ROTT in Hell
The Definitive History of the Best Deathmatch Game of All-Time
By Kevin "Fragmaster" Bowen


My favorite part of ROTT was the weapons. There were 13 in all, but the weapon system was a bit strange. There were 3 bullet weapons, and they had an infinite amount of shots. That's right, you never would run out of bullets. There was the Pistol (That you started out with), Dual Pistols, and the MP40 machine gun. Yeah those are all nice and all, but what really made ROTT rock were the other weapons. They included:

ROTT in Hell - Part II

Bazooka - Like the rocket launcher. Nothing special. Guards sometimes carried these suckers around.

Heat Seeker - Heat seeking rockets. Very fun, but if you shot it in a room with a lot of fire or lava, you probably wouldn't hit your target.

Drunk Missle - You shoot out a cluster of 5 missles shoots out which then heat seek and \ or go all over. In the words of that lame AOL commercial "Try it, you'll see." It's great for cleaning out a room.

Firebomb - Dangerous to you and to enemies. This was an awesome long-range weapon. Upon firing, little mushroom clouds spread out in a "X" formation. Also… are you ready for this?… if you look down and shoot (see where I'm going with this?) it will fling you three stories up in the air. Sound familiar? That's right, it's a rocket jump. Thought the rocket jump originated in Quake? Guess again! :)

Eye See You...

"..And this rocket jump was necessary to finish the last level of the game, unless you got the Mercury (Flying) Mode." Tom Hall adds. "Three numbered walls hinted for you to get the Asbestos Armor, get the firebomb, then use it get over the wall, where the third wall was a pushwall hiding more of Oscuro's larvae, which all had to be killed to finish the game."

Flamewall - This is my favorite weapon. It sucks close range, but if you shoot it from a moderate range, it hits the ground and this wall of fire spreads out and goes away from you. Then all the players in the way get TOASTED in the flamewall and burn up into skeletons! Bwhahahaha! This was probably the coolest death sequence until Blood's flame gun death came along. It's great for getting multiple frags and it's awesome to use in hallways. Using this sucker in CTF (err.. CTT) to get rid of the defenders was my favorite tactic. No weapon really compares to it.

"In development we toyed with having the Flamewall climb stairs, but it never would work right, so it was dropped." Joe Siegler says. "William (Scarboro) tells me that the flamewall used to set the stairs on fire. :)"

Split Missile - The Split Missile weapon shoots two heat seekers at a 45 degree angle. You can actually shoot around corners pretty well and trap people on two sides with it (missile coming from the left, missile coming from the right <gulp>).

Then there's the Excalibat, A glowing bat that you can hit enemies with, flinging them into the air. There was also the "The Excaliblast". If you held down the fire button for awhile, a 180 degree wall of glowing, explosive baseballs would fire out, blowing everything away (if you got hit by one ball, you were almost surely toast).

The Excalibat in Action (With some Triads in the bacground)

Dark Staff - Super powerful weapon that fires "black sphere rippling with energy." One shot will destroy about anything. It also travels through doors and enemies. I hated this weapon because the sound's like fingernails across a blackboard. Ugh.

All cool right? Too bad you could only carry a maximum of 4 weapons at a time: The pistol, the dual pistols, the mp40, and then one missile or magical weapon. If you picked up another missile or magic weapon and you already had one, you would drop the one you had before. Like I said, the weapons system was a bit strange. Then again, isn't that more realistic? Do you think it's humanly possible to lug around all the weapons the Quakeguy uses? Still, a lot of people didn't like it.

Powerups & Obstacles

And then there's the powerups

A Strike Team Member Prepares for the Wrath of Romero

God Mode - Pick this up and you grow to be ten feet tall (Yes, you actually tower above everybody), you have the power of a god. You are unstoppable. You also make funny retard sounds. Not only that, but your godfire seeks out any enemy in the area. To the other players, you flicker with different colors… that is, if they even see you coming in the first place. It only works for 30 seconds, but the "Godfire" tracks down enemies and takes them out instantly. The Hand of God was played by former Apogee artist, Tim Neveu.

"Those funny retard sounds were sort of an imitation of Romero going into God and no-clip in Wolfenstein, and walking around in slow motion like some unstoppable ghost demon or something, shooting everything in the level." Tom Hall explains. "It was so hilarious at the time, that's what I had 'god' sound like."

Dog Mode - You shrink to 3 feet tall and… well.. yer a DOG! (An invincible dog to boot!) You can rip people to shreds or explode them with the BarkBlast.. yeah the barkblast (which is unleashed by holding down the fire button). If you're playing COMM-BAT, the person in Dog Mode looks like a miniature player with a dog's head. It looks really funny. The dog in Dog Mode is actually a real dog! The dog is Loki, George Broussard's dog. Yes, they actually had to digitize the dog. Bet that was fun.

"We have the original video tape for this lying around somewhere (along with all the sessions for all the actors being digitized)." Joe Siegler adds. "There was one session where George was standing over the dog trying to get it to stand still, and it (ahem) looked like he was standing behind the dog. :)"

Mercury Mode - Made you faster and allowed you to fly, there was the "Shrooms" Mode powerdown (it looked like a mushroom) and when you get it your vision gets all screwed and you stagger around.. colors go all over, enemies get all weird looking.. it's like a bad trip. There was also an Elasto powerdown that reduces your friction factor to nothing, so you bounce off walls and slide around and stuff. There was also a Random Powerup which was… well.. random.

There were also various armors (like a fireproof vest), a gas mask, and food (that you could actually heat up and get more health points out of).

Obstacles included firechutes (Various types of fireball shooters), various types of spinblade stabbers (Big blades that spun around), various types of gun emplacements, rolling boulders (Quake Mission Pack #1 wasn't the first with that... ), pit traps (floors that break under you… just a little bit), firejets, stabbers (A revolving series of spears), crushing cylinders, and turbo wanderwalls (walls that move around). There where also barrels and crates and various other things you could blow up that had stuff in 'em.


ROTT's actors where kind of unique: They where all digitized and voiced by members of Apogee.

"We had a really good time digitizing the entire office." Mark Dochtermann said in his PQ Interview. "I built a human sized turntable out of plywood and floor casters. The person we were going to digitize would pose on the turntable in uniform, and then we would capture all 8 rotations. Oh my god what a lot of work that was. That was back before 3D modeling was commonplace. Although, I must say it was a lot of fun to shoot your co-workers ;)." That's right… just like employees of the postal service do all the time. Anyway, here's some of the actor information:

Lightning Guards Actor: Kevin Green (Customer Supp.Manager) Voice: Kevin Green and William Scarboro

The Lightning Guard Begs for Mercy

Lightning Guards were pretty interesting for various reasons: First off, They could steal your weapons. This ability hadn't been implemented in any other enemy until the Gremlins in the Ritual pack (Quake Mission Pack #1: Scourge of Armagon)… three years later. Sometimes you can get them to beg for mercy (They would plead "NO! PLEASE! NO!") then they fake their death if you don't blow them away. As soon as you turn your back to them they got back up. This wasn't done again until the Zombies in Blood came along…. Again, three years later.

Strike Team Actor\Voice: Scott Miller (President of Apogee)

Strike Team guards look just like the guards with the white uniforms from Wolfenstein. They duck and roll 2 door lengths when you shoot at 'em. They also (try) to dodge missiles and wanderwalls. Their AI wasn't really that good, but it was a nice idea.

Overpatrol Actor\Voice: Nolan Martin (Former Programmer)

Cutting out of the Overpatrol's Net

These were pretty cool. They shot at you with a gun, but they also threw a net at you. If it hit you, you where trapped. You could get out if you had a knife. You could only get a knife from a certain kind of statue and you couldn't use that knife for anything else. If you didn't have a knife, you'd have to shake out by pressing left and right repeatedly, but you'd take tons of damage before you finally managed to wiggle out.

There where also other more "normal" enemies like the Low Guard (They're all over. Played by Steve Quarrella ex-tech support guy), the High Guard (MP40 using bastards. Played by Steve Blackburn, VP of Operations), the Triad Enforcer (Grenade tossin', machine gun using #$%J(*ers played by George Broussard, now prez of 3DRealms), Death Monks & DeathFire monks (Played by Lee Jackson and Allen Blum respectively, both voiced by Tom Hall) and Robot Guards.

There where also other enemies, and they appeared in the manual, but they aren't in the game. "The female guards were removed from the game at the end of development after the manual was already printed." Joe Siegler says in the ROTT FAQ. "The reason for this is that the plan was to have the game randomly pick between a male/female guard of the same type. So, the game would have to keep the sounds/graphics for both the male and female guards in memory at once, and because of this, it really increased the amount of memory needed to play the game. It was impossible to do this and make it work nicely in 8 megs, or AT ALL in 4 megs, so the idea was dropped. However, the manuals were already printed, so there wasn't anything that could be done about it. If you play ROTT all the way through, and finish it (the registered version) the right way, you'll see a (VERY LONG) list of credits. At the end is a list of "Actors who were cut from the game". Since they were already digitized, we made use of a single frame of them, and stuck 'em in. There were alternates to the low guard, the Overpatrol, and the Strike guards. The rest didn't have female counterparts." Here's the list:

Alternate Low Guard (Actor: Marianna Vayntrub, Mark Dochtermann's (then) Fiancee; Voice: Colleen Compton (Tech support)) Alternate High Guard (Actor: Steve Hornback, Artist) Alternate Overpatrol (Actor: Pat Miller, Scott Miller's Mom) Alternate Strike Team (Actor: Ann Grauherholz, Tom Hall's Friend) Alternate Lightning Guard (Actor: William Scarboro) Alternate DeathFire Monk (Actor: Mark Dochtermann; Voice:Tom Hall)

Some guards where also randomized. You could have different enemies depending on how guards where generated.

General Darian was... uhhh... Interesting

The Bosses where actually kinda mundane: There was General Darian (Played by Steve Maines, Voiced by Mark Dochtermann) who said "cool" things like "They'll bury you in a lunchbox" and "You're toast!". He also looked more like a basketball player then a "General".

"I vaguely remember posing on a makeshift turntable as I was rotated (in eight positions) for a load of screen captures for the General." Steve said. "Hmmmmmm? I haven't even played the game, but did hear that my character met a'bloody end'."

Next up was Sebastian "Doyle" Krist (Played by Joe Siegler) He sits in a chair (Isn't that pretty lazy-ass for a boss?) and shoots you. His chair is actually just an office chair, and the controls are staplers. Joe says he almost stapled his hands during filming. Then there was NME (Nasty Metallic Enforcer Boss, model by Gregor Punchatz).

"The NME is a pretty tough boss, actually." Tom Hall says "He had four different stages, and at the last stage, it would start firing an amazing number of fireballs at the player to protect itself. Our nickname for the boss was "Spray", for all the stuff that sprayed out of it, and if you catch the NME doing a rotation attack on you (if you're too close), you can see a "Spray" Texas license plate on the back. ;^)"

You can also crash the game if you manage to get the NME in the room with the spinblades. "We never thought anyone would ever get NME outside of the room he was in." Joe Siegler explains.

Joe Siegler in "The Chair" (Next to Tom Hall)

The Result
(Click On Him to Hear Him Talk! WOO HOO!)

All Tom Needed Was a Funny Looking Glove to Portray El Oscuro.

The final boss, El Oscuro (Played by Tom Hall), was pretty damn strange. He also wasn't your standard boss: You could kill him and still lose the game. That frustrated a lot of people (including me). You also didn't kill him in the standard "Doom-style" way. He also had various other "forms" too.

"The idea for El Oscuro was not to have a boss like the DOOM-style boss-either just run and shoot at it and don't get shot." Explains Tom Hall "We wanted El Oscuro to be the hardest boss to date. Here's what you had to do:

In the first level you face him, you meet him in a big canyon, and there are guns everywhere. Every time you shoot him, he shoots back at you in kind: flamewall him, he floorsparks you; heatseek him, he shoots a heatseeking sphere at you; and so on. The trick is: don't attack him! He blows all his energy and reverts to his natural state, sort of a snake made up of huge heads. This snake runs away, and you have to run after it. You chase him through a canyon through a bunch of his guardians, then meet him in his lair.

To defeat him in his lair, you must destroy all his larvae, and then him. To find the larvae you must find the secret larvae chambers. A couple are just pushwalls. The last is a rocket jump with the firebomb (or alternately, fall through the Mercury Mode as you enter his lair and fly over the guarding wall), which gets you to a pushwall which leads to a huge chamber of the larvae. If you don't destroy them all, you'll have to try again, because the larvae will hatch and take over the planet. The larvae killed, you face El Oscuro in the Snake of Heads form. He can only be damaged as he travels over the firepits in the middle of the lair. And when you kill him, he rises into the air and explodes and explodes. If you beat the game, you really feel like you've done something. It is a bastard."

The Death of the Last Form of Oscuro

"The things that El Oscuro says are true Latin." Joe Siegler says. "I forget what they mean offhand, but it's stuff like "I'll kill you". Except for one. One of the things that Oscuro says means "Eat Your Veggies". That's a reference to the old Commander Keen series where "Eat Your Veggies" is the name of the song that appears in the Dopefish level. :) (The Veggies Latin one starts with the word "Comedi".)"

Steve Quarrella, who wrote the lines doesn't quite remember them all either. "I know that one is "On your knees," and another is "Your world will die!" ("Mundus tuus murietur!"), but it's been several years since I've thought about this stuff." He probably tried to block it out. :)

All the robot characters and guns were modeled by Gregor Punchatz, who also worked on Doom. They were then digitized and put into the game.

"That (picture was taken) about 4 or 5 months ago." Joe Siegler says "The NME robot has fallen apart now. He's in pieces in a box. One of these days someone will try and glue it back together. I have the Ballistikraft model on my desk."

From Left to Right,: "Robot Guard", "Gun Turret #1", "NME", "Ballistikraft", & "Gun Turret #2".

Part III - Levelations & The End

© 1997 Kevin Bowen - This article may not be used in part or whole in any form, print or electronic without express written consent. ROTT, Rise of the Triad and Wolf3D is a Trademark of Apogee Software and used with permission. All other Trademarks and Copyrights are hypothetically acknowledged.