Smooth Doom - Featuring an interview with Gifty

Posted by on at 19:07
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For today's spotlight, we're featuring Smooth Doom. An impressive overhaul of the sprites and animations used in Doom to look smoother. Since the name on the box is what you get, plus a few prizes inside, we decided to conduct an interview with the creator!


In a short sentence, explain to our readers what Smooth Doom is.

Gifty: Smooth Doom is a comprehensive visual update for Doom, specifically targeting the quality of the game's sprite animations rather than more sweeping changes to game resolution or art assets. It has grown to include some other general-purpose optional features like particle effects and enhanced gore.

What gave you the inspiration and or motivation to work on Smooth Doom?

Gifty: The original concept was actually Sargeant Mark IV's idea, he had created a small proof of concept after taking inspiration from Perkristian's "smooth weapons" wad, and, if I remember right, from playing the Earthworm Jim games (which have pretty slick hand-draw animation). The original pitch was, "Perkristian's smooth weapons, but for everything." Since the idea was such a huge and exciting prospect, and briefly looked like it was going to become a big community effort, I started contributing work of my own to help get it finished. At this time (I think around 2014) my modding and graphics-editing experience was basically zero, but I started learning on-the-job by contributing to this project. However, by the time I came onto the scene, the project was actually stalling out and was basically about to die from lack of interest. I PM'd Sargeant Mark to ask if I could start maintaining the project myself, and got no response... so I kind of just started my own thread and started finishing the idea entirely by myself, and that's basically what led to where it is today! (I almost feel I dodged a bullet by not ending up collaborating with him.)

What are the tools you use for making this mod?

Gifty: The two main tools that have gotten me through 90% of the mod's history are GIMP, for the actual graphics editing, and SLADE for packaging everything together. In recent years I've started experimenting with Pixel FX Designer for creating some fluid particle sequences (like blood, smoke, and sparks), and have found it to be hugely useful and timesaving for certain applications. I've also started experimenting with a little-known tool called "Interprite", by MarkeyJester from the Sonic Research forums. It's specifically designed for the type of sprite edits Smooth Doom is centered around, and while there's still an enormous amount of work involved, I'm hoping it will let me overhaul a lot of my older work in better quality than what I've been doing in GIMP all these years.

What were some difficulties you encountered working on this project?

Gifty: My early, naive impression when taking on this mod in 2014 was that I'd be able to command a draw of community contributors as big as Sarge had in his original proof of concept--not true, as it turns out! Being a celebrity modder is definitely a huge advantage, and I was basically just a kid, so I ended up needing to do nearly everything by myself, outside of some really generous DECORATE scripting help from folks here and there. (I should point out that when I say "everything" I mean the bulk of the actual animation work; I was pulling on a lot of other peoples' sprites for optional goodies like monster skins and extra decoration variants, but those were more bonus extras to the main mod, and anyway I often had to smoothify those myself as well!)

These days I feel that I've become a much better spriter and overall developer, and the main difficulty at this point is just time management. Smooth Doom is no longer my only project, and I often feel like I can't give it enough time.

Kev: Would you still consider it actively developed on?

Gifty: Very, very slowly, but yes, I've never consciously put it on hold and still try to respond to forum/youtube messages as promptly as I can. I seem to have a biological clock around this sort of thing, at least once a year I get the bug to work on it really feverishly for a couple weeks or couple months, then I lose focus and my time goes to something else, and the cycle begins anew. Finishing things is the worst part, but it is really important for the learning side of things. I have to repeat the Stephen King mantra "done is better than perfect" to myself constantly. I have an entire 30-level megawad that just needs a final boss level, haha. Pretty egregious

Opening up your mod, the sprites you use respect the Doom Image Format, is there a reason this was chosen over alternative or modern assets, and did this add to the difficulty working on your mod?

Gifty: There was really no thought-out reasoning behind that; for the majority of the mod's history I didn't know how anything worked, so I kind of made decisions mostly by feeling my way around and avoiding things that didn't look good. I think I tried converting some monster sprites to PNG one time, found that the palette broke with certain level sets, and sort of blindly went "huh, I guess I won't do that again" and never really revisited the issue, haha. Things like that I definitely would like to go back to and straighten out now that I'm older and more knowledgable.

Do you have a personal favorite part of your mod?

Gifty: Working on the zombies in Doom is probably my favorite part, and I've probably given them more attention than any other creatures--partly just because I like them, and partly because they're some of the most common enemies and that helps me prioritize which monsters to spend time on. I'm a big fan of the Metal Slug games, and have always had a dream in my head that one day the zombies could have a wide range of little flavor animations like the soldiers do in those games; I love enemies that feel like they're able to react to things around them in varied ways, it makes them feel more charming and intelligent. That gets into territory of possibly a whole other mod, but it's something I often think about.

Kev: Inversely, is there a part you really hate?

Gifty: Most of the really awful parts of Smooth Doom are prisons of my own making, I really hate chasing down scripting bugs and tangled If/Else webs that have grown monstrously out of control because I started the mod with zero coding experience. There are entire features I had to cut because I simply created a giant mess for myself that I couldn't clean up. A lot of the actual animation work itself is often very tedious, and can often become drudgery. Part of my decision to include more (optional) custom particle effects is simply because it's easy and I get to be more creative and have more fun.

Is there a part of your mod you wished more people talked about or mentioned that they saw?

Gifty: I really can't complain as people have been extremely nice to me and the longevity of the project has exceeded anything I expected, but there does seem to be a perception in certain corners of the internet that I'm leading some sort of team (probably, understandably, because they see the credits sheet and see all the folks I've credited for some of the bonus options, like extra decoration sprites), but nope, it's always been just me! All the animation work in the entire project is me, there's never really been a team. It's not a huge deal, but that's the only thing I can think of! Well, except for the first-person weapon sprites, which are kind of a big stew of Perkristian's original weapon animations mixed in with a tangled web of my own edits mixed with years of community edits. But as far as world objects go, pretty much just me!

What made you decide that your mod shouldn’t just be the vanilla sprites re-animated? (in regards to the skins, alt deaths, slight game tweaks, etc.)

Gifty: I started realizing two major things early on into this mod; 1) that any mod this comprehensive is going to be a total compatibility nightmare, because it has fingers in so many areas of the game. And 2) I'm not going to have the time or energy to maintain multiple major mod projects. With that in mind, it seemed way smarter to compile all my efforts into simply making Smooth Doom as much of a full-featured self-contained package as possible. There's pretty much no way to combine it easily with the other major "general enhancement" mods, so I figured I may as well make Smooth Doom into a full-on general enhancement in its own right. My main stipulation is that I do want to keep any gameplay tweaks as modular and optional as possible; this is still primarily a visual mod, and any "mutators" to the game proper should be considered as just that.(edited)

What were some things people requested you add or stuff you considered to add in but didn’t? What were the reasons?

Gifty: In the early days there were a lot of requests for skins and optional visual baubles that I was initially super enthusiastic to accommodate, because I was just so excited that people were invested in the mod. Over time, partly due to my own back workflow habits, the skins thing became a monster that just caused tidal waves of bugs and glitches that I thought reflected really poorly on the quality of the mod. For that reason, I've had to massively downsize the number of skin options in the game and sort of turn away a lot of incoming requests in that area, as much as I'd like to include them in my heart. When I initially decided to make SD a full-on general enhancement I also considered adding Perkristian's high-quality sound effects pack, as it seemed to fit the spirit of "vanilla, but better" that I was going for. But due to some backlash about file size (which feels a little silly now), and my own lack of scripting knowledge about how to make sound assets optional, I quickly scrapped it.

Kev: Do you get asked for Brutal Doom compatibility a lot like any other overhaul mod?

Gifty: Hahaha, yes, still yes, always yes. I'm actually super stoked that Jekyll Grimm Payne actually put in the effort to incorporate the Smooth Doom animations into his own mod Beautiful Doom. I don't know if it was due to compatibility requests or just his own artistic impulse, but playing Beautiful Doom was a really big formative mod experience when I was younger (and partially inspired me to take the general enhancement route for Smooth Doom), so it was a really nice full-circle moment for me.

Do you exclusively play Doom with your mod? If so, has it ruined your ability to go back to playing it vanilla?

Gifty: I constantly go back and forth through periods of feeling like vanilla Doom is either too plain, or feeling like "man, they really got everything right the first time, why am I fucking it up with my mod?" Haha. My ultimate dream-goal for the mod is to polish it to SUCH a high standard that I could never think of going back, that it would be such a perfect reflection of the game's original artistic intention that it would feel like the same image going from black and white to color. I don't know that it will ever get there, and some people will never accept any replacement no matter how good it is, but that's my goal! Although honestly, with the newly-updated PC ports that Bethesda released last year I feel like my ability to enjoy classic, no-frills Doom has never been better. It hits just the right balance for me of feeling retro and chunky but not being a total pain in the ass to play.

Kev: Do you pick the Unity ports over something like ZDoom with no mods or something like PrBoom or Crispy?

Gifty: If I just want to play the standard game, definitely, the Unity port has become my de-facto way to play. For mods or custom levels outside the official mod page, obviously Zdoom is way more convenient.

How surprised were you when Civvie-11 did his Doom series using your mod?

Gifty: I was delighted! Seeing it appear in the wild always warms my heart, but that was definitely the most high-profile place I'd ever seen it crop up. On the flip side, whenever a known youtuber makes a comment about anything, people on forums turn it into a copy-pasted talking point that sort of becomes the bane of your existence until the end of time, but I suppose that's not his fault [:stuck_out_tongue:] I also really enjoy his videos, I'm glad he doesn't seem like a douchebag like most other gaming youtubers I can name off the top of my head.

Do you have a favorite bad take of your mod?

Gifty: Oh man, delicious. Several people have trashed on it over the years (which is fine); I think the funniest take to me is that it's somehow a cheapo effort cobbled together from other peoples' frankensprites, possibly over the span of a weekend. Even if this is a bad mod, and all the animations in it are junk, this is a bad junk mod that took YEARS to make!

Kev: How accurate is the frakensprite accusation? (Not to imply that's a negative aspect)

Gifty: I think it mostly comes, again, from people seeing the credits sheet and seeing that a lot of community custom sprites are in the mod. The thing is that those are pretty much all in the bonus extras corner of the mod, and comprise hardly any of the actual animation work that is 90% the bulk of the mod. So I think some people get the impression that it's kind of just this hacked-together frankenstein's monster. Which, to be fair, when I was about 19 or 20 I got so jazzed up and excited about the mod that I was briefly hoovering up every single weapon and monster skin I could--not without credit, but just with a sort of creative abandon. So there was a little bit of bloat in that regard, but I've matured and downsized a lot of that extraneous stuff, partly because it was so difficult to maintain.

How much would you have to get paid to make 16 directional sprites for Smooth Doom?

Gifty: So, there's a funny story about that; early, early early in the mod's history, a community member actually did approach me to basically pay me to finish it (is that legal? I feel like it isn't. I don't even know), because they thought the concept was so strong and they really, really wanted to see Doom get that kind of complete overhaul. I actually accepted, but there was a miscommunication about the style of work they expected and the tools they were expecting be used--I was always about the old fashioned Gimp setup, whereas they were hoping to see a kind of procedural/morphing style that would generate incredible frame counts for all 16 rotations. Anyway, the deal basically fell through with no hard feelings from anybody, and that's the story of the only time I ever got paid for modding! In a total dream scenario, if someone officially tied to the game ever did hire me to "complete" the project to a retail standard, of course I would probably drop everything else in my life for about 9 months and just focus on that, no matter how low the pay was. [:stuck_out_tongue:]

Kev: So you'd do it more for the honor of working with someone from id Software than a collaborative project with other modders?

Gifty: Either scenario would be great, as I would love to see the project reach some kind of complete "retail quality" state. But yeah, I think the glory of official recognition would outweigh the pay for me There was a really brief window where I manically thought OH MY GOD, I NEED TO POLISH THIS UP SO THAT IT WILL BE CONSIDERED FOR THE UNITY PORT! But I think the technological limitations of that port basically preclude that from ever happening, haha.

Smooth Heretic? Hexen? Strife? Chex Quest? Duke?

Gifty: Specifically for Hexen and Heretic, I've gotten multiple requests over the years. I really love the process of trying to restore old things, and I did briefly work on a prototype of smooth weapons for Heretic (because I feel like awkward weapon-feel is the #1 thing holding that game back from greatness), and another prototype for Wolfenstein 3D (which saw a little more progress), but truthfully the amount of work involved in starting a whole other game is just mind boggling and probably super unrealistic for me. Maybe I should take Smooth Doom off the web and devote myself solely to Chex-related mod pursuits just to mess with people

Will there be a sequel called Hairy Doom?

Gifty: Hahaha, yes, and it will replace every asset in the game with Kevin Cloud's arms. Was there a backstory for that one?

Kev: I sent one of your trailers to a friend of mine and her first response was "Looks pretty hairy to me"

Gifty: hahahaha. God, I actually am kind of tempted to make that now. It would have to be just like this, but all arms.


Thank you all for reading! See you next spotlight!

ZDoom Source Modifications: A History [DOOM]

Posted by on at 18:09
ZDoom Source Modifications: A History.


One topic that has been little recognition within Doom are source modifications. Making modifications at well, the source, these works provided new features to an existing source port. Because they relied on specific versions of a port’s source code, their flexibility was rather limited. When new ways of scripting became available, the source modification as we knew it would peter out of existence.

For ZDoom, source modifications were more common in the late nineties and early 2000’s, simpzdoomfuly because advanced scripting methods like DECORATE weren’t around (DECORATE made its first appearance in ZDoom 2.0 beta 13, of August 27, 2002), let alone ZScript. At best, when it came to ZDoom, all one had was ACS scripting, introduced in ZDoom 1.16.

Within these limitations, source modifications in ZDoom were definitely a thing. To provide something beyond ACS and, as we will find out, even new renderer features, source modifications were a short but interesting phase in ZDoom’s history.

This article seeks to list and review these modifications for ZDoom, but before we start our journey, we have to ask ourselves: what is a source modification, anyway?

Source modification versus Source port:

So what are the differences between a source modification and a source port?

  • A source modification is meant for a specific goal in mind, adding a few features that aren’t significant enough to warrant the ‘’port’’ moniker, and done when existing scripting methods did not cut it.

  • A source port adds several new features on top of an existing codebase, enough that it's distinctly different compared to its original.

All in all, a source modification changes the source in a more limited fashion than a port does, and its scope is more limited with the code usually not available for the general audience.

A list of ZDoom based source modifications:

Over the years, the ZDoom port has played host to various source modifications. These are:
  • Spice ZDoom

  • ZDoom-cod

  • Chilvence’s ZDoom96x

  • The Ultimate ZDoom

  • XMas99

  • XMas2000

  • DesktopDoom 2

  • ZDoomFu

  • KGZDoom

  • ZCajun

  • Nightmare Squad

  • OPNDoom

  • GrbDoom

  • ZDuck

  • DoomBot/ZDoomBot

  • The Battle For Mars

  • Super Sonic Doom

A brief description and feature list will be given for each.

Spice ZDoom:


Using ZDoom 1.22 as a basis for a custom source modification created by SpiceOne, Spice ZDoom allows the player to natively play as a monster from Doom’s beastiary, with the exception of the ArchVile, Spider Mastermind or Pain Elemental.This can be enabled before starting a game, or mid-game. The player is also able to utilize the monster’s weaponry and in the case of the Cacodemon, may appear ‘’floaty’’. Although now achievable with advanced scripting, Spice ZDoom provided a novel enhancement on the standard Doom gunplay. After all, how do levels play out when you can play as a Mancubi?


Before GZDoom, Graf Zahl had a heavy hand in the socalled ‘’Community Build’’: Named 96x, together with Grubber and Chilvence he brought DECORATE based weapons to ZDoom when Randi’s development iteration was significantly slower then what the community at large wanted to have.

Inbetween these developments, Graf worked on a patch to get the Team Eternity’s Caverns of Darkness total conversion properly working in modern environments The release version at the time relied on the ‘’CoD Engine’’, a customized Eternity build that only ran in DOS. Frustrated by the lack of modern OS support, Graf created ZDoom-cod, a custom build based on ZDoom 2.0.96 with his DECORATE weapons code already in, plus a CoD specific patch. It appears as ‘’2.0.96 (CoD custom)’’ in the console.

This was initially uploaded to /idgames on January 23, 2005. It only existed briefly, as Randi merged most of the code in February 2005.

Today, Caverns of Darkness is supported through a .pk3 patch, making the need for a custom executable redundant.

Chilvence’s ZDoom96x:

Prior to the arrival of the ‘’Community Build’’, Chilvence of the Community Build Trifecta (Grubber, Graf Zahl and Chilvence) decided to toy around with what was to be 2.0.96x and added in the first preliminary support for DECORATE based weapons. Since the first official Community Build was some time off (And Graf’s Ultimate ZDoom build yet to be seen), Chilvence released his version i n January 2005, providing a glimpse of the possiblities that were to be offered by the Community Build. It was the first stepping stone in a long lasting line of improvements for ZDoom, and is now known as Chilvence’s ZDoom96x.

The Ultimate ZDoom:

In development before Chilvence’s build or the Community Build even existed, during development of the Community Build Graf Zahl did his own personal improvements, providing additional DECORATE definitions on top of whatever the Community Build supported at the time. As such, it is a Community Build off-spring unlike Chilvence’s ZDoom96x build. Known as 96x-2, it was nicknamed the Ultimate ZDoom, highlighting Graf’s custom changes at the time. It is this an important stepping stone in the Community Build legacy.


Easily one of the more interesting source modifications out there, XMas99, a two level Christmas themed mod made by Chrozoron and released on December 24, 1999, came in a regular WAD version for ZDoom, but the other, more famous version of it involved a custom source modification, made by Darkfang (Who later on, as NightFang, would create the ZDaemon and ZDaemonGL source ports) based off ZDoom 1.17c.


XMas99 was unique in the sense that it modified imp fireball behavior to act more like a snowball, so with a gravity affected arc. The most obvious change is however its particle system: Unlike the standard particle system at the time, which involved textures and could exhibit slowdown. XMas99 appears to have utilized a tree actor to achieve particles and snow. You could place one of these actors in a level, and in that area, it would snow. The source modification also supported auto-loading of a resource file and a specialized icon.

Despite being based on a very old ZDoom build, XMas99 is still playable on modern operating systems with minor tweaking. It stands as one of the few source modifications to actually improve the visual fidelity of the engine in a hardcoded fashion.


Enjay expanded upon the two level demo that was XMas99, by combining other Christmas themed levels together to form a 9 level set piece in 2000. Still utilizing the XMas99 engine (Now renamed as XMas00.exe), it was, on Enjay’s own accord, not its best or most original work, but it provided an extended showcase into the possibilities of the source modification.

DesktopDoom 2:

Back in the day a program existed to craft a screensaver out of a Doom level. This hacky feature, based off PrBoom, used Visual Basic elements to get the job done and was called DesktopDoom. A later release switched over to a modified ZDoom source chassis, based on ZDoom 2.0.57. It came along with a small deathmatch WAD with ZCajun bots that would cycle through different in-game camera’s to enable various viewpoints of the map, but any WAD could effectively be chosen. You will need to make some adjustments to a map to make it DesktopDoom-compatible, details of this are provided in the manual. Due to the hacky nature of this modification, it requires to be run in compatibility mode in 256 colours in atleast Windows 8.1. You then need to select the .scr file and go into Personalisation, Screensaver and select Configure. The configuration dialog appears underneath other windows too.


ZDoomFu was a prestige project of Anonone, bringing various kung-fu moves (hence the ZDoomFu moniker) as well as crouching to ZDoom. Originally started on the ZDoom Community Build, multiple versions followed, including a spinoff (‘’Blood Opera’’) with the last release being based on 2.0.98 as ZDoomFu 3.5. It was part of a mapping project, called DoomFu, but as time progressed, the source modification took up the most attention from its creator. ZDoomFu enables things like wall running and jumping, lunge attacks and flying kicks and although the speed increase is significant, with a bit of practice you make DoomGuy turn into the Bruce Lee Slaying Machine he always was meant to be.


KGZDoom emerged in the midst of a turning point for ZDoom, back in 2005. With the lack of updates rising from its creator, the ZDoom Community Build emerged as a site-wide effort to continue development of ZDoom during this period. The primary benefit was the introduction of DECORATE for weapons and monsters. KGZDoom, created by kgsws, took the ZDoom Community Build and went one step further.


The first release from May 2005 implemented a new class (A_RailAttack) that allowed particle flash effects to be operated in randomized patterns. A later, August release implemented a flag (+DRIVABLE), that would see actors, monsters and various other things be drivable, as if they were a vehicle. An attempt was made to get this code into mainline GZDoom, but due to the hacky nature, was as such dismissed. Nevertheless, KGZDoom remains an interesting (early) tech case for vehicle support in ZDoom , more so due to the included demonstration WAD.


Similar to the DoomBot, Martin Collberg, aka ‘’Yoghurt’’ crafted his own bot for the Legacy port, this time in version 1.25 and calling it the Cajun bot. For ZDoom, he initially provided version 0.71, based on Legacy 1.28 to Randi Heit, who first integrated it in her ZDoomTest release version 1.18 Test 6, before providing version 0.97 that appeared officially in ZDoom 1.18a (Released September 15, 1999) It was called ZCajun in this release. After this, Collberg decided to fully move his Cajun bot to ZDoom, in this case version 1.22 and provided a standalone release, 0.99 on May 8, 2000. ZCajun saw widespread adoption, being used by ZDaemon and other ZDoom based source ports, often distributed as an integrated part rather than a standalone package.

Nightmare Squad:

Nightmare Squad, also known as NSquad, was the first source modification to provide new hardcoded weapons to ZDoom. Whereas Version 1.1 was based on ZDoom 1.18, the final version 1.2 is based on ZDoom 1.22. A WildWeasel favorite, Nightmare Squad brings tactics to your Doom maps. It does so with a fresh set of weapons, but also with new mechanics, like reloading, unloading, dropping and picking up of said weapons as well as armor and ammunition, done through new command functions.

Alongside alternative firemodes for several weapons for different modes of attack and the ability to switch between, for example, different grenades, you are able to use binoculars, nightvision or bandages equally the same way. In accordance with these new mechanics, Nightmare Squad also implements a weight system that tracks the combined weight of your ammunition, weapons and armor that you are carrying, using a new readout on your HUD. With this, you are able to differentiate and balance your armament. Do you go for lots of ammo for the rocket launcher with little armor? Or do you rather carry a reasonable amount of shotgun shells alongside a hefty dosage of armor? In Nightmare Squad, you can effectively create classes using this balance system.


Speaking of armor, this too is significantly changed. Being rated from 1 to 100 percent, their rating is what percentage of the damage will be absorbed from the next hit you take. The difference between the two types of armor is that blue armor lasts twice as long under fire, but either armor at 100% can stop the next bullet, or fireball. Similarly changed are the monsters. While Nightmare Squad does not introduce new monsters to the beastiary, it will change the behavior of two of them - Namely the Shotgun Guy and the Spider Mastermind. Fireballs gain different properties when they are hurled from an Imp. How the Mastermind, the Shotgun Guy and the fireballs are changed is something i leave in the middle. Nightmare Squad brings a level of tactics to Doom that, even years later, still inspires people. There is a reason why WildWeasel liked this one so much!


A rather obscure port by Xoap, this is a source modification that adds bots that are supposedly far better than ZCajun. It is ZDoom based (possibly 1.21) and based on DoomBot, but the version is unknown.


Another obscurity, GrbDoom was one of Grubber’s old ZDoom based source modifications made before he went to work on the Community Build. Based on ZDoom 1.23b33, it is similar in nature to KGZDoom, eg, it adds a bunch of very useful new features that are too experimental to integrate into main ZDoom, including new weapons and actors with properties that would later be visible in the aforementioned Community Build. It even included a test WAD, but, being old (2004), unfinished, buggy and made several months before the Community Build even would begin to exist, it was not going to last.


When Enjay released his single level Operation Overlord in 2005, he made use of a custom source modification known as ZDuck. The WW2 theme inspired scenario required the use of a ducking feature, something which was not available in ZDoom at the time. Enjay got in touch with Anonone, creator of the ZDoomFu source modification, and who coded the custom engine needed for Operation Overlord. It is based on ZDoom 2.0.63a for its stability and introduces the aforementioned ducking feature, along with a custom icon making it look rather professional.

ZDuck was a catalyst for Graf Zahl to include the ducking feature into his next GZDoom release (0.9.21) at the time, which was just introduced, with Operation Overlord quickly abandoned ZDuck in order to utilize the feature in the latest GZDoom build.



Sergey ‘’Fly’’ Makovkin provided significant contribution to the development of bots in Doom, along with people like Martin ‘’Yoghurt’’ Collberg and Vincent Ho. The original Doom Bot was a Legacy 1.28 based source modification. With version 4.0, Makovkin turned to ZDoom 1.18a after which Vincent Ho took over for versions 5.0 and 5.1, basing it off ZDoom 1.22. Being a source modification, they not only brought bot support, but also retained all the features of their respective source ports, leading them to be used (by Sparky of KISS Software) as a test port for maps.

The Battle For Mars:

Back in 2006, a user called Justin023 crafted a very ambitious partial conversion, full of Doom 64 rips, along with extensive use of ACS scripting and DECORATE. The little known Battle For Mars even introduced source code changes to its custom build, based on a later version of the ‘’Community Build’’ (2.0.98x) and corresponding with GZDoom version 0.9.22. TBFM’s more advanced features include animated cutscenes, extensive 3D models and a custom weather system through ACS. Due to the various advanced modifications made, the conversion only runs properly with the included version of GZDoom. Strangely enough, it also includes SNESAPU.dll, a library to play back Super Nintendo .SPC files.

Super Sonic Doom:

Okay, so Super Sonic Doom is more of a total conversion than anything else, and it will work on more recent ZDoom/GZDoom builds, but it will cause significant problems on those. To fully support all the ACS and DECORATE based mechanics in this Sonic-themed conversion, a specialized build was created, ZDoom 2.0.94f. This build accommodates for the various scripting hacks and skybox "portals" that are implemented as well as the correct rendering of special effects like fog and colored lighting.

Other source mods:

These aren’t the only source based modifications out there. Various others exist based on other source ports, such as Doom Wars. They fall outside the scope of this Spotlight article, but will be put forward on either a DoomWorld thread or as a separate entry on the DoomWiki.


The various source mods discussed in this Spotlight article can be downloaded below. Some are already available on /idgames and thus are linked accordingly.

Others are less straightforward to find, which is why they are hosted on Redarchive, a new file repository for all things obscure, outdated, experimental or otherwise. I guess this serves as an announcement.

So marks the end of a several month research journey, delayed because of other work, both in the community and privately. But at least in time for the Christmas holidays.

Merry Christmas.

Thank you for reading.


Doom Zero by DAS|-| [Mod][Doom]

Posted by on at 20:44
Unlike many of the mods we feature in the Spotlight, this one is fully vanilla-compatible and will even run under MS-DOS should you want it to - but it’s such a great example of what can be done in Doom even without all the fancy GZDoom extensions that I felt it needed special mention. After all, GZDoom is an engine that's meant to run vanilla Doom games as well!

Doom Zero was a nice surprise that came almost out of nowhere. Apart from a six-level demo that surfaced back in 2017, author DASI-I had quietly worked away on it for two years before suddenly announcing its release to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Doom II. His philosophy for its design was to find and use new and interesting mechanics within the vanilla engine while still respecting id Software’s base level design guidelines, producing a hybrid of modern and classic design.

As a result, Doom Zero is not a WAD that keeps your visplane count straining at 125 throughout or has a million fiddly little bits of sector architecture. In fact, the look of it is quite understated, usually sticking to relatively plain, simple rooms and corridors reminiscent of the first IWADs. You won’t ever find yourself in any giant arena fights with 666 monsters pouring out of hidden teleports - the maps stay small and manageable and they never outstay their welcome. Instead of impressing with scale, this WAD puts its ingenuity into smaller challenges and unexpected clever scenarios, using the elements provided by vanilla Doom and putting them together in new and creative ways to finds its own style despite the confines of the quarter-century-old engine.

As soon as the main menu melts away to reveal the first techbase map you’ll feel at home - little references to Doom’s shareware episode are scattered all over, with the WAD introducing its own ideas on top of the vanilla aesthetics gradually as the game progresses. Throughout the course of its 32 levels, the player is taken through techbases, marble castles, cities, terrestrial and hellish landscapes in original takes on familiar styles, and manages never to feel repetitive - a remarkable achievement considering only one level designer worked on this. I particularly liked one map called The Pits that’s fought between two high-rise buildings, giving a great sense of real-world location without having to over-detail. More unusually, the secret level “Meat” is an unsettling tribute to the history of id Software, and it’s followed by a second secret level that takes a page from the book of Episode 3’s secret level Warrens.

Several levels give you options in the form of what I came to call “choose your own adventure” sections, where you’ll be presented with three keys or switches, and approaching one will close off the others. The choice you make will determine the route that you take through the map - it’s such a simple idea, and easy to achieve using just the vanilla linedef actions, but it instantly gives the maps an interesting degree of exploration and replayability. And you’ll notice the previously meaningless gargoyle textures becoming much more useful here, being used to mark switches and pair them with the door they open - nicely solving one of the more frustrating elements of Doom 2 in a straightforward way.

Elsewhere, subtle tricks are used to great effect, giving illusions such as changing wall textures or a switch that has to be pressed twice with different keys for each stage. And yet these things never feel out of place, or like they’re drawing undue attention to themselves - they just make the player perform a slight double-take if they know the Doom engine, and make them wonder exactly how these things were put together.

Along those same lines, Doom Zero also has the cleverest secrets that I’ve ever seen in any WAD, rarely just asking the player to notice a slightly different texture in a dark corner or providing hidden doors that can be found by running along every wall belting the space bar. Instead, you’ll have to use your wits (along with platforms, teleports and hidden ledges) to access the strong powerups and additional supplies that are often placed tauntingly just out of reach, and it makes you feel like a genius when you finally work out how to defeat the machinations preventing you from reaching them.

Only a couple of things are truly new - an original Dehacked monster replaces the Wolfenstein officer, a floating skull reminiscent of the beta Lost Soul that blasts shotgun-sounding attacks at you through its mouth. It starts appearing towards the end of the game, and its mobility and hitscan ability makes it a dangerous enemy especially in packs - yet another thing that will force you to adjust your tactics. And the game concludes with a climactic fight that, in keeping with the standard throughout the WAD, takes the vanilla objects that make up the Icon of Sin and uses some creative trickery to repurpose them into something that we haven’t seen before. After that, an epilogue guides you to the end, revealing the true reason behind the WAD’s name and providing a very satisfactory storyline proposal that ties the strands of the Doom chronology together.

Doom Zero is a fantastic tribute to the original Doom and the design philosophies that make it such an enduring game - it respects the roots of Doom but complements the style perfectly with its own ideas. Despite being released so long after the glory days of vanilla TCs and megaWADs, it truly deserves to be counted as one of the classics.

Doom Zero thread over on DoomWorld

FragTrak by TapWave [Mod][Doom]

Posted by on at 15:56
1 Comment
In the course of writing articles for the Spotlight, I’ve been playing all sorts of mods that use the GZDoom engine to create things that can be miles away from the hellish ordeal that started it all. I’ve been transported into entire tributes to other games, fought razor-frisbee-wielding lizard jesters, stolen crystals from cheerful block castles, defeated fascist cats… I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m running a retro-themed cafe on Phobos or playing a demon dating simulator. But not all mods have to go to such lengths - FragTrak by TapWave is a nice reminder that some clever scripting can still breathe new life into the levels that we’ve all played a million times.

The focus of this mod is not new levels, graphics, sounds or enemies, but statistics. By setting up a ton of ZScript classes and variables, FragTrak lives up to its name by keeping track of every frag you’ve scored on each monster type with each weapon. At the press of a specially bound key, you can view either in-depth statistics on the number and percentage of monsters that you’ve dispatched with your currently held weapon, or a summary of your entire arsenal - showing very easily what your weapon preferences are for each monster or how much you over-rely on the super shotgun.

There’s also a limited element of experience and levelling up included - for each monster sent back to hell, both you and your currently held weapon gain some points, promoting you through ranks in the space marine hierarchy and granting your weapons more impressive titles, from “Strange” and “Uninteresting” up to “Ultraviolent” and “Face-Gibbing”. After gaining a certain amount of experience on a weapon, you can cash it in for Prestige, which earns you yet another number and rank on the statistics screen.

The whole thing is kept track of through a sleek but initially confusing HUD (though you can turn bits off individually to make it slightly less overwhelming) - you’re given the standard ammo and health counters along with the useful additions of armor type and berserk indicators, and then a whole host of other buttons and pulleys to display your current rank, progress towards the next level and statistics of your current weapon.

Because the mod uses CVARs, it isn’t limited just to tracking your progress through one megaWAD - your statistics are saved in your GZDoom INI file and will follow you between WADs as long as you load FragTrak along with whatever you’re playing. In doing this, it becomes a nice record of your habits across multiple plays, and encourages you to try varying your style a bit so that you can level up your less-used weapons and tot up those ultimately meaningless but tantalizing prestige points.

My favourite part, though? The little FragTrak™ logo on the HUD and the introduction in the forum topic itself - as if this whole mod is a little device that Doom marine is carrying around on a belt loop, like a pedometer for demon slayers. It’s a great addition to Doom that builds something on top of the classic gameplay without replacing any of it.

FragTrak forum topic

Hell-Forged by Amuscaria [TC][Doom]

Posted by on at 16:03
Hell-Forged is a total conversion for Doom II that replaces weapons and levels and adds new monsters to the original Doom bestiary. At the moment, the first episode is ready, and more may come in the future.

The original post.

Hell-Forged looks like Doom from an alternative timeline. It resembles the original game in multiple ways, some obvious, some subtle. In its core gameplay, it remains Doom, but also expands and builds upon. This mod takes inspiration not only from Doom: influence from Quake and Heretic is also evident.

(click images for better quality)

The levels are the first element of the expansion. There are only nine of them, but oh my, the size! The largest of them take from one to two hours to beat. With this in mind, the maps don't feel confusing at all. All areas are promptly pronounced and distinctive. You may have to consult the automap from time to time, but places become familiar after a while. Backtracking is seldom required due to the abundance of convenient portals but is often rewarded. Also, revisiting old places is a pleasure in its own right, given the beauty of the levels. There is a lot of sightseeing. One wouldn't call Hell-Forged maps over-detailed, and at the same time, the amount of architecture pieces is just right to hold on a second and enjoy the view. The theme is fantasy/medieval, and levels present mostly different kinds of a medieval castle. The author applied a lot of effort so they don't look the same. Original Doom textures pop up occasionally to remind you that you are still playing Doom. It's notable how well they fit the theme here.

Fans of secret hunting will find a lot to occupy themselves in Hell-Forged. There are almost a hundred secrets across nine levels, one of which is a secret level. Hint: always check the back of switch panels. Also, many non-secret bonuses are hidden here and there. Hell-Forged maps, except the first one, introduce the unusual concept of special keys (green skulls) that are needed not for level progression but to unlock additional rewards for observant players. And look for the mushroom collectibles!

The second element of the expansion is monsters. See the mod page for the detailed descriptions. In general, there are new variants of imps and pinkies, and there are new bosses/minibosses. All zombie types are removed. This may mean that the demons in this universe don't possess humans, they go straight to kill. The absence of zombies leads to the absence of hitscan enemies. Even the Spider Mastermind counterpart (called Director) shoots fast-moving projectiles that can be dodged after some practice. The other design decision is that there are no drops from monsters.

The third element of the expansion is the arsenal. You'll be fighting the hordes of hell with fire, nails, demon blood and souls. Weapons are made with hell technology, which can be seen in their design. A human would not even think about using a live beating heart as a weapon (Wheel of Pain). Feel the grim satisfaction of turning demon weapons against themselves. Burn imps and arch-viles! All weapon types have their function and purpose. Soul-fueled weapons are the most powerful, that's why the extra effort is needed to get them. Again, check the mod page for descriptions.

Hell-Forged contains neat details that emphasize how well weapons, monsters, and environments fit together:

- Fire ammo is called Phlogiston canisters. Makes sense, phlogiston is an essence of fire.

- Nails are nine-inch, of course.

- Blood barrels react differently to damage types. They are pierced by nails, and blood leaks out. When burned, they explode. Also, blood can be retrieved from them with Wheel of Pain.

- Basilisk weapon is used by Behemoths too.

- The new level starts where the previous level ends, providing the feel of continuity.

- Splashes are implemented for all liquids.

- Ambient sounds create the eerie mood.

- Monsters have different blood colors, and non-living monsters don’t have blood.

- Informative custom status bar HUD, and fullscreen hud as an alternative.

Some words must be said about the Hell-Forged theme. While the vanilla Doom theme is somewhat inconsistent, mixing magic and technology in the monster roster, in powerups and so forth, Hell-Forged takes elements from the original game that would fit in the fantasy world and replaces everything else. Here, you will find familiar health potions, armor helmet bonuses, and soulspheres, accompanied by health bottles, armor pieces, and an assortment of magical artifacts. All keys are skulls of different colors. If monsters rely on weapons, it's arcane hellish technology.

To sum it up. Hell-Forged provides both challenge and fun and definitely worth checking out if you haven't already. Available maps will take you about eight hours of gameplay, more or less depending on your urge for secret hunting. It's a good example of what a skillful modder can do with a game.

S.U.P.E.R. Natural [Doom 2 / TC]

Posted by on at 17:30
I'm running out of rocks. I should probably go to see if any landed in the

shallow parts of the water.

Also, I'll try to find that duck I saw earlier. He's gotta be around here


During the time I started up this review, I honestly found myself at a loss for words when I try to approach this mod. It’s a bit unorthodox considering what’s been shown previously in our spotlights, so as I type up my draft, my mind is racing on how to tackle this. It is a mix of survival horror and walking simulator. A really good one at that, and like many walking simulators, they are best played blind. It would behoove you to take a stab at this before reading on. When you get to the main part of the review, I’d like to emphasize that I can’t approach this with much objectivity, and I don’t think I should. I will be explaining why I personally am in so much love with this mod, and not necessarily what it changes. I hope that makes sense.


The mod remains unfinished and may not ever be finished, but it is in a playable state and can be finished. I reached out to Pyroscourge as I was drafting, he has given his blessing for me write this review, and stated he might return to this some day.

One of the major reasons I have difficulty talking about this mod is that it has a very minimal gameplay loop and is extremely organic. It goes against a lot of typical horror conventions that just bore me to no end as cliches, and I strongly feel it’s best experienced first hand. However, I do acknowledge that this might be in poor taste to the review, so I’ll offer some bullet points you can look forward to if you’re looking for the gist.

* The gameplay loop consists of exploration of the levels in order to progress. Nothing is linear and genuinely feels like you’ve stumbled into a place you shouldn’t. Exploration is always rewarded, and your reward is sometimes punishment.

* Tremendous atmosphere through ambience and map design that constantly leaves you ill at ease. This is constantly emphasized with the aesthetics of the map, which include extremely well thought out lighting and constant noises that can be heard.

* Organically placed pretty much everything. There are dozens of scripted events that are not mandatory to encounter in any sort of fashion, do not yank control away from the player or force the player to advance the map, and all enemies encountered are natural.

* Plenty of logs that can be found, allowing the player to discover and learn about the events that happened and give an insight on what drove people into insanity.

I know that these are vague and aren’t really cutting it, but I strongly stand by that this mod can’t be summed up objectively, it’s strengths lie in the crafted experience it provides to the player. In the same way I can go into detail on how a really good cup of coffee is made, you can’t know how good it is until you just try it.

We’re now approaching spoiler territory, I’ll buffer the post with images. Scroll at your own risk.

Something doesn't feel right. I shouldn't have read this. Please, just leave.

Please look at me when I am talking to you. Don't look back, never turn

around. Just keep moving. Regardless of what you do, it will just keep

smiling. It won't stop. It just keeps looking, waiting, even taunting.

I can feel it now. She's close. She won't come any closer. I'll wait here

until I bleed to death if I have to.

Is that what you want? You want to watch me die, to know I am suffering,

and all the while you just sit there with that stupid look on your face?


You want me to smile.

There's been something watching me from the lake for a while now. I can't

really tell what it is from my post. It could be a duck? Maybe? It looks

kind of red and grey, but it's too hard to tell in the dark. I'm not

supposed to leave my post unless it's absolutely mandatory, but it is

really damn tempting to see it.

I don't see a 'Do Not Feed the Ducks' sign, and I've got a lot of rations

that I don't want to eat...

Taking place two years after the events of Doom II, Sylvious is our main character. A random joe schmoe down on his luck and low on fuel, but he so happens to park at, unknownst to him, an abandoned UAC base: Silkwood Mountain Range Military, resembling many of the eerie Northern American forests older generations tell ghost stories about. Stumbling through the foot of the woods for what seemed to last for several minutes too long, eventually coming across the base’s entrance. Faintly lit by what little power was still remaining. They might be able to help with refueling a car.

The door opens when approached.

The switch is flicked, closing the door behind and opening the door into the base, revealing a poorly lit interior of cold steel and computers that lined the walls. Ominously lit in a loading bay off to the side is a canister of fuel, secured and shrugged off as something the UAC won’t miss. The forest greets once more, soon becomes wandering again for incountable minutes, something is wrong, something eerie. A slow realization dawns over. The car is missing, with no sign of any road to follow.

A log, with no owner listed. The message is only from a few hours ago.

6th April, 2033.

I swear I've been everywhere in this damn forest. I keep thinking that, but

then I find somewhere new every time I give up hope. This beacon is the

first piece of civilization I have seen for hours, and might be part of

the Military Base, but I'm not sure I want to be anywhere near there right

now. That could have been where this all started, for all I know.

The forest keeps taking me to the same places, regardless of which way I

go from here. I've tried to find a way up to this beacon, but the cliffs are

too steep to climb. I can see the mountain range from here, but regardless of

how close I get I just end up further away.

At first I thought that the forest was changing itself, moving around to stop

me, or to trap me, but I was wrong. After everything I saw in Battery,

it's probably just trying to help. If that's the case, then please, help me find

a way out of here. Please.

The only place left to go is back.

Approaching the sole entrance that can be found, a low, guttural, and hungry moan could be heard. Standing guard at the entrance is some bipedal figure, barreling down the path. Panic quickly ensues, unarmed and unathletic. The creature manages to sink it’s razor sharp claws into flesh before quickly vanishing. Confusion is what remains. Maybe it was a hallucination, but there’s no time to speculate, the only way through is back into the base.

The dark halls are felt once more, and maybe it was another miserable accident, a door, once presumed as a wall, opens up to reveal a courtyard, and after following bread crumb after bread crumb of something sinister, the power switch is located under a foreboding red glow.

The machinery lurches into life in the same way a defibrillator lurches a heart into life. Computers clicking and beeping away, the low hum of motors and resonance whine filled the air. The environment is slowly taken in, fresh blood and dismemberment strewn about the room. The horror settles in, something happened, some thing happened, something bad. No gun, nothing to use for self defense. You need to get out.

"The military base. Its cold and unforgiving outskirts suit it perfectly, as it lies hidden underneath the Silkwood mountain ranges. Do not wander too far into its depths, mortal, as there are some things that are resting, and should not be disturbed."

"But, I can see you have already woken one of them up."

Exposition aside now, this is the point where proper agency is granted to the player. While the previous events described are linear under the guise of meandering about in a dark maze, the player is now meandering about with actual risk of getting lost while seeking for the objective. This is where the game properly begins, and I love it, I loved how this was paced. If you’re not thoroughly chilled at this point by the prologue, the first chapter surely will. The first chapter will be all I’ll talk about in this review, as it’s best you play this mod (for the umpteenth time) blind, which if you haven’t, I urge you once more to stop reading and go play. Then come back of course. (Side note: By chapter one I mean the first map after the forest, each map is clearly meant to be a different section)

One of the things I love about this mod is it’s level design, which is normally par for the course with highly detailed maps, but the design here speaks of something deliberate that would have real world functions, but something sinister and twisted lies under it’s skin. I could imagine this place being a working military base. There’s loading docks, computer rooms, berthing areas, showers, it feels like a UAC base hiding it’s dark secret of demon interference. The cherry on top? Events in the game are seemingly random, as far as I could tell at least. Once the player is into the main meat of the game, the events that you may run into aren’t guaranteed to happen every time. I have played this mod several times over, and each playthrough I run into a new event each time, a new scare, a new room, something I didn’t notice last time. Each one preying on the player’s sense of curiosity rather than hoping you catch it on the corner of your eye. And this curiosity is a mixed bag of satisfaction and punishment. Some areas will lead you to finding logs of the base’s previous occupants, giving a glimpse of the events that lead up to whatever catastrophe you have stumbled upon. Sometimes it’ll be something that will make you regret touching it. You’ll never know.

The next driving force to the mods uneasy atmosphere is chapter one’s singular enemy, The Avoid.

As its name suggests, the only way to deal with this enemy is to simply avoid. This is no joke, don’t ever engage with this enemy if possible. The only way you would know that is if you've been paying attention to the scattered logs through the base, but the mod at least tells you. The bestiary describes avoid as a demon that possesses far deadlier claws and greater blood lust that any demons known before and tracks you by smelling. The monster possesses no vision, however it might as well due to how fast it can react if you straddle too close to its range. In the unfortunate event that you do encounter one, you’re granted a grace period to avoid it’s “line of smell”, letting out a few moans as it inhales the air to smell you better. Once it’s established where you are, it’s speed will quite literally double and begin hunting you down. I swear the only times I have managed to escape this demon was out of Doom’s exploitable AI and pathfinding than it was out of being able to out maneuver it, and I’ll stand by that each case it has happened. Every other time I’ve tried to tango with this beast, it’s always resulted in failure. While I normally dislike horror games that give you no fighting chance with the BIG SPOOKY ENEMY OOOAAAHHHH, there’s a logical pattern to this one which grants you some sort of control. This is an aspect I appreciate of its over all design, it shifts the blame of any mistakes onto the player. This lack of scripting is such an incredible aspect I wish so many games would take inspiration from.

Whether or not they require food to survive,

or for how long they can go without, is far beyond me.

I can only pray that they die from starvation.

That’s as much as I feel I need to talk about. There’s a few more maps in the mod that act as the following chapters/hubs to explore, and not to imply they’re not worth talking about, they would just come off as redundant if I sing them more praise. They each have their own aspects that further enhance the mod to their full strengths and possess their own mysteries for the player to discover. My point is that there isn’t a single beat missed anywhere you look, or manage to get to. The maps are great. The atmosphere is drenched in... atmosphere. It’s a tremendous experience.

Some smaller points that I think are worth mentioning, and as mentioned at the start, this is a work in progress, so no promises on all of this if you choose to investigate:

* Majority replacement of text strings, such as:

-- "Lost?" (When trying to quit)

-- "Come now. Surely it isn't that scary?" (When trying to quit)

-- "Immortality is useless when your dreams are dead." (Using iddqd)

-- "You only need one bullet to save you from your mind." (Using idfa)

-- "Winter reaches even as far as here." (Using freeze in the console)

* Hidden content strewn about the wad and maps that I’m not sure how to access, or even if it’s accessible to begin with.

-- Hints of a boss fight with the Colonel as sprites suggest some sort of fight (use ‘pukename colonelstare’ in the console when you find him)

-- Sewer map that I’m not even sure is actually accessible.

-- Mine/Cave map that for sure isn’t accessible but still neat to look at

* Some weird mist/fog that disappears when you get too close to it. Not sure if these do anything.

* Plenty of smaller sprite edits of vanilla assets that adds a nice bit of detail


Enjoy the mod folks, and remember:


ZRift by Pandut and HAL9000 [Mod][Doom/Heretic]

Posted by on at 03:19
“Chasm: The Rift” is an oddly tautological name for a game. It’s a bit like if our favourite seminal first-person shooter had been called “Doom: The Doom”. Released during the last gasp of the DOS game era in 1997, it was a first-person shooter by the Ukranian development company Action Forms that saw the player warping through time periods in an attempt to stop an invasion by the alien Timestrikers.

Technologically, the game sat in a weird place as a stepchild between the Wolfenstein 3D and Quake engines. Its custom-built 3D engine supported weather effects, appropriately wobbly water, could move three-dimensional walls and doors around, avoided sprites in favour of rendering everything in those polygon things that were all the rage in the mid-90s, and yet the levels themselves stayed doggedly and uninterestingly flat throughout. It was like what Doom might have been in a different reality, if Carmack and company had gone with blazing their trail of 3D technology in a slightly different order. Fortunately, Pandut and HAL9000 arrived in to fuse the timelines back together in mid-2018, and reunified the gameplay of Chasm with the engine of GZDoom.

And it all works very impressively - in the past I haven’t really got on with mods that use 3D models heavily within a Doom environment, but the amount of attention to detail in this WAD makes them feel like they fit perfectly because the entire experience is like playing a completely different game. From the great-looking new title screen and menu onwards, every detail of the game has been reworked to give it an authentic Chasm feel (apart from the dodgy mouselook support, fortunately) - everything in the game has had its appearance and sound meticulously recreated. The replacement of the environmental sounds also contribute greatly to making things have a different atmosphere - the familiar space-age noises of the Doom doors and platforms are replaced by the gritty clanks and rumbles of Chasm.

The models for items and enemies are translated directly from the ones in Chasm, dragged painstakingly through a modelling toolchain with reams of MODELDEF files defining the enemies’ movement and animation accurately from the original game. However, ZRift doesn’t content itself with being just a straight clone - many of the enemies from Chasm only had melee attacks, which the wad authors understandably decided wouldn’t work very well when dropped into the more vertical-heavy levels designed for Doom. So they built on top of what was already there, creating new animations for attacks like the Viking enemies hurling their shields at you or the shambling mummies that can now cough deadly mist in your direction. All of these, plus the new weapon the Plasma Thrower, fit so well into the game that a newcomer wouldn’t notice they were additions at all.

The other issue the authors had to get around was that Chasm has a far larger library of enemies than Doom - twenty-four of them according to the game’s wiki! To get them all into this conversion, straight replacements of monsters wouldn’t be enough. So they came up with a way for the mod to perform some clever tricks with Decorate and ZScript to make sure all of them got some screen time. For some classes of similar Chasm enemies, it’s enough to replace Doom monsters with a spawner that will randomly replace them with one of the various rough equivalents - a Hell Knight, for example, could randomly be replaced with either a Lion or an Orc. But for others, a bit of ZScript is used to substitute the entire population of imps or pinkies on a map with a single chosen species from Chasm, effectively giving the map a random theme for its enemies each time it’s loaded and making sure the game doesn’t throw its entire menagerie at you at the same time.

Rather than copy the weapons directly over, the authors have recreated them all to give them an overhaul with a slightly more Doom-flavoured twist visually, complete with the gloves that we’re all used to seeing hovering in front of our eyes. They’ve managed to give a fantastic punch to them, with a lot of weight behind the staples the double-barrelled shotgun and the Vulcan chaingun in particular - but it’s the way that even the much more unconventional Chasm guns have been translated that really catches my attention. One of the most fun is the sort of razor-sharp deadly frisbees - you can collect a stack of these from fallen jester zombie lizards, throw them around wildly, watch them ping off walls and embed themselves into enemies and you can even pick them up to be thrown again afterwards. Comfortingly, the frisbees pass harmlessly through the originating player, unlike the comparable Ripper from Unreal Tournament where I invariably managed to slice my own head clean off within ten seconds of laying my hands on it.

With all this in mind, it’s a bit of a shame that ZRift doesn’t provide any actual maps that are made for this new weapon and monster set - the new content could honestly form the basis for a complete TC of its own. Several suggestions for mapsets are provided in the release topic, though, and I elected to play through it with Erik Alm’s Scythe2 because of the note that it was laid out similarly to the original Chasm with several changing level themes. I hadn’t played through this WAD before, and having ZRift on top of it felt completely natural. Health is both lost and gained a lot more quickly in ZRift compared to the original Doom - health packs give you a greater boost but attacks from even the weakest enemies can sometimes be devastating, keeping you constantly on your toes.

If I have one gripe with the content of the mod it’s a small issue with the HUD - which, as you’d expect from a project of this quality, has been completely overhauled to resemble the Chasm status bar when it’s visible. In fullscreen mode, though, it switches to a nice hybrid between the two games - Doomguy’s twitchy face is stuffed into the helmet from the Chasm status bar and is flanked by a few counters. My complaint is that the arrangement of the counters relegates the crucial health display to a small font in the middle of the screen, with much more prominence given to armour and ammunition - it can be difficult to remember which counter you’re meant to be looking at when judging a retreat from a horde of time-travelling viking zombies.

That aside, this really is a great example of using ZDoom’s capabilities - especially its support for 3D models - to create a game that feels very different from any of the standard Doom WADs. At the time of writing, it’s planned to be made officially available as “ZRift Legacy”, with the aim of splitting it into two different packs in the future - one called Classic with the aim of being as vanilla Chasm-themed as possible, and the other called Beyond which will continue to build more on top of the base game.

ZRift (Legacy) forum topic

MetaDoom by Kinsie [Mod][Doom]

Posted by on at 23:27

Forum topic

Mod page


MetaDoom is a weapon/monster randomizer with a twist: smart progression. Instead of throwing everything on the player's head from the start, MetaDoom gradually unfolds itself, keeping the consistent flow of surprises.

If you are impatient, though, look for the “Intelligent Spawn Options” switch in MetaDoom options and select “Content Locust” there. It turns off the smart progression and gives enemy and weapon variants a chance to spawn right from the start.

MetaDoom combines monsters and weapons from Doom, Doom 2, Doom 64, Doom RPG, Doom 3, and Doom 2016 into a solid and remarkably cohesive package.


There are seventeen weapons at your disposal, from a fire axe to a gauss cannon. Most of them have two fire modes, and the punch attack is available for every weapon. The punch has two purposes: pushing the enemy away and giving you a bit of extra health. The melee punch attack is available via a special key bind.

There are eight inventory item types for dealing with enemies in tactical ways and to defend yourself. The item amount counter is shared between all item types, so beware. You spend one item, the counter for other items goes down too. You can carry up to 25 items. These items have a chance to spawn alongside other pickups. More stuff!

This amount of tools results in many ways of killing enemies. Where else can you use a demonic dog as a weapon?


- EMG Sidearm - what a neat tool! It carries an unlimited supply of ammo, and also has a flashlight. Everything 's better with a flashlight.

- Chaingun's alternate fire turns you into a stationary turret. You cannot move, but it's not a problem at all considering the firepower you get.

- Lightning Gun's alternate fire stuns enemies, so you can take your time deciding what to do next.

- Soul Cube - the mysterious artifact with probably deep history of occult research and development, created by long-gone aliens. Maybe the origins of Soul Cube will be revealed to mortals someday, but for now, two things are certain about it: it hits hard, and it makes enemies burst into health, armor, and ammo pickups. It is powered by exactly ten soul orbs, and note that you cannot carry more than ten soul orbs.

- Kinetic mines: probably the safest way of killing. Throw it on the floor, or on a wall, or on a ceiling, and it knows what to do. If no unlucky monster walks by it for a period of time, a kinetic mine will detach itself from the surface and will wait to be picked up again.

Blur Sphere is replaced with Haste Sphere. Berserk has a chance of being replaced with Quad Damage. Berserk itself changed: it lasts only a limited amount of time, unlike its vanilla counterpart, but monsters drop health on hit. Other powerups remain effectively the same but look fancier.


MetaDoom is not a power fantasy mod. New monsters know new tricks. Don't expect them to play fair. Each monster type is different from the others in movement behavior and/or attacks.


- Imp Lord - teleporting around makes fighting these fellows much trickier than ordinary imps.

- Former Assassin (Chaingunner variant) can pull you closer to perforate you with the chaingun more effectively.

- Dogs which are enemies unless you have suitable equipment (hint: a certain inventory item).

- Cyber-Mancubus: harmless at long distances, but devastating when it's close to you, even after death.

- Hell Knights and Barons of hell that are not big imps anymore, but know how to jump. Sometimes this leads to nobles leaving their designated places on the map, making the combat less predictable.

- Summoner. Oh, this Arch-Vile variant. Do you hate Arch-Viles? Prepare to hate it twice as much! It not only resurrects fallen monsters but also summons new ones. And it teleports around, so killing it may be tricky. Better have big guns ready.


Codex is an in-game description of monsters, weapons, and pickups. Make sure you bind the key to open it!

The entries reveal themselves one by one when you encounter new monsters or find new items, giving the satisfying feeling of progression. The descriptions are fun to read and contain references to Doom lore and history.


Various ways of restoring your health allow more aggressive, faster, up-close gameplay style. I've counted 4 different extra ways of obtaining health: melee attacks (including Berserk), Siphon Grenades, Soul Cube strike, and Holy Water Pistol. Wait, I haven’t mention Holy Water Pistol yet? Well, something has to be left for you to find out.

In general, with MetaDoom arsenal you can survive even in the most unexpected fights, given you know how to utilize the inventory and weaponry.

Also, MetaDoom replaces Nightmare difficulty with respawn-less Nightmare and adds Ultra-Nightmare (hardcore/ironman mode) for those who seek an additional challenge.


MetaDoom is not only weapons and monsters. Breakable decorations, gore effects, mirrored deaths, blood colors, footstep sounds, water splashes, and first-person death animations are added for good measure.

It also features a custom HUD and 100% completionist messages.

You can notice the big amount of attention to detail even not directly in a game: custom main menu, custom mod options menu with descriptive hints, selection of player genders to choose from, custom quit messages.


MetaDoom lets you play several Dooms at the same time, in one game. If every Doom game existed in the same universe, this is how it would look like.

This mod clearly received a lot of love from its creator, and it deserves a lot of love from the players too. It’s good both for replaying your well-known maps, because the new monsters’ behavior creates new battle situations, and for visiting new ones because you still understand where is what and how the map is supposed to be played.

So, what the proper Doom fan can wish for? More Doom and more MetaDoom.

Vanilla Essence by Pixel Eater [Mod][Any]

Posted by on at 12:58
"Correct way of playing Doom". This strange term shows up from time to time. What is the correct way of playing Doom?

It's simple. There is the only correct way of playing Doom (and any other game): the one that you enjoy. If the game doesn't bring you fun, you're playing it wrong, or you're playing the wrong game. Some games are meant to be played in a certain fashion, and cannot be tweaked or modified to one's liking. Fortunately, it's not the case for Doom.

Since December 23, 1997, when id Software released the engine source code, there is no single mandatory way of playing Doom. The fact of publishing under a permissive license signifies that a program is meant to be changed and developed further. In a way, every source port is encouraged directly by id, including GZDoom.

This engine contains many additions to the original Doom engine, and a lot of the original code was replaced. With extensive modding capabilities, it allows even more radical shifts in gameplay and visual style. It made possible creating standalone games that barely resemble the first-person shooter from 1993.

But in its core, in its soul, GZDoom remains an engine to run Doom and its derivatives. It continues to support a surprising amount of the vanilla gameplay mechanics, including options for id Tech 1 engine limitations and even bugs. Finding and fiddling with all the settings may be tedious, and this is where Vanilla Essence mod comes in handy.

Vanilla Essence started off as a simple shortcut menu, grouping together GZDoom options that make the game behave and look more like the original Doom. Now, it includes a key that toggles between the default mode and vanilla mode.

(images are clickable)

You can also configure how strong the vanilla flavor will be by tailoring the settings to your heart's content. For each option, Vanilla Essence hints what value conforms to the original, which is very convenient.

There are options for the game behavior, appearance, lighting, special effects, sound, and user interface.

Vanilla essence not only highlights the options that are already present in GZDoom but adds its own feature: configurable low resolution.

With this mod, you can easily have any combination of vanilla and modern dooming. For example, this is a combination of dynamic lights, brightmaps, and low resolution:

Or play with any gameplay mod and have near-1993 experience:

With GZDoom and Vanilla Essence, everyone can find their own favorite color on the wide and deep dooming spectrum.

Forum Thread

Shadow/Rise of the Wool Ball by MSPaintR0cks [TC][Doom]

Posted by on at 23:46
1 Comment
Shadow of the Wool Ball and Rise of the Wool Ball are a pair of total conversions released in 2016 and 2017 by MSPaintR0cks, also known as WatchDaToast. Far from the usual rip-tear-explode-demons setting that we know and love from Doom, they instead take place in a peaceful anthropomorphic world that has been invaded by nazi cats from outer space, who are enslaving the population and planning to mine the planet to restock their supply of cat litter. The two WADs were both mentioned as runners-up in the Cacowards of their respective years, and are great examples of building entire new games in the GZDoom engine.

In the first adventure “Shadow of the Wool Ball”, you take the role of Scott, an unassuming hedgehog in a little tie who has been captured by the fascist invaders while attempting to rescue his girlfriend Rebecca from their wool ball-shaped mothership. He’s forcefully thrown into a small cell, which fortunately turns out to have a woeful structural flaw in one of its walls. He takes the chance to escape the cell, gets his tiny hands on a big gun and then rampages through a series of feline bases to rescue Rebecca.

From the moment you start up the first game and see the animated title screen followed by the wonderfully stylized scripted introduction, you know that this is going to be something special. Despite its simple appearance on the surface, the world that you play through has an extraordinary personality to it - the game adopts a graphical style that I would broadly describe as “MS Paint except it’s good”, where the characters and environments take on a deliberately simple flat-shaded look. At first glance, this might make the game look underwhelming - the characters only average about eight frames of animation each, but when you see them in motion, you quickly get to appreciate just how much personality MSPaintR0cks crammed into that small collection of images.

Throughout the game you’re faced with a large number of types of bad-tempered kitties with a varied arsenal of weapons and appearances - from frenetic lower guards with pistols to hulking genetically-engineered Berserker abominations, or the deceptively fast flying saucer cats who are determined to kamikaze into you at all costs. Each one of them has their own set of voice samples when they notice you and attempt to hunt you down, delivered in a wonderfully cartoonish pitch-altered fashion that suits them perfectly. Occasionally, you’ll be accosted by the big boss of the cat invasion through monitors built in to the level walls, showing increasing fury that you’re surviving his carefully laid traps.

Like the graphics, the layout of the game stays deliberately simple - the angled walls and varied floor and ceiling heights of the Doom engine are eschewed here in favour of sticking to flat, grid-locked levels like Wolfenstein 3D. But just like the author of this review, the game knows it has to make up for what it lacks in the height department by being more interesting in other ways.

Most obviously, the familiar cycle of blasting through levels to reach the exit is given a refreshing twist - your objective in each level is to find the Shutdown switch placed conspicuously on a wall, which when activated will leave you just a window of just a few seconds to sprint to the emergency exit. This nod to Interplay’s Descent makes finishing a level much more interesting, as you have to plan your escape route - helpful emergency lights will guide you to the door once the switch is pulled, but it’s up to you to make sure that you won’t be blocked by enemies or locked doors on your way out. Once you reach the exit, the camera swings around to show Scott outrunning a series of fiery explosions as the level blows up - a very satisfying conclusion that I never got tired of.

The levels are peppered with other obstacles as well that break up the usual strafing and shooting - enemies can take you by surprise by bursting through doors and even some walls. You’ll encounter large fans on the walls that blow you forcefully away from them, often straight into deadly spikes, and during levels on the cat mothership you have to take care to avoid slipping out into space because you deactivated a forcefield.

If you look closely around the levels, you’ll discover some walls are destructible and conceal secrets in the best of FPS traditions. In another Descent similarity, the secret rooms also occasionally house chained-up hostages - when freed, they’ll reward you with bullets for your golden shotgun, which is a powerful weapon that you’ll certainly want to keep in your back pocket for encounters with larger enemies and bosses. As for the other weapons available, they’re fairly standard - you have a punch, a pistol, a shotgun, a minigun, and that’s all. In a small annoyance, the golden shotgun is bound to the same key as the regular one like the shotguns from Doom, even though there would easily be enough room to give it a key of its own.

The levels tend towards short and sweet, with a couple of dozen enemies generally being the maximum population. The same could be said of the game itself, with just fifteen maps (plus three secret ones) - which might seem a little short, but really it’s the perfect length not to outstay its welcome.

The sequel Rise of the Wool Ball was released the next year, and adopts the same formula as the first game but builds on it in new ways. As the title might suggest, this time the level design is inspired by Rise of the Triad, literally adding a new dimension to the game - the levels are still boxy and fixed-height but can be multiple storeys high. To let you use this new axis, this sequel provides platforms or stairs of floating objects, ladders, and a collection of bouncy mushrooms that can comically but painfully smack you into the ceiling. On the weapons front, the golden shotgun is no more, but in the late game you’ll find a launcher that shoots explosive cucumbers and a “bird cannon” that, er, explosively excretes a stream of deadly white blobs as long as you keep it topped up with bird seed. Both of these are very useful against the expanded army that you’re facing.

Most of the enemies from the previous game make a return here, along with some new ones such as a bomber cat that utilizes the increased height of the levels, and an army of iron-pumping gym-bro cats called Cute Nukems that throw their weights at you and finish you off with twin miniguns. You’ll also have to deal with more physical obstacles like giant spiked wool balls that roll along paths and are very eager to run you over - and one of the best moments is when you enter a waste disposal room only to realize that it’s rapidly filling with cat litter and have to run to avoid being crushed!

The presentation really moves up another notch in this game as well, with a between-level map screen and dialogue with an expanded cast of characters within levels. I really can’t overstate how charming the game and its characters are - MSPaintR0cks’ ability with cinematics really shines here, with a set of wonderfully animated cutscenes telling the unfolding story between maps. Just like in the first game, the end of each episode is guarded by a boss, climaxing with a truly spectacular fight to get rid of the master cat once and for all.

The Wool Ball games really are fantastic fun and exude personality - even though I meant to just start them up quickly to refresh my memory for this review I ended up playing them all the way through again. MSPaintR0cks used GZDoom to make a pair of games that aren’t simply reskins or derivatives of Wolfenstein 3D, but that blend a lot of the best parts of the Doom clones of the 90s shareware era and have their own unique charm.

Shadow of the Wool Ball forum topic

Rise of the Wool Ball forum topic