The Rise of DOOM Chronicled on Retro Site for ‘Shareware Heroes’ Book
The book promises to explore “a hidden games publishing market” that for several years “had no powerful giants,” with games instead distributed “across the nascent internet for anyone to enjoy (and, if they liked it enough, pay for).”
And the site features a free excerpt from the chapter about DOOM:
It seemed there was no stopping id Software. Commander Keen had given them their freedom, and Wolfenstein 3D’s mega-success had earned them the financial cushion to do anything. But all they wanted was to beat the last game — to outdo both themselves and everyone else. And at the centre of that drive was a push for ever-better technology. By the time Wolfenstein 3D’s commercial prequel Spear of Destiny hit retail shelves, John Carmack had already built a new engine.
This one had texture-mapped floors and ceilings — not just walls. It supported diminished lighting, which meant things far away could recede into the shadows, disappearing into the distance. And it had variable-height rooms, allowing for elevated platforms where projectile-throwing enemies could hang out, and most exciting of all it allowed for non-orthogonal walls — which meant that rooms could be odd-shaped, with walls jutting out at any arbitrary angle from each other, rather than the traditional rectangular boxed design that had defined first-person-perspective games up until then.
It ran at half the speed of Wolfenstein 3D’s engine, but they were thinking about doing a 3D Keen game next — so that wouldn’t matter. At least not until they saw it in action. Everyone but Tom Hall suddenly got excited about doing another shooter, which meant Carmack would have to optimise the hell out of his engine to restore that sense of speed. Briefly they considered a proposal from 20th Century Fox to do a licensed Aliens shooter, but they didn’t like the idea of giving up their creative independence, so they considered how they could follow up Wolfenstein 3D with something new. Fighting aliens in space is old hat. This time it could be about fighting demons in space. This time it could be called DOOM.
The book’s title is Shareware Heroes: The Renegades Who Redefined Gaming at the Dawn of the Internet — here’s a page listing the people interviewed, as well as the book’s table of contents.
And this chapter culminates with what happened when the first version of DOOM was finally released. “BBSs and FTP servers around America crashed under the immense load of hundreds of thousands of people clamouring to download the game on day one.
“Worse for universities around the country, people were jumping straight into the multiplayer once they had the game — and they kept crashing the university networks…”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.