From 1994 on, a huge interest in mapping evolved and people produced numerous quality and not-so-quality material - WAD-CD-ROMs from this era proof that id software's decision to make Doom modable was a clever good choice to increase the game's popularity and is still responsible for the ongoing success of Doom. It still took me about 4 more years to discover the potential when I bought one of these discs (it was called "Boom - Levels und Addons") in our local computer store - fun fact: Doom was on the index in Germany, addon discs were not.
quad-Speed CD-DRIVE sucks
For me the disappointment couldn't be more devestating - excitement turned into rage (remember, I was 10 years old) and all that was left for me after trying for numerous times, was getting to bed, and giving the disc one day later to one of my friends, Boris "Acidflash31" who helped me transfering the data and pasting the files to a few (or hundreds of, numbers don't matter) 3.5" floppy discs. Man... these have been busy times, but giving up was not an option. I was thirsty for more of what I have experienced in 3 episodes and 32 maps.
TIME FOR SOME INSPIRATION
During several sweaty summer-weeks where my friend and I preferred spending our time in playing and examining the gems we found on the cd, we made a decision: "We want to make our own maps, this can't be too hard." - little did we know...
EDITING IS A PAIN IN THE ASS
Remember: In the early 90's, accessing internet wasn't common, especially in the rural 56k-areas that we lived in. There was no community forum at Doomworld or ZDoom, there was no editing wiki, actually there wasn't even someone I could ask personally because there simply wasn't anyone around modding for Doom except the both of us. All we had was the cd-rom, hundreds of tools and no technical understanding. The only chance of getting used to it was learning by doing. So when we were weighing up modding and learning, the result was always the same. We ended up on our computers.
DeHackEd, the DOOM.EXE editor was my first editor that I have ever played around with after terribly failing with map editors. It was quite interesting to change values like monster health, weapon speed or other properties like turning the green key color of Barons into red or grey without any knowledge about game graphics. Or making any monster gib, no matter if I shoot them with the Rocket Launcher or hit them with the fist... I think that these first steps helped a lot to gain a minimum of understanding for the game mechaniques, how things work and especially what's the difference between frames and sprites - I can still remember me and my friend arguing about this. DeHackEd was and still is a very powerful application - just remember what Ace Team was capable of with Batman Doom for instance.
DEU was the first map editor that I have seriously worked with. It was the tool we have used to create our first maps - After Nightfalls, Back to Hell and the infamous X-Mas Deathmatch. Especially for the first project of the three, for Acidflash31 and me, it took ages to create a single map with a playtime of about 2 minutes. We thought it's as simple as drawing, but without understanding the basics of Doom's engine, it wasn't possible to create anything playable. What are sectors, linedefs or vertices? Why do you need one-sided lines, and why are there 2-sided lines? And what the hell is a "lower unpegged" flag?
We first scribbled on papers, collected ideas on how to build something and later we sat together on one 486 computer, doing some kind of "Hot-Seat-Mappingsession" swapping after one of us ended up with bleeding eyes. It was definitely fun and I still have a very warm and nostalgic feeling, remembering these evenings, but my god, it was really not effective. We later switched to DETH, and continued with ZETH after concentrating on ZDoom-mapping.
At the very beginning, there was DEUTEX, the essential command line tool to combine new graphics with your existing Doom IWAD (some people maybe still remember that loading a PWAD with new sprites always resulted in any other non-included sprite to not appear, so you had to combine both before playing). I grew up in the 90's so DOS and command-line stuff was common to me. But that didn't make the process less tedious.
WinTex 4.3 was a GUI version for Windows based on DEUTEX which made it much easier to import and change existing wad lumps, combine wads or do other crazy stuff with the files that are an abbreviation of "Where is All the Data". I actually used it for ages, even when more advanced tools were available. And even though it wasn't one of the most stable tools (does anyone remember "Wadmanager"?) I used it for a very long time, before I moved on to XWE or the currently most advanced editor SLADE.
Next to DEU (the first editor, that I productively worked with) there have also been 3 more editors on the cdrom collection: DoomCAD, WadAuthor and DeepSea. All of these tools have been very advanced and I was a big fan of the possibility to directly launch them in my Windows environment (especially after installing Windows 95 as a next-gen operating system years later)... if it would have worked.
DoomCAD was a waste of time, too complicated, permanently crashing and simply not doing what I wanted to do. WadAuthor seemed like a nice and professional option but back then it was a commercial product. Swabians are parsimonious, my father would have never paid for a map editor, and because of the "shareware" limits, saving your maps wasn't possible (or something else, I am not sure about this anymore). With DeepSea I had a different unlucky situation: Crashes. No matter what I did, it crashed - loading, saving, menues, buttons, everything led to a BOD (the "Bluescreen of Death"). All that was left has been continuing mapping at DOS-basis and using DEU. Maybe I should have just started modding for Ken Silverman's Build Engine...
I remember playing around with some of these tools in July and August, after getting back from the swimming pool, familiarizing with the mechanics. It was a pain. It took ages. But my childlike curiosity kept me trying. It was something I have never experienced before, creating larger-scale architecture, texturing walls and floows, filling them with life the undead. My very first room took about 3-4 hours to be finished, which wasn't a big surprise. I simply had no understanding on how vertices, lines and sectors are related to each other. And why can't I place one sector on top of another one, to create rooms over rooms? Remember, there were no advanced sourceports in the middle of the 90's, and I had no clue about the 2.5D limitation of Doom's vanilla engine.
The first unreleasable
After a certain while and hours of mapping, we slowly got used to mapping, but it still was a tedious process: Starting the editor DEU from DOS, working on a map, saving it, exiting, launching Doom 2 (startup around 30 seconds), testing it, exiting Doom, starting over from the beginning. There was no multi-tasking, no multiple windows, all had to be done one after another. No problem for our enthusiasm though. Between our mapping sessions, we both worked on new sprites (PaintShop) and graphics (Paint) for the megawad, not only trying to draw these but also assembling them with DeuTex... what a Sisyphean task. I was pretty happy to have spotted WinTex later, a graphical user interface instead of a command line parameter tool.
Another thing I have been playing around with was midi composing and After Nightfalls includes a few tracks that I made. jimmy would break down in tears when listening to them, so if someone is really interested in hearing the crimes that I have committed, check D_EVIL and D_DM2TTL - and let's simply not talk about it anymore. Ever..
The greatest musical achievement since Beethoven
Some of you might already guess it: After Nightfalls was never finished and despite our fantastic and totally exaggerated ambitions, the mod ended up in today's Unreleasables - for good. But then, back in 1999, the internet was invented (well or at least, we got a suitable internet connection in our rural hometown in the south-west of Germany) and with this new opportunity, we also got some new sources for inspiration: New maps, new mods and - sourceports...