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Artillery is the generic name for either early two- or three-player (usually turn-based) computer games involving tanks fighting each other in combat or similar derivative games. Artillery games are among the earliest computer games developed; the theme of such games is an extension of the original uses of computer themselves, which were once used to calculate the trajectories of rockets and other related military-based calculations. Artillery games have been typically described as a type of turn-based strategy game, though they have also been described as a type of "shooting game."
Early precursors to the modern artillery-type games were text-only games that simulated artillery entirely with input data values. A BASIC game known simply as Artillery was written by Mike Forman and was published in Creative Computing magazine in 1976. This seminal home computer version of the game was revised in 1977 by M. E. Lyon and Brian West and was known as War 3; War 3 was revised further in 1979 and published as Artillery-3. These early versions of turn-based tank combat games interpreted human-entered data such as the distance between the tanks, the velocity or "power" of the shot fired and the angle of the tanks' turrets.
An early graphical version of the artillery game emerged on the Apple II computer platform in 1980. Written in Applesoft BASIC, this variant, also called Artillery, built upon the earlier concepts of the artillery games published in Creative Computing but allowed the players to actually see a simple graphical representation of the tanks, battlefield, and terrain. The Apple II variant also took wind speed into account when calculating the eventual result of the fired shot. Lines on the screen showed the players the paths that previous shots had taken toward their target, allowing players to use visual data when considering future strategy. Similar games were made for home computers such as the Commodore PET by 1981.
Video game console variants of the artillery game soon emerged after the first graphical home computer versions. A two-player game called Smithereens! was released in 1982 for the Magnavox Odyssey² console in which two catapults, each behind a castle fortress wall, launched rocks at each other. Although not turn-based, the game made use of the console's speech synthesis to emit sarcastic insults when one player fired at the other. The first widespread artillery-based video game was Artillery Duel. Artillery Duel was released in 1983 for the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision video game consoles as well as the Commodore 64 and VIC-20 home computer platforms. The game featured more elaborate background and terrain graphics as well as a simple graphical readout of wind speed and amount of munitions.
With the increased presence of IBM-compatible PCs came the arrival of artillery games to the platform. In 1990, Tank Wars was released by Kenny Morse and published by Microforum for MS-DOS-based PCs. Tank Wars introduced the concept of buying weapons and multiple AI computer-player tanks to the artillery game.
In 1991, the first version of Scorched Earth was released by Wendell Hicken. Scorched Earth was a popular shareware computer game for MS-DOS in which tanks do turn-based battle in two-dimensional terrain, with each player adjusting the angle and power of his or her tank turret before each shot. Scorched Earth, with numerous weapon types and power-ups, is considered the modern archetype of its format, on which the popular Worms, Hogs of War and GunBound games are based. Scorched Earth incorporates many of the features of previous graphical artillery games (including sarcastic comments by each player's tank before firing) while expanding the options available to each player in regard to the choice of weapons available, the ability to use shields, parachutes, and ability to move the player's tank (with the purchase of fuel tanks). The game is highly configurable and utilizes a simple mouse-driven graphical user interface.
In 1994, Team17 Software released the first version of its successful Worms series of turn-based computer games on the Amiga computer platform. In Worms, players control a small platoon of worms (rather than tanks) across a deformable landscape, battling other computer- or player-controlled teams. The games feature bright and humorous cartoon-style animation and a varied arsenal of bizarre weapons. Subsequent games in the series have been released since 1995, including a 3D variant (Worms 3D) in 2003. This was later followed by Worms Forts and Worms 4. The game then went back to its 2D style gameplay in Worms Open Warfare.
In 2001, Gavin Camp released a 3D artillery game called Scorched 3D that is loosely based on the earlier game Scorched Earth. Scorched 3D offers options such as multiplayer LAN and Internet play, player avatars and flexible camera views.