12/04/2008 @08:00:12 ^11:11:15

Last time I said there was more to follow. Here they are. Damn this shit takes too long to write.

Alpha Map This map01 replacement was apparently made by an experienced Duke3d mapper, so I guess he's at an advantage. It's really rather good - wide open design, plenty of interconnection, height differences, glimpses, and a complex route that crosses over itself. Decent detailing, but not overdone at all. Difficulty is fairly easy provided you don't play like a moron; it helps a lot to find the super shotgun secret early on. The text file says it needs ZDoom and it's true that the first version he posted on Doomworld had some bugs but the final version is good. Pleasure to play really, and highly recommended.

Escape from Castle Chezcrea This, as the author points out several times, is his first map. You pretty much have to run it in Boom compatibility level - it needs comp_dropoff=0 and comp_telefrag=1, and runs on map30. It's a prison in a stone castle, with a sewer underneath. It looks beautiful, but I think it's one of those maps where the author has put a tremendous amount of effort into a bunch of things that nobody else is going to notice. For example:

It's a decent wad which you should try it if you like hunting for things (the secrets are very well hidden) and wads that use nearly every Boom feature they can get away with. Ultimately a little too awkward for my tastes though.

Year 21 -The Vanishing Point- Small, but highly detailed map which calls itself a speedmap[1]. You have four rooms around a central garden area where the exit teleporter is located. The start is annoying because you can't easily get out of the south room and get the shotgun before the first two imps block your way, so you have to use the pistol on a load of imps. Of course only then did I find the hidden berserk box behind me... The rest is pretty easy, it's all small monsters and not very many of them, but there's not much health available so it's not trivial. I'm not sure I liked that three of the five secrets are identical tiny alcoves with identical rewards, and I kind of expected something to appear on the exit as I approached, but nothing happened. And are those recoloured textures becoming a cliche? That dark green version of BIGDOOR3 seems to be in every wad these days. Anyway, recommended. It'll only take five minutes to play.

A New Nightmare Episode 1 replacement. Rooms and halls for the most part, often very cramped. Architecture is remarkably irregular, like linedefs have been flung down with no particular attention to the grid. However, unlike the 1994 maps it claims to ape it has quite a lot of simple detail. You know, the walls aren't just flat, they have computer panels set into them, etc. So a weird mix of old and new. Appears to have missed the point of the original E1M8 ending.

Beyond Horrible Episode 2 replacement, sequel to A New Nightmare, and more like a community effort (well there's a couple of maps not made by the original author) Definite improvement since the first but still could go further. In particular it needs to get away from that whole maze of small rooms and corridors thing. E2M8 is quite small and if you don't feel like rocketing a cyberdemon you can press a series of buttons to open a different exit - not bad.

Tech Tower of Ladyboys Someone took one of the maps of one of the /newstuff trolls and tarted it up a bit. Interesting idea. The map is about as good as you could hope for, really - it has a bit of extra detail and textures, and a few more monsters, but I'm still quite indifferent.

No Relief Four Doom maps: E2M{4,5,9,6}. Mid-nineties feel, random theming, fairly messy texturing. Gameplay is pretty awkward, especially in E2M4 where there's hidden switches to find (it took ages to get out of the first area), darkness, and an annoying lack of resources. However, I'd have probably enjoyed this wad a few years ago. I'm too jaded these days. Running round the giant outdoor area at the south of E2M9 was fun though. Probably the best part[2]

Maximum Difficulty Two rooms stuffed with monsters. Runs on a weird map name ("FGHB") so if you use an engine that can't handle nonstandard map names you'll have to edit it to even make it run. Pretty much worthless[3]

[1] What is a speedmap, anyway? I usually take it to mean "100 minutes", as in the various dwspd/sbspd/*spd wads they've done since 2001, so I was initially quite nonplussed when I saw how polished Year 21 is. Then I read the text file properly and spotted "10 hours". Even I've made half a decent map in a day's work. (Map01 of unfinished megawad took about a day and a half. With Yadex!)

[2] Really the only reason these two wads were interesting were because they exposed some bugs in rboom - No Relief E2M4 has bad GL nodes, which rboom didn't handle very well...

[3] ...and Maximum Difficulty has really large vertex coordinates, which illustrated a problem with sound origin coordinate calculation that PrBoom-plus had already fixed. Also the various bits of SMMU and Eternity that PrBoom 2.3 imported should be able to handle the non-ExMy/MAPxy map name, but it was broken somehow.