Id Software Learned The Wrong Lessons from 'DOOM'

Since this is our 300th(!) episode I just wanted to give my thanks to everyone who’s been listening, whether you're a longtime fan or if this is your first episode, thanks for hanging with us. If you’ve been here for a while, thanks for coming along on this journey with us. Getting to make this podcast week in and week out for the past almost two years, and listening as a fan for the two years before that, has been such an amazing experience. I love working on Waypoint Radio because of this amazing space it fills, a games podcast that is sometimes serious, often hilarious, and always authentic. So thanks for supporting us, for welcoming and allowing my voice on the podcast, and most of all for listening. Here’s to 300 more! You can read an excerpt from today's podcast and listen to the full episode below.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/g5x34j/id-software-learned-the-wrong-lessons-from-doom-waypoint-radio
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Congrats on 300 episodes. I enjoyed the greatest hits clips at the start. A nice start to what will be a stressful weekend. Are we sharing our favorite moments? Mine would be Rob’s adventures in Subterfuge. I still remember the other shoe falling moment at the end. ”The mistake I made, and it’s a mistake a lot of people made, is thinking the existence of a bad Nick implies a good Nick.” Boom, what a fun reveal

Have fun with the next 300!

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Hmmmm, starting your criticisms of Doom Eternal by just throwing it out that maybe Doom 2016 was accidentally good is a poor start. I feel like there are more than enough interviews and videos from that crew where it is very clear they knew what they were attempting and nailed it.

Maybe they tried to layer too much into the new one, I pre-loaded it but being isolated with 3 kids has made it impossible to try yet. But don’t try to discredit the developers’ success in 2016 Doom by comparing it to a B movie that happens to be surprisingly decent.

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I found that very odd too. Doom was widely considered to be one of the best games of the year, you don’t achieve that by accident.

This was one of those cases where many of their criticisms sounded like features to me. Adding more complexity and customization to every aspect sounds great to me. When Rob was describing the combat as like a bullet hell that reminded me of some of the best parts of 2016.

It does seem like a direct sequel in terms of difficulty and complexity. While I wish they had made that somewhat clearer in the marketing and naming I think I prefer that to having to start from scratch again.

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See also, me getting demolished when I finally got around to trying X-COM 2.

The intros and messages from Waypointers Present and Past had big Congratulations Shinji Energy.

Also welcome back to FFXIV, Austin. You’re in for a wild ride coming up.

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Youtube’s just shown me an 8 minute video of cutscenes starring the doom guy in doom enternal and uh, yeah, that’s all the confirmation I need that this game isn’t for me, lol

I actually wonder if the better plan for this game wasn’t to build the death metal aesthetic but make Doom Guy even more of a fish out of water. Have him dropped into some kind of Michael Bay-esque modern military shooter and watch as he kicks the coffin away instead of pressing F. Or go even further off-genre.

Doom Guy is in a visual novel romance game and keeps punching the text boxes from the anime girls in love with him.

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Honestly Eternal’s tone issue with me is that it’s purposefully trying to be stupid in a dumb action movie, bad comic book way, apparently trying to be like a Saturday morning cartoon. Making it dumber doesn’t solve the core issue.

What I liked about Doom 2016 is that it had contrast between the satire and the serious narrative beats, it created this really cool action-horror vibe that managed to take itself somewhat seriously in the story itself even when it was clearly adding in comedic elements (like the slow cult reveal in the lore reads). It was a sort of blend between OG Doom box art, Doom 3’s moody aesthetics, and the horror themed chaos of Quake, resulting in a solid blend of exciting harshness.

Serious Sam encountered a similar problem awhile back and may still be struggling through that identity crisis. Croteam reached a point with SS2 that they could make their original goofy vision real and a lot of players bounced off it, and trying to go with a more serious tone that they thought the player base wanted resulted in the series weakest mainline entry, Serious Sam 3.

I’m curious to see where both franchises go because there’s different variables for each. For Sam, Croteam was also trying to break away from being just known as the Serious Sam guys and experimented in poor ways. For Doom, I think Eternal is the game the main creatives really wanted to make because they thought it was cool, but now we’re seeing some bounce off that vision and we’re going to see how they respond over time. They could just not care and make what they want to make, something they clearly have a core audience for, or they’re going to react, and I have no idea how that’s going to go down.

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So I started listening to this pod before my download finished, then played a few levels. I finished Rob and Patrick’s section of the pod and I’ve got some thoughts.

I agree with @chilibean_3 on the characterization of Doom 2016 as a happy accident as being unfair to the devs. Noclip’s three part documentary on different aspects of that game’s development make it clear to me that their writing and tone was absolutely intentional. There’s an entire video on the opening sequence. Sure they were iterating on a few different ideas, but they tried that one and immediately realized it was great.

On to Eternal, I’m REALLY enjoying it so far. It’s definitely more involved considering there’s more systems to manage. Considering that systems in this game are just more ways to dismember demons in increasingly awesome ways. The flame belch and adding the meat hook to the super shotgun are absolutely delightful.

In terms of storytelling and aesthetic, I’m enjoying the line they’re walking right now. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a sucker for high fantasy bullshit, but marrying that to death metal is perfect for me. Especially since the Fortress of Doom is basically Mordhaus from Metalocalypse.

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I dunno, I’ve been watching some people play through Doom Eternal, and it looks like the kind of thing I’d find horribly unfun - even less so than Doom 2016 (which I really wanted to enjoy, but seems utterly impenetrable to me, gameplay-wise - too many rapid decisions to make, and too high a cost of failure - compared to the original Doom). I’m just watching them trying to do a mid/late stage battle set-piece which is literally based around split-second counters [whilst being distracted by other stuff, which can all kill you very quickly], and it seems like the least fun gameplay experience ever.

Okay, I’ve just started DOOM Eternal and completed the first area (until you are back on your weird spacestation-thing) and my first gut reaction is: what an atrocious introductory area on so many levels. I loved DOOM 2016 from start to finish. The level design, directing, pacing, dialogue, gameplay and aesthetic immediately clicked with me. I feel nothing of that at the moment. In terms of narrative presentation, I found the introduction to be a giant step backwards from 2016. Nothing gets set up, the stakes escalate immediately to infinity, you are thrown into a late-game looking area (which aesthetically also didn’t click with me), I lost my orientation constantly, I somehow felt incredibly slow for a DOOM game (maybe just my imagination), I ran away and hid from enemies far too often, because I constantly ran out of ammo and the bigger enemies are much more bulletspongy then I’d like.
Also, what the hell is up with these s*itty, slow third-person cutscenes with angry 90’s Space Marine standing somewhere instead of the expressive first-person cutscenes from 2016?

I truly hope it gets better, but for me personally, this intro did not hook me on the game at all.

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I’ve been watching some pro FPS players stream the game, and it gives the strong impression of a classic overcooked sequel. It reminds me of Ori 2 recently with how you have a smorgasbord of new play functionalities and progression mechanics on top of what was there originally, and it quickly loses focus on a singular gameplay identity.

Also the notion I’ve seen in some spaces comparing it to character action games like DMC or Bayonetta, is just a flat-out silly premise on its face. I would like there to be less conflation of density for depth in game design.

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Don’t even get me started. There’s technically a progression system in Bayonetta, via skills, but really it exists more to introduce players to the mechanics at a reasonable pace than anything else. It’s completely different from the kind of upgrade/leveling-progression that Doom 2016’s gear had, let alone whatever Doom Eternal is doing.

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Here’s how I would compare the two, after playing Eternal’s first three levels:

DOOM Eternal is a heavy metal fantasy, DOOM is a full throated war cry . Eternal still plays like 2016, so it’s one of the best shooters you could own right now by default. I can also see why someone might like the more ostentatious visuals or the doubling down on world building, but Eternal feels like I’m playing a character, whereas 2016 felt like I was actually occupying the headspace of the Doom Slayer

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I’m about 75% through the game right now, so I might have hit some of the design choices that Rob and Patrick ran into at this point. There’s some things that don’t work for me, like the purple goo and the tentacles (why are you making me play cautiously?).

Really though, I’ve had two boss-ish fights that rely on the counter “mechanic” and I don’t like what they’re making me do there. For just about every other enemy in the game, there’s an optimal option (Blood Punch, weapon etc) for dealing with them, but also other options. Most importantly, you’re fighting on your terms. These enemies make you wait for a specific attack animation to do any damage at all…I just feel like it makes me play the exact opposite as the rest of the game, and not in a fun way either.

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Weirdly, though, there’s some graphical design decisions that Doom Eternal takes from Bayonetta [although they predate Bayo too] - the “visual damage” effects, and especially how they apply to Makyrs, as the Angels in the setting, revealing them to be less than beautiful behind their pristine white-and-gold exterior armour are extremely Bayo.

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So I beat Eternal last night, and I still have a lot of positive feelings about the game. I think I agreed with Rob and Patrick on a few things (the Marauder is a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes this game fun and the purple goo is kinda stupid. I also wish there was a choice with using extra lives).

However, I had the exact opposite reaction as Rob did in the last quarter of the game; I absolutely loved it. I felt I had a really good handle on the mechanics and could work my way through combat encounters. I think the game did a good job of handing you some tools/weapons to control the flow of combat and eliminate your biggest threat.

I also really enjoyed the story, so maybe I was just looking for a different game than they were.

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