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Of all the genres I would choose if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to make a Seinfeld video game, I can’t say a first person shooter would be high on my list. But hey, that didn’t stop Doug Keener from trying that very thing using Doom II, and dammit he has done a fine job.
I realise the new hotness in demonic dismemberment is Doom Notfour but this weekend I popped back to Doom II to check out a new(ish) player-made level. One of you lovely readers recommended dead.wire by ‘Xaser’ to Adam because our lad’s into spooky stuff, then he shared it with me because I like fraggy stuff. Sure enough, dead.wire is both spooky and fraggy, travelling inside a strange facility where the sky burns with white noise, bits of the level appear from nowhere, and… oh no, where are the monsters?
If you were the type to draw fanciful Doom scenes all over your schoolbooks, rejoice! Thanks to the mod Brutal Doom, id's shooter is now every bit as violent as your younger self's doodles. Every dismemberment; every curbstomping; every immolation; every Hell Knight being kicked square in the soul spheres: they're all here. A new version came out last week, letting me post a long-overdue story about this gory marvel.
Brutal Doom, as the name suggests, makes Doom and Doom 2 more violent. Blood sprays across walls, gibs fly freely, you can blow enemies' legs off to make them crawl then curbstomp them, the Beserk powerup adds horrifying fatalities, more weapons are in, and it's generally, well, brutal. Now moreso, since creator 'Sergeant_Mark_IV' released version 18 on Valentine's Day.
The changelog includes--and Mark's very kindly illustrated many of these with videos--kicking teeth out the faces of crawling enemies and punting Barons of Hell in their laughing gnomes, new burning animations, new fatalities, new plasma deaths, improved AI, better blood, and oh so much more.
Grab Brutal Doom v18a here at Shacknews. You'll want to run it in the Zdoom, GZDoom, or Skulltag replacement Doom engine.
It's the season of heavy holiday hitters for the games industry, but if you're more of a classic connoisseur you might prefer strolls down memory lane. To that end, a "Doom Classic Complete" set is hitting the PlayStation Network today, and it packs three of the hell-heavy titles together.
Since Bethesda Softworks bought id Software, the publisher has been keen on making use of its old franchises. This will be the second Doom in just over a month, after the recent release of Doom 3 BFG Edition.
Ah, FPSs! They don't make them like they used to, do they? No, in many ways and for a number of reasons. But if you find yourself nostalgically longing for The Good Old Days and sniping at the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, then have I got the Doom 2 parody mod for you!
Released on the same day as Cod Blops 2, Call of Dooty II: Green Ops crams waypoint markers, regenerating health, cutscenes, flashbacks, nonsense conspiracies about Russians, popup hints, and other foolishness into id Software's classic FPS.
"Let's face it: Shooters today suck. Their levels are too linear, they aren't challenging enough, and they play more like interactive movies than the experiences we once loved up until the mid-2000s," creator 'Chubzdoomer' says in the readme file. "Call of Dooty is an ode to the terrible shooters that now inhabit the market and have taken over the gaming industry by storm. This WAD isn't supposed to be fun to play - it's here to make a statement."
Call of Dooty II is fittingly the sequel to last year's Call of Dooty, which was itself inspired by kmoosmann's 'If Quake was done today.' Annual sequels to mods parodying games suffering annual sequelitis, how glorious!
Of course, this being a modern linear FPS, multiple editions are a must. There's a plain old Standard Edition for proles, a Limited Edition with the original Call of Dooty and some before/after screenshots, and a Special Edition which also adds the soundtrack, ringtones, and achievement icons. Any true Call of Dooty fan will want the Collector's Edition, which packs all that plus the papercraft marine, 'making of' document, and the Green Ops Armor DLC. It's a small touch which means so much.
John Romero, the veteran developer and id Software founder who helped create FPS touchstones like Quake, Doom and Wolfenstein, is planning a return to the genre in which he made his name.
Romero, who's currently CEO of social game studio Loot Drop, Inc., told Eurogamer that although he hasn't formally started work on the project he has the design nailed down.
"Yes, I'm definitely going to be making another shooter and it will be on PC first," he explained.
"I don't want to talk about the details but I already know what it is. I've already kind of designed the thing and it's pretty cool - though of course, I am going to say that. I think it's a neat design, I haven't seen the design anywhere else."
Romero didn't go into much more detail but added that it'll be "MMO-ish" and will offer a new twist on genre traditions.
"It's a persistent game, it has persistent player data, the character grows and gets better over time. I think most gamers expect that now anyway, but this was a design I'd done a while ago. I think it's pretty valid.
"You will be playing the game as you would expect a shooter to feel, but the specifics of your situation, narrative wrapper and reward system are all unique. I wouldn't want to give out any specifics until I'm close to shipping it. I've learned my lesson about talking too soon about specific game features and release dates."
He couldn't confirm when work will begin or if it'll be a Loot Drop production.
It's been a long time since Romero last brought out a shooter - the 2003 N-Gage version of Red Faction. We asked him whether he thinks the skills necessary to make a successful modern shooter have changed since then.
"I don't think it's changed other than that the 3D graphics have to be good and there are a tonne of basics in the design that have to be there for players to feel that it's a current game.
"But I already have a lot of that stuff designed and none of what I've done has become invalid over time based on today's shooters. So I don't think there's an issue with it feeling dated or feeling old. It's not going to be an old-school shooter - it won't be pixelated. But it will probably have some faster movement than most games have right now."
Romero also offered his take on how the genre has evolved since his time at id Software. While he appreciates that Gears of War is a quality product, he's not a fan of the shift towards slower, cover-based gameplay.
"I'm not a fan of cover systems or the player being a bullet sponge. I'm not that interested in the tank-like player; I like feeling that I have skill in the game," he explained, before theorising that the rise of the console game pad has pushed developers in that direction out of necessity.
"I do realise that a lot of the movement in new shooters is directly attributable to the console controller because you can't play well and fast with them so they had to come up with some design to make it so the player can do something else if they can't skillfully move quickly. They have to do something different.
"But I'm a PC mouse and keyboard type player," he countered.
"I love twitch 180s, fast targeting, fast firing, fast movement. So anything that's not like that - like current shooters that are basically a track going through a level to the exit and everything is closed off - is not interesting to me.
"I like to explore my levels, y'know? So I'm not a fan of on-rail shooting or slow-moving cover systems. That's not to say that Gears isn't a great game but as a player I'm more interested in speed and fast movement."
Loot Drop's only current confirmed project is Ghost Recon Commander - a social spin-off from Ubisoft's tactical shooter series due out on Facebook and mobile platforms some time this Summer.
Has John Romero - the abundantly-haired creator of games Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein - given up on making an old-school FPS?
"Definitely not!" retorted John Romero on Twitter. "I have plans..."
But those do not include Daikatana 2. As Romero succinctly put it: "There will be no DK2!"
Romero's best known for co-founding id Software and designing Doom and Quake and Wolfenstein. Romero also co-founded Ion Storm, where he worked on delayed and underwhelming FPS Daikatana.
Today, John Romero has a new company - Loot Drop (formed 2010). Romero and team specialise in mobile and social games.
Here's one for the history books. Jordan Mechner, the veteran game designer responsible for Prince of Persia, has dug up a fan letter he received nearly 30 years ago from a 17-year-old called John Romero - the very same guy who'd go on to create FPS touchstones Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake at id Software.
Dated 25th March 1985, the letter, published in full on Kotaku, sees Romero praising 21-year-old Broderbund employee Mechner for his work on one-on-one fighter Karateka.
"I was absolutely stunned by the graphics, shadows and all," he gushed.
"You did a tremendous job and have, I think, defined the state-of-the-art for future Apple games. The technology has been in the Apple all along to do those graphics, it just needed a programmer like you to use it."
Romero then admitted that he was a budding programmer himself, before asking Mechner to impart some of his wisdom.
"How did you make the scrolling background? Ever since Choplifter I have been stumped on what kind of data drawing algorithm would be used to draw a scrolling background like yours," he wrote.
"If you decide to write back I would be eternally grateful if you explained this to me."
Elsewhere in the letter, the young Romero invites Mechner to check out a few of his own games.
"Many people feel that it is better than Lode Runner," he wrote, referring to an early effort called The Pyramids of Egypt.
"Anyway, ask me for it and it is yours. I'm currently trying to sell it to anyone I can (Broderbund is first on my list). My next game is going to be totally awesome. I can't wait until I get an idea for my next game!"
He signs off "John Romero, Disciple of the Great Jordan, and worshiper of the Magnificent Mechner".
Five years later, Romero would meet John Carmack while working at Softdisk. The pair, along with Adrian Carmack and Tom Hall, left the company a year later to set up id Software. Its seminal FPS Wolfenstein 3D would follow in 1992.
Mechner has been fairly quiet in recent years - his last game credit was on Prince of Persia: Sands of Time back in 2003.
Next Wednesday Romero and Mechner will share a stage together at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, along with Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman, Minecraft man Markus 'Notch' Persson and Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney, for a talk titled "Back to the Garage: The Return of Indie Development".
See below for some vintage Karateka footage.
id Software's seminal FPS Doom returns to Xbox Live Arcade today, publisher Bethesda has announced.
The 1993 classic will set you back a mere 400 Points.
The game was originally made available on Microsoft's download service way back in 2006 but was pulled in October 2009 due to Activision's original publishing rights expiring. Happily, it seems like that's all been sorted out with control reverting to id's owner Bethesda.
It's a rather timely re-release - the game was the subject of a Eurogamer retrospective last weekend.
"The fingerprints (or perhaps the clawmarks) that it left still remain, permanent impressions left in not only our own gaming memories but also across the collective unconscious of modern videogaming," wrote Paul Dean.