Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Doom Modding was my First Taste of Game Development!

Recently I was asked something to the effect of: “What was the one game that got you into game development?” At the time I couldn’t come up with an answer, but since I can never shut my brain off the next morning in the shower I came up with the answer, and figured it was worth a blog post. It brought back such great early memories of gaming.
The answer is Doom. It was the first game I modded and had great support for packaging and distributing content in WAD packs compatible with anyone who had the game. If I remember right you could do a single image or level swap to a full game overhaul and it was always contained in the single .wad file no matter how simple or complex.

The most memorable Doom mod was taking the German Shepherd sprites from Wolfenstein 3D and replacing the pink demon in Doom with the dog. I packaged the enemy swap with a half dozen or so levels that started with normal run and gun levels, had a puzzle level that teleported you into a room full of enemies if you failed, and was at a difficulty that still challenged me after hours of play. By the time I completed the levels I could clear them fairly regularly, but everyone else I watched try them struggled with the difficulty. It was great watching other people enjoy something I’d created even if it was on par with some of the overly difficult Mario Maker levels.

The main thing I remember about the level editor was the limitation of only being able to have one play space in the up (z?) axis. I wanted to create an underpass type of situation, but level editor couldn’t ever create it correctly in game. I think it was actually an engine limitation, but even way back then working around limitations was an interesting problem to solve. Doom was a game that pushed PC Gaming forward and the great mod support was my first early taste of game development, I was hooked!

After writing this I'm going to look through my drawer/boxes for the last few remaining floppy disks I have and see if I can find one labeled "Doom WAD." I keep a Windows XP laptop solely because it's the last hardware I have capable of reading 3.5 floppies. If I can find those levels I'd like to play them again!

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