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.
This document is (loosely) organized into some major sections, GENERAL STUFF, GETTING AROUND, COMBAT, WEAPONS, ITEMS, CONTROLLER SETUP, and FRAMERATE.
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.
Speed kills... not you, but your opponent. Always run. Never stop running. Just when you get ready to stop, run some more. Walk only when negotiating difficult ledges and other delicate maneuvers, and, in the meantime, practice delicate maneuvers while running. Then practice them while strafe running (below). Did I mention you should always run?
The occasional ambush from a dark corner or a sniper's nest can result in an easy frag. In the long run, however, habitual ambushing (often called camping, or lurking) is a bad practice. When you camp, your tendency is to meet confrontations flat-footed: motionless, versus a moving target. This is a serious disadvantage against a good player, especially one who's discovered your camping ways. When dealing with a camper, caution and knowing the levels so you are aware of likely campgrounds are musts. Usually, potential hiding spots can be approached so that an ambusher is at the disadvantage: spotting the stray arm or toe sticking out from behind something, firing a few preemptive rockets in key spots, or simply approaching areas ready to drop your flat-footed opponent.
A favorite campground is along the wall next to a door where a camper will wait for someone to come through the door to shoot them in the back. This can be countered by strafe running and turning to face this inside wall by the time you are through the door. Then just be ready to show your opponent the advantages a moving target enjoys versus a stationary one.
There are many reasons not to camp. Most players find it irritating to play campers, and they will likely make a point of kicking your camper's ass and then refusing further play. Feeling both players are supposed to be equally motivated to find each other, many (myself included) resent the onus of the hunt being on them. Camping is boring, slows down the game considerably, and, since some games involve long-distance charges, it is downright rude. Besides if both players camp, the game stops entirely; no fun at all.
Don't overlook the importance of movement. Obvious components of deathmatching include strategy and aim, but movement is an integral part of success. You need to be able to maneuver comfortably through doorways, across gaps and along ledges, using the strafe run (below) for top speed. Movement contributes to your aim and to your ability to gain strategic advantages. You can practice some movement skills in solo play (with or without monsters). Just run around a level, taking corners tightly, strafe running as much as possible. Your goal is to be able to strafe run as your main mode of transport. This is essential in the art of chasing and escaping.
Avoid falling into patterns of navigating levels the same way repeatedly. Take notice if you die in the same area of the level an unusual amount of the time. Often you'll realize that you have fallen into some predictable pattern upon which your opponent is feasting. By discovering that pattern, you can figure out your tormentor's tactics and turn the tables on him. You can often pick up a few frags this way, because it will usually work more than once before he realizes that the well has run dry.
THE STRAFE RUN
Sometimes referred to as the diagonal run, the strafe run is an essential technique and one reason why you must define separate left and right strafe keys. The trick is to master holding one of the strafe keys down while running forward. As a result, you will run at about a 45-degree angle rather than the direction you're facing (this takes some getting used to). Another result (this is the cool part) is that you will travel roughly 50% faster, actually 44% for you math majors, than by normal running. A player who understands how to strafe run will enjoy a significant advantage against a player who doesn't.
THE CIRCLE STRAFE
Another essential technique. Circle strafing also requires that you define separate left and right strafe keys and consists of strafing to the left or the right while adjusting the mouse slightly to maintain aim at the target. A properly executed circle strafe will allow you to circle your target, firing at it constantly. In a deathmatch, you rarely circle all the way around your opponent (a little predictable). The motion becomes more often a series of back-and-forth quarter and half circles, using the above technique.
Facing where you're heading is best at all times. Don't turn after you pass a corner. Instead, practice turning before or while passing the corner so that you're facing in your new direction by the time you're around the corner. After a while you should be able to strafe run around corners, ever ready to fire at anything in your path.
THE WALL RUN
One of the buggiest of the Doom bugs. By strafe running along a wall from South to North (North is up on the map), you can achieve a speed best described as ridiculous. Wall running is allegedly 300% faster than strafe-running, which is 44% faster than running, which would be, um,...well, you get the idea. It's fast.
THE "DANCE OF DEATH"
This is what my friends and I call those dogfights where both players, armed with super shotguns, circle around each other firing away. Success in these encounters will go a long way towards your success rate in deathmatches. Many of the following techniques deal specifically with strategies also used in the dance of death. Bear in mind that as you play higher quality opponents (and get better yourself), the duration of the average gunfight gets shorter and shorter.
OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Certainly dodging around is part of your defense, but so is killing your opponent before he shoots you (the best defense is a good offense). Ultimately, separating exactly where offense leaves off and defense begins is difficult, but being aware of the balance is important. Sometimes your opponent starts getting the better of you because you are over-concentrating on one or the other. By dodging around too furiously, you spoil your own aim; but conversely, standing around trying to draw a good bead can help your opponent's aim.
To quote NY DWANGO's Fragman, "I'd rather die aiming than reloading." Words to live (and kill) by. One hit is worth more than all the misses in the world combined. Avoid the impulse to fire the shotgun as rapidly as possible by holding down the button. If you notice your opponent holding down the fire button on his shotgun, time his shots and spoil his aim by moving at the proper moment.
Once you get a comfortable feel with your mouse sensitivity, you should find yourself getting more "snap-shots." A skilled snap-shot involves whipping the mouse in the direction of your opponent while firing, often just after you and your opponent have run past each other. Done properly, you'll hear your opponent scream or take damage before you see him. A snap-shot has the feel of firing blind, and while it seems like luck, this skill can be a legitimate part of your arsenal. Abraxas on the successful snap-shot: "I find it one of the most satisfying kills in the game."
Constant movement can aide your chances of survival. Yet in the middle of a gun battle (especially a shotgun/SSG duel), occasionally stopping entirely can put you at the advantage. It takes a little nerve. Stopping can give you an opportunity to draw careful aim and kill your opponent (hence, stop-n-drop). Your chances of living through this trick increase if you stop immediately after your opponent has fired his shotgun (see timing, below). This maneuver is often successful during one of those too-long dogfights with both contestants missing shots. But it is better as a surprise than as a steady diet. If your opponent starts anticipating it, you're in trouble.
Because it has the capability to instantly drop an opponent at short range, the super shotgun is one of the game's most potent weapons. However, the length of time (more than a full second) needed to reload the SSG and be ready to fire again is a significant factor in combat. Using the time between your opponent's shots to make sure you get a high-quality shot is often in your best interests. As long as you shoot between his shots, it doesn't matter when you shoot, just how well.
THE SKEET SHOOT
One of the most enjoyable kills in the game, what we like to call the skeet shoot, allows you to kill an opponent midair after he's jumped off a ledge. Don't forget: The Doom engine will adjust the horizontal aim of your shots, allowing you to hit an opponent above or below you. The "instant strike" weapons (chaingun and shotguns) are more effective than projectile weapons (rocket, plasma) when firing at an opponent above or below you, because to fire upward or downward, you must be aiming directly at your opponent, which prevents you from being able to "lead" with a projectile.
Many deathmatch confrontations begin (or end) with both players running straight towards each other, guns at the ready, hence "the joust." Be prepared to shoot at all times (especially when running through doorways or around corners). Often the one who gets off the first blast wins.
When he knows a level well, an experienced player can sometimes haunt the starting points hoping to catch someone respawning after a frag. A close match can tip in favor of the player who can pick up more of these "cheap" frags. The design of some levels makes this an essential strategy. A good example of respawn frags dominating a match can be found in Doom2 Map 01, which has four deathmatch starting points, three bunched close together. Matches between experienced players on this map center around picking up respawn frags. One way to avoid being the victim of a respawn frag is to hit the ground running as you respawn (in a different direction every time). Good players will quickly discover you running in the same direction every time you respawn, and make you pay.
DOOR KUNG FU
Some players develop the knack for being particularly deadly around doors (we call it the door kung fu, I don't know why). If you've ever played a practitioner, you know what being his victim is like. Each of you is on the opposite side of a closed door. You open it. Boom you die! Next time, you wait instead...he opens the door. Boom you die! I know of no way to teach or master this skill (I'd have it myself), but there are a couple of ways to deal. First, avoid the door! Good deathmatch levels rarely feature rooms with single entrances. If you have a feeling your opponent is on the other side of the door, find another way into the room. The second trick involves key setups. Set up your use key (usually the spacebar) to be the same as your backwards key. It'll take some getting used to but once you're comfortable, you'll be able to move backwards as you open doors. This can give you just the breathing room you need to deal with your door camper. Bear in mind that this can cause the Instant Respawn (below) if you should die while moving backwards.
THE BODY BLOCK
Because it lacks full freedom of vertical movement, Doom is not true 3D. One thing you cannot do in Doom is jump over, or stand on top of, a monster or player. The game determines if you are blocked by a monster or other player by whether or not you are obstructed on a flat view of the level, disregarding elevation (picture the map from above with no elevation changes). This means if you can stand between your opponent and where he wants to go, you can block him from jumping or moving past you no matter how far above you he's standing. You can put this to your advantage on some levels where you can use the body block to keep your opponent from jumping across a gap above you.
Also, remember this effect if you find yourself obstructed in such a way, because you should immediately recognize the presence of the other player below (who might even be unaware of your location, heh heh heh).
STICK WITH WHAT WORKS
Different opponents and different levels make certain strategies more or less effective. It is important to recognize when something is working (or not) as a match goes on. You want to be unpredictable, but if you find your opponent particularly vulnerable to, say, rocket fire, then you should be firing a lot of rockets.
As in other forms of competition, momentum plays a significant role in deathmatching. If one player can jump out on his opponent and dishearten him, the outcome of a match can sometimes be decided in the first few minutes. Momentum can also play a large factor at the end of a match, especially if playing to a certain score. The last 10 or 12 frags (call it the endgame) tend to have an added intensity, especially in a close match. Control of the endgame can be key. Often the better player is the one who can get those last few frags when it counts to seal a victory.
The outcome of a match can also be decided by stretches where one player kills the other several times in a row without dying. In my circle, we call these runs (like in basketball). Many things can contribute to runs, including infuriating strung-together respawn frags. Runs can become self-perpetuating because, as they continue, one player's confidence grows while the other's dwindles. Sometimes a match will be decided because it was pretty even, except one player had a nice run which made the difference.
There are eight weapons in Doom. A ninth, the double-barreled shotgun (AKA Super Shotgun, Combat Shotgun, SSG), is found only in Doom2. Almost all have situations where strengths or weaknesses are enhanced, providing an advantage to one of the combatants. Knowing how and when to exploit weapon match-ups is another key to deathmatch success.
FIST--The weapon of last resort. A non-berserk punch kill is the rarest accomplishment of the deathmatcher. If you have used a berserk pack then the fist becomes more effective, with the ability to kill with one punch. Even then, getting close enough to punch someone when they have longer-range weapons with which to keep you at bay tends to be a losing proposition. If you can pull one off though, a fist kill does have enormous psychological value. Two more notes about the berserk pack; first, do not overlook that although the way grabbing a berserk disarms you is a pain, it also restores your health to 100%. Second, even though your screen loses the (annoying) red tint after a short time, the deadliness of your punch when you're berserk actually lasts until you die, or the level ends, even after your screen stops being red. Apparently, the closer you are when you punch someone after using the berserk, the more damage you will do.
Defending: Step away and shoot the moron.
PISTOL--Generally another last resort weapon. However, an aspect of the pistol that you should not overlook is the coup de grace. This can occur after a gunfight where both marines suffer wounds and the loser of the skirmish respawns in the same area. The newly respawned marine, knowing the condition of his enemy, can finish him off with the pistol. When playing original deathmatch, or AltDeath in a level without a lot of health or armor, remember that having a pistol does not mean you are weapon-less. A few well-placed pistol shots can cause damage, so let fly as you go for a bigger weapon.
Defending: Shoot the moron.
CHAINSAW--Deadlier than the non-berserk fist, the chainsaw kill has the same psychological value as the fist kill. Due to the close range required, it's more than a bit humiliating being chainsawed to death.
Perhaps the chainsaw's most effective use in deathmatch is to call out the camper/lurker (i.e. "Warriors come out to play-ay!!!!"). Heh.
Also, it seems that revving the chainsaw causes choppiness over a modem connection, perhaps due to the constantly overlapping sound samples it generates. If you're being chased by a well armed opponent while all you have is a chainsaw, what the Hell, fire it up! Maybe his view will start hitching and spoil his aim. You never know...
Defending: Same as the fist.
SHOTGUN--Now we're getting somewhere. The shotgun packs a nice punch--two good shots at an unarmored opponent can result in a kill. Since the advent of Doom II, many neglect the old single-barrel in favor of the more powerful SSG. The shotgun has two significant advantages over its big brother, though, and it's valuable to keep them in mind. Those advantages are tighter pellet grouping, and a shorter reload cycle. The tighter pellet grouping means the shotgun's pellets do not spread as far as the super shotgun's, when shooting over a great distance. A well placed single barrel shot will do a lot more damage than the double-barrel from across a large level. The shorter reload cycle means the shotgun ready to fire a second time much sooner than the SSG.
SUPER SHOTGUN--The main weapon of the deathmatch. The SSG's ability to drop an opponent at short range with one shot makes it invaluable (it is probably impossible to become an elite deathmatcher without this skill). Key to being a good deathmatcher is versatility with all the weapons, but if you could only be good with one, the super shotgun would be it.
One of the most important aspects of the operation of both shotguns is their "instant strike" capability. When you fire a shotgun, there is no point at which your "pellets" are in the air, in contrast to the rocket launcher, for instance (where you can actually see a rocket after firing). The game simply calculates where the shots will strike, and instantaneously applies the damage.
Defending: It is very tough to defend yourself against a shotgun wielding opponent because the instant strike of the shotgun makes dodging difficult.. The way to defend against the shotgun is by moving unpredictably, hopefully, right before your opponent fires, to spoil his aim. Because knowing exactly when your opponent will fire helps this defense enormously, take advantage of the predictability of players who rapid fire the SSG by holding down the fire button.
CHAINGUN--Though a bit under-powered compared to most of the game's other weapons, in skilled hands the chaingun can still be an effective weapon. Ongoing chaingun damage accumulates quickly, and while being hit with chaingun fire, your own movement and aiming become more difficult to control.
Defending: If you can drop him immediately, obviously, you should. Remember that it will be harder to aim while being struck by chaingun fire. If you fail to kill him with a shotgun shot, it is essential to get under cover while your gun reloads. That principle is the same for whichever weapon you use to bring the chaingunner down; his advantage is the continuous stream of fire.
ROCKET LAUNCHER--Bear in mind, rockets are dangerous to both you and your opponent. The area damage when a rocket hits the wall near you is quite effective, regardless of who fired it, so be careful of nearby walls as you fire rockets. If your opponent is standing near a wall while you are firing rocket, you can certainly use that to your advantage. A skill you want to achieve is the ability to send off salvos of rockets in tight spaces without killing yourself, because it is in smaller rooms, corridors, etc., that rockets are most effective. In open areas, skilled opponents are surprisingly good at dodging rocket barrages; at the higher levels of deathmatching, it takes skill and cunning to use rockets effectively. One rocket technique is simple leading; anticipating where the target will be when the rocket arrives. Another is bracketing, where you take advantage of your opponent's rocket dodging ability by firing a decoy rocket (or six), and then firing off follow-up shots towards the direction you anticipate them dodging.
Rockets are often most effective in bunches (though the surprise "surgical" rocket has its moments), and the best way to bunch them together is to fire them in front of you as you run forward. This adds your speed to the rocket's (you can learn so much about physics from this game). This technique becomes even more effective if you fire the rockets ahead of you as you strafe run, creating a wall of rockets.
More physics: Possibly the single most effective use of the rocket launcher is when you whip around and, while running backwards, fire a rocket at an opponent who's chasing you. The high closing speed of the rocket and your opponent will leave him very little reaction time.
Be willing to pop off a random rocket here and there, especially towards camping spots or down likely corridors, etc. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the occasional luck frag (even if it is cheap).
A rather crude, but effective, rocket technique is when you are nice and healthy (like 200% health 200% armor after picking up a megasphere), run around with the rocket launcher, even in dangerously tight spaces. If you run face-to-face with your opponent, let fly with the rocket at point blank range, which will probably kill him, while just badly wounding you. Not something you would plan, but it's a frag. Similarly there are occasions, disarming a BFG wielder in an AltDeath game, for instance, when the suicide frag is in order. This is the same as described above without the neat 200/200 part that allows you to survive. Killing him counts as a frag, while killing yourself counts as a negative frag, so the frag count stays even, but he no longer has the BFG, so you are ahead of the game. Obviously, the point-blank rocket technique is perfect if you are lucky enough to pick up an invulnerable.
Defending: DON'T PANIC! Dodging rockets just requires nerve and some practice, just keep your eye on the rockets and strafe. Once you get it down pat, you can become comfortable letting the rockets virtually pass over your shoulders as you maneuver. Luckily, rocket-dodging is one deathmatch skill that you can practice in solo play, thanks to our friend the Cyberdemon. Find one of the dozens of add-in Doom wads that have some manner of Cyberdemon encounter in which to practice. E2M8 of the original Doom will serve quite well for this purpose. After a few hours of going one-on-one (or one on many) with these rocket machines, you will have a much better feel for rocket dodging.
Until you can dodge rockets in your sleep, it is probably best to concentrate on defense, rather than offense, while under rocket attack. The Abraxas technique: "Concentrating almost exclusively on defense while trying to close the gap has had much better success for me than trying to drop the rocket firing mofo."
A method for eliminating a rocket firing enemy is to strafe run inside the stream of rockets to close for a shotgun kill. Inside meaning if you initially dodge the rockets to the left, strafe run to the left, hopefully staying inside the rocket path (that is, the rockets are passing to your right). It's often difficult for the shooter to adjust his aim (in this case to the right) quickly enough, and you can also sometimes cause an over-adjustment, which can result in a wall suicide.
PLASMA GUN--The plasma gun takes more skill to effectively use than it first appears. Because of how blinded you can be firing it, it's easy to think you are hitting a target that you are missing. Meanwhile, your stream of plasma makes it easy for your opponent to know where you are. The most effective use of plasma is when you can make a straight on run at your opponent firing a stream ahead of you. Just as described in the rocket section, this will significantly increase the speed of the plasma you've fired. If you work it right, by the time you reach him, the whole stream will arrive virtually at once, leaving him no options but death.
Defending: Plasma defense is similar to rocket defense. Rockets make an excellent anti-plasma weapon, because the blinding effect of firing the plasma can hinder the shooter's ability to see and dodge the rocket.
BFG 9000--The operation of the BFG is unique in the world of gaming. No other device in any game that I know of has the complexity of the BFG, which is why it's the only weapon in the game with its own FAQ. Get the FAQ, read it, learn it, live it. Think you don't need to? Well, if you think you need to see the BFG blast or your opponent (or any other of the common mistaken impressions of the BFG's operation) to get a kill then read the BFG FAQ.
Defending: A point about BFG defense not covered in the BFG FAQ is the preemptive strike. The best BFG defense in an AltDeath game is to repeatedly pick up the BFG so you opponent can't. The best BFG defense in a deathmatch 1.0 game is to kill your opponent before he gets it.
THE SILENT BFG
This is also covered in the BFG FAQ, but I want to touch on this to hold to my promise of revealing the tricks of the game. A limitation in the sound code in Doom means that your marine can only emit a single sound at a time. This means that by timing your BFG shot to coincide with landing from a height or pushing a wall (either of which will cause a grunt) you can effectively silence the BFG. Reducing or eliminating the warm-up sound that serves as a warning for a wary opponent makes this weapon considerably more effective. Practice firing the BFG as you fall from a ledge, this one is pretty easy. Then practice pushing a wall just after you fire it. Because of the long BFG warm-up (that so often can be a disadvantage), you should be able to fire, push the wall, and still have time to turn and find your target.
THE TELEFRAG--One other way of collecting a frag does not really involve a weapon, but a technique. Passing through a teleporter immediately after your opponent causes you to materialize in the same spot as he did. Since basic physics (or billiards) demonstrates that two bodies cannot occupy the same point, something has to give. In this case, it's the first one through the teleport, who, upon the arrival of the second player, becomes V-8 (wow, I coulda had a...). It's considered very embarrassing to be telefragged.
Defending: Avoid teleporting while being closely chased, and always depart teleport exit spots as quickly as you can. Be careful before teleporting that someone isn't lurking near the teleporter ready to do you in.
Sometimes beginning players ignore the value of armor, but it can save your life. Green armor can help you survive a gun blast to emerge with a frag, and blue armor can completely change the balance of a level, by making reducing the effectiveness of the super-shotgun.
Occasionally items up on platforms out of reach can be grabbed by running (or better, strafe-running) into the platform at just the right spot. This can often be a safer or quicker way to get an item than the "right" way. Examples of items that can be gotten pretty easily in this manner are the plasma gun that appears in a deathmatch on Map 01 of Doom2, and the megasphere and rocket launcher on the inside portion of Map 07.
ALTDEATH VERSUS "OLD" DEATHMATCH
In original deathmatch (often called 1.0) once an item other than a weapon is picked up, it is gone from the level, and no longer available though the match. Weapons in 1.0 remain on the level after players run over them , but each player can pick up each weapon only once per life.
In AltDeath (often called 2.0) all items except the invulnerables and invisibles respawn 30 seconds after being picked up. The weapons also respawn in the same way, and you can pick up a weapon until you have no more room for its ammo. If your opponent has a favorite weapon, try to keep him from it in an AltDeath game. He can't shoot with what he doesn't have.
Because ammo boxes are quickly depleted from a deathmatch level, and you can only grab a weapon once, the amount of ammo that each weapon starts with is greater in 1.0 than 2.0.
I would say a majority of hard-core deathmatchers prefer 1.0, but it is not as clear a general purpose rule as their tendency to prefer skill 5.
THE JUICE CYCLE
No, this has nothing to do with OJ. The Juice Cycle is the term the group I play with has given to the art of picking up items and weapons in an AltDeath game. it is key to time the respawn cycle of the juicier items (Juice Cycle, get it?). It takes some experience, but after playing AltDeath for a while most players develop a very reliable sense for when an item will respawn, provided, of course, they know when it was picked up. An example of an extreme Juice Cycle is playing Dead Simple (Doom2 Map 07) on AltDeath (BTW, because of the extreme nature of this level's juice cycle, it is not good for AltDeath). In a deathmatch, Dead Simple contains one BFG and two megaspheres, and if you play an opponent who can get the Juice Cycle down, it is possible to get shut out on this level. It is no fun suffering continual BFG fire from an opponent with 200 health and 200 armor. Playing AltDeath on any level that contains one or more of the Combat Armor, Soul Sphere, Megasphere, or BFG. can often degenerate into the battle for the juice.
Because invulnerable & invisibles do not respawn, if you know where they are on the level, try to grab them right away. Also, be a bastard. If there are four invisibles sitting there, unless you are positive (and I do not see how you could be) that your opponent is not going to find them, take all four of them. You will not remain invisible any longer than if you grabbed just one of them, but none remain for your opponent.
In an AltDeath game, you can use items to follow your opponent. When chasing, you can sometimes tell which fork in a hall your opponent took by which hall has items missing.
It is often helpful to set up a marker item to help time the return of a more difficult or dangerous to obtain item. For example, a level with a BFG on a pillar that needs to be lowered might have a green helmet in the same room. By picking up both items one after the other, you can leave the area to go engage in combat, and if you return around 30 seconds later, you can tell if the BFG is back by whether or not the helmet is back. A more sophisticated version of this is to this with an item remote from the item you're timing. This method becomes very unreliable when your marker item is something valuable enough for your opponent to bother picking up. Good items to use as markers are ammo clips, solitary blue health potions and solitary green helmets.
The amount of ammo carried by ammo boxes and weapons as well as the damage caused by weapons vary with the different skill levels. On Skill 5 (Nightmare), all the ammo counts are doubled, and weapons cause the maximum damage. Because it creates more carnage, most serious deathmatches take place on Skill 5.
CHOOSING A CONTROLLER
The best control method for Doom is the mouse. When the "mouse or keyboard" argument breaks out, one of the facts often overlooked by keyboard proponents is that mousers use the keyboard as well. The argument actually is "mouse & keyboard versus keyboard only."
The mouse's main advantage is it does not suffer from the keyboard's limited turn rate, giving you the ability to aim more rapidly and do (virtually) instantaneous 180 degree turns.
Conversely, there is no advantage to the keyboard over the mouse. Those who argue that greater precision is available to the keyboarder have not the experience with the mouse to make that claim. Put another way, many keyboarders who are trying to improve their skills, eventually switch to the mouse. Experienced mousers never switch back to the keyboard. Those who've used them say that trackballs can be as effective a controller as a mouse.
JOYSTICKS/GAMEPADS/CYBERMANS AND THE LIKE
The problem with all of the above controllers is the slow responsiveness. Changing direction with a joystick or CyberMan requires more hand movement than a mouse. It is possible to play well on a gamepad, but constantly holding a run button, and changing weapons on the keyboard while holding the gamepad in both hands is prohibitively awkward.
I have not used one, nor have I received a reliable report on this controller. I've heard that using one will allow you to reach speeds that trigger the message to your opponent saying you're using turbo, but I don't know if this is true.
CHOOSING A MOUSE
To my knowledge, there are only two mice in common use by the hard-core deathmatch community: the Microsoft Mouse, and the LogiTech MouseMan. These are the weapons of choice due to sturdiness of construction, and reliability of operation. Which you choose should be what makes you most comfortable. I personally use a Microsoft Mouse, and am very happy with it. Once you find a mouse you like, get comfortable with it, and stick with it. I personally keep the disk with my copy of my favorite version of the Microsoft Mouse driver (9.01, no longer available) in a vault.
Many players make their mouse as sensitive as practicable, but there is no hard and fast rule other than to try to find what you like. There are two factors that affect your mouse sensitivity in Doom, your (DOS) mouse driver, and the mouse sensitivity slider found under the Options menu within the game. You should experiment with different settings on both in order to find out what makes you most comfortable. If you can't get your mouse sensitivity high enough, it is possible to boost it far beyond the game's normal level by editing the default.cfg file. Default.cfg is in your Doom2 directory, and you can edit it with any text editor. There is an entry in this file called mouse_sensitivity with a number next to it (this number changes as you slide the mouse sensitivity slider within the game). While the value of this number usually runs between 0 and 9, you can enter any number you wish by editing this file before you start Doom2. Be aware that accessing the options screen after entering a value above 31 will cause the game to try to draw the image of the slider bar off the screen, crashing the game. You can avoid this by keeping the value below 31, or by avoiding using the options screen if you set it over 31. You can also lower your sensitivity into the negative numbers which can be useful on dial-up networks (like DWANGO) where the network's use of extra gametics causes increased mouse movement. Setting the mouse_sensitivity to -4 is the slowest possible, setting it to -5 turns mouse movement off.
It a good idea to find a sensitivity you like and stick with it. I have personally suffered through a couple of playing slumps after messing with my mouse sensitivity. However, since modem games often vary widely from match to match you might need to move the slider up or down one notch just to get the feel you like.
One option favored by many (most?) expert deathmatchers is to turn off their mouse's vertical sensitivity. This causes side to side mouse motions to turn you, but not move you. This makes it much easier to maneuver on ledges, etc. Let me strengthen that. It makes it easy to move on such areas, as opposed to how difficult it is with vertical sensitivity on. Using the Microsoft mouse driver you can turn off vertical sensitivity by editing the line in your mouse.ini file to read:
If your mouse driver does not work in this manner, there is a shareware utility that can turn off vertical sensitivity called mouspeed (7 KB zipped).
You have to use what you are comfortable with, but I recommend turning vertical sensitivity off. If you find it uncomfortable at first, it will be worth it to suffer through the transition period, you will be glad you stuck with it.
MOUSE: CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO DOOM-GODLINESS
Your mouse ball does a very nice job of constantly cleaning your mouse pad of dust, oils and gunk. Unfortunately, the place all this debris gets stored is all over the mouse's internal rollers. It is important to clean your mouse often, or these buildups will impede your play. To clean the mouse, first turn your computer off, then remove the plastic cover from the underside that holds the ball in place and remove the ball. Using a cotton swab and conservative applications of alcohol, clean the little internal rollers. When they are clean and dry, reassemble the mouse, and you're good to go.
SETTING UP YOUR KEYS
There are two key (no pun intended) things to keep in mind when assigning functions to keys. Set up separate right and left strafe keys, and set up your movement keys so that you can switch weapons easily (meaning somewhere on the left side of the keyboard). Any keyboard setup that does not address these two factors is a mistake.
Here is my keyboard setup, which is fairly typical:
Z = Strafe Left
X = Backwards
C = Strafe Right
S = Forward
SHIFT = Speed
SPACE = Use
Left Mouse Button = BOOM!
(Opponent screams, clutches throat)
Here is Abraxas' keyboard setup, which is similar to mine. Note the difference in movement key layout, which if you tilt your keyboard, is more symmetrical.
A = Strafe Left
Z = Backwards
X = Strafe Right
S = Forward
SHIFT = Speed
SPACE = Use
Left Mouse Button = BOOM!
(Opponent turns into sphere of spooge)
There is an ongoing debate between Abraxas and me as to whether it is a disadvantage to use the right mouse button for forward movement. Both of us have the right mouse button mapped to move forward, but I use mine, and Abraxas doesn't. He feels that separating his movement keys to his left hand, and his aiming and shooting to his right (mouse) hand, creates a setup that offers instinctive simplicity (left hand=feet, right hand=gun). I feel that using the right mouse button for forward gives an edge because I always have a finger on forward and back. (You must, of course, be careful no to press both, which results in no movement, and consequently, death.)
Repeating the important aspects of these setups; separate strafe keys and proximity to the weapon switch keys (to touch type weapon switches).
KEYS TO AVOID
When choosing a configuration, avoid using any of the following keys, Q, R, T, I, G, or B, as all of these keys serve other functions in a deathmatch. "T" is to talk, and "Q" quits if you are recording a demo, and "R, G, I, and B" are for talking to the Red, Green, Indigo, and Brown players respectively. So if you ever play in a four player game, or record a demo, you will not have to redefine your keys.
RUNNING ALL THE TIME WITHOUT BUSTING YOUR PINKIE
In the default controller setup, the shift key is your run modifier. Many players, preferring to run all the time, will jam the run key down, typically with a coin or wad of paper. This works, but bear this in mind; you must release and depress the shift key again at the start of each level. This means if you choose this method of running, after exiting a level you will need to un-jam and then re-jam your speed key before you can run. There is another method to run all the time, that requires none of this physical intervention. By editing your default.cfg file (in your doom2 directory) with a text editor, you can change certain settings that you otherwise would not be able to access. To run constantly, look for a line in your default.cfg called joyb_speed. Increase the value on this line to 30, and voila! Constant running. Of course, there is now way to turn running off at that point. I personally use the shift key to run, because I like to be able to stop running for the occasional fine maneuvering, but if you are willing to live without walking, this option is available.
All this having been said, I strongly recommend that you try to play using the shift key to run (which is not a pain at all, once you are comfortable with it). The advantage, in addition to the ability to be able to stop running for the occasional fine maneuvering, is that the pinkie resting on the shift key provides me with an anchor, or "home key." When I switch weapons, I reach up and hit the number key while keeping my pinkie on shift, which allows me to find my way back to my movement keys without looking. This is what I mean by touch typing weapon changes.
THE INSTANT RESPAWN
An option some players like to use is the "instant respawn." It can be a little disconcerting to kill your opponent, and have him respawn and start firing at you before his corpse finishes screaming. The instant respawn takes advantage of Doom's ability to map more than one function to the same key. Simply set up your "use" key (normally the spacebar) to be another key that you constantly use, like run or forward. Then after dying, you will respawn instantaneously since you are already pressing the use key. The downside to this is that you can lose the opportunity to scratch your nose, adjust your seat, or whatever that you usually have between dying and respawning. Additionally, some level designs make it so that you do not necessarily want to just start out running straight forward (where you might miss a weapon or immediately fall off a ledge).
Tony Fabris, author of the BFG FAQ points out another strong reason to avoid the instant respawn. If you fire rockets or BFG or plasma, you will not get credit for frags made by your projectiles if you die and have already respawned. The only way to get credit for an "after-death" frag is to stay dead until after the frag is registered. Players who use the "instant respawn" key are missing out on frags for which they would otherwise get credit.
HOW FRAMERATE AFFECTS YOUR PLAY
Framerate refers to the number of Frames Per Second (FPS) your computer can display. The maximum framerate Doom or Doom2 will display is 35 FPS. Because of the impact it has on your play, the importance of achieving the maximum frame rate cannot be over-stressed. Picture a cartoon, made of 35 images that change slightly between each different scene, so that flipping through them causes a character to animate and move across the screen. Now remove some pages and flip through them again. Every time you get to where one of the pages (or frames) is missing, your animated character will seem to "jump" from one place to the other. This happens when you lose frames in a deathmatch; every frame that you drop causes your opponent to skip across the screen, spoiling your aim, situational awareness, etc. Using an under-powered computer harms your framerate, and in a deathmatch a player will be at a disadvantage if his framerate is considerably slower than his opponent's.
DETERMINING YOUR FRAMERATE
First set your system up to run the game as you normally do, with proper screen size, and sound and mouse drivers, loaded. Then type the following command line in your Doom2 directory:
doom2 -timedemo demo2
(Use demo2 because it remains unchanged across all versions of Doom2, so you can compare results more readily.)
As it loads, the game will complain that it cannot find the file demo2, but you can ignore that message, it's a bug. Doom2 will launch and display demo2, probably faster or slower than normal speed, depending on your hardware. When the demo completes, the game will exit and display a line that says:
xxxx gametics in xxxx realtics
You derive your framerate from this by multiplying your gametics by 35 and dividing by the number of realtics. Because the maximum frames per second (FPS) that the Doom engine can display is 35, if the number you get is over 35, then you are not losing frames in the single-player game. Playing a multi-player game over a network seems to provide the same framerate as the single-player game. There is greater overhead in a modem game, so your single-player framerate should exceed 40 FPS in order to be confident that you are not losing frames.
To compare your framerate to others', check the Doom Benchmark Results page at:
This page will allow you to see what framerates other systems are able to achieve running the shareware (because it's freely distributed) Doom under comparable conditions. By the way, framerates in Doom are a bit higher in Doom2, though I can't really figure out why (the added textures?).
IMPROVING YOUR FRAMERATE THROUGH HARDWARE
The two most important factors influencing your framerate are processing power and video performance, so the most important items to upgrade are your processor and your video card. Generally, the minimum setup that can achieve 40 FPS in full-screen mode is a 90 MHz Pentium with local bus video. Do not underestimate the impact your video card's performance has on your framerate. When the PCI video card in my old 90 MHz Pentium failed, I used an older ISA card until I could get a replacement, and I suddenly went from 40 FPS to less than 15! If you have local bus video, upgrading your CPU will do the most to improve your framerate. When looking for a good video card, check benchmarks for DOS performance, as sometimes a less expensive card is a better DOS (as opposed to Windows) performer.
Doom will run on four megabytes of RAM, but prefers eight or more. The detriment to running Doom with too little RAM seems to be the occasional hitch here and there as the program accesses the hard drive, rather than the general choppiness of a reduced frame rate. The hitches can be fatal, nonetheless, so shoot for at least eight megs.
IMPROVING YOUR FRAMERATE BY TWEAKING
First and foremost, thanks go to Mrs. Blue for being an amazing editor, as well as for her patience.
Again, a huge vote of thanks to Abraxas for contributing significantly to this document (and for being my favorite deathmatch opponent).
Thanks also to the many contributors to rec.games.computer.doom.playing, too numerous to mention.
Finally, thanks to everyone who has ever kicked my ass. See guys, I was paying attention!