John Romero celebrated Doom’s 21st birthday last week by sharing a load of neat-o unseen art and photographs from his personal archive, but in my gushing I missed a big Doom birthday tradition. For 11 years now, the Doomworld community have marked the day with the Cacowards, a celebration of the Doom mapping and modding community’s best from the past year. They’re still going strong! If you’re out of touch with recent Doom developments but fancy playing something new, the 2014 Cacowards winners are a fine place to start.
The Cacowards honour the best Doom/Doom engine levels, mods, map packs, and more, as voted for by Doomworld members. You’ll find levels praised for their design and technical trickery, mods rebuilding Doom as something new, and a few silly jokes. Only a few levels and mods find much fame beyond Doom communities, and they’re often just the ones that come across best on YouTube. If you want to know what Doom diehards think is good at the moment, this is a fair indicator.
I’ll probably go for Best Gameplay Mod winner DemonSteele first; I like the sound of a Doom redesign inspired by anime, with a gun in one hand and a sword in the other. Then maybe Urban Brawl: Dead of Winter, as I really enjoyed the original Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl turning Doom into a colourful first-person beat ’em up. The Monster Hunter Ltd. levels sound ace too. And I want to see the clever technical bits of the Going Down mapset. And then also… lots to play tonight!
Here, look at DemonSteele on a few custom levels:
If you’ve got Doom on e.g. Steam as simply the game running in DOSbox, you might fancy (and will probably need) a community-updated engine. Zdoom is always a solid choice or, if you want shiny newness, Doomsday bristles with bells and whistles. Other source ports are available, of course.
(And if you’re confused by the name ‘Cacowards’, perhaps wondering if “cack” now means “good” in the same way that we vibrant young people say “bad” to mean “good”, this link might help.)