A 2021 Doom Retrospective

April 18, 2022

A year full of Doom for everyone…

The ongoing pandemic has shown that humanity is not ready to deal with health problems on a global scale, whether for economic or political reasons, we simply have not been as efficient as we would expect to deal with something like this, except for the doomers. In and of itself, our social life is, what? Zero? We are just disease-proof, and demon-proof too. We spend our lives playing in our basements while watching the sun come and go from day to day, and boy, what a beautiful life. Nothing like playing a fantastic video game full of re-playability thanks to a superb dose of well-planned design (or maybe not) and a sweet pace of violence, injected with a huge, HUGE, dose of fan activity and the result is a game that offers content for, well, a lifetime. Okay, maybe some of us don’t live in our basements anymore, but Doom lives with us.

2020 was a particularly chaotic and eclectic year for everyone. The rhythms of life were drastically altered, to such an extent that some parts of the world saw a complete reality shift. Cities of millions of people emptied for days at a time. On the other hand, 2021 seems to be the aftermath of such an occurrence, but it has shown a little more hope, although of course, it’s still a shitty year, but not all bad, because after all, the Doom community has shown that through adversity, with a little passion and encouragement, huge things can be achieved. What this community has created has certainly been something to admire. Not only is it a high amount of production in general, offering huge piles of content for everyone, but also an incredible increase in the overall quality of the products that are delivered. From mods to WADs, the average now seems to be as high as it was a decade ago, and the high of a decade ago looks average in comparison. What do I mean? That even the most novice map maker is now capable of creating fantastic WADs! It’s probably due to the simple advancement of technology, or maybe, as there are now more reference points, people can use different ideas or inspirations to deliver something better. Whatever it is, people are now just too damn good at making maps for Doom and 2021, oh boy, it’s proof of it.

The 2021 WAD Scene

The year 2020 was said to be the most productive year in Doom’s history, with releases as numerous as they were fantastic. From gigantic WADs that broke the scene to classics that finally gained the respect of the community. New mappers appeared and old mappers continued to prove that they are still more than relevant. 2020 was, at one point, called the year of the megawad, as well over a dozen megawads were released. Considering the sheer number of releases coupled with the overall quality that was appreciated, we have as a result one of the best years ever, until of course, 2021 came along. Ironically, or perhaps ideally, the pandemic didn’t stop the community, on the contrary, it kept forcing it to release better and better content that impressed more and more. First of all we can talk about the amount of WADs released, which is, damn, immense. You see, in the Wadazine, I make an index of links that lead to threads in Doomworld with WADs ready to be downloaded. Through my experience and the pain caused to my fingers by so much copy+paste of links, I have come to the estimation that there are approximately 100 to 150 WADs released per month, only in Doomworld. 100 WADs are usually the accurate average, with the most productive months reaching 150. Here are the accumulated statistics at the time of writing:

  • Issue #9: 144 WADs.
  • Issue #10: 136 WADs.
  • Issue #11: 280 WADs. (This issue saw 2 months combined. We took a month off.)
  • Issue #12: 155 WADs.
  • Issue #13: 153 WADs.
  • Issue #14: 136 WADs.
  • Issue #15: 158 WADs.
A ton of WADs in a single year.

Total of WADs that the Wadazine as indexed for this year: 1,162 Each magazine covers about a month plus a week or so of content, and I try my best to be precise about the counting and links provided. Granted, this may not be 100% accurate, as there are chances I might have missed a link, or the author either removed a link or never released a full version of the WAD. It has happened before so bear with me. But as you can see, 2021 was a very, very busy year for Doom lovers out there. Remember, this is only on Doomworld alone, and there’s a handful of more uploading sites out there, like Moddb, Doomer Boards, the Wad Archive and the Doomshack, which see uploads all year around, so, it’s safe to say that the Doom community is one hell of a working machine.

And with that, the Wadazine, in average, indexes 166 WADs each issue. If that’s not productivity than I don’t what it is. All I can see is that seeing this graphics just makes me smile. A true smile, indeed. Say your favorite game is 27 years old, has been around since the 90s, it’s an important piece of history and, despite the passing of time, still sees new content by the lovely community each single day. Not only that, but instead of diminishing and slowing down, it’s rushing! Any passionate videogame fan would smile with pure emotion at such a fact.

Quantity and quality, all in one

You know the common saying, quality over quantity, right? It’s a good common practice and philosophy to follow after all. It is preferable to have to admire a single well-defined marble pillar than a bunch of columns supporting shit. Fortunately, this is not the case in the community. While many other video games have to suffer with the fact that there’s a lot more junk than treasures, the Doom community has managed to find a perfect balance over the years. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few stinkers out there, but they are now much less relevant compared to the overall quality we manage to produce, and in high quantity, nonetheless.

Without a doubt, it is an amazing fact, not only for the simple fact that we produce an obscene amount of stuff, but also the fact that a high percentage of that content is of a considerable quality, solid in every aspect. As I said earlier, the average WAD of 2021 is higher than that of the past decade. What does the future hold? It’s hard to know what particular WADs will stand out or what will come our way, but we can say without a doubt that a sweet and productive future awaits for all Doom fans.

While 2020 was, at some point also called as the year of slaughter, this year was much more diverse and saw multiple releases in different categories. Probably one of the highlights were the public community projects, with one of the most surprising projects of the year being RAMP. A CP led by the talented and versatile DavidN, who ended up being the leader and producer of the biggest megawad in history so far. And no, 10,000 Levels doesn’t count as megawad. This, on the other hand, is a megawad in every sense of the word, maybe it’s better to call it an ultrawad. More than 200 maps in a single file ranging from GZDoom to simple Doom-vanilla. Full of diverse styles, scenarios, themes, designs and artists. It is, in a way as epic as it is drastic, the pinnacle of what a community project tries to do: attract mappers and make them create under the same banner. Undoubtedly one of the most amazing projects of the year and one that I believe, encapsulates the general idea of 2021 in a very precise and excellent way: Quantity and quality, all in one.

The best of the best

This year has been a lot of fun for Doom fans. Not only have we seen new releases everywhere, full of quality and in considerable numbers, but also a general diversity that offers variety for all tastes. This means there is something for everyone. Slaughter fans have been greeted with great projects since last year, but the classic nerds have also been spoiled this year with a plethora of vanilla and limit removing releases, and of course, the innovation lovers received MBF21, something I’m sure they enjoyed very much. Overall, it’s been bright year for all, heck, even the multiplayer guys got some good WADs this year! Left and right, you’ll see so much good stuff. Personally, I have found a few works that have become part of my favorites, WADs that not only suit my tastes, but open doors to new styles that I will admire for the rest of my life playing Doom. A good life. If you want to know what the Wadazine considers the best of the best of 2021, don’t forget to check out our Master Recommendations, where you’ll find gold in the raw. Pure beauty and violence.

And Endless journey

A WAD competition from 1995… almost 3 decades later and we’re still here (Pic by Chris Hansen).

Personally, this year has been one that I’ve quite enjoyed playing Doom. While in real life, things have been going to hell, Doom has been there to offer me a bit of peace amidst all the conflict. It’s funny how a game is able to calm the stress and relax for a few hours, even if such a game is a gallery of gore, satanism and violence, all under a fast paced, adrenaline pumping action. Doom is, you could say, a symphony of violence and with good reason. It is music to my ears and a particularly pleasurable joy. This year has been full of surprises for me and for others; from strange conflicting events to cool fantasy releases. This year I launched a number of events that not only turned out to be successful, but have provided a good dose of entertainment and playfulness for everyone out there. Endless Random /idgames WAD Adventures, a gaming event where doomers play random WADs from the /idgames archive, suffering or enjoying whatever they find. This is an event that came up as a random idea that I just thought would be cool to pull off. I did a little more research and it turns out that other people had tried it before, but the projects usually stopped dead in their tracks or didn’t make it, so I decided that it would be a project that would keep renewing and changing to offer an incentive to the players, hence I decided to add a scoreboard for the participants. One of them, Roofi, has shown the power of passion and madness in this event. I think he has played hundreds of WADs and shows no signs of stopping! On the other side of the coin, ICID is one of the first to volunteer to help me manage an event, something I greatly appreciated, and, currently, he is still the organizer of the ER/IWA events.

Another project, and my personal favorite of the year, was the Wadarcheology initiative; inspired after playing an obscure WAD from the 90s, I thought how cool it would be to create a sort of collaborative community project where we could dig for lost, forgotten or underrated WADs from the 90s and early 2000s. The main idea was that, to create a community of archeologists willing to dig through the gigantic archives of the old internet in order to find the best WADs possible. After all, the 90s were probably the most productive decade for WADs in the history of Doom, with the clear disadvantage that many of these WADs were terribly disappointing, however, among that ocean of content, there also lay precious diamonds of great value that I was more than willing to search for, and we succeeded. The project is a great success and we have managed to find over 100 high quality WADs, forgotten by time, and now, with new life. This project also saw the rise of one of our best helpers and most active contributors; Arrowhead is a great, talented guy who is not only dedicated to maintaining Wadarcheology, but to a series of independent projects that leave you open-mouthed. A great guy running an equally great event.

And just recently, with the help of Spwnshark and Flambeau, we managed to launch a new Wadazine multiplayer event. The Wadazine Flag Fest, all CTF fun for everyone to join us. A fun little thingy that we do weekly, and goddamn, you’ll be surprised as to how freaking fun Doom multiplayer is, even after all these years later. If you’re curious to experience this, I welcome you to our event. A new one every Sunday, and believe, good memories are made there.

And last but not least, the Wadazine Master Collection, or simply WMC. Our own community project of WADs designed to satisfy me, hehe, and the community. Created after 4MaTC was poking me in the back with the idea for months, I finally decided to give it a go. In one part, it’s a project I wasn’t sure I wanted to do at first due to the simple fact that at the time, I had never made a map properly, much better managed a map project with the rest of the members, and boy has it been an experience that, unexpectedly, has opened the doors to meet some fantastic, artistic and talented people. I have to mention my best tutor and personal inspiration, Mistress Remilia, a master of practically everything that has to do with creating maps. Remilia was one of the first mappers who blew my mind with the capabilities that Doom could present in its most innovative form. I remember playing Shadows of the Nightmare Realm years ago, one of the first WADs, if not the first WAD designed for GZDoom that I tried, and I was stunned at what I was experiencing. It became one of my favorite mappers right away, and once I started the WMC, I knew I wanted her to be part of it, but I wasn’t sure if she would accept, and I was nervous to invite such an idol. I had invited a handful of other people but most declined due to being busy with other projects (testament to how much productivity there was this year), but in the end, just fuck it, and I did it. And accepted. And since then, WMC has been possible thanks to her fantastic efforts, great event management skills and talent for programming, resourcing and compiling. Not only the events have managed to keep good life, but Remilia also taught me how to use UDB and is always there to give me a hand. I remember my first challenge was to make doors, and when she taught me, it felt so fluid and easy, that I felt I had the key to the universe in my hands. After that, my second challenge was to make walls and structures. I didn’t really understand the limitations of the engine, so my buildings looked strange, until she explained to me that Doom doesn’t handle exterior buildings very well because of the height, and that if I want to make walls, I have to make them in sectors and then turn them into voids. Things that would make sense to others, to me were like, woah. Anyway, she has been a fantastic tutor who has made the WMC experience a very friendly and fun one, and now, I just can’t wait for the next WMC to be released! It has been a long but interesting year, no doubt. The community has seen it all, but it is safe to say that, despite the storms and turbulent seasons, we always prove that we are capable of better. With the Wadazine, I have experienced a close and familiar community that I have never had in my life. My best friends, 4MaTC and Nikoxenos, have been the pillars of this company since practically day zero. Geniuses for design and always supportive of the magazine. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and even though they tend to be quiet in the forums, I know they love the game and this community they have managed to build thanks to their efforts. Thanks to them, we even have our own legacy in the community now! They are special guys who deserve so much more, and I hope one day to be able to reward their fantastic effort, which by the way, they have never charged a single penny for. I couldn’t be more grateful; I’m ultra-grateful. The fact that they’ve sticked with me despite all the struggle and problems, that makes them almost saints, they’re unholy saints, to make it sound more epic. Truly brothers in arms.

Goodbye, 2021

And now, the time is coming and there is practically only one month left for the year to end, as you read this. All sorts of things have happened and Doom has managed to prove, once again, that it is, quite simply, eternal. New releases every day, and even official sequels. Doom Eternal had its end, which was somewhat controversial in terms of its narrative, but undoubtedly a blast to enjoy. Now, we just have to wonder, will we see Doom 5 someday? Or has the story reached this point? Will we wait another 12 years to see a new sequel? I don’t know, but what I do know is that the community will always be here. Old and new faces come and go, but the flow of sacrifices is constant, and the machine continues. I hope to see you all in 2022, and we’ll see what this new journey brings.

Once again, I just want to thank everyone from my heart. To all my Doom Masters, friends, fans, enthusiasts, comrades, players, readers. Thank you all for joining me and our team with our project. We’ve done so much in so little time, it’s amazing to think how far we have come, all thanks to you guys. Sure, I could write a hundred reviews out of my ass and make it the Endless-zine, but that’s not the point. The point is that we’ve managed to create something unique yet diversified. Something full of color, point of views and voices to be read. What we’ve managed to create, is, pretty much, a community, and one that I feel at home. And now, my dear reader…

Go play Doom!

Endless, signing off.

(This article was written on November 12, 2021)

To fully enjoy this article, check it out on issue #16.