Dear ID Software,
Let’s just get it out in the open: I love you guys. I know we are going through a rough patch right now, with the over complicated controls of Doom Eternal. I am still trying to forgive you for the creepy character mouths on Doom 3. But, we are both pseudo adults and I know we will always work through these differences.
I have been on the verge of being a stalker of ID Software since Doom was released as shareware. As a lifelong gamer and now a father of kids that game, I am going to say that your games are missing some elements that I loved many years ago… (I am not sure I like that I wrote “many years ago” in that last sentence).
My ID Software Games Collection
Let me be honest here, I did not own a copy of Doom or Doom II when they were released. During my youth my father owned a computer he did his business work on. His fear of “they can get into my computer through the modem even though it is powered off” kept me from playing pc games at home. Luckily I had friends who did.
My first experience of playing Doom and Doom II was at some friends’ apartment. Periodically 3 computers would appear there in the middle of that living room apartment. They were connected via a BNC token ring network, and some late nite doom matches would commence. Sleep wasn’t much of a concern during this time of my life. This was my first taste of the real joy of games… friends and community. It was this experience that pushed me to save up and buy my own computer.
I remember when I ordered my first computer, a Cyrix 133 that I had ordered from NewEgg. It was a cheaper but a non “toaster” computer that used industry standard parts. I remember the day it was delivered on the back of a Uhaul truck. I believe I had that computer for about an hour before the shell came off and I was looking at upgrades. 1.5 hours and I had overclocked the 133 to a 166 Mhz, then eventually got my grubby mits on a Pentium 233. Warranty be damned! From there I picked up SCSI drives from friends, even performed my first graphics card upgrade to a Matrox I picked up from Egghead locally. Buying new computer hardware was a necessity for more happy frames so I could enjoy Doom, Blood and Duke Nukem 3D.
While you focused on making the core games that I loved, my dial up modem connected me to communities where I could download WAD’s, Maps, and even modifiers. Then Quake came out and the world changed… Mods! Lithium, CTF, Action Quake, Weapons Factory, Team Fortress and many others. Mods for Quake, Quake II are what keep the games active even to this day. This is the power of the gaming community. This is why I still run a Quake II QPong server currently.
The community took those base games, that start experience, and built on top of them. While you released patches and added some new features, the community kept the game alive with new gameplay modes. It was a glorious and wonderful symbiotic relationship. Mod teams were created, and over time, those mods even became full fledged games.
Quake II QPong Gameplay
Lets not forget the “wild idea” mods that were still a blast to play with friends. Capture the Chicken is a great example of this. These were wild ideas by some creative people that fostered some hilarious late night sessions. These were not popular, nor played in mass, but are still fun with solid communities.
Me and friends even dabbled in making WAD and BSP’s. I remember having 10 or so computers over in the first house I rented for “LAN Weekends”. We worked on maps, textures, and played hours of multiplayer with little regard for sleep. We had Quake II, an endless supply of soda, and plenty of fast food within walking distance. These were some of the best times of my life. (second to my kids of course)
Now to the present day, and it feels like you have forgotten the community that you once thrived on. Quake 4 had no multiplayer at all, just a single player experience. Now Quake Champions is multiplayer only, no single player… Doom Eternal is a single player experience, with multiplayer that is focused on tournament style play. For the most part, the community has moved on to other games, or to work on developing games on their own. Maybe it is time to retool some old ideas.
Here is my suggestion, work on Quake V, with a solid single player campaign, but also put equal focus on a multiplayer community experience. Single player is always the “showcase”. It really gets us into what the game can do, but also gets creative people those thoughts of “what if..”. But let’s mix up some of the old thinking with some modern twists.
Develop an interface that puts more focus on community development. Give players the ability to download mods, maps, skins, models etc in game. Make the game with the ability to have private dedicated servers. Allow Mods to be designated by the mod makers if they are pc and console designed, and if cross play is possible. Have the game interface automatically download updated mods and maps when the creators release new versions. If a community mod requires a community made texture pack or model, it can update those as well.
Allow for people to create single player maps and missions that are viewable from in game. Allow people to follow those creators, or the clan/team/project they are a part of. Of course there are going to be some horrible abominations, but can you imagine some of the YouTube channels dedicated to showing the “Worst of the Worst”? How about multiplayer cooperative maps? Let the community breathe again!
Please take a look back and remember what made Doom, Doom II, Quake and Quake II so successful. Take a look at why those games are still popular to this day: The community. I honestly believe it is time to take a look at what made those games so great and give them modern thinking. In the past obtaining maps and mods was more like the wild west, but that is how computing in general was at that time. Game interfaces have seen many changes over the years. It is time to create a community portal to help revitalize the mod community. Lets bring the Mod community back and introduce a new generation to the experience.
I and many others are waiting….
**UPDATE 7/14/2020** – I add a bit more context on tonight’s Nerd Cave Show episode.