Id Software’s groundbreaking first-person shooter is now available on the iPhone in a version coded and designed by none other than master programmer John Carmack himself.
How does a game like Seaman creator Yoot Saito’s Gabo, which is about poking and messing with a caveman using the touch screen, not make it past Apple’s approval process, but id Software’s Nazi shoot-a-thon Wolfenstein 3D make it to the App Store without a hitch? Must have something to do with its pedigree: in addition being a pioneering game in the FPS genre, this port was handled by none other than id programming wizard John Carmack himself.
Carmack originally released the game yesterday in an open source version that was free and available to anyone with a jailbroken iPhone or iPod Touch, but now it’s officially on Apple’s App Store, and will cost you $4.99 for the six original Wolfenstein episodes, totaling 60 levels of classic Nazi killing.
The game features two control schemes, one with wholly touch-based inputs for moving and shooting, and another that uses the device’s motion sensing for movement. For Carmack, discovering what works and what doesn’t on an iPhone FPS was really the motivation behind the project. “The original point of this project was to investigate FPS control schemes for the iPhone, and a lot of testing was done with different schemes and parameters,” Carmack wrote in his development notes. “I was sort of hoping that there would be one ‘obviously correct’ way to control it, but it doesn’t turn out to be the case.”
Instead, Carmack sees the non-motion controls working for first-timers, and the tilt controls maybe later, since “I think it does add to the fun factor when you use it.” Well, I’m no big fan of iPhone tilt controls, but it’s probably better than what the ideas they scrapped. Carmack was apparently considering a tilt-to-shoot method or even using the iPhone’s volume adjust switch as a fire button.
As for the rest of the game, aside from an added automap and nicer sound, it seems like they’ve kept most everything the same as it’s ever been. Some things, like “getting the drop on a brown shirt just as he is pulling his pistol from the holster” or “rounding a corner and unloading your weapon on … a potted plant” are timeless.
“Simplistic plays well on the iPhone,” Carmack said. He also remarked that Doom would be getting an iPhone version soon as well.