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Doom At 30: MyHouse.wad is an extraordinary mod that asks, "What if Doom was an ultra creepy horror game?"


A spacious living room in MyHouse.wad (there are demon corpses in the background)
Image credit: Veddge

The first mod I ever downloaded was for Skyrim. It replaced NPCs with Shrek. The second was a texture pack for Dark Souls: Remastered. I believe that these two examples form a representative sample of what mods are: quality of life improvements, and Shrek. Doom’s modding community, known by its file package WAD, is the Ur modding community. Thanks to John Carmack’s lightning-fast engine, creating levels and content for Doom has been accessible for 30 years. WAD devs have gone on to become fully-fledged game designers, and some WADs have been released commercially. The breadth and depth of this community formed the bedrock of game developers. And yet even with this pedigree, MyHouse.WAD is a miracle.

MyHouse.wad dropped on March 3rd, 2023. Its creator, Veddge, had never put anything up in the community and had barely been active for the past 15 years. According to Veddge, their friend had recently passed away, and at their house he discovered a series of floppy disks that the pair had worked on together when they were kids. They were early levels for Doom, and to honor his friend’s memory, Veddge decided to rebuild these levels and post them.

You start MyHouse by virtually touring a dead person’s home. The initial moments of the game are fairly normal: a suburban looking house, populated by demons that you must kill. Other than beige carpets with eggshell accent walls, there isn’t much scary inside. Then you exit the house, and see that all the demons you just killed are still alive inside.

You reenter, and the level seems to have reset. But something feels different: the textures have changed almost imperceptibly; you pass a doorway that wasn’t there before, and that doesn’t make sense given the layout of the house. You feel a subtle shift in your senses. Your expectations for what you’ve been playing start to slip away. And by the time you drop down a hole in the floor and fall into a ball pit somewhere far away from the house, you begin to realize that, maybe, this was a Shrek mod after all.

If MyHouse isn’t already an icon of horror gaming, it soon will be. The comments following the WAD’s drop on the DoomWorld forum is a historical document of gamers coming to terms with something incredible that they cannot quite comprehend. This was not a new level or texture pack. This was something else.

Diving too deep into the structure of MyHouse would spoil some of its more beautiful surprises. What can be said is that, in many ways, MyHouse rewards the perpetually online. It hits upon all the great touchstones of internet horror, from more recent liminal-space-horror like the backrooms, to the great, early 2000’s hipster college roommate bible House Of Leaves. But by the end, MyHouse’s horror is of its own — a terrifying, personal horror that culminates in one of the great action-horror climaxes in any game. And it does it by reimagining a touchstone in gaming.

Looking through a window in MyHouse.wad, a DOOM mod, and seeing demons wandering around inside
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Veddge

Whether or not you have played Doom (and you really should, it can be played on potatoes), you know Doom. You’ve seen the Marine in the green helmet shooting demons. You’ve seen the early scrolling graphics. The sound of the shotgun and the grunt of creatures being mowed down by a gatling gun lives in our subconscious. MyHouse warps these memories. In MyHouse you run into creatures that do not exist in Doom — that don’t, as far as I’m aware, exist in any other WAD. MyHouse has a professional level of sound design to rival P.T. You can even swim in MyHouse! Taken all together, this sparkling technical mastery of horror makes you slowly realize something. The original Doom was never scary.

Outside of an occasional monster popping up behind you, Doom was never really a horror game. Of course it wasn't! It was a shooter with post-grunge, pre-nu metal intensity. The excellent Doom reboots, with their renewed focus on violent mayhem, demonstrate this very clearly. Doom was scary in the same way a Megadeth poster was scary, but MyHouse reimagines Doom’s legacy as a horror game. The pervasive atmosphere of dread in this MyHouse will not allow you a moment’s rest, and the language of shooters will not help you. There are creatures in this WAD that are far more scary than anything the original Doom ever threw at you, and, no matter how deep you travel into the house, a single uncollected secret mocks you from the pause screen.

In the original Doom, secrets were little hidden areas. In the 2016 reboot, these areas usually hold cute little bobbleheads of the demons you were killing, and how many are left to find on each area are tallied on the pause menu. MyHouse presents you with dozens of collectibles that would seem like secrets in any other game: a burnt teddy bear; a milkshake; a can of tuna. But none of these seem to be the secret that MyHouse wants you to find. You can ollect and collect, but the secrets stat on MyHouse's pause menu never goes up. So what secret does MyHouse want you to discover?

Looking at a ducky in a bath in MyHouse.wad, the DOOM mod
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Veddge

A more talented friend of mine told me that the journal in the game’s folder would give me clues. There was a point in video game history when it was almost impossible to proceed without reading the game’s manual or the readme in the installation folder. In the original Legend Of Zelda, for example, it's the manual that gives you the only clues you will get from the game to defeat Ganon. Similarly, without MyHouse’s journal, you will miss clues, and the story context for how this WAD was made.

The journal details a programmer falling into madness. The creator takes on this project in memory of a friend. Six months later, they’ve completed it, but essentially lost their mind, chronicling intense nightmares (which serve as a guide for how the gamer can proceed). Something is haunting this game’s creator, forcing them to finish MyHouse, and you won’t know why until you complete the game yourself. In House Of Leaves the protagonist is similarly haunted, forced to translate a work that is documenting a movie about a haunted house that does not exist. MyHouse was so affecting, that I went out and read House Of Leaves to better come to grips with what I had played.

There are endless layers of subtext and meta-textual connections in House Of Leaves, and MyHouse mimics these, but with the copypasta horror of the internet. Like House Of Leaves, MyHouse takes place inside a shifting, impossible space, where you are at the game’s whim, and if you think you can outsmart MyHouse and get away from its clutches, try to hack your way through the game by entering the NoClip command into the console. See what happens.

Exploring the attic with a shotgun in the DOOM mod MyHouse.wad
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Veddge

There’s a section of MyHouse's journal where the game’s creator wakes up to find that the game itself has split into two files, a WAD and a PK3. To properly run MyHouse, you must drag the .PK3 file onto your executable file. To play MyHouse, you must consent to your own haunting. The modern commodification of art dictates that there must be a dialogue between the author and the audience; movies have trailers months ahead of time, authors have book readings, creatives are required to keep up social media presences. There is no curtain that artists can hide behind as an audience takes in their work, and this is even more the case with mods, as often they are the byproduct of a back and forth, collaborative effort between the creator and the community. So for something like MyHouse to exist is almost impossible.

Veddge has vanished, and although there have been some social media inklings as to their background and spurious rumors on message boards (the name listed as the creator in the download folder is “Steve Nelson”) there is nothing concrete. MyHouse's creator has allowed the game's design to speak for itself. The way this game has been presented calls back to the early days of the internet - when strange, outsider art would appear in forums, creators either unnamed or under pseudonyms.

MyHouse creates the same feeling, but inside one of the greatest games ever made. It's as if someone took the original Mario Brothers, but made it so that when you fell into a pipe you entered a Silent Hill style horror game, all developed by a random Mario Maker user. The internet is a treasure trove of post-modern reenactments of our favorite cultural moments. In MyHouse, the entire history of a community’s love for Doom, a pastiche of one of the 21st century's most esoteric and mysterious novels, and a work of personal love co-exist in the same 66.5 MB package. You enter a house built for a friend, and by the end you fully understand what that means.

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About the Author

Saleh Karaman


Saleh Karaman has been playing video games since he accidentally crashed his dad’s Macintosh trying to run King’s Quest. He believes that there are no bad bullet-hell shooters