Development TimelineWritten in cooperation with Valve Archive and former employees of Rewolf Software.
Prior to 1994, Herbert's only game-development experience had come from his work on the Atari ST. One of his first games was a small side-scroller called Dark Fortress. It was fairly basic, consisting of a single character that could jump and shoot arrows, and the levels were very linear, with a challenge or theme in each level.. Later, in 1988, Herbert developed the game "Thieves' Guild" with Paul Witte and Robert Fletcher. It was published under the (now defunct) company Mythyn Interactive. Herbert also drew the printed map that you could order from Mythyn. The game was an online turn-based game in a large medieval world. The game can be downloaded here with an attached PC emulator.
It wouldn't be until the release of DOOM in late 1993 that Herbert began to experiment with first person shooters. His
first custom texture was a combination of some Bondo putty, a milk gallon lid, parts of a cheap razor, some Q-tip sticks, parts of a mechanical
pen, and some cardboard from a pizza box. Herbert digitized it with a camcorder and an old "Snappy!" box as the backdrop. He imported it
into the DOOM IWAD format and it looked nearly flawless, even with the stock palette! His brother, Dan, focused more on the
technical side of DOOM modding. He wrote a custom palette generator that could add a more realistic color scheme to the game. First
and foremost, the whole thing was experimentation, used for LAN parties and not much more. Herbert graduated from his "Pizza box technology"
(as Dan affectionately calls it) and began to model his textures out of clay on cardboard or other hard surfaces. On this method, Herbert stated:
"Well Photoshop looks like Photoshop. It takes more time. My method creates a consistant look. Think about guys that take photos of bricks to make brick textures. Thats fine, but can they do anything else with that type of brick? It gets a lot harder to turn the bricks into a different set of bricks based on the photo. Say... you need square versions of the bricks. Or you want to have edges around a window, or a cracked area or crater in the bricks. My method made that consistent and easy."
From 1994 to 2000, around 1500 of these sculptures were made. At time of writing, 50 survive intact, all in the archive's possession. The earliest one still intact is the Skeleton sculpture which can be seen in this screenshot of the DOOM Engine version.
In 1996, the mod was briefly on the BUILD engine, after the release of Duke Nukem 3D in January of that year. It lasted until the release of Quake. The "version" was brief enough that there are no images of it, in-game or otherwise. Similar to the DOOM version, the modifications made were only map and texture based.
Quake was released on June 22nd, 1996. Herbert's first fully 3D game was not Quake, but Descent, a game released by Interplay in 1994. The gameplay consisted of flying
space ships with 6 degrees of freedom throughout large mazes and destroying other 3D-modeled ships that would fire upon you. This was amazing enough to him, but it was
lacking in some areas. Quake captured something in him that Descent had not. Herbert describes his moment of inspiration:
"The moment I was most amazed is when I first encountered the Rottweilers. Animated 3D models that were representing living things instead of space ships. Wow. Obviously I started feeling very creative right about that moment."