Automatically generated from the Gemini capsule gemini://

Time-stamp: <2020-12-04 17h35 UTC>

Experiencing a classic for the first time: DOOM (1993)

Growing up when i did, and having access to computers when i did, led to my experiencing the ``golden age'' of PC FPS games. By this i mean the arena shooters (Quake III, Unreal Tournament 99-2k4) as well as other landmark FPS games (Half Life [Deathmatch & mods], Counter-Strike 1.6, Call of Duty 1, Far Cry 1, ...). I think of this as the ``golden age'' for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most important one was that these games were designed to fun for players, and not as sources of endless sequels and profit for massive gaming conglomerates.

However, by starting with these titles and their successors, i missed one important landmark in FPS history: DOOM.

Like any person born too late, i was spoiled by 3D models, hardware graphics accelerated hoo-haahs, immersive 3D environments, sophisticated enemy AI¹, and all the by-now unmentioned standard features of an off-the-shelf slightly-different-shade-of-brown shooter². DOOM didn't have any of this, and shallow younger me dismissed it for this reason. That, and the whole demonic aesthetic.

Eventually i grew up and decided that any company that had consistently GPL'd their game engines (!) deserved to have their games tried. So i bought it DRM-free on GOG -- only the assets were needed because of the aforementioned libre game engines --, and gave it a try. My verdict?

DOOM is just plain fun.

Sure the sound effects are sampled at <16k, sure the sprites face you no matter how you look at them, sure the enemy AI amounts to ``search for player, attack player, repeat'', sure the levels aren't really 3D, sure the `puzzles' and key-cards are little more than diversions from the level, but let me tell you: none of this matters!

It's just as if not more engaging than and immersive as any other great FPS i have played. The levels are fast-paced, the soundtrack is great³, monster infighting is a great mechanic, the combat is satisfying and challenging, and crucially: i always want to play more. It is such a simple game, but it works so well. Or rather, perhaps, precisely for this reason, it works so well.

If you'll allow me to stretch analogies, in some ways i feel that

DOOM : modern FPS = Gemini : modern Internet

It's FPS distilled to its essence -- anachronistic i know -- and it turns out that's actually why i want to play FPS games.

At this point i've almost finished the original 3 episodes and already i can see myself replaying earlier levels just because they're so much fun. This is to say nothing of DOOM II, which i understand improves on the formula by adding great new set-pieces in the form of new enemies and a new weapon.

The undying community

DOOM is almost 27 years old at the time of writing. I don't know *any* other games of this age with a modern, actively maintained wiki [0], an active modding and content creation community [1] [2] (among others), new speed-run records [3] being set and whose lineage may be traced almost all the way back (!), and continual community-driven game-engine development ([4], for example). Did i mention the free as in freedom replacement of all sound, levels, and graphical assets, FreeDOOM [5]?

Every aspect of this game has been carefully taken apart, understood, tweaked, discussed, modified, and redistributed. It's really amazing to see. What are you waiting for? Give DOOM a try!


¹ I remember being /blown away/ by the AI in F.E.A.R.! Flanking, squadron level cooperation, tactical grenade usage!

² I'm looking at you, EA

³ and there are some amazing community covers if you prefer digital over MIDI, see [6] and [7] for example

[0] DOOM Wiki

[1] DOOM World

[2] WAD Archive

[3] Compet-n

[4] DOOM Retro

[5] FreeDOOM

[6] digitally captured, real Roland SC 55 music

[7] Shane's music covers