QuakeCon 2019 - because there doesn't seem to be a topic for it

I did a quick search and it looks like there’s not a QuakeCon 2019 thread anywhere, so… here’s one.

To be honest, QuakeCons have become really “BethesdaCon” in the last years, so the whole corporate messaging is a bit odd, to me (and it’s obvious that the crowd is turning up for different things than sometimes the Company would like them to care about).

But I also want to talk about the whole messaging over “Doom 25 years” stuff:

  • in the Quakecon keynote, it’s basically admitted that porting Doom + Doom 2 + Doom 3 to consoles is a way of cheaply extending their reach in terms of mind-share.
  • but also, it feels very much an un-id way to do things: all those games are already open-source engines (and Doom and Doom 2 have significant chunks of their content which is also “free”), so re-releasing on closed platforms with presumably newly rewritten closed-source content feels like a very corporate and retrograde step.
  • and I see from twitter that Bethesda were also initially requiring you to get a Bethesda account etc etc to actually play any of these ports (and are now doing the classic corporate “responsibility-evasion” of calling this a “bug” which they are “working on patching” now everyone is upset about it).

Meanwhile, the Doom Eternal preview stuff has some interesting messaging: they go all in on admitting that they want to build a power-fantasy because “that’s what Doom games are about” (which, honestly, I’m not sure is totally true - Doom 3 tried to be as much a horror game, and horror is about the opposite of power-fantasy, and even Doom 2 delighted in trying to kill you despite you having all the cool guns), but the more telling thing for me is when one of the speakers corrects himself: “we’re jumping ahead in the story… er… jumping ahead in the experience”.
Not that we all thought that Doom needed a complex story, but it does say something when their messaging apparently is about it being an “experience” rather than a “narrative”.

(That said, there’s some interesting discussion about interface and game design in the Doom Eternal panel, especially regarding ways in which they’re trying to incentivise particular behaviours, and make important information really easy to read with consistent colour coding everywhere.)

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I want to comment briefly on the “un-Id” bit, because what even is “Id” these days? To me they used to be a small team where each member’s individual touch could be felt, that released games with a tight focus, and were open to fans about not just development processes and code, but themselves as creators.

But that hasn’t really been the case for about a decade. Few classic team members are still there (Tim Willits recently left), the Doom 3 engine was the last they made open source and besides QuakeCon it’s not like they have a large commitment to fan interaction or works due to more closed engines with little to no support for editing (I guess barring SnapMap which by most accounts was lackluster at best).

It would have been cool to see a port of Doom on consoles which has the original games and the capability of launching user WADs (although to be honest I don’t think Nintendo or other manufacturers would allow that). Or for “Doom Eternal” to not crib the name from a classic WAD set while they’re talking about their 25 year legacy (note, I haven’t watched any keynote or followed Eternal at all so maybe they give attributions somewhere).

But I don’t think that’s what Id is anymore. They haven’t been for a long time. They are just another blockbuster developer.

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id is weird to me because if you told me they hadn’t made a game since Doom 3 I would believe you. Everything since then has been so uninteresting. Maybe their tech is still impressive but since so few games use their engines now it doesn’t get much attention.

Otherwise it’d be cool if Bethesda could drop their E3 conference and just do all those ESO announcement here instead.

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Yeah, I completely agree with this - it’s just particularly depressing to note how much id have lost that commitment to the community (in both a “modding” and a “actually releasing their code” sense) whilst they’re running a whole “it’s 25 years since we made a thing which made us famous” promotion, which ignores precisely those aspects of Doom which made it really notable.

I grabbed it for Switch for 2 reasons. The first is that I don’t have a mouse for my school laptop, and playing games on it is a pain without a desk in my apartment. Also I really wanted splitscreen to play with my wife and sister-in-law. Luckily I had enough gold coins that I didn’t pay for it.

I do see the ethical dilemma of this release, but also I would like to try Doom wads once I have a better pc setup!

“Who needs story” is a very old-Id thing. Carmack even has a quote in Masters of Doom about how their games only have stories because they’re expected to. The power fantasy thing… that’s always been there to an extent (see: the BFG), but one of the most incredible things about old Doom to me is how well it scales to different kinds of experience. Thoughtful traditional Doom mapping is often just as much about putting the player on the defensive, using crowds of tough enemies to force a retreat, using resource exhaustion to demand that the player pick their battles. (That last strategy is impossible with the resource system of modern Doom, which is explicitly designed to let the player constantly push forward. I understand why they went that way, even though I disagree with it.) On release Doom was seen as a scary game (if not quite a horror game), at least as much as Doom 3 would be because of the novelty of its immersive 3D engine.

Oh, indeed, I know that Carmack famously said that video games have plots for the same reason porn does (as an excuse), but I don’t think he’d have corrected himself from “story” to “experience” when talking about Doom at the time. That’s a much more “corporate messaging” self-correction.

Having been there when Doom came out, I definitely know how it was seen at the time - and I do think that Doom 2016 and Eternal’s messaging misses that nuance by making it all about “power fantasy” (because all FPS games, and most RPGs etc, are power fantasies in a trivial sense, but that’s not what they mean here), since horror is explicitly about the opposite of that.

id did Tom Hall dirty.

Commander Keen deserved better.

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I watched Tim Willits kill Sonic the Hedgehog with a BFG on stage.