Post Script

EDGE - - PLAY - In­ter­view: Marty Strat­ton, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer

Af­ter some quiet time to let the adren­a­line set­tle, we get to­gether with Id Soft­ware ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Marty Strat­ton to talk about the stu­dio’s pulse-rais­ing re­buke to an in­dus­try that felt like it was leav­ing this sort of thing be­hind. The game took a long time to make – how do you feel now that it’s fi­nally out? Great! We spent that Fri­day, the en­tire week­end and a lot of Mon­day lit­er­ally just watch­ing peo­ple play the game on Twitch. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing win­dow into how peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence your game, and I haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced that with a launch be­fore, so it was re­ally cool. Were you ner­vous about re­leas­ing a game with an old-school back­bone into the mod­ern FPS mar­ket? You’re al­ways a bit ner­vous with any game, just be­cause you’ve only shown it to such a small sam­ple of peo­ple. But I was more anx­ious about other things, like the way the up­grades work, the runes, and even the story to an ex­tent. I’m re­ally happy to see peo­ple en­joy the way that we ap­proached sto­ry­telling in the game. Doom Slayer isn’t par­tic­u­larly com­pli­ant through­out – is that a nod to play­ers who would likely prize ac­tion over nar­ra­tive? Ab­so­lutely. If there was a mis­sion state­ment, it was that play­ers aren’t com­ing to a Doom game for the story, they’re com­ing to blow things up and kill demons. That fed into how we ap­proached the open­ing: you have a gun in your hand within the first few sec­onds. But sub­tler things, too – that scene where Dr Hay­den starts talk­ing to you and you grab the mon­i­tor and throw it to the side. We wanted to say, ‘A Doom story is some­thing you push to the side.’ You can in­vest in it, but you’re not just go­ing to sit around and take or­ders. Was it tough to bal­ance the game’s down­time with such in­tense com­bat? I have to credit our de­sign group, and ev­ery­one on the team, be­cause we just played it a lot. We hit a cou­ple of mile­stones through devel­op­ment where you’re mak­ing a level where it’s like, ‘That’s it, that’s re­ally good. More stuff like that.’ We’re lucky to have a cou­ple of guys lead­ing our de­sign team, Jerry and Ja­son, who have both been Id de­sign­ers for over ten years. They’re both big Doom fans – they un­der­stand that bal­ance. In mul­ti­player, the weapons feel less hefty, which is a shame given their strong pres­ence in the cam­paign. I know what you’re say­ing, and I think there are a cou­ple of con­tribut­ing fac­tors. Another part of mak­ing play­ers com­pet­i­tive right off the bat is that we wanted them to have longer en­gage­ments – a kind of dance, not just run into a space and get hit by a rocket or a vor­tex and you’re dead in­stantly. We wanted it to be that when play­ers get shot, they have an op­por­tu­nity at that point. I think that prob­a­bly con­trib­utes to that feel­ing. Also, one of the things that we spent an im­mense amount of time on is en­emy hit re­ac­tions, and that’s part of what makes the game feel so vis­ceral and con­nected. When you hit an en­emy with a gun, you re­ally feel it. But you can’t blow a mul­ti­player guy’s arm off or do the same level of hit re­ac­tion and force them to step back when they’re hit by a Su­per Shot­gun. Why re­move the weapon wheel in mul­ti­player? There were sev­eral con­tribut­ing fac­tors there, but the big­gest one was that we wanted to put peo­ple on a more level play­ing field out of the gate. Up un­til Doom, Quake III was my favourite game we’ve made, but there’s an as­pect of it in the way a skilled player can ab­so­lutely lock down a map by con­trol­ling weapons, and it’s what a com­pet­i­tive player likes about it. We made a con­scious de­ci­sion to try to give play­ers more of a head start right out of spawn. I still feel like it was a good de­ci­sion. I know there’s a lot of dis­cus­sion about it, but we’re con­sid­er­ing changes and up­dates as we go for­ward to give peo­ple what they want to play. And how about the bosses? De­spite the spec­ta­cle, the more pre­scribed na­ture of their de­sign can jar against the game’s freeform com­bat. Y’know, bosses are hard. I’m look­ing for­ward to do­ing more on them, be­cause I think we got our feet on their ground and they’re good, but there’s a part of me that… hon­estly, I’d love to con­tinue work­ing on them. But we don’t do any­thing where you’re on rails – we never put you in a he­li­copter and force you to shoot from a mounted po­si­tion. I think that the bosses are fun, and what works for me is that they’re a nice pace-breaker in a game where you don’t do a lot of set-piecey type stuff. While SnapMap is ex­tremely user-friendly, the trade-off is that it con­strains cre­ativ­ity to a de­gree. SnapMap is one of those things that we’re go­ing to feed like noth­ing else. I to­tally get the sen­ti­ment, and I un­der­stand ex­actly where peo­ple are com­ing from who’ve had more of a mod or level-build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. And it’s a mis­sion of ours to re­ally close that gap as best as pos­si­ble. I feel bad be­cause I can’t go into a lot of specifics on fu­ture plans, but we want Doom to have legs for a very long time, and a big part of that is con­tin­u­ing to sup­port SnapMap and the peo­ple who are mak­ing con­tent with as many new as­sets, fea­tures and func­tion­al­ity as we can.

“If there was a mis­sion state­ment, it was that play­ers aren’t com­ing to a Doom game for the story”

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