Doom Engine Creator's Kit

Project status update 2014-12-14

The call for art assets last July led to some excellent submissions from several talented contributors. High in quality as the submissions were, it became clear after a while that in total number they did not form a large enough content base needed for the simple standalone example game as originally outlined below. Also the stylistic differences between each submission might have proven difficult for DECK users to work with.

I thought about this for a while, and determined another way to meet the project's goals: find one or two skilled pixel artist(s) who'd be willing to do all the work and pay them for their work via crowdfunding. The amount of work would be very clear cut, and the target funding amount would be based entirely on their rate for the work to be done - no stretch goals or uncertainty beyond funding itself.

The profile and portfolio of the artist(s) enlisted would be a nice, clear proposition to potential crowdfunders: a talented artist, whose prior work you can assess for yourself, will produce this content, which will be released into the public domain for anyone to use once the target funding is reached. As before, my own role in this I'd do for free on my own time: assembling these assets into a small example game, collecting everything into a distributable form, documentation, etc.

Right now I'm busy with other projects, but I do definitely want to revive DECK in the way described above once I have more time. The next step would be to find artist(s) who are interested in doing the somewhat substantial work required as a paid gig, so if you are such an artist or know of one who would be a good fit, email [REDACTED]. Like I said I'm busy with other projects now, but the art is the bottleneck so any leads on that would be a great thing!

Thanks again for the support and interest.

- JP

The old project page follows, for historical and information purposes:

DECK will be a public domain collection of game assets that will, combined with the modernized GZDoom version of the Doom engine and a resource and level editing program such as SLADE3, allow you to create 3D games using one of the most proven game engines of the past 20 years. The project will also provide documentation to help newcomers learn the basics.

In essence DECK will be a totally free alternative base upon which new games can be created and distributed with the same ease that Doom modders have been creating and distributing their work for decades. You can do a great deal without touching any source code, and in most cases distribution is as simple as including a ZIP with your own game content along with the base DECK game data and GZDoom executable.

JP LeBreton is the project's coordinator and will be handling most of the tech and level design bits, but we need visual and audio artists to make DECK happen.

Are you a visual/audio artist interested in contributing? See our Asset Creation Guide.

If you have questions or would like to discuss the project, check this thread on the new forum. We can also set up an IRC channel if people would find that a helpful format.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get involved?

See our Asset Creation Guide first. If all that makes sense, email [REDACTED] a link to the content you're interested in contributing, along with the name you'd like to be credited under. (Please don't submit content as email attachments, this is less conventient for everyone!)

A few points to make very clear regarding asset submissions:

  1. This is entirely a spare time project, and we have no means of compensating you for your work financially.
  2. Your work will be placed in the public domain via the CC0 license, able to be reused by anyone for all time with zero legal restrictions. We will proudly thank you in the credits file in any form under our control in which DECK is distributed. The nature of public domain is such that artists can remix your work and even remove this attribution from it, but in practice the latter is somewhat unlikely.
  3. It's not clear yet how many submissions we'll get, so we may have to pick and choose from multiple entries for a single asset, and this would mean that someone's submission(s) won't be used in the final main DECK resource file. However, number of submissions permitting we plan to distribute some additional content packs to serve as further material for DECK users to make games from, and with your permission we'd include any appropriate work in those - similar to the TIGSource Assemblee Competition.

What exactly will DECK consist of?

DECK will be a downloadable game creation suite consisting of:

  1. A capable, highly moddable version of the Doom engine. We've chosen the GZDoom source port because it has advanced scripting capabilities, support for modern graphical hardware, and lots of mod-friendly features. It also runs on the 3 major PC platforms: Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux - this keeps the door open for all users.
  2. Good tools for editing levels and resource files. We've chosen SLADE3 as it's the best-in-class data file editor for Doom engine, it's cross-platform, and its level editor is now competitive with other Doom level editors. If you're using Windows, Doom Builder 2 is a very mature and full-featured level editor.
  3. A new IWAD resource file with entirely free art, audio, and script assets that help creators get a new game up and running quickly. This file would also contain a sample level demonstrating a lot of what GZDoom's version of the engine is capable of.
  4. Documentation and tutorials on how to use all these together, to help new creators on the path to making cool games!

Items 1 and 2 are separate, existing projects built from many years of contributions from talented people, and we want to be clear that DECK is not trying to repackage or take credit for that work. DECK exists "downstream" of those projects, and you could use alternatives in their place with #3 to create things. Item #3 - the new resource file - is what we're building with your help, and item #4 will get underway once most of the content is in place.

Why not just make a Doom mod?

Doom is an immortal classic of a game, and many folks including myself have written in praise of its design and role in history.

The principal architect of its code, John Carmack, released it under an open source license in the late 1990s. Access to the code allowed other programmers to learn from and improve it. In the following years, many source port projects sprang up, each of them taking the open source code in different directions, improving and extending the game in many ways.

Today, the game's underlying technology - its engine - has grown to be quite extensible and capable of many things. In particular, I find it impressive how it empowers creators to design complex 3D levels with almost the same ease as one creates a top-down 2D map, and populate such a level with simple sprite objects compared to 3D models, which tend to require more effort and expertise to create. In contrast to many old interesting pieces of technology that have been lost or left to rot, the Doom modding community has created modern tools and ensured the tech runs on just about any platform.

So far, this technology has been used primarily by Doom fans to produce "mods" that are still recognizable descendants of the original game. Many of these are excellent and quite worth checking out. However, in the past few years I've seen several new game creation tools like Game Maker and Unity3D come into wide use, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. I think the Doom engine has unique strengths of its own that might be of use to new creators - creators who don't necessarily care about Doom, or creating mods for that game.

More specifically, I think this technology could be used to create games in a variety of styles: exploration games like Proteus and Gone Home, puzzle games like Kairo and Portal, even RPGs like the original System Shock. Doom's simplicity puts constraints on creators, to be sure, but these constraints are also freeing. With the right tools I can imagine people using it for game jams, simple DIY games, as well as larger works.

Thanks so much for your interest. Let's make DECK happen!

- JP

Is there a due date for submissions?

We'll announce a due date in a bit, once it's clearer how long it will take for most of the work to get done.

Can I submit something that isn't on the asset list?

Sure, let's talk about it on the project's forum thread. The content on the asset list is our estimation of what would be needed for a good extensible base, but additional content could help augment that, and maybe there's something essential we're missing. There's also the possibilty of doing additional, non-core content "packs" as bonuses for the main resource, especially if they're grouped by theme or game style.

I'm a programmer, is there any way I can help?

Yes, there are a few tasks related to making DECK excellent that could use programming expertise! Please be courteous and professional to any project leaders you reach out to on behalf of this project.

Why not just use FreeDoom?

Freedoom is a "replacement IWAD" file that replaces 100% of Doom's assets, so basing something off that would give you a game cloned from Doom's aesthetic and gameplay. Unless you want to make a game that's very very similar to Doom, this is far from an ideal base. DECK will provide example content that helps creators get familiar with the tech's features and start making original games.

Why not use [a Doom source port besides GZDoom]?

There are several high quality source ports with their own pros and cons so this may be a matter for debate, but after years of assessment we've concluded GZDoom (and ZDoom from which it branched) is the most extensible, has the most features, is under active development and has a community making things with it. Many things have been made with it so there's lots of example content to learn from.

What kind of things can I make with the Doom engine?

[TODO: list off cool Doom mods that go beyond level design, eg alt mechanics, aesthetics, story, etc]