shot1Doom Resurrection was released today [App Store] and we had an opportunity to speak with id Software's John Carmack and Escalation Studios' Tom Mustaine about the brand new title today in a telephone interview. We have also had time to play through the final version of the game and will be posting our review momentarily.

Clearly, one of the most talked about aspect of the game is the control system that has been called an "on rails" experience. Carmack and Mustaine both object to that characterization, however, and feel that by removing the free-roam aspect, it becomes far more accessible and better experience overall.

One of the things I like to say is if you compare this to one of our traditional FPS games like Wolfenstein 3D Classic to a lesser extent and even more with Doom Classic... but those games can look really good when you've got somebody who knows what they're doing playing around with it, somebody who is comfortable with the controls. But, the first pick up response on it generally is not that great even from a FPS person because it's a control set people aren't familiar with.
....
And with Doom Resurrection because you do trade off some freedom, you don't have the ability to roam everywhere, but the game looks good all the time. .... And it does have that sort of skill based progression just like you would have with a traditional FPS game but it just has a generally more sort of positive feedback on there without the downside of making people feel like they have no idea what they're supposed to be doing.

shot5

The companies also spent a large amount of time experimenting with controls systems for the game, almost scrapping the game altogether about half way through. The original iteration of the game had a "tap to shoot" mechanic which was simply not-fun. It wasn't until they discovered the tilt to aim mechanic that they felt they had a compelling enough game. They are particularly proud of their implementation which has not been used in other iPhone games yet, and expect it will be imitated in the near future.
Yeah I do take some pride in that traditionally as like id invented the FPS genre on the other platforms, I think we will be a bit of a trailblazer in control methods etcetera on the iPhone as well. It's a platform that I care quite a bit about and we are making an effort across all the products to make sure that they do all come out well. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I do expect this to be imitated.

In response to the question of App Store pricing, Carmack stressed that that was a very important part of the equation for the future of big-title games in the App Store. He believes that for the market to be able to sustain big AAA titles in the future, the App Store market is going to have to be able to support higher priced titles of at least $9.99.


[ Full HD version | Low Bandwidth version ]

A full transcript of the interview is included after the jump. We have more information on Doom Classic, Wolfenstein RPG and id's future iPhone plans which we will report in a separate article.

App Store Link: Doom Resurrection, $9.99


Gameplay Experience

Tom Mustaine: What did you guys think when you got your hands on it?

Arn / TouchArcade: I liked it a lot. The best thing was it felt like Doom. Of course, there are a lot of people concerned with the scripted "on rails" aspect of it.

John Carmack: We tried to avoid having it characterized like that, there is a stigma associated with that. (Tom: Kind of an old school stigma.) We like to talk about it as kind of a "crafted experience."

shot3One of the things I like to say is if you compare this to one of our traditional FPS games like Wolfenstein 3D Classic to a lesser extent and even more with Doom Classic -- which obviously not many people have seen yet since it's not released -- but those games can look really good when you've got somebody who knows what they're doing playing around with it, somebody who is comfortable with the controls. But, the first pick up response on it generally is not that great even from a FPS person because it's a control set people aren't familiar with, and just with any FPS, if you can't do the controls you generally tend to look stupid and it's not the most rewarding ... when you're bumbling around not doing what you want it to do.

And with Doom Resurrection because you do trade off some freedom, you don't have the ability to roam everywhere, but the game looks good all the time. You may wind up dying if you can't shoot the monsters effectively but you don't necessarily look like a fool when you're doing it, and the game is pretty cool to look at even when you're in the process of failing. And it does have that sort of skill based progression just like you would have with a traditional FPS game but it just has a generally more sort of positive feedback on there without the downside of making people feel like they have no idea what they're supposed to be doing.

That's a problem that we have all the time in high-level FPS game design. You can spend so much time building really awesome things that happen in the world, but the player is almost never cooperative, you know? They're almost never looking where you want them to unless you actually yank the control away from them which puts you again outside this free-roaming motion. The player will generally be looking off to the side or not even in the right place or they walk away when something cool is happening. So what we get for trading away some of the freedom on this is the controls make sure whatever cool stuff we put in everybody really gets to see.

shot4

Gameplay Controls

Arn: I understand that you hadn't initially gone with this design decision. Can you talk about how you came to this control system?

Tom: Yeah, early on when we all sat down initially and discussed this game, it was kind of a foregone conclusion that the thing you do is tap on the screen to shoot the monsters. That's what we implemented for the majority of the design (about half way through the development) before we actually took a stab at it to make a change. But honestly, up until the half way point, the game just wasn't really fun at all. It just wasn't resonating.

You play the game and you tap on the monsters with your finger and you move through the world and you'd be covering the monster with your finger and you didn't have the kind of compulsion you could expect, you know, that aiming mechanic you really need. So about half way through both id and us were really looking at this thing saying "It's not shaping up" and we were actually considering canceling it at one point.

But we got to a point where we made a change and moved over to the kind of accelerometer/aiming mechanic and what that did is literally overnight made the game go from being kind-of-not-fun to actually a really engaging experience and it finally captured what we wanted out of the thing from day one which was a distilled shooter experience. It captures all the elements you'd expect out of Doom and all the visceral combat and feedback and everything but it has that compulsion of micro-seconds of where I've got to aim at this guy, and I can't hit this one in the head quick enough, I've got to use more bullets on this guy and that really turned it from a game that was kind of half-and-half to a game that actually was hard to put down and that was a big part of it.

This is the first time that both Escalation and id have built a game like this, this is the first time we've built something outside of the standard traditional shooter realm that we know so there was definitely a bit of experimentation and iteration and what we ended up with is something we're all very proud of.

John: It is always interesting when you're presented with new user input capabilities and figuring out what the right thing to do there is. That's an exciting part but it's a risky part because we did go into this whole project saying we're not positive this is going to work and I was very careful to not pre-announce this project, not get anyone excited ahead of time because we were prepared to just kill it if it wasn't actually going to be a lot of fun. And it is interesting when you talk about dynamics. We used to talk about how we might do FPS dynamics, different ways of doing things here, and you can't just be doing them analytically. You can't just be staring up in the space and say "Well I think the right way to deal with a touch screen and accelerometer is like this." We did a bunch of that on this project, on Wolfenstein Classic and I've got other experiments on Doom Classic. In a lot of ways you have to try a whole bunch of things. In the classic games on there I've tried three or four other methods that aren't actually in the shipping game and other stuff I've tried since on Doom .... and you really have to throw a lot of things at the wall and see what winds up sticking.

Tom: We were actually really surprised. You guys saw my screen at WWDC. I've played almost every single other kind of what you'd call "shooter game" on the platform and nobody settled on this kind of aiming and shooting mechanic. I was actually pretty surprised, I think we're going to be setting a path for people. We put a good deal of time and money into this to ensure that it's a fun game and I think that's going to be beneficial to other people as they're building games in this kind of genre going forward so it was definitely an interesting experience.

John: Yeah I do take some pride in that traditionally as like id invented the FPS genre on the other platforms, I think we will be a bit of a trailblazer in control methods etcetera on the iPhone as well. It's a platform that I care quite a bit about and we are making an effort across all the products to make sure that they do all come out well. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I do expect this to be imitated.

Technical Capabilities of iPhone

Arn: Did you find the control system to be the major issue in creating the game? From a technical perspective can you talk about moving the Doom 3 assets over from a difficulty standpoint?

shot2John: Things came over visually pretty quickly. We had it looking good early on and we knew this was going to be a good hook because even the early versions that we didn't think were that much fun to play, we had some really strong reactions. Somebody was playing on the iPhone and somebody glances over their shoulder. An exact quote from one of the people was "Holy cow!" as this is not what they were expecting to see on the phone. But, that wasn't going to be enough to have us release the product with it. We had to get some other stuff up there.

There are some interesting things where it turns out [the iPhone] is more gated on the CPU than the GPU right now and we could have structured some things differently and made a little bit more push on there and even this doesn't max out the traditional iPhones. There are different ways we could do things to squeeze more performance out of there and certainly when you look towards the 3GS there's lots of opportunity there for doing different things. But from a technical standpoint, it all went reasonably smooth. You're never done, you can always spend more time and effort to make things more optimized or try out different techniques on there. But we learned a few things through this process, I learned a bunch on Wolfenstein Classic and Doom Classic and carried those things over. And we've got more stuff for all of these projects going forward, which there is going to be a lot.

Tom: That said too, there's also definitely a bit of a performance difference between the original devices versus the 2nd generation iPod touch which is the fastest device before the 3GS. So there's quite a bit of smoke and mirrors going on. Technically we achieved exactly what we set out on early on visually, and there are actually some visibility solutions in there that were inspired by what John and his team had done in Rage. So there's some pretty cool stuff going on under the hood to make Resurrection look as good as it does, but that does create some limitations because we had to make sure to target the devices that are out there and we didn't know anything about the 3GS until everybody else did about three weeks ago. We made some pretty specific decisions early on and got everything up and running really quickly, and it shifted to making sure it was fun.

Pricing and the App Store Market

Arn: You guys were at an advantage being able to use the Doom 3 assets developed previously, do you guys have any thoughts on the App Store pricing models in general. The App Store is becoming a very competitive and cheap market for a lot of things.

John: That really is a significant issue. Doom Resurrection is launching at $9.99. We'll see how it does there or if it's completely shunned. It is a significant deal for the platform even though the numbers are good for how many units are out there and how many units people are moving on different things. We've done quite well with Wolfenstein 3D Classic on there and certainly expect to do even better on Doom Classic. From a hardware standpoint, the iPhone should be a better gaming platform than what you've got on the DS and PSP. You've got some software things in the way that keep you from achieving all that you could with that but those are things that we have reasonable hopes that Apple will be evolving to address.

Right now you really couldn't afford a full-fledged, "do the best possible job" development on here. Doom Resurrection was a pretty expensive project to develop. I can't say for sure how it ranks relative to anything else but the big titles on the iPhone so far have been ports and the novel titles have been generally small projects.

This is definitely going to be up there, if not the most expensive to develop it's going to be in the top five probably. A team of professional developers who otherwise would be working on high end console titles are working on the iPhone here. And as I said, this is far from really maxing out what we can do on there. Especially now that we've seen one of the really good signs is that people buying Myst shows us that it's possible to go ahead and have hundreds of megs of downloads which encourages us to do things like mega-texturing on future things and all that kind of stuff.

Still, if you look at a DS or PSP game, if it's intended to be a AAA one, they spend millions of dollars developing those. If you want to look at the latest Zelda or something going on the DS those are very very expensive projects to develop. The iPhone can certainly do anything that you're doing on there and make a better game with it. If the average price of a successful app has to be $1.99 it's never going to happen. We hope that the market can stratify a little bit. Even if it stays at $9.99, the margins are better than other consoles and there are some other savings in there. If [iPhone] games could have a reasonable shelf life at $9.99, you will start seeing multi-million dollar development budgets as the market continues to grow. But if it turns out the only way you end up being successful on the iPhone is games that cost a couple dollars, you're never going to achieve that parity with the other handhelds.

  • http://www.astrosaurus.com astrosaurus

    Yowza, haven't paid for a 10 dollar game in I don't know how long. Hope it's fun!

  • http://www.astrosaurus.com astrosaurus

    Yowza, haven't paid for a 10 dollar game in I don't know how long. Hope it's fun!

  • http://www.2advanced.com Zandog

    I'll grab this one tonight, give my impression.

  • http://www.2advanced.com Zandog

    I'll grab this one tonight, give my impression.

  • Pitch_Blak

    Looks nice. I can already see a lot of comparison with this and the upcoming Doom Classic (Modern VS Classic).

  • Pitch_Blak

    Looks nice. I can already see a lot of comparison with this and the upcoming Doom Classic (Modern VS Classic).

  • booch138

    Holy hell I did not expect this to be out already. KICK ASS!!! I just picked it up. Can't wait to play it.

  • booch138

    Holy hell I did not expect this to be out already. KICK ASS!!! I just picked it up. Can't wait to play it.

  • RNF

    No deathmatch or multiplayer?

  • RNF

    No deathmatch or multiplayer?

  • spiffyone

    "I've played almost every single other kind of what you'd call "shooter game" on the platform and nobody settled on this kind of aiming and shooting mechanic"

    I haven't played the game yet...but...how is the accelerometer to aim mechanic any different than what has been used in other rail shooters on this platform? Iron Man, ExZeus, etc. all use the accelerometer to aim, and a "virtual button" to shoot. Or is id and company still comparing this game to the other FPS titles on the platform?

  • spiffyone

    "I've played almost every single other kind of what you'd call "shooter game" on the platform and nobody settled on this kind of aiming and shooting mechanic"

    I haven't played the game yet...but...how is the accelerometer to aim mechanic any different than what has been used in other rail shooters on this platform? Iron Man, ExZeus, etc. all use the accelerometer to aim, and a "virtual button" to shoot. Or is id and company still comparing this game to the other FPS titles on the platform?

  • spiffyone

    BTW, they're absolutely right in their assessment of price point for this platform.

  • spiffyone

    BTW, they're absolutely right in their assessment of price point for this platform.

  • rom

    "He believes that for the market to be able to sustain big AAA titles in the future, the App Store market is going to have to be able to support higher priced titles of at least $9.99."

    The market believes that in order for games to support higher priced titles of at least $9.99, they need to come with a boatloat of content and replayability.

    • Yagami_Light

      Exactly. I have no problems paying $10 for a game, but it better have a lot more content than the $1 games do (and this game doesn't really look like it will. A 2 hour rail shooter is not usually worth that much. I could be wrong though. Touch the Dead on the DS was $20, about 6 hours long, and totally owned. I'll wait for the inevitable price drop on this one though).

      • nojamesnotnow

        I agree that I will not spend $10 on this 2-3 hour long iphone game. But, being an avid xbox and wii gamer, i've spent that kind of money on similar length experiences before. Logically, I'm sure this game is worth it. Look at your own example, you paid $20 for a 6 hour long game on DS. They're asking for $10 for a 2-3 hour long game. Thats almost the same $/hour and yet for some reason, on the iphone...thats just not acceptable. Like i said, i'm not disagreeing with you, i will not be buying until it drops to about $5...but i think it is another great example of the pricing problems of the App Store compared to other gaming platforms. I agree with Id's argument that iphone gamers need to start paying a premuim cost in order to get more premium games....but that still doesn't mean i'm going to PERSONALLY buy it.

  • rom

    "He believes that for the market to be able to sustain big AAA titles in the future, the App Store market is going to have to be able to support higher priced titles of at least $9.99."

    The market believes that in order for games to support higher priced titles of at least $9.99, they need to come with a boatloat of content and replayability.

    • Yagami_Light

      Exactly. I have no problems paying $10 for a game, but it better have a lot more content than the $1 games do (and this game doesn't really look like it will. A 2 hour rail shooter is not usually worth that much. I could be wrong though. Touch the Dead on the DS was $20, about 6 hours long, and totally owned. I'll wait for the inevitable price drop on this one though).

      • nojamesnotnow

        I agree that I will not spend $10 on this 2-3 hour long iphone game. But, being an avid xbox and wii gamer, i've spent that kind of money on similar length experiences before. Logically, I'm sure this game is worth it. Look at your own example, you paid $20 for a 6 hour long game on DS. They're asking for $10 for a 2-3 hour long game. Thats almost the same $/hour and yet for some reason, on the iphone...thats just not acceptable. Like i said, i'm not disagreeing with you, i will not be buying until it drops to about $5...but i think it is another great example of the pricing problems of the App Store compared to other gaming platforms. I agree with Id's argument that iphone gamers need to start paying a premuim cost in order to get more premium games....but that still doesn't mean i'm going to PERSONALLY buy it.

  • Gekkota

    I am eagerly awaiting the "separate article" about when we can expect Doom Classic and Wolf RPG....since those are the games I am waiting for!

    • Crim

      Totally agree, I may grab this at $5, but Doom Classic is what I want!!

  • Gekkota

    I am eagerly awaiting the "separate article" about when we can expect Doom Classic and Wolf RPG....since those are the games I am waiting for!

    • Crim

      Totally agree, I may grab this at $5, but Doom Classic is what I want!!

  • WhySoSerious

    LOL....$9.99! ROFLMAO.....$9.99......Ahhhh hahahahahahaha....$9.99. no

    • LacesOut

      Think of it this way, it saves you having to ask your mother for a $10 iTunes card for mowing the lawn this weekend.

      • WhySoSerious

        huh? i'm 30, my mother has passed and I clear 77k a year....your comment is absurd.

      • K

        Oh, snap!

        Man, there are some cheap people out there...

  • WhySoSerious

    LOL....$9.99! ROFLMAO.....$9.99......Ahhhh hahahahahahaha....$9.99. no

    • LacesOut

      Think of it this way, it saves you having to ask your mother for a $10 iTunes card for mowing the lawn this weekend.

      • WhySoSerious

        huh? i'm 30, my mother has passed and I clear 77k a year....your comment is absurd.

      • K

        Oh, snap!

        Man, there are some cheap people out there...

  • Jeff

    I really enjoyed Doom back in the day but I don't know about this. $10 for 2-3 hours of gameplay? I got Peggle for $1 and the adventure mode alone took longer than that. Wolfenstein 3D even has much more gameplay time at $5 (now it's $3). If Doom Resurrection were half the price or double the gameplay time I would not hesitate, but 2-3 hours just seems short to me. I'm also concerned about the aiming system and I don't want to spend $10 to find out I don't like it. A lite version would help with that.

  • Jeff

    I really enjoyed Doom back in the day but I don't know about this. $10 for 2-3 hours of gameplay? I got Peggle for $1 and the adventure mode alone took longer than that. Wolfenstein 3D even has much more gameplay time at $5 (now it's $3). If Doom Resurrection were half the price or double the gameplay time I would not hesitate, but 2-3 hours just seems short to me. I'm also concerned about the aiming system and I don't want to spend $10 to find out I don't like it. A lite version would help with that.

  • dagamer34

    $10 games aren't "impulse buy" games, simply because the iPhone market isn't a casual "sit down and play a game for 4 hours" market. And the reason for that is controls; simply put, the iPhone isn't very fun to play for hours on end because of the lack of decent controls. Also, battery life for 3D games isn't good enough to support long playing sessions while still having a usable phone/ipod/video player. And that stuff won't be fixed without some magical voodoo.

    We'll see what the market looks like in the next few weeks/months/years. I suspect that because of the potential costs/opportunities that OpenGL ES 2.0 affords, developers will use iPhone 3GS-platform specific games to highlight what extra power can REALLY do for games, but make people pay $10-15 to get that content out to people.

    Lastly, the most important barrier for most people is the fact that never in the history of digital distribution have most people paid upwards of $50-60 for something that's purely digital. Most people feel comfortable buying something physical in their hands that they can hold, but a bunch of digital bits easily leaves them queasy. I know that's what is holding me back from spending so much in one fell swoop.

  • dagamer34

    $10 games aren't "impulse buy" games, simply because the iPhone market isn't a casual "sit down and play a game for 4 hours" market. And the reason for that is controls; simply put, the iPhone isn't very fun to play for hours on end because of the lack of decent controls. Also, battery life for 3D games isn't good enough to support long playing sessions while still having a usable phone/ipod/video player. And that stuff won't be fixed without some magical voodoo.

    We'll see what the market looks like in the next few weeks/months/years. I suspect that because of the potential costs/opportunities that OpenGL ES 2.0 affords, developers will use iPhone 3GS-platform specific games to highlight what extra power can REALLY do for games, but make people pay $10-15 to get that content out to people.

    Lastly, the most important barrier for most people is the fact that never in the history of digital distribution have most people paid upwards of $50-60 for something that's purely digital. Most people feel comfortable buying something physical in their hands that they can hold, but a bunch of digital bits easily leaves them queasy. I know that's what is holding me back from spending so much in one fell swoop.

  • http://booyaa.org booyaa

    wow, people will buy pc/console games just to have physical media. a game that's drm'd to f**k and costs up to 6 times more than this game? it's just available digitally, so what? apple/id aren't going to go belly up in the next few years (which is the max you'll play that game anyways).

    i don't see what the fuss it. i do expect if id crack the market with the $9.99 price point we'll definitely see this fabled apple premium appstore where all the other games publishers are going to start touting their games.

    i for one am looking forward to this. i'm tired of fart, spirit levels and pseudo porn apps. i want to see what the big guns can come up with for this platform!

  • http://booyaa.org booyaa

    wow, people will buy pc/console games just to have physical media. a game that's drm'd to f**k and costs up to 6 times more than this game? it's just available digitally, so what? apple/id aren't going to go belly up in the next few years (which is the max you'll play that game anyways).

    i don't see what the fuss it. i do expect if id crack the market with the $9.99 price point we'll definitely see this fabled apple premium appstore where all the other games publishers are going to start touting their games.

    i for one am looking forward to this. i'm tired of fart, spirit levels and pseudo porn apps. i want to see what the big guns can come up with for this platform!

  • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

    I'm amazed at how cheap people are. $10 is the price of a modest lunch, such as a burrito and a soda, or two slices of pizza and a soda. If you don't want to pay it, that's your choice, but whining about it wastes your time and ours.

    Yes, it would be nice if everything were 99 cents, but since many, many developers have said that's not a sustainable price, isn't it better to just pay up and have some good games instead of Palm-era joke apps?

    • whooley

      I agree jindofox. If you bought that modest lunch instead, it would last you 30 minutes. Buy this game and it'll last you a few hours, more if you replay it (which most people will).

      It's good value, and if we want in-depth titles on the iPhone then people have to expect to pay a decent price for them. It's all very well having tens of thousands of cheap games on the platform, but most of those are getting insignificant sales. It wouldn't surprise me if you see a lot of developers shying away from the platform, realising they can't make a quality game and sell for 1 or 2 dollars/euros/shekkels...

      • Brynjar

        Just a thought... Why is it that every time I read a thread, comment or article about app store prices, people are talking about how many hours of game play they are getting from a game and using that to judge how much it is worth??

        As an example to how weird that is:

        You can buy a 1.99 - 2.99 game that will give you over 20 hours of game play but you will already gotten bored of it after 1- 2 hours. but hey.. you can stick out another 18 hours if you want that's the real value?

        The game will most likely have had a very sad budget so the developers went for quantity over quality since. yes.. that's what people are demanding.

        Would it not be better to get a kick ass 2 - 3 hour game with great graphics and great game play through out the entire time rather than 20 hours of crap graphics and crap game play?

        Another Example:

        Lion king 1 was GREAT - Feature - big budget - big talent - cinema release
        lion king 3 Sucked - straight to video - small budget - interns - cheap

        both films offer same display time. One is cheap and one is not.

        What is being asked for is Lion king 3 and unless people will realize this... the app store will even move from lion king 3 to King Lion 3 made in Taiwan

  • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

    I'm amazed at how cheap people are. $10 is the price of a modest lunch, such as a burrito and a soda, or two slices of pizza and a soda. If you don't want to pay it, that's your choice, but whining about it wastes your time and ours.

    Yes, it would be nice if everything were 99 cents, but since many, many developers have said that's not a sustainable price, isn't it better to just pay up and have some good games instead of Palm-era joke apps?

    • whooley

      I agree jindofox. If you bought that modest lunch instead, it would last you 30 minutes. Buy this game and it'll last you a few hours, more if you replay it (which most people will).

      It's good value, and if we want in-depth titles on the iPhone then people have to expect to pay a decent price for them. It's all very well having tens of thousands of cheap games on the platform, but most of those are getting insignificant sales. It wouldn't surprise me if you see a lot of developers shying away from the platform, realising they can't make a quality game and sell for 1 or 2 dollars/euros/shekkels...

      • Brynjar

        Just a thought... Why is it that every time I read a thread, comment or article about app store prices, people are talking about how many hours of game play they are getting from a game and using that to judge how much it is worth??

        As an example to how weird that is:

        You can buy a 1.99 - 2.99 game that will give you over 20 hours of game play but you will already gotten bored of it after 1- 2 hours. but hey.. you can stick out another 18 hours if you want that's the real value?

        The game will most likely have had a very sad budget so the developers went for quantity over quality since. yes.. that's what people are demanding.

        Would it not be better to get a kick ass 2 - 3 hour game with great graphics and great game play through out the entire time rather than 20 hours of crap graphics and crap game play?

        Another Example:

        Lion king 1 was GREAT - Feature - big budget - big talent - cinema release
        lion king 3 Sucked - straight to video - small budget - interns - cheap

        both films offer same display time. One is cheap and one is not.

        What is being asked for is Lion king 3 and unless people will realize this... the app store will even move from lion king 3 to King Lion 3 made in Taiwan

  • Grab

    this game kicks ass. worth the 10 bucks..

  • Grab

    this game kicks ass. worth the 10 bucks..