How to play or start wads
This is a short guide on how to play single-player Doom and Doom engine WAD files on modern systems. For help with running Doom to begin with, see How to download and run Doom. For Windows help in particular, see How to play Doom on modern Windows systems. For older devices, see Doom on legacy systems. Finally, for help with multiplayer, visit How to play Doom online multiplayer.
How to play or start PWADS
You should begin by looking for the text file which comes with the modification, which is usually based on the community-standard Doom file template. It will describe any special source ports, other mods, or resources that are required, and may contain detailed instructions for that particular mod.
You may need to identify which IWAD is required to play the mod. The Doom series contains several different IWADs, with the primary four being The Ultimate Doom, Doom 2, TNT: Evilution and Plutonia. Most Doom mods are made for Doom 2 but some were and still are made for one of the other games in the series. The other Doom engine games, Heretic, Hexen, and Strife all have only one relevant IWAD. You cannot run mods with the shareware or demo versions using most ports. Chex Quest may come in a variety of forms (including the original game files, or the newer Chex Quest 3 mod for ZDoom), and these have different mod compatibility.
You need then to identify which port, if any, is required for the mod. While many mods—including all created before December 1997—can be run in the original engine under MS-DOS or the DOSBox emulator, some make use of advanced features or cannot run within the limits of the original game. See the comparison of Doom source ports for further information.
The same command line parameters apply for all Doom engine games and for most ports. Some ports have alternative file loading options, such as Chocolate Doom's -merge command; consult the port's documentation if needed. In this example, we load the mod "mymap.wad" with the IWAD doom2.wad in the source port Boom. All files are in the same directory, which is the current working directory for the command window.
boom.exe -iwad doom2 -file mymap.wad
Selecting the iwad is unnecessary if you have only one in the executable's directory. If the files are not in the same directory, you need to give their paths. For example, here we have separated the engines, IWADs and PWADs in different directories:
C:/Games/Doom/Ports/boom.exe -iwad C:/Games/Doom/doom2.wad -file C:/Games/Doom/Mods/mymap.wad
Note that the original Doom game does not support the -iwad parameter and will instead choose the first it finds in this list: plutonia.wad, tnt.wad, doom2.wad, doom.wad. To play in the original engine, you will need to place each IWAD in its own directory, with a copy of the correct executable.
Most frontends will have an option for starting a PWAD when you launch the game. These often utilize graphical interface components of your native operating system to allow you to intuitively choose what files you want to use. Some source ports have integrated frontend components as well:
- In Doom Legacy
- Start Doom in Single Map mode, and select a PWAD in the "Additional Files" area.
- In ZDaemon
- Start a local game and select the PWAD from there.
- In the Eternity Engine
- Mac OS X-only: A graphical frontend will open by default when running the application.
- All operating systems: Go to Options -> WAD Options. From here you can configure a directory and load WADs at runtime.
Drag and drop
Most source ports allow dragging and dropping PWADs, DeHackEd patches, and demos onto the executable file, and will load them the same as via use of the command line.
In Windows, it is possible to associate the source port you want to use the most with the .wad file extension and then use right-click -> Open With from an Explorer window. It is also possible to add a shortcut to it in your SendTo folder and use right-click -> Send To.