MATHEMATICS IN MIDDLE EARTH
Parabolas: Conic sections forming part of Legolas's extended family
I don't know why they decided to set Doom on Phobos. Perhaps they hadn't researched properly and thought there really could be a mountainous bright white sky on a tiny rock too small to really have any gravity. It's more likely that it was because the game was originally set on the fictitious moon of Tei Tenga This was obviously scrapped in the final release but not all traces of the original plot were removed. Take a close look at the computer textures COMPSTA*.
There are many people who have made their own wads. Very few of them have an instantly recognisable style so distinctive that I can call the map's author by name* One of those who does is Roger Ritenour; I found earth.wad quite early on and it was so good I had to play as many of his others as I could find at the time (this was well before Doomworld's idgames archive front end existed so I couldn't make links like this)
Earth, 10 maps of ruins, amazingly well animated coastlines, ridiculously dark underground tunnels (my dark ashwall tunnels in elixir are inspired directly from Earth), caverns lit with flickering lava, and the occasional building or abandoned techbase really deserves a proper review in its own right. I want to talk about a wad which is arguably even better: Phobos, which I downloaded a couple of weeks ago to see how some of its extreme fake 3d trickery had been pulled off. I decided to replay it. You need to play this thing too, seriously.
The premise is simple. Take the names of the first four maps of Doom episode 1 ("Hangar", "Nuclear Plant", "Toxin Refinery", "Command Control") Make maps that are as realistically possible deserving of those titles.
- Map 1, Hangar is... an airport. There's kiosks, ticket desks, toilets, you name it. You rescue a key out of the back office and it takes you to a town in ruins. The road back to the airport has been destroyed, but you find an old cave that gets you back via a treacherous climb along the side of a sheer cliff face. Finally you run for the spaceship on the landing pad, but it lifts off without you. Fortunately you can find a teleporter and transport onto the craft and get away... The special effects are amazing.
- Map 2, Nuclear Plant, sees you exploring a nuclear power station. The sheer scale of the thing is ridiculous. You find control rooms full of computers, turbines, pylons and a key on a thin metal gantry high above the reactor itself. If you don't fall in, but still want a taste of radioactivity, you can look for the used fuel dump.
- Map 3, Toxin Refinery, starts off in a town square. A loose fence panel brings you to the plant entrance (complete with security guard operated gate) The front yard of towers burning waste chemicals gives way to the building itself, with warehouse areas and deep pits full of poisonous chemicals. Watch out for the exhaust fans and the air ventilation system that you can crawl around (this breaks in source ports but I found if you do the map in the right order it's fine) Finally you will reach the back yard with its massive cooling towers and another gatehouse and spacecraft.
- Map 4, Command Control, starts with the most impressive sighting of a key ever. You find a long dark tunnel where some evil force has burrowed its way into the computer core of a secret base. The power is still working and the holographic radar system is still operational... Then it's time to go spelunking and explore some caves to find the key for the office (and the office bathrooms, which were clearly and hilariously designed by perverts) Then it's through some more ancient temple-like structures to finally find a teleporter deep underground, which is the exit.
So, what you have is 4 of the most absurdly realistic and good-looking maps ever. As far as gameplay goes it's a mixed bag; another characteristic of Ritenour's maps is that all the monsters are in one big control sector, with many teleporter lines. It's a trick to supposedly improve replayability by randomising monster placement. In practice it doesn't work so well, you get big monsters before you feel well-equipped enough to deal with them, you never know if you've cleared out an area or not because something could still teleport into it well after you're done, and most of the point of replaying levels for me is that now knowing the map and monster layout I want to see how much I can improve on the first run. Too much luck enters into the factors for a successful demo run. Thus, these aren't really maps I can play several times in the same day, or year for that matter.
However, they are the sort of thing you have to play once. Go and be amazed.
* as opposed to playing a map, going "hey this is really good" then discovering it's by "the guy who made blah blah blah dot wad" that you played a year or two ago and really enjoyed