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How the first FPS players fell out of their chairs

It takes a lot for a first-person shooter to impress players today. Even the flashiest of shooters struggle to make an impact. Players have had more than two decades to familiarize themselves with the category so, naturally, expectations are high. This was not the case in 1991.

In an interview with the New York Times, the co-founder of id Software John Carmack said when the studio released a program called Catacomb 3-D in 1991 — one of the first games to feature 3D graphics and a first-person perspective — it changed the way people play games.

"[In Catacomb 3-D] you ran around, you shot things at monsters, you picked up health and bonus items, you got to the end of the level and went to the next one with a different layout," Carmack said. This wasn't unusual for video games at the time. But the change in perspective to the first-person was.

"It was more powerful that I expected," he said. "We'd watch people creeping around a corner, turning with the arrow keys, and then a door would open, and there would be a big troll right there, and people would scream. They would literally fall out of their chair or jump away from the keyboard. It was a reaction that we'd never seen in any other form of video-gaming."

id Software would go on to be known as the "father" of the first-person shooter, developing titles like Wolfenstein 3-D, Doom and Quake, which have continued to influence first-person shooters today.

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