Qt3 Classic Game Club #18: Doom


You’ve played Doom, right? If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. The rest of us are going to play it for two reasons: it still holds up against modern games, and some people have forgotten what it means to be an “old school” shooter.

I still play Doom once a year to try the latest custom maps and mods. What keeps me coming back is the speed, the abstract design, and the “arcade” feel. By that I mean Doom feels like a shoot-'em-up or brawler now that I’ve been playing it so long. The gameplay has been distilled down to pure execution.

After 21 years, I haven’t found a modern shooter quite like it. I’ve seen some games described as “old school” shooters, such as Serious Sam and Painkiller. To me they’re missing something, and I’d like to discuss that as we play.

Pick up a copy at Steam and let’s get fragging!


Modders have ported the game source to support modern screen resolutions and control schemes. There’s no turnkey setup available, but I think a little manual labor sets the mood for 90s nostalgia.

The first step is to acquire the game. I consider Doom and Doom II to be interchangeable, so grab either one. Steam sells each one for $5. If you just want to hop into the series for an hour, I recommend the first game. The first episode of Doom is one of the best experiences in videogame canon. However, most of the WADs and multiplayer use Doom II. (More on multiplayer later.)

You only need the doom.wad and doom2.wad files. Then grab a source port and a launcher utility. I prefer GZDoom because it defaults to a little texture filtering. (Experts, please mention your favorites.) To launch the game, I use a simple utility called C#rp Doom Launcher. Start it up, then set one path to the Doom WAD files above, and one path to your GZDoom installation.


If it’s been a while since you’ve played, check out the first few levels. (Do you remember the secrets?) For those of us who have E1M1 and MAP01 burned into our retinas, it’s time to look for some maps and mods. There is still a healthy community churning them out. Doomworld highlights the year’s best WADs with the Cacowards. Download the ones that sound interesting and add them to the launcher. Or try some older classics, such as Alien Vendetta or Memento Mori II. (Experts, please mention your favorites!)


I’ve asked Jason McMaster to set up a private QT3 server so we can try co-op and deathmatch together. I haven’t heard back from him yet, so standby on that.

Until then, there are some public servers you can try. The server browser these days seems to be Internet Doom Explorer. The browser displays games from three source ports: Odamex, Zdaemon, and Zandronum. You’ll need to download one those as well. I haven’t tried multiplayer in years, so I can’t recommend one over the other. I also don’t know if the servers support automatic WAD download. If not, check out the /idgames archive.

Guess what! Another ‘all time classic’ I’ve never played. Old school shooters, or shooters in general, were never much my thing, but I’ve probably put it off long enough. Time to load up and shoot some demons on Mars.

Hey, I’ve played a few of the game club games before. Jedi Knight… ok just that one I think. I had played other C&C games, just not Red Alert (original). In my defense after the Apple ][e I didn’t properly PC game (other than a few specific exceptions) until about 2004. So if we ever pull Age of Empires, Oregon Trail, or Tie Fighter I’ll be set ;)

I do look forward to it though, any game that does MIDI remixes of Metallica songs is ok in my book.

Doom’s pretty much perfect!

Here’s a few links people might find interesting:

GDC 2011 Doom Post-Mortem (featuring Tom Hall & John Romero).

John Romero playing through the first episode in co-op to celebrate Doom’s 20th anniversary.

Finally, Matthias Worch (Hangar 13 Games, Star Wars 1313 lead) on why Doom is a great example of meaningful player choice.

I took a peek at multiplayer and a lot of servers are using bizarre mods with goofy graphics and sound. If we want something closer to the classic experience (with more than 4 players) then we might need to set up our own server.

I’ll look around for better servers tomorrow.

Oh sweet Jebus, thank you for this. I don’t care for Doom much, but I loooooved Doom II back in the day. I’m very curious to know if Doom II still holds up. Also, I’ve replayed Doom I’s first few levels a number of times over the years, but never Doom II.

I already have Final Doom and Doom II: Hell on Earth installed on Steam, but time to start hunting down GZDoom and C#rp Doom Launcher.

First impressions:

Doom II’s first level is a pretty slow start. The chainsaw is a nice weapon to start you off with, but no new enemies.

Second level: Oh yeah, now this is more like it. Super Shotgun! The new weapon in Doom II, and my favorite of the whole series. And the return of the red key and the blue key! Now we’re cookin’.

I’d forgotten about the audio cues. Every new enemy you face has an audio cue, and they give you a little heads up before they start shooting. It’s like they’re telegraphing their presence and giving you a little window to shoot first.

I forgot to mention one part of the gameplay that does NOT hold up: hunting for switches and keys. Unfortunately, some modern WADs continue to rely on this. Don’t be afraid to simply give up or skip the levels. It’s not like you’re missing any story.

To change levels, the cheat code is idclev## where ## is either an episode and mission number for Doom, or a two-digit map number for Doom 2.

Alright. I’ve dipped into both Doom and Doom 2 around the time they came out, but they didn’t do much for me. It wasn’t until Jedi Knight that I think I got into FPSes. Wait, no. That’s not true. I played the crap out of Wolfenstein 3D. So somehow the setting or the multilevel stuff in Doom just didn’t click. I guess I’ll go with the first Doom, to be as retro as possible.

Time to reload my Doom 1 E1 saved game from last year! I’ve been using the Doomsday engine. It does polish things up a bit on default, but it’s possible to turn it off easily, plus the launcher appears to handle mods easily (not tried this yet) and the mouse implementation is good (I used to play entirely on keyboard).

Ah yes, I started playing on Hurt Me Plenty for the atmosphere, but also a parallel Ultraviolence game for the hurt. It was fun to play each level in two different ways. Also, so far UV isn’t as hard as I remembered it, but that’s probably because I haven’t gotten that far yet. I remember why I quit now, I reached the first secret level on Ep1, got right to the freakin’ end and died (I seem to recall I got jumped by lots of creatures when I wasn’t prepared for it).

I prefer GZDoom because it defaults to a little texture filtering. (Experts, please mention your favorites.)

I honestly believe Doom should be played with no filtering applied to the sprites. It ruins a lot of the detail that was deliberately placed in there. It’s not like a modern texture, which is designed to be trilinearly filtered. (Infact I think this way for almost any “pixelated” game. So filters in emulators = evil).

I can’t remember what the default options are, but I’d recommend doing:

options > dispaly options > opengl option > texture options > texture filter mode = None

(or any of the ones with none in it).

And for GZdoom you don’t even need launchers. The modern version sniffs out the steam path and lets you just pick the WAD file from a box when you first start it. I’d also recommend ensuring that you bind WASD and that you turn mouselook on (options>controls>mouse or something), as this allows you to play it like a modern FPS game. Highly recommended! (If you don’t turn mouselook on, then moving the mouse will move you back and forwards, and so you’ll need to set the forward/backward sliders to 0 for the mouse… either way, you’ll need to change some options).

Pistol Starts

For everyone, new and old (but definitely experienced players), I’d recommend trying to pistol start each level! It really, really, really changes the way the maps, monsters and weapons feel and is effectively how each map “was designed”. You gain a lot more insight into the design involved in all of the games elements this way. e.g. A lot of the maps will naturally close themselves off with tough monsters meaning you sometimes have to runaway and go the other route to find the other weapons, or sometimes they give you a specific challenge e.g. kill these monsters with just the shotgun. This isn’t really present in default play as you end up picking up the super shotgun in level 2 and just shooting everything with it from then on. (The inventory carry over was shoehorned into the game late in development). This is definitely the kind of thing you want to be doing in a classic game club ;)

The easiest way to do this each time you start a new level is to simply bring down the ZDoom console (hit the key to the left of 1) and type:

changemap <mapname>

You can find the mapname on the map screen (press tab) at the bottom. For Doom1 it’ll be things like e1m2 or e3m4 etc. Doom II will be Map01 or Map21 etc.

Fast Monsters

If you’re an experienced player and finding stock doom a tad easy, I’d also recommend playing everything on UV with fast monsters (especially combined with pistol starts!). You can either do this from the command line or put this stuff into a .bat file:

gzdoom.exe -iwad Doom2.wad -skill 4 -fast

or, each time you start, ensure that in the console

sv_fastmonsters 1


Doom was our lunchtime game here at work over the summer/autumn of 2014, so I’ve recently been dealing with mods etc. Most of these mods were played in co-op multiplayer, but they’re probably just as good as single player. For people who played Doom before but want a little bit more, I’d recommend playing everything with Beautiful Doom (download) (youtube). It makes the game look cooler and alters gameplay in few ways, but in ways I like (e.g. singleshot option for super shotgun, better pistol).

The last mod I played was Scythe, which is highly recommended. All of the levels are relatively short and lots of fun.

Before that we played either Momentus Mori or Alien Vendetta, can’t remember which, but I think both were the same in that the later levels started to get ridiculous in terms of size and monster count in the end. I think we preferred AV to MM, can’t remember. Scythe is better though, so play that first ;)

To update the previous command line:

gzdoom.exe -iwad Doom2.wad -skill 4 -fast -file Scythe.wad BDoom_Monsters.wad BDoom_Weapons.wad BDoom_Objects.wad


What’s that one? (I’m at work so I can’t try it).

The only one I used in the original Doom and sometimes in Doom II was “idfa”, which filled up my ammo. Did it also give you all the weapons? I can’t remember anymore?

Pod, I think we had a discussion about texture filtering before, which is why I called for other opinions. :) I know it looks bad but it’s almost like the graphics fade into the background and I can get on with playing the game.

I’d like to hear from fans of modern “old school” shooters. Play Doom again to compare and contrast. I personally don’t enjoy the likes of Serious Sam and Painkiller, but I don’t know why.

I don’t really like Serious Sam or Painkiller and their ilk. It’s mainly because, and this is especially true of Serious Sam, that they’re set up as “arenas”. Just huge open areas with monsters continually teleporting in whilst you continually run back and strafe slightly. Doom has lots and lots of corners and cliffs and ledges and so on. I guess I really like corners? (That and how easy most of the monsters are to kill. Imps and grunts only take like 2 shotgun pellets, and if you line things up correctly you can take out large parties of them with relatively few shots. Monsters in SS tended to be bullet soaks)

ps: idspispopd is no clip

I feel the same way about the arenas but haven’t played enough to say for sure. People make fun of monster closets but it never bothered me.

The enemy health is a great point! It lines up with my shmup analogy. In those games you have “popcorn enemies” that are easy to kill. Most people don’t like bullet sponges there.

This is one of the defining features of Doom, once you get the shotgun / double shotgun, the risk/reward that comes from dashing next to a monster and seeing it explode messily in a single shot. That really doesn’t ever get old, and I can’t think of an FPS right now that does something similar.

Serious Sam was alright, but Painkiller is a different proposition, although I don’t think it’s really trying to be Doom, probably closer to Quake (1 and 2).

One reason we don’t see a lot of popcorn enemies is how difficult it is to get them on screen in a modern game. They have to be fully animated with fancy AI and whatnot and still fit the 30 fps target on consoles. Indie games might be the best option, though most of those are too barebones for me.

I’ve seen Ziggurat mentioned as an old school shooter that gets things right. How does it relate to these issues?