Post feature RSS Laz Rojas and his incredible Doom legacy

Roughly 30 years ago a computer game was made that awed the players upon its release, revolutionized the genre and inspired creative folks to produce hacks and new adventures for it for years to come. The title of the game was Wolfenstein 3D, and one very peculiar garden it blossomed in was Apple Mac.

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Laz Rojas - on old Doomer in trouble

In February 2023 Laz has shared very sad news on his current condition, that were cited on sevaral Doom modding message boards. To use the words of Doomworld boards member @Dynamo:

... he was wrongly accused of murdering his mother, and had to spend 10 months in jail during which he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse of all kinds, and only cleared after the autopsy report was finally made public and fully exonerated him. All the while he has lost virtually all of his belongings and is currently homeless. He has not made Doom mods in quite some time, but nonetheless, he does sometime visit the Doomworld forums and is, for lack of a better term, a recognized staple of the old Doom community. I think, given all the great contributions he has given us over the years, the least we can do to repay the favor is help him in his hour of need and at least try to partially reverse a great injustice that we would not wish on our worst enemy, let alone on a talented, creative and tireless artist such as him. If you have anything to spare, anything really, I strongly encourage going to the gofundme page linked below:

Gofundme.com

Now, where was I...

Roughly 30 years ago a computer game was made that awed the players upon its release, revolutionized the genre and inspired creative folks to produce hacks and new adventures for it for years to come.

The title of the game was Wolfenstein 3D, and one very peculiar garden it blossomed in was Apple Mac.

Prolific modders created new levels, with stories and characters way beyond the conventional Word War 2 inspired setting - among them Doomenstein, a reimagining of later Doom from ID software as a set of Wolf 3D levels but with Imps and Demons - and publishing groups emerged that sought to market these mods in the commercial territory by providing free downloadable demos together with electronic catalogs for ordering full feature length versions.

Laz Rojas was the name of one such talented modder, his works published by WolfAddict - a known distribution group led by a person named Bruce Ryder. With many well received scenario packs of his own - both free and paid - and also a few ports of scenarios from the PC version of Wolf3D under his belt,
Laz has made quite an innovation in summer of 1996 when he re-created the demo version of Wolf 3D for Mac (known by its subtitle as the First Encounter) as a Doom WAD. Thus WolfenDoom was born, the catch phrase being - ARE YOU A WOLFENSTEIN FAN WHO ALSO OWNS DOOM II?

Laz did not stop with the demo, and - in his own words - painstakingly recreated full 30 levels of commercial Wolf 3D Mac version as a Doom II MegaWad (2 original levels of his own design complementing the pack), claiming this to also have been the first ever MegaWad created fully on a Mac computer. More conversions followed in fall 1996, including one for a 10 level-long episode commercial Wolf 3D mission disk, Laz's own Treasure Hunt scenario and WolfAddict-created Aftermath (demo version of the latter made available on idgames section of popular FTP server). Conversions remained a major theme of Laz's work throughout his Wolf 3D and Doom modding career, as over the years he brought over all of commercially released Wolf 3D material from PC to Mac, and also most of it from PC and Mac Wolfenstein into the Doom engine.

As winter cool fell, relationship between Laz and WolfAddict grew very cold very fast, modder eventually breaking up with Bruce Ryder's enterprise and starting to market the creations on his own. WolfenDoom PWAD Collection was briefly delisted, but returned in spring 1997 in freely downloadable form. For Laz, with Doom's advanced engine, it seemed his creative vision started to unfold boundlessly: ambient sounds, double wielded weapons, custom game engine (courtesy of Doom hacker Joel Murdoch, who was also referred to as Laz's tech support person at times), adventures too big to fit in a single wad that required players to swap PWAD files mid-way through the story, underwater battles, objects that you could see from all angles and vehicles - this is a brief list of wonders that he has produced between 1997 and early 2000, when a message on Laz's website was posted, explaining he was indefinitely refraining from releasing any more material due to personal circumstances.

Was it that Laz's maps were pushing 90-s Doom map design boundaries, all while being created fully with Apple Macintosh software, or that they were bearing markings of a well known World War 2 gaming franchise, that got players attention and provoked interest in trying them out? Who knows. What they were staying for was certainly the sizable arsenal of weapons (hand grenades, Schmeissers, flamethrowers and Panzerschrecks to name a few), legion of colorful and unforgettable adversaries, and battle arena backdrops ranging from medieval castles to starships, from African desert dig sites to secret tech bases, and from hidden Artic submarine pens to 1940-s European cities. To see how much over the top Laz went consider that in the final - albeit sadly never completed - chapters of Operation Rheingold, the intention was to send players explore the land of elves and dwarves of the "Teutonic myth", all that after having them fight the way to the magic portal through villain-occupied Austrian skiing slopes in a very Bond-esque fashion.

While the only WolfenDoom title to ever arrive from Laz Rojas in 2000-s before he disappeared from Doom and Wolf 3D modding scene - for real this time - was the re-release of the ambitious Operation Acrtic Wolf as a Special Edition in 2003, his modding franchise left a lasting impression, and the combination of darker tones of Doom engine mazes with bulky and cartoonish looking - but no less deadly - enemies has been inspiring modders for years to come. Blade of Agony, completed in 2021, is one such example. The game, ranking among the most advanced and well known large scale GZDoom-based projects, while not directly connected to Laz's work, used to respectfully bear the "WolfenDoom" moniker in its title. The genre of Doom engine conversions of commercial Wolf 3D material also lived on, Return to Danger and Ultimate Challenge eventually having been re-created as an EDGE Doom source port modification.


For the readers interested in the events of the five years of WolfenDoom development between 1996 and 2000, when Laz and his associates, it seems, were never idle if even for a moment, I am including a collated compilation of several documents available on the web that serve as the chronology of the period.

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_origami_
_origami_ - - 219 comments

Interesting article. Thanks!

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