Twenty Years of Ultra-Violence
December 9, 2013 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Twenty years ago tonight, id Software uploaded Doom to an FTP server at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completely changed the video gaming industry.

Doom was not the first game to use a first person perspective, nor the first first-person shooter, but it popularized the genre almost overnight, setting the standard so profoundly that for years first-person shooters were routinely referred to as "Doom clones". Contemporary reviewers raved about it, gaming media lavished coverage on it, gamers played it obsessively, it sold millions of copies, and it's left a long legacy to explore, including a notoriously hilarious comic book (RIP AND TEAR!) and equally notoriously awful movie and series of licensed novels. It inspired many notable comments and pushed forward the focus on gaming graphics, as seen in this video promoting Windows 95 as a gaming platform (starring Bill Gates!).

The levels of the original Doom were divided into three "episodes" of nine levels each (levels 1-8 and a secret ninth level accessible via a secret exit from an earlier level in the episode), facilitating the giving away of the first episode, "Knee-Deep in the Dead", as shareware- episodes 2 and 3 being originally available only via mail order direct from id themselves. A later retail release, The Ultimate Doom, added a fourth episode which included some additional functionality developed for Doom II. Doom II, meanwhile, which hit retail shelves a scant 11 months later, added a new weapon and a mob of new enemies, and restructured the levels, having 30 levels plus two Wolfenstein 3D-themed secret levels. In addition to Doom II, iD also released two additional licensed level packs for Doom, the 21-map Master Levels for Doom II and Final Doom, which was comprised of two extremely challenging 32-level .wads: The Plutonia Experiment and TNT: Evilution.

Doom saw a huge number of ports both official and unofficial, to the point that nearly everything runs Doom, including some particularly silly platforms to port Doom to (including Doom 3, of all things). There's even a hardware mod to let you shoot demons with your mind. While most Doom ports were more or less straight ports of the existing levels (with some changes owing to the specifics of various platforms' limitations), the Nintendo 64's Doom 64 in particular stands out. Doom 64, rather than a port of the existing Doom content, was practically a new game inspired by the original- it uses all new sprites for the monsters and weapons, adds a couple of new monsters and a new weapon, and has all new maps and textures. If you haven't played Doom 64, you haven't seen all that Doom has to offer. Fortunately, the Doom64 EX project offers a way to play Doom 64 on PC, so long as you've got a Doom 64 rom.

Perhaps you'd like to take a break from playing Doom to read about it instead. You could start with Tom Hall's Doom Bible, the original design document for Doom, which is perhaps most notable for having virtually nothing to do with the finished product. Then there's Hank Leukart's exhaustive Doom FAQ, included with every copy of the game since 1.4. It lays bare a lot of the underlying mechanics of the game's combat and details all kinds of arcane computer fuckery that used to be necessary. There's also a couple of books on the topic. Most prominent is David Kushner's Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, which covers the founding and early days of id Software and focuses on the early corporate culture and conflicts. A more recent effort is Dan Pinchbeck's Doom: Scarydarkfast (at which link you can read the book online), which focuses on an in-depth analysis of the game itself. Or maybe reading's not your thing (who has time, with so much Doom to play?) and you're more into music, in which case you could listen to the Doom and Doom II soundtracks or check out a comparison of Doom's background music to the metal songs they were "inspired" by. Whatever you do, be sure to check out this video of a visit to iD software late in Doom's development.

Okay, let's talk about modding! While FPS modding first emerged as a phenomenon with Apogee's Wolfenstein 3D, Doom was specifically built to enable modding, with all of the data for each game contained in a .wad (Where's All the Data?) file. ( Wikipedia has a great overall article on .wad files, while the Doom Wiki's article on .wad files is more technically oriented. Both are highly excellent.) First, let's take a look at the modding tools available for Doom. If you're interested in modding Doom, you'll want to start with Wikipedia's brief explanation of how Doom levels work, then move on to the Doom Wiki's editing tutorials. You'll need some software to do this with, of course. Make sure you've got a copy of the .wad file for the version of Doom you want to mod (and if you don't, no worries, more on that later), then start downloading some utilities. The biggest name in Doom editing is Doom Builder, a very easy to use level editor that comes with its own set of video tutorials. If you just want to mess around and make some levels, Doom Builder is all you need and you can stop reading this paragraph now. If you want to make your own assets- monsters, weapons, textures, or just random things to litter your levels with- you'll need something more. Fortunately, you have options. The classic tool for DOS back in the day was DeHackEd, the latest version of which is the Windows-based WhackEd 4. Other utilities with similar functionality and different interfaces include the eXtensible Wad Editor and SLADE 3.

But what can you do with these tools? It would be far more work and far more text than is available here to list all of the hundreds of mods and total conversions that have been made for Doom in the last two decades, so here's a sample of the more notable ones.
  • Possibly the most famous Doom mod ever was the Aliens Total Conversion, which took the frenetic mass slaughter of Doom and made something creepier with it, in the process demonstrating the power and flexibility of Doom and its modding tools.
  • Cold As Hell takes the action to a deserted Antarctic base and brings a lot of challenge with it.
  • Brutal Doom starts with the ultraviolence of Doom and takes it way over the top, adding all manner of gore and making the enemies harder.
  • Action Doom brings the old days of slow-moving bullet projectiles and one-hit kills from 2D shooters to the Doom engine, while Action Doom 2 mixes Doom with classic arcade beat 'em up games.
  • Knee Deep in ZDoom is a reworking of the first episode of Doom to take advantage of the engine improvements and new features in ZDoom. It's like Black Mesa for Doom.
  • Deus Vult 2 is renowned for combining excellent mapping with absurd amounts of monsters.
  • One of the creators of cereal-box prize/Doom mod Chex Quest made a sequel to that legendary advertising vehicle, Chex Quest 3.
  • Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch is a Total Conversion based on multiplayer-focused Skulltag's code which pits the Robot Masters of Mega Man 1-6 against each other.
  • Call of Dooty is a vicious satire of modern military FPS games built into a Doom .wad. This link goes to the first of a series of YouTube videos featuring a playthrough of the mod; download links are in the description.
  • When id open sourced Doom, this only applied to the executable code- the art assets and levels (basically the contents of a .wad file) remain id's property. Freedoom is a bit of an odd duck- rather than being a mod proper, which would usually entail needing an official .wad to run, it's actually a GNU-created .wad designed to be used in place of an official Doom .wad, providing a new game which is intended to be compatible with most Doom mods.
Most mods will come with instructions on how to use them- in most cases, just drag the .wad file you want to use onto the executable for your source port, choose the appropriate official .wad that the mod .wad is for, and the source port will handle the rest. (And skip to the end of this post if all this "source port" business is confusing or unfamiliar.)

Every year, the Doom community stalwarts at Doomworld present The Cacowards, a community-curated selection of the best Doom mods released that year. If you're looking for the best that the Doom modding community has to offer, the Cacowards is a great place to start.

For the adventurous (and FTP-client possessing), there's the /idgames archive (the preceding is an FTP link), a massive FTP site of files that has been the major repository for Doom mods over the years. This Doomworld forum post has information on accessing and using the /idgames archive if you are so inclined. If you prefer to simply browse, Doomworld also provides a web-accessible interface to an unofficial copy of the archive here. maintains a huge archive of Doom level packs from CD-ROMS which were sold in stores, such as the famous D!Zone packages. Quality was rarely a concern for the compilers of these quasi-legal collections (nearly all of which were simply collected without permission from internet sources and thrown on a CD-ROM and into a retail box), but if you like Doom and want more levels than you could probably ever play, give 'em a peek.

I made mention of Total Conversions a bit earlier, so if you don't know, a total conversion is a mod that replaces most or all of the assets- the monsters, the weapons, the textures- from the original game in favor of using the underlying engine to make a completely new game. Given the ease of making Doom maps and the low bar for art in the Doom engine, TCs were a pretty common project- well, starting them was, anyway. Here's a huge page full of a ton of total conversions in various states of finished.

If you'd like a peek into Doom history, you can download the original alpha and beta versions (as well as multiple versions of the shareware).

And heck, if all that isn't enough for you? The OBLIGE random map generator will randomly generate playable Doom levels. It's officially impossible to run out.

Doom has also inspired some creations which aren't actually Doom mods. The creators of Classic Doom for Doom 3 took the levels from the original shareware episode of Doom and built them in Doom 3, keeping the layout and enemy placement and upgrading the look to take advantage of Doom 3's much more powerful graphics. Given that the player character was far more powerful relative to the monsters in Doom/Doom II than in 3, Classic Doom for Doom 3 is in many places hard as hell. Moving away from the first-person shooter, DoomRL takes the premise and elements of Doom and makes a fast-paced roguelike. The seemingly dormant Doom: Fall of Mars translates Doom into a Diablo-inspired action-RPG, as odd as that may sound. gmDoom is an addon for Garry's Mod that imports monsters, weapons, and so on from Doom into gMod. A Doom .wad is required. And id's own Doom RPG for iOS makes a turn-based RPG out of the original game- with special appearances from the Wolfenstein dogs.

Let's round this out with the messy business of actually obtaining and playing Doom. Unless you're running DOS or Windows 95, the original Doom software is going to be of little use to you- the code was simply written for systems sufficiently different from modern machines that the original programs mostly don't work, or at best run badly. This is where source ports come in. The short version is that a source port is a program you download that lets you run Doom on your machine even though the original code wasn't written for it.

The first thing you need to do, if you haven't already, is to actually get Doom. id used to sell their games direct from their website, but have stopped offering this service; it appears that the official way to get Doom right now is to buy it on Steam. Each of Doom, Doom II (Master Levels for Doom II is included with purchase of Doom II but has its own Steam page for some reason) and Final Doom is $4.99. Once you've made your purchase and downloaded the game, go into the directory Steam stores it in (search for a folder called steamapps and drill down from there) and grab the .wad file- doom.wad for Doom, doom2.wad for Doom II, tnt.wad and plutonia.wad for Final Doom. Once you've got a copy of the .wad file for the game in question, you can just uninstall Doom via Steam if you prefer- only the .wad data file matters. I recommend moving all the official .wad files you have to a convenient folder on your desktop so you have them handy. If you don't feel like spending money, you can just play the shareware episode (available courtesy of here- once you've downloaded and installed the file you're looking for is Doom1.wad, and FYI the shareware episode is NOT compatible with most mods) or use Freedoom, though Freedoom will look very different from regular Doom since it's entirely new art assets and maps.

As a quick aside- if you poke around some mod sites, you'll probably come across the terms pwad and iwad. An iwad, or internal .wad, is a .wad file which is the official .wad of a game- doom1.wad, doom.wad, doom2.wad, plutonia,wad, or tnt.wad. A pwad, or patch wad, refers to a .wad which is actually a mod that requires an iwad to run. In general, if it's the .wad from the actual game it's an iwad, and if you downloaded it separately, it's a pwad.

That done, you'll need to choose and download a source port. You have several options for source ports depending on what you want.
  • Probably the most popular source port is ZDOOM, which in addition to running most any .wads and mods you throw at it also adds a host of new features handily shown off in the Knee Deep in ZDoom mod linked in the list of mods above, as well as support for mouselook, jumping (which WILL break sequence on several levels) and (mostly pointlessly) crouching.
  • GZDoom is based on ZDOOM but adds support for some pretty OpenGL features.
  • While most source ports fix the numerous bugs and glitches in the original Doom engine, such as the infamous visplane overflow, the cutely-named Chocolate Doom replicates the vanilla Doom experience, bugs and all, on modern computers.
  • zDaemon and Zandronum (formerly Skulltag) are the two big source ports for playing online with- a far improvement over the days of IPX and null modems! I honestly don't have enough experience with this to recommend one or the other. Doomworld's front page news frequently announces organized play using both, so if online play interests you, you might want to just grab both.
Your source port's website, or at worst the information that comes with the download, will contain detailed instructions, but in most cases it's as simple as unpacking the download to a folder on your computer, putting a copy of any Doom .wads you have in that folder, and then double-clicking the source port's executable file and choosing the .wad you want to run. To run a mod, you can usually just drag the mod's .wad file and drop it on the executable, choose the correct iwad, and go. If it sounds complicated, don't worry- after the first couple of times it'll feel pretty natural.

You've probably noticed that this post has leaned heavily on two sites in particular: Doomworld and the Doom Wiki. Doom turns twenty tonight, and Doomworld's users have borne most of the burden of keeping the Doom fandom alive and well as the state of the art has moved forward. It's absolutely the hub for Doom on the web, and everybody with an interest in Doom owes them a debt of gratitude for their efforts. The Doom Wiki is a huge and often surprisingly detailed repository of information about Doom and its sequels, and there's many Doom-related topics where the Doom Wiki page is simply the best resource that exists. It's as possible to lose an afternoon wandering its pages as it is with Wikipedia. Without these two resources the state of Doom fandom online would be far poorer and this would be a much thinner post, so thanks to the users and operators of both.
posted by Pope Guilty (92 comments total) 238 users marked this as a favorite
Oh great, there goes any free time, and half of my scheduled plans over the holidays. Amazing post!
posted by Xoebe at 7:19 AM on December 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

The rest of my day is now doomed.
posted by Kabanos at 7:20 AM on December 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

Someone's trying to win post of the month
posted by DigDoug at 7:21 AM on December 9, 2013 [13 favorites]

Doom and the World Wide Web are two of NeXTSTEP's greatest hits.
posted by Scoo at 7:21 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by nathancaswell at 7:26 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Aw, hell. And I was going to write code today.
posted by Mooski at 7:28 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I still play Doom via DOSBox on my Mac. Good times. Nice, simple, single-player fun. Exactly what most of today's games lack.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:29 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah from time to time I dust the superior Doom II off and play through it with an OpenGL source port. Still so eminently playable - that double-barrelled shotgun is honed to perfection.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:30 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gee, Looks like all I can do now is press this button. I wonder if something nice will happen when I do?

Ah, memories.
posted by Decani at 7:33 AM on December 9, 2013

I miss FTP. Sure, it technically still exists, but these kids today are too busy with their bittorrentings and streamenating.

I also miss zmodem transfers from far-away file-sharing bulletin boards. I'm pretty sure that's how I got my first copy of DOOM.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:35 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I knew I was about to be living in some sort of future back in 2005 or 2006 when I cracked my iRiver H320 portable media player with Rockbox and played Doom on it.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:36 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Good times, dialing into my buddy Perry's machine so we could play co-op. We'd end up dying repeatedly when facing the Cyberdeamon and would thus end up killing him with pistols and constant respawns. It would take awhile and we'd macro'd "Morning Sam" and "Morning Ralph" so we could greet each other as we came back into the arena to die again.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:40 AM on December 9, 2013 [10 favorites]

The first thing you need to do, if you haven't already, is to actually get Doom...

Hang on, I'm still trying to figure what IRQ my soundblaster is set to, plus I seem to have a DMA conflict.
posted by 445supermag at 7:43 AM on December 9, 2013 [80 favorites]

Back in the day I remember wishing I could read a proper Jungian analysis of what Doom was all about; slaughtering various evocative monsters in the basements of your mind surely had more psychological significance than a simple shooting gallery.

I remember walking through the courtyard of the Shell Centre in London and being slightly shocked by how exactly like a Doom level it was, down to the twisted fountain/corpse-like thing. Or so it seemed to me at the time.
posted by Segundus at 7:44 AM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Who typed in IDKFA ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:44 AM on December 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

I loved, as a kid, going to a computer show. Not because we would ever do anything even resembling buying computer equipment (I bought a mouse at one, for $5, so I could hook it up to the old orange plasma screen lunchbox my dad had given me to play around with) but because it was where we got shareware. You would go up to a booth and flip through brightly colored diskettes, both 3.5" and 5.25", and buy the first level of 10 games for less than $10. Most of them were awful, and our parents would never let us send away for the expensive full versions, but come on - you got to play the first level of like 10 different games for way less than a single game cost. (The one that I played and loved the hell out of was Moraff's World, I got the full version from a friend.)

That was how I first found Doom. Doom was the only game out of all those shareware games that everybody was blown away by - it was the hit of the shareware scene. Wolf 3D had come first, of course, and everybody liked killing Nazis but Doom was amazement out of those little diskettes. Most of us didn't ever play the full version of the first game, we just learned through some weird cultural accretion about IDKFA and IDDQD. It was really with Doom II that shareware was no longer enough and everybody had a copy - or borrowed someone else's copy - of the CD. PC gaming was different now. But hey, it was fun while it lasted.
posted by graymouser at 7:46 AM on December 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

This reminded me to look up when Marathon, a sort of Doom clone for the mac, was "born". December 2014 is the answer, but hello, the Marathon trilogy is on iOs now, for free!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 AM on December 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

a comparison of Doom's background music to the metal songs they were "inspired" by

Heh. Any arts IP lawyers in the house? At what point does the loss in information going from full-spectrum audio music to chiptunes protect you from copyright infringement? Is this even the right question to ask?
posted by 3FLryan at 7:47 AM on December 9, 2013

Yes! - I remember walking through the courtyard of the Shell Centre in London and being slightly shocked by how exactly like a Doom level it was, down to the twisted fountain/corpse-like thing.

A particular few things I love about Doom:

1. The way powerful weapons (eg. rocket launchers) would split open a weak baddie, leaving nothing but bloody ribs on the floor.
2. The space marine's grin when he finds a big weapon.
3. The creepy noise of one of the game's big boss bad guys you can hear in the distance.
4. Midi metal music.
5. The hilarious way cacodemons deflate when killed and end up as a roast tomato on the floor.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 7:48 AM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Dig the prowess, the capacity for violence!

The Doom comic.

Crack is a hell of a drug.
posted by aramaic at 7:48 AM on December 9, 2013

Most of us didn't ever play the full version of the first game

According to Carmack, this is why only Doom 1 got a shareware release- many, many people finished the shareware episode and felt they'd finished Doom.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:51 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah, the hours spent as a 17 year old in my first boyfriend's bedroom… saying "Are you finished playing that bloody game yet?"
posted by billiebee at 7:53 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

In 6th grade Computers class, I was talking to the teacher about Doom after class let out and he mentioned he had the full version. I asked if I could borrow it, he thought for a few seconds and said "get your mother to write me a permission slip, and I'll give it to you."

The next day I walked home from school tightly clutching a box of four installation floppy disks to the full version of Doom.

This post is amazing.
posted by griphus at 7:54 AM on December 9, 2013 [13 favorites]

I've got Dangerous Dave on diskette somewhere. This was The actual first release by Id, I think.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:57 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Phenominal post.
posted by stormpooper at 8:02 AM on December 9, 2013

Nice post.

Seems worth mentioning this essay about the strange Russian .wad pack called A.L.T. It turns Doom into a virtual installation art piece. You can watch some playthrough footage here.
posted by codacorolla at 8:03 AM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

I seem to remember waiting up and downloading it, as I was a huge Wolf3D fan. But I don’t remember where I would have got it from or how I even would have known. It’s not like I was on some Id email list.

It was amazing and addictive.
posted by bongo_x at 8:05 AM on December 9, 2013

posted by Kabanos at 8:09 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The amount of work that has gone into composing and authoring this post makes my brain fizz.

Thank you!
posted by Faintdreams at 8:10 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I thought I liked Doom, but damn. Thanks for all the effort you put into this post.
posted by Rob Rockets at 8:12 AM on December 9, 2013

This post is huge! That means it has huge guts! RIP AND TEAR!
posted by adipocere at 8:15 AM on December 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

4. Midi metal music.

posted by mikelieman at 8:15 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think this post might open up Metafilter and Pope Guilty to some sort of corporate law suit for sucking away employee labor.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:16 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

In Jr. High, early 80s, both my buddy and I had TRS-80 Color Computers. There was one game in particular, a game I’ve mentioned here before, called Dungeons of Daggorath. It was a wireframe “3D” game where you walked around a dungeon fighting monsters. Each time you pressed the arrow to move forward the screen would be redrawn. Monsters were static and would move forward one “room” at a time until they were in with you. There was no animation, just some primitive sound and black and white line drawings of objects and monsters. To attack you would press “A” for Attack followed by “L” or “R”, depending on which hand was holding the weapon you wanted to attack with.

It was, of course, an amazingly primitive game by today’s standards. Still, in the 1980s, we didn’t have much else. We played this game for hours, gradually building up our skill and learning strategy so that after a couple months we were able to beat the final wizard and win the game.

As we were playing the game we would talk about how great it would be if everything was animated. What if, when you moved forward, you saw the walls move towards you? What if the monsters were animated and you could see their arms move when they struck you? What if the lighting was different in each room? What if it was all in solid color, like in that cool Dire Straits video?

Yeah right. That video was done on some supercomputer somewhere, not on a home computer.

Flash forward a few years. We’re now in our early 20s, a couple of stoners with semi-real jobs. I had maybe a 286 that I’d tossed together with spare parts I gathered from my job as a computer tech. Somebody told me about Doom and I picked up a copy of the shareware at a local computer show.

A few days after I started playing it my buddy came over. We got high and I started booting up my computer, telling him about this new game.

“Remember when we used to play Dungeons of Daggorath and we’d dream that it was fully animated?”


“This is the game. This is the game we were dreaming about.”

I remember moving around a level and looking through a gap in the wall at a statue or a monster or something. “Remember that location”, I said.

After a couple of minutes moving around and fighting monsters I entered a room and said “Remember this place?” It was the location I told him to watch for. This may not sound like a huge deal now, but back then it kind of was. This was a game level that modeled a physical space. It was real.

I just remember my buddy watching over my shoulder saying “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!” over and over again.

There has not been a game since that has affected me the way Doom did. Sure, Doom 3 was pretty scary, Half Life was amazing in its own way, Portal was a ton of fun, but nothing compared to Doom. It was the game I’d been dreaming about.

Holy shit, indeed.
posted by bondcliff at 8:17 AM on December 9, 2013 [41 favorites]

I think this post might open up Metafilter and Pope Guilty to some sort of corporate law suit for sucking away employee labor.

I so very, very badly wanted the title to be "In 1993, we fully expect to be the number one cause of decreased productivity in businesses around the world." but it just wouldn't fit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:18 AM on December 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Doom: the reason I finally bought a sound card (after playing the game on a friend's computer who had one). It was so much better than using the "pc speaker" sounds.

I have a thumb drive in my car full of MP3s of the Doom soundtrack MIDI files played/rendered through some very-high-dollar synths. Makes GREAT driving music.
posted by mrbill at 8:19 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite childhood memories is my mom cackling with glee and dancing in our living room after she finally found the BFG9000. She then had my brother and I watch while she incinerated every demon she could find.

Good times.
posted by pizzaslut at 8:20 AM on December 9, 2013 [14 favorites]

What if it was all in solid color, like in that cool Dire Straits video?

I just needed to point that out in case anyone missed it.
posted by marxchivist at 8:21 AM on December 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Pfft. Marathon was better.

Disturbingly amazing post. Like troublesomely amazing. I'm worried about you, Pope Guilty.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:25 AM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

On the topic of Doom mods, there's also psDoom, which lets you kill processes in Linux by representing them as monsters and gibbing them with a rocket launcher.

It's worth noting that Doom continues to be a cultural phenomenon in no small part due to John Carmack's insistence that the Doom engines be released as open source under the GNU GPL. You can download, learn from, build and modify these full featured 3D game engines for free.
posted by indubitable at 8:28 AM on December 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

Great post! I hope this post doesn't do to my productivity what Doom did to it back then.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:33 AM on December 9, 2013

I still drive by office parks dotted with simplistic sorts of shell buildings and think "that looks like a Doom level."

The guy who originally gave me the Doom disks that my wife and I played incessantly for a few years in the '90s found out that our PC we had then didn't have a sound card, and he still laughs at me about that...
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:46 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tarim's blood, what an awesome post.
posted by Gelatin at 8:52 AM on December 9, 2013

I wish I had a source for this but I remember reading once that the buildings in Doom 1 were the most well known in the world. Meaning that more people world wide knew how to circumnavigate those spaces than any other place on earth. Could that be correct?
posted by PHINC at 8:58 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thank you for this post! I am having a blast listening to the original soundtracks after all these years. Tonight would be a great time to announce Doom IV.
posted by Jeff Morris at 9:21 AM on December 9, 2013

If you guys are getting a hankering for some DOOM, you might want to try out my custom GZDoom setup so you don't have to set it all up yourself. (File is on my Dropbox, not guaranteed to stay there, while supplies last, etc.)

I've already configured it to be more-or-less "faithful" to the original game. No crappy-looking texture filtering, etc. although I did enable other options for improved graphics quality. You'll have to set your screen resolution and your preferred control scheme and that should be it. Drop in a DOOM.WAD (not provided) and you're good to go (GZDoom also works with Doom2, Heretic, and Hexen).

The main fancy thing in my package is the Gravis Ultrasound MIDI patch set (via TiMIDIty), which gives you BEST DOOM MUSIC. In order to get this to work, you probably have to edit TIMIDITY.CFG and give the absolute path to the Gravis patch set at the top. I changed it to a relative path for the package but I'm not on my Windows box at the moment so I can't see if that actually works.

Have fun!
posted by neckro23 at 9:24 AM on December 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

This was a post on my BBS at the time.. Has anyone tried playing Doom yet?
How do you go up?
11 meg uncompressed!
posted by starman at 9:25 AM on December 9, 2013 [11 favorites]

I don't really think I'd want Doom IV at this point. Doom with the appropriate add-ons and .wads is about as good as the gameplay will get, I feel. Painkiller was about as close as I've seen a modern game get (and Painkiller isn't that modern any more), and even that was a pretty pale imitation of the Singleplayer. The first Serious Sam comes pretty close, but from what I've heard the most recent one isn't that great.
posted by codacorolla at 9:29 AM on December 9, 2013

A speedrun of Doom from last year's AGDQ. Doom 2 from same. Finally, The Doom64 run from this year's SGDQ.
posted by sparkletone at 9:32 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you really want the Alien TC experience, there are a few things you need to do.

For starters. Find a room where no one will disturb you for at least a night, and I mean - they can't knock on a door - you don't want to hear them through walls... you want you to be alone.. I'm serious... you want to be alone. Hook up a solid sound system to your audio jacks. You want sound all around you. Put this on a screen, and turn out ALL the lights in the room, except for one so you can see your keyboard. Remember when I said you want to have the night free - that's right... don't fire this up until its dark. You want your field of vision such that asides from your keyboard and that monitor, you can't see anything. Do what it takes, suspend your virus scan, turn around clocks in the room... turn off your phone (don't hide it though, there will be a point when you'll immediately grab it and call your friend that won't be embarrassed by how scared a video game just made you.)

Alien TC is to date the single best addon / expansion I have ever played for a video game. Even by not really changing the overall reality of it being a FPS, it changed the way games work.

A friend made it to one part in the game and actually stopped playing. He said he couldn't go back in there. He reached the point where a game... was too much.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:34 AM on December 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

Far too many hours blown in my early 20s on this game, soon to be totally eclipse by the hours lost playing multi-player Quake/Quake2/Tribes/Team Fortress with my mates. Being a IP network guy, I remember going back and learning everything I could about IPX/SPX so I could optimize Doom network play. I went back and forth with the Wellfleet router guys to get everything perfect so we could play across our network with minimal lag (10Mbps ethernet, 56Kbps DDS links to remote locations, a few T-1s) only to be banished to after hours (8pm-4am) when the CIO found out what I was up to. Good times.
posted by kjs3 at 10:05 AM on December 9, 2013

I don't really think I'd want Doom IV at this point.

I feel the same. It'd probably make you sit through 15 minutes of cut-scenes and then do a "training mode" before you got started playing the actual game. I think part of Doom's lasting appeal is the instant-action of it- start game, start shooting baddies.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:17 AM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Doom is where gaming lost me. Before Doom, I'd spend hours gaming. After trying the Doom demo, seeing that I was supposed to be killing beings (admittedly ones that would have killed me, given the chance), I just walked away. Doom took away the abstraction, took away the imagination, by removing the necessary fictional layer between the gamer and the game.

I've never played games seriously since. Either Doom broke something in me, or I hit that age that I didn't want to deal with anything new. Since then, my gaming has been limited to weird stuff: emulating 8-bit computer games as fast as modern computers can, for seizure-inducing runs lasting no more than a few sessions of hyper-twitch gaming. Winning race games by taking hours driving the wrong way, taking out all the other cars until I'm the only one left on the track. Marathon Wii Play “Charge!” sessions, for any sakes.
posted by scruss at 10:31 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Doom took away the abstraction, took away the imagination, by removing the necessary fictional layer between the gamer and the game.

This is really interesting, because part of what made Doom so engrossing to me was the way that it made me feel like I was the protagonist of my own sci-fi thriller. I can remember inventing my own backstory, and playing it out in my head as the game progressed.
posted by nerdler at 10:38 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Discovering that blowing up the barrels could kill opponents was huge - it was a big step towards the game actually being in a plausible world.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:40 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

> I remember walking through the courtyard of the Shell Centre in London and being slightly shocked by how exactly like a Doom level it was

Different London, but I remember walking through the courtyard of "Concrete Beach" at the University of Western Ontario and thinking it looked exactly like one of the Doom levels where you run around from bunker to bunker.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:05 AM on December 9, 2013

Watched a few seconds of play on youtube and then instantly remembered I had to leave the room if someone other than me was playing the room due to motion sickness (which I never experience outside of video game viewing).
posted by Mick at 11:07 AM on December 9, 2013

I was on #doom at the moment it was released. Immediately, people were coordinating downloads and uploads to mirror sites, in an effort to take the load off the primary site and get it into everyone's hands faster. In hindsight, it was like a manual version of bittorrent.
posted by CaseyB at 11:25 AM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I was in college at the time, as a workstudy-assistant to the CS professor.
My duties for him that day were "Get a copy of DOOM downloaded."

I made a joke a couple of weeks ago about wanting to jump over and pump in a couple of rockets when an elevator opened, and nobody I was with got the reference.
posted by mrbill at 11:45 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was living up in Philadelphia (and working in NJ) years ago, and heard an NPR story about this Doom game during the Friday evening commute. Next morning I got up, had some coffee, downloaded it and started playing.

When I finally stopped, the entire day had gone by. It was dark again. I had gotten up to use the bathroom and - I think - gobble some cold pizza. That night, all I could see were wall and floor textures zooming by.
posted by jquinby at 12:00 PM on December 9, 2013

posted by ShutterBun at 12:02 PM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

The thing I remember most about Doom(s) (and Castle Wolfenstein before it, and Quake after it) was the horrible headaches and nausea it gave me when I played it. For hours and hours.

Was there something particularly bad about these old games for anyone else? I can play hours of TF2, Half Life2, Borderlands, and quite a few other FP games with much less issue. I would love to have the gameplay experience again, but I'm way to scared to try it.
posted by jclarkin at 12:09 PM on December 9, 2013

The reason for the headache was the field of view, I think. This post from one of the devs for Borderlands 2 was an eye opener for me: here
posted by YAMWAK at 12:41 PM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hang on, I'm still trying to figure what IRQ my soundblaster is set to, plus I seem to have a DMA conflict.

Fond memories of fiddling with config.sys and autoexec.bat to get enough extended (or was it upper?) memory to play Doom. Good thing I never used a mouse or I would've been in a world of hurt.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:17 PM on December 9, 2013

I don't even know how many hours I spent playing DOOM, but on top of all the sheer awesomeness of this post, to see it contains a reference to Chex Quest! I used to wonder, sometimes, if Chex Quest was a real thing that actually existed (which honestly, was pretty hard to credit), or just a crazy-ass dream that I had as a kid when I was eating too much cereal and playing too much DOOM. It was real!
posted by mstokes650 at 2:33 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh my God. This is incredible.
posted by epilnivek at 2:33 PM on December 9, 2013

Knee-Deep in the Dead, the demo for Doom, is more game than most modern FPS single-player campaigns.
posted by straight at 2:36 PM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

“This is the game. This is the game we were dreaming about.”

My top four "OMG - I can't believe a computer game is doing this!" moments:

1. Watching a guy play an early Scott Adams (?) text adventure on a TRS-80 at a grocery store. He typed "LOOK" and got a description of a room, which had a mirror. He typed "LOOK MIRROR" and got a description of...himself?! Mind blown.

2. Watching my neighbor play Doom in a little tiny Linux window on his computer. The part that blew my mind was not so much the movement in (apparent) 3D space, but how fast and smooth it was.

3. Seeing Mario 64 on a big screen at a Best Buy. The guy playing Mario was able to run and jump around everywhere. In any direction. In a big world that seemed to have no boundaries at all.

4. Switching Unreal from software to hardware mode after installing a Voodoo 3 card. Everything was so sharp.
posted by straight at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

oh holy shit. thanks for this, it takes me right back to my early twenties.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:08 PM on December 9, 2013

I refuse to believe that 20 years has passed since it was released. I think I'm still riding on a lot of the eyes-wide excitement that Doom introduced into my gaming life. The 3D by itself was pretty amazing (I didn't get too excited about Wolfenstein 3D, for some reason), but when you first pressed that button and the floor WENT DOWN (you know what part I'm talking about and can probably still hear the sound in your head), oh boy the world had really changed and you knew it was ON.

Great post.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:26 PM on December 9, 2013

My primary nostalgia for Doom was the fact that it was ABSOLUTELY THE WORST THING EVER in the Christian Fundamentalist kneejerk community that was all but the ruling class in small town Central Oregon 20 years ago. The Satanic imagery! The wanton violence! Oh my god, this game will be the death of us all.

'Twas the death of my woefully underpowered 80386 based computer anyways. I had to run it on the smallest possible window size setting to get anything related to an acceptable framerate. Luckily, my Soundblaster was fully armed and ready for the awesome sound onslaught.
posted by mediocre at 3:39 PM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just to add a little bit more, I was attending a University of Wisconsin campus just two hours north of Madison when this was released. The game was a pretty incredible experience in its own right, but when you are cooped up in a dorm room during the winter with close to zero degree temperatures (or below) with the wind howling outside, it had a special magic to it that is hard to describe. The dorm halls at night started to feel like Doom corridors.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:48 PM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just wanted to say I love you for taking the time to lovingly piece this post together like a proper FAQ master. Thanks for bringing up all the warm fuzzy memories.
posted by NotMyself at 3:57 PM on December 9, 2013

Awesome post. Thanks.

"This is really interesting, because part of what made Doom so engrossing to me was the way that it made me feel like I was the protagonist of my own sci-fi thriller."

Yeah, I'd been playing video games from the Pong and Night Driver era and what I'd been waiting for for all those years — basically, say, from 1973 to 1993 — was a 3D immersive experience. I had Ultima Underworld, which impressed me, but it wasn't immersive. And I'd played many, many hours of Wof3D and made my own maps and stuff, but DOOM was such a huge leap forward in immersivity, it was a qualitative change. It's hard to believe it when looking at it now — to my eyes, now, it looks like Wolf3D and not realistic or immersive at all.

But it was. Pretty much everyone right from their first experience, right from that first day, were jumping out of their chairs and moving their upper bodies left and right and trying to look around corners — it was far and away a new kind of game experience.

Like how many people remember their first time in the first map's dark room where the door closes behind you plunging you into total darkness, then suddenly panels in the walls slide open, and there's imps everywhere and you can't see?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:31 PM on December 9, 2013

I can't believe I've gone my whole life without playing Brutal Doom. I'm watching gameplay video of it right now and it looks awesome.
posted by gucci mane at 4:56 PM on December 9, 2013

I just wanted to say I love you for taking the time to lovingly piece this post together like a proper FAQ master.

Speaking of which, one item missing from the reading list is Tony Fabris's famous BFG FAQ, which details the weird inner workings of Doom's ultimate weapon. For instance, the damage the BFG does is calculated like this:

1. Player fires BFG
2. Game registers the direction the player is facing
3. BFG warms up and then fires a ball of plasma
4. The plasma ball hits the target and does a bunch of damage
5. A half-second later, an additional spray of invisible damage rays shoots out from the player in the direction the player was facing when the BFG was initially fired.

This makes possible strategies like where you fire the BFG down a long hallway, run to get in position near an enemy player (you don't even have to be facing your opponent!), and then when the plasma ball detonates against the wall you fired it toward, invisible death rays strike your opponent who probably heard the BFG fire and was relieved that it obviously must have hit someone else. The relief (and your opponent) will be short-lived.

There's also details on "The Silent BFG Trick":

So if you wish to get the drop on someone, wouldn't it be great if you
could put a silencer on that weapon? Well you can. A limitation in
Doom's sound code allows you to silence the firing sound of the BFG.
Regardless of the 'Number of Sound FX to Mix' that you chose in Doom's
setup program, your character can actually only utter one sound at a
time. This includes all weapons firing. If you cause your character
to grunt, i.e., you jump off of a ledge or press the space bar on a
blank wall, you have a brief period while the grunting sound is being
played in which you can pull the trigger and no sound will be emitted
from the weapon. Your grunt makes a little noise, but it's relatively
quiet and is sometimes ignored by your opponents.

posted by straight at 7:46 PM on December 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

This immediately made me think back to the mid-nineties, summer vacation while home from college. We'd hook up my computer, my cousin's computer, and the family computer. Doom. Doom 2. Duken Nukem. Hours, hours of fun. My cousin and I would play whatever victim we could lure, and one time, a friend of his came over. We played the square level in Doom 2 for hours (the one with the big room in the middle, and the long narrow path all the way around the sides). My cousin's friend, well, he just wasn't that good. I killed him, a lot. One time, he'd just spawned, and was running for a weapon, and I shot him in the back.

He let out a mortal howl, and screamed "Just like a (family name)! Right in the back!"

My cousin and I still occasionally throw that out there. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:00 PM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've mentioned this in another Doom thread, but I'll repeat, because it's so fun.

I love playing w/ the Risen3d source port, all the hd patches & skyboxes etc., then turning down the lighting to where you can barely see, & replacing all the music w/ the soundtrack to A Nightmare on Elm St. Creep as all get out.
posted by broken wheelchair at 8:01 PM on December 9, 2013

one item missing from the reading list is Tony Fabris's famous BFG FAQ

Aw, damnation, I knew that was a thing but forgot about it- I remember it being included with the shareware version of Doom and a bundle of help docs I got around 98 or so.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:42 AM on December 10, 2013

While Doom got everything started - my favorite EVER multiplayer experience was on a Quake server set up by the guys I worked with at an Austin ISP in the late 90s. I forget the name of the mod we had loaded, but it enabled *grappling hooks*. So, your guy could grapple to the ceiling and snipe others from there...
posted by mrbill at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2013

Wired posted an interview with Carmack today. It's good. Among other things he recants the "when it's done" philosophy for game development time frames.
posted by sparkletone at 10:46 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I forget the name of the mod we had loaded, but it enabled *grappling hooks*.

Where I worked we had a Quake server with the Painkeep mod. I think it had grappling hooks. It also had this awesome gravity bomb thing that, when you threw it, anyone around it would get sucked in and gibbed. Good times.
posted by bondcliff at 11:13 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

mrbill: "I forget the name of the mod we had loaded, but it enabled *grappling hooks*. So, your guy could grapple to the ceiling and snipe others from there..."

The Threewave CTF mod had grappling hooks and was one of my favorites.
posted by the_artificer at 12:23 PM on December 10, 2013

The Threewave CTF mod had grappling hooks and was one of my favorites.

I honestly can't remember if Threewave was the first one to have them or not. I just remember that they started showing up in many, many, many mods after they did there.
posted by sparkletone at 12:48 PM on December 10, 2013

Doom was good and all, but you can't beat the graphics on FOOM!
posted by Sparx at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2013

I remember being very excited about Doom coming out. Wolf 3D was great, and me and my friends had been talking about wanting that, but with up and down movement. Before Doom's release a friend managed to get a leaked alpha off a BBS. All you could do was walk around the first level. The enemies where in place but didn't move and I don't think any of the weapons were in, but that was enough to see how great it was going to be.

My other great memory was playing multiplayer in the labs at university. We didn't have access to the harddisk on the machine, but they had 16Mb of RAM. So we would bring in a stack of floppies and set aside a 15Mb RAM drive and install it to that and play from there. It took 20 minutes or so to install, and every hour or more it would crash and you'd have to re-install. But with four or more people playing you'd generally have three in game with one re-installing. We always played co-op, and then invariably someone would accidentally kill a teammate and the game would turn into deathmatch for 20 minutes before we would finally agree to finish this level and go to the next one.
posted by markr at 2:04 PM on December 10, 2013

If anyone is interested, Computer Gaming World (July 1993) had one of the first previews of Doom.
posted by griphus at 3:47 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

That whole issue makes me wish I could time travel back to 93 and stay there. Doom, Syndicate, Flashback, Lemmings, 7th Guest...
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2013

they had 16Mb of RAM

Woah there, Mr. Moneybags!
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:40 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've been replaying Doom and Doom II and while I was able to zip through Doom without much trouble, I'd comopletely forgotten how fast the difficulty ramps up in Doom II. Of course, I find Plutonia almost painfully difficult, so I'm probably not the best judge.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:30 AM on December 15, 2013

I don't mean to be spamming up the end of the thread with comments, but here's 90 minutes of some guy at IGN playing Doom with John Romero. Well worth the time if you've got it spare.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:03 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Glad I didn't see this until my holiday kicked in. Awesome post!
posted by safetyfork at 6:44 PM on December 17, 2013

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