Enterprising fans and engineers have ported the classic FPS Doom to many bizarre platforms, but this may be the first time someone has got it running in gif form. Thanks to a loophole in the way websites play gifs and a set of clickable controls, one software developer has managed to get Doom to run on Archive of Our Own, the Hugo Award-winning non-profit repository for transformative works.
First spotted by PCGamesN, here's how the gif works: on the AO3 page, there's a constantly evolving gif of Doom accompanied by a set of clickable controls. Every time a player clicks on those controls, the input is added to a queue, and the result is a crowd-controlled playthrough similar to the legendary Twitch Plays Pokemon live stream experience. The server runs the input back in order and shows the updated images, allowing AO3 to play Doom – albeit on a gif that's somewhat unstable from both server pressure and the constant loading.
The man behind the magic is software engineer Andrew Sillers, who revealed his work at the virtual BangBangCon 2021, where he gave a talk explaining what, specifically, is happening behind the scenes in this port. This video of the full talk lasts over an hour, the first chunk of which is dedicated to technical difficulties, and explores how to create interactive multiplayer experiences on a static webpage.
In short, when a webpage loads an image, it does so through a piece of code that requests that image. Gifs start loading before every image in the animation has been received, so a programmer can build a cycle where new frames are being constantly added, creating a gif that flows rather than loops. With that premise and a few commands, users can play a video game – the process isn't quite as straightforward as changing the OS to run Doom on a GoPro Drone Controller, but the result is significantly more playable.
Doom has been ported to many unlikely devices and platforms over the years, including a Zune, a pregnancy test, an Oscilloscope, and even a $50,000 GE Vivid S5 Cardiovascular Ultrasound Machine, but this may take the crown of the strangest port yet. It's one thing to host a crowd-controlled playthrough of a game on Twitch, which is designed to host video game playthroughs, and something else entirely to get it running on a site that specializes in fanfiction and fanart. As of writing, the page has 56495 hits and the number rises with every refresh. It appears that gamers are eager to experience playing Doom on a webpage.
Although it's usually the classic 1995 edition Doom that receives bizarre ports, the franchise is currently alive and well. Doom Eternal was incredibly well-received, as was its DLC The Ancient Gods. Gamers wondering where the series will go from here may be surprised to learn that Doom has received an official mobile spin-off, Mighty Doom. Only time will tell if this mobile entry will be as beloved as previous installments.
Doom Eternal had a highly anticipated launch last year, both as a follow-up to id Software's popular Doom (2016) and because Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons released simultaneously. However, the game has remained popular ever since among its fans, which can be seen via the efforts of one artist who created an animated, 3D box cover for Doom Eternal on PS4.