Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom | vector poem

This post is intended as a companion piece for the release of Arcadia Demade.

A high-minded goal like “expand the boundaries of the medium” doesn’t always mean forging ahead in crazy new unknown directions. Sometimes it means examining lost evolutionary lines in game design – picking up ideas that were abandoned long ago and seeing if there’s any new life in them. The game I keep coming back to in this regard is Doom. Not the 2004 reboot, but “Classic Doom”: Doom 1 and 2, Final Doom, the Master Levels – and its vast universe of user-made content. What can it teach us today?

In 1993, the message Doom sent to the videogame world was something like “use cutting edge technology to make something dark, edgy and violent”. The world has changed so much around Doom since then that very little of that original impact comes through to players today – though the industry has inarguably gone on to master the techno-fueled ultra-violence thing! Here’s what I’ve found after many years of enjoying the game and digging ever deeper into its design:

Doom feels more like 1st person Robotron than a modern FPS

Doom 2 top-down map screenshot

When you play Doom today, it doesn’t feel much like you’re controlling a human or moving through real spaces. Try this though: press the TAB key, type IDDT twice and pretend you’re playing Geometry Wars, and the moving triangles are your enemies. This is what Doom’s designers were working from in 1993 – back then, the idea of a first person shooter was barely established, and their closest models for many mechanics were from 2D shooters like Robotron, Berserk and Tempest. This approach echoes throughout Doom’s design. The notion of realism in FPS design wouldn’t appear for another few years, and many decisions were made simply on the basis of being good for abstract shooter gameplay.

Partly thanks to this, many parts of Doom’s “game feel” still compare favorably with modern twitch games. Enemy speeds and patterns are very finely tuned, weapon design is strongly orthogonal, player movement has a nice friction to it and level design elucidates all of this. Quake 3 is still considered the pinnacle of arcadey FPS movement and feel, and that lineage starts with Doom – some of the code is even similar.

Doom is about “maneuverability as defense”

In almost every modern FPS, the player moves fairly slowly and a huge proportion of enemies are equipped with instant hit attacks – pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles. This usually puts the player in the role of “damage sponge” – they’re intended to soak up a certain amount of damage from mostly unavoidable enemy attacks, then seek cover and heal up. Halo’s recharging shield makes this mechanic quite explicit – by default, you’re exposed to damage and will die, while seeking cover halts that and completes the basic cycle of any combat.

Contrast all this with Doom Guy, who runs at about 50 scale miles per hour – nonsensically fast by modern standards. Most of Doom’s enemies don’t have instant-hit projectile attacks, and most of the ones that do are quite weak – the lowly trooper and sergeant. Every other enemy projectile takes time to reach its target, and would look comical in a more realistic visual presentation.

So because the player moves so quickly in Doom, and because most enemy attacks are dodgeable, the player can avoid a significant amount of damage simply by moving. A skilled player can often deal with large numbers of enemies sustaining hardly a scratch. This creates a feeling that’s quite rare in modern FPS: that you are powerful because you are agile, not because you’re a tank. This frees up Doom’s encounters to feature huge numbers of enemies, to vary scenarios by mixing in different proportions of threats, and to have huge, sprawling, often non-linear spaces that the player can traverse easily. There’s nothing quite like it today.

Doom has a more varied bestiary than most modern FPSes

Doom 2 screenshot with lots of enemies

In many modern FPSes, the design of every enemy the player faces is sampled from a fairly narrow tactical spectrum – soldier with machine gun, soldier with shotgun, zombie with melee attack. Doom, on the other hand, has a huge range of monster sizes, speeds, strengths and movement/attack patterns. Former humans and imps are slow moving ranged fodder. Hell Barons are large, tank-like threats. Flying enemies range from the small charging Lost Soul to the tough, fireball-belching Cacodemon. Revenants and Mancubi launch homing and spread-fire projectiles respectively, and the three boss-class monsters are each very dangerous in different ways. Some enemies can be stunned by weapon fire more easily than others.

Such diversity creates a large but simple to understand toolset that level design can combine with architecture to create a huge variety of combat setups. One tough guy with a lot of fodder means the player has to do crowd control while focusing on the real threat. Lots of flying enemies make the player seek low cover and choke points. Enemies with strong melee in tight spaces make the player dance and really exploit the stun properties of their weapons. This versatility of the core design makes life easier and more fun for the level designer, and thus the player.

Doom was abstract in ways that empowered its level design

Doom 2's 'Entryway' map

While some of Doom’s levels have a very thin fiction via their title (eg “Hangar”) and general texturing theme, if you actually explore them you find they only resemble real locations in the loosest sense possible. This is precisely what allowed Doom’s level design to present a wide variety of interesting tactical setups. Level designers didn’t have to worry about whether a change made something look less like a hangar or a barracks, just whether it was better for gameplay. This was especially critical for a style of game that was just finding its feet in 1993.

As the march of technology has allowed ever-higher graphical fidelity, virtually every FPS since Doom has attempted greater and greater representationalism with its environments. While games like System Shock began to show that a real sense of place can be a huge draw in itself, designers of such games will always have to manage the tension between compelling fiction and optimal function, unless you are willing to go all out and have the kind of weird, abstract spaces Doom has. I would love to see more modern games break with this conventional wisdom and see where it leads, if only in an indie or experimental context.

Doom enabled a revolution in player-generated content

Though advanced for its day, Doom’s technology was still simple enough, and its content low-fidelity enough, that a huge mod community coalesced around it to produce an unparalleled number of levels, mods, total conversions and other addons. This, combined with the fact that the player base was so focused on a single game, means we’ll probably never see something like it again. The lesson for future games might be this: make your technology extremely simple, easy to modify, ship it with a diverse enough pool of content that people can extend it to create a variety of settings and styles, and promote the sharing of this content as a way to add value to your game.

Many PC games have gotten all that right but failed to attract a huge community because of the content fidelity issue. The barriers to entry facing someone who wants to make a mod for Unreal Tournament 3 today are vastly higher than those facing a Doom modder. You can rough out a Doom map in a few hours and finish it in a few days, while that same amount of time might produce a single texture for a modern game. Again, this is something we could branch out from if we lose our fixation on technology and high fidelity visuals uber alles.

Another unique side effect of Doom’s simplicity is that its design principles can be synthesized and expressed procedurally. Level generators for more modern games have been attempted and abandoned, while the Oblige random level generator creates a decent Doom level with proper combat and resource balance, key gating and architectural themes.

Doom is one of many classics whose less obvious qualities are seldom revisited

Doom’s impact has faded, and its precise recipe for success is unlikely to be replicated; nevertheless, the game industry has become quite adept at mimicking its superficial qualities. However we as creators and critics owe it to ourselves to look at Doom, and other classics of comparable depth – M.U.L.E., Ultima IV and Star Control II are a few examples I would offer – and trace less-traveled paths of analysis in search of deeper truths.

Sometimes we must look to the past for guidance. Other times we must strive to forget it entirely. In the balance of both, we will find much to learn about making the games of tomorrow.

Addendum: Not sure if he even remembers it, but Nathan McKenzie made some observations on Doom about 7 years ago now(!) that set my wheels turning on this post, so I’d like to thank him for those initial insights.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 28th, 2010 at 10:22 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

89 Responses to “Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom”

  1. Jon Says:

    Neat read… it’s interesting to hear you share your thoughts on this.


  2. Eniko Says:

    Great article and it explains nicely why I still miss Doom’s gameplay despite the legion of FPSes released since. Though I have to wonder why in the list of other classics to learn from you listed Ultima IV and not say, VI or VII. I’d be very interested in hearing what particular lessons can be learned from that and the Ultima series in general.

  3. Brandon malicoat Says:

    Great article, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s easy to look back and say that Doom is crude due to its appearance but you make a compelling argument that it had very advanced elements that few games have or will ever be able to replicate. I especially like the top down view you mention, I had never seen this before. It definitely puts into perspective the speeds of the game elements. Which, as you said, would not work in a modern 3D FPS in any way.

  4. Ilya Haykinson Says:

    Thank you for mentioning Star Control II — I feel it’s an often underappreciated (or forgotten) game, despite having amazing storytelling abilities and a rarely-seen freedom of gameplay.

  5. BioShock involved designer remakes Arcadia level for Doom II — omglog Says:

    […] March 2010BioShock involved designer remakes Arcadia level for Doom II…while also explaining differences between the game mechanics/player experience of Doom versus modern FPS games.[via:Waxy][link]Posted […]

  6. John Scott Tynes Says:

    Very interesting. I wrote a column for the Escapist a few months ago in which, as a thought exercise, I tried remapping the controls and gameplay of Far Cry 2 onto an Atari 2600 joystick. This was in the context of modern controllers having too many inputs, but in the course of the exercise I decided that a requirement for this hypothetical adaptation was to lock rotation to the horizontal plane — in other words, Doom-style movement where you can spin left and right but not up and down.

    The more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder if Quake’s free mouselook was a road we should not have taken, because it took a very accessible genre and turned it into a pastime for skilled operators only. And ultimately, got us the cumbersome dual-stick controllers we use today.

    I definitely agree that we aren’t done learning from Doom.

  7. Jamie Says:

    Great article, sums up a lot of my thoughts and feelings on Doom, which I consider to be the greatest game ever made.

    Granted there is a large amount of nostalgia at work there, but as you pointed out, the gameplay of Doom is wonderfully unique. As little as a year later FPS developers were branching out into Duke Nukem 3D style “realistic”, a.k.a less abstract, level design.

    Modern retreads, like Serious Sam and Painkiller, have attempted to recapture the magic Robotron style craziness of Doom but both come up lacking on the level design front, which was integral to the Doom’s gameplay success.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Interesting and well-written article, thanks for the read! I spent some time making Doom maps but never uploaded anything to the internet. I made a climb to Quake 3 maps later on, but it started to get more frustrating and I ended my amateur modding career then. This did remind me of how much easier it was to get into.

  9. links for 2010-03-02 - Nerdcore Says:

    […] vector poem » Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom In 1993, the message Doom sent to the videogame world was something like “use cutting edge technology to make something dark, edgy and violent”. The world has changed so much around Doom since then that very little of that original impact comes through to players today – though the industry has inarguably gone on to master the techno-fueled ultra-violence thing! Here’s what I’ve found after many years of enjoying the game and digging ever deeper into its design. (tags: Games Doom) […]

  10. gentimouton Says:

    Really nice article!

    the player can avoid a significant amount of damage simply by moving. A skilled player can often deal with large numbers of enemies sustaining hardly a scratch.
    What about the Cyberdemon and the Spiderdemon? :-) What saved me many times was the monster infighting. Cf this level where a Cyberdemon + 50 Baron of Hell are in a room. Opening the door, shooting into the room before the door closes, and a lot of noise later, 3 Barons left \o/ I have not seen it in other FPS …

    @Jamie: Personally, I found Serious Sam to be really close to Doom. The bestiary maps really well (Aludran Reptiloid == Baron of Hell, Arachnoids == Spiders, Gnaars == Demon, etc.). The maps are also wide and as a player, you have the trade-off between visiting 100% of the map slowly or go straight to the next level (~15% of the map visited). Serious Sam with the sniper rifle and the very long areas added different (funny) game experiences. Serious Sam’s gameplay/controls made you able to dodge really easily. Although Sam is not much faster than his enemies, he dodges pretty well.

  11. pagb666 Says:

    @gentimouton: I don’t think SS is so close to DooM… SS was about big courtyards where monsters kept spawning for like, 10 minutes, with little key/switch hunting… most levels were a sucession of wide open areas with endless combats. SS stresses me, DooM doesn’t.

  12. BoraxMan Says:

    Summed up many of my thoughts, and why Doom is still THE best FPS. Put it quite simply, it was a game, not a simulator. Few games match it these days, if any, and as you stated, their drive to be realistic, rather than abstract and fun as a lot to do with it. There is also other gameplay elements. The idea of the ‘secret’. The soul sphere floating in another room where you had to try and find the secret door. The odd level design, the kill ratio and powerups. Having to find keys, buttons. The level wasn’t just a venue for shooting to take place in, you PLAYED the level. And the levels weren’t linear, like they were in Quake 4 and Doom 3, and were greatly varied. One single doom level had as many ‘styles’ as many modern FPS’s have throughout the whole game.

  13. Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom Says:

    […] Vector Poem – Lessons from Doom […]

  14. CutmanMike Says:

    Finally, someone higher up who can get the gaming media’s attention points out the importance of Doom. Now I can just link to this article rather than explain for the 100th time why I still mod for the classic game.


  15. ktm Says:

    Thank you so much for expressing why Doom is (one of) the greatest acheivement in gaming history and is still great to this day, despite the few who’ve “forgotten” about it.

  16. Ashley Pomeroy Says:

    One of the less obvious qualities that still intrigues me about Doom today is that, for the most part, the levels are pre-populated with baddies, and you can often interact with distant parts of the level. It has a sense of scale that went missing from action games until the advent of Fry Cry and Stalker and so forth. The game’s view distance is enormous, and often the levels feel much larger than you would expect for technology that dates from 1993. For example, right at the start of E1M1, you can peer through a window at some enemies that you will not encounter for a short while, and they can attack you; and there is the opening of Map29, where you descend an elevator to be suddenly confronted with an enormous, 486-bothering hall, with distant baddies that immediately start to show their displeasure at your presence.

    Most subsequent action games used a gameplay mechanic whereby the levels were divided into small compartments which were empty until the player passed through an invisible tripwire, at which point some baddies would materialise. That kind of gameplay was more reminiscent of Double Dragon than Doom; it took away a lot of Doom’s tactical depth, and it’s a shame that Doom III followed that path.

    I admit that it seems absurd on the surface to talk about Doom in terms of tactical depth, but the best original and fan-made levels have an open-ended quality that rewards shrewdness, rather than being just a test of memory. In comparison, the Serious Sam games were almost literally Robotron in 3D – you were trapped in a series of rectangular arenas versus a big crowd of almost uniform baddies – and they were far more simplistic than Doom (to be fair, they often felt more simplistic than Robotron).

    The original two Doom games had a few instances where monsters teleported into the level, but they were fairly spartan. For the most part you had options. And there were those lovely exploding barrels. And the double shotgun, which remains my favourite computer game weapon of all time. Its sound rivals the blaster sound from Robotron as my favourite sound of all time. It is the last sound that thousands upon thousands of hellish monsters and deathmatch contestants ever heard. If death could be turned into a sound, it would be the final wheezing exhalation of breath from an elderly corpse that was your grandmother until a few seconds ago; and it would be the sound of Doom’s double shotgun, and also the blaster from Robotron, and the noises that Kate Bush put into “Experiment IV”. And so forth.

    The other thing that still draws me to the idgames section of Doomworld is touched upon in the paragraph about crowd control. Doom emphasised mass carnage against a large number of relatively weak enemies, and so there was constant action and lots of fast movement. In contrast to this, most subsequent games – starting with Quake – emphasised periodic fights against one or two or three stronger monsters, perhaps because it was technically hard to display Doom’s monster hordes on a P75. Doom II introduced a range of moderately tough “sub-boss” creatures, but they were always surrounded by imps and so forth that fell like ninepins.

    As for dodging, Doom II comes alive when you are trapped in a small space with a crowd of revenants. They are the most complex of all the monsters in Doom II, in the sense that they have two separate long-range attacks, plus a melee attack, and they are relatively fast, and even when the player is fully powered-up their strikes are still badly damaging. With skillful footwork and a double shotgun it is possible to mow down a mass of them without sustaining a single hit, but there is always the danger that one mis-step into the scenery will lead to the player’s immediate demise. The have a menacing sound, and they reliably die with two full-on blasts from the double shotgun. And it feels good to kill them.

    Perhaps it’s just familiarity, but I still play Doom quite regularly, usually by hitting the “random” button in idgames’ level archive (I wrote all those “this level is dated X” reviews). It’s fascinating to read through all the textfiles from 1994 and 1995, and feel the palpable excitement at this new frontier; a time when people were cool about putting in their full name and home address and asking people to mail them suggestions and money.

    Doom still has much to teach us.

  17. sebmojo Says:

    I was hoping you’d mention the control methodology – Doom was the last hurrah of pure keyboard control for a PC FPS, but played so much better with a mouse it was almost a different game.

  18. White Says:

    A rather interesting article for the most interesting game that will ever be released. There is NOTHING, and repeated without capitals : Nothing, that can possibly match the perfection of Doom. You really are somebody who isn’t a fanatic of new-school, and yet sees the old light of day to look back at something as magnificent as Doom. God bless you.

  19. Kriss Says:

    One of the things that makes doom doom is the number of enemies you have to deal with at once.

    That one simple thing, born of technical decisions, is the defining factor of the game.

    That modern doom remake was as depressing as the movie…

  20. Some Joe Mapper Says:

    Yeah.. All this has been discussed dozen times about dozen years ago.

  21. CC Says:

    Very interesting read. Thanks!

    On the subject of abstract depictions of the named locations, how about Jet Set Willy (1 or 2, or even Manic Miner) as something that took this even further! Obviously, these aren’t modern takes on this notion, but they were peculiarly evocative – and I, too, would enjoy modern games testing these waters.

  22. Tekito Says:

    Agree that modern FPS enemies have become less diversified, but I think that the Half-Life games avoided this trend. The alien and human enemies had a solid variety of strengths/weaknesses. Maybe they are no longer ‘modern’ though:). The storyline of your game can certainly affect what you can and cant’t put in there.

  23. r_rr Says:

    Excellent. Explains why Doom is such and addicting game to mod, and shows how much we can learn from this great game. Doom was the birth of modern FPS, it set the standards for games we play today.

  24. Aud Says:

    I still see Doom & Doom 2 as unexploited goldmines for design. I played online (through a BBS) for a good couple of years everyday and have not had a FPS since match the level of fun we had with Doom 2.

    The speed and (lack of) friction made the doom marine so much fun to control and was much more engaging than the modern FPSs. I play Halo 3 online and am always frustrated at the default speed. Gears of Wars pre-distanced rolls are frustrating compared to the precision of a controlled move to the side in Doom. Basically I see a decline in core gameplay (specifically character control) since these games.

    On an unrelated note, the quality of the sound effects especially the weapons was amazing at the time, and to my ears still very meaty and satisfying compared to modern weapon sound design. This definitely subtly contributed to the appeal.

    I would love to see a Doom 2 remake on xbox live focussed on multiplayer with the core control intact, but with new maps/weapons/gamemodes and support for more players.

  25. harrison Says:

    Great article! Just the other day I was thinking “why the hell am I still playing this game?” Doom was the very first game I ever played on my very first computer (486, 100 MHz, 8 MB of RAM), and I still play it 15 years later… I’ll never forget how I was scared for shit with those Imp sounds… I knew they were close, but I couldn’t see them…

  26. Bret Says:

    John, Quake wasn’t responsible for Mouselook. That comes down to Marathon, which also was one of, if not the, first games to have altfire, another complication. (Also, another game with monster infighting.)

    And, playing Doom after Bungie’s work?

    Man. Mouselook was a good idea. Doom is swell, and every virtue mentioned is worth noting, but shooting high when you want to detonate a barrel, or not being able to take down an imp irritating you through no fault of your own?

    Not fun. Aiming complicates things, but it’s a good complication.

  27. JP Says:

    Wow, thanks for all the comments folks!

    John Scott Tynes:
    Your Far Cry 2 -> 2600 controller experiment is quite interesting. I personally play Doom with mouselook enabled in the modern ports; it’s still a nice balance of Zen simplicity and the complexity of most modern shooters. Past a certain minimum level of input bandwidth, it becomes more and more difficult to provide players the means to express their intent satifactorily. Then again, the recent Gamma IV event submissions show that great depth can be found even in the simplest input schemes. Sometimes there’s a fine line between “primitive” and “elegant”.

  28. Jeremy Says:

    Ah, Doom! To this day it is the game that gets the most screen time in my house. Once or twice a month I can expect to get a text stating simply “Doom?” on my cell. Within an hour, my PC is packed and I’m heading to my buddy’s garage. Once or twice a week, I’ll find myself cranking it up on my own.

    While I still love the original Doom and Doom 2 games in and of themselves, the vast amount of material from the modding community is where my heart rests. The combined imaginations of so many level designers put to the various generations of Doom engine capabilities still keep me on my toes as I brace myself for what’s through the next Red Key Door. Though I don’t get the scare factor from the game that I once did, I think the amount of adrenaline I get these days makes up for that loss.

    I’m down to 12% health. There’s a large health box just past that Mancubus. Let’s see who wins…

    Thanks for the wonderful article! I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts on the greatest game ever put to code.

  29. Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom « LostFocus by Dominik Schwind Says:

    […] Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom […]

  30. FreakyZoid Says:

    Great article – really well thought out and written.

    I actually think that the alien architecture of some of the levels in the Halo series allows its level designers to go back to the more abstract pure gameplay layouts.

    And thinking about it, that series has a slightly more interesting and wide range of enemy classes and attacks (including a few non-instant attacks) too.

    Possibly why that series remains popular amid a sea of “realistic” shooters?

  31. Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom | Spectacle Rock Says:

    […] I’d suggest giving it a read. digg_bgcolor = '#00559e'; digg_window = 'new'; You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]

  32. BilboHicks Says:

    Great article. I loved the Robotron comparison. Robotron & Doom are the 2 classic games I always come back to, and I realized how cool it would be to add a proper scoring system to Doom (Doom already had a sort of scoring system for secrets/kills/items found), like Robotron had. I just finished working on a mod (GZDoom engine based) called ScoreDoom which adds arcade style scoring & hi score tables, and it fits the game perfectly.
    Doom has indeed kept its longevity with the vast array of user created levels, some of which can challenge the most seasoned & skilled players (Hell Revealed etc…), keeping the gameplay fresh. Robotron just gets more insanely hard and will always kick your arse eventually (unless you are insanely good), until you get back up again to try and top that hi score.

  33. Optimus Says:

    Interesting article. I used to adore the great variety of maps that people make for Doom. Some even tried with clever level designing tricks create effects impossible for the limited engine (like bridges over bridges and other crazy stuff). It was a big community with new surprises in level design every year. I still see things that impress me.

    So oneday I wondered, is there a community for duke nukem 3d, blood, quake or more modern games? And what did have they achieved in comparison? Well, there surely are communities for these games too. But for some reasons I couldn’t find so many levels, or good examples of “impossible” for their engine levels, or the state of the art for those, mostly because I can’t find much information, those communities maybe are not so strong or organised as the doom community. I don’t know maybe I will search again. But it’s impressive that the editing community of a 1993 games is sooo big and strong and crazy, more than community sites for modern fps games.

    I still try to figure out why, what are those elements that make doom so special, both as a game and for level editing purposes. Some of the reasons are well explained in this article. And they ask me, why do I play or map for such an old game. Hehe..

  34. scalliano Says:

    You really hit the nail on the head with this piece, mate – I’ve been a fan of Doom for as long as I can remember and this article only serves to remind me why. I’ve played countless shooters over the years and this is the one I find myself returning to time and time again. Doom utilizes the same sort of gameplay mechanics that made the old scrollers like R-Type and Raiden so much fun – relying more on the player’s reaction times rather than having him/her hiding in a sweet spot waiting for the enemy to come to them. Realism shooters (MW2 et al) have rarely held my attention for this very reason. Had I wanted to spend all of my time hiding in a trench I’d have joined the army.

    And, of course, there is the fact that nowadays with the onset of modern engine ports Doom can (in the right hands) do the eye-candy too…

  35. Abstract vs. Concrete (or: Gluttons for Our Doom) « Bbbbblllllbbblblodschbg Says:

    […] vs. Concrete (or: Gluttons for Our Doom) 2010 March 6 by bschlog The article “Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom” (via Waxy) might not mean much to you if you haven’t played Doom (as well as a lot of […]

  36. Markus Says:

    I still play Doom today.

    Last month I completed Doom 1, Doom2 and Add-ons like Evilution after some kind of marathon. The simplicity just gives the game something modern games do not have. You get into the game (no non skipable intros), load and there you are. You also normally remember where you were because of the level design. In modern games I find it much harder to recall where my last position was.

    But the best thing is being surrounded by a sheer number of demons and you are only trying to survive, circling around them according the the enemy types there are and trying not to get stuck at an obstacle which would mean your sure death. You put rockets into the horde but they only seem to get an even larger horde.
    I think the best aspect really is the overwhelming numbers and trying to dodge their attacks. I love this game.

  37. Matt Says:

    I immediately noticed a difference between Doom and all future FPS gamss when all the future ones allowed you to look up and down. I did not see that as an advancement. It was more of a headache. I loved running fast through levels shooting what is in front of me. I didn’t want to have to pause to look up for enemies.

  38. me Says:

    One thing you shouldn’t forget is that modern games have the online multiplayer experience as a requirement. That means finding a solution to lag and to cheaters. Some of the problems you describe in your post unfortunately are a part of that solution.

    – Bandwidth, framerate and latency limitations mean you cannot depend on having all state managed by a single server all the time. You have to do predictions in the client.
    – As soon as you start doing predictions, sometimes your prediction will end up being wrong. The state will desynchronize and have to be fixed somehow.
    – If the user is allowed to move with great pace, there will be more of a difference between what is on the server and what is on the client, so the desynchronization will be more severe and will therefore have to be corrected more often and more intrusively.
    – Because the state in the client, and therefore the users view of the game world, is slightly wrong almost all of the time, it is almost impossible to use non-instant weapons effectively unless they deal a lot of splash damage. With instant hit testing weapons, at least the client can cheat slightly and register a hit when the user, according to the state on the client, actually hit the target (although perhaps one could apply the same cheat with non-instant weapons).

    Also, who’s going to buy a 2.5d game like Doom anymore? Even if as a game it may be superior, it still won’t look good enough compared to what users are expecting.

  39. Orthopteroid Says:

    Thanks for mentioning Ultima IV! This was the first game that I found contained a universe that was real to me: the cloth teleporter map, the myths and the quests – the game seemed endless. Too bad the savegames were too easy to hack – the magic was over shortly after.

  40. JP Says:

    If the user is allowed to move with great pace, there will be more of a difference between what is on the server and what is on the client, so the desynchronization will be more severe and will therefore have to be corrected more often and more intrusively.

    Yep, FPS movement prediction is harder the faster players go. However, I tuned the max player speed in Purity to match Doom’s pretty closely, and it wasn’t noticeably a problem with Q3’s excellent prediction, so it is doable. Far better reason to tune player speed down in multiplayer, say to Quake1 or Quake3 speeds, is because optimal player move speeds relative to their turn rates and the speeds of their attacks change when you’re fighting other humans versus hordes of monsters.

    Also, who’s going to buy a 2.5d game like Doom anymore? Even if as a game it may be superior, it still won’t look good enough compared to what users are expecting.

    It is pretty primitive by modern standards, but it’s so primitive that if you saw an indie game made with that kind of tech you probably wouldn’t mistake their intentions. Having the highest possible fidelity graphics for current hardware should be a choice, not a requirement, and we close a lot of doors creatively by continuing to make the self-fulfilling assumption that gamers won’t stand for it. That’s another discussion entirely though.

  41. Drew Says:

    Great article. I loved the Doom series and enjoyed your analysis.

    I want to bring up one point, though, however irrelevant.

    Doom was released by Id in 93. A year later, Bungie released Marathon for the mac. It had, at the time, state-of-the-art graphics, AI, excellent level design, and a vast array of enemies and weaponry. IMO, Marathon, despite being far, far less popular, was a vastly superior game. It also introduced concepts that we can see in games today that Doom did not.

    For example, realistic environments. Marathon players got the best of both worlds as you were warped to various locations throughout the ship the game is set in. Players saw hangers with ships, reactor cores spewing fire, even human abduction/dissection labs (on the alien ship…). Navigating small engineering corridors forced players to develop weapon-based strategies in addition to the strafe-and-gun approach. This is not to say agility-based game play (like what you mentioned in the article) wasn’t the backbone of gameplay. It definitely still was. Players were often faced by hordes of enemies in gigantic, abstract, doom-like areas, from cargo bays, suntanning modules, and even the low-g surface of spaceship hulls in marathon 2 (released in 95, marathon 2 also featured 3D water areas, which afforded new puzzle opportunities).

    Marathon also introduced allies. In marathon 1, allied sentry bots would fly into combat with you on some levels. In others your mission was to save unarmed civilians. By the end of the game there were “imposters” among the civilians, who would seek the player out and explode. It was left to the player to determine how to sort out the dopplegangers from the humans. Midway through the game, the player knocks out a “controller”-type enemy, freeing some of their former minions from mind control. These former slaves, who fight against the player throughout the game to this point, now join your fight with a revolt against their former masters. It’s badass. Later iterations in the Marathon series expanded on the depth of the allies and their involvement in the plot.

    The integration of allies into mission objectives and the plot of the game leads me to the most important difference, to me. The plot. Far too detailed to describe it here, suffice it to say that Marathon’s plot is on par with the most cinematic games of today. The plot was advanced via “terminals” which were computers the player could interact with. One of the 3 ship-board AI constructs would instruct the player on the next mission, or give details about the current one. It didn’t help that 2 of the AIs were damaged and going insane, and the remaining one was fading fast. It gave a sense of urgency to the game and a feeling of both importance and helplessness. You really had no idea what to expect, and the game threw many twists as it progressed.
    If you wanted nothing to do with the plot you could simply skim for mission-related details and skip through all the character development.

    other innovations
    -save points (you couldn’t save anywhere anytime. there were a limited number of spots per level where you could save)
    -dual wielding weapons
    -secondary fire options
    -a meter other than health (oxygen)
    -environments that placed restrictions on movement and weaponry (vacuum, water, lava)
    -using explosions to “jump”
    -nonlinear plot with multiple endings and level permutations/progressions (marathon 2&3)

    Don’t take this as me bashing or downplaying Id and Doom. They are fantastic and their influence continues to be appreciated. I just want more people to recognize the spectacularly innovative game that Bungie had in Marathon. Anyone who may disagree with the ultimate influence of this game need only look at the financial statistics of the Halo franchise (created by Bungie and containing a huge number of gamplay and plot elements taken straight from Marathon.). Eventually, Bungie got the accolades it deserved, though on wether or not this was ultimately to their creative advantage I will not comment. My opinion on the development of the Halo franchise is another story altogether 😉

    ultimately, Marathon had a huge impact on me as a gamer, in ways Doom never could. it appealed to me in a subjective way. in an aesthetic way.
    To me, Doom was a game. Marathon was art.

    /rant over

  42. Drew Says:

    *other innovations
    -level creator/editor included on CD
    -physics editor (including editing all textures and sprites, weapons/enemies/allies/player characteristics and stats, and world physics. hello easy mod)
    -save film/replay function

  43. devolute Says:

    Great points. I think Quake shares many of these features though, but in my opinion, still looks impressive and does a much better job of creating a mood.

  44. Never_Enough Says:

    Are the modding communities of WC3 and to a lesser extent SC:BW not comparable?

  45. Pete Says:

    “Doom is about “maneuverability as defense””

    That section just opened my eyes. I knew there was a reason I still enjoy playing games with robotron-like gameplay and what it was I felt was sometimes missing in modern FPS games but I was never able to articulate it…

    Awesome :)

  46. FZ Says:

    Truly an excellent post. Kudos. I’ve long argued that the pursuit of realism at all costs kills any sense of fun in videogames. IMHO games are supposed to be over the top, playable comic books or dreams – not simulations of consensual reality. Such an approach also tends to obfuscate gameplay mechanics way too much, to the extent that something like Canabalt that completely bares them feels immensely fun and refreshing compared to a lot of current-gen AAA titles. Hopefully your post will make the rounds, it’s high time for starting a trend back towards arcade gameplay that’s actually entertaining. Toning down the gore would be another welcome development, but that’s a rant for another post.

    As for mouselook – just try Doom with a modern OpenGL engine port, WASD strafing and mlook enabled. It’s even more perfect, if possible :)

  47. Links for 2010-03-07 | jensen Says:

    […] vector poem » Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom(tags: article articles awesome doom) […]

  48. Geoff Says:

    You take yourself way too seriously

  49. Geoff Says:

    @Drew – Marathon was just another clone. It came out way after Doom and at that point id had moved onto bigger and better things. Marathon was boring and ugly. Mac owners like to exagerate its significance so they don’t feel left out of gaming history.

  50. enys Says:

    Hey man you really gave me something to think about… Its hard to put your finger on exactly why you love a game such as Doom, but I think you got to the core of it. Doom can teach you so much that you cant learn from other FPS, besides maneuverability you’ll learn to improvise like no other, conserving ammo, swapping weapons and remembering where you foes are. Together all these actions strains your ability to micromanage, and really proves a challenge. In the heat of a battle you have to multitask so hard that you’ll feel mentally exhausted after the fight. After 15 years Doom still proves a challenge for me, and I believe its the same for many of you Doomers out there.

  51. justme Says:


  52. Brendan » Blog Archive » Interesting things I’ve looked at for March 7th through March 9th Says:

    […] […] Vector Poem – Lessons from Doom […] – […]

  53. Ferneu Says:

    #41: Doom was the one that invented the “rocket jump”. It was the only way to reach the secret level of the third episode. I can’t really comment about all the other things you mention though. The only reason I have ever heard the name Marathon before your post was because of the excellent Red vs Blue series.

    Not that I’m trying to diminish Marathon’s importance, it’s just that, at that time, there was only Doom. And then Duke 3D and then we took a step further and produced Quake, the best multi-player FPS ever created. And yes, mouse look is awesome.

  54. Lycanthrope Says:

    Those are some great points. Dodging and maneuvering can often feel stiff and impractical in modern games.

    And as far as Doom 3 goes. It wasnt bad. It felt very different from the previous games but it wasnt really a bad game. Sure, it was too dark at times and the jump scares got predictable, but it was still pretty fun for me.

    Personally, i like using the mouse when playing Doom. It feels natural for me to use a mouse for an fps.

  55. » Revisiting Doom Karl Reinsch’s Blog Says:

    […] neat article by J.P. LeBreton looking back at the design and play style of the original Doom. As J.P. says: Doom feels more like […]

  56. Latheos Says:

    Actually, Marathon wasn’t Bungie’s first FPS. It’s just the one most people mention when this topic pops up. Pathways into Darkness hols that spot. And, for those folks who still claim that Doom was first … Pathways also came out in 1993. And as far as my game experiences go, was also superior to Doom. It had an engaging storyline, much more challenging combat (you start with a knife and a .45 but no bullets), and a very complex puzzle system. It’s still one of my favourite games 17 years later, despite the fact that, since it’s never been released on the PC, I haven’t played it for close to a decade, as I no longer own a Mac.

    Yes, I liked Doom. And its sequels. But Bungie’s Pathways into Darkness and Marathon trilogy will always be much better games in my opinion.

  57. djsunkid Says:

    I love analysis of games like this. Reminds me of Action Button Dot Net’s sprawling monumental epic of a review of super mario bros 3.

  58. The Artolater » Friday Links Says:

    […] Via Ferrett, lessons from Doom, about the old PC […]

  59. DaBomb Says:

    Re: 41 –

    Not gonna put down Marathon, but did you read the article? The reason why Doom still lasts is BECAUSE it doesn’t have all the complicated things that Marathon has.

    – Doom doesn’t have an oxygen meter, which is good IMO.

    – Doom doesn’t have save points, and I never play games that do (Come on, don’t try passing off Save Points as a GOOD thing).

    – Doom is quite easily moddable, you know.

    As for one thing that Doom has that Marathon doesn’t have: Pure action and tactical based game play. Sure, the tactics aren’t very advanced. But they are, as with everything else in Doom: Simple and fun. And damn thrilling.

    Marathon is a great game. But it’s sort off a different game than Doom. And if you read the article, you’ll see why Marathon isn’t remembered today, whereas Doom is.

    As for Pathway into Darkness… Nobody ever claimed Doom was first. Some might claim that Wolfenstein 3D was, however. And there were tank sims before that.

  60. me too Says:

    “Also, who’s going to buy a 2.5d game like Doom anymore?”

    You’ve missed those releases:

    Nuff said.

  61. Su B Says:

    I personally believe that popular(not necessarily always good) games of diverse generes are being created & that’s why there is no single king like Doom anymore.
    You are overestimating the simplicity & abstract style of Doom. Games only become abstract & simple when thay become outdated. Popularity depends on gameplay. Personally I like(fear) the abstract style of Doom, but Doom is more about bloodbath than art. Doom was realistic in its time & HL graphics would have been considered alien at the time Doom 1 was released. I am sure that after the release of Black Mesa HL fans will start to appreciate the simplicity of original HL. The almost empty & featureless BM undergrounds in the original creates an emptiness in stomach that can’t be recreated in photorealistic BMS.
    Also, modern modders are ready for more powerful tools. The Source engine modding community may not be anywhere near the huge Doom Modding community but still it produces standard mods such as MINERVA, R&D, Dear Esther & BMS itself. Not all of them are shooters. Also, the community is ready for a more modern engine.
    You have got one more idea wrong about modern FPS & that is HALO Mania. Maybe that is true for the majority of popular games but you are forgetting Counter-Strike:Condition Zero, ArmA II etc not so popular tactical games that do not have health packs & unlimited saves. Instead they have almost realistic injury & dynamic enemy positioning. Also please consider the fact that Counter-Strike is actually a mod of GoldSource engine.
    Every popular genere has its unique style: secrets, wayfinding & overcoming barriers, puzzles, stealth etc. Those who don’t like shooting move towards Football, chess etc & we need to respect personal choice. I don’t believe Doom was the end of an era. It was the beginning & the magic of Doom may never be recreated because of us having diverse choices but it is useless to lament for that. Golden games are there for those who are interested, as challenging tactical games are taking place of our old favourite vanilla Doom.

  62. Dave Taylor Says:

    Fantastic article, and I agree wholeheartedly with its conclusions. You’re seeing things in perspective that I don’t think we really saw in the thick of it.

    The gameplay was surprisingly Robotronesque, now that you mention it, but while it was in development, I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning this. It certainly didn’t occur to me, and I wrote the automap and added the cheat codes.

    While it was in development, we were dreaming about how cool it would be to have an actual bridge you could go both over and under. The irony is that this would dramatically increase the difficulty in developing the game, as we would soon learn in Quake.

  63. » Adam Saltsman – Stinné stránky iterace Says:

    […] LeBreton napsal fantastickou recenzi o hře DooM, často považovanou za otce FPS žánru, v níž zkoumá, co se změnilo a co zůstalo […]

  64. vector poem » Walking the Talking Says:

    […] Arcadia, I found it very easy to finally distill the insights I’d long understood about Doom’s design. Even though it’s not a game, the process of creating the Ultima IV map viewer helped immerse […]

  65. Rez Says:

    Nail on the head, for sure. This is why 17 years later DOOM is still my primary, often my only game. Straightforward gameplay and endless mods (especially now that there are good random level generators), and the *feel* is right, whether the map is realistic or not. Other games look better and are more true to life, but are they more fun? Do they hold up over the long haul? Evidently not.

  66. Nathan McKenzie Says:

    Hey JP!

    This post warms my heart. Great stuff, of course. What website was that where we were having that conversation?

    I’m also in love with the fascinating mechanics of monster pain thresholds vs duration of pain animations (so chaingun is great against cacodaemons because their damage threshold is low but their pain animation is short – that’s practically 2D fighting game-style game design). I can’t remember if we chatted about that, but that interplay between monsters and weapons is beautiful.

    It’s funny – I had a conversation with Ben Gokey (who was lead programmer on Heretic, of course) about some of this stuff, particularly the movement-as-dodging stuff, and he had the same reaction that Dave Taylor mentions; he totally saw it once I talked it through, but he hadn’t really thought about it when they were making the game.

  67. Wideeye Says:

    FANTASTIC article. Especially loved the “maneuverability as defense” part, couldn’t agree more. Someone once asked me what the best weapon in Doom is and, being a bit of a pretentious arse I replied – “space”. Sounds daft but seriously, an experienced player only needs the basic shotgun, a whole load of space and a bit of patience and they can take on anything in Doom.

    Well OK, maybe the Spider Mastermind (hitscan chaingun!) and Arch Vile (don’t be in his sights when he’s done!) kind of piss on that theory a bit but it’s mostly true!

  68. strom Says:

    This article is brilliant. At age 29, I often feel like a grumpy old man when I compare current games to Doom (or Descent)… this codifies what I was feeling.

    I came here from a post on Reddit on a related topic:

    Thanks for writing this!!

  69. JP Says:

    Hey Nathan! Glad you found this post. I believe the place we first discussed it was the old “antifactory” site.

    It actually seems pretty common that exceptional or definitive features of classic games – stuff like Doom’s movement-as-dodging or Super Mario Brothers’ jump controls – were not thought of explicitly as design paradigms during development, but rather seem to have emerged from the sustained unconscious application of craft knowledge, honed by years of low-level implementation experience. “Game feel” is frequently difficult to talk about because of the combination of highly subjective and very specific technical factors… and yet, it seems central to the success of such games. It’s definitely something I want to explore further.

  70. Game Architecture » Lessons from Doom Says:

    […] Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom Categories: Video games Tags: Analysis, Level Design, Link Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback […]

  71. Design de Mapas: First Person Shooter | Jogador vs Jogador Says:

    […] não está longe da verdade. Jean-Paul LeBreton, um dos designers dos níveis do jogo Bioshock, defende que nos primeiros jogos tridimensionais, por exemplo, Doom (1993), os níveis foram baseados em […]

  72. Alcator Says:

    There is, actually, one game which managed the same success as Doom: Trackmania.

    Due to backwards compatibility (TM United can load levels from TM Nations, TM Sunrise and TM Original/Power Up), easy to use track editor and intelligent system for adding custom content, there are over 1 000 000 user-built tracks available. And due to the existence of , which is a fan-made track exchange site, all of those tracks are available.

    It is possible to make a track in a couple minutes, fine tune in over few hours and publish it.

  73. Resolution, Restriction, Renaissance « Tish Tosh Tesh Says:

    […] genre and gaming industry, it had some constraints due to then-modern technology and game design.  As this interesting article notes, those constraints made for a very different game from modern FPS games.  Doom effectively played […]

  74. dense13 Says:

    Another thing that was amazing about Doom was all the tricks developed by exploiting bugs in the engine, or by forcing its characteristics. Two of my favorites, invisible sectors and multiple player starting positions, but there were quite a few. Also special maps like #7 which featured special events once you killed all monsters of a certain type opened up very exciting possibilities for modifications. It was so challenging and exciting!

    This also affected players (I’m thinking of impassable lines that, in a certain direction, would give you extra speed when running alongside them), and some of the speed demos people came up with were simply unbelievable.

    I wonder if I will ever enjoy another game the way I enjoyed Doom, I doubt it…

  75. Ben Says:

    I found your article incredibly interesting. I enjoy designing spaces and although they do not need to support gameplay with in them, taking ideas from games like DooM can lend a sort of realism in how they are laid out while keeping them fantastical.

    Even then, I’m not sure I agree with the trends of gameplay you stated. The slow projectile movement of DooM has instead been replaced by more advanced bot ai. In the example you mentioned, Halo, any good player will tell you staying in one place means death. The enemies have developed to a point where moving around makes it harder for them to hit the player, even if their weapons are hitscan. In DooM, the projectiles had to be slow to give the player a chance. The computer enemies were only capable of shooting straight at the player, no matter how mobile they were. Even the need to dodge slow moving projectiles has been kept, as seen in plasma weapons, the needler, and rocket launchers.

    Enemy variety is very much still a part of modern video games. Gears of War is one of many examples. It has normal soldiers, fast soldiers, melee enemies, suicide bombing enemies, large and slow enemies, enemies with impenetrable shields, and even soldiers that ride on top of a fast melee enemy. Instead of backing away from enemy variety, many games have pushed it to new heights. In Dead Space, enemies mutate as they are damaged. The FPS genre has also added an alternative to enemy variety that has only become possible with faster, more spacious computers. The Call of Duty franchise features enemies that are all essentially the same. Instead, it introduces new mechanics with each scene. Everything from stealth to flying a chopper to having to call in airstrikes on tanks keeps the game fresh. The enemies can only have so much diversity before the game starts to loose its realistic feel. What I would like to see is a mix of variety in enemies and mechanics. The Gears of War example mentioned above includes some vehicle levels and some where periodic rain means death for anything caught in the open but for most of the game, the player has to fight off different enemies in the same way.

    That said, even as games evolve, the principles developed in pioneering games like DooM will always be important to the genre. Great Article, thank you for posting

  76. Best of 2010 - Wolf’s Little Store Says:

    […] Coelacanth – Lessons from Doom […]

  77. Sheridan Says:

    @Ben: Halo players tell other halo players not to sit still in Deathmatch, not single player. In the single player campaign, it is often necessary to fall back and wait for a few seconds for your shield to recharge. It is possible to do this because the enemies are usually to stupid to chase you down and finish you off while you are weak.

    Your statement that computer enemies were only capable of shooting straight at the player is also unfounded. In fact, quickly strafing around zombie men will often cause them to miss you by up to 45 degrees. And the modern dodging of plasma weapons and rockets in games like Halo is nigh impossible; the projectiles almost always travel too fast and the players almost always move to slowly.

  78. FPS Analysis – Why Doom is the Last Real Lesson we Had | FPSTime Says:

    […] (Source: Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom | vector poem) […]

  79. Corrector Says:

    Sheridan: you’re actually *precisely* wrong about zombie men; the reason they can miss like that is entirely b/c they are only capable of shooting directly at the player, but are not permitted to shoot immediately.

    Algorithm is like:
    – (1) choose direction to fire (this is always directly at player’s current position)
    – (2) wait for a brief delay (cannot change firing direction)
    – (3) fire weapon (in direction chosen in 1)

    When they miss like that it’s b/c the payer moved between (1) and (3). This delay is in the game to make it possible to dodge enemies with instant weapons.

  80. hipster scumbag Says:

    Just wanted to thank you for this post – really hits the nail on the head as to why Doom holds up years and years later, and summarizes its strongest but least-imitated virtues

  81. Mike Says:

    I just wanted to say that I agree with the agile/speed comment. I would also add the huge cult success of Serious Sam can be directly contributed to similar factors in movement, for both the player and enemies. Perhaps mention this as well?

    Good article.

  82. Carlos Alexandre Says:

    I recently wrote a post comparing Classic DOOM to classic Mario games, and a commenter linked me to this post. Very well written.

    My post, if you’re interested:

  83. Old-Timer McGee Says:

    Although I agree Doom does not feel like modern shooters, it does not feel like 2D shooters in the least. Not having an overhead view of everything drastically changes gameplay.

    “This is what Doom’s designers were working from in 1993 – back then, the idea of a first person shooter was barely established, and their closest models for many mechanics were from 2D shooters like Robotron, Berserk and Tempest.”

    You must be trying to troll me? Well, you’ve succeeded, I’m right pissed off.

    It was my experience, having lived through a the evolution of FPS games, that Fully Immersive Virtual Reality Games (complete with VR Headsets) existed well before Doom… In fact in 1991 the Virtuality game system existed. With it I played Dactyl Nightmare and Exorex. Both WHILE Doom was in development. Are you saying ID didn’t have such games to work with? These may not have been the ones, but the CLOSEST games to draw game play from were 2D?! I think Not!

    Just because you have chosen to be an ignorant Philistine and ignore the OVER TWENTY YEARS of 3D First Person Shooters PRIOR to Doom, doesn’t mean we all have. JP, you sir, are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Are you so overly self-absorbed that your retarded revelation that using the IDDT cheat makes Doom into a 2D Shooter to even SEARCH the Internet we build for you before spouting your mindless drivel?!

    Here! I shall hold your hand:

    Name ONE. Just ONE 2D Shooter where you can see all the enemies positions, and they only know where you are via 3D Line of Sight calculations… As is played in the IDDT Debug cheat you reference. Robotron My Ass!

    “The notion of realism in FPS design wouldn’t appear for another few years” — What Nonsense IS This?! You sir have slapped me, and the ENTIRE 3D INDUSTRY in the face — Damn your small-minded self-centered mental masturbation puff-piece to HELL!

    ID Made THREE Catacombs FPS games for Softdisk before Wolfenstein3D — Where were YOU? These were all slow paced FPS games, Heavily Concerned with Adding MORE realism in each iteration! o_O

    Romero’s Vision of a Fast Paced Visceral FPS, and THOUSANDS of hours of play-testing honed Doom into what it was. Back-pedal all you want, It still doesn’t change the fact that your assumptions and comparisons are WRONG!

    Where were YOU, when I was playing a FULLY 3D First Person Perspective Shooter in 1986: Starglider, and the sequel with filed 3D Polygonal MODELS in 1988, on my Home PC, Seven and Five years respectively BEFORE Doom’s release?!

    The 3D and FPS Industry helped to sell computers in the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s…

    Furthermore, The Demo Scene’s 3D contributions were heavily influential to nearly ALL game designers of the era…

    Where were YOU when the SACRIFICE was made to abandon True 3D game play and graphics for the sake of TEXTURES and REALISM!? The 2.5D Era of Textured Graphics evolved from the FULLY 3D FPS game world, NOT the 2D world AT ALL.

    There were Hundreds if not Thousands of FPS games, even Gun Toting Games that were very unrealistic with their “plastic” and futuristic solid filled polygon feel that would have made EXCELLENT comparisons to back your Article’s Agenda…

    …But Nooo, You Finally decide to make a Doom Map, and all of a sudden you think you’re some wise Oracle, about to educate today’s gamers of the Trials and Tribulations that led to the Revolution in 3D FPS Games?!

    JP, You of ALL people should have known better. YOU DISCREDIT and Disrespect Yourself via this article! “It’s better to keep quiet and have others think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

    I would have thought that YOU of ALL People, a Respected individual in the 3D Industry, would care the slightest bit about the Founders and Trail blazers upon who’s shoulders you stand to at least learn something of your roots… If not for your own edification, at the very least before spouting this nonsense to the masses.

    We payed a HEAVY toll as gamers and game makers to make 3D relevant despite the insane costs and an unsure future — Tempest? Berserk?! I would laugh if it wasn’t so disgracefully ignorant.

    Look, just because YOU don’t have any prior 3D FPS experience to draw from to make valid comparisons via doesn’t mean your first naive assumption is correct.

    I agree that Doom has game play mechanics that are lost to most of today’s FPS playing generation, but Smith and Wesson were NOT influenced by a Neanderthal’s
    flint tipped spear!

    Additionally, if you actually record a demo of your gameplay in FPS, then record one of the same level in “Top Down IDDT” mode and compare the results — You’ll see two VERY different game-plays. Omniscience and First Person Perspective are wholly game changing factors, even when the same map is played.

    I concede your point that an interesting game-play mechanic is largely under utilized, but your attempted execution to convey this severely hampered by your flawed premise.

    “[M]any decisions were made simply on the basis of being good for abstract shooter gameplay.”

    This statement was true of nearly ALL prior FPS Games! Doom did not evolve from it’s map-mode into the 3D game it is today.

    Sharing some small mechanic in PART of a game’s play is not enough to make such strong statements. Correlation dose not imply Causation! Critical Thinking, Man! Learn It!

    Clearly good my opinion of you was wrong.

  84. Optimus Says:

    Hey man, there is no need for such anger! (though some parts of the post were informative, didn’t know about virtuality, that feels so retrofuture :)

    I revisited this article again and seem to like even more some points. I think my I have formed new brain cells suitable for doom playing, strafing, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each monster, going into a room full of monsters, my brain in automatic controls knows which to finish first or where to hide, that happens after playing doom WADs for several years, though the strafe defense, variety of monsters help in this and this is really something I cannot find in any other modern FPS. All these elements and the community makes me still enjoy playing doom more than anything else, but maybe it’s my brain cells evolved to play this game.

  85. JP Says:

    Hey folks, I have to disallow comments on this post, it’s drawing too much spam.

  86. The Staging Point » Blog Archive » F.E.A.R. of a flashlight Says:

    […] reminded of an excellent essay on the lasting appeal of the original Doom, which had infinitely less believable environments but which turned that into a virtue: While some […]

  87. Enlaces bonitos | El Chigüire Literario Says:

    […] segundo es un viejo pero interesante artículo sobre cómo innovar en los videojuegos no siempre es sobre ir en direcciones desconocidas, sino ir al orig…, usando como ejemplo al viejo Doom de […]

  88. 15+ Analyses, Post Mortems, and Game Design Docs | Gamedevtuts+ Says:

    […] Lessons From Doom […]

  89. 15+ Analyses, Post Mortems, and Game Design Docs - Game Development KB Says:

    […] Lessons From Doom […]