John Romero: reflection on DOOM

Original author: John Romero
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The year 1993 turned out to be more generous for wonders than all the previous ones. This was the only time we set ourselves the task of creating a game that was as good as possible at that time. We did not set ourselves such tasks either before DOOMa or after. It was the perfect time to do the impossible.

We naively compiled an implausible list of technological miracles that we planned to create, and boldly stated in a press release in January 1993 that DOOM would be the main source of falling world performance. We really believed in it and worked hard that year to make it a reality. I do not recommend writing a press release at the start of your project, especially this.

We did so much new by creating a DOOM. It was our first 3D game, in which the engine was used, departed from the 2D paradigm, which has been used since the founding of the company. It was even used in Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny, at least for map layouts. We wanted the game to have a video camera for scanning weapons and monsters, because this time we used real workstations - powerful NeXTSTEP computers and Steve Jobs' operating system.

Making DOOM was difficult. We created a dark dark game with our creative director Tom Hall, who was an overwhelmingly positive guy, and this went against his idea of ​​perfect design. He laid the foundations of the design by creating the “bible” of DOOM, which outlines some concepts that we have never implemented - some of which were included in the 2016 reload.

Our game engine was revolutionary in the sense that it was a type of world that no one had ever seen on a computer screen. The walls are at an angle and passages that are darkened in the distance. Some would call it a high frame rate nightmare, but it was a high-octane explosion that opened everyone’s eyes to the potential of computer games. Today's first-person shooters originate from the origins of this game, which is the epitome of what a shooter should be: a balanced weapon, insidious level design, enemies complementing each other, and many moments requiring quick action from the player.

Throughout the year, we modified, added and deleted elements of the game to make it as it should. The scores and lives disappeared - remnants of arcade games, on which we grew up. Items that added points have been removed. Thanks to this, the game has become much better, and these decisions have influenced our future developments.

The use of Bruce Naylor’s binary partitioning has greatly accelerated the 3D rendering process, and the abstract design of the levels brought the game out of a 90-degree maze from the walls, which has been widely used as a design for levels for 20 years. It was new, with textured floors and ceilings, stairs, platforms, doors and flashing lights. We liked working with this designer palette. It went well with the main theme of the game: hell.

We have been playing Dungeons & Dragons for many years. The plans of our main campaign were destroyed by demons teleporting to the material plane and destroying everything in it. This gave us the idea of ​​a demonic invasion. However, we decided that the action will take place in the future, when humanity allegedly has a really powerful weapon. In addition, the combination of hell and science fiction was too successful not to use it. We felt that even the storyline looked innovative because of that.

Writing a DoomEd map editor to create levels was a dream. Finally, I used a real operating system with the excellent programming language Objective-C and started programming like never before. We had monitors with a resolution of 1024x768, which allowed us to see our game in a way that we could not do in DOS. The use of such “tools of the future” helped us a lot.

We did so much new that it was a little overwhelming. We used high-end workstations, a completely new 3D engine, providing incredible graphics and expressive design, graphic scanning of our game sprites. We first added multiplayer mode to our game with a mod, which I called Deathmatch, simply because it made sense.

The inclusion of a network mode that allows multiple users to play together and Deathmatch changed the game. We knew that such a fast and beyond the usual gameplay, as in DOOM, will usher in a new era. I imagined what the E1M7 would look like if two players would fire rockets at each other through a large room, and I liked this idea more than anything since the audio track for a Wolfenstein 3D machine gun.

We could not wait to see what the players did with our game, so we made sure that the game files are open to change. We hoped that people would change textures, sounds and create many new levels. We gave players the opportunity to finally play in what they create. This was an important decision that ultimately ended with the publication of the source code. Make your game open, and your fans will own it and keep it alive even after you are gone.

Our small team immediately accepted these huge changes and tried to use them to the limit of their capabilities. The technical stretch we made was similar to the designer stretch we tried. I felt that we were often at a dead end and just climbed over it. When Tom Hall left in August 1993, we quickly hired Sandy Petersen to help us in the final stage. Dave Taylor also joined to help us complete the game.

We were a cohesive team of six developers. Adrian and Kevin confidently adhered to the artistic part, while John Carmack worked on the basis of the code. I liked to handle everything that came out as a result of each of them. I added a lot of my own code to the game environment to complement my level design and the level design that Sandy did. At the end of the work on the game, we all knew that we had created something very high quality. We could not wait for everyone else to see it.

It was an amazing 25 years, and I must first thank the fans who made this possible and supported us all this time, as well as the gaming press, which always supported DOOM during all its stages. Your evaluation of our work means everything to us. I also have to thank John, Adrian, Tom, Sandy, Dave and Kevin. It was our crazy dream that brought DOOM to life. Finally, I want to thank the current DOOM team for their excellent work on the last game (I don’t deal with it at all, except as a player). Like everyone else, I am very pleased that the game DOOM Eternal has become successful.

For the past quarter century, we have been rip and tear!


The translation was made with the support of the company EDISON Software , which is engaged in reengineering and support , as well as porting and migration .

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