Thursday, January 4, 2024

Doom at 30

Wouter Groeneveld:

On 10 December 1993, John Carmack, John Romero, Sandy Petersen, and the rest of the id Software crew completely changed the world by releasing the most violent and satisfying DOS shooter ever created. Hundreds of so-called “DOOM clones” followed, frantically trying to join in on the cash grabbing fun. Several controversial lawsuits and political statements were made (and dismissed and resurrected) because of all the gore.

But DOOM was more than a grown-up version of id’s previous first-person shooting attempt, Wolfenstein 3D. DOOM was also a technical masterpiece, mainly thanks to Carmack’s knack for implementing optimization techniques after sifting through academic papers on cutting edge computer vision rendering algorithms.


Watch as David L Craddock moderates a chat between John Romero and John Carmack about Wolfenstein, DOOM and Quake. One hour of great conversation on DOOM’s 30th Anniversary.

Ted Litchfield (via Hacker News):

The conversation was understandably warm and celebratory, but I was also surprised at how critical the two were of their own work. Carmack alluded to “flashier” (and potentially technically riskier) graphical effects he wishes he had built into Doom’s engine, and he noted that he thinks the more grounded, military sci-fi aesthetic of Episode One has aged better than the abstract hellscapes later in the game.

Romero, meanwhile, contrasted Doom with the id games before and after, arguing it represented a technical “sweet spot” before Quake and full 3D acceleration started to seriously complicate development and limit how many enemies they could fit on screen. The developer praised Doom’s engine for allowing more complex maps than Wolfenstein though, ruefully remarking that “Making levels for Wolfenstein had to be the most boring level design job ever.”


It’s also worthwhile to remember where the team honed their craft, as was also mentioned in this session: The early id team worked for a publisher called Softdisk that provided a game subscription where customers received a new game every month. This was basically a way to iterate on the practice and process of game development in one month cycles. The shareware release of [Wolfenstein] had four months of development, which sounds crazy short by today’s standards, but for them it was unusual to have so much time.

There’s several talks on Youtube by John Romero where he tells the story of the early id software[…]

Liam Proven:

Just as Doom redefined video games in 1993, Windows NT redefined PC operating systems. The first version came out just a few months before Doom, and it was even more influential. ’93 also saw the release of NCSA Mosaic, the OG web browser. Mosaic’s spin-off, Netscape, started under the name Mosaic Communications Corporation, and somehow, that company homepage is still there. Later, Mosaic Corp evolved into Netscape, and that begat today’s Mozilla.

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