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Point & Counterpoint 4: Doom

This is the fourth installation of a series of ‘Dueling Editorials’ I’ve been doing with Aerox. Today’s topic is Doom vs Marathon, both leading FPS games on their respective platforms in the mid 1990’s. You can view Aerox’s argument for Marathon here.

Previous editions:

Point & Counterpoint 3: Earthbound vs. Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger

Point & Counterpoint 2: Originals vs. Remakes


Point & Counterpoint 1: Video Game Violence

Violence Doesn’t Affect Gamers
Violence Affects Gamers

Doom was released in late 1993 and was developed by the brilliant minds of John Carmak and John Romero. The successor to Wolfenstein 3D, Doom has been widely credited as the game that blew open the doors to the first person shooter genre with stunning visuals for its time, easy to pick up game mechanics, and several revolutionary features. Doom and its sequel Doom II are clearly the best of the early FPS games.

The Music

Right from the get go, doom has some phenomenal music, ranging from guitar riffs, to techno-ish beats, and some really spooky music to go with the general ambient noise of demons that fill the corridors.

On OCRemix there are a total of seven songs for Doom and five songs for Doom II. Since the game is now in the public domain you can download MP3s of all of the original songs here. There is also a larger remix project called the Dark Side of Phobos with two disks that can be downloaded at their website. To this day Doom’s soundtrack is one of the best that any FPS has ever seen.

Also, without Doom’s Music we wouldn’t have NEDM, and an internet without it would truly be a sad place.

Mazes, Monsters and Survival Horror

One would think the formula for Doom is quite simple, create a maze, put some monsters in it and set some traps and hidden rooms and you have a game. But it’s a little more complex than that, while much of Doom is run and gun, there is also an element of survival horror, especially in the later levels where ammo becomes scarse.

Every gun you pick up, every switch you press, ever key you grab could open a hidden door somewhere filled with loads of monsters, and many times these rooms are directly behind you. While the whole ‘monster pops out at you’ bit may be a bit tired today, when the game first came out in 1993 it was huge. The lighting, the grunting and unseen sounds of machinery all lead to an atmosphere of horror. I was 11 when I first played it in 1995, and it scared the living crap out of me, I couldn’t play it without the comfort of god mode. And while some of its tricks may be old hat now, its legacy continues to live on in almost every FPS.

Shoot it until it dies

Second thought, PUNCH IT until it dies

Multiplayer and Co-Op

Doom was one of the first games to feature both Co-Op and deathmatch over network based IPX protocol and later over the internet as well. Doom’s multiplayer was crude but ground breaking for its time. The ability to play co-op was also unique and if you were on a college campus in the mid 90’s there would likely be doom games going on in most computer labs.

Mmmmm....room clearing goodness

The Weapons

Simple, elegant and badass, the weapons in doom were nothing short of awesome as well. Every weapon had its purpose, but the two that stood out the most are the shotgun and the BFG. The shotgun was the general bread and butter weapon used the most by the player throughout the game, ammo was plentiful and it took down most baddies fairly quickly.

The BFG since its release in doom has become the weapon to end all weapons in many FPS games. For the 3 of you that have been living under a rock all these years, the BFG stands for ‘Big Fucking Gun’. It chewed through ammo like no one’s business, but when something absolutely needed to die and it needed to die right now, you busted this bad boy out, and incinerated both the demon you aimed it at and anything in a 250m radius.

Also Chainsaws...

Mario Doom - proving that anything is possible

Pioneering User Based Content

To create the visuals in the game, Doom stored all of its content in a pioneering kind of file called a WAD. Resembling a ZIP that the game could open on the fly, the WAD contained all of the textures, models, and levels that the game needed to run.

The WAD file was made to be easily edited and it wasn’t long before creative users took advantage of this to create their own levels, monsters, and entire games off the base that Doom provided. Since its release, literally thousands of WADs were created by users. Before the release of Quake, iD hired many of the more talented WAD creators to release an official mod-pack. Many of these people went on to work on designing other award winning games including Half-Life, Unreal Tournament, and Thief 2. The modding community that started around Doom would eventually explode with the releases of Quake 2 and Half-Life and it continues to flourish to this day.

The Original Protip

Monsters Fight Each other – AI Example

Carmak – Coding Genius

If anyone has even taken a graphics coding course, you will at some point probably talk about the algorithms Carmak used for rendering things in Doom. Without going into too much detail the algorithm isn’t so good at telling the computer what to draw as it is good at telling the computer what not to draw, and that’s the essence of good graphical programming. By telling the computer what it doesn’t need to draw you save a lot of computing power.

To put this into perspective, Doom came out in December of 1993; the system requirements needed to run Doom and its sequel were an Intel 386 and four megabytes of RAM. The 386 series ranged from 16 mhz to 40 mhz and was released starting in 1986. Doom could basically run on the computing equivalent of a toaster. A similar feat would be to have Crysis running on an early Pentium 4 released in 2000 at a clock speed of 1.3 ghz. While neither would necessarily run at full resolution (doom could scale down the screen size to make rendering easier), it would still run, and the ability to run on nearly any old clunker of a computer was a huge contributor to its success.

The Comic

Does marathon have an awesome comic like this? No it doesn’t, RIP AND TEAR!!!!

While Marathon is indeed a great game, one that I was able to experience only because a friend had a Mac, and a generally underappreciated one, it did not do for the gaming world what Doom and its first sequel did for the first person genre. Doom was the pioneer, the groundbreaker, which brought the FPS genre to everyone. Without Doom and its greatness we wouldn’t have Half-Life, Quake, or Unreal (Or any mods that go with them, like Team Fortress). What wouldn’t we have without Marathon, Halo; I don’t think it would be sorely missed.
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About CaffeinePoweredone of us since 3:26 PM on 12.20.2006

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Been gaming since I was five when I bought my own NES

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