In 1992, Id Software broke out big with the release of Wolfenstein 3D, using their own proprietary engine. The first-person shooter (FPS) essentially spawned the genre and launched a series all its own. But soon after its release, the esteemed John Carmack stumbled upon a method to greatly improve the development of 3D games. This work became the DOOM engine and birthed the Doom game series that would take the games industry by storm. The series influenced nearly all subsequent shooters and its influence is still felt today.
Released in 1993, Doom had a simple objective: find the exit, kill anything that stands in your way. But the game was far more than a bland shooter. The sci-fi horror game was the vanguard for 3D graphics and multiplayer gaming. It created a gaming sub-culture that is still alive and vibrant today. It is not uncommon to see large-scale Doom tournaments at gaming events.
The game is also notable for the controversy it started. With a huge leap in graphic quality (relative to its time period), the violence and "hellish" themes stirred up a hornets nest of detractors. Most famously, one critic called Doom "a murder simulator". The game, of course, weathered the storm and remains one of the most popular shooters of all time.
In most regards, 1994's Doom II offers fans more of the same. The game did not deviate dramatically from the high-quality FPS experience delivered in the first Doom. The story remained a simple excuse to fight hordes of demons - and hordes there were. Id double the number of regular monster types roaming the game and brought back Doom's bosses for an extra appearance of enemies. The game also featured improved level design, featuring "MAP07: Dead Simple, which is regarded as one of the best deathmatch maps ever published." Despite its similarities with its predecessor, Doom II sold remarkably well and kept the franchise strong and alive.
Final Doom, released in 1996, was actually a stand-alone set of Doom II modifications: The Plutonia Experiment and TNT: Evilution. Famous Doom map creators Dario Casali and Milo Casali produced The Plutonia Experiment while TeamTNT (the Casali brothers' old affiliates) created TNT: Evilution. In fact, Id Software bought the rights to the game literally just a few days from when it was to be released to the Doom community for free - much to the ire of fans.
While the games were a hit, Final Doom is distinctly different from the franchise. Like Doom II, Final Doom is largely considered an addition to the series, not a Doom title all its own. Regardless, the game is notable for its increased difficulty and its relationship to Doom's vibrant modding community.
About a decade after the release of Doom and Doom II, Id Software finally developed and released Doom 3 to the world in 2004. Announced in 2000, the game was a meant to be a reboot of the franchise from the beginning. Built with the latest Id Tech 4 game engine, which supported lush lighting and shadow, Doom 3 aimed to revive the series with a modern feel without deviating from the standards set by Doom.
While previous Doom games could be frightening at times, Doom 3 used its lighting features to advance the atmospheric sense of foreboding and terror like no other game in the franchise. Players could only hold a weapon or a flashlight, not both, forcing them to venture down poorly lit corridors without knowing which abomination lurked in the shadows. The game also took a lesson from Silent Hill, broadcasting unsettling radio transmissions during the game.
Id also used the reboot as an opportunity to delve into the story of Doom 3 like never before. Professional science-fiction writer Matthew Costello was brought into the team to pen the script. Set again on Mars, the story once again delves into the dangers of portals that lead to hell.
Doom 3 marked a huge success for Id, becoming the most successful game for the studio to date. The game also released a successful expansion pack in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil. In a celebration of Doom 3 and the entire Doom franchise, Id Software will release Doom 3 BFG Edition on October 6, 2012. The game will features updated graphic and audio quality, along with Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil and a new single-player expansion called The Lost Mission. The game also comes with copies of the original Doom and Doom II, for those eager to relive the history of Doom.