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Maes

Yet another "why Doom is still great" thread.

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FPS games came and went, but Doom is still here, alive and well.

Quite unlike what certain haters and Cassandras had "predicted" for it long ago.

So, with the concrete risk of being redundant, I'll just list my personal "what makes Doom so great" list.

  • The controls, part 1. Somehow, Doom has a great control scheme that allows the player to move around faster, smoother and with more overall control of almost any other game I can think of. You can do tiny steps with the mouse or zoom past vast plains at nearly 100 (virtual) km/h. You can walk or run, turn or strafe, or perform a combination of the above while shooting a zombie you barely took a glimpse of dead-on. Only the Quake games have remotely similar responsive controls. They may not be realistic, but at least they don't make the game veer towards fake difficulty.
  • The controls, part 2: if you die, it might be your fault (or the mapper's for putting you in an inescapable trap), but surely not because the hero moves at the pace of a cow with intestinal troubles, or because you can't strafe while turning and shoot at the same time. Doom controls are in fact so good, that even my -still half baked- Java port of it has superior controls to just about any other Java FPS and many "real" ones that I've seen, and that speaks volumes. Doom just got them right from the start, like an essential tool that will always be right for a job, period.
  • The ambiance. OK, so it has only 256 colors but you could swear there are more. There's no RoR, but the architecture is still better than most shovelware FPS with "superior" engines you've seen. And even if the official mapsets do no such justice to the game, then the thousands of PWADs will. The lighting system is almost superior to OpenGL/D3D at times, and even the software renderer is far superior to almost any other of its era, especially if you overcome the vanilla resolution gap with a source port. The latter could be just a consequence of there being 1000s of mapsets and skilled authors, who found out how to push everything to the limit, something which didn't occur with other engines to the same degree. Still, it's part of what makes Doom so great.
  • The gameplay, part 1: I probably don't need to elaborate as much on this one, not here on Doom World at least. But let's put it layman's terms: not everybody likes playing as a slow, frail guy that whenever he fights a single monster or opponent gets badly maimed. Even in Doom a single Imp can fuck you up real good if you let it, but at least you can fight it in the most instinctive and natural of ways and emerge victorious if you got the very basics of controls, you don't need to read through 10 strategy and close quarters combat manuals.

  • The gameplay, part 2: I know that the transition to most "modern" gameplay models was partially demand-driven (players demanding more "intelligent" AI, prevalence of "stealth" over "run'n gun") and partially technology driven (you just can't render 100, not even 20 monsters at once with high-res models. Not even today). But damn, put anybody at the "controls" of a super-agile kick ass marine that has an arsenal of weapons like the SSG, chainsaw and BFG9000 and he WILL like it (unless he's a total Halo fucktard).
  • The enemies. You get upwards to 20 distinct monsters in Doom (combining them with Doom II's and depending on what you count as a monster) and they are used in masses, instead of having to fight one-two enemy soldiers at a time that are only made hard to fight becase of the controls' fake difficulty. Haven't you ever considered how shit-easy every game would be if you had Doomguy's arsenal or, at least, mobility at your disposal?
  • Sound effects and music: OK, so today you can have fully orchestral BGM and CD-quality SFX. But in 9 cases out of 10 they are as stock as they could be, with no inspiration and no adaptation for the rest of the game. Doom just "feels right" in this department. Kinda like how a Mac is supposed to "just work", but for real.
  • Atmosphere: this is probably the hardest to describe, but you never hear Doomguy speak (other than grunting or screaming). There are no friendly or at least neutral characters with which to interact: you're on your own, and there's a feeling that this is the way it always was: you're a space marine Doomed (pun intended) to roam out-of-this-world corridors with a gun in your hand because, well, that's your purpose. Yours is an indefinite existence in a finite universe with simplified rules and well-defined boundaries, which however you feel that you will never truly comprehend or fulfill. In layman terms, this translates to unequaled replay value and immersion that very few games can even dream of.

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You forgot one thing:

The weapons: Doom's arsenal is incredibly well balanced with each weapon filling a specific niche making none of them, except the pistol redundant, even in later stages of the game. I have seen far too many modern games where sticking to 2 specific weapons at most got you through the game easily and the others did not provide any advantage over the main ones.

This is something I even miss in other Doom engine games.

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Well, Doom's having a whole range of balanced weapons is both a necessity and a consequence of having good "non realistic" controls: when you have a character that can either orbit hordes of targets faster than a helicopter gunship or shamble in the dark and zap a sudden threat instantly, he needs the firepower (and the scalability) to go with it.

In Doom, even if you're left with a pistol and 10 bullets you are still far from defeated: you can still run, dodge, cause infighting or simply put a mile between you and your aggressors.

In other FPS games, usually you get enemies that can snipe you off screen, cripple you "realistically" with a couple of shots and in general have you searching for a very specific action to perform, you can't just aim and shoot and rely on pain chances. Even if you got the same arsenal variety as Doom e.g. in Goldeneye or Soldier of Fortune it wouldn't help you that much because the combat system is radically different.

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I spend more time making stuff for Doom rather than actually playing it lol (not taking account of playtesting my own stuff)
Honestly I think the whole being able to run around constantly, no weapon reloading, etc gets kinda stale after a while and a bit too easy.

For a game like Doom, I think it really depends on the maps I'm playing. All In all, it is still fun yeah of course or I wouldn't even be here...
If it wasn't for advanced ports, I'm not totally sure if I'd still be playing it at all.

Nowadays, I pretty much only use OpenGL rendering when I play doom. Pixelized 256 color tends to murt my eyes quite a bit. But that's just me :) (also, not taking account to testing my own stuff to see if it still plays ok for software users) And I think it fits really niceley. I don't see anything wrong with making an old ass game look totally hot! If you can get good visuals, then we're talkin' !
And now, thanks to (G)Zdoom and it's DECORATE functionality, I can push it even further and make theese little visual enchancement mods to go with it, but not change in any way how the game plays.

Freelooking (+ no autoaim) is a must have in my book too. Because I like to be able to actually AIM at my target rather than just point my muzzle in it's direction and have the engine do all the rest for me, and hope it gives me a clean shot too >_>

I think it's still great because of the possibilities we have. And most of all that It was the first great game in FPS genre, the first one I ever played, and it pretty much made it's mark on me.

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The autoaim bit is a two-edged knife, really.

It does help in a few specific situations where you need to be 100% sure than rockets will indeed fly through that narrow window without blowing in your face, or you need that pistol-sniping to be 100% accurate. I don't consider either a typical "Doom" situation though (and I stop here because this can degenerate into another 'Is autoaim/freeaim cheating?' Holy War).

Personally I've found that using freeaim all the time slows down the action in Doom, since somehow it doesn't work as well "instinctively" as in full 3D shooters because of the unnatural perspective distortion whenever you look up and down, and in some situations it can also be a liability (e.g. mostly flat maps where aiming up & down will likely result in more missed shots).

Since I play other 3D shooters which have full 3D engine and you CAN freeaim, at least the way most ports implement freeaim feels half-assed and unnatural, and requires "switching" between aiming modes in your brain, somehow, something I found I could never adjust to. I just can't adjust to e.g. ZDoom's freeaim as well as I can in BF1942 or Quake III, period.

OpenGL ports obviously suffer less from this because of the more "realistic" perspective correction but having a 2D "model" for the weapon that never changes perspective is also confusing. It's really a mixed blessing.

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Maes said:

The autoaim bit is a two-edged knife, really.

It does help in a few specific situations where you need to be 100% sure than rockets will indeed fly through that narrow window without blowing in your face

That's the typical case for needing to turn autoaim off, because autoaim is more interested by a straight line to the center of the nearest enemy than by a straight line to the targeted enemy that isn't intercepted by level geometry.

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Maes said:

The autoaim bit is a two-edged knife, really.


True, but it's one of the things that are not relevant in this discussion.

Some people don't use mouselook, others don't use autoaim and both groups still belong to the "Doom is great" crowd.

This is just like many other advancements of source ports. Most people don't like Doom for its limitations but for its general behavior (i.e. the lightning fast gameplay, the well balanced group of monsters and the general lack of 'realism' that brings down so many modern games because realism often is no fun.

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Graf Zahl said:

and the general lack of 'realism' that brings down so many modern games because realism often is no fun.


Realism CAN be fun, but only if the game is ACTUALLY REALISTIC, and not halfassing it.

Example: Rainbow Six Vegas. A compromise between newer shooters (Regen health, no planning stage, weapon pickups, action film setpeices) and the old Rainbow Six (3 hits = death, slow movement speed). It sucked because the "newer" aspects of the game clashed badly with the "older" aspects that defined the series. You can't bring two opposing concepts together and pass it off as a quality game. That shit don't work.

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I love Doom because it doesnt try to (well, maybe it did, to a certain extent, back in the days though) be realistic. Its more like an atmospheric first person strategy game with an exceptional cool theme.

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I don't find realism fun. Old Rainbow Six is no exception. Not to sound arty or anything, but when I play a game, I wanna be taken to a fictional and abstract universe (that isn't dumbed down with realism), that opens up my imagination, and that's one of the reasons why I love DooM and Heretic so much. I play games to escape realism. The only games I'd ever play nowadays is Sacrifice, Elder Scrolls and the first Unreal.

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My only problem with Quake 3 was the lack of a proper single player. I can't help but imagine just how awesome it could have been if both Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament had turned out to be single player orientated projects... :/ They were the last two FPS games that had the level of detail that I really find aesthetically pleasing in... well, FPS games.

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The Quake 3 engine could be be used for the best Doom-styled FPS ever.

Sadly, every FPS (and always had been) rated on Graphics and -giggle- story.

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So when are any of you fags gonna become video game designers and do something about it?

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40oz said:

So when are any of you fags gonna become video game designers and do something about it?


Well, I'm looking down that path. But that's kinda off-topic AFAIK.

Doom is by far one of the least realistic FPSes I know, but there is one thing it has which is actually more realistic than today's generic FPS #1852: to regain health you actually have to find a medikit/stimpack/sphere, not just duck for a few seconds.

The only other FPS I regularly play is Team Fortress 2, which isn't very realistic either.

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40oz said:

So when are any of you fags gonna become video game designers and do something about it?


I've already working on several design documents for a game I'm writing and directing. So fuck you're shit.

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40oz said:

So when am I gonna become a video game designer and do something about it?


somebody on the internets said: "First of all, you fucking worthless piece of shit monkey, respect other peoples opinions. Second, fuck Half-Wit 2. Most boring game I've ever played. Third, just because YOU don't [like] current day gaming doesn't mean it's bad. It just means YOU don't like it. If you want to stay stuck in your mindless 1993 run and gun mindset, go and play whatever makes you happy and the rest of us will move on with the times."

and

"FYI, bitchboy, I grew up playing DOOM and I still love it but would hate to see fps games return to that style." Comments taken from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxED1xXR58I

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Mr. Freeze said:

So fuck you're shit.


The expressive power of this sentence would amaze even Maddox himself.

I mean, it can be a way of saying "So fuck your shit" and thus expressing disdain and disgust, or be a way of saying "Fuck you man, you're shit".

But, hold yer horses, it could mean "[You're] so fuck [that] you're [also] shit". Or

Or even better "So fuck [as in amazement], you're [da] shit!"

And the list just goes on and on.

Hellbent said:

"FYI, bitchboy, I grew up playing DOOM and I still love it but would hate to see fps games return to that style." Comments taken from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxED1xXR58I


Heh ironically there haven't been that many FPS, even from those days, that were nearly as "run'n gun' as Doom, or that managed to pull it off as well.

They always fucked up in some department like the weapon/enemy balance, the controls, the game engine, the speed, etc. with the notable exception of other IdTech1 games and later the Quake series.

Yeah, I too wouldn't like to witness the return of a series of mediocre wish-they-were-Doom shovelware, but the style just hasn't been done justice, commercially.

40oz said:

So when are any of you fags gonna become video game designers and do something about it?


I already am.

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Ultraboy94 said:

to regain health you actually have to find a medikit/stimpack/sphere, not just duck for a few seconds./B]

But that means the game would have a challenge beyond making bullets hurt a lot! And we just can't have that.

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Ultraboy94 said:

Doom is by far one of the least realistic FPSes I know, but there is one thing it has which is actually more realistic than today's generic FPS #1852: to regain health you actually have to find a medikit/stimpack/sphere, not just duck for a few seconds.

The only other FPS I regularly play is Team Fortress 2, which isn't very realistic either.

Realism adds no benefit to a video game at all, in fact, I find it removes from it. I play video games to escape reality, not put into another one. (Also, I would hardly call picking up a stimpack and instantly healing realistic either)

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AveryMaurice said:

(Also, I would hardly call picking up a stimpack and instantly healing realistic either)


Fair point, and I wasn't saying that realism is good, either. Just look at Not Tetris.

I was more pointing out that in current FPS's race to be the most realistic they put in something as unrealistic as regenerating health.

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Gameplay, that's why. You don't really see infighting in modern shooters very much if at all anymore.

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I think the biggest reason is, instead of being a big guy and "tanking" damage, you use your quickness to overcome the enemy. It makes it much faster paced, more exciting, and rewards you for being "better" and having more experience. It allows you to find patterns for dodging, and tactics for evasion.

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Actually; the running speed of Doomguy, and the sheer number of enemies (in some maps at least) are some of the key factors why I like doom so much.

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eargosedown said:

I think the biggest reason is, instead of being a big guy and "tanking" damage, you use your quickness to overcome the enemy.

This. Exactly this.

All the other points listed by Maes in the first post (esp. atmosphere and ambiance) are definitely part of it too, but it's the "power in movement" aspect that really makes the game shine. Always thought it was neat that the Bioshockguy's essay touched so much on that. ;)

[SEMI-EDIT] JP LeBreton, that is. I'm great at forgetting names.

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Yeah, that article pretty much nailed it IMO.

This is actually the main thing that gets my back up about modern shooters - the over-reliance on hitscan weapons and hiding in a "sweet spot" taking pot-shots at people with little risk of retribution. The only projectile weapon on offer is the rocket launcher, which carries like 2 rounds tops, rendering it all but useless in most situations. Even GTA4 only lets you carry 8 rockets at a time, severely limiting the amount of drunken carnage I once enjoyed.

I'm a big fan of Quake 3 and its many mods, as it was kind of where I cut my teeth deathmatching, but it and UT were the last of a breed. Even sci-fi shooters (of which there aren't many these days) have ditched these mechanics in favour of "realsm".

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Just a counter-example of a modern game that does, in fact, of dozens of enemies on your screen at any one time (maybe more than 100, I'm not positive though) ;p

Still your point stands of games not having hoards despite such rare counter-examples.

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chungy said:

Still your point stands of games not having hoards despite such rare counter-examples.


What's even more ironic is that while Doom critics abhor and excommunicate Doom for its "old, mindless, repetitive run'n gun gameplay", which as I said was only executed out well by Doom itself anyway which was "commercially competitive" for 3 years tops, almost EVERY other shooter made ever since had even more mindless and repetitive cliches:

  • Throw in some dark environments.
  • Make stages small and short, but hinder progress by making any enemy encounter feel like an eternity through fake difficulty.
  • Make the hero slow/weak/harder to control so you can't just whiz past stuff or outrun/outsmart your opponents.
  • Make the hero move around with all the agility of 50s B-movie robot, stiff like a dried cod and slow like an old hag in her 80s walking with a support girdle, because that's "realistic", even if he's a Green Beret/hardy merc/marine/etc.
  • Give the hero pussy weaponry and handicap its use with recoil, reloading, jamming, limited weight and the reactions and skills in using and switching between weapons of a wannabe Halliburton merc.
  • Make every enemy several times tougher than youself, with unlimited ammo, uncanny accuracy and ability to perform maneuvers that you can't possibly perform (e.g. the AI in SoF can perform dive rolls and other acrobatics to avoid shots even from near point blank, even if both you and you enemies are normal humans). In comparison, you fight like a butler wearing an over-starched suit.
  • Make the enemy AI relentless, annoying, and able to snipe a dime placed on your bellend from 5 km away.
  • Insist on placing stupid jumping puzzles in FPS games. THEY DON'T FUCKING WORK BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SEE YOUR FEET!!!
  • etc.
...in comparison with all those stale tropes that rule the industry for the last 15 YEARS, a return to pure Doom-like gameplay would feel like a breath of fresh air. I really don't understand why it's so loathed if it only has been "in auge" for maybe 2-3 years in its heyday.

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