Doom WAD is the default format of package files for the video game
Doom and its sequel
Doom II: Hell on Earth, that contain sprites,
levels, and game data. WAD stands for Where's All the Data?.
Immediately after its release in 1993,
Doom attracted a sizeable
following of players who created their own mods for WAD
files—packages containing levels, graphics, and other game
data—and played a vital part in spawning the mod-making culture
which is now commonplace for first-person shooter games. Thousands of
WADs have been created for Doom, ranging from single custom levels to
full original games; most of these can be freely downloaded over the
Internet. Several WADs have also been released commercially, and for
some people the WAD-making hobby became a gateway to a professional
career as a level designer.
There are two types of WADs: IWADs (internal WADs) and PWADs (patch
WADs). IWADs contain the data necessary to load the game, while PWADs
contain additional data, such as new character sprites, as necessary
for custom levels.
1.1 Extensibility in Doom
1.2 Utilities and WADs appearing
1.3 Commercial WADs
1.4 Source port era
2 Types of WADs
2.1 Levels and level packs
2.2 Total conversions
3 Notable WADs
3.2 Total conversions
5 WAD2 and WAD3
8 External links
Extensibility in Doom
When developing Doom, id Software was aware that many players had
tried to create custom levels and other modifications for their
previous game, Wolfenstein 3D. However, the procedures involved in
creating and loading modifications for that game were cumbersome.
John Carmack, lead programmer at id Software, designed the Doom
internals from the ground up to allow players to extend the game. For
that reason, game data such as levels, graphics, sound effects, and
music are stored separately from the game engine, in "WAD files". This
allowed players to make their own data without making any
modifications to the engine. According to Doom's initial design
document, WAD stands for "Where's All the Data?".
The idea of making
Doom easily modifiable was primarily backed by
Carmack, a well-known supporter of copyleft and the hacker ideal of
people sharing and building upon each other's work, and by John
Romero, who had hacked games in his youth and wanted to allow other
gamers to do the same. Not everybody in the id Software crew was happy
with this development, however; some, including Jay Wilbur and Kevin
Cloud, objected due to legal concerns and in the belief that it would
not be of any benefit to the company's business.
Utilities and WADs appearing
Immediately after the initial shareware release of
Doom on December
10, 1993, enthusiasts began working on various tools to modify the
game. On January 26, 1994, Brendon Wyber released the first public
domain version of the
Doom Editing Utility (DEU) program on the
Internet, a program created by
Doom fans which made it possible to
create entirely new levels. DEU continued development until May 21 of
the same year. It was made possible by Matt Fell's release of the
Doom specifications. Shortly thereafter,
became involved with further enhancing DEU. Raphaël Quinet
spearheaded the program development efforts and overall project
release, while Steve Bareman lead the documentation effort and
creation of the DEU Tutorial. More than 30 other people also helped
with the effort and their names appear in the README.1ST file included
with the program distribution. Yadex, a fork of DEU 5.21 for Unix
systems running X, was later released under the
(Carmack additionally released the source code for the utilities used
to create the game, but these were programmed in Objective-C, for NeXT
workstations, and were therefore not directly usable for most people,
who were PC users.)
Jeffrey Bird is credited with creating the first custom WAD for Doom,
released under the title Origwad, on March 7, 1994. Soon, countless
hobbyists were creating custom WADs and sharing them over
CompuServe forums, and other Internet-based channels. Many of the WADs
were made in the style of the base game, others were based on TV
series, movies, or original themes. Some of the id Software staff have
revealed that they were impressed by some of the WADs; John Carmack
later said the following about a Star Wars-themed modification:
I still remember the first time I saw the original
Star Wars DOOM mod.
Seeing how someone had put the death star into our game felt so
amazingly cool. I was so proud of what had been made possible, and I
was completely sure that making games that could serve as a canvas for
other people to work on was a valid direction.
— John D. Carmack
Another particularly notable early modification is Aliens TC (see
below in the conversions section), based on the movie Aliens.
Even though WADs modified
Doom by replacing graphics and audio, the
amount of customization was somewhat limited; much of the game's
behavior, including the timing and strength of weapons and enemies,
was hard-coded in the
Doom executable file and impossible to alter in
WADs. DeHackEd, a
Doom editing program created by Greg Lewis,
addressed this by letting users modify parameters inside of the Doom
executable itself, allowing for a greater degree of customization.
Around 1994 and 1995, WADs were distributed primarily through BBSs and
via CD collections found in computer shops or bundled together with
instruction guides for level creation, while in later years Internet
FTP servers became the primary method for obtaining these works.
Doom software license required that no profit be made
from custom WADs, an id Software member claimed to have taken some
measures against distributors of CD-ROM compilations of WADs, some
WAD sets and shovelware bundles were nonetheless obtainable for a
price at certain outlets.
At the time, id Software was working on their next game, Quake, using
new technology, but started projects picking up the most talented WAD
makers from the
Doom community to create official expansions and to
compete with the unauthorized collection CDs. The team produced the 21
Master Levels, which, on December 26, 1995, were released on a CD
along with Maximum Doom, a collection of 1,830 WADs that had been
downloaded arbitrarily from the Internet. In 1996, Final Doom, a
package of two 32-level megawads created by TeamTNT, was released as
an official id Software product.
Additionally, various first-person shooter games released at the time
Doom engine under a commercial license from id Software, as
such essentially being custom WADs packaged with the
Doom engine. An
example is the 1997 release, Hacx: Twitch 'n Kill.
In addition to the many people who contributed to commercially
released WADs, various authors became involved with the development of
Kenneth Scott, who contributed artwork to Hacx: Twitch 'n Kill, later
became the art director at id Software and
343 Industries on the
Bungie Halo games.
Tim Willits, who contributed two levels to Master Levels for
later became the lead designer at id Software.
Dario Casali, author of a quarter of Final Doom, was hired by Valve
Corporation to work on Half-Life.
Sverre Kvernmo, designer of five levels in Master Levels for
and member of TeamTNT, was hired by
Ion Storm for Daikatana.
Iikka Keränen, author of several
Doom WADs and later Quake mods, was
Ion Storm to create levels for
Anachronox and Daikatana, and
Looking Glass Studios
Looking Glass Studios to create levels for Thief II: The Metal Age.
Keränen was later hired by Valve Software.
John Anderson (level designer), also known as "Dr. Sleep", author
of five levels in Master Levels for
Doom II and E4M7 in The Ultimate
Doom, later worked on Blood, Unreal, and Daikatana.
Matthias Worch (level designer) joined
Ritual Entertainment to work on
SiN. He later contributed to the Unreal series.
Source port era
Doom source ports
Around 1997, interest in
Doom WADs began to decline, as attention was
drawn to newer games with more advanced technology and more
customizable design, including id Software's Quake.
On December 23, 1997, id Software released the source code to the Doom
engine (initially under a restrictive license; on October 3, 1999, it
was released again under the terms of the GNU General Public License).
With the source code available, it became possible for programmers to
modify any aspect of the game, remove technical limitations and bugs,
and add entirely new features.
These engine modifications, or
Doom source ports, have since become
the target for much of the WAD editing activity (although some purists
prefer the original, unmodified engine). As of 2018, several source
ports are still actively being developed, and
Doom retains a strong
following of people who still create WADs.
Types of WADs
Levels and level packs
The most common type of WAD consists of a single level, usually
retaining the theme of the original game, but possibly including new
music and some modified graphics to define a more distinctive setting
or mood. Both single-player and deathmatch multiplayer levels are
Also common are WADs which contain several levels, sometimes in the
form of an episode, replacing nine levels, and sometimes in the form
of a megawad, which replaces 15 or more levels in the game (27 in
Doom, 32 in
Doom II, 36 in The Ultimate Doom).
Megawads often represent the work of several people over several
months or years.
A WAD that gives the game an overhaul to incorporate an entirely
different game setting, character set, and story, instead of simply
providing new levels or graphic changes, is called a total conversion.
The phrase was coined by Justin Fisher, as part of the title of Aliens
TC, or Aliens Total Conversion. Add-ons that provide extensive
changes to a similar degree but retain distinctive parts or
characteristics of the original games, such as characters or weapons,
are often by extension called partial conversions.
The following is a non-inclusive listing of highly popular, unique, or
historically significant WADs that may be considered uncontroversial
in its selection. See the external links section below for alternative
lists and review sites.
10 Sectors started as a competition at Doomworld, where entrants were
challenged to make the best level they could for the BOOM source port
using only 10 sectors, with the winner, Michal Mesko, receiving a
Voodoo 5 5500 AGP graphics card.
Doom The Way id Did is a 27-level megawad for
Doom released in 2012.
It was originally proposed by Jason "Hellbent" Root and realized as a
Doomworld collaboration project. The purpose of the WAD was to create
three episodes of
Doom levels that looked and felt as though they
could have been in the original game, but without any homages to it. A
Doom II The Way id Did, was released in 2013.
Doom is 32-level megawad for
Doom II created by Team Eternal
and TeamTNT. It was released non-commercially in several versions,
with the final one being released on November 14, 1997. Eternal Doom
places the player and the original Doom's monsters in levels varying
in the theme of medieval castles and futuristic high-tech bases,
featuring a time travel sub-plot. A distinguishing aspect of Eternal
Doom is the size of the levels, the average being about four times the
size of the levels in
Doom II. Eternal
Doom has been praised
for the levels' grand architecture and complex layouts, but the size
of some of the largest castles, combined with level design that
sometimes forces the player to travel back and forth between switches
located around the map, which are sometimes difficult to find, has
also been subject to criticism.
Hell Revealed is a 32-level megawad for
Doom II released on May 2,
1997. It was created by Yonatan Donner, one of the players behind the
Doom Done Quick speedrunning project, and Haggay Niv. Hell Revealed
was designed with the intent of providing a challenge for expert
players, and has become infamous for its difficulty: the hardest
levels in the set feature battlegrounds where the player is pitted
against dozens of the hardest monsters at once, some levels containing
around 500 monsters in total. Second to the original games
Doom II, Hell Revealed has been subject to the most
competition of any
Doom WAD. A 32-level sequel megawad built around
the same concept and featuring even more monsters, Hell Revealed II,
was created by a different team and released on December 31, 2003.
Doom 2: Urban Brawl is a 2008 indie game developed with the
Doom source port, featuring cel-shaded graphics.
Aliens TC is an 11-level total conversion based on the movie Aliens
(1986), created by Justin Fisher and released on November 3, 1994.
Aliens TC was the first total conversion and is one of the most
famous: in the week following the release of
Doom II: Hell on
Earth, there was more discussion in the
Doom newsgroups related to
Aliens TC than
Doom II. The popularity of the Aliens TC even reached
Doom community, for instance providing inspiration for the
1998 DreamWorks PC game Jurassic Park: Trespasser. Fisher was offered
employment by various game developers (including DreamWorks for the
team that would later make Jurassic Park: Trespasser), but declined in
order to finish his university degree. Aliens TC was noted for its
suspenseful atmosphere. The first level (E2M1) is devoid of enemies, a
surprising feature considering the fast-paced action of Doom. Later
on, however, the player faces the aliens and even gets to use the
powerloader from Aliens as a weapon. The mod contains new enemies and
weapons based on those from the film, new sound effects, and a new
boss, the Queen Alien. The original WAD was made for the first Doom,
replacing the entire second episode with levels that roughly follow
the 1986 movie (E2M1 to E2M8) with the secret level E2M9 being the
Alien ship Alien. The bonus levels of the TC are E3M1 (the cut portion
from the E2M5 map, as the original design was too large) and E3M2 (a
variation of the E2M1 but with enemies added). Maps E2M5 and E3M1 are
designed for more deathmatch (with proximity sensors) in contrast to
the other levels which are more linear. A fan has adopted the WAD for
Doom II. Fisher had gotten the idea to create the Aliens TC within his
first five minutes of playing
Doom in late December 1993, noting a
similarity in atmosphere of
Doom and the movie. Incidentally, it has
later become known that id Software originally planned to base
an Aliens license, but abandoned the idea in the early stages of
Doom is a 32-level total conversion created by ACE Team
Software and released in April 1999. It contains modified game
behavior along with new weapons, items, and characters from the world
of the comic book superhero Batman.
Chex Quest is a 5-level total conversion released in 1996 by Digital
Café so that
Doom could be approved for younger audiences. This was
originally packaged in
Chex cereal boxes as a prize, though
was later put up as freeware on the
Internet after the promotion
Chex Quest received two sequels,
Chex Quest 2: Flemoids Take
Chex Quest 3, released in 1997 and 2008,
respectively, both of which contained five levels and were released as
Doom 64 TC is a replication of
Doom 64, a version of
Doom released for
the Nintendo 64, which contains different levels, graphics, and audio
based on the game.
Doom 2 is a
Doom II modification that adds elements from the
Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye 007.
Hacx: Twitch 'n Kill was originally released in September 1997 by
Banjo Software as a commercial
Doom II add-on, and was later released
as freeware in 2000. On October 9, 2010, a standalone version, version
1.2, was released. Hacx includes all-new content, such as 21 new
levels, new weapons, new music, new sound effects, new graphics, and
new enemies, and the game behavior has been extensively modified to
account for its unique cybernetic science fiction setting.
Paranoid is an 8-level
Doom II modification (using the GZ
port) that is intended to be a faithful recreation of Half-Life. It
features new weapons, enemies, graphics, sounds, models, skies, 3D
architecture, a hub structure, a story-driven mission, and additional
Sonic Robo Blast 2 is a
Doom modification that uses the
source port to change the game from a first-person shooter to a
third-person platformer based on Sonic the Hedgehog.
The Darkest Hour is a 7-level
Doom II modification that puts the
player in the
Star Wars universe. It was followed by a 5-level
"prequel" called Dawn: A Prelude.
Void is a single-level modification based on the 2000 game American
Screenshot from Freedoom
Doomsday of UAC (also known as UAC_DEAD.WAD after the filename) by Leo
Martin Lim, released on June 23, 1994, featured what was considered
one of the most realistic environments of the time. Exploiting an
until-then unknown bug in the
Doom engine's rendering code, it also
introduced a special effect in the form of an "invisible stairway";
this trick has been used extensively later on.
D!Zone by WizardWorks, an expansion pack featuring hundreds of levels
Doom II. D!Zone was reviewed in 1995 in Dragon #217
by Jay & Dee in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Jay gave the pack
1 out of 5 stars, while Dee gave the pack 1½ stars.
Freedoom – A project aiming to create a free replacement (modified
BSD License) for the set of graphics, music, sound effects, and levels
(and miscellaneous other resources) used by Doom. Since the Doom
engine is free software, it can be distributed along with the new
resources, in effect providing a full game that is free. Freedoom
would also allow users to play any of the thousands of other WADs that
normally require the original game. Despite its name, Freedoom
resources require an executable with support for additional features
introduced by the
Doom source port Boom and will not work correctly
with an executable build from the original source code release of the
Doom engine. The WAD, alongside PrBoom, is packaged in the Fedora
RPM software repository. A similar project, Blasphemer, aims to create
a complete free version of Heretic.
Origwad – Created by Jeffrey Bird and released on March 7, 1994, it
is notable for being the first custom WAD to be released for Doom.
Origwad consists of a single level with two rooms separated by one
door; the first room contains a shotgun and a Shotgun Guy, while the
second room contains three Imps, two Barons of Hell, and an exit
Harris levels –
Doom II levels created by Eric Harris,
one of the two perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre. The
following levels are available to download: Deathmatching in bricks
(BRICKS.WAD), Hockey.wad (HOCKEY.WAD), KILLER (KILLER.WAD), Mortal
Doom (FIGHTME.WAD), Outdoors (outdoors.wad), Station
(STATION.WAD), and UAC Labs (UACLABS.WAD). Dylan Klebold, a friend of
Harris and the other perpetrator of the massacre, was credited by
Harris for playtesting the Deathmatching in bricks level. The ENDOOM
screen for UAC Labs shows the names of other WADs made by Harris,
though no files of them are known to be available to download:
Assault, Techout, Thrasher, Realdeth, and Realdoom, the last of which
is a patch (possibly for Realdeth).
The Sky May Be – A notable joke WAD and the "Strangest WAD ever
made", most of the game takes place in an oversized sector, where many
textures are replaced with solid colors, and many sounds replaced with
audio from British television programs. The WAD was mentioned in
Doomworld's The Top 10 Infamous WADs list.
UAC Military Nightmare – A Skulltag WAD made by "Terry" which was
notorious for its use of vulgar scripts, strange graphics, unfair
difficulty, and otherwise-useless data that existed to either bloat
the WAD's file size or tamper with the player's settings. The WAD
itself was removed from Doomworld in 2014 due to the aforementioned
useless data, but has since been reuploaded with said data removed.
Many level editors are available for Doom. The original
Utility (DEU) was ported to a number of operating systems, but lost
significance over time; many modern
Doom editors still have their
roots in DEU and its editing paradigm, including DETH, DeePsea, Linux
Doom Editor, and Yadex. Other level editors include WadAuthor, Doom
Builder (released in January 2003), and
Doom Builder 2 (released in
May 2009 as the successor to
Doom Builder). Some
Doom level editors,
Doom Builder and
Doom Builder 2, feature a 3D editing mode. As
of now those two are discontinued, but a newer fork has been released
and is regularly updated, known as GZ
A number of other, specialized
Doom editors were created over time to
modify graphics and audio lumps, most notably XWE, SLADE, Wintex, and
SLumpEd. Things, such as monsters and items, and weapon behavior can
also be modified to some degree using the executable patching utility
DeHackEd. In ZDoom, users can create new monsters, weapons, and items
through a scripting language called DECORATE, made to address many of
the shortcomings of DeHackEd, such as not being able to add new
objects, and not being able to deviate far from the behavior of the
original weapons and monsters.
The utility Slige could be used to automatically generate random
levels. Slige had a cumbersome approach when creating maps, however,
and a newer tool called Oblige has since been created. This tool is
entirely coded in Lua.
WAD2 and WAD3
In Quake, WAD files were replaced with PAK files. WAD files still
remain in Quake files, though their use is limited to textures. Since
WAD2 and WAD3 use a slightly larger directory structure, they are
incompatible with Doom.
Joseph Bell, David Skrede: The
Doom Construction Kit: Mastering and
Modifying Doom, Waite Group Press (April 1, 1995),
Richard H. "Hank" Leukart, III: The
Doom Hacker's Guide, Mis Press
(March 1, 1995), ISBN 1-55828-428-1
Steve Benner, et al.: 3D Game Alchemy for Doom,
Doom II, Heretic and
Hexen, SAMS Publishing (1996), ISBN 0-672-30935-1
Kushner, David: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and
Transformed Pop Culture, Random House Publishing Group 2003,
ISBN 0-375-50524-5; pages 166–169
Larsen, Henrik: The Unofficial Master Levels for
Doom II FAQ, version
1.02 (retrieved October 4, 2004)
^ "5 Years of Doom". Doomworld. Archived from the original on
^ Yadex's Homepage
^ "John Carmack Answers". Slashdot. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
^ Green, Shawn; McGee, American (1994). "
Doom Conference". Planet
Rome.ro. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved May
^ John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson article at the
Doom Wiki 05-07-08
^ Fisher, Justin (1998). "5 Years of
Doom interview at Doomworld".
Doomworld.com. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
^ Aliens TC article at the
^ a b Doomworld - The Top 100 WADs Of All Time: 1994
^ hacx on drnostromo.com
^ a b Jay & Dee (May 1995). "Eye of the Monitor". Dragon (217):
^ "Freedoom :: Download".
Freedoom project website. Retrieved
^ Blasphemer homepage Archived February 1, 2010, at the Wayback
^ Pinchbeck, Dan (2013). Doom: Scarydarkfast. Ann Arbor, MI:
University of Michigan Press. p. 126.
ISBN 978-0-472-07191-3. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
Doomworld: The Top 100 WADs Of All Time (retrieved December 6, 2004)
M. Fells Unofficial
Archiving and compression
Software packaging and distribution
Document packaging and distribution
OEB Package Format
OEBPS Container Format
Open Packaging Conventions
Resurrection of Evil
Doom II RPG
Doom 3: Worlds on Fire
Doom 3: Maelstrom
Doom: The Boardgame
id Tech 4
id Tech 6