Doom 3: Help, I Can't See Shit!
I'm a pretty big fan of games from id Software. Almost as much as I love abruptly working robot references into everything I write, I love playing id Software's ugly games. Even though most of their games lack pretty colors and innovative gameplay, I still buy the ones that are out and get excited about the ones coming out. I guess it's just a habit, although I do enjoy the simplistic gameplay. When I first played Doom years ago and saw that it could be edited in a such a way that I was able to make an awesome new level with 50,000 monsters and the scariest textures this side of a porno theater's floor, I knew that gaming had changed forever. Never again did I look at another game the same way, though I still used the same two input methods as before – my eyes. I analyzed things, fathomed how levels were built, what design decisions had to be made, noted how textures were aligned, and the many other things that suck away all the fun and excitement and turn gaming into a tedious chore. I still do that, because someday I'd probably like to make terrible games for a living. That is if my dream job of working at the factory where they turn corn into cream corn falls through. Fingers crossed.
This article isn't about my earthly wants and needs, though. It's about an outrage that lives in my soul like an outrageous cancer. After losing track of its progress, I decided to do some reading on id's latest game. Here is a quote from some gaming site I couldn’t see the name of because the entire page was concealed behind a gigantic ad for whichever version of "Lord of the Rings" it is that's coming to the D.V.D. machines this week. Actually it's an old preview from Gamespot.
The flashlight is present in both single-player and multiplayer modes. It serves as an exploration tool that realistically cuts through shadows, and it also serves as a last-ditch-effort melee weapon. But if you have your flashlight in hand, you don't have any kind of decent weapon equipped. This point was driven home by the sudden appearance of another zombie, who leaped from the shadows of the heretofore strangely quiet hallway. As we dodged away from it, we watched as it lunged for us and closed its arms around thin air in a failed attempt to grab us before we blasted it. We also came to a short stairway. At the top of the stairs was a heavyset zombie who noted our presence. He then grabbed a nearby barrel and hurled it at us. We dodged the barrel, but it tumbled off to the side, and the sound of it crashing to the ground reverberated realistically around us.
Warning: do not operate while armed!
I don't know what all that stuff about being groped by zombies is, and frankly I'm a little alarmed. Like most people, I don't play games to be molested by strange men in dark hallways. I most certainly get enough of that in real life. What confuses me is that cryptic business about needing a flashlight to get around. First of all, I can appreciate the idea of total darkness in an id game. One of the strange quirks about colors is that without light, you can't see them. No light means that I can't see id's usual palette of greens and browns that so romantically captures the entirety of a dumpster filled with rotting prostitutes. More importantly, if a room is totally dark, that means it's totally devoid of green and red colored lighting. My peepers have been beaten to shit by the epic roller coaster ride through the neon anus of Las Vegas that so many 3d shooters seem to turn into. So id, I applaud your decision to turn the lights out.
It's the fact that this flashlight apparently requires the sum total might and focus of the space marine protagonist to operate that has my panties in a razor-sharp bunch. What the hell kind of flashlight is this if it prohibits the player from operating anything else? Is this flashlight the size of a goddamn bazooka? Is he carrying some kind of stadium lighting rig capable of melting the chocolate off of John Romero's thighs? It could be that by flashlight, they actually meant Christmas lights and that you have to pull a long string of them while taking care not to let any one single light be disrupted, thus breaking the chain. I hope that's not the case, because the amount of colored lighting coming off those things would give my eyes an aneurysm. When I hear the word "flashlight" I envision a small tube that I would grip in one hand and shine in the direction of darkness. Because of this, I could easily hold a gun in my unoccupied second hand. I'm not sure if id considered this, but if they want to write me off as a consultant and cut me a share of the royalties, I'm all for it. Maybe I misinterpreted that article, but it sounds like the flashlight acts like a weapon in the game, which means that while it is selected, no other weapon is active or available to fire. Those guns are all resting comfortably in the fancy trans-dimensional back pocket that somehow stores a mega arsenal and makes it weigh less than a feather.
Giving id the benefit of the doubt, I've come up with a few theories that might justify their decision to not allow guns and flashlights at the same time.
The space marine you play as only has one hand.
Don't bother asking this scientist for answers, he's too busy being creepy and overdressed.
Maybe this is the big secret id has been hiding since the start, that one new radical game dynamic that forever transforms the way 3d shooters are played and makes Doom III into the best game ever. Think about it, every 3d shooter since that groundbreaking Hugo's House of Horrors 3d game to John Madden's Unreal Tournament 2004 has capitalized on the two handed norm. If people suddenly found themselves controlling the actions of a one handed man, well, there would be chaos in the hearts and minds of gamers. People would shit their pants. Dogs would shit their pants. Amputees would be empowered, then shit their pants. This theory carries a wagonload of design decisions with it, and I'm afraid they aren't easy design decisions. Is his entire arm gone, or is it just his hand? Which hand is gone, right or left? If he's only got one hand and that hand has a gun or flashlight in it, how does he pick up blue keys and place them in blue door keyholes? Or red and yellow keys for that matter. Some guns are rather complex and heavy and require two hands to handle, too. Is the space marine's arsenal compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Since I haven't seen any 20 page .plan updates from John Carmack on the dynamics of rendering one handed characters on a per pixel level, I imagine this theory is incorrect.
The space marine you play as is retarded.
Another strong possibility is that for some reason, the character you play as is cursed with the mental plague of retardation. How else could he not figure out that one hand would be the ideal manipulator of a flashlight, and the other would be a practical manipulator of a gun? Maybe the character is retarded, and so he has been specifically taught never to try to do more than one thing at once, especially when it means dividing his focus away from a gun. I don't know many things about retarded people, save for the fact it's never good to share a swimming pool or go-cart track with them. I also know they aren't good at multitasking. He might accidentally turn it around and fire it back at himself. But then if that were the case, could he not do the same to himself with a flashlight? Too many variables are left undefined to make this theory flawless.
The flashlight is extremely large and heavy and requires two hands to carry.
I have not seen Doom III's flashlight, and the description of it was much pretty limited to saying that it was a "flashlight" and that it "cut through shadows." Since the preview did not describe the look of the flashlight, it could be any number of light emitting apparatuses usable by a human being. Because of this, there is a possibility that for some reason it could be large and require two hands to carry. Maybe in the future they use a different kind of flashlight that has to be pushed like a wheelbarrow or held on the shoulder like an expensive movie camera. I don't know what sort of strange vision of future flashlight technology id is going for, so it's hard to say. Knowing them, it could very well be something dark and gritty, like a flashlight that's made from demon technology and therefore sucks at your soul like an evil parasite. I'd say it's probably a normal flashlight, though, so this theory sucks.
Space marine training does not cover flashlight usage.
I have no idea what the future is like, but maybe things will be so nice then that light will be taken for granted. Perhaps then functional light bulbs will be abundant and always available to the dramatic extent that the very concept of darkness will be foreign and mysterious to everybody. Because of this, it's easy to see how the space marine corps would naively forget to train their soldiers to operate flashlights, specifically, the part about how they can use a flashlight and a gun at the same time. I mean why would they? Light is the most plentiful commodity, why would they ever be without it? But they were wrong, dead wrong! Because darkness is always there – just at the tail end of light's reach. It's waiting for you. WELCOME TO NIGHT!
Okay, so maybe not this one either.
We may never know why our beguiled hero is unable to maximize his assets, but in case nobody has figured out a way in which he could overcome darkness and simultaneously wield a weapon, I have some suggestions.
Mount the flashlight on top of the gun barrel.
This may sound like the craziest thing since the invention of the time traveling sausage maker that sends you back in time as sausage, but really, it's sound science. Using something as simple as duct tape – perhaps even demonic duct tape with adhesive made of dead souls – you could easily mount a flashlight on top of a shotgun or machine gun or really any sort of gun. This would mean that while aiming your gun, you're also aiming your flashlight. Pretty wicked, huh? The only catch is that some of the weapons in the game are grenades. You definitely want to avoid attaching your flashlight to a grenade. The problem with grenades is that they have a tendency to explode, and if you taped your flashlight to one, well, it too would explode.
Replace flashlight with birdcage containing a lost soul.
This is probably a major departure, but what if you took one of those crazy flaming skulls from the first two Doom games that screamed like a drunk man hypnotized into thinking he was a crow and put it inside a birdcage that was balanced on the player's head? You could even have a balance meter on screen that showed which direction the birdcage was shifting. This would force the player to use cautious movements, because frantic running, ducking, and jumping would make the birdcage fall. At the same time, though, it would free the space marine's hands up for combat. I imagine getting those damn lost souls into a birdcage would be hard, so it would be of vital concern not to let it fall. Since the fuckers are on fire and fire gives off light, you won't need a flashlight anymore.
Make the space marine a being of pure light and energy that produces an awesome glow effect.
A flashlight might shine a light on this dark caper! High ho! Oh shutup! Stop expecting me to be funny.
Since you play as a good guy fighting no less than the forces of Hell, why not have the player be a being of pure light and energy? Beings of pure light and energy are noted for their phosphorescent looks that shine light into darkness. What self-respecting being of pure light and energy needs to carry a flashlight? As far as visual effects go, I'm sure you could attach pulsating light and random jagged electrical streaks going all around the player not unlike the visual effects of Quake's quad damage powerup. In fact, maybe the player could just have quad damage all the time. But just so it's fair, all the monsters could be four times as tough. That way id could promote the game as being four times as tough as the competition.
Make it so that the space marine helmet has infrared capabilities.
Whoa, get ready to pick up the phone and hold it indefinitely, because I'm about to make you shit your jowls. The space marines from Doom all wear fancy helmets, right? What if this helmet served a purpose? That's right, what if the helmet provided infrared capabilities allowing the player to see in the dark? Man, that would make so much sense it would be out of this world. It would be so far out of this world that it would actually be on the planet Mars. Of course I hate the way infrared looks, so I would probably just fumble through the darkness getting sexually molested by zombies while crying hysterically.
Carry the gun in one hand and the flashlight in the other hand.
I realize it's probably too obvious to mention again, but in case some fluke chain of events led to this simple solution eluding everybody, I'm throwing it out there again. Think about it!
By now id has probably finalized the issue of the flashlight, and may well have done something entirely different. But since I was in a rare kind of coma that prevented me from reading up on Doom III for the last few months, I have no clue. I haven't heard any hot buzz about the flashlight's implementation, so I assume everybody outside of id is still in the dark about this critical issue. I just hope I've made a difference and maybe saved a life or two along the way.
Vampire? I Just Met Her!
Hey folks and folkettes, this is Ben "Groening" Platt here with another movie review. Did you miss me? I missed you. This time around, we're dealign with vampires, ancient amulets, and more crossbows than you can shake a stake at in "Sleepless Nights."
The story begins ten years ago, as we find Christian Grey, a hunky guy with a hunky name, a hunky cut on his face, and a hunky appetite for a hunky cereal, whittling stakes. His partner in the ever-expanding field of vampire execution, the slightly older and less hunky Jacob Sloane, enters and the two men talk about the hunt. Specifically, there's a hunt. They do it. The hunting, that is. Jacob shuffles off to go be useless elsewhere, and Allison, Grey's wife enters. Grey tells her that they're closing in on Lord Malgaard, a vampire who is "smarter than most, and more ruthless" and also has a particularly stupid sounding name. Allison seems normal enough at first, but when Grey touches her neck, his fingers come away stained with blood. Then she suddenly starts talking like a character out of a bad Victorian novel, which is a clear sign that someone is a vampire. The fangs are a decent indicator, too. She tells Grey that Malgaard came and drank her blood, then made her drink from him, binding her to him. I guess this happened within the last few minutes, since the blood is still fresh and wet on her neck. But then again, we find out later in the movie that once a vampire drains all of your blood, you stay dead for a full day before rising as a vampire, so Malgaard couldn't have been there within the last twenty-four hours, so maybe this movie just sucks. In any event, Allison shows the usual self-restraint that all vampires in all crappy vampire movies show when confronting a loved one and immediately goes for Grey's throat.
Tell you what, you read the review and I'll put in a good word for you with that girl you like. You know the one.