A couple of days ago, I was watching the ending credits of Doom II: Hell on Earth. And while doing that, I couldn’t think of anything else but what a masterpiece I had played.
For those that are not familiar with the game, Doom II is a game released in 1994 by id software, creators of the first person shooter (FPS) genre. The game was a sequel of the highly acclaimed Doom, launched just a year before. The mechanics of the game are quite simple: explore the levels finding keys to open doors that would lead you to the level “exit” while killing anything that moves.
The enormous success of Doom and it’s sequel was due to the technological revolution that they meant for the medium. But now, 23 years later, the games are as good as they were at the time. Obviously the technology is not a factor anymore. There are (literally) hundreds of FPS games, all of them with more possibilities in terms of control and movement.
Why are they still so good? Then answer is on the level design. Every single level on Doom II is an experience. The levels have “something”, that makes you explore every single corner of the map. Look for every enemy to kill. And while doing so, the game innovates constantly, putting you in situations you haven’t been before. I think the last few levels (26th to 30th or so) are absolutely amazing. They’re difficult, frenetic, almost stressful, but you can’t stop playing. You NEED to see what’s after the next corner, door or portal. And that’s simply invaluable.
That’s why Doom II is still relevant almost 25 years after its launch. Good design doesn’t age, a well design product will never be completely obsolete. And this applies to more than just video games. Thanks to my friend Sergi, who is an interior designer, I know that the most famous and well designed chairs, were designed on the first half of the 20th century. And at Ford, they’re still trying to do a modern version of the Mustang that looks as good as the 70’s models.
When you create something, whatever it is, pay attention to the design. That can be the difference between a product easily forgotten and one that lasts forever.