The Colony: a 3D FPS from 1987 that is simply amazing (even by modern standards)

the colony monsters


“funny that doom and marathon didnt have desks and chairs or anything just sprites”

“Sad thing is this game has more interactivity than more than two thirds of the games out now.”

“I think this was also the first game to feature crates!”

Those are some select quotes from the comments section of two walkthrough videos of the Colony, a 3D FPS from 1987 (I just found the videos even though they’re from 2009). The last quote is from the creator himself, David A. Smith, who narrates the videos and reveals some really fascinating stuff. Like, one wall in the game took up 2 Bytes, and an entire map took about 4K. 4K!!! As one commenter points out: “Now days you can’t even send a email without going over 4kb.”

the colony forklift

And when you consider that this was 1987 (before Wolfenstein 3D) and that David started working on this game on an Apple II with 128K of RAM, then it really is mind blowing when you see what he was able to accomplish. There’s a forklift that the player can get into and out of, and apparently you can use the forklift to actually lift actual objects in the game and move them around. You can even flush toilets.

It’s all a very fascinating look into an era of game design when everything was new, everything was unexplored territory.

the colony dark

I’ll imbed the videos here for your convenience, but be sure to go to youtube to check out the comments since some people have interesting things to say, or at least I think so. For example, David A. Smith relates a story about how one bug in the game was caused by a particular monster that would eat through a random wall in the game and then start eating into the RAM.

Actual links:
Part 1
PArt 2

Also, here’s a blogpost where the developer reminisces about making this game and the various creative ways he managed to get it to work without using up more memory than he had.

I remember trying to play the black and white version of the game on an emulator, years ago, but it didn’t work out to well. It was really weird. You controlled the movement with your mouse (slide the mouse forward to move forward, slide it back to backpedal, sliding it left or right did the turning) and it was sluggish. On the emulator it ended up being unplayable. Nevertheless, it had a certain charm that made we want to play, like the 2D interactive elements and the way you entered rooms instantly. You could almost feel the love and effort that went into its making.

Anyway, it was a really innovative game for its time.



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