HorrorScope Halloween: Doom At 20 – Guns, Gore & Good Times

Satan’s Second Cousin – Ports & Spinoffs

Doom’s success has extended far beyond the PC, too. The game has been ported – officially or otherwise – to just about every platform under the sun, from XBLA and Playstation to a surprisingly good version on the Gameboy Advance of all things. While most console versions were cut down or censored in some form, they each have their own perks and quirks. The Playstation version was notable for introducing coloured lighting to the game, although at the cost of simpler level geometry. It also had an interesting bonus level. Warning: Contains gratuitous gabba beats.

One particularly interesting incarnation is Doom 64. It was a whole new standalone game, and (according to the threadbare plot in the manual) set after Doom 2, making it an official sequel. It took a darker, more atmospheric and trap-laden approach to the game, with claustrophobic tunnels taking precedence over the wider combat arenas of Doom 2. The ambient, brooding soundtrack backed up this slower, slightly more horror-themed take on the game. Interestingly, there’s a PC port of it – Doom64 EX – although you’ll need to get your hands on the original N64 ROM for it to work its magic.

Doom has even branched off into the realm of turn-based RPG combat more than once. Early Java-based smartphones played host to the Doom RPG, offering grid-based dungeon crawling based on the classic shooter series. Later on, iD brought an official update to the concept in the form of the Doom 2 RPG, a respectably entertaining iOS dungeon crawler dressed up in Doom’s clothing.

Probably the most successful adaptation of Doom to another genre is Doom: The Roguelike. While unofficial, this fan-made PC game (complete with sprite-art by Spelunky creator Derek Yu) captures the spirit of the game far more accurately than anyone could have expected. Almost every aspect of Doom is replicated in some way or form, from the terse introductory level accompanied by high-energy soundtrack, to strafing wildly around a cyberdemon, returning fire during lulls in its rocket barrage. It’s all there and surprisingly tactical to boot.

There was even a remarkably successful Doom board game by genre experts Fantasy Flight Games. Reminiscent of Games Workshop’s old Space Crusade, it pit a team of up to three marines (complete with difficulty-scaling rules to adapt the game to the number of players) against a single demon overlord player, who summoned critters into monster closets and sprung ambushes whenever opportunity loomed. Sadly, it’s long since out of print, but good fun if you can find a copy.

Damnation For The Jaded Generation – Source Ports & Doom Today

As fun as spinoffs, roguelikes and console-borne variants are, the real deal is far more interesting. Doom’s longevity is thanks to both the foresight of John Carmack – who released the source code for the engine into the wild – and the efforts of fans who took it and used it as the foundation for a multitude of great works. While absolute purists have the option of running the game via DOSBox or other such emulators, most players have gravitated towards the many source-ports available

While we could go into excruciating detail in weighing up the pros and cons of each engine variant, there are dozens to pick from and it’s probably best to keep things simple here. For maximum compatibility and support, Windows PC users are looking at two main options:

If you want to just play solo, you’ll want the latest development build of GZDoom. Adding native hardware acceleration and a lot of new engine features to the mix, it has become the required port for a lot of modern Doom mods. Most swear by the addition of modern mouse-look, and some might want to enable jumping and ducking too, although the latter can break the progression of some levels. The sheer number of options it offers can be a little daunting, but it’s exceptionally flexible and configurable.

If you want to play online, then Zandronum is the way to go. Branched off from a slightly earlier version of GZDoom, it has a slightly more limited options menu, but vastly improved netcode and comes bundled with Doomseeker, a server browser that’ll automatically download mods, maps and more if you try to join a server requiring them. It’s a very quick and accessible way to jump into the game online, and the community is generally friendly and accepting of fresh blood, so don’t hesitate to jump into a co-op or competitive game. There’s still quite a few people playing Deathmatch on maps like that below.

Whichever you choose, those who plan on mixing and matching mods will probably want QLZ, too. It’s a simple launcher app which makes the process of stacking up level packs, gameplay mods, HUDs and so on a little simpler, especially when load-order is an issue. Once you’ve got all your pieces assembled (you’ll want Doom 2 at least, and ideally the Doom Classic Complete Collection on Steam), you’ll want to take the WAD files – the main game data block – from each Doom version you have, and put them all in the same directory as GZDoom/Zandronum. Congratulations – brace yourself.

For what? An eternity of bloodshed! And to play Doom, of course, and the many tens of thousands of mods, maps and multiplayer modes that it plays host to. While you can find an enormous collection of them over at the Doomworld archives, or in the annual community Cacowards, we here at Game Front have assembled a shortlist of some of the best, brightest and bloodiest content released over the past few years. Come, join us on a trip to your own personal circle of hell in Part 2 of our Halloween Special, if you dare…

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2 Comments on HorrorScope Halloween: Doom At 20 – Guns, Gore & Good Times

Dominic Tarason

On October 31, 2013 at 5:34 pm

As mentioned in the article, I only scratched the surface of the tip of an iceberg atop a mountain of mods, maps and more for Doom and its derivatives. There’s no way we could have covered everything in the space of one (or even two, as the case may be) articles, but if there’s something you think we should have included, have your say in the comment box down here. Share your favourites – it’s like Halloween Candy, but with more demons.

Matt M

On October 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm

For playing Doom online, I would have to recommend, http://www.zdaemon.org

Server launcher/irc/web browser in one package with great GUI, great multiplayer and mapping scene. (also CTF, Survival, King of the hill)