|Dario Casali is currently serving at Valve Software, where he has worked as a level designer on the smash-hit game Half-Life. Working in a professional environment can often put stress on a level designer, who is required to create numerous levels, and then remodel and rework them over and over, often within short periods of time. Dario is well adapted to this life, however. In id Software's final entry in the Doom series, Final Doom, he singlehandedly created about twenty levels out of the 64 in the game. How did Dario manage to such a plethora of levels in such a dearth of time? How does he feel about his current position? Read on!
|Doomworld: How did you first hear about, and then get hooked on Doom?
|Dario: It was September 1993. A friend of mine had a PC at school and I had played Wolfentstein so I was amazed at how much more impressive Doom was than that.
|What is it in Doom that made you want to create add-ons for it?
|Being able to fight my brother in a world that I had created was a huge attraction for me. There was an extraordinary amount you could do with the Doom engine to ensure constant variety in the levels I made.
|What work have you done for Doom(2) ? How did you get involved ?
|Before being involved with anyone outside of Milo and I, we made lots of deathmatch levels and released them through my webpage and cdrom.com. We released a handful of levels pompously named "Thebest" which had demos and level design tips in each one as well as the level itself". I also released some crazy levels after Plutonia which were Doom2 E1M1 variants with huge numbers of monsters (1000s each) in them. These were called Punisher, Punisher2 and Seige. The first megawad I got involved with was the original Momento Mori, to which Milo I handed over four or so maps that we had already built but no-one had seen before. Around the same time, I joined the "advanced doom editing mailing list", which led on to become the home for Team TNT. This team started on a megawad of its own called Evilution, and Milo and I contributed about 8 levels to. This project was eventually snapped up by ID and some changes were made to which levels were included. Four of ours were cut and a lot of changes had to be made to the ones that stayed (a lot of my levels were simply too big to play on 8 meg systems).
|What was the deal with your Punisher WAD? Why did you decide to make such a big and hard level? Could you actually beat it?
|I got bored with
being able to beat Plutonia all the time, so I borrowed Milo's idea (he
made the last secret level in Plutonia, the one with a billion monsters
in it). So I made my own variant of E1M1 and threw in even more monsters.
I just loved grabbing an invulnerability powerup and wading through hoardes
of monsters with the BFG, never
knowing if I'd make it to the other side before the powerup ran out!. I also liked the way that you had to manage ammo and powerup resources carefully and there were lots of ways around the level. Co-op was a blast too. I could beat it every time, but I always had fun beating it. I got a few demos of other people beating it too, so it wasn't impossible!
|How did you get involved with The Plutonia Experiment?
|Since I was soon to lose my internet connection, Milo and I decided to make an 8 level single player episode and release it for free. It would be based on our own rules and our own style of gameplay (very challenging, tactical combat). Together we whipped the 8 levels out in just over a month, and before releasing it, I sent it to American McGee, who was impressed enough to demo it to the rest of the ID crew. They asked us if we could make them a 31 level game in less than 4 months! We did so, and this was entitled the Plutonia Experiment, and became part of Final Doom.
|Which ones of those WADs are you especially proud of?
|I'm most proud of Plutonia. The innovation and originality that Milo and I forced ourselves into manifested in some really unique stuff, and to have done it all in such a tight timeframe was all the more astonishing. It's the set of levels I chose to play over and over for a long time since they were so challenging to play.
|How hard was it for two people to make a professional-quality megawad?
|I never thought of it as a professional WAD, we were just building all the ideas we could think of. Building 32 levels between 2 people in four months was a serious challenge, and by the end I was totally drained and never wanted to set foot inside DETH again. On the other hand, it was a lot of fun, and a great excuse not to study for my Finals at Oxford.