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Ashley_Pomeroy

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  1. Ashley_Pomeroy

    What if Doom was never released?

    My recollection is that Doom burned very brightly, but it also burned very quickly - Doom II was slightly disappointing, and by the time Duke Nukem 3D came out in 1996 the Doom games felt really old-fashioned. The pace of change was very rapid at the time. Duke Nukem 3D had transformable environments, security cameras, novelty weapons, speech samples etc, some of which had already appeared in System Shock, but that required a monster PC. Even after source ports came out I remember that Doom was self-consciously retro in the late 1990s, e.g. it was a well-respected classic game, but it belonged to the past. Doom 3 got a lot of press but in gameplay terms it was overshadowed by Far Cry and Half-Life 2, specifically the "driving a vehicle down a long track" elements of those two games. It didn't have much influence on the subsequent course of games development. Doom 2016 is a classic but again its influence on other games is very small. At the same time I remember a lot of my friends buying a PC specifically to play Doom, at a time when a decent 486 cost more than £1,000 and you needed to take out a loan to afford it. The switch to the PC as a viable gaming platform stamped out interest in the Amiga, although Commodore was already in financial trouble. Why spend a lot of money on a powerful Amiga when you could instead get a PC and play Doom? But again outside the UK the Commodore Amiga was dead as a dodo and if it wasn't Doom that made the PC a gaming platform it would have been something else. From what I remember the first wave of 3D graphics accelerators were optimised for things like Mechwarrior 2 and Tomb Raider - console ports - and in fact neither Doom nor Quake had official GL / PowerVR / Glide ports. A lot depends on whether Id would have gone on to make Quake. I think the biggest risk would have been for them to make Doom "good enough", e.g. Wolfenstein with variable light levels and some spooky textures, but fundamentally an incremental step, rather than a revolution. Faced with a damp squib of a game they might have decided to go all-out for Quake, thus leapfrogging the Build engine. Who knows. As mentioned above Quake indirectly gives us Half-Life and by extension Valve Software and Steam, which until recently dominated the PC gaming market. Didn't Gabe Newell work on Doom 95, the port of Doom to Windows 95? Without that contact with Id he might have decided not to leave Microsoft. Perhaps in an alternative 2019 we would be moaning that The Outer Worlds is a 3DRealms store exclusive. I know that Valve gets a lot of stick, but I shudder at the thought of 3DRealms dominating the PC gaming market.
  2. Ashley_Pomeroy

    What gender do doom monsters identify as?

    I've always assumed that the monsters are essentially brainless, and are compelled to worship the pentagrams by a higher power, e.g. Satan, who has direct control over their actions. Given that the monsters attack each other at the slightest provocation I doubt that they all belong to a single monolithic culture. We know that the former humans were people, and the revenants were also people, but again I assume that the demons and imps etc were animals on different planets far away from Earth, or millions of years in the past, and they were absorbed into Satan's armies. As such they don't have volition, they're just mindless animals driven into a rage. They're smart enough not to attack their own kind (except in early versions of the game, but that was a bug). In XCOM the aliens have a limited amount of internal intelligence and once belonged to cultures of their own, but have been enslaved by the Ethereals into being mindless soldiers, whereas in Doom I've always assumed that the monsters weren't even that smart, they were just the alien / satanic equivalent of honey badgers or tarantulas but on a larger scale.
  3. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Any peculiar Doom habits?

    I never, ever pick up +1 health potions unless my health is already at 100%. Because that way you maximise your health - you can have 101%, 102% health etc. Even if this means carefully dancing around the +1 health potions so I don't bump into them. I feel sad and empty if I pick up the health potions and then find a big medikit in the next room. Or if I end up with 97% health.
  4. This made me wonder if Wolfenstein 3D was the first game ever with a little graphic of a hand holding a pistol at the bottom of the screen. I've always assumed that Id were at least aware of 3D role-playing dungeon crawler games like Dungeon Master and The Bard's Tale - which had flick-scroll 3D - but off the top of my head they didn't give your character hands, instead they turned the mouse cursor into a sword or whatever. Or was it Ultima Underworld? That came out a few months beforehand and was a lot more advanced. I have a distinct memory of playing Doom for the first time and thinking that the pistol looked odd, because it was square-on with the camera and not offset slightly. There must have been an 8-bit game in a first person perspective with a little graphic of a gun at the bottom of the screen, but I can't think of one. I suppose Id could have left it out, but apart from looking awesome it's also a quick way of showing which weapon you have (I remember that other early 3D games tended to bombard the player with icons and controls, as if they were flight simulators set on the ground).
  5. Ah, but in 1980 Georgia was part of the USSR. It became independent in 1991. I jest. I didn't realise there was a Soviet version of Sherlock Holmes. I can see the character appealing to the Soviet mindset - he was rational, the villains tended to be landowners, Moriarty is an arch-capitalist, Watson represents the proletariat etc. I wonder if the music is based on an earlier piece, that in turn is based on a basic rhythmic idea that goes back centuries? The basic rhythm always reminded me of Gary Numan@'s "I Die You Die": Here in the UK we had an extremely limited if not non-existent exposure to Soviet-era media, but then again there was a huge language barrier and we didn't have any exposure to television from e.g. India or China or the Philippines or Indonesia or Canada or Brazil either. I have vague childhood memories of a sitcom called Comrade Dad, which starred George Cole in an alternative Britain that had become a Soviet client state. It was broadcast (once) in 1986 and off the top of my head was a bizarre mixture of alternative world and kitchen sink comedy, with jokes about potato rationing etc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comrade_Dad
  6. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Things about Doom you just found out

    Oh yeah: I've never really noticed the chaingunner's sling until now, perhaps because it blends in with the dark environment.
  7. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Doom now officially set in Stone

    As was pointed out in one of the other threads, about the 3DO box art, your link actually has slightly more of the picture - it has demon butt crack, whereas the stone slab crops that off. I'm not buying it for that reason alone.
  8. That awkward feeling when you realise there was a period when a lot of people didn't know about The Onion because it was still fairly new, and then everybody knew about The Onion because it was the funniest online parody newspaper, and then people didn't know about The Onion again because its heyday was fifteen years ago, and Our Dumb Century came out twenty years ago, and it's now just part of Kinja, and they "pivoted to video", which meant that I stopped reading it. It's like Slashdot. It still exists; it has fans; it's just not what it was.
  9. There's another factor - I don't remember anyone paying full price for the original Doom. Although it was naughty a lot of people pirated it, not just because it was easy but because getting hold of the game was harder than popping to the local HMV. Mail-order was awkward in 1993. In contrast me and my friends thought of Doom II as essentially the first opportunity to buy a boxed Doom game in a shop. The modern equivalent I suppose would be if Undertale was sold directly from the developer's website, and you could only pay for it with direct bank transfer, and then Undertale II - with different maps but otherwise the same game - was released on the Steam store.
  10. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Your thoughts on Plutonia

    I didn't particularly like it. I played Doom and Doom II when they were new but lost touch when Quake came out, so I didn't get to play TNT or Plutonia until many years later. TNT feels like a larger, cruder Doom II with more monsters - I can load up any level and be confident that it will entertain me for five minutes - whereas Plutonia is just aggravating. I can't tell if it was explicitly designed to be played in sequence (the exit from Map07 gives you a bunch of power-ups, so the developers probably assumed you wouldn't pistol start each map individually) but there's a bunch of maps where you have to do a precise sequence of moves at the very start otherwise you get mauled. E.g. Map10, which begins with a chaingunner behind you, is stingy on ammo, has an irritating bit with infinitely-reviving chaingunners where you can't avoid damage, and just feels like a series of steps you have to perform rather than an entertainment. The difficulty curve is all over the place - Map15 is annoying, Map16 is easy, Map17 is harder (but more fun). In my opinion it gets better in the second half, when there are generally fewer traps. The two novelty levels, Hunted and Go2It, are really good. It's undeniably clever and a feat of level design from such a tiny team - two men working for four months, with results that didn't have to be edited - but I don't think the quality holds up for 32 maps. At its best it keeps you unbalanced and on your toes and it's still tricky today. As with TNT it doesn't help that it looks visually plain and very blocky.
  11. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Things about Doom you just found out

    I was intrigued by this as well so I dug out Lee Killough's patch utility, dug out DosBox, dug out a shareware copy of Doom V1.0, and spent a good half-hour patching Ultimate Doom V1.9 down to V1.1. And you know what? It's true. In Ultimate Doom V1.9 the spider mastermind explodes, collapses, and then there's a second explosion sound - in V1.1 it explodes, collapses, and then there's nothing. Checking out the waveform in XWE it looks as though Id dubbed on a second explosion (Doom 1.1 at the top, 1.9 at the bottom):
  12. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Brutalism in Remedy's new Game: 'Control'

    Many years ago I remember seeing a film called Quintet. It was written and directed by Robert Altman and starred Paul Newman. It was shot in 1979 in what remained of Montreal's Expo '67 exhibition, but covered in fake snow because it was set during an ice age - the camera had vaseline on the lens in every shot. Technically Expo '67 was mid-century modern, which existed in parallel with brutalism, but I remember that film and there's something about the murkiness that reminds me of Doom. Expo '67 one of those big Buckminster Fuller-style domes: It also had one of those planned-community-of-the-future projects, a la EPCOT, called Habitat '67: Nowadays it's melancholic, because it all fell into disrepair and the utopian vision that the designers had didn't come to pass, although in general the style has aged better than brutalism. I went to Chernobyl last year, on one of those tours, and I've also visited Berlin and walked around the former East Berlin. From a British perspective was striking how much of it looked like Birmingham or bits of London. The general ambience reminded me of this awful building around the corner from Bank, which has since been demolished: That was prime real estate in the middle of London until only ten years ago. I always wondered who occupied the building - it always looked deserted. London has almost been completely remodelled over the last decade and a bit, but even up until 2009 or so there was a run of derelict office blocks in a similar style at the sides of the train line running into Waterloo. The classic brutalist film was A Clockwork Orange, which was shot just as the cheaply-built post-war estates were starting to become full of yobs wearing bowler hats: This was back when kids in Britain looked as if they were in their thirties.
  13. Ashley_Pomeroy

    cost of doom games at the time of their release?

    Off the top of my head the price points for 8-bit games in the UK were, at least by the mid-late 1980s, £1.99 and then later £2.99 for budget titles; £7.95 and then £9.95 for full-priced games; £14.95 for "posh" games like Elite or Driller that came in a cardboard box with a novella and sometimes a second tape cassette with the soundtrack music. NES, SNES, Genesis etc games were a lot more expensive, £39 or so, which is one of the reasons games consoles weren't as dominant in the UK as they were in Japan and the US. 16-bit computer games for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga were in the middle (£24.99 or so). By the time the PC game along prices had crept up to around £34.95 for a full-priced game, but there was a healthy budget market. At the time there was a complex argument about piracy and pricing. The gist of it was that computer media was easy to pirate, so computer games publishers were forced to charge low prices otherwise people would just pirate the games, which was great for consumers but on the flip side there was less incentive for computer games publishers to spend money on development. As a consequence the quality ratio of 8-bit games generally wasn't very high and an awful lot of the titles were disposable. Conversely it was a lot harder to copy console media, so console publishers were free to charge the absolute maximum that the market could bear, which was great for publishers but not so great for consumers. But on the positive side Nintendo at least tried to keep the quality of their games at a high level, so the argument was that although you might only own Earthbound and Street Fighter II Turbo for your SNES they were substantial and you were probably going to play the hell out of them. I remember that application software was often vastly, vastly more expensive than it was nowadays. I learn from Wikipedia that an early version of Microsoft Word for the ST was $129.95, and right up until the 2000s the likes of Cubase and Logic sold for $700+. They tended to have some form of hardware copy protection. Doom was unusual in that it was widely pirated but still made a fortune for Id because it put most of the competition to shame.
  14. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Plasma rifle, or plasma gun?

    Personally I think this kind of binary thinking is a relic of the anglocentric hegemony - the weapons of Doom exist on a spectrum. If the plasma gun wants to identify as a plasma rifle, despite the lack of rifling, it's not up to us to define its identity. I call it Plasminx.
  15. Ashley_Pomeroy

    Your tale of Doom hubris

    Every few years, when I upgrade my PC, I download NUTS.wad. This time it's bound to run smoothly in ZDoom, right? Wrong.
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