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Doom is the bloody evolution of slapstick comedy

Rip, Tear, Laugh

Patrick Gill (he/him) has been making serious and unserious videos for Polygon since 2016. He also co-hosts & produces Polygon’s weekly livestreams on Twitch.

Doom and Doom Eternal owe so much to the ancient art of slapstick comedy. Laughter is the wet, goopy glue that binds the whole experience together. It’s the tonal salve that makes the difference between mind-numbing violence and a goofy romp. Without humor, Doom games would just be exhausting.

The team at id Software had dialed in the combat design for 2016’s Doom pretty early on in the game’s development. It was going to be fast and relentless, like the original Doom, but with a new level of fidelity, and the addition of “glory kills,” a mechanic that stuffs enemies full of life-saving resources to be harvested aggressively.

So the team had to answer some tough questions: How do you make a power fantasy about personally dismantling hundreds of demons without crossing over into intolerable sadism? Check out the video above to learn about Doom’s comedic influences and how id used humor to solve a tricky game design problem.

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