Doom lead designer
Hall was originally the creative director and lead game designer for Doom, and is the author of the Doom Bible, the original 1992 design plan for the game. Although he lost his job after various disputes with John Carmack over the design of the game, numerous elements of his documentation carried over into the release of the game. Hall introduced several central gameplay elements during development; teleportation devices--now seen as rather standard fare in FPS games--were unfavored by the team, and Carmack and Romero only added them after considerable argumentation from Hall. According to Romero "Tom pushed to put teleporters in". This reflects the same situation Hall faced when arguing for the inclusion of "secrets" in Wolfenstein 3D, the previous FPS effort by id Software. Says Tom, "I really fought to have those." During development of Doom "secret areas" were already expected, having become a natural part of the FPS vocabulary. Hall also had to argue at length for the inclusion of flying and airborne enemy entities to the game canvas, which were not implemented until shortly prior to his departure. Other elements introduced by Hall, essential for gameplay although visual in nature, were concepts such as having the door trim match the color of the needed key.
He has stated he ultimately "was totally unhappy" working on the game, because he felt the development team "were getting way too minimalistic in player reward", saying "[I] wanted a reason for the person to go through the levels, rather than [just flipping] a switch". The game turned into what Hall characterized as "just a raw shooter", and the gaming world he envisioned, with character abilities, puzzle elements, environment interaction, cinematics, back story and game content, was being minimized or deleted altogether.
Hall is also credited with naming the file format; WAD.
Post id designs
Having written the design document for Doom, including the back story taking place on Tei Tenga, he reused parts of it during his later career. As example; Hall co-produced the game Terminal Velocity for 3D Realms, and used Tei Tenga as an episode setting for the game. Game characters found in the original Doom design documents also make an appearance in Hall's next effort; Rise of the Triad, developed for Apogee. The game received Ziff-Davis' Shareware of the Year Award in 1995, making Hall the only person who has received the award twice. His first was for Wolfenstein 3D in 1992.
Doom design legacy
Hall's input is not limited to the original Doom alone; his designs still appear in the subsequent installments of the franchise. One of the levels he had designed for an alpha version of Doom, Refueling Base, found its way to Doom II. The Unmaker, a weapon involving spiritual soul powers described and presented in the Doom Bible, later appeared in Doom 64, the 1997 port for the Nintendo 64 console. The non-linear hub system he envisioned - and which was partly implemented in Doom 0.5 - can be found in Quake II. Doom 3, released in 2004, uses a monorail, which was the transportation system laid out in Hall's design document. The game also implements the interactive computer terminals that had been designed a decade earlier by Hall.
Post id career
Hall joined Apogee in 1994 upon being fired from id Software. During his time with the company he was the creative director for Rise of the Triad, produced Terminal Velocity and was engaged in the development of Duke Nukem II and Duke Nukem 3D. He left Apogee on August 12th, 1996.
After programmer and designer John Romero left id Software, Hall and Romero teamed up again and founded Ion Storm. After the company was closed Romero and Hall founded Monkeystone Games. Hall later left for Midway Games and joined KingsIsle Entertainment in 2005. In 2011 Hall joined Loot Drop, and in May of 2013 he started as principal designer at PlayFirst.
He suffered a stroke on April 13th 2010, but was released from rehab on April 21st.
Hall was the designer of several maps in Doom and Doom II, although these were tweaked or expanded in varying degrees by Sandy Petersen or John Romero. The Alpha versions of Doom contain several other maps of his design in varying stages of completion.
A complete list of these maps follows:
Doom level design credits
- E1M4: Command Control (finished by Romero 1)
- E1M8: Phobos Anomaly (finished by Petersen)
- E2M1: Deimos Anomaly (finished by Petersen)
- E2M2: Containment Area (finished by Petersen)
- E2M3: Refinery (finished by Petersen)
- E2M4: Deimos Lab (finished by Petersen)
- E2M7: Spawning Vats (finished by Petersen)
- E3M3: Pandemonium (finished by Petersen)
- E3M7: Limbo (finished by Petersen)
Doom II level design credits
- MAP10: Refueling Base (finished by Petersen)