Remembering Doom: some of the PC’s biggest developers talk about their first time


In our continuing mission to celebrate the 19 year old Doom in the wake of the release of Doom 3: BFG Edition, we’ve looked at the Making of Doom and the Making of Wolfenstein 3D. We turn now to the developers whose lives and careers were touched by Id’s FPS masterpiece. We’ve asked some of the most celebrated names in the games industry for their memories of playing the original Doom. And we’d love to hear from you. When did you first play Doom. And what did you think?

Markus ‘Notch’ Persson —Minecraft
The first time I ever saw Doom was a screenshot in some gaming magazine. To me, the graphics looked photo realistic, and I had never seen anything like it before. I don’t remember my first time actually playing it, but I do remember playing quite a lot of the Macintosh version at school, and it was the go-to multiplayer game for me and my friends for quite a long time.
I used to dream about being able to program something like Doom for many years, and making 2.5D engines like the Doom one is still one of my favorite things to do.
Chet Faliszek — Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress, Left4Dead
Erik Wolpaw and I were working in a crappy old warehouse in the heart of one of Cleveland’s “less good” neighborhoods. We were going nuts waiting for it and on release day prepared by buying a case of beer. We stayed at work only because back then it was the only place we had multiple PCs networked together (this was the days of Novell). Two of our friends John and Pat were there and we all sat in a tiny room each of us to a wall with the case of beer in the middle of the room. We started playing around maybe 9pm? I don’t think we had our second beer until 2am. By the time we left around 4 am, the walk through the warehouse, down the ancient open elevator, and walk to our cars was terrifying.
Some of what we tried to do in Left 4 Dead was to recapture that moment of being in a room with friends just trying to kill everything a game could throw at us.
Chris Taylor —Total Annihilation, Dungeon Siege
I played it until I nearly passed out. Who knew a 3D game could do that to your brain!!!
Frank O’Connor —Halo, now working at 343 Industries
The first time I saw Doom, I had a Mac, and was sort of jealous. I started looking around for a Doom “clone” on the Mac, before Doom actually became available on that platform, and found a little gem called Marathon. In truth it was nothing like Doom in tone or pace, but it scratched the itch and exposed me to new ways to think about FPS, before FPS was really a major compoenent of my gaming experience.
Matt Higby —Planetside 2
Oh, yeah! I played Doom at a friend’s house (he had a computer) all the time. Great friend. Can’t remember his name though.
Feargus Urquhart —Planescape Torment, Baldur’s Gate II
What’s interesting about DOOM is that when I think back to that first game that really put me in a world where it felt like it was me running around in it – that’s DOOM. To me it really was the dawn of 3D gaming and everything else has spawned from that.
Harvey Smith —Dishonored, Deus Ex, System Shock
For sure, (I remember it). Love it.
John Smedley —EverQuest II
I remember it like it was yesterday…
Jonty Barnes —Fable, Halo 3
I remember the intensity of death matches over LAN at the Bullfrog office every lunchtime. No game had offered anything like that before and we were all instantly addicted.
Chris Avellone —KOTOR2, Planescape Torment, Fallout: New Vegas
Played it for 6 hours straight while I was manning the Campus Center security office. Time well spent.
Justin Korthoff — Age of Empires, Orcs Must Die
I don’t explicitly remember the first time I saw DOOM, but I know that it and DOOM 2 laid claim to any and all of my free time for years after. A friend and I used a local college professor’s internet access (security wasn’t a big deal back then) to get online and play against one another for hours and hours. We downloaded every mod and reskin available (remember the Aliens complete reskin of DOOM 2?) and made dozens and dozens of levels on our own. We even had a BBS set up to host custom-made levels for DOOM. “Is Turbo” was a catchphrase of our young lives for quite a while, pulled from the in-game notification that another player was sprinting (or something along those lines).
Aaaaaand now I wanna go play again.
Harry Holmwood —Marvellous Entertainment
First time I saw Doom we were pitching a 3D first person adventure game and had been debating whether to use real time or prerendered (Myst style) backgrounds. We saw Doom and my reaction was ‘damn, we need to up our game a bit’.
Jason Kingsley —Aliens versus Predator, owner of 2000AD
My first thoughts were ‘oh no someones beaten us to releasing a 2.5 D game’. We were almost done with Aliens vs Predator on the Atari Jaguar!
Jon Hare —Sensible Soccer
The thing I remember most about Doom was feeling motion sick when using a computer for the first time.
Garry Newman — Garry’s Mod
The first time I played Doom was on an Amiga through a postage stamp size window in the middle of the 320×240 screen.
…We also asked some of the PCGamesN team about their first experiences with Doom. We’re not celebrated industry luminaries, sure, but we reckon we’ve put enough apologetic, italicised text between us and themas to not appear arrogant…
Dan Griliopoulos
I remember playing the first room of the first level of Doom over and over with my brother, trying to work out how to survive it on progressively higher difficulty levels. I can remember the run in my head, left, up the stairs, grab the armour, all the while that relentless high energy synth-guitar riffing and riffing and riffing…
Tim Edwards
I’d been reading about it in PC Format throughout its development. Format’s game coverage was weird at the time: they tended to squeeze all the exciting stuff into a tiny column, and reused the same (incredibly disappointing) screenshot of a silver staircase again and again and again. In the meantime, I saved up for a Soundblaster 2 for my PC and tried to be satisfied with Wolfenstein 3D.
I used to drag my parents to a monthly computer show at Trentham Gardens in Stoke-On-Trent. One month, all the PCs on-sale were all running Doom. You could tell how powerful they were by how big they’d made the viewing window. A smaller window meant a faster framerate.
I paid two pounds for a copy of the shareware version on 3’5” floppy disk, and played the living shit out of it. It was terrifying: fast, brutal, and demonic. Everyone talks about how fast it was, but I remember the sound more – it was like nothing we’d heard from a game. Amazing.
James Binns
I had been playing a lot of Wolfenstein. I got hands on with Doom when I arrived on PC Format at the start of 1994 as shiney, young staff writer. My first emotion was grumpiness because I didn’t get to review it. Followed by exhaustion from playing it ALL the time.
Steve Hogarty
I didn’t play Doom until I found a second-hand copy of Final Doom for the original Playstation in 1998. It was easier than the PC version, apparently to account for the clunky d-pad input, and I remember not being particularly enamoured with it for that reason. Going back and playing the original, rock-hard Doom on PC later was a palate cleanser. All that critical acclaim quickly made sense.Sorry, that’s a boring Doom story, but as a six year old I did play a lot of Wolfenstein on the PC at the job centre where I thought my dad “worked”.
Paul Dean
Doom is one of those things I remember as if it were yesterday and, believe me, that’s not a phrase I use very often. I remember its speed, its glorious violence and its fantastic level design. But, more important than any of that, it was the first game that was actually too scary for some people to play. What a concept, a game that could actually discourage players because it was so good at what it did.
And Doom was even more than, even more than a milestone in PC gaming and a leap forward for first-person shooters. It introduced two very important elements to PC gamers, two things that would define their platform in the decades ahead: modding and deathmatch. Doom was designed from the bottom up to be customised by other players, allowing for the modification of graphics, sounds and even levels. In Austin, Texas five students bought a space above a café where people could pay to play multiplayer Doom, creating what may well have been the first dedicated gaming café. PC gaming has never looked back.

What was your first time with Doom like? Let us know in the comments below…

Doom 3: BFG Editionincludes the original Doom 1 and Doom 2, plus anupdatedHD version of DOOM 3, the expansion pack Resurrection of Evil andbrand new expansion TheLost Mission. It’s out now. CheckDoom 3: BFG Edition downloadprices.