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Professor Sir

What if Doom had been a terrible game? How would things be different?

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Besides the obvious, of course. (e.g. No forums, sequels) What would have happened if Doom had been a terrible game?
Without an amazing game to help back it, would Quake have been the flagship series instead, if it even came out?
Would games like Strife and Heretic come out on the engine anyways?
If those games were the big hit, and not Doom, how would the game industry be different?

(Just so you know, this is a serious post and I am not trying to troll anyone)

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Quake already is the flagship series for Id. Doom may be the thing that truly put id on the map, but Quake has been the flagship ever since it's initial release.

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It's hard for me to imagine that Doom wouldn't have become a hit. The game was so advanced compared to other products of the genre at the time that it was bound to be successful.

The only thing I can imagine is that the demon theme wouldn't have been positively received, but still it would have made Doom "a very good" game instead of "instant legend". In such a case, id Software would probably have created another Wolfenstein game on the Doom engine to make it closer to reality...

... so yeah, perhaps Quake would never have happened since it deals with fantasy setting as well.

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IF Doom had been terrible game it would have disappeared in the history and maybe someone would have remembered it as a curious game. This is just one of those "IF" scenarios which thankfully never happened or else I wouldnt have heard of DOOM.

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Define "terrible". If the engine was unchanged but only the "official" IWAD content was crap, perhaps one day some curious mod enthusiast would discover how, if it had decent maps, Doom could actually "have been" a big hit game ;-)

Then again there would be less incentive to develop so many modding tools if it was really terrible....but hey, even Wolf3D had a mod scene, and the gameplay variety and replay value is truly abysmal compared to Doom's.

Now, if the engine of this hypothetical "terrible Doom" was much more limited and less flexible, e.g. being just a rehash of the Wolf3D engine, ran like ass on contemporary PCs (ROTT, I'm looking at you...) then it would be...well.... like ROTT or Corridor 7 ;-)

Certainly, it might get its own "so bad its good" cult following at some point, but no way you'd have like 100 source ports for it and new editors being made for it in 2014.

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Patrol1985 said:

Now that I think about it... what if Daikatana had been a successful game? :D


You'd be John Romero's bitch even more-so than you (And all of us) are now.

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Clonehunter said:

You'd be John Romero's bitch even more-so than you (And all of us) are now.


True... but would it be good or bad? :P

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Remember that Doom was groundbreaking in multiple different ways: it was technologically advanced (the Doom engine), thematically new (photorealistic weapons and textures, etc.), also the first deathmatch FPS. Id would have to have fucked up in multiple different ways to get Doom wrong.

Even if the game itself (levels, textures, monsters) had sucked, the game is moddable, so fans could have made better ones. A big part of what made Doom successful and has kept it popular for so long is that aspect.

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I badly need one of those Romeros bitch posters to my collection but never see them on ebay

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Well for starters, if Doom was shit it would come down to a major fuck up with the engine like having it shipped in an unplayable state, multiple prevalent gamebreaking bugs, it looked like shit, being a step down from Wolf 3D with even less satisfying movement and combat or just being all round bad (If you want an example, look up "Depth Dwellers", Doom could have been like this if Id fucked up).

What would happen then is that Id would disappear into obscurity or be highlighted as one of the worst developers out there (That would give EA a break huh) and Doom wouldn't have the influence it did, this means there would be a lot less shitty Doom clones and probably a lot less more sucsessful games like "Marathon" (AKA the Mac's answer to Doom, hint right there) "Duke Nukem 3D" (Duke 3D maybe would have still happened, I dunno) and possibly "Quake" (Id's financial crisis caused by Doom's failure would most likely kill Quake outright).

With the lack of these "influential" games, we probably would have had more racers, platformers and Third Person games than we do now (Due to the FPS genre not being so popular) or we would probably (Thanks to Wolf 3D mind you) have a different company leading the way with the FPS genre (probably 3D Realms if Duke 3D happened).

Depending on which one of the two happened (either no FPS games leading the market or a different company leading the FPS side of things), three possible scenarios would happen:

1. No company continued the FPS genre due to the failure behind it, this would end up leaving the gaming scene completely different from the one we have in our universe which would probably be like having 400 Mario or Sonic games out there or maybe Test Drive 259 come out... Either that or games died, IDK.

or 2. A different company leads the FPS craze and becomes the so called "Champions" of the FPS genre, that company has all the fame and fans that Id owns in this universe and Activision and co still end up existing... What a shame.

And finally 3. Id is able to ride on the success of Wolf 3D and develop their next successful game: Quake. Id retains the title and keep the fame they have here...

Minus all the benefits the Doom games got them and minus all the Doomworlds and the ZDooms and what not.

Maybe I am just overlooking things here but that is what I imagine happening if this were the case.

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fraggle said:

Remember that Doom was groundbreaking in multiple different ways: it was technologically advanced (the Doom engine), thematically new (photorealistic weapons and textures, etc.). . .

. . .and people were upgrading their computers in order to play it. Without that level of commitment, PCs might have remained the domain of turn-based D&D games and the like.

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Waffenak said:

I badly need one of those Romeros bitch posters to my collection but never see them on ebay

I think it was an advert put out in magazines; there were never posters AFAIK.

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fraggle said:

I think it was an advert put out in magazines; there were never posters AFAIK.


Dam if that is the truth. oh well, still got the daikatana n64 poster

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I would be playing fighting games. They were my main interest before the FPSes.

Speaking of fighting games. Mortal Kombat was released before Doom and was extremely brutal for its times as well. Yet, I believe Doom caused more controversy when it came out. Can anyone tell me why? Is it because gun violence is more frowned upon than hand-to-hand fighting violence?

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Patrol1985 said:

I would be playing fighting games. They were my main interest before the FPSes.

Speaking of fighting games. Mortal Kombat was released before Doom and was extremely brutal for its times as well. Yet, I believe Doom caused more controversy when it came out. Can anyone tell me why? Is it because gun violence is more frowned upon than hand-to-hand fighting violence?


Satanic imagery and that kind of stuff, I guess?

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As others have said, even it had been bad to play, Doom would probably have had a technical impact anyway.

It's more interesting to speculate what would have happened if Doom had never existed at all, or any of id's subsequent games. Let's imagine that following Wolf 3D, John Carmack had an extreme religious conversion, quit programming, and went to live as a monk or something, which resulted in the swift disbandment of the company. How would it have effected the games industry?

Id weren't the only people doing 3D engines. Ken Silverman's Build engine was contemporary, competitive, and developed independently of any Doom stuff, I believe. Games built on Build were successful anyway, and it seems likely they would have been even more so if Doom had not existed. It seems likely that Duke Nukem 3D might have been the first mega-successful FPS. However, it doesn't seem likely that Silverman would ever have been willing or capable of taking up a Carmack-like role in the industry, so Build probably wouldn't have progressed much further than it did.

Tim Sweeney also developed the Unreal engine mostly independently of any of Carmack's work, I believe. Presuming Epic were inspired to make a shooter by Duke Nukem's success, then it seems likely that they would have still developed Unreal, or something like it. The Unreal engine would then likely have gone on to dominate in engine licensing even more than it already does.

In all, I expect the non-existence of Doom would have set back the FPS genre, and 3D games in general, by a few years, perhaps 3-4. The bigger impact on the industry of there being no Doom or Quake would likely have been the absence of the the modding community during the mid to late 90s. Half-Life probably wouldn't have existed, or would have been different and various other companies formed by modders wouldn't have formed. On the other hand, there might have been a bigger modding community for Build and Unreal, but the shift of a few years would likely meant different people got involved.

There's generally a sweet spot of your late teens and unversity years when you're likely to get heavily involved in modding, due to having acquired the necessary technical and artistic skills, having enough free time to devote to it due to lack of work and family commitments. It's likely that people like Iikka Keranen and the Casali brothers might not have ended up in the games industry. But on the other hand, other people would have done instead.

In terms of games design, I imagine that absent of the heavy-metal, straight-forward action aesthetic of Doom, the more traditional RPG style of early games like Ultima Underworld would have stayed more influential. There would have been more complicated interfaces and gameplay tropes, with greater emphasis on NPCs, quests, etc. The more action-oriented end of the FPS spectrum would still have arrived eventually, but would perhaps not have been some dominant.

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I think the build engine might also have not existed without Doom. Id Software figured out the pattern for all 2.5D games to follow (sectors with varying heights). Even if other engines, like the Build, were developed separately, they were definitely inspired by the Doom engine.

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Build would definitely have existed in some form. Silverman's had already made Ken's Labyrinth, which was a Wolf 3D clone, and his history of the Build engine shows he was working on a next-generation engine before Doom was released. It's clear that Doom was an influence, and he mentions having a telephone conversation with Carmack who suggested the use of sectors, but most of the technical features of Doom - different floor and ceilings heights, angled walls, non-grid based geometry etc. - are the obvious next steps from a Wolf 3D style engine. Silverman is talented enough that would probably have gotten most of them implemented eventually (shame he seems to have mostly squandered that talent on dead-end voxel engines, though maybe something will come of VOXON).

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UP NEXT: What if Doom was released first on game consoles?

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What about the whole modding scene too?
But then...would people have "fixed" the game back then if it was that bad?

Kinda relates to Quake too- that was modded heavily spawning new ways of playing online, and the methods that people got together to do it...

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Kinda relates to Quake too- that was modded heavily spawning new ways of playing online, and the methods that people got together to do it...


Quake is actually a good example of "what would have happened".

The game wasn't attractive in single-player. Duke Nukem featured more environmental interaction, the textures were mostly brown and quickly became monotone and boring. Episodes had no boss fights and the whole game's tone was inconsistent (fantasy? sci-fi? horror?).

However, the technology (true 3D) and the multiplayer mode were more than enough to make the game a massive hit. That was the thing with id - they would have had to fail on multiple fields to stop their product from becoming a hit :D

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Patrol1985 said:

The game wasn't attractive in single-player. Duke Nukem this, Duke Nukem that.

Sure.

Patrol1985 said:

Episodes had no boss fights and the whole game's tone was inconsistent (fantasy? sci-fi? horror?).

Doom, on the other hand, was consistent as hell (no pun intended).

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Honestly, if Doom was a failure on all fronts, I kind of expect Quake would've ended up as the game advertised back in Commander Keen instead of the Doom-like FPS we all know and love today.

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Da Werecat said:

Sure.


Back in the day, none of my gamer friends cared much about Quake when compared to Duke. Were it not for Quake's multiplayer mode, the game would have served as a mere "engine test" in order to distribute the said engine to other game designers.

Find ONE review which praised Quake's SINGLE PLAYER component as much as Doom's had been praised.

I spent WAY more time with Quake's single player mode than with Duke's, but I've always been an id Software fanboy, so I'm not objective.

Da Werecat said:

Doom, on the other hand, was consistent as hell (no pun intended).


Assuming one hadn't looked into the manual or whatever, they would have just considered Doom enemies aliens, which perfectly fits a sci-fi theme. In Quake you run around CASTLES fighting KNIGHTS with a SHOTGUN only to face a Cthulhu-like monster around the next corner and a cyber soldier with a laser gun around another.

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Patrol1985 said:

Back in the day, none of my gamer friends cared much about Quake when compared to Duke. Were it not for Quake's multiplayer mode, the game would have served as a mere "engine test" in order to distribute the said engine to other game designers.

Find ONE review which praised Quake's SINGLE PLAYER component as much as Doom's had been praised.

What you're saying here, basically, is that Quake SP was less popular than Duke SP at the time. I wouldn't mix "unpopular" with "bad".

Patrol1985 said:

Assuming one hadn't looked into the manual or whatever, they would have just considered Doom enemies aliens, which perfectly fits a sci-fi theme.

Aliens with pentagrams and inverted crosses.

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