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WadC tutorial

This tutorial hopes to walk you through WadC. We start with the very basics and drawing some very simple, boring square rooms. By the end I hope we are generating some intricate dungeons in the style of an old board game I used to love called "Warhammer Quest", complete with some randomness to make the resulting map different every time you build it.

Set up

Make sure you have the WadC JAR somewhere and have Java installed. You need at least version 8. To test, try double-clicking on the JAR: If WadC appears, success! If not, you probably haven’t got Java on properly.

You will also need a Doom engine, a Doom IWAD (game data), and a nodes builder. Use your favourite, otherwise I recommend:

Java JRE

via OpenJDK


Crispy Doom


Doom 2 via

Node builder


Put them all somewhere and let WadC know where they are via the Preferences dialogue.

High-level overview

Imagine a big piece of graph paper and a pen. There’s a robotic arm holding the pen over the graph paper. You can tell the arm to move up or down, to the left or to the right. You can tell the arm to raise or lower the pen from the paper. You can tell the arm to swap the pen for one of another colour. You can tell the arm to rotate by 90 degrees either to the left or to the right; such that the new forwards/upwards direction is what was formerly left/right.

This is a little bit like the old educational tool LOGO: where the robotic arm was called a "Turtle". For WadC, we’ll call it the cursor.

In WadC, you can move the cursor up, down, to the left or right; you can rotate by 90 degrees in either direction; you can move the "pen" up or down, controlling whether you are drawing lines or just moving about. The WadC equivalent of "pen colour" is a set of properties about the objects that will be created by your instructions, including what floor and ceiling texture to use when creating sectors; what textures to use when creating lines; what type of things to create when creating things; what properties for those things, or lines, including tags and special types such as doors and buttons.

We can also group together sets of these instructions into bundles called functions, you can refer to those functions to execute all the steps within, letting you repeat things easily. You can also leave placeholders within the functions that are filled in when you refer to them. WadC comes with lots of existing functions that help you to work at a higher conceptual level than "pen up, pen down".

Hello world

The very first thing we will try is perhaps the simplest possible functional WadC level: a box with the player in it. Consider this the WadC equivalent of "Hello world":

Figure 1. 1.wad

The very first line tells WadC to include the library file "standard.h". If you have ever programmed in a mainstream language before, you may have seen things like this elsewhere, such as C’s #include or import in Python, etc.

We have defined a function called "main". This is the entry point into your WadC program. We call three functions within it: box, which draws a box room; movestep, which moves the "pen", and thing, which creates a thing wherever the cursor is.

Try it out. You can probably figure out what the arguments to box and movestep are, especially if you run the resulting WAD.

box and movestep are all defined within standard.h, by the way.

Notice that we haven’t had to think about whether the cursor is up or down, the details of that are hidden away within the definitions for box and movestep. We also haven’t had to decide on textures for walls or floors, or specifically ask for a player 1 start thing. We’re relying on WadC’s default values.

User-defined functions, pushpop

Where do we go from here? Let’s make a few tweaks to this boring level.


Here we’ve defined a second function called boring. We’ve moved the call to box into it, and we’re now calling boring from within main.

If you try building this, you will end up with exactly the same map as before. Not too exciting yet!

What happens if we try calling boring twice?


It didn’t work: the second box is trying to overdraw on the first. We can fix this by adding a move, to move the cursor onwards after the box:

Figure 2. 4.wad

Et voila, two boring rooms instead of one! However, where is the player start? It’s a bit weird to be putting the player start in last. Instead, let’s place it first


The player is now stuck in the corner of the first room. We’re moving the cursor, placing the player, but then drawing onwards from that same point. We need to temporarily move into the space the room will occupy, place the player, and move back.


Great, that works. This is something that has to be done so frequently, there’s a function in standard.h to help you do it:


If you’ve ever programmed in a C or C-like language, this may look a bit strange to you. What argument are we passing pushpop? Where did the second movestep go? This demonstrates two things

  • After it has been evaluated, pushpop returns the cursor to the position it was in when it started. So the second movestep isn’t necessary. We could move the cursor wherever we liked and it would be back at the beginning after pushpop was done.

  • Any function argument in WadC can contain multiple expressions. Any sequence of expressions next to each other are concatenated into one.

Things to do

Let’s liven up the box a bit: let’s put a pedestal in the middle and add something to do (or shoot).

Figure 3. 8.wad

We introduce a new function ibox, which works just like box, except it creates an inner box, with the outer edges of the linedefs belonging to the outer sector.

We see thing again, but this time preceded by formerhuman. The first time we used thing, a player 1 start was created: that’s the default thing if nothing else is specified. formerhuman changes the thing type to a zombieman.

Different pedestals

Let’s make each pedestal have a different thing on it.


Here we’ve introduced arguments for our boring function. So far, we’ve written two functions (main counts) but none of them accepted any arguments. We’ve used plenty of other functions that accepted arguments. Now we know how to write them.

We’ve had to add pickups.h to the list of includes at the top in order to get access to the shotgun definition.

Some randomness

Let’s make things more unpredictable by introducing the choice operator.


Now we get either a shotgun or a chaingun, and must face either a zombieman or a shotgun guy.

The braces ({}) are not strictly necessary here but they might be needed in other places where you might want to use the choice operator; until you understand WadC better it’s best to just use them all the time.

Turning corners

We can use these buildings blocks to assemble a ring of rooms quite easily.

Figure 4. 11.wad

Here we introduce rotright. It and its sibling rotleft simply rotate the cursor 90 degrees one way or the other. To think, we’ve come this far without covering turning around yet!

We also use a third function to encapsulate our choice of random monsters.

The script is starting to look a bit ugly, with lots of repetition. Let’s tidy it up.


What have we done here? Firstly, we made the decision to move your random weapon off a pedestal and just put it at your feet at the start of the map. Once we had done that, we started to have a repeating pattern of functions


The standard.h header has a number of simple functions to aid with managing repeating code like this. Here we use twice, er, twice, and triple once.

The use of the twice within the triple is possibly a bit over the top. Sometimes you have to make a judgement call as to whether it helps or hinders legibility. Which do you think is easier to read?

triple(boring2 boring2 rotright move(256))
triple(twice(boring2) rotright move(256))

We’ve also re-arranged the order of the boring rooms slightly. You may notice that the starting room is now in the "West" position rather than the "South West".

Now for a corridor

Let’s try another routine. First of all, can you remember where the cursor is? I can’t. If you are using the WadC GUI, a quick way to find out is to put a temporary thing at the end of the script, or to add a short wall that goes nowhere. Try adding thing and/or straight(64) right at the end of the main function and look at the result in the GUI. Is it clearer?

Let’s try adding a new type of room to the map. Considering that the existing rooms are 256x256 squares, and that the cursor is generally positioned in the top-leftmost point of each room after we’ve drawn it using boring. Let’s define a corridor that doesn’t extend from that corner but from a way into the square room.

Figure 5. 13.wad

Before drawing the corridor, we first move inwards a bit, because we want the corridor inset. Just as with the boring routine, we then move outwards again, so we’re positioned ready to call one of our routines straight away.

I’ve tacked a final boring2 on the end just so you can see that things all line up.

Older tutorial stuff to integrate into the above narrative

Works now. Another room type, a bend

leftturn {

dev tip: when developing something like this, if you get lost, try putting straight(64) in places to see where the cursor is at that point in time

time for randomroom!

randomroom {
    boring | corridor | leftturn

try chaining it!

main {
    for(1, 5, randomroom)

refresh a load of times. eventually, you will hit a situation where one of the rooms tries to draw into the space occupied by another.

let’s review our "contract" for these rooms:

  • each room draws from bottom-left and puts cursor in place for next block to be run immediately after

  • each room self contained in 128x128

(we also need to agree on where the join points are. this is a bit loose.)

we need to implement a blockmap: 2d coordinate of 128x128 blocks, (x,y) starting 0,0 and growing vertically/right

each room will check to see whether the 'block' it’s going into is occupied or not, and either bail out, or draw and then mark that block as occupied

(at this point look at lisp.wl in examples; this will be a building block for our blockmap)

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