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neubejiita

Wireframe Doom game a possibility in the 80`s?

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I was just watching this video; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m8IOD-wk9g and I was wondering if you went back to the 80`s with an idea to create Doom in 1980 or so, could you create the engine with a wireframe monchrome renderer? The graphics in this video were rendered in 1979, so what about creating Doom in 1980? Would it be a possibility or not?

Sure, you might not be able to have large maps, but some form of violent FPS could have been created back then. There is this game from 1980 that has a first person view and wireframe graphics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKAlDUu7zko

But surely the rendering could be faster.

There is also a posting here on the QB64 forums that is propositioning a 3D wireframe FPS engine. I think this could have been done if history had been different.

http://www.qb64.net/forum/index.php?topic=4155.0

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This video should give you an idea of the state of 3D gaming before iD Software.

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Akalabeth isn't a very good example, since it's just static wireframe dungeon. Back then they couldn't even afford textured walls on their static first-person dungeon crawl RPGs. :-)

A better example might be something like Battlezone

But the DOOM universe is a lot more complex than the one in that game, and there's more stuff to keep track of. Don't forget how much they had to cut out for console systems like Atari Jaguar, etc.

Edit: here's a video of Battlezone. Notice how slow the action is compared to DOOM, and how barren the landscape seems? But that was considered advanced at the time. ;-)

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Yep Battlezone, I remember that. Didn't the army want it? Or is that just myth?

How complex of wireframces would you want to depict monsters? Maybe if they were shapes you could do it.

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hex11 said:

But the DOOM universe is a lot more complex than the one in that game, and there's more stuff to keep track of. Don't forget how much they had to cut out for console systems like Atari Jaguar, etc.

Edit: here's a video of Battlezone. Notice how slow the action is compared to DOOM, and how barren the landscape seems? But that was considered advanced at the time. ;-)


The other component of that is Battlefield used a vector display that had to mechanically redraw the entire display every frame. Drawing too much detail would cause it to flicker. The emulator used for the video doesn't do a good job simulating the appearance (should be anti-aliased).

Polygon games were common enough in the 80s, though. I had an older version of the one here, and I only had a CGA display. It was cool, and ran fast enough to be playable. It probably only ran as well as it did because dad had a very expensive computer then. Most people had something more like a C64 or an Apple II. The C64 version of that game might have run ok (those were good at gaming), but the Apple II version can be seen on YouTube and it really, really sucks.

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It would have been very difficult on anything the wasn't Intel 286 (DOS) or Motorola 68K (MAC) powered, because those were really the only two home CPUs with multiply and divide instructions. There are a couple console examples like Battlezone or Elite, but I get the feeling from what I remember reading about Elite that it was really hacked together. Another thing to remember is that very few systems (even home computers) had a bitmap mode, most required that everything be drawn as 8x8 tiles.

Here is an example of someone trying to write a wireframe BSP engine for the TI-83 calculator. The TI-83 is a bit more powerful than 80's Z80 based systems and he's still limited to 256 lines and the frame rate drops under 10 in some areas. Still very impressive.

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There were Battlezone/Dungeon Master/Tank sim/Flight sim games and all, but they were barren, slow, and usually hard/complex to play, if you weren't into the sim scene. Plus, to be quite honest, even the very best/most advanced of polygon-based games looked like crap:

Yes, this is a 1995 game:



EPIC was OK for 1992, but it was more of a sim, so definitively not for everybody:



Pyrotechnica, also from 1995. The only reason it gets away with polygon graphics is that it has an "abstract" cyberspace theme.



Sorry, but a purely polygonal 1st person shooter that is NOT a flight/vehicle/cyberspace sim IMHO would look substandard and ridiculous, even in the 80s. No wonder nobody can think of any proper examples.

It also makes you realize how Doom actually had much more going for it than a relatively fast and relatively good-looking 3D engine with textures: it also had good gameplay and just the right mixture of being simple to play yet deep and subtle to master, without requiring a virtual piloting degree.

Edit: NB, even if you have a Doom-like 3D engine, it's still way too easy to fuck up the controls and the balance (Hell, they fuck them up way AFTER Doom). And in the 80s simply NOBODY every presented a 3D game that was simple to play or had smooth controls, regardless of genre. Most didn't even get it right in the 90s.

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That game looks frustrating. The reviewer is having a lot of trouble with the controls.

Substandard graphics haven't stopped some people from trying. I agree a game rendered purely with polygons (wireframe or shaded) would look like crap on a machine that can't render much detail.

The makers of this C64 game deserve points for trying textures and sprites, even if it is mostly fat pixel soup.



The Atari ST was newer and had better hardware. It got this in the 90s. It seems also to have a port of Wolf3D, but that's much newer methinks.

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The truth is that with a 68000 or even a 68020 CPU, you couldn't realistically expect to have Doom-like quality in a 3D game. Polygon games were barely playable on 68000 Amigas/Atari ST, and that largely thanks to their accelerated solid color filling.

Even a Wolf3D clone would struggle. You could try some tricks like depth-shaded polygons that looked marginally better than flat shading, but even those ate so many CPU cycles, that it was impossible to have a fluid game on an 8 MHz 68000 CPU.

The (non-AGA) Amigas in particular were plagued by their planar display, making them just as unsuitable for pixel-by-pixel rendering as the older 8-bit computers, a major killer for the newborn 3D era. Just check to see what were considered "the best" natively-developed FPS games on the Amiga.

As for the Atari ST, it had became irrelevant by the mid 90s, as it never received an AGA-like upgrade to its product line. Mid-80s hardware wouldn't take you far in the 90s. That Substation game is ample proof of that: came very late even by Amiga standards (1995) and makes use of a lot of tricks (simplified Wolf3D-like engine, distance-shaded, single-color graphics, etc.) to achieve what's more like a real-time Dungeon Master look, but such tricks were even possible on the Mega Drive:



Actually, the MD could count on somewhat faster hardware for this sort of job....

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Maes said:

As for the Atari ST, it had became irrelevant by the mid 90s, as it never received an AGA-like upgrade to its product line.

I thought that's what the Atari STe was supposed to be?

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WildWeasel said:

I thought that's what the Atari STe was supposed to be?


Other than the possibility to use standard 30-pin memory modules, even after the "upgrade" it just reached the capabilities of its Nemesis, the Amiga. The pre-AGA versions, at that.

And in fact, higher up in the product line, Atari had a completely market niche in mind. It's obvious they didn't want to invest as much as Commodore did to keep it all 100% custom-hardware, but backwards compatible.

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Maes said:

As for the Atari ST, it had became irrelevant by the mid 90s, as it never received an AGA-like upgrade to its product line. Mid-80s hardware wouldn't take you far in the 90s. That Substation game is ample proof of that: came very late even by Amiga standards (1995) and makes use of a lot of tricks (simplified Wolf3D-like engine, distance-shaded, single-color graphics, etc.) to achieve what's more like a real-time Dungeon Master look, but such tricks were even possible on the Mega Drive:

Actually, the MD could count on somewhat faster hardware for this sort of job....


That DN3D game looks like it could have been decent if the maps hadn't been designed and textured by drunk monkeys.

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Technical problems apart, I often wondered if someone could have thought and designed a game with gameplay and levels as complex as Doom -in essence, just the underlying Doom code, levels, gameplay, status system etc. but with a simpler graphics engine, either wirefreame or plain 2D, but preserving -or rather, foreshadowing- every other aspect of Doom as we know it.

IMO, no: even if just for the gameplay and complex interactions, such a game would've been way more advanced than most stuff on the market, even without the novelty of a 3D perspective. No wonder the only titles that come close it it -Battlezone etc.- are much, much more plain and dumbed down in comparison.

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The closest to DOOM for me on Amiga was Hired Guns. Unlike the later games that tried too hard to be like DOOM and ended up more like Wolf3D (and still needing an A1200 or better), this game was a more action-fest clone of Dungeon Master. It actually came out before DOOM, back when Wolf3D was the game in town on PC, and totally put it to shame. Not because it was more fluid or faster (hey this baby ran on stock A500, ok?) But because it focused on all the other stuff that made DOOM a better game. It had real 3D environments, awesome ambient sounds, puzzles, actually scary monsters, etc. And it had 4-way multiplayer, damnit! Not over network, but on the same machine (screen divided into 3 or 4 quadrants). And there was an inventory (like Heretic), grenades to blow shit up with, crates you could push around, lifts, water you could submerge into, all kinds of guns (even autosentries!) and also some weird alien technology with special properties. It was also a bit nonlinear in that you could select any mission you wanted at start screen: either one of the quicky games, or the full campaign. You could also select from about a dozen characters with different attributes. So there was a lot of replay value here, and in MP mode you could also face off against your friends.

Apart from various top-down 2D stuff like The Chaos Engine, Alien Breed, and various side-scrollers/platformers, this was THE game for me until DOOM. Before that, the only thing that even made me blink and think for a second to get a PC was the first Ultima Underworld game. But even that wasn't enough incentive...

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