The Dopefish lives
Posted on Tuesday, June 7 2011
I was recently digging through a bunch of old gaming stuff and came across an icon only the seasoned gamers amongst you might remember: The Dopefish!
My first contact with this creature was back in 1996 when playing the single player mission of Quake. In the map "The Crypt Of Decay" (E2M3) the Dopefish can be found as wall texture in a secret area (here is a video on Youtube on how to find it). When I saw it, I was aware that this had to be some kind of easter egg but didn't care any further. Even later when I saw the Dopefish hidden in Quake II and Quake 3 Arena I didn't really think about it.
I remembered its appearance in Quake when I recently saw the screenshot above and just out of pure curiosity I did a quick web search. As it turned out there's much more to it than I first thought.
It was created in late 1990 by game designer Tom Hall and appeared as character in the game "Commander Keen IV" from 1991 where it could be found in the "Well of Wishes" (there's a hint to this in Quake: When you enter the path to nightmare mode and shoot the wall decoration the message "The Well of Wishes awaits in the Crypt of Decay" is displayed).
Described as the "second dumbest creature in the universe", with a reference to the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (which cites the "Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal" as the dumbest creature in the universe), it later became kind of a craze and had numerous cameo appearances in various games since.
There's a dedicated Dopefish website with a lot of facts and stories related to this creature.
It's really interesting to see that all this stuff started with just a simple pencil drawing.