How do I make a PWAD (new level) file?

                (information and advice for absolute beginners)

                            Last Revision: 01/08/96

(NB#1: the info in this file refers to Doom, but almost all that is said
applies to Doom II as well, although there are fewer editors which one can use
with Doom II. If you are looking for a Doom II level editor, then - when
deciding on which editor to download from an ftp site - get the .txt file for
the editor _first_ to make sure that it can be used with Doom II. If you need
info on how to use ftp, email me)

(NB#2: some terms are used in this document, such as 'WAD' and 'PWAD', which
you might not have seen before. If you would like a description of what these
terms mean, then please email me)

              How to create PWAD (new level) files (some advice)

To create new levels for Doom, you need a Doom level editor. There are
several different editors, each with varying styles of user interface, etc.
Some are DOS-based editors, others are Windows based. Some are for different
platforms (ie. non-PC).

ID has requested that people do not write editors that can modify the Shareware
version of Doom; in fact, the latest version of Shareware Doom (v1.9) will not
load any add-on PWAD file by default. Further, it is almost universal practice
that level designers using the editors always put something in their level,
such as a texture, monster or weapon, which is not in the Shareware WAD file.
This ensures that such levels cannot be played on Shareware Doom. Hence, in
general, 99.9% of new levels will only work with the registered version of
Doom. People who make the 0.1% are dorks. :) Another measure employed by
designers is the practice of always making new levels that are set in Episode 2
or 3, as this will help prevent its use with Shareware Doom.

Probably the most popular editors at the moment are:

Deu      DOS based             Freeware.
DOOMED   Windows based         Shareware. Registration asked for.
DoomCAD  Windows based.        Shareware, but is completely uncrippled.
DMAPED   DOS based.            No idea.

I'm not sure about the others, but the latest version of Deu is 5.3. v5.3 is
due to be released fairly soon; this will work with Doom II as well.

These editors are available from the various Doom ftp sites, ie.
and its mirrors. Go to the Doom directory (pub/doom for and
look in the utils directory. In here you will find 5 relevant directories, as
well as other useful directories, all containing many useful programs, editors
and suchlike. The directories are:


There _are_ other editors besides the four I mentioned above, by the way. I
must confess I'm a little out of date on the plethora of editors now available
(note: if you would like a list of Doom ftp sites, then please email me).

Some editors are harder to use than others, some have more facilities than
others, and so on. I recommend just trying some of them out to see which one
you find easiest to use. There's no point asking which one is best: if you
use one partciular editor for long you will become very proficient at using
it. Just try them out. Some people use more than one editor in order to 'get
the best of both worlds', as it were. To each his/her own.

Read some past posts on and you will see
much discussion about the various editors. Also, please post non-trivial
editing-related questions to and not to

All the editors come with help documents on how to get going, some more so
than others. Deu now has quite a lot of help stuff written for it. DOOMED's
help is in the form of an on-line help system. I have several help tutorials
for using DEU for beginners. 

It is absolutely VITAL that you read help texts thoroughly, and also if you
encounter problems and/or editing difficulties, before you post questions to
r.g.c.d.editing or about them.

Creating bad levels is very easy to do with most editors. :)

To make a _good_ level (or a level with advanced features) means that you are
going to _have_ to learn, eventually, the details of how a WAD file works.
Documents to consult are Matt Fell's Unofficial Doom Specs file as well as Tom
Neff's Design FAQ v1.2 (the latter has a list of articles that are worth
reading for even more information). I have both of these files available if you
would like them.

At the end of the day, a WAD file is an inherantly complex object; as such, it
is inevitable that if one wishes to make levels which will be hailed by all as
being good and worth playing, then one _must_ take the time to learn how the
WAD structure works. This also means learning how to use your chosen Doom level
editor to the fullest extent possible.

This is one reason why I haven't started Doom level editing yet: I know that,
at the moment, I couldn't devote the necessary time to the task that I would
like to be able to.

Most editors will be just fine for creating simple levels fairly quickly. Many
have predefined objects (such as stairs, etc) which save you much time and
hassle. Hence, any editor will do for learning the basics. However, for
advanced editing, you'll need an editor which allows you to really get at the
guts of the WAD structure; for this purpose, I would have to recommend DEU, an
editor created by Raphael Quinet, but which is now a joint project amongst some
ten different people with probably dozens of testers as well.

In fact, it tends to be common practice for many to use one editor, not
necessarily DEU, to create the basic layout of their level and then to use DEU
to create the finer details. Such a strategy is rather like using finer and
finer brushes for the different levels of detail when painting a picture.

For the much younger readers among you: if you decide to take the plunge and
do some level editing, it is highly likely that you will find many of the terms
confusing at first, especially some of the ideas that the terms are trying to
describe. But don't feel bad! Some of the things that WAD files deal with are
at University level, so it's bound to be difficult at first. Look on the bright
side though: if you succeed in understanding some of the more complex things,
you'll have a good head start at school when it comes to learning anything
similar. :)

Final note: there are actually _two_ different types of editor. One kind of
level editor is the type of editor discussed above; such editors can change
the _visual_ and _audio_ aspects of a WAD file, ie. they can replace graphics,
sprites, sounds, music, textures, etc.

But there is a second kind of editor: these can change the _behaviour_ of the
objects within the game and do not actually change the WAD file - they change
the Doom EXE file instead (ie. the main executable program). For instance, one
could change the rate of fire of the Shotgun to make it fire as fast as a

In combination, WAD editord and EXE editors (such as DeHackEd) can be used to
great effect; for example: a WAD editor such as DEU could be used to change the
barrel sprite into a sort of steel ball. An EXE editor could then be used to
change the _behaviour_ of the ball such that the ball can _move_ around. eg.
one might change the old barrel values such that the new ball object can be
punched, sending it flying across the room to explode when it hits something.

EXE editing (or hacking) is something you may want to explore once you have had
some experience with WAD hacking. I would not recommend EXE editing for the
beginner. Get used to WAD-editing first, and then ask about EXE editing on the
editing newsgroup.

I have a new help available with complete information on level editing and
how to get started. It lists all available editors and utitilities, so if you
want to begin editing your levels, email me for a copy of the file or grab it
from the DHS WWW site at:


The Doom Help Service (DHS):

SGI Network Admin, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England, PR1 2HE.
Doom: | Tel: (+44) 01772 893297, Fax: (+44) 01772 892913 
Misc: | Office machine: SGI Indy R4400-200Mhz, 1MB cache
64MB RAM, 2GB SCSI disk, 24bit 17" 1280x1024, CDROM+DAT, IndyCam Digital Camera.