Wolfenstein 3D was a first-person shooter video game developed by id Software and published by Apogee Software and FormGen. Originally released on May 5, 1992 for MS-DOS, it was inspired by the 1981 Muse Software video game Castle Wolfenstein, and is the third installment in the Wolfenstein series. In Wolfenstein 3D, the player assumes the role of Allied spy William "B.J." Blazkowicz during World War II as he escapes from the Nazi German prison Castle Wolfenstein and carries out a series of crucial missions against the Nazis.
The player traverses each of the game's levels to find an elevator to the next level or kill a final boss, fighting Nazi soldiers, dogs, and other enemies with knives and a variety of guns. Wolfenstein 3D was the second major release by id Software, after the Commander Keen series of episodes. In mid-1991, programmer John Carmack experimented with making a fast 3D game engine by restricting the gameplay and viewpoint to a single plane, producing Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3-D as prototypes. After a design session prompted the company to shift from the family-friendly Keen to a more violent theme, programmer John Romero suggested remaking the 1981 stealth shooter Castle Wolfenstein as a fast-paced action game. He and designer Tom Hall designed the game, built on Carmack's engine, to be fast and violent, unlike other computer games on the market at the time.
Wolfenstein 3D features artwork by Adrian Carmack and sound effects and music by Bobby Prince. Wolfenstein 3D was a critical and commercial success, garnering numerous awards and selling over 200,000 copies by the end of 1993. It has been termed the "grandfather of 3D shooters", and is widely regarded as having helped popularize the first-person shooter genre and establishing the standard of fast-paced action and technical prowess for many subsequent games in the genre, as well as showcasing the viability of the shareware publishing model at the time.