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Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom
March 3, 2010 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Jean-Paul LeBreton, level designer for BioShock 2, has written an analysis of the original Doom as well as remade (demade?) a level from BioShock using Doom [design notes].
posted by brundlefly (68 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Doom is about “maneuverability as defense”

Space Invaders
posted by DU at 11:21 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty good analysis, although I would have mentioned Serious Sam as being the height of that style of gameplay.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:23 AM on March 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


That Robotron comparison is really great.

The mouselooking style of newer shooters can't really replicate that, but Doom was all point in the direction and shoot.
posted by graventy at 11:25 AM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Amen to this:

While games like System Shock began to show that a real sense of place can be a huge draw in itself, designers of such games will always have to manage the tension between compelling fiction and optimal function, unless you are willing to go all out and have the kind of weird, abstract spaces Doom has. I would love to see more modern games break with this conventional wisdom and see where it leads, if only in an indie or experimental context.
posted by naju at 11:45 AM on March 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's the thing that really grabbed me too, naju. I've been poking around in Unity 3D recently, and thinking how neat it would be to do a more abstract FPS.
posted by brundlefly at 11:49 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


1st person Robotron

I never thought about it that way, but that's exactly what it is, isn't it?

Doom feels about as primitive to me now as Pitfall felt during my Doom years. I'm sure if I played it today it would just feel sort of "meh" after the nostalgia wore off, but I don't think any game before or since has given me that "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!" feeling the way Doom did.
posted by bondcliff at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2010


Ironically, Bioshock 2 seems to have choser function over form, as the game is a highly linear experience. The fiction from the first game, that Rapture is a real location, is almost entirely surrendered in B2.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy crap. It was only 11 years between Pitfall and Doom. It's been 17 years since Doom.

Fuck. I'm old.
posted by bondcliff at 11:54 AM on March 3, 2010 [23 favorites]


Doom may make you unrealistically agile, but damn do I prefer that to feeling like you're wading slowly through mud per many modern FPS games.
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on March 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


As the march of technology has allowed ever-higher graphical fidelity, virtually every FPS since Doom has attempted greater and greater representationalism with its environments. While games like System Shock began to show that a real sense of place can be a huge draw in itself, designers of such games will always have to manage the tension between compelling fiction and optimal function, unless you are willing to go all out and have the kind of weird, abstract spaces Doom has. I would love to see more modern games break with this conventional wisdom and see where it leads, if only in an indie or experimental context.

or you could just play bzflag.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:57 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd love to hear this guy's take on Marathon.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:01 PM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ah, Marathon... in my mind the greatest of the pre-Quake 2.5D games.
posted by Artw at 12:08 PM on March 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


I ♥ Marathon
posted by brundlefly at 12:09 PM on March 3, 2010


Halo simply lacks any kind of character by comparison.
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on March 3, 2010


The agility as defense mechnism is what makes the scout so much fun to play in Team Fortress 2. It requires you to out smart your opponent and figure out what they are planning to do before even they do.
posted by arcolz at 12:20 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems strange to say that DOOM started all this while ignoring Wolfenstine 3D, which was made by the same guys.
posted by delmoi at 12:26 PM on March 3, 2010


It's a different beast though, being grid based and even more 2d than Doom is.
posted by Artw at 12:30 PM on March 3, 2010


One of the things I loved about Marathon was that in some of the network levels (and, I think, some of the story levels) they exploited the 2.5-D thing and created overlapping hallways that, viewed on the map, clearly intersected and existed in the same space, yet didn't interact. This phenomenon coupled with the enemy radar on the HUD probably took six years off my life.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:31 PM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Paging Ryvar..
posted by Plutor at 12:33 PM on March 3, 2010


I always have to take the time in any conversation about Doom to remember one of the happiest memories I have of my father. I was about 14, it was our Easter holiday dinner, and my dad and I were in the basement playing Doom – not because we were avoiding conversation and relatives, but our father-daughter bonding was totally augmented by the arrival of first-person shooters into our lives! My mother called us upstairs about fifteen minutes before dinner, so we decided to play just a little bit longer. I'm sure she summoned us a few other times before we finally emerged to learn we had missed dessert. She was seriously pissed. That might have been the year he bought me a Doom/Hexen/Heretic .wad editor for Christmas.

Looking back, my dad was pretty kickass at PC game piracy, and I'm sure that somewhere in the basement there's still a ton of 5 1/4" and 3 1/2" disks labeled something like 'kq4 2/6', and they're likely the only bits of his handwriting that I could locate. He died before the 64bit era, but I'm pretty sure that if he were alive today I'd be emailing him this link, but he might not be totally alert and coherent at work as I'm sure he would have been up really late last night playing Mass Effect 2, telling my mother "I'll come to bed soon, I just have to survey one more planet...just one more planet!!"
posted by avocet at 12:33 PM on March 3, 2010 [47 favorites]


Frog blast the vent core!
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:34 PM on March 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seems strange to say that DOOM started all this while ignoring Wolfenstine 3D, which was made by the same guys.

Wolfenstein lacks most of the strengths that he praised in DOOM, though. There's are only a few enemy types, and you most enemies have instant distance attacks, so dodging and maneuverability doesn't play as large of a role.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:38 PM on March 3, 2010


Wolf offers basically no room for creative design- everything is a square block, and what makes up the levels is whether or not each particular block is a wall or not. Doom gives you so much more to work with.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:45 PM on March 3, 2010


thanks, great post.

I made a couple of Doom II deathmatch levels back in the day that I released into the BBS wild. The .wad files missed the cut during a backup transfer about six or seven computers ago, but I sometimes wonder if they're still floating around in a level pack somewhere.
posted by 256 at 12:45 PM on March 3, 2010


That analysis rings so true, and hits on so many of my own feelings about Doom and where the modern FPS has gone awry. All that insistence on realism. Some of the comments are very apt, as well, such as this one...

"The more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder if Quake’s free mouselook was a road we should not have taken, because it took a very accessible genre and turned it into a pastime for skilled operators only. And ultimately, got us the cumbersome dual-stick controllers we use today."

Frankly, the overly complex controls that seem to be part-and-parcel for damn near every game on the market today, are the overriding reason I've all but given-up serious gaming. Doom, Marathon, Quake...you could simply pick them up and quickly play without all the complex, arcane key/button/move combinations today's games require. Instant immersion. Instant fun.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, if you want to experiment with making Doom levels (and I really think people should if they like video games- making your own level is a pretty cool feeling and engages you with the design process, and Doom is probably the easiest engine to make levels for), check out Doom Builder, which is easy to use and well-documented. (I link to the Doom Wiki page because the actual site appears to be down at the moment.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:50 PM on March 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


That Robotron comparison is really great.

This encapsulates perfectly the reason why I suck at FPS: I'm right-handed, not ambidextrous.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 PM on March 3, 2010


This encapsulates perfectly the reason why I suck at FPS: I'm right-handed, not ambidextrous.

The way most FPS games (and MMOs, for that matter) have standardized around the WASD control scheme, it eventually becomes muscle memory.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:03 PM on March 3, 2010


> That Robotron comparison is really great.

No wonder I loved Doom so much. Robotron was (and still is) a great goddamn game.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:15 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, cool! Thanks, Brundlefly -- JP LeBreton's my husband. I'll tell him he's been Mefi-ed.
(Oh, and, small amendment: he was lead level designer on BioShock 2, and the level designer largely responsible for Arcadia on Bio 1.)
posted by zusty at 1:41 PM on March 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


This started off as a response to Thorzdad and spiraled into a bunch of feelgood childhood anecdotes, be warned.

I never got into Quake after getting pwned and laughed at by a bunch of nerdy dudes in my highschool computer lab due to my inability to immediately wrap my head around mouselook, and I abandoned gaming for quite a while as a result (we also got the internet at home around that time). While control schemes remain that complex across the board these days (speaking of both consoles & PC releases), a whole new approach to 'level 1' has come with it, ensuring you're comfortable with a few basic moves before introducing others, in which learning the interface is nicely tied into the story. The only retro releases that I can think of off the top of my head that did such things were by the Learning Company. I can think of a number of instances where the loss of an accompanying manual proved problematic (for reference as well as entering the first word of the third paragraph on the seventh page to start up King's Quest). The only game I've played in recent years where I felt completely let down by the tutorial and totally fucked without a manual was Oblivion, in which I seemed to have completely missed the part where they explained how to pick locks and persuade NPCs. Fucking Oblivion, with mounts that drive like city buses as I'm pretty sure they blew the whole budget on 20 minutes of Patrick Stewart.

I'm a relatively late bloomer when it comes to Civilization, having only picked it up with Revolution. I played Civ II for the first time about four months ago, and downloading a scanned PDF of a photocopy of the manual provoked a nice pang of nostalgia for the day I figured out that holding my Might & Magic II manual open to the spellbook with one hand was much better than just punching random numbers. I wasn't having much luck figuring it out on my own, but I had my tome of a manual, and eventually I got the hang of it.

Looking back, my eight year old self was a lot smarter at such things, as I somehow managed to beat all 20 or 30 levels of Military Madness without any serious problems. When I attempted it again at 26, I spent a few straight nights on number 5. Who knows, maybe GUIs made me dumber.

Tangentially related: the biggest WTF of a Level 1 I ever encountered was Deep Blue for TG16. I'm not sure why they bothered programming multiple levels when I never managed to make it more than 50% of the way through the first after about 200 sporadic tries over two decades.
posted by avocet at 1:45 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


This creates a feeling that’s quite rare in modern FPS: that you are powerful because you are agile, not because you’re a tank. This frees up Doom’s encounters to feature huge numbers of enemies, to vary scenarios by mixing in different proportions of threats, and to have huge, sprawling, often non-linear spaces that the player can traverse easily. There’s nothing quite like it today.

I think he's got it backwards. Since Quake I, FPS's have been too technologically limited to reproduce Doom's gameplay at acceptable quality. They've always always picked smaller, high-detail rooms over larger ones, picked higher-detail enemies over many enemies, favored direct-hit attacks over polygon-eating projectiles, been careful to script encounters to limit the number of enemies that can appear at once, designed maps so that not too much is visible at once, etc.

The idea that if you play Doom in overhead map mode you get a playable game is not an archaic curiosity, but is contra the fact that if you play a more modern FPS in map mode, you get something that is really too low quality to be called a game at all.

So I think he comes close but misses what IMHO is the Big Important Thing—FPS level design has been warped by years of technical limitations in pursuit of ever more visual realism.
posted by fleacircus at 1:46 PM on March 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I just summarized my last comment to a friend via text and learned that the iPhone OS auto-capitalizes RTFM. Nice!
posted by avocet at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The strange thing to me about the insistence on realistic spaces is that the games rarely allows you to really enjoy them. I had a very distinct feeling while playing Bioshock II that I would have like to just stop and look around. I don't think I ever really got a chance to look at the gorgeous underwater world outside of every window. It would have been suicide.

It's one of the things I liked so much about Fallout III - after becoming a more-or-less invincible juggernaut, I spent hours wandering the wasteland looking for new sights. Or just admiring how much time someone spent perfecting a rusted out, pitted atomic car from the 50s.
posted by bonecrusher at 1:56 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


fleacircus you've clearly never played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or any of the other massive-open-world FPSes.
posted by runkelfinker at 2:03 PM on March 3, 2010


The first time I played Doom I couldn't stop playing it for like two weeks. I dreamed Doom for a while. No game since has had that effect on me no matter how realisitic the graphics.

And let me add "thank goodness."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


While I understand and to some extent agree with the complaints about complicated controls in modern releases I think that the quick-time event* is significantly worse for gameplay and should have stayed dead with Dirk the Daring. They're particularly disruptive in games like GTA4 where they are entirely unlike the free-form gameplay of the rest of the game. They're either ridiculously trivial (For example, 'hit LT in the next 30 minutes' in Mass Effect 2) or Street-Fighter-combos-in-disguise ridiculous (Prototype's disarm-the-detector's "hit X-Y-B-B-X-Y-B-Y within 3 seconds.") They're a way to interject the illusion of gameplay in cutscenes that look cool in TV commercials. What's next, the return of the rail shooter?

*cutscenes or scripted uninterruptible actions that require you to press buttons as indicated by glowing buttons on the screen. (Press Y) (Press X) (Press B))
posted by theclaw at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anything with one of those quicktime game thingies can find itself safely off my too-buy list. A fucking cut-scene with a rhythm action game built in? Fuck off.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think he's got it backwards. Since Quake I, FPS's have been too technologically limited to reproduce Doom's gameplay at acceptable quality. They've always always picked smaller, high-detail rooms over larger ones, picked higher-detail enemies over many enemies, favored direct-hit attacks over polygon-eating projectiles, been careful to script encounters to limit the number of enemies that can appear at once, designed maps so that not too much is visible at once, etc.

The strange thing to me about the insistence on realistic spaces is that the games rarely allows you to really enjoy them.

I know it's not entirely new anymore, but I think Halo does well on all these points, and was ridiculously popular to boot.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:24 PM on March 3, 2010


I'd love to hear this guy's take on Marathon.

Yeah, me too. Marathon always struck me as taking just about everything that was good about Doom and giving it a real plot and more complex levels.

M2 had a lot of the semi-abstract level design that's discussed in the article -- quite a bit of the game occurs underground in very improbable "lava tubes" that include both huge cathedral-like rooms and tiny dungeonlike passages.

The last Marathon came with a very neat level editor, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:29 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


theclaw, agreed. The only time I actually missed a trigger moment in ME2 was because I was too busy trying to obtain photographic evidence that I actually managed to get the Paramour achievement, which I seem to have massive problems with. But omg, those scenes were so endearingly scripted!

I guess the opposite of the plot-advancing quick-time event is the dance minigame in various clubs in San Andreas, as it actually requires a sense of rhythm but is just one of many bordering-on-ridiculous inclusions in the game.

But that's why I love it so much.

posted by avocet at 2:29 PM on March 3, 2010


fleacircus, I'm fascinated by your point about the juxtaposition of top-down maps – however, given that Doom and the ilk weren't able to render multiple strata of playable environment in the same 3d space, it makes sense that adding spatial complexity would happen by expanding a level across a plane. Now that we can build upwards, our levels have shrunken. I certainly see your point though.
posted by avocet at 2:38 PM on March 3, 2010


While I understand and to some extent agree with the complaints about complicated controls in modern releases I think that the quick-time event* is significantly worse for gameplay and should have stayed dead with Dirk the Daring.

I don't know about that, God Of War is a fun game and isn't any worse for including it. Baten Kaitos Origins also uses a quicktime type of gameplay, and it's one of the best games that most gamers never touched.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:53 PM on March 3, 2010


I love God Of War, but I groan whenever one of the QT events comes up.
posted by brundlefly at 2:57 PM on March 3, 2010


I definitely agree with him that modern FPSes are less about agility and more about cover and health management. I played 10 minutes of Gears of War on a friend's system before realizing that it was basically a rail shooter, and gave up.

I like being able to jump a ridiculous amount and move 2 or 3 times faster than I should. I don't like hiding behind a rock and popping up to shoot at stuff. That's boring.
posted by codacorolla at 3:07 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think he's got it backwards. Since Quake I, FPS's have been too technologically limited to reproduce Doom's gameplay at acceptable quality. They've always always picked smaller, high-detail rooms over larger ones, picked higher-detail enemies over many enemies, favored direct-hit attacks over polygon-eating projectiles, been careful to script encounters to limit the number of enemies that can appear at once, designed maps so that not too much is visible at once, etc.

Serious motherfucking Sam jesus christ
posted by kafziel at 3:18 PM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Serious Sam could hardly be described as being typical of modern FPS games though, could it?
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on March 3, 2010


What's next, the return of the rail shooter?

I don't know if that was sarcasm, but I'm pretty sure House of the Dead: Overkill, some Resident Evil games, and Dead Space Extraction for Wii are all rail-shooters, and have been fairly well-received by critics (and wicked fun if you ask me), so maybe...
posted by Kirk Grim at 3:21 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'd say Halo was the first "new" game I've seen that emulates Doom's feeling of "get into a room full [and I mean full] of enemies, and just run around in between them, strafing and shooting and letting hell break loose til they all die." Then Halo 3 with the flood, and then Left 4 Dead, and we got back in the business of killing hordes of the undead by the handful. Everything in between Doom and Halo kinda turned into a hallway encounter sort of thing (not that it's bad, Modern Warfare is incredibly realistic in the sense that if you ever have to [really] fight more than two enemies at the same time without cover you're dead, and it's great, but not the same style as Doom or Halo at all).

As an aside, I used to be consistently on the top 2-3 at quake servers, often being #1, and then I found out everyone else was using the mouse. I'd gotten really good using just the keyboard (arrows + page up/page down), and then had to relearn everything with the mouse. I eventually got used to it, but by then quake servers were long gone, and the cool kids were playing with two analog sticks on consoles.
posted by qvantamon at 4:03 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reading this has been more effective in making me consider to buy Bioshock 2 than any marketing trick.
posted by ersatz at 4:46 PM on March 3, 2010


And this post surely deserves a link.
posted by ersatz at 4:58 PM on March 3, 2010


Paging Ryvar..

JP is one of the smartest designers I've ever met, and he's filled with a ton of interesting ideas. It's nice to see him getting the coverage he deserves. In the twilight period after Bioshock 1 shipped he and I talked frequently about procedural approaches to content, which he touches on at the end of his analysis.

Hey, cool! Thanks, Brundlefly -- JP LeBreton's my husband. I'll tell him he's been Mefi-ed.

Wow, small world. zusty: if you read this, tell him JSonic over in Boston says hi and that he liked the analysis. I'm a technical designer here, now, so I'm actually filling some of his role on the scripting front these days.

as I'm pretty sure they blew the whole budget on 20 minutes of Patrick Stewart.

Nah. As someone with game voiceover production experience, I'm reasonably certain that even Patrick Stewart isn't going to break 1% of the budget. To give you some idea: it's well-publicized that the voice actor for Niko from GTA4 (who read easily 100x more dialogue than Patrick Stewart did for Oblivion) made about .1% of that game's budget. Big names will always command premium prices, but not enough to put a dent in a modern AAA title's budget.
posted by Ryvar at 5:01 PM on March 3, 2010


While I understand and to some extent agree with the complaints about complicated controls in modern releases I think that the quick-time event* is significantly worse for gameplay and should have stayed dead with Dirk the Daring.

Yes. This, this, this, a thousand times this. Hey, I've enjoyed games with QTEs in 'em, for sure, but such a desperate attempt to make a cut-scene interesting to the player is probably the most clear-cut sign you could ask for that a lot of modern game design has gone off the rails. Hint: if you need QTEs to make your cut-scenes interesting, get rid of your cut-scenes, and if you're doing it to keep the player from mashing START to get back to the game, then you don't understand what the player is even there for.

For the love of god, I hope you people never "play" Indigo Prophecy or Heavy Rain. My appreciation for what David Cage is trying to do notwithstanding, they're basically just seven-hour-long QTEs.
posted by Amanojaku at 5:05 PM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]



fleacircus you've clearly never played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or any of the other massive-open-world FPSes.

Let me pimp Armed Assault II, which is one of the most beautiful full world games I have played. It has it's quirks, and it's a resource pig, but it is gorgeous. It has a pretty large and dedicated community of modders, too.

That being said, I miss the doom style of FPS that was run into a room full of baddies and kill them all. Preferably with beserker and a chainsaw. I loved me some DooM - playing on Dwango on a 14.4 connection, downloading wads from BBS's....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:20 PM on March 3, 2010


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xybots
posted by mikelieman at 6:22 PM on March 3, 2010


Hi, Ryvar! I have memailed you, and will pass on your nice things to say.
posted by zusty at 7:11 PM on March 3, 2010


I quite enjoyed Indigo Prophecy, and I expect to enjoy Heavy Rain, which has been sitting on my desk for a week or so, waiting for me to get around to it. Many people have told me it's fantastic.

You shouldn't compare them to games like, say, God of War. It's a completely different sort of game, with a different sort of gameplay. Yes, QTE's in GoW are a bit stupid, but that's because it's an action game in which the best actions are done without direct player control, and therefore they're contrary to the point of the game. If someone put ham in my cherry pie, I'd cry foul, but I wouldn't then go on to object to a ham sandwich.
posted by rifflesby at 7:35 PM on March 3, 2010


bondcliff: I don't think any game before or since has given me that "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!" feeling the way Doom did.

Oh god yes that feeling. I have an incredibly vivid memory of playing Doom for the first time. It blew my tiny little mind and it's never quite recovered.

The analysis by LeBreton is very good. I haven't enjoyed an FPS in years (Portal excluded, though I need to give HL2 a shot, as I drunkenly bought The Orange Box off Steam a couple of weeks ago) and some of it may be that the sense of freedom the old id-range of shooters had just isn't there anymore. I liked the old arcade-style first person shooters, but the modern style doesn't appeal to me. I don't play shooters for the story (though a good story helps).
posted by Kattullus at 8:03 PM on March 3, 2010


ersatz: And this post surely deserves a link.

It sure did! Though I kinda wish he'd gone into Ultima IV in more detail. One of my standard issue gaming rants is "why don't they make'm like Ultima anymore?" I miss the freedom of those games tremendously. Oblivion did have some of that, but its world was, in some ways, less believable than Ultima VII was. If I weren't obsessively playing Men of War right now (sooooo gooooood), which does make me feel that sense of freedom I so crave, I think I might download Exult and go play through UVII again. I also hear there are pretty good remakes out there of UV and UVI for the Dungeon Siege engine.

Uh... oh, on topic... yeah, LeBreton does have a good point about engaging with players' imagination. My all-time favorite games all have the quality where I can project myself into the game in some way, whether its engaging with the Ultima world, defending Mother Russia in Men of War, building an empire in Civilization, pulling off beautiful plays in Pro Evolution Soccer or saving the day as Guybrush Threepwood in the Monkey Island series. All of these games became places for me to hang out, in some way. My favorite memories of Ultima VII were of just running around exploring the world, finding weird, out of the way bits. It was just another place for me to have a good time. Sure, there was a story (a damn good one) but that was just an added bonus to the lovely world I got to inhabit.

The best games engage parts of my brain that no other artforms do. I love films, books, music etc. and games are a part of that pantheon for me. Though, admittedly, games like that are further and fewer between than works in the other artforms. I don't know why exactly, but there you go. I don't know exactly what makes a game engage me on that level and another fail to, but it may have something to do with focusing on believability in game design rather than verisimilitude.
posted by Kattullus at 8:51 PM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


For everybody waxing nostalgic about Marathon, the Xbox Live Arcade has a revamped version of Marathon 2: Durandal available for 800 points ($10). Or, if you don't have a console, you can download legal cross-platform copies of the original trilogy for free here.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:54 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even though Doom far eclipsed Marathon in distro, since Marathon was Mac only, weren't they released about simultaneously?

Doom / Marathon / Descent were the only games that ever really grabbed my head and led to dreams. A few years later, I was playing the early MMO Ace of Aces III and one day, walking home, saw the Goodyear Blimp over Capitol Hill and wondered where my guns were and if I could catch it without stalling and if there were escorts.
posted by mwhybark at 9:13 PM on March 3, 2010


Dawn of Aces oops
posted by mwhybark at 9:14 PM on March 3, 2010


Doom came out in '93 and Marathon in '94. That was an aeon in game development back then, Wolfenstein 3D came out in '92, for instance.
posted by Kattullus at 9:53 PM on March 3, 2010


IDSPISPOPD

That is all.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:24 PM on March 3, 2010


For everybody waxing nostalgic about Marathon, the Xbox Live Arcade has a revamped version of Marathon 2: Durandal

I do belive MeFi's own Mikey-San worked on that project.
posted by hellojed at 11:08 PM on March 3, 2010


If you haven't played that Arcadia demake level yet and can, DO IT. There's a ton of "Oh, I know where I am!" moments and the way he implements the Saturnine Houdinis and the Apiary are clever and great.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:25 AM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of my standard issue gaming rants is "why don't they make'm like Ultima anymore?"

That's a good question. To me, "like Ultima" means open-ended exploration, freedom to try weird things (two reasons why I felt Ultima Online was an expected next step), a morality system tied to your actions, non-interchangeable companions (with interaction between them, please) and an array of NPCs. The low importance of dungeons (level-down spells) is also interesting.

I frankly don't like food systems (too quotidian) and magic systems with ingredients (as I'm a hoarder) and there are some trappings of the series I could take or leave e.g. the specific dungeons, self-mapping. /grumbling off

As for the remakes, there's also an Ultima IV map for NeverWinter Nights, which didn't terribly impress me. VI is one release short of v1.00 iirc and fully playable. Lazarus, the Ultima V remake, is very good and a shining example in the field of fan-made games.

I agree that immersion is very important and this can often be accomplished by simple means. Technical limitations forced the player to complement what they saw, but games with a consistent world can also accomplish this nowadays. Examples that come to mind are ICO, with its hand-holding mechanic that informs the gameplay and its show, don't tell mentality or Zelda:Twilight Princess, which had simple but alluring explanations in the first half of the game e.g. Link, a young lad, chases the monsters that have kidnapped two children because he's the only villager with a docile horse available, or by restricting you access to some areas when the bridges are broken it conveys the importance of the kingdom keeping the bridges and roads repaired.
posted by ersatz at 3:12 AM on March 4, 2010


labeled something like 'kq4 2/6'

EIGHT, not six! (Four on 3.5)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:54 AM on March 4, 2010


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