Codex Gamicus

Rise of the Triad: Dark War (acronym is 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.

Story[ | ]

A team of special operatives, known as the H.U.N.T. (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 to from 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.

Rise of the Triad was initially, during its early stages of development, meant to serve as the sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, titled Rise of the Triad: Wolfenstein 3D II. The presence of the MP40 machinegun and the outfits donned by the enemies are allusory to Nazi Germany and imply the original aforementioned intent for the development of ROTT.

Engine[ | ]

The engine is an enhanced variant of the Wolfenstein 3D engine. The level design is chiefly characterized by walls limited to only 90 degrees and unvarying floor and ceiling heights in individual maps, limitations that are the sole vestiges of the original Wolfenstein 3D engine. However, ROTT's engine was still the first to pioneer a myriad of features, which would be found later in many future games, such as panoramic skies, simulated dynamic lighting, fog, bullet holes, level-over-level environments (made possible by "gravitational anomaly disks"; suspended objects that collectively form stairs, floors, etc.), and more.

Gameplay[ | ]

Rise of the Triad's gameplay consists of various unique and interesting elements. Such elements include: hazardous environments (traps, fire pits, etc.), a vast and creative arsenal, destructible objects in the environment, various methods of accessing distant places (elevators, jump pads, etc.), and a broad range of foes.

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.

Characters[ | ]

One of five available characters can be chosen to play as; the characters are:

  • Taradino Cassatt, (the only character available in Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins)
  • Thi Barrett
  • Lorelei Ni
  • Doug Wendt
  • Ian Paul Freeley

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.

Enemies[ | ]

There are numerous different types of enemies in the game that have different strengths and capabilities. Certain enemies can perform particular actions. 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.

Bosses[ | ]

  • General Darian - Sequentially the first boss that is fought; totes a bazooka and presses switches that lower crushers.
  • Sebastian Krist - The second boss that is encountered. He is always seated in the moving chair that is shown, which fires series of rockets and explosive projectiles.
  • NME (Nasty Metallic Enforcer) - The third boss—a robot that fires multiple heat-seeking missiles and projectiles and that gradually begins to fall apart as it sustains more damage.
  • El Oscuro - The head of the Triad cult—when attacked, he returns fire in the same fashion (e.g. when hit by a heat-seeking missile, fires a heat-seeking projectile in return).

Hazards[ | ]

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.

Weapons[ | ]

The weapon system is ahead of many other games of the time in terms of complexity, brutality, and realism. There are a total of eleven weapons in the game, divided into three groups: the bullet weapons, the missile weapons, and the magic weapons.

Bullet weapons have infinite ammo. There are only three bullet weapons, which are:

  • Pistol - An ordinary pistol.
  • Dual Pistols - Two ordinary pistols, John Woo -style.
  • MP40 - An automatic machinegun.

Missile weapons have limited ammo that varies. The missile weapons constitute the bulk of the entire available arsenal in ROTT and include:

  • Bazooka - Can hold up to ten missiles; fires a straight-flying missile.
  • Heat-Seeker - Holds up to seven missiles; fires a single heat-seeking missile; slightly weaker than the bazooka.
  • Drunk Missile - Capable of holding up to seven rounds; simultaneously fires five heat-seeking missiles that fly in different directions.
  • Flamewall - Highest possible ammo is five missiles; fires a straight-flying missile that eventually hits the ground, and when it does so, produces a swift-moving wall of flame that stretches as widely as possible, from one side of a room to the other, and explodes upon impact with an obstacle and reduces enemies that are in the way into heaps of charred bones.
  • Firebomb - Probably the most powerful weapon in the game. It can have a total amount of five missiles; fires a straight-flying missile that, upon impact, produces an X-shaped, earthshaking pattern of mushroom cloud explosions.
  • Split Missile - At most, can have seven missiles; if the key to fire a weapon is clicked once, this weapon fires two heat-seeking missiles that travel in opposite directions. If the said key is briefly depressed and then released, this arm will fire a single missile that would eventually split into two heat-seeking missiles.

Magic weapons, like missile weapons, hold varying limited ammo, depending on the weapon. There are two magic weapons, which are:

  • The Dark Staff - Maximum possible ammo amount is seven; an enchanted staff that fires a fast-moving, powerful projectile.
  • The Excalibat - Ammo can be up to ten; an ensorcelled baseball bat that, when the key to fire a weapon is pressed once, is swung. When the key to fire a weapon is depressed for an appropriate duration of time, the bat launches a simultaneous series of baseballs that explode on impact.

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.

Power Ups[ | ]

  • God Mode - Turns the player invincible to all attacks, as well as increasing the height of the player. During the duration of time the power up is active, the player shoots enemy-seeking balls of energy that vaporise the enemies that it comes in contact with.
  • Dog Mode - Turns the player into a dog, as well as decreasing the height of the player. The dog is invincible to all attacks, and can charge up its 'attack' which is a bark that kills every enemy in view. The dog can also attack enemies in melee range during the duration of this powerup.
  • Mercury Mode - Enables the player to fly during the duration of this ability. The player moves up and down using the look up and down buttons respectively.
  • Shrooms Mode - Makes the player appear to be on a bad drug trip. The view wavers all over the place, and enemies and items are just colored silhouettes.
  • Elasto Mode - Makes the player have no friction, and the player also bounces off of walls.
  • Random Power - Gives the player one of the above powerups at random.

Miscellaneous[ | ]

Bonuses[ | ]

One unusual feature, which most likely hearkens back to Apogee's Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II, is the bonuses received whenever a level is completed. There are many different bonuses that are received for various achievements, such as picking up all the missile weapons in a level, using all the healing items, or ending a level with only the last shred of health.

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; a jab at Republican environmental policy. 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 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"[ | ]

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. 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.

Easter Eggs[ | ]

The game has an easter egg related to various holidays. If the system date is set to the dates of the following, the loading screen will be changed:

  • Easter
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Independence Day
  • Halloween
  • Christmas

In each case, a character on the loading screen will be wearing a hat or holding an object related to the holiday. In addition, on Christmas, a rock rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is played on the first level.

Another easter egg is known as Scott's Mystical Head - a floating digitized image of the head of Scott Miller, who was the president of Apogee at the time of ROTT's being developed and released. Scott's Mystical Head is in the form of an object that can be picked up like another item such as a health item or a weapon; when it is picked up, the player is rewarded with 2,764,331 points. The reason for 2,764,331 points beings given is because the digits in that number originate from Apogee's past phone number, which was 1-800-276-4331.

Dopefish makes an appearance in Rise of the Triad as well. If in the command prompt "ROTT DOPEFISH" is typed instead of simply "ROTT," 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 Standard Galactic Alphabet from Commander Keen.

Like Wolfenstein 3d, ROTT used a similar pushwall system, whereby a pushed wall would move until it hit a restricting object (either a stop flag or another wall). One of the multiplayer stages in ROTT, called "This causes an error" has a pushwall set in motion at the start of the level which is purposefully aimed towards an unclosed edge of the map. When this occurs shortly after the level loads, a special screen is displayed along with the error message as the pushwall has literally come free from the map.

Multiplayer[ | ]

The multiplayer mode is notable for the time the game was released, allowing up to eleven players simultaneously. Each could have separate uniform colors, but in team mode, teams were defined by uniform color. There are nine multiplayer modes, some of which do not necessarily involve players shooting each other. These modes are:

Name Description
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. Killing an airborne player scores more killing than one on the ground. Landing on another player and crushing them scores the most.
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.

Other releases[ | ]

On July 25, 1995, Apogee released a 'Reject Level Pack' as freeware online. During production of the game, many levels were rejected for one reason or another. 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 the videogame Doom), and some were not (like one where you played inside the popular videogame character Dopefish). Additionally, the final level of the pack causes the game to crash intentionally, showing the sense of humor of the developers.

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 of 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.

Source release[ | ]

Template:Portal The source code to Rise of the Triad was released under the GNU General Public License on 20 December 2002. Shortly thereafter, fans of the game ported it to Linux, Mac OS, Xbox and Dreamcast (homebrew) and 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows.

Developers of Incredible Power[ | ]

The Developers of Incredible Power (DIP) is the team behind Rise of the Triad. The team's name was created by Tom Hall, the lead designer. Other members of DIP were: William Scarboro, Jim Dose, Mark Dochtermann, Steve Hornback, Chuck Jones, and Susan Singer. Rise of the Triad was the only game released by DIP. A second game that was planned, Prey, never took off, and the name and parts of the original design were recycled for the more recent game by Human Head Studios. The team was eventually disbanded.

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 [1].

Cut elements[ | ]

Several planned elements were cut from the game. One well-known example included female versions of certain enemies, like Low Guards, Strike Force soldiers, and the Overpatrol. Most of the voices for the female guards are on the registered CD version as a bonus. [2]

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.

External links[ | ]