QuakeCon 2001: Doom III demoed

John Carmack shows off the next Doom game's impressive graphics and talks about his vision for game graphics.

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A short real-time demo of the next Doom game marked the pivotal moment of today's QuakeCon press conference. John Carmack, id Software's renowned programmer, presented a series of scenes from the game before launching into his more-general talk on the state of game graphics. The demo highlighted many of the features of the new Doom graphics engine 2689004first shown at MacWorld Tokyo in February, notably the dramatic real-time lighting and shadowing effects and highly detailed character models. Every pixel on the game has bump-maps and other surface effects to make for a very high level of realism.

The most dramatic scene in the demonstration took place in a white-tiled bathroom. A dead body was seen lying on the ground when a pink demon walks up to the cadaver and takes a bite out of its stomach, disemboweling it. The demon, a creature returning from the original Doom games, has been transformed by the leap in graphics quality, and now can be seen walking lithely on its four feet in a way that conveys frightening power. Another scene showed a demon walking through a flaming environment, full of particle-based sparks. A more action-filled shot centered on a creature breaking through a many-paned window, shattering the glass in a leap that could have been straight out of a sci-fi action film.

John Carmack went on to talk about what makes the next Doom engine a generational leap beyond Quake III: Arena. The big visual difference is due to a per-pixel lighting model that will require an average of five to six rendering passes on GeForce256, GeForce2, or Radeon cards, which represent the minimum that id plans to support for the game. The effects on some individual pixels in a scene may require up to 50 passes (graphics chip clock cycles). The game is intended to run at 30 frames per second on a GeForce3 with all visual options on, although it will certainly be faster on future hardware.

The new lighting model represents a major shift. Instead of using pre-calculated light maps, much more is rendered in real time, and all objects are lit using the same methods. Carmack summed this change up with his comment, "lights are first class citizens," now on par with objects. Map designers can move lights around in the level editor in real time to be sure each one is casting light and shadows to maximum atmospheric effect. Carmack talked quite a bit about graphics hardware, emphasizing how the state of game graphics is intrinsically linked to evolving hardware capabilities.

We had the opportunity to speak with Carmack at greater length after the event. We'll post this video interview soon.

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