Doom 3

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Doom 3
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Developer(s) id Software
Publisher(s) Activision
Release date(s) August 3, 2004 (PC)
March 14, 2005 (Mac)
April 4, 2005 (Xbox)
Genre First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature (M), BBFC: 18
Platform(s) PC (Windows / Linux), Mac, Xbox

Doom 3 is a first person shooter computer game developed by id Software and published by Activision. The version for the IBM PC compatibles (Windows and Linux) has been released, a Mac version followed, and a version for Xbox (co-developed by Vicarious Visions) was released on April 4, 2005. Set in 2145 in the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) research center on Mars, it is a reimagining of the original Doom, with completely new graphics and game engine.

An expansion, Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, was announced on October 25, 2004 and co-released with the Xbox version on April 4, 2005. The expansion has been co-developed by id Software and Nerve Software and includes an all new single-player campaign with new weapons, including the much anticipated double-barreled shotgun as well as new multiplayer maps with support for up to 8 players.



In June 2000, John Carmack posted a plan (news update) [1] ( announcing the start to a remake of Doom using next generation technology. This plan was unusual for the amount of ire and controversy revealed to have been brewing within id over such a decision.

Kevin Cloud and Adrian Carmack, two of id Software owners, were always strongly opposed to remaking Doom. They, like many fans, thought that id was going back to the same old formulas and properties too often. However, after the warm reception of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and the latest improvements in rendering technology, most of the employees agreed that a remake was the right idea and confronted Kevin and Adrian with an ultimatum: "Allow us to remake Doom or fire us" (including John Carmack). After the relatively painless confrontation (although artist Paul Steed, one of the instigators, was fired in retaliation) the agreement to work on Doom 3 was made.

The game was in development for a total of four years. In 2001 it was first shown to the public at MacWorld in Tokyo and was later demonstrated at E3 in 2002, where a 15 minute gameplay demo was shown in a small theater. It was extremely well received and Doom 3 won five awards at E3 that year. Shortly after E3, a development version of the game leaked from ATI Technologies and quickly spread on the Internet. The game was also shown at the subsequent E3 exhibitions in 2003 and 2004. According to some comments by John Carmack, the development took longer than expected, possibly due to internal team friction.

Doom 3 achieved gold status on July 14, 2004, and a Mac OS X release was confirmed the next day on July 15, 2004. Doom 3 was finally released in the US on August 3, 2004. Additionally, a Linux compatible version was released on October 4, 2004. Due to high demand, the game was made available at select stores at midnight on the date of release. The game was released in the UK and the rest of the world (except for Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, where official localisation was delayed and only pirated versions were released on August 3) on August 13.

Two days before its official release, Doom 3 was released by pirate groups onto the Internet (most likely, a copy was leaked from one of the American stores) where it became possibly the fastest spreading pirated game ever. As the game's focus is its single-player mode, the need for a valid retail serial number for online multiplayer gaming was a weak deterrent against piracy. Other factors contributing to the high demand for the pirated version were the gamers' expectations for Doom 3 and delayed release outside of the US.


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The shadowing and lighting on the marine's face exemplify the unified lighting engine
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Interactive displays replaced traditional switches

According to John Carmack, the lead graphics engine developer at id, the "tripod of features" in Doom 3 technology are:

  • Unified lighting and shadowing
  • Complex animations and scripting that show off the real-time, fully dynamic per-pixel lighting and stencil shadowing
  • GUI surfaces that add extra interactivity to the game

The key aspect of the Doom 3 graphics engine is the unified lighting and shadowing. Rather than computing or rendering lightmaps during map creation and saving that information in the map data, most light sources are computed on the fly. This allows lights to cast shadows even on non-static objects such as monsters or machinery, which was impossible with static lightmaps. A shortcoming of this approach is the engine's inability to render soft shadows and ambient lighting.

To create a more movie-like atmosphere, id interspersed the gameplay with many in-game animated sequences of monsters ambushing the player or just lurking around.

To increase the interactivity with the game-world, id designed hundreds of high-resolution animated screens for in-game computers. Rather than using a simple "use key", the crosshair acts as a mouse cursor over the screens allowing the player to use a computer in the game world.

Other important features of Doom 3 engine were normal mapping and specular highlighting of textures, realistic handling of object physics, dynamic, ambient soundtrack and multi-channel sound.


Similar to the story of the original Doom, the game focuses on the marine who was transferred to Mars and sent out on a routine mission. In contrast to its earlier disdain for storytelling, this time id Software employed a professional science-fiction writer Matthew Castello to write the script and assist in story-boarding the entire game. id focused on retelling the story and creating a tense horror atmosphere. The game's events and atmosphere show a great deal of influence from George Romero's Living Dead series.

Unlike in previous id games, there are now cutscenes that give purpose and context for the player's actions. Similar to other science fiction action/horror games such as System Shock and Aliens versus Predator 2, hundreds of text, voice, and video messages are scattered throughout the base. The messages are internal e-mails and audio reports sent between lab workers, administrators, maintenance staff, and security personnel at the Mars base. The messages explain the background story, show the feelings and concern of the people on the Mars base and reveal information related to plot and gameplay. Video booths and televisions give planetary news, corporate propaganda, visitor information and technical data about the base.

The story of Doom 3 surrounds the discovery of ancient ruins underneath Martian soil. These tablets record how an ancient Martian race developed a form of teleporter technology. What they realized too late, however, was that their technology could only transport to a single location: Hell. Quickly invaded by demons, this alien race sacrificed themselves to construct a weapon known as the Soul Cube. This cube, powered by the souls of almost every being of this alien race, was used to defeat and contain the demons in Hell.

Doing so, the remainder of the alien race constructed warnings to any who visited Mars, warning them not to recreate this technology; to avoid opening Hell. They then fled Mars, although there are hints that humans are the descendants of this race.

The UAC, discovering the Soul Cube and the warnings, used them to invent the same teleporter technology. Discovering that they opened a gate to Hell, scientists instead decided to explore further, even capturing living specimens from the realm. After Malcolm Betruger brought the Soul Cube into Hell, the Demons again invaded Mars, confident that the only key to their defeat lay safe in their hands. However one man, the marine who the player controls, proves too tough for the forces of hell to contain, and soon learns of the Soul Cube, and the portal to hell where it is held.

Surviving many battles, the player enters Hell, and defeats The Guardian of Hell: A blind demon which uses smaller creatures named seekers to "see". With the Guardian defeated, the Soul Cube is used to defeat the horrific Cyberdemon, and seal the second portal to Hell. The ending scene shows the sole surviving marine being rescued by the fleet, and Malcolm Betruger's head is briefly seen before being swallowed into the mouth of a dragon-like demon, and it is highly debated whether he is being consumed as punishment for failure or if he has simply been elevated to demonic status.


Perhaps most important in the gameplay and action of Doom 3 is the atmosphere. Most of the levels are very dark, to create the feeling of helplessness and scare the player with surprise attacks from the shadows. To showcase the dynamic lighting and shadowing, Doom 3 uses many moving light sources. Most importantly, on a Mars base with insufficient lights, the flashlight becomes one of the most important tools. Rather than allowing a weapon to be equipped with the flashlight which would create a sense of security, ID decided to only allow the weapon or the flashlight to be used. Also inherent are the use of sound effects to startle the player.

Hardware requirements

For a modern game with an advanced graphics engine, Doom 3 did not have unreasonably high minimum system requirements. It has been reported on various review sites that minimally recommended 1.5Ghz processor coupled with a GeForce MX graphics card achieves satisfactory performance with the game (about 20 fps in low resolution). The Macintosh version runs satisfactory even on a 1.25 Ghz G4 powerbook with the built in graphic card.

However, to make full use of the game engine, newer hardware is required. A high-end 2004 CPU coupled with the GeForce 6800 graphics card or ATI's Radeon X800 (both released earlier in 2004) show well over 70 fps in 1024x768 resolution (more than the built-in engine's framerate of 60 fps). A 6600GT however will also easily play the game on the same hardware at those speeds under the same conditions in most situations. As of mid 2005 the best graphics solution for Doom 3 is considered to be the Nvidia Geforce 6800 Ultra.


Doom 3's reception can be described, arguably, in two ways: those of the serious, 'hardcore' gamer, and those of the more casual player. Few games have polarized gaming as much as Doom 3 has, leading the two group's reception of the game to be wildly different.

Critical and hardcore reception

The most often named gameplay shortcomings of the game are:

  • Reliance on traditionally overused horror techniques such as pitch black darkness, limited use of the flashlight and stock horror movie clichés, to create the scary atmosphere;
  • Repetitive gameplay, very similar linear levels during parts of the game, no ability to use the flashlight and the weapon at the same time (the problem known as "no duct tape on Mars");
  • Somewhat stale storytelling techniques, forcing the player to read or listen to messages by hiding access codes in them, and a shortage of cut-scenes providing story exposition;
  • Poor monster AI, over-reliance on scripted sequences;
  • Comparatively limited use of physics
  • A small multiplayer of only a few people.

It has been argued that many of these criticisms are based on expectations for other types of FPS games. During development, Doom 3 was often compared with the equally anticipated Half-Life 2. Some have argued that since Doom 3 was released before Half-Life 2, many have come to expect things from it that they previously had expected from Half-Life 2. For example, the common complaint about Doom 3's lack of environment interactivity could be considered a subtle complaint that Doom 3 doesn't have a Half-Life 2-style "Gravity Gun", a weapon which can pick up small items in the world and throw them around. Ironically, Doom 3 did have a "Gravity Gun" item designed long before Half-Life 2, but was not in the game proper. This weapon appears in the Doom 3 expansion known as Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, which has drawn the ire of those who feel id is pandering to HL2 fans.

Many critical reviewers also mentioned the lack of innovations in graphics and sound, arguing that the visual quality of some other games released in 2004 were comparable to or matched some the qualities of Doom 3. During an interview of five directors of game development companies about Doom 3's release by DTF, a Russian game industry site, the four who had already played the game rejected the idea that Doom 3 was the new panacea in gaming. They stated that the technological level of Doom 3 was similar to that of other games of 2004, and that features such as bump mapping had already become industry standard. For example, an often mentioned feature of Doom 3, per-pixel lighting and stencil shadows, had already been implemented in many games released in 2003, even a budget title from Activision Value called Secret Service.

Rebuttals to critical reception

Reading these complaints, many gamers reacted harshly to a few of the complaints these critics have spoke of Doom 3. Many of these gamers claim that the "shortcomings" are not shortcomings at all, but are integral to the gameplay id decided to show.

For example, these people point out that Doom 3 is a remake of the original Doom - a game which did not have a great deal of high-end concepts common in today's more complex games. Remaking Doom in such a way, these people claim, would be to remove what made Doom popular in the first place.

This group also claims that the complaint concerning flashlights misses a key facet of Doom 3's gameplay - that the player will have to balance between seeing this enemy, and being able to defeat it. In the default game, almost every monster has glowing eyes, or some aspect of bioilluminescence which would give the player a target to aim at. When modifying the weapons to project light, these players believe, causes the aspect of "the unknown" to be less potent. Additionally, muzzle flashes can be enabled for marginally better visibility while firing.

Another rebuttal concerns the story of Doom 3, which is done through the use of audio and video logs. These fans feel that using logs like this harkens back to the age of System Shock 2 and aids the progression of the story just fine. Interestingly, it has been commented that normally the type of gamer who has played System Shock 2 is the breed of gamer who would be expected to be critical of the comparatively simple Doom 3.

Despite its 'flaws', the game was still a success for id Software, with the planned total revenue estimated by Activision at $20 million. This success was bolstered by the near-record number of pre-orders placed for the game. id Software also typically benefits from licensing the engine to other developers. Several games are already being developed using a modified Doom 3 engine, including Quake IV, Return to Castle Wolfenstein 2 and Prey.

On February 18, Doom 3 has garnered an average review score of 87.9%, according to

Software patent controversy

A week before the game's release, it became known that an agreement to include EAX audio technology in Doom 3 reached by id Software and Creative Labs was heavily influenced by a software patent owned by the latter company. The patent dealt with a technique for rendering shadows called Carmack's Reverse, which was developed independently by both John Carmack and programmers at Creative Labs. id Software would have been putting themselves under legal liability if they used the technique in the finished game, so to defuse the issue, id Software agreed to license Creative Labs sound technologies in exchange for indemnification against lawsuits. [2] (


Shortly following the announcement of Doom 3's development, a promotional website was released that pretends to be the homepage of the fictional corporation operating on Mars in the game. Until the announcement of gold status, the site served as a teaser; later a countdown to the release date was added. Website for Martian Buddy, a fictional corporation, prominently featured in the game has been revealed before the game launch.

Some other developers have also created websites for in-game companies in the past. For example, Rockstar Games created sites for most companies mentioned in commercials on the in-game radio in Grand Theft Auto.


Doom 3 continued id's long track record of creating games that were Linux compatible. This was primarily a result of id's decision to use the OpenGL standard for the graphics engine as opposed to Microsoft's proprietary Direct3D API which is only available for the Windows line of operating systems (including the Xbox). The executable for the Linux version can be found on id's FTP or BitTorrent server [3] ( TTimo also has a Wiki with information regarding the Linux version [4] (

Development team

Some work was done by outside specialists:

External links

fr:Doom 3 sv:Doom III


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