This was how it happened for me, and I guess for a lot of people at the time. In 1993 I was working part-time at a game development studio while studying English and Drama at Warwick university. The studio, Big Red Software, was five guys in a small office above a printers in Leamington Spa. We ate, drank and breathed video games. If we weren’t making them, we were playing them. One day, we got Doom working across the office computer network. It meant that we could play together, co-operatively. That was 10am in the morning. We played for 16 hours straight. When I got outside, I saw every garage door as a potential demon entry point.
Today, More than 20 years later, Id Software is releasing a new version of Doom. It is throughly updated, with high-end visuals and contemporary design sensibilities – early word is that it’s a successful modernisation. But it can never do what Doom did back then. There had been other first-person games before it – Id itself made the Wolfenstein titles. But for this game, the brilliant coder John Carmack built a new engine, capable of rendering more complex environments in 3D. Well, sort of 3D. The maps themselves were 2D, and there was no vertical camera movement. Everything happened on a fixed plane.
It didn’t matter – in fact, it’s part of the game’s brilliance. Doom is utterly stripped back and purposeful. No pixel is wasted. Although the creative director, Tom Hall, wrote an exhaustive backstory for the game – about…
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