In 1987, Apogee released Kingdom of Kroz as shareware and
invented a new way to market games. Here's a list of important Apogee milestones and
contributions to the shareware and gaming world. We also have a detailed release
history list for the entire history of the company. To see that, click here.
Invented the "Apogee model" of shareware marketing,
in which only a part of a full game is released as shareware, which advertises the full
game. It wasn't until 1991 that another company, Epic MegaGames, followed our lead and
used the Apogee model. Many game companies have since use this marketing model, including
Parallax Software (Descent), id Software, Capstone and dozens of others.
Apogee was the first PC games developer to hide cheat modes
within games, such as Kingdom of Kroz. Nowadays, nearly every game released has cheat
codes and modes that are hidden in games and discovered by players.
Apogee became the first shareware publisher, working with
other authors and teams, releasing and marketing their games as shareware, and processing
orders. (Caves of Thor was the first game released Apogee released that was from another
author. This game's author, Todd Replogle, has been the lead programmer behind the first
three Duke Nukem games).
Convinced the original members of id Software, then a group of
game designers working at Softdisk, Inc., to venture into the world of shareware, which
they did with the release of Commander Keen through Apogee (with development funded by
Apogee). The success of Commander Keen as a shareware game led to the creation of id
Software, who, at the timed, called themselves Ideas From the Deep. (A side note on this:
the later-to-become-id Softdisk employees, John Carmack, John Romero and Tom Hall, had a
hard time believing that it was possible to make money releasing a game as shareware. It
took much convincing before the agreed to give it a try.)
Apogee's Dark Ages was the first shareware game with music and
sound card support.
Apogee became the first shareware game company with a home
bulletin board system (Software Creations BBS) and a distribution network (reaching over
5000 BBSs at its peak). BBSs were the primary distribution mechanism before the Internet
and web became popular. The Software Creations BBS quickly grew from a 3 line system to
150+ lines, and won Boardwatch Magazine's Reader's Choice Poll as the Best BBS two years
Released the original Duke Nukem, a 2D EGA platform
side-scroller with parallax scrolling. Easily the most advanced game of its type yet seen
on the PC, and rated the best selling shareware software (of all categories) for 1991 and
1992 (even beating Wolfenstein 3-D in 1992).
Worked a deal with id Software to create a 3D game for
shareware release, titled Wolfenstein 3-D (yes, the hyphen is part of the game's name). At
the time, id was tied up under an agreement with Softdisk and didn't have the time to make
a shareware 3D game. Apogee, realizing the giant potential of such a game, developed a
game for id to fulfill their obligation with Softdisk (titled ScubaVenture) allowing id to
make Wolfenstein 3-D for Apogee. This game almost didn't see the light of day except that
Apogee both helped id, and guaranteed them a large payment to make it happen.
May 5, 1992
Released Wolfenstein 3-D to the world and started an entirely
new genre of computer games: the first-person 3D shooter. This was the first PC game to
voluntarily rate itself, alerting consumers to its violent content.
Apogee's founder, Scott Miller, helped form STAR (Shareware
Trade Association and Resources), an organization designed to help shareware authors
Apogee hires Tom Hall, former id Software founder and owner,
to lead our in-house development division, and help develop what was at the time a sequel
to Wolfenstein 3-D, but which later became Rise of the Triad.
Apogee releases Raptor, a sleeper hit that sells extremely
well and sets a new standard for scrolling shooters on the PC.
3D Realms Entertainment is created by Apogee, as a division
solely focused on the quickly growing 3D action gaming market. We announce four 3D games
to be based on our Build engine: Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Blood (later sold all
rights to the developer) and Ruins (sold rights to the developer, who changed the name to
Apogee releases Rise of the Triad, which was originally a
sequel to Wolfenstein 3-D, until id decided to pull the rug on the project. ROTT, as it
became known, had many innovations, such as being the first game with a parental lock-out
feature, 11-player LAN games, 9 multiplayer games built-in, 5 characters (with unique
attributes) to play, and it was shipped with a random level generator. Unfortunately, the
90-degree walls was a serious limitation passed down from the game's Wolfenstein 3-D
engine roots. (It still sold over 150,000 copies, which is a "hit" by industry
In July of 1997, an article was published online called ROTT in Hell, calling
ROTT the "..best Deathmatch game of all time"; showing how ROTT had many game
With the release of Rise of the Triad, Apogee had another
major industry first: A parental lock-out feature that parents could use to password
protect the game, preventing their children experiencing much of the game's violence and
all of the gore. Several future releases employ this feature, including Duke Nukem 3D,
Shadow Warrior and Balls of Steel. Other game companies have mimicked this feature, too.
First 3D Realms release, Terminal Velocity, created by
Terminal Reality, Inc. This game won many awards and invented a new sub-genre of PC
gaming. This was the first shareware game to get a magazine cover *before* its release
(not even DOOM had a pre-release cover story).
Apogee's web site opens to the public.
Apogee wins a "Special Recognition Award" from the
Shareware Industry Foundation for pioneering work in shareware games marketing, with
Apogee's founder, Scott Miller, being awarded a "Lifetime Achievement" award.
(Only five such awards have been given, and only one to a person in the game industry.)
Scott Miller, Apogee's founder, is picked as "one of the
game industry's 75 most important people," by Next Generation magazine, in
recognition of Apogee's trail-blazing shareware marketing methods.
3D Realms releases Duke Nukem 3D, which finally, for most
players, displaces the long-standing DOOM as the best 3D shooter. Duke revolutionizes 3D
shooters with a strong action- hero character, and a realistic, highly interactive
environment. Duke is the first 3D shooter released with the same editor and utilities that
were used to create the game. This is 3D Realms' first in-house game and sets the tone for
what people come to expect from 3D Realms in the future.
Apogee's last game released, titled Stargunner. No more Apogee
games have been scheduled for production, with nearly all company focus shifted to the 3D
3D Realms Releases Duke Nukem: Atomic Edition, notable as
being the first first-person shooter to include "Bots," which are AI controlled,
Apogee creates a new division, Pinball Wizards, which will
focus exclusively on cutting- edge pinball games. Wildfire Studios, an Australian
developer, partnered with Pinball Wizards to create Balls of Steel, due out September
1997, with five tables, one based on Duke Nukem 3D.
3D Realms announces that Duke Nukem Forever will be built upon
id Software's Quake II technology. This is the fifth non-id game Apogee has developed on
top of id's technology--the other four are Bio Menace (using the Commander Keen: Goodbye,
Galaxy! scrolling engine), Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold (Wolfenstein 3-D engine), Blake
Stone: Planet Strike, and Rise of the Triad (a highly enhanced Wolfenstein 3-D engine).
3D Realms releases Shadow Warrior, which is the last of many
Build engine games by 3D Realms and many licensees. Build was the foundation for the
following eight games, in order of their release: Witchaven, TekWar, Duke Nukem 3D,
Witchaven II, Powerslave, Redneck Rampage, Blood and Shadow Warrior. The Build engine is
undoubtedly one of the most prolific and successful engines ever used in the game
The Prey engine and game are shown at Atlanta's E3, stuns
viewers with its realism, speed and special effects, and wins strong accolades as the next
generation leader in 3D gaming. (Prey is due out late 1998.) This engine's Portal
Technology will be a standard setting landmark for all future 3D games to match.
3D Realms announces a partnership with Remedy Entertainment, a
Finland-based developer with exceptional talent, to co-develop and co-market Max Payne, a
new story-driven 3D 3rd-person action game.
Scott Miller was selected as one of the 15 Most Influential
People in the Game Industry by Computer Gaming World magazine and Gamespot. Said the
Gamespot article: "Scott Miller didn't create the try-before-you-buy concept of
shareware, but he was the first one to make it profitable."
3D Realms enters into a production agreement (not an option
agreement) with Threshold Entertainment to create a big budgeted Duke Nukem movie, due out
in late 2000.
3D Realms announces it has become a "founding
partner" and equity owner of the new Dallas-based publisher, Gathering of Developers.
Scott Miller is announced as being on the Board of Directors, as well as on the Board of
Developers (along with Steve Blackburn from 3D Realms), whose task it is to review game
submissions for potential publication by Gathering.
Duke Nukem Forever, recently shown to rave reviews at E3 in
Atlanta and using the Quake engine, surprises the game industry by switching to Epic
Games' Unreal engine. The reasons for the switch are to have larger game environments and
take advantage of all the new features of the Unreal technology.
Duke Nukem: Time to Kill is released for the PlayStation. This
is the first original Duke Nukem game not made by Apogee or 3D Realms, and is the
beginning of several third-party original Duke Nukem games to come, such as Zero Hour for
the N64, and an original Duke Nukem game for the Color Game Boy, both due out mid-1999.
Music to Score By is released. This is a hybrid music CD,
containing a cover of the Duke Nukem Theme by the rock band Megadeth,
as well as 10+ other songs. There is also extensive computer
content, from screen savers, to puzzles, etc.. This is the first
such CD/Computer data program released for a video game.
Zero Hour is released for the Nintendo 64. This is the first
original Duke Nukem game on a Nintendo platform to date. This
marks Duke's expansion into another platform of original gaming.
in September was another release for the Nintendo - Duke Nukem for the
Nintendo Color Gameboy. This is the first time Duke Nukem has
appeared on the handheld Nintendo platform, in yet another original