Commander Keen

A landmark computer game released on December 14 1990 which forever changed PC computing. CommanderKeen was IdSoftware's first big game. It should be noted that IdSoftware developed and released quite a few popular titles before their next major landmark, Doom. The rest, as they say, is history.

These guys did all right for a bunch of basement geeks.

It's worth noting that this game engine performed just fine on a 286 with generic VGA. The subsequent WolfensteinThreeDee? engine also ran well on a 286.

The Doom engine was, however, derived in the NextStep environment (Unix->Next->NextStep), and required at least a 386.

The animation was somewhat stilted, and the color depth was shallow by today's standards, but the GamePlay? itself was outstanding.

This lesson is largely lost in the "bigger, faster" world of game development today. If you're writing a game, GamePlay? should be JobOne?. SpecialEffects? should be secondary, and should only enhance, never interfere with, GamePlay?.

And that's true if you're writing an accounting package or a WordProcessor.

So MicrosoftWord could learn from CommanderKeen. That's actually rather deep.


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