So, this morning somebody sent me a link to this in my inbox. A humorous image, showing a top-down view of Doom’s E1M6 next to a single corridor, with ‘cut scenes’ marked at evenly-spaced points along its length. Being a dutiful netizen, after laughing over my morning tea I re-tweeted, facebooked it, mailed it to a few lists and to a few friends who aren’t net-sociable enough to be on any of these things.
After this (doubtlessly familiar) process, I went into the bathroom to scrub a day’s worth of coder/gamer-scunge off myself in the shower, and began to think about it some more. Sure, the image is funny, if ever-so-slightly inaccurate, but there’s more to it than just map design.
There has been a major paradigm shift in first-person shooter development since the days when I played Doom and Quake at LAN parties next to piles of empty coke cans so large as to make you think of something out of greek myths. Buzz-words aside, they are different. Almost different enough, I think, as to more or less be an entirely separate genre.
Sure, the mechanics are roughly the same, right? You move around with the W, A, S & D keys, moving your mouse to tilt your head and clicking to blow away monsters. Well, I’m beginning to suspect that’s actually where the similarities end. (more…)