E3 2002: Doom III more details

We spoke with id Software's Todd Hollenshead to get more details on Doom III's setting and gameplay.

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Given the amazing quality of the game's real-time sequence and the fact that there's room for fewer than 30 people in a small theater in the Activision booth, it's no surprise that the 11-minute demo of Doom III is the most exclusive at this year's E3. We've already written up our extensive 2867326impressions of the demo and of the sneak peak, which Tim Willits gave at the one-time conference, but for more details on what the final game will be like, we caught up with Todd Hollenshead, id Software's CEO. He was able to answer some of the biggest questions we still had about the game after seeing the in-game footage.

As it turns out, Doom III is a "retelling" of the original Doom, rather than a sequel to the events of the previous games. This return to the beginning of the Doom saga explains why the opening sequence of the demo showed what seemed to be the initial release of hellish demons into the world. Some of the original story elements have been changed--the game takes place on Mars, and there's no mention of the teleportation experiments between Deimos and Phobos. The game is set entirely on Mars, though Willits assures us that occult, demonic settings and imagery like those in the original game will also figure into Doom III. A lot of the creatures in Doom III are the same as the ones in Doom, but they obviously look much better. The original models created for the monsters are made up of more than 100,000 polygons but are then scaled down as much as possible without losing that high-quality look.

Explaining the concept of the game, Hollenshead said that id is "going more for fear than fast action, so it's a moody, dark, really scary game rather than a twitch game." Part of this is that the pace of the game has been dramatically slowed down. Encounters with monsters are more "intimate," and the sequences are designed to make players fear for their life. To pull that off, id has moved from having monsters that are essentially "roving gun turrets" to creature designs that are individually more terrifying.

The single-player is the focus of the game, but id will have a "simple but fun" multiplayer. Basically, it will be a deathmatch experience, as opposed to anything more revolutionary. The developers haven't gotten to the point where they've designed anything for the multiplayer, so they haven't explored how to balance it with the game's slower movement speed. There are a few different options for balancing the multiplayer to make for fun deathmatching, including speeding up the player movement.

On the technical side, Hollenshead pointed out that the game is being built in sequences for dramatic effect, rather than taking a more straightforward conventional approach to level design. The sound engine is completely new and uses six-channel Dolby Digital 5.1 support to help immerse the player in the game's horror-movie atmosphere.

While Hollenshead wouldn't venture a guess on how much of the game is done, he says that Doom III is "definitely a 2003 release--or John [Carmack] is going to fire us all."

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