On December 10, 1993, Id Software released Doom.
Doom was one of the most influential video games of all time. It was state of the art in 1993, and it was literally a game changer.
It’s hard to overstate just how much it changed the character of video gaming. Looking through the eyes of an action game’s hero was a novel experience, one first made possible by John Carmack and John Romero with their previous hit, Wolfenstein 3D.
This game was everywhere. You couldn’t walk into a computer store in the 90s without seeing it on half a dozen screens. Shops would run it on their best, fastest computer to demonstrate how fast that computer was. The bigger and more powerful the computer got, the faster the game ran on the computer, and the top of the line 486 and Pentium computers could display the game full-screen at 30 frames per second—something that had mostly been impossible with a 3D game up until that point. People would buy new computers just to run that game; chances are it made more money for the hardware makers than it did for Id.
However, It wasn’t just the game itself that changed everything. It also spawned an active modding community. Players created level editors, mod tools, new maps, new images for the enemy characters, new music, and even new gameplay modes. It helped that Id didn’t fight modders, like most companies up until that time had done. Instead, they encouraged it and eventually released their own development tools for public use.
And the LAN parties. The idea of actually unplugging your computer, taking it to someone else’s house, and playing together was a foreign concept up until that time. Over the following years, multiplayer gaming became so ubiquitous that gamers expect all games to have some form of network play—something that was rare and exceptional in the 90s.
On the fourth of July in 1994, I brought home computers from work, and we set up a four-player tournament. People were amazed they could play together and see the other players’ characters on the screen.
A new player’s first encounter went something like this: “Can I see you! Oh, look! I can see you! That’s amazing!” and then they’d shoot their friends in the face.
Those were good times.
Feeling nostalgic? You can grab a copy of Ultimate Doom on Steam for just $4.99.