Pathways Redux Part I

I was digging through an old hard drive and found a small collection of videos and images from old projects. I’ll share them with you over the next few weeks.

Here’s the first one: a trailer for a Doom 3 mod I made in 2004, Pathways Redux:

Pathways Redux is based on a Bungie game, Pathways into Darkness. When talking about first-person action-RPGs, the usual suspects are games like Ultima Underworld, System Shock, and Deus Ex. Bungie’s PiD is often not mentioned, which is a damn shame - it without a doubt deserves a place.

What I found most impressive about PiD was its storytelling and world-building. Here’s your homework assignment: spend a day poring over the Pathways into Darkness Story Page, the Marathon Story Page, and the Myth Story Page. Despite how difficult it is to tell a good story in a game and create strong, cohesive universes, Bungie has achieved wonderful results in PiD, Marathon, and Myth.

And if you haven’t played those three, then you better go do something about that, hm?

In 2004, Doom 3 was on the horizon. I was giddy like a bull in a china shop. I grew up with Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake, and was fairly familiar with their ins and outs. From a tech level, all the articles and previews leading up to Doom 3’s release basically said “Y’know all those things that kinda bugged you in the Quake engines? Well, we went ahead and did something about that.”

Models and level geometry now used the same lighting model?  Robust scripting system? Live-loading script changes while playing the game? In-tool lighting preview? In-game tool functionality? No more waiting 20 minutes for the compiler to bake shadows into level geometry? Skeletal animation system? Amazing in-game GUI system?

My mind = blown.  I’m sure it’s a boring feature list to many people - this isn’t stuff you’d highlight on the back of the box. But this is a list of Engine Features Brendon Really Likes.  Plus, it’s id Software, who have a high bar of quality in in game engines.

I remember waking up, driving down to Best Buy in Pasadena, and getting a copy of Doom 3 on its release day. I traditionally play slowly, but I blasted through the game and got modding immediately.

I was most interested with all the scripting functionality and GUI goodies. I made a test project revolving around those things. Barista 3 was the end result. Whenever I work with a new piece of technology, I like to first dip my toe into the water and make a micro-tiny project. Barista 3 was a quick ‘n dirty project intended to poke and prod the Doom 3 engine and see what I could shake out of it.

It was also a fun experiment in making a first-person game without any shooting. Many of the Barista 3 comments I received were some variation of “there’s no shooting, wtf.” I think the intimate nature of the first-person perspective is wonderful for storytelling and exploration, especially when you remove all that extra noise from gunplay.

After completing Barista 3, I felt fairly comfortable with now attempting a more ambitious project.

I spent some time thoughtfully stroking my chin, considering what kind of project I wanted to tackle next. After a particularly satisfying chin-scratching session, the answer was obvious: a mini-remake of Pathways into Darkness, using the Doom 3 engine.

Next week I’ll talk about the gnarly details of how that all went.

Update: click here to read Part II