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Old 11-04-2014, 01:31 PM   #1
Frederik Schreiber
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The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall
Join us as we dig into the 3D Realms Vault with never-before-seen notes, articles, and material from our 30-year legacy. Our first post covers early design tips from the one and only Tom Hall.

In the early nineties, the legendary game designer worked on classics such as Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom as the Creative Director of id Software.

In 1993, he joined 3D Realms (then known as “Apogee”) to develop Rise of the Triad and support development of the Duke Nukem series. He had his hands in several Apogee/3D Realms titles then, from Duke Nukem II to Terminal Velocity, Rise of the Triad, Hocus Pocus, and Prey. A complete list of what Tom did would be longer than this document, but a few selected highlights are worth noting. Specifically, the deathmatch design, some laser gfx, and the story from Terminal Velocity. Tom was also responsible for a lot of the "character items" and the story for Duke Nukem II, including the famed merchandise items, which were part of the foundation of the eventual "character" of Duke as we knew him in future titles.

In 1994, there were few rules as to how games were designed. As such, Tom was one of the fathers of today’s design laws and philosophies.

Below is a never-before-seen memo from Tom, in which he shares his game design tips and tricks.

Enjoy!

Read Article Here
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Old 11-05-2014, 08:58 AM   #2
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
That's really cool! I especially like his take on story in games, and how it helps a designer maintain some internal consistency with the game.
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Old 11-05-2014, 12:41 PM   #3
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Very good read!
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Old 11-05-2014, 01:06 PM   #4
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Those level designs should be a rule for every company in that era, holy hell, it was annoying to get lock on levels because of bad level designing. Great tips though!
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:32 PM   #5
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Extremely interesting read... It seems that so many games don't adhere to concepts like these presented. Knowing what needs to be done and actually doing it is likely "easier said than done".

Great stuff.

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Old 11-05-2014, 11:31 PM   #6
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Should get the old gang back together to do an old school shooter for a new generation. I mean a TRUE old school shooter. Guest level designers levelord and John Romero.
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Old 11-06-2014, 05:46 AM   #7
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Commando Nukem View Post
Should get the old gang back together to do an old school shooter for a new generation. I mean a TRUE old school shooter. Guest level designers levelord and John Romero.

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Old 11-12-2014, 03:34 AM   #8
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Great Modern games lost a few design tips along the way, sadly.

For example: secrets in modern games hardly can be named 'secrets' anymore.
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Old 11-16-2014, 03:37 PM   #9
Joe Siegler
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
My favorite part of this document was the "don't draw things in the walls". This was part of the design used for the original Rise of the Triad.

I went to Tom and asked for permission to violate that, because I thought of a loophole. I asked if I could draw a message in the walls using Standard Galactic Alphabet from Commander Keen.

Tom agreed, and that was the origin of the "Dopefish Lives" message in my "Eight Ways to Hell" level of Rise of the Triad.
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Old 11-21-2014, 11:21 AM   #10
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Quote:
Don't make the player go all the way to the end, then all the way to the beginning, then all the way to the end again. It's more fun to feel like you are making ground. Have a series of areas to get through, rather than one big awful area.
Secret Agent violates this rules a couple of times.

In 2007 DOSGuy had a contest where you had to create your own level for Pharaoh's Tomb. I didn't enter the contest, but I had an idea for a level that would also violate this rule.
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Old 11-22-2014, 12:52 PM   #11
Joe Siegler
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frenkel View Post
Secret Agent violates this rules a couple of times.

In 2007 DOSGuy had a contest where you had to create your own level for Pharaoh's Tomb. I didn't enter the contest, but I had an idea for a level that would also violate this rule.
My Eight Ways to Hell level in Rise of the Triad violated this, and Tom didn't seem to mind. I had a lot of backtracking. I know George didn't like it at the time, but I was pretty insistent.
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Old 11-28-2014, 08:32 AM   #12
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
I guess they aren't rules per se, more guidelines for designing a fun game.
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Old 12-02-2014, 11:24 AM   #13
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
Eagerly awaiting Part 2
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:37 PM   #14
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
The guys got backlogged - they finally got my my shipment of DVD's from 2009 in Denmark, and were sorting through it, adding it to their archives now.
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Old 12-04-2014, 12:25 PM   #15
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall - Part 1
nice!
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:00 PM   #16
Joe Siegler
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Re: The 3D Realms Vault: 1994 Design Tips from Tom Hall
Sorry for the delay, but Part II of this series is now posted.

https://3drealms.com/news/3d-realms-...m-hall-part-2/
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