There is a theory that posits when most people are confronted with a mess, the natural instinct is to clean it up. This propensity toward cleanliness, or “solving” the mess, is what I believe is one of the two most powerful fundamental elements of game design.
In Pac-Man, the mess is the maze full of dots. You need to clean them up to achieve your goal of cleanliness. In Space Invaders, the aliens are the mess. Clean them up and you reach your goal. In Bejeweled you are presented with a messy screen of jewels. Arrange them in groups of matching 3′s and you clean it up, one match at a time. Chess? Clean the board of your opponent’s pieces, specifically his King. The ancient game of Go? Same mechanic.
The other powerful mechanic in game design is that of Building. Most great games combine these two mechanics such as any successful RTS like Age of Empires. Build your empire one unit at a time until you need to clean up your enemy’s mess of units. In Katamari Damacy, you are cleaning and building yourself constantly. RPGs are all about building and cleaning up the messy landscape of enemies.
Sometimes this mechanic exists at multiple levels within a game. Looking at the meta-design, you know that Resident Evil 4 is all about cleaning up the game world of zombies. Within this game you need to keep your inventory briefcase clean and optimized as well. And all the while you are building your arsenal to make all the cleaning easier and more fun.
World of Warcraft is the epitome of these two mechanics and both are executed at multiple levels in the game. Your character, you are building. The world, you are cleaning, so you can build more. Professions are building so you can make items that help with the cleaning….which feed into more building. The cyclical nature of the design is what all designers hope to achieve.
This tidiness theory, this instinct toward Order rather than Chaos, may be evolutionary and part of our DNA. My question is: if a person, when presented with a mess in any kind of medium, chooses not to clean it up, are they in danger of failing evolution? And are games, as a form of teaching how to build and clean various abstracted messes, helping us evolve?
Joe Siegler IM’d me a couple weeks ago and said he found a VHS tape that had some DOOM footage on it before its release and if I didn’t want it he was gonna throw it out.
I said, “Send it to me immediately.”
So now I finally got it, ripped it to digital and then used iMovie to present it to anyone with an interest in DOOM history. Here’s what I wrote up about the video:
In 1993, Dan Linton, owner of a hugely successful BBS called Software Creations, visited Texas and made his way to id Software. This is the footage he recorded one night in November 1993. Shown are several of id’s employees at the time: Jay Wilbur, Shawn Green, John Romero, Dave Taylor, Sandy Petersen and Adrian Carmack. Bobby Prince was visiting to finish the music and create the sound effects. This video has 21 minutes of me playing DOOM before the sound effects were put in as well as some early deathmatching with Shawn Green.
If you thought “Jizz In My Pants” and “Dick In A Box” were great, you simply must watch the video “I’m On A Boat” on YouTube – it’s hilarious and awesome all at the same time. I’m not a fan of hip-hop at all but, boy, T-Pain does a really great job on the song and in the video. Now i have to check out his stuff.
If you like all the SNL songs you should get the album Incredibad – they’re all on there. Go to iTunes and grab it and you will get all the videos too. Great deal!
you know what’s funny? random IMs from people i don’t know – they always entertain. I figured it would be fun to share some of these with you.
At the end of this one the person says “Have fun” which, unbeknownst to him, is a game i made up and a lot of us here at Slipgate Ironworks play it everyday. So i say “good one” because he “won” the Have Fun game.
I put my copperhead on the iMac and it’s like night and day, it’s that amazing. The copperhead feels like a BMW compared to the Lachesis which is more like a PT Cruiser and the prices should be swapped. The copperhead is a way better mouse IMO. It feels better not just in using the computer but also in games.
I’m left-handed so Razer’s mice are really great for me. If i was right-handed, though, i would have to pick between using the copperhead or the logitech G5. They’re both absolutely the best.
Here’s as much information as I can glean from this scan:
- it’s John Carmack’s NeXTStation; we had a NeXTCUBE which was used to scan the videocam images we made of our monsters (clay and latex)
- the cookie monster icon is for John’s app, Fuzzy Pumper Palette Shop, which we ran on the Cube and processed the images that the videocam captured. The videocam was plugged directly into the Cube.
- the screen is mainly showing the debugging environment of SuperDebugger as DOOM is being debugged
- the DOOM app window has a black, draggable title bar with the 320×200 game screen rendered within it
- the Objective-C compiler is just under the game window
- at the bottom of the screen are icons representing the running apps; many are source files
About the article, here are my clarifications and bug fixes:
- the reason Scott Miller was trying to get in touch with me was because of my PC game (port) Pyramids of Egypt, a game i wrote originally in 1985 on the Apple II and ported to the PC in 1989. No one else was involved in making this game.
- John, Adrian and myself did NOT quit Softdisk after we started making Commander Keen; we did it all after work and on the weekends at the lakehouse
- Tom Hall was included in this group and it was mainly John C., Tom and myself that made Commander Keen 1-3. Adrian did a few graphics for Keen 3 at the very end of the project but he wasn’t involved at the beginning
- One month after releasing Keen 1-3 we received our first royalty check and decided to quit Softdisk and form id Software on February 1, 1991
- id was located in Madison, Wisconsin between September 1991 and March 1992; this was when i started getting involved with Raven Software as they were local to the area
- id moved to Mesquite, Texas in March 1992; at this time, Jay Wilbur and Kevin Cloud joined the original team: John Carmack, Tom Hall, Adrian Carmack and myself
- DOOM was never originally going to be “Green and Pissed”; that was a game idea Tom had before we made Wolfenstein 3D and i thought it was a hackneyed idea (science lab experiment goes bad and mutants run amok) so i came up with the idea of a Castle Wolfenstein remake
- when Tom left id he immediately started working on Wolfenstein II – we licensed Apogee the Wolfenstein name to make the sequel but later decided not to continue with it…..so Wolf II became Rise of the Triad
- id’s taking over distribution for DOOM is described as a “staff split” but Apogee and id were always two seperate companies
- the “medium detail” mode mentioned in the article was called “high-color mode” and was only available in the first version or so of DOOM and was removed because of its incompatibility with some video adapters
- bullets aren’t physical projectiles in the DOOM engine
- we only put in multiplayer near the very end of the game even though we announced the feature in our January 93 press release about DOOM
- the graphics for Wolfenstein were mostly drawn by Adrian Carmack but Kevin Cloud helped a lot after he came onboard on April 1, 1992
- when we did video capture of our latex and clay models, the video camera was pointed at the model and a live video feed was plugged into the NeXTCUBE which, at any time, we could click a button to take a frame grab. This frame was then fed into our program Fuzzy Pumper Palette Shop which took it from 24-bit color down to a 256-color VGA paletted graphic. At that point it was saved on our network where Adrian and Kevin could load it into Deluxepaint II and clean it up.
- during Wolf3D’s development we came up with the idea of a contest to find the hardest thing in the game; for beta, we drew a graphic that was NOT going to be the final code, so just before mastering we changed the graphic – we had never been “plagued by leaks”; an alpha version of DOOM *did* leak however
- Wolf3D was banned because of Nazi content in addition to violence; in Germany there is a sheet of banned imagery that will put you in jail if you are seen with it on – Wolf3D was full of this imagery (Nazi imagery)
- Cygnus Studios became Rogue Entertainment after an internal revolt; they were working on Strife for us
- a SNES version of DOOM *was* created in secrecy by Sculptured Software; they presented a final, finished SNES version of DOOM and sent it to us asking if we wanted to publish it; oh hell yeah!
- the Jaguar version of DOOM was done internally at id; it was very fun and challenging but the Jaguar died a slow death