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Hisymak

Is Doom(2) music not the best music among games from the same era?

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So, I was always thinking, that Doom does not very much stand out in terms of its music. Its music is pretty much fair, but despite Doom was the best game of the era in its gameplay, graphical and sound design and that stuff, there were still many games with better music. I totally agree that music being good/bad is mostly subjective and everyone likes something else. But I wanted to know your opinion and whether you think the same as me.

There are several things to elaborate about why I might feel Doom music is not as good as other games music:

1. Its music is not very melodic, and is rather kind of rock/metal genre, which is not my taste. For example ROTT features much more melodic jazzy tunes, which I loved to listen to (althrough the ROTT gameplay rather sucked, compared to Doom). Heretic also has more melodic medeival-ish music, which I always liked. And even some Doom mappacks, most notably Requiem/Memento Mori 1&2, featured good quality music from Mark Klem which I really like. For example "Give In with Pleasure" playing in MM2 MAP03 is one of the masterpieces. Overally I feel Mark Klem did better job than Bobby Prince for a good and fitting Doom music (althrough maybe he made a few "suckers" too).

2. Doom music was composed and designed primarily for Roland SC-55 (or something like this, don't know exactly), however, many computers of the era had Adlib/Sound Blaster sound card with OPL synthesis chip, and Doom music did not go really well with that. Some other games, like ROTT, still sounded pretty much good with OPL synthesis, like the game devs/composers kept that on mind and designed the OPL instruments to fit the music well. I am still a fan of OPL synthesis and permanently use this feature in GZDoom, and some music plays well with it, and some not.

3. Vanilla Doom/Doom2 music was the music I listened to for the longest time, and it just got repetitive and boring listening to this music again and again. Whereas I played through Requiem/Memento Mori series just a few years ago, and its music was something new and original, what I haven't listened to before. So listening to a fresh music vs. listening to same track 1000th time might be a factor too.

 

Lastly, I would mention, that I made a similar post in Commander Keen forums some time ago: https://pckf.com/viewtopic.php?t=4773 where I discuss pretty much the same thing about CK music, which was composed by the same person. So maybe Bobby Prince is not a music composer of my taste, but I still want to know what you think about it.

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14 minutes ago, Hisymak said:

I totally agree that music being good/bad is mostly subjective

Heck, not just mostly, but entirely. I see the terms "objectively good" and "objectively bad" thrown around a LOT these days, and it's weird because the artistic value of literally any creation on Earth is purely a matter of subjectivity. (Just a little plea that few will hear for people to stop using those words incorrectly, lol).

 

ROTT and MM both immediately came to mind as superior soundtracks, but I'm of the opinion that those both having better music is just down to Klem and Jackson being more "technical" musicians than Prince. 12 bar blues worked fine for Doom and I'd argue there are a small handful of genuinely badass songs throughout Doom1 and 2, but Klem and Jackson were possibly more passionate and/or seasoned musicians, whereas I get the feeling Prince was in a camp similar to myself (absolute lover of music, but only a middling musician.)

 

Music was probably just a hobby that he happened to be able to monetize a handful of times throughout his career, we know his actual trade was as a lawyer. Then again, I think Bobby Prince well and truly proved himself to be damn skilled with MIDIs in his own right with the Duke3D soundtrack. Say what you want about the games themselves, but his music in Duke seems way more expressive than most of what made it into Doom/2.

 

As for the difference in sound between OPL/AdLib/Soundblaster and Roland variants like the SC-55 and default Windows MIDI sound, I'm certain I've heard Lee Jackson say he composed on something with a more advanced sound than OPL-alikes, but I can't recall exactly what. Regardless it was much closer to an SC-55 than the OPL sound.

 

I do have a lot of nostalgia for that OPL sound, but to be honest, sometimes it sounds kind of like the gurgling of wet farts in lower registers. Roland/SC-55-based stuff sounded far more realistic and the sound was a lot richer and brighter, if you ask me. 99.999% of MIDIs ever composed will sound better through an SC-55-alike than an OPL-alike.

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Posted (edited)

I love DOOM as much as the next guy, but in terms of it having the best music of that era? No. Not even close. There are probably a hundred SNES games I can think of with better music. In fact, I don't like DOOM 2's music at all for the most part. Almost any pwad has better music than either game.

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As much as I like the Doom soundtrack, it is not within the conversation for "best of the era".

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Doom 1 has some very nice tracks, but as the others said, not even close to the top. Most games that I can think of have a better soundtrack, except maybe Strife.

Listen to Descent's soundtrack if you want to hear some really good music.

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Doom's soundtrack was quite good, but even it contained some duds (I look at you, d_e2m3...).

Doom 2 was rather poor with a few exceptions.

 

Generally, music wise, Duke Nukem still ranks as the best game of the MIDI era for me and Strife the worst - it's rare that a game comes along where I didn't like even one single track. Strife managed to do exactly that.

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Posted (edited)

Doom's soundtrack was considerably better than Doom II. Like yes, you can remember the tunes, but Doom had a hell of a lot less reuse (E4 excluded). It made every location feel different and more unique. The only map to share music was E2M3, which shared it with the map tally screen. (In SNES Doom, it used E2M2's music track here - IMO actually a good fit. Change the track to it sometime! Definitely changes the feel of the map.)

 

Meanwhile, Doom II says "Here, have The Dave D. Taylor Blues three times." Hell, it also exists in two different versions, for some reason!

 

In fact, the only maps to have a unique track to them are MAP04, MAP09, MAP23, MAP25, MAP28, MAP30, MAP31, and MAP32. Every single other map uses a song that is played at least in one other map, and in several cases, two other maps.

 

And if we're going to exclude other areas period, MAP31 is out since it's also used for the cast sequence.

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Doom music is good. Like it's quite good. But if we're talking best of the era, I think the SNES has it beat.

 

3 hours ago, Doomkid said:

Heck, not just mostly, but entirely. I see the terms "objectively good" and "objectively bad" thrown around a LOT these days, and it's weird because the artistic value of literally any creation on Earth is purely a matter of subjectivity. (Just a little plea that few will hear for people to stop using those words incorrectly, lol).

 

So I actually think that art can be Objectively good or bad. In fact, I'd argue that anything that has any standard or rules of doing things can be objectively good or bad. The thing about art though is that I don't think Objectively good or bad means very much. When I see an art (music, painting, game), being objectively good is the bare minimum to me. If something is objectively bad, to me it means that something went seriously wrong in its making. Like if a kid drew a shitty house that's just a square and a triangle (that aren't even connected) and colored outside of the lines with every color under the sun (there by making it look painful), that is objectively bad. In my opinion, things made by people who know what they're doing is very rarely objectively bad.

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Uh. D_E1M7 had been recycled for E2M5 and E3M5, D_E1M6 had been recycled for E3M6 and there were others, too. It was less than Doom 2, but not that much less.

 

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Posted (edited)

Indeed, Bobby's work on Doom and Doom 2 are not his best imo (based on my subjective taste on music, of course). I prefer some osts he made for other games, like Major Stryker, Wolfenstein 3D\SOD, Blake Stone and Duke Nukem 2. These in particular are pretty cool:
 

Spoiler

 

 

 

 

 

 


Doom 1 still have some great tracks though. I think I even made a post about it some years ago: E1M3 works really well on Bobby's minimalistic approuch, E2M2 is full of exciting rythmical shifts and the way how E2M4 plays with silence, drones and dissonance is awesome. Doom 2 also have the Icon of Sin theme, which is a great piece of sound design done creatively, especially taking into account how limited the General MIDI structure is for that kind of thing. 

Edited by Noiser

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13 minutes ago, Zulk RS said:

So I actually think that art can be Objectively good or bad


I think so too. Objective goodness is something that is based on how a piece of art stands against its background (tradition), what new it brings to the table and so on.

 

But this doesn’t have that much to do with how individuals consuming that art like it or not. I like heavy metal, and (thus) I like Doom 1’s soundtrack, but that doesn’t make it objectively good.

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Posted (edited)

In spite of being a professional art historian, I won't get into claims of objectivity in art and taste (protip: they're bulls**t), so I'll keep to the topic at hand:

 

No, from the same era there are much better video game soundtracks than Doom 2's. Killer Instinct, Super Metroid, Warcraft, Tekken, Hell, Robinson's Requiem... just to name a few from the same exact year.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/29/2022 at 6:15 AM, Zulk RS said:

So I actually think that art can be Objectively good or bad. In fact, I'd argue that anything that has any standard or rules of doing things can be objectively good or bad. The thing about art though is that I don't think Objectively good or bad means very much. When I see an art (music, painting, game), being objectively good is the bare minimum to me. If something is objectively bad, to me it means that something went seriously wrong in its making. Like if a kid drew a shitty house that's just a square and a triangle (that aren't even connected) and colored outside of the lines with every color under the sun (there by making it look painful), that is objectively bad. In my opinion, things made by people who know what they're doing is very rarely objectively bad.

Sorry, but this doesn't make any sense to me. What you consider wrong may be right on the POVs of another viewer\listener. Even if the artist doesn't reach his personal goals, his work can still be appreciated or even prefereed by other people. I mean, even errors or natural phenomemons can be appreciated as a form of art (a trace that can be seen on photography, for example). Taking art as "objectively good or bad" is not only false as a general premise but also feels arrogant as you are trying to convey a personal belief as a rule that everyone should follow - generally based on something arbitrary like a set of techniques, conceptual thoughts or how stable\popular something is. Even if we take into account "collective tastes" of what is trendy or tacky, these also change drastically over the years.
 

On 6/29/2022 at 6:34 AM, RHhe82 said:

Objective goodness is something that is based on how a piece of art stands against its background (tradition), what new it brings to the table and so on.

These are all arbitrary definitions, so it's not truly objective. You can measure if something is objective if you estipulate a goal - but what goal is really necessary (or "good") in that regard will vary from people to people - making the whole premisse subjective.

Edited by Noiser

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Uhm, no? Like come on, this is the same time frame as Extreme Paintbrawl

 

 

Music has never been better/as good, literally no competition.

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1 hour ago, Graf Zahl said:

Uh. D_E1M7 had been recycled for E2M5 and E3M5, D_E1M6 had been recycled for E3M6 and there were others, too. It was less than Doom 2, but not that much less.

 

Yeah, I'm posting tired. There was some reuse, but definitely less than Doom 2.

 

E1M9 got recycled for E3M9, now that you mention it.

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1 hour ago, Zulk RS said:

Doom music is good. Like it's quite good. But if we're talking best of the era, I think the SNES has it beat.

 

 

So I actually think that art can be Objectively good or bad. In fact, I'd argue that anything that has any standard or rules of doing things can be objectively good or bad. The thing about art though is that I don't think Objectively good or bad means very much. When I see an art (music, painting, game), being objectively good is the bare minimum to me. If something is objectively bad, to me it means that something went seriously wrong in its making. Like if a kid drew a shitty house that's just a square and a triangle (that aren't even connected) and colored outside of the lines with every color under the sun (there by making it look painful), that is objectively bad. In my opinion, things made by people who know what they're doing is very rarely objectively bad.

 

I think art (or anything subjective, for that matter) can be judged as objectively good or bad if we first state our goals.

 

For example, someone can listen to a song and say that it is bad, because it's boring. And we're kind of working with a number of underlying assumptions - that things should be interesting, for example.

 

But if the artist's purpose was to make a boring track - then the song would be objectively good in that regard.

 

In other words, I think that a conversation about a piece of art working or not is absolutely possible. It's just that each person might have their own assumptions about what a good piece of art is for them or for that exact context.

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Sorry to disagree. I remember playing a need for speed russian knockoff that had better soundtrack. The bad thing is, i don't remember the name of game, because it was surprisingly better than the originals and had russian pop bands in it's soundtrack, including ruki vverh.  The good thing is, it's one of the few good memories I have

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8 minutes ago, IcarusOfDaggers said:

Sorry to disagree. I remember playing a need for speed russian knockoff that had better soundtrack. The bad thing is, i don't remember the name of game, because it was surprisingly better than the originals and had russian pop bands in it's soundtrack, including ruki vverh.  The good thing is, it's one of the few good memories I have

Let's be honest, it was Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Dark Pulse said:

Let's be honest, it was Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing.

 

 

Like the meme, but no, it was actually a high quality game, just had EA logo on it and ended up in a lawsuit a year later. Then it disappeared from our market.

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1 hour ago, Noiser said:

Sorry, but this doesn't make any sense to me. What you consider wrong may be right on the POVs of the viewer\listener. Even if the artist doesn't reach his personal goals, his work can still be appreciated or even prefereed by other people. I mean, even errors or natural phenomemons can be appreciated as a form of art (a trace that can be seen on photography, for example). Taking art as "objectively good or bad" is not only false as a general premise but also feels arrogant as you are trying to convey a personal belief as a rule that everyone should follow - generally based on something arbitrary like a set of techniques, conceptual thoughts or how stable\popular something is. Even if we take into account "collective tastes" of what is trendy or tacky, these also change drastically over the years.
  

These are all arbitrary definitions, so it's not truly objective. You can meansure if something is objective if we estipulate a goal - but what goal is really necessary (or "good") in that regard will vary from people to people - making the whole premisse subjective.

 

I think you missed my point, which honestly is fair because the previous post I made wasn't worded the best.

 

What I'm saying is that anything that has a standard set of guidelines and rules can be objectively good or bad. Art has these standard rules so they can be objectively good or bad. The thing with art though is that something being objectively good or bad has very little baring on whether it is an actually good piece of art or not. Whether something is a good piece of art or not is almost always subjective. Which is also why I said that most people who know what they're doing very rarely makes something that is objectively bad in terms of art. I'd say an objectively bad piece of literature would be if you gave a random monkey a type-writer (one monkey. Not an infinite number of monkeys). What you're going to get would be gibberish that conveys nothing. The monkey would have broken every single rule of story-telling and grammar, not because they wanted to make a statement or because there's some deeper symbolism, but because the monkey literally doesn't know what letters are.

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I personally don't think it's too bad though as we all know, but there's definitely better actually original examples of midi music from the same time period such as a certain Mr. @leejacksonaudio's work in Duke Nukem 3D and Rise of the Triad. Bobby himself also did better work in Duke.

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Posted (edited)

I would say, Doom 2's soundtrack is pretty good not by any means the best of its genere at the time, much less of its era but certainly it's one of the most memorable soundtracks. 

 

As others stated, SNES games blow Doom 2' sountrack out of the water. Final Fantasy VI was released on the same year as Doom 2, and its sountrack is godlike by comparison, just listen to "Dancing Mad" and then compare it to "Opening to Hell"

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Zulk RS said:

The monkey would have broken every single rule of story-telling and grammar

The "rules" themselves are not an objective measuring stick of quality, and there are many celebrated authors who broke every "rule" in storytelling, and many poets who broke every grammatical "rule", and nobody except the people who wrote those stories and poems knows whether or not there was some deep symbolism involved. It is entirely possible to make a statement by churning out random words. You could pick up a dead monkey up by its tail and slam it against a typewriter and someone out there will find some meaning in it, and those who do might never know that the words they hold so close to their heart were the byproduct by a gibbed gibbon.

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On a technical level, it's hard to compare it to games of the same era with companies like Konami, Sega, Nintendo etc. going above and beyond with both hardware and compositional proficiency. Even on the DOS side with 3D Realms, Raven or all those sountracks written for the MT32, while Doom(2) is more comparable, I can see how it can be less exciting than it's contemporaries. But while I probably get more out of those soundtracks these days, they didn't get me into music the same way Doom did, and I think both Doom 1 and 2 soundtracks still hold up brilliantly. OPL, SC-55, even the Gravis Ultrasound with the incorrect patches sound great, and I think Bobby Prince, even at his worst, is still an excellent composer and dare I say, he's underrated? That guitar solo in Doom 2's map 20 still gets me. He may be more famous for copying the styles of popular music of the time, or "just playing 12 bar blues" but he still has a really unique style that really helped to give Doom its identity. No one does harmonies quite like he does, even with the standard I IV V progression.

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Posted (edited)

It's very amusing to read Gamespot's contemporaneous review of Doom II and see them saying, back in 1995, that they find the music annoying.

 

(I love Doom II's music but there's no way any game soundtrack released in the same year as Command & Conquer is going to come out on top!)

Edited by Gifty

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I do like Doom 1's soundtrack (E2M2 being my favorite from it, in case anyone cares to know), though it's nowhere near my top. Doom 2's soundtrack for me is a resounding "eh, it gets the job done."

 

3 hours ago, Zulk RS said:

 

I think you missed my point, which honestly is fair because the previous post I made wasn't worded the best.

 

What I'm saying is that anything that has a standard set of guidelines and rules can be objectively good or bad. Art has these standard rules so they can be objectively good or bad. The thing with art though is that something being objectively good or bad has very little baring on whether it is an actually good piece of art or not. Whether something is a good piece of art or not is almost always subjective. Which is also why I said that most people who know what they're doing very rarely makes something that is objectively bad in terms of art. I'd say an objectively bad piece of literature would be if you gave a random monkey a type-writer (one monkey. Not an infinite number of monkeys). What you're going to get would be gibberish that conveys nothing. The monkey would have broken every single rule of story-telling and grammar, not because they wanted to make a statement or because there's some deeper symbolism, but because the monkey literally doesn't know what letters are.

It sounds to me like you're talking about technical competence, and if that's what you're trying to say then I would agree, any craft has techniques that can be honed and mastered. For example, in figure drawing there's stuff like understanding anatomy, how light and shadows play, etc. The confusion comes when these are conflated with "good"/"bad" like they're a measure of a work's value as art.

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10 minutes ago, Shepardus said:

I do like Doom 1's soundtrack (E2M2 being my favorite from it, in case anyone cares to know), though it's nowhere near my top. Doom 2's soundtrack for me is a resounding "eh, it gets the job done."

 

It sounds to me like you're talking about technical competence, and if that's what you're trying to say then I would agree, any craft has techniques that can be honed and mastered. For example, in figure drawing there's stuff like understanding anatomy, how light and shadows play, etc. The confusion comes when these are conflated with "good"/"bad" like they're a measure of a work's value as art.

Well, tbh technical aspects of the game can be a reason I would drop the game entirely without giving it a second chance (if there are no fan made patches/if I couldn't find any workarounds for the issues I am having, etc). For example the game performance (which I consider to be a rather objective property of the game) is definitely a contributing factor to a "good"/"bad" overall final score in my book.

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6 hours ago, Noiser said:

Doom 2 also have the Icon of Sin theme, which is a great piece of sound design done creatively, especially taking into account how limited the General MIDI structure is for that kind of thing. 

I believe "Opening to Hell" was meant to be Doom 1's main menu theme, so technically, it was not composed for Doom II.

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In my opinion, neither Ultimate Doom or Doom II cannot even compare to the music of other games at the time. Even just the 3 Castlevania games that came out in 1993 have Doom music beat by a margin so wide it is unquantifiable. Not to mention Mega Man games, Super Metroid, and the SNES Final Fantasies. TNT had much better original music than the first two, but I still wouldn't put that anywhere near the top of music of even any era.

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