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GoatLord
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I've been replaying random Doom 2 maps lately and am intrigued by how the crude architecture finds this strange blend between something vaguely recognizable and something otherworldly. This is one of the more defining elements of Doom, one that exists only because of hardware limitations.

We all have different expectations for Doom 4, but few (if any) expect the game to look remotely like the originals, since it begs the question, "Why not just play any of the innumerable mods?"

I'm leaning toward it essentially being impossible to translate these abstractions to a modern engine. Classic Doom for Doom 3 is a good example of this. All of the architecture we remember from Episode 1 is there, but the experience is significantly different because of the difference in detail.

Old Post 06-16-13 21:22 #
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StoneFrog
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I wonder how much of it has to do with our expectation towards older games. Anybody who's ever attempted to do high resolution textures for DOS and Win9x-era games has probably noticed that it can be very difficult to remain faithful to the originals. On one end, you have people who think that the higher resolution means there ought to be a higher level of "realism", which means creating lots of visual noise through grungey overlays - this helps fill in what feels to be bare and underdetailed space you never had in the low res originals, but it can tile pretty badly and usually never looks good.

Other people try and sort of interpret the pixels into a sort of painted style, but I've seen very few people do that particularly well rather than it looking borderline cartoony.

At the same time, I think that "small" scale detail in Doom, clutter and 3D computers lining the halls, is distracting. I wonder if it has to do with the fact I never play the game at a resolution higher than 640x480, and there's some sort of subconscious ideal proportion between the amount of distinct visual elements on the screen versus the total screen real estate.

Another thing to consider is when abstract, architecturally-based maps began to look "off". I think a lot of it simply has to do with the switch from brush-based engines to entire rooms being virtually a single model, something which I feel has considerably hindered level design because people are no longer working with "low-level" building blocks. We seemed to get away with making games look more detailed but still abstract up until 2003 or so.

Many newer games, stylistically, have too much visual noise for my liking. As an avid Elder Scrolls fan, I want to give the example of how jagged and exaggerated the proportions are in Morrowind's characters, versus Oblivion which had an extremely "inflated" and bulky look. As with texturing, maybe a higher polygon budget means less attention given to the placement of each, and so things don't seem as resolutely designed. The same thing can happen with lower poly art too (Thief's models have always felt somewhat formless compared to those in Deus Ex or Half-Life), but I don't seem to notice it as often.


GoatLord said:

I'm leaning toward it essentially being impossible to translate these abstractions to a modern engine. Classic Doom for Doom 3 is a good example of this. All of the architecture we remember from Episode 1 is there, but the experience is significantly different because of the difference in detail.


Do you think that was a stylistic choice on the part of the Classic Doom team to make the mod look the way it does, or a direction that it sort of had to inevitably gravitate towards? That's the tricky thing, because I guess they could have gone with something more abstract, but it would have felt weird, and less like a "remake."

Last edited by StoneFrog on 06-16-13 at 21:49

Old Post 06-16-13 21:43 #
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GoatLord
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StoneFrog, excellent post. I'll have to reread it a few times to fully absorb it all. As to your question, I think it was inevitable that it is experientially and visually so different from the original. Doom's engine forces certain limitations that just work with those big bulky pixels and VGA palettes. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to imagine how a new Doom game can look modern while reminding us of the original.

Old Post 06-16-13 23:25 #
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Suitepee
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No. We have the technology for people to create both abstract looking places AND realistic ones, but I'm willing to bet Doom 4 will lean towards the Doom 3 somewhat realistic visual style (which I liked).

Doom 1/2 gameplay + Doom 3 atmosphere/visuals = a good Doom 4!

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Old Post 06-17-13 00:54 #
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esselfortium
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Newer games can still look attractive and stylish without aiming for any sort of photo-realism, so I'd say Doom's abstract and unrealistic traits (super-fast player movement, simplistic enemy behavior, levels that can play interestingly and look interesting but don't represent real or remotely sensible locations, etc) could be translated into Doom 4 if it was built around a stylized art direction that they wouldn't feel jarringly out of place in.

Funky stylized abstract stuff used to be done a lot more in the days before realism was really feasible to achieve in real-time computer graphics, but indie games have been helping keep the more stylized game aesthetics alive, and might even have a chance at gradually bringing them back into the mainstream.

All things considered I don't expect to see id Software taking Doom 4 in that sort of direction, but I'd certainly welcome such a thing if they did :P

Old Post 06-17-13 01:16 #
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Marnetmar
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I think some odd geometry and interesting architecture would work well to set Doom 4 apart from other games of today. If there's anything from the old days that modern games have actually returned to, it's right angles and square rooms.

Old Post 06-17-13 02:12 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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I think they could pull off abstract design today far better than they could in 1994. I'd actually welcome a "realistic" Doom 4 if it was subverted into a hellish mindfuck over the course of the game.

Old Post 06-17-13 02:17 #
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Xaser
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Hmm, while the original question is valid, the fact of whether or not an "abstract" art/design style is doable is somewhat less important than the question of whether it's possible to make varied, organic, interesting level design like the original Doom's in terms of progression and gameplay (i.e. not a corridor railroad). The answer to that is most certainly "yes," if the question is phrased "can they?", though then the question shifts to "will they?", which is much harder to vouch for since the generally excepted answer to that one for most modern level design is "Nope." Bit of a derail, though I guess you could apply the same object re: abstract art/locales.

tl;dr version: It's doable but I doubt it will be done.

Old Post 06-17-13 03:44 #
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Doomkid
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An older thread with a very similar basis:
http://www.doomworld.com/vb/doom-ge...n-a-plea-to-id/ (Phml makes the points better than I can in this thread.)

I think that abstract could certainly be done with amazing new-age graphics, the unrealism of the environments would be otherworldly and unnerving to many players, as the original games were to me as a youngster. but I don't think it will be for marketing/cash alone, pretty much. What sells now is boring-as-all-fuck military simulators, Hopefully it wouldn't be too prevalent in D4, but..

For a game that was already cut once for being "too COD like", I'm having trouble envisioning anything as awe-inpiring and so full of imagination as the old Doom's to come from 'new' ID. If the game is going to be as slow and realistic as some people theorize, It will be another bore fest for 80% of classic Doomers.

I'd love it if they tried, but I doubt it. I'm expecting lots of ironsights with some demons instead of Russians.

Old Post 06-17-13 05:57 #
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Komenja
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I think it's entirely possible. But as Doomkid92 said, it's a matter of if the new id guys decide to do it.

Old Post 06-17-13 21:17 #
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Touchdown
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You can create abstract levels with todays technology. The problem is that 94 graphical fidelity did not make anyone think of photorealism. You could get away with not being realistic because the tech would not allow it anyway.

With photorealistic graphics + story / narrative + characters... you can't just make levels abstract. It wouldn't make sense. You'd have to make a whole game abstract to compensate and how would you deal with a 'demonic invasion' theme like that, I don't know. You'd have to sacrifice all of the realism and story.

My personal opinion is that I don't want DOOM 4 to be abstract. I've never liked DOOM II level design and always thought that more consistent and more realistic approach in DOOM I was far better. When I think of a perfect DOOM 4, I don't see abstract, unrealistic images. I see fully believable cities burning and falling apart, demons running rampant through streets, apartments, gas stations and so on. I don't want to have to guess whether this random structure is some twisted, abstract reinterpretation of a parking lot or a shop or a hangar or whatever. I want to see an actual thing, nicely rendered and realistically detailed.

Old Post 06-17-13 21:46 #
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MegaTurtleRex
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Yeah it's possible but I think reports about the early Doom 4 build that got cancelled said it was more like Call of Duty :\

I'm wondering if it's even coming out, they planned to release it on 360\PS3 at some point I think but there was nothing at E3.

Old Post 06-18-13 13:24 #
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hex11
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Realism and DOOM's pseudo-futuristic/hellish universe don't mix. It would be like wanting a "realistic" version of D&D or Star Wars. It's a surreal universe... And when you dream at night, you don't focus on all the details, the pictures are hazy, everything is in broad strokes. Trying to cram detail and force realism destroys all that. You'll just end up with yet another boring technical shooter.

Old Post 06-18-13 13:27 #
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Touchdown
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hex11 said:
Realism and DOOM's pseudo-futuristic/hellish universe don't mix. (...) It's a surreal universe...


Id Software disagrees with you (DOOM 3).

Old Post 06-18-13 13:47 #
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hex11
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Oddly enough, I've no interest in a game where you creep around with a flashlight amongst detailed environment and monsters with high polygon counts...

Old Post 06-18-13 14:32 #
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BloodyAcid
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Let's hope they don't adhere to the "new" definition of horror action.

Old Post 06-18-13 17:14 #
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DooM_RO
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No, it would look very weird on a modern engine, just look at this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWP_F73lNfo

EDIT:

A game in order to look good should EMBRACE what it is, in Doom 4's case, being a modern game while still being loyal to the original. Of course Doom 3 did this but since it was half-baked in many places, it was not good enough.

Making abstact levels full of secrets in a modern game is very difficult. This is because there is too much stuff in the maps like computers, office chairs etc. which is not a bad thing per se but somehow it also takes away the sense of place from a level which in turn leads to making them harder to navigate. I think this is why games are becoming more linear, I could easily see getting lost in such levels because it's much harder to give levels a sense of place.

On the other hand, the more texture quality increases and the more poligons there are on models, the more you HAVE to use them, otherwise it looks weird, repetition becomes more obvious and therefore breaks the COHERENCE of the level. When something is of higher quality that the everything else, it sticks out in a wrong way, everything in a game should be of the same quality and the level of detail in maps is no different. Let me give you an example: Rinechard666's textures, while very faithful, make the levels look very blocky. This is not because of the textures themselves but rather the low poly levels. The Doom levels and textures complement eachother perfectly. The reason Doom maps have the potential to look good is because while the textures are low res, they are not low res enough to be ugly. Also, a SINGLE texture can completely change the mood of a room. I don't think you can do that in a modern game and if you can, it will probably look weird

In conclusion, everything should be of the same quality otherwise it looks weird. It's like using very high quality animations (like in Battlefield 4 and Dragon Age 3) on an ugly-ass Quake model.

Therefore, I don't think the abstactness of the levels can be made in Doom 4 BUT it can be translated in something else...like storyTELLING found in System Shock 2 and Bioshock and machinery and sounds that whose function can be INTERPRETED in different ways, because that;s one reason why the abstract levels are cool, right? You can give them meaning.

Last edited by DooM_RO on 06-19-13 at 14:26

Old Post 06-19-13 13:55 #
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GoatLord
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Very good points, Doom_RO. It's true that vague, primitive structures will inevitably look out of place if the textures and models are of high quality. The problem is, the otherworldly, esoteric feeling I get from the classics, especially the graininess of PSX Doom and the meticulous lighting in Doom 64, is largely lost on modern hardware.

Perhaps the solution is surrealism, not abstraction. Recall that abstract visuals are non-representational, which Doom's layouts are (even if its textures are somewhat realistic). Surrealism is reality that has been disrupted by an out of place element, like an unexpected juxtaposition or the hazy, smeary quality of dream environments.

Doom 4's aesthetics, then, could reference the nightmarish quality of the classics by actually tapping into the incoherence of nightmares. If Doom's architecture is about the familiar metamorphosising into fear, that could be surreally represented by natural and manmade environments slowly taking on disruptive elements. This goes beyond demonic altars and fleshy goo--this could encompass large scale heaps of technogy, biology, ecology, esoteric symbolism, impossible perspectives, structures with no clear beginning or end and transformations that suggest a building is alive, just as a few examples. The artwork of H. R. Giger and the art direction of films like Hellraiser come to mind.

Old Post 06-19-13 16:32 #
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DooM_RO
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Yes, I agree. I also think that storyTELLING could work wonderfully in a modern Doom game, more specifically VISUAL storytelling like in System Shock 2, telling a story without words. The PDAs could do this too in order to enhance the atmosphere (with proper writing this time). The beauty of telling a story using these techniques is that they are entirely optional and they would not detract from the action, therefore they would not be out of place in the Doom universe.

Old Post 06-19-13 16:54 #
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schwerpunk
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DooM_RO said:
Yes, I agree. I also think that storyTELLING could work wonderfully in a modern Doom game ...

You lost me.

DooM_RO said:
... more specifically VISUAL storytelling like in System Shock 2, telling a story without words.

Aaand, you just got me back.

It's extremely rare that a game story really interests me, especially if it's conveyed like stories are in movies. Show-don't-tell, you know? Let me experience the twisted horror of the demons, don't just have a scientist drone on about them for two minutes before letting me leave the room.

Re PDAs: I was skeptical of this form of storytelling when they first started popping up, but over the years I've started to love reading about the game's lore in books, audio recordings, e-mails, etc.. The reason being that, as you say, it's entirely optional. Somehow that makes the tales within even more interesting. I think the reason for this is that these entries aren't plot-driven, so they're just about the world and its actors, and it's up to you to put the pieces together. If you want to ignore them you can, which is a huge boon to replayability. Conversely, this is also the reason why HL2 is so painful to replay - the player character is taken hostage at various times to explain the story. These segments are not skippable. So yeah, give me PDAs any day.

Then there's obvious bits of visual storytelling, like: Oh, there are demons. Where did they come from? Oh, there are these gates, so I guess they came from there! I wonder what's on the other side? This place looks like Hell. Neat.

Not a single step along the way needs to be explained by an NPC narrator.

Last edited by schwerpunk on 06-19-13 at 18:03

Old Post 06-19-13 17:57 #
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