Doom: Did it really look that bad back in the day?

My "holy shit" moment of the original Doom was the maze in E1M4. The ceiling is very low, and I can vividly remember being spell-bound by watching it just whizz past you, inches above your head.

 

I'd never seen anything like it before.

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But they looked better than ZX Spectrum or Atari 2600...

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High resolutions and more colors also mean the simplicity of the world is exposed. I'm not surprised to see comments like "OMG vanilla maps are primitive" and then learn that the person is playing exclusively in GZDoom. Some people have less tolerance for this.

 

Accelerated Doom looks best when the tech is utilized properly, with smooth lighting and whatnot.

 

Also, I believe modern displays are getting the colors kinda wrong. I think the lows are supposed to be lower. They're very jarring now, and a lot of the art assets' imperfections are being exposed.

 

Edited by Da Werecat
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14 hours ago, Dirk said:

Recently I've tried running Doom via both DoxBox and Chocolate Doom, and I'm amazed by how horrible it looks.  I could have sworn that it looked much better back in the 90s, but now I'm wondering if my memory's just playing tricks on me (I went on a nearly 20-year hiatus from the game).  Did it always look extremely pixelated, and if so, why do the sprites used in modern sourceports look so good?

 

13 hours ago, MetroidJunkie said:

Our young minds tended to fill in the details, making us remember more vibrant environments than there actually were.

I agree with that. Yes, it may not be as sharp as you remember it. But I think that's normal when you go without playing something for a long period of time.

 

I remember the first time I saw the first Rainbow Six at a friend's house, I thought it looked amazing. A few years later, at that same friend's house, when he loaded Rainbow Six after playing one of the later Rainbow Six games, I thought to myself that it didn't look as good as I remembered it looking.

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39 minutes ago, Da Werecat said:

Also, I believe modern displays are getting the colors kinda wrong. I think the lows are supposed to be lower. They're very jarring now, and a lot of the art assets' imperfections are being exposed.

 

I remember reading somewhere that the palette used in the original Doom and Doom 2 were purposely muted, so the colors were supposed to look somewhat darker and weren't supposed to appear vibrant.

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Doom still looks so good it makes the other perfect 10 games look like 5s by comparison. I still love you Doom.

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1 hour ago, Da Werecat said:

High resolutions and more colors also mean the simplicity of the world is exposed. I'm not surprised to see comments like "OMG vanilla maps are primitive" and then learn that the person is playing exclusively in GZDoom. Some people have less tolerance for this.

 

Accelerated Doom looks best when the tech is utilized properly, with smooth lighting and whatnot.

This is a big part of why I always get so cranky when I see those "remake Doom in another engine" projects and it's literally just transposing the original architecture instead of recreating it to take advantage of the new engine's abilities. Doom's simplistic architecture was a product of its time. Arguably the single best example of how to update Doom into a new engine is Classic Doom 3, mimicking the layouts but enhancing the look and giving it a few real-world touches like railings and the like.

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This is true. All the early 3D stuff was low detail, angular, heavily pixelated, choppy, etc. We tolerated 200p or 240p because it was the standard at the time. We also tolerated abysmal framerates, as I can recall running Doom on a 386 and getting single digit FPS. Low resolution mode bumped it up, but then you were dealing with sub-Atari pixel counts.

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Doom still looks gorgeous at minimum resolution to me. of course it lacks fidelity and dynamic effects and all that good/bad stuff but the art design itself is spot on. the only thing I'd change about the formula is adding a little contrast to the floor flats really

 

I think 3D game art has only this year reached the point of being as satisfying to look at as something that came off a paintbrush

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Doom's still looking great at its native resolution, especially on a CRT although I also like it on the flat Eizo.

 

At higher resolutions it tends to fall apart - it looks empty and the sprites tend to look pretty strange. I get a similar feeling with the original Quake, albeit it endures "high res" a wee bit better. In multiplayer that was not really an issue as you could make things out better and at these speeds the impression remained intact.

 

 

Edited by _bruce_
Wording
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Complaining about Doom's graphics would be like complaining that Georges Seurat's paintings were pixellated. You can't judge art objectively strictly by the nature of its composition.

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I don't understand why people seem to think that low resolution is what makes a game look bad.

 

Doom, Hexen, Heretic et al are not bad looking games. Operation Body Count is a bad looking game.

 

Personally I think Doom looks worse at higher resolutions because it shows that there's actually nothing there in spots where your mind would normally fill in the details.

Edited by Marnetstapler
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15 minutes ago, Job said:

You can't judge art objectively strictly by the nature of its composition.

Videogames as a medium may be too young. What's possible changes every year, so it's hard not to be excited about new possibilities. This in turn clouds people's judgement when it comes to using techniques that have been there for a while. Hence the amount of people still not being able to see through "obsolete" graphics.

 

On the other hand, low resoultion is kinda hard on eyes when it's about a moving picture with no anti-aliasing, so I'd say at least some dissatisfaction is justified.

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Vanilla Doom looks better than most modern FPS tbh

 

(no I'm not kidding, I actually think vanilla Doom's graphics are much more appealing than modern games)

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1 hour ago, Pyrolex said:

Vanilla Doom looks better than most modern FPS tbh

 

(no I'm not kidding, I actually think vanilla Doom's graphics are much more appealing than modern games)

More appealing to you personally =/= objectively better though.

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My biggest problem with Doom's graphics is that the wall textures from E1 don't even really look like walls. I know they are suppose to look like they are made out of metal or iron, but for some reason they just look like colored wood to me :/

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8 hours ago, Pyrolex said:

Vanilla Doom looks better than most modern FPS tbh

 

(no I'm not kidding, I actually think vanilla Doom's graphics are much more appealing than modern games)

 

Have to agree.

It's often abstraction that makes games look great and the older ones had this feature built in due to resource constraints. It's kinda like with older movies, e.g.: "Sindbad", "Clash Of The Titans", where the monsters even varied from cheesy to great - the stylized depiction of these creatures makes them sur-real and appealing.

A friend of mine showed me the latest TombRaider on the PS4 and the graphics/artwork quality in itself is breathtaking(ice looked mesmerizing) but overall one seems to get de-sensitized fast... none of these lifelike presentations stuck with me... fire, ice & forget.

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I still admire the engine and overall look when I play it on a DOS machine.

Also, somehow the choice of sprites, textures and everything was so good that I don't think it looks bad even for now.

I only get a bad feeling with the capped 35fps framerate. Also I notice the aliasing (due to resolution) far away. But it has the grim and gritty feeling I've forgotten.

 

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I was lucky insofar as I started playing on a PowerMac -- the second-wimpiest one -- in 1995. I only had a 75Mhz 603, but it had enough juice to run the game at 640x480 on a 15-inch CRT. I thought it looked fantastic. Really gritty and creepy. I soon moved up to a much stronger PowerMac clone, and also bought a P-133 PC, plus a nice 17-inch CRT. Seeing Doom fullscreen on the PC was mind-boggling. It looked awesome! It's probably why I made so many bigass maps back in the day. ;D

 

The party was basically over when I bought a 20-inch monitor and Doom became too grainy. Now I needed a 3dfx Voodoo card and GLDoom and life was good.

 

Still, I have to say that one of the all-time coolest looks I saw for Doom was playing it on my Amiga 4000 tower, with the OS running on a 17-inch monitor and Doom displayed fullscreen on a 20-inch Toshiba TIMM at 320x200. I was really stunned by how great it looked. The colors were so rich and deep and the detail was surprisingly good, and much less pixelly than I expected. 

 

Nowadays, playing Chocolate Doom on my 1080p monitor is out of the question, but I honestly never had a problem or worry with Doom's appearance on my past machines and smaller monitors.

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The game on Dos and Chocolate Doom looks pretty ugly, but get a source port like GZDoom or Zandronum and put it on the the one of the high resolutions and the game looks really nice to me.

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I'm a mix, I acknowledge that Doom is aged but I still think about what they had to go on at the time and am impressed by things it managed to accomplish like having non-orthogonal walls, having different levels of darkness with the sectors, having different height values, and having 8-directional sprites so you could see all sides of a monster in a manner that somewhat imitated true 3D. Then again, I can't imagine Doom 2016 ever looking aged but we probably didn't think Classic Doom could either.

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It doesn't matter if it's 320x200 in software or 1920x1080 with full openGL lighting effects and such, this game is a fucking beauty. 10/10 dominates the runway.

 

I mean, I guess it is ugly in the sense that there's a bunch of slime and blood and other various 'ick' around the place and it probably doesn't smell all that nice, but it's so beautiful in part because of all that lovely ick!

 

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15 minutes ago, Doomkid said:

it probably doesn't smell all that nice

Yet familiar -like fried excrement.

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Asking "did it really look that bad?" is essentially the same question as this: "did it really look that good?", to which the answer is: Yes, it looked that good. Still does, in fact. My sincere belief is that this site would not exist, had Doom not looked as good as it did and does. We are all still playing Doom, after all.

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I would suggest you look up some gameplay footage of Wolfenstein 3-D and/or Ultima Underworld and then compare it to gameplay footage of Doom to get a vague impression of what a graphical leap Doom was.

 

I remember being unimpressed by those ugly, pixelated wads of snot that was the player character's hands in Wolfenstein 3-D (and I'm a fan of that game!), but I got used to that.

Then Doom came out and those "pixelated wads of snot" had turned into "slightly pixelated photos of some guy's (Kevin Cloud's) hands holding a photo-realistic looking shotgun". Hell, you could see the hairs on the guy's forearm!

The rest of the graphics (enemy sprites and textures) were similarly improved over those in Wolfenstein 3-D, so it was easy for your imagination to transfer those "photo realistic" hands to the rest of the environment and thus fool yourself into thinking it looked far more real than it did.

Edited by dsm
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Yeah, I can't stand sprites in FPSes anymore. :( At least Doomsday Engine exists. ;)

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I mean, it looks like every game with sprites/pixel art style from the era, and this era. It's more a thing of personal taste.
I never owned a PSX, for example, so I have no nostalgia for it, but I love how gritty and interesting it looks, compared to the blurryness of the N64.
Back then? Doom was not only cool looking, it was even scary!

Edited by DANZA

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