The Cacowards are an annual feature at Doomworld, released on Doom's birthday, to recognize the year's best mods. Stephen Browning (Scuba Steve) is credited with the original concept. The series started in 2004 with the so-called 11th edition, which attempted to replicate the success of similar articles in the previous year's 10 Years of Doom celebration, the Top 100 WADs of All Time and the Top 10 Infamous WADs. The 23rd (actually 13th) installment appeared in 2016.
The award categories have gradually evolved. As of 2016, all years have included:
- At least ten overall Winners.
- One or more Multiplayer Awards (formerly Best DM Level) for outstanding multiplayer maps.
- The Mapper of the Year.
- The Mordeth Award for a major release with a long development cycle (named after the notoriously delayed Mordeth E2).
Most editions have also included:
- Runners-Up lists of varying lengths.
- The Mockaward for an outstanding joke WAD (named after Mockery).
Until 2014, the awards also included a one-off honorable mention with a name matching the WAD's theme, such as the Escher Award in 2006 and What The Pope?! in 2012. Each publication is around six pages long, including a foreword with a title card parodying a recent piece of popular media. Various year-in-review notes usually appear in sidebars, such as epitaphs, or sardonic "anniversaries" involving the writers' own projects.
A nomination thread at the Doomworld forums runs all year long, listing and discussing candidates. However, there is no formal voting and the article writers make the ultimate decisions on all recipients.
11th Annual Cacowards (2004)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2004
The first Cacowards was the idea and creation of Stephen Browning (Scuba Steve), with assistance from Mike Lightner (Mancubus II) who hosted a voting forum and created the graphics, and a foreword by Mike Watson (Cyb). The result is an article of five pages, listing, in no particular order, ten mods deemed to have been the best of the year, and completing it with some additional awards: Best DM Level, Mordeth Award for longest development time, Mockaward for the "best comedy wad of the year", a Mapper of the Year for the map author whose contributions were the most significant this year, three Runners-Up, one Honorable Mention, and the controversial award of the Worst Wad. To fill space in the side column which contains the navigation links to the other parts of the article and presents the runners-up, some "Did you know?" factoids were inserted on the last page.
12th Annual Cacowards (2005)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2005
The second Cacowards followed the formula of the first, still written by Steven Browning and illustrated by Mike Lightner. The foreword was this time written by Bill Koch (Bloodshedder). There were only two runners-up this year, and no honorable mention, but one mod was given the What the Hell!? mention. Some additional content started to make its way to the side-column, such as a "WAD scramble", and the "Did You Know?" started making a tradition of marking the anniversaries of Action Doom and pointing out that Mordeth and Millennium were still not released.
13th Annual Cacowards (2006)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2006
The third installment saw the same team as the second. It introduced The Sky May Be as a category to pay homage to departed members of the community. It has two runners-up and an Escher Award.
14th Annual Cacowards (2007)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2007
Continuing on the formula honed by the second and third Cacowards, the fourth of the series had two runners-up and no extra category this time. The "Best DM Level" category was renamed Best Multiplayer Level. It was the first were Scuba Steve would announce that this installment was probably the last he wrote, and the first were he was joined by another writer for the awards themselves, in this case Dean Joseph (deathz0r).
15th Annual Cacowards (2008)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2008
For the fifth Cacowards, Bill Koch was temporarily replaced by Alex Pritchard (pritch) for foreword duty. Patrick Pineda and Darknation assisted Steven Browning for writing the awards themselves. It had two runners-up and the extra category This is my Boomstick.
16th Annual Cacowards (2009)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2009
Bill Koch resumed manning the foreword station, and the awards were written with contributions from Patrick Pineda, Ryan Nematollahi (hobbs), and Sarah Mancuso (esselfortium). Like previous installments, it had two runners-up. The anniversary shifted from Action Doom to its prequel, Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl. This installment also started the I'm Bored! tradition where readers are asked to create a short Doom map based on the output of a random idea generator before New Year's Eve.
17th Annual Cacowards (2010)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2010
The seventh episode of the Cacowards had two runners-up, but with an additional five mentions.
18th Annual Cacowards (2011)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2011
The eighth Cacowards was the first not to be written by Scuba Steve; instead it was written by Ryan Nematollahi (hobbs), with a couple of contributions by Sarah Mancuso. With this came a few changes, notably the disappearance of the "Worst Wad" category because it was considered inappropriate to appear to reward people for uploading low-quality work. The "Mockaward" category also disappeared this year. Instead, a new category for Best Gameplay was introduced, echoing the "Boomstick" mention from the 2008 awards; and a new mention was made for Honoring a Newcomer. In addition, a Consolation Prize was given for Doom64 EX, a work that could not fit any category.
19th Annual Cacowards (2012)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2012
The ninth installment of the Cacowards was delayed by Steven Browning's successor having left without writing them or even warning anybody that he would not write them. After some discussion on the Doomworld forums, the community selected a team made of Xaser, Alfonzo, and kmxexii to take the hold. Scuba Steve made a return to reinstate the Mockawards. There were five runners-up, and a special What The Pope?! mention. The navigation column also saw the introduction of the long mod listing filed under What Are We Waiting For?
20th Annual Cacowards (2013)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2013
The tenth episode of the series saw more changes. The "Best Multiplayer" category turned into its own page with three Multiplayer Awards, and before the awards themselves a new page was inserted for the Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement, which honors someone for their contributions over an extended time, instead of a single year. To write all that, the team from the ninth Cacowards were joined by Sarah Mancuso (esselfortium) and Boris Klimeš (dew). "Honoring a newcomer" was renamed Most promising newcomer and was awarded to three different persons. There were six runners-up, and a jokewad got the special mention of Sing the praise of pants...
21st Annual Cacowards (2014)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2014
The eleventh installment saw, in addition to the regular team, writing contributions from Steven Browning and James Haley (Quasar). It had seven runners-up, plus special categories for Play Thy Role and Runners-up... for the Mockaward?. It also saw the "Most promising newcomers" category properly pluralized this time.
22nd Annual Cacowards (2015)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2015
23rd Annual Cacowards (2016)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2016
The thirteenth installment was written by Alfonzo, dew, kmxexii, ScubaSteve, and TerminusEst13. It had exceptionally eleven Cacoward winners, including an actual physical Cacoward trophy sent to John Romero for his Tech Gone Bad level. It also had six runners-up, a Neat Stuff Safari sidebar mentioning nine mods and utilities that were deemed "not quite award-worthy" but still worth a look, and an Eye of the Beholder sidebar for three graphical improvement mods.
24th Annual Cacowards (2017)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2017
The 2017 installment was written by Linguica, kmxexii, WildWeasel, TerminusEst13, Alfonzo, dew, Not Jabba, Scuba Steve, Ralphis, and Demon of the Well. It had nine runners-up, introduced the Codeaward to be given to software (the level generator OBLIGE in this case) and introduced the Machaward category, in replacement of the old Mockaward, for mods that broke a conceptual barrier by offering an experience radically different from what could be expected.
25th Annual Cacowards (2018)Edit
- Main article: Cacowards 2018
The 25th anniversary installment was written by Linguica, dew, Demon of the Well, Major Arlene, Not Jabba, rdwpa, TerminusEst13, Ralphis, and Scuba Steve. It had ten runners-up, and extended the Mapper of the Year category to Creator of the Year to mark that it could reward any sort of noteworthy content creation. Total Chaos also received a new Spaceship of Theseus award to emphasize how far removed from the original game it ended up being. The trophy images were updated by hidfan using neural network technology. In parallel to the Cacoward, the 25th anniversary also featured a list of the Top 100 Most Memorable Maps and the Top 25 Missed Cacowards.
- The 11th Annual Cacowards
- The 12th Annual Cacowards
- The 13th Annual Cacowards
- The 14th Annual Cacowards
- The 15th Annual Cacowards
- The 16th Annual Cacowards
- The 17th Annual Cacowards
- The 18th Annual Cacowards
- The 19th Annual Cacowards
- The 20th Annual Cacowards
- The 21st Annual Cacowards
- The 22nd Annual Cacowards
- The 23rd Annual Cacowards
- The 24th Annual Cacowards
- The 25th Annual Cacowards