On Saturday I had some free time in the afternoon– a rare thing!– and I decided to see if I could compile and install a few classic computer games. And when I say “classic”, I mean those games I played in the early 1990’s in college. The first was Doom, arguably the greatest and most popular first-person shooter of all time. It was certainly the first of its kind, and it defined the genre for a while, eventually leading to the ultra-realistic games kids play these days. It all started with the 320×200 pixel 3D magic of Doom.

Sure enough, there’s a surviving (maybe even thriving) port to Linux which I was able to compile and install. I brought up the first screen and the memories came flooding back.


Ohhhhhh yeah… the little guy at the bottom showing you how “healthy” you are, starting with a pistol and looking forward to the shotgun and eventually the plasma cannon and the BFG, and blowing the holy crap out of all of the monsters. I could tell some stories about hiding the program on the university’s Novell Netware (!) servers and bringing it up covertly in various computer labs. Those were some good times.

Then I did a bit of poking around and found Descent, which was the first three-axis FPS game. I knew people who actually got a little seasick playing it, because you could just as easily be flying around tunnels upside-down. In fact, using vents and side passages was a classic trick to ambush people, much like Spock suggested against Khan in Star Trek II.


I zipped around the first level a bit, remembering the sluggish alien ships (I’d set it on the low difficulty) and blasting the heck out of them with my level-1 laser cannon. Again, there were memories of late nights in the UMR computer labs, yelling at each other in either triumph at the kill or anguish at the defeat. There were classic quotes like “Mmm… plasma…” or of course “Yee-haa, Jester’s dead!”

Now I just need to get Alex and Zack to join me, and I can blow the dickens out of them. Mmm… plasma…