John Romero, E1M8b, and Immediacy

John Romero and his new Doom map illuminate something great about being a modern content creator.

I was surprised when a post by John Romero appeared on our Twitter feed announcing his first Doom map in 21 years. It was exciting enough that I installed my copy of Doom on Steam (for simplicity sake). This was also a good opportunity for me to check out Brutal Doom, which I had heard a lot about. You can watch my escapades below.

After I posted the above video to our channel, I was enjoying watching the Facebook group as well as our Twitter feed. There was, of course, a flurry of YouTube activity after the release. Much of it was created well before I created the above video. It was fun to watch John interact and comment on these goings-on.


That got me thinking about the benefits of being a content creator in this social media age we find ourselves in. YouTube is the ultimate pool of play-testers; not only do they play content, but they record it and provide a running commentary. John Romero got almost instantaneous feedback on his newest creation.

Game companies should be leveraging this powerful tool. I’m reminded of the odd decisions that Nintendo has made in regard to “let’s play” videos by strangling YouTube artists’ income. Sony recently and unsuccessfully tried to copyright the term “let’s play,” which could have had disastrous consequences for everyone involved.  I’m not sure that the big game companies are quite ready for this age of openness.

It’s their loss. The people are chomping at the bit to give them mountains of information that many companies in the know are dying to have.


As a side note: the new Doom level really exposed to me just how shoddy modern FPS map making really is.

With E1M8b, we have an area to explore that feels like an actual space (even with the 90’s graphics). The level progresses in a logical way, with multiple paths and clever road-blocks. As an adult, I’m realizing just how damn clever those colored keys really were. You always feel right on the verge of knowing where you are and also being completely lost. That cannot be an easy thing to accomplish.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s one of the biggest game releases this year: Call of Duty: Black Ops III. I’ve been playing that recently as well, since I received it as a Christmas gift. It’s a fun game, but it really isn’t any more complicated than whack-a-mole with snappy graphics. The entire game exists as a strange story-telling tube device; it’s constantly pulling you forward down the hallway and yelling at you if you’re not doing what the game wants you to do. “PULL THAT LEVER SERGEANT. HEY! I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO PULL THAT LEVER!” If you stand still, the game will harass you incessantly. What’s the point of pulling the lever? It’s there to give you the illusion of being in control.

John Romero may well be the greatest level designer in the history of first person shooter games. Level designers at Activision should download E1M8b and study it. They’re far removed from what John was doing at id. If they attempt to replicate it now they might kick-off another FPS revolution.


UPDATE: I did run through the map with no jumping (minus one lapse, which I corrected.) It is linked below.

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