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What if id Software never made Doom?

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So approaching this under the specific perspective that Id Software ceased to exist spontaneously the moment that Wolfenstein 3D was released as shareware, then the next most graphically appealing 3D game to be released on home computers would likely end up being the Ultima Underworld series which, despite being released like barely before Wolfenstein had a few interesting graphical effects that wouldn't be replicated in the post-Doom timeline until later, such as the ability to look up and down and use sloped floors, as well as a rudimentary physics engine that allowed things to kinda bounce around more realistically than Doom. Again, Ultima Underworld was released slightly before Wolfenstein 3D.

 

Here's thing about Ultima, and it speaks to a larger point in a bit: The immersive sim was such an obvious-seeming direction for fps gameplay that Doom almost was one. Heck, RPG's and their influence was such a strong part of early nineties game design that Doom was inspired by a D&D session. I strongly doubt gaming would follow in Wolfenstein 3D's gameplay, as opposed to Ultima's, if Id hadn't have done it themselves.

 

That being said, the trouble with Ultima was that it was that the game lacked a few of the things that would go on to make Doom such a smash hit. It had a demo but the demo was shorter than Doom's would have been. The controls were point and click relying on an enormous HUD with multiple insane things going on, the higher graphical fidelity meant the game ran worse than Doom would, or even Wolfenstein did, and it lacked any sort of simpler control scheme such as the one System Shock would introduce (no really) later on. Not having Doom as an example, but considering the joined first person perspective, it would be inevitable that some company or perhaps even Looking Glass would attempt to marry the Wolfenstein and Ultima styles into a single more streamlined game, but said game would undoubtedly be far more complicated and niche than Doom would've been, and no doubt be a "first person shooter" sub-genre of the RPG/immersive sim genre rather than the other way around. I'll call these "Ultima-Clones"

 

Doom changed the game because of its simplicity and immersiveness, and while I suspect a few Ultima-Clones would be made in the same way there are still some Metroidvania games kicking around nowadays, it seems unlikely that they'd make a big enough splash to pave the way for massive innovation in their specific sub-genre's field, not enough to create first-person shooters of the particular kind we see today. I mean, think about it. How much have Metroidvanias evolved since Super Metroid? I doubt shooter games would ever gain the prominence they did in our post-Doom timeline.

 

That being said, 3D was still in an inevitable crash course into the gaming mainstream and the inherent appeal of 3D graphics transcends guns or first-person viewpoints. Myst, which would come out a year later and have already been in development before Id Software mysteriously vanished upon the release of Wolfenstein 3D, would still probably go on to be the smash hit and sort of right-of-passage/pc benchmarker it is in our timeline. Donkey Kong Country and Starfox for the SNES would both probably also be made, all things considered, although Doom for the SNES would obviously not lol.

 

Games like SEGA's Virtual Fighter in '93 and the ensuing Sony Playstation in '95 were also well on their way regardless of Doom or Wolfenstein and would also probably cement 3D gaming's existence on home consoles. Doom, however, being a primarily home computer centered game without much in terms of home console appeal. Ultima-Clones would probably be similarly hard to port and play with a controller, although the lack of simplicity and total denial of console play would probably doom them to be mostly computer exclusives until maybe a decade or so later when some streamlined approach would be developed for consoles and Ultima-Clone fans would probably hate it for being dumbed down.

 

Ultima-Clones being the only real genre that only works on pc in this universe, home computers would probably stop being as big a major gaming system as they are for us, and I suspect consoles would become the major focus of most AAA developers. I know: AAA developers not caring about the pc gaming demographic? What a crazy Orwellian alternate timeline I've just cooked up, huh?

 

Considering the lack of major gun fetishization in the medium before Doom and the Doom-clones that followed it I suspect the majority of even third-person action shooters would probably not be made, giving way for more RPG or 3D platformers. Specific genre fare, like Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil, which feature guns although more as homage to the film genres they're inspired by, might still be made -- or at least games similar to them -- but I definitely doubt Goldeneye would ever be made for the 64, and the Metroid Prime games would probably never be developed for the Gamecube (or, even if they were they'd likely be third-person spy-sims/metroid games and not first person adventures) cementing both consoles as exclusive platformer or third person action homes.

 

So, with the groundwork I've laid out, what have we got? Most of the same big consoles, we still have, nix the first-person shooters aside from a niche first-person immersive sim sub-genre. 3D gaming would still come into the mainstream, although focus would be shifted onto consoles instead of pc's.

 

The third-person shooter as an innovation doesn't really make sense in a nix-fps world. FPS gameplay is obvious because first-person skills revolve around being able to navigate the camera towards important things, and demands for high octane action met with "mechanics centered around aiming towards stuff" naturally involves guns at some point. But in a world where first-person gameplay is less prevalent, third-person action games would likely fill the void and making those about guns doesn't really make sense out of context, especially given the shift towards console releases over pc releases, meaning the twitch aiming precision would be sacrificed in exchange for looser more timing centric action, a la third-person beat'em ups.

 

At this point, I have to wonder. With most action games being either 3D or 2D beat'em ups, more grounded stories like those of Bioshock or the like would likely not have even involved as much murder as they do. Punching somebody to death is less realistic for a rundown city cop, for instance, than shooting them. In a third person action experience, most cops aren't wielding big swords that allow for more fluid, fatal gameplay in a 3D experience, either. With this much focus being put on the third-person action game, certain innovations like those in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, for instance, might have still come around, and it's likely people would have at some point mastered the intense blocking and well-timed strikes of, say, Dark Souls, a lot sooner than we did. More complex decision making per single enemy would have resulted in less overall enemies taken out, and more grounded stories would have resulted in fewer people coldly murdered...did Doom create ludonarrative dissonance? Did the onset of First-Person Shooters wind up inadvertently creating the biggest narrative hurdle that, combined with the closed off industry unwilling to take risks or experiment, would wind up being the largest most glaring issue with storytelling in video games today?

 

Ultimately, we can't ever really know what would happen if Doom wasn't released, but in a lot of weird ways, I feel like gaming might have been better for it? When I went into researching this, mostly on a whim, I didn't expect to find this. It's possible that the FPS genre would still come about, even despite Doom -- maybe Wolfenstein had more sticking power than I'm giving it credit for. Maybe Ultima Underworld's ahead-of-its time innovations weren't as impressive to gamers as I give it credit for. Maybe, if not The Matrix specifically, but some other big John Woo inspired blockbuster would inspire video-games to feature prominent guns and then those would just take over the world, just like The Matrix took over pop culture. I dunno. But, still, some part of me wonders what the narrative-gaming watershed moment of timeline-ultima would have been. What was their version of Half-Life like? IDK

 

edit: WOW this was longer than I intended originally. Wanted to put in some research and try to make a vaguely educated guess at OP's question, or at least the humorous interpretation of it that most of us have lol. OP is clearly asking what Doom would have been like if, say, handed to another studio and The Two Johns (tm) had nothing to do with it...or at least I think that's what he's asking. 

 

edit: I've a made a few more edits where I clear up some of my points.

 

tl;dr I posit that without Doom, FPS gameplay would be relegated to a niche RPG/Immersive sim sub-genre, and the big AAA action genre would be third person action/beat'em ups.

Edited by EtherBot

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On 9/9/2018 at 4:55 PM, Trar said:

how much did Doom influence Duke? And since I'm pretty sure 3D Realms/Ken Silverman were largely doing their own thing, I don't think there was a lot of influence.

 

Anyway, Duke would probably become the prototypical shooter for a while. "Duke clones" come out and everything.

Holy shit I totally forgot about Duke Nukem in my post! That being said I'd argue much of Duke Nukem was influenced by Doom, although just how much is hard to quantify. There are plenty of in-game references to Doom and the cover is an intentional riff, and George Broussard, one of the co-founders of Apogee is quoted as saying, "There weren’t any reference points apart from Doom, really. We were all in uncharted territory." (Source)

 

A lot of the decisions made in Duke 3D's development seem specifically designed to push past and expand on Doom. I imagine if all they had to go off of was Wolfenstein 3D we'd have gotten a game more similar to that than Knee-Deep in the Dead.

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Level design in other shooters of that era would of probably been more realism-focused.

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Also Sonic's Schoolhouse,Fallout,Watch Dogs,Lara Croft,Uncharted,Assassin's Creed,Bioshock,Borderlands,Minecraft,Sad Satan,Hello Neighbor and Baldi's Basics Education and Learning these games could also never exist if Wolfenstein 3D and Doom was never made.

Edited by luke11685

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On 11/13/2017 at 1:31 AM, printz said:

id wouldn't have made Doom. They would have made an Alien game...

 

That's what I thought would be a possible reason for this. If id never made Doom, it would likely be because they chose to make the Alien game instead. Perhaps, in this alternate reality, they wanted to play it safe and go with a Hollywood Blockbuster. It would have resulted in far more executive meddling, likely little to no mod support. id Software might even have made a contract with 21st Century Fox and gone on to make licensed games, for good or bad.

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If id didn't make doom, we would probably have a decent ROTT source port. We could also have ROTT 2, Hell on Los Angeles, the oddly dark lit ROTT 3 and the new ROTT from 2016 that captures the magic of the original while still being its own, and we would all be waiting for ROTT Eternal. I guess we atleast got that 2013 ROTT Reboot but we need more ROTT in general.

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Actually, if id Software was more focused on Wolfenstein, ROTT would have never happened. It was originally going to be a followup to Wolfenstein 3D until id Software decided against it, after which the team that worked on it salvaged what they had made in the form of ROTT. It would have been a Wolfenstein game.

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An interesting question.

 

I think that at some point in time something else would have been made in a similar vein, though not Doom, and it probably wouldn't have had the same long-term cultural significance. Doom was a paradigm, and subsequently created a movement around itself, which ultimately spread outward, encompassing the standard FPS genre. We'd likely have ended up with something like Rise of the Triads, basing most of it's gameplay upon the Wolf 3D model.

 

The game that would have eventually been made in place of Doom would probably not have contained any multiplayer options. It would have been purely single-player.  Without deathmatch and the parallel movement brought about by deathmatch, with it's clans and ranking systems another paradigm shift would have been averted. It would likely be some years in the future before a developer came up with sufficient vision to work upon this aspect of gaming.

 

As for me, I'd simply never have got into gaming at all, at least not then. Before Doom I really had no interest in video games, I imagined them all as cartoony side-scrolling little men jumping along platforms. Doom, when I saw it for the first time on a friend's PC  was like a revelation and it's what kickstarted my love of gaming.

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On 9/21/2018 at 11:40 AM, Lord Snot said:

As for me, I'd simply never have got into gaming at all, at least not then. Before Doom I really had no interest in video games, I imagined them all as cartoony side-scrolling little men jumping along platforms. Doom, when I saw it for the first time on a friend's PC  was like a revelation and it's what kickstarted my love of gaming.

This. Absolutely. Exactly how I felt. But for Doom, I'd have always believed video games were like that. Then our boss bought in the shareware Doom at work after hours and played E1M1 in SP while we watched. I found myself shouting (about a zombieman) "Kill 'im, KILL 'im!!" with involuntary excitement :)

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Modern fps games would be lower quality.  Suicide rates would be higher.  My life would be less interesting.  Various things wouldn't be as good as they actually are.  This makes me wonder: What if there was something as good as DOOM but something happened to it and it could've improved many aspects of our reality?  

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Honestly classic first person perspective fantasy and science-fiction pc game shooters exist thanks to NASA without them there could be no fantasy and first or third person shooters video game genres nowadays.

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Guest MIND

FPS wouldn't even be a genre or if it was nothing like it is today.

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