‘DOOM: Scarkydarkfast’ — The Rise of the FPS
The book even touches upon the modding scene. Pinchbeck recalls his first experience with mods, a 1994 foray into the universe of Ridley Scott’s famous film franchise via a DOOM mod named Aliens TC. While id is no longer known as one of the big names in the modding scene, it played a big role in establishing it.
When Wolfenstein 3D released, id realized how strong player desire was to create custom content. With DOOM, the devs decided to make it easier on the budding modding community. John Romero said:
“People wanted to make levels with Wolfenstein 3D so badly they figured out how to do it, and that was really, really difficult. It was really hardcore hacking, and when we saw people did that, we thought, wow, people really want our data, we’ve got to open this up completely. . . . So with DOOM we didn’t try to protect any of the data. We left it wide open. With Wolfenstein 3D, we tightly compressed everything and made it really hard to get at. But with DOOM, we left it open, and that just created the entire modding scene.”
The modding scene is what gave many developers a route into the industry. Matt Hooper, of DOOM 3′s design team, is one such example. He attributes the success of the modding community — and the shooter genre — to Carmack’s technology. Hooper said:
“I think if you talk to a lot of people working today on shooters, a lot of them came from the modding community. That’s all due to John—I don’t think he realizes how much that’s true. . . . It was definitely the genesis of the shooter movement. All those guys got their start from the tech John built. All over the place. It’s amazing how much. I think some people have lost that fact because it’s so long ago, maybe people don’t make the connection so much now, but it’s undeniable. So many people and so many companies, and it’s all down to mods. . . . John laid that foundation.”
The book concludes by discussing DOOM’s legacy, which can be felt in shooters to this day. Pinchbeck offers a quote from former President of id Todd Hollenshead that serves as a fitting summary:
“Nolan Bushnell [one of the founding fathers of the video game industry] is quoted as saying Halo is the same as DOOM with better graphics. He meant that as an insult to Halo, but I actually take it as a compliment. And I think, in many ways, it is absolutely true. All shooters still follow the same fundamental game mechanic that id created with Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. We can just do a much more sophisticated and graphically rich job of execution of that formula today.”
Weighing in at 181 pages — a dozen of which consist notes, a glossary, and references — and peppered with grayscale in-game screenshots and map layouts, “DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST” is a fairly light read, considering its academic roots. Hardcore DOOM fans will love Pinchbeck’s level-by-level breakdowns, and anyone with an interest in learning about the roots of the FPS genre should find something new in this book. Between the great quotes by the likes of Carmack and Romero and the insightful analysis of Pinchbeck, “DOOM: SCARYDARKFAST” proves that there is tremendous merit in the academic study of video games. Just don’t iddqd in school, kids.