3DRealms ! This name can both inspire joy and anger, but no one among PC gamers can forget it . Most known for Duke Nukem 3D, the first called Apogee Software was on top by the nineties. But their quest for the ultimate FPS with Duke Nukem Forever will doom their futur. How such talented developers have sunk in such sad ways? How did they start? Will they have a future? We will see that. Hail To The King, Baby!
1987 : APOGEE SOFTWARE – THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
In 1987, young Scott Miller works is a video game journalist at the Dallas Morning News. He has also published a book about video games with his best friend (Georges Broussard), but wants to make softwares on his own. To be able to produce and deploy his games, he needs a structure and thus creates Apogee Software (commonly named Apogee) with his parents, brother and sister. Head office? In his basement, where his small office will be. Interesting fact, with Apogee, Scott Miller will publish his own games, but also the one from many small companies and people . The fist one, re-relased under Apogee Software, is Beyond The Titanic (1986). This game involves the Titanic tragedy, where the player has to find a way out. Scott Miller has a clever idea on how the game will be sold : to pay what you want for the game. And for sure…nobody as paid a single cent, and Scott Miller learned something which he will use for his future games. Shawn Green will be hired the following year for game support, as Scott will continue game designing and publishing. One of the earliest published games is The Thor Trilogy(1990), an episodic adventure game. For the first time, in the three episodes, episode one is totally free. The player can pay for the whole package it he’s interested: the shareware software is born. Trivia : the creator of this game, Todd Replogle will contribute at one of the most known characters of the company : Mr Duke Nukem. It will be the main series from Apogee Software, with the beginning in 1991, designed by Replogle. Duke Nukum 1 is a 2D DOS platformer where a super badass hero, Duke, fight the aliens and their big boss : Dr Proton. Secrets, power ups, non stop fun, and many enemies, Duke Nukum shows that PC plateformer can be excellent. But why Duke Nukum instead of Nukem? because of a possible lawsuit. Yes, Duke Nukem exists in a famous show : Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Apogee chooses a “no danger” path by changing the hero’s name, but after seeing that no copyright has been put on the show’s villain, Duke will keep his name…forever. Duke Nukem 2 will keep the same formula, with the same success. The third game will be a revolution in the industry, but we will cover it later. For now, let see some great collaborations which will give birth to video game icons.
1991-1992 : APOGEE SOFTWARE & ID SOFTWARE IN LOVE
In the Apogee Software dynasty, if we say Wolfenstein 3D (1992) what does it mean to you ? Id Software (John Carmack, Tom Hall, Romero). Yes! killing nazis was made possible with the aid of Scott Miller. The company which will become Id Software, has already made Commander King under Apogee publishing, and Catacomb 3D was just shown. Miller had a brainstroming with the team and suggest to keep the same engine for a totally different game. But before the team of 4 people can start any developpement, they have an issue: one last game must be made for their former publisher (Softdisk). Apoggee found a solution, with the involvment of Broussard. The man will deliver a quick made game (ScubAdventure) to SoftDisk, as Id Software will have a free pass on Wolfenstein 3D. How it goes? To one of the most innovative game ever made, which define an genra. Why Apogee didn’t published Wolfenstein 3D? Because, even if the relationship between both of the studios was perfect, Id Software wanted to be on their own. They will go from a GT Interactive publishing to be totally independant. Scott Miller wasn’t against it, after a meeting with the team. But both studios will continue to work together : John Carmack will help with Duke Nukem 3D assembly code, Tom Hall will join 3D Realms for Terminal Velocity and Duke Nukem 3D ( and in the future will on Deus Ex), some Apogee Software employees will finish Doom and Doom 2 with Id Software and Scott Miller will work himself on Wolfenstein 3D.
Another Finnish studio started with Apogee Software, when they want to find a structure for their first game : Death Rally. This bloody race game, inspired by Death Rally 2000 will gain some recognition among players and critics, and will start a new partnership. Apogee Software will gain interested in funding two games : Max Payne (1 and 2). You are right, the European company is Remedy Entertainement, most known for Max Payne series and Alan Wake. And those two examples of Apogee Software helping small companies, validates the wish of Scott Miller to make the developers of tomorrow. But let’s stay in the history of Apogee Softwares, or may i say, 3D Realms. The new name will come in the mid 90s, with a goal in mind, to go to new dimension…3D dimension.