A History of Wolf3D Level Editors (Part 3)

Written by Profile picture for user Zombie Zombie. Published Monday, October 9, 2023 - 02:30

Chaos(Edit) Reigns

Reports of whole-system crashes and other instabilities due to FloEdit were not uncommon, which caused a lot of frustration amongst the modding community.
This proved a point of inspiration for many to pursue creating their own programs. Among those people, there were "Ripper" (aka Moritz Kroll) and "Andi" of Chaos Software.

In mid-2002 on the 18th of May, ChaosEdit was announced as a future alternative to FloEdit, being developed by the two (With Andi initially handling the main programming).

ChaosEdit Beta 1

ChaosEdit was promised to include all of the features of FloEdit, and more. The "more" turned out to be quite a lot; not only did the program edit multiple elements of the game, but could also edit other Wolf3D titles (Like the Blake Stone games or Corridor 7). 3DEdit was also introduced - level designers could edit the map in a visual representation of how it will appear in game, allowing a preview without diving into the game with every change. This really seperated ChaosEdit from it's competition.

3DEdit in ChaosEdit Beta II v0.5

Over the course of development though, where ChaosEdit would come to further distinguish itself with it's expanded featuresets.
The modding community of Wolfenstein 3D had grown a lot over the years - especially once people starting successfully compiling the Wolf3D source code - implementing new features like floor and ceiling textures, new weapon concepts, custom skies and way more.

As ChaosEdit and Ripper himself had direct ties with the modding community, they were in the position to tweak the Editor accordingly, allowing modders to implement changes in their games that would not be possible without complimentary features present in an editor.
As an example, Chaos Software released a tutorial teaching ambitious modders how to change the engine to support sprites and textures 128x128 in size instead of the original 64x64. This would not have been possible without an editor that could support it, which they were in the position to directly provide in ChaosEdit.
The same things would lead to support for the 3rd map plane (An additional layer of the map, separate from Objects and Walls), and by extension texturing the floor and ceiling.

All these changes and features allowed modders extra depth in their level creation, allowing for richer and more immersive environments to be designed.

ChaosEdit Public Releases

Following a closed beta phase, ChaosEdit was set upon the delighted masses with the first public beta release on the 19th of May, 2004. As active feedback was received (a lot of it on the DieHard Wolfers Message Boards, from users enthusiastic to see it refined) and regular updates and bug-fixes were implemented by Andi and Ripper, the editor became robust enough to see a "Pre-release" version come out exactly a year later.

Pre-release announcement on DieHard Wolfers

Updates were steady with multiple releases over the following year, received favourably by the community, as ChaosEdit became the editor-of-choice for many.
Unfortunately development on ChaosEdit would slow and stall in late-2006 (With version 1.25 releasing on the 22nd of October). Andi_CS had left the community and as such Chaos Software, and while Ripper was still present, a lot of his attention had been turned to porting the Wolf3D source code (An adventure that would lead to the creation of Wolf4SDL, arguably spawning a new era in Wolf3D modding).

Ripper's focus was mostly on his new source ports, but ChaosEdit wasn't done. As mentioned earlier, one of the advantages of Ripper's direct involvement with the Wolf3D modding community was that changes could be made to the Editor to compliment the needs and efforts of modders. As changes were implemented in Wolf4SDL, updates could be made to ChaosEdit to help people take advantage of the new features.
This saw what would be the final publicly-released updates to ChaosEdit, version 1.26 and ultimately version 1.27, the latter of which was released on the 1st of June, 2008.

ChaosEdit v1.27 Pre-release

Source Code?

In September of that year the idea would be tossed around about making ChaosEdit's source code available, initially prompted by discussion about a native Linux version of the editor. Ripper responded to the idea with interest, adding that he has a lack of time to commit to the project but would love to see development continued.
There were desires to redo 3DEdit and see it's core "replaced by Wolf4SDL code".

Ripper would ask for confirmation from the Linux-user "Cernex" that he was still interested in it, and would release the source code dependent on their answer. Unfortunately, that user wouldn't log into DieHard Wolfers again, leaving the question unanswered to this day.
Just a few weeks later, Ripper too would disappear unceremoniously as well, leaving the fate of Chaos Software, and development of ChaosEdit, up in the air.

Despite the fact ChaosEdit will seemingly never leave this "Pre-release" stage of development, it is still used to this day by modders, particularly because of the approach to map editing provided by the 3DEdit function (A feature that remained exclusive to ChaosEdit for 15 years!).

This wasn't the end of the line though. Just as the frustrations surrounding FloEdit in 2003 inspired the creation of ChaosEdit, similar causes would inspire the creation of another, different editor at around the same time.

To be continued in Part 4.