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Hell-blazers: Doom Eternal Speedrunning Q&A — King Dime

I'm Nicholas van der Waard, host of "Hell-blazers." What follows is my entire interview with classic-Doom speedrunner King Dime.

"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 "Hell-blazers" 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).


The Runner

King Dime: Hello my online gamertag is King Dime. I am a dedicated gamer for over twenty-five years who is predominantly interested in retro FPS [first-person shooters] and RTS [real-time strategy] which I broadcast live over at www.twitch.tv/kingdime. My main achievements in competitive gaming include the attainment of Grandmaster league in Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty (2010) eventually qualifying for World Championship Series: Canada (WCS) and showcasing speedruns of Doom & Starcraft at GamesDoneQuick and Quakecon 2019. 

In my off-time, some of my hobbies include racquet sports like badminton/squash, and watching combat sports like MMA and Boxing. 


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

Dime: Luckily my parents owned a PC and SEGA genesis so I was blessed to have no shortage of accessible games. I owe my older brother for curating my early gaming experience with the legendary Id Software franchises Wolfenstein and Commander Keen, eventually followed up with the ultimate FPS at the time, Doom!


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

Dime:

Doom Game: Final Doom: The Plutonia Experiment (1996)
Soundtrack: Doom 2016
Track: “I Sawed The Demons” (E2M1)
Monster: Arch-Vile
Gun: Plasma Gun


Nick: Your least favorite?

Dime: Doom Game: Final Doom:TNT Evilution (1996)
Monster: Classic Baron of Hell
Gun: Pistol


Nick: Due to a recent conflict, Mick will not be returning to score the DLC to Doom Eternal. If you had the ear of Mick's replacement and could choose the style this person composed, would you choose something more classic-sounding, a la John Romero's Sigil (2019)? Or would you try to stay faithful to Mick's industrial/nu-metal sound?

Dime: Though Mick's heart and soul are expressed in his modern Doom compositions, it's an opportunity for a new face to put their stamp on the franchise. Before Doom Eternal's release I'd have answered that more suspenseful, ambient tracks could fit, but the arcade-y nature of the newest release doesn't fit that style. Romero's Sigil is a perfect example when style and gameplay don't mesh—with the Buckethead soundtrack compared to the gorgeous MIDIs. 


Nick: Are there any official Doom games you haven't played?

Dime: A number of the console ports.



Nick: Classic Doom has hundreds, if not thousands, of mods. If you could only play one Doom mod, which one would it be? Also, what are your thoughts on “AEUHHH????

Dime: Sunlust.wad, but nothing compares to humanity's pinnacle that is "AEUHHH????" so maybe I'd bring it to the desert island.


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

Dime: If push comes to shove I rarely spend hard earned cash to watch a horror movie, but off what I've seen Jason X (2002) adds in comedy value that I appreciate. [editor's note: The original Doomgames were a response to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 (1987), as well as James Cameron's Aliens (1986). While Aliens is a relatively serious film with comedic relief thrown in for good measure, Evil Dead 2 is comedy/horror from the offset.]

Again, my brother pushed heavy metal on to me and recall listening to Slayer, Pantera, Metallica, Slayer, etc; but my best memories are jamming out to Iron Maiden at school back in the day with my friends. 


Nick: In terms of the classic, '90s games, do you prefer early Doom (1993) or early Quake (1996)?

Dime: Quake is a natural step-up in FPS mechanics, but the early 3D assets do not age well. Doom is older, but of the two I believe it's the more complete package. 


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

Dime: The idea of transitioning to speedrunning germinated from watching GamesDoneQuick in 2012: a biannual speedrunning event [that raises] money for charity. 

Starcraft 2 by its second expansion had run its course and Raelcun's Wings of Liberty run at AGDQ 2013 formed a catalyst that pushed me to swap over to speedrunning. Doom itself came from YouTube videos such as STX-Vile's sub-thirty minute completion of Nightmare.


Nick: Do you speedrun non-Doom games?

Dime: It's getting to be a long list. Super Meat Boy (2010), Starcraft 2: Wings of LibertyStarcraft: Brood War (1998; Protoss Campaign), I Wanna Be The Boshy (2010), Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast (2002), Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010).



Nick: Would you consider yourself a "classic" Doom speedrunner? How would you describe the difference between "classic" and post-2016 speedrunners, in the Doom speedrunning community? 

Dime: My branding is aimed at the classic community, but previous answers indicate that it's not purely what defines me as a speedrunner. The newer speedrunning communities emphasize recordings done live, but classic Id games are founded on demos.


Nick: In your mind, what brings these differences about—the games, themselves; or is it caused by the technology of the era, and the ability to share and communicate differently (dial-up versus Twitch, for example)?

Dime: Classic Doom has a demo recording system. When a demo is recorded, it is submitted toDoomworld or Doomed Speed Demos Archive. Therefore, the majority of runs are never watched live, but the benefits were astounding twenty-five years ago for sharing runs with your friends taking advantage of small demo file sizes. [editor's note: Karl Jobst attributes this to Quake's early success, but also its relatively unknown status, as a speedrunning game.]


Nick: How does your speedrunning style compare to similar Doom runners? 

Dime: I've struggled unfortunately with precision for a long time, so grinding out runs is necessary for me to take on record times; but adding that with a flair to try out new things helped push down Final Doom (1996) full-game runtimes. Classic Doom is built upon individual-level runs more so than full-game runs, but my experience of GamesDoneQuick inspired me to bring that style to the community.


Nick: Do you have any favorite Doom runners or content creators that you like to watch and/or learn from? Perhaps Zero-Master or Decino?

Dime: Classic Doom: Zero-master, Looper, Mrzzul, Ancalagon, Johnsuitepee
Modern Doom: Byteme, Draqu_, Maynarde, Bloodshot9001, Xamide
Battlemode: Tomatrix, Zanarathaz, Ronin, BazookaJo3y
YouTube: Altimamantoid, Icarus, PNDKetchup, Decino, BigMacDavis



Nick: Can speedrunning Doom Eternal make you better at speedrunning classic Doom games like Doom II (1994) or Final Doom (1996)?

Dime: Absolutely. Learning how to route and research can be applied to other speedruns, but strafing and the community ruleset of single-segment [SS] runs went the way of the dodo in newer communities. SS runs are reset on death (not including a death exit); Ultra-nightmare runners could fit in [right] off the bat, but it'd be a struggle for other category runners to cope with SS runs. Sure you can     play non-SS, but those runs cannot be submitted to a leader board.

On Doom Eternal, Casually

Nick: Where does Doom Eternal rank in the franchise? Does it hold its own against the classic games? Does it "surpass" them?

Dime: Impossible to rank compared to nostalgia, but I place it towards the top due to the creation of the excellent combat loop. Classic mods and the open playstyle in the original is tough competition; the variety is near endless, but Eternal sure as heck comes close with the tools at your disposal.


Nick: As a classic Doom player, do you enjoy Eternal's deviations away from the classic Doom combat loop? Are there any similarities between them despite the innovations? 

Dime: Yes, why bother treading the same ground if it exists in the past? Doom Eternal pushes the envelope in pure mobility options—from double jumps, dashes and launching with the SSG's Meat Hook. The bestiary, weapons and artwork are built upon in Eternal, but a basic remake is stagnation for the series [versus] climbing to new heights. 


Nick: Doom Eternal is less minimal than Doom 2016. It's also campier. As a normal player, how do you feel about this? As a speedrunner, does it affect how you livestream and/or play the game (speedrunners love to make jokes mid-stream or during live events)?

Dime: Eternal's story elements push to a wider universe—to pull from for the incoming DLCs and possible sequels. To be honest, I haven't read the codexes in 2016 or Eternal, so I do not prioritize story in ranking Eternal on a scale, but the BFG 10000, Icon and Marauder memes will live on.


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

Dime: A lone marine as a last resort defending humanity works for a backdrop to create a scary title but the framework is critical to creating a fun and scary journey. PSX Doom succeeded, but on the other hand Doom 3 (2004) had an identity crisis between survival horror and shooting [and didn't excel] in either category. I think F.E.A.R (2005) overshadowed [Doom 3] in spooks and gameplay one year later.



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

Dime: Implementation of the Archvile (was bad, as was) the missing cinematic from E3 (too cool to miss in-game): An all-in spawn from the Archvile works conceptually to force the player in killing an immediate threat, [but also turns] an iconic enemy into BFG or Crucible bait. [editor's note: I feel this way about the Tyrants and Barons, too. The player isn't forced to actually fight them, because the demons aren't immune to the Crucible. Not only does the Doom Hunter take two Crucible strikes to die; his second form also makes a one-shot kill with the BFG impossible. Fights with the Hunter are always more exciting because the player can't delete him on a whim; he's always more dangerous.]


Nick: Is Id Software's "speed chess with guns" analogy from Doom 2016 still accurate when applied toDoom Eternal's combat? If so, which chess pieces correlate with which monsters? 

Dime: Pawn = Imp, Zombie, Hell Knight

Rook = Mancubus, Pinky, Dread Knight, Baron
Bishop = Whiplash, Revenant, Doom Hunter
Knight = Carcass, Arachnotron, Arch-vile
Queen = Marauder
King = Tyrant


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

Dime: Super Gore Nest, SSG, Dread Knight.


Nick: Which glory kills do you like the most? 

Does the system feel improved over its 2016 counterpart; or, is the fact—that player survival is more incumbent on glory kills—annoying from a speedrunning perspective?

Dime: Face-planting the Arachnotron is a hoot, and the execution of the Marauder with his own ax. 

The glory killing utility is up to personal preference, but it appears the player is safer coming out of the animation whereas you commonly died to charged shots post-glory kill [in Doom 2016]. Losing precious time to locked animations is the antithesis of speedrunning, [provided] the situation allows runners avoid glory kills.


Nick: How do you feel about the Marauder? Do complaints about him upsetting the combat feel justified, or does Under the Mayo have the right idea when he defends the Marauder?

Dime: The Archvile and Marauder fit in opposing circles in a Venn diagram in a coordinated assault: clearing out the rest of the enemies [including the Archvile] to open up the battlefield for a 1v1 with the Marauder. It's a fun addition, but for a nemesis I'd prefer if a single Marauder returned multiple times, powering up with new weapons [over multiple] fights. 

Staggering is one valid complaint I cannot defend [see: Devo's opinions on failed demon staggers]; it's frustrating to direct-hit a Marauder and not receive the physical feedback written in the tutorial. If a Marauder is aggravating to players, I don't know how a lot of them played Dark Souls (2011). Capra Demon alone caused more keyboard-chucking rage than all the Marauders in Doom Eternal combined.


Nick: Is there one fight in Doom Eternal that you couldn't believe you survived, but was unbelievably fun regardless? Can you think of a similar example from the classic Doom games?

Dime: In the Arc Complex, nothing prepared me to encounter the level of opposition setup in the Berserk power-up fight. It's everything that I love in Eternal—over the top, full of baddies to slay, and a puzzle to figure out (when best to grab Berserk).

Final Doom: Plutonia (1996) throws the kitchen sink in the exit arena on "Abattoir" (map 9): ["Abattoir"] consists of a thin circular ledge leading to an inescapable pit if you fall. Two cubbyholes are filled with imps, but are necessary to grab health and ammo resources to survive. Four Mancubi and four Revenants are split into solo [rooms] in all corners—with Mancubi on a lower ledge [and] Revenants] unleashing hell from the skies. [This map is] difficult at first, but manageable with knowledge and experience.

On Speedrunning

Nick: Speedrunners tend to refer to non-speedrunners as "casuals." In my own opinion, I always thought this implied a specialized difficulty/mindset that comes from speedrunning games. Would you agree, or do you have your own thoughts on why the term "casual" is used?

Dime: It's just a simple description for gamers who experience a campaign once and never return. Speedrunning is akin to challenge runs that aim at mastering a particular style. You'll notice the connotation—that "casual play" is [used together] instead of [merely] calling non-speedrunners "casuals." Many challenge runners are nothing to be scoffed at, skill-wise 


Nick: During Eternal's development process, the developers mentioned their game being made with Twitch and speedrunning in mind. A recent video by Karl Jobst is also convinced Doom Eternal is the next Big Game in the speedrunning world. 

Do you agree with them? Will Doom Eternal rank up there with popular speedrunning games like Super Metroid (1994) or classic Doom (1993)? Or will Doom Eternal (and Twitch) help change speedrunning into something we haven't seen before?

Dime: I think Doom Eternal will be well regarded, but Super Metroid and Classic Doom are the upper echelon to hit. [This being said] the Doom Eternal speedrunning community is popular, with multiple competitive categories 


Nick: Doom Eternal is meant to be played fast; it forces the player to play at the game's speed or die—especially on the harder difficulty settings. Do you think this mindset appeals to speedrunners, in general?

Dime: Earlier this decade, I'd have answered that speed is a requirement, but now I know that it is not true. Speedrunning's diversity of content is arguably the highest of all gaming content—from breaking every law of physics in Big Rigs (2003) to slower RPG runs that reward methodical planning. [editor's note: see Caleb's classic FF7 (1997) runs, which can take twenty hours or more to complete in a single sitting!]



Nick: Was your mind made up to speedrun Doom Eternal before it was out, or was that a decision that came post-release?

Dime: Inevitable. Doom 3 is the sole exception that I haven't run, but have plans to learn it eventually.


Nick: How much attention have you gotten as a classic Doom speedrunner, now that Doom Eternal is out and people are paying more attention to the franchise, in general?

Dime: The March bump was substantial for views and some Doom Eternal viewers translated across to watching classic speedruns. The hype for Doom is at an all-time high and [I'm] loving all the attention plastered to the series we know and love. 

Glitches

Nick: The "broken" state of Doom Eternal (see: Karl Jobst's video, "Doom Eternal Has Already Been Completely Broken") allows for major glitches—"major" because they abjure combat (the game's main focus) in favor of going out-of-bounds, where little gameplay can occur (similar to A Link to the Past [1991]). 

In your opinion, does a glitch only become major (for speedrunning categories) when it breaks the game? If so, what makes a game broken as far as you're concerned?

Dime: When glitches destroy the intended way of playing [they become major glitches]. Doom Eternal is classified as an FPS experience, promoting mobility and cycling of weapons to take down big burly demons, but the Any% [category] skips nearly every fight. I'd classify any% as "broken," but not the "No Major Glitches" [category] (so far. However, that could change with time).


Nick: Clipping from the classic Doom games lets the player go out-of-bounds, but it can only be performed on select maps. Why is clipping so rare (when not using cheat codes) in classic Doom games? Do these qualities make this kind of clipping a minor glitch in your mind?

Dime: Major Glitch. The rarity of clipping out of bounds is overstated; [the actual reason] it isn't used more often [is] because of the inability to exit the map after going OoB. 

Classic Doom is surprisingly resilient to OoB's activity but acute ways of increasing player speed—greater than 32 units/tics—can take a player from fully in-bounds to OoB on the next tic. Sounds easy, but to gather this speed require specifics like self-damage from the Rocket Launcher, wall running (increased speed on north-/east-facing walls) or speed gains from boosting off demons (wall running off demons, basically off their square hitbox).


Difficulty

Nick: Are there any moments in Doom Eternal's core gameplay (combat, platforming) that feel cheap? Anything that might make speedrunning a chore?

Dime: Inconsistent demon falters and Blood Punch.


Nick: Classic Doom has hitscan-type enemies, which are theoretically more dangerous than enemies with projectile-based attacks. However, while the player cannot dodge a hit-scanner, said enemy's aim is also random and can still miss (the damage is also random when it occurs); the player can also use the game's horizontal movement scheme to hide behind doors and corners, fighting in choke points that make hit-scanners easier to manage. 

Despite these qualities, decades worth of optimization and RNG can make the classic Doom games just as hard as Doom Eternal to speedrun. In your mind, what other factors might make the classics harder to speedrun, despite their "basic" design lending an illusion of ease?

Dime: Two separate variants of straferunning are doable in Classic: SR40 that uses forward + strafe input simultaneously to move 28% faster; and SR50, a complicated straferun needing four keys including forward + strafe + turn + strafe-on inputs to move 41% faster at the cost of losing turning capability. Straferunning impedes vision and it's possible to lose speed from start to finish. Weapon switching is extremely slow, too, and routing in (when and where to switch). You'll need [all of this] to succeed.


Nick: Is it a good idea, or even possible, to compare the Doom games in terms of difficulty when each one is so different? 

Dime: I'd place Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal Nightmare difficulty on a similar curve to Plutonia and "Thy Flesh Consumed," and classic Nightmare on par to [Doom Eternal's] Ultra-Nightmare—with Plutonia and TNT Nightmare taking the crown for most difficult Doom content.


Note: For the rest of this section, I refer to an interview on stream I had recently with you.

Nick: You mention how every demon in Doom Eternal 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. For this reason, Civvie complains about the beginning of the game being too hard. Hqrdest also says that Doom Eternal is harder than Doom 2016—early on, but then it 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 these three? Or, having had a chance to play the game more yourself, do its early levels feel easier for you than the beginning to Doom 2016?

Dime: I died at least a hundred times completing Doom Eternal on Nightmare with twenty-plus deaths facing the Gladiator and Slayer Gate #5 forcing a bloody fight with a Marauder. My stance has changed that maps 1-3 do not peak at a harder difficulty than the late game, but the average fights—especially in Hell Exultia and Cultist Base—are tougher.


Nick: You mention there being no challenge to follow-up Doom Eternal playthroughs, once you know how to play the game. To paraphrase: 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.

Do you still feel this assertion to be correct? Does the challenge in follow-up Doom Eternal playthroughs decrease; or, does it merely oscillate as players pick up new speedrunning tricks that they learn, master, and incorporate into their individual play styles?

Dime: Yes, a passive circle-strafing playstyle neutralizes spike damage [during casual play] by restacking +30 armor pickups off the flaming Meat Hook. Speedrunning, on the other hand, is very difficult in Eternal. Bleeding out time to passive stack regains is not conducive to completing a fast run. No rewards without risks, and golly, Eternal's tendency—to end your torment in microseconds—is becoming legendary.



Nick: To stay relevant in combat situations where the player is constantly growing stronger, enemies need to climb in strength and abilities, a la Dragon's Crown (2013). Because those in Super Metroid do not, they are soon eclipsed by a fully-upgraded Samus Aran. In casual playthroughs for Super Metroid, the acquisition—of power-ups and health/ammo pick-ups beyond a certain point—constitutes a threshold. Once crossed, death is no longer an issue—in the casual sense, but potentially also for speedrunners who want to focus on speedrunning versus any sort of struggle to stay alive.

The collecting permanent power-ups (and health, armor and ammo upgrades) has Doom Eternal operating similarly to Super Metroid in this respect. Classic Doom affords no such luxuries; instead, there's a constant rush from spot to spot, collecting temporary power-ups. 

Is a classic Doom runner always struggling to stay alive? Does this make those classic games harder in a specific sense than Doom Eternal, despite a more basic control scheme?

Dime: The struggle is real. Health is at a premium, with runs getting reset solely because your health and armor totals are too low. As much as I praise classic, I haven't completed a run yet in Doom Eternal 100%. They both kick my butt (about as bad as those damn GDI A-10 Bombers, in Command and Conquer (1995)! /rage).


Nick: Would you recommend Doom Eternal to players who are new to speedrunning but want to give it a try? What about the classic games? If you could recommend any of those, which would you, and why?

Dime: DOOOOOOOM! COME JOIN US! TO WIN THE GAME YOU MUST RIP AND TEAR. They're all a freaking blast to play. 


Nick: Will "classic" speedrunners—used to running the older, classic Doom games—be able to handle Eternal's paradigm shift?

Dime: Zero-master is definitely [able to]

Ultra-Nightmare/Length

Nick: Speedruns require repetition, especially once a run is optimized. During optimized runs, resets are common—especially during early levels.

Do you see many runners grinding Doom Eternal on Ultra-Nightmare, once the runs have been more optimized? Or will Ultra-Nightmare (all subcategories) always be a niche exercise? 

Dime: Scrolling down the Twitch category, Ultra-Nightmare, [these] runs are way more popular than I ever envisioned.



Nick: Is it more common for the classic Doom games to be speedrun on easier difficulties than the harder ones? If so, why? 

Dime: Ultra-violence or Nightmare only. It's a historic rule—from eons ago, from the days of Doom Honorific Titles and Compet-n—but I believe the additional monsters [in these difficulty settings] add intrigue and suspense, producing a superior viewing experience.


Nick: Does anyone really speedrun classic Doom on Nightmare? 

Dime: See: Zero-Master.


Nick: DraQu's current Ultra-Nightmare 100% run has him beating Doom Eternal in just over three hours. What is your fastest Ultra-Nightmare time to date? Do you want to do runs in the Ultra-Nightmare 100% category, or are you doing so already?

Dime: ScrubDime has not completed a 100% run yet, but 3:35:XX on Nightmare is my current PB (personal best) and [my] furthest 100% Ultra-Nightmare [attempt] got to Urdak this week.


Nick: In your opinion, what is the appeal behind Ultra-Nightmare 100%? The inherent challenge, or because it forces the player not to skip fights?

Dime: Looking back at my speedrun history, any% is the majority of what I run so Doom Eternal is actually the exception from the lineup of games (the any% [category] in Eternal is dominated by the slope boost, [which] isn't exciting for me to spectate nor does it motivate me to run that category). 

Technique

Nick: Being a "classic" Doom runner, are there any techniques from the old-school Doom games that inform your playstyle when speedrunning Doom Eternal?

Dime: Outside of routing out-of-combat, they share little in common.


Nick: What are some of your favorite speedrunning runes and weapons in Doom Eternal

Dime: Air Control, Blood Fueled and Savagery letting you combo animated kills to speed around arenas. Chrono Strike doesn't appeal to me personally but I love that it's in the game because damn it produces clip worthy moments slowing down time to style on the demons. 

The Gauss rifle in 2016 laughs at the power of [Eternal's] destroyer blade, but [the Destroyer Blade is] beautiful to charge up and cut down a hallway of mobs.



Nick: Your least favorite? 

Dime: Increased range of glory kills + Microwave Beam. Snoozes. Boring and doesn't mesh with the hyperactive gameplay.


Nick: Do you have any special methods for practicing Ultra-Nightmare that you're currently using? Any videos that you're studying?

Dime: Current 100% Ultra-Nightmare runs from Draqu_, FrostyXen, Byteme and Zero-master. Practicing individual levels and arenas to learn monster spawns and determining movement routes. It's all a grind, but well worth it for the cherry on top of the cake.


Nick: Are there things you prefer about speedrunning Eternal versus Doom 2016, or vice versa?

Dime: Doom 2016's early any% tech used Gauss rifle boosts, which is still a thing. So in my opinionEternal > Doom 2016. Previously I lined out a few annoyances with Eternal, but Doom 2016 holds its own annoyances—with a frustrating early game, imps ruining runs in the blink of an eye (and personally I quit 2016 from the game crashing and dead stopping run after run—at Argent Tower, or [when] picking up argent energy upgrades).


Nick: A common enemy amongst speedrunners is RNG (random number generation). Weapon damage in classic Doom/Quake is random. Compared to other Id games, how much RNG does Doom Eternal have?

Dime: Less, but random elements crop up in [Eternal runs]. Before you enter the main facility in Cultist base to meet the priest, demon spawns are set in stone; but the first Cacodemon can be in any of the four quadrants, forcing you to survey the scene and determine the Caco's line of attack. Little nuances can [also] cause enemies to path differently.


Nick: Which enemies are the most annoying to come up against during a Doom Eternal speedrun, versus the classic games? Which ones are you the most happy to see? 

Dime: Hitscanners are the backbone of classic fodder; the "lower" tier pose such a great threat to the player that statistical survival in early maps is garbage: Failing to stagger a Chaingunner (or failing to kill him with the Shotgun blast) usually spells death for the runner. Chaingunners annoy me in classic and Mancubi for Eternal—[the latter] with their high hit points, high DPS (damage-per-second) and punishing AoE (area-of-effect) ability. 


[editor's note: Watching runners like Your Mate Devo and Byte Me, a common (and a recent) complaint amongst them is how the Mancubi's AoE discourages the player from using Blood Punch. Blood Punch is too easy to miss (due to overlapping key mapping and its general inconsistencies) and the Mancubi are simply too fast, able to deal 100 damage in 1/5th a second! This flies in the face of early promises made by Hugo Martin (and the other developers)—about the player being able get in quick to use Blood Punch against off-balance enemies. On the harder difficulties, Eternal forces the player to fight at a distance.]


Nick: I know how in-fighting is a classic Doom staple. Can Doom Eternal demons be manipulated to behave in similarly predictable ways?

Dime: I don't know how infighting works in Eternal. Specific demons are tagged or already fighting, but [I have] no clue what triggers it, mid-fight. 


Nick: How do you feel about the climbing mechanics in Doom Eternal? Do they help or hinder speedrunners? 

Dime: [They're] straightforward throughout the interconnecting level design between major arenas, but misplaced movement on monkey bars can lead to death. [I] love that they're included—to rain hell from above by staying perpetually skyward with Meat Hooks, bars and boost pads.


Nick: Doom Eternal forces you to switch from weapon-to-weapon—because of the low ammo counters, but also monster-specific weaknesses. Is this "Doom dance" easy to maintain while speedrunning?

Dime: No, it's action intensive. Pre-planning goes into your hotkeys to optimally weapon switch, but the best runners are ludicrously competent at switching fast and calculated at choosing the right weapon. This skill translates to Battlemode, and it's common knowledge that Zanarathaz is arguably the best slayer in the world at MP.

This Friday Night Fights link shows the link between weapon switching and the sheer punishment a [master] Slayer can dish out [see, timestamp: 20:15].



Nick: Is Doom Eternal "developed to be speedrun?" 

Dime: No. Speedrunners are dedicated and passionate players that can bring eyeballs to a game, but the percentage is minuscule versus the overall playerbase. It's impractical for Id to mold the game around the community and honestly it's for the better [if they don't]. Part of the fun [as a speedrunner] is discovering tricks, skips and techniques to break down the fundamentals of [developer-intended] gameplay. Meddling to appease speedrunners ruins the organic evolution of a run.


Nick: Glory kills seem essential; they also slow runners down. Is there ever a point in Doom Eternal where glory kills can be skipped by speedrunners altogether?

Dime: Maybe in a closed, perfected environment like a Tool Assisted Speedrun (TAS).


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 mass-murdered for copious resources, can you explain what you think this optimal pattern is when speedrunning Doom Eternal (not casual play)?

Dime: Staying active and knowing demon movement tendencies depending on the circumstances: In Super Gore Nest, I'll push to kill the fodder and three Mancubi in the first encounter to spawn in the next wave, but position myself afterwards on the highest ledge right by the Sentinel coin secret because demon pathing easily arrives at your vantage point. Sometimes the optimal movement is staying put and letting waves come to you. [This being said,] I don't believe an all-in-one pattern exists.


Nick: In Spud's recent guide video for Ultra-Nightmare, he notes how essential the classic "circle strafe" movement strategy is. Because of the new, expanded vertical elements, I liken it to "spherical moment."

Despite the inclusion of non-Doom, vertical movement schemes into the game (i.e., platforming), doesDoom Eternal's combat retain that core, "classic Doom feel" in your opinion?

Dime: In Eternal, resources are regained with Flame Belch, Glory Kills, Chainsaw kills; and combat is contained in separate arenas, which is not the case in classic Doom. The way sound propagation works in classic Doom—and the fact that hundreds to thousands of monsters can be set to fight from the beginning of the level—creates threats that [potentially exist] outside of your direct vision [line-of-sight]. Eternal is more likely to kill from incidental high damage output [i.e., Mancubi burst AoE] than demons ripping you apart by siphoning away all your space [a checkmate], or by backing Doomguy into a corner.


Nick: In one of his videos, Under the Mayo likes 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.

In your opinion, how much like Quake is Doom Eternal, or is the comparison only being made because the game is 3D?

Dime: Mayo is correct if you narrow down the definition to Quake multiplayer. [When] directly comparing campaigns, Quake is full of creatures designed to suppress the Ranger. Vores, Shamblers and Ogres pin you down with aggressive attacks inside their LoS (line of sight), and the Ranger's arsenal [becomes] a juggling act. Self-damage is a careful game of distance management and doesn't promote push-forward combat like Eternal [does]. 


Nick: The classic Doom games weren't true 3D (according to some). The new Doom games are, but can they still be closer to classic Doom in various respects? 

Dime: https://twitter.com/romero/status/1270831229903024130 [editor's note: Fair enough, but as Civvie woefully points out about Diakatana (2000), Romero's also the guy who made us his bitch.]



Balancing

Nick: The Microwave Beam doesn't seem to be very good (and can even cause a glitch that takes away the player’s ability to dash). Can it reliably be used to stun a charging Hell Knight as Under the Mayo argues, or is the weapon still garbage as DraQu argues?

Dime: I don't doubt Mayo's testing, but [I] gotta side fully with DraQu that the Microwave Beam is underwhelming. The Microwave weapon mod is an ammo hog and to get that stun utility you're switching weapons which could be better spent blasting them with the Ballista. [editor's note: Valid. However, Under the Mayo currently has a "brawler mode" in development for Eternal, which forbids using the Ballista].


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, given how much ammo for the crucible the player has?

Dime: A Tyrant Crucible kill animation uses three swings, so why not make it cost three ticks? 


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

Dime: Crucible ammo is stingy after Taras Nabad, but it breaks up fights by crushing big threatening enemies. It's a spectacle for the player to [be able to] enhance the power fantasy, but it disrespects [the highest tiers] by turning Doom Hunters and Cyber-Mancubi into the most dangerous foes. Too expensive on Hunters and Cyber-Mancubi are too plentiful.


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

Dime: Smart players save it for the highest threat targets like Tyrants, Archviles and Barons. After miserably failing to crucible Marauders, the rest of the squad gets deleted off the map.



Nick: A new video by Midnight discusses DLC content ("New Doom Eternal Content Update"), 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?

Dime: BRING ON THE CHALLENGERS! 


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? 

Dime: Opposing upgrades challenge and No BFG/Crucible. Instead of using the optimal upgrades you're forced to use Auto Shotty, Micro Missiles, Microwave Beam, Destroyer Blade, Remote Detonation and Mobile Turret.


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

Dime: Turn it into a plasma weapon that uses 3-5 ammo per shot.

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?

Dime: What choice do we have with stores and large groups widely shut down. I am thankful that one of my real life friends took initiative to set up bi-weekly multiplayer days to gather together my old clan of school + university mates to keep sane with fun gaming activities. Sure my age places me into a lower risk for serious symptoms if I contract Covid-19, but I literally live in an apartment across from an old folks home. Videogames are a fantastic way to stay distanced rather than put others in danger by interacting in-person.
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For other blog posts by me, check out "Alien: Ore" Q & A Project, Dragon Ball Super: Broly - Is It Gothic?, Mandy (2018): Review, Gothic Themes in Perfect Blue. Also check out my guest work on Video Hook-Ups.

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