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Pie in the Sky (game engine)

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Pie in the Sky is a 2.5D and 3D first person shooter engine most popular in the mid to late 1990s by Pie in the Sky Software, also known as the 3D Game Creation or 3D Game Creation System engine. The engine was used in two games by the company as well as many other independent games and amateur projects after it was turned into a game creator, largely due to it minimizing the amount of computer programming knowledge needed to make 3D games in its editing tools.


The company first learned to program 3D by creating a modestly popular TSR 3D screen saver called InnerMission in 1987.[1] After more developments, they developed a 3D flight simulator Corncob 3D in 1992. The game was inspired by a flight simulator for the Apple II. The game was first released as shareware and then later commercially as Corncob Deluxe by MVP Software. After seeing Wolfenstein 3D, they wrote a new 3D engine in C and used it in the first person shooter Lethal Tender in 1993. Based on that, they were hired by a German group to create a German first person shooter.[2]

Pie in the Sky released Terminal Terror, the sequel to Lethal Tender, in 1994. The development of this game, to be published by Expert Software, had taken precedence over the German development and thus strained the relationship. The game was relatively successful, but the company sensed they were unable to keep up and stay ahead of other first person shooter developers. To get around this and enter a niche market, they decided to create the 3D Game Creation System and market themselves to consumers who wanted to make their own 3D Games. It is first used by games such as Red Babe by The DaRK CaVErN Productions and La Cosa Nostra by Slade 3D Software.

In 1995 it was used in Despair 2 and 3, Terror in Christmas Town, Deer Napped, and Castaway: The Ordeal Begins. Meanwhile, the various bugs in the program were worked out and upgrades and patches were released, partly due to the rushed development of the system in the first place.[3] The contract with the German group changed, and instead the new game creation system was re-released in German as well as English.

The engine was ported to Microsoft Windows and Direct X in 1998, as well as updating it beyond Wolfenstein 3D-like standards. The company had first detected the decline of MS DOS in 1994, and had decided to port to Windows and adopt 3D API technology using the Renderware library. This was first attempted in a racing game called Baja Bash but emphasis was switched to converting the old game creation engine due to market demands, time constraints, and some criticism of the later game - despite its attempted physics advances. Due to licensing constraints however, they eventually opted to use Direct3D.[4]

In this updated form that it was used in the game Pencil Whipped, designed for the 2000 Independent Games Festival. Chub Gam 3D, an earlier freeware game, was reissued in director's cut form in 1998. In 2001 the third version of the engine was released, featuring true-3D polygonal enemies and weapons, 3D terrain, super lighting effects, and other improvements. The engine ceased being sold in May 2003 and soon after the Pie in the Sky company website came down. The book 3D Game Creation by Luke Ahearn for Cyberrookies has a section which examines making games using the Pie in the Sky development tools.[5]

In 2010 the company was restarted, and has created a physics engine demo and a dice simulation for the Android operating system, tested on the Motorola Droid.[6] The choice of a physics engine is likely inspired by the popularity of the Corncob 3D physics. The company's new website notes "the focus will be more about making fun stuff that being a money-producing business."[7] The rebirth of the company was inspired by a feeling that small companies can make a better headway in the mobile market than on the PC market, based on their struggling experience trying to keep the Pie in the Sky tools current to big name standards in the 1990s.[8]


Corncob 3D

The Pie in the Sky engine's predecessor game. Instead of being a first person shooter like the later games based on Pie in the Sky it is a flight simulator game. The game takes place in a world where Hitler died in childhood and World War II never happened. It its stead, aliens have invaded the Earth.[9] The player must take control of a F4U Corsair, the only World War II plane that made it into this alternate history, and defeat the alien invaders.[10] The game takes place in a variety of different locations and was noted for its original gameplay and presentaton.[11] It is also known for being one of the few shareware flight simulators.[12]

Lethal Tender

Secret agent Nick Hunter must thwart the evil Thorne Devereaux, who is planting bombs in U.S. currency. The game featured various singular features such as taking the uniforms of dead enemies for protection. The game is described by Home of the Underdogs as a "a fun, albeit amateurish, first-person shooter."[13] The game set out the style followed closely by most other Pie in the Sky engine games, particularly noting its inventory system,[14] though even its graphics were mostly reused by later games as well.[15] The game is also known as Legal Tender.

Terminal Terror

Pie in the Sky Software's sequel to Lethal Tender. The game featured an expanded array of features, including early examples of the stealth gameplay of later games like Thief.[16] The player is again Nick Hunter, with a mission to take back into custody the international terrorist Bruno Riggs, who has fortified himself and his men in a captured air force base with several hostages, including Hunter's fiance. Abandonia noted that "like System Shock, it was far ahead of it’s time… too far ahead", referencing its new features such as friendly non-playable characters and damage varying based on where hit.[17] The game was published by Expert Software.

Red Babe

Red Babe was one of the first games to use the Pie in the Sky engine that was not made by the engine creators themselves, being made by The DaRK CaVErN Productions. The game features the player's quest to save the beautiful Sharla, the titular "Red Babe" due to her penchant for a red dress.[18]

La Cosa Nostra

A mobster themed first person shooter game using the Pie in the Sky engine. The player takes the role of NYPD investigator Slade A. Ryker, who must stop the crime boss Girabaldi and his gang after they murdered his partner/brother-in-law and now hold his wife hostage. It was included on at least one shareware compilation containing the first episode of the game. The second level of the first episode's level track is the theme from the film The Terminator, hinting the soundtrack comprises various MIDI files found on the Internet, though the game's variety in terms of textures, graphics and sounds is more than most Pie in the Sky engine games. The game was developed by Tony L. Ford under the group title of Slade 3D Software.[19]

Despair series

Both Despair 2 and Despair 3 use the Pie in the Sky engine. The games feature a battle with the aliens from the first Despair game, with the third game featuring a wind machine threating Earth. The games were developed by U-Neek Software.[20]

Terror in Christmas Town

A Christmas-themed 3D shooter, featuring the player having to rescue Santa Claus from a kidnapping polar bear. The game was created by Michael Zerbo and released 1995.[21]

Deer Napped

Like Terror in Christmas Town, this game features a Christmas theme. The player is a ninja working for Santa and must rescue his reindeer from the Abominable Snowpeople. The game was created by Nic-Ty Entertainmentick, which consisted of Nick Fletcher and Tyler Smith of Smiths Falls, Ontario who were both only age 14 at the time of the game's release. The game was made while participating in a program called "I want to be a Millionaire". The aim of the program was to encourage young entrepreneurs to learn about business through hands on experience. The game is notably non-violent as enemies are turned into harmless snowmen rather than dying.[22]

Castaway: The Ordeal Begins

A game by John Gallon that features the player landing on an foreign planet, and must proceed to shoot his way through the game.[23]

Chub Gam 3D

Chub Gam 3D is claimed to be one of the earliest freeware first person shooter games.[24] The game features the adventures of a Harrier jet pilot after his plane crashes and is invited in by the eccentric creatures Chub and Rex. However, rather than settling down for the night as asked, the pilot discovers Rex's shocking secret project.[25] The game is claimed to have won many awards, a traceable one being its inclusion as one of MPI World's "Top 52 Free Games of '98".[26] A director's cut was later released by ChubGamSoft with several improvements, including cutscenes.[27] and it was supposedly sold in Brazil.[28]

Pencil Whipped

Pencil Whipped might be the most well known of the Pie in the Sky games and one of the only ones to utilize a later version of the engine and thus running on Microsoft Windows. The game won developer Lonnie Flickinger (aka Chiselbrain Software) a chance at the $15,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize and awards for technical excellence, game design, visual art, and audio.[29] Based on a strange dream Flickinger had, the game became known for its unique black and white pencil drawn world[30] and for its wider novelty value,[31] being described by as "like being trapped inside a very disturbed child's drawing."[32]

See also

  • 3D Construction Kit, another early 3D creation tool.
  • Game Maker, features 2.5D game creation abilities.
  • The Game Creators, focus on making 3D development easy.


External links

Template:Video game engines

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