I figured that this would be as good of a time as any to post this... last August I wrote up and sent an email to Graeme Devine, designer for id Software, that detailed my wishes if id were to make a Doom2000. Now that they've announced that they're making a new Doom game, I figure I should post it so you all can see my ideas. Post your reactions and your own ideas here if you want.
I think of myself as being in a better position that most to give suggestions on where to go with a new Doom game. I have played Doom and Doom 2 since the summer of 1994 -- almost exactly five years now -- and for the last year and a half I've run Doomworld, the premiere Doom website on the internet. My site has introduced Doom to a new generation of gamers and reminded an older one of days gone by -- a few have even returned to the fold, drawn in once again by Doom source ports featuring sophisticated scripting, colored lighting, true 3D, OpenGL acceleration, and much more.
But my past experience isn't what would make my ideas worth consideration, of course; it's what my ideas consist of.
Ever since the original Doom came out, id's games haven't been known for their enthralling single-player modes. Both Quake and Quake 2 have achieved vastly more popularity as a multiplayer game than one where you traipse through halls and kill monsters. Quake 3's lack of a traditional single-player mode altogether only solidifies this claim.
However, more recent games such as last year's Half-Life and the just-released System Shock 2 have shown that the single-player FPS is nowhere near facing extinction and, in fact, can make for just as intense and involving of an experience as any multiplayer blood orgy could possibly hope.
If id Software decides to make their next project another chapter in the Doom series, the emphasis would undoubtedly have to be swung back over to the single-player aspect of the game. Doom and Doom 2 achieved immense and unparalleled popularity based mainly on the strengths of its single-player game: while Doom deathmatch and co-op were great fun, the Internet was barely even a factor to consider and games could only really be played over a LAN or IPX network.
The question, then, is how to create, in today's marketplace, a single-player experience which is just as engrossing and enthralling as the original Doom was 5 years ago.
The competition is much more intense. Games like the previously mentioned Half-Life and System Shock 2 have in-game cutscenes, scenarios, and objectives which make them more like an interactive movie. The original Doom was nowhere near as complex: find a monster. Kill it. Repeat.
My vision for the ideal Doom2000 is, therefore, the following.
id Software cannot be considered one of the more "design-oriented" gaming companies out there. Ever since Tom Hall first wrote the Doom Design Document in 1992, id has had a tendency to throw such documents out the window. Doom and Doom 2 collected mostly-unrelated levels together and slapped on a storyline which often didn't explain a levels' archietcture. Quake was a game designer's nightmare; originally supposed to be a game where the hero wields a hammer and faces only a handful or monsters per level, it slowly mutated through an Aztec-inspired period (still evident in level names like "Ziggurat Vertigo") and eventually ended up as a mixture of medieval-gothic and future-industrial levels with an even thinner plot than that for Doom. id solidified somewhat with the plot of Quake II, which followed a marine through his attack against the forces of Stroggos, aided by mission objectives and cutscenes. Quake 3 appears to be another swing towards a loosely defined plot which gives the makers much leeway in what they can create.
Single-player games nowadays, on the other hand, are extremely design-oriented. Half-Life has a very well-defined plot and everything makes sense in the context of the game world. System Shock 2 is full of discarded personal logs and e-mails which slowly congeal into an intricate plot as the game progresses. If id Software wants to make a game which was even better then these single-player masterpieces, there will have to be a definite plan going into the project which can not be deviated from without ruining the integrity of the game. id also has shown that they very seldom will stick to such a plan.
In other words, Doom2000 in all probability cannot be "better" than a game like Half-Life, because in order to succeed it would have to be very different from a game like Half-Life.
id Software's strength in creating a new single-player game is their ability to create raw, visceral action, rather than intriguing plots or objectives. Blinding speed and lightning-fast gameplay is what would make Doom2000 a great game -- it's not only what Doom originally was, but it's what id Software knows how to do.
id has never been one to develop much of a plot in their games, and Doom2000 is no place to start. In fact, D2K would be better off to steal the original Doom plot: a space marine is trapped on Phobos along with vast hordes of demonic monsters. He makes his way through the base and into a dimensional portal, ending up on Deimos, which is floating above the surface of Hell itself. After conquering Deimos the space marine rappels down to challenge the legions of Hell on their own turf.
D2K would follow the "3-episode" structure of the original commercial Doom; the first taking place on Phobos, the second on Deimos, and the final episode in Hell. The first episode would be predominantly high-tech: a distant moon base with all the futuristic refinements. The second episode on Deimos would be a little more lax; while it would be another space outpost, it would have been taken under control by the hellspawn with noticable effects. The third episode would be, well, Hellish -- lots of fire and brimstone, full of "hot" colors like orange and red.
The progression of the levels would emulate those in Doom. You would start on level 1, proceeding to level 2, and so on. Each level could be broken up into sub-levels to reduce loading time or increase size, if necessary, but each level would have a distinct start and endpoint.
Once again, as in Doom, Doom2000 would take a cue regarding between-level statistics. The player would be shown the percentage of enemies killed, items grabbed, and secrets discovered, as well as the time taken to complete the level.
Between episodes, a short cutscene would be shown to advance the plot as much as necessary.
The Doom2000 engine would probably be a tweaked Quake 3 engine, but possibly might be John Carmack's next-generation engine, built from the ground up to take full advantage of ever-evolving hardware. Everything found in Quake 3 would be present, and additional features may include more realistic physics, bumpmapping, and realistically cast shadows.
Another aspect in which the engine would be enhanced is in its handling of models. The Doom2000 engine would use level-of-detail technology to modify the amount of polygons used by enemies in view, thus enabling the engine to handle upwards of 50 enemies onscreen at once.
Tipping their hat to the work of the thousands of Doomers who created their own levels for Doom and Doom 2, id Software would ship Doom2000 with a program which would convert .WAD files into the format used by Doom2000's levels. This process would turn any properly-constructed level for Doom or Doom 2 into a level fully playable within Doom2000, preserving the original textures (which would be included in a special PAK file with the game), monsters (which would be replaced by their Doom2000 counterparts), and lighting (the engine would be capable of displaying arbitrary light levels in certain areas, just as in the original Doom engine). This move would give id an instantaneous base of thousands of add-on levels even on the first day of release, as well as disproving naysayers who would complain that Doom2000 could never retain the gameplay and action that characterized the original game.
Fast and furious. The player's movement speed would be increased to match that of the original space marine, and enemies would be as fast and deadly as ever. With the Doom2000 engine allowing for hundreds of monsters on any level, the game would often revolve around battling giant hordes of relatively weak monsters, rather than fighting one or two strong monsters. The emphasis would not be on sneaking and cunning, but rather on near-constant fighting.
Every monster found in Doom 2 would appear in Doom2000, all given the 3D treatment. A handful of new enemies would be introduced, including several new mid-level monsters and a new end-boss which would put the Cyberdemon to shame.
All monsters would sport loads of new animations. Monsters would be able to walk, run, strafe, and backstep just like the player. They could look around, sniff scents, and jerk their heads in reaction to loud noises. Monsters hunting you down would appear more cautious and alert than those caught off-guard. Monsters would also all have numerous pain and death animations, expecially the weaker and more often-used ones.
Additionally. every monster would use sound as a tactic to unnerve the player. The former humans would utter low moans and call out to the player when they were searching for him. Demons and Lost Souls would have a wide variety of snorts and growls as they roamed. The archvile would be brimming in Satanic energy and would utter obscure Latin phrases in an unearthly voice. Hell would be filled with the moans and screams of the tortured dead who had been banished there.
THE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The levels of intelligence of the monsters would differ dramatically, from the nearly brain-dead Troopers to the nerfarious and cunning Archviles. The smarter monsters would be able to dodge and hide, but generally would not run away and call for reinforcements -- after all, this is a purely action game.
Most, if not all, of the original Doom/Doom 2 weapons would make a reappearance, from the chainsaw to the BFG. Again, a handful of new weapons would be introduced to keep the action lively.
The weapon animations would be very detailed and distinct. For instance, the super-shotgun would be cracked open with a flick of the wrist. Wisps of blue smoke would curl from the edges of the dual barrels, and the empty shells would be pulled out and dropped, clinking on the ground. The player would take two new shells and shove them into the vacated chamber, and then would whip the whip the barrel upwards, closing the chambers with a satisfying thunk.
The interface would be carefully constructed to reflect the nature of Doom2000, rather than being added on without much thought or care. The format would remain the same: a basic menu would offer a few options which would then be elaborated upon in further sub-menus. However, the interface would be more visually appealing than simply pressing enter and watching the new screen appear. Letters and graphics would slide onscreen from all directions, sometime scaling and spinning. During level intermissions, the numbers counting the percentage of enemies killed would slam down as if flying into place from behind your head. The interface would be fast-paced, loud, and exciting to watch -- just like the game itself.
There is much more that I could say about my hopers for Doom2000, but I feel that I've covered most of the basic points. I hope you take my suggestions into consideration. If you like any ideas or have any questions, please let me know.