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Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom | vector poem
This post is intended as a companion piece for the release of Arcadia Demade.
A high-minded goal like “expand the boundaries of the medium” doesn’t always mean forging ahead in crazy new unknown directions. Sometimes it means examining lost evolutionary lines in game design – picking up ideas that were abandoned long ago and seeing if there’s any new life in them. The game I keep coming back to in this regard is Doom. Not the 2004 reboot, but “Classic Doom”: Doom 1 and 2, Final Doom, the Master Levels – and its vast universe of user-made content. What can it teach us today?
In 1993, the message Doom sent to the videogame world was something like “use cutting edge technology to make something dark, edgy and violent”. The world has changed so much around Doom since then that very little of that original impact comes through to players today – though the industry has inarguably gone on to master the techno-fueled ultra-violence thing! Here’s what I’ve found after many years of enjoying the game and digging ever deeper into its design:
Doom feels more like 1st person Robotron than a modern FPS