In psychological terms, it’s the most selfish part of you, the part that cares only for your own comfort and survival. The reptilian brain-stem. The flavor-blasted crunchwrap supreme of human consciousness. Excess, hunger…the need to rip and tear. Those primal instincts we so often try to subsume.
No wonder, then, that id Software is the team responsible for one of the most brutal, nightmarish testaments to bloody vengeance ever programmed. Here’s 9 fun facts about the DOOM franchise plus one infernal lie. See if you can exorcise the demon of falsehood before the end of the article…or GO TO HELL.
A BLAZE IN THE NORTHERN SKY
Hey, you know Doomguy, the guy from DOOM? You know, Doom Marine, the DOOM Slayer.
A being of many names — all similar — the Doomguy lacked an official designation until the release of the first DOOM novel, Knee-Deep in the Dead, in 1995, which revealed his much-feared monicker to be Flynn “Fly” Taggart.
Although since then, a much more interesting canon has also been built between various id games, including Commander Keen, the Wolfenstein Nazi-verse, and the relatively obscure DOOM and Wolfenstein RPG mobile games. Various easter eggs across the games strongly imply that B.J. Blazkowicz of Wolfenstein fame once severed the arm and leg of a demon, who returned (all patched up) in the DOOM storyline as Cyberdemon, after promising B.J. to torment all of his descendents as payback. Those descendents included Billy Blaze, Commander Keen himself, who apparently took a stage name when he donned the football helmet, because his real name is Billy Blazkowicz II.
MASTER OF PUPPETS
DOOM didn’t just popularize and codify the FPS genre, it was a flashpoint game tied into the effort to censor violence in gaming at the time, which ultimately resulted in the founding of the ESRB and content ratings on games. Worried about their ability to distribute the game should the censors come after them, the id team actually released the first chapter of DOOM as shareware, with the other two parts available for purchase. id also offered brick-and-mortar stores free copies of the game in exchange for nothing more than shelf space. At the time, both were incredibly bold marketing ploys, and they paid off handsomely.
How handsomely? In the wake of DOOM’s release many companies, including id Software, had to introduce new policies prohibiting spending your whole workday tearing demon ass when you’re supposed to be writing TPS reports. At one point, DOOM was even installed on more PCs than Windows 95, the just-released operating system that basically every PC owner owned as a matter of course. The game was so popular that despite swirling controversy, Bill Gates reportedly considered buying id and even shot a video with himself as the Doom Marine to try and capitalize on DOOM’s runaway success.
HALLOWED BE THY NAME
Where’d they get the name DOOM, anyway? Probably the Necronomicon, right? Like carved into the back? Or maybe one of the devs had a nightmare and woke up with blood shooting out of their eyes and the blood pooled all on its own on the floor and spelled out DOOM? Nope. Although the source is almost as frightening: Tom Cruise’s mouth. John Carmack, Id’s co-founder, has said the title came from the 1986 Martin Scorsese movie The Color of Money, in one scene of which Cruise refers to his custom pool cue as “DOOM.” Said Carmack, “that was how I viewed us springing the game on the industry.” You know, with the severity of Tom Cruise and Paul Newman playing billiards. VICIOUS.
IMAGES AND WORDS
In the same interview, Carmack described some of the influences that helped bring DOOM into an unready world. Some make sense, like the general ass-kicking vibe and obsession with chainsaws and shotguns stemming from the team’s love of Evil Dead II, or the sci-fi, meddling-with-alien-technology storyline being inspired by the Alien franchise. In fact, in its early planning stages, DOOM was being designed as an Aliens game, an effort that ultimately never saw the light of day. And it should be noted, much as Aliens found its patron saint of creepy concept art and character design in H.R. Giger, the art team behind 2016’s DOOM have cited noted Polish artist and creepmaster Zdzislaw Beksinski as an inspiration, especially for the sickly, stifling color palettes on display in Hell itself.
Other influences are less obvious: the entire concept for Hell-portals flooding our dimension with demon-spawn actually sprang from the end of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign…which also explains why the Cacodemon looks like a Beholder!
A LEAN NIGHT
Did you know the sound effect of an Imp dying in the old DOOM games is just the pitched-down sound of a camel grunting because it’s horny? Specifically one available for decades in a sound effects library shared by a number of studios, which is how it came to be that the exact same sound file you’ve heard play a million times as you shot a million Imps in their stupid faces is also in David Lean’s timeless masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia. It’s like the Wilhelm Scream of how camels are sometimes horny.
DOOM made a number of startling graphics advancements by developing much of the game using 3-D clay models and photography, which is impressive, because all I’ve ever made using clay models and photography are crappy, phoned-in Mother’s Day presents. One notable example is how much better the guns looked in DOOM compared to Wolfenstein 3-D, id’s previous game. In reality, most of the guns in DOOM were based on photos of toy guns purchased at the local Toys “R” Us.
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KILL ‘EM ALL
Aside from leading the charge on fronts gamers now take for granted, like map-building and bloodsplosions, DOOM was also one of the very first games to offer a robust 3-D environment in which to connect with your friends’ machines and see who’s best at killing. Which was what we used to have to call that activity, until John Romero, Id co-founder, coined the word “Deathmatch” to describe DOOM’s multiplayer capabilities.
Or maybe he didn’t. There’s still some disagreement on the subject, but most gaming historians nowadays credit Romero as the source of the enduring term, although Romero himself has often noted that it was the efforts of the vibrant DOOM player and modder community that really pushed the game to evolve.
VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER
The original DOOM was even used by the United States Marine Corp as a training tool, before being later replaced by the more proprietary government-developed game America’s Army. But in the mid- to late-90’s, there were indeed rooms full of Marines playing a modded version of DOOM to prepare them for the real-life horrors of war. According to Sgt. Dan Snyder, an officer involved in early efforts to gamify Marine Corp training, “It’s about repetitive decision making. We’re trying to get these things ingrained by doing them over and over, with variations.”
So the goal wasn’t necessarily to create an ultra-realistic simulator to prep soldiers for missions, but rather to desensitize them to the sheer act of making a split-second decision to inflict violence or death. Okay!
THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST
The id team have always been into fan-service and, as such, most DOOM stuff is stacked to the flaming rafters with easter eggs. Just a few true examples: Doom’s dedicated Network Port is Number 666, a sprite of John Romero’s severed head on a pole can be found hidden behind DOOM II’s final boss the Icon of Sin, who can also be spotted in 2016’s DOOM hanging out in the Necropolis.
Speaking of the new DOOMs, 2016’s also included a package of Dopefish Noodles, a Vault Tec sign, the Soul Cube from DOOM 3, a dead Skyrim guard with an arrow in his knee, and a Xenomorph skull. So they’re easter eggs, but, like, easter eggs filled with blood and black stuff and heavy metal music plays when you open them.
So which of the facts was whack? Which truth lacks proof? Which assertion deserved nothing but desertion?
If you guessed it was just the very last bit of the last section, you improbably win! There is in fact no xenomorph skull in 2016’s DOOM, although all the other easter eggs I shouted out in that segment were real.
What’s that? That’s not how YOU play 9 facts and a lie? When you play at home, the lie has to be fully a lie? Splitting the segments into partial lies is a bullshit way to trick you and make you lose the game? Oh my…sounds like I didn’t play fair. I wonder what force could have compelled me to fill this video with 99% true interesting facts about DOOM when you, the audience, were promised at least 10% lies. Could it be….SATAN?!
Hey, let’s talk about DOOM in the comments and how excited we are for Eternal and not at all the minutiae of how your particular family plays this party game, huh? And for all your gaming trivia, history, and rigged-guessing-game needs, stay tuned to IGN.
Michael Swaim is Manager of Video Programming for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.