller first-person shooter Duke Nukem 3D. Others started their own companies, or left the computer games business. William Scarboro died of an asthma attack in August 2002
Most of the alternate guards had to be cut due to technical limitations at the time. 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), some artwork (some can be found on the CD), and several other resources.