D00M 4 Intro: the nihilist scenario

D00M is one of my favorite games because of its unquestionable efficiency. But as a scenarist, I'm tired to hear the "D00M has no scenario lol" everlasting platitude. Let's end this predjudice, here and now!
This article will be a quick shot about D00M 4’s way of telling its story.

Nobody seems to understand why it is so interesting in terms of narrativity. Everybody seems to believe D00M is the game which has no scenario. Let’s be serious. D00M has the most efficient scenario ever. It lays in one sentence, and supports alone a game that could last forever. Earth behind, demons forward, and between : you and your shotgun.

D00M 1 and 2 were more than generous when giving the player panels of debriefing as rewards, telling you that you kicked asses very well - pretty much in those terms - because, yes, scenario is rare enough in a game that is all action-oriented to be a reward, as it puts a meaning in those seemingly absurd unleashing violences.

D00M 3 used a more composed method of telling the story in a survival horror ambiance, but later the Brutal Doom mod imposed a gameplay style that was so successful among the community that ID had to adapt the serie including its aspects. In an era where scenario is not an option anymore in solo games, D00M 4 developers made a very interesting choice in the way of telling the story.

That’s it, the hero doesn’t want any story, he wants to fight, just like the player. Someone wants to entertain him with stories about what happens? Who cares? We know! Demons! Doomguy smashes the screen to grab a weapon, and the game continues. Later, whoever he is tries to force the main character to hear the story. It makes him very angry. He cracks his knuckles, and punches the intercom. The anger of the main character floods everything, there are no dialog possible. He also gathers informations by himself on the screen ; they are "unavailable", so there is no way to see the global state of the stations, the only truth is in front of the barrel. Later in the game the behaviour of the Doomguy is sensibly the same, he crashes everything he can to resolve his problems, even when other characters think it’s dumb to do so.

The main character expresses his overwhelming anger to help the player exteriorizing his frustrations. Nothing can stop the player from destroying (his inner) demons. In a correct D00M game, nothing else matters.

This was written. They didn’t kick the scenarist out to make a game without narration. The narration deliberately shows negation of itself in a dialog form to show actions, because D00M is an action game and a nihilist game - it is about negating demons, symbols that the player can fill with his own worries, by destroying it. It wouldn’t be the same without dramatizing the action. Why would Doomguy kill everything? Here, we know : because he can’t hold his rage. We don’t really need a reason, we need the game to make us feel it, because the motivation for playing D00M is emotional, not rational. Who would dare to assert that D00M is about reflection? The source of this anger has no importance, and this is more space for the player to project his own reasons.

I won’t tell the scenario is essential there, but in terms of narration for D00M, this is just right better than nothing, and better than too much. Because way too much “mainstream” scenario there is. The scenarists put too much of this unnecessary and reassuring normal story with a boring narration to get close to the Brutal Doom’s Hell on Earth Starter Pack wad sensations, where there is almost no pause to tell things and still, a scenario displayed with a neat level design. An emergent scenario, untold, unshown, but played, is the best kind of scenario for a video game.

Look at this, it’s almost like we’re playing to a Carpenter’s movie.

The storytelling exercise in D00M 4 was still too shy. The Doomguy is forced to hear parts of a completely worn story because of those dull ghosts he encounters. We don’t need this to appreciate the quintessential of the game, which is a warm bloodbath. The negation of the story could have lasted the whole game, justifying even more the evilness of the interlocutor that tries to contact Doomguy, because he couldn’t perorate just like a good bad guy should.

If you should learn one lesson from this, it is: wonder what is the quintessential of your game ? whatever it is, your scenario have to enlight it. If you’re here for the killing, your scenario must tell: no talking - killing.

Even if a good monologue or a spectacular cutscene can work very well in a game, the scenario and the gameplay enforce each other when they work as one. This intro just proves this works very well.

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