What is a WAD File? What kinds of WAD file are there?

                            Last Change: 22/07/96

(Thanks to Tom Neff (tneff@panix.com) for muchos corrections to my initial
inaccurate witterings :)

Note 1: for Shareware Doom players: add-on levels cannot be used with Shareware
        Doom. See below for more information.

Note 2: for answers to further questions on WAD files, please post to:


        For more technical answers, post to:


Q: What is a WAD file? What do they contain?

The file that comes with the game, namely DOOM.WAD, or DOOM1.WAD, or
whatever (it's the big one) contains all the information that the game
needs to know about the layout of the various levels, the graphics used,
objects, creatures, sounds, music and so on.

This file, or a modified version of it, is called an IWAD file - it is
the main data file which Doom loads.

Now that Doom level editors exist (such as Deu, DOOMED, DoomCAD, etc),
people can design their own add-on levels. These are loaded 'alongside' the
IWAD file and searched first during gameplay. When this is done, the IWAD
file is NOT changed in any way.

Such a file is a PWAD file, i.e. any additional file loaded after the IWAD
file is loaded.

(the remainder of this file is mainly for readers who are using Shareware Doom)

The bad news (if you have the shareware version only) is that Id Software
requested that people making editors design them so that they will not create
levels that can be used with the Shareware version of the game, in order to
encourage people to buy the full version and, therefore, help Id Software make
even more excellent games (such as Quake).

Also, it is widely accepted practice amongst PWAD designers that PWAD files
are constructed so that they contain textures, weapons, etc., which are NOT
in the Shareware IWAD file (such as a plasma rifle); in this way, a PWAD
designer can put a non-shareware texture in the very first room (for example),
which will crash out Shareware Doom straight away.

So, if you currently only have the Shareware version, all the more reason
for you to rush out and buy the full game! :) Editors, PWAD's, sounds, etc,
etc... :)

It is _possible_ to make PWAD's that will work with the earlier Shareware
versions of Doom, but the latest versions of Shareware Doom will simply
refuse to load them. The idea of 'Shareware' is 'try-before-you-buy'. In that
sense, Doom is unusual in that Shareware Doom is practically a full game in
its own right. Most Shareware software isn't this 'complete' (Dark Forces is a
good example: it's just one level). Here are the differences between the two
versions (having read them, consider whether you really ought to be thinking
about buying the full game if you've got to the stage where you've finished
Shareware Doom and want to play extra levels - I mean, so far you've had all
that blast-fest fun for free :)...

                          Shareware Doom                  Registered Doom

Number of Episodes (*):          1                               3
Number of Monsters:              6                               10
Number of Weapons:               4                               6
Can use add-on Levels?:          No                              Yes
Can you make your own levels?    No                              Yes

Note 1: there are now well over 1000 free add-on levels out there, many of
which are of superb quality (better than the original game, many think), and
they're all free. This means that Doom is the best-value-for-money game *ever*
(50 bucks for 1000 levels? :).

Note 2: Doom II, which follows on from Doom I and is set on Earth, is generally
a much harder game. It has seven extra monsters, one extra weapon, all new
levels and new music. However, there is NO shareware version of Doom II. On the
other hand, there are now many add-on levels for Doom II as well (people have
written programs that convert Doom I add-on levels for use with Doom II).

Hope this helps! :)


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