It’s been a pretty busy few weeks. I redesigned the Sanctuary Crew site, then spent quite a bit of time readjusting the layout several times to get it closer to “just right”. That’s proving to be a long term deal, of course. I still run into occasional layout bugs that only pop up under certain circumstances and they’ve been mostly related to changes to the Hugo infrastructure in the two years since the original theme was last updated.

MAME stuff proceeds a bit slowly right now. I haven’t touched the CoCo stuff in a few months; with the Covid-19 lurking in the background it’s been difficult to focus on projects that need a lot of brainpower focused onto them for an extended amount of time. Even with my medication, I can feel my stress level creeping up any time I try to focus. Doesn’t help that my sleep patterns have been out of whack since my surgery last month, either.

I’m not going to push myself on this; it’ll get done when I have the ability to focus. If I need a little more time to get myself together, well, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe I can do a little bit on it today, for that matter– a page or two is still better than nothing.

Hm. That seems to be part of the problem– that my proverbial “get up and go” got up and left without me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m at least keeping up on the Apple II stuff. That’s the LEAST I can absolutely do on a day to day basis (as long as I have a functional PC, of course..)

I’ve spent a little time getting to my game backlog as well. I’m playing Doom (2016) and Doom 3 in parallel; despite being part of the same series, they couldn’t be less alike.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Doom 3 is a survival horror game where every weapon feels like a pea-shooter and Doom (2016) feels like a hybrid of an arena shooter and a traditional hallway shooter. The rooms in Doom (2016) that you get locked into occasionally act like traditional deathmatch maps; they have a general flow of movement similar to a Quake 3 map, including the jump pads, and the only things that are really different are that you don’t get respawning ammo (or players) and it’s more of a horde fight with waves of enemies.

You could compare it to Unreal Tournament 2004’s Invasion mode and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch at all. Those deathmatches are broken up by hallway shooting segments and platforming sequences that work a lot better than you’d expect for a FPS.

I find it difficult to be fair to Doom 3 because of the fact I’m playing them side by side. The technology behind Doom (2016) is significantly better as a result of the twelve years between them and Doom 3 feels dated even compared to the original Doom and Doom 2– the originals have a solid gameplay loop that works despite the now-ancient technology running them, but Doom 3 feels like it isn’t a Doom game at all.

Oh. Right. I also picked up Doom 64 on Nintendo Switch, and I’ve been playing THAT as well, too. So three games in parallel. Doom 64 is interesting in a different way. While the map layout is entirely different from what you’d get out of an id-designed game (because it was a Midway title,) there are elements of the game that feel like a middle-ground between Doom, Quake, and Quake 2.

A veteran of those three games will quickly begin to recognize parts of the game that were pulled from them pretty quickly. The lighting design is much like Quake 2, the shotgun sound feels like it came from Quake 1 (along with the reliance on it), the map design is somewhere between Quake 1 and 2, and the enemies and weapon selection are mostly from Doom/Doom 2.

It’s not a bad game, either. The re-release version by Night Dive games is clearly a work from people who spent a lot of time with the original Doom 64. A bit of research suggests that the “Kex Engine” used by Night Dive is based on an old project to port Doom 64’s engine to PC that was known as “Doom 64 EX” in fact.

Considering how limited the N64’s capabilities were compared to the Nintendo Switch, you wouldn’t expect the port to have issues with framerate. Thankfully, that appears to be the case as it runs great.

I haven’t tried the Switch port of Doom 3, but I hear the framerate is inconsistent and spotty at times. Doom 1 and 2 on Switch were patched in January of 2020, and Digital Foundry had plenty to say about the quality of the patch– all of it very good.

They fixed what were some really bad ports into what they consider to be the definitive console versions of Doom 1 and 2. This I’d agree with; despite them being run inside Unity instead of using a native source port they end up being extremely solid.

The one thing I’m still confused about is that they had source available and could have gone with middleware like SDL or bgfx to do native ports instead of reproducing the engine in Unity, but didn’t. You can argue that Unity gives them more porting options in general, but I don’t see that as being a huge factor considering SDL runs just about everywhere.

That also brings to mind the OTHER port of Doom 1 and 2 I should talk about– the versions included with Doom 3 BFG edition. I was unimpressed to put it mildly. They felt oddly choppy and the screen was ridiculously dark with no way to adjust the gamma– I couldn’t see the zigzagging floor in the iconic E1M1 level, only barely the green acid to the sides.

I’m told those BFG-edition WAD files come with some new bonus material. I should look into that and at least see about putting those into a modern source port (likely GZDoom) to play them properly.

Think I’d better stop here or I’ll be writing all day.

— Firehawke