Scorched Earth is a popular shareware artillery video game, which is a subgenre of strategy game. The game was developed in the DOS era, originally written by Wendell Hicken (using Borland C++ and Turbo Assembler), in which tanks do turn-based battle in two-dimensional terrain, with each player adjusting the angle and power of their tank turret before each shot.
Scorched Earth is one of many games in the genre of 'turn-based artillery games'. Such games are among the earliest computer games, with versions existing for mainframes with only teletype output. Scorched Earth, with a plethora of weapon types and power-ups, is considered the modern archetype of its format.
Its slogan, 'The Mother of all Games', was coined in 1991, during the Gulf War, after Saddam Hussein threatened the U.S. that if they stepped on Iraqi soil, it would be 'The Mother of all Battles'.
The game has a wide variety of customization options from gravity and wind to money and meteorite showers, and a similarly large pool of different payloads, allowing for a large amount of entirely different situations.
In addition to the possible in-game changes, the text messages the AI players can display before firing (e.g. 'I shall smash your ugly tank!') and before dying (e.g. 'Join the army, see the world they said') are read in two plain text files, TALK1.CFG and TALK2.CFG, respectively, free for creative users to change or translate.
The weapons range from small missile rounds to MIRV warheads to high-yield nuclear weapons. All weapons can be upgraded with tracers which allow the player to more accurately adjust the trajectory on their next turn. In addition to conventional warheads, there is also such ordnance as napalm, wildly bouncing bombs, and earth weapons, allowing the player to dump dirt on other tanks or to remove ground from beneath them. A tank which is covered with dirt has to shoot itself free and may get damaged in the process; one which falls from too high a level may be destroyed. A variety of utilities, such as deflector shields, recharge batteries, and tank parachutes, make it much harder to score a kill with a single hit even with the more bizarre and advanced weapons, adding another dimension to the game's tactics.
Projectiles can be manipulated in their flight-path by wind, shields and guidance systems, and sometimes have partially random effects. Walls may have a bounce, wrap-around, or no effect, as may the ceiling. As the player advances in the game, he can afford more and more powerful weapons, but so can his opponents.
The game can be played against up to nine other human players and/or computer-controlled ones. A broad range of differently skilled player types is offered by the program. If the player-controlled tanks are destroyed before the others, the AI-controlled players continue to battle each other, effectively turning Scorched Earth into a zero-player game.
There is also a similar game from the same era called Tank Wars and another on the Commodore Amiga computer system called Scorched Tanks. Tank Wars was made in 1990 by Kenny Morse, a year before Scorched Earth. Commodore also released a similar version in their educational software catalog called Artillery.
More details about this game can be found on