Community Chest 4
I don't think I mentioned this already, but I joined the CC4 team (yes they're doing another one already...) I'm still pretty sick of the thought of mapping but I wanted to be involved somehow since I've done the previous two, so this time I am a tester. That means instead of making a map I get to write long diatribes about ZDoomisms and poor decisions made by the Boom developers, and tell everyone else what I would have done if I had made their map. I think as a map reviewer this might suit me better...
Anyway speaking of criticising other people's maps, I have such a backlog of stuff in my downloaded maps directory I hardly know where to begin...
A guy named Exl did some really nice nonlinear maps in projects such as CChest2 and NDCP. I happened upon some references to his older stuff and decided to play some of it.
This is a stone castle, surrounded by grasslands and lakes, running for some reason on MAP20. It has enough, but not too much, of the right kind of detail (views, glimpses, windows) and avoids being cramped. You must visit the north wing to open a central room with the red key, then the south wing to press a button to lower the yellow key which is on a pillar outside (being accessible once you have the red key.. well, sort of) Once outside you must fetch the blue key from a tower, allowing entry to a cave, under the ground of which the exit is located.
Intriguingly there is a secret area in the south wing which allows the player to get outside without the red key. It contains an invulnerability and seems to exist entirely to encourage speedrunning. However, while the red key can be skipped in this way, you must still have pressed the yellow key switch, and if you take this route you cannot get back inside. And the invulnerability never lasts quite long enough to barge through the necessary monster packs to reach the exit. A better player could probably do a nice demo of this map, though.
Replacement E1M9. Not too nonlinear (but see below) Is obviously E1-themed, some areas obviously being remakes of original maps. Large, but not ridiculously so; has a high number of small monsters and plenty of ammo, so it's a lot of fun to blast through.
The "obvious progression" through the level is completely destroyed if you either (a) find the hidden switch in the outdoor area at the start or (b) find the hidden teleporter room just after you go inside the base for the first time. I advise you not to do this on the first play around the level, else it gets pretty confusing. In fact if you use one of the teleporters it can leave you stuck on the wrong side of the blue door with no key to open it.
Nevertheless a really good map.
This one says it's for Doom Legacy but I ran it anyway! It's not bad, although a little cramped and linear, and meanders between tech and brick themes. The secrets are mostly invisible and I think you'd need clairvoyance to find them. Not too hard either.
Legacy use is limited to a couple of 3D floors, which in rboom degraded into 64-wide holes in the floor that I correctly guessed I should jump over instead of letting myself fall in them. However, you can cut out most of the map if you jump in the first one...
Since I've started writing I might as well carry on and clear out some more.
A map obviously by Tango (Systemic Corruption, Gyrotechnics, Toxic Cove) Typically highly detailed techbase with outdoor areas, this one has a bunch of new textures from some texture resource wad I can't be bothered to recall the name for right now. Gameplay is typically polished - only criticism would be its top-heaviness. The end of the map is rather easy due to being able to run in through the red bars, activate the teleporter(s) and run back out again, and pick off the monsters through the doorway. Contrast to the start where you're often surrounded with monsters teleporting in all around you and little health available.
Incidentally I've thought before how Tango's mapping style was rather similar to Erik Alm's base maps in Scythe 2, so it was quite nice to see him acknowledge it in the text file...
Instantly recognisable as map 11 of Memento Mori. More rough around the edges, the Memento Mori version had obviously been cleaned up, but this version is a slight improvement in that you can actually get 100% kills...
Survival horror style map set in a shopping mall. Monster count is relatively low, but it's very dark and full of traps.
Has had a lot of obvious effort put into the look of the thing, and is covered with new graphics. Author obviously has a sense of humour - note the people on the missing persons posters, the corpses of which you actually find later on, and the fact that you find a chainsaw hidden behind an Evil Dead poster. He also seems to like weird puzzles and well-hidden teleporters that lead to your instant death.
However the bottom line is that I am not a fan of dark, survival horror style gameplay, so I can't say I enjoyed it much. So, I'll just say it is "great if you like that sort of thing".
The text file claims no annoying traps or mazes, but I disagree, the whole level is pretty much a maze of 128-wide corridors. That said, at least it's 128 so there's room to move, and you're not constantly twisting and turning. Texturing is mostly green marble and demon faces with a few fiery bits, but all the doors are tech ones - quintissentially 1994, really. The dagger of the title is in the north-west near the exit, and not particularly well-drawn (it's map writing)
Note you won't get 100% kills unless you know there's an invisible shootable door in one of the fiery corridors - if you miss it you won't want to go back in because it's a high-damage floor and there's only one radsuit.