Q: Why did you decide to create a megawad?
A: People have been asking me to make an entire episode for many years now, and that picked up a lot after I released E1M8B and E1M4B in 2016. Many messaged me to ask if I’d consider making a 5th episode for the 25th anniversary. So, back in 2016, that’s what I decided to do. Like all other mods, it will be free. However, I also wanted to do something special, so we decided to also create an incredible package that fans would love and include an amazing soundtrack by Buckethead. Everything that’s included in the fan boxes is really cool to show off, and Christopher Lovell’s art is fitting for such a hellish game. The Beast Box has to be the most evil game box I’ve seen.
Q: What’s the storyline for Sigil since it takes place after episode 4 and before DOOM II®?
A: After killing the Spiderdemon at the end of E4M8 (Unto the Cruel), your next stop is Earth — you must save it from hellspawn that is causing unimaginable carnage. But Baphomet glitched the final teleporter with his hidden sigil whose eldritch power brings you to even darker shores of Hell. You fight through this stygian pocket of evil to confront the ultimate harbingers of Satan, then finally return to become Earth’s savior. In summary, rip and tear!
Q: What is a megawad?
A: A megawad is a wad made up of other wads, and a wad is a default file format for DOOM® and DOOM II®. It stands for “where’s all the data?” The free version of the SIGIL wad contains several wads that deliver the levels. In the SIGIL fan boxes, we also include Buckethead’s amazing music. To make it work, you basically drag the SIGIL.WAD file onto gzdoom.exe (or gzdoom.app on a Mac). Sigil’s numbering scheme is E5Mx where “x” is the level number 1-9. Episode Five, just after Episode Four: Thy Flesh Consumed. To play SIGIL, you must have the registered DOOM.WAD as well.
Q: You mentioned that there’s nine levels in this megawad, as well as nine deathmatch-only levels. Are there eighteen levels in the megawad?
A: Actually, there are only nine distinct level wad files. It turns out that you can put both the single- player and the deathmatch levels in the same wad. If you run the wad in deathmatch mode, you spawn in the deathmatch area of the level. If you play Sigil in cooperative mode, you start in the single-player part of the level. This support has been in DOOM® since the beginning.
Q: How did you create Sigil’s levels?
A: I used the incredible Doom Builder 2 by Pascal vd Heiden (with support from several other authors). You can get it at http://doombuilder.com and try making levels yourself – it’s not hard to do. Doom Builder runs on Windows 10. I’m a Mac person, so I use VMFusion 11 to run Windows 10 and Doom Builder. It works really well in a virtual machine. Even testing levels while making them was lightning-fast. I press a hotkey and gzdoom launches the level and it runs over 60fps.
Q: How long did it take you to create Sigil?
A: I worked on it part time during 2017 and 2018, mostly while I was on vacation or in the evenings. I wanted to have a surprise for DOOM’s 25th anniversary. I learned a lot from E1M8B and E1M4B, so I think I did a better job this time. The boss level is terrifying. For me, making this whole episode was a labor of love and a reminder of all the amazing times that we had at id working on the original. I was fortunate to be a part of such a great team and a foundational game.
Q: Is there anything new in Sigil’s levels compared to other mods?
A: Well, I wanted the levels to feel like they belong to the original game as if they were a true fifth episode. There’s more detail in the levels than episodes 1-4, but not overly so. I believe that people playing Sigil will recognize my design style, but see new things I’m doing because this episode does not take place on a military base – it takes place in Hell, which is new to me within DOOM®’s design space. There’s a massive room in E5M6 that is the coolest room I’ve created in any map.
Q: Why did you work with Buckethead for the music on SIGIL?
A: Buckethead has been a favorite metal guitarist of mine for a while, and I am so impressed with his output of great music. I feel like I really connect with his playing, and he liked my games as well, so it was a good match. The great MIDI-metal of the original game fit well, and Buckethead’s music really works perfectly with these new maps. Buckethead has a ton of fans, and thought it would be great to show his fanbase that his music fits in with the most metal game of all time.
Q: Can you talk about working with him on this?
A: As some of you may know, Buckethead is enigmatic and elusive. Luckily, I was able to get in touch with him. He was excited about making a new song for this megawad, and having some of his amazing Pikes songs included as well. He was very easy to get along with and loves the idea of having his music playing in the background. The custom CD with his music is included in both the boxes.
Q: How did you choose the music for the levels?
A: It was a gruelling decision process to choose which Pikes to use in SIGIL. There are literally hundreds of choices to consider. The decision process came down to song length and mood. One of the levels is very dark, so I chose a super creepy song that is really different from the rest. I also like the longer songs to have fast and slow parts that might sync with the action onscreen.
Q: Are you happy with where id Software has taken the series?
A: Absolutely. I think DOOM 2016 was an amazing game and deserving of every one of the accolades it got. The team at id is really doing a fantastic job with it, and like everyone else, I am looking forward to DOOM Eternal. To be clear, I don’t have anything to do with either of these games. I’m just a fan like everyone else!
Q: Are you in touch with the original DOOM® team?
A: Yes, we talk from time to time. I see Adrian a fair bit since he has a place here in Ireland (The Heritage in Killenard). I also talk with Tom (Hall) and American (McGee) every once in a while. I’m in contact with John where there’s something specific that we both have interest in.
Q: Looking back on 25 years of history, what do you think is DOOM®’s legacy?
A: I don’t think any of us knew that DOOM® would have the impact that it has had. That people were asking me to make a full episode more than 23 years later? Genuinely, it’s an incredible honor. Aside from the impact it had on what would become the FPS genre, I believe the most important legacy of DOOM® is its community, the people who have kept it alive for 25 years through the creation of mods and tools. It’s not at all lost on me that I have gone from a creator to a part of the community in that space of time, and I love that. My whole life has been about games, and if I hadn’t been a part of DOOM®’s creation, I would have absolutely been a hardcore member of its community. Another thing that’s been wonderful for me is a story I’ve been hearing a lot lately when I meet fans at tech conferences — they talk about having grown up playing DOOM® with their moms or dads and saying what wonderful memories they have. It’s a sign of DOOM®’s age, for certain, but it’s also a sign of its longevity. There are also so many people who got into tech because of DOOM®.
Q: Are you working on anything else?
A: Of course, and it will be done when it’s done. :)
SIGIL™ is a mod for the original DOOM® and is distributed as such. DOOM® and DOOM II® are registered trademarks of ZeniMax Media Inc. in the US and/or other countries. Id Software® is a registered trademark of ZeniMax Media Inc. in the US and/or other countries. SIGIL™ is in no way affiliated with ZeniMax Media Inc. or id Software LLC and is not approved by ZeniMax Media Inc. or id Software. SIGIL™ is a trademark of Romero Games Ltd.