Why don't I have a custom title by now?!
Preface: I had mentioned time and again how I had written an angry and bitter complaint letter to my favourite computer magazine back in 1996, when they published a negative review of Final Doom, which I perceived as a personal blow. That, combined with an anti-Doom sentiment that pervaded the magazine's articles for some time now (every FPS review was made in the tone of it being the next "Doom killer", only to be bitterly proven wrong and falling short of expectations), prompted me to write a quite angry letter. A letter which I translated from the original Greek .txt file for you all to read.
Keep in mind that this was written when I was a hot-headed, know-it-all, spoiled-brat etc. 16 yo that took no fucking shit from nobody and especially about DOOM (well...maybe I needed to play less and get out more but let's not open other old wounds...).
It's important to know that I was very frustrated because of how shitty Windows 95 was, how game requirements had gone way up very soon (the jump from 486-class games to Pentium was very sudden, for whoever hasn't lived it, and the difference in computing power was almost an order of magnitude. Also, RAM was at a premium and Windows 95 made things even worse), and so seeing them picking on the only game that was playable on my system...
I decided to post it in Doom General because it may arouse the interest of those curious about Doom's history, PC gaming and the perceptions of a total Doomhead from 1996 (me :-p). Certain statements are patently wrong (e.g. I didn't know that Doom can't actually reach 70 fps) and some judgements too harsh, but many are sharply to the point, even after all those years.
But let's read the letter, mostly intact, except for some anonymization. The magazine's name is unchanged though, and it still exists. Capitalization was left as is. Also, the letter pretty soon degenerated into a bashing of the gaming industry, the magazine itself, and assumed messianic and eschatological overtones in the end. Yup, I really did need to get out more.
To the best of my knowledge, the letter was actually sent to the magazine, but never published. I can see why ;-)
RIP AND TEAR!
A VERY angry and young Maes said:
Dear PC Master, first of all I’d like to congratulate you for your contents, which really cover all the spectrum of informatics, ranging from games and hardware all the way up to expensive commercial packages. No other computer magazine in Greece has this versatility and this so particular way of presenting stuff that you have. Kudos, then!
However you must have your “downs” now and then, huh? I mean, what was that all about with that unfair and unacceptable review of FINAL DOOM in issue 78 of PC MASTER? Sound and graphics 55%? Gameplay 85%? Overall 65% ?! What you did was the very least SACRILEGIOUS, HIGH TREASON in the eyes of every true gamer!
How could you do that to a game that in December 1994 (issue 57) had scored Graphics 91%, Sound 94%, Gameplay 99%, Endurance 97%, ATMOSPHERE 100% [Note: yup, they had really written that in the review. No other game ever received an “atmosphere” rating], 97% OVERALL? But I’m sure that the actual issue at hand is another one, isn’t it?
Ah, DOOM. I can hear a lot of you folk laughing and saying “but DOOM is dead by now!” or “…is this guy straight from the…’past’ or what?”, “but now we have QUAKE” and other things along these lines.
There are many blokes out there who would like to “get rid” of DOOM once and for all.
Not that QUAKE isn’t a great game too, but DOOM is its equal in many points, which I can support: e,g, many things that were mentioned as new and exclusive features in QUAKE already existed in some form in DOOM: e.g. doors that open to the touch and shootable switches existed in DOOM since day one, and don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about [Note: in their overly enthusiastic review of Quake, they actually mentioned these things among Quake’s “exclusive improvements” over Doom. So justice had to be done].
Doom’s environment is 3D [Note: they called it "illusion of 3D", which I couldn't stand], but it has a small limitation for which however none ever complained, and is exactly what gives DOOM the fastest 3D rendering engine in the PC gaming world: it only allows one floor and ceiling per ‘sector’, thus making the construction of bridges, multi-floored buildings, slopes etc. impossible. However many level designers have managed to approximate this sensation (sic), it’s up to them and their ability.
QUAKE doesn’t have this limitation, of course, but in all QUAKE levels I’ve seen this feature is only used sparingly, mainly for small bridges and short slopes, while its very existence makes the game painfully slow (and needlessly so), especially compared to DOOM.
Some of QUAKE’s features (e.g. the ability to freely look up and down) already existed in HERETIC and its sequel, HEXEN, which use DOOM’s engine and have no performance penalty for doing so.
Also, it might be true that QUAKE’s “real 3D sprites” may be more realistic than DOOM’s 2D sprites, but their very existence, too, slows the game down to a crawl. I mean, seriously, a QUAKE room with more than 30 enemies, wouldn’t be horribly slow, even with a PENTIUM PRO @ 200 MHz? I have seen locations in DOOM with dozens of enemies at once, hordes, mobs, at the pre-maximum view window size, with HIGH DETAIL (another useful option which was unfortunately removed from QUAKE) on my 486DX/40 while I still had 4 MB of RAM, that were lightning-fast, according to DOOM’s FPS meter (20-24 fps).
Really, of all the games you reviewed in that fatidic issue 78, which one could even run on a 486 with 4 MB? That’s another point of strength for DOOM.
Also, the status bar: DOOM’s was simple, functional, clear, and the clearly visible visage of our hero made us feel the one and the same with him, love him, feeling joy or pain along with him according to the circumstances. On the opposite, that microscopic, sheepish looking face they put in QUAKE could never cause those same feelings.
What else is there to say? How about the DUMB, oh wait, I mean the ULTRA DUMB weapons of QUAKE? Somehow we started with kickass weapons such as the ‘Chainsaw’ that has grinded tons of daemonic meat (a DOOM’s exclusive), to the ‘Plasma Gun’, to the one and only BFG 9000 (Big Fucking Gun 9000), and we ended up with…axes and nailguns in QUAKE. You could hardly define this as “progress”.
What about the enemies then? Almost all of the classic and successful enemies that made DOOM so famous are gone, disappeared instead of making an improved return. Where else will you find something like the CACODEMON? The CYBER DEMON? The BARON OF HELL? The ARCH VILE? Only in DOOM! Let alone that DOOM has more lively colors, yet it also manages to have those famous “dark locations” that you claim are “typical of QUAKE”… [Note: Yeah, they also mentioned that as an exclusive trait of Quake]
Then, if we stick to the overall graphical presentation, I firmly believe that in SIMPLE VGA MODE, QUAKE is way worse than DOOM, much slower and demanding in comparison for what it offers. SVGA mode is another story, and only in that case could QUAKE be considered superior to DOOM (then again, only if you have a Pentium 133 and above, with 16(66) MB of RAM). However, when played in full screen and HIGH DETAIL, DOOM is pure delight and requires VIRTUALLY NOTHING to run compared with modern games: a 486DX/66 with 4 (and not 8, just 4 MB) is enough for full screen, HD and 36 fps, while a 386 DX/40 is enough for pre-maximum window size at LD and 25 fps. Any Pentium from 75 MHz onwards should theoretically give 70 fps at HD, that’s better than a PLAYSTATION!
I mean, really, if someone saw for the first time QUAKE and then DOOM (on a machine capable of running both perfectly), I’m pretty sure that he would find DOOM more lively, faster, smoother, slicker, more SATANIC and ATMOSPHERIC than QUAKE. For QUAKE, he would probably only notice the slightly more varied environment, and the prettier “water”. But NOTHING else.
The enemies (in QUAKE) would appear to be slower, the weapons would suck ass, and gameplay would also appear slow and tedious in comparison.
An expert DOOMER, on a good machine (to have fast gameplay) can easily make short work of these turtles that pretend to be QUAKE’s “enemies”.
But what if he witnessed them on a machine that can only run DOOM well? In that case he would add that DOOM is technically light years ahead of QUAKE, tech-wise, and that the latter is simply…unplayable!
[Note: I had made a pun between “cannot be played” and “unplayable”, as the former means that something is actually too good to defeat/overcome].
Honestly, when there’s such a heavy frame drop at the slightest movement, it’s hard up to impossible for someone to aim accurately, which is often fatal (just try in play QUAKE on a 486DX/40 with 8 MB, which FIY ROCKS DOOM and tell me if I ain’t right).
Let alone that, when so many books have been written about a game, so many editors and new levels were created for it, so many sequels were made (DOOM,DOOM II,ULTIMATE DOOM,FINAL DOOM), when it has become a new discussion topic for such a long time, when it’s still used as a reference whenever something “new” and “better” comes out, when at last it affirmed the PC’s dominance in gaming, by sending (at last) thousands of AMIGAs, ATARIs, SNES straight to the trash bin, and made the AMIGA goers WORSHIP the PC and its real power, when it set new quality and most importantly, technical excellency standards which many game companies today CANNOT follow, when it (almost) created a new religion…can it possibly die so easily?
You gotta understand, Doom is not like one of those stupid commercial games “designed” for Pentium and/or WINDOWS 95 (want some examples? Here you go: FOOTBALL, HELLBENDER, KRAZY IVAN, XS, et al.) that will forever pass into oblivion and indifference between two issues of your magazine, and whose dumb demo versions waste 100s of MBs from your magazine’s CD-ROM each month, MBs which could be used much more creatively: source code, MODs, S3Ms, DEMOS (not commercial ones, but demoscene demos like FUTURE CREW’s etc.), DOOM levels, utilities (is it possible that on a 650 MB CD-ROM there are only 10-15 mediocre utilities to be found?). I actually rejoiced when some game companies announced their intentions to “kill off” DEMOS once and for all. Hallelujah!
DOOM is the LIVING LEGEND, it is the MASTER, the LORD, the GOD of video games (and not only).
Doubtlessly, QUAKE is like day and night compared to DOOM in many aspects, but there’s nothing going on about it that will make it into the “new King”. If it had kept certain of Doom’s good aspects, which allowed it to sit on top for so many years, then maybe it could, but it didn’t, so there’s not a chance in hell.
Really, if DOOM is considered so “outdated”, then why does every gaming magazine and gaming company compare every DOOM clone with DOOM itself? The very same DOOM that was released in 1993 and 1994? Why did DOOM’s first serious contender, DARK FORCES (yeah, I consider THAT one as a serious opponent) has remained in the dark since it was released? Maybe because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to even touch THE GOD?
All other games will ALWAYS be called DOOM clones, to be reminded of their inferiority compared to GOD itself, DOOM! On the other hand, trying to compare DOOM with POOR or even TONGUE-IN-CHEEK knockoffs such as DUKE NUKEM 3D, RISE OF THE TRIAD, THE TERMINATOR: RAMPAGE etc. is really pointless. Sorry, but there can be no serious grounds for comparison. None of them has Doom’s fast and precise control or attractive gameplay. Even if it may disappoint many of you fellas, DOOM’s shotguns are going to roar for a long, long time to come, and endless hordes of demons will be slaughtered in its name.
Last edited by Maes on Jan 8 2010 at 22:29