Doom’s legacy of map making can’t be understated. There’s still dozens of great works released every single year, with even John Romero getting in on the action all these years later. Be it for the first game or its sequel, somebody is always creating a great new set of levels for it using the community tools and hacks that have been created. In the latest iteration, id are planning to support this with SnapMap, their level builder and mode maker. I don’t think it’s enough, and restricting modding to just it will do active harm to the future of the game and those who want to create something truly special within it.
Doom is probably my most anticipated upcoming PC game, at least once XCOM’s out of the way.
SnapMap’s back in the limelight via a new video interview on Game Informer, where game director Marty Stratton goes over what their trying to accomplish with SnapMap. Itis a noble goal – they want to make creating maps and modes for Doom as easy as possible, so beginners can jump in immediately and start messing around. There’s a whole content distribution system being set up where people will upload their creations to be downloaded, rated and modified, with a credits section that will make sure, while others can alter your work, you will always be listed as the original creator. Best of all, because everyone has the same tools, each file is a small set of instructions in a text document, meaning it will take no time at all to get playing.
And that’s cool, hell, it’s perfect for their goals. It means people like me will still be able to do something fun if we take a fancy, and id-provided tutorials will help us dullards improve. It is obvious that someone will eventually make something far better than the single-player campaign Doom ships with in SnapMap and I’ll be posting about it in a few years. They can even do it on a console, something that’s been fairly alien to the mass market machines in recent years.
However, that great legacy Stratton speaks of did not come out of limitations being put on creativity. The great WADs of 2015 were created with tools hacked together from the very source code of Doom, ones capable of importing their own sprites, data files and instruction sets. The community has gone far beyond the ‘Lego’ that shipped in the early 90s and created their own. It would be advanced and unfriendly to the average user, but the existence of proper modding tools that allow for real customisation on the scale we see from Bethesda games does not detract from or preclude SnapMap. Visa versa, just because we have SnapMap doesn’t mean it will cover everything people want to do. Indeed, not uploading the actual maps means there’s no hope of custom textures, models or even rooms at all – just what id let us have.
It’s great that SnapMap exists, but not also releasing proper mod tools, at least on PC, is a serious misstep. It’s likely far too late for them to reconsider it now, so the best we can hope for is something released further down the line. Whatever we get is unlikely to be hooked in to anything as fully featured as the SnapMap system, but we can hope for the Steam Workshop or NexusMods to be a secondary home.