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Returning to Doom mapping after 20 years

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Oh how times have changed! For the first time in two decades I made my first Doom map yesterday, and I have to say things have moved on quite a bit from when I were a lad!

It all started when I found myself watching one of those "crappy Doom wad" reviews on YouTube. The wad in question, which featured custom pretty-much-everything, appeared to have been made by a one-armed drunk with severe narcolepsy, who made the level by repeatedly falling face-first on their keyboard in a stupor.

It got me thinking: "If they can make a level with the higher-brain function of a gnat, maybe I can?"

When I last made a Doom level, the only two programs a man needed was DeHacked v1.0 (who needs mouse support?) and DEU. Both DOS based and harder to get working reliably than a cat on steroids.

At the end of the review, the creator listed the editors he'd used (along side cursing his wife and swearing a lot). For the map design, he'd used something called "Doom Builder".

"What's this Doom Builder?" I thought in my best old-man-in-a-rocking-chair voice. So after trying to find to on-button to my computer-machine and poking the mouse in case it were alive, I loaded The Google and went hunting.

Low and behold, it turns out Doom Builder is a program to build Doom maps! Who would have thought it? So I duly downloaded it and started to get things ready. I hunted down my IWADs from some dusty corner of my harddrive, and went to download my source port of choice: Doom Legacy. The last time I used Doom Legacy was about 11 years ago, I wonder what amazing improvements they've made to it in the last decade?

Turns out none whatsoever, so I pick Risen3D instead.

Finally I had everything ready, and booted up Doom Builder. First things first - load E1M1 and see what's what. And there it appears, in all its glory! Oh my god, they've put the floor texture of the sector INSIDE THE SECTOR! That's genius! And they have a proper texture library where you can see what the textures look like before you apply them! And it's stable! I've been using it for 30 seconds and it hasn't crashed once!

I continue to explore the settings in a giddy haze, before coming across something called "Visual Mode". I click it, and nearly fall off my chair. Real time first-person editing? What is this witchcraft? I say a few hail-maries and cleanse my computer to be sure it isn’t demonic possession. When I'm eventually convinced, I proceed to fly around the level pretending I’m an airplane.

Now I’m getting the hang of the editor, I decide to take my first tentative steps in level designing. I do what every self-respecting Doom level designer would do in this situation. I stick a Cyberdemon in the first room. LOL. I’m such a wit. No wait, that’s immature, I’m 30, I should know better. So I turn him to face away from the player and give him the Deaf tag. Yeah, stealth Doom! I’ve just invented a whole new genre! I’m sure no-one in the last 20 years has thought of that!

I save, and hit the Test button. And like manna from heaven, it loaded! And there was my Cyberdemon in all his glorly! Standing proudly, his pert buttocks jiggling at me (did they always look like that?), his head three feet through the ceiling. Oh yeah, ceiling height!

So I bounce back to the editor and move him out into the courtyard. A trip back and both he and I are relieved to find his head is longer holding up the roof. I’m suddenly struck with a moment of fear though: what if he doesn’t work properly? It can’t really be this simple, can it? I fire the pistol at him. I’ve never been so relieved to be hit in the face with a rocket as I was then. It actually all worked!

Buoyed by my success, I return to the editor, hit “New map” and crack my fingers! Prepare for my creativity to be unleashed! The world will witness my artistic brilliance! My genius will be known throughout the lands!

I draw a rectangle, stick in a player start and an exit switch. DONE!

Perhaps the creativity will come tomorrow. :)

So what was a rather long way of me basically saying “hello!”. I do have an idea for a map and I will no doubt be in here asking all you lovely people for help as my memory of how to create levels inevitably fails me. But I just really wanted to say hi, and that it’s good to be back!

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Enjoyable read. Keep it up :)

I just found an unreleased DM map I made in 1999-2000 that I think still has some merit (worried that this is nostalgia and creator ego talking though) so I've begun fixing it up to release.

Particularly enjoyed your remark about doom legacy. I also used to love it back in the day. I also found a pile of unreleased legacy special effects demos which are worthless today. I'm wondering whether to take a look at helping the current maintainer and injecting a bit more life into it once again.

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Jon said:

Is GZDoom Builder worth using if you aren't targetting (G)Zdoom?

If you care about bug fixes or new features

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That was indeed a good read. It got me laughing and smirking. I happily welcome you to Doomworld and (back to?) the Doom community.

As the others said, consider GZDoom Builder. It has the most features available and in various ways more user friendly. But unless I'm mistaken there is a chance it requires you to run on a later source port like Zdoom, GZDoom, Zandronum etc. If the map is designed for these then the more classical versions will not be able to run your map. So it's a bit of a decision to make there. Generally it's advised to stick to more revamped old school versions if you're not planning to take on 3D platforms among some other more advanced features. Still I encourage you to check it out to once again fall off your chair and suspect heresy.

Check out something called Cacoawards and play a couple Wads that won in the last few years, you will need to call a nurse over ;)

A Megawad that really impressed me was 'Going Down'.

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Gzdoombuilder has map formats/presets. You can make vanilla maps just fine.

This must be the biggest misconception regarding the modern Doom tools.

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This is why I keep suggesting GZDoom Builder change its name. How many IRL examples of confusion do we need?

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Thanks for the warm welcome everyone! I'll definitely check out GZDoom Builder. I think I'll stick to vanilla compatible Doom maps for now. Re-learn to walk before I can run! Once I remember how a basic Doom level works then I'll look at all this new and weird stuff people have developed! Sloped floors? Heresy I say. :)

In seriousness though I remember when the first source ports capable of true-3D levels were released, but all I ever played at the time were demo levels. It will be very interesting to see what designers have done with the technology in the years since!

That said, I always thought there was a certain artistry to developing a good Doom level despite all the limitations. Although maybe that's just me being old fashioned!

Incidentally Obsidian it was this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GW31TlCMFLA I really wouldn't recommend anyone spends the time watching it though, it really is a terrible wad!

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Linguica said:

This is why I keep suggesting GZDoom Builder change its name. How many IRL examples of confusion do we need?

Yea Really, it's not a GZDoom only map editor so i suppose EDB (Enhanced Doom Builder) would work .

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