Well, somebody has to write it about! There isn't a single respected geek who wasn't affected by it. When we first got Doom, we only had a 386. My brother came home from school all excited and installed it on our machine. Doing so involved clearing out 50 per cent of our hard drive by deleting all of my favourite games and saved games without asking, naturally.
Even though it was running in a 3in window, it was the closest thing I'd seen to realistic 3D graphics at the time. Obviously it didn't look real, but when you have the feeling of being in a 3D world, your brain can fill in the gaps. You were moving around a seemingly 3D environment, being scared by things that aren't real, but boy did you feel it.
Very promptly, we upgraded to a 486SX33 with a whopping 8MB of memory. Finally, we could play it full screen. Back then, there was no 3D acceleration, so knowing what you needed to do in order to get your games running faster was easy.
I'm not afraid to admit that I was scared of Doom. But hey, just remember â€“ I was scared of Commander Keen. So at first, I was quite content to just watch my brother play instead. Even more comical was to watch my Dad play, who would lean sideways on his chair as he tried to run away from imps to such a degree that he'd almost fall off.
I'm not going to sit here and explain Doom to you, because if you haven't played it â€“ you need to. So go and download it, or one of the modern GL versions. But what really made Doom unique to me and many other people was the ability to design my own levels.
I tried several level editors, but in the end I found the best one to be called Doom Construction Kit â€“ or DCK for short. I have no idea if this was a commercial program or free â€“ all I remember is being handed it on a floppy disk by my older brother. I vaguely recall it being Shareware. However, it was amazing. Draw your levels just like a vector graphics package. Apply textures to walls. An imp here, a zombie soldier there, an elevator here, a blue key card there. It didn't take long to get levels going, although that doesn't mean I didn't run across problems.
When trying to create complex shapes, and splitting up pre-existing ones. I'd always end breaking them, finding myself with no textures applied and graphical smears all over the place. Learning to cope with these minor annoyances was half the trick and sometimes no matter what you did, you had no choice but to return to a back up of the level.
However, it was the first time (aside from actually coding) that I could really let out my creative side. I came up with some ingenious level designs that, to be quite honest I'm disappointed not to have any more. They were unfortunately lost on a floppy disk years ago, along with my above 600k of base memory boot disks. I'm sure I convinced myself that my Quake levels would supersede them, but looking back I've lost a bit of my personal history.