Now to straight up preface this whole thing, I’ve played doom before, whether it’s on a raspberry pi, or modded to hell (haha insert doom joke). I’ve played a lot of variations of doom I’ve never really looked at the subtleties, the nuances nor the peculiar control scheme.
That is, Until today.
So I’m supposed to ramble on about what was difficult and what was hard, what made the game, well a game. The fundamentals if you wanna call it that. But I think it’ll be more fun if we touch on dooms, minor details that can make such a simple game, such a damned joy.
Let’s start with doom guy, a character we only see through a severed head at the bottom of the screen. You go into this first person shooter with no damn idea of your character, other than that he’s badass enough to kill anything and everything on the god forsaken rock he’s stuck on, well at first glance anyway. Looking at this portrait playing the game, you’ll see doom guys reaction, his joy at picking up a sick new BFG ready to kick more ass, his pain and determination as he gets shot the hell up, his awareness of his surroundings as he looks suspiciously left and right, scanning his surroundings for the hellish fiends that want his ass on a platter.
This subtle effect can bring so much character to an otherwise unpersonified guy. Without this face, doomguy would be a hand on 1 at best alongside some sound effects and grunts here and there. Now that wouldn’t be much of a riveting character to play would it? Yet doom guy has no dialogue, no thoughts to speak of, no real substance other than this, but he doesn’t need anymore to be an enjoyable gateway into the world of doom.
Branching from that, when you click on a door expecting it to open, some text appears in the upper left corner that honestly, is pretty hard to notice with the visual style of the game and your current focus, the game knows this, so it plays a struggled grunt from doomguy to let you know, a feature that many many modern games fail to do when an object is at this stage, not interactive. Doom takes so many big ideas for tiny tiny details into account, and executes them as needed. Another small yet big feature, the screen flash on pickups, it drastically aids in knowing you’ve picked up an item, as there is no vertical axis for the camera.
Now only having a horizontal camera axis, and even if you played using just a mouse, or arrow keys for movement, the game is a little hard to play. Well on the surface, but you’ll quickly realise, those shots that shouldn’t hit, seem to connect? The enemy wasn’t in the center of the screen? Yet, they died? One minor look down, and you’ll see the game has been subtly aiming your weapon by a few degrees toward each enemy. I’d probably call this the first aim assist, because even the developers knew it wasn’t gonna be easy, and they wanted you to feel like a badass despite the effort the controls required if you’re right handed. (and using the arrow keys)
These subtle features, these nuances are a few of the things that make doom fantastic, that and it can run on almost literally anything, like I’m sure if you have a samsung smart fridge you’re a cool enough kid to have doom on there. Heck you can literally run it off a modern toaster.
Before we talk about the controls, and the bad of doom, let’s just remember, it’s from 1993, it ran on DOS and for it’s time, it was fantastic and revolutionary, unlike the modern doom (2016), which despite my love for superb graphics, gore, over the top violence and lowkey horror, was a steaming pile of ‘I don’t really want to play this all that much’ aka a steam refund, the original doom is for it’s time, a whole different ball game.
So the controls, pretty simple sounding right? Doom is actually pretty simple to control despite lack of prompts telling you what’s what, or where to go or what to do, what really plagues it, for me anyway and my user experience, mixing the arrow keys and mouse, right handed meant my hand was on the touch pad constantly messing with the aim and movement. The mouse going on the Y axis converting to forward and backward movement was by far the hardest part about it, leaving me to drop the keyboard entirely except for switching weapons. If you think about it, it would be inherently convenient being able to play a whole game one handed, with little to no effort, but doom won’t take that lying down, it’s controls breed a form of challenge. If you were to ditch the mouse altogether you don’t have sensitivity/dpi settings on your side, making you slower to react, slower to turn, and in turn, the game becomes harder. It’s a filter on a players ability forcing them to think harder about positioning.
That about wraps it up in a neat little, very very very glossed over package called my blog post on Doom, a game who’s mechanics and aesthetic defined a genre, and inspired so many projects.
Now a cool little plug of a coolio project that’s uber cool.
It’s like everybodies favourite tumour fortnite had a cool baby with doom/ wolfenstein and it was all about russia. Give it a gander HERE