I Won’t, So Fans Ported Carmack’s Latest Doom Game To PC

Doom RPG is one of those weird side stories in video game history, a project born out of the relentless nature of id Software co-founder John Carmack. It was a mobile game from the pre-smartphone era, and the game’s origins are as simple as Carmack’s wife buying him a slightly better phone: which naturally got our boy thinking.

“Going into this realm was really kind of a random event,” Carmack told Eurogamer in 2006. “A year ago, I rarely carried a cell phone, and it was just an old black and white clunker. When my wife gave me a new mid-range phone with a decent color screen and some demos bad games on it, I piqued my curiosity a bit about the platform, it turned out to be very easy to develop Java apps for the phone, so I played around a bit and I started thinking about what elements would make a good game for the platform.

These elements were obviously Doom, but turn-based and focused more on RPG elements (e.g. talking to scientists and accessing terminals is a big part of the game). Carmack essentially built the bare bones of what would become Doom RPG itself: “I wrote a proof-of-concept demo of the basic rendering and playstyle, then gave it to Fountainhead Entertainment to ‘it develops into a full game.”

The game was released in September 2005 on phones supporting BREW, Java ME or J2ME. It was a decent hit and won several “Mobile Game of the Year” awards because it was basically a decent game: indeed, Carmack and Fountainhead were happy enough to continue making a separate RPG series on this base, Orcs & Elves, as well as Wolfenstein RPG and Doom II RPG.

As is the case with many early mobile titles, Doom RPG was essentially locked to those platforms and left behind as they became stale. You haven’t been able to play it anywhere for at least a decade. And that for some Doom fans, and especially given the Carmack-led provenance of this title, simply never would.

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GEC.Inc’s coding helpers are dedicated to the story of Doom and all the different weird versions of the game, at various times doing things like reverse-engineering source code for the PlayStation port, or digging up unused monsters from Doom 64.

Now comes their biggest achievement, which has been in the works for quite a while: “As we promised, the Doom RPG port for PC is finally here.” writes Eric194 (opens in a new tab) (Thank you, Ars Technica (opens in a new tab)). “Created using SDL2 and BREW reverse-engineered doomrpg.mod version of the original file […] You must convert the original files to a port-friendly format.”

That’s one of the flaws of the port: you’ll need your own copy of Doom RPG for it to work, so the project can’t be copyrighted. Naturally, I’m going to suggest that you buy a 2005 phone on eBay with the game installed and somehow get the files onto your PC, as all good people should do. If you have any other ideas on how such things can be obtained, Erick basically gives the game in the link above.

Gec.Inc are the heroes we need, but surely the bigger question is why id Software hasn’t done something like this itself. It’s one of the funniest Doom spin-offs, and it’s arguably the last entry in the series almost entirely engineered by John Carmack (he ended up being credited as director, producer and programmer). Co-creator John Romero had long left id by this point and had no involvement in Doom RPG, while Carmack would leave id in 2013 before Doom rebooted.

Doom RPG is a curiosity for sure, but with quite a pedigree. The highest people at id Software should take a look at this project and, rather than thinking about lawyers, ask themselves why such a proudly tech-focused developer needs hobbyists to save such things from obsolescence.

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