First-person shooters owe a lot to DOOM, but you probably don’t need another lecture on how it revolutionized gaming, entertained millions of players around the world, and is still being modded to oblivion after well over two decades. When its level editor was distributed to fans in 1994, one company decided to cash in on the craze by scamming the fanbase, thus inspiring countless others to follow in their seedy footsteps.
The D!ZONE map pack series was the brainchild of Simply Silly Software. Retro FPS fans may recognize the developers as the creators of the mediocre holiday-themed expansion pack Duke Nuclear Winter. D!ZONE had 75 levels for both DOOM games slapped onto one disc, and was sold for $15 in the USA. Minnesota-based company WizardWorks published the first map pack in 1995, a year after DOOM II: Hell on Earth.
Totally radical, and utterly misleading.
Thing is, downloading was a slow process back in the day. Fans were eager to post their levels online, but it was quite the wait. So, having a disc full of levels seemed like a no-brainer. What the packaging never told anyone was the fact that not only was it not authorized by DOOM’s creators at id Software, thereby making it illegal to sell, the maps were stolen without permission from the internet! Then again, Simply Silly Software never said they made it all themselves; all of the original creators’ documents can be found inside.
Those who were suckered into buying these quickly discovered the maps on offer were absolute rubbish. There was no quality control whatsoever when D!ZONE was being made as these maps were just tossed onto a disc and immediately sent off for publishing. Some were little more than altered versions of the original levels. The rest suffered from amateurish level design: misaligned or missing textures,