DOOM SnapMap: A Brilliant & Accessible Modding Tool With Infuriating Restrictions

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.

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34 Comments

  1. Martin Hawkins says:

    I just searched for and found a level I made for Doom 2 in 96 and it’s been rated 2 stars. My 16 year old self says hmph.

    Hopefully id do address the limitations with SnapMap so that I may right this wrong.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Feel like sharing the .wad?

      Really though, if a ’96 wad you made at that age still has 2 stars, I think you should feel pretty pleased. Why not see what you can do with doom2’s more modern mapping programs while you’re waiting for snapmap to get fixed?

  2. BomberJacket says:

    I spent about five hours with the editor yesterday, finding the logic easy to implement and amazed at how much power the game gives you. After an hour or two of work, and I had the basics of an Overwatch-like class system complete with ultras.

    Then I realized, to my horror, that you can have no more than 4 human players regardless of the mode. Yes, Snapmap’s competitive multiplayer is limited to 2v2 for team games.

    I cannot put into words how utterly disappointed and bewildered I was that this was left out. Especially considering that there are resources in the editor to create 4 teams. 4 teams of what, one player each?!

    What.
    The.
    Hell.

    id better fix this, pronto.

  3. Xathagorra says:

    I agree there are some limitations, but do not feel it’s quite as limited (with the exception of PvP options) as people understand.

    As for the two big issues mentioned in the article:

    Weapons mods: available with the spawners. Weapons you can place outright have no mods. The spawners, however, allow you to spawn weapons with most of the mods in the base game.

    AI Numbers: The AI manager only allows for 12 AI to be alive at any one time. However, that’s a decent number for any particular area you’re in, though if you want more demons, all you have to do is have new AI spawn on the death of any other AI, and you’ll have constant numbers. Doing it individually is easiest way. Place a spawner for each creature, and for each one, have another spawner to spawn AI upon it’s death.

    It’s also best to use spawners as opposed to placing AI down. If you want the creatures already in a room when players enter, put an Activator in the previous area connected a longer distance to the AI you want spawned.

    In all objectiveness and from my experience in the guts of it (no pun intended), SnapMap is actually not that limited, for the most part.

    I’ve created some insane maps and scenarios without trouble or feeling I was missing much of anything. Though I do agree there some oversights with things that need to be added.

  4. Catterbatter says:

    This makes me want to fire up DEU and Edmap.

    • darkhog says:

      Don’t bother. SLADE3 is *THE* Doom1/2 mod tool. All in one – you can edit graphics, sounds maps.

      • Catterbatter says:

        Good to know! I should have expected a few advances in twenty years.

      • Faults says:

        GZDoomBuilder is pretty fantastic too. It doesn’t have the WAD editing features of SLADE, but building maps on it is an absolute joy.

    • Optimus6128 says:

      I also use Doombuilder. I’d like to make oldschool Doom maps again. I started at 1996 with Deu and maybe I did my last map 10 years ago with Doombuilder.

      As for Snapmap? I might give it a try, but the fact that there are prefabs of rooms that you stick as puzzles in a grid, while easier for the console group, takes me a step back. We used to draw the map, drag vertex by vertex, snap vertices, make very individual and original level shapes, in the best detail possible in classic Doom. Now it’s just feels very restricted indeed.

  5. vorador says:

    Wonder how much time until someone makes a dating simulator with demons.

    Edge’s reviewer wet dream made reality

    • bud990 says:

      The reviewer for EDGE was an idiot, to put it simply. He was applying the logic of an RPG to a shooting game. There’s a reason his review is openly mocked among the gaming community, and it’s not because we didn’t “understand.” We understood alright. It’s WHY we thought his review was garbage. Maybe he should’ve taken the time to understand what DOOM was.

      • Optimus6128 says:

        I think the reviewer was hipster. Maybe because Doom was taking momentum at the time and it was everywhere and everyonet talking about it, they wanted to give an alternative reason why this is not as good as people make it. So, yeah,. games and culture, why can’t you talk to the monsters he concluded. Well,.. I talk with my shotgun :)

        • Josh W says:

          Ultima Underworld had come out the year before. It’s absurd, but not beyond the bounds of reason.

  6. Premium User Badge

    JiminyJickers says:

    Yeah, I was a bit confused that it seems to be tied to Multi Player with stupid damage popups above the heads. Hopefully they will add more single player environments and stuff.

    Still, loving the new Doom and will make some levels for myself after I finish the campaign.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    I tried to secrete a bonus baddie

    Ah, well, there’s your problem. You need to place a baddie_gland entity from which it can ooze.

  8. Chubzdoomer says:

    PC Gamer just did a similar article. I really hope all these complaints will lead to Bethesda greatly improving SnapMap over the coming months by cutting back on some of the restrictions/limitations. I really like how the tool is designed, but it could be oh-so-much better.

  9. JeremiahBlackwater says:

    I ran into all the same problems at one point or another, but I have a different approach. Get to know the rules immediately and you’ll realize you can do anything you want.

    It turns out I wanted to make a bizarre tribute to David Lynch movies with idTech. Nobody would actually want to play that, but still.

  10. Cruyelo says:

    It’s great that they offered a simple way to make maps for people who don’t know how to do more complex mods. It’s just a shame that they completely removed the ability to make full mods.

    I saw a petition on this subject, but it really has no momentum:
    link to change.org

    It’s a shame, people modding Doom was a part of what made it so special.

  11. Fropp says:

    Yeah the singleplayer is what sets Doom apart, so ID would be well-advised to release some campaign DLC or vastly upgrade snapmap so the world can do it for them!

  12. bill says:

    Sounds like iD need to get this set up for singleplayer asap, before people who like the singleplayer uninstall and move on.

  13. wyrm4701 says:

    I expect “brakes on” will be the default state of modding tools from now on, at least from triple-A developments. It’s a shame, since my main interest in Doom is as a single-player storybuilder. If that’s not possible, it’s not worth the full price.

    • BrickedKeyboard says:

      There’s a solid reason to do this. Every game architecture has limits, both from the way the software is written and the speed of the player’s computers and network connections. It makes the game studio look bad if their product performs poorly – better to just limit things so it can’t.

      Obviously, these limits are set more conservatively than the restrictions the artists who made the original game are working under, because those artists have their work being checked.

  14. kael13 says:

    Re the crashes, it’s not just you. Been playing through the campaign and only today has it decided to randomly start booting me back to the desktop. I have a fairly decent machine, with a 980Ti – tried a driver update and removed my GPU overclock and had no luck. There’s also a 36 page thread on the Steam forums about the same problem.

    Apparently support are aware and will hopefully fix in a following patch.

    • kael13 says:

      Sorry, I didn’t realise you wrote ‘restarts itself’, which is a little bit more severe and not at all related to what I was blathering about. Durr comprehension.

  15. Faults says:

    It’s a real shame that Id aren’t releasing the full Id Studio software for the game. Then again, Id Tech 5 editing never took off because you needed an entire freaking render farm to utilise MegaTexture efficiently.
    I have no clue what’s going on under Id Tech 6’s hood, but supposedly it virtualises textures and geometry, so I have my suspicions that anything beyond prefab blocks of geometry would be a nightmare to compile.

    Nevertheless, the whole attitude Bethesda are taking with this completely flies and the face of the Id of old. What a damned shame.

  16. noxohimoy says:

    1- Stop whining about old motherboard, and buy memory. Lots of it.

    2- Stop whining about Original DOOM textures, and search them. All levels of the original DOOM I and II are bundled in DOOM 2016 (You can unlock and play all of them if you find all the secrets).

    • Faults says:

      Yeah, but most of the singleplayer game assets aren’t actually accessible through Snapmap. You basically get a bunch of modular techbase corridors to work with, and that’s your lot.

    • Aerothorn says:

      I promise you that Alec will “stop whining” the moment you send him all the money required to build a new computer.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Random reboots under load are caused by overheating or insufficient power. With bad RAM, you’d get random reboots no matter what you were doing. If you want to be helpful, recommend a better fan/cooling system or a more powerful PSU. (And blowing out the dust with some canned air never hurts.)

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