Yup, that's right: I'm not looking forward to Doom 3. I'm not gonna buy it this week; I may never buy it. And it's not just 'cause I don't like FPS games, 'cause I do... you should see me in Onslaught. It's because I just don't think it's going to be a good game. What's more, I'm not even looking forward to games based on the Doom 3 engine. How did I arrive at this heretical conclusion? I'll show you. First, let's consider the history of iD. How many single-player games have they made that were worth playing? Wolf3D and Doom were so jaw-droppingly new and different that, yes, surely, they were worth playing. But this was far more a technological advancement than a gameplay advancement. iD created the FPS genre, which brought with it a new form of immersive gameplay. And you, and I, and most everyone we know who plays games played the hell out of it for that reason. But the world has moved on since Wolf3D and Doom. FPS games are a dime a dozen now, which means you must work harder to rise above the masses. And from what I've seen of Doom 3, it doesn't bother to try. I haven't heard anything different, so I'm assuming it has the same go-into-a-new-area fight-bad-guys get-the-blue-code-key find-the-exit gameplay. Which we've all played to death. Doom 3 can do it prettier and more atmospherically, yes, but it's still the same old gameplay. Consider iD's last "primary focus is single-player" game: Quake 2. Remember the incredible storyline? The immersive, breathtakingly new gameplay? No? That's because it didn't have those things. It was just the same old go-into-a-new-area fight-bad-guys get-the-blue-code-key find-the-exit gameplay. I got bored and stopped playing it after maybe ten levels. The only way I'd be really interested in Doom 3's content / gameplay was if I heard they'd brought on board a ton of respectable new talent to clean house and really shake up single-player. I haven't heard about any such announcements, so I assume the single-player content was done by the same old folks in the same old way. (The only "new guy" I remember hearing about was some Hollywood-type auteur guy who did the cutscenes and other such camera work.) So I'm not interested. And really, if you think about iD's history, content has never been their strong suit. iD's strong suit has always been technology. Most companies who create their own game engine crank out a couple of games with it. The last time iD reused a game engine was Doom, for Doom 2. Since then, their M.O. has been: spend years making an engine, release one game with it, sell engine licenses to everybody, and meanwhile Carmack moves on to The Next Engine. It's almost like the game is little more than an elaborate technology demo for prospective engine buyers, and to keep Carmack honest in making sure the engine is debugged and usable. The licensees are the ones who'll make the actually interesting games. Which brings us to the Doom 3 engine. To be sure, Doom 3 has jaw-dropping graphics. Nobody has done 100% real-time shadowing before, and the environments and models are amazingly detailed. Hooray! Well, here's the thing. The shadowing technology is no doubt fantastic. But how do you make a game that showcases shadowing? You make it really dark with the occasional Spielburgian pool of light. So now your game has one kind of environment: really dark. I have yet to see a screenshot of Doom 3 that wasn't dark. Hope you like twiddling your gamma settings! And stumbling around in darkness! And remember those amazing details on the environments and models? That is not without cost, too. There was an interview with one of the iD guys where they said "because of the high polycounts on the monsters you're not going to see more than about two or three on screen at the same time". Remember the adrenaline rush you'd get from mowing down two dozen imps in one room in Doom 2? Well, you won't find it here! (I bet this is also the reason for the four-player cap on multiplayer, too.) So what does this mean for Doom 3 engine licensees? As I've pointed out, the Doom 3 engine is good at two things: 100% real-time lighting in cramped corridors, and super-high-polygon monsters. What kinds of games can you make with that? Dark, cramped games with small numbers of monsters onscreen at a single time. In other words: you can make Doom 3 with it, and not a whole lot else. (Or at least not until another one or two generations of video cards have come and gone.) Contrast this with, say, the Unreal engine. I remember reading a mildly snarky comment from Mark Rein, but I can't find it online anymore... paraphrasing him, he said "For dark indoor corridors with 100% dynamic lighting, and small numbers of incredibly-high polygon-count creatures, we can't touch Doom 3. For anything else, you want Unreal." Compared with Unreal, Doom 3 is a one-trick pony. Oh, it's a marvelous trick, but I suspect I'll get tired of it quickly. And so here we are. The 800lb gorilla of Doom 3 is finally ambling over to sit on the industry and suffocate it for a couple of months. I expect to soon being as tired of "Doom 3"-related news stories as I am of seeing the word "carb" bandied about everywhere. The game will get glowing reviews from knee-jerk fanboys the world over; the same ones who posted their reviews on Amazon over two months ago. And I will sigh, and shake my head a little, and continue impatiently waiting for Half-Life 2.