I'll spare you all the sordid details, but suffice it to say that my move to computer games followed an embarrassing stage when I was into pen and paper role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Traveller. What I enjoyed most about those games was how open-ended they were, how they allowed players to take the rules and craft their own adventures, build their own dungeons or castles or star ships.
It was fun but tedious, and required a lot of reference tables and calculations and die roll modifiers, and when computers came into my life in the 1990's I looked forward to being able to design my virtual worlds with their help.
Although technically my first computer games were flight simulators, it was the first person shooters that really got me interested. And it wasn't the games that came out of the box that excited me, as much as it was the fact that they were eminently modifiable. Meaning that with a little brainpower and determination, you could modify the game and create your own virtual worlds.
Doom was the first game that allowed me to design my own "levels" or maps where the player could run around and blast monsters. I took some of the deck plans that I had drawn up on graph paper a decade earlier and created levels based on them. It was really amazing to watch my creations come to life on the screen, crude as the Doom graphics were at the time. I even uploaded my levels to AOL, and they were popular downloads there.
But Duke Nukem 3D was what really got my fire going.
The game as sold was fun, if silly. As you can tell from the picture, it was more or less a campy Ramboesque shoot'em up where you, as Duke, got to save the world and elsewhere by blasting alien goons and spouting one-liners ("Come get some!" or "Hail to the King, Baby!", or my favorite one, which would come on if you didn't move for a little while: "What are you waiting for, Christmas??")
Duke Nukem had two major things going for it:
1. It came with its own level editor, which, while missing some key elements (like instructions) worked better than anything else at the time, and
2. It included a plethora of real-world textures, or images that you would superimpose on the floor, wall, or door geometry to make it look real. Kinda like wallpaper on a blank wall. This was because, unlike Doom, which took place on some haunted Marine base on Mars, Duke Nukem took place in Los Angeles.
So for a modder, it was like a gift from the gods. Thousands upon thousands of levels were posted online by eager level-makers dying to showcase their design skilz.
To be fair, most of these were crap. But some stood out.
I wanted to make my level stand out too. So I pulled out the original blueprints of my house (which was built in 1931). I thought, "how cool would it be to make a 3d representation of my house out of these?"
Very cool, it turned out. It was a LOT of work. Modding is basically programming, and if you've ever tried to write or edit a computer program, you know that this can be very difficult, meticulous, and tedious work. Things go wrong and you don't know why. Usually it's because you forgot an extra parenthesis somewhere, or a number was a little off, or a texture was missed. But once it was done, I had an enormous sense of accomplishment.
I uploaded it to the Duke Nukem 3D forum on AOL (this was ten years ago) and it became one of the all-time top downloads there. It even made its way into a few CD-ROM compilations which were sold for money (sadly, none of which found its way into my pockets).
So without further ado, here's a virtual tour of my house, as seen through the eyes of Duke Nukem. The design is from ten years ago, and we've done a little remodeling since then, so the photos don't match up exactly:
The living room, fire place, couch:
Another view of the kitchen (note we've moved the fridge):
New! Walkthrough (with director's commentary):
Pardon the scan-lines.