Game Focus: Doom - The Legend


Well this is the first article of a new group of articles I decided to start, the Game Focus columns. In this column I will focus on a certain popular game and discuss its advantages and disadvantages, innovations and other characteristics that made it popular.

By focusing on a certain game we can:

  • Understand what made a certain game popular
  • Avoid any mistakes made by a certain game
  • Retrieve any cool features,programming techniques and design innovations of a game
  • Try to use all these advantages for our games
The first game I will focus on is Doom.

Doom - The Legend

Doom is a legend among computer games. With lots of fans all over the world, Doom established a new era in computer gaming and brought the newborn genre of FPS (First Person Shooter) to the top. Three versions of Doom were officially released. Doom, Doom II and Final Doom. I'll focus on Doom I and Doom II. Final Doom is just like Doom II but with different levels,better level design,etc. Also Final Doom was not made by id software but by TeamTNT.

Anyway here are some details about Doom and Doom II:

Doom I
Creator: id Software
Release Year: 1993
Development Team:
Programming: John Carmack, John Romero, Dave Taylor
Art: Adrian Carmack, Kevin Cloud
Design: Sandy Peterson
Testing And Technical Support: Shawn Green

Doom II
Creator: id Software
Release Year: 1994
Development Team:
Programming: John Carmack, John Romero, Dave Taylor
Art: Adrian Carmack, Kevin Cloud
Design: Sandy Petersen
BIZ: Jay Wilbur
BizAssist: Donna Jackson
Design and Support: Shawn Green, American McGee

Doom was not the first FPS (the first FPS ever was Wolfstein 3D, by the same company), however it's the most famous. The Doom series came with many innovations and improvements over their ancestor (Wolfstein). Some of them are still the same that characterize the whole FPS genre.

I give below a list of what I liked in Doom:

Doom's gameplay is very easy.
It's simple and direct:
Arrow keys to move forward/backward and turn left/right
',' to strafe left - '.' to strafe right
Shift key to run
Ctrl key to fire
Space to open doors and use switches
1-7 to change weapons

Nothing complicated.

These keys (redefined sometimes) are even today the standard in FPS games. Learning to play the game required no more than 5 minutes. Nothing to do with all these complicated RPG and strategy games that take days to learn, and the game's purpose was even more childish: Kill everything that moves! Childish, eh? Well sometimes it is simplicity that leads to success.

Level Design
One thing that I loved in the Doom games was the smart level design. OK, some levels were very dull (you just walked and killed or prayed not to be killed), but most of them were cleverly designed. Keys and switches were in the right places, monsters were placed according to the level's structure, ammo, health packs and other items were placed where they should be. Some times you had to be strategic and do a good use of ammunition and items to finish a level.

The atmosphere of the game was extrordinary. The graphics, the sound effects, the monsters, all gave you the sense that you're really in hell! I liked the mixture of technology and hell that gave this sense of techno-evil to the game. I also liked the design of each monster. I found killing Nazis very dull in Wolfstein because you always killed the same humans, slightly changed. But Doom's monsters were really great. They were so evil that you just couldn't spare their life :)

Doom invented the multiplayer deathmatch. You could play against (or in cooperation with) other human players over an IPX LAN, a serial connection or even the Internet (with an add-on). Although the internet was not very famous at that time, Doom was a motive for many people to get a modem and connect to the internet. Today multiplayer support is a must have for every game and sometimes you judge a game's value from its multiplayer support.

Doom established a gun variety that you can still see (with many variations) in today's FPS. The pistol and the chaingun were also found in Wolftein, but Doom introduced the shotgun(single or double), the rocket launcher, the plasma gun and the BFG9000.You will find the shotgun and rocket launcher in most FPS games. The other two came in many variations throughout the FPS genre and you will find many guns with peculiar names like the BFG9000!

Level Statistics
At the end of each level you could see your statistics in monsters killed, items collected and secrets found. The purpose of this was to give you an idea of how good you are. The result? You would find yourself playing over and over again the same level until you got 100% in all of them. Real addiction!

Oh yes, that's a cool feature! I don't know if Doom would be the same without secrets. I can't imagine it! Finding the secrets in each level was really addictive. The reward for finding a secret could be some ammo and health,a gun or even a powerup like invulnerability or megasphere. But the best reward is satisfaction,especially when you discover it yourself. A secret could be hidden door,a place difficult to approach,a hidden passage,etc. The good about secrets in Doom is that NONE of them is required to advance to the next level.

Now there were some things i didn't like in Doom though:

Unfortunately there's no jumping or crouching. OK,crouching may be unnecessary but i think jumping would be a very cool feature. Maybe the programmers thought it wouldn't be necessary,although i don't believe it because jumping was added later in Quake. Anyway jumping would give much more flexibility to the game i believe.

All These Keys
Ok, the key thing gets irritating sometimes. Get the blue key to open the blue door, then find the yellow key for the yellow door and then the red key for the Red door! However, this key thing was not something new in Doom. Doom inherited this (bad to my opinion) feature from all these RPGs and quest/adventure games. Unfortunately the programmers did nothing to avoid it. But then,how would they force you to play the whole level if you just found a short way to the exit door ;)

Enemy AI
Hmmm,the enemy AI (Artificial Intelligence) really sucks. Although monsters have a certain level of difficulty, especially the later ones (like the Cyberdemon), they do nothing more than walk aimlessly and just shoot you when they see you. Maybe it's the processing limitation that wouldn't allow programmers for fancy AI stuff.I don't know. I just think that a more advanced enemy AI would make the game even better.

Doom,without any doubt, wrote history. For me it's the best(and only) FPS i enjoyed playing in single player mode. It may have introduced multiplayer and changed the whole industry,but single player mode remained a key feature. Today most of the first person shooters focus on multiplayer mode and consider single player mode more like "training". And If FPS is the most popular genre today,it ows it completely to this game.

(this is the phrase Boss Brain speaks reversed at the final stage of DoomII)


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Voodoo4 is:
Webmaster of Ancient Code and programmer on Darkness Rising.