During QuakeCon 2019, I had the chance to sit down as part of a round-table interview with Marty Stratton and Hugo Martin, executive producer and creative director, respectively, at id Software, and ask a few questions about Doom Eternal.
TechRaptor: So after a long period of dormancy coming off of Doom 3, I wanted to know what’s it like with the Doom reboot behind you and it being a success, and now having the opportunity to work on a sequel, what has it been like to revitalize this franchise both for the old fans but, given the huge gap of years, bringing it to a new generation of gamers that maybe hadn’t grown up with Doom?
Marty Stratton: It’s super rewarding. We have so many people, whether you’ve been at id a long time or a short period of time, all of us work for id to be able to work on Doom. So to be able to reboot it the way we did with [Doom] 2016 was incredibly rewarding. But it was all very much from the feelings of those original games. And it was just fantastic to be able to go back to that and find the pieces that worked and that are universal and then bring those forward. And I think that’s why we were able to capture both classic—people who loved Doom since they first played it back in ’93 or ‘94, or whenever they played it since then—and also then it’s like just good ingredients; they work even in Doom 2016. That’s been fantastic.
We went through a lot as a team as we made Doom 2016. You have a lot of defining how you’re making the game, what you’re making, what it means, what does Doom mean, so we answered a lot of those questions in the course of making that game. And to have a team that’s as strong as we have that has been through that together. Our leadership has gone through that together.
You get to basically then approach a sequel with the idea that we can really, really swing for the fences with this one. You don’t have to have all those tough, really time-consuming conversations. We know what it is, I think that’s where, like when you look at the way we’ve approached Doom Eternal, and how it comes across on the screen, I think you can see a team that’s really in full stride, with decision making, with creative and tech, like everybody really just knows which way we’re going with it, and it just comes across on the screen. I think gamers really benefit because we’re more efficient than we’ve ever been, and making better choices than we’ve made. We’ve listened to them as well. They’ve given us a lot of great feedback that we’ve pulled into the game. It’s just a great time frankly. A lot of work that went into it, now we get to really push ourselves.
TR: With this game, you’re making a whole Doom universe, bringing in new locations that haven’t been a part of the lore, beyond just the UAC, Hell, and Earth. In general, what has it been like and what has been your team’s philosophy behind expanding this universe and balancing it with what the lore has been and bringing in new places to it? What has it been like to take the classic lore and expand it?
Hugo Martin: I think it’s been good for the game. The goal is to make every aspect of the game engaging. A good game is engaging—grabs a hold of you and takes you on a journey for x amount of hours. So like, I think, lore and story and everything, having a background and a history to it adds to the engagement level. If you look at Game of Thrones, or Star Wars, these are worlds, fully realized universes, that have depth and history. It just makes for a more interesting entertainment experience. It’s a necessity, you have to do it if you want to make something good and entertaining and engaging.
Secondly, it’s been fun because— it’s kind of a perfect opportunity because it’s a brand that has a lot of meaning to people but it didn’t have a lot of story. So we were able to look at it as a whole—not so much the specific story of the original Doom, of the marine and all that stuff—which is great. I don’t want to say too much, but we’re certainly respectful of that storyline in Doom Eternal. But we could look at it in 2016 as a whole and say: What does the brand mean to people at a high level? This super badass take, one man against the armies of hell, you know, that guy’s pretty badass. So how do we spin that and make that an interesting and somewhat believable storyline while still being like completely comic book and crazy? We arrived at the story of the Doom Slayer and stuff, and in Eternal we’re going to answer a lot of questions: Is it the same Doomguy, all those things. So it’s been very fun and honestly kind of easy to work with because you could do anything and the brand itself is so strong and fun. It’s just been a blast turning him into this character that everybody loves, reintroducing him to a whole new generation of fans.
TR: Since Tim Willits is leaving id Software, what does he mean to you and what will his legacy mean to you going forward at id Software?
Stratton: I’ve known Tim a long time, even before I started at id. I’ve been at id almost 20 years. I’ve worked with him going all the way back to the Quake 1 mission pack days, I was their producer at Activision. So I’ve known Tim a long time and really respect what he brought to id as a designer. It’s like somebody you’ve worked with for 23 years. Really respect what he’s done as a designer, and we’ve kind of been on separate paths, as we’ve done the DOOM stuff he’s taken the reigns on Rage 2 and Quake Champions. I’ve really respected what he’s done, and I know he’s going to be successful in whatever he does. He’s a good designer and is going to do great.
Martin: Marty has a far longer working relationship with [Tim] than I do. I came at the start of DOOM 2016, and that project was run by Marty, so [Tim] was working on the Quake Champions stuff and the Rage stuff. So I don’t really have a working relationship with him, other than he’s awesome and he’s Tim Willits, and he’s participated in some amazing games, going back to Quake. And I loved Rage 1, I played the sh*t out of that game. I’m playing Quake II single-player right now at home. Just a tremendous legacy, and as [Marty] said, I’m sure whatever Tim does next, it’s going to be equally successful.
Stratton: Probably the best indicator is my favorite game until we made DOOM 2016 was Quake III. I was a Quake III: Arena…I mean, the amount of time that I’ve spent playing Quake III: Arena…and not just because I worked on it. I love it. He was the lead designer on that, so I have a lot of respect for that. It will be cool to see what he does next.
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