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Linguica

Cyber-Archeology Unearths Cyberdemons

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If you were thinking to yourself "gee, I feel like reading a 4000-word Doom level design retrospective on an architecture blog," then today's your lucky day. On The Funambulist, artist Viktor Timofeev has posted an article entitled Learning from Doom, where he conducts "cyber-archaeology" inside the "digital-ruin universe" of Doom and Doom 2, examining the now-primitive designs and design glitches with lots of pictures along the way. If nothing else, it's probably the only time you will see Michelangelo, Giulio Romano, El Lissitzky, Pierre Koenig, Nam June Paik, and Megadeth all mentioned together.

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Very poor. A lot of the "analysis" is done over user modifications. I guess it might've been fun to write a bunch of total BS though.

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I don't understand why he was so fascinated with going around maps and commenting on every texture misalignment he could find. I mean... of all the things you could be talking about.

(insert John Romero WoW joke here)

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Breaking news: sprites look paper thin when you rotate them to face away from you.

Call me a fundamentalist but I can't get my head around the fact that he's trying to perform a criticism of the appearance of Doom using a source port that shows the game in a completely different way to how it was actually designed. Particularly laughable are screenshots 12 and 58 which seem to marvel obliviously at fan-made enhancements to the game.

In a way it's kind of impressive to see an article that is infuriating, pretentious and yet simultaneously boring.

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Ehhh I actually thought the article part was great. There's nothing quite like Doom's level design, and there actually probably cannot be ever again. I think he's got a point there in that Doom's locales have less resemblance to real structures than any other game.

The pictures chosen are incorrect choices though, mostly. I like the one of Pandemonium.

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Even "better", take a look at the sole comment by "MisantrhopicMeanie" at the end of his blog.

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How sweet, a self-proclaimed "cyber archaeologist" using a source port and updated graphics in his criticism of the game's aesthetics.

I've always admired the visual direction in Doom maps (official or otherwise) because any actual detail tends to be on a large scale - carefully coordinated textures and impressive architectural/structural details that permeate entire sections of the map. At least to me, it's not about seeing how much clutter, computer terminals, and hyperrealistic cave formations you can fit into the map. And I find this line particularly pretentious:

"But what if we could experience its world through the lens of a more recent technology? Wouldn’t this emphasize the archeological quality of the gaming experience?"

So basically he views Doom as some dead, incomprehensible language nobody's ever heard of before and needs modern graphics to be able to make any sense of it? Or is he saying by running around in an old game, but modernized, it makes the nuances of the old tech more pronounced and "archaeological"? I personally would run the game with PC speaker sounds on an old 386 if I wanted the experience to feel "archaeological". :U

Coupled with his apparent fascination of the third-party skybox and the way in which he thinks there's some intentional style going on in how it clashes with the level's geometry, I don't think he's very well-informed. He complains about the "feathering" on the sprites which is only present because he's using OpenGL smoothing.

Critiquing Doom's technology over how it scales to modern source ports seems kind of redundant. Of course it's going to seem awkward running around a 2.5D game with free look. I did find bits of his rant interesting, though - like how the increasing amount of non-orthogonal walls in the final portions of E1 help to reflect hell subverting the environment.

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I think the proper way to admire Doom in high resolution would be PrBoom(-Plus) with your native monitor resolution and no texture packs :)

But yeah, overall I agree with fraggle's last sentence.

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magicsofa said:

"evidently intra-monster arguments are also common, though rare"

This guy is a terrible writer

damn, you beat me to it. :P

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chungy said:

PrBoom(-Plus)

Are you saying you were inferring that you should use prboom-plus, or are you emphasizing that you shouldn't use plus?

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I'm just saying either regular PrBoom or PrBoom-Plus would serve for the purpose of high-resolution classic Doom. Graphically wise they should be identical.

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Yeah, it's infuriating alright. All of the "problems" he points out are only because of JDoom and the "High-Res" texture pack.

Besides, these things aren't even flaws to begin with. This is how game worlds are constructed. The renderer never renders things that the player will never see. The outside of the designated play area has no textures and no real structure. The player isn't ever meant to go out there.

He noclips out of the map and looks at it from an area that isn't even part of the map. So there will be plenty of paper-thin and untextured surfaces. That is total bullshit. You could noclip out of the map in any modern game, look back on the world geometry, and gawk at all the "flaws" of the map in exactly the same way.

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Viktor apparently doesn't know what a trapezoid is versus a pentagon.

Edit: Okay, looking at the shot again, I see a trapezoid or two. Maybe I'm overly hasty to nitpick.

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I never knew it was so rare for a clipping error to look so good when the entire viewpoint is covered by a skybox of infinite depth.

I'm also allergic Octopus Tentacle.

On a more serious note, it had too many pictures and not much substance. Also the article title should mention jDoom.

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Look, a bandwagon!

Reaper978 said:
Yeah, it's infuriating alright. All of the "problems" he points out are only because of JDoom and the "High-Res" texture pack.

If you ask me, the "problems" are ways he shows the fabric of DOOM through a 3D view, on purpose, to highlight its paper construction behind the scenes. In addition he shows some texture misalignments that are also present in vanilla.

The guy even added a disclaimer for us experts below (even calling his write up "skin deep") and was rather explicit about what he was doing: an architectural analysis trying to highlight its early 90s tech character, switching between JDoom and vanilla while being conscious of the difference.

I don't mind what he did. I often make similar observations about how DOOM stands out due to how it's made, which allows it to create its own type of environment or virtual world, "alive" in its own ways but different that "reality" because of all those limitations, inner rules and accidental oddities of the software.

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myk said:

Look, a bandwagon!

Haha.

myk said:

If you ask me, the "problems" are ways he shows the fabric of DOOM through a 3D view, on purpose, to highlight its paper construction behind the scenes.

To what end, exactly? The things he says that are supposedly praising the game ring very hollow indeed. He goes on to write about Doom "Because its mechanisms are so exposed (texture-stitches, sprites), players immediately are confronted with the fallacy of the experience." The fallacy of the experience? Lower we read "Great example of how free look / three-point perspective exposes the fallacy of the sprites so well." But there's no fallacy about it. The sprites do have depth, look at them.

He's just trying to describe Doom as being inferior, whether he realizes it or not.

"For me, the most crucial addition is the free look option, which transforms the static two-point perspective view into a dynamic three-point one. Doom is de-contextualized from its original engine and performance limitations, while remaining fundamentally unaltered and completely faithful to its original architecture. It also exposes its technology in a way that was impossible to experience in 1993; sprites instantly revealed to be razor-sharp two-dimensional animations"

Hahahaha.

myk said:

The guy even added a disclaimer for us experts below (even calling his write up "skin deep")

Indeed.

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magicsofa said:

"evidently intra-monster arguments are also common, though rare"

This guy is a terrible writer

Seems more to me like lacking English skills.

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Myk wins the thread.

If you ask me, the "problems" are ways he shows the fabric of DOOM through a 3D view, on purpose, to highlight its paper construction behind the scenes. In addition he shows some texture misalignments that are also present in vanilla


He wasn't bashing the game, he was putting in context the relatively low tech of the engine compared to games today and showing that the game has stood up to the test of time extraordinarily well. He is using the glitches to point out the limitations and how the engine operates. But he has a positive spin on Doom's place in history. He praises the game on the points that I think ring so true for so many of us doomers who still love this game for what it is.

"As I pace the levels, re-discovering and photographing digital artifacts, I ask just what is it that makes the language of Doom so different, so appealing, and perhaps still so relevant today?"

"Doom is now undeniably a cyber-ruin, long surpassed by thousands of disposable worlds, most of which fall flat in comparison despite their technical superiorities."

and later...

"While it may be argued that Doom is merely of product of its time, it is also evidence that sometimes the relevance of a particular innovation only becomes apparent in retrospect, after it has been surpassed." ... "maybe it is exactly the relatively primitive nature of Doom that makes it more appealing to spend time in."

Edit: also, his article illustrates pretty well why I don't play doom in advance ports.

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