As anyone reading this probably knows; We have been at this for way too long. When we started out we were in our teens and are now going into our thirties. While that by itself isn’t anything to be proud of, it sure does show some perseverance. So much has changed. Not just in the world around us, but also in the game and ourselves. Our interests in games, game development, storytelling and design has shifted - and matured - greatly.
Back in the early days of the project, what mattered most to us were things like resembling classic doom, nonlinearity, old school action and puzzles, features and lore. The games we played were mostly first person shooters with a focus on these aspects.
Today we are much more preoccupied by characters and Interactive storytelling. Lean and tight design. Genres are much more fluid and we find ourselves playing all sorts of games where characters take the center stage.
A good example of this was when we played Doom 2016. It was by virtually all counts an amazing game that we enjoyed immensely, but it wasn’t a piece of entertainment that evolved or help push our understanding of games.
Contrary to this, when we played SOMA (2015) something clicked. We found the key to how we could handle a large part of our narrative. The game was about a person stuck on the bottom of the sea, left with only the last scraps of humanity. It does a great job on all that, but it’s much more than that; It’s also about a guy who has his life turned upside down with a car accident and is basically given a death sentence with few months to live. These two aspects mirror each other throughout the game and strengthens each other. This is a personal story that you can relate to on an emotional level. Then when the game ended it stayed with you. Without spoiling anything, the last scene pre-credits will stay with you forever.
We view a good story not as a series of disjointed lore/pieces of codex or audio logs - but something much more relevant and immersive. The player becomes the main character and embarks on the journey as one. Whatever the character is subjected to the player is as well. Whatever obstacles are thrust upon the character the player grows from.
Creating Phobos has been a journey for us and the challenges we have overcome with the game have made us grow, together. We are in to other aspects of game development today, but that doesn’t mean our focus areas from the past are gone. Phobos is still very much an action game. It’s a first person shooter. It’s a Doom game, but not in the classical sense. We have expanded into other areas and do not feel bound by whatever conventions set by previous games in the series.
Doom 2016 is an amazing action game with fast paced encounters, extreme gore and satisfying set-pieces. We are not trying to outdo or mimic this and everyone going into Phobos believing that will be sorely disappointed.
Doom 3 was a great game at the time, pushing graphics technology on the one hand and level design on the other, but it was also a very basic game. One-sided. Phobos is not an expansion pack like Resurrection of Evil or The Lost Missions. Phobos is its own thing entirely.
Phobos retains - and improves upon - most of the aspects in Doom 3. We have a great monster cast and fantastic weapons. We have tweaked the behavior, appearance and audio experience of this and the result is extremely satisfying. We have got this down. We have had that component of the game down for years. Phobos has level design that expands upon Doom 3 in exciting ways. The levels are less linear. Interconnectivity has greatly improved as levels often loop back on themselves and open up new areas previously unreachable. We have had extensive focus on making the world feel more alive and be more interactive. All this has paid off.
But we wanted more.
Playing through the game is fun. It’s exciting. Battles are nerve-wracking and the puzzles are interesting - but when you close the game it goes away. It doesn’t resonate with you on an emotional level.
The desire for an interesting story isn’t new and the building blocks for it have always been present - though the understanding of what it takes to create this has only come to us in recent years. We have been in phase 3 for quite some time and we always knew this was when the narrative process would really take over and challenge us. When we sat down for a writing workshop in early 2016 we soon realized that our story fit perfectly within an episodic structure.
Phobos will be released in episodes.
The episodic structure has helped us work more iteratively on the story. The basic outline for the story has remained the same throughout development, but execution is everything and when you get down into the nitty-gritty, things go from simple to complicated. Committing to certain story elements and plotlines can be hard. We are full of ideas and concepts, but some things won’t work together and other things will be pointless filler or clutter. Choosing what does NOT get implemented is often a bigger and more difficult task than choosing what does.
In the first episode, you wake up inside a repurposed apartment in Mars City. You do not recall how ýou got there or any specifics about your person. You soon meet Samantha Miles, an agent of a sketchy world-wide conglomerate, who claims to know you. While she helps you with your identity, you aide her in the quest to find a long lost friend and missing agent. When the original events of Doom 3 unfold, the two of you must scramble for safety while still tracking down the missing agent and your identity.
Episode 1 will be released in 2018.
We can’t at this time say whether it’s in H1 or H2, but we believe more information will follow shortly. So go find the old boxes in the attic, dust of your Doom 3 copy and get ready to play Doom 3: Phobos
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