A few years back, id Software co-founder and Doom co-creator John Romero released Sigil, an unofficial fifth episode of the original Doom. Instead of being teleported back to Earth for the events of Doom 2, the Doomguy gets accidentally teleported further into Hell, requiring some additional violence before he gets back on track. Sigil was well-received by Doom fans for the game's 25th anniversary, so it seemed natural that Romero would announce his intentions to create Sigil 2 for Doom's 30th anniversary last year.
A year later and we’re finding out that Romero has only started on Sigil 2’s first level. Romero previewed roughly five hours of Sigil’s opening act in a Twitch livestream, answering questions from fans and showcasing his process for creating new Doom levels.
"What you're looking at on-screen is Doom Builder. On the right side, you can see that I made a sketch for this level," said Romero, referring to a hand-drawn image. "Obviously, it's not the final level, and it's just my first sketch."
Romero explained his process is to first come up with an idea for a level, then create an overall sketch for that level, and then start creating. He described level creation as an iterative process, full of small changes and live-gameplay tests to see if everything looks right from the player's perspective.
"I've been working on just that room and the little hallway. I think I worked on it for a day or something," Romero explained. "A lot of why I worked on it for hours and have only just a little room is because I’m doing a lot of work on detail level and want to do some custom textures."
Although this might seem like a snail’s pace in terms of development, it’s actually quite fast by modern game standards. Answering questions from fans, Romero explained how Doom Builder makes creating levels a lot easier compared to the tools he had for the original game, although there are a few things from his original tool set that he misses.
In addition to Sigil 2, Romero is also working on a brand new first-person shooter in Unreal Engine 5. The game will include "memorable and stunning maps," according to recently posted job ads, implying that it won't be an open-world shooter like so many modern titles.
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