My Favourite Game Art – DOOM
Published on 22 April, 2021
Through their passion, expertise and talent, our artists shape worlds and universes. Their dedication breathes new life into a wooden table or a piece of clothing. We love creating 3D art for video games, but often we also love just booting up out platform of choice and playing! And some games leave such an impact on us that we can never forget them, no matter how old they are. This is the case with Octavian Fenes, Junior Artist, who really loves DOOM and wants to share a little bit of his fascination with us all. Happy reading!
Hi, everyone! In this article, I’d like to talk about what I consider to be one of the best game series of all time, namely DOOM (id Software). I believe that these games have a unique art style that is preserved and expanded upon in subsequent titles.
One of the most interesting things about the original games is the abstract level design. DOOM was born in a time when computers were so much slower. I mean, the worst smartphone today is much more powerful than state of the art hardware in 1993. The developers were therefore forced to adapt, and it actually turned out to be one of its defining characteristics and what sets it apart from other games. The levels in the original DOOM have nothing in common with reality, except for vague, brief moments that serve to remind you that you are supposed to be in a Hangar, or a Nuclear Power Plant or some kind of cargo area. It not only facilitates wildly creative gameplay and visuals, but it also gives the game an air of mystery, allowing the player to fill in the blanks themselves.
John Romero, co-creator of DOOM, also released a separate, unofficial episode called SIGIL. It was made with modern Doom modding tools and, while it is more detailed than the original, it still strictly adheres to the original style of classic Doom.
The UAC (Union Aerospace Corporation)
The UAC bases are defined by a grungy, industrial theme. They feel decidedly anti-human and their layouts are often confusing. You walk in and an overall sense of distant dread fills you. You are completely alone. It is just you and the demons hiding in the walls.
In the first level, Hangar, there is a starkly decorated room with a few textures that seem to be computer panels. Some kind of control tower? There are no chairs, no tables, no clipboards with notes, no pictures of family members on office desks, no cafeterias serving food, nothing that indicates that humans actually worked there at one point, only the vague impression of a place.
No one knows for sure what these places actually are but there are often hints that help our imaginations go in the right direction, such as level names and certain structures. The environments of DOOM don’t make sense on a realistic, logical level, but they make sense on an emotional level and that is what makes them timeless.
Now we get to what is arguably the most interesting place in DOOM: Hell, the dimension of the demons. This is the theme that embraces the abstract nature of DOOM the most. If the game vibe feels anti-human in the UAC bases, it feels perfectly at home in Hell. This is where any semblance of reality is thrown out of the window.
As you move through Hell, it becomes apparent that the demons have no culture, no impulses other than the basest of instincts. They do not make delicate, elaborate structures, only crudely thrown-together buildings. And when they do create familiar structures, they are mockeries of what they represent, base imitations. I believe the only reason they create them in the first place is because of the emotional response they receive from them. The demons are expressions of pure id and their hideous constructions are a reflection of this. The id is, according to Freud:
“[…] the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the dreamwork, and, of course, the construction of neurotic symptoms and most of that is of a negative character, and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations.” – Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1933
DOOM’s unique art style is preserved even across games that are decades apart. The environments in the new games look like they could be “demade” in the old games and vice versa. This maintains a kind of visual consistency that is rarely seen in other game series. As such, it manages to maintain this visual consistency even if later games take the series in either a darker or more whimsical direction. Sometimes, there are even textures made in 1993 that are lovingly recreated by the artists.
Well, to conclude, I will also include a translation I made of a short story written by a famous author from my country named Mircea Cartarescu, nominated for the Nobel prize twice! The story is called Computer Games forever and while it is about a different game called Heretic, that game is like DOOM in a medieval setting and it perfectly captures the atmosphere of id Software games. You can read it here.
By Octavian Fenes, Junior 3D Environment Artist.
Edited for length and clarity.
“We’ve been very happy to work with AMC: from early stages until the end, they always did their best and reached our standards of quality within tough- and sometimes changing- constrains.”
Ahmed BOUKHELIFA, Producer, EDEN Games
“AMC was an excellent partner. Their work was done in a timely manner and to the standard that we were looking for. This included adapting to the unique “Graphic Noir” texture style that The Darkness II maintains. I would highly recommend them based off of my experience on this project.”
Jeff EDWARDS, Production, Digital Extremes
“AMC has shown themselves to be at the highest tier among our outsourcing vendors. Their talent is excellent and their technical expertise shows that they have years of experience working in the game industry. Highly recommended.“
Rodney LUM, Art Outsourcing Manager, Disney/Propaganda Games
“Our experience working with AMC has been excellent… a professional and well managed operation delivering high standards of work on time and to budget.”
Vassos SHIARLIS, Studio Outsource Manager, Disney/Black Rock Studio
“We loved using AMC so much, that we had them working back-to-back schedules starting with Mercenaries 2 and then continuing immediately on Saboteur. They did roughly 60% of our outsource work and their quality was excellent. When the time comes, we won’t hesitate to use them again.”
Carey CHICO, Executive Art Director, Pandemic Studios/EA
“AMC is a great partner! They always achieve our art quality expectations. They are adapting to changes quickly and deliver on time and budget. AMC’s character art team is top notch and we love the cooperation with the whole team!”
MICHAL DRTINA, OUTSOURCING PRODUCER, HANGAR 13
“We had the opportunity to experience the full potential of long-distance cooperation. We are extremely satisfied with the quality and productivity of our joint work on World of Tanks 1.0. AMC has shown that it is ready to challenge the complexity and tight due dates. Great specialists who know their field and are ready to constantly maintain and raise the quality bar.“
Yakov Yaskevich, Vehicle and Environment Art Supervisor, Wargaming.net
“AMC has been a pleasure to work with throughout the duration of our partnership on Scavengers. They always deliver high quality work, are very accommodating to any updates to the production schedule, and continuously seek to improve their craft. They’re a very dedicated team that has performed above and beyond our expectations, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them.“
Audrey Mladina, Producer, Midwinter Entertainment
“Overall, the general collaboration was great. The quality of the delivered assets was great, coming with a great understanding in visual design, form and artistic language, and your experience helped us a lot with adapting our vision from the concept art phase to the 3D models. This was also emphasized by a great communication between our teams and I loved that we shared the same work ethics and mentality that are center focused on delivering the best quality work we can produce.“