We're DOOMed!

id spills a couple of beans on its next game
By - Thrrrpptt!

John Carmack talks about technology in the context of id's new DOOM game.
The highest highlight of QuakeCon this year was easily id's first official press conference. Everyone at the con' was invited, and a full house was in attendance. There were some thick and juicy announcements about id's next titles (including Quake 4 and an unannounced online game developed by Nerve), but the one thing that everyone was really looking forward to was more information on the still untitled DOOM game.

During the course of John Carmack's speech, the id co-owner touched on the topic several times. Below is a quick summary of some of the better tidbits.

New DOOM Video

The main attraction was easily the short video of brand new DOOM footage that was shown. Besides lots of hallways, machines, and a new take on lava, we got to see recreations of some of the classic DOOM enemies, such as the pink demon (or "Pinky", as Carmack called it), a Former Human zombie (with a tentacle arm), and an Imp.

The footage was very impressive. As was shown at the Mac Expo earlier in the year, the lighting stood out as its most dazzling quality, though the models and textures were equally amazing. In the video's most vivid scene, the "Pinky" demon (which, by the way, is not so pink in his new incarnation) slithers across a tile floor while a halogen lam swings from overhead, casting real-time shadows. Pinky finds a bloody and bloated cadaver on the ground, and slowly begins to tear great hunks of flesh from it. As the camera rotates overhead, the corpse's blood begins to spread in a great puddle and trickle down a rusty drain. "This stuff is great!" exclaimed our host.

According to Carmack, the rest of the game will have a similar feel -- dark, menacing, and horrifying. Though Carmack said that they aren't trying to be offensive for the sake of being offensive, he did say that you can expect a lot of tension and general "weirdness" that made the original game so endearing.

Keeping in line with the game's emphasis on single player adventure and storytelling, Carmack also mentioned that the title was forcing id to take a somewhat unfamiliar approach to game development. "We actually have," he said, smiling, "a design document and storyboards to follow."

id also brings good news from the sound department. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has entered a verbal agreement to do the music and sounds for the game, and Dolby 5.1 support is expected to be the standard.

New Editing Support

Carmack mentioned that the new DOOM engine will have all of its functions integrated into one platform. This means that if you can run the game, you can develop/mod/map for it on the same computer.

To make things even easier for both id's mappers and future amateur map makers, DOOM's map editor will feature real time lighting inside of the application, negating the need to compile maps and making the whole mapping process much less laborious (for both id and amateur map makers). "The level editor is more of a placement tool than a modeler," said Carmack.

This solves what Carmack identified as one of the major obstacles to effective game development. One could, he noted, spend an obscene amount of time perfecting one singular hallway, tweaking and lighting and crafting until it was the best hallway ever seen in a computer game. "What would be great," Carmack emphasized, "was if we could have a whole game that looks as good as that hallway." The new DOOM editing tools and technology should make something like that possible.

New Technology

Carmack does NOT see the DOOM engine as the next rung in the evolutionary ladder created by prior Quake games. Rather, he sees it as a completely new evolutionary pattern.

The keynote speaker went on to say that he expects that the DOOM engine will set new trends by redefining how 3D engines of this type work. Many companies will probably license the technology ... or attempt to copy it.

The target video card for DOOM will be a GeForce 3, though it will scale all the way down to a Geforce 1 if you turn off some of the fancier options. The game will contain more graphics card specific code than anything else id has ever done. It is not, however, expected to support Rage Pro's. Though no processor or RAM requirements were discussed, Carmack did mention that DOOM would be "more aggressive on hardware requirements than past id titles were."

There was also news on id's plans in the console arena (pardon the pun). Carmack doesn't beleive that the PS2 is beefy enough to handle a port of DOOM, but the Xbox "is in the sweet spot" despite its relative lack of RAM. An Xbox port is likely.

And Finally...

Yes, Virginia, there will be a rocket launcher. :)

So there you have it. While not really enough information to be considered a preview, there is enough there to whet your appetite. And for those of us who actually got to see the DOOM video, well let's just say we're starving!

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