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The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1  "Join us as we dig into the 3D Realms Vault"

User is offline   Frederik Schreiber 

  • Slipgate Studios
  • 1,138

#1

Join us as we dig into the 3D Realms Vault with never-before-seen notes, articles, and material from our 30-year legacy. Our first post covers early design tips from the one and only Tom Hall.

In the early nineties, the legendary game designer worked on classics such as Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom as the Creative Director of id Software.

In 1993, he joined 3D Realms (then known as “Apogee”) to develop Rise of the Triad and support development of the Duke Nukem series. He had his hands in several Apogee/3D Realms titles then, from Duke Nukem II to Terminal Velocity, Rise of the Triad, Hocus Pocus, and Prey. A complete list of what Tom did would be longer than this document, but a few selected highlights are worth noting. Specifically, the deathmatch design, some laser gfx, and the story from Terminal Velocity. Tom was also responsible for a lot of the "character items" and the story for Duke Nukem II, including the famed merchandise items, which were part of the foundation of the eventual "character" of Duke as we knew him in future titles.

In 1994, there were few rules as to how games were designed. As such, Tom was one of the fathers of today’s design laws and philosophies.

Below is a never-before-seen memo from Tom, in which he shares his game design tips and tricks.

Enjoy!

Check out the Article Here

This post has been edited by Frederik Schreiber: 04 November 2014 - 11:44 AM

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User is offline   Mr. Tibbs 

  • 1,476

#2

Thanks for posting this, Frederik. This is exactly the kind of content I want to see.

This post has been edited by Mr. Tibbs: 04 November 2014 - 11:33 AM

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User is offline   oasiz 

  • 820

#3

Sweet stuff!

I agree, this type of stuff is really cool to see and a lot of these things can be taken for granted today, has some really good points on design.
Interested about the rest of the stuff for sure.

I know it's too early to say but idea of potentially having something along the line of a "doom bible" design document for other games is exciting.
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User is offline   Shaq Fu 

  • 116

#4

Tom Hall seemed truly ahead of his time. If only more people were able to read this back in the day.
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User is offline   Mr. Tibbs 

  • 1,476

#5

View PostGrounder, on 04 November 2014 - 01:47 PM, said:

Tom Hall seemed truly ahead of his time. If only more people were able to read this back in the day.

It's so sad that he works on F2P games now. Seems like it's a waste of his talents.
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User is offline   TerminX 

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  #6

Definite thanks for posting this. Since it's not made 100% clear, I feel like I should point out that this seems to be aimed primarily at side-scrollers, though they are design principles that carry over to nearly any genre.

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User is offline   Photonic 

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#7

I loved that read :) I'd argue that some of the points were not about scrollers but maybe some valuable lessons learned from Wolf3D. As you said though, its more like all encompassing rules and guidelines, they'd even carry over to board games.
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User is offline   TerminX 

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  #8

View PostDrek, on 04 November 2014 - 02:59 PM, said:

I loved that read :) I'd argue that some of the points were not about scrollers but maybe some valuable lessons learned from Wolf3D. As you said though, its more like all encompassing rules and guidelines, they'd even carry over to board games.

Some of it could apply to Wolf3D, but there are specific bits that lend to the thought that the whole thing was written from the perspective of side-scrolling games. Namely, stuff like jumping through pillars/into traps that can't be escaped, the mention of Super Mario World-like half-way points in levels, mention of not simply building levels out of words, mention of not making the player go all the way to the end, then back to the beginning, then to the end again--first person level designs don't have this problem as much as 3D naturally lends itself to interconnected areas--and so on. Contrast between background colors and foreground characters is also another direct reference to side scrollers.

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User is offline   Kathy 

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#9

View PostGrounder, on 04 November 2014 - 01:47 PM, said:

If only more people were able to read this back in the day.

Yep.
"This document is for Apogee developers only.
Copyright 1994 Apogee Software."

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User is offline   Tristan 

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#10

I also feel like some of this was written for ROTT. If this was written in 1994, it would make quite a lot of sense :)
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User is offline   Mr. Tibbs 

  • 1,476

#11

Part 2's been posted.

https://3drealms.com...om-hall-part-2/
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User is offline   MrFlibble 

  • 624

#12

Quote

Other forms of easter egg are secret levels. In Keen 5, if you jump down when you're behind the last arch before the exit in the Gravitational Damping Hub, you'll fall down into the area that leads to the secret level. There's also a clue on the level: if you look down on the floor to the left by the set of floor lasers that a platform travels over, you'll see a sign that the hint sheet refers to when it says, "Look down and translate". The sign, in the Standard Galactic Alphabet, says, "Jump Down at Arch".

This immediately reminded me of the "Follow the rabbit" hint in the third level of Shadow Warrior's first episode.
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User is offline   Person of Color 

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#13

Tom Hall is amazing. I never understood why people worshiped him until recently, when I finally played Anachronox.

Wow.

Just wow.

Work of fucking art. Full stop. I laughed, I fell in love with the universe, I explored till my fingers hurt, and I even cried. Legit cried. That scene with Fatima. Holy shit.

If you haven't played this game yet, DO IT. If you read the description, and say "Oh, that's not my kind of game, trust me, it is. I grew up up on Sega Genesis and MS-DOS. I drive a convertible Mustang with a V8 and a stickshift. I love adrenaline and blowing shit up. And I hate, hate, HATE turn based battles.

Except for Anachronox. Because they're tense and timer based and although they are simple at first, they become awesome and deep by the end of the game. Also, there are all kinds of game design elements you'll never see again that are just incredible.

Also, if you wanna talk about environments, holy shit, imagine all the diversity of the entire Mass Effect trilogy, plus more, shoehorned into 30+ hours of awesome. Now imagine environments every bit as wonderful, and just as enchanting. Bioware actually lifted a lot of areas from this game, even Sunder is very reminiscent of the ME3 Presidium. One area is almost carbon copied.

Second greatest game I ever played, and the only game that nipped at Mass Effect 3's heels, and even exceeded it in a some areas. This game not only scratched that horrible unreachable year long itch Bioware gave me, it finished me off with a fuckin' handjob and a kiss.

Play it and realize just how far we've fallen. This is the most underrated game of all time.

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This post has been edited by Person of Color: 22 March 2015 - 09:22 PM

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User is online   Malgon 

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#14

^Absolutely agree there man. I only played this for the first time 2 years back, but it was one of the best experiences I had, and I played a lot of games that year. If you haven't played this yet, do yourself a favour and pick it up, as the game is full of great ideas and is rounded out with excellent characters, wacky settings, fun gameplay, and the right blend of humour and knowing when to play it serious. Plain entertaining all round, and a great experience imo. :o

Most anticipated games: Ion Maiden, Cyberpunk 2077, Doom Eternal, Beyond Good and Evil 2
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User is offline   Mr. Tibbs 

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#15

Yep, Anachronox is fucking masterpiece. It's so good that it completely validates the existence of Ion Storm Dallas! How weird is it that those two teams were working under the same roof?

Eidos spent millions developing the game for four years then barely spent 50K marketing it. They made the team slice the game in half, and it still manages to deliver one of the best narratives in gaming. I need to know what would've happened in Anachronox Prime. :o

To this day, it's one of the strangest projects that's ever existed. Man, Eidos took major bets back then. A first person sneaker where the emphasis is placed on avoiding and distracting enemies and stealing everything in sight? No problem! A modern-day Hitman, you say? Sure! Deus, what? A first-person RPG that set in real-world locations that lets the player decide how to play? Sounds good! A console-style rpg on the pc? Why not!
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User is offline   Jimmy 100MPH 

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#16

I don't know, I enjoyed Daikatana more.

Coke costs a lot of money you know. - oasiz
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User is online   Jblade 

  • 1,663

#17

View PostPerson of Color, on 22 March 2015 - 09:12 PM, said:

Tom Hall is amazing. I never understood why people worshiped him until recently, when I finally played Anachronox.

Play it and realize just how far we've fallen. This is the most underrated game of all time.

Yeah I remember playing it on a whim and jesus it was pretty fucking amazing. It did have some sore spots, I didn't like the combat that much and that fucking alien hive level but it really was a fantastic experience. It's funny you mentioned ME because lots of parts of that game really reminded me of Anachronox. Even the plotline is actually really really similar when you look at it.

Now that I can take a break from modding for a bit, I'll have to replay it on my Holiday.
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