So, you like Doom. You’ve just discovered the awesome community that still creates custom content for it to this day. You’ve downloaded Doom Builder or some other Doom mapping software with the intention of giving it a spin yourself. You’ve probably even made some attempts already.
This mini-lesson will serve as a guide as to how not to handle your first Doom mapping effort. Now while this may (and most likely will) read like a big warning sign, don’t let that discourage you – instead of shooting down your awesome mod idea with a BFG, I’m here to help you set reasonable goals for your first project.
I’ll provide a personal anecdote to go with what I discuss here in an effort to further illustrate why you shouldn’t do what I tell you not to.
Without further ado, here’s the tip: Don’t think big.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with your idea of a big and complex mod with a hub system and the odd RPG element or two, it’s better to start with something less ambitious. If you immediately take the deep dive into the world of ACS and the like, you’ll only overwhelm yourself. Instead, make your first project something simple, preferably even a vanilla map – you could not start simpler than that.
When I started developing my first serious Doom wad, Prayers of Armageddon, in 2009, I immediately set myself a goal of making it a full 32-level megawad. I even had plans for two additional megawads to make alongside it. It was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. Thankfully I scrapped the other two megawads before I even started working on them, but for better or worse, that wasn’t the case with Prayers of Armageddon.
The project didn’t get very far until some issues occurred, which led to it being on hold all the way until early 2010. I spent a good part of that year working on Prayers of Armageddon, mapping whenever I had the time and energy. Progress was slow, but eventually, the wad was released on September 24th, 2010.
A couple of playthroughs of the wad appeared on YouTube not long after, both of which I of course watched. On one of the videos, a person had commented that my first publicly released Doom project was “pretty bad”. Naturally, I got defensive, replying to them with something about how they just didn’t like a different approach to a “good” Doom wad. But nearly a decade later, in hindsight, I can’t help but agree with that person. It is pretty bad.
So, to re-iterate: Don’t think big. Start small – as small as possible. That way, you won’t be doing yourself a disservice.