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Into Cerberon FAQs (frequently-asked questions)

Category: Main -> About Descent

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What is Descent?

Descent is a series of 3-D first-person-shooter type games that was first released in 1995 and followed up by sequels in 1996 (Descent II) and 2000 (Descent 3), both of which had expansion packs (Descent 2: Vertigo and Descent 3: Mercenary)as well as the unrelated spin-off series Descent: Freespace.

Unlike almost all other FPS games, Descent does not put the player in boots on the ground. In Descent, players hover inside a small spacecraft that has full six-degrees-of-freedom control. This means that it can tilt, yaw, and pitch as well as move forward and backwards, up and down, and left and right.

Descent is regarded as one of the classic FPS games, although thanks to its vertigo-inducing gameplay and CPU-intensive polygon-based enemies, it was not quite as popular as the more acessible Doom series.

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What is this "six degrees of freedom" thing I keep hearing about?

"Six degrees of freedom" refers to the six axes of control available to the player. There are three axes of orientation: pitch (tilting up and down), yaw (turning left and right), and roll, combined with three axes of movement: forward/backwards, up/down, left/right (usually called strafing or sliding).

This gives true freedom of movement in all directions. Very few FPS games, even ones that include spacecraft, implement full 6DOF controls. The alien pod-ships in Prey, for example, cannot roll or pitch all the way upside-down, and the aircraft and spacecraft in Unreal Tournament 2004 cannot do that or even slide left/right.

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So what happened to Descent?

The simple answer is that the main company behind Descent, Interplay, died. Volition, the spin-off development company of Parallax Software, the developers of the first two Descent games, went on to make Red Faction, while Interplay, owners of the Descent trademark, died and merged with THQ, which has expressed no interest in continuing the franchise.

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What about Descent IV?

Descent IV was essentially a fan initiative to produce a true, commercial, sequel game to Descent 3. Unfortunately, rights to the franchise could not be secured, and as a result the project was abandoned. PlanetDescent has a project info page and a full FAQ about the Descent IV project.

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