Creating Sigil, Doom's unofficial fifth episode
“If the community wasn't still alive, I probably wouldn't have done it, because no one would have cared. But it's so active. It's been really fun.”
- John Romero talks about creating new content for a game that released decades ago
Shacknews has shared a lengthy writeup on the creation of John Romero’s spiritual Doom successor Sigil that explores everything from the design of the levels in the “megawad” mod pack to the process of creating Sigil’s unique merch.
It’s an interesting rundown of a very unusual project. Romero, one of the minds behind id Software’s original Doom, announced the megawad last year as an unofficial follow-up to Doom that, while free, requires a copy of that original 1993 game to run. As he explains in the Shacknews story, Romero wanted Sigil to feel less like a mod and more like the fifth and final chapter of a game that had released decades prior, both in terms of story and difficulty.
He found ways to connect the stories of Doom’s Episode 4 to Sigil in a way that both felt natural and would link the core game to the events of Doom 2. And, as far as level design goes, Romero says that end-game difficulty was the goal.
“I wanted to make sure the pressure was always on,” he said, explaining that Doom fans had decades to build up their skill with the game. “My design choice was, ‘I need it to be really hard for me to finish a level.’ That meant it had to be really tough.”
Both Sigil and the premium collectors kits Romero partnered with Limited Run to create are able to exist without infringing on id Software’s rights as well. For Sigil's collector's box, that means that, in Romero’s words, “what you're buying in the box is CDs of Buckethead's music, cool books we've made, my head on a stake, that kind of stuff. It's all things I made.”
“That was a big plus for me: I wasn't doing anything that anyone could be upset about. I wasn't going, ‘I have new levels, and I was just teasing you with [the level] E1M8b because you have to buy these!’” Romero tells Shacknews. “No, I'm giving that stuff away, but I have some cool premium content that you might want to pay for—not only Doom collectors, but people who like Buckethead's stuff.”
The full story dives deeper into those production and design anecdotes and can be found over on Shacknews.