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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Awesome news, can't wait to see what you guys have in store for us, and your mentioning of SOMA makes me even more intrigued I liked that game as well. :)
Btw please don't end the first episode on a cliffhanger if for some reason the next episodes never come (knocks on wood) we don't stay wondering what could have been, both HL2 and Sin 2 showed that has a detriment impact on our mental well being. XD
Suuure. We won't have any cliffhangers or emotionally draining endings.
In all seriousness, the individual episodes are extremely far along. Like, 90% ready.
So if all of the episodes are 90% ready why aren't they all coming in 2018?
Because they are only 90% done ;)
We can't really give an accurate interval between releases before Ep1 is completely done and out the door. So many unknowns when doing this kind of thing.
I am a big fan of what Doom 3 introduced, is it possible we could see the option to have the Doom 3 hands and design of whatever weapons already existed in Doom 3? I really did like Doom 3 as a standout in the Doom franchise and what it did differently than Doom back in the day. I ask if you'll consider having the option to switch to the classic doom 3 view models,hud,etc. if someone desires to play it as if it were like an expansion to Doom 3.
At this point we are not going to add on features. We are in crunch mode. We have a pretty clear roadmap for the release, and adding new stuff or altering this will only delay the release.
We have one version of the hands, weapons, hud and the menu. No alteration.
You are free to mod the game for your own needs though :)
Brilliant stuff! Cannot wait!
Looking forward to playing the first episode this year, even if it means it's not the whole package.
Episodic? well as long as you dont have the valve curse and can count to 3
awaiting further development with extreme excitedness
Any other games that inspired you?
Great question :)
In the recent years we have been extremely inspired by games like Firewatch, Life is Strange, What Remains of Edith Finch and Wolfenstein: The New Order. These mostly for narrative.
Earlier we drew lots of inspiration from Half-Life, Dark Forces/Jedi Knight and obviously Doom. These mainly for action and puzzles.
Black Mesa taught us a lot about professionality and what it takes to go from random mission pack to something more substantial.
System Shock 2, Bioshock, mb? :)
Anyway, your list looks promising :)
Personally only played Bioshock Infinite from that series and never played System Shock, so any similarities are by chance :)
Well, then I can only advice you to play SS2 and Bioshock 1/2, as Bioshocks are grandsons of SS2 :)
And Doom3 is kinda close to SS2. And I hope you'd make D3 to spawn roaming monsters as it was done in SS2 and AvP2000, as it makes game more unpredictable and scarier, IMHO.
Glad to see news from you guys! Looking foward for this mod
I will take more Doom 3 over Doom 2016 any day.
I'd taker proper exploration over DOOM2016 one any day - it used mechanical exploration to push unlocks by numbers, which I disliked quite a lot (yeah, every level has this type of secret/unlock etc). Original Doom, Quake, Serious Sam and even newer semi-oldschool games like WolfTNO used exploration as a mean to make your life easier (D2 and Q), harder or show easter egg (Serious Sam), to tell something new (D3 and WolfTNO) or to show you something interesting in the environment. Even Rage is vastly better than DOOM2016 in terms of exploration and environment storytelling. Also I find combat in DOOM2016 more resembling Painkiller than any Doom game, which isn't a bad thing in itself, but was disappointing since everyone praises it like true doom. And ****** mod support to the mix. So your mod looks like 'that one game' for me, you are hitting the right spots and I hope quality would be great as well. I really looking forward to playing it.