13/11/2014 @20:24:22 ^07:47:51

The Tiger Den

That distinct style of nineties Doom 2 mapping: a sequence of rooms and areas, each in a different theme, chosen apparently at random. For example beyond the red door you have green bricks and blood then computer tech and superheated water. I did like the open courtyard with the overlooking windows and towers.

Plus, it just gives you plenty of ammunition and health, and then throws monsters at you, so it was a lot of fun. There were very few annoying slow or cramped parts. As for bugs: there were one or two monsters stuck in walls, an inaccessible secret (thin sector before step up), and it's possible (but unlikely) to get yourself locked in the red key room.

1fifwar

Three maps: E1M1 is a circular arena with a dozen or two monsters, including all the Doom bosses. E1M8 is Doom's E1M8 modified in the same way that Doom's E3M1 became Doom's E3M9.

The highlight (as it were) is E1M2, which is in two parts, a grey base-style area and a large outdoor arena. The whole thing is stuffed with densely-packed monsters and ridiculous amounts of ammunition, but health can be hard to find. There is also a pillar-hopping and ledge-walking sequence, so it's just like a modern slaughter map!

Only joking. I did rather enjoy E1M2 and played it several times, although it can be tedious having to watch your health, and also because the blue key monster teleporter is badly designed and takes forever to deploy fully.

Shalom, welcome or farewell?

Six simple maps that comprise a mini-episode. For some reason they're distributed as six separate uploads. You can load them all at once if you renumber shalom02 from MAP01 to MAP02, the rest are numbered correctly.

Blood of the Damned

A very old Doom 1 episode essentially composed of thin mazes. Not very inspiring. Some look "okay-ish" (ignoring the tedium of maze traversal) but others are noticably plain even by the rest of the wad's own standard (e.g. M4).

Secret level is a copy of original Doom's E1M1 and the exit to it is on M7. Best ignored I think, you don't want to have to play M4-M7 again. M8 is probably meant to have ammunition carried onto it, otherwise the spiderdemon is a difficult proposition to deal with (and the route to the secret exit on M7 gives you a large cache of rockets).

Megadoom.wad (for Doom 2)

A single map intended for deathmatch, but has monsters for solo. I don't think it would work very well for deathmatch, it's too large and also has an automapless 64-wide maze in it. The other two main areas weren't bad though. The large open plain with the slime river looked good. But what was he thinking with the mile-long twisty corridor of WolfSSes?

The Infected Tower lvl.1

A trek through grey fog. Well, ASHWALL2 is some kind of rock, but all the walls are invisible on the automap. This is not because they've been marked as such, but because they're two-sided. Every sector is unclosed. The most remarkable thing about this one is its relative lack of gameplay bugs given such a basic misunderstanding of map-making...

21/10/2014 @07:27:51 ^11:11:05

Impure Offering

This is a... well, it's not really anything in particular, there's elements of temple, wood house, rock canyon, water, but really it's just a monster arena, a map designed with gameplay first. It is also very hard, although skill 2 is quite manageable.

It uses afrits (those flying barons from Scythe 2) instead of cyberdemons; there is only one of the latter. This is probably because the level has an open design and uses height differences instead of walls to guide the player where it wants him to go next, but wants to allow monsters to freely traverse the arena. There are more flying monsters than on a usual map, a large group of cacodemons early on, and lost souls (which are upgraded to an absolute horde of pain elementals on skill 4 - I have no idea how anyone is meant to deal with this, given the map is explicitly designed for Boom compatibility which has no lost soul limit).

It is quite top-heavy (on skill 2) - once you clear out the imp trap you can retreat to the wood house there (the defensible location as I referred to it mentally) and fight things as they float in.

This map requires CC4-tex, which doesn't seem to have a separate download but I believe is distributed inside the Community Chest 4 zip.

MAYhem 2013

This thing on the other hand has CC4-tex statically linked, so it's a huge file and a waste of space if you already have CC4-tex. There's really no good solution...

Eleven maps of the "advanced Boom" variety. I'm not a fan of maps with too much Boom stuff in them, especially the more fragile exotic features. (Impure Offering, while requiring Boom complevel, still played mostly like a Doom map.)

This also has a gimmick of two monsters per map. I didn't realise this at first but managed to play six or so levels before spotting the pattern. Not unsurprisingly, archviles often feature as one of the choices.

  1. Unit 731 (troopers/archviles) - a laboratory studying captured aliens, that suffers a catastrophe. Requires punching archviles. Final trap is rather vicious (fight three archviles with only your fists!) but doable by learning where the monsters will appear and hiding in a corner.
  2. From The Sky (chaingunners/archviles) - rooftop assault. Both you and monsters often drop down from ceilings. You start being thrown from a helicopter that looks like a saucepan. I couldn't finish this map due to a very strange bug which is worthy of further analysis (see below)
  3. Shooting with Imps (sergeants/imps) - I think there's a base under here somewhere, but mainly it just exists to use every different colour variation of each texture in one go. Nostalgia for CC4 testing.
  4. Orange Night (imps/mancubi) - large city-style map with great height variation to start and ends with a big fight in a car park. CC4-tex lends itself towards garishly-coloured maps. Good fun though, gives you shells and later rockets and throws monsters at you. Seems incomplete, there is a whole section of well-crafted architecture beyond the unmarked exit line.
  5. Eternity's Hatred (pain elementals/archviles) A hellish temple featuring mostly archviles and a ghost pain elemental (you need to play it on the correct compatibility level). Needs archvile jumps for secrets.
  6. Pool of the Spiders (cacodemons/barons) - a trek through caves and canyons. Spacious and plentiful in rockets/plasma makes for fun gameplay. A pity the monster teleporter is badly designed and takes forever to deploy fully. No spiders to be seen.
  7. Casing Lake (sergeants/arachnotrons) - typical ArmouredBlood "Give Me All The Demons" map with much copypaste, massive amounts of ammunition, and numbers of monsters. Prepare to shoot from cover at hordes of teleporting sergeants.
  8. The Demon Rush (chaingunners/demons) - you are chased through a maze by about 500 demons. A few chaingunners appear to hinder you at times. This is not about killing monsters, you have to keep moving through various obstacles before you are surrounded. I liked this map, it's clever and well set-up. At the end, if you feel like waiting you can make all the monsters run into a giant crusher.
  9. Leviathan (barons/archviles) - two or three (depending on skill level) symmetrically (over)detailed monster arenas. Theme of being surrounded by barons (outside a fence, so you can't herd them into a crowd) then adding archviles one at a time, and removing pillars you can use for cover.
  10. Onyx (chaingunners/revenants) - Ribbiks map (Stardate, SWTW). Starts with a forced pillar jumping sequence. Give me a break. This put me off the rest of the map, which is obnoxiously hard, even on HNTR. Not his best effort.
  11. The Stone Spinneret (arachnotrons/spiderdemons) - similar idea to map 9 (same author); highly detailed monster arenas, using the same teleporter skill flags trick. Framerate-harming amounts of masked 2-sided middle textures. I found skill 2 pretty fun. On skill 4 in the second arena there seem to be some arachnotrons that don't wake up, preventing 100% kills.

Analysis of sudden death bug in From The Sky (MAYhem13 map02)

Bug: After approximately 7 minutes of playing, you die. Unceremoniously, and without warning, the screen goes red and you fall to the floor. Therefore you have only 7 minutes to finish the whole map. This happens regardless of skill level or any other relevant setting.

Explanation: There is a group of control sectors containing conveyor floors and voodoo dolls, for Boom linedef scripting purposes. Some of these voodoo dolls move forward (north in this case) constantly, and are continually teleported back to their start position, in a loop. In this map, silent line-to-line teleporters are used to do this. These position the teleported mobj such that its distance along the teleport linedef is preserved at the destination.

Now, as anyone who has tried to record a demo featuring a glide through a 32-width gap knows, Doom's angle tables are not exact. In particular, an object moving north suffers a very slight motion east. Using a silent line-to-line teleporter preserves this slight horizontal aberration, which slowly accumulates.

After 7 minutes, one particular voodoo doll (thing #85) has drifted sufficiently eastwards to impinge upon a second voodoo doll (thing #192) in the control sector area. Telefragging occurs. You die.

06/09/2014 @08:24:50 ^08:24:51

This is a long post because I'm catching up. In alphabetical order of filenames:

Back To Hell

A replacement E3 from 1995ish. I found this in a thread "Any Wads Similar To DTWID?", in particular the comment

> Bak2hell is alright if you clip past the torches at the end of E3M4.

wtf
go back to the start and fight the cacos you ran away from like a man

intrigued me. And indeed I have to agree, you should go back and kill the cacodemons at the end. Don't try to kill them at the start, though, otherwise you won't have enough ammo to do the rest of the map, which is rather top-heavy.

The rest of the wad is old school and quite difficult. There is a variety of level types: castles, mansions, towns, a haunted house. It's sometimes inscrutable and I found myself needing to look at it in the map editor. More often I found myself wishing things weren't so cramped or drawn out. The first map would be better if it gave you a weapon sooner, it's like the start of the original E3M1 where you have to pistol cacodemons and imps but there's more of them.

It's worth playing if you like the real old school stuff, but it's a bit on the annoying side sometimes. Still, I don't regret playing it.

Citadel

A large sprawling castle map running on E2M1. Made by Jim Flynn (Boom, Eternal Doom etc.) who was famous for this sort of size of map apparently. I'm not sure I've played much of his stuff before, I know him more from code in Boom/PrBoom etc.

Some people called this map ugly, they have no taste. But it is hard to solve, you need to find secrets to get in and find the keys. I found it fun once I had learned it. The outdoor courtyard fights are good, better if you found the weapons obviously. Again this is easier said than done. Basically not going to appeal to everyone, especially those who consider levels should be solvable without the use of map editors.

ConC.E.R.Ned

Full E1-E3 replacement from 2013. Each episode starts off quite easy but gets rapidly harder and starts throwing cyberdemons at you earlier than you expect to see them in a Doom1 episode. Some maps especially the final (E3M8) are outright slaughter maps. This is not unexpected given the author Cannonball has several maps in the various Slaughterfest wads. Others have a chronic health and ammunition shortage that requires strategy bordering on exploitation (E2M6). E2M7 is a remake of a 2002ado map which I didn't realise until about halfway through, I just had this constant, intense feeling I had played it before. E3M9 is the usual copy of E3M1 with a twist. You can telefrag, crush, or otherwise kill without weapon use, all the cyberdemons, even the roaming ones at the end you're actually supposed to fight - it just takes patience.

Anyway, just play it, it's worth it. How many Doom1 replacements are there anyway? 2002ado, DTWID, Base Ganymede, Switcheroom which still hasn't come out of beta ... probably another one I'm forgetting or haven't played, but they're far less common than Doom2 replacement megawads, for some reason Doom1 mappers seem to stop at the single episode boundary.

Toxic Waste Processing Plant

Yet another large, expansive, and smothered in detail, yet in spite of which still looks like Doom, map from Dutch Devil. That was one tortured sentence. Anyway, this one is still a base, but is perhaps less futuristic and more natural, with a theme of bricks, sewers and caves. In fact it kind of reminds me of Jade Earth, at least in appearance. It's much easier, though, both in terms of opposition, and finding the secrets.

Mostly the weapon/monster progression is carefully steady with a few flashpoints where a teleporter goes off. It largely subverts top-heaviness but remains nontrivial throughout - the place where I died the most often was actually right at the end, there is a fierce arachnotron trap. Frustrating when you've carefully played the rest of the level for 30+ minutes already. But I must appreciate it. Arachnotrons don't usually give me trouble, but these are aggressively teleported right next to you at a rather unexpected moment - I mean, I expected the trap, but not the precise timing of it - and you find you can't get out of their line of sight before all your health is burnt away.

elevator

One of the oldest known maps. The file timestamp is in April 1994. Given that, its size and difficulty are remarkable and caught my attention. I am not sure 100% kills is even possible. The larger weapons are at the far reaches of the map, protected by more monsters than you have the ammunition to handle. However, speedrunning it is an interesting challenge and I spent a day or two trying to make a demo for it. It turns out most of the nastiest parts are avoidable, you can just run past most of the monsters, and you get an early berserk box, a powerful tool.

The title comes from a large lift which you encounter early on in the map and which has to be traversed at least twice. However, fortunately it is possible to avoid waiting the second time if you step off it before it finishes rising the first time going up. There is also a tricky jump following soon after the first rise which is apparently very carefully set up to be easy if you walk (not run) forward at full speed - autorun is not a helpful thing here! Fortunately modern engines tend to implement the run key as an exclusive-or (so autorun+run turns running off) and mine is no exception. Note the forwardmove "fudge factor" in PrBoom, that makes its recordings of doom2.exe demos distinguishable from vanilla, is enough to break this jump; I ended up taking the code out of rboom, especially since it's been gone from PrBoom-Plus for years and I've never seen anyone complain.

Nuke Processing Plant for Doom II

I love the 1995 oldschool look of this kind of map. A chemical processing factory made of several large buildings with grass around them. There's one full of crates (quite sparsely placed, not a maze) and another with an irradiated control room. Watch the fence, it's electrified or something. Once you get through the red door and another pervasively-irradiated control room, it starts getting weirder, with a giant mountain made out of all the different colours of liquid in Doom2. You can't get back up from here if you jump down to it. The map finishes with a not-unexpected ambush - on repeat plays I saved the invulnerability for it (it's otherwise not really needed after all).

The gameplay is distinctly top-heavy, especially on UV where, as the author cackles in the text file, "there are three of everything"!

Swim With The Whales

Three highly advanced ultra-hard maps, by Ribbiks, the author of Stardate 20x6, buoyed by the success of the latter into doing another wad with a different colour. The theme is "under the sea", which it takes further than most, colouring everything in shades of black, grey, and blue; even the keys are changed to light blue, dark blue, and black. The architecture features a plethora of segmented curves which I am sure are intended to be reminiscent of seashells.

Map01 is an introduction, devoid of monsters, showing off the theme and highlighting the recoloured keys. The second is a kind of fortress which has you circle both ways around an inner keep passing through a variety of difficult encounters, to get the two shades of blue keys. The third is the main event, as it were. There is also a secret map31 that is at least in part a remake of Doom2 map01.

There are some clever tricks, for example, you only have to do the inevitable platform jumping sequences on UV; this wad manages to make, not just things, but sectors skill-dependent too, not something one often sees. However the excess of small curved linedefs can be detrimental to player movement, I remember almost getting stuck trying to squeeze down one secret rock passageway. It also likes to stop you from backtracking, ostensibly to prevent immediate retreat from a nasty encounter, but also making exploration more tedious than it should be when one does not know the map already.

Explanada

The first half of this map is a base / industrial plant*. After the yellow key it becomes a run through a deep cave. The word I'd use to describe it is "precise" - although at first glance it just looks like any random map from 1996/1997 or so, I got the distinct impression it was precisely crafted, with every linedef placed carefully in both reference to its meticulously credited inspirations**, and the author (vdgg)'s considerable technical insight into the workings of the engine. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it, but there's definitely a considerable degree of technical competence on show if you look under the hood.

One particularly memorable part was the secret plasma gun: it took me over 20 tries to get it, even after I had watched the demo - which the author only uploaded because people were asking how to get the gun - and knew what the intended method was. Frustratingly, you can bump the weapon - but you can't stop repeating the run, because its sector is marked secret so for 100% you actually have to get up there.

* which you start outside of, under a sky, before a very large door. It was eerily reminiscent of Derelict, but only coincidentally, because that was the last new map I had played before downloading this one.

** Even one of my maps, Elixir, from cchest2, is mentioned in the credits; I am somewhat at a loss for the reason. There is maybe one small room early on, dark ASHWALL2 with a lamp casting some light across, that could be it, but it's such a small thing I'm not sure why I get a citation...