The default field of vision in Quake—yes, Quake, the groundbreaking Id Software shooter from 1996—was 90 degrees, an angle nowhere near the roughly 180-degree field of view that Wikipedia says normal humans possess. It also proved rather limiting in multiplayer conflicts, in which being able to see the people who are trying to kill you is an important part of preventing said killing. The Fisheye Quake mod went a long way toward rectifying that problem, but it suffered from issues of its own in the form of some pretty severe screen distortion.
It's a problem that's taken nearly 20 years to solve, but now, in the new millennium, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a modified version of Fisheye Quake called Blinky. Its goal isn't actually to bring better situational awareness to Quake, however, but rather to demonstrate a "proof of concept to put peripheral vision into games," without requiring VR goggles.
Blinky employs the Panini projection, "a mathematical rule for constructing perspective images with very wide fields of view"—read more about it here—to recreate a much wider field of vision in games while maintaining a reasonably natural appearance. "To use non-standard projections like Panini, Blinky first snaps multiple pictures around you to form a Globe of pixels," creator Shaun Lebron explained. "Then it projects all those pixels to the screen using a Lens. You can enable a Rubix grid if you wish to visualize the mapping."
Blinky is implemented in the Quake demo linked on the Github page, and it actually works quite well: There are a number of projections to play with, but the default setting betrayed only a slight distortion at certain viewing angles that very quickly became effectively imperceptible.
"I hope to apply this to modern graphics using frame buffers for environment-capturing and pixel shaders for projection. It would be interesting to see its impact on performance," Lebron wrote. "If this modern method is performant enough, I think Panini/Stereographic could easily become a standard for gamers demanding wide-angle video. But if it is not performant enough for live applications, I think it could still prove useful in post-processed videos using something like WolfCam. For example, spectators could benefit from wide-angle viewings of previously recorded competitive matches or even artistic montages."
Dec 29, 2014
No, that's not a lie - one Pekka V n nen, a Finnish modder, has managed to get the original Quake running on an oscilloscope.
What's an oscilloscope? This:
"An oscilloscope is an electrical testing device used to measure the frequency of an electrical signal over time, and display waveform signals in a graph."
What's Quake? This:
"Quake is a game in which players must find their way through various maze-like, medieval environments while battling a variety of monsters using a wide array of weapons."
You'd be right to wonder just how the hell all of this works, or what it looks like. Luckily for you, you can read about V n nen's trials and tribulations right here, and check it out in video form on this very page:
At the risk of editorialising somewhat: that is so, so cool.
Oct 9, 2014
Sep 21, 2014
There are a number of ongoing efforts to mod older games into newer engines. Black Mesa, for instance, rebuilt much of the original Half-Life in the Source Engine, and the modders behind Skywind are painstakingly crafting Morrowind in Skyrim's Creation Engine. With Doom Reborn, modders have been working diligently to recreate Doom and Doom II in Doom 3's idTech4 engine. They recently released a pre-beta version, so I thought it was a good time to see how the first FPS I ever played looked with a facelift.
Memmories... like a goon-filled poison piiiiit...
Doom II represented a number of firsts for me. It was the first FPS game I ever played (I played Doom II before I played the original Doom). It was the first game I needed to create a boot disk for, just so I could run it on whatever toaster I was using as a PC back then. It was the first multiplayer game I ever played, and I recall an evening spent talking to my friend Mark on the phone, then taking the line from the phone and plugging it into my modem, then dialing up Mark, not getting a response from his modem, then replugging the line into the phone to call him again to troubleshoot (we eventually got it working, had a complete blast, then plugged our lines back into the phones so we could talk about it afterwards).
The Marine needs no colored keys for these doors.
It may seem a bit dubious to rebuild a classic FPS -- the classic FPS -- in an engine that doesn't look particularly pretty these days (I think Source has aged much better than idTech4, probably because Source has been continually refined over the years), but I'm impressed at how comfortable and familiar the mod feels. The levels are immediately recognizable as the layouts are identical: I enter Doom II, immediately turn around, run around the corner to the right, and collect the chainsaw without even thinking about it, even though it's probably been fifteen years since I've actually done that.
Back in the day, we liked our buttons big. Really big.
In fact, while running and gunning through the rebuilt levels, I found all sorts of ancient muscle-memories kicking in. I'd stop and stare at a wall, or hesitate in front of an alcove, or gaze across a bridge, knowing there was something to be done but not quite remembering exactly what. I think it's a pretty good indicator that the levels have been rebuilt faithfully if, even in a different game engine, long-dormant triggers are still firing in my brain.
Huh. I am strangely compelled to stand in this alcove. But WHY?
As for the gameplay itself, I expected it to feel slow and sluggish when compared with the original. And it definitely is a bit slower: guns seem to take too long to reload, enemies seem to take a while to react. After a couple levels, though, it starts feeling more natural, more slick, more in keeping with the breakneck pace and corridor-gliding action of the original game. It's not as fast or smooth as it was back then, no, but on the other hand, neither am I.
No AI misfires here. They seem quite aware of me.
You may have seen the gameplay video which shows the enemy AI, in some cases, completely absent, but in this pre-beta a lot of that seems to have been fixed. I didn't really encounter any brain-dead enemies. Sure, most of them weren't exactly brilliant, but no one just stood there helplessly watching while I killed them. And, nicely, one of the most entertaining bits of the original Doom games is still there: enemies accidentally hitting each other and then fighting each other to the death while you watch. I don't know if that happened in Doom 3 (probably) or if the modders had to code it themselves, but who cares? Monsters killing each other means I can save a little ammo here and there.
You two let me know when you've sorted this out.
The mod is still in progress, so not all the levels from the original games are present, though I was happy to find the secret Doom II Wolfenstein level in there. What can I say, it's fun killing monsters in front of Hitler portraits for some reason.
Sorry to break up your shotgun shell organizing party.
I'm sure this mod isn't for everybody, but I think that can be said for any mod of this nature. People who love Doom from the old days will probably still prefer to play the original games. That's how I felt about Black Mesa: while I enjoyed it and was impressed at all the work involved, it never quite clicked for me. When I want a nostalgia trip, I'd prefer full-fare. Doom Reborn is still worth checking out, though, and I enjoyed it (more than I actually enjoyed Doom 3, even).
All these years later, that's still a good indication of a button you shouldn't press.
Installation: What's the best kind of installation? Self-installation! Just download the pre-beta (what is a pre-beta, anyway, if not an alpha?). When prompted, just point it at your Doom 3 folder. Piece of cake.
Sep 17, 2014
Nothing warms my cold cynical heart like the creativity of the Doom modding community. We saw Donkey Kong Country recreated in the engine earlier this week, but now cast your eyes across this work-in-progress attempt to adapt DayZ's core gameplay into a 20-year old engine. DoomZ is the work of a modder disenchanted with the limitations of DayZ in its current, Enfusion-powered iteration. While Zdoom obviously has limitations of its own, it looks like the mod is making steady progress.
The mod currently boasts a day and night cycle, a rather charming UI (see the image above), wildlife, fires and cooking, water, weapons, food, limb damage and much, much more. The goal is to make the game as close to the DayZ gameplay model as possible, though given the engine's limitations there won't be vehicles. Creator Robert Prest writes that the mod could move over to GZdoom, allowing for more flexibility in map design.
As for the video below, Prest provides pretty good commentary on what the project is now and where it's headed. Alpha 11 can be downloaded right now. Cheers to Kotaku for the heads up.
Sometimes, the only way to attract attention to dire warnings about weaknesses in a particular system is to exploit them in a way that can't be ignored. That's what drove Michael Jordon of Context Information Security to make Doom run on a Canon Pixma printer; not because it's cool (although it clearly is) but to demonstrate the inherent insecurities in Canon's wireless printers.
The colors in the brief gameplay video posted by YouTube user SteveHOCP are wonky (and the music has obviously been added after the fact), but there's no question about it: This is Doom, id Software's greatest creation, running on a printer. It's a remarkable demonstration of how far technology has come over the past two decades, but the actual point was to demonstrate something else entirely: The web interface on Pixma wireless printers doesn't require user authentication in order to connect, which doesn't seem all that particularly terrible until you start looking at the firmware update process.
"While you can trigger a firmware update you can also change the web proxy settings and the DNS server. If you can change these then you can redirect where the printer goes to check for a new firmware," Jordon wrote. "So what protection does Canon use to prevent a malicious person from providing a malicious firmware? In a nutshell - nothing, there is no signing (the correct way to do it) but it does have very weak encryption."
Things get awfully technical at that point but the condensed version is that a determined individual could create a custom firmware and update a printer to make it do pretty much anything within the capabilities of the hardware. "For demonstration purposes I decided to get Doom running on the printer," he wrote. "It was not straightforward due to it needing all the operating system dependences to be implemented in Arm without access to a debugger, or even multiplication or division." But it was doable.
"If you can run Doom on a printer, you can do a lot more nasty things," Jordon told the Guardian. "In a corporate environment, it would be a good place to be. Who suspects printers?"
Canon said in a statement that it intends to issue a fix "as quickly as is feasible."
People are still doing insane stuff with the Doom engine, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than with this Donkey Kong mod. The GZDoom mod turns Doom into a whimsical side scrolling platformer, which is obviously quite a change from its origins as a brutal first-person shooter. To give it a go you ll need GZDoom, a download of the mod as well as one of original Doom engine .WADs.
Unless you're intimate with the Doom engine and its modding community, the video below will probably be a bit confusing: how (and I suppose more importantly, why) does one turn a first-person shooter into a sidescrolling platformer? Um, I have no idea, but there's an eerie pleasure in watching a version of Donkey Kong played out with the occasional appearance of old Doom assets. The instructions for installing the mod are over here in the video description.
In other Doom mod news, this is quite impressive.
After nearly five years spent developing social and mobile games with his studio Loot Drop, John Romero has let slip that he's working on a fully-fledged shooter. Speaking on the Super Joystiq Podcast, Romero said that he's working on "several" games at the moment, with one of them to release under the Romero Games handle, rather than Loot Drop.
"I'm working on several games at once right now," Romero said. "But had mentioned earlier that I'm working with a concept artist, and so I've got some cool imagery for the main character.
"I haven't made a shooter since 2000. So I'm basically starting to work on another one," he said.
Founded in 2010 with partner Brenda Romero, Loot Drop has developed mobile and social titles for publishers including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Zynga. Given the new Romero Games name though, it's likely the duo will want to keep the shooter project separate from their current business.
John Romero co-founded id Software and was a co-creator of Doom. He left id Software shortly after the studio shipped Quake, going on to develop the critically condemned Daikatana. Many of the games he helped develop have endured: Wolfenstein: The New Order released to acclaim earlier this year, while a Doom reboot is expected to release in 2015.
The v20 update for Brutal Doom has been in development for a while but there's still no solid release date. While you wait for the gory mod to be finetuned, why not watch 15 minutes of it in action? The update includes a number of improvements, such as general performance tweaks, more realistic/brutal blood fountains and most importantly: ragdoll physics. Overall, expect more brutality, and expect to love the shotgun more than you ever thought possible.
A few interesting tidbits: every single gib has been remade with better resolution, while the imp's midrange attack animation has been completely reworked. According to the Brutal Doom Facebook page there should be a solid release date for v20 very soon. In the meantime, this should sate any urges that Bethesda's recent Doom tease may have triggered. According to our interview with Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines, we may not see any more of that until 2015.
Download Brutal Doom now.