Friday, 14 December, 2001

Vintage Game:  The Ultimate Doom

I spotted my copy of The Ultimate DOOM this evening and decided to run through it again.  What a fun game!  With the exception of Descent, which was a rockin' good multi-player game, I have yet to find another game that has grabbed me the way that DOOM did, and the game's 8 years old!  Why?  It's obviously not the graphics.  Today's 3D shoot-em-up games have much nicer graphics than DOOM.  No, it's the game balance and level design that make the difference.  I think game developers these days spend way too much time worrying about technology and too little time on level design.  Every new game has to have a new graphics engine that adds some new visual feature but adds very little (if anything) to game play.  Why?  Do the people who buy games for the cool graphics really outnumber those who buy for the game play?

I think a company could make a very successful game by hiring a small team of programmers to create a level editor and the basic game logic to tack onto an existing game engine.  Take half of the money saved on game engine development and hire some experienced level designers to create a couple dozen well-planned and balanced levels.  Complete the project in half the normal time, release a half-dozen levels as shareware to suck people in, and make a killing on full registrations.  Possible?