North American Doom Deathmatch Historical Timeline

In North America, the Doom deathmatch scene experienced a number of distinct periods of activity. These periods were punctuated with events that were of interest both then and now. North America and Europe had different timelines until around May of 2000, when the two scenes merged.

I have been working on this historical overview, off and on, for a few months. There are presumably omissions, and maybe even a few mistakes. If you have any comments, feel free to email me with additional information for consideration. I'll be expanding it and adding material as I go.

The information used in this report comes from my own personal experiences and from direct contact, both past and recent, with players. These players include (but are not limited to) Stoney, Kreuzin, RedDragon (PA), PVP, and XoLeRaS. Others whose information was highly valuable were Adam Williamson (procuring Phook's demo archive) and Bill Campbell (Dr. Funfrock's Ifrag HomePage).

Overview of periods (period names hyperlinked):

Name of period
Doom1 Days
Dec. 10 1993 - Oct. 10, 1994
Doom1's release. Deathmatch through modem-to-modem connections becomes routine. Beginnings of deathmatch activity over both the Internet and LAN, and online communication between doomers begins via newsgroups, AOL chat, and IRC.
Oct, 1994 - Nov, 1996
Doom2's release. BBS use becomes commonplace, tournament activity peaks, online communication between doomers expands, online information and IRC exchange increases. Awkward (by 2003 standards) internet doom is available for relatively uncommon high speed internet users via Ifrag (college students, typically).
Limited mixing of European and N. American deathmatch scenes via Ifrag.
Dead Zone
Nov, 1996 - Dec, 1997
Doom deathmatch scene is heavily impacted by mass exodus due to Quake1 release earlier in 1996. BBS use and internet-played doom ceases. Online information and IRC remains available, influx of new players slows dramatically.
Jan. 1998 - May, 2000
Doom source code is released by John Carmack for non-profit use. Development of doom ports based on this source proceeds. Online information and IRC expands, and the rate at which new players join begins to increase. In general, this is a time of infrastructure creation. Actual deathmatch activity remains low, but begins ramping up toward the end of the period.
New School
May, 2000 - Mid-2004
The first doom port that had a centralized master server for client coordination, multiple game hosting servers, and a true client-server network architecture becomes usable (CSdoom). Development of doom ports expands to include multiple client-server ports. For the first time in it's  history, internet playable doom is not awkward. Classic Doom itself becomes internet playable again due to IPX encapsulation tools for Win98. The deathmatch scene expands, becoming relatively large and healthy. The  European and North American deathmatch scenes combine.
Mid-2004 - present
A gradual shift due to the natural maturation of the doom multiplayer scene and the ports that support it led the doom scene into a new era. The primary player focus once again becomes the gameplay itself and interaction between players (as opposed with re-development and redeployment of the game itself). Multiplayer cheating becomes an issue. Port development and refinement was still under way but it was geared toward improvements and refinements as opposed with functionality. The scene is punctuated by tournaments and lanparties and is overall robust and healthy. Perceived competition for playerbase numbers between different port developers could sometimes be high.

Doom1 Days: December 10, 1993 - October 10, 1994

Doom1 was released on December 10, 1993. People at ID Software had already been deathmatching in Doom1 at this point, and a number of the players began to do so as well.

Several doom related USENET newsgroups came into existence. The AOL chatroom "Doomroom" chat room came into use, and was disbanded after EFnet IRC #Doom came into being.

The typical way for players to connect and play was modem-to-modem. The standard deathmatch maps of the time were e1m4 and e1m5.

John Romero was known to be a regular in the deathmatch scene at this time.
Information on this period is a bit sparse at present, as only a few people can be located today who were active at this time.

Old School: October, 1994 - November, 1996

On October 10th, 1994, Doom2 was released.

The EFnet IRC network was being used for primarily US players to chat.  The first channel to be used, #doom, experienced a channel split that resulted in the majority of the IRC Doom2 deathmatch scene moving to #deathmatch. #doom2 was started late in the period as a dedicated Doom2 related channel.

#deathmatch had an internet "homepage" for a while, which was run by a player known as "phook". The page contained an archive of deathmatch recordings. The demos were initially thought lost, but were eventually retrieved by Adam Williamson through direct contact with Phook..

#deathmatch logs  from
October 1996- September 1997
(early segments are from
Old School period)
Index of demos from Phook's #Deathmatch homepage 
Various IRC logs from
June 16, 1995
(contains John Romero joins
and discussion. Source of text:


Dial-up bulletin boards (BBS's) became a  popular means for playing Doom2 deathmatch. Many towns and cities had local BBS's which would charge a nominal fee for a user to maintain a membership, and the BBS's used a variety of client/server software packages, such as APCi, to enable Doom2 to be played multiplayer via the BBS.

Modem-to-modem games remained popular as well.

Dwango (which stands for Dial-up Wide Area Network Gaming Operation) was a large scale gaming BBS with servers in a number of large urban areas across the United States and Canada. Players would use DOS-compatible software provided by Dwango to dial into the Dwango BBS of their choice (hopefully but not always a local phone call), and they could either hang out in a chat lobby or enter a multiplayer game. At its peak of popularity, there were around 26 dwango servers in operation in different regions. Dwango charged a monthly fee for access to the BBS, plus additional credits would be purchased for time spent in-game with other players. A few regular players would be chosen by the Dwango server owner to help oversee the daily operations of the BBS; these players were known as Moderators.

Dwango client installation program. Self-extracting executable dumps installation files into
the current directory.
Dwango client installation program intended for Windows95.
Self-extracting executable dumps installation files into
the current directory.
Screenshot of live Dwango lobby (Austin, Texas server)

Doom became playable over the internet for the relatively few people who had access to high speed internet connections, such as those present at colleges, ISPs, and some businesses. The best known tool for this was Ifrag, although other tools named iDoom and Kali were able to be used by some people.

Ifrag performed the functions of a DOS IPX/SPX to TCP/IP encapsulator, a client side launcher and chat client, and utilized regional master servers known as "trackers".

Doctor Funfrock, known IRL as Bill Campbell, did a lot of work coordinating Ifrag players and developing his Ifrag website,  known as Doctor Funfrock's Ifrag HomePage. He did interviews with players, coordinated tournaments, and provided demos, wads, and information.

 For years after Ifrag fell into disuse, he maintained these pages on his webserver as a historical archive. The direct link to this site is .


Doctor Funfrock's Ifrag pages, archived locally for preservation. Some links do not work due to the files being missing on the Ifrag site at the time of archival.

Main page

Sub-pages linked seperately:

Bio page
CheeseVille page
College tournament page
Wad reviews
Mugshot page

Archived historical page about the development of  Ifrag and Kali
Download Ifrag 2.1

In October of 1995, Dwango and Microsoft hosted a large tournament in Seattle known as Deathmatch95, and flew the top player from each Dwango BBS there to participate. The tournament was broadcast on a cable television station. It remains famous today because it was the first highly public tournament in which Thresh became widely known as a champion player.

This tournament has been incorrectly described as having shown Thresh to be the lead Doom2 player in the United States at the time. This determination does not take into account two important details regarding the tournament circumstances.

On the weekend of September 22 - 23, 1996, Sslasher's dad hosted a netparty known as DMcon1 in his place of business in Montreal. A Map1 and Dwango5 Map1 tournament was held. Sslasher was the winner of the Map1 tournament, and Ronbob was the winner of the Dwango5 Map1 tournament.

Documentation of the DMcon1 tournament can be viewed here.
Demos from the DMcon1 tournament can be downloaded here.

On the weekend of  October 19 - 20, 1996, a netparty known as DMcon2 was hosted in a conference room of a local ISP in Ames, Iowa named Amesnet. A Map1 tournament was held, and Galiu was the surprise winner, beating Sslasher in the final round.

DMcon2 recording of
Sslasher vs. BahdKo
on Map1, Sslasher as green,
score 100-32.
Picture showing one side of
DMcon2 conference room.
BahdKo and Ismail in foreground
setting up PCs.
Picture showing Galiu standing over
Konax' shoulder.
Picture showing Linx sitting at his PC.
Picture showing PVP at his PC
Picture showing Sslasher sitting at his PC. The person behind Sslasher is NOT his dad.
IRC log of EFnet #deathmatch during week of DMcon2.

Dead Zone: November, 1996 - December, 1997

Quake1 was released in mid-1996, and it utilized internet playability which was improved as time passed. The majority of the Doom2 deathmatch players (or at least, the majority of players in the North American scene) abandoned Doom2 within several months of  Quake1's release, and others who at first were holdouts for Doom2 eventually moved to Quake due to the lack of local players that resulted from the earlier mass exodus.

The number of new players entering the Doom deathmatch scene decreased dramatically, but did not stop entirely.

In part due to an earlier channel authority structure collapse, EFnet #deathmatch (which was otherwise an old and established channel) began to decline as both a Doom2 and Quake channel.
By the end of the period, it was close to inactive. #doom2 remained steadily in attendance by Doom2-specific players.  BahdKo maintained a fileserver bot in #doom2 named FileSv^QS which distributed demos, wads, and other doom-related material.

#deathmatch logs  from
October 1996- September 1997
(late segments are from
Dead Zone period)
#doom2 logs showing croatian
player Mihha joining EFnet #doom2
 and downloading from the
channel fileserver.

Some of the long-term holdout players participated in a mock Quake clan named Clan Quake Sucks (QS). The group was organized by BahdKo, and the website contained critical commentary regarding Quake's deathmatch inadequacies as written by each of the members.

Clan QS
Segment from Xenos' critical commentary writeup comparing Quake to Doom.
Anti-quake artwork from
the Clan QS website (map1hi6.jpg)
Anti-quake artwork from
the Clan QS website (qsux1.jpg)
Anti-quake artwork from the Clan QS website (qtoilet.jpg)
Anti-Quake artwork from
the Clan QS website (noquake.jpg)

In April of 1997, BahdKo released a deathmatch informational package known as the Deathmatch Training Facility. This was a zipfile with a lot of helpful information about how to learn to deathmatch well in Doom2. It was named, and included:

Even though there were not many active players at the time, the distribution of this information seemed to help the people within the small Doom deathmatch community. It was also downloaded by some of the new people who entered the scene during this period, and helped to bring them up to speed in a deathmatch environment that otherwise was not very active.

Rebound: January, 1998 - May, 2000

On December 23, 1997, ID Software released its source code for Doom free for non-commercial use. The DOS source was not released because ID had used a third party sound library called DMX for DOS DOOM, and the sound code in the DOS version of the source would not have worked when compiled without that library. As a solution, ID software released the Doom for Linux source code instead, which had working sound.

Doom source
View John Carmack's release notes / announcement for the Doom source release.
Download the Doom source zipfile

Developers began to use the source from this release to develop playable doom versions. There were initially many ports projects, some of which were simply done and released similar to a doom clone, and some of which experienced ongoing development.

A few of the early port versions were Boom (October 18, 1998), Dosdoom (April 10, 1999), Legacy doom, and Zdoom. These early doom versions were not widely utilized by deathmatch players during this period for a number of reasons. The scene was small and had not had time to develop a substantial playerbase that followed doom ports; the ports themselves were still  developmental and glitches were commonplace; and internetworking abilities in doom were still being explored by the developers.

Port developers also began to release doom versions with additions, enhancements, and sometimes  radical gameplay changes. Some examples were a capture the flag port CTFdoom (April 19 1998), and deathmatch bots Doombot  (February 17, 2000) and Cajunbot (November 11, 1999).

Some of these early doom ports did not continue to be developed after this period.

Some doom ports were started in this period and continued development for a long time. Examples of these include Zdoom and Legacy Doom.

Some doom ports, such as Boom and Zdoom, were used as a code base by new development teams to create more specialized versions.
These second generation and later versions proved to be important for the future of the deathmatch scene, when internet-played doom became much more accessible. It was in these ports that the developers focused more seriously on the internetworking abilities. Examples of second generation ports are Csdoom and Skulltag.

A summarization of some of the relationships between doom ports and projects is shown below. While this list is long, it is not intended to be exhaustive, and shows general source project relationships and not all of the details regarding sharing between developers.
It includes ports from both this period and the subsequent Newschool period. Readers who notice any serious errors or omissions are free to email the author with corrected information.
* means the port remains actively in development as of this writing.

First Generation
Second Generation
Third Generation
Fourth Generation

Death Bot



Zdoom *
Skulltag *

Zdoom * CSdoom
Zdaemon *
Zdoom * Doom Bot

LxDoom PRboom *
PRboom *
PRboom * GLboom (* ? )
Eternity *


IAS doom

Legacy *

Legacy * Cajun bot

Vavoom *

Doom3d (* ? )


Zdoom * DoomGL
ZdoomGL *
Edge (* ? )

Doomsday Engine
(hexen source based) and Jdoom *

This period in doom history saw the development and expansion of Doom dedicated websites. One well-known site that emerged in this period, and remains active at the time of this writing, is Doomworld, originally invented by Linguica (Andrew Stine). Many other large doom sites came into being at this time, some of which also remain today. Much of the material that forms the basis for was developed as BahdKo's personal deathmatch page, although itself was not created until early in the next period.

Doom sites
Opulent's Doom2 Resource
Lee Killough's Doom Site

IRC doom expanded. On EFnet, #doom2 became relatively large. As a normal consequence of this kind of size increase in an already established, somewhat private channel, #doomroom was spun off by non-ops from #doom2 (this incarnation of #doomroom should not be confused with the two earlier "doomroom's", one of which was an AOL chatroom, and another one which was a short lived democratic channel comprised of #doom2 regulars that existed very early in this period). #doomroom experienced further evolution, and #doom came into use as a spinoff by some of the people from #doomroom. These channels eventually expanded into other IRC networks.

Near the end of the Rebound period, a deathmatch game launcher named "Doomserv" came into use. It used a centralized server to enable a chat room, and the client software contained a game launcher for Zdoom, which is a doom port that uses peer to peer networking for multiplayer. Players could meet in the chatroom and launch games, similar to how it had been done in the Oldschool period with BBS's. 

New School:  May, 2000 - Mid-2004

New School begins a time in Doom history where internet-played Doom deathmatch as realized in various Doom ports became commonplace, the deathmatch scene experienced accellerated expansion in both activity and the distribution of information, and the doom deathmatch scene became large and healthy for the first time since the Oldschool period.

In May of 2000, the first client-server implementation of Doom, CSdoom by Russian programmer Sergey "Fly" Makovkin, came into use by internet deathmatch players. CSdoom was the first implementation of a deathmatch doom port that combined all three characteristics of modern internet game hosting: a master server to coordinate and offer games to the client launchers, multiple dedicated game servers which host games for clients, and the ability for clients to join games that are already in progress. While this modern deployment of game networking was not a requirement for many of the Doom players on the scene at the time, this new ease of use led to an overall increase in the number of players and the frequency of games. The developments in CSdoom had made internet Doom deathmatch less awkward to use than ever before in Doom's history, ushering in many new deathmatch players, and facilitating some doom-like games for returning oldschoolers.

Archived front page of
CSdoom homepage
Screenshot of CSdoom launcher

A broad base of Doom resources and informational infrastructure had been created during the Rebound period, and when CSdoom and the other multiplayer ports began to draw in more deathmatch players and retain them, all of the elements were present to support a solidification of the Doom deathmatch scene. IRC channels were already in place, information about Doom was easy to find on the web, and there was a lot of material available for download. Doomworld and some other sites had public forums which performed the same function in the Newschool period as newsgroups did for the Oldschool: coordinating doomers of all catagories in discussions and arguements alike.

This wide distribution of information plus easily internet-playable doom caused the European deathmatch scene to merge with the North American one. For the first time in Doom's history, typical European and North American players were able to play casual, functional games (although admittedly not low ping games).

After a number of false starts and failed attempts by persistant players, the original Doom2.exe finally became internet playable again. New IPX to TCP encapsulation programs were identified for Windows 98 through which Doom was able to succesfully connect (a number of such encapsulators were found that simply did not work). Microsoft's "Zone" website was found to have an IPX "room", and worked when used with Windows98. Zone's IPX encapsulation was virtually trouble free, requiring no special software other than what Internet Explorer would install with its Zone software. Also, software named Kahn was found to be usable for Doom networking, although it had quirks that needed to be understood before Kahn could be consistantly used for Doom.

IPX to TCP Encapsulation
Microsoft Zone index with IPX room
Kahn software homepage
Download local Kahn
installation program

CSDoom itself eventually fell into general disuse after Fly announced its non-continuation, but other doom ports had developed that were already supporting the internet doom deathmatch scene, including Zdaemon, Legacy, and Skulltag. Prboom version 2.2.4 is being used by some of the people who prefer Doom2.exe in the event of an operating system mismatch (Doom2.exe only runs reliably on Windows98 and lower).

Popular multiplayer source port homepages

Zdaemon homepage (client-server)
Skulltag homepage (client-server)
Prboom homepage
(hybrid client-server)

IRC channels continue to expand and evolve.




Renaissance:  Mid-2004 -

A gradual shift due to the natural maturation of the doom multiplayer scene and the ports that support it led the doom scene into a new era. The primary player focus once again becomes the gameplay itself and interaction between players (as opposed with re-development and redeployment of the game itself). Multiplayer cheating becomes an issue. Port development and refinement was still under way but it was geared toward improvements and refinements as opposed with functionality. The scene is punctuated by tournaments and lanparties and is overall robust and healthy. Perceived competition for playerbase numbers between different port developers could sometimes be high.

Too lazy to type more atm.