How Classic Doom is Still Going Strong Part 1: Running Doom on a Modern PC!

Back to Saturn X, a campaign made in 2012 for a game from 1995.

Welcome back everybody! Here for more Doom? I knew you couldn’t stay away. So this time around, we’re gonna look at why Doom is still relevant today, decades after its 1993 release.  Doom has seen nothing but love from its fans since its release, with countless amounts of user made content like new levels to keep the game relevant, even to this day. On top of that, id Software released the source code, which allowed for the creation of modern source ports with all kinds of new features, and most importantly, able to run nicely on modern systems, no DOSbox required! Today we’ll be looking at how one gets Doom up and running on a modern system, so you can frag like it’s 1993 without having to use a PC from that era.

So, first thing’s first I think. If you want to play Doom on a modern PC, you’re going to need a modern Sourceport, and ideally a launcher. Source ports are basically new versions of the Doom engine made off the source code to support modern systems, and in some cases, fancy new features that can be used by modders when making new content. “Okay, but what’s a Launcher for?” Well, source ports unfortunately tend to be command line driven: If you want to load any custom content, you have to do it through a windows command prompt, make a custom shortcut, or use a launcher like a sane person who doesn’t want to spend ages doing the former two methods.

Now, there’s a lot of source ports out there. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going the most commonly used one, or we’d be here all day. The source port we’re looking at is GZDoom, an evolution of the ZDoom sourceport. ZDoom was popular due to being feature rich, allowing for Mouselook, and also allowing for advanced scripting that could do things other Doom ports couldn’t even dream of. GZDoom is a GPU accelerated successor to the original which was software driven, and is probably the most widely used sourceport today due to its features, and most big name mods running on it. To get started, grab the latest version of it off the official website:

Now, what you’re going to want to do is set up a Doom folder somewhere in a location where Windows won’t freak out about changes being made, so Program Files and the like is right out. Mine for example is just a folder on a drive root. This is where everything’s going to need to go.

I need to clean up some of these folders honestly…

Okay, so you’ve made a Doom folder and put GZDoom in it, what next you ask? Well, you’re gonna need some things we call IWADs. A Sourceport is only an engine, an IWAD contains the assets: Graphics, sound, levels, etc. In this case, you’re going to want IWADs from the original Doom games at the minimum, Doom.wad and doom2.wad. Get a copy off of Steam or GOG if you don’t have them already, and find the .wad files from their installs, and bring them over to your Doom folder. Normally, IWADs need to be in the same folder as your Sourceport, but if you want to keep things organized, you can put them in a dedicated IWAD subfolder, as the launcher we’ll be using means we can just point to our IWADs regardless of location. In fact, for organizing’s sake, I STRONGLY recommend you have dedicated subfolders for your Doom related content. IE, one for Maps, one for Mods, etc. Heck, you might even want Mod subfolders for specific categories like music replacers. In the end, it’s your call, but trust me, the more Doom content you grab, the happier you’ll be if you keep it organized and easy to find.

And this is just a fraction of the Maps I have. There’s more I haven’t properly organized into Folders yet…

Okay, so you’ve got all that set up? Now the fun part: Getting and configuring a launcher so you can play these things.

Personally, I recommend Icferrum’s fork of the open source launcher known as ZDL, which can be found below.

Stick that in your Doom folder, open it up, and you’ll then need to begin the process of setup. Click the General Settings tab, and add GZDoom.exe as a sourceport on the left window pane, and your IWADs on the right one.


It’ll look something like this when done, though I have uh…Quite a few IWADs. I like my Doom.

Once that’s done, move over to the Launch Config Tab. From there, pick the IWAD you want to play, choose your desired starting map (Usually MAP01 for Doom 2 stuff, and E1M1 for Doom 1 stuff), desired skill level, and click Launch! If you have any mods you want to use like custom levels or gameplay mods, those go on the left pane called External Files.

An example launch configuration with some gameplay mods and a custom campaign on the left. …I use a controller, so I like Aim Assist, okay?!

And with that, congrats, you’ve got GZDoom up and running! Oh right, just one little thing…Make sure go into Options -> Display Options -> Texture Options and set your Texture Filter mode to “None.” Don’t believe me? Compare blurry Linear with sexy, sexy None and its glorious, crisp 1:1 pixel glory.

Left: Like someone smeared vaseline on my monitor. Right: Perfection.

There’s a LOT of stuff you can configure visually, and a lot of that is up to preference, but I do strongly recommend using no texture filtering just because, well…Look at it! You’ll probably also want to customize your controls, your mouse, etc. For the record, basic Doom’s “Action” controls only use movement keys, Fire, Use, and Weapon Slots 1-7. Things like jumping and crouching aren’t used in classic Doom and considered cheating in most cases, unless it’s a ZDoom built map that was made to support jump and crouch. A lot of the other things like Secondary Fire/Zoom/Reload are only used by mods, and not vanilla Doom. You will want to configure your automap and controls for that as well as the “Other” section. Inventory is only relevant for mods and some Doom engine based games like Heretic and Hexen.

You might also notice Player Setup, which allows you to turn Autoaim off if you prefer modern mouselook based aiming, which can also be configured through GZDoom. If you prefer modern mouselook aiming, feel free to use it, although note that it might be considered cheating on some maps as you might be able to aim and shoot at switches you normally have to be aligned with height-wise.

And there you go! Now get out there and start fragging some hellspawn!


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