Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy 20th Birthday, Doom!

In a rant that is bound to make me me look old, for those who aren't in the know, that legendary, pioneering shooter DOOM has reached the ripe old age of 20, and believe it or not, is still going strong to this very day. People are still making custom WADs for the original id Tech 1 based games by the multitude, and people are still playing DOOM via multiplayer. Yes, multiplayer! So, in tribute to this great game which has stood the test of time most admirably, I would like to take the time to share my history with this game, a game for which I owe my love of the FPS genre to.

I remember back in early 1994 playing the shareware version. It was an awesome sight to behold – blood, guts, demons being slaughtered left, right and center and an ample variety of weapons to choose from, including that now famous chainsaw and the unforgettable Big F***ing Gun, better known, of course, as the BFG9000. And that OPL MIDI sound. Oh, that sound! The soundtrack to E1M1 is my favorite and most memorable piece of game music, ever. I will never get that song out of my head!

But things really took off for me when first played DOOM II: Hell on Earth. I absolutely loved that game. I loved and appreciated the addition of the double-barrel shotgun, as well as the addition of a number of new and tougher monsters to fend off. The maps were more colorful, more detailed and more expansive than those of the original. When I first bought the CD-ROM (which I still have and use), Just holding the box for me, was a glorious experience. I had in my possession, one of the all-time great computer games.

Moving further through time, I acquired a copy of Final Doom in around 2002, and I remember thinking to myself, “Where the hell was I when this came out?!” Indeed. It comprised of two community made IWADS, TNT Evilution and The Plutonia Experiment. And unlike other poorly made community packs which some companies still have the cheek to charge you for, they were carefully designed and well-organized in their production.

Then in 2003-04, I discovered that id Software were working on a third installment of Doom, called, of course, Doom 3! And the screenshots I saw were pure eye candy – specular and bump-mapping, real-time shadows and lighting, the special effects were beyond anything that went before it. It was, in the spirit of its predecessors, a pioneering game. I eagerly awaited the game for a significant period of time, and invested heavily in upgrading my computer to play it. I ended up settling for a Radeon 9600XT card, which was within my budget, but even still, that struggled with the lighting effects that made Doom 3 the spectacular piece of eye candy that it was, and still is.

And around the same time (2003), I had switched from making Duke Nukem 3D maps to making Doom II maps instead. And when I finally figured out how to code using ACS (the scripting language developed by Hexen developers Raven), a new world had opened up thanks to the emergence of the ultra-powerful source port, ZDoom and its derivative ports. As a result, I have made several WADs and megawads for this game which utilize the Hexen extensions to the id Tech 1 engine.

Looking back, it really is hard to see how 20 years have gone by since DOOM was first released. I feel old for it, of course (I was 11 when it first came out), but having said that, this game has stood the test of time brilliantly, and there seems to be plenty of life left in the granddaddy of first-person shooters. Very few games are unlikely to match the legacy of this game – even the Quake 1 community is dwarfed by that of its more primitive 2D predecessor. The legend lives on. Happy 20th birthday, Doom!