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Linguica

Doom: Infamous 'talk to the monsters' review was on the right side of history

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"Games never change and all you do is shoot people basically" has this jabroni never played anything other than a shooter? Like seriously the writer basically describes all games to be like shooters and how you just mindlessly kill, they clearly don't know about that many games

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Players could "talk to the monsters" as far back as Phantasy Star in 1987 (I don't know of anything earlier, though not ruling it out). NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN. For fuck's sake.

But no, all games are Doom. Probably because all gaming machines are still Nintendo or something.

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The wording might have been a little moist-eyed, but Edge's Doom review – above so much discussion about gaming, my own included – was open-minded.

That's... one way to put it.

I think the author of the article fell into the pitfall of thinking that what's normal today was normal 20 years ago. There was a time when PC gaming was dominated by games that were slow and sophisticated. I don't remember the "infamous" review in its entirety, but I was always under the impression that its author was just grumpy about the fact that action games were slowly starting to conquer his beloved "smart" gaming platform. Is that open-minded?

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I love that the game mentions Mass Effect as an example of a modern game that we could barely imagine in 1994. I guess he never heard of, say, Star Control II (1992), where you had to engage in interstellar diplomacy amongst 25 alien races.

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Jayextee said:

But no, all games are Doom. Probably because all gaming machines are still Nintendo or something.

You boys playing your Dooms on your Nintendos, hah.

I wonder if game journos produce this sort of manure, because they feel so listless and unfulfilled by their career choice, or because there's a really sharp quota on Deconstructing Gamer Culture they need to fulfill monthly.

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The article ignores that different games (and heck, any work of art) have particular design goals. Doom was essentially made to emulate the adrenaline of action films, which generally don't feature the hero trying to talk the villain out of his evil ways beyond a single line or two (if even that). If Doom were made with the intention of emulating Star Trek, then sure, talking to the demons would be viable.

It's funny how the article mentions Skyrim, Mass Effect, and Undertale. All of them are RPGs, and Doom isn't. Heck, Skyrim and Mass Effect are full of enemies you can't talk to (just try asking the bandits to sit down and reconsider their life choices). Undertale's really the only one that lets you talk to everything, and that's because it was built with that in mind. More importantly, the bulk of Undertale's gameplay is in defending yourself, so the player isn't really missing out on much by not fighting.

In any case, "talking to the monsters" will always make me think of this:

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Oh god what is this article even
do you want to get banned from Everything Else, Linguica
do you all want to
it's not even Everything Else
and yet, feminism

for the record I agree with whatshisface three plus minus two posts above, it's all about money.

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We don't negotiate with demons.

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That Edge review was probably written by someone whose gaming and journalistic bread & butter were RPGs and adventure games -quite a few of them back in the day. Some were so one-sided and dedicated to those genres that other games genres simply didn't exist according to them. Everything simply either fit into the RPG/adventure category or it was ruled as a very poor attempt at fitting, after miserably trying to shoehorn it.

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Maes said:

That Edge review was probably written by someone whose gaming and journalistic bread & butter were RPGs and adventure games -quite a few of them back in the day. Some were so one-sided and dedicated to those genres that other games genres simply didn't exist according to them. Everything simply either fit into the RPG/adventure category or it was ruled as a very poor attempt at fitting, after miserably trying to shoehorn it.

I'm getting flashbacks to reviews in the vein of "Our resident turn-based strategies expert tackles this extremely shitty FPS"... but at least they knew they were throwing away worthless crap, heh.

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RaphaelMode said:

do you want to get banned from Everything Else, Linguica

You do realize he's an admin, right?

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Even though I love the original Doom, I actually kind of agree with Edge's review. In fact, I am surprised there has yet to be an Undertale-like Doom mod where you actually get to talk to the monsters.

And while Doom 2016 does look like a decent shooter after all, it is disappointing to see the once-revolutionary Id Software rehash a 23-year old game *again* rather than coming up with new ideas, let alone new intellectual properties.

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I dunno, I look at Doom 2016 and I just cannot bring myself to pay $80 CAD for a game that is essentially doing the same thing as Brutal Doom.

I really do not feel like Id Software has been experimenting all that much here; on the contrary, they seem to have been content imitating their competitors this time around. The customisation of the Praetor suit - which in itself looks like a Brutal reimagining of Halo's Spartan armor - reminds me of Crysis and Shadow Warrior 2013, and the visuals seem to be a mishmash of Gears of War and Doom 3.

I understand Id Software wanted to play it safe after the RAGE disappointment, but still...

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JohnnyTheWolf said:

I dunno, I look at Doom 2016 and I just cannot bring myself to pay $80 CAD for a game that is essentially doing the same thing as Brutal Doom.


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JohnnyTheWolf said:

it is disappointing to see the once-revolutionary Id Software rehash a 23-year old game *again* rather than coming up with new ideas, let alone new intellectual properties.


I don't think it's disappointing at all. Id Software has changed, it's a game company like any other now, not a coven of highly ambitious nerds fueled by D&D, pizza and metal like it was in the 90's. But even if all of the original members were still there, that's not a guarantee that they could release another revolutionary game, specially considering that the stakes were much lower back then. Nowadays there's not much you can revolutionize in video games other than making the graphics sligthly better.

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Janus3003 said:

The article ignores that different games (and heck, any work of art) have particular design goals. Doom was essentially made to emulate the adrenaline of action films, which generally don't feature the hero trying to talk the villain out of his evil ways beyond a single line or two (if even that). If Doom were made with the intention of emulating Star Trek, then sure, talking to the demons would be viable.


Nailed it.

What an ignorant article.

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HorrorMovieGuy said:

Nowadays there's not much you can revolutionize in video games other than making the graphics sligthly better.


That is a rather cynical outlook.

Off the top of my head, there are so many things that could definitely be revolutionised with video games, such as artificial intelligence, interactivity, procedural generation of content, optimisation of technology, gender and race representation, digital scent technology, hardware affordability, business model...

Even John Carmack seems to think there is still room for innovation, as he left Id Software to work on Oculus.

Janus3003 said:

Doom was essentially made to emulate the adrenaline of action films, which generally don't feature the hero trying to talk the villain out of his evil ways beyond a single line or two (if even that).


If that is the case, then we ought to rethink our conception of action films.

Because what makes a movie like Die Hard a true classic is ultimately not the fact that he is shooting bad guys, but rather the hardships the hero must go through, the numerous exchanges he has with other characters and the things that are at stakes.

For example, I would love to see a first-person shooter based on the first Terminator, where the only real enemy is the Terminator itself and you must find ways to evade and ultimately destroy it. I am not talking about an interactive movie here: I am talking about some kind of open-world game where a highly-sophisticated AI enemy that would be actively searching for you.

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"With the advent of branching stories and dialogue trees, that Doom review becomes a rare example of game criticism before its time. Suggesting today that a game might be more interesting if it offers more choice, more communication with non-player characters and more freedom is perfectly acceptable. If we laughed at Edge back in 1994, because the idea of negotiating with a video games' enemies seemed absurd, I don't understand why we're still laughing today. I disagree that this review missed the point of Doom; to me, it seems like Edge recognised Doom as a gaming landmark and was speculating upon what might be (and, as it came to pass, actually was) a future gaming landmark."


We're still laughing today because such features would have been ultimately detrimental to a game like Doom. EDGE magazine had a habit of being unnecessarily contrary in the 90's, but for many this was just a step too far into the ludicrous.

Besides, Strife came out three years later. The difference? It makes sense in Strife. Strife has a coherent (enough) story that unfolds during the course of the game. Doom is an out-and-out blast-fest. And no one on these boards would have it any other way. Unless you're making a mod that's going for the survival horror angle, but I digress.

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scalliano said:

We're still laughing today because such features would have been ultimately detrimental to a game like Doom.


How do you know for sure? If Id had made Strife instead of Doom and the game had been just as big of a success, I do not think you would have been laughing at the notion of a first-person shooter where you get to talk to the monsters.

I think that, in a way, is what the EDGE review was trying to say: it is not that NPC interactions and different types of approach would have been detrimental to Doom, it is just that the developers gave their game a bare-bones story to justify its kill-or-be-killed gameplay.

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How do you know for sure? If Id had made Strife instead of Doom and the game had been just as big of a success, I do not think you would have been laughing at the notion of a first-person shooter where you get to talk to the monsters.


Plenty of people like Strife around here, Half-Life was a huge success, the industry as a whole moved towards games where NPCs blather all the time and enemies are human, which should put the nonsensical idea people laugh at the idea of talking to the monsters in a FPS in general.

Missing context does your argument no service, and it's the same mistake the reviewer made. This is about Doom itself. Doom is an action game - GAME, not movie. The essence of a game is interactivity. It wouldn't enhance the experience of chess to have the game interrupted by a dramatic retelling of King Lear using your pieces on the board every single time you played the game. You could make an alternate chess where this was the case; but taking the original chess and replacing it forever for everyone with your cinematic chess would be a great loss for gaming as a whole.

Doom is a game all about movement and momentum. Darkness and rendering tricks are used to trick the mind into seeing more than the technology can deliver. Putting mouthpieces playing exposition would cheapen both the gameplay and atmosphere. No defined story could equal the wonders your average player would conjure up for themselves, given the amazing (for the time) canvas on display.

Unless said player is a bore who lacks imagination. Which is precisely why the Edge review deserved all that ridicule and still does today. It's a sign of the utterly close-minded, unable to immerse themselves in a mood, incapable of appreciating the beauty of tight gameplay; and this ignorant who needs stories to be told explicitely, this ignorant who needs entertainment to be spoon fed to him, is the one who calls others ignorant.

Bell curve being what it is, ignorance pays off financially, and the industry always moves towards that as a whole. Hollywood corridor shooters are the norm, and whenever someone does something putting creativity, player input and interpretation front and center (i.e. Minecraft, Dark Souls), you will be sure to see voices much like the Edge reviewer who make it a point to act like experts just as they miss the point.

Food for thought: are there any reviews asking for Call of Duty to be more abstract in the way it delivers its plot? Any calls for Firewatch to support player constructions? Fools have narrow ideas of game design and think any given genre ought to fit a mold. Greater fools still think themselves enlightened because they believe in a whole two or three molds per arbitrary genre. Combine this failure to appreciate design with an inflated sense of self-worth, and you end up with the belief this is an issue of implementation. *Obviously* the developers must have messed up, because *we* are the alpha and omega when it comes to judging not only games, but intent!

Or maybe, just maybe, there is an infinity of game designs with value. Your failure to enjoy something does not imply a flawed game.

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JohnnyTheWolf said:

I think that, in a way, is what the EDGE review was trying to say: it is not that NPC interactions and different types of approach would have been detrimental to Doom, it is just that the developers gave their game a bare-bones story to justify its kill-or-be-killed gameplay.

Don't confuse story and interactivity. Talking to the monsters is a gameplay feature, not a story enhancement (unless you make it really pointless).

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Unless you let your guns do the talking for you! I've read somewhere that the greatest conversation opener is a running chainsaw.

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Phml said:

Plenty of people like Strife around here, Half-Life was a huge success, the industry as a whole moved towards games where NPCs blather all the time and enemies are human, which should put the nonsensical idea people laugh at the idea of talking to the monsters in a FPS in general.

Missing context does your argument no service, and it's the same mistake the reviewer made.


On the contrary, I think it is you who is missing the point here.

The developers came up with a context where every NPC encountered is systematically actively trying to kill you. But it did not have to be that way: Id could have easily come up with a different setting where not all NPCs are hostile - or at least, not actively so - and where you could interact with them peacefully.

For example, some monsters could have been willing to lend you a hand after being fed, e.g. with corpses or power-ups. The Arch-Vile could have been neutral and been content with reviving its brethren; if you let it do so, it would be willing to heal you or resurrect you should you die. Killing a "commanding" demon like the Baron of Hell could inspire lesser enemies to rebel. Some of your weapons could have been ancient items that could be used to exorcise possessed humans and convert demons. Instead of just throwing Lost Souls at you, the Pain Elemental could have been the creature controlling the possessed humans; killing it would have freed fellow human NPCs from enthrallment. Heck, you could have been able to tame the beast and use it to enthrall demons instead! Instead of just shooting the Cyberdemon until it dies, you could have turned its thralls against their demonic overlord by showing how little it cared for them in the first place, thus making monster in-fighting an integral part of gameplay rather than just a funny gimmick. The game could have still been gorily ultraviolent and even ended on a darkly humorous note where you, as the new leader of Hell, join your fellow demons in feasting on the Cyberdemon's corpse.

All of this could have been accomplished with visual and audio cues only!

This is about Doom itself. Doom is an action game - GAME, not movie. The essence of a game is interactivity.


Yes, because allowing you to interact with NPCs in a non-violent manner automatically turns a game into a movie. Seriously, is that really what you are saying?

It wouldn't enhance the experience of chess to have the game interrupted by a dramatic retelling of King Lear using your pieces on the board every single time you played the game. You could make an alternate chess where this was the case; but taking the original chess and replacing it forever for everyone with your cinematic chess would be a great loss for gaming as a whole.


You are making an argument to absurdity here.

Also, chess is not a video game; it is not even a multimedia product!

Putting mouthpieces playing exposition would cheapen both the gameplay and atmosphere. Unless said player is a bore who lacks imagination. Which is precisely why the Edge review deserved all that ridicule and still does today. It's a sign of the utterly close-minded, unable to immerse themselves in a mood, incapable of appreciating the beauty of tight gameplay; and this ignorant who needs stories to be told explicitely, this ignorant who needs entertainment to be spoon fed to him, is the one who calls others ignorant.


Again, I really do not think that is what the EDGE review was saying.

The fact that you cannot even think of a way to allow the player to interact with NPCs without cutscenes and lengthy dialogue just shows how ignorant and unimaginative *you* are.

Food for thought: are there any reviews asking for Call of Duty to be more abstract in the way it delivers its plot?


It would not surprise me if it were the case: Call of Duty's storytelling is disappointingly conservative and lacking interactivity.

Any calls for Firewatch to support player constructions?


I have not played Firewatch, so I am not sure I understand what you are talking about.

Fools have narrow ideas of game design and think any given genre ought to fit a mold. Greater fools still think themselves enlightened because they believe in a whole two or three molds per arbitrary genre. Combine this failure to appreciate design with an inflated sense of self-worth, and you end up with the belief this is an issue of implementation. *Obviously* the developers must have messed up, because *we* are the alpha and omega when it comes to judging not only games, but intent!


Actually, I think *you* are actually the one coming across as the "fool" here for misinterpreting the reviewer's point and arguing Id's way was the only way - which in turn makes you look narrow-minded, if not downright close-minded.

The EDGE reviewer did not say Doom was bad - quite the contrary - or that the developers "failed". He just wished they could have done more with their amazing world and technology than to just shoot the same monsters until they die over and over again.

I mean, I love Doom myself and I still play a WAD or two on a daily basis, but even I cannot help but share this sentiment.

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