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Why do the OOB (out-of-bounds) areas of Doom look so unusual?enter image description here As seen in the image above, the Doom engine not only incorrectly renders the scene, but also renders slices of other scenes that aren't even loaded in the map. This is not the case in other versions of doom. Just the MS-DOS original. Why does this happen and how is it possible?

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    I know, from far too many hours of my teenage years (and far too many hours of cheating through every level), that this is not a valid screenshot from any version of Doom or Doom 2 from v 1.666 or onward. -- Can this be reproduced using an earlier version? Do you have a WAD file that can generate this?
    – Ghedipunk
    Feb 26, 2020 at 5:20

1 Answer 1

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This is known as "Hall of Mirrors" effect.

The Doom Wiki states:

When the game renders the level to the screen, it draws it into a buffer, an area of memory. During gameplay, the previous contents of the buffer are overwritten by consecutive frames. However, if a player travels outside the level, there are no walls to draw, so Doom draws nothing. Instead, the previous contents of the buffer are displayed, left over from previous frames.

If a player turns around and looks back toward the level, they can see through the walls and inside the level. The floors of the level stretch outwards toward the screen edge in vertical columns. This is because the Doom floor and ceiling drawing system is like a flood fill algorithm: because there are no walls to bound them, they simply "bleed" down to the edges of the screen.

Source: https://doomwiki.org/wiki/Hall_of_mirrors_effect

The old MS-DOS release of DooM renders the scene differently than newer source ports do. There are some good resources online that cover your question better than I could, but this answer may give you an idea on where to start looking :)

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  • I feel like the Wiki authors have extended the meaning of the hall-of-mirrors effect there; I really think that originally referred only to the shimmering caused by buffer flipping back and forth when nothing was being redrawn. But, whatever, it's an idiomatic term and you've definitely described the correct effect.
    – Tommy
    Dec 16, 2019 at 17:18
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    IIRC there were three screen buffers in the cycle, which was what gave it that quality of shimmering movement as opposed to a sense of "flashing" that two alternating buffers would have.
    – smitelli
    Dec 16, 2019 at 23:39
  • @smitelli yes, sorry, that sounds more likely. But, regardless, I just meant that I feel like hall of mirrors was originally intended to describe the effects of not-fully-erased buffers, rather than the effect of flood fill on floors escaping their room bounds. Though, again, to be completely clear: it doesn't inherently mean anything, LuNa has answered the question correctly with a source that definitively proves that's not what the community means by hall of mirrors now. So positive votes all round, thanks to LuNa for the helpful and well-argued answer!
    – Tommy
    Dec 18, 2019 at 19:21
  • Someone in the edit queue suggested replacing the fandom.com link with doomwiki.org. On one hand, strictly speaking this should qualify as ‘clearly conflicts with author’s intent’. On the other, fandom.com really is a horrible place… Mar 29 at 4:35

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