Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Welcome back, everyone! In the previous article, we investigated Doom’s technical limitations, how it kick-started PC on-line multi-player gaming and saw the controversy generated by the game’s violence, gore and satanic imagery. Now we will look at Doom’s influence on console gaming and its last major influence on the FPS genre – modding. Let’s dive in.
The popularity of Doom ensured it would be ported to many systems, including the consoles. However, the consoles of the era were simply not powerful enough to do it justice, as you can see in the video below.
One console version of Doom that stood out from the crowd was Doom 64 on the Nintendo 64. Unlike the other versions, it did not try to simply copy the original Doom 1993. Instead, it was a sequel to Final Doom created exclusively for the N64 from the ground up. It boasted a wealth of new features, graphics, sounds, weapons and enemies. It was well received and has since been converted via a mod to run on Windows in full HD with keyboard and mouse controls.
Modding, Total Conversions and Source-Ports
In many ways, Doom kickstarted the PC gaming modding scene. Doom was designed to be ‘mod-friendly from the start so that players could alter and extend the game far more easily than they could with Wolfenstein 3D.
Central to this were Doom’s WAD files - which stands for Where’s All the Data? WAD files contained data such as graphics, music, sounds and most importantly levels but were separate from the game’s engine. Therefore, users could create mods without having to make modifications to the engine itself.
Much like today, these mods were shared freely, often over on-line forums. Some of these user-made levels would go on to be included in the Master Levels of Doom 2 discussed earlier.
Some mods took things a step further by introducing new gameplay elements, weapons, monsters etc. Some modders went even further by creating Total Conversions, which used Doom’s engine to create completely new games. One of the earliest was Aliens TC, a Total Conversion based on the film Aliens that was released in 1994. Since this predated 1996’s Aliens Trilogy, Aliens TC was the first Aliens themed FPS.
Doom’ source code was released in 1997 giving modders access to the engine itself. This allowed modders to make changes and improvements to the game’s engine. Since by ’97 PCs could now handle fully 3D environments many of the Doom engine’s quirks - which were imposed by the comparatively limited power of PCs in 1993 - could be removed. This resulted in updated variants of the Doom engine which allowed for full mouselook - including looking up and down, jumping, crosshairs and fully customisable controls. This led to the era of the source port.
There are several updated Doom engines available at the moment, including ZDoom, GZDoom, Chocolate Doom and the Doomsday engine, many of which offer advanced features, such as dynamic lighting, support for HD widescreen resolutions, 3D models etc. The Doomsday engine even offers Stereoscopic 3D!
Some mods based on the above engines aimed at retaining a vanilla doom experience but with basic quality of life improvements – i.e. full 3D mouselook, HD widescreen support and re-bind able keys. Some allowed for jumping as well, although this was potentially game-breaking as it allowed you to reach places in the ‘wrong’ order. (Speaking from experience here - remember kids, ‘save early, save often’.)
Others however sought to add new gameplay features for an experience that was not only better but also different. One of the most notable examples being the infamous ‘Brutal Doom’ series.
Brutal Doom v21 Gold Release Trailer
As you can see, Doom’s modding scene is still growing strong and this is likely to continue for some time. Modding and total conversions have remained popular staples of PC gaming and Doom’s influence on this is clear.
Doom’s runaway commercial success guaranteed that its engine would be used as the foundation of other games too. The dark fantasy shooters Heretic and its sequel Hexen: Beyond Heretic were developed by Raven Software and published by id software in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Their modified Doom engine permitted looking up and down.
There was also a glut of competitors (some would say imitators) unrelated to id software or the Doom engine that would be released throughout the ‘90s. Since the term ‘FPS’ had yet to be invented, they were (perhaps uncharitably) referred to simply as ‘Doom Clones’. Notable titles include Shadow Warrior, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Redneck Rampage, Rise of the Triad, Star Wars: Dark Forces and most notably Unreal.
Other home computer systems got their Doom clones too. The Amiga 1200 got Gloom and Alien Breed 3D. The MAC was not left out, as it received Marathon. Marathon’s devs would go on to make another game that will be featured prominently in this series. Bonus points if you can guess which one without looking it up.
The enormous commercial and critical success of Doom and some of its ‘clones’ cemented the FPS as one of the dominant genres in PC video gaming. Doom was the PC’s ‘killer app’ and the FPS was to become one of its speciality genres, especially for gamers looking for something more mature and immersive than Mario or Sonic.
Doom’s wildly successful LAN and on-line multi-player deathmatch and co-op features ensured that most subsequent FPS would include multiplayer, with some games foregoing a single-player campaign entirely.
Doom’s ‘modability’ - combined with id software’s welcoming nature to modders - helped to kick start the modding scene that we see flourishing today. This has, in turn, helped some talented but professionally inexperienced programmers to land their first paying job within the videogames industry, as creating a mod was a very effective way of showing off their talents.
The controversy surrounding Doom helped usher in rating systems such as the ESRB and PEGI, which (in theory at least) keeps mature content out of the hands of minors.
All in all, Doom’s influence over the FPS that came later cannot be overstated. Its success also allowed id software to create the next big evolution in FPS games - Quake - the subject of the next article in the series.
Have you played any of the console ports, mods or source ports of Doom? If so, what were your experiences? How does Aliens TC compare to the official Aliens games? Have you created mods or levels yourself? If so, how intuitive was it? Lastly, do you agree that Doom was such a big influence on the FPS genre? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Iain is a 40+ author and gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 36 years ago. His specialities include obscure cult classics, retro games, mods and fan remakes. He hates all sports games and is allergic to on-line multi-player. Since he is British, his body is about 60% tea. He can be reached via Twitter at https://twitter.com/IainBaker17, and contacted via email at email@example.com
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Title image - screen shot taken from: https://youtu.be/1t0mGsmVDJ4