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id Software: A history in games

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While it may have built on the foundations of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom is id Software's most important title.

It pioneered key elements of the modern day FPS that are now taken for granted. Immersive, 'realistic' pseudo-3D graphics, the birth of the Deathmatch and co-op in networked multiplayer and customisable modding opportunities? You can direct your thanks towards Doom.

The fact that it is still a household name today and thoroughly played by a passionate and well established following only emphasises its significance.

With id's path clearly set thanks to the megaton impact of Doom, the sequel was little more than an evolution. There were no major steps forward in terms of technology or gameplay other than some minor structural changes to level design and the inclusion of new monsters and the double-barrelled Super Shotgun.

Don't you dare dismiss Doom II though. In 1994, more of the same was exactly what fans wanted and, with the sequel breaking away from id's usual shareware distribution routes and moving into shops, it was also a massive commercial success.

If you've ever found yourself at the mercy of a multiplayer FPS veteran, one grizzled gamer who seems able to hit a headshot from a hundred miles away, it's safe to say he cut his teeth on Quake.

Although Doom had its own multiplayer offering, it was in 1996 that the gamer's passion for twitch-based frag-fests online and all the kudos or ridicule that came with it really took off. The unique manoeuvrability in Quake contributed significantly, with techniques like bunny-hopping and strafe-jumping adding extra tactical dimensions.

Elsewhere, while Quake clearly borrowed a lot from Doom in terms of style, it made significant advances technologically. The transition to fully 3D graphics over 2.5D visuals was made, polygonal characters replaced the sprites of old and new lighting techniques made for an all round more impressive display.

Quake II, published by Activision, is the sequel to Quake in name only. The title was used by id Software after it had trouble acquiring the copyrights to use a different title.

In terms of single-player, Quake II departed from the original in style by bringing more narrative elements into play and story playing a more significant part more generally.

Mission-based objectives and basic cutscenes between levels contributed to the player's progression through a linear storyline while Quake was organised into four 'episodes' visiting different dimensions with around eight levels each. 

While the technological advances between I and II were minor, the latter did feature some slight flourishes such as enemies sustaining visible wounds after being attacked. Oh, and players had the ability to crouch, if you can call that a technological advance.

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9 comments

  • KadajMetal - August 15, 2011 4:37 p.m.

    Nice article,for those who are interested in Id Software's history,machinima made a detailed report on the subject.There are a lot of pictures,videos and anecdotes.You can see it here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YreEwtV7D0
  • robertpopovic - August 15, 2011 4:13 p.m.

    Ahw hell, now I want to replay the Commander Keen and Doom games :(
  • Yeager1122 - August 15, 2011 2:38 p.m.

    Played doom 2 and 3 but never playe one.
  • Anjaneya - August 15, 2011 2:30 p.m.

    Its been all downhill since Commander Keen. Keen 4 was one of the best platformers ever.
  • TheyCallMeTheMeatMarket - August 15, 2011 2 p.m.

    I'm loving all the id-based content lately... as well as the fps history. It's hitting my nostalgia buttons with surgical precision. More please!
  • Mortis - August 15, 2011 1:36 p.m.

    @ Zepaw wha-? how? were you living under a rock all this time? I've been a supporter of id since Wolfenstein 3D and it seems likes i was the only person who was beyond pumped for Rage since it's announcement...c'mmmmmon October, hurry up and get here already!
  • TheDigitalG - August 15, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    Sponsored content? Watch Rage get a 10. IM JOKING
  • Zepaw - August 15, 2011 12:04 p.m.

    Had never heard of id before Rage. Knew the games but not the devlopers behind them.
  • Fizban - August 15, 2011 12:02 p.m.

    Ahh Doom, how i lost my time to thee

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