Dark Magicks: Doom In A Browser

Doom! Dooooom! In a browser! Yes! It’s only the shareware chapter, and controls can’t currently be rebound from their archaic cursor key default, but what a proof of concept it is. Browser X-Com next, please.

I believe the old man’s been shoved rudely into Java or something before, but it’s very much a different affair for this one, as it’s realised in dripping-with-gaming-potential new Flash 10 format, thanks to Adobe’s Alchemy project – which handily enables programmers to use C and C++ code. Which in turn means it’s super-fast to load and run, dead pretty and should work on any browser/OS that Flash 10 plays nice with.

Oh, and a note on browser-Doom’s origin. Literally seconds of research lead to me believe this originally cropped up over at Newgrounds, but it was GameKrunch that mailed me about their hosting it – so fair’s fair link-wise, I guess. Or is it? I’m really not sure how this cross-pollination of Flash games across multiple portals works, or of the link-etiquette for it. In any case, the clever Flash-porter is definitely one ‘Mike‘. Thanks, Mike. Thike.

53 Comments

  1. Niall Sheffield says:

    Website tag is wrong, no website included :\

  2. Pags says:

    I was literally just about to post this in the forums. Goddamn you, Meer.

  3. rei says:

    The URL (which is/was missing at the time of writing this) is:

    link to newgrounds.com

  4. Theory says:

    No music, no key config as pointed out, and it runs slower than the original. Why do they bother? :-/

  5. Alec Meer says:

    Nurse, that man needs 10 ccs of concentrated joy, stat!

  6. Radiant says:

    where in the world is the strafe keys!

  7. Pags says:

    There’s no mouselook!

    Wait!

  8. rei says:

    where in the world is the strafe keys!

    Hold ‘z’!

    It’s a little scary how hopeless I am these days without mouselook. Felt completely natural back in the day.

  9. TheLordHimself says:

    I have not heard of Alchemy until now, but after a bit of Googling, for anyone interested, it appears to be a compiler that can compile various languages, including C++, into some kind of bytecode language, probably not a million miles from something like Java’s.

    With that being the case, the kind of performance one should expect from a standard C++ application cannot be expected of an Alchemy compiled library or application. It looks like there has been a lot of optimization done, but essentially, it is still a virtual machine system, so its going to be slower than machine code.

    Its all very clever, just don’t expect it to run anything graphically stunning. The major benefit will be porting old games that were written in C or C++ to the new format will be much easier.

    You can read more about it here.

  10. diebroken says:

    Excellent news – now I don’t have to secretly install this at work! ;)

    P.S. the cheats even work! (if you need to use them… that is…)

  11. Katsumoto says:

    Personally I can never play Doom with anything BUT the standard controls. Arrow keys, alt for strafe etc. I played it so much back then that playing it with modern bindings feels perverted and disgusting – a sign of WEAKNESS. Using the mouse in particular in a non-true-3D game makes my head feel weird.

  12. Pace says:

    I’m with Katsumoto; using a mouse, even thinking about using a mouse for Doom just feels wrong. Like a sin of gaming or something. And weak.

  13. Robin says:

    Impressive technical feat, but the keyboard input is completely screwed.

    I think Flash is a lot more limited for realtime games than some people (e.g. Raph Koster) assume. If you can’t guarantee that the game won’t randomly glitch, dropping frames and not reading key inputs, you can’t make a game which demands any dexterity from the player, because it becomes random and frustrating.

  14. Panther says:

    Just blitzed through the first two levels, and they were just as good as I remembered. Gonna have to get the full thing now I suppose.

    Ahh… the days when I was actually good at FPS games.

  15. Noc says:

    I’m curious about how much this was enabled because of Alchemy, and how much it was enabled because of Flash 10’s 3D support. My first thought was “Ooh, Flash is doing 3D!” . . . but then it occurred to me that that would be handled by the Doom engine code anyways. And that Doom is still sort of 2.5-D to begin with.

    Hmm.

  16. Chis says:

    All this stuff about not using a mouse with Doom, I cry bullshit. ZDoom adds excellent mouselook: its WSAD setup feels totally natural. I’d hate to have to play Doom without a mouse. It’s not about being purist (and elitist), it’s down to how you enjoy the game. But when adding a new control method vastly improves the mobility of the in-game character, I don’t see what the problem is. Especially if it takes just as much time to master as cursors/keys only.

  17. slang says:

    Pretty cool! Doom will never die…like a good old fashioned movie monster it just comes back to life as a flash game!
    They should collect all the best Doom levels from back in the days and release some kind of “best of” edition.
    Oh, and…bring back the Duke!

  18. Pace says:

    All this stuff about not using a mouse with Doom, I cry bullshit.

    I suspect there’s an interesting discussion to be had about this somehow. Of course saying that using a mouse for Doom is a sin and weak is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but I’m willing to stand by it. It is a pretty big difference in interface, and probably does significantly impact your experience with the game. And significantly, it was designed to be played with the keyboard, with that configuration. If you use a mouse you’re changing the game into something else, not just improving your control. It’s part of the challenge, a mouse makes thing much easier. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a purist, it’s like decrying colorization of old movies, or the George Lucasing old movies, and in this case I’m actually old enough to have enjoyed it the original way first, so I can see where the purists come from. Play Doom with a mouse if you must, but also forgive us (in this case not-so)-old fogeys for saying ‘yer just not doin’ it right’! (at least for a classic like Doom.)

  19. subedii says:

    There’s something really strange about Doom. I can load up Doom II even now and have a blast playing it. It’s crazy how right they got the concept and the execution, especially considering how the original plans were for something more along the lines of System Shock.

  20. diebroken says:

    You can use the keyboard and mouse in the orignal DOOM shareware (v1.0 release Dec. 10th 1993). In fact this was how you were meant to play it (watch how the demo reel is played out).

    link to doom.wikia.com

    It’s not essential, but damn it sure helps during intense Deathmatches :)

  21. Pace says:

    Well then, how about if I change my argument to ‘because I said so’?

    Well, that’s news to me, and at least I never saw anyone use a mouse ‘back in the day’. So therefore, it never happened, clearly.

  22. slang says:

    Use joy2key and play it the way it was meant to be played…on Atari’s Jaguar – with a joypad;-)

  23. Noc says:

    @Pace: Interestingly, I believe that even in the original Doom you’re capable of mapping WASD to the appropriate keys, and aiming to the left and right mouse buttons.

    You might even be able to set turning to the mouse as well, I’m not sure. But even though this wouldn’t be 360 degree mouselook, it would still be functionally similar for gameplay purposes, and something that (if my memory serves me correctly) the original game was capable of. I know you could map things like that to joystick controls, so I’m pretty sure a mouse option was available too.

    If my fuzzy recollections are correct, then it sort of stops being a “purity” issue, of new features being tacked on to the game altering it from its proper state. The “purity” argument starts to carry rather less weight when it stops being about the capabilities of the game and starts being about sticking to the default control layout.

  24. Noc says:

    So, uh, basically what diebroken said. Too slow!

  25. Pace says:

    My way is best! Like, obv.

  26. MetalCircus says:

    No matter how you play doom, it’s still an ace game.

  27. kurige says:

    I’m a bit late jumping into this thread, but I’ve been working with Alchemy just for hoots and I thought I’d offer my two cents.

    @TheLordHimself:
    C/C++ code compiled using the Alchemy compiler compiles to actionscript bytecode. (Try saying that ten times fast.) Which is, as you mentioned, not unlike Java bytecode. According to the website, bytecode generated this way is much faster than normal actionscript but anywhere from 2-10x slower than C/C++ compiled traditionally into machine code. Got that? That explains why it will seem slower than the version all you old foggies remember playing.

    Not to date you all, but I was <10 years old when Doom came out.

    And, no, generally this technique won’t be used for games. Doom is a nice hack, and I’m sure others will follow, but Alchemy is mainly intended for processor intensive mathematical computations, like A* or physical simulations and the like that would normally be slow or hard to implement in straight actionscript.

  28. Mattress says:

    Newgrounds? Are ye taking the piss?

  29. obo says:

    “Unfortunately, this game will NOT work on PowerPC Macs.”

    Time to quit my job and find one that upgrades its computers more often than every third generation. Or doesn’t use Macs.

    DAMNED ECONOMY!

  30. Gnarf says:

    On the mouse thing. In the original DOOM/DOOM II you could use the mouse for turning and moving. You could also assign keys to strafing left and right, so some WASD+mouse-alike setup was very viable, and people did use that. Using the mouse for turning but not for moving wasn’t all that possible, but people used some ‘novert’ program to disable vertical mouse movement and that’s considered pretty “pure” as well (like, Chocolate Doom, which stays true to the original DOOM to the point of emulating as many of its bugs as possible, still provide a ‘novert’ setup option).

    For a lot of people, the reason why they didn’t use the mouse for aiming was that using the mouse for aiming was such confusing business (or they just stuck to the default controls and never considered it). And it takes longer to realize that you’re doing it wrong/suboptimal if you can’t easily go online and have your ass handed to you by other people’s mad mousing skills. I do remember people still not getting along with that mousing stuff when playing Delta Force or some such. And manuals for early real 3D FPSes are all “We’ve set it up for you to use Page Down/Up for aiming. You really don’t want to play it like that though.”

    No matter how you play doom, it’s still an ace game.

    Obviously being able to aim up and down is nonsensical rubbish that doesn’t belong in DOOM. Same goes for jumping (and crouching, if any source port happens to add that). That is, it ruins good levels designed for “proper” DOOM. It’s not that awesome to find the secret that takes you to the outside area if that area is easily reachable by jumping anyway. And so on.

    Also, DOOM is super-awesome.

  31. aiusepsi says:

    In the same vein, somebody is porting Quake to Microsoft’s Flash competitor, Silverlight.

    link to adamkinney.com

  32. duhreem says:

    “Obviously being able to aim up and down is nonsensical rubbish that doesn’t belong in DOOM. Same goes for jumping (and crouching, if any source port happens to add that).”

    The character could already shoot up or down, making it manual is just disabling the vertical auto-aim. And no-one likes auto-aim. Jumping does ruin a few of the levels, but it’s not like everyone hasn’t already beaten Doom. ZDoom for life!

    I played Doom with the keys back in the day because I had never used a mouse in a game before. I remember being introduced to quake 2 at a LAN, settling down to play with the keyboard, and getting owned to a chorus of “what the hell are you doing, that’s not how you play.” 10 frags to 0 later I learnt the mouse.

  33. Caiman says:

    I agree with the “Doom was meant to be played with a keyboard” comments. What people are forgetting was that the “run” key could be applied to the turn keys, so you could easily whip around 180 degrees by doing an accelerated turn – that’s all the demo reel is doing, not using a mouse (note turns are a constant speed). While it might not have been quite as rapid as a mouse turn, once you got proficient at it you were pretty damn good. Doing an accelerated turn and slide was key to out-manoeuvring other plays. Doom did have native mouse support (not mouselook, but you could turn using the mouse) but it just felt… wrong.

  34. Gnarf says:

    The character could already shoot up or down, making it manual is just disabling the vertical auto-aim.

    No. It changes several things. For example there’s little auto-aim involved in beating Icon of Sin. And there are lots of places where you can’t see certain enemies because they’re far above/below you. It makes a difference, beyond having to aim yourself, if you get to look up/down.

    Of course, everyone can play whatever game whichever way they want. And when you’re playing some kind of competitive multiplayer thing, everyone’s playing by the same rules anyway so it’s totally fair and that. But if you’re trying to beat some very specific challenge, like a level designed for DOOM (rather than for some source port variation of it), I think it makes sense to play by the rules the designer had in mind.

  35. Gnarf says:

    Caiman: I thought that was pretty much settled. When the manual for the game recommends using the mouse, there’s no way it is “meant” to be played without mouse. Leet keyboarding skills notwithstanding.

  36. Pace says:

    I found the original readme file that came with Doom. It certainly doesn’t ‘recommend’ using a mouse, in fact it looks to me like it’s assuming keyboard use. Mouse control is under a section called “joystick or mouse”, and tells you what you can do “if you are using a mouse”. Anyway, I’ll certainly admit that mouse control is possible, but from what others have said it doesn’t seem to be exactly equivalent to a modern control scheme, though I’ll admit I’m still not 100% certain how it worked. (I tried getting it to work just now with my copy, but failed.) Anyway, what I had in mind originally is that hoisting a more modern control scheme on top of the old game just doesn’t seem right. But using a mouse as was originally possible seems fine I guess, but there must be a reason most people didn’t do that, other than ignorance. (and as Caiman said, using run with turn and strafe were important skills to learn.)

  37. boatorious says:

    Browser X-COM?

    I’ve been playing a lot of Apocalypse lately and I’ve been craving the exact same thing.

  38. Gnarf says:

    Pace: What diebroken and I were referring to was this:

    The instruction manuals provide a tip that recommends using the keyboard and mouse simultaneously, saying “the mouse provides fine control for aiming your weapon (allowing you to smoothly rotate right and left) […]”. The keyboard and mouse combination also provides rapid rotation and easier strafing, resulting in quicker maneuvers than when using the keyboard alone.

    My use of the word ‘recommend’ might very well have been a bit imprecise or wrong or whatever.

    Using the mouse works very much like in modern FPSes. The difference is that you can’t aim up and down, and that up and down mouse movement translates to the player moving instead (but people resorted to disabling up and down mouse movement altogether outside of the game).

    As for lots of people using keyboard only. I think it comes down to that using the mouse isn’t as intuitive as a lot of people like to think. It takes some adjusting to it. I know that back then, I never seriously tried using the mouse, because I had no idea that that’d be any good, and it takes a bit of random turning and running straight into walls before you get used to it. Also, as mentioned, you can do pretty good using keyboard only. When “real” 3D FPSes came around and when more people played them against other people, mouse+keyboard became a much more obvious option (And even then, some people still chose to use keyboard only. There are guides for Unreal Tournament encouraging players to use mouse freelook, implying that some chose not to.).

    Anyway, I do agree that it is silly to try and turn the game into some kind of modern FPS. Also, it would be interesting to see how good really good keyboarders were. Don’t know how much it is me being used to mouse+keyboard and how much it is mouse+keyboard being “better”. I’m sort of just assuming that demo recordings (and I believe the compet-n ones are all recorded with the “original” v1.9 exes) of Nightmare!-speedruns and such are mostly mouse+keyboard, but I’ve no idea really.

  39. Pace says:

    Ah, I think we’re getting somewhere now. Here is the Doom 2 manual (that readme is all Doom 1 had for a manual, I believe.) Here’s the actual quote:

    Tip: When you’re comfortable playing the game, try using the keyboard and the mouse simultaneously. The mouse provides fine control for aiming your weapon (allowing you to smoothly rotate right or left) while the keyboard permits you to activate the many useful function of the game.

    I suppose it’s being a bit picky, but I wouldn’t say that is exactly a recommendation. Also, up to this point the manual is clearly demonstrating how to play the game using the keyboard, the mouse is sort of treated like an advanced technique. I’m still not exactly sure how it worked though. Again, I’d have to concede that it’s hard to argue against using a mouse like that, as long as it’s not modified to be a more modern control system.

  40. Pace says:

    Whoops, that link was supposed to be this.

  41. duhreem says:

    Gnarf: Neat observation. It’s true, but being ambushed by enemies that would be in plain sight to anyone with neck or eye muscles is not a classic game mechanic worthy of preservation in my opinion.

  42. Gnarf says:

    Yeah, maybe not. I think it’s kind of cool. Maybe not that particular limitation, but the whole kind of “you move and you shoot” thing it has going. Like the other extreme, opposite of having alternate fires for all your weapons and lean left/right buttons. And again, the level design takes that limitation into account, so I don’t like breaking it when I try to beat those levels.

    Pace: Yeah. That’s nearly what I was getting at in my last post. The wiki says that there’s a tip that recommends using mouse+keyboard, which sounds about right. What I said came off more like as if the manual as a whole tells you to use mouse+keyboard, which is all wrong.

    And there’s a copy of the manual for DOOM at replacementdocs, so it seems there is one (and it’s from the right year and everything, so it’s probably not just from some re-release or something). It contains the same tip.

  43. Mind Elemental says:

    While the thought of browser XCom is awesome, how would you save the game?

  44. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Most flash games already have save functions over cookies. Dofus Arena or how it’s called, is very XCOMesqe.

  45. diebroken says:

    For anyone who’s interested here’s a archive of DOOM shareware versions (Although some zips appear to be broken):

    link to doomworld.com

    Alternative place to get some of the files:

    link to doomarchive.com

    DOOM Shareware v1.0 runs fine in DOSBox 7.2 (Thanks DOSBox team!).

    Loading the setup program allows you to select keyboard only or a combination of the keyboard with either the mouse or joystick. This is reiterated in the ReadMe doc, there’s even a section on ‘Mouse Sensitivity’ and a troubleshoot section ‘Why doesn’t my mouse work with DOOM?’.

    On a side note to an earlier RPS article, it even has mention of quicksave (F6) and quickload (F9). ;)

    It’s all down to personal preference; I’ve known friends who soley used the keyboard for DOOM and Quake, and they could move and turn really fast. They could even use the look up and down keys to aim while jumping in Quake and perform perfectly timed rocket jumps – it looked damn cooler than using the mouse and I couldn’t tell the difference! :)

  46. sockpuppetclock says:

    Mike is an admin on Newgrounds, so it obviously comes from Newgrounds!@

  47. Mr Lizard says:

    Heh, that’s the first time I’ve played Doom. It’s quite good, actually.

  48. chesh says:

    Surely I’m not the only one who never realized that Doom Guy is left-handed.

  49. duhreem says:

    Me neither. I just checked, and he’s left handed with pistol and punching, right handed with chainsaw, shotguns and plasma gun, and you can’t tell with the rest. IIRC in multi your avatar is right handed. Odd.

  50. duhreem says:

    Could be a subtle indicator of relative weapon strength, I suppose. Like everything else it’s already been discussed to death on the internet so I don’t need to think about it any more, phew:

    link to doom.wikia.com