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Doom 3 Editorial

August 19, 2004 / by zeckensack / Page 2 of 2

   Gimme, you masochist!

In all honesty, there's one thing about the game that I just don't get: there are no actual rewards for actions. Most games that function at all do so because there is a constant progression of ever greater challenges and ever greater rewards for overcoming the challenges. This keeps players interested (and don't you believe in that "story" story).

Doom 3 does not reward players for being "good", in fact it does the opposite in some places: in one level, whenever you pick up armor (standard player reaction: armor=good=me want) a handful of enemies will spawn, sometimes right in your face. This can be regarded as another lesson conducted by the game: if you are high on armor and insist on picking up more, the game punishes you for wasting resources. This is actually counterproductive in theoretical game design terms. The average player would just be turned off by being punished for doing something that they expect to be "good". But anyhow, I succumbed, and from that point on only picked up armor (and health) when it was necessary.

The only semi-reward is that if you play slowly and carefully, and defeat your enemies effectively, they won't manage to bite your head off. The whole thing really revolves completely about being "ready" for combat at all times.

So what's driving the game forward through the enemy hordes? Well, I really don't know. At the beginning of the game, an opportunity is presented to reach another squad, which would mean relative safety. But that never happens, and it becomes obvious that it never happens quickly, even though the game continues to lie about this. But "safety" is still the ultimate goal. You play, basically, to "get out of here and finally make it stop". I must therefore conclude that I followed some sick masochistic tendencies. I kept playing the game. If I only wanted to attain that goal of making it all stop, I could have just chosen not to play. Remember that I was afraid *snickers*.

   So that's why you don't like it

There you have it. Doom 3 scares you to death, doesn't reward you, even deliberately punishes you.

It tremendously helps to have some basic wimp tendencies, and to humbly accept the lessons the game is going to teach you about survival. If you only enjoy games where you turn into a superhero, Doom 3 is not going to work for you. You'll never get an opportunity to "show 'em", to strike back with a vengeance. You'll be prey and merely defend your life, at all times.

So playing Doom 3 is not satisfying in a "boosting your ego" sense. This might explain why there are so many people who just don't enjoy the game, and yet there are many people who just love it.It quite simply appears to be a matter of taste. To appreciate Doom 3, it appears to be a prerequisite that you enjoy being scared and punished, and not having it your way.

There are a few things though that really diminish the experience. If you have played for a while and are not scared, but just mildly disappointed instead, I'd recommend checking these out as a first measure:

1) Sound volume
If you happen to be a social type who pro-actively doesn't want to annoy their neighbors or family, you'll probably have issues with sound volume. That's a huge problem. Doom 3 has, IMO, terrific sound and makes it an integral part to its overall atmosphere, but it just doesn't work below a certain volume threshold. If you absolutely cannot turn it up more, try using headphones. And I'm told that surround speakers are significantly more effective than stereo. I was quite satisfied with stereo, but if you have the equipment, do try surround.

2) Shadows
Do not play without shadows. If your performance is inadequate, drop resolution and detail levels to the absolute minimum if you will, but do not even think about disabling shadows.You're going to miss half of the game if you do.

3) Do not rush
This is not Unreal Tournament. This is a survival horror game if there's ever been one, and it needs to be played that way. Speedy progress is not rewarding in this game. You'll end up rushing past all the polish, detail and nice touches in the game, not to mention all the ambient sounds. If you are actually successful with a rush approach, I'd rather recommend upping the difficulty level.

4) Do not play when tired
When playing deep into the night, I noticed that my playing style became too mechanic. It went from true fright to just stubbornly stumbling forward, and at this point I felt I couldn't attain the level of horror I wanted and stopped. The scare effect just didn't work for me when tired. So besides the usual reasons such as oversleeping, missing dates, etc, keeping playing when tired will greatly diminish the game experience. If you really want to get the full impression out of the game, you should be alert at all times.

5) Darkness rules
Nothing kills the Doom 3 mood as quickly as seeing a clear, blue sky through your window. Or your common-day paraphernalia, for that matter. The flyer in the box suggests you turn off any light source in your room when playing Doom 3. Just believe it.

If that doesn't help, well, let's face it: it's not your kind of game. Nothing wrong about that *shrugs*.

Thanks to nggalai for proof reading and a couple of additions.

Update from August 29, 2004:

Mesh plays Doom 3 Movies

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