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How to revive the Doom franchise.

Doom was released in 1993 with much anticipation and went on to become one of the most iconic, one of the most controversial games of all time. Doom spawned 4 main series iterations, all of which shows off the power of the id Tech engine that usually release with each major title ever released. In fact, id Tech 2 is also known as the Quake 2 engine, which today you know it as the very same engine that is within’ Modern Warfare 2 via the IW4 engine.

Even though this article was inspired by a video that I am about to show you, this article is about Doom 4. What id Software must to revive Doom, and bring it to mass market. In today’s marketplace, the pop culture revolves around modern war games. A marketplace where either you make a World War II theater, a modern theater, or the inevitable World War III. That being said; with further ado, I present to you “Call of Doom,” enjoy:

What do you think of it? Awesome, right? Me? While I think it’s awesome… I think it’s ridiculous. But not the bad kind of ridiculous. Using an assault rifle in a room full of Demons? While watching this video, I am reminded of how #@^&ing ridculous the level designs were. Level with me for a second here, okay? I want you to take a look at Doom 3, and tell me – Is it exciting to you? Here is a Doom 3 montage:

What do you think? Boring? Don’t worry, I agree. When I first played Doom, I didn’t really understand the concept yet. A few years later, I played Doom again; this time on Super NES. I finally grasped the concept, and then I wanted to play more, but due to my social life at the time, I strayed away. Once I got Nintendo 64, one of the first games that I ever bought was Doom 64. Every time I played Doom 64, this eerie feeling of suspense perplexed me. Every time I went into a room expecting to face a few enemies, I find out that some rooms have 5, 10 demons in the same room – trying to pester me and kick my @$$. The more that I played, and the older that I got, the sense of suspense is still there. You see, every time I advanced to a new level – I am faced with new challenges, and each time, I retreat with a resounding “holy $#!^” response.

My point is, Doom was always a suspenseful first person shooter, no matter how bright the graphics seems. Once you find out what your challenges are, you have a “holy $#!^” moment in your hands. You don’t need a dark atmosphere to be scary, or remotely horror theme to have a suspenseful shooter. One of the most memorable levels in Doom 64 is none other than Dark Entries, which is level 15. Why? For starters, you’d have to have a lot of ammo ready before you open that door, because once you open that door; hell breaks loose when demons speed into your face, hitting you with everything they have. Secondly, even if you get past the first wave, the craziness doesn’t stop there.

Moving on…

I had a discussion with a friend of mine and he says that Doom has always been a tech demo. Somehow, I disagree with that. Because Doom is extremely difficult – I mean, we’re talking about Doom here man. Ya know, that First Person shooter that, once you walk into a room; you’re going to be facing more than 10 to 15 demons per room on any map. Some of the maps have rooms that is almost as big as a football field and the designers throws 20 demons at any given moment in these rooms. Some maps are almost impossible to beat on one life because most of the stages pits you in rooms that has hazards such as acid, and lava to name a few. Some rooms have several layers; so if you drop to a second floor or a third floor, you have to repeat the path that you got there in the first place. That means going through the rooms you already cleared. That’s another story; there’s a lot of backtracking if you want to clear some rooms. You miss a jump to a new platform, and that pool of lava doesn’t have a way back up, you’re definitely dead. You think that’s the end of the story? Nonono, these demons come out of nowhere in these platforms that are usually pillars in any given room – and they annoy you like a pest. Most of the time they shoot you with fireballs, you would be lucky to find some health boxes, and armor nearby. You still think that’s it? Bzz! I said before that some rooms are like the size of a football field; most of these rooms have wave(s) of enemies, that includes enemies that you thought were bosses in earlier levels. Once you clear them out, there’s one big boss, and one of the most legendary bosses in Doom is …Cyberdemon. He appears in every Doom game to date starting from the end of Doom.

If you think that wall of text is a joke, I’m going to point you to a video from Final Doom:

So, as soon as the level begins, you will see this ridiculous-looking football field room that acts exactly like a maze. Most of the levels in the Doom games are like a maze. Doom 3 didn’t feel like it. It felt like a normal twitch shooter. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Doom 3 was going for the scary, dark atmosphere, but it doesn’t have any of the Doom material. Nothing! Unless of course, you’re talking about the enemies, some of them are straight from the classic Doom games, but it doesn’t feel like Doom. And once again, don’t get me wrong, the dark atmosphere is okay, and the technology it was showing off was cool, too. Especially when monsters starts slamming the metal doors and gives off this broken metal effect. It’s still not Doom.

So, how should id Software revive Doom? Well, a lot has changed over the last 10 years now, so I’m going to go one by one.

Part of the reason why Call of Duty is extremely popular right now is because the series is very arcade-y. So, my first suggestion is to bring back the arcade feel that Doom is known for. That means making the game fast enough to make the controls both intuitive and fast. That was the charm of Doom. The second part of this suggestion is bring back the ridiculous level design, I can’t stress this enough. The game has to be fun. Go ahead, treat it like a tech demo, but at least have fun doing it! Show your passion, id Soft!

And while we’re on the subject of arcade gameplay, bring back the arcade-style levels, treat each chapter as levels – that means use pick ups such as health packs, armor, potions, bullets, portals, and warps to keep the the Doom material intact.

For example: Prey is a twitch first person shooter that not only uses walls as a gameplay mechanic, but portals has been a prominent feature in Prey, in fact, it’s part of the entire story of Prey. However, Prey 2 doesn’t feel like a Prey game because the game doesn’t have any of the Prey material.

You see, one of the things that made Doom charming is the fact that the game didn’t take itself too seriously. Let me put it to you this way, you can make a new Doom title and put in front of a Doom player and he won’t give two rat’s @$$ about how ridiculous the level designs are, how ridiculous the item placements are. Most rooms have more than 30 items in a single room, most of the placement has about 5 item per corner or location. You think anyone that played Doom cared about how crazy the item placement are? No.

Remember, a lot has changed over the last 10 years, use the new engine as a way to show what you dream. Yes, John Carmack, I’m asking you what is your dream. Better yet, what your team dreams.

Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen a sheer lack of light-sourcing in first person shooters. 10 years ago, developers were vying for the FPS crown over technical power of a game engine – light-sourcing was the spotlight. For years, I’ve wanted to see more of what developers can do with these light-sourcing technologies. It seems to have stopped somewhat because we haven’t reached a point where we can have more than 20 enemies onscreen at once with a lot of effects turned on. This is exactly what a developer said about God of War 3.

Many people all around the world wondered how it would be like to be in hell. Like, hell. Full of monsters, demons, and what have you. Likewise, many companies have attempted to bring the meaning of “hell” to life. Companies like Electronic Arts, Blizzard, SEGA, and more. The closest thing to that very definition is a property that Activision Blizzard owns: Diablo. However, Diablo is played in a Third Person plane. Doom is a first person shooter, and it takes place in hell, but its all pixelated, and all colorful. Doom 64 came close to being the epitome of a detailed-looking, dark-looking Doom title, but no cigar. With the technology that we have in Xbox 360, PS3, WiiU, and today’s PC’s… Right now would be the time to release a new Doom title.

Well, the problem with that is that we’re closing onto the end of a console lifecycle. In the next year or two, we’re going to see WiiU, PS4, and nextXbox.

The reason why it’s a better business move to put it on one of the new next gen consoles is because my next suggestion is to bring back the frantic gameplay that Doom is known for, so that includes cranking up to 60 frames per seconds and keep it locked. Throughout the entire game. It doesn’t matter if it is single player, co-op, or multiplayer. It’s not just framerate. Rather, crank up the pace of movement. Because for me, the pace of gameplay in Call of Duty (4) is what appealed me in the first place.

I still can’t stress this enough: The level design is important, too. I don’t know if anyone agrees with me or not. But I’m going to say it. The level design of the Doom games seems like a sandbox within’ a level. If Doom’s levels were connected to each other like a puzzle, it would be ten times the size of Devil May Cry. I would like to point out that the way that DMC connects each level lika a jigsaw puzzle is genius, its almost like the levels themselves aren’t even levels. The reason why I am bringing up DMC is because the story actually carries over into the next level. Doom has a hard time telling a story – this is evident with Doom 3, much because there isn’t really a story in the original Doom games.

If you haven’t understood what I suggest with level design, it’s that Doom 4 needs to break from the mold, and have really large, complicated levels. Most of the games on the market are small, and usually linear. Break from this mold! Offer casual gamers, and series fans an option to explore the lore of Doom. Now that we’ve got level design down, let’s talk about.. enemy AI. Make them smart. Like Rage:

Ironically, Rage is being developed using the new id Tech 5 engine that is also going to be in Doom 4. Rage is a game that started as a tech demo that id Software showed off at Apple’s WWD Conference.

Alright, so what do we know about the story? How should the story be told? id Software should be creative with the story. Go crazy. The original Doom games put you in the pits of hell on Mars. Doom 2 and beyond pitted you on earth to prevent an invasion. The fact that Doom 3 took place only in dark, albeit mechanical locations – I think this change has strayed the series from being a creative franchise. Two games are modern examples of how creative your game can be if it took place on earth with a apocalyptic theme: Legendary, and Resistance.

Ya know, I’ve always wondered: Why wasn’t Doom 3 using the same technology that was in Metroid Prime? I mean, the Prime series has always used the visor to show off the technology behind Retro Studios’ engine. I wondered this because the first thing, that you see in Doom is the helmet. It is one of the most recognizable items in the history of gaming next to the likes of Mario’s 1up, Zelda’s Triforce, and believe it or not: Mega Man’s Energy tank! When you start up any of the doom games, you will see the helmet, especially Doom 64’s 3D scrolling until it shows the iconic Doom logo.

For me, the most fondest memories of Prime was related to the helmet – The first time a monster throws a projectile at you and makes a reflection of Samus, or the first time you surfaced from the underground water, or the first time the ice froze pieces of the visor. So, I say to id Software: Make the helmet the best thing about Doom 4, bar none.

And finally, Gears of War. One distinction in the series, that it sets itself apart from the rest of the first person shooters out there – is how Epic designed the armors. When Epic announced Gears of War, it looked like a lot of the twitch first person shooters on the market… that is, until Epic showed off one of the leaders of the Locust. What made them distinctive is that the designs were both futuristic and unique. Doom’s main character always wears this green-looking armor. Its time to revamp this armor to something more modern, or more futuristic, whichever fits the overall theme in Doom 4.

In closing, id Software has a lot of work to do ahead of them if they want to revive, and restore Doom to relevancy. If you think bringing back franchises is an easy task; you have no idea how hard it is. Reviving an icon, an influential name is no easy feat.

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3 Responses to “How to revive the Doom franchise.”

  1. The Voice of Reason Says:

    TRUTH!

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