12/12/2005 @23:52:43 ^01:37:43


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Doom Advent Calendar roundup part 1

It's halfway to Christmas I guess, so here's an overview of the first twelve maps of the Doom Advent Calendar. You can find the links on the thing yourself, that's half the fun of an advent calendar!

  1. A small base/processing plant map. Textured with metal and dark green, with large pools of slime. You start in the middle and have to run to one end, then back and to the other end. I found it extremely difficult due to a high monster density and lack of health and ammo, even turning the skill level down didn't help much.
  2. Another small base map, this time with less slime and more computers. It is very symmetrical and lacking in ammo, but you get a berserk early on which it is obviously intended you use. The symmetrical design is a little dull but there's lots of detail. I seem to recall zdbsp-style texture alignment glitches
  3. This is a complex gothic/hellish map which for some reason replaces map21 (probably for the sky texture?) It's large and difficult especially if you're not expecting some of the traps, and sometimes, depending on the route through the map you take, is not entirely clear on the next thing to do. However it is beautiful and very much worth playing. Just watch for fire from rows of imps on high ledges around the edge of the map.
  4. Requires ZDoom; Prboom failed to run it, citing texture errors.
  5. See previous map
  6. Hooray, here's one that works! This is a very small mostly E2-style map. It is very cramped and linear. Some of the architecture is rather attractive, I liked the corridor with all the flesh coming up out of the ground and stuff. The final area is found via a staircase which is so steep you need mouselook to see the top. However I found you could just charge up there and get out onto the grassy roof and then run around shooting while the crowd eats each other so good luck!
  7. You are in a partially constructed underground base; next to operational workstations there are plain rockfaces and tunnels. You eventually find the surface, and further on a teleporter station that takes you to... another planet? There's another base here which must be cleared out, after which you finally escape on a boat! Overall this map is a fully-realised mission and very immersive, using to great effect Boom/MBF features such as the ability to have more than one sky texture in the same map. However on closer look it's really just a number of rooms connected by a corridors and tunnels; they're detailed and pretty, but nevertheless, still just corridors. Also there are a number of bugs in the version I have which range from visual glitches to showstoppers (including what amounts to a race condition between Commander Keen's death sequence and a crushing ceiling) but the author says he's fixed all of those in the final version.
  8. Also ZDoom-only, causing Prboom to spew texture errors. I think these wads make use of ZDoom's relaxed rendering engine that allows you to freely mix flats and textures. Of course Prboom chokes on this.
  9. Again, see previous map (sigh)
  10. This is an E1-style techbase running on E1M1. It has areas clearly taken from various E1 maps and is very authentic. Even so it felt fairly flat and lifeless for an E1 map. For example the maze in the southeast was all the same texture. The gameplay is rather curiously skewed; there's no clear route and it's even possible to miss out two of the keys, for example. But it doesn't feel like a speedrunning trick. Still it's easy and at least it doesn't choke Prboom...
  11. Stylistically I don't know what this map is supposed to be; the first half is mostly cracked stone and the end ashwall, but all the walls have computer screens, metal panels and wiring embedded in them, and there's metal pillars everywhere so I don't know. It's also rather repetitive, indeed it reminded me of maps from the 10 sectors megawad. However, who cares what it looks like, because this is a great little map to play! There's height differences, windows, just the right amount of backtracking, a lot of smallish monsters, health and ammo that you reach just in the nick of time, all that good stuff. Just don't do what I did the first time I played it, that is fail to spot the little passage near the start, and miss the shotgun...
  12. This one is a lot like 7, essentially a maze of rooms and corridors, but lavishly constructed with lots of detail and polish. It uses techbase textures and also a lot of Boom effects, but there's still very little in the way of glimpses, interconnection etc. Still, there's plenty to shoot at so it's not boring by a long way. The "evil trap" the web page mentions isn't so evil, I mean I didn't even know about it but I got past it, I think the teleporter doesn't really go off fast enough and you have time to get into a corner and let rip with the chaingun. Worse, there's this really annoying "easter egg" at the start which stops you getting 100% kills unless you're really fast to react. It appears to be deliberate, as well. Still ignoring the gameplay flaws this is one of the best maps in this project.

So there you have it. So far I think 7 was the best one - or at least will be without the bugs - but 3 and 12 give it a close run. For gameplay, I'd pick 11 (I've done a demo of 11, watch this space) or 12 (without that stupid easter egg, damnit)