id Software’s Hugo Martin and Marty Stratton reflect on Doom’s development.
2016’s Doom, after a years-long production that saw id transition from what was known as Doom 4 to the game released last year, released to critical and commercial success. And the team behind the game certainly sees more life left in that refresh of the classic shooter franchise.
“We left ourselves a really, really amazing canvas and a lot of colors to paint with going forward,” Doom co-director Marty Stratton said to IGN during DICE 2017 in regard to whether id software is interested in new projects or continuing to explore this new iteration of Doom.
Doom co-directors Stratton and Hugo Martin could not announce or confirm any new projects during DICE, but the two did note the studio’s continued support of last year’s game via multiplayer DLC.
“I think the DLC we did for multiplayer is, it’s definitely the best of the multiplayer stuff that’s out there,” Stratton said. “We are sticking with the multiplayer, we’ve got some things that we want to still do and give players.
“We try to keep a close eye on what people are talking about, it’s going to be hugely informative as we go forward with just about everything,” Stratton said.
The team kept the audience in mind throughout production, the co-directors explained, reflecting on their desire to craft a story that respected its audience while still trying to surprise them.
“How do you make a game where it says Doom on the box and everybody already knows what the story is,” Martin said. “There’s no mystery to doom, so how do you make it compelling?”
Keeping Things Meta
The answer lied in a self-aware narrative — a game that “knew it was dumb” and “celebrated the fact that it was really kind of stupid,” Hugo Martin explained.
The co-directors and their team looked to a number of self-aware or “efficient” pieces of art, particularly films like Robocop, Evil Dead, Michael Clayton, and The Last Boy Scout, all of which inspired Stratton and Martin while crafting Doom and its narrative.
“You’re trying not to insult the audience’s intelligence,” Stratton said, pointing to the game’s opening where Doom Slayer tosses aside a computer monitor as the system spouts exposition. “The best way to not insult their intelligence and to do something smart was to actually be completely obvious and super silly about it.”
Finding that tone was one clear way Martin and Stratton’s team crafted a project they felt worthy of the Doom name, which was no easy feat considering the long road the game took. After the game that was colloquially known as Doom 4 ceased to be, id’s Tim Willits told IGN that the project “didn’t have the passion and soul of what an id game is.”
Combat Is Key
Martin and Stratton said there was never just a single point, however, at which they found the “soul” of 2016’s Doom. Instead, “it was lots of clicks,” Stratton said — and one such moment early in development was when the team integrated glory kills.
“That definitely was an internal hook of, this little loop of combat is super fun,” Stratton said. “That was a moment of clicking and there were probably a thousand more moments after that as we made little deviations.”
Each of those moments, those clicks, came in part because of the cohesive approach the id team took to development.
“The same people working on the story worked on the levels worked on the combat,” Martin said. “We didn’t have separate departments. It’s a very collaborative work environment… All the parts come together to make a whole, and they all feel like they’re complementing each other.”
“It was a game to be played, not a game necessarily to be made,” Stratton said.
And the final game continues to be played, with recent paid and free updates, as well as honored for its achievements — Doom was one of several winners at this year’s DICE Awards.
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.