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Doom Modding, WADs and PWADs, Help with making sense?

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so like what i mentioned with my introduction in the megathread for such, i only recently had interest peaked after playing a VRChat world which re-implemented the full set of Doom Shareware levels (was fun to play them in VR! nothing like getting to dual wield Shotguns! or 2 chainsaws.) and looked for oddly Doom ports for the dreamcast (to play w/ a nice CRT.)and for Xbox One (source ports rather than whats on the store.)


whats got me somewhat confused looking at total conversions, level WADs and everything else (as im building a CD-Image for Dreamcast Doom, as thats based on ADoom/ADoomPPC) and i see options for DeHackEd patches, PWADs, and the Game WAD's (Doom/Doom II/FinalDoom). I'm not so much looking for help using that specific port, but more on what defines a PWAD vs a full standalone WAD?  do most ports load standalone WADs in their respective game's engine? are there suggested Patches one should use? etc.

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5 hours ago, CaelThunderwing said:

what defines a PWAD vs a full standalone WAD?


A PWAD is a user-made WAD file that modifies the content of whatever game it's made for.

A "full standalone" WAD, aka an IWAD, is a game's main WAD file and thus required to run PWADs.


5 hours ago, CaelThunderwing said:

do most ports load standalone WADs in their respective game's engine?


I believe most Doom source ports default to DOOM2.WAD as the IWAD (if found) unless specified separately with the -iwad parameter. Some do have graphical frontends for selecting the appropriate IWAD prior to launching the game - GZDoom is one such port. The good majority of PWADs are made for Doom 2 either way, though.

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WADs are Doom File Archive Format in the same vein as Zip and RAR, but actually has zero compression. I call it a File Wrapper.


IWAD-- Standalone Game Wad usually Commecial release but not always such Freedoom and Blasphemer.


PWAD-- Custom wad that is usually not Standalone. Sometimes Commercial release but most times private made. Original name for custom maps and mods.


ZDoom format has its own thing.


Pk3-- A ZIP file archive that has a folder structure that mimics Original Doom WAD content structure.


PK7-- Same as PK3 but is a 7Zip instead.


ipk3-- A pk3 that operates like a Standalone IWAD. example is Castlevania Simon's Destiny.

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