3D Games that ought to be made

Modern 3D games are usually sadly lacking in gameplay and originality. I think that one solution is to look to the past, at games that were ahead of their time, attempting to be in 3D before the hardware was capable.

Two games stand out in my memory - TriClops Invasion and Tower of Babel. These games had originality, great concepts, and were fun to play - but were fairly crude due to the technology of the time, namely software renderers on 68000-based systems. Both would probably be fantastic games if redone with modern technology, i.e. 3D hardware. I wish i had an old computer to run these on so i could show you screenshots - until then you'll just have to imagine.

TriClops Invasion

Year: 1986
Platform: Amiga 1000
Author: "Mark S. Adams, Geodesic Publications"

I have put the original documentation for the game online.

This game consists of:

  1. Planet, modeled as a geodesic sphere of variable density with fractal coastlines
  2. City (around 40 polygons..)
  3. Aircraft and 2 tanks (capable of navigation and firing)
  4. Triclops (as in the popular SF trilogy by John Christopher, which was made into a BBC television series among other things)
  5. Space hull - basically a dodecahedron floating in space

Strong points of this game are:

  1. Semi-realistic physics for the motion of the triclops and the trajectories of the projectiles
  2. A fully rendered 3D planet, instead of a fake, flat terrain (the planet looks so neat that it was fun just to explore it rather than fight the bad guys.)
  3. Unconstrained motion - there is no "maximum altitude" or limitation on orientation, and there's a really powerful 6DOF mouse navigation metaphor

tb_cover_226.jpg (16532 bytes)Tower of Babel

Year: 1988
Platform: Atari ST and Amiga
Author: Pete Cooke
Publisher: Microprose (UK)

It seems there's not a shred of information on this game available anywhere on the net. That's a shame, since IMHO this is simply the most wonderfully thoughtful, intuitive, immersive 3D game i've ever played.

You control up to 4 robots, each with different abilities, around a 4-story 3D platform world. The robots have to work together in occasionally fiendishly complicated ways in order to accomplish the goal. You can control a robot in real time, or build up a list of instructions and let them go.

The worlds are basically puzzles, full of elevators, blocks, mirrors, zappers, pushers, and roving creatures that can harm, help, or just get in the way and look cute.

Among the technical accomplishments of game was cast shadows from platforms onto the objects below. As of 1996, i still haven't seen this in any other game.

Here is the game description from the original documentation for the game:

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Interface Credits

I've heard that Pete Cooke later "worked on F1GP2 (Microprose)" but i don't have any contact info for him.

Update 2004.02.01: From: Latyl latyl1@free.fr Hi, i'm just finishing developing a remake of the old game TOWER OF BABEL. It'll be called: Triogical. The software will be a FREEWARE. I contact you to ask you if you will be OK to create some level for the official first MapSet ? Indeed, i have "re"-created this great game, but now i need to have 100 maps :)) Best regards, Jeremy Routier
Note: Triogical appears to be 2D, not 3D!

Update 2004.01.10: From: chrizb@r3dchess.com I don't know if you are still interested... but we are planning on remaking one of the games on your list: Tower of Babel. The website is http://www.tob2.com (i.e. Tower of Babel 2). The game will feature pretty much 1 for 1 the same game design but with an overall new graphics engine. We are planning to have playable code in the next 6 month, but you know how it is. Latest is end of 2004.