Near the start of the podcast, Rob made a reference to Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, and how those games plus the 2009 Wolfenstein contributed to a sort of dilution of the franchise.
I wanted to bring some context to Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, because I don’t think a lot of people are necessarily aware of its odd development history.
When Return to Castle Wolfenstein (henceforth RTCW) was released, it had a pretty standard first person shooter campaign mode that I’m pretty sure was intended to be a direct sequel of the DOS Wolfenstein 3D games (it’s been a long time, so I can’t remember for sure). It also had a multiplayer mode that came out around the time class-based competitive team multiplayer FPS games started to really crystallize in the wake of games like Team Fortress. The multiplayer was extremely well received in the circles I ran with at the time (a combination of old Team Fortress players, Quake III deathmatch players, and Counter-Strike players). The single player was made by Gray Matter Interactive, at the time known for Red Neck Rampage, a Quake 2 mission pack, and Kingpin: Life of Crime (a surprisingly interesting game at the time. Not necessarily a good game, but an interesting one) and the multiplayer was made by Nerve Software (the studio’s first game published under that name, but mostly made up of old Rogue Software people, who had worked on a game called Stryfe, which brought open-world RPG elements to a Doom engine game, but that pretty much no one had heard of, and also known for making Quake 1 and 2 mission packs and American McGee’s Alice, which is another weird/interesting game).
So due to its success, a sequel was going to be made called Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. But this time the developers that got chosen were Mad Doc Software for the single player and Splash Damage for the multiplayer. Now I don’t know much about Mad Doc and didn’t know much about them at the time, either. Apparently they mostly made licensed games for Activision. Splash Damage, on the other hand, I’m intimately familiar with. They originally were a mod team for Quake 3 that made a clone of Team Fortress called Q3F. This game was going to be their first professional gig as a studio. And apparently Mad Doc was going to fuck it up for them.
The game got delayed a couple times and then was eventually announced as canceled because the single player portion just wasn’t coming together. However, the multiplayer component had already been completed and was just waiting. So somehow, someone convinced Activision to just release the multiplayer as a free stand alone game. Not in the modern sense of free-to-play, but a truly gratis game. So a lot of people played this game back then. It was a AAA-quality multiplayer first person shooter that had all the same mod tools available that Quake 3 had (for context, these were really powerful mod tools).
Anyway, just wanted to give some history if anyone was interested.