First, some history
As the developers of Wolfenstein 3D have always been a talkative and passionate group of individuals, a lot of cool historic information has been revealed about the game over the years.
To celebrate Wolf3D’s birthday back in 2001, John Romero released some images and retrospective information about the game.
As revealed by Romero, the game was originally going to be an EGA release, and have a lot more elements of gameplay inspired by Castle Wolfenstein, including “looking under rugs for items”, “bulletproof vests”, and “dragging dead soldiers”, among other stealth features.
These were all ultimately scrapped in favour of faster paced gameplay, and the EGA version of the game was cancelled just one month into development, in favour of a focus on the VGA version.
Despite that early change in direction however, Romero was able to share a series of graphics from an early stage of development, including weapon icons, character faces, and a disguise icon.
Then in 2014, Romero shared a new image on Twitter, this time an old sprite sheet of the SS Guard’s dying animation. Along with it though, was a surprising sprite of the SS Guard, but in EGA and in a post as if he were surrendering.
When 3DRealms released the design specifications for the original Rise of the Triad, it also included a small reference to the EGA version of Wolfenstein 3D in the form of some variations on the machinegun sprite.
In the concept art for ROTT, you can see a sprite sheet with several frames of the original machinegun, one with ROTT’s machinegun, and two EGA sprites of the Wolf3D machinegun.
The images serves as a cool example of the original features planned for the game, as well as the art style the original EGA version would have used.
We recently received some files that contained old Wolf3D references, some of those files turning out to be some obscure graphics from the original EGA concept, including all the images above, but also a few that appear to have never been released publicly!
Perhaps the most interesting out of all the uncovered art is this new sprite sheet of the Brown Guard. Along with the old version of the death animation and pain state, there’s another EGA sprite in a surrender pose similar to the SS Guard shared by Romero, and what appears to be an unconscious and stripped enemy (Most likely this would have been how the player obtained a disguise).
There are also sprite sheets of items that inevitably made it into the final game, though in various stages of the design phase. Some are uncoloured and very rough, but it’s still cool to see a little bit of the design process.
Also, mutants may just be recoloured Brown Guards. But don’t dwell too long on that.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the EGA version of Wolfenstein 3D was scrapped far too quickly to ever expect a playable version to pop up, but it’s fun to think about what could have been, and to have more of an idea of how they wanted to approach it visually!
It’s amazing that even 27 years after the game first came out, new things are being discovered and learned about it every day. No doubt there will be more found in the future, and I cannot wait to see what that might be!
Planet Romero – Happy Birthday Wolfenstein 3D! – 2001 May 5th
John Romero on Twitter – “When we put the SS from Wolf3D into DOOM, there’s evidence of the original 16-color EGA version of Wolf3D!” – 2014 Dec 14th
3DRealms Legacy Site – ROTT Original Specs
All works of art in this article is owned by id Software and/or their respective creators, and are displayed here for historic purposes.