We have a lot of love for the original DOOM, and so does Gareth Ward. After getting his start modding on Team Fortress Classic — the Half-Life version of the original Quake mod — Ward made his name in modding by leading the Classic DOOM team, which sought to recreate the shareware levels of DOOM in the DOOM 3 engine. The result was a mod that not only nailed the look of the first DOOM, but also its distinct flavor.
In our interview, Gareth recalled the experience of crafting Classic DOOM, which involved the efforts of around a dozen modders:
Under the hood there are a lot of modifications going it that most people would probably take for granted. From the most obvious things like the new levels, the weapon models, item models and sound effects, through to simple things like how much damage each monster has, how fast they move and the amount of bullets that can be fired by each weapon at any given time.
Was Classic DOOM your first mod? If not, how did you get started modding?
I’ve worked on various mod projects over the years, starting with just my own mapping projects with the original Half-Life. I didn’t really get into mapping heavily until I became obsessed with Team Fortress Classic and started to make maps for training with the clan I was then playing with. After a while we even had some of my old TFC maps on a public server and my interest in level design, and modding in general, grew from there.
Classic DOOM 3 is the first mod that I worked on that was actually released and finished in a polished state that I can truly say I am happy with.
Was the idea of modding intimidating at first?
It all happened over time and it was just something I wanted to do. I’m a firm believer that if you want to do something and put your mind to it, you can achieve whatever that is. At the time I wanted to learn how to use the DOOM 3 editing tool so started to play around with D3Edit. The best learning experiences I have had in the past has been through working on projects with other people so I did a search for new mods for the recently released DOOM 3 and came across Kazahana’s version of E1M1 from the original DOOM. As the blueprints were there already from the older game I offered my help to build another level, alongside Blaster, and that is basically how the mod came together.
It was basically a natural progression from the smaller projects I’d done previously and was not intimidating at all. It was a means to an end, to learn how to mod the Doom 3 / Tech 4 engine.
How did the concept for Classic DOOM come about?
Kazahana decided to build E1M1 for his own learning process, to learn how to make custom levels for Tech 4. He put a website and forum together with the help of one of his friends and after a few people all came together with the same desire, the mod was born. The basic idea was to simply rebuild the original DOOM game as if it was being built today, using modern technology.
Beyond remaking the levels in 3D, what kind of modifications did you have to make to DOOM 3 in order to bring it closer to the feel of the original DOOM?
Under the hood there are a lot of modifications going it that most people would probably take for granted. From the most obvious things like the new levels, the weapon models, item models and sound effects, through to simple things like how much damage each monster has, how fast they move and the amount of bullets that can be fired by each weapon at any given time. The HUD has been slightly modified and the whole user interface has been built from the ground up. There are even some custom textures in there.
Who else worked on the mod? Was it a positive working experience?
At one point I think the maximum number of people who had contributed in some way was at 12 members, although there were a few more people who popped in and helped as time moved on.
Generally speaking there was a core of people, including Deadite (sound effects / basic programming) , SnoopJedi (programing and HUD), Kazahana (mapping & project founder), Blaster (mapper), Sonic Clang (the custom sound track for the game!), Thumpmonk (cinematic music and E1M9 track) and of course BHenderson (animations), who you recently posted up about with his Zombie Slayer mod.
My specific role included mapping, however due to the workload and Kazahana’s other commitments, I eventually took over the day to day running of the project, including a whole range of admin tasks like posting updates on our (sadly now defunct) website, putting the installer together, press releases to other news websites, task appoints and deadlines for team members. I found it to be hugely rewarding from that aspect because it taught me a lot about managing a team.
Anything you learned that might help other mod teams?
There were some really good, enjoyable times, and some really tough times but we all got through them successfully. Although I wouldn’t want to go back now, it was immensely rewarding after all the hard work that was put into the creation of the project by all involved. I think my best memory was on the release of 0.52, where it was hosted on a whole range of download sites, appeared in a number of well known game magazines, and eventually I got my first industry job off the back of it at Climax.
The best advice I can give to other people who work on these kinds of projects, there absolutely must be at least one person who has the key vision who can then discuss this with the rest of the team to ensure everyone is working towards the same single goal.
I could go on and on about the wealth of experience I gained, but I’ll stop for now!
What projects are currently consuming your time?
At the moment I’m not really working on anything game related. In the last 6 months or so I started up a Japanese and Performance Car Club for the area that I live in, I have let my abilities slip, especially in the last year as I have not been working on any mods. I am really excited for the release of Brink and Rage, to get my hands on the level design tools and start tinkering to see what I can come up.
I have been doing some freelance work for Icon Games, and I am currently looking for a new job so who knows? I might end up in ‘the industry’ again. I know I have the abilities for it, but I don’t want to end up working for a poor quality studio.
Can you recommend any other recently-released id Tech mods?
Well the main one would be Zombie Slayer. To be honest there aren’t many that I can recommend simply because I don’t play many mods anymore. I simply don’t have the time while balancing work and my home life.