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Optimus

GenWad, the oldest random map generator ever?

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For a long time, I thought Slige was the oldest attempt for a tool that can procedurally generate Doom maps. I was planning to go historically from the oldest one to the newest and see how the quality of the generation has evolved. But I discovered a much older tool that was only included in the shoverware D!Zone CDs. I got them from the internet archive and open the latest one, D!Zone Gold and installed the D! frontend in Dosbox. It was a bit messy at first to find out how it works and there were few crashes (the installer would get a runtime error but this is typical Turbo Pascal written program, where in faster machines it will crash unless you patch it with tppatch, but all I did was reduce the Dosbox cycles anyway) and a bit tedious to find out what I want, but later I managed to use the generator.

 

Initially I was using this launcher because of another feature of simply swapping randomly items/monsters in the already existing maps. Before, I was looking for something old without balance, to have a laugh when I am blocked by Cyberdemons that replaced imps or something, I've tried more balanced randomizers before, but the old one here creates the chaos I want. But as I was using it, I noticed there was another exe file, GenWad.exe that claims to also generate the maps too. When I ran it I got an error. After a lot of searching I realized, this is supposed to run from inside the D! frontend. I found out how to select some of my maps and switch them with generated ones. But still crash,.. at least in Doom 2 (different version of WAD expected?). Finally, it works in Doom 1, I didn't care about which Doom it is, as long as I observe how primitive the map generation was back then to compare with later attempts.

 

Before the 15th minute is the whole process of me fighting my way in Dosbox. After that, I save the WAD and load it in a modern port to enjoy. It was interesting to see what kind of map layouts probably the earliest map generator did, with big squary rooms and 1994 design, it does have proper doors and elevators, it can have secrets which are random walls without marks, and some stairs but a totally random mess of items scattered around. I might even need to search for the earliest D!Zone CD, as this one is GenWad v2.0, which means there might be a version 1.0 and I could look out of curiosity how much v2.0 from 1.0 has evolved. Might do it in my next video if I find out the earliest version.

 

 

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