The Abyss


The Abyss
Title screen
Authors J.M.P van Waveren, Miklos de Rijk
Port Vanilla Doom
Year 1995
Link Doomworld/idgames

DOOM The Abyss, also known as The Abyss, is a 24-map megawad released in September 1995 for Doom II by J.M.P van Waveren (MrElusive) and Miklos de Rijk (H2SO4), co-creators of the Omicron Bot for Quake. As of this writing, The Abyss is their only known Doom work. The Abyss was relatively unknown for years after its release, and was never released in any known compilation, nor mentioned in any Usenet posts. It was rediscovered in the mid-2000s through a crawl of an id Software public staff server. The majority of the maps are non-linear "dungeons" which rely on secret passageways and switch puzzles, and have multiple paths that the player can take to complete a level.

After years of legal discussion going back to 2007, The Abyss was finally added to the idgames archive on September 1, 2015. While The Abyss was originally released on a BBS in the Netherlands[1], it was also available on the Telefragged FTP server for a short time in the directory /be/gladiator. It was later moved to a personal website [1]. Previous versions are presumed to be lost due to link rot.


The design ethos was simple:

  1. Integrate different angles and heights to break up the monotony of vertical walls and horizontal spans. This includes, but is not limited to: high ceilings, flat detailing, rotation of flat textures.
  2. Consistent texture themes in rooms, with transition areas to change themes when needed.
  3. Textures should imply most details. If extra detailing is desired, such as missing bricks or planks, it must align competently with the surrounding textures.
  4. If there is a dark room with a light source, lights and shadows (in particular umbrae and penumbrae) must be present and at the correct angles.
  5. If there is no light source in a room, lighting depends on room size or door size, as well as depth from the "surface". A small tunnel near the surface should be dimly lit, and an underground tunnel should be nearly pitch black. If a texture or flat with a implied light source is used, the area must be lit, and shadows applied (if possible).
  6. Texture alignment is a must, especially on brick, marble, and wood textures. Two-sided line textures should be in alignment with visible flats.


While there is no story in the text file, The Abyss uses its maps and textures to convey a sense of story, much like in the way Equinox did.


The player assumes the role of an amateur archaeologist named Miklós, in search for spoils rather than science. His latest excursion is cut short by demons from another dimension, and the treasure made unobtainable. Unable to escape, Miklós must go further into the mountains, discovering what seems to be a lost civilization along the way.

Spoiler Warning: Plot details follow.


Later into the game, the facades change to more alien, tech structures. Miklós discovers a supercomputer that is creating an illusion of the previous temples, controlled by a cult attempting to summon Hell's hordes. He attempts to deactivate their machines, causing immediate effects as the computers shut down. With the illusion deactivated, Miklós eventually finds the cult's leader and destroys him, but at the expense of his own soul, as he is trapped inside the mountain. The final locked door is opened with the leader's key, leading to a room containing a sarcophagus engraved with Miklós' name.

Spoilers end here.


Built-in demos[edit]

This WAD features three built-in demos. All require Doom II v1.9 to view them. The demo levels are:

Demo Level Skill Tics Length
DEMO1 MAP14: Arabesque 4 2755 1:18.71
DEMO2 MAP03: Avernus 4 4185 1:59.57
DEMO3 MAP05: Imp Madness 4 3772 1:47.77

Revision history[edit]

There were seven releases of The Abyss, with version 2.4a being the only surviving copy as of this writing. Almost every version had graphical changes, most notably the TITLEPIC.


  • Released with 10 maps.


  • A bug that caused MAP01 to be completely dark when triggering any linedef has been fixed.


  • Three new maps (MAP11-MAP13).
  • A misplaced deathmatch start in MAP02 that could trap a player has been removed.
  • A deathmatch exit was added to MAP07.
  • Texture touchups and additions.


  • MAP04 received further polish.
  • Texturing errors corrected on MAP10.
  • MAP12 undergoes "important changes".
  • An unused vertex is removed in MAP13.


  • All maps have been retouched, with some gaining new areas.
  • Seven maps were added (MAP14-MAP18).
  • New textures have been added.
  • Demos have been implemented.
  • Punch sound effect was replaced.
  • Intermission graphics have been changed to match with the new map names.

v2.1 - v2.3[edit]

  • Not released, or internal builds only.


  • Four new maps. (MAP19-MAP22)
  • New graphics and touchups.
  • Music was added.
  • Flat textures added. This was notable as these flats did not require a patching utility to merge The Abyss with the Doom 2 IWAD.
  • Maps 3, 12 and 13 underwent some changes.


Some older source ports, such as Skulltag, may read in the graphics incorrectly due to the arrangement of the lumps in the WAD directory, causing all textured surfaces to be out of place or corrupted. A fixed version was distributed as, but has since been lost due to the shutdown of several community file hosting services.


Current records[edit]

The DSDA episode records for The Abyss are:

Run Time Player Date File Notes
UV max run 1:11:25 vdgg 2017-02-20

The data was last verified in its entirety on July 28, 2022.


  • J.M.P van Waveren went on to work at id Software during Quake III Arena's development, where he developed the AI system used there and in Doom 3. He subsequently became Engineering Manager at Oculus VR.[2]
  • H2SO4 was also known as "Squatt" in the Quake community. He enjoys traditional painting and photography.
  • Two of the maps are modified id Software levels. This may explain its former lack of inclusion in archives.
  • Notable editors used include VistaPro, a landscape generation program used to create the title screen, help screen, and in-game skies, and TheDraw (listed as T-DRAW in the TXT, possibly from the default directory name), an ANSI editor used for editing the ENDOOM text.
  • In October 2015, it was discovered that The Abyss was publicly available on Telefragged (Atomic Gamer) online from the Gladiator Bot website on March 21, 1999. It appears to be version 2.4a, the final version, and was downloaded 92 times by August 26, 1999. [3]
  • Originally, 32 levels were planned, but scrapped due to loss of interest as some doomers moved to Quake.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. "The Abyss was originally released on a BBS in the Netherlands, but apparently didn't spread very far from there." ~JMP, in email interview.
  2. James, Paul (12 November 2014). "SDC 2014: Getting Started with the Oculus Mobile SDK, Liveblog @3pm PDT." Road to VR. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  3. MrFreeze (9 October 1999). "Gladiator Bot Download Page." Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  4. "We had 32 maps planned. While there were some some scraps, we didn't make it past 24 before Quake took over our lives ;)" ~JMP, in email interview.