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What is ‘DOOM’?
‘DOOM’ is a first-person shooter (or FPS) video game, created by American video game developers called ‘Id Software’. They are the same developers that were responsible for classic games such as ‘Quake’ and ‘Wolfenstein’.
It was published in 1993 and considered fans and critics alike to be one of the most iconic and influential game that define the ‘FPS’ genre.
‘DOOM’ set players in a base with tight, honeycomb-like corridors where you have to shoot your way through soldiers with red eyes and monsters that flings fireballs at you the moment you’re in their line of sight.
And at the end of the level, you flipped a switch to get to the next level. That’s pretty much it. It’s what many nowadays would have called it as your typical arcade-y action,”run and gun” FPS.
Oh, and find those key cards!
The Good Stuff
Just to clarify again, I am talking about the original, unmodded 1993 ‘DOOM’.
There are couple of things that I find playing ‘DOOM’ a lot easier in comparison to other FPS games I’ve played recently:
1. Aiming is ‘Semi-Auto’. What is Up, must go Down.
No crosshair, no mouse-look. Just point the barrel of your weapon at the general direction of your enemies and blast them away. Meaning, I don’t have to look up/down and/or be too precise with my aiming. Ironically, that’s pretty refreshing to say the least. Due to this nature of combat, mowing down enemies is pretty easy. Less Aiming, More Gunning, SOLDIER!
2. The Absence of a “Standard” FPS Mechanic
Pretty it wasn’t a thing back then.
During the first few minutes, I was constantly looking for my ‘Reload’ key. There is none. Once I have unshackle myself from the mentality of reloading every few minutes like almost every other “modern” FPS games out there, I feel… liberated.
Playing ‘DOOM’ on higher difficulty on further levels results in some pretty frantic, chaotic, high-paced gameplay. And it wouldn’t be possible if there’s a ‘reload’ mechanic in the game. Or else, the ‘pauses’ aka the times you need to reload will break the flow of the game, especially at high-level gameplay.
Plus, it would’ve made the game a lot harder because, if you’re not mercilessly attacking the enemies, the enemies will be attacking you, mercilessly. And those ‘pauses’ could be the end of you in that level.
‘Reloading’? What is that?” – Doomguy, 1993
3. The game’s main objective. It’s ‘easy’ to understand.
“Kill everything on sight.” is what many would think is the main objective when playing this game. But more often than not, it is all about getting to end of the level and then… You flip a switch.
TADAA, end of the level. It was that easy. But getting there is a different story. Speaking of ‘difficulty’,
The ‘Not So Good’ Stuff
1. The Visual Fidelity.
Take a look at this photo. This is a screenshot from my playthrough of the game.
Due to lack of visual fidelity, ironically, it is rather difficult to be aiming at the enemies. On harder difficulty, some enemies can take you down within a few seconds on that range. Plus, the enemies have more advantage over you since they don’t really need to “physically” see you. The default control scheme isn’t helping either. Speaking of the control scheme,
2. The Default Control Scheme aka “Am I Playing Piano Right Now?”
I recorded a bit of my gameplay with the default control scheme. Excuse for the poor angle/lighting. And I’m supposed to be the “filmmaker” around here, tch.
This is the most efficient way for me to play this game and maximise my movement whilst shooting at the enemies. This feel like playing a light tune on a piano, only a lot more painful. My wrist was hurting badly after few hours playing ‘DOOM’ this way.
What I feel like I lost in return, is the ability to quickly switch my weapons (since they are bind on number keys, and I feel at lost when I switch weapon and placing my left hand on the supposedly ‘correct’ position).
Now why did I play ‘DOOM’ this way? It’s because sidestepping (the ‘A’ and ‘D” keys on the standardised ‘WASD’ movement when playing FPS games on PC) are on the ‘,’ and ‘.’ keys. Oh brother…
I understand that this is a 23 years old game (Oh my goodness, I feel old), and I played this way before in 1995 (Well I was kid back then). But this feels very awkward and cumbersome when I played ‘DOOM’ this way, again. And it was not pleasant on my wrists especially.
Well, at least it’s not ‘System Shock’ level of control scheme. That game gives me nightmares just by thinking about playing it on default control scheme.
What I Realise After Playing ‘DOOM’, Again
This is pretty obvious, but it is still surprisingly…
Despite the “outdated” control scheme and graphics, this is still a fun game to be played. Nostalgic asides, I am having fun playing a 23 years old DOS game, on a web browser, for free! How amazing is that?!
It is short, but it is sweet. It is rough, but it is shiny. For a DOS game to remain popular and beloved in this day and age, that is really something. Remember ‘Strife’ or ‘Alien Incident’? Those games used to be super popular amongst PC gamers back in the 90s. Now, not so much.
But not ‘DOOM’. It is still relevant, somehow. I can’t really explained it, but it just.. Is. Because videos like this that got popular on YouTube, cemented that.
Yes, I can play the modern ‘DOOM’ that just came out this year, but unlike that ‘DOOM’ 2016, It doesn’t try to tie me into some sort of commitment in order to play it. I can play this ‘DOOM’ at ANYTIME, and drop it at ANYTIME.
No EXP and no bell-and-whistles upgrades to grind for. No guilty feeling for not picking something on the previous level. Just pure shoot-y shoot-y, bang bang fun.
Just as ‘Evil Dead 2’ is a popcorn movie with a soul, so is ‘DOOM’.
Being a popcorn game(?).
With a soul.
What Makes ‘Doom’, ‘DOOM’
1. It’s a ‘Run and Gun’ FPS, not a ‘Stop and Pop’ FPS game.
Let’s take a closer look at the GIF above. It is not so much on what mechanics it has, rather the absence of rules and mechanics that made FPS game, an FPS game in this recent years.
You don’t have an iron-sight. There’s no cross-hair to help you aim. There’s no need to precisely aim at the enemies. There’s no looking up/down aka mouse-look like current FPS has to shoot enemies below and above you. There’s no ‘reload’ mechanic. Your movement is what many would consider nowadays “unrealistic” and “float-y”.
Items are littered everywhere and you pick them up by walking/running towards them. You are traversing through a claustrophobic maze-like or honeycomb-like level, trying to find a way to go through the next level, and that same space, enemies attacking you, making you feel a lot more panicked-y as a result.
And all of that, will eventually contribute to this style of high-level gameplay. No long pauses or intervals. Just pure, high-paced, frantic carnage from beginning till end. Till you flip that switch to go to the next level. Basically, ‘Doom’ is the granddaddy of ‘Run and Gun’ FPS.
In contrast to ‘DOOM’, the GIF above is an example of a “Stop and Pop” FPS game. More often than not, you’re constantly stopping and crouching while aiming (often through an ironsight) to take down the enemies, due to “realistic” gunplay mechanics of the game(bullet drops, distance, physics, etc).
You move slower(“realistically” slower) and “reload” function was added to the game, in order to avoid “spraying” or “showering” the enemies with bullets non-stop. This made the game into a slower-paced tactical shooter.
To counter-balance that in terms of shortening the game-length, the developers made taking down enemies, pretty quick from just firing few shots your weapon, which adds a different layer of strategy when playing this game. The basic idea is to make the game, as “Grounded” and and as “Realistic” as they can.
SIDENOTE: A Youtuber called ‘Super Bunnyhop’ did a video about ‘DOOM’ relation to ‘Action’ versus ‘Traction’. It’s worth watching it (video link here)
2. Risk VS Reward aka ‘What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You, ‘OP’.
The secret rooms laid out in ‘DOOM’ are almost always located in a place where they are always dangerous to traverse to. What is not shown on the GIF above is that there’s a similar path on the opposite side that could kill you if go through it.
Setups or designs like this makes games like ‘DOOM’ so much fun to play. To use a very pretentious filmmaking “analogy”, it contributes to the ethos of what makes ‘DOOM’ an excellent game. I wish more FPS has secret rooms like these, instead of room filled with weird, obscure Easter eggs that I’m either too young or too old to remember.
3. Non-Linear Level Design + RA TA TA TA TA TA from The Minigun = Super Fun Traversing Times
‘DOOM’ have pretty complex yet simple level designs that stood the test of time. I’m not saying that it is the best level design in the world. But complex yet simple level design like this, makes ‘DOOM’ a fun and horizontally challenging game to traverse in, even till now.
One of the former developers of ‘Id Software’ just made a new level for ‘Doom 2’ few months ago. How good is that?
Am I ‘DOOM’-ed?
I’m uncertain if this is necessary but seriously, ‘DOOM’, FREAKING, ROCKS. And I’m not even a huge fan of it. I don’t even know some of the monsters name in this game. But it is a always blast to play it every time. I do wonder if I will play it 10 to 20 years from now… We’ll see.
In the mean time, enjoy this amazing trailer of an amazing mod of an amazing game.
WARNING: GORY PIXELATED BLOOD AND IMAGERIES. HIDE YOUR KIDS IN THE CUPBOARD, NOW!
Okay, the kiddies can come out and play now.
1. Brief History of Doom – Prima Games
2. The Story of Doom – Richard Cobbett
3. ‘Doom’ Turns 20: We Take A Look At The Game’s History – International Business Times
4. Doom History – The Page of Doom
5. Knee deep in history: 20 years of “Doom” – NBC News
6. It Took 19 Years For Someone To Beat This DOOM 2 Challenge – Kotaku
7. Surprise! Doom Is Still An Incredible Game – Kotaku
8. THE FIRST FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER – Polygon–shooter
9. Who Made That First-Person-Shooter Game? – NY Times
10. The 10 Greatest MS-DOS Games of All Time – PC Gamer
Images (Some of the gifs were made from the videos using a GIF-making software)
10. Picture of Someone Who Is About To Make You His… Friend, John Romero
Videos (Some of the gifs were made from the videos using a GIF-making software)
1. ‘Doom E1 Nightmare speedruns’ – fragglet
2. ‘DOOM 2016: Action vs. Traction’ – Super Bunnyhop
3. ‘Let’s Play – Doom 1, Episode 1 Level 3 – Ultra-Violence’ – InfiniteTimeZone
4. ‘CS:GO Competitive #6 with Vikkstar123 (Counter Strike Global Offensive Gameplay)’ – VikkstarPlays – Random Games!
5. ‘Brutal Doom v20 Official Trailer’ – SGtMarkIV