Doom is 25 years old today

It’s true: on December 10th 1993 Id Software released Doom to the public. The game that named the genre “Doom clone” years before “FPS” became accepted. That (presumably still) gets ported to every new piece of technology released. And which plays widely different from any modern genre example, including its modern successors. Let’s talk about this classic and our relationships to it!

Now, I’m not a Doom superfan and certainly didn’t have this date marked in my calendar (I saw a note on it in my social feed). But the game has certainly left a mark on me. I played it (the shareware version) in '94 or '95 in a friend’s basement. My memory of that session is being scared by E1M2’s blinking hallways, the invisible Spectre’s of later maps and the tough Hell Barons guarding the portal to hell in the episode’s closer.

We had a lot of fun with that but I don’t think I played the full game until 2010 as an exchange student in University. That’s around when I was extremely bored of current FPS design and Doom hipstering was popular on the message boards I was frequenting. Better writers than me (eg. Errant Signal) have talked about how it’s focus on evading damage is a big part of what makes it great and different to the then-trend of military shooters, so I don’t have to repeat that.

I’ll say that what I’ve come to appreciate with Doom’s design over the years is how much it does with its pretty small toolbox. The handful of weapons it has have widely different use cases and figuring out when to use what is a fun part of every situation. Similarly, there aren’t a ton of monsters available but they all stress different aspects of the game. Together, items and monsters become akin to chess pieces: you instantly know what everything does, but how do you beat this particular combination? That’s the core of what entices me in Doom when I boot it up.

Finally, I’d like to say that I’m impressed by how active the Doom community still is 25 years in. They’re still working on source ports and improvements to them, new maps (WADs) are still being released in what seems like a great number, they’re reinventing Doom to be art house, non-violent, horror and more. It’s awesome to see, said as someone who isn’t involved with it at all.

How To Get Started
I’m not an expert on all different ways to play the game out there. But, first of all, buy Doom from your favorite online store. Then download a source port, which runs the game on modern machines. The two I use are:

  • Chocolate Doom, which tries to emulate how the game looked at release. Low resolution, vanilla, good stuff.
  • GZDoom, contains modern features which some WADs require to function.

What Do I Play
Beyond Doom 1 and 2, there’s thousands of user made WADs and Mega WADs (level collections) to play. Please post your recommendations in this thread :slight_smile: A couple of starting points:

  • Id Games Archive, where I believe most WADs are uploaded to
  • Cacowards 2018, standout WADs from this year as collected by Doomworld
  • Mr Friendly, a non-violent WAD made by JP Lebreton (Double Fine, 2K Games, etc)

Good Reading or Watching

Waypoint features:

Watching:

More reading:

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For those of us who are into game history, Doom (and Quake, and Wolfenstein 3-D) was the subject of one of the best early game history books, that being Masters of Doom by David Kushner. It was in this book that I learned

  1. John Carmack and I went to the same University actually I come to find out this is not true, he went to another school in the KC Metro area for a few years
  2. Commander Keen started out as an attempt to run Super Mario Bros. 3 on computers
  3. Doom multiplayer took over entire University systems’ computer networks during its introduction
    All this and more in Masters of Doom:

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The only Doom I ever played before the series reboot was Doom 64.

I’ll be honest, it scared the shit out of me, it was also my first M rated game.

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Thanks for making this anniversary post! I’ll be running through Knee Deep in the Dead to celebrate, my usual Doom Day ritual.

For anyone thinking about going back to Doom for the first time since the 90s, or if you’ve never played it before, can I suggest a port called Doom Retro? If Chocolate Doom is Doom as it was, Doom Retro is Doom as you remember it. Double the resolution, higher frame-rate, modern default controls, and a handful of added visual effects. It doesn’t have the advanced modding support of GZDoom, but it’s a cool way to play a lightly modernized version of the original games.

If you want more Doom, I highly recommend Back to Saturn X, a collaboration series between some of the best mappers from the community.

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My introduction to Doom was the Doom RPG on flip phones in 2005, and the movie that came out starring the Rock (rewatched some of it recently lol). I’ve since played through all of the original Doom, some of Doom 2 and 3 and have played through the reboot several times.

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I’ve actually been meaning to play Back to Saturn X soon, after finding out about it through the artist Esselfortium who has been working on it. Tonight will be an excellent time to start it!


Edit: To muse a bit about modding while dinner is cooking, I’ve been thinking about how its different from nowadays when full engines are easily available for developers. In contrast to that, modding an already completed game obviously leaves you with all the assets and props from it. Going back to how I talked about Doom’s monsters and weapons forming a simple but satisfying toolkit, modding Doom in particular starts you out with a great combat system and the props to build combat encounters like Lego.

When I was playing through A.L.T. after reading Liz Ryerson’s feature on it (linked above) I was thinking that by creatively shifting around these familiar blocks, the developers were able to create something that still felt wholly original. And since they didn’t have to invent a combat system themselves, the encounters were fun (although they certainly took a lot of skill and time to build).

Something is lost in the modern industry where engines and games are too complex to ship with mod support. That’s another reason I think it’s fun to highlight the legacy of a game whose community has worked for so long to keep it alive.

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Hey all, it’s been another year of Doom. The game and community I keep thinking of when people talk of giving up on Mario Maker or Splatoon after *checks notes* no dev support in a few months.

I kid, I kid (… unless?)

Anyway, this year’s Cacowards are out with all the hits from this year! I played Sigil and Eviternity! They’re both good, although I’m a weirdo who thinks that the D2 roster while good becomes extremely “a lot” in big wads. Btw, do check out the accompanying article on the roots of Doom modding.

The best I’ve had this year (albeit from 2015) is Monument, which is just ingenious with how it springs ambushes on you. They get sort of predictable but regardless push you into taking awkward fights, which is my favorite kind of under-pressure Doom. I’m right now calling that Doom Eternal won’t hold up to this excellence.

What did you play that was good this year? Hit the thread up with the good stuff.

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I’ve been a basic Doomer this year; the only wad I’ve played that isn’t in the Cacowards was Shrine. It’s a horror TC with NES-inspired pixel art. The encounter design is a bit plain compared to the amazing work being done in traditional Doom mapping these days, but the atmosphere is unique it’s got a cool bestiary and arsenal.

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Oh yeah, I’d heard of that but never gave it a go. Will try to get around to it this weekend!

Edit: Oh this skybox is fricking sweet!

Screenshot_Doom_20191213_233118|690x388

I got really into Doom about 5 years ago and honestly the WAD scene is one of the coolest game scenes out there. It really feels like an underground art house thing, full of incredibly weird projects that people pour their souls into.

Some WAD recommendations:

  • Ancient Aliens: Vaporwave aesthetic with aliens and demons by way of a peyote trip with a killer soundtrack and really challenging levels. Not necessarily the best if you’re just getting started 'cause it’s pretty tough but I love how it looks and sounds so much. In fact, all skillsaw maps are worth playing.

  • A.L.T.: The one Liz Ryerson wrote about, just read her article. It’s just as weird and off-putting as she says.

  • Japanese Community Project: a collection of levels made by Japanese mappers. It’s really interesting to see the different design sensibilities compared to the usual American-made maps.

  • dead.air: Loooove the atmosphere on this one, incredibly creepy, with a skybox that mirrors the black and white TV fuzz thing.

  • Arcadia Demade: A JP map, he was one of the level designers for Bioshock and made this Doom version of Arcadia. Honestly, I like it even more than the Bioshock version.

  • Golden Souls 1 and 2 (and soon, 3!): What if Super Mario 64 was made in Doom instead? Not a recreation of the platformer, but a reinterpretation of its design philosophies and goals. Incredibly fun.

These are all really well-known WADs (all from Cacowards, which are always a great read), but honestly the most fun thing about communities like Doomworld and ZDoom is finding obscure maps, little pieces of other people’s personalities and sensibilities in Doom form. Some maps are an evolution of Doom’s original design, others wild reinterpretations of it and some are almost unrecognizable as Doom maps, encompassing everything you can imagine, from tributes to dead community members to point-and-click adventure games to Seinfeld parodies. It’s wild and great and it’s been going for so long there are more maps than you can imagine.

I also highly recommend watching WAD Wednesdays, JP LeBreton is a great dude and the random nature of his selection process means he plays some wild stuff.

Doom is just the best.

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I played the first half of this tonight, and it’s some good old-fashioned Doom. Lots of claustrophobic fights, challenging but doable on UV for someone only sort of good at Doom. Some surprises like the spectre rising out of the water and the elevator fight in map 2 actually made me laugh out loud. Thanks for the recommendation!

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A tip for gzdoom users: Vanilla Essence is a mod that gives you the ability to switch to a facsimile of how Doom looked originally with the tap of a button (F5 for me).

I started playing Sigil again and something didn’t feel right. Tapped the button and yeah, this wad is real dark and moody. Lo-fi Doom looks awesome.

(gzdoom can change the lighting style without this mod but it’s a bit tedious sometimes)

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I recently tried Doom/Doom2 and some WADs and got motion sick from a video game for the first time, despite playing Quake in highschool; is there any way to mod Doom to reduce the tendency to make people motion sick? I’m not even 100% sure what individual elements contribute to it.

First, are you using GZDoom or another source port? If you’re playing custom WADs I assume you’re not on the vanilla Doom engine from Steam or GOG. A couple things I can think of that might help:

  • The original Doom software renderer has some perspective distortions, especially in source ports that added the ability to look up and down. Hardware renderers like the default GZDoom renderer have correct perspective and will probably be better for motion sickness.
  • GZDoom lets you turn off head-bobbing and weapon sway. Some people find that these features cause motion sickness, others report that they help relieve motion sickness, so it’s worth experimenting with. To do this, open the GZDoom console by hitting the ` key, then type “movebob 0” and hit enter. To return to the default use “movebob 0.25”.
  • You can also try tweaking the field of view with the “fov” GZDoom console command. The default is “fov 90”. Increasing FOV gives you more peripheral vision, lowering it reduces the feeling of speed when moving forward. Try increments of 5-10 degrees.

This sort of thing hits people differently, so I can’t exactly give you a known formula. I hope you find something that works for you.