Because DOOM instantly makes me revert to being 13 years old again, my first SnapMap was a tiny room filled with 30 Cacodemons, with a boss Cacodemon with 1000% health waiting in a room just beyond it. Which, naturally, required a red keycard to access. I’m quite pleased with it, because I am 13 years old again.
‘Cacovision’, which you can find and mock by searching for DQR6PKCM in the DOOM SnapMap menu, took me several hours to create. However, it took me at least twice as long as it should have done because running a PC with an eight-year-old motherboard has become an increasingly doomed endeavour – no pun intended, I’m afraid – and it now restarts itself every quarter of an hour when playing DOOM. I have had much bigger and more complicated versions of Cacovision, lost to the winds of time because I didn’t save often enough, but I’m just not up for repeating all my work so you’ll never get to see it. And the world breathes a sigh of relief.
Placement of rooms and monsters is ridiculously quick and easy, but setting the logic of how they spawn, behave, where ammo comes from and what makes a level end is far more involved. SnapMap has been stealth-teaching me basic programming concepts with its mostly friendly, chunky blue UI, and my main takeaway from that is that there is an awful lot of grind involved to make things work just so. It’s worthwhile grind – making a chain of logic work is like solving a puzzle in The Witness – but repeating lost work isn’t my idea of a good time. It’s my fault; I just need to sell a bodypart to finally build a new PC.
Anyway! SnapMap is a powerful tool, and a far more interesting second arm to DOOM than its multiplayer is. Sadly it is hamstrung by being a little more hitched to the multiplayer game than the campaign: a lot of the coolest weapon mods and environments are missing, and there’s a maddening limit on how many demons and rooms you’re allowed to stick in order that it remains network-efficient. That’s why I only had 30 Cacodemons and not 300.
There’s also no option to make campaigns or import any external assets whatsoever, which is a knee in the balls of Doom 1’s beautiful, ongoing mod heritage. No difficulty options as such either, but you can manually ramp up the health and damage of any enemy if you want to do the legwork.
It would be be beyond lovely if a later patch expanded the available options for solo-only maps, which appears to be mostly what people are making – or indeed co-op ones, as DOOM tragically does not include such a mode. But SnapMap does allow it, and already there are a ton of early but effective maps made with that in mind.
So the handicaps are a crying shame, but what is there is promisingly powerful. With Bluescreen timeloss put aside, I guess it took me a couple of hours to create a map with four rooms, one of which is Secret (spoilers), one which requires a keycard to enter, 30-odd Cacodemons to fight, three ammo replenishment stations, a mega-Cacodemon boss who teleports in when the player runs across a pressure plate, and a victory condition that kicks in what said mega is killed.
It’s not a pretty map or a clever one, and I don’t believe I have a career as a level designer ahead of me, but start to finish it functions and that pleases me – I can already picture what I could accomplish in ten hours, character/netcode limitations not withstanding. Though I did run into flummoxing problems: I tried to secrete a bonus baddie in front of the secret keycard, but no matter what I tried he would not appear outside of the editor. I’m sure there’s a logic reason for this, but as accessible as SnapMap is, the one thing it does not do is cast any light on why something’s not working.
So there are some bewildering oversights, which mostly relate to id/Bethesda’s clear and erroneous conviction that multiplayer was going to be the forefront of this new DOOM, and I hope to God that someone figures out a way to import external assets (wouldn’t we all kill to see original Doom textures in this?), but in at least some respects it does feel like an honest descendant of Doom’s modding legacy. Great things are happening with it already.
I really do believe that people will keep on going back to DOOM, to try out the more hectic campaign levels at harder difficulties, to take another huff on its hallucinogenic pipe of crazed motion and ultraviolence, and SnapMap at least has the potential to provide more reasons to stay. It’s on id to expand its possibilties: it’s a good start and people are already doing great things with it, but it can do so much more if the devs take some of the brakes off it.