OG Doom is everywhere at this point. It’s on consoles and phones and computers. Someone’s put it on a rotary phone and a calculator. I mean, jeez, you can even play it on Twitter now. But in case you thought folks ran out of ways to play Doom, guess again. It turns out there are still plenty of creative methods to rip and tear through id Software’s FPS, including a, uh, Lego brick.
Yeah, you read that right. A New Zealand maker named James “ancient_james” Brown has rigged the teeniest, tiniest monitor possible into a 3D-printed blue Lego brick to run 1993's iconic shooter Doom via an offscreen PC. It’s awfully small, which does make it adorably cute, but probably a pain in the ass to play.
Brown, an animatronics and graphics programmer who posts his creations on sites like Mastodon and Twitter (and is totally not the deceased funk musician), began a thread on June 6 showing his Lego brick gaming monitor. The blue piece holds a small-ass STM32F030F4P6 circuit board with an ARM Cortex M0 processor, 16K flash memory, and 4K RAM. The screen is the cherry on top, though. It’s a 0.42 inch 72x40 resolution OLED display. What? This is barely big enough to see what’s happening. I’m imagining a lotta accidental deaths.
When reached for comment via Twitter DMs, Brown explained to Kotaku that the Lego brick is basically just an external monitor, with a PC streaming Doom somewhere offscreen via a little python script doing the dithering and resizing.
“The microcontroller in the brick has 16K of flash, which just about gets you a Doom sprite,” Brown said. “There was no way it was going to run it properly. The options seemed to be: 1) Write a raycasting game with as much Doom flavour as possible, 2) Stick a wire in it and stream video to it, or 3) Put a more powerful processor in there. One probably wouldn’t be accepted as fitting the meme. Two didn’t seem a very interesting challenge. Three was going to take a bit longer to design. But since two was so easy, someone was going to do it eventually and I decided I’d rather it were me.”
Brown initially had no plans to port the game to the puny Lego brick. But a gamer’s first instinct is to apparently ask whether or not a console can run Doom, and the moment his creation went viral, the messages came flooding in. The only way to quiet the masses? Give them what they want, and that’s Doom.
“When that one started getting shared, every other notification mentioned Doom,” Brown said. “So I muted the word for seven days and waited for things to get back to normal. But people were still saying it a week later.”
And now we have Doom running on a Lego brick, and it rules! I love miniature technology like this. It speaks to tech’s ever-evolving nature and gamers’ relentlessness to make sure Doom is always playable. While this brick might not be the most portable or practical way to play Doom, it reminds me of Thumby, the lil Game Boy for ants. That’s also a smol handheld that’s really hard to see, but probably still plays id Software’s old-school FPS all the same. Seriously, Doom is a cockroach. You can’t kill it. It’s everywhere. Maybe it’ll become a currency in some post-apocalyptic future...or an NFT in our dystopian present.