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Phobos Anomaly

How dark should Doom be?

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Posted (edited)
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Having played Doom in the 90's on an old Packard Bell CRT monitor, I know Doom should be dark. After years and years of source ports and various renderers, I have simply forgotten just how dark it should be. Now, I know this is a subjective thing, and it really depends on whatever settings you may have had at the time, but I want to replicate the experience as close as possible using my current favorite sourceport: DoomRetro, by @bradharding.

It uses a software renderer, which is the best way to emulate the lighting, from what I understand, and I have the gamma set to the default of 0.90. It seems ok to me, but I'm curious if anyone has any input on the matter based on the screenshots I'm sharing here. Much of the game design is built around the lighting (or lack thereof) (eg. the famous imp ambush in the blue key room in E1M3).

 

Here are some captures I have taken inside DoomRetro 3.5.3

Edited by Phobos Anomaly

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Those screenshots look just fine imo, pretty much exactly as it should be, but maybe even a notch too dark - maybe that’s just my memory skewing it though. I’ve always played with my gamma turned up one notch in the vanilla EXE, and I usually jack it up even further for multiplayer.

 

If you want the darkness though, I’d say the setting you have it on is just fine. The only maps I can recall where it would be a hinderance are custom, the stock stuff should be no issue.

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I set gamma correction to Off, I think those screenshots are kinda dark. Of course, it depends on your and my monitor. Just because you took screenshots and are showing them doesn't mean they are as dark on our monitors as they are on yours.

 

But you should keep in mind that many maps were designed and tested on the glboom.exe executable of prboom+, which looks very washed out by default in my experience and from what I often see on Youtube videos. So if the vanilla maps look kinda dark for you, be prepared to increase gamma for some custom maps. 

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I like to use 0.75 gamma on Doom Retro and subsequently GZDoom but sometimes, whether due to an extensive PLAYPAL or a level's lighting conditions, it can be far, far too dark. So I'll do anywhere from a small boost of 0.80, to 1.00 at the maximum so long as it does not look washed out. LCD monitors suck when it comes to true blacks.

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That's about what looks right to me, monitor differences notwithstanding. I might bump the gamma up a little bit if a map is particularly dark, but that'll work fine for most stuff.

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Gamma set to 0.90 seems good enough to me, it's also the default in ports such as Doom Retro. I like it that way for the IWADs.

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It really does depend on the monitor too. My main laptop has solid color reproduction but is super dark compared to my work laptop, for example. The same map can look very different between displays.

 

That's why things like modern console games tend to start with the "drag the brightness slider until you can barely see the logo" or equivalent. There's just no standard. 

 

I wonder if you could do the equivalent with Doom - make a map that's a series of "if you stand here, you should be able to see the imp, but not the demon behind it" kind of situations. 

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2 hours ago, Bauul said:

I wonder if you could do the equivalent with Doom - make a map that's a series of "if you stand here, you should be able to see the imp, but not the demon behind it" kind of situations. 

I remember a wad that had a sign in a dark area right at the start and it said that you should lower gamma if you could read it.

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Crispy Doom (which also has a software renderer) is my port of choice, and I often find that the lighting in GL rendering looks wrong to me. This is mostly a matter of taste, but my yardstick for what is "correct" is based not on aesthetics but on a practical matter: how invisible are Spectres?

The opening hall in Monster Condo is what I measure by, as it's right on the threshold. Its spectres are very difficult to make out except for when backlit or at close range.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Fuzzball said:

Stealing babies dark? Murder dark?

black as midnight black as pitch blacker than the foulest witch, oh wait that's Quake. (shakes fist at all those overbright youtube quake videos)

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