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Tech Interview: Doom

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these! While putting together our tech analysis for id software’s fantastic Doom reboot, one thing became clear – this was a game handing in a remarkable level of visual fidelity while maintaining an extremely high frame-rate. The scale of the achievement here can’t really be understated: we were looking at a 60fps game handing in visuals better than many, if not most, 30fps titles. Just how did they do that?

Games take so long to develop these days that many creators give talks on their techniques at the likes of GDC and Siggraph, giving us some insight into the technical underpinnings of many modern games before they’ve even come out – it’s great for Digital Foundry in that it gives us valuable research when putting together our articles and videos. But very little was known about idTech6, its relationship with its predecessor – and indeed the make-up of the engine that powered the cancelled Doom 4.

So when the opportunity to put together a ‘no holds barred’ tech interview with id software came along, we grabbed it enthusiastically. In this piece, we’re going deep – covering off the evolution of idTech, the core rendering principles on which the latest iteration of the game was based, the team’s views on resolution, scaling and anti-aliasing – plus of course, the growing importance of asynchronous compute, and the new wave of PC graphics APIs.

And the timing of this piece is fortunate too – this week, id released the long awaited Vulkan patch for Doom, bringing with it some game-changing improvements for PC gaming and a shot in the arm for AMD Radeon’s hardware in particular. Is it time for developers to move on from DirectX 11 and embrace the likes of Vulkan and DX12? You’ll find out below.

Answering the questions is a veritable who’s who of id software’s key tech staff. Many thanks to the team for giving us so much of their time for this article.

  • Robert A Duffy – Chief Technical Officer
  • Billy Khan – Lead Programmer
  • Tiago Sousa – Lead Rendering Programmer
  • Jean Geffroy – Senior Engine Programmer
  • Axel Gneitting – Senior Engine Programmer