Monday, September 12, 2011


No, you're not having a flashback. This is a reprinting of my first two posts to this blog made back in March. In my most recent visits to other gaming forums where I have mentioned my love for Doom, players who have expressed a renewed interest in the game have asked where to get content for the game and how it can be run on newer computers. Since these first two posts contained several useful links and other info on the subject of starting the game anew on a modern PC, I've decided to post them again in the interest of helping newcomers or returning veterans get back into it more easily.


Whether Doom is one of your old favorites and you're coming back to it or you've never played before and want to give it a try, there are some basic things you need to download or otherwise obtain in order to play this classic game properly on a modern PC.

First and foremost, you need the officially licensed IWAD file for at least one of the four Doom retail releases: Doom, Doom II, TNT: Evilution or the Plutonia Experiment. WAD files contain the basic game elements like textures and map data, IWADs being the retail files that can't be legally edited or released for free and PWADs being modifications or additions produced by the gaming community. I can't post here any sources to obtain the IWAD files for free because obviously that would be warez or piracy and be illegal, but I can however tell you where you can get them all pretty cheap.
I obtained my copies of the IWADs from a compilation disc called Doom Collector's Edition which Amazon appears to be selling for around $26.00 USD at the moment. (I actually got mine a few years ago at Wal-Mart.) The best deal in my opinion would be to go to Steam and get the Doom Pack Complete for about $35.00 USD which will get you all 4 IWADs, the Master Levels, Doom 3 and Resurrection of Evil. Not a bad price if you ask me. Or each of the individual IWADs for the original games can be purchased separately from Steam for around $10.00 USD each. You could also check someplace like ebay or craigslist. Wherever you get the IWADs however, they will be the only things mentioned in this blog regarding classic Doom that you will ever have to pay for. Anything else I will describe here is produced by the gaming community and thus is FREE.

As I mentioned above, there are a few other things you will need to run classic Doom on a modern computer. The above screenshot was taken with Doom running on Steam. Admittedly it looks pretty crappy. This is why you will most likely want something called a sourceport, which will enable you to play the games at higher resolutions with graphics more like this:
Much better. This screenshot was taken at a resolution of 1360x768 while running the game with GZ Doom, a sourceport by Graf Zahl which utilizes open GL and has a load of options that will allow you to customize exactly how the game will look. There are a lot of other sourceports available for free on the web, but GZ Doom is the one I prefer so it's the only one I will describe in any detail here. In the Doom community debates rage on about which sourceport is best and you can learn more about the others by going to the Doomworld Forums and investigating on your own if you prefer. I prefer GZ Doom because it is one of only two sourceports that I am aware of that also has 3D lighting effects.
The other sourceport with such graphics effects is Doomsday, and in some ways it could be argued that it looks better than GZ Doom, but I don't use it because its front-end limits the number and type of add-ons I can use and how they are loaded. There's also the fact that I have a widescreen monitor and despite all its boasts of high-res graphic wonderment Doomsday does not support widescreen resolutions. GZ Doom can be launched with a number of front-ends (designed for Z Doom) that provide me with virtually unlimited options, including the ability to load .zip files containing any number of add-ons. More about that in just a minute, because in my opinion the front-ends are just as important as the sourceport itself.

Another good thing about GZ Doom is that it is still very much maintained by its creator and the community and updates and new versions such as those by the DRD Team are constantly available. GZ Doom is actually based upon the Z Doom sourceport (which does not use open GL) but as such virtually anything that can be used with Z Doom can be used with GZ Doom. You can learn more about the original sourceport at the Z Doom Forums.
It's my hope that I'm giving enough info here that a new player could get started with this fairly easy, but don't be afraid to post a comment if you have a question. I'll definitely do my best to answer. A great source for info and answers is also the Doom Wiki.

Normally Doom on Windows is started through a command-line interface (even with Steam, though you at least get a shortcut icon), but personally I prefer a nice and easy GUI so I use a front-end launcher.
This is the GUI for Unleashed, a launcher designed for Z Doom. But by simply setting it to point to the GZ Doom .exe rather than the Z Doom .exe it can easily be used with my favorite sourceport, GZ Doom. Likewise, ZDL3a can be set up to launch GZ Doom as well.

The GUI for ZDL3a is much more compact and less cluttered, making it less confusing and more intuitive for beginners. I prefer to use ZDL3a because it also allows the loading of WADs or other resources that are stored in .zip files, but with either of these launchers you can load virtually any number of plugins, add-ons or PWADs that you want to customize your Doom experience very specifically. With these launchers you can virtually play Doom however you want. When you first get started you'll need to set up the launchers with some info regarding the file locations of the sourceport executable and any IWADs and PWADs you'll be wanting to use, but this is fairly simple and only needs to be done once (unless of course you move those files later). If you got your IWADs from Steam they can be found in the Steam directory in the files steamapps/common. To get the 3D lighting effects of GZ Doom, the file lights.pk3 that can be found in you GZ Doom folder must also be added to the list of add-ons to be loaded.

Now that you have the IWADs, a sourceport and a launcher, you can easily play Doom with just about any custom content you can get your hands on. With that we can get past the "Getting Started" phase and start talking about all the really cool content available on the web...


Okay, so we've got classic Doom up and running on our computers with a flashy open-GL sourceport. We can play Ultimate Doom, Doom II, The Plutonia Experiment, TNT: Evilution and maybe even the famous Master Levels. Heck, we can even play Heretic and Hexen if we want. But are we satisfied with that?

Nope. We want to play new maps we've never seen before. We want new challenges for our favorite Space Marine. This is where the Doom community becomes an integral part of our playing experience.

Where to get new maps to play? The best place to start in my opinion is the id games database hosted by Doomworld. Since the mid-1990s Doomers have been creating their own maps, some quite prolifically so, and most of them can still be found here in the archives. There are even two maps in there with my name on them (but nobody really liked them). You can search the archives by navigating the directory file structure by hand, by using the search function if you know the name of a specific file, the title of a set of maps or their authors, or you can even get ambitious like me and use an FTP client like FileZilla to download the entire archive to your computer. In bygone days that last option would have sounded quite insane, but by today's standards it actually is quite do-able. On my hard-drive the game Oblivion (with a few mods) is taking up almost 40 GB while my copy of the id Games archives is only occupying about 6 GB. Pretty impressive in a way when you consider that the archives contain thousands of custom-made maps and other resources. There's also an FTP mirror in and a website called DoomWAD Station that still displays the claim that it's an up-to-date copy of the archives, though I'm not entirely certain that's totally true today (because when I was making my maps I contacted the site proprieter and in an e-mail he told me he really doesn't review new maps any more).

Some of the WADs you'll find in the archives are in my opinion excellent and deserve to be in some sort of hall of fame, others are average fun to play but not breathtaking works, and there are also some that are below-average and can be overlooked. Which are which? Well, I'm not going to get into all of that just yet; the important point of this particular post is just to make sure that newcomers know where to get some new maps to keep their Dooming experience alive.

"New maps? But Herculine... didn't you say all this stuff is from the '90s?"

Yes, but there is actually still a substantial gaming community supporting Doom and a lot of fans are still producing and updating editing tools and making their own maps (more about those tools in later posts). To find new stuff being made a good place to look is in the Doomworld Forums  Newstuff Chronicles or in the forum thread simply titled: WADs & Mods. There you can learn more about the latest community releases or new works-in-progress.

Speaking of works-in-progress, I don't want to mention only Doomworld and the id Games Archive here, though it's probably the most popular and extensive source of custom Doom content. There is also a web page titled simply enough WIP: WADs In Progress. Many authors post here screenshots and status updates of their current projects. Since I prefer GZ Doom, I also occasionally visit the ZDoom Forums and the DRD Team / GZ Doom Forums where I can get updates not only on the sourceports themselves but also info for projects designed specifically for them. And so as not to hurt anyone's feelings I'll also mention the New Doom Forums, though much of the information found here is specific to JDoom, the sourceport now called Doomsday.

And when all else fails, one can simply Google "Doom", "WADs" or something of the like and still come up with a long list of sites to check out.

Okay, so no pretty screenshots this post, but as always I've hopefully provided enough information and helpful links here that newcomers to the game could easily start finding their way around. It's only general information of course, but perhaps in the next post I'll start discussing some more specific WAD and MegaWAD titles. Until then, happy Dooming!

1 comment:

  1. It might be a repost, but it helps remind me of things that I had not looked into before and forgot about.