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Job

The Aging of Doom 3 Gameplay Mechanics

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All this talk of Doom 4 and how it compares to Doom 3 got me taking some trips down memory lane. So I reinstalled Doom 3 and RoE on my computer to give it a try for old time's sake. First, I've gotta say, technology has definitely come a long ways. My computer is able to run it on max settings pretty easily with just the onboard hardware. Cool.

The second thing that became clear to me was just how "clunky" the gameplay and combat were. When I first played it years back, I never really gave it much though because I was too busy being wowed. More recently, I've spent a lot of time playing classic Doom and the best way I can describe it, in comparison to Doom 3, is how it feels more free, light and unfettered by gameplay gimmicks. Funny enough, my biggest gripe with combat is how my hands have to do a keyboard rumba just to strafe attacks, run (not walk!), reload, jump, etc. I understand the stamina bar and that they used for realism's sake, but they could've implemented an "always run" feature requiring the player to pause occasionally and refill the gauge. I also realized I don't like the warp-in mechanic for monster battles.

This isn't meant to be a thread to rip on Doom 3, it was significant in its time, if only as a hardware demo. However, I'm fairly certain it won't age as well as classic Doom (no duh, huh?). It also makes me realize that Doom 4 slots in pretty much in between the two, which isn't necessarily so bad.

Just sharing my thoughts.

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Job said:

I also realized I don't like the warp-in mechanic for monster battles.

Doom 4 appears to be heavily leaning on this, sadly.

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Linguica said:

Doom 4 appears to be heavily leaning on this, sadly.

That's right, I forgot about that somehow. I'll have to watch the E3 video again. I can't recall if it was all monsters or just the demonic ones that did that.

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While it was definitely present, I'm not sure if we have enough to go off to say it will "heavily rely" on it. Monsters also came out from behind walls and the such too, though, which is a much more classic mechanic (and not in the "explosive wall panel pouncing-imp-in-your-face" Doom 3 way).

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Job said:

but they could've implemented an "always run" feature requiring the player to pause occasionally and refill the gauge.


Did you just seriously say that it would be cool if doom 3 played like every modern fps/cod, instead of how classic fps is run&gun? Just no..

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While the original Doom's didn't do the warp-in effect and had the enemies already there which I pretty much agree with more I am still pretty much okay with Doom 3 doing it, it felt like it suited the game well but the idea that it will also be in Doom 4 is a real downer for me.

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quakke said:

Did you just seriously say that it would be cool if doom 3 played like every modern fps/cod, instead of how classic fps is run&gun? Just no..

That's absolutely not what I said. What I said is it would have been an improvement if they utilized an always run feature of some sort instead of the existing "always-hold-shift-to-run-stamina-bar" feature in Doom 3. That's assuming the developers decided they unequivocally had to implement a stamina bar in some capacity instead of the way running worked in classic Doom without it. As best I can tell, there's nothing like that in Doom 4, and that alone puts it one step closer to the classic Doom we know and love.

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You do realize that throughout the piss hell demo enemies were just kind of wandering around the environment the whole time? My assumption is the warps only occur early on in the game until the monsters are firmly situated in the base.

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Avoozl said:

While the original Doom's didn't do the warp-in effect and had the enemies already there which I pretty much agree with more I am still pretty much okay with Doom 3 doing it, it felt like it suited the game well but the idea that it will also be in Doom 4 is a real downer for me.

We forget there IS a Doom analogue of warping-in monsters though. The teleporter trap.

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The original Doom used the spawn feature to keep you on your toes, usually when you collected something vital, like a weapon or a key. Doom 3 implemented this poorly by having imps spawn so slowly and so predictably, that by the time they fully materialized, you were already pulling the trigger on your shotgun, having aimed it directly on their dome. It's stupid and made a lot of battles overly easy. Neo-Doom doesn't seem to be doing that nearly as much, and it seems to do it when there's already some action on screen.

Also, I absolutely agree with Doom 3's gameplay mechanics being clunky. There's something that constantly feels a bit off about everything.

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I admit to being fucked over by the teleporting Hell Knight and Friends towards the end when you talk to that guy so he gives you his PDA in the dig site as well as the time an Archvile and 2 Hell Knights spawn in right outside a lift.

Then again those are Hell Knights, not Imps who just die in 1 shot. The Hell Knight teleporting in is fucking badass though.

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I hardly understand how Doom 3's gameplay is actually clunky, it didn't seem that way at all for me.

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The fact you have to awkwardly switch between flashlight and gun, how slow the gunplay is in general, stupid ass teleporting imps that you can just kill before they have a chance and a multitude of other things. I personally think it works in the same way people like Dark Souls for being a clunky ass pile of shit. Except I like Doom 3 and don't think it's shit. I'm just a filthy casual.

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Additionally, the placement of items is a bit uneven. I pretty much always had way too much armor, but some of my weapons were frequently close to 0 count ammo. The darkness can make it difficult to navigate because you lose your bearings too easily. The walking speed isn't unbearable, but it's clearly too slow. The guns don't feel right. Sometimes it's the design, sometimes the sound, or in the case of the shotgun, the weapon just feels weak and unsatisfying.

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I found the game already had too much ammo particularly when you get halfway through the game, I did however open every single locker and room with stockpiles of ammo though.

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The enemies were always slow with the real challenge / twist coming from the level design instead of the enemies themselves. People don't seem to appreciate level design anymore.

Placement of monsters was poor in Doom3
For some reason I'm much more willing to accept monster closets and teleporting foes in a 'hell maze' setting than a corridor.
I like traps a lot more when they aren't part of a linear sequence so it feels like choices have meaning.

D3 relied too heavily on scripting specific enemy encounters and visual set pieces instead of focusing on the player movement options relative the world
Classic mazes require an automap, card keys, and lots of switches that activate events throughout the map. These elements are a key part of what makes doom maps interesting such as:

  • relocking / unlocking areas as you progress (i.e. keycards,switches)
  • elevators / crushers (made it feel 3d + ability to trap player or squish monsters)
  • hurt floors (i can see modern gamers hating these, but i think hazard suit and change of pace is fun)
  • teleporters (the dread of the unkown destination)
  • manually operated doors (let the player trigger traps on themself instead of automatically tripping)
  • monster infighting (combines map design and player movement for satisfying results)
  • windows to see how the level connects (map feels more connected and lets you see effect of a switch)

The sprint mechanic seemed pointless
It was pretty difficult to use up all your sprint and it's not particularly helpful in cramped environments anyway. Could have just had reasonable walk speed.

Cramped areas + enemies' splash damage meant dodging attacks wasn't really feasible
Especially with the cheapshot attacks out a closet / door.
The fall damage was set to 'are you friggen serious!?' levels, guaranteed to piss off modern and old school gamers alike.

I hate the visual blur you take when damaged
Particularly with the zsec shooting you. It barely does any damage but it blinds you; super annoying. It's ok when taking damage from a big demon but trites /cherubs / small arms fire shouldn't blind.

Doom3guy flinches more than an arachnotron, and the shotgun is bland.

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So, I have just finished replaying DOOM 3 (wish I could say it was because of its 11th anniversary, but to be honest, I forgot about that) for what must have been the 10th time. I still have a great time playing it, I didn't feel bored at any point. The game is obviously not perfect but it's still pretty good. I don't know what it is about id games but I can just keep replaying them over and over (I've played RAGE many times as well).

I never understood the complaints about darkness or the flashlight switching and it still doesn't bother me. The monster placement could have been better and it's weird there are openable walls everywhere. But overally, great game. Also it's surprising how DOOM 3 was criticized for its linearity considering it actually has a fair amount of optional places. And it certainly isn't any more linear than TNO, ROTT13 or SW13 - games that supposedly have such an oldschool level design.

Interestingly, I've found a secret that I wasn't aware of all this time. That's always nice.

Anyway, love the game, can't wait for DOOM4. Just wish we didn't have to go to the freaking Mars again.

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Bah. I disagree. Doom 3 is way better than Doom 1 and Doom 2, but we have much less of it, and it can be considered less accessible too (whereas Doom 1 and 2 are tiny and easily portable, Doom 3 is rock-heavy and takes awhile to load). I'd much rather play a hell campaign deep in sorrow, despair, death and doom like Doom 3 feels, than something cartoony and musical like Doom 2.

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So I just've finished my latest playthrough. The only problem I see with Doom 3 is somewhat weak gunplay. Shotguns in classic Doom games were much more fun and satisfying. That said, Doom 3 never made me bored and wanting to quit unlike some of the modern shooters where I force myself through the game. Advanced Warfare is a prime example - it all becomes a blur and I feel like falling asleep.

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I have to admit Doom 3 Mechanics and particular designs were pretty poorly chosen. In fact I always considered Doom 3 to be the first FPS that introduced 'Graphics over Gameplay' and 'Realism before fun' despite how unrealistic Doom 3 was haha. Which just made it more awkward.

The last time I played Doom 3 (with some enhancement mods) I felt it couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a terror or action game. It definitely didn't excel in either one. The game doesn't age well too.

Do you guys remember when its early Alpha got leaked? The one with the Hellknight finishing you off in first person and the Pinkie running at you when you looked at the mirror? That Alpha was my introduction to Doom 3 and I experienced the peak of my 'wow the graphics, wow the horror, wow the potential!'.

And as we already pointed out the final product was clunky, mostly untrue to Doom, poor creature placement and obviously limited due to the new age graphics. If the game more was like the Alpha, a first person Deadspace game I probably would of enjoyed it more, as it would at least be a master of one factor.

Still, I enjoyed Doom 3 and still respect it to some degree. But if Doom 4 still retains Doom 3 faults then I'm going to be very disappointed.

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Chezza said:

If the game more was like the Alpha, a first person Deadspace game I probably would of enjoyed it more, as it would at least be a master of one factor.

Once again, Alpha is not that different. Okay, we have slower walking speed (pm_walkspeed "100" as opposed to "140" in final game). Also we have non-desintegrating corpses. And that is all. The enemy placement in Alpha was even more heavily scripted and made for the show. Walk some other way, other than e3 demo showed, and AI just ignores you. Closet monsters in the final game are annoying sometimes but they also make you on your toes so you never feel safe even in an empty corridor.

I agree with you on that Doom 3 was untrue to Doom. It is more like an evolution of Quake 2 gameplay.

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How to enjoy Doom 3: A helpful guide for classic Doomers!

Step 1: Put everything Classic Doom related out of your mind, go in expecting something completely different.

Step 2: ?????????

Step 3: Notice it's actually a super suspenseful and well crafted game worth beating at least once.

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Step 1a: Put everything alpha-related out of your mind.

Chezza said:

In fact I always considered Doom 3 to be the first FPS that introduced 'Graphics over Gameplay' and 'Realism before fun' despite how unrealistic Doom 3 was haha.

A lot of the late 90s games were like that. Doom 3 is better than most of them.

Orchid87 said:

Once again, Alpha is not that different. Okay, we have slower walking speed (pm_walkspeed "100" as opposed to "140" in final game). Also we have non-desintegrating corpses. And that is all.

I disagree.

After Reznor walked out, the work on the sound was completely restarted. The final game's sound is rather inconsistent. Some of it is dark and moody; some of it is outright schlocky, which is unacceptable for a game that tries to pass for a horror. And, even at its best, the sound is never really unnerving.

Alpha scared a lot of people. And it wasn't because of slower walking speed or non-desintegrating corpses. Although the latter contributed to the game's realistic feel, which made it more effective at what it was trying to achieve. Monsters disappearing in pretty sparks are more fitting for a pure action game. Which begs the question of whether introducing performance-eating corpse physics was such a great idea after all.

One thing people tend to forget today (but it was a big deal in 2004) is how fearless the 2002 demonstration was. Its level of violence was unprecedented. The game wanted you to see every sickening detail of the demon's teeth tearing a bloated corpse. Compare to the final game's demure cinematics. The closest thing to what the alpha promised was the lost soul introduction, but even that scene was tainted by lazy implementation. Instead of properly detaching the head, they just used a scrapped female zombie model with a cracked skull, diminishing the scene's idea.

Then there are (not so) subtle differences in art direction. The aforementioned gore was replaced by ridiculous amounts of blood everywhere. A lot of things added since the alpha clashed with the earlier content. All in all, in 2002 Doom 3 seemed to possess a clearer vision of what it wanted to be. My guess is the game was spoiled by misguided attempts to please the old crowd instead of pursuing said vision.

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Da Werecat said:

After Reznor walked out, the work on the sound was completely restarted. The final game's sound is rather inconsistent. Some of it is dark and moody; some of it is outright schlocky, which is unacceptable for a game that tries to pass for a horror. And, even at its best, the sound is never really unnerving.

We all saw only a very little of Trent's work. Would it be more consistent? Trent relies on high frequencies in his sound and music work too much. Zombies sound awesome. Commandos - I prefer final game subtle sounds more. "Die mortal" from Alpha sounds too cheesy IMO. Imps sound much better in final too.

Final game has some really moody ambient soundscapes too. Alpha had none, only the machinery sounds.

What I really hate about final game sound work is cheesy taunting by Betruger through the game. That was lame.

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Orchid87 said:

We all saw only a very little of Trent's work. Would it be more consistent?

Since it's one person in full control, I'd say the probability of him realizing a consistent vision was high. But we'll never know for sure.

Orchid87 said:

Imps sound much better in final too.

I would describe their new sounds as cheesy and ear-piercing. And they clash with the design.

The imps look like they should be quiet and deadly - the kind of creatures that lurk in the shadows and then strike. And yet they sound loud and obnoxious. The fact that they can't crawl in the final game (outside of cinematics) adds to the feeling of them being nothing more than clumsy goons (with occasional very effective leaps that don't make much sense anymore).

Orchid87 said:

Final game has some really moody ambient soundscapes too. Alpha had none, only the machinery sounds.

They're just subtle. Not sure if that'd work for the entire game, but, like I said, we'll never know.

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Shaviro said:

I always thought that Doom3 peaked with the 2002 E3 trailer. This is when the game looked its best.

This is a 2003 trailer. Leaked Alpha is 2002. Google Doom 3 Legacy movie for some more 2002 footage.

Da Werecat said:

I would describe their new sounds as cheesy and ear-piercing. And they clash with the design.

Not cheesy at all. But I might be biased since they remind me of Lickers from my favorite Resident Evil 2.

What I really dig about alpha is how you never have to walk into the darkness (inless it is a level-exit door). All the dark corners are just dark corners. You are not obliged to walk there. I wish the final game was like that.

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What's fucked up is a lot of these complaints about Doom3 are user error. The brightness thing has been discussed to death. If you actually got lost because it was too dark for you you just had poor hardware or weak eyes. OP literally complained because he chose to map his controls in an inefficient layout. Come on people.

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