Pushwall Archives

A History of Wolf3D Level Editors (Part 1)

Written by Zombie. Published 2022-08-03.
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Since the month of the shareware release of the game, Wolfenstein 3D Map Editors have been developed for level designers to create their own experiences in the game.

Initial public offerings of Map Editor were limited both in options and feature-sets. As time went on though, more people have thrown their hat in the ring, contributing new approaches and ideas in attempts to improve the design experience. Now, anyone wanting to design levels in the Wofl3D engine have a wide range of choices for how they want to go about it.

This is a small series of articles that will attempt to explain the storied history of map editing programs in the Wolf3D community.


The beginning (TEd5)

When id Software was first coming together and the company was developing it's first games, John Romero created the map editing tool they'd need to work with games like Commander Keen, called TEd.

Though originally made for platforming games, TEd turned out to be a perfect choice for working with their first person engines as well, with TEd5 capable of creating the maps using a top-down tile view instead.

TEd5

John Romero asserts that TEd5 ended up being used as the level design tool in over thirty games (From BioMenace to games like Corridor 7), and proved versatile enough to even be used in creating Rise of the Triad levels!

It was a powerful tool, and if a person is able to get the it running (as Chris Chokan of DieHard Wolfers did), it is a viable editor for people's projects. However, this was the tool of the professionals and would not be publicly available when the shareware version of Wolfenstein 3D was released.

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Wolf Creator - No creativity involved

Written by Zombie. Published 2022-05-19.
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Even after DOOM was released, people still loved Wolfenstein 3D. This was obviously not just seen in the presence of an active modding community, but also in the further related releases other companies would put forward, such as Formgen's "Mission Packs" for Spear of Destiny which were released in the middle of 1994.

A few months later Apogee would release it's own unofficial add-on for Wolfenstein 3D, titled Wolfenstein 3D Super Upgrades. This release, along with the hefty claim of 815 included levels, also claimed it provided means for unlimited levels thanks to an included program called Wolf Creator.

Creator

Wolf Creator is a simple random level generator developed for DOS by Alan Hemphill (with assistance from Chris New) under the name "Infinite Carnage". It is capable of creating a new set of 60 levels for Wolfenstein 3D with some basic input from the end user.

The program offers both a difficulty setting and more in-depth tuning of levels using a simple interface, in DOS. To create a new full set of levels for the game, all you had to do was tweak some scrollbars, and hit the Create Levels button to get started. Oh, and of course you needed a copy of the full version of Wolfenstein 3D.

Creator 2 Creator 3

It is all very easy, and the concept is solid; the ability to create whole new Wolf3D experiences for yourself at…

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Wolf-Bytes - The Wolfenstein 3D Newsletter

Written by Zombie. Published 2022-04-06.
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A long term goal he had been slowly working on, Ian Franken started Wolf-Bytes in 2004 as a newsletter to share an assortment of Wolf3D related articles:

  • Featured Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny mods selected every month.
  • Cool Wolf3D websites complete with reviews.
  • Stories from the Wolf3D community about their love for the game.
  • Retrosceptives on other classic FPS titles
  • Great source code tutorials presented in an easy to follow fashion.

The initiative sourced material from interested members of the DieHard Wolfers community, edited together into a newsletter format and emailed to anyone subscribed.

Many people expressed interest in contributing following the launch. This lead to articles from several prominent message board members including Ian himself, Dugtrio17, Xarkon, and Hair Machine.

After some delays, three issues were published for the newsletter in a monthly format from September to November of 2004. As time progressed, improvements were made including the addition of HTML in the third issue to help readers navigate.

However, when it came time for the fourth issue, there were further delays. What was to be a delay of a few days turned out to be several months, when instead of publishing an issue, Ian announced major structural changes to Wolf-Bytes at the start of February 2005.

WolfBytes @Dugtrio17.com

Mostly dropping the connotations of a newsletter, Wolf-Bytes was to be published to a new website as an "online webzine type-thing", to use the technical term. It's unknown whether this was to still be a monthly release of issues, or if content would be published li…

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Dermuda's Mac Wolf3D Archive - A treasure trove

Written by Zombie. Published 2022-03-24.
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In December of 2021, a veteran of that community named "Dermuda" released "Dermuda's Mac Wolf3D Archive", a collection of hundreds of games created by members of the Mac Community.

The Macintosh Computer saw it's own versions of Wolfenstein 3D released in 1994, in the form of Wolfenstein 3D: The Second Encounter and Wolfenstein 3D: The Third Encounter, with a demo version appropriately titled Wolfenstein 3D: The First Encounter.

Much like the PC version, a community of modders was spawned almost immediately upon the game's release, creating and distributing their own levels to enjoy. This community continues today, with new releases still coming out for the Mac versions of the game (An example being Oktoberbloodfest, the demo of which came out just last year).

Dermuda's collection has been in the works for years, and contains all sorts of projects from over the past two decades, from creators both unknown and prominent (Such as Laz Rojas and Clubey).
The collection also contains spreadsheets listing known information about the included projects, as well as a list of missing games that are suspected to be out there.

Using the archive requires either an old Macintosh computer, or a program that can emulate Mac OS 8.1 such as Basilisk II, but it is well worth it to see the plethora of games that were created.

While the archive has been released, Dermuda hasn't stopped work on it. In fact, they are still searching for designers and collectors who may have projects to add to the archive, updating it as notable releases are obtained.

If you are/were a designer of M…

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Lair of the Mantis

Written by Zombie. Published 2021-09-15.
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thejosh was a member of the modding community that made quite an impact with the release of their first game Trench Warfare in late 2005. That game utilized many features either rarely or never before appearing in other Wolf3D projects and some great visuals to accompany them. The game received much praise, and is still pointed to as an example of one of the better quality games released on DOS.
However that turned out to be nothing compared to what they revealed in June of 2009 with the announcement of their at-the-time new project, Lair of the Mantis.

LOTM1 LOTM2 LOTM3

The visuals in the screenshots, as well as a (now lost) YouTube trailer showing it all in action, were impressive and for many the game shot up to the tops of their wishlists.

The project was built on Wolf4SDL, but so heavily modified and with so many detailed high resolution (128x128) graphics, the game looked to many as if it had to have been built on something more advanced.

Lair of the Mantis had reportedly been in development since January 2008, and  the following list of features were slated to be included in the game. (This list is based on information announced by thejosh on various platforms, and what can be garnered from available screenshots)

  • HUD elements
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Wolfenstein 2D - Bonus content in C-Dogs SDL

Written by Zombie. Published 2021-08-30.
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C-Dogs SDL is a port of a top-down shooter originally developed for DOS.

Over the years of it's development, Cong Xu has added a number of features and extras on top of the original, and with the "full" release of the port came one of the coolest of all; compatibility with Wolfenstein 3D.

If you own a copy of Wolfenstein 3D or Spear of Destiny on either Steam or GOG, C-Dogs SDL will automatically add the games as full campaigns within it. The campaigns use the datafiles of whichever game you run to generate the content; using special Wolfenstein-themed graphics and characters to recreate the experience.

The shareware version of Wolfenstein 3D will also generate a campaign to play, though it will naturally only span 10 levels instead of the full 60.

It's a fun way to re-experience the games and because of the way it handles files, many mapsets for Wolf3D will actually work with it, providing even more C-Dogs SDL content by default!

EGA Wolf3D - A pipe dream

Written by Zombie. Published 2021-08-17.
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As the developers of Wolfenstein 3D have always been a talkative and passionate group of individuals, a lot of cool historic information has been revealed about the game over the years.

As it turns out, the game was originally going to be an EGA release, and have a lot more elements of gameplay inspired by Castle Wolfenstein, including “looking under rugs for items”, “bulletproof vests”, and “dragging dead soldiers”, among other stealth features.
These were all ultimately scrapped in favour of faster paced gameplay, and the EGA version of the game was cancelled just one month into development, in favour of a focus on the VGA version.

Despite the early scrapping, elements of the EGA version from those early stages have emerged over the years. John Romero himself has a few times over the years spoken about it, in a post in 2001 and again in a tweet in 2014.

Thanks to a passionate Corridor 7 fan and Corridor 7 developer Les Bird a couple of years ago, Wolf3D.net was gifted with files that included more unreleased in-development sprites, including more EGA artwork, and other cut content (Including alternate boss colours).

EGA Guard

While many of the spritesheets are of items that appeared in the final game, this article has a .zip folder with a collection of the more historically interesting cut content. It's fun to think what could have been, had those original visions for the game came to be.

The Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny FAQ

Written by Zombie. Published 2021-08-11.
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Wolfenstein 3D and it's modding scene came into being at a time when wikis full of indepth information weren't readily available to people. Instead, Wolf3D fans circulated a document called The Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny FAQ, and a long and constantly revised text file full of information collected and shared with the community.

Contained within the various versions of this FAQ is a treasure-trove of information, theories and ideas from a time when we didn’t have the engine’s source code to just breakdown and understand mechanics.

Corridor 8: Galaxy Wars

Written by Zombie. Published 2021-08-07.
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In 2005, Les Bird -former programmer of Capstone Software- was kind enough to release the source code and design documents for a never-finished sequel to Corridor 7 to mega-fan and DieHard Wolfers community member Mishran who in turn shared it with the public on his fanpage.

Interestingly, the sequel sees a shift to the Build engine instead of id-tech. The playable prototype uses a lot of placeholder sprites from DOOM, and serves as an interesting slice of history and "what could have been".

Wolfenstein 3D Part 2: Rise of the Triad

Written by Zombie. Published 2021-08-07.
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Out of all the games released on the Wolf3D engine, Rise of the Triad: Dark War is probably the furthest removed from Wolfenstein in appearance and features. However, that wasn't always the case.

In 2014(?), 3DRealms uncovered the original design specs for the game, which portray it's original intention as a direct sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, declaring Hitler a mere puppet to even greater world powers!

The company has shared this information on their legacy website, complete with modern annotations and concept sprites. If you're interested in the history of these games, it's definitely worth a read.

Wolf17 - DOS modding without editing the source code.

Written by Zombie. Published 2021-08-07.
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How do you allow a person to modify normally hardcoded features without having to edit the source code itself?

DieHard Wolfers member by the name of Dugtrio17 attempted to answer this all the way back in 2005 with a project called Wolf17.

Using a special editor, Wolf17 gave designers access to several variables within the game:

  • Weapon frames, and the amount of damage each weapon does.
  • Maximum health and ammo and how much ammo the player starts with.
  • Most aspects of enemies (health, damage, speed, kill score, etc)

When options were edited using the program, a GAME.WL6 file was created with the new or changed information. A special variation of the Wolf3D.exe was included, which was specially designed to read this new file and react to it's changes.
Should the new file not exist yet, the Wolf17.exe (as it is named in the project) will just play Wolfenstein 3D or the mod project at default settings.

The editable features are fairly simple in the grand scheme of Wolf3D modding nowadays, but many mods are made that only need these entry-level changes.

Initial plans for the project were for it to be open source, with modification and hex editing being actively encouraged. There were also plans to eventually expand the list of editable features, but unfortunately as Dugtrio17’s goals with the project took him in other directions, Wolf17 unfortunately got sidelined and shelved.

Shortly after this project, the Wolf4GW and Wolf4SDL ports of the Wolf3D engine were released. With their advancements, a lot of modders switched over, sadly leaving a lot of ideas on DOS behind. However, the philosophies of the project still hold up today, as seen in things like ECWolf and MacenWolf that incorporate a level of scripting over the game, without the need to further edit the source code.

Thanks to the archiving efforts of peopl…

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