A Brief DOOM Demo History
Before DOOM was developed, the great minds
at idsoftware had
taken notice of the modifiability of their previous games like Wolfenstein3D.
When DOOM was released on December 10th 1993, they proved their genius
to the world for the first time. The DOOM experience is so configurable
that playing possibilities are virtually endless. Out of the box,
DOOM allows five skill settings, player speed modification, respawning
monsters, fast monsters, IPX 4-player multiplayer, and innumerable ways
to play in an unbounded gaming world. Being able to create your own
levels, modify the game's engine, play single-player and multiplayer games,
and replay playback demos are the key to DOOM's longevity.
Although I'm sure John Romero wasn't the sole
advocate of demo-support in their games, his presence and excitement during
their in-house "deathmatches" exemplified the need to ensure its existence.
From those sessions, the rules and dynamics of modern multiplayer personal
computer gaming were born. Had this developed differently at this
stage, First Person Shooters as a genre would have evolved much differently.
As with Wolfenstein, the levels were timed.
This meant the game was quantifiable. Demo-support meant you could
compare your times with others. One must realize that in 1994, the
state of the "internet" was much different than it is today. Bulletin
Board Systems and Ftp sites were dominant for file storage. Can you
say 9600 baud phone modem?
By the time Windows95 was released, there were
hordes of DOOMers playing together in online deathmatch games. There's
a famous statement that DOOM was loaded on more systems than any other
piece of software1... widespread playing
meant practice, practice meant competition; and the competition was intense.
20-minute one-on-one matches meant sometimes well over 100 frags; not even
Quake would be this fast-paced. DOOM became the featured game of
online competitions and LAN events... true PC gaming as a professional
sport was born. As with Quake, the core DOOM deathmatch gameplay
and dynamics would hardly change as the years progressed (outside the advent
of the almighty SuperShotgun in Doom2). However, single-player would
see a good amount of progression and variation.