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FPS: From Vintage to Retro, Q&A Compendium!

This series, "FPS: From Vintage to Retro," interviews FPS players and developers. In terms of vintage FPS, the series covers includes single-player "Doom clones" and Build titles; to multiplayer frag-fests like Doom deathmatch, Quake arenas, and Unreal Tournament(s); to "pure," arcade-style shooters, "looter shooters" and FPS-RPG hybrids. In terms of retro FPS, it examines DuskIon Fury and Prodeus, as well as Nightdive Studios' latter-day revival of classic FPS.

Note: When new interviews go live, this compendium will also be updated.

Research Goals

This series is an extension of my PhD research. Here's a brief abstract about my work: My thesis work focused on speedrunning Metroidvania as Gothic texts, and my PhD work is currently expanding on that idea—mainly the old Gothick-y concept, that Gothic castles are seats of power and terror for someone to lose themselves inside. Usually Gothic heroines. Conversely FPS games illustrate a more straightforward idea: the player, using an avatar to kick the living shit out of everything. Usually the ass-kicker is male, and enjoys traditionally "male" fantasies of power. It's kind of a counterpoint to my main thesis argument.

For "Vintage and Retro," I want to examine how power is arranged in FPS, and how FPS likewise conveys Gothic themes. FPS, though especially Doom, are known for marrying demons with pop culture elements—the heroic tale, or monomyth, with heavy metal and other musical styles. How does this approach compare to the Metroidvania treatment of gameworlds, including how they're designed to be played (re: ludic elements)?

Other topics include: platforming and vertical movement, Doom ports, speedrunning and fan games!

Games

"From Vintage to Retro" focuses on vintage/retro FPS. This includes speedrunning and how players deconstruct FPS games, but also how developers have accommodated players over the years—their gameworlds.

Most "From Vintage to Retro" will entail: classic Doom, Midway's Doom '95 or Doom 64; Chex Quest; Half-life or Half-life: Opposing Force; Quake or Unreal; Terminator 2: Judgement Day or Bethesda's Terminator Future Shock or Terminator Skynet; any of the three Build games Shadow Warrior, Duke Nukem 3D or Blood; AvP (2000) or Alien Trilogy; Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas; Turok 1 or 2; or Terminator Resistance

"From Vintage to Retro" considers Nightdive Studios and many of their source ports: Strife, System Shock 1 & 2, Blood, etc). It also examines fan-made FPS like The Adventures of Square and Tech-Com 2029.

Player Interviews

These interviews are with players who stream, speedrun, or otherwise play FPS. 

Note: I have other people I'd like to interview. The interviews listed here are officially complete or underway.

JRMHD91: A Twitch steamer and expert on classic Doom ports, JR grew up with Doom, but also Chex Quest and other vintage FPS. Read his interview here.


Cynic the Original: A YouTuber who enjoys vertical-oriented FPS in general. His channel focuses on Doom Eternal. The interview focuses on vertical gameplay in FPS. This includes older/retro games that Cynic has played (re: Doom Eternal, Call of Duty), games he hasn't but may enjoy (re: Blood, Ion Fury), and current indie games that are taking the FPS genre in new directions (re: Prodeus, Ultrakill). Read his interview, here.


FrostyXen: FrostyXen is a speedrunner who formerly held the WR for Doom Eternal. I've interviewed FrostyXen about Doom before, for my "Hell-blazers" series. However, his favorite game of all time is actually Halo 3. This interview covers the Halo series and FrostyXen's many years of experience with it. [interview coming soon]

Alecandstuff: A good friend of mine, Alec was originally a Top 500 Overwatch player who now livestreams Nintendo games on Twitch. For our interview, we discuss multiplayer FPS, FPS MOBAs, e-sports, and single player FPS/TPS. [interview coming soon]

Developer Interviews

James Towne: The project lead for Tech-Com 2029 and senior artist for Rust. Read part one of his interview here, where we discuss the game itself and its development history!

Part two discusses Tech-Com in relation to other vintage/retro FPS games. Read it here.


Yellow Swerve: Twitch steamer and a WR holder for several extended category speedruns for Ultrakill, Yellow Swerve is also a game designer studying at UCSC. Our interview covers Ultrakill and how the game's vertical approach makes it unique as an FPS; we also compared Ultrakill to vintage/retro FPS titles, and examine the empowering effect of jumping in shooter titles versus the disempowering effect on no jumping in survival horror games. Read his interview, here.


Richard Gobeille: The project lead for Ion Fury. Our interview will cover the development of the game—its inception, game design, and legacy. [interview coming soon]

I am considering other developers as well. Perhaps JimmySquared from The Adventures of Square.

My FPS / Metroidvania Posts

"'80s Popcorn Love: An Ion Fury Review": My review for Ion Fury (2019), the FPS developed by Voidpoint and published by 3D Realms. The review focuses on the game's level design and gunplay.

'"Neutral" Politics: Feminism, the Gothic, and Zombie Police States in Ion Fury': My critical write-up Ion Fury. In it, I interpret the peripheral politics of the in-game Read Me file, and analyze Ion Fury through a Gothic-feminist-postcolonialist lens.

"Revisiting My Masters' Thesis on Metroidvania—Our Ludic Masters: The Dominating Game Space": My master's thesis explored Metroidvania and Gothic spaces and how they dominate the player in a Gothic sense (terror, tacit tutorials, Gothic scenarios). I've recently expanded on this idea to account for how these games dominate the player in a ludic sense. Separate from the audiovisual themes, how do Metroidvania, as games to be played, dominate players? How is this meta-narrative reinforced by the gameworld as something to experience?

"Why I Submit: A Subby Gothicist's Attitudes on Metroidvania, Mommy Doms, and Sexual Persecution": My current PhD research extends Metroidvania domination into a BDSM framework, especially the relationship between the "mommy dom" (a female authority figure) and fem boy (a feminine male subject) as illustrated by the player, but also and the Metroidvania's signature combination of sex, danger and standard Gothic themes (fear of assault, imposter syndrome, sexual abuse).

"War Vaginas: Phallic Women, Vaginal Spaces and Archaic Mothers in Metroid": Metroid, as a franchise, is rife with sexual imagery and Gothic displays of power. This piece examines those in detail: the phallic women (re: martial, Amazonian), Archaic Mothers (re: Mother Brain, the xenomorph queen) and vaginal, womb-like spaces (castles, nests) Samus encounters in the Metroid franchise. 

"Borrowed Robes: The Role of 'Chosen' Clothing — Part 1: Female Videogame Characters": Metroid, but also female characters in any videogame, are historically dressed by men. This piece explores the lack of autonomy women have regarding how they are dressed, including female players when controlling female avatars like Samus Aran.

"I, Satanist; Atheist: A Gothicist's Thoughts on Atheism, Religion, and Sex": My Satanic Atheism has shaped my views and interests on metal, videogames and sex (and vice versa). I think these topics are interlinked, and explore that through my own persona connection and history with the material.

"Hearing the Gothic Past": Doom's relationship with metal and horror is strong. This article explores the darksynth sub-genre's relationship between music and horror more generally in media at large.

My Doom-exclusive Posts

"Hell-blazers: Doom Eternal Speedrunning Q&A, Interview Compendium!": A series that interviews Doom Eternal speedrunners, but also Twitch streamers who have played Doom Eternal in a speedrunning sense.

"Spectating FPS Speedruns: Potential Pitfalls Exemplified by Doom Eternal": An examination of FPS speedruns from a spectator's perspective, and why I think Doom Eternal isn't the best example of an entertaining speedrun to watch.

"Visual Clutter in Brutal Doom / Project Brutality": An article I wrote covering these two popular mods for Doom, and some of the issues I have with them.

"Doom Eternal: Made for Speed... but Speedrunning?": The article whose title question launched my "Hell-blazers" series.

"Doom Eternal (2020) Review: No Girls or Trans Allowed": My personal review for Doom Eternal.

"Post-colonialism in Doom": An essay where I analyze the Doom franchise, including Doom Eternal, through a post-colonial lens.

Other Links

"7 real life items that inspired Doom Eternal": An interesting interview with Hugo Martin about Doom Eternal's palimpsests.

Summoning Salt: Perhaps my all-time favorite source for well-documented speedrunning history.

Karl Jobst: Another excellent source for YouTube videos about speedrunning history.

Pop-culture Weapons Analysed: A video by historical weapons expert, Shadiversity, analyzing the Crucible from Doom Eternal

"Starship Troopers, Part 1: Heinlein | Brows Held High": An excellent video essay by Kyle Kallgren that analyzes the problematic, fascist elements in 20th century sci-fi auteur Robert Heinlein. Postcolonialism is a huge theme in my studies, and I really enjoyed his video.

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My name is Nick van der Waard and I'm a Gothic ludologist. I have my MA in English Studies: The Gothic from Manchester Metropolitan University. My blog is about horror, but also sex, metal and videogames.

Check out my interview series: Hell-blazers: Speedrunning Doom Eternal, "Giving My Two Cents: A Metal Compendium," and the Alien: Ore" Interview Project.

My favorite posts: Dragon Ball Super: Broly - Is It Gothic?Mandy (2018): ReviewGothic Themes in Perfect Blue. Also check out my guest work on Video Hook-Ups.

Follow me on Twitter! Watch my Gothic podcast! Purchase a commission through my art website! Or support me on Patreon or Ko-Fi!

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