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Reasons to own Doom III

nbohr1more Blog

Doom III was greeted with mixed reviews on release and it was practically destined for this because it tried to cater to both fans of the originals (as it should) and to fans of the leaked alpha version (which showed potential as a survival horror title).

Given the art direction, pacing, and play mechanics I would suggest that they should have stuck closer to the survival horror aspect and let the modders focus on the FPS shooting frenzy remakes of Doom 1 and 2.

(In a dream world the folks at Id Software would have stayed with the same shoot-like-crazy titles of yore and we would have a worthy companion to Painkiller or Serious Sam...)

It wasn't a terrible game but it just felt a little off and it stumbled entertainment-wise next to it's (presumed) rival "Half Life 2".

Many, like myself, thought that mods for the game would be it's saving grace and anxiously awaited what the mod community would produce.

The first batch of stuff was disappointing.

We were greeted with the notorious "Flashlight Mod" which supposedly made the game 1000000% better. While it did help keep the blast-fest play style more manageable it killed the remaining spirit of survival horror in the game. Then a barrage of silly decals for the Flashlight followed.

The next wave of mods were slightly less disappointing but still troubling for those looking for new stuff to play. Essentially amateur Shader programmers looked to find ways to enhance the real-time lighting and Normal Mapping effects of the original game further to test their skills with these new capabilities. So we had the likes of better shine, parallax mapping, self-shadow mod, bloom mods. All of these had the effect of simply making the existing game prettier. (Which is not a bad thing per se but does not compare with things like the Ravenholm mod for HL2 that were cropping up around this time...)

Out of this work we did get some ultimate Doom 3 "fixes" like JC Denton's Enhanced Doom 3 (breaths new life and excitement into the game with graphical AND SDK improvements) and supreme graphic enhancement like Sikkmod (test shaders 5, Soft Shadows, SSAO, DOF, HDR) or super texture improvements like the Rygel textures and the Monoxead texture project.

The thing that modders struggled with (and still struggle with) is that the look of the textures changes significantly depending how they are lit and normal mapped. You can't just bake a drawing or photo into a texture as with older engines.

We were fortunate that right from the start some diligent modders kept cracking at the engine and produced arguably some of the best mods ever made.

I humbly submit my personal favorite Mods for Doom III

1) The Dark Mod

Thief 1/2 (classic) style game-play. Not just a mod, a Fan Mission platform with over 30 missions.

2) Ruiner

3) Hexen: Edge of Chaos

The long awaited fan imagining of a next-gen Hexen title.

4) Classic Doom 3

Portions of Doom I re-imagined in Doom 3.

5) Raccoon City Mod

A Resident Evil inspired mod.

6) HardQore 2

Side Scrolling mahem.

7) Doom II for Doom 3

A selection of cherished Doom II levels remade for Doom 3 by various authors

8) Doom II in Doom 3

Benjamin is usually just a generic map machine but this is a fun concept and plays well.

9) Shamblers Castle

Quake re-imagined in Doom 3 (supreme!)

10) Quake II: Lost Marine

(This mod will not run on the 1.3.1 patch of Doom 3 )
(A modern version that works with Quake 4: Quake4.gamefront.com )

The following are Maps but for most folks would also count as mods given their strong art styles and design.

Gatehouse Map

Genuinely scary castle map with occult overtones.

Hellgate Map

You know that "Aliens" vibe that Doom 3 has? Well this one amplifies that by 1000%


A delicious creepy yet humorous romp in a zombie infested old-timey Tudor architecture town.

dbz2 Tower


Small but fun.

Finally, I must admit that I am looking forward to the results of the following upcoming mods:

Arx: End of the Sun



Strombine and Projected Bounces

nbohr1more Blog

I often stray into my own little corner of odd-ball conceptual doodling but I believe this concept is one of the few real gold nuggets in my pyrite mining.

While gathering the scraps of understanding about the Strombine lighting technique to create a layman's wiki about the topic, I became curious about ways to make the method less cumbersome. It dawned on me that the painstaking process of collecting orthographic views and creating light textures from them was very much akin to collecting evnshot\cubemaps of the scene. Further, if we are trying to simulate Radiosity and "bounced light" it would be more accurate for each light to make it's own casting ambient. That way all light sources would accumulate into a realistic final render. The additional advantage is when one light is extinguished the accompanying ambient projection can be extinguished along with it. Since the ambient lights do not case shadows or incur other heavy CPU or GPU penalties the overlapping light sources should not be as much of a burden. I conjectured about constraining the projections with a reverse falloff image. Finally all I needed was a way to remove all the color from the scene to collect the envshot with the bounced lights. I was fortunate enough to have none other than Rich_is_Bored (of Modwiki and Doom3word.org fame) provide the solution. Now I just need some experiment time to see how it looks and performs...

You can read about the concept in the Light Textures and Falloff Images wiki article at The Dark Mod site.

First Person Gaming

nbohr1more Blog

I am an odd one to bring up this concern and I have never been a "PC Gaming Elitist" but I am more and more disappointed that the First Person view is being neglected in the modern game scene. I really see 3rd person, 2D side scroller, and 1st person as separate and valid game-play presentation styles.

The real questions are:

What controller is best for which view?
What genre of game is best suited to which view?
Do hybrid views work for the game?

For fans of The Dark Mod (who are primarily from the ilk of Thief 1 and Thief 2 fandom ) the question of view is almost a religious matter. The 3rd person play-style of Thief: Deadly Shadows was a big disappointment for them and The Dark Mod provides the next-gen Thief-Style satisfaction with their preferred view.

To me it's all about the right tools for the job.

Pacman = Joystick
Marble Madness = Trackball
Sonic the Hedgehog = 2d Side-Scroller with Gamepad
Mario 64 = Analog Gamepad
House of the Dead = Lightgun
Starwars flight\dogfight games: Flight Yolk
PC Shooter = FPS with mouse and keybord
Thief style stealth game = FPS with mouse and keyboard
Ghostbusters = (Would have been better as an FPS or Lightgun game... Wii waggle doesn't count Sob Sob Sob)
Racing Game: Steering wheel

All the above examples show that any of these game-styles can be enjoyable with their own tailored controls. It is the trend of trying to make all games playable with an analog gamepad that is driving all games towards a homogeneous 3rd person game-style. The new motion controller craze is helping drive some diversity back but mostly it is a coy marketing gimmick rather than any actual concern for proper alignment of control-style to game-style.

Well that's my ramble on the matter.

If you visit The Dark Mod's forums the topic of FPS control for Thief and Thief style gaming will be a recurring matter of discussion.


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