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Hell-blazers: Doom Eternal Speedrunning Q&A — Byte Me

This Q&A series, playfully titled "Hell-blazers," interviews Twitch streamers, speedrunners and Doom fans about Doom Eternal (2020); it asks them, based on their own experiences, to compare the game to the rest of the franchise, and what effect it will have on speedrunning and gaming at large.

General information about the Q&A can be found, here; a compendium of the interviews as they are published can be found here (which also includes interesting videos, break-downs and other articles).

Nick: My name is Nicholas van der Waard; I have my MA in Gothic literature and wrote my thesis on Metroidvania. What follows is my interview with Twitch streamer Byte Me.

Byte: My name is Byte. I'm a simple guy who plays games—mostly arena first-person shooters.


The Runner

Nick: What got you into Doom? Do you remember the first game you played?

Byte: I first played the original Doom (1993) on a computer my dad had set up in the living room.  I remember not being very good at the game, but really enjoying the challenge it presented back then.


Nick: Pre-Doom Eternal, what is your favorite Doom game? Soundtrack? Individual track? Monster? Gun?


Byte: Well, Doom 2016 is still my favorite, with Eternal  being a very close second.  Before Doom 2016 or Eternal, though, Doom 64 (1997) was my all-time favorite due to its eerie atmosphere.  It was a great horror experience for me at that age.

As for the soundtrack, Mick nailed 2016's music. "Hellwalker" is my favorite track, although I really liked "Message for the Archvile" from Doom II (1994).  My favorite monster is the Doom 3 (2004)/2016 Hell Knight, and my favorite gun by far is Doom 64's Unmaker.


Nick: Your least favorite?

Byte: My least favorite Doom—out of Ultimate, II, 64, 3, 2016, and Eternal—is Doom 3.  I appreciated [Id's] attempt at a believable horror story, but they relied too much on repetitive jump scares and didn't take as much advantage of psychological horror as they could have.


Nick: Due to a recent conflict, Mick Gordon will not be returning to score future Doom titles, including the DLC to Doom Eternal. Do you expect the new music to sound similar to Mick's, or can we expect the return of a style closer to Bobby Prince or Aubrey Hodges?

Byte: I'm really not certain.  I must say that I feel for the next artist that steps in, because regardless of what is created, [this person] will be judged against the phenomenal work that Mick has created. The next artist is not only going to have to step outside of Mick's shadow in terms of style; they will also have to make damn good music to boot.


Nick: Do you like horror movies and/or heavy metal? If so, what are some of your favorites?

Byte: I love horror movies.  I'm a big fan of Ju-On (2004). I like Carpenter's The Thing (1982), Kubrick's The Shining (1980), and [Muschietti's] Mama (2013).


Nick: In terms of the classic, '90s games, do you prefer early Doom or early Quake (1996)?

Byte: I missed out on Quake as a kid, growing up instead on Unreal (1998) and Unreal Tournament (1999).  If I had grown up on Quake, I believe I would've preferred early Quake over early Doom due to the movement mechanics.


Nick: When did you start speedrunning and why did you decide to speedrun Doom?

Byte:  I didn't intend to become a speedrunner.  I just really fell in love with Doom 2016 and wanted to master the game.  The speedrunning part kind of came naturally with challenging myself in Ultra-Nightmare.


Nick: How would you describe your speedrunning style compared to other Doom runners?

Byte: I'm a very slow learner. I try to science and route things out for efficiency. There are some crazy talented runners out there who are just able to dive right in and connect the dots on the fly, but that is not me.


Nick: Do you have any favorite Doom runners that you like to watch and/or learn from?

Byte: I typically try to limit my exposure, as I like figuring things out on my own.  I appreciate when runners give me tips on route changes, but half of the fun for me is solving that puzzle myself. [editor's note: Runners tend to learn from one another. In a recent run, Byte Me can be seen employing a trick borrowed from Zero Master, another Doom speedrunner (see his video: "Doom Eternal - 100% Ultra-Nightmare in 2:45:13").]

On Doom Eternal, Casually

Nick: Speedrunners tend to refer to non-speedrunners as "casuals," implying a specialized difficulty that comes from speedrunning game. However, Doom Eternal is meant to be played fast, and be harder for it; it forces the player to play at the game’s speed, or die. Do you think this mindset appeals to speedrunners, in general?

Byte: No. I think most speedrunners are looking to limit the gap from a game's start to a game's end, regardless of whether that means playing the game as intended.  For example, in 2016 rail-boosts and out-of-bounds primarily defined the Any% [category], and Eternal is experiencing a similar phenomenon.  There's nothing wrong with that approach, but it's not my cup of tea.

Speed and Mobility

Nick: Combat-wise, Doom Eternal is meant to be played fast. How does the speed of the game feel compared to, say, Doom 2016?

Byte: There are certainly more mobility options in Eternal, but it's up to the individual to use them.  If you're not a speedrunner, but you enjoy fast-paced games, you'll come to love the Meat Hook and the mobility options present in Eternal. 2016 felt fast at the time, especially with Gauss-boosting, but it would be very difficult to transition back due to [its] radically different [movement/combat] mechanics.


Nick: Is there anything about the slower, more horizontally-oriented Doom 2016 that you prefer, or is Doom Eternal a straight upgrade?

Byte: Doom 2016 was a well-packaged experience.  It was as chess-like as any game could possibly get, in my opinion. Eternal added new pieces to the board but changed many fundamentals to Push-Forward Combat and Combat Chess.

Eternal is a very fun game, but I feel that it could have used more polish.  For example, the Meat Hook is your get-out-of-jail-free card.  With certain rune combinations (say blood fueled and air mobility), you can launch yourself into the air for 3-5 seconds and become an unstoppable cyclone of death.  There's nothing in the game that punishes you for escaping into the air, so you're free to do that whenever you need.

Tone

Nick: Doom Eternal is less minimal than Doom 2016. It's also campier. How do you feel about this?

Byte: I preferred 2016's approach of "less is more." Eternal has a lot of questionable lore decisions: Doomguy bowing to King Novik is one, and Doomguy's rambling after being picked up by the Sentinels is another. 2016 was an immersive, believable experience. Doomguy didn’t need to say a word, he spoke with his actions. The story was relatable—it was shown, not told.  In Eternal, I felt they told you everything and showed you very little. The Hayden and Vega plots are great, but they exist among many other convoluted plot points that try to steer the established setting and story of 2016 into a different direction.


Nick: Should Doom be scary? What’s your opinion about Doom PSX (1995) or Doom 64 (1997)?

Byte: Doom does scary well. Doom 64 used to creep me out at night, especially with the hell levels that had the crying baby ambiance.


Nick: Was there anything about Eternal that surprised you, was bad when you thought it'd be good or vice versa?

Byte: I have very mixed feelings about the story and portrayal of Doomguy pre-Slayer status.  I don't particularly understand why Doomguy bowed before King Novik.  I feel it tempers the Slayer's persona of rage, which feels [contrary] to the character as I knew him.  I didn't like Doomguy's rambling, either.  I felt that entire cutscene could've been made much better if no words were spoken by our protagonist.  One could argue that it's tying to the established lore of Doom 3, where exposure to hell can drive a person mad, and that's why he's rambling, but it just felt unnecessary.


Nick: Is Id Software's "speed chess with guns" an accurate analogy for Doom Eternal's combat? If you had to guess, which monsters correlate with which chess pieces, and which are the most dangerous?

Byte: I actually feel that 2016 was closer to chess than Eternal is.  Eternal is like chess with custom pieces that alter the formula in a way that can make for a fun game, but isn't the same experience as good ole unadulterated chess. [editor's note: I always found "speed chess with guns" to be a bit odd. For starters, chess is turn-based, and made one move at a time; Doom isn't, and the moves made from either side don't occur at a 1:1 ratio. Chess also has fixed areas-of-movement for both sides, and symmetrical abilities for either team; Doom doesn't. They're fundamentally different games from a ludic standpoint, regardless of the speed played.]


Nick: If you had to pick one of each, what is your favorite level, gun, and monster in Doom Eternal?

Byte: Final Sin. Super Shotgun. Gladiator.


Nick: Which glory kills do you like the most?

Byte: The Steven Seagal ones, for sure.


Nick: How do you feel about the Marauder? Do complaints about him upsetting the combat feel justified, or is he easier to handle than most people think (see: King Dime's latest strategy)?

Byte: He's not bad.  I do feel that there are some tweaks that need to be made to his AI, but he's definitely manageable.


Nick: What are some of your favorite ways to handling the Marauder?

Byte: There's a stun-lock you can initiate by timing hits to his backside.  That's the best way to deal with him.


Nick: Do you find yourself having to adapt and change your strategies—for him, and regular demons—because of the game's chaotic nature?

Byte: I typically have to clear the field of everything else, first.  Once anything that can cause his AI to misbehave is absent, the Marauder becomes somewhat trivial.


Nick: Given the sheer number of projectile enemies, does the game ever feel like a "bullet-hell" type game—albeit in the 1st person?

Byte: Absolutely. Ray Force (1994) is one of my all time favorite shmups, and I definitely get that vibe from time to time.


Nick: Is there one fight in Doom Eternal you couldn't believe you survived, but was unbelievably fun regardless?

Byte: Yeah—[level 3 has a] secret Whiplash encounter [that] was nuts [the first time through].

Balancing

Nick: The Microwave Beam doesn't seem to be very good (and can even cause a glitch that takes away the players ability to dash). Can it be used to stun a charging Hell Knight (see: Under the Mayo's recent video, "Microwave Beam Combos"), or is it just better to move out of his way?

Byte: It's always better to dash out of the way and follow-up with a high-damage tool. You certainly can use Microwave Beam to buy you some extra time, but the window is small and is nowhere near as effective as simply using your high damage weapons to deal with the target in question.



Nick: The Tyrant aka Cyberdemon always seems to be killed with the Crucible at the start of every fight. Do you think this makes him kind of irrelevant—less of a demon to fight and more of a button to push?

Byte: In the beginning it wasn't like this, and there are at least three Tyrants (ARC Complex and Taras Nabad Slayer Gate) that must be fought normally. Even with all of that in mind, they're typically removed from the chessboard as quickly and safely as possibly, similar to how Archviles are dealt with. I wouldn't say that [Tyrants] are irrelevant—as they [still] can hurt Slayers [caught unawares]—but they're nowhere near as dangerous as an Archvile who's been let loose.


Nick: Is the player given too much ammo for the Crucible? Or is the Crucible necessary for end-game fights, wherein you'll need every shot to reliably make it through some of the bigger demon encounters on Ultra-Nightmare?

Byte: The Crucible isn't necessary; it's a fair tool for taking out [monsters] that could make you uncomfortable.


Nick: Does the Crucible feel static? If you know that a Cyberdemon is going to spawn, and maybe a couple of Barons, then won't the player save the Crucible for these demons each and every time? Why use it on small demons at all?

Byte: The Crucible is basically the 2016 chainsaw. It has three charges and is capable of one-shotting almost any demon (with the Doom Hunter being the exception). There really isn't any reason to use it on fodder demons, unless you have a crazy amount of pick-ups and really need some quick health (typical use-case is Final Sin).


Nick: Do you think that ammo generation for the Crucible should be different? Instead of collecting ammo, perhaps have the player be able to "charge" the weapon via kill-chains or multiple glory kills?

Byte: I think that would've been a neat approach, but Id Software already used that mechanic with Blood Punch. With an unregulated source of ammunition, the remainder of the game would've been fairly trivial difficulty-wise, in my opinion.


Nick: A new video by Midnight ("New Doom Eternal Content Update") discusses DLC content, including Demonic Invasions. If this option is selected, then player-controlled demons can invade a player's single-player campaign—even during Ultra-Nightmare! Will you be trying this, in your own playthroughs?

Byte: I think it would be neat to do with my viewers.  I'll definitely be giving it a go, once I'm satisfied with my current project.


Nick: Are there any other self-imposed challenges you've considered implementing to make the game harder for yourself—not using the ballista, Crucible, BFG or ice-bomb, etc? Can you anticipate using these in conjunction with Demonic Invasions and new Master Levels to make Doom Eternal even harder?

Byte: I can't say that I've particularly considered doing half of what I accomplished in 2016 in Eternal.  The game's just not designed the same way, and I feel that a lot of the fun challenges would just end up being tedious [editor's note: the 0% challenge from Doom 2016, for example].


Nick: If you could change anything about the Unmaykr to make it a more viable weapon in combat, what would it be?

Byte: I'd give it an ammo pool that is regenerated via demon kills.

On Speedrunning

Nick: During Eternal's development process, the developers mentioned their game being made with Twitch and speedrunning in mind. Was the game made to be speedrun, or is it simply a game with fast combat that lends itself well to the speedrunning mindset?

Byte: The Meat Hook and placement of enemies allows for some sick skips. The game is designed with route enhancements via the Meat Hook in mind.

However, there are also instances where [Id] went out of their way to block trivial skips. In the hell portion of Exultia, for instance, there is a purple goo area where [an Arachnatron] appears atop a tall rock. There are many purposefully-placed invisible walls that try to prevent you from accessing certain areas without first killing the Arachnatron [along with] two Unwilling [minions], and then punching the block over. There really was no need for that, at all.

In the end, there's still a skip to get to [inaccessible areas] using the base dash mechanic. Had there been no invisible barriers, [this] would have made for a skillful speedrun skip.


Nick: A recent video by Karl Jobst is also convinced Doom Eternal is the next Big Game in the speedrunning world. Do you agree with him? Will Doom Eternal rank up there with popular speedrunning games like Super Metroid (1994) or Goldeneye (1997)?

Byte: Only time will tell.


Nick: Will Doom Eternal (and Twitch) help change speedrunning into something we haven't seen before, bringing the practice to an audience of unprecedented size, but also demographic?

Byte: I honestly don't think so. I would love to be wrong, but the main category is shaping up to be very similar to its predecessor, in terms of how it's played. Once again, there's nothing wrong with that style, but I'm fairly certain that's not what Id Software had in mind.


Nick: How does Doom appeal to you—not simply as a speedrunner, but as a gamer? For example, while speedrunners love to quantify speed through records, the categories you make for yourself are fairly idiosyncratic (UN, 100% w/ no mastery tokens) and more challenging than they could be, otherwise.

Byte: As I mentioned earlier, half of the fun of performing 100% for 2016 was solving the puzzle [of weapon mods]. In Eternal, there's this concept called mastery tokens, which allow you to choose seven [weapon] mods to outright master.

There's a high-level of difficulty variance across mods. Certain challenges, like Micro Missiles or the Chaingun Shield are a joke. Other challenges, such as the Combat Shotgun's Grenade and the Microwave Beam weapon mode, are a giant pain in the rear.  I almost feel like mastery tokens were added as a band-aid because there wasn't enough time to polish and design the levels with masteries in mind.


Nick: Are you just as invested in "flexing" as you are getting the fastest time?

Byte: I don't look at it as "flexing," as I'm just a scrub.  There are better players out there, and there will always be. This is just how I enjoy playing the game—solving the Puzzle and learning how to do it quicker and quicker through time and exposure.

Glitches

Nick: Combat is definitely a core part of the Doom Eternal gameplay experience. As a speedrunner, do you ever find yourself using glitches to give yourself an edge in combat?

Byte: No. It defeats the challenge and hampers the learning experience.


Nick: I'm not so sure the game's action can survive the speedrunning approach, unless categories are made that discourage so-called "major glitches." What constitutes a major glitch like clipping or slope-boosting versus something more minor?

Byte: I believe trivialization of difficulty toward the intended method of play defines major versus minor glitches. This is merely an opinion, and I don't actually know the answer to this.


Based on my own research, minor glitches generally aren't "game-breaking"; major glitches are. These qualities tend to vary considerably per videogame, which go on to inform whatever categories are made by speedrunning communities (Any% No Out of Bounds in A Link to the Past [1991] for example).

Nick: Are invulnerability-frames enough to keep the player reliably "safe" when glory killing in Doom Eternal?

Byte: The new death-gate mechanic in Eternal makes pulling [glory kills] off much safer.  In 2016, attacks from demons would persist through initiated glory kills, often resulting in [the player] taking immediate damage after the I-frames [expired]. This [damage] often resulted in death.


Nick: Are there any moments in Doom Eternal's gameplay that feel cheap—that force you to play a particular way that doesn't feel fun?

Byte: Yes. The Mancubus has an instantaneous AoE that can kill you. The Dread Knight has attack boxes [that persist] after certain swipe attacks. The projectiles from Arachnatrons, Revenants, and Mancubi are incredibly high-damage, even at mid-range.  Unless you can stun-lock demons into submission, you almost always have to play the destructible demon [armor] game.


Nick: To keep Doom Eternal challenging, do you ever find yourself inventing ways to make it harder, like not using the BFG or the Crucible, or using sub-optimal weapon specs?

Byte: There may come a time, but I'm not there yet.

Difficulty

Note: For this section, I refer to an interview on stream I had recently with King Dime (timestamp: ~13:56).

Nick: After a certain point, every demon in the game can drop armor, ammo and health. Early on, the player can't blood punch or flame belch, which makes them potentially harder than later levels. Civvie gripes in his own review about the beginning of the game being too hard.

Is it "too" hard, or is King Dime right when he says the beginning to Doom 2016 was more challenging?

Byte:  When you add the element of time, you will find yourself taking greater risks for the sake of time pick-ups.  Tech may make certain routes or fights easier, but when you fudge up you'll find yourself asking if a glory kill or an out-of-the-way health pack is worth it.


Nick: Dime explains how Doom 2016 is more "permanent" if the player loses heath and armor. Meanwhile, there's little challenge to Doom Eternal once you know how to play the game: Lose hundreds of points of armor and health. Find a low-tier demon. Flame belch [or use the flaming meat hook]. Get everything back. To make this even easier for the player, Doom Eternal constantly spawns low-tier enemies; it also regenerates the player's chainsaw fuel.

Is Dime's assertion correct? Does the challenge in follow-up Doom Eternal playthroughs decease; or, does it merely oscillate as players pick up new speedrunning tricks that they learn, master, and incorporate into their individual play styles?

Byte: Eternal, after level 4 is cleared, is an immensely easier game than 2016.  There’s no other way to state this.  Both games get easier as you progress, but you can still falter in 2016 and find yourself in a nigh irrecoverable situation.  While this can also happen in Eternal, you have so many tools to collect resources and maneuver that recovery is far easier.


Nick: Hqrdest himself says that Doom Eternal is harder than Doom 2016—early on, but then gets easier by the end of the game. The Spud Hunter also says in his Ultra-Nightmare guide how the first three levels are the hardest.

Would you agree with them?

Byte: Yes.


Nick: Is there ever a point in Doom Eternal where its casual difficulty lessens, allowing speedrunners to focus on speedrunning instead of simply trying to survive?

Byte: Yes.  This is typically after level 4.


Nick: Would you recommend Doom Eternal to players who are new to speedrunning and FPS games, but want to give it a try?

Byte: I'd recommend it for someone looking for a fun and educational FPS experience.

Ultra-Nightmare / Length

Nick: Their first time on Ultra-Nightmare, many runners beat Doom Eternal one level per stream. Now that you've beaten it, do you find yourself reliably able to beat the entire game in one sitting?

Byte:  If not striving for 100%, it would be far easier now than it was during the first week.



Nick: Do you find Ultra-Nightmare wearing you out, despite your newfound expertise?

Byte: I'm used to this kind of thing, so no.  Anyone can do the things I do with enough dedication.


Nick: How often do you take breaks, to keep yourself fresh? What determines if you stream for a longer period—let's say, eight hours—versus a shorter one?

Byte: My stream length varies based on my initial success.  If I end up going heads down, I'll commit until the end. If I'm stuck in a loop for the first few levels, I'll call it early and get some rest.


Nick: Is there a specific point when you die in the game that makes you want to quit for the night?

Byte: Typically deaths on level 3 or 4, if it happens more than twice.

Technique

Nick: What are some of your favorite speedrunning runes and weapons? Are there specs that suck under normal circumstances, but work better for speedrunning play? Which weapons/runes suck no matter what?

Byte: Blood Fueled + Air Mobility are great.  I'm currently working on swapping out Equipment Fiend for Savagery to see how that plays out.  At a high level, I feel that runes were meant to enhance certain gameplay styles, but Id Software found themselves in a weird spot where they had this idea and weren't able to fully express it, whether it be to time or resource constraints.  Many of the carry-overs from 2016 end up wasting a slot (excepting Air Mobility, which can be heavily abused with the Meat Hook).


Nick: Do you find RNG (random number generation) to be a large issue, playing the game? For example, weapon damage in classic Doom/Quake is random. Compared to other Id games, how much RNG does Doom Eternal have?

Byte: RNG is much less of an issue in Eternal than it was in 2016.  There are certain design elements, such as death gating, that help take the edge off of RNG nonsense.  On the flip side, there are added elements, such as how difficult it is to stagger certain demons without outright killing them, or triggering the appropriate Glory Kill despite being in the right spot, which add unintended RNG.


Nick: Which enemies are the most annoying to come up against during a speedrun? Which ones are you the most happy to see? 

Byte: Carcasses and Whiplashes hurt. Cacodemons are pretty reliable to stagger and offer a great break-away to jump or Meat Hook to after they've swallowed a grenade. 


Nick: Can any of them be manipulated to behave in predictable ways?

Byte: I believe all demons can be manipulated in some form or another, but the level design makes that more difficult than 2016 did.


Nick: As a speedrunner, how do you feel about the game's climbing mechanics? Are they fairly easy to perform, in the speedrunning sense? Do you find yourself going faster than you ever thought possible, with them?

Byte: If you’re referring to the platforming sections, they feel like filler.  There is one platforming section in level 3 (going for the slayer gate key) that feels satisfying.  The rest feels unnecessary.


Nick: As a speedrunner, how do you feel about the game's other additional movement schemes—the dash, double jump and so-called "yeet-hook"?

Byte: These add to the fast-paced game play.  I don't think they're necessarily balanced to the chess game, but they allow for fairly high-speed combat in many arenas.


Nick: In the quest to go faster, speedrunners have found ways to move around/avoid the movement penalties of the purple goo; but also ways around certain in-game architecture.   Do you feel there are still plenty of tricks like that to learn, that don't fall under the category of glitch, necessarily?

Byte: Absolutely.  Routes will continue to be refined over the next few years, and it'll be interesting to see what is uncovered.



Nick: Can you potentially play Doom Eternal faster/more effectively in combat situations by not doing the so-called "Doom dance" (excluding glitches, of course)?

Byte: If you're referring to popping arm cannons or turrets [the armor game], I believe the answer is yes, but you have to have the Ballista for this.


Nick: Glory kills seem essential—not just for speedrunners, but for anyone playing the game. However, they also arguably slow players down. There's a rune that makes them perform faster. However, is there a point in the game where glory kills can be skipped by players altogether (i.e., acquiring the blood punch, meat hook; killing the Makyr's "pinata" drones)?

Byte: Glory kills will most likely be a staple in every run performed.


Nick: In "Way of the Gun," Rune Klevjer describes Doom's gameplay according to the relationship between the player, monsters and items. He calls this relationship "a search for the optimal pattern of movement." Given how monsters in Doom Eternal can be killed for resources, can you explain what you think this optimal pattern is when speedrunning the game?

Byte: Identifying key threats, stocking up on chainsaw gas, and eliminating them outright to simplify early arenas.  When you have more utilities available, you can cycle through weapons and cool-downs ad infinitum.


Nick: Despite the inclusion of non-Doom, vertical movement schemes into Doom Eternal, does its combat retain that core, "Doom feel" in your opinion?

Byte: I believe it does.  It's not the same combat as 2016, but it's similar.


Nick: In his own video, Under the Mayo likens Doom Eternal cosmetically to Doom but mechanically to Quake; I feel this isn't entirely accurate: Rocket-jumping—a Quake staple—is strongly discouraged due to extremely high rocket splash damage—a Doom staple. For me, it's a strange amalgam of both franchises: old-meets-new, Doom-meets-Quake.

How much like Quake is Doom Eternal, or is the comparison only being made because the game is 3D?

Byte: I would disagree with Under the Mayo, as well. Doom movement is very anti-Quake.  In Quake, you have strafe jumping and circle jumping.  In Doom, performing those actions will slow you down.  Also, as far as the holy trinity is concerned, Doom is missing a tracking weapon like the lightning gun.



Nick: The classic Doom games weren't true 3D. However, just because the new Doom games are, can they still be closer to classic Doom in various respects? How is the combat movement Doom Eternal a) different from the Quake series and b) emblematic of Doom?

Byte: There is no SR 40 or SR 50 in the new Doom games and is very unlike Quake's movement.  I'd say it has its own unique style of movement.

On the Pandemic

Nick: With the pandemic going on, it’s important to maintain physical distance, but also to keep our social bonds strong. Why do you think videogames, including speedrunning them, are so important in doing this?

Byte: The pandemic has kept a lot of folks at home and has been a very trying time for many.  During my streams I've had many individuals express how appreciative they've been for what I do.  I didn't exactly realize this, at first, but being laid back and playing this game has helped quite a few people cope with the changes.  I'm really appreciative to those who choose to spend their time with me while I grind away on my hobby, and I'm happy to be able to provide a break from this unfortunate situation.

***


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Is Garfield (1978-present) Gothic?

This article begs the question, "Is Garfield Gothic?" So many textual mutations of the cat have recently emerged. I shall outline some of them, here.

Is Garfield Gothic? At first glance, the answer would seem to be no. For decades, he's been nothing but a fat cat who likes lasagna. There are no allegories about him. What you see is more or less what you get.

I can assure you, this is only the beginning.
Upon further consideration, the answer is less simple. The Garfield of the present exists in many more forms than he originally did, years ago. He's no longer produced exclusively by Jim Davis; there are "other Garfields" out there, made by other people as (debatable) tribute. Some are funny because they are different than, but reminiscent of, the parent version; and some of are monstrous, and largely for the same reasons. Once there was one; now there is Legion.


One of the "other Garfields." Familiar, and very, very wrong.
All stem from the Jim Davi…