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Maes

Source ports vs recreations

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Which way do you believe a port of Doom (or of the Doom engine) to a specific platform should follow:

Following the original source code as close as possible (although not necessarily in a bug-compatible manner), which has the advantage of inherent vanilla compatibility and preserving the original engine's rendering quirks, and you can be certain that stuff will mostly work as intended. However this pretty much means supporting only C/C++ platforms or at least languages that are low-level enough to allow using more or less the same hacks, e.g. Delphi, Pascal. This rules out platforms that can't do that, e.g. Java, .NET in managed mode, and Flash without Flex.

The other option, recreating/cloning the game as close as possible, allows using a broader range of platforms, but can the result really be called Doom? The most obvious disadvantage is that gameplay, appearance and overall feeling may deviate significantly from the original, depending on how whether you used part of the original source code or not for reference (e.g. "shockwave Doom", "ZX Spectrum Doom" and even ".NET Doom" are all clean attempts at cloning Doom).

A middle way, e.g. preserving the gameplay code as much as possible while decoupling it from the renderer.

There's also the difference between ports that can use the original WAD data and PWADs, ports that use part of them (console ports, mainly) and others that use custom datasets (special recreations or ports for limited systems)

Some examples: ZDoom, prboom, etc. mostly follow the original SC for behavior, albeit with a lot of extensions and modifications, while GL ports obviously have a different renderer. Chocolate Doom is a very close source code follower, and DelphiDoom also is a very close Delphi adaptation of the original SC.

Most console ports of the past are likely to use the middle way approach, as gameplay and rendering could be quite different from the PC version, others closer, others farther.

Contraptions like Shockwave Doom, DoomCott and Stark are either incomplete or partial recreations using Doom graphics and data. Plus there are special cases like the ZX spectrum or TI99 versions, which however don't even use standard WAD data let alone any part of the Doom's SC.

So, what's the One True Way of a Doom port?

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They're two different things, but can be merged to certain degrees. If you speak of "porting" I think fidelity is essential, but once it's ported properly, people can begin playing around with it.

You have to look at the history of how source modifications or implementations developed, too, since there are demands depending on the current state of computer systems and what the community has come up with. Different years demanded different stuff in these respects.

You also have portability by system emulation, of course (such as DOSBox or Virtual PC).

Personally I favor the game "as is" in most respects and think not changing the game is essential (whether this is by keeping the source or emulating it depends on the system base), but I also expect to find people making changes to it, as you can't have a thriving community where everyone sticks to more or less the same stuff all the time.

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There is no one true way. The answer lies in multiple source ports with differing goals.

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I technically don't like the direction ZDoom is going with all the scripts and ACS and slopes and all that new junk that doom originally wasn't, but the main reason I use ZDoom is because it can run just about any wad no matter how incompatible it is with anything.

Another thing I grew fond of was the console, especially with commands such as:

GIVE SHOTGUN (when pistol starts are too annoying)
GIVE MEDIKIT (when I can be guaranteed I won't beat the next part.)
RESURRECT (I never remember to save)

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In my opinion what makes DOOM the game it is, is the exceedingly quirky gameplay mechanics and the overall look of the game. Personally, I could care less whether the simulation I'm playing is all new code or bit-compatible with DOOM.exe, so long as it "feels" like I'm playing DOOM rather than some other game.

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Maes said:

So, what's the One True Way of a Doom port?

I don't believe there is one. I welcome new innovations and new ways of playing and implementing Doom. In fact, I still feel that we are lacking a port that bravely throws much of what makes Doom Doom out of the window. For example, I think that there may be a place for a port that totally throws out Doom's physics for something different and uses the basic game and WAD structure as a generic, simple "blank slate" editing engine. I don't think anything has done that (or is particularly likely to - especially as uptake by users is likely to be minimal) but I guess Vavoom comes closest to doing something like that.

However, I also think there is a place for ports to faithfully recreate the game in different environments. Chocolate Doom probably being the premier example of that.

So, yeah, no "one true way" but a wide spectrum of possible ways is what I like to see. I think such a thing is in keeping with how modding for Doom has always been. So perhaps variety is the one true way. ;)

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OK, but can slapping the name "DOOM" over a generic maze game/3D engine be called 'porting Doom to platform X' ? Because that's exactly all what some "ports" do, without even using the original data sometimes...I'd personally place being able to use the original IWAD data "as is" as a minimum common denominator for porting the game, at most using a scaled down IWAD or something.

And after that, keeping the core "rules" unaltered. If you played a home computer or PC port of any older popular arcade game, then you know perfectly well how frustrating a different game engine can be. Even something apparently simple as Bubble Bobble was never ported quite right on any platform, until it was emulated.

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I guess it depends if you are talking about the game called Doom or the Doom game engine. Sure, if you are calling the game Doom, then playing Doom data is pretty important - probably essential. Mind you, where does that leave a (hypothetical) game intended to play the Freedoom WAD and no others or a game that is intended to play a faithful facsimile of Doom's gameplay but with modified data structures (eg using animated gifs instead of normal doom graphics for sprites and not using an IWAD at all)?

However, if you are using the Doom engine to power a completely different game, then the game probably isn't Doom, but the game engine is (unless it has got some name like idtech 1 (which would, I think, be a retrospective naming)).



I guess a side question is, does it really matter at all? I mean, is the original question relevant? Does it have any meaning? Is anyone really striving towards making a "one true Doom"? Does anyone really have a clear picture of what that is? If anything, I guess you could call "one true Doom" Doom ver 1.9 by id software and anything, anything, that has changed since has moved it away from that point. But does that matter?

Personally, I don't care. If "one true Doom" is Doom 1.9, it isn't perfect and, because it is locked in time, it doesn't work very well on newer OSs. But "the one true Doom" is still available and there for anyone who wants to use it. So, I don't see that trying to keep everything as similar to that as particularly important - at least certainly not for all ports. Chocolate does a very good job of keeping a faithful experience feasible in new environments. I'm happy with that and I'm equally happy that other ports remove limits and expand possibilities and I see them all as Doom. I certainly see them all as based on Doom technology. To me, that's more important because I like the Doom engine and I like editing for it and I like being able to take that familiar, good basic engine in new directions. To me, that's the heart of Doom a lot of the time these days.

I think, perhaps, a more interesting question might be "If id had kept working on and refining the Doom engine, what would they have done with it?" Carmack's comments that he made with the source release give some clues as to possible directions but those notes are now almost as out of date as the engine.

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Well...in order to make the question more clear, I'll provide some (personal, I admit) guidelines over what constitutes "true Doom" and what doesn't.

All console ports are "true doom" even if they use scaled down data, or even new data sets (like Doom 64, and partially PSX Doom). Due to their being licensed products, the core gameplay is essentialy the same (I presume the developers were allowed at least partial access to the source code before it was released, and that actual id staff was involved in these projects). I've never heard of a console port having e.g. heavily broken physics, save perhaps due to different controllers.

Necromanthus' "Shockwave Doom"(and "Shockwave Heretic") is not "true doom", because all it does is slapping some Doom (or Heretic) textures over a generic Direct3D engine. It doesn't even have any gameplay or monsters implemented, for that matter. Essentially, it's incomplete.

DoomCott and Stark (the only known Java attempts) are too, incomplete. Ironically, one went as far as implementing the core mechanics (can display a 2D map) and the other implemented only a graphics engine.

Ti-99 and ZX spectrum doom falls into the "maze game rebranded as doom" category, and are definitively not "true doom".

A borderline case would be Doom .NET, which actually boasts NOT using a single line of the id source code, but is however able to use the original WAD data. Haven't played it, so I presume it would behave like an observation-based conversion (mechanics purists and glitch exploiters should be shuddering at this point), or like modding another 3D FPS to look like Doom.

Source ports based on the Doom source code are true Doom, thus this covers the case of most actively used source ports, FreeDoom and TCs.

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I think doom is doom if the engine acts like doom and runs the doom iwads. I don't care about wads. graphics just make the fun look better

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it's very individual. What makes doom doom for one person doesn't necessarily make it doom for another.

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Enjay said:
Carmack's comments that he made with the source release give some clues as to possible directions but those notes are now almost as out of date as the engine.

Carmack never does that, though, he just moves on to another game where changes will be more adequately implemented, possibly rewriting most of the engine from scratch. When he released the source he obviously expected people to play with it, including making heavy changes or porting it as compatible to the original as possible.

But I see Maes is more into the process of porting specifically. When implementing it on different systems, which might be very different from a DOS PC, what still constitutes DOOM, how should one proceed to achieve an acceptable port? These considerations become important when porting it to a hand-held device or the like.

It will depend on the system ported to due to different limitations, but there are some things one could still keep in mind as essential to produce a more solid port within the possibilities.

because it is locked in time, it doesn't work very well on newer OSs.

Various newer operating systems can handle it nicely because DOS emulation has come a long way.

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myk said:

Carmack never does that, though, he just moves on to another game where changes will be more adequately implemented, possibly rewriting most of the engine from scratch.

Yeah, I realised that. I was just saying "what if" he had decided to keep working on the Doom engine, tweaking it and adding to it what might he have done? What might the Carmack version of the original Doom engine be like in 2009? I know it's a pretty pointless question for something that is never going to happen, nor is it particularly desirable that it would happen, but I think it is at least a vaguely interesting thought.

myk said:

When he released the source he obviously expected people to play with it, including making heavy changes or porting it as compatible to the original as possible.

Indeed. He suggested a number of things that he expected people to do with it and, I think, all of those have now been done.

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Enjay said:

I think, perhaps, a more interesting question might be "If id had kept working on and refining the Doom engine, what would they have done with it?" Carmack's comments that he made with the source release give some clues as to possible directions but those notes are now almost as out of date as the engine.

Carmack, and id in general, wouldn't really continue developing Doom no matter what. The company would probably die before eternally updating an ancient engine. They like to bring out the best of technology at any given time -- their more recent games are actually rather poor on the side of things, but they are more like tech demos.

Even with the Ultimate Doom and Final Doom, id Software had very little to do with those releases beyond slapping their name on it. For the console ports, id probably has an attitude of "Here's the source code and the rights to the IWADs, go have fun!" to whomever ports it to Nintendo 64/Xbox/Xbox 360/etc.

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I disagree. DOOM3 I found to be very enjoyable due to its atmosphere alone and as many people who know me, know all to well; I think ET:QW rocks.

Perhaps I'll be strung up for saying but personally, I dislike every Raven game I have ever played, especially those based on id tech (don't count as id games, obviously). Hexen for example I can only really enjoy now, using modern source ports.

What would have happened if Carmack continued on with the DOOM engine?

Who knows but the way I understand the turn of events there was this big crossroads y'see. Down one path you have the 3D BSP of Quake and the other is the direction the Dark Forces engine hinted at. Occasionally I do wonder where we might be today had Carmack pursued the other (fully dynamic) direction rather than the precompute-and-recompile one. However if I consider potential reasoning behind the choice we know there are three clear factors; a) the relatively-low processing power of the day, b) the Quake graphical style and c) non-availability of 3D-capable videocards (few early adopters). All of which suggest (to me) that the 3D BSP direction was the right approach for time, however inadvertently this set the trend for the next six years or so.

What I find incredibly interesting are the few details I've read about id tech 5. Put into the context of all id engines since Quake bar those target at mobile platforms and up until the beginnings of the megatexture stuff; this represents a rather large sea change in what I perceive to be Carmacks approach to 3D game renderers.

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MikeRS said:

Carmack, and id in general, wouldn't really continue developing Doom no matter what...



Yes, I know that they could not keep on working on Doom. I know that to stick with the same technology for 15 years would be financial suicide. I know the id are never going to work on the old Doom code again. I know that they have no reason too. I know all that. I think I just about said as much too. It's a hypothetical question.

People often talk about the source ports moving away from what Doom "really" is. So, I'm asking about the hypothetical situation of id continuing to work on Doom and there still being an "official" version of the code. What do people think id might have done with it? Would they have fixed wall running? Would they have increased the visplane limit? Would the silent BFG still exist? Would it be OpenGL? Would you be able to Mlook or jump? But that, I suppose, is not really my question because, ultimately, all of that is just hypothetical nonsense. People are very quick to get righteous about "what was intended" with Doom and what Doom really is - but if id hadn't stopped where they did, what would happen to that attitude?

So, I guess what I am really asking is: If id had continued to refine the Doom engine, how do people think the changes made by id might have been received versus how similar changes have been received when they were put into a source port instead? Would the code being "official" id code mean people were more or less likely to consider Doom 1.9 the definitive article or would it make no difference? If, for example, mouse looking and jumping were added by id, would mouse looking and jumping still be regarded as "not Doom" by some people? I guess I'm asking about the difference that code being from the original programmer/organisation makes in people's minds.

Conversely, if id had stopped developing Doom before ver 1.9, how do people think the bugs from ver 1.1 that were squashed by id for the later versions be considered by the Doom community? Would, for example, people consider a port "not Doom" unless there was a random chance of your player character spinning on the spot as if you had kept your finger on the turn left/right key? OK, a silly example, but people do hang on to and hold dear things that clearly are bugs in 1.9.

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Enjay said:

OK, a silly example, but people do hang on to and hold dear things that clearly are bugs in 1.9.


Not a silly example at all. There are people right here in these forums that believe that even limitations such as visplanes overflows, tutti-frutti/medusa effect and not being able to load sprites from PWADS should not be leveraged. (OK, save for the last one the others may help if bug & crash compatibility is desired...but the last one just gets in the way).

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Enjay said:

So, I guess what I am really asking is: If id had continued to refine the Doom engine, how do people think the changes made by id might have been received versus how similar changes have been received when they were put into a source port instead?

You are talking about developing the engine as a process separate from the game itself (all the levels & graphics and the gameplay). I don't think id or Carmack would see it like that. Rather the engine is just one component to achieve the game they intended to achieve, all the other components being equally important.

So my 2 cent answer is: sure they would have fixed bugs and updated the engine to work on modern hardware and OSes, maybe even added client/server networking. But they would not add jumping, since that changes gameplay, and probably not a GL renderer since sprites look so poor in one (especially with mlook).

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Ajapted said:

You are talking about developing the engine as a process separate from the game itself (all the levels & graphics and the gameplay). I don't think id or Carmack would see it like that. Rather the engine is just one component to achieve the game they intended to achieve, all the other components being equally important.

Although the potential examples I gave were all engine-side ones, I agree that the whole package would probably be looked at by the original developer in this hypothetical world I have created. ;) Even as doom(2).exe progressed, it went hand-in-hand with additions and changes to the content of the IWADs.

Perhaps what slewed my musings towards the engine side is that, understandably, port authors don't tend to get involved in changing the whole game but rather just making changes or additions to how the engine works. In saying that, most ports come with their own WAD of additional bits and pieces required to support those changes. However, it has been the changes to the engines that have probably been the most contentious over the years.

I wonder what the difference is between that and a mod that changes gameplay? I mean, both are just optional, additional ways to play Doom. From the earliest dehacked mods to current weapons mods, or dialogue heavy WADs etc, people tend to take them or leave them without getting too upset. Yet changes in a source port which, presumably, could just as easily be taken or left seem to cause so much heated debate. I guess it may be because a port may allow existing WADs to be played in a different way and a port is likely to be played for much longer, and stay in the public eye for much longer, than a single mod.

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Enjay said:
People are very quick to get righteous about "what was intended" with Doom and what Doom really is - but if id hadn't stopped where they did, what would happen to that attitude?

Except most people don't get "righteous" just because they believe it's something Carmack or id dictated. Rather, because they aim to sustain certain ways of playing a game that have attracted them for years. Perhaps what hooked them to the game in the first place.

Conversely, if id had stopped developing Doom before ver 1.9, how do people think the bugs from ver 1.1 that were squashed by id for the later versions be considered by the Doom community? Would, for example, people consider a port "not Doom" unless there was a random chance of your player character spinning on the spot as if you had kept your finger on the turn left/right key? OK, a silly example, but people do hang on to and hold dear things that clearly are bugs in 1.9.

Doom v1.2 is pretty playable, so a similar situation would not have been unthinkable. Note also how the engine was beefed up mainly in preparation for DOOM II, and not just to fix things so fans could play around.

Maes said:
There are people right here in these forums that believe that even limitations such as visplanes overflows, tutti-frutti/medusa effect and not being able to load sprites from PWADS should not be leveraged. (OK, save for the last one the others may help if bug & crash compatibility is desired...but the last one just gets in the way).

Yes, all in the context where people can choose what they use. Releasing maps with VPO, medusa or tutti frutti situations is a problem if the levels are otherwise compatible with Doom, Chocolate Doom, Doom+ or Strawberry Doom. You also need to stick to the limits as a level designer if you want to create levels that are largely comparable to the IWADs or to classic PWADs from before Boom and the like.

As for the last thing, I'm not sure what you mean; advanced ports can run WADs that have modified or new sprites without an issue, so the limitation in the original engine does not affect anyone. Doom users simply patch the WAD with DeuTex, the rest just run it directly. You may mean just the engines, but even Chocolate Doom (the most "pure") gets rid of the requirement, albeit doing it by demanding a different command line option when merging would be required.

If people demanded merging in Chocolate Doom it was so it would not encourage making vanilla WADs incorrectly, and eventually fraggle found a smart way to do so without compromising the way -file works.

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Maes said:

Not a silly example at all. There are people right here in these forums that believe that even limitations such as visplanes overflows, tutti-frutti/medusa effect and not being able to load sprites from PWADS should not be leveraged. (OK, save for the last one the others may help if bug & crash compatibility is desired...but the last one just gets in the way).



Sorry if I offend someone with saying this but to me this in the same line of reasoning as believing the Earth is 6000(?) years old because the Bible says so: Rigid hardcore fundamentalism.

Enjay said:

I wonder what the difference is between that and a mod that changes gameplay? I mean, both are just optional, additional ways to play Doom. From the earliest dehacked mods to current weapons mods, or dialogue heavy WADs etc, people tend to take them or leave them without getting too upset. Yet changes in a source port which, presumably, could just as easily be taken or left seem to cause so much heated debate. I guess it may be because a port may allow existing WADs to be played in a different way and a port is likely to be played for much longer, and stay in the public eye for much longer, than a single mod.



This is one of those eternal puzzles but it somehow gets hand in hand with my above statement about fundamemtalism.

Fundamentalists in general have a tendency to try to force their views upon others. It's no different with religious fundamentalism or with Doom engine fundamentalism. But let's face it: Here they don't have any power to do so - so the only thing left is to argue about it. Thus heated debates ensue.

What these people tend to ignore though is the fact that a large portion of this community would not be here if it weren't for more modernized ways to play Doom so without those things they despise so much they'd be pretty much left alone.

EDIT: This got posted while I was writing. But I have to respond

myk said:

Except most people don't get "righteous" just because they believe it's something Carmack or id dictated. Rather, because they aim to sustain certain ways of playing a game that have attracted them for years. Perhaps what hooked them to the game in the first place.


It's different things that attract different people to Doom and trust me: For the vast majority it's not the bugs in the engine or those engine limitations. For most it's the ultra-fast gameplay, the great weapon balance and of course the lack of realism that plagues so many new games.


Yes, all in the context where people can choose what they use. Releasing maps with VPO, medusa or tutti frutti situations is a problem if the levels are otherwise compatible with Doom, Chocolate Doom, Doom+ or Strawberry Doom. You also need to stick to the limits as a level designer if you want to create levels that are largely comparable to the IWADs or to classic PWADs from before Boom and the like.


Thanks for making this point. So why should people bother with these retarded things if there's enough engines out there that provide a 'classic' feel but don't burden the developers. I find this 'every WAD should run with every engine' attitude really, really annoying. You may deny it but people like you would really love to see any maps being made be vanilla-compatible so that you can play them with your limited option of usable engines, won't you?
This may be important for some but not for others. There's a lot of truly magnificent levels (even ones that are more or less 'classic') that would not be possible with your attitude (Scythe 2, MAP27, anyone?).

And while we are talking about engine limitations, I know that we will totally disagree about this point but in my opinion Chocolate Doom in its current form was the worst thing that could ever have happened to the Doom community. Before, anyone could safely ignore those retarded limitations but now that a small but significant part of users has converted to an engine that has made it its point,not to remove any limit, some things are back into play that would I have loved to go away completely.

An engine like CD that attempts to preserve classic gameplay is certainly not a bad thing but an engine that does not even offer an option to remove those limits sure is!

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Graf Zahl said:
Sorry if I offend someone

Mostly yourself, as by that sort of attitude you end up with the very same witch-hunting attitude you say you deplore.

Fundamentalists in general have a tendency to try to force their views upon others.

True. I remember there was a period in the forums where we often had port users ridiculing an attacking anyone using older engines, calling them stupid, crazy, or noobs, trying to humiliate them in order to convert them or drive them away.

What these people tend to ignore though is the fact that a large portion of this community would not be here if it weren't for more modernized ways to play Doom so without those things they despise so much they'd be pretty much left alone.

It seems fair to me, as some other people tend to ignore a large part of the community would be long gone had the option of being able to play the game "as is" were somehow eliminated.

Of course, there are many people who are rather tolerant, and expect parts of the community to have pretty distinct preferences and aspirations. They expect some arguing and will pursue some themselves, but in the end value that these other different people are also participating in the community. Past some friction, the presence of the groups with different opinions is largely beneficial to each other.

An engine like CD that attempts to preserve classic gameplay is certainly not a bad thing but an engine that does not even offer an option to remove those limits sure is!

Why bother, when other engines like PrBoom already do a fine job at that? The option is there, but fraggle doesn't have to bother with it and can instead fine-tune his contribution.

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myk said:

Doom v1.2 is pretty playable, so a similar situation would not have been unthinkable. Note also how the engine was beefed up mainly in preparation for DOOM II, and not just to fix things so fans could play around.

id wasn't unanimous in the decision to allow unofficial modifications to the game, although the option built-in to the engine that makes it simply allowed such modifications to be made without compromising the integrity of the EXE/IWADs; Wolfenstein 3-D was pretty popular to hack, although it required editing the engine binary itself, so the situation was made simpler in Doom.

Eventually though, the industry, including id itself, realized that unofficial levels and modifications help the game's lifespan much more than a game that would stay the same eternally. Quake's virtual machine was definitely a first step to making sure that almost every single aspect of the game could be modified without having to hack the EXE or game data files, as was still required in Doom (obviously: DeHackEd, DeuTex/NWT merging).

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myk said:

Mostly yourself, as by that sort of attitude you end up with the very same witch-hunting attitude you say you deplore.



I don't think so.

I know that we disagree about this but saying that 'VPOs are a fundamental part of what Doom is' in my book already qualifies as an utterly fundamentalist attitude.

I don't care if you prefer to play with old limited engines. It's clearly your decision and for your own enjoyment and if you miss out on stuff just because it doesn't play with the limited collection of engines you use, it's your loss, not mine.

But to be blunt, I really, really don't like the way you argue about it.

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I'm currently working on a limit removing level set, actually, although obviously I consider working within limits an option, and part of what I'm interested in (hence my active contributions to PL2).

Graf Zahl said:
I don't think so.

You decry people forcing stuff on others, and then wish an option (Doom, Chocolate Doom) would disappear.

You have to have limit-including engines to do stuff with in the original limits. If you try to stamp that out, you're trying to force your view on others.

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myk said:

You decry people forcing stuff on others, and then wish an option (Doom, Chocolate Doom) would disappear.

There's a word for that, hy-- oh, I won't go there. Graf has always made his opinions painstakingly obvious, and you'll just have to deal with it. Just as he'll have to deal with the fact that some people like keeping v1.9's limits around.

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MikeRS said:
Graf has always made his opinions painstakingly obvious, and you'll just have to deal with it.

Indeed, like I just did, calling on the irony and all.

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MikeRS said:

Wolfenstein 3-D was pretty popular to hack, although it required editing the engine binary itself

OT and FWIW, but that is wrong, you can replace maps, textures, sprites, sounds, and music without having to modify the binary.

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myk said:

You decry people forcing stuff on others, and then wish an option (Doom, Chocolate Doom) would disappear.



I wouldn't call keeping a limit that could be removed without any problems an 'option'. Any map that stays within a limit would play fine, no matter whether the limit is there or not.
And if you now say that you need the limit in the engine to be able to test if maps overflow, no - a hard limit is not the best way to do this. This could be done much more robustly by outputting a warning message if something goes over.

And now we are back at the point where we started. Keeping the limit for the sake of keeping the limit - as seems to be the only reasoning here - is basically a fundamentalist attitude.


You have to have limit-including engines to do stuff with in the original limits. If you try to stamp that out, you're trying to force your view on others.



I fail to see the logic in that statement.

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