Out of all the Doom ports published over the last three decades, Doom 3DO has perhaps the wildest development story.
The game, published by Art Data Interactive and developed by Logicware employee Rebecca Heineman, was mired in production issues. The reason for this was that Art Data’s CEO Randy Scott had misrepresented just how much work needed to be done on it before it hit store shelves. This led to the frustrated Heineman, who had initially been brought in only to finish the game, having to rush and develop an entirely new port in just ten weeks.
This story has been told before on Heineman’s YouTube channel, and elsewhere on websites like Kotaku, but one element of this you might not know about is that Art Data had initially wanted Doom 3DO to feature FMV video before it was cut due to time constraints; it even went to the effort to film it.
Pictures of this seem to resurface every now and again on Twitter, showcasing an impressive-looking Cyberdemon costume and a group of actors standing around, awkwardly smeared in blood. But recently we were able to get in touch with someone who was involved with the shoot to tell us a bit more and share even more of the behind-the-scenes images.
Chris Gilman is the Hollywood special effects and props artist whose company Global Effects was responsible for creating the Cyberdemon costume for the shoot. His company was mostly known at the time for supplying props for films like Predator and The Witches of Eastwick, as well as costumes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. But in the early 90s, Art Data contacted him about working on a 3DO port for Id Software’s Doom, a game that Gilman had never heard of up to that point.
He tells us, “The last video game that I ever played, I think, was some […] space-based game and it was a real simple graphic of the face of an alien and you know, simple text of what the alien was saying and then you told the computer, ‘Okay, I want to go do this.’ It was really pretty much just flashcards that came up, then the computer did something and another flash card came up and told you this is what happened. It was pretty boring.”
Art Data offered to buy him a copy of Doom and when he played it he was blown away by how far video games had come along. The publisher then asked him if he wanted to help make a new version of the game with full motion video and he got excited about the possibility of building out this big-horned creature.
Normally a creature back then would have cost somewhere in the region of $30,000 to $50,000 to make, but Gilman believes the figure for the game was probably much closer to $10,000.
The reason Global Effects was able to produce the costume so cheaply was that it had already made the body suit for another project, so all it needed to do was create a head and some three-fingered hands. It also didn't need to make any feet for the creature, as the company could simply hide them beneath layers of fur.
Gilman and his team made the skull, horns, and eyes out of fiberglass, with the skin being foam latex, which is a type of latex rubber. The proportions for the creature were based on the real-life bodybuilder Paul Demayo, known in bodybuilding magazines of the time as "Quadzilla", which gave the demon its bulky physique. And it's at this point, that you're probably wondering about the identity of the man in the suit.
Well, considering the original body suit had been made with Gilman in mind, it, unfortunately, fell to him to model the 'hot' and 'uncomfortable' costume.
Shooting for the FMV scenes took place in 1995, in Simi Valley, but as Gilman told us it wasn't much of a studio they were working out of. In fact, it was the Art Data offices. Walking in, he noticed off the bat that the publisher had set up a 10 ft x 10 ft greenscreen, which immediately sent over signals to him that this wasn't going to be the most professional of productions.
"The first thing I said to the people who were working on it […] was this greenscreen is really too small and I’m worried it’s too close. They were like, ‘Oh no, no, no, this is fine.’ I was like, ‘Okay, you guys are doing whatever you are going to do.’"
Unfamiliar with video game development, he simply chalked this up to his own inexperience in the area and spent the rest of the day improvising based on prompts from the director. This included clawing and slashing his way through expendable extras dressed in army costumes.
Then, finally, after the shoot was over, he asked someone what happened to the footage and was told that much of it was pretty much unusable because of the green spill from the greenscreen being too close.
Speaking to Heineman, she was able to give us her perspective on the scenes, "When I was asked to put this in the game, 2 weeks from release mind you, the guy running Art Data actually thought that green screen cut scenes could just be dropped into DOOM 3DO and it would magically composite. As you can imagine, that is not a thing based on reality. I told him I could not use any footage, and ignored him and shipped what I had."
From both these accounts, it's clear to see why these scenes didn't end up making it in. According to Gilman, it would have taken a lot of hand-rotoscoping and hand-painting mattes around every frame to sort out this problem. And, as Heineman explains, it was simply time she didn't have before needing to get the project out the door. As Gilman tells us, however, he did eventually find another use for the suit: scaring trick-or-treaters.
"Ve Neill is a three-or-four-time Academy Award-winning makeup artist [...] and she loved Halloween," he tells us. "She had these big Halloween parties, but she also decorated her front yard and of course, the entire neighborhood knew about her decorations so they’d come around for trick or treating. Anyway, I remember one year I wore the Doom creature suit and sat in the recliner in the front yard like it was just a stuffed figure sitting there, and people would come up and I would just terrify them."
Have you played Doom 3DO? Let us know what you thought of it below!