Developer: id software
Estimated Release: 2003
Doom III is yet another game for id software that has nearly impossible expectations to fill. With this release, id software is working hard to make a compelling single player experience and shed its image as a multiplayer only, or worse, a technology-oriented developer that has no sense of gameplay. id’s focus on the single player elements in Doom III may just silence the critics. There were no hands-on demonstrations of the game at the show, just a ten minute or so movie of the gameplay from a pre-alpha build dubbed “version 0.01” in the bottom right corner of the console, but the movie showed off lots of in-game elements.
The year is 2145 – a mega corporation known as Union Aerospace has colonized Mars, and some top secret research is being done at a R&D facility there. Right in the beginning of the movie, we see several soldiers guarding the facility having a discussion about changes in the day’s security codes and speculation on why they may have been changed. Immediately that struck me as something new for id – dialogue! Zooming in on the faces as they speak, we see immediately the level of detail id has put into the character models. Faces seem to be made from tons of bones and “muscles” –as they emote, different parts of the face, the cheek, brow, mouth, and more twitch and move in patches just as you would see in real life. Imperfections in the skin, scars, and hairs are apparent on faces, to about the same level of detail or better than we saw in the Diablo II CG cutscenes, but in Doom III, this was a scene using the in-game engine!
Incredible detail in musculature, facial structure, shadowing
Back to the movie, a scientist walks past some guards nervously (he is silent but these emotions are obvious b/c of the huge detail in facial animation) and steals away into a side room of machinery where he does a little tinkering, perhaps sabotage? A machine in the middle of the facility goes haywire, and some demon spirits leak out, flying through the facility. The camera focuses in on one as it penetrates and possesses a soldier, lifting him up into the air and dropping him back on his feet as he convulses violently and chokes to death. In the process, his face and skin decay away gradually. He is morphing into a zombie before our eyes until his head drops for a moment, then back up with his visor broken – the transformation is complete and the entire base has become overrun with evil spirits. Except of course, for the hero who has somehow escaped demonic possession. This is where the action starts!
Our hero comes down an elevator shaft with his combat helmet in hand, exposing his face. As the elevator comes to a halt, the camera goes to a close-up shot of his face as he looks around suspiciously, and lets out that familiar Doom snarling sound. Immediately he pops his helmet on his head, the camera flies around and into the helmet as if we are seeing the HUD on his visor display, which is basically, the HUD for the Doom III game. The pistol comes up, and the hero is off to do some damage; we got to see ten minutes or so of shooting, exploring, and hiding action within the game itself. The chronology of the events gets a little hazy in my head here as my notes become more sparse. Once the shooting started we became so engrossed in the action that all our attention had to be focused on the screen to take everything in.