Turns out the Amiga was powerful enough to run DOOM after all!

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2023/10/12/turns-out-the-amiga-was-powerful-enough-to-run-doom-after-all.html


Of course it was possible to get Doom running on the Amiga- Alien Breed 3D managed to give us doom-like gameplay on the platform back in the 90s.


Carmacks claim:


The amiga is not powerfull enough to run DOOM. It takes the full
speed of a 68040 to play the game properly even if you have a chunky
pixel mode in hardware. Having to convert to bit planes would kill
it even on the fastest amiga hardware, not to mention the effect it
would have on the majority of the amiga base.


Alien Breed 3d was pretty much unplayably slow in my recollection.

Alien Breed 3D, CD32 : Mads D. Kristensen : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive - Alien Breed on a CD32 (2m chip ram)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doD7hmlKun8&t=21s - Grind on a 1200 with some fast RAM

I can’t find any videos of AB3D on a 1200 with fast RAM, it might run a bit better with that but my vague memories of a pirated copy on my expanded 1200 were not much better than the video I linked. I think I even had a 68030 or '040 in there. It’s long since gone in a hurricane so I can’t fire it up and check…

Grind’s also able to run on a 500 which is kind of amazing. It helps that it’s limiting itself to 16 colors for the main game screen, plus another 16 for the weapons overlaid as sprites, and that the art’s being done by someone who knows how to work within those limitations.


I don’t want to downplay the achievment here, but this sure looks like a raycasting engine, so it would be closer to compare it to Wolfenstein 3d rather than doom. It doesn’t appear to support the verticality (e.g. stairs and such) that doom’s engine allowed.


I was thinking the same thing. It looks more like Wolfenstein, albeit with better graphics, etc.


Might be a case of Carmack discovering a quirk of the PC, writing a game that fully exploits that quirk, and then finding it really hard to port the game to a machine that doesn’t work in exactly the same way.


Not so much a quirk as an overt design approach. Amiga had a distinct approach to graphics and games that were coded to make the most of underlying hardware seldom ported well in either direction.

Miserly attitude of C= didn’t help either. AGA was too little too late and shipping the 1200 with an 030 would have made the base platform less decrepit.


Not on the Amiga 500, the one most people owned.


That was exactly what I thought as well. I don’t know enough about 90s rendering techniques to identify why, but this had a distinctly Wolfensteinian je ne sais qoi about it.


Shipping it with some fast RAM as standard would have been a serious improvement on the base model - but by this point Commodore was making every penny pinching bad decision possible.

I’m genuinely astonished by this program. Doing the chunky to planar conversion at a decent frame rate was a struggle for the 020 and 030 chip even with a reduced size viewport - now they’ve done this on the humble 68000 - wow!


In fairness it seems like this game isn’t running at the fps shown in the demo video on the 500 either… comments point to it being the A1200. Either way it’s an excellent looking game even at this early stage of development.

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The demo had the camera stay at the same height throughout, but there does appear to be at least some support for different floor/ceiling heights. I found a forum discussion that linked to a recreation of Doom’s E1M1:

But I didn’t see any dynamic lighting (I suspect the light level is baked into the textures), or any moving floors/ceilings. And no floor/ceiling textures other than a sky texture either.


What about Gloom?


Amiga was a C64 on steroids, great for sprite based games and incredible sound

But when it came to 3D rendering it was seriously lacking

The future was in the hands of Sony with the Playstation


The Amiga graphics architecture made perfect sense when people couldn’t dream of wasting entire bytes on individual pixels. Things would have been very different if the AAA architecture moved beyond the 1992 prototypes which contained a new chip called Monica that handled 16-bit pixels.


There was multiple ports of Doom to the Amiga in the late 90’s, I remember playing AmiDoom

Although, even on my expanded A1200 (With a 68030 and eight whole megabytes of extra memory!), it was slow as fuck. If I made the view window smaller, then on simple levels I could eke out maybe 20 FPS. That was enough though for me to play Doom itself and various WAD packs (I remember an Aliens total conversion being good).
Then today I see stories like this, about gamers complaining about games not running at 4k with a locked 60FPS framerate, and that “30FPS is literally unplayable” and it makes me want to go all "back in my day we used to run Doom on a potato because that’s all we had, and it wasn’t even a fresh potato, and we had to wait a whole day between frames, the entire family gathering round to see it emerge line by line, then deciding what button to press which we had to do by wiring resistors together by hand but you tell kids today that and they won’t believe you " etc. etc.


Given that the Amiga 500 launched in April 1987 and the Playstation in December 1994, that feels like a rather strange juxtaposition. There’s nearly a decade of technological development between them, and a lot of in-between steps.


That’s it though, isn’t it? Discounting the A500+, which didn’t do much for games, it took Commodore seven years to produce a significant spec bump from the original chipset (five if you credit the A500 as the platform of interest rather than the Amiga in general) and by then it was too late and too little. I think that’s why this particular type of demo is so exciting to Amiga folks: it existing in 1992 would have changed everything, but it could have existed in 1985! (I can’t verify that it runs on the A1000, but if it runs on the A500 it should do) 1985!

Her’s Grind is running on an A500. It is slower than the OP video but obviously playable. I’m not quite sure it meets the “passes as Doom when you see it running in the store” threshold that Grind-on-A600 passes. It would have made for a nice Christmas 1992 for Amiga kids!