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 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
- The Doom Mod That Best Describes Our Uncanny Reality, by Liz Ryerson about the WAD Absolute Life Transformation
- One Designer’s 15-Year Journey to Ship The ‘Doom’ Mod He Started as a Teen, about the WAD Total Chaos
- Doom 1 and 2 level design commentary by Liz Ryerson
- WAD Wednesdays, streams with commentary of random WADs by JP Lebreton
- All Their Engines, by Tara Hillegeist on the intersection of human developers, what they create, and the brands that come afterwards (“it’s so good, college students have to read it now!”)
- The Roots of Doom Mapping, by Not Jabba on just that