Overview - Doom
Despite its age, the landmark 3D game Doom continues to generate a lot of interest
with regard to its availability or otherwise for Acorn computers.
For some years an almost complete version has existed, but until now it had never been
released due to the cost of the licence required to release the game. This has now
all changed, with R-Comp Interactive releasing a proper, legal, full release of
Doom for Acorns, complete with full sound, MIDI music and a true-colour mode, as
well as support for all Doom, Doom 2 and Ultimate Doom WADs (level files). It was released at the Acorn SouthWest show in Bristol on the 7th of February.
Doom retails at 35 pounds, and for this you get three CD-ROMs which include
Ultimate Doom, Doom 2 Master Levels, 3000 extra levels and - of course - the Acorn Doom player software. You can play full-screen at resolutions up to 1024x768 in 256-colour
modes, and there is also a 24-bit colour mode in which you can only go up to 480x352 full-screen. Acorn Doom will also multitask and run in a desktop window, and in this
mode you can run at any resolution you like - larger than 1024x768 if you want! You can
also enable a 'zoom' option, but on my Risc PC 700 this is actually slower than running
at an equivalently scaled resolution.
You get full sound, but you need a MIDI synthesiser for the music, not that you'll be missing a huge amount if you don't hear the music - it's not very tightly tied to the game at all. But it's great to finally have an Acorn game which supports MIDI music.
It's a bit slow on my Risc PC 700, although still mostly playable, but it really comes into
its own on StrongARM-equipped machines. It won't work on pre-Risc PCs at all. You can order
the game from R-Comp on (01925) 755043.
You can also email R-Comp at email@example.com.
Multiplayer network support, as I understand it, is not directly supported by this release,
but the various hooks are there for an enterprising programmer to develop suitable drivers for it should they so wish.
Coinciding with R-Comp's announcement of an official release, however, was
the news that iD had released the original source code for Doom into
the Public Domain, so it is now possible for anyone with the requisite ability
to compile the game for their own use.
Jack Parkinson did just that for
Acorns, with a port which runs at between 20 and 30 frames-per-second in
320x200 in 8-bit colour on a StrongARM Risc PC, but since R-Comp's announcement
that they have acquired the exclusive rights to all RISC OS releases of Doom,
Jack has withdrawn his previous intent to release his version.
Jack initially agreed to a delay of at least two months, but it now looks unlikely that his
version will ever be released.
Another Acorn programmer, David Császár, has in fact released his own port of the free Doom Linux sourcecode, which can be downloaded from [link removed at R-Comp's request]. This version
is pretty basic, and nowhere near as fast or as polished as the commercial release. R-Comp
have said that they are now taking legal action against David.
For those who want to examine the source code themselves, you can get it from
ftp://ftp.idsoftware.com/idstuff/source/doomsrc.zip, but note that it is hard to gain access to this FTP site - you could try early in the morning when most US citizens are asleep.
Prior to these recent Doom events, certain people had managed to illicitly get hold of copies of an
unreleased Acorn version, and at one point this was illegally made available for public
download from the internet. This version caused some considerable interest on the internet in Autumn 1997, and a RISC OS Doom level editor was released, called DoomEd. In fact, it is this original
port which has now been developed into R-Comp's commercial release.
The most accurate explanation of the full story came from the original Acorn author of
the game, Eddie Edwards, who had previously programmed and published a full port of iD Software's preceding blockbuster game, Wolfenstein 3D (now available at a much
reduced price from Beebug/Risc User).
The following text is reproduced from the Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.acorn.games, and is copyright Eddie Edwards. You should be warned that it contains strong language which you may find offensive.
Subject: Re: Acorn Doom. ID Software suing Eddie Edwards?
Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 10:34:45 -0600
Wolf3D cost me $10,000 for the license, but I published it myself under
the name "Powerslave Software" which took costs up substantially. 2,000
copies of the game were made, of which approx. 300 were sold at AW95,
~100 mail-order and the rest through distributors (the last 300 were done
as a job lot). Distributors don't pay much, though - RRP £30, Eddie
Edwards gets £15; manufacturing is £3, income tax, etc. etc. etc. At the
end of the day it was tight to break even. Then Greyhound went bust,
owning me £6,000, at which point I thought maybe Powerslave Software
should fold (I didn't bankrupt myself, thank God!)
DOOM was originally priced at $250,000, but as Jay Wilbur said
(paraphrase) "That's the price we give to the Atari's of this world". We
had worked a deal whereby the license would be $25,000. I was in
negotiation with one of the faces of the Acorn scene to pay the license,
but at the end of the day it was looking ropey profit-wise (i.e. very
very risky) and then Greyhound folded and I decided to call it a day.
"It's a day," I said.
During negotiations a *very* small number of people got copies, and I
know *exactly* who they are ... and so do they. Id Software are, AFAIK,
not even aware of the existence of a downloadable Acorn DOOM port - they
will be when they read their email this morning. No legal action is
So ... whatever happened to Eddie Edwards? Well, there's a new PC game
coming out this month (see today's CGW) called QAD by Cranberry Source,
for which I was the lead programmer. If you like it. Otherwise I was
the teaboy ;-) This is my first effort at Intel assembler and, God, it's
nasty but, God, it's f**king fast! The Pentium was shit-hot; the MMX is
just soooooooooooo sexy it makes me ... OK, use your imagination.
FLOATING POINT, guys, FLOATING POINT. The Pentium-120 does 120 MFLOPS
peak. OTOH, the PC market is so up it's own arse that I can't bear it.
Maybe I'll go and code on the Newton for a while ;-)
Anyone with problems with Wolf 3D or questions or anything like that can
contact me at:
or write, or come round for a smoke:
49 Witherington Road
London N5 1PN
All opinions are my own, except the facts, which are facts.
...this page last updated: 4/7/98...
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