As we note in our detailed history of FPS (First Person Shooters) I’m Too Young to Die, this genre didn’t necessarily begin with games like Castle Wolfenstein or DOOM but these titles are burned into gamer’s consciousness for a good reason.
It was games like DOOM which sparked off the interest in first-person shooters, due partly to iD’s cunning marketing model of providing the first few levels “Knee Deep in the Dead” on a Shareware basis to whet people’s appetites.
Players could also change the difficulty level to give themselves an easier time at first, then replay on a harder setting later. Instead of a boring number scale of difficulty, users could choose from settings such as “HURT ME PLENTY” and of course, “I’M TOO YOUNG TO DIE”.
DOOM was still a tough game to beat, even by 1993 standards. This is probably why its developers also broke new ground in making it simple for players to cheat. Other games either didn’t include cheats at all or required you to wait until a certain point to enter them, such as the “magic word” Xyzzy in the text game Colossal Cave Adventure.
Anyone who loaded up DOOM could simply type in any number of preprogrammed codes, including the infamous IDDQD which would set your health permanently to 100% making you effectively invincible. This “God Mode” was easy to spot as once the cheat code’s entered, your unnamed “Doomguy’s” avatar’s eyes would start to glow yellow and the game displays the message “Degreelessness Mode On.”
The initials ID are clearly in reference to the game’s developers but there’s no universal fan agreement on what “DQD” stands for although the DOOM Wiki speculates it’s “Delta Quit Delta”: an imaginary US College Fraternity that only accepts college dropouts who received a grade of “Q” (quit).
Other built-in DOOM cheats are easier to explain e.g. typing IDKFA gives you all three coloured keys (K) and full ammo (FA). Typing IDCLEV## with the right number (##) allows players to change (C ) the current level (LEV).
DOOM was also one of the first games to allow a “no clip” mode, allowing players to phase through walls, items and enemies. In the first DOOM game you could activate this by typing in IDSPISPOPD. This was a reference to a tongue-in-cheek suggestion by Usenet users that since the game title “DOOM” had so overused in discussion threads, iD’s next game should be called something more obscure like “Smashing Pumpkins into Small Piles of Putrid Debris”. Sadly in DOOM II, this was changed to the very mundane IDCLIP but other cheat codes made it through unchanged.
Youtuber ricktheprick6014 runs through all the cheats available in DOOM II
Although players could now polish the game off quickly with infinite health and ammo, DOOM’s developers were among the first to make sure that cheating was done in as fair a way as possible.
God mode and most other cheat codes are unavailable to players who choose to play at the maximum difficulty setting “Nightmare”. By default players also couldn’t use God Mode in multiplayer matches to give themselves an unfair advantage. This has actually carried over to more modern ports of DOOM (2016) where enabling ‘god mode’ from the console automatically disables network play.
In the original version of ‘DOOM’ and its sequel ‘Ultimate DOOM’, invincibility is also disabled in the very last room on the “Phobos Anomaly” map. This is also the last level of the ‘shareware’ version of DOOM, so was a clear warning that players couldn’t finish the entire game by cheating.
Players can also be killed whilst using God mode in some circumstances. DOOM includes a special type of “damaging floor” surface at the ends of some levels called “Type 11”, which nullifies God Mode and ends the level when the player’s health drops below 11%. The Phobos Anomaly room shown above contains such a surface.
Players can also be killed by a “telefrag” or “stomp” as it’s known in the original DOOM source code. The game contains teleporters designed to transport players from one area to another. If you happen to step on a teleporter as something is being sent to it, the damage is fatal.
An example of a telefrag disaster where a player’s thrown across the room and killed
The IDDQD cheat worked by setting your health permanently to 100%, so that none of the in-game weapons could kill you, given that none of them could deal out less than 1000 points of damage. This can be overridden though, as for example a teleporter “telefrag” accident inflicts a mighty ten thousand damage points.
The game’s developers also encouraged the community to create their own scenarios by using special editing software to create new WAD (Where’s All the Data) files with new levels, including new scenarios, monsters and weapons.
Using IDDQD in fan-made WADs also may not keep players safe, given that enemies can be programmed to inflict over 1,000 points of damage in one go.
The semi-serious fan-made WAD “The Sky May Be” includes Barons of Hell that deal out 80 Million points of damage, which will easily overwhelm their invulnerability. The WAD also upends up the “God Mode” trope, as firing at enemies with the BFG9000 either deals damage in the millions or “blesses” them, making them invincible.
These days, the “IDDQD” or “God Mode” meme has now entered popular culture. There’s an entry for it in the Urban Dictionary and Internet Slang websites. It’s been printed on T-shirts and even lives on in the form of the special “IDDQD” trophy you can unlock in DOOM (2016).
DOOM also spawned hundreds of other first person shooters, includes iD’s very own Quake (1996) which included its very own options for “god mode”, obtaining all weapons and walking through walls.
You can read more about this and other iconic first person shooters in Bitmap Book’s I’m Too Young to Die, which contains a comprehensive history from 1992-2002 including a foreword by iD co-founder John Romero, one of the original designers of the DOOM and Quake series.