QuakeCon 2019, or the “Year of Doom,” was as fun and exciting a QuakeCon as any. You could feel in the air the hype for Doom Eternal and the official recognition of Doom’s 25th anniversary. It’s, of course, one of the greatest and most important games ever made.
And there was plenty of Doom stuff. One of the best conventions props I’ve seen, the towering Arch-vile statue, made a very welcome return, this year holding a Doom Eternal sign. In the line to sign up for the Doom Eternal demo there were display cases with some artifacts from Doom history.
On display at the Doom: Eternal booth were some of the original clay models used by the artists.
Right next to the Doom Eternal booth was an area to play the Nintendo Switch versions of Doom, Doom II, and Doom 3. I gave each several minutes’ play, and, while competent, there was nothing special about them to recommend checking out if you have Doom up and running on your PC. The Doom 3 version was a port of the BFG Edition, not of the original Doom 3. Given the demo station’s setup, I didn’t experience the online login issues others have noted. However, the Doom II demo did freeze on me, and I had to ask a Bethesda representative to get it working again.
The Doom Eternal demo, which I played, was the same one from E3. It was a little troublesome as the keyboard and mouse was setup for right-handed play only, without the option to change the controls. Thus, movement and aiming were a bit awkward for me. (I use my left hand on the computer mouse.) A gamepad was available to use, but I just… couldn’t.
The keynote featured an extended look at Doom Eternal‘s Battlemode. To win, the Doom Slayer must defeat both opposing demons within 20 seconds. If only one demon is killed, it will respawn in 20 seconds, though with only half health. In any given Battlemode match, the fully-loaded Doomslayer has the advantage, so it’s up to the two demon-controlling players to work as a team. The keynote demonstration also featured one of the new demons to the single-player campaign: the Doom Hunter. It seems to be a cut above most of the other demons, to say the least.
At one of the panels, “Knee Deep in the DOOM,” id’s Hugo Martin played through the same demo as on the show floor while he and Marty Stratton provided commentary. They stressed that many of their design decisions were to keep the game challenging while also providing adequate guidance for the player.
For example, some demons, like the Arachnotron or the Mancubus, have a push-back move so that players can’t just get up on them with the double-barrelled shotgun—at least, not before getting them to stagger some way. The rocket launcher fires slower and causes more self-damage to prevent players from spamming it. Different demons have different functions; some, like the Hell Knight, are made to create pressure for the player by getting up in their face. The Carcass demon creates force fields in front of the player, or in front of other demons, to hinder the player.
Martin and Stratton used “speed chess” to describe the combat and also compared controlling the Doom Slayer to controlling a race car: You have to keep moving. You can check out the fully narrated gameplay demonstration here.
For another bit of Doom celebration, there was a panel on the importance of Doom featuring Kevin Cloud, senior producer at id and one of the artists on the original Doom; Martin, creative director at id; Jerk Gustafsson, executive producer at MachineGames; Todd Vaughn, senior vice president of development at Bethesda Softworks; and Tom Mustaine, co-studio director at Bethesda Game Studios. Some interesting stories were shared, such as two classic id tales Cloud related: one on the old id office’s “battle axe,” and another on its unfortunate proximity to a dentists’ office.
But it was not only Doom at QuakeCon 2019. I checked out some of the other booths in the expo hall as well.
Dreameater Games and Rizzo Island
I stopped at Dreameater Games’ booth to check out Rizzo Island. This is a game that runs on the Dreamcast and Windows 98, and yes, the booth had both a Dreamcast and an original Windows 98 PC setup. The PC was running a Pentium II and a 3Dfx Voodoo 2 graphics card.
Creator David Croshaw has based the game on his late uncle’s, Tom Rizzo’s, music. As the music never caught on, Croshaw sees this as his chance to honor his uncle’s passing and spread awareness of his music. This personal inspiration, in addition to the nostalgia of a Windows 98 and Dreamcast game in 2019, make Rizzo Island an intriguing indie title.
In the game, you play as Rizzo. He has fallen onto an island while traveling in his “psychedelevator.” Now he has to find his way back to this interestingly named vessel and return home. In each of the game’s levels, you must collect rune stones, shaped like CDs, and combat some small, mole-like enemies who spit projectiles at you. You can bounce these projectiles back at them with what looks like a guitar.
The game’s demo is built with the nuQuake engine as the base. The full game released on Steam will use the Darkplaces Quake engine, and later releases will use the Unreal Engine.
The final game will be 13 levels long, with a planned Steam release in addition to the Windows 98 and Dreamcast versions. There will be a limited physical release online, and it will also be available in some retro game shops in Dallas-Fort Worth, with more locations to come as a possibility. There is a two-level demo available on itch.io.
Glorious PC Gaming Race
Glorious PC Gaming Race is a PC gaming accessory company founded in 2014. The CEO and founder, Shazim Mohammad, started this company based on the “PC Gaming Master Race” meme and his own diehard passion for PC gaming. I stopped by their booth to get a feel for the new mouse model they were showing off: the Model O -. This is a smaller and lighter version of the company’s Model O mouse. Its main selling point is its lightness, though there are other gaming-specific features to do with precision for esports play. Apparently, even the wired version feels like a wireless mouse in practice. If you want to learn more, you can check out their website here.
Portal’s Edge 360’s Tempus 84
Portal’s Edge 360 has put together a very early demo for their recently revealed VR title, Tempus 84.
The demo was a little spotty, mainly just with oversensitive movement controls on the pads—which the developers admitted to—but this is a very early build of a VR game, so technical difficulties such as that are expected. In the game, you play as a time traveler testing out a new piece of technology, and in the process, you go on some unexpected adventures. You could be doing a routine mission and plan to return home, but then discover that you’ve actually been teleported to yet another time period. My favorite moment was standing in the rain-swept back alley of a downtown city area, the first time period I teleported into. There is potential hear to see some interesting locations. Do note that the name of the game refers to the year you start out in: 2084.
For more information on Portal’s Edge 360, check out their website.
One of my favorite booths at the show was of Delicious Doom, a chocolatier who has some very tasty, homemade chocolates. Another major selling point is the shape of each piece. One of the chocolates was of the Millennium Falcon. Cool as it was, I chose to pick up a semi-sweet, minty dark chocolate dragon. Added coloring was present, as well, and the taste was pure, delicious chocolate. I went by a second time, but they had sold out; otherwise, I would have picked up more.
Check out their website to learn more about these tasty, finely shaped treats.
Stack Up is a charity group that helps active-duty service members and veterans via video games. Both the founder, Capt. Stephen Machuga, and others who volunteer for the organization vindicate the power of gaming to help people deal with emotional distress and depression.
I encourage you to the read stories previously linked and also to check out Stack Up’s website. It helps active-duty military personnel and veterans with these programs:
- Supply Crates sends packages filled with gaming goodness to troops
- Air Assaults take veterans to gaming conventions
- The Stacks are local volunteers for any given area
- Stack Up Overwatch Program provides mental health and crisis assistance
Peace, Love, Rockets, and Doom
As it has been each year, QuakeCon 2019 was a fun and boisterous gathering of PC gamers and gaming enthusiasts of all kinds. The gigantic LAN setup in the BYOC (“Bring Your Own Computer”) gives QuakeCon its unique flavor while the show floor, panels, live competitions and tabletop area lend it the characteristics of a large and exciting game convention. I look forward to attending next year. And who knows; maybe it will be the year of Quake (5)? Only time will tell.