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Make Room For Doom! (Clever, I Know.)

I know I’m always banging on about some obscure piece of Russian software, but mark my words: the next big thing in PC gaming will come out of the United States. Sounds like I am saying lies? Well screw you. I mean it.

Some of you might have seen the precursor to the revolution already. It’s a game called “Wolfenstein” in which, unusually for a videogame, you fight Nazis. Rather like Dungeon Master, Wolfenstein was set in a first-person perspective, but it’s actually fully 3D engine in which you can shoot your enemies in real-time. We anticipate that the sequel, Doom, will inspire an entire generation of these “real-time shooters”.

Doom is being made by a little-known studio of amateurish enthusiasts in Dallas, Texas, called Id Software. The plan this gang of angry poindexters are touting is to distribute a limited version of the game freely over the world wide web to generate interest. Obviously we can’t see that idea working for them, because clearly it will require magazine coverdiscs to actually reach its intended audience. Real-time shooters will also demand a very high spec PC to run correctly, due to the use of clever pixel-painting tech called “textures”. They’ll have to work hard to prove that you need to step up from your trusty 386! And I think they’re going to find themselves rapidly outclassed by another technology of the future: the voxel.

Anyway, we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on a version of the game, and we can attest that it looks exactly like real life. Characters in the game world are so detailed that they almost behave almost exactly like real people. You’ll be looking at the screen and saying, “Good day, fine sir,” because you’ll think you’ve met a man in the street, but NO: HE IS A ZOMBIE.

There’s no hi-score table.

But anyway: those graphics! You can actually see the blood fly off the enemy zombies like painful red water as you shoot them! With flashing lights and groaning “doors”, you’ll almost think you are there. It’s so realistic, in fact, that we’re concerned about the effects it might have on younger players. Could it potentially “mind-bomb” them? Mind-bombing is something that experts are worried about, because it’s the psychologically real process of having your mind replaced with that of a murderer. If games can do that, then we are all going to have to go to prison.

However, assuming we are not “mind-bombed” by the technology from Texas, I think it’s clear that we’re entering a new age of excellence and innovation. What’s most exciting about Doom is that it points the way to a whole new mode of experiencing games: real-time shooters will just be the first step on a ladder to a new moon of simulation. This giant leap to 3D environments and first-person perspective opens up possibilities for games being more than about simply shooting things. Thanks to real-time personal graphics you’ll be able to explore, interact with artificial intelligences, and perhaps even live a virtual existence in a high sophisticated simulated laser universe! One day, in a game like Doom, we will be able to talk to the monsters.

Now won’t that be something?

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Jim Rossignol

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