Single Status Update
Two posts to my blog on the old system and they introduce a new system the next day which destroyed my posts! I had the previous post saved on my HD at work though, so here it is. And hey, now I can see how many people think this post is retarded thanks to the comments!
Hey kids! Do you want to be a successful Doom mapper? Follow these very easy steps and you too can be considered one of the modern greats!
1. Think of the most elaborate idea you possibly could for a mod.
2. Join the Doomworld forums and don't act like a fucktard.
3. Spend a year working on a map, paying special attention to environmental detail even though it bores the living fuck out of you.
4. Release nothing but a couple screenshots and a little bit of info about it for that year.
5. At the end of the year, release a one-map demo.
6. By this time, you are considered an all round cool guy, and if you've detailed your maps enough you will be considered awesome.
7. Now that you've made it that far, offer help to or accept help requests from other people who have followed these easy steps and your next release will make you one of the modern greats.
Some of you may be fooled in to thinking that I'm talking about my own personal experience. This is not true - I do not consider myself one of the modern greats. Hell, most of the Doom community probably doesn't consider me a modern great.
Take RTC-3057 for example - a project which I'm supposed to be helping out on but have done a grand total of not much for it apart from giving Shaviro some scripting advice and example scripts to toy with. This project started out as two separate projects. I don't know alot about what Doom 3057 was originally about, but I did play The RTC Corporation one-map demo that Maonth/Shaviro released. People thought it was great, but there was an over-abundance of text that made it downright boring to play (I've even said as much to him). People consider him one of the modern greats - his mapping skills are definately up there with the best. But the RTC-3057 demo isn't as great as everyone makes it out to be. I played through it and found quite a few things I didn't like about it that I could have either fixed myself or helped to fix if I had taken a more active role in doing stuff for the project. One of the things I've found out when making ZDoom maps is that you can test it and find as many bugs as possible, but other people will always find more than you can. The same applies for programming.
Who remembers Caverns of Darkness? Everyone thought that was great, and I was enjoying the first few levels. But then the game became unplayable. Why? In the eternal quest for eye candy in a near-10-year-old game, the later levels (and especially the last cavern) would slow down to an unplayable crawl. I had a reasonably fast computer at the time - not the fastest, but if someone wanted to go out and buy a cheap computer that would last them at least a year that's the computer I had at the time. I complained about this in a thread on the Doomworld forums that arose around that time, and someone actually told me to get a faster computer. Uh, yeah, sure. The Doom engine wasn't designed for a thousand linedefs with two sidedefs in any given scene - in fact, limits were placed to lower the amount of second sidedefs visible at any one time. With the release of the source code, people (especially mappers) thought "Hooray! Away with the limits!" without a second thought to just why those limits were put in place. Hell, the map in question fell over when I tried to compile GL nodes for it!
And why is that?
It's because the Doom engine is not a 3D engine.
The Doom engine did a good job at fooling people in to thinking it was a 3D engine. But it's not. The data is 2D, the design is 2D, and even the code is still treating things with 2D in mind. Source port authors are busy hacking the engine, writing more additions for the engine, when they really should be rewriting the core components of the engine. Forget BSP. Forget Carmack's rendering code. Throw it all away. It is entirely possible to convert the Doom renderer to a portal renderer because all the data traditionally needed for a portal renderer is already inside Doom maps. You don't need to add extra crap, just rewrite what's already there. To make things even easier, you could just interpret the external data into an entirely different internal data structure, and if you take a modular approach to writing renderers you can render it at-will with a software renderer, a GL renderer, a DirectX renderer, an SDL renderer... I would have really liked to have done that myself, but unfortunately I don't have the time to commit to that.
If anyone read my post on the forums about my semi-retirement from mapping, most of this paragraph won't be news to you. I wake up at 6am to catch a 7am train to get in to work by 9am. I catch the 6pm train home to get home by 8pm, have dinner, have a shower, go to bed by about 9:30pm-10pm, and it usually takes me about 2 hours to get to sleep. When I do have spare time, I'm either doing nothing or programming. Some of you might remember my little programming project called AMGOS from last year. I've completely thrown away that code and have started from scratch. Last year's AMGOS was an experiment to see if it was possible to do what I had in mind. This year it's going to be as I envisioned it from the start. Unfortuantely, due to the enormity of that task, that leaves little time to make Doom maps, hence my semi-retirement.
I am able to still be a member of the community though, as I have a nice shiny internet connection to play with at work.
There is still interest in the original Doom, but the number of people publicly showing their interest was dwindling until the announcement of Doom 3. As a result of the announcement, the original Doom has been enjoying a bit of a revival. Once Doom 3 is released though, there is a very real threat of the original Doom community taking a huge hit. Think about it - quite a few of those who got reinterested in Doom because of Doom 3 are going to jump boat to Doom 3 upon release. A few veterans of the community will get annoyed at the influx of brainless newbies and leave. The original Doom community will still be around, but the scale of it will be nowhere near as big as it is currently.
So what can we do about it?
Quake has Tenebrae. The closest we have is Doomsday and ZDoomGL.
The original Doom community needs more than it currently has to survive the onslaught known as Doom 3. There will always be people who prefer Original Doom over Doom 3 (and going off the gameplay videos, I'm probably going to be one of those people). Alot of the current Doom community prefers gameplay over the latest graphics, but Joe Average Computer Gamer doesn't. The average computer gamer passes off games as crap if they look like crap. It is the average computer gamer that will play the Doom 3 mods that the "I wanna make games" gamer will program, leaving the source ports that are currently holding the interest of the Doom community behind. Do not underestimate the power of the average gamer. The average gamer is the kind of gamer that thinks GTA: Vice City is a flawless game and as a result 50 GTA clones are being worked on (I guess it's not all doom and gloom - as a workmate said, "once there's 50 of them, they're no longer clones but a genre").
"But Goober," I can hear you say, "you haven't said what we can do about it all yet!"
What I'm about to say next isn't a solution but a suggestion.
Several people have thrown around the idea of making an über source port. Some have even left the community because no one would support them. If people from all over the world can work on something as huge and varied as Linux, why is it so impossible to make an über Doom source port? It is not as impossible as people make it out to be. All you need is a few dedicated people at the core, a clear direction of where the port wants to go, and a decent system for requests and code submissions. There are systems that do just that out there already. I would support to the best of my ability and time any such effort at an über source port. I'd kick it off myself if I had the spare time.
These are just my thoughts. You may not agree with them, but I'm not asking you to. I would have liked to have written a nice long blog on my experience as a mapper (it even started out as such but it kinda drifted), but that can wait till next time. As it is, I'm still writing this one 24+ hours after I first started. If you enjoyed the read, good, if not, flames can be sent to the usual place.
"Doom will never die, only the gamers." Well, there's still an active Commander Keen community...
A good read, GM.
The reason I stick with DooM is that I enjoy editing for the game. I don't have a lot of spare time, so I can't afford to learn the ropes of a new game and its engine. So DooM it is, at least for the forseeable future.
As for DooM3, I may get it eventually. I already have almost a dozen games that I've bought and not yet played -- some I haven't even taken out of their shrink-wrap. See what DooM editing can do to you?