Part 3: The Editors, and Those Ports, Too
Think about your favorite, oh... anything media-related I guess: song, film, video game, etc. Ponder for a quick second, "What makes _____________ so special to me?" I'm guessing it isn't because it's flat, 1-dimensional, bland, etc., right? No, it probably has some personal meaning, or can be interpreted in more than a single way, right? You kind of like to get that type of, "Wow... every time I do this," feeling, don't you? Well, that's what really got me hooked on Doom.
I didn't start playing weekly, near-daily because of the PWADs themselves. Don't get me wrong: they're tons of fun; however, there was more to it than that. I wanted to make Doom even more personable. So, when I stumbled upon an easy-to-use map editor known as Doombuilder, I was shocked. Not only could I manipulate the game myself, I could do it for free. So, I immediately downloaded during one sleepless night. It was one of those moments that made me think, "Wow... ever time I do this." Again, it was a fresh experience.
No longer was I just playing Doom, I was seeing it in a whole new light. My perspective changed. When I made my first map, it took an hour and a half of repeated, frustrating failure. By the time the Sun broke, I completed this:
165 linedefs, 34 sectors, and a whole lot of shit, yeah, but it was mine, damn it. In the course of 2 hours, I figured out more about this game than I did over 13 years. Did you know that Doom isn't a 3D game? Probably, but it doesn't really capture your attention until you design a level and realize how effective it creates the illusion. I realized that, in spite of a limited variety of linedef triggers, sector effects, etc., people had found a way to make this game change every time. To me, this was like playing Doom for the first time all over again. I was surprised the map was fully functional. It had several things i wanted to learn: teleporter, a door, and a lowering floor. It felt like a tedious process, but I began to learn.
It wasn't before I long that I realize that you could exceed the limits of Doom, as well. The original, vanilla version had all of these restrictions that you had to adhere to (the words "visplane overflow" forced me to not play quite a few wads when I was still ignorant). However, ports such as PrBoom allowed you to go beyond the limits, and even more, ports like Zdoom and Eternity allowed for all kinds of unique behavior that Doom never really should've been capable of. That's the benefit of a free source code, I guess. All of the sudden, there's a wad that makes Pac-Man playable in Doom. Very clever stuff.
It wasn't long before I realized that these easy-to-access, easy-to-use editors and ports would allow not just the community to continue to help Doom's evolution, but it made it possible for me as well. However, there were certain obstacles along the way. I found that when I made my second map:
782 linedefs, 94 sectors, and still a lot of shit. I was getting really frustrated with the creation process. It felt long and tedious, and the standard I wanted for myself was waaaay higher than before. So, in time I'd buckle down and create my first real, playable wad, and in the process, I'd finally find a good way to channel some creativity that I'd never thought I'd fully accomplish. I wound up from the two maps above, to this map below:
1871 linedefs, 371 sectors, and a lot of fun. Not immediately, but I managed to crank it out in 3 weeks.
This will all be explained when I finally discuss Doom as a personal, creative medium: The Aesthetics.