Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Happy Seventeenth Birthday Doom!

Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 10, 2010

On this day, in 1993,  Doom was released to the public as a shareware release. It was uploaded to the Software Creations BBS, and on an FTP site popular for its repository of shareware games.

Why, oh, why, did it have to be during the study week before final exams at my school? 🙂 My computer could barely handle it.  My grades may have suffered because of it. But it was awesome. And hey, it’s probably had a bigger influence on my career than any classes I was taking that semester.

But it was something of an indie milestone as well. Shareware in the 80’s and 90’s were what indie is today.  And while there were many successful shareware games before Doom (including id’s previous titles, Wolfenstein 3D and Commander Keen), Doom was something of a phenomenon. Bypassing the publishers and what accounted for the “mainstream” distribution system of the day completely for its initial release, it still achieved sales numbers that would have made it a solid success as a boxed game of the time. But there were no middlemen taking their cut this time, which meant big success for shareware studio id Software. The popularity propelled them further with the traditional commercial release of Ultimate Doom, and the traditional release (only) of the sequel, Doom 2. Not to mention the console versions…

For a time, the upstart shareware developers – the indies of their day – got to enjoy center stage in the PC games hobby. And PC gamers,  for a little while, got to be envied by their console-gamer counterparts. Besides being an amazing game in that era, it was also a bit of a coming-of-age for indie game development. Though I’m sure that aspect was not on the team’s mind when they fought to get the file uploaded to the server at full user capacity seventeen years ago.

I wish I knew what happened to my copy of Masters of Doom. I loved that book, which told the story of id Software through the release of Quake – pretty much the story of John Carmack and John Romero. I will probably have to buy a new one, as it’s valuable reading for any indie. Inspirational, motivational, cautionary, though probably not all that educational.

Anyway – happy birthday Doom!

And as a bonus – here’s a little interview with John Romero about indie game development. Interesting stuff, though his attitude here seems to be that indies are more of a fertile creative ground from which mainstream developers can cherry-pick the best ideas…

Filed Under: Geek Life, Indie Evangelism, Interviews - Comments: 10 Comments to Read

  • Groboclown said,

    I remember the day it came out. A friend had downloaded it off that FTP site, and brought it over to my dorm (I had a computer that could run it, and had my stereo hooked up to my PC). The dynamic lighting and sound really kept me on my toes.

  • The Hobbit Hole » Happy Birthday Doom! said,

    […] to Rampant Coyote for the heads […]

  • Greg Tedder said,

    Zelda and Dragon Warrior are the games that made me want to be a game designer, but Doom was the game that prompted 3 idiots to buy an FPS game engine and start making levels with two prefabbed characters and hand drawn bitmap art.

  • Eric said,

    DooM was the game that brought non-reality into “Reality” for the first time…
    Basically speaking:
    Not one game up until that Shareware was released would cause me the mental freak-out factor that DooM was known for.

    BTW @Greg Tedder… I’m impressed by your ignorance.

  • McTeddy said,

    You know… Doom is quite special…

    As a kid I hated it. I found it to be a shallow, boring, and worthless. It was probably the first time that I disagreed with the army of rabid fans about games.

    But a few years ago I started playing through my old games and the true beauty of Doom hit me. It really didn’t age. While so many other games felt clunkier and took time to adjust to… Doom was as smooth as ever.

    It was the audio. At a long range, enemies were every bit as pixelated as my favorite games… yet I could find them. I can hear them moving around, and I can hear them screaming when I hit them. It may only be 4 pixels large… but I know who it is. Hell… I don’t even need those pixels… I hear a Cyberdemon and I’m terrified to go forward.

    Doom… I may hate what you’ve done to the industry… demanding realism… reducing depth… senseless violence…

    But you’ve earned your place at the top. To this day, I still look to you to understand that limitations can be overcome. Happy Birthday, Doom… I hope to see you in another 17.

  • skavenhorde said,

    I bought Doom at the Grocery Store. Back then they had tons of shareware titles close to the check-out counter. It was a toss up between Doom and Wolfenstien. I went with Doom.

    I liked it, but I didn’t go crazy over it. There were a lot better games released in 93 that I was playing like Betrayal at Krondor, Quest for Glory IV, Star Wars: X-Wing and Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet and I believe I was still playing Realms of Arkania when Doom was released. All of these games kick Dooms butt as far as I’m concerned.

  • Noumenon said,

    I just downloaded Doom2 off Steam last week after watching a bunch of the Doom2 and Master Levels Let’s Plays at the Let’s Play Archive.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I’ve still got this CD-ROM I picked up once upon a time that has something like 666 custom levels for Doom and Doom 2. Dunno if they had permission from all the modders to compile them onto a single CD, but I can tell you I don’t think I got through a tenth of ’em. But I still have the CD…

  • Zeus said,

    I can’t believe they pulled Doom off of Xbox Live Arcade. It’s one of the first things that impressed me about the 360, and one of the main reasons I bought the console.

    Too bad they quietly yanked it around the time they introduced Doom II. Come on, id, I was going to buy both. Was that really necessary?

    And in other news, last night I finally got my 100 Deathmatch Frags achievement.

  • Xenovore said,

    Doom! One of my favorite games of all time. I remember the first time I saw it, and thinking something like, “You can do THAT in a video game?! Whoa.” It was awesome, and I instantly fell in love with it. =)

    @ Greg: I’m curious… “…prompted 3 idiots to buy an FPS game engine…” Who are you talking about here?