The best guide to Doom deathmatch ever written. There, I said it.
June 6, 1996
by Stephen "Blue" Heaslip
Last revised July 17, 1996
Are you a Doom God? Okay you don't have to read this. Do you want to be one? Well, this is not going to make you a Doom God (I know, because I'm not), but it is a good place to start. This is a compendium of essential deathmatch techniques, tips, and tricks. I did not invent the methods described below (though I did discover some on my own or with my buddies). I acquired much of this information through reading and posting USENET articles in rec.games.computer.doom.playing where subjects like this have been discussed in infinite detail. Nonetheless, this document means to fill a void. The competitive nature of Doom seems to have prevented anyone from combining all this knowledge in one freely available place, a deathmatch FAQ so to speak. Sadly, Lyle Fong's Deathmatch Bible was never completed.
So here goes, albeit a couple of years on the late side, everything you want to know about deathmatch, but your pals were afraid to tell you: goodies like Strafe Running, Wall Running, Circle Strafing, perpetrating the Silent BFG, Controller Setup recommendations, and more.
I wonder how long its usefulness will last. I, like a lot of people, have been speculating how much life the grand old game of Doom has in her (*sniff*). I promise the Quake version of this won't take as long ;-)
A huge thank you to Abraxas for contributing significantly to this document.
Blue (Stephen Heaslip)
You may make and distribute copies of this work in original form, so long as the copies are exact and complete, the copies include the copyright notice in its entirety, and the copies are in electronic form. You may not charge any sort of a price or fee relating to any copies of this work in any form.
Copyright © 1996 by Stephen Heaslip. All rights reserved.
If you die as a result of the misuse of this document, don't come crying to me. In fact, do not hold me responsible for paper cuts caused by printed versions.
You might consider some of the advice offered below opinion, rather than fact. You have the right to disagree, but you would be wrong. Just kidding. If you feel portions of this document are unclear or inaccurate, or if you have a comment or tip you'd like to share, please email me, email@example.com.
Doom and Doom2 are copyrights of id Software.
In accordance with strict Swedish safety guidelines, this document contains no ASCII diagrams.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
This should be helpful to both novice and experienced players, but is not meant to replace the FAQ. I suggest that before endeavoring to deathmatch, you read the FAQ, and play a little solo Doom, just to get your feet wet. Much of the following discusses mouse techniques. If you are a keyboard user, you might want to read the section entitled "CHOOSING A CONTROLLER" first.
To avoid painful formality, except where noted otherwise, the terms "Doom" and "Doom2" are used interchangeably, as are the terms "Map" and "level."
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The best way to improve your deathmatch skill is by practicing, which means playing. The better the opponent, the greater the benefit of the practice (BTW--many good players will share tips with someone who asks). Therefore, do not duck better players; rather, seek them out and play them as often as you can. Use the techniques described here, and use them in as many matches as you can. There is no substitute for experience.
It's a poor substitute, but if you don't have an opponent handy, you can practice your aim an movement in the one-player game. Pick a hairy level, and play like you're deathmatching (run around and mix it up). You can also play using the -fast parameter, or even play in nightmare mode. Remember, the idea is not to survive through practice, but to improve your skills. There are also a couple of DeHackEd patches floating around that can turn monsters into deathmatching pseudo-marines for more of a challenge (though they obviously aren't going to be like a real human opponent).
If you are new to deathmatching, you might not be aware that there is a difference between a regular doom level and a deathmatch level. Very few of the original levels in Doom2 are good deathmatch levels (basically, the good ones are Map 01 and Map 07). Almost all deathmatching takes place in pwads written specifically for head-to-head play. Deathmatch levels tend to be smaller than single player levels, often with more liberal weapon distribution. A well-designed deathmatch level usually has more than one way in and out of each area.
KNOW THE LEVELS
Even the simplest level involves its own strategies and techniques. Experience is key, and you will be severely disadvantaged playing an unfamiliar level on which your opponent has experience. Knowledge of where items and weapons are (as well as how to get them, if necessary) is, obviously, essential to success on any level.
Familiarity with a level is essential in AltDeath games where the Juice Cycle (below) comes into play, and familiarity with the location of the deathmatch starting points is essential to picking up respawn frags (below). It might be worth your trouble to learn your way around the basic functions of a Doom level editor, which will allow you to study a map's layout and discover its secrets quickly.
My friends and I occasionally like to play a new level cold, without either player having seen it. We call it "James Bonding" the level, and it can be a lot of fun trying to figure out how to get weapons and navigate the level in the middle of combat. It is also a good way to enhance your ability to devise strategies on the fly and be creative, which will help you in matches even when you are familiar with the level.
Arrange your monitor so that there is no glare. Many find a dark room best for total immersion. If you have a slow computer, a reduced screen size might be necessary for game speed. Otherwise, decide whether to play with or without the status bar. Remember that playing without the status bar actually allows things to be seen at the bottom of the screen that couldn't be seen otherwise, because the status bar changes your screen's aspect ratio (the ratio of width to height) rather than proportionally shrinking it. This can be important on levels with elevation changes because it can allow you to see an opponent below you. Another trick to use when trying to spot someone below you from a high ledge is to switch to the fist, which doesn't block the center of the screen like the other weapons (just don't get caught unarmed!).
In solo play, it's most fun to play with your screen as dark as you can stand. When playing a deathmatch, however, you shouldn't deny yourself any potential advantage short of cheating. Therefore, adjust your Gamma Correction (with the <F11> key) as well as the brightness and contrast on your monitor until you have the best chance of seeing your opponent in darkened areas. You will be able to see a little bit through the red when you get shot badly, too. But none of this will help you to see through total redness or into total darkness.
Though it's not something most people want to spend the money for, it's worth noting that larger (17" or greater) monitors will provide a deathmatch advantage. When using a larger monitor everything on the screen appears larger (duh), which improves your aim, situational awareness, etc.
This is tied to the tip about knowing the level. Your marine makes a variety of sounds (opening doors, falling off ledges, etc.). Key to good strategic play is learning the sounds that different actions produce so you can use a knowledge of the map combined with audio clues to pick up on the location of your opponent. When playing a skilled opponent, try to fake him out occasionally by triggering a door or platform; then, quickly get into position to ambush when he charges in and attacks the location where he expects to find you based on the sound you made.
Sounds diminish with distance in Doom. It is important to keep the sound effects volume (on the Doom options menu) turned all the way up, and adjust your volume through your speakers or sound card. Due to the way Doom handles sound volume, lowering the volume slider in the game means that sounds don't travel as far within the level, preventing you from being able to hear distant sounds.
Headphones may serve to your advantage for greater "immersion" and for picking up subtle changes in sounds made by your opponent(s). Stereo separation in Doom is notoriously weak, but you can sometimes locate your opponent by sound direction.
Many players prefer to play with the -nomusic option, or turn the music volume down to prevent the music from drowning out game sounds.