Apogee Entertainment and its founder Scott Miller have been sharing some stories from Apogee's long history of game development, and in doing so recently told an interesting tale about the development of Wolfenstein 3D.
In a tweet on Apogee's Twitter page, the company revealed that Wolfenstein 3D's developer Id Software was still contracted at the time of its development to supply one more game to its former publisher Softdisk. So, in order to get around this technicality, Apogee volunteered to develop Id's remaining game, resulting in ScubaVenture: The Search For Pirate's Treasure for DOS. This then freed up ID to work on Wolfenstein 3D for Apogee using the developer's 3D engine.
Just in case you've never heard of it and are in need of a quick overview, ScubaVenture essentially tasks players with searching the remains of a sunken ship, called The Barbarosa. The ship was the object of your father's obsessions and the reason for his mysterious disappearance, so, curious to know more, you decide to strap on a scuba suit and set off to excavate its riches and find out what secrets lay in wait.
Apogee's George Broussard was responsible for the game's design, with John Carmack and John Romero being credited online for the game's engine. Sadly, we weren't able to find any reviews, with the only references being in retrospective articles and magazines.
John Romero, for instance, said the following about the game in 2011 on his website:
"When we started creating Wolfenstein 3D in January 1992 (in Madison, Wisconsin), we still had one more game to create for Softdisk, but we didn't want to do it. We were too excited to create Wolfenstein 3D! So, George Broussard, co-founder of Apogee Software/3D Realms, offered to create the final game for us. The result of his labors, using our game engine, was the rare and obscure game, ScubaVenture: The Search For Pirate's Treasure! (An interesting trivia point about the game's title: one of my programming heroes, Nasir Gebelli, wrote a game called ScubaVenture back in 1983.)"
Today, Miller calls this move "maybe the most sneaky thing Apogee was ever involved in doing" but said that they "knew the payoff would be enormous." And obviously, they were right.
In 2000, Romero estimated that Wolfenstein 3D sold roughly 4,000 copies a month shortly after its release, in a Prima Games interview. It also went on to win a ton of awards and accolades, and has since been repeatedly referred to as the "grandfather of 3D shooters". Arguably none of this would have happened as it did, without this obscure scuba diving game releasing Id from its prior agreement.
If you want to play ScubaVenture: The Search For Pirate's Treasure for yourself, it's currently on Steam for £5.19. Just to hammer home how forgotten and obscure the title is, there are currently no reviews available on its Steam page either.