I need a Shazbot!
By now most Tribes fans know the story of Tribes’ accidental success, but for those PC gamers who weren’t absolutely sucked into this high-flying shooter in 1998, allow me to give a (very) brief crash course. Shortly before Starsiege: Tribes launched back in 1998, both developers and beta testers at Dynamix discovered a neat little feature when tapping their space bar while going down a slope; they essentially became frictionless, and thus skiing was born. Lead designer Scott Youngblood, now lead designer at Red 5 Studios working on Firefall, remembers the discovery of skiing fondly.
The emergence of skiing lead to a complete transformation of the game, including routes being formed and mastered, vehicles becoming essentially useless as players became their own high-flying vehicle, and the birth of one of the most exciting and unique games of the late ’90s. While Quake had bunny-hopping and Counter Strike had surfing, they were both typically played within a closed or otherwise restricted arena. Tribes on the other hand is known for its huge outdoor maps which, by sheer coincidence, were perfectly suited for its skiing mechanic. Players could spend minutes simply skiing around a map before grabbing the enemy flag. The games soft out-of-bounds grid and repeated terrains meant that players had no restrictions other than falling off the map, if they dared to venture out that far.