Saturday, September 14, 2013


Every now and then I find myself returning to various games from the past to remind myself of certain things and to learn from them, purely from a game design perspective. Sometimes games from the past can provide an important perspective on things, such as what qualified as game play and fun. I find this is especially true, for me, regarding First Person Shooter games. It is not unknown to people who know me that I am not a big fan of the direction that modern shooters have taken. Mechanics such as regenerating health, two weapon systems, insta-kill melee, chest high wall cover systems and entire arsenals of brain dead hitscan rapid fire weapons have, in my humble opinion, degenerated the genre into a shell of its former self. At least regarding pure game play and especially true when catering for the console market. Amongst classic games such as Half-life, Quake II and Unreal, Doom still stands as not only one of the most influential shooters regarding my FPS design philosophies, but also one of my favourite games in general.

Doom. A simple name for a very straightforward game, one that I still enjoy playing today more than certain games that come out. Pretty much my first real PC game, the first time I played Doom I ended up with a huge migraine and was sick for an entire day. I didn't play it for several months after that, but when I did I was gifted with some of the most memorable gaming experiences of my youth. For hours my sister and I would attempt to clear the first 'Act' of Doom, Knee Deep in the Dead, on Normal difficulty. I would move and she would shoot, keyboard controls only, scared out of our minds. We were probably about 7 and 9 years of age, far below the recommended age for the game. After many an evening of skipping our chores, we eventually got to the end of the Act and killed the two Hell Knights that appeared in the red penta-star arena. Then screamed in horror when you walked through the next portal and got raped by monsters. Good times.

You see, with Doom, it's all about the game play. Even at a young age, as incompetent as I was, I could see the amazing potential for fun that a game like Doom offered. The strategy behind dodging projectiles, managing your resources (ammo, health, armor), realising when you should fight or run and overall, the impending ... Doom ... of dying to a relentless horde of monsters. It was exciting and terrifying and still is even today. Speaking of which, today I play Doom and Doom II in the glory that is both GZDoom and Brutal Doom, two mods that bring mouse axis life and further game play enhancements to the franchise. Observe (recommend 720p+):

I often think about what Doom 4 should be like after the slight disappointment that was Doom 3. Doom 3 got a lot of things right, but missed a beat regarding the game play and general theme of the game. I have always thought the Doom series to be a survival horror based shooter, but not in the form of unnecessarily dark rooms and monster closests. Nay, the pure dread of going toe to toe with the endless forces of hell with a ridiculous arsenal of weaponry, using nothing but your reflexes and willpower to survive. Being low on health with almost no ammunition left, knowing that the next battle may result in your intended demise. To push yourself further into the fray, splattered and flaming demon remains abound, ever closer to the end, whatever that may be. That is the essence of Doom. I surely hope ID can capture that essence once again.

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