Source Port: Boom and derivatives
Gameplay: Single-player/co-operative
Status: Complete
Download: Final Release


18th Annual Cacowards
Jenesis on the Doom Wiki
Development thread on Doomworld
Doomworld Megawad Club’s playthrough thread
kmxexii’s level-by-level review


It was Saturday, October 23rd, 2010. Having lately played through quite a few great megawads (but not without lots of cheating – I’m a horrible player), I suddenly felt the urge to do one of my own, except maybe a set of 10-11 smallish maps, which would in theory (and hopefully in practice, too), help get my single-player mapping up to speed. It was not an entirely unreachable goal – it would definitely take me a great deal of time and effort, but one-man megawads seem to be among the best or at least the most memorable: Scythe, Scythe 2, Vile Flesh, Doom 2: Reloaded, and the more recent Reverie.

Up until that point, I’d only released small duel and deathmatch maps for Skulltag (which got… mostly good reactions from the community at the time, I guess), so I was no stranger to mapping for Doom – although, I’d released practically zero single-player maps, on account of (a) having very little experience overall – some of my earlier attempts were aborted a quarter of the way through, or just too terrible for even an ironic “hey look at how bad this is” release, and (b) my lack of patience for doing more complicated layouts. My mapping skills in general, and my personal discipline in the process itself, were in serious need of a little brush-up if I were to feel confident in calling myself a mapper.

I started planning my megawad, and introduced the idea to my good buddy Mechadon. He approved wholeheartedly, and volunteered his advice for when I stumbled over the various limitations of mapping for classic Doom.

My initial sights were not all that high. The working title for the project was Generix – which would, my intention was, completely reflect the nature of the maps. My original specification for the project’s maps was “Small, easy, modest, probably not very memorable“. This turned out to be a massively inaccurate descriptor for the final product of Jenesis, at least in my view.

With some time off school during half-term break, I took some old layouts of mine that needed finishing and bloody well finished them, created new maps entirely from scratch, planning them out on paper beforehand if I deemed it necessary, and speedmapped like a demon.

It wasn’t an easy process – mapping in the format for classic Doom sourceports was something I was not accustomed to, and the initial week of mapping for the project saw me bursting into fits of confusion and rage at the new limitations I had presented myself with. But before too long (ie. October 31st), I had eleven maps in good, working condition.

This small mapset, upon its final release (after many a gruelling testing/bugfixing session), saw a good share of praise from the community. Feeling like I was onto something, I decided that I’d definitely go for the full 32-level “megawad”. From there the project developed, escalating in scale and overall quality as my mapping prowess steadily grew. I was picking up steam fast. Each new map I made was an effort to outdo my previous attempt. My own standards increased dramatically, and before I was halfway through the project, I’d already decided on which of the previous maps were my least favorites, and needed thorough makeovers.

I’d finally gotten into a groove. I finally had a way to unleash some of my dormant creativity on the community for the first time in years. And in the cases where I speedmapped, imposing a timelimit on myself actually encouraged me to do it fast, and do it well.

That’s not to say that I had suddenly become a human dynamo and Jenesis was without its share of inactive periods. I went months at a time without daring to look at the project. The motivation to keep it afloat fluctuated wildly, and the introduction of all sorts of inescapable commitments, real-life or otherwise, threatened to halt its progress completely.

I released the final project just before my family and I began the long move to Australia, on the 28th of November, 2011. Just over a year of development had finally yielded a megawad’s worth of content. A piece of work that completely replaced that of the original id Software mapping team, creating an entirely new gameplay experience.

This won a Cacoward in 2011!

I consider Jenesis to be my magnum opus, and for my first foray into classic Doom mapping, it doesn’t feel like I did that bad of a job. Granted, there are parts of it that, to this day, make my inner critic scream in anguish, but they’re overshadowed by the sense of achievement that finally releasing this thing wrought.

And then, come Doom’s 18th birthday in December 2011, I won a Cacoward.

Happy days!

Jenesis: A Retrospective

Starting October 1st, 2012, the Doomworld Megawad Club started a playthrough of the WAD. As they played in their traditional fashion of one level per day, I dropped some director’s commentaries on each one. You can read each level’s entry in the entire retrospective below. They showcase me at my most critical and self-deprecating, so tread with caution. 😛

Click here to read.

12 Responses

  1. MarkAnthony89

    I played it and I LOVED it, one of the very best megawads in all time (if not the best) I reviewed it on Realm667. Better than Jenesis? Maybe a sequel!

    By the way, aren’t you planning to make a sequel or at least another classic style mapset for doom 2? It would made my day!!! 😛

    • James Paddock

      I have followed up on the idea, even started on a few maps – but that was quite a while ago, and I’m not sure how likely it is that I’ll pick it back up. Before Jenesis was even done, I was very keen to start on a potential sequel, but I wanted some help from a few fellow mappers. I guess the two or three I contacted were just a little caught up in things to help out right away, so the project fell down my priority list. It would definitely be nice to have it finished, though.

      I’m focusing on other things right now, but I should have a certain other project released very soon. 🙂

      • MarkAnthony89

        *Suspense* :O
        Really? New project by you coming very soon, AWESOME news! BTW I played your map18 (Suburbia) from Community Chest 4 and I’ve gotta say: I really love your style of mapping! Keep up the GOOD work! 🙂

        • James Paddock

          Thanks a lot, man. 🙂 Mechadon really made that map shine with his detail job, so most of the kudos should go to him. 😛

          I’m definitely hoping to get that something released before the month’s end, but we’ll see how it goes. 😉

          • MarkAnthony89

            OK, I know that maybe I shouldn’t be bothering you with this and maybe this is not the right place to discuss other projects but Jenesis, would you kindly tell me if it’s gonna be a full megawad or a mapset with less than 30 maps?

            And btw, most authors post their current work in progress to show us (doomers) what to expect from their work aren’t you doing this too?

            NOTE: I love also and specially great releases that come unexpeted as a surprise but I’m too curious, maybe that’s my problem.

            OK, I apologize if you’re feeling bothered by my frequent questions. But as your project may be a secret I’m counting that you might not want to tell me anything. Well that’s ok but asking doesn’t cost nor harm.

            Anyway, GOOD work for your project! CHEERS!!! 😀

          • James Paddock

            Well, if you follow me on the ZDoom forums, you might have noticed that I’ve recently been making a few progress updates in this thread. 😉

            (It’s no problem, I’m glad for the interest. :P)

  2. MarkAnthony89
  3. Cauldraborn

    Ey James, unsure if you get this but I honestly hope you do. I’ve really enjoyed your Jenesis wad as it was very creative and the music was just excellent however because I enjoyed the music I’ve wanted to play it with other wads, so I decided to come here and ask if you might be able to pull together the Jenesis music files and turn that into a wad itself seperate from the game? Would allow me to play the great music with other wads that have some prety bad choices lol


  4. CKW

    Just wanted to write a tremendous thank you for Jenesis. Honestly, as a fan of Doom and Doom II since both games came out, Jenesis feels to me like what Doom III would have been if it were running on the original engine. I’ve played A LOT of megawads looking for something I like as much as Jenesis, and I haven’t found a single one that comes close. Most mappers don’t use the doom assets in a way that creates something new or interesting, they figure that teeny tiny maps or gargantuan maps are the way to go (they aren’t), or they overcompensate by putting 500 monsters or more in a level. It’s all very trite, and tremendously boring.

    The highest praise I can give Jenesis is that the maps are fun and the difficulty is unerringly FAIR. The wad is not filled with cheap shots or nauseating “gotcha!” moments that will kill you unless you know it’s coming in advance (one of my major gripes about Plutonia as a whole). Even your icon of sin map is novel and fun to play!

    I’ve rambled enough, but you understand Doom, its aesthetic, and principles of solid game design in a way that I don’t think your predecessors can touch. From level one to 32, it was just flat-out wonderful.

    • James Paddock

      Thank *you* very much for your positive review!

      I’m very glad I did Jenesis – it opened my eyes to more limited mapping formats (and Boom is definitely a fantastic format to work within if you want a no-nonsense mapping medium that still allows you to do clever tricks), helped my confidence in my mapping skill immensely, and was really the kick in the ass I needed to make sure I actually got something done. I certainly wasn’t *aiming* to do something that could be considered a sequel to the original Doom II, though in many ways, the maps are homage to some of my favorite mappers, such as John Romero, Erik Alm, Iikka Keranen, and Paul Corfiatis. It’s for the most part unoriginal in that regard, and one of my newer projects, Jungle Spirits, seeks to develop a style of mapping and theming that is entirely my own.

      Now that a few years have passed, I look back on Jenesis and see plenty of rough patches, although I’m sure the same would happen if I were to do the same today and look back in a couple years’ time from now. I rely heavily on orthogonal architecture, though I’m seeking to break this up a bit. And certainly my monster placement could use work – way too many revenants and barons in some encounters, and the difficulties aren’t entirely balanced, to the point where even HMP can be incredibly challenging in spots. I did make sure to stay the heck away from slaughter-style gameplay, though. Nooot a fan of that, myself. 😛

      Anyway, enough of my rambling. Thanks again and I’m super-glad you liked the WAD!

      On a final note: Happy 20th birthday, Doom II! 😀

  5. Zdenda1990

    Absolutely love the WAD, one of the best that I’ve ever played. I have one question – I know that Map32: Reprise is one of your older maps or as it says on the Doomwiki “Map is a “demake” of MAP02 from 2004.” Is this the original version of the map or are there any previous versions of it and if so, is it possible to download them somewhere?

    • James Paddock

      Hi Zdenda, glad you like the maps. 🙂 Jenesis MAP32 actually *is* the original version of MAP02 (“The Canal”), which I made as an angsty early teen while struggling through middle school. It’s there mostly intact from its original form although I had to clean up some game-breaking bugs and remove all the ZDoomisms from the map’s design. There’s the broken version that was going to be part of a megawad I was working on back then (before I lost interest in it and started work on Jenesis more than half a decade later), but I don’t know if these silly, broken and unfinished ZDoom maps will ever see the light of day, unless I go mad and make a post sharing absolutely everything I’ve made with the community. 😛

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