Wrack Doesn’t Ruin Doom (Hopefully)

By Alec Meer on April 30th, 2012 at 2:45 pm.

I'm wracking my brains for a funny caption, but failing

Wrack is an indie, super-retro FPS very much in the high-speed vein of the original Doom, but pinning proper, and attractively cel-shaded, 3D graphics to those old bones. It even boasts the musical involvement of Bobby Prince, the composer of Doom, so it’s not exactly making any bones about its inspirations. In a bold breaking from the nu-tradition of crowdsourced pre-funding, it’ll soon be selling a 3-level early version to anyone who cares to pick it up, with promises of the finished version once it’s, er, finished.

I’ve been playing said early build, and while I’d argue there’s still work to be done (it feels a tad sparse and the enemies are brazenly robotic in their behaviour) it’s definitely recaptured something substantial of the Doomsome spirit – fast-paced wild abandon in wide-open yet maze-like levels against hordes of foes.

Mostly it nails the movement, that sliding around on oiled castors run-feel that Doom did so well and that me makes feel both comfortable and excited even today. And there’s an electro-sword, just to ensure it’s really 90s-esque. It’s also fairly punishing. Old people like to be punished, I hear. They miss their regular spankings, because today’s games are too forgiving and all that.

Here’s a small taste:

This comes from the creator of the apparently still-popular Skulltag mod for the original Doom, so it’s got heritage’n'all.

It’s also going to be highly mod-friendly, and will ship with its own level editor WrackEd. More details, screenshots and, soon, a pre-order page here.

I wonder if Doom would still be as fondly-remembered if it had been called Brian Demon-Botherer?

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73 Comments »

  1. haowan says:

    They could use some artists.

  2. Zeewolf says:

    What it needs to get right is the sense of exploration that Doom had. The secrets, the hunt for keycards, the feeling of satisfaction you get from gradually learning the level.

    • skraeling says:

      Absolutely. Part of it is that Doom’s level design was much more interesting than this. This just looks like square room after flat square room. How about some changes in elevation in a single room? Or walls that meet at angles other than 90°?

    • Red_Avatar says:

      I agree – this game is nothing like Doom when you really understand what made Doom what it is. Crawling spiders? Robots that quickly float left and right? That kind of crap was hated even back then and just makes these games more annoying. The atmosphere, music, the large expansive maps with hidden walls, falling trap doors and, of course, the gore are what made Doom what it is. There were plenty of Doom-clones back then that failed to reach Doom’s potential and even they were more fun that what this games looks to be.

  3. roryok says:

    looks like it does really capture that doom-ness.

  4. Skabooga says:

    Any game whose default movement speed is ‘full-on sprint’ is alright in my book.

  5. sonofsanta says:

    Selling a three-level demo just sounds like shareware but with added moneys to me.

    Anyone else feel like we’re going backwards sometimes?

  6. Bobby Oxygen says:

    This is the sort of thing that I would usually get excited about, but watching that gameplay vid left me feeling completely indifferent. It just looks so bland.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, the thing is that with Wrack, they’re not just competing with the nostalgia of Doom, but rather Doom as it stands *now*…

      Doom is a much more powerful beast now than it was back in the day. Wrack just isn’t looking like it lives up to that quite yet.

      • Secundus says:

        you hear that developer? what this game really needs to be good is a billion tiny extraneous features. and gore sourced from photos of dead people.

        • Dominic White says:

          Well, if you strip away every identifying feature that Doom has, you apparently get Wrack, which is the adventures of grey guy running through grey corridors shooting grey guns at grey robots that don’t do much beyond go ‘pew pew’ or fall over lazily.

          Doom has a very distinct atmosphere, and Brutal Doom builds on that. It’s intended to make the game more like the (fantastic) comic – http://www.doomworld.com/10years/doomcomic/

      • Timthos says:

        The lack of gore and feedback really makes Wrack seem boring.

      • Gonefornow says:

        I, for one, don’t really appreciate mods like the brutal doom you seem to advertise.
        While all the gore and meaty weapons demostrated in the video are nice, they shift the focus from running, gunning and dodging to, well, a gore-fest.

        The overdone screen shaking is also too much.

        @Dominic white
        Like stated the weapons are nice and I agree the pistol replacement is a good balancing act.

        I Didn’t say it’s dumbed don’t, but that it shifted the focus, for me, to being more about the gore and the weapons than gameplay.

        The thing is I played a single multilevel wad with the brutal doom mod and I haven’t played another one after that.

        It just didn’t do it for me.

        • Dominic White says:

          Brutal Doom actually increases the amount of dodging – many enemies shoot more often, do more damage, and generally force you to stay on your toes. The Cyberdemon now can lead its target, so you can’t just circle-strafe around it all day – you actually have to duck and weave. The weapon balance is much tighter than in vanilla Doom 2 as well, with no weapon becoming obsolete. The pistol is replaced by a semi-auto rifle which has the best accuracy in the game, and the minigun has less accuracy but a far higher rate of fire that brings it on par with the plasma gun for up-close use.

          Don’t assume it’s dumbed down just because it’s louder and messier.

          • Ringwraith says:

            That’s all well and good, but I think we’d prefer it without the loudness and messiness still.

          • Donjo says:

            We’d DEFINITELY prefer it with the loudness and the messiness.

          • zaxor0 says:

            I came to mention this too, Brutal Doom is actually harder and if you aren’t dodging you’ll die pretty fast. I recently checked it out and have had some fun with it, and I do recommend it.

            While I can understand aversions towards messiness and loudness, Wrack really needs something unique or interesting in terms of atmosphere–like Doom had. The blandness lacks anything impressive.

            Nonetheless, that gameplay looks fuckin’ nice. I can’t wait to see where this goes and what mods appear!

      • Josh W says:

        The first level in that video you posted seems a better advert for that mod:
        Not interested in the ridiculous gore, but very interested in the lovely way the tangled levels and crouching allow you to play with sight lines, manoeuvre around enemies etc.

    • kristian says:

      The style of game is exactly what I’d like to play. But i dunno if i want to shoot robots and robot spiders. Doom had a much better world design when it comes to enemies. Also the weapon sounds are not up to par.

      Also just saying, if they’re not going for the authentic doom look and decide to go with a 3d look instead, it should look beautiful…. now it just feels like they didn’t WANT to put any effort on the graphics.

  7. Dominic White says:

    Wrack looks okay, but I’m a little more excited about Retro Blazer (http://www.retroblazer.com/), which is like the crazy neon bastard lovechild of Wolfenstein 3D and Megaman X.

    • Petethegoat says:

      My thoughts precisely. Graphically, Retroblazer pulls off the “modern, slick Doom” feel a lot nicer, I think.

    • Gonefornow says:

      Well you got me to play it now and while it’s aesthetically pleasing and mixing anything with megaman (albeit X) is an action worth a clap in my books, it has it’s problems.

      - No mouse aim. They say it’s intentional http://www.doomworld.com/vb/everything-else/58519-retro-blazer-indie-fps/2/ and getting revenge on those grenade guys in the maze level was sweet…It still made it feel awkward for me. (The autoexec hack didn’t do squat for some reason)
      - Not enough ammo…Conserving it would require the use of the pistol but..
      - No slow auto fire for single shot weapons. This made me rely on the pistol only as a last resort burning through other ammo first and then having to use it anyways.

      All this made me think “How about playing this with a controller” that would solve the pistol problem and justify the no mouselook thing (sord of). Tried it, could map controller keys.

      -Keys are small and usually indifferently placed or even dropped from enemies. In doom finding a key was made to feel important and grand even. You could see it through a window on a pedestal with no idea how to get there and then you would, somehow.
      Also they are single use items here.. Ohh.

      -No map + similar looking enviroments + weird level progression (doors open when all enemies destroyed and the key thing) = puzzling to say the least.

      Other than that.. not so bad.

      (Also:)
      - No use key. It does have secrets though, which is good.

      • Dominic White says:

        It’s Wolfenstein-style. You’re not meant to be able to aim up – that’s how the entire game is designed. Those grenade launcher guys up high automatically explode when you clear the area below – they’re an obstacle to avoid.

        • Gonefornow says:

          Now we get into a totally different discussion, thus I rather reply here:

          This is a game so there should be options.

          Stating it’s designed like this or that works well in older static mediums, because they don’t allow the participant to change the work in any reasonable way.
          (Sure you can close your eyes and imagine something else to happen on a movie or disregard what the book just told you, but those are not reasonable intentional ways of manipulating the outcome).

          In games this is possible, so use that possibility to your advantage developers!

          Thinking “No, the player should not be allowed to do this! It’ll break the game” is just the kind of nonsense people brough up amongst those static mediums affecting them would say.

          Breaking the game for some equals making the game worth playing for others.

          Like in this case:
          No options for mouse look (and the other things in SP) I’m not going to enjoy it and thus not play it.

          @Dominic White
          Remember:
          “Breaking the game for some equals making the game worth playing for others.”

          I don’t like chess.

          If my human opponent agrees to change the rules of chess a bit so that I enjoy it. We both win-> we get to play the game, which is still chess, just a variant.

          The same goes here. An option might make the game too easy or too cheap or even Calvinball for someone, but it also might make it more enjoyable for both participants and guess what the opposing player here(in a SP computer game) is, indeed ,the computer who agrees on everything.

          So it’s up to the player then to bend the rules or use the options presented to make the game better for themselves.

          And some people even enjoy Calvinball (IDDQD).

          Bottomline:
          It’s not about playing a game with no limitations.
          It’s about having options when setting the limitations of the game you want to play.

          • Dominic White says:

            “This is a game so there should be options.”

            A game is only a game so long as certain options are closed off. You aren’t allowed to use your hands in Football. You aren’t allowed to move every piece in every direction in Chess. You’re not allowed to talk to the monsters in Doom, and you can’t shoot up in either Megaman or Retroblazer.

            If you don’t have any limitations, then you’re playing Calvinball.

  8. Scrofa says:

    How dare you compare this ugly cell-shaded monstrosity with damn ROBOTS as an enemies, stupid COINS everywhere and uninspired weapons to geniusly designed monsters from hell, those effing guns and evil face in the bottom of the screen? Doom is not only about gameplay, it’s a rocking WHOLE. Bobby Prince still got the blues though, no complaints here.

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      Bobby Prince “composed” the DOOM soundtrack, in the same way that Zynga “came up with” the idea for a casual farm game on Facebook. Which is to say, they both took stuff that other people had created, altered it marginally, and passed it off as their own creation.

    • Gonefornow says:

      The coins do worry me as well.
      Maybe it’s just for scoring purposes though, like in wolf3D, and I can completely ingnore it.

      If it has something to do with upgrading your weapons or abilities I..*shudders*.
      Like the souls in Painkiller.. Way to break the flOw.

      @MasterDex
      Good to hear.

    • Whallaah says:

      The comparison is also made easier when you realise that the developer of Skulltag is behind it: Carnivel ( http://www.skulltag.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=133 ) Is the project founder and still an administrator of the project.

      Skulltag is a must try for every person that calls him self a PC gamer. Wrack, I’m not so sure off. To me, it misses the punch and visceral feel that Doom has so strongly.

      Edit: On the dev-blog, Carnivel him self also mentions it, as well as the editing tools: http://www.wrackgame.com/blog/2012/04/the-world-of-wrack-modding/

  9. Ministry says:

    Robot enemies just does not do it for me in a shooter, I want humanoid enemies who bleed and react to gun shots. Rage in that aspect is a great example of what i want.

    • Dominic White says:

      See Retroblazer above for proof that robot enemies can work. They don’t have to bleed, but flinching when hit and exploding into a pile of chunky flaming robot bits is satisfying enough. The enemies in this game just seem to topple over awkwardly.

  10. DrScuttles says:

    Well crack out the Crayolas and colour me interested. I still prefer Doom 2 over Quake (not too interested in multiplayer) and regard it as id’s greatest game.
    Doom 3 was okay. It had some good moments, but it felt a bit slow and clunky. Too many monster closets opening up behind you. And that you had to mod the flashlight to work in conjunction with other weapons is poor design.
    Maybe it’s just my old, late 20′s, nostalgic bones singing the rose-tinted songs of yesteryear, but nothing in any id game has, for me at least, matched the thrills of the kind of fight typical of Doom 2 such as after picking up the blue skull key in Map 15: Suburbs.
    So long as Wrack sticks to that school of design, it should be pretty fun.

  11. jrodman says:

    Punishing? I certainly do *not* remember that from my extensive plays of Doom 1. I remember an arcadey shooter with very achievable dodges of moderate speed projectiles, and very winnable fights so long as you knew where stuff was going to appear.

    Having to memorize where the monsters would pop out was a bit tedious, though, I’ll admit.

    Playing Serious Sam 3 this weekend, at one point I found myself thinking “if only this was more laid back, like doom.”

  12. august says:

    Not really feeling the way there are pits everywhere separating the player from the enemies. Also, needs more Satan.

  13. Nikolaos says:

    Judging by the video I agree about it feeling sparse. Needs at least double the enemies and a little more life to the levels.

    Also the enemies need to die in a slightly more satisfying way.

  14. Gonefornow says:

    Blimey. Looks (and hopefully feels) like the real thing, with a few welcome changes even.

    -Zombiemen shoot projectiles.
    -Melee is more powerful (without berserk, that is).

    I’d like to see these though:

    -That big robots shooting slow projectiles as well (like the good ol’ Barol of hell).
    - Multi-colored keycard hunting. I never found the “hit swich see door open somewhere” that good of a mechanic.
    - Map? Sure, if it’s full 3D levels the map might not be that helpful.

    Gonna order it when it comes around nontheless.

    @Bhazor
    Bloody (bullet) hell!
    That looks sweet.

  15. Wolfman says:

    Are there full keyboard controls for that proper Doom experience? :)

  16. McDan says:

    A game in the vein of original doom? I’m so excited I might just void my bladder (wrack).

    Yeah, seaweed puns.

  17. Player1 says:

    I somehow can’t see the point in this when there are free games like Warsow around, which look pretty similar and are, you know, free…

  18. Bhazor says:

    Seeing this kind of makes me realise shooters are completely stuck. Like a snake with two heads pulling in two different directions. This head is trying to turn it into the wet dreams of a 12 year old Michael Bay fan (MW, Homefront, MOH) and this head is trying to go back the way they came (Sam, Painkiller). We seem to have lost the COD 2/Half Life 2 middle ground of big fights inside tight linear levels.

    I hate the Modern Warfare crop as much as any sane man. But I just think it’s a shame to forget all about the advances in technology and design and just run all the way back to Quake 2. Why can’t we have the fast paced open arena bangy bang up there but put with big fancy ludicrous set pieces? What about a Sam level set in a dynamically burning building where you have to fight waves of monsters as you also battle to climb up to the next floor? Or one where the whole world is a seesaw in a lava pit and you have to kill the big heavy monsters who spawn in the middle and run to one of the ends.

    Where are the clever dumb shooters? Because the only ones I can think of are the Resistance games. Which are awesome.

    • sinister agent says:

      Necrovision seems to be a step in that direction. i’ve not played far into it, but it’s a bit like Painkiller with more fancy stuff, although some less interesting weapons (on the plus side, you can play around with the one-handed weapons, using two independently-firing pistols or a pistol and knife or a knife and a grenade, or a shovel and a pistol, or etc.).

      Downside: zombies. And an unconvincing start.

    • Baines says:

      I think we lost the middle ground a while back. As FPS became more popular, they started to become set in different types. “FPS” is no longer a general genre, but rather a set of fairly specific types, with imagination restricted and little crossover.

  19. GallonOfAlan says:

    What made Doom was secrets. Parts of the level you could see but had no idea how to get to.

  20. Dana says:

    It suffers from the same problem as Hard Reset. Boring, not fun enemies. As someone noticed, creatures of flesh and blood are more satysfing to kill then overgrown toasters.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      Yes. I want double-barrel shotgun blasts thudding into imps. Fuck robots.

    • MasterDex says:

      I wouldn’t say the enemies were the problem with Hard Reset as they were actually fairly well done. The problem I had with Hard Reset was the levels. They were too linear.

  21. MythArcana says:

    Cartoon Doom. Umm, no.

  22. sinister agent says:

    The most memorable thing about Doom to me, as my first ever PC game, played annually on my cousin’s PC under the supervision of a normally prudish uncle who thought an eight year old playing a massively violent game was mildly amusing, was its sound. The weapons and noises and shouts and death and the weapons just sounded so fantastically satisfying. It pretty much singlehandedly instilled in me a love of videogame shotguns.

    But of course, you can’t really boil it down to one single element, as the various comments here show. Doom did a lot of things right where getting any of them wrong could have changed everything.

  23. AlexMax says:

    As someone who has been following development of this game for a while, I would really like to see this game fully realized. A “New Doom” is something I’ve wanted desperately for a long time, and nearly every other attempt at it, from Serious Sam to Painkiller to Hard Reset, is missing one or two of the things that made me love the original. Quake 1 is the only game that came close, and this game certainly has the potential to, because the lead programmer is a longtime Doom fan who wants to see nearly the same thing I do.

    However, I’m not really sure this project will see the light of day. The lead programmer is a talented fellow – the engine is his own and from what I’ve heard from those who have access to the beta the level editor is fantastic (not surprising, he comes from a Doom background and making Doom levels is orders of magnitude simpler than later games), but he is _desperately_ in need of level designers and artists. If you think you can contribute, get in touch with him.

  24. bear912 says:

    Eh, Quake is id Software’s true masterpiece, but I’ll keep my eye on this.

  25. jon_hill987 says:

    But you can look up and down. No sale.

  26. Text_Fish says:

    Oh FFS. Why, whenever someone tries to “recapture” Doom-like level design, do they just throw a bunch of boxy rooms together with enemies plonked right in the middle? Doom was so much more — it had huge outdoor areas and all sorts of interconnectivity indoors with cunningly positioned enemies and powerups. This just looks … so Wolfenstein 3D.

  27. Shooop says:

    Doom? Try Wolfenstein 3D.

    The level architecture is completely flat and there is almost nothing making any one room distinguishable from another. And first-person platforming is a huge no-no. It never works out so don’t ever try it devs.

    Good music. That’s sadly the only nice thing I can say about this.

  28. Net_Bastard says:

    I’m starting to hate these old-school throwback shooters. Why? Because Doom, Duke Nukem, and Quake? Those were innovative back in the day. These “throwbacks” can’t capture the innovation of the old days, because they aren’t innovating anything. They’re just building on top of what’s already there. The real old-school spirit is brought back with games like Painkiller and Hard Reset, which are inspired by old-school shooters, but still try to innovate in many ways, and also weren’t afraid to take a few tips from modern shooters. What these indie shitheads don’t realize is that there were many Doom clones back in the day, and there are valid reasons as to why they didn’t do well, those reasons stemming off of the fact that they were stragiht clones that lacked innovation. This game, if it were made back in the day, would have flopped, and it would have flopped HARD.

    I’m not saying that I like these modern military more-scripting-than-shooting FPS games. But I also don’t like any of this throwback bullshit. The modern games industry needs innovation, and neither of these directions are bringing it.

    This game is a shameless nostalgia-grab and I hope it flops just as hard as it would have if it were released back in the DOOM days.

    • Prime says:

      Shush, you, Mr Negative Pants. ‘Innovation’ is waaaaay over-rated. Take the humble cheese sandwich. You could ‘innovate’ and throw in some fancy sauce right there but sometimes all you want is a cheese sandwich. no more no less. Of course you have to make sure the bread is fresh – no point eating stale bread from fifteen years ago – but as long as the essential ingredients are there then your stomach and taste buds will thank you just the same.

      • kzrkp says:

        I’d rather a game be made well and solid than a bunch of noise about “innovation”. Something can be made well in tried ways and be special. More often I am seeing games focus on a gimmick and commit large core design failures.

        On the other hand the game in the article is none of that. A string of box-rooms, washy weapon sounds, boring monsters that die in boring ways.

  29. Delicious Narwhal says:

    Wasn’t the Spectrum version of Bomberman called something like “Eric and the Floaters”?

  30. tangoliber says:

    This actually looks like Doom 3 more than Doom 1/2. Which isn’t a bad thing… I like Doom 3 gunplay more than most modern shooters.

  31. xaphoo says:

    Doom had a lot going for it that no game of recent years has attempted. Fast movement is one part of it, but not all. Doom also had atmosphere, horrific and heavy; it had many kinds of enemies, each with their iconic behaviors and sounds; the weaponry and color scheme were part of it. It had a level design that was open but not boring or flat and called for free exploration. This Wrack game seems to only consider the first of these traits.

    But then again, maybe what I want in a game now is none of these characteristics, but just a gaudy 90s-Techno-Satan-themed game.

    Actually, what I really want is another game with the mythos and feel of Quake 1, ID’s best game and probably the best FPS of all time.

    afk quake

  32. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Impressive, as others have stated, I think it could use oldschool secret areas, and keycards.
    I also think that the sound needs some work, because my god, I found that shotgun noise atrocious (I did spell that correctly I hope)
    –Just rip CSS Shotgun sound :P CSS does have lovely noises :D
    Pleasantly surprised by this game though :D

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