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Not Even Doom Music justifies this.
June 24, 2009 11:19 PM   Subscribe

iD Software has been acquired by ZeniMax media. (Reports here, here, and many other places.) John Romero, the co-founder of the company, had some initial concerns but seems to have cheered up. No doubt a wide variety of retrospectives, histories, opinions and flames will rise from this most infamously-independent of game studios joining forces/merging/being swallowed by another, younger one. (ZeniMax was founded in 1999, iD in 1991.) With iD releasing games with years-long gaps between them, younger readers might not have grown up playing this company's output, but if you've ever run down a hallway with a gun bouncing earnestly before you and looking through a heads-up display, iD has touched your life too. Masters of Doom is an excellent history of the company in book form, assuming you still read.
posted by jscott (56 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh. I managed to graduate from high school, college and have a career and a social life through the Doom(s), the Quake(s), and RtCW. I remember I used to check out Carmack's .plan file regularly. This is a surprise to me. But these days I'm more interested in the effect this might have on, if any, Armadillo Aerospace.

Oh yeah, Diakatana.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:41 PM on June 24, 2009


I believe ID should get a 21 gun salute with BFG 9000's.

.
posted by Chan at 11:49 PM on June 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Zenimax is basically the parent company of Bethesda, who've given us the Elder Scrolls games (most recently Oblivion) and Fallout 3. They make pretty damn good games. There could have been way crappier companies to do this. EA? That would have made me cry.

Nobody's cared what Romero's had to say about anything for years, but John Carmack (engine code god, apparent idiot savant, literally unable to make a single utterance without the words 'in here' or 'in there' for some reason, major owner and director of id since Romero's crash and burn), says it's about not having to fuck around with publishers and having more resources to grow and release things more often than once every 4 or 5 years, which is what things have come to with id being a relatively small (if rich) dev house and AAA games being the massive projects they are these days. Don't know how true that is.

Either way, it's a bit sad. id has been one of the last of the 'old' guard, and to see them get swallowed up... well, so it goes I guess.

On the other hand, the last few things that have come out of id, Doom3 and Quake4 weren't really all that great (other than the stellar-for-the-time engine), and the only other thing they've released on the PC platform for years has been QuakeLive, which is awesome and free, but is just a web-launchable free version of Quake 3, which is 9 years old now.

Valve is the new id. They innovate, they're all about the ludic engineering, and even if the Source engine isn't the most incredibly cutting-edge (though they've managed to do some amazing things with it in TF2 and L4D), and it was ironically born out of Carmack-developed code, the last 5 or 6 games they've released (while id has been working on Rage) -- the Half Life 2 episodes, Portal, Team Fortress 2, and Left 4 Dead, have all been spectacularly fun.

I hope this development allows id to focus a bit more on making fun games, rather than tech demos for Carmack's engines. We shall see.

An interesting book on the rise of id -- of Carmack and Romero, basically -- is Masters of Doom.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:53 PM on June 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Whoops, I see Masters of Doom was already mentioned. There's a pdf of it floating around the web, but I'm not sure if it's kosher or not, so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:54 PM on June 24, 2009


Huge, huge iD fan here. First PC game I bought back in 1993 was a shareware version of Wolfenstein 3D. Read Masters of Doom several years ago... best book I've read about the video game business.

I don't understand why Doom 3 and Quake 4 were not hailed as masterpieces. When it first came out the Doom 3 demo absolutely blew my mind. They are such solid and enjoyable FPS games, especially at the time of their release dates. The idea that the main brain behind all this stuff is using it as a stepping stone to space is just too cool to put into words.
posted by autodidact at 12:14 AM on June 25, 2009


CMDR KEEN 4EVA
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 AM on June 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have a theory, autodidact. In short, the market for FPSes has moved primarily to consoles.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 12:49 AM on June 25, 2009


I'll never forgive Romero for the indirect destruction of Looking Glass Studios.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:00 AM on June 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Big news. And I agree with stavrosthewonderchicken about Valve being the new iD, at least when it comes to pushing boundaries. My only issue with iD has been that they always make pretty good shooters on amazing engines.

I also wonder how this will affect the publishing deal that EA had with iD's Rage game...
posted by slimepuppy at 1:15 AM on June 25, 2009


To me, id will always be "creators of game crack Quake III Arena." Sure I grew up on Wolfy3D, the Dooms, and the Quakes like everyone else. But even in that storied company Q3A was special. So very special. I was never particularly good but loved every second I played it. How do you top that pure multiplayer twitch mayhem? I still go back to Q3A (or Open Arena) from time to time.

While id more or less created the FPS genre, I do think other developers (Valve, Infinity Ward, Crytek, Monolith, Epic, etc.) took it places I'm not so sure id either could or wanted to.

id, I hope you find a good workplace in the cubicle right next to Bethesda. And please finish Rage ASAP.
posted by Glee at 1:40 AM on June 25, 2009


IDKFA
posted by eriko at 2:29 AM on June 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


How do you top that pure multiplayer twitch mayhem? I still go back to Q3A (or Open Arena) from time to time.

Quake Live. It is awesome. I still get my ass handed to me half the time, sadly. But you're absolutely right -- the pinnacle of pure deathmatch was and still is Q3.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:14 AM on June 25, 2009


I don't understand why Doom 3 and Quake 4 were not hailed as masterpieces.

Because I don't think they were. I didn't even bother with Q4, but Doom 3 was amazing graphics, cool shadows, and endless "monster closets". No story, mildly annoying weapons, repetitive, and very difficult.

This formula worked okay in the early days, but we've moved on, and they haven't. Taken purely on their own merits, their games are technical tours de force, but compared with the actual fun to be had in the many less-advanced games, they come up pretty short.

As I've been saying since the 1980s, you don't play the graphics, you play the game. All the visuals do is make the user more interested in learning the game, but eye candy won't be enough to hold them if it's weak. Graphics is the sizzle, gameplay is the steak.

All that said, I wish them well. I haven't unreservedly loved an id game since Doom 2, so I think it'll be fantastic if they're working more closely with the Fallout 3 team. Get those guys based on a better engine and the result could be amazing. Bethesda did fantastic work with Gamebryo, and I'm pretty jazzed about what a really great engine could potentially mean for them.

(Yes, Fallout 3 had problems -- it was quite flawed in a number of ways. But it ended up transcending those issues, and was one of the best games last year.)
posted by Malor at 3:38 AM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have very mixed feeling about iD - on the one hand, I've enjoyed many of their games, but to me Quake III was the nadir of the game industry - content-free, we're too lazy to code up even a superficially intersting AI and we don't do stories any more. It seemed like the rest of the industry was determined to follow a path to no-single-player hell.
posted by rodgerd at 3:42 AM on June 25, 2009


This formula worked okay in the early days, but we've moved on, and they haven't. Taken purely on their own merits, their games are technical tours de force, but compared with the actual fun to be had in the many less-advanced games, they come up pretty short.

Bungie already beat the shit out of Doom/Doom II with Marathon, which had a better engine, better storyline, and better AI back in the early/mid nineties. If they weren't Mac only, they would have blown iD away.
posted by rodgerd at 3:46 AM on June 25, 2009


Doom 3 and Quake 4 were both insanely fun to me. I don't need a game to be new or innovative to enjoy it.
posted by autodidact at 4:40 AM on June 25, 2009


... they were both essentially remakes, BTW, which is a further excuse for the somewhat "early days" play mechanic. I just wanted to play Doom 2 and Quake 2 with crazy updated graphics. I think the upcoming Black Mesa Source is liable to be a masterpiece and it will be just new graphics and sound on top of the old Half-Life game.
posted by autodidact at 4:42 AM on June 25, 2009


stavrosthewonderchicken: Quake Live. It is awesome.

Of course! Can't believe I forgot that -- you even wrote about it upthread! (I was briefly in the beta but never got it working properly and gave up / went back to OA). I need to get back on that pony.)

Malor: I haven't unreservedly loved an id game since Doom 2, so I think it'll be fantastic if they're working more closely with the Fallout 3 team. Get those guys based on a better engine and the result could be amazing. Bethesda did fantastic work with Gamebryo, and I'm pretty jazzed about what a really great engine could potentially mean for them.

I just talked about this with a colleague. We wholeheartedly agree. Id's Tech5 engine and general wizardry combined with Bethesda's "If it compiles: shipit!" creators? Maybe we can have wonderful things. (Not that Fallout 3 isn't fantastic -- I've spent 60+ hours there and counting, but technically it could've been even greater.)
posted by Glee at 4:47 AM on June 25, 2009


> Bungie already beat the shit out of Doom/Doom II with Marathon, which had a better engine, better storyline, and better AI back in the early/mid nineties

Yes and no. Marathon and Marathon II were great 2.5D games, and had awesome stories and graphics, but in terms of technical feats, were quickly outshined by Quake in 1996.

It wasn't until 2001 that Bungie released a game that didn't use sprites for character animation (Oni), and trust me I loved Myth and was a die hard myth fan (I still have my pre-release shirt from the 1997 boston macworld "seeking not to conquer, but to destroy," I helped run one of the Myth storyline sites that got folded into bungie.org, etc.), but to say that Bungie was better in every way is to grossly overgeneralize their achievements.

Besides, they did finally get their dues, making one of the best selling FPS's of all time, the Doom of the modern console era. It can be debated if this is good or bad, the creation of the frat lan party scene as a consequence, but almost all the Bungie guys involved got a decent chunk of change in the process.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:09 AM on June 25, 2009


That being said, I think iD realized that the real money was to be made in the engine development and licensing business, so most of their games since q3a have just been showcase games, to feature their new engine. I think recently they started wanting to do something somewhat creative again, which is how Doom 3 came about, but even then it was to showcase dynamic shadows and lighting. And when the people involved have enough money that they don't really feel rushed to produce a product to make rent (unless they want to buy a Veyron or something), they can sit around and nerd out on a great engine design.

They are still wanting to nerd out on engine design and cutting edge graphics, but now they have some more creative folks to work with them on integrating the whole deal into a "better than technology showcase" product.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:23 AM on June 25, 2009


I just hope this doesn't have any negative effect on the release of the ID Tech 4 source code.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:05 AM on June 25, 2009


Bungie already beat the shit out of Doom/Doom II with Marathon, which had a better engine, better storyline, and better AI back in the early/mid nineties

Not exactly. id's great accomplishment was not that it created the game engines with the best graphics or most realistic rendering, but that their technically amazing games would run on pretty much anything - not only the best machines out there, but even the worst. Doom ran on a 25MHz 386.

The other great technical achievement of Doom was its potential for customization. I remember playing Star Wars and Alien WAD file total conversions of doom downloaded from ftp.cdrom.com that looked like completely different, polished games in their own right. It was this unexpected community that gave id the idea to expose the internals of the engine and the level structure in quake, which I believe is the first game to feature a drop-down console. It was also a 3d engine that enabled elaborate interiors that was also playable completely in a software renderer.

And in terms of 3d engines, I believe the Descent was the first true 3d engine (not a 2.5D engine like doom, marathon, duke nukem, etc), beating out quake by a year.

And there is no point comparing Valve to id - the original Half-Life ran an updated version of the Quake engine.

I think this is a good thing. id can concentrate on its strengths (engines), and Bethesda and concentrate on theirs (stories), and the two can take advantage of each other. Let's face it - Doom 3 had it moments, but there was basically no story there. Frankly, I don't know that any of their games had a story.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:06 AM on June 25, 2009


Dopefish Lives Died
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 6:24 AM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to play Doom 2 and Quake 2 with crazy updated graphics.

I think you've identified why Doom 3 and Quake 4 weren't very successful. It may be that you, personally, just wanted an updated Doom 2. However, most people wanted more than that.

Don't get me wrong -- I, like others here, grew up playing iD games. I recall fondly my first ever FPS experience, which was Wolfenstein 3D, right around when it came out. I spent countless hours on Doom, Doom II, Heretic, Hexen and sequels, Quake I/II/III. I made maps, played mods, etc. I don't even want to know the total hours I've spent in my life playing games made by John Carmack.

The reality, though, is that we (gamers, that is) have become spoiled. Companies like Valve have proven repeatedly that it is possible to have a great FPS that also tells at least a semblance of a story, and that has challenges and in-game events that don't feel tacked on. I don't remember the last time I played a game where I had to go get the blue key to open the blue door, red key for the red door, etc -- and I'm not at all unhappy about that.

And so then we get to Doom 3. There's no doubt that it was great looking, and a technical masterpiece, but the level design was just terrible, and the story instantly forgettable. It has been said, but seriously, two words: monster closet. The old "oh look, a secret passage with enemies pouring out behind you that you had literally no way of finding and doing anything about it" trick was cute in Doom and Doom 2. These days, though, I expect a lot more of a game. I didn't even play Quake 4, because my faith in the brand has diminished.

As for this announcement, I can only hope it means good things, though it is troubling to see one of the few big name independent studios get swallowed up by the neverending trend of consolidation in the industry. Still, great engine (iD) + great writing (Bethesda) could be a winning combination. Here's to hoping.
posted by tocts at 6:37 AM on June 25, 2009


mrzarquon: That being said, I think iD realized that the real money was to be made in the engine development and licensing business, so most of their games since q3a have just been showcase games, to feature their new engine. I think recently they started wanting to do something somewhat creative again, which is how Doom 3 came about, but even then it was to showcase dynamic shadows and lighting.

Rings true. Carmack pretty much focused on this in his Tech5 demos (see pt1, pt2, pt3). Essentially, the Doom 3 engine (Tech4) didn't sell well enough, only a handful of customers licensed it. So their new engine, Tech5 (originating from Quake Wars : Enemy Territory development), was designed specifically for streamlined multiplatform production and ease of use for their licensees.

I guess, theoretically, Tech5 could turn into a "competitive advantage" used only inhouse. Zenimax's press release doesn't mention Tech5's future as a product.

But as mrzarquon writes, building game engines is where id really excels. It seems unlikely they'd exit that market altogether, it's working pretty well for Valve, Epic, and Crytek.

On the other hand, developers like Infinity Ward, Bungie, Blizzard, et al. don't sell their technology and they seem to be doing "ok", so maybe Zenimax could go that route too.
posted by Glee at 6:39 AM on June 25, 2009


If only id had typed in 'iddqd', they would have been fine.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:42 AM on June 25, 2009


And so in the end, it was Romero who was made someone else's bitch.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:45 AM on June 25, 2009


Man, Carmack still looks like he's 19.
posted by boo_radley at 6:59 AM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I completely agree that Doom 3 and Quake 4 were very disappointing. Old, stale gameplay.

I can appreciate them for what they were... amazing engine demo's.

A good example of what I'm talking about: A good friend of mine is just getting into online FPS (having played offline for a while now) and so he bought the Valve complete pack from Steam. The rest of us have been playing Left 4 Dead, and while he played with that a bit, he started going through some of the older titles and landed on Day Of Defeat: Source. He's been loving it, playing quite a bit, even found a steam group to hook up with and play on their servers.

Another friend and I (who have been playing one online FPS or another for years) decided to give the game a shot.

It's boring. I recognize it is a fantastic game, and when it came out I would have been all over it. But it's basically just RTCW + counter strike + battlefield all mushed into one. These are all great games that I played TONS of... and got totally sick of the basic level of that sort of gameplay. I even have trouble playing much TF2 these days, because it reminds me far too much of older games I've played... far too much.

L4D though, has had us playing 4 nights a week since launch day. The VS gameplay is such a breath of fresh air that it keeps us coming back. It almost reminds me of AvP2, where playing as the alien was just so much fun because there was nothing else like it.
posted by utsutsu at 7:19 AM on June 25, 2009


Descent made me nauseous when it came out.

Loved Commander Keen.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2009


The end of an era of sorts, but really not all that depressing for me at this point. I started really, really following id as a late-starter in early 1996. I'd played the shareware bits of Doom and had the general idea of things, but I went from jumping between online services to find the best internet access to using a local ISP at that point, and combined with a new PC, was hungry for something to eat my high school-aged time.

Quake was it. I'm probably biased by my own experience, but id really kicked off widespread online gaming in 1996. Instead of modem pools dedicated to Doom or bridging programs that were made to make LAN games work over the internet, it had TCP/IP support baked in, and a fan community that was eager to pick up the slack when it came to server directories, news announcements, and game modifications. Sitting on IRC as a few of the id guys showed up to hang out around the time the shareware version of Quake was released seemed like a thing.

id has mostly been a tech-and-engine shop since then, in my eyes. Romero was a lot of things, and I think I mentally downplayed his significance at the time, but id games since then have had a lot of content but not so much soul. As mentioned, Q3A was a great deathmatch experience, but to me, it really seemed to be just a refinement of what grew out of the original Quake online community. I still love reading John Carmack's notes about new engines, or adapting old engines for new platforms and the quirks of code optimization, but I know I'm never going to play any new game that comes out of id's doors with the glee that I had while playing Quake.
posted by mikeh at 8:07 AM on June 25, 2009


Totally with people rating Doom 3 and Quake 4 as pretty unimaginative (though of those only Doom3 was id, Quake 4 was Raven I think?), but as ever Carmack put together a pretty sweet engine.

Certainly without the Q3 engine we wouldn't have had Call of Duty, half the Medal of Honours, and a list longer than pretty much any other engine out there. It wasn't the most high tech, compared to many we have now, but I think it was the most extensible, and easiest for other developers to work with. It made for a damn fine few years of games! One of those where, sort of like Source now, you know how a game will handle based on which engine it is.

I've never understood though, why people preferred the Bungie stuff to Doom and Quake. I never got Marathon; to me it was sort of like a cross between Duke Nuke, (which I hated with a passion) and Doom. Never felt right, and the story didn't work. Not saying Doom's did, but Doom and Quake weren't really about story.

The other comment would be to the couple of people saying that id have no been swallowed up - they've made it pretty clear that like Bioware and EA (who I was expecting to grab id), id will be left to make their usual fare (Rage is looking pretty sweet so far too). Zenimax seem smart enough - with the acquisition of Splash Damage (or publishing rights I think) and the way they've handled Bethesda - to not screw this up.
posted by opsin at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2009


honestly, in this economy (despite the games industry's relative recession proof nature, it's still only relative and companies are going broke all the time), I'm just happy iD can stay open. If the ZeniMax buyout helps that, then more power to it. iD has always been independent, and that's great, but I'd rather have them around than not.
posted by shmegegge at 9:03 AM on June 25, 2009


also, thanks for reminding me that I need to go buy Masters of Doom.
posted by shmegegge at 9:04 AM on June 25, 2009


First 3D game is Ultima Underworld released in 1992, not Descent, not Marathon, not Wolfenstein 3D.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2009


Ultima Underworld is not the first 3d game. it is the first 3d rpg. hovertank beat it by a year (also developed by id) and even that's not the first.
posted by shmegegge at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2009


but I know I'm never going to play any new game that comes out of id's doors with the glee that I had while playing Quake.

I think a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that Quake was -- in my estimation -- the perfect distillation of the Doom formula. It took everything good about Doom (fast, tight gameplay), set a new standard for graphics at the time, and satiated everyone's multiplayer needs. Plus, as many have said, id allowed the mod community a lot of freedom
with the game.

In addition, the online community really helped propel Quake to epic status. I can still vividly recall what it was like back then, when PlanetQuake was hosted on a server in some college guys' dorm room. Many of the big gaming / hardware websites got their start thanks to Quake and id pushing the engine technology boundaries.

Quake was the right game at the right time. I always get a little nostalgic for those days whenever I see a GameSpy Network template site.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:55 AM on June 25, 2009


You guys want story from your Doom and quake games?

Here's the only story that should ever be included in a Doom game: Someone opened a portal to hell on Mars and tons of bad shit is coming through.

Here's the only story that should ever be included in a Quake game: The Strogg need their asses kicked back into space.

Doom 3 was completely immersive. To me it was more immersive than Far Cry and Riddick, the two big FPS which came out ahead of it the same year. It did have some new stuff like the "in-game touch-screen" that I hadn't seen in any other games up to that point. Or the PDA that functioned as the pause menu. Monster closets, as people have pointed out, were part of Doom 1 and Doom 2. I was already in the habit of whipping 180 degrees every now and then in a Doom game, especially when I heard the sound the monster closet makes. I for one learned early in the game to predict exactly where the monster closets were. To me, they were just part of the fun. So was finding keycards, which is sort of logical given that you're on an off-planet military installation which has locked itself down due to the interdimensional portal which is farting out bad guys. In Doom 3 you're rifling through people's pockets and finding the cards lying around on their workstations, which is an evolution from the original games which had no NPCs and the cards were just lying aroud on the floor. I thought it was pretty seamless. It's a great Doom game for 2004. I think if you hate on it for not doing enough new, you were expecting things iD was not promising.

Quake 4 really is pretty much a remake of Quake II, but the story itself actually runs parallel to Quake II and if you remember playing that game you will see they did put some effort into setting and backstory. Q4 was the first FPS I played where you have AI squadmates accompanying you virtually the entire time. It has a level where you see your body get mangled and re-formed with Strogg tech, from a first-person view. Granted, the gameplay doesn't change much after that, but it was damn cool, disturbing, and I'd not seen anything like that in a game before. It's one of the best "pure" single-player FPS (totally focussed on shooting and combat) ever made, IMHO.

/fanboi luv
posted by autodidact at 10:18 AM on June 25, 2009


Ok, I'll bite :)

My issues with Doom 3:

- Jump out and yell "Boo!" scare tactics. As you said, you are soon able to predict each moment where a monster will spawn behind you right as you turn your back to the corner and even these cheap scare tactics fail to deliver.

- Artificial mechanism to increase tension with the flashlight. They never heard of duct tape on this high tech military instillation? Aren't you supposed to be a marine bad ass and yet you have to choose between flashlight or gun?

- The game just flat out failed to grab my attention. This could be a personal failing, and not the game, but this was my experience.

Some of the story telling elements that were mention were definitely pretty slick, but not completely revolutionary compared to say, what the first Half Life did for immersive exposition.

With Q4, I admit I did not play far enough into the game to give a good critique of it, so I won't.

That all being said, I am very glad that id is sticking around. RTCW was the first online FPS to really grab my interest and keep me playing for months. After years of death matching, I was totally bored of it. Still am really. I realize there were other games out that offered more than just DM or team DM, but RTCW was the first I played.
posted by utsutsu at 10:58 AM on June 25, 2009


Jump out and yell "Boo!" scare tactics. As you said, you are soon able to predict each moment where a monster will spawn behind you right as you turn your back to the corner and even these cheap scare tactics fail to deliver.

This is actually one of my favorite things about the game. It was a direct and appreciated throwback to American McGee's old sadistic level design from the first two. Those games were always full of those moments where you didn't realize you had just innocently sealed your own fate because OH FUCK HERE COME THE HORDES OF DEMONS AND THE CEILING IS ABOUT TO CRUSH ME SHIT!

it was something I was really really happy to see in the new one, as formulaicly applied as it might have been. And I don't know if you were only playing during the daytime with no sound or what, but my experience was that Doom 3 was scary as shit. Maybe it was just jumping out and going "boo!" but it freaked me out every time.
posted by shmegegge at 11:45 AM on June 25, 2009


Hey, I'm glad you liked Doom 3, but it was not that great of a game, overall. Pretty, though.

Relying on keycards to open new areas is LAME. I'm glad they upped the immersion by letting you rifle through pockets, but every other game seems to find different and better ways to differentiate levels other than 'red door' and 'blue door'.

You should try Serious Sam, if you haven't. It's very Doom-like and fun.
posted by graventy at 12:07 PM on June 25, 2009


Doom 3 doesn't get enough credit for being a truly great sequel in that it took the prior games and updated them to the modern era (of mid-2004). Compare to many cases where a sequel comes out bearing little relation to the original aside from the name.

I also played Doom 3 only in the dark with surround or headphones. It's not the kind of game you can get absorbed in with sunshine outside, or other people around, or with The Comedy Network on in the background. The sound design was the scariest and possibly best part for me. Very high quality, awesome EAX implementation, detailed soundfield with like a dozen different sound sources at any given time, usually including one or two ghostly/demonic whispers. Not to mention highly useful clues to the presence and position of the monsters and their closets in all the darkness. I think most people who really hate on the darkness in Doom were not using the sound correctly. Hearing things you can't see is SCARY. The audio logs found on people's PDAs had good acting and lent a lot of depth to the immersion.

/nobody's listening
posted by autodidact at 12:20 PM on June 25, 2009


I'm gonna be completely OCD and just re-iterate that it's not lame to use keycards when the game is called Doom and the setting is a military installation on Mars. The thing would be locked down and you would need keycards/combos to get through the doors. Seems completely congruous to me.
posted by autodidact at 12:22 PM on June 25, 2009


Relying on keycards to open new areas is LAME. I'm glad they upped the immersion by letting you rifle through pockets, but every other game seems to find different and better ways to differentiate levels other than 'red door' and 'blue door'.

sure sure. i think part of the game's charm really does rely on nostalgia for the older ones. in the end, almost all of the criticisms of the game have merit. that said, - with the exception of the flashlight and the "gravity gun" tool they had apparently had in development and had not implemented in the game - I think id aren't too bothered by them. I think it's a fair point that they wanted to create and sell a platform for a revolutionary graphics and interface engine, so from their perspective it was a huge success. the rest was gravy for longtime fans and it's totally fine when people don't like it. Honestly, if there are ever any more doom games, I hope they all have keycards. I hate keycards in every other game, but I want them in Doom. but hey, that's me. I can completely understand why anyone else would hate them.

really, I sometimes wonder if Carmack worries that Unreal has stolen his market for 3rd party engine licensing.
posted by shmegegge at 12:48 PM on June 25, 2009


^ (congruent)
posted by autodidact at 12:52 PM on June 25, 2009


And I don't know if you were only playing during the daytime with no sound or what, but my experience was that Doom 3 was scary as shit. Maybe it was just jumping out and going "boo!" but it freaked me out every time.

:( I stopped playing Doom 3 because of its creepiness. But not so much for the monster closets or even the flashlight-or-gun mechanic -- id was right about that, it made sense for their level design. (I tried the ducttape fanpatch that was out 3 days after the game was released but felt it broke some of the fight tactics, however artificial and dumb that constant toggling was.)

There was something nasty about the pitch black of Doom 3. *shudder* I dreaded going some places in that game.

I (used to only) play late at night, headphones turned way UP, but being that freaked out very rarely happens to me in games. Short episodes in Farcry had the same sick vibe, being hunted in the jungle. Maybe small parts of Half-Life 2 ("We don't go to Ravenholm," and I still cringe hearing the scream from those fucking running zombies). But I'd say Doom 3 is my scariest game, to the point I stopped playing it..
posted by Glee at 2:02 PM on June 25, 2009


Avault Podcast #35 is (in the later part of the episode) an interview with John Romero regarding iD's purchase/merging. If you want a summary, he stresses he has not talked to Carmack and doesn't have any insider information, but he feels like this is Carmack looking for an exit strategy, and that he'd have preferred a company like Valve buy them out "and generate new IP". He also indicated that lawsuits in the past soured at least one of the big names ever having a chance of buying iD, and that previous offers made to purchase the company were in the $100mil range. He also assumes this means Fallout 4 would be done using the iD engine. But again, this was just him speculating on a company he makes quite clear he hasn't been a part of since 1996.

Romero (disclosure, I interviewed him for a documentary I have coming out) has been one of the best game designers to chronicle the life of a company he was part of; acquiring the videotape that Dan Linton (of Software Creations BBS) took during the development of Doom and putting it immediately online was an incredible companion piece to the Masters of Doom book. He believes in games, believes in gaming, and while he may have this strange Schadenfreude-laden punching-bag treatment by some realm of gamers, he's done nothing but good as far as I can tell.
posted by jscott at 4:22 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ultima Underworld is not the first 3d game. it is the first 3d rpg. hovertank beat it by a year (also developed by id) and even that's not the first.

I can't remember any true 3D games on 8-bit computers. Three early examples I can remember from the 16-bit era are ArcticFox on the Amiga (1986), Carrier Command on the same platform, and Starglider on the ST. I can't tell for sure which came out first. Carrier Command and Arcticfox were actually filled, solid 3-D polygons; Starglider, running on the much less capable ST, was limited to wireframe.

These were all real 3-D games. The first networked 3D shooter was almost certainly Midi Maze on the ST. The first LAN parties were in 1987!
posted by Malor at 4:31 PM on June 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


he may have this strange Schadenfreude-laden punching-bag treatment by some realm of gamers

I guess some folks just weren't comfortable being made his bitch.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:02 PM on June 25, 2009


Ultima Underworld is not the first 3d game. it is the first 3d rpg. hovertank beat it by a year (also developed by id) and even that's not the first.

I think that the original point was being made was that Doom wasn't true 3d because you couldn't do something like run over a bridge north to south, and then run underneath it east to west. The z-axis was fudged and limited to a single value at any given co-ordinate.

Obviously, spaceship games like Elite (which were on 8 bit machines) are a bit cheaty in this regard because they don't really have a landscape, per se, just some floating objects. They're definitely 3d games, but as they're primarily empty space, they're not really 3d environments in that same sense. Likewise with flight simulators (even ones with bridges).

I'm trying to think of a game prior to Underworld which did have that level of bridge-worthy 3dness and I'm drawing a blank. Mercenary , another 8 bitter, is ringing a bell, but I never really got a chance to play it so I'm not sure.
posted by Sparx at 6:01 PM on June 25, 2009


Typically, games like Elite used sprites anyway; they were somewhat like the 2.5D Doom in that regard. Enemy ships were a point entity with a facing graphic with multiple pre-drawn rotations, not independent 3D objects.

There is no real difference, as far as I know, between what Arcticfox was offering and what Ultima Underworld was offering. Arcticfox definitely had height, and you could impact on and be forced to drive around real 3D objects in the game. You also had to shoot correctly to actually hit things in the air.

UU just put you 'inside' the objects instead of outside, and thus had to render textures on the inner surfaces. This made it quite a bit slower. This required a lot more horsepower, but it's still essentially the same thing. They're just adding more polygons.

Later, as computers got faster, they went to hyper-speed twitch games that were rendered in 3D, which was pretty astonishing for the time, but it was still the same thing with more polygons.

There's no bright line here, no mater how much you happen to like UU. :) It was certainly a big improvement, but honest-to-god real 3D existed at least six years before it shipped.

If there's any bright-line difference between UU and the many games that came before, it's that it was much more immersive; they did a more convincing job of simulating a "real" place than the earlier games did. To re-use the metaphor upthread, it had a lot more sizzle with mosly the same steak.
posted by Malor at 7:49 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if you're going to play the "Game of Firsts" with regard to 3-D games and which was the real pioneer (which is an awful approach to figuring things out, by the way) be sure to include Wayout (1982) for the Atari 8-bit computers. Here's some gameplay video. It was created by Paul Allen Edelstein who was involved (in the area of video compression) on Fallout 1 and 2.

I think a lot of what Doom did was give people a pretty amazing, immersive experience and environment. You felt like you were THERE. I am sure I'm not the only one who walked through hallways and buildings after hours-long sessions in DOOM and got, well, a little weird about opening doors and going around corners.
posted by jscott at 10:44 PM on June 25, 2009


Typically, games like Elite used sprites anyway; they were somewhat like the 2.5D Doom in that regard. Enemy ships were a point entity with a facing graphic with multiple pre-drawn rotations, not independent 3D objects.

Games 'like' Elite may have (Freelancer comes to mind), but Elite itself certainly didn't. The first version fit into 22k RAM on the 8-bit BBC Micro - there really wouldn't have been room for that many predefined sprites - it was all wireframe polygons with magical 'hidden line' technology.

UU just put you 'inside' the objects instead of outside, ... it's that it was much more immersive

This is a good point. Strictly speaking, of course, anything with three axis involved anywhere and polygons defined by them is 3d. And a vehicle game can be constrained or not for any number of reasons (tanks can't jump, for example). But if your avatar is not tied to single plane, then your relationship to the objects in question becomes important - in Underworld whether you were on or under something materially mattered - it wasn't just an issue of collision detection or eye candy, so it's 3d representation really did have that extra immersive quality (the neato physics side of the game didn't hurt either). Whether you define that as just a better type of 3d or closer to actual 3d probably depends on whether you're an engineer or a philosopher.
posted by Sparx at 3:00 AM on June 26, 2009


What about SubLogic Flight Simulator II?
posted by Sutekh at 4:53 AM on June 26, 2009


Lengthy interview on the acquisition/merger.

I apologize for getting it wrong upthread -- it's not 'in there' that Carmack can't stop saying, it's 'on there'. I love him, but the man's more than a little odd.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:23 AM on June 26, 2009


I've always thought Activision's 1989 MechWarrior should be considered an early true 3D FPS. Frankly. thinking of it like that is part of why I gave up on the series; I realized FPSs didn't have to be plodding.
posted by NortonDC at 7:48 PM on June 26, 2009


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