Getting Started: Tools of the Trade

The following overview is written for people who are complete newcomers to DooM editing. It is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion on every aspect of editing, nor is it meant to identify all the tools available. Rather, these are the tools with which I am familiar. Links to much wider lists of utilities and tutorials are provided at the bottom of this page.

Map Editing

Purpose - To create a map in a manner that it is readily playable without requiring the player to do much additional work. (In other words, unzip, extract, and play.) Creating a map involves the drawing of lines (known as linedefs) and areas (known as sectors); designating floor & ceiling heights and light levels of your sectors; assigning textures on wall surfaces (known as sidedefs), floors, and ceilings; inserting enemies, weapons, health, ammo, decorations, etc. (known as things); and building the nodes that will make your map playable.

Skill Level Required - Some computer knowledge is required, particularly as it relates to using a multi-function software program. Knowing the basics of geometric space is extremely helpful. Experience with computer drawing tools such as CAD is a plus, but not essential.

Available Tools

  • Doom Builder features a 3D editing modeDoom Builder by Pascal vd Heiden, aka Code Imp, is probably the foremost map editor in use by mappers today. It is currently in its second version, features a 3D editing mode, and incorporates support for all the major source ports as well as mapping in UDMF format. If you plan to work on maps for GZDoom or ZDoom, make sure to get the version called GZDoom Builder, developed and maintained by MaxED, as it features support for slopes, 3D floors, models, voxels, translucent lines, and all other GZDoom and UDMF features in 3D mode.
  • SLADE 3 by sirjuddington is a very good all-round utility, with map-making as well as resource editing functions (see below). It's 100% free, and has documentation on dedicated wiki. Good support on its GitHub page, and the Doomworld and ZDoom forums. Cross-platform. Can be used to edit maps for source ports, supports several ZDoom and UDMF features, though not as many as GZDoom Builder.
  • WadAuthor by John Williston, is an excellent map editor that I use as my primary map-making utility. The program is easy to set up, the interface is intuitive, and the Help file is very useful. It is shareware, and must be registered after 14 days. Not currently supported by its author. It's for Windows, and has a built-in nodes builder. Can be used to edit maps for source ports.
  • DeepSea by Jack Vermeulen, is a powerful and versatile utility that does more than make maps. (See under Resource Editing, below.) The map-making portion of DeepSea is shareware, but is not time-limited. Rather, there are limits on the size and complexity of your maps. Well-supported by the author, with periodic upgrades. For Windows, and has a built-in nodes builder. Can be used to edit maps for source ports.
  • WinDEU by the DEU Team is a Windows port of the DOS version, and was updated in early 2001 with a beta version. (This link points to the non-beta release, back in 1996.) I used it very early in my editing "career", but moved to WadAuthor.

Resource Editing

Purpose - To modify elements of your map besides the geometry. You may have played DooM maps where the graphic textures, enemies, sounds, music, weapons, etc. looked or sounded nothing like those in DooM. With a bit of practice, manipulating such elements can become quite routine.

Skill Level Required - Some computer knowledge is required, particularly as it relates to using a multi-function software program. Requires some understanding of the structure of a wad file (that's the file that contains all relevant information about your map or maps).

Available Tools

  • Wintex - Old but Gold?DeepSea is a one-stop-shop for all your resource editing needs. (It is also a good map editor -- see under Map Editing, above.) While the map-making portion of DeepSea is shareware, the resource editing portions are not. Well-worth the download, although it has a fairly steep learning curve. The documentation and user support greatly help. For Windows.
  • SLADE 3 is an easy-to-use resource editing utility. It's 100% free, and has documentation on dedicated wiki. Good support on its GitHub page, and the Doomworld and ZDoom forums. Cross-platform. Can be used to edit maps for source ports. Supports many newer editing features and a wide range of data formats, including those used in other old games.
  • WinTex is a popular resource editing utility for Windows. (It also has map editing functions, but it is better known for its ability to manipulate graphics, music, and sound.) Takes a bit of learning to master this aspect.

Hacking the Executable File

Purpose- To modify fundamental elements of the game that are written into DooM.exe or DooM2.exe. For example, the speed with which an enemy moves or the damage inflicted by its attack are pre-defined in the executable. To modify such parameters you will need to hack into the executable file. (Now hold on there -- this kind of "hacking" is neither illegal nor is it very difficult to do. Read on.)

Skill Level Required - Because of the relative simplicity of the tools available, not a great deal of computer savviness is needed. You will need to familiarize yourself with some new terminology, for which there is no substitute for reading the manual.

Available Tools - The most widely used tool for modifying in-game parameters is DeHacked, by Greg Lewis. It's been around for a while, and will run on DOS, Win95, Win98, and Win2K. (I haven't yet tried it on WinXP.)

Other Resources - Visit Nigel Rowand's Little Place of DooM for well-written and informative tutorials on DeHacked.

Want to Learn More About DooM Editing?

More Utilities Than You Can Shake a Stick At - Visit DooM World's Editors and Utilities Page for a long list of available tools.

DooM Editing Tutorials

  • ZDoom Tutorials by Rick ClarkThe Unofficial Wad Designer's Handbook by Ron Allen & Bill McClendon, is a well-written and easy to understand document. While it is not illustrated, the authors have provided links to examples that demonstrate what they're saying. This is another tutorial I used when I started DooM editing. It's classic, but it covers a lot of things that are still up to date and very interesting for newbie mappers - recommendation!
  • Rick Clark's Editing Tutorials, while they deal primarily with ZDooM editing, also have some very nice discussions on the basics (scroll to the bottom of the page and look for the "Tools" section). Rick's tutorials are great because he uses illustrations to good effect throughout. This is another resource I used extensively, particularly when I started editing for ZDooM.
  • DooM World's Editing Tutorials page has many more links to tutorials on basic as well as advanced DooM editing.
Log in to comment
Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.
More information Ok Decline

Donate and Help keeping the Realm667 alive!