Maze War

a.k.a. Maze / Ames Maze War

created and published by MIT in 1973, running on Internet Only
type: shooter, maze
genre: First-person shooter
perspective: 1st person
player options: LAN, single player

Descriptions (2)

"I am pretty certain that I didn't do Maze in my last year there. I am certain it wasn't in '71 and unlikely in '72. I believe the first Maze and the two machine version happened in '73. It may be that the networked version didn't happen until '74 because I can't remember exactly when the network was put on the Imlacs."
(Steve Colley) - # 2008-09-22 03:51:18 - source
For the Imlac PDS-1.
Note that this game's creation and existence are undocumented. The source code was thrown away, it was encrypted anyhow, the binary probably does not exist anymore. However, the game was ported to other systems and those source codes are preserved. Those ports are also better documented. The information comes from Steve Colley's memory. He does not remember if it was Palmer or Thompson who suggested that shooting be added. Knowing when networks for Imlacs were available would possible narrow down the date of this game. He created a networked version for two and later more players to see and shoot at each other in the maze.

This game is possibly the world's first 3D 1st-person-shooter. A real 3D maze, where the walls closest to the player obscured the walls behind them. Players would raom the maze and try and shoot each other. Amazingly this was done on a CPU that had no multiply or divide operations.

Still further back, there are rumors of a game called SOLAR, a 3D multi-user 1st-person-shooter space warfare game from 1972 that ran on a Burroughs B6700. Totally undocumented.
(Zerothis) - # 2008-09-22 03:49:48

Game Author comment

"The senior members of this group were Steve Colley (see Steve's history of Maze here) and myself. We had written a lot of useful software for the Imlac, but never any games, and we were feeling like it was time that we proved that we, too, could write fun code. As we were sitting around brainstorming one day, we came up with idea of a networked, multiplayer maze game. I suggested to Steve that it would be really cool if it could be 3D, but Steve didn't think that the Imlac had the necessary processing power. But then I pointed out that a maze with all 90 degree angles might enable a simpler 3D rendering than the general case. Steve got excited about this, and as he often did, came back the next day with an implementation of the graphics for the maze navigation. Within a short time, networking code was added to get the multiplayer version going (we had been experimenting with ad hoc LANS for the Imlacs as part of our more serious work)."
Howard Palmer - # 2008-09-22 03:56:04 - game Author comment - source

Technical specs

display: raster

Authors / Staff


Steve Colley (creator)

3d artist

Howard Palmer or Greg Thompson (3d idea)


George Woltman
Howard Palmer or Greg Thompson (multiplayer idea)
Mark Horowitz

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Contributors (3)


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Maze War in-game screen.
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