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id Super Pack

posted on September 7th, 2008 by christian
Now Playing: Haze

This weekend, Steam is having a half off sale on all id Software games. That means you can get classics like the Commander Keen series for less than the price of a Starbucks latte. If you really want to be thorough, the id Super Pack is also part of the sale, meaning for 35 bucks you can get every Doom, Quake 1-3, Wolfenstein, Heretic and Hexen. Its a ton of games for a sweet price, and no matter how little or lot I have played some of these games, I realized I haven’t paid much for the id games I have played. It was time to salute this fine company, as well as get a huge chunk of FPS history in one convenient location.

In this day and age, where piracy is almost the norm for PC games and hardly an afterthought for old games, paying for anything pre-Quake might seem like an outrage. After all, all the old id graphics engines up to Quake 3 have been released under open source licenses. While it may indeed be free to run them, the various WAD files and art and sound assets that these old games need to play are not in fact free, and as old as they are, I think they’re worth a few bucks each. More importantly, the fact that these old engines are given to the open source community is one of many examples of how much id cares about the genre they helped create, by allowing the community that has surrounded it take their beloved games and tweak, fix, and improve them (John Carmack himself recommends the use of Doom Source Ports to play the game). They have done so much for the technical side of game engines and shooters that they deserve the support, at least if you haven’t bought these games before.

That being said, the package has some plusses and minuses. The old DOS games allow you to run them with an updated and “classic” control scheme. You will also find that the Quake portion of the pack includes Quakeworld and GLQuake/World, which are essential for this day and age. On the other hand, they combat compatibility issues by throwing the old files together with a preconfigured version of DOSbox. This is the best general solution to get them running, but DOSbox can run slow on old computers, and may run finicky on certain configurations. For example, I can run Doom 2 just fine, but Ultimate Doom has a stuttering issue when picking up items, and also likes to simply crash. This can be fixed rather easily by dropping a few files from a source port into the Steam directory, but it is still depressing to have doom crash on an modern PC. Be prepared to do some tweaking. I haven’t had any issues with Doom 3, or any of the Quakes.

Depending on the desire, I might do some retrospectives on these old games, starting with Wolfenstein. Any takers?

Update: Without any apparent tweaking, Ultimate Doom is running well (I did some tweaks, but in the wrong directory). Since DOSbox is emulating DOS rather than anything on Doom’s part, the game is about as faithful as can be on an XP box. Still, I tried it in ZDoom, and the results are drastic. Aside from some initial hiccups, the game is tremendously cleaned up, and runs incredibly smoothly. The graphical differences are stupendous, and while I there is something to be said for accuracy, the ZDoom experience is almost like a modern update of the game, simply via optimising the code. If you can can edit a few files, I highly recommend running it through Steam.

5 Comments

  1. chris said on September 7, 2008:

    It’s also worth mentioning that the classic X-COM series is also on Steam, and the entirety can be had for $15 (less, for this weekend). I haven’t gotten it (the original games still *sort of* run on XP with tweaking) but I’d imagine this is a similar deal. If Steam can continue to pick up awesome classic games, that makes me all the happier. It’s reaching the point where getting them running takes enough effort it may be worth paying for them again.

  2. pat said on September 8, 2008:

    i havent even thought about doom in a while, and i stopped playing FPS years ago. id be interested to hear what a genre vet thinks about the series after so much progress and so many imitators.

  3. Eric said on September 9, 2008:

    X-com…. I definitely have to pick that up then. X-com UFO Defense was possibly the greatest PC game I’ve ever played, and TFTD wasn’t too bad either.

  4. dan said on September 22, 2008:

    God I loved Heretic back in the day.

  5. Plants vs Zombies 2 said on August 22, 2010:

    Hi author! Can I take pictures from your site for my PC wallpapper?

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