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Tim Willits
Tim Willits has what many would consider to be the Dream Job.  Working as the lead level designer at id Software, Willits contributed to Quake and Quake II, and his work will be seen in the upcoming Quake III Arena.  However, Tim Willits worked with id Software before he ever worked for id Software.  Willits' work was included in both The Ultimate Doom's Episode 4, as well as the Doom 2 add-on The Master Levels.  Also, Willits worked as a level designer on the Doom-engine RPG by Rogue Software entitled Strife, making him one of the most proficient Doom-engine level makers who never actually worked full-time on Doom itself.  What does Tim think of his early experiences with id?  How does he like his job now?  Read on!
Doomworld: How did you first find out about Doom?
Willits:  Actually, I didn't have a computer when Wolfenstein came out so I never really got into that, but when Doom came out I downloaded it off of a BBS and I really had no idea what it was until I had played it for the first time. And it was that day, when I first played Doom that I knew my life was going to change. It was a defining moment in my life. So basically I just tripped on top of it really
How did you get involved making levels?
The game was great and so I started looking at some of the utilities that people were making, after seeing some of the levels that were being made, and downloaded DEU, I believe that was the first editor I used. I just started testing it out, mostly modifying id levels and then I started making my own. I knew that my maps were pretty good so I made a bunch of Doom maps and was waiting for Doom2 to come out and after it did, I quickly converted them over to the Doom2 textures and released them. This allowed me to get the Raven series out very quickly because I had been working on them during the Doom days. And they were the first group of wads to come out that were really good for Doom2. I knew that that would attract more attention than just releasing for Doom. 

It was a different time back then, you know websites weren't that popular. I used to spend my time on the, I believe it was the Software Creations BBS just downloading stuff. I would download everything that came onto the BBS. I would download all the Doom wads, and it was amazing how quickly so many people were putting out levels. This gave me alot of levels to study while I was working on the Raven series, because I wanted to get a bunch of levels that would do well in single player, as well as deathmatch. And this was good because this was right about the time id was looking to contract people for the Doom Master Levels. And they contracted me to do that and during that time Rogue Entertainment was working on Strife and they needed a full-time guy. So they hired me and I came to Texas working for Rogue. While I was there I worked on Ultimate Doom. I did both E4M5 and the secret level. That's my claim to Doom fame. And then I worked on Strife and when they started work on Quake they needed some more people so I moved over to id. 

While working on Strife, did you have to change your approach to making levels compared to Doom due to the RPG influence on the game?
Yes, definately. It was story driven, you need to have unique identifiable areas. You need events in a world, where you would do something and it would cause something to happen. Yeah, so it was different, it wasn't just like a bloodbath like Doom. 
As an amateur level designer were there other members of the Doom community you looked to for inspiration?
There was one guy, the guy that made the Legends map. I forget what his name was, but he was the biggest non-professional inspiration.
Who are some of the people you look to for inspiration now that you are a professional in both the professional and enduser communities?
I like what the guys at Valve have done with Half-Life. 'Cause in Half-Life its story driven and required alot of forthought and planning. So definately the most impressive game right now is Half-Life. Hands down... and alot of that had to do with the designers. 
A lot have said Half-Life is the best FPS since Doom.
Yeah, it is extremly extremly fun and the level designers are very very talented and Valve is just one top notch group. 
Has your degree (in Programming) from the University of Minnesota helped much with your job at id?
No, but it got me comfortable with the computer. It helped me to understand what was going on and help me to communicate with the programmers sometimes. Having a shred of programming knowledge. But I mean, the programmers at id are incredible. We have the world's greatest programmers. But at least I can sometimes talk to them. Overall it has just helped me communicate better.
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