For other uses, see Doom (disambiguation).
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Missing image
The Doom title artwork, painted by Don Ivan Punchatz, depicts the lone hero, a space marine, fighting demonic creatures.

Developer(s) id Software
Publisher(s) id Software
Release date(s) December 10, 1993
Genre First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single player
Multiplayer (cooperative)
Multiplayer (deathmatch)
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature (M), Teen (T) (for Game Boy Advance version), BBFC: 15 (except for Game Boy Advance release)
Platform(s) PC (MS-DOS), various

Doom1 is a 1993 computer game developed by id Software, and one of the most seminal titles in the first-person shooter genre. Combining immersive 3D graphics with graphic violence, it became both controversial and immensely popular; the shareware version is estimated to have been played by 15 million people. Beyond defining many gameplay elements of first-person shooters, Doom established a subculture in popularizing networked gaming, and WADs, expansions created by players themselves. The game's success influenced the mid-1990s boom of first-person shooters to the degree that these games are sometimes known as "Doom clones".

The Doom franchise was continued with Doom II: Hell on Earth (1994) and numerous expansion packs, including The Ultimate Doom (1995), Master Levels for Doom II (1995), and Final Doom (1996). Originally released for PC/DOS, these games have subsequently been ported to various other platforms, including eight different game consoles. The series lost appeal as the Doom game engine became obsolete after the mid-1990s, but was revived with the 2004 release of Doom 3, a retelling of the original game using new technology.


Game overview

Missing image
Episode I: Knee-Deep in the Dead takes place in the military base on Phobos. In this image the player is currently using the chainsaw, a powerful mele-only weapon. Pools of toxic waste are visible on both sides, and a zombified marine approaches.

The player takes the role of a nameless space marine (although in the Doom novels his name is Flynn Taggart) who has been deported to Mars for assaulting a senior officer after being ordered to kill unarmed civilians. He is forced to work for the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC), whose biggest supplier—the military—is performing secret experiments with teleportation between the moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. Suddenly, something goes wrong and creatures from Hell start coming out of the teleportation gates. A defensive reponse from base security fails to halt the invasion. All personnel are killed or turned into zombies, and the moon bases are swiftly overrun, with either very few or no survivors. A UAC team from Mars is sent out to investigate the incident, but soon radio contact ceases and only one human is left alive—the player, whose task is to make it out alive.


Main article: Gameplay of Doom

As a first-person shooter, Doom is experienced through the eyes of the main character (who spends most of his time shooting down enemies). The game has a strong exploration element, as the levels are usually nonlinear and there are plenty of secret areas and hidden power-ups. Progression through a level often revolves around finding keys or remote switches to open doors that enable access to new areas of the level, until an exit room (invitingly labelled with a red EXIT sign) is found. The player has to avoid pits of nukage (i.e. pits of green liquid slime) when rallying to the exit.

The game's eight weapons are a mix of futuristic and modern equipment, including a chainsaw, a shotgun, and the immensely powerful BFG9000. The enemies that the player must overcome include military personnel zombies and various demons from Hell, such as brown, spike-covered imps, the Minotaur-like Barons of Hell, and grotesque Cyberdemons (Half-Cyborg, half-Minotaur monstrosities). The enemies are not particularly intelligent and rely on brute force and greater numbers—sometimes twenty to one or more—to overwhelm the player. Enemies not only attack the player but also other enemies that might have damaged them by accident; skilled players will purposefully trigger this "monster infighting." Luckily, the player moves much more quickly than any of the monsters.

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Episode III: Inferno is set in Hell. The player has just fired the shotgun at a group of Imps and is reloading it. He is badly injured and has only seven shells left.

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Episodes and levels

Main article: Episodes and levels of Doom

The original Doom consists of three "episodes," each with nine levels. Only the first eight levels, of which the last is a boss-battle, need to be completed to finish an episode; the ninth one is a secret level that can be accessed from within the first seven. The first episode, Knee-Deep in the Dead, was released as shareware, while the second and third episodes (Shores of Hell and Inferno, respectively) are only available in the registered and retail versions.

Knee-Deep in the Dead takes place in the high-tech UAC bases on Phobos. Shores of Hell continues on Deimos within bases now crumbling and interwoven with beastly architecture. Deimos has been teleported into the actual universe of Hell. The transformation culminates in Inferno, set in Hell, whose environments are largely built of marble, rock, wood, and flesh. The early high-tech levels have names suggesting that they are set in specific installations (e.g., Hangar, Nuclear Plant, and so on), although the resemblances are vague. Indeed, all of the environments portrayed in the game are fairly abstract and could be said to have a surreal style.


Aside from the single-player game mode, both Doom and Doom II feature two multiplayer modes playable over a network: these are "co-operative", in which two to four players team up against the legions of Hell, and "deathmatch," in which two to four players fight each other. Doom was not the first first-person shooter with a deathmatch mode—MIDI Maze on the Atari ST had one in 1987, using the MIDI ports built into the ST to network up to four machines together. However, Doom was the first game to allow deathmatching over ethernet; furthermore, it introduced deathmatching to a wide audience and was also the first game to use the term "deathmatch". The deathmatch multiplayer mode became extremely popular and was further promoted by id Software's Quake, released after Doom II in 1996.


Main article: Doom engine

Doom's primary distinguishing feature was its realism, enabled by features such as its 3D graphics and stereo sound; the Doom experience provided a level of immersion that had not previously existed in a computer game. The game's graphics were in 1993 unparalleled by other real-time-rendered games running on consumer-level hardware. Doom's main advances over Wolfenstein 3D in graphics technology were:

  • Height differences (all rooms in Wolfenstein 3D were at the same altitude);
  • Non-perpendicular walls (all walls in Wolfenstein 3D ran along a rectangular grid);
  • Full texture mapping of all surfaces (in Wolfenstein 3D, floors and ceilings were not texture mapped); and,
  • Varying light levels (all areas in Wolfenstein 3D were fully lit at the same brightness).

The height differences, diagonal walls and texture mapping allowed levels to feature more detailed and convincing environments than previous game engines had made possible. The variable lighting, while contributing to the game's visual authenticity by allowing effects such as highlights and shadows, perhaps most importantly added to the game's atmosphere and even gameplay; the use of darkness as a means of frightening or confusing the player was an unseen element in games.

In contrast to the static levels of Wolfenstein 3D, those in Doom were highly interactive: platforms could lower and rise, ceilings could come down crushing the player, floors could raise sequentially to form staircases, bridges could raise and lower. The life-like feeling of the environment was enhanced further by the stereo sound system, which made it possible to roughly tell the direction and distance of a sound's origin. The player was kept on guard by the grunts and gnarls of monsters, and would receive occasional clues to finding secret areas in the form of sounds of hidden doors opening remotely. Monsters can also become aware of the player's presence by hearing distant gunshots.

The Doom engine, programmed primarily by John Carmack, had to make use of several tricks for these features to run smoothly on 1993's home computers. Most significantly, Doom levels are not truly three-dimensional; they are internally represented on a plane, with height differences added separately (as of 2004, a similar trick is still used by many games to create huge outdoor environments). This leads to several limitations: it is, for example, not possible for a Doom level to have one room over another. This two-dimensional representation does, however, have the benefit that rendering can be done very quickly, using a binary space partitioning method.

Impact and controversy

By 1993, id Software was already renowned for Wolfenstein 3D, which by common definition is considered the first PC first-person shooter. Doom exceeded its predecessor in terms of popularity as well as critical reception and influence on the industry, and is today widely regarded as one of the most influential games of all time, laying a foundation for the popularity and further development of 3D action games during the rest of the 1990s.

The phrase "" was initially popular to describe the style of gameplay, but after  was gradually replaced by the more generic and descriptive "".
The phrase "Doom clone" was initially popular to describe the style of gameplay, but after 1996 was gradually replaced by the more generic and descriptive "first person shooter".

Dozens of new first-person shooter titles appeared following Doom's release, and they were often referred to as "Doom clones" rather than "first person shooters". Some of these were certainly "clones"—hastily assembled and quickly forgotten about—others explored new grounds of the genre and were highly acclaimed. Doom's principal rivals were Apogee's Rise of the Triad and Origin Systems' System Shock. When, three years later, 3D Realms released Duke Nukem 3D, a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi shooter based on Ken Silverman's technologically-similar Build engine, id Software had nearly finished Quake, its next-generation game.

In 1994, Doom was awarded Game of the Year by both PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World. It also received the Award for Technical Excellence from PC Magazine, and the Best Action Adventure Game award by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. In the magazine's ten-year anniversary issue (April 2004), PC Gamer proclaimed Doom the most influential game of all time. Doom was also was voted the "#1 game of all time" in a poll among over 100 game developers and journalists conducted by GameSpy in July 2001 [1] (

The game sold a total of 1.5 million copies. While a large number, this was not extraordinary—for comparison, the contemporary graphical adventure game Myst sold a record-breaking 9 million. A better measure of Doom's popularity is the distribution of the shareware version, which is estimated to have been downloaded and played by 15-20 million people. Notoriously, there are some reports that Doom at a point was a serious threat to productivity and that networks were clogged by deathmatches and shareware downloads. The problems led some, including Intel and Carnegie Mellon University, to form policies specifically disallowing Doom-playing during work hours.

Doom was and remains notorious for its high levels of violence, gore, and Satanic imagery, which have generated much controversy from a broad range of groups. It was also notorious for early versions that contained a hidden swastika on one level, that was removed in later versions. It has been criticized numerous times by Christian organizations for its diabolic undertones and was dubbed a "mass murder simulator" by critic and Killology Research Group founder Lt. Col. David Grossman. Doom prompted fears that the then-emerging virtual reality technology could be used to simulate extremely realistic killing and in 1994 led to unsuccessful attempts by Washington state senator Phil Talmadge to introduce compulsory licensing of VR use. The game again sparked controversy throughout a period of school shootings in the United States when it was found that several of the students involved in shootings, including Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were avid players of the game. A false rumor also spread that Harris had used Doom to practice for the shootings (see: Harris levels).

Development and release history

Main article: Making of Doom

Some of the Doom monsters were digitized from clay models.  Here,  sculpts the .
Some of the Doom monsters were digitized from clay models. Here, Adrian Carmack sculpts the Baron of Hell.

The team behind Doom consisted of:

Doom was inspired by many sources, including the Alien and Evil Dead series of movies. Many parallels exist between Doom and those series; including similarities between The Company of the Alien universe and the UAC of Doom's, and the idea of entering an infested base severely outnumbered. Doom's primary influence from Evil Dead shows up in the form of zombies, and the use by the protagonist of each of both a shotgun and chainsaw. The game was also influenced to some degree by the literary works of author H. P. Lovecraft. This, however, was more subtle although the use of Lovecraftian symbols on the teleporter gate textures are a direct reference. The use of demons as the primary enemy in Doom could also have very well been a result of his works. The final section, Inferno, is clearly influenced by the first canticle of the Divine Comedy by Dante.

As witnessed by creative director Tom Hall's "Doom bible" design document, written in late 1992, Doom was originally intended to be very different from Wolfenstein 3D in gameplay, although most of his suggestions, such as a developed story, complex characters, interactivity and cut-scenes were ignored by John Carmack, who conceived Doom as a straight shooter. Most of these ideas were implemented during the decade following Doom release in other FPS games.

Over the course of its development, the game underwent significant changes. Following the first official release, several upgrades that addressed bugs and added new features were released. id Software has later on, due to public interest, also released some of the game's early alpha versions and an early press release version:

  • 0.2 alpha (February 4, 1993): consisted of a single, highly primitive level
  • 0.4 alpha (April 2 1993): featured a few more levels
  • 0.5 pre-beta (May 22 1993)
  • Press release (October 4 1993): contained three levels similar to the final game, was programmed to stop working after October 31

See also: SPISPOPD

Versions and related products


Main article: Versions and ports of Doom

Doom was released for many systems and consoles, including the following: DOS, Microsoft Windows, QNX, Irix, NEXTSTEP, Linux, Apple Macintosh, Super NES, Sega 32X, Sony PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, 3DO, and Xbox (included with Doom 3). An arcade version using a "virtual reality headset" (an LCD screen an inch (25 mm) from the player's face) also existed. Some of these ports differ considerably from the original version. For example, the graphics in the Super NES version had to be degraded due to performance concerns, and the Nintendo 64 version, titled Doom 64, is in most respects a separate game, with redesigned graphics and an entirely different set of levels.

The source code of Doom was published by id Software in 1997 under a proprietary license. The game was then ported to various other operating systems; in late 1999, the source code was re-released under the terms of the GNU General Public License, and several unofficial Doom source ports based on this source have been developed by fans. Most ports contain considerable changes to the game, including bug fixes, the removal of engine limitations, and various new features.

Missing image
In this screenshot from Doom II: Hell on Earth, the player has just fired the double-barrelled shotgun, thus exploding a chaingun-equipped zombie.


A sequel to Doom, titled Doom II: Hell on Earth, was released on October 10 1994. Doom II consisted of thirty regular levels, plus two "secret" levels, which nearly duplicated episode 1 level 1 and episode 1 level 9 of Wolfenstein 3D (These levels even went as far as to include the S.S. soldiers from the original Wolfenstein game). The engine and gameplay were the same as Doom, with an additional weapon (the super shotgun) and new monsters added. The two secret levels were missing from the version marketed in Germany because they depicted Nazi symbols, illegal under German law (see the article on Wolfenstein 3D for more information).

Due to its heavy graphic violence, Doom II, like the original Doom, received an ESRB rating of "M", with the exception of the Game Boy Advance port, which was rated "T". The game also marked id's departure from the shareware marketing strategy, releasing this game through Activision. Doom II has sold for over $100 million (Masters of Doom, page 210), with a total of over two million copies.

In 1995, a new version of Doom was published; titled The Ultimate Doom, this release included the three original episodes as well as a new, fourth one, named "Thy Flesh Consumed". Registered users of the original Doom release were allowed to upgrade freely to this, in effect making it a free update of the original game. Another year later, in 1996, two new 32-level episodes for Doom II were released: "The Plutonia Experiment" and "TNT: Evilution", collectively known as Final Doom, both developed for id Software by TeamTNT. None of these were available as shareware; like Doom II, they were only sold as commercial versions.

Doom 3 was released on August 3 2004; the game uses an advanced game engine and is said to be a retelling of the original Doom rather than a conventional sequel. Prior to its release, a special 2-CD was issued containing Ultimate Doom, Doom II and Final Doom, along with a trailer for the new game.

Games using the Doom engine

The game engine was licensed to several other companies as well, who released their own games based on it, including Heretic, HeXen, Strife and HacX. There is also a Doom-based game released by a breakfast cereal maker as a product tie-in called Chex Quest, in which the player becomes a Chex Cereal soldier, annihilating Flemoids and snot-based enemies and rescuing fellow soldiers in a four area adventure. id Software created a completely new 3D engine, then released the successor to Doom: Quake, in 1996. Quake's success mirrored that of Doom for the remainder of the 1990s, though it was the last id Software's game to dominate the FPS market, as Quake II and Quake III were accompanied by very successful Unreal and Unreal Tournament by Epic.

The United States Marine Corps also released Marine Doom (based on Doom II [2] ( ) to "teach teamwork, coordination and decision-making" ( Although limited in its scope due to technology, it was used as a valid training method at the time (


A set of four novels about Doom were written with permission of id by Dafydd Ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver. The books, listed in order, are titled Knee Deep in the Dead, Hell on Earth, Infernal Sky, and Endgame. All were published between June 1995 and January 1996 by Pocket Books.

Additionally, a comic book was issued in May 1996, produced by Tom Grindberg of Marvel Comics as a giveaway for a video game convention, and original art from that project was put up for auction on eBay in April of 2004.

On January 31 of 2005, Doom: The Board Game was released. It resembles the classic game Space Hulk. [3] (

There is also a movie based on Doom currently in post-production. The Rock stars as Sarge and one of the characters is named Dr. Carmack, an obvious nod to id Software employee John Carmack.

Strategy guides released in printed editions include:

  • Robert Waring: Killer Doom: Tips & Tricks, Brady Publishing
  • Jonathan Mao Mendoza: The Official Doom Survival Guide, ISBN 0-7821-1546-2
  • Rick Barba: Doom Battlebook: Secrets of the Games series, Prima Publishing, ISBN 1-55958-651-6


  • Doom, as well as Labyrinth of Death (Лабиринт Смерти), a fictional virtual reality multiplayer game inspired by Doom ideas and images, is extensively featured in the "Labyrinth of Reflections" trilogy by Russian author Sergey Lukyanenko.
  • In Jazz Jackrabbit 2 in the episode-selection screen the player is allowed to try the Shareware Demo of the game. The Episode-screen is a parody of the Doom II box-art and even the text "Shareware Demo" is written using the Doom font. This is ironic since the game was released by Epic, the creator Unreal-games, the biggest competitor of id's Quake franchise.

Fan activity


Main article: Doom WADs

Since the first level editors for the game appeared in 1994, several thousands of custom levels and miscellaneous modifications — WAD files — have been created. The idgames FTP archive contains over 12000 files, and most likely only represents a fraction of all that has been made. Also, since John Carmack, one of the lead designers at ID, released the Doom source code in 1997, many ports to the game's engine (called sourceports) came into creation, ranging from engines that aim to bring Doom's graphical standard closer to modern games, engines that aim to create wide new aspects of gameplay features, and some that simply aim to recreate the doom experience as closely as possible to the original. With these sourceports, people have been been able to make WADs(doom's data file format) which not only can change the textures, sprites, sounds, and maps of doom, but also create completely new atmosphere and gameplay aesthetics.

Speedrunning competition

Main article: Doom speedrunning

Devoted players have spent years creating speedruns for Doom, competing for the quickest completion times and sharing knowledge about routes through the levels and how to exploit bugs in the Doom engine for shortcuts. Achievements include the completion of both Doom and Doom II on the Ultra-Violence difficulty setting in less than 30 minutes each. In addition, a few players have also managed to complete Doom II in a single run on the Nightmare! difficulty setting, on which monsters are twice as fast and respawn some time after they have been killed (level designer John Romero characterized the idea of such a run with "it's just gotta be impossible!" [4] ( Movies of most of these runs are available from the COMPET-N website.


  1. The title was chosen by John Carmack, who, when asked about it in an interview, answered:
There is a scene in "The Color of Money" where Tom Cruse [sic] shows up at a pool hall with a custom pool cue in a case. "What do you have in there?" asks someone. "Doom." replied Cruse with a cocky grin. That, and the resulting carnage, was how I viewed us springing the game on the industry. [5] (
The title may also be written "DOOM", fully capitalized; id Software themselves are inconsistent in choosing between "Doom" and "DOOM". The spelling variation "DooM", most probably stylised after the game's logo, is also occasionally encountered, but has fallen out of use almost completely nowadays.


  • David Kushner: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, Random House Publishing Group 2003, ISBN 0-3755-0524-5

External links

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Official product websites
Content resources
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et:Doom es:Doom fi:Doom fr:Doom it:Doom ja:DOOM nl:Doom pl:Doom pt:Doom (jogo) ro:Doom sv:Doom zh-cn:毀滅戰士


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