An opinion on id Software's
Hi there. You may old
skoolers may remember me as that Fragmaster who ran PlanetQuake
when it sucked. :)
Since my psychic friend
skillz proved pretty accurate in my last editorial for PlanetQuake,
I wrote nearly a year ago, I thought Iíd push my luck and look
into the future. The future? Thatís right, all the way to Doom
Before we get to that
though, Iíd just like to mention two things regarding that Q3A
editorial: first off, I really should have mentioned that all
the ballyhoo about curved surfaces is insane, since they add ABSOLUTELY
NOTHING to gameplay. You can argue that the increase of
visible polygons does (as evidenced by q3test2), but curved surfaces
donít. Q3A is pretty much the same old deathmatch; the killing
grounds just look prettier.
Iíd also like to emphasize
that I make some pretty bold predictions here, and that some of
these predictions conflict with things Carmack has said in previous
interviews or trends id has persued in the past. Iím also biased
here, because Iím a big fan of Doom and would really like to see
Doom 2000. And I tend to babble. Still, I donít think this scenario
is very far-fetched, itís not like Iím predicting that id and
Valve Software will merge and develop a Bugs Bunny game for the
Playstation 2 as their first project.
I said this in that Q3A
editorial, and it still applies somewhat:
Is anybody concerned
with idís constant change of plans? How do you know theyíre sure
this time? Who says they wonít change their minds again?
Itís possible that id
will change their mind and not do a Doom 2000. Doom 2000 is only
an idea at this stage, but id has mentioned that doing another
Doom game is a definite possibility and even went as far as to
secure the Doom2000.com domain. Hell, it wonít even be called
Doom 2000 because thereís no way theyíd be able to get it ready
next year. Q3A wonít ship until Christmas (by my estimation, partly
because id will realize that if they donít include CTF theyíre
shooting themselves in the faceÖ and then thereís the botsÖ),
and the game was announced in June í98Ö so thatís an eighteen
month development cycle right there. For a multiplayer only game
using a pretty much existing engine!
I think the possibility of id doing Doom 2000 as their next project
is pretty good. People are sick of this Quake stuff. Quake games
donít even have a consistent theme. Classic Quake is gothic medieval
stuff with some military levels thrown in, and Quake II is a Doom
rip-off with robots. With Doom, id has a great theme to work with:
space marines versus HELL. Doomís engine wasnít really capable
of rendering ďhellĒ very faithfully, but Q3ís engine certainly
is. Iíll single out the work of id designer Brandon James as an
example. Organic. Scary. Hellish. DOOM! Of course, Doom 2000 would
contain lots of military space outpost levels too, but Iím getting
ahead of myself.
Another reason why id
would do Doom 2000? Itíd be a movie tie-in. A Doom movie is supposedly
in development by TriStar Pictures with Spawnís Todd McFarlane
as a conceptual designer. I say ďsupposedlyĒ because rumors
of a Doom movie in development have floated around since 1996,
but with McFarlane involved things may actually get off the ground.
I think itís safe to
say that if youíre reading this, you WANT to see another Doom
game. For most of us, Doom was a way of life back in the early
90ís. I wonít even begin to gush at all the innovations Doom introduced
and how every first person shooter youíre playing today owes at
least part of its success and overall design to Doom.
And finally, I donít
think id wants to start another franchise from scratch. Thatís
not id. With the exception of Commander Keen, all their games
have been first-person shooters that emphasized action over strategy.
They arenít going to turn around and do something totally different.
If id suddenly announced that they were going to do a real-time
strategy game after Q3A, either John Carmack went a little wild
at the all you can smoke Crack-o-rama, or the apocalypse is frighteningly
imminent. And since I seriously doubt theyíre going to go back
and make another Wolfenstein game, or suddenly decide that Commander
Keen should be updated for the millennium, Doom is the obvious
choice. Besides, the game would sell like mad just by reputation
and name alone, even if it sucks ass.
Like I said before, Doom
2000 is just an idea. If Q3A is a huge success, id may decide
to go the online-game only route. Thatís certainly a possibility
even if Q3A isnít that successful, since online gaming is a really
cool phenomenon with lots of unexplored territory. And id may
even decide that single-player development these days takes way
too long, and that theyíd rather churn out smaller games with
a shorter production schedule for engine licensing reasons (so
the engine doesnít have a chance to get as outdated).
The industry has changed
since the days of Doom. To be perfectly honest, id is past its
prime. Doom was revolutionary. Quake was revolutionary. Quake
II? Q3A? They arenít. The Quake engine was uncontested; the closest
thing you could license was 3DRís BUILD engine. Now thereís Epicís
Unreal engine and Monolithís frighteningly advanced LithTech2.
As far as gameplay is concerned, you could argue that Duke3D has
better gameplay than QuakeÖ but if you compare Quake II to Half-Life
(single player), thereís absolutely no contest. And then thereís
the fact that the only developers currently at id who worked on
the original Doom are John Carmack, Adrian Carmack (artist), and
Kevin Cloud (artist). All the designers who worked on the original
Doom, most notably Sandy Peterson and John Romero, are no longer
with the company. But this could be seen as an advantage as well,
because idís current design team is arguably more experienced
with FPS design and certainly no slouches in the talent department.
Not only that, but nearly all of idís newer hires were fans
of Doom before they got to id, so working on a new Doom game would
be a dream come true.
I wonít even try to touch
upon the advances in console technology that could potentially
threaten the PCís FPS dominance, because thatís a threat that
has been overcome before and it wonít really be an issue until