Special Award - Lifetime Achievement
Though the goal of the Cacowards is to honor the best ten-plus wads of the previous year, we've come to realize that some achievements worthy of honor expand far beyond the span of a single year. In honor of Doom's 20th (and to that of a certain individual), we've decided to introduce a very special award category dedicated to those who have kept Doom alive and healthy through constant contribution over a long lifespan. We salute you, long-time Doomers.
Esa "Espi" Repo
In the 20 years since Doom's release, countless players, mappers, and other contributors have come and gone. The Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement honors those who have made outstanding contributions to the Doom community over an entire career.
It is named in honor of Esa "Espi" Repo (1981-2009), a mapper and artist who mainly stayed away from the public spotlight, but who nonetheless made a great impact on the Doom community through his boundary-pushing creative works. Characterized by sleek, minimalist aesthetics that are both realistic and fantastical, interwoven layouts that guide the player along intricate paths while still encouraging exploration, and how-did-he-do-that magic tricks that still manage to reveal new secrets even today, Espi's levels are a feast to play through and continue to be a source of inspiration to countless mappers.
Perhaps best known for his vanilla-compatible episodes Suspended in Dusk (2005) and Back to Basics (2007),
it was with his final release that Espi created his magnum opus. The Shrine, map27 of Eternal Doom IV (2008), is a sprawling gothic arcadia, distinguished with bold, angular architecture, gobs of original texture artwork, and a sandbox layout that gives the player free reign to explore its immersive array of castles, dungeons, and what might very well be the most breathtaking natural landscapes ever to be crafted for Doom.
After his cancer diagnosis and even the amputation of his right arm, his passions and spirit remained unbroken. He adapted remarkably well to drawing with his left hand and playing Doom singlehandedly with a multi-button mouse, and had even configured Doom Builder to allow him to map using just a mouse and foot pedal controls. His unrealized future project ideas included a landscape-focused prequel level to accompany The Shrine, and a source port re-envisioning of Knee-Deep In The Dead with entirely new levels and a custom-designed texture set.
This award fills a gap in the Cacowards to recognize long-term contributors like Espi, whose methodical style and great attention to detail meant that although his releases were infrequent, they were always worth waiting for, and the love and care he put into every linedef was evident. Though he was taken from us far too soon, his legacy lives on through his work.
It was an honor to know you, Espi, even if only for a short time. You won't be forgotten.
-Michael "Esselfortium" Mancuso
Samuel "Kaiser" Villareal
When naming names for the first recipient of the new award, Kaiser was the first on almost everyone's tongue. Part of it might be the fact that he's practically a household name at this point (at least in households enamored with a certain FPS), but such a thing wouldn't exactly be possible for someone who hasn't already made waves. While Kaiser's total efforts extend beyond the realm of Doom and into Unreal Tournament, Doom 3, and his professional game design period at TimeGate Studios, it's the Doom stuff alone that keeps him in our hearts and makes him a worthy recipient of this award.
In terms of pure mapping prowess, the first third of Kaiser's resume is already impressive enough to give most a run for their linedefs... er, money. Just to start, there's the series of DSV Megawads from the "Deathman" days, super-solid contributions to Community Chest 1 and 2, and a massive pseudo-series of single map releases under the "kaiser_##" name. More than just a mapper, though, Kaiser was a prominent and active member of the Doom community, where he captured the zaniness of the old days in his "Community Is Falling" series of jokewads (hardly deserving of the term given their level of quality). The most notable of these, Community Is Falling 3, contains so much new content that it's practically a whole new game on its own. On top of all this, he made notable contributions to the still-budding field of Strife modding, including two solid maps (Return of the Order and Day of the Acolyte) and the first DIALOG script compiler for Strife, KSSC.
At this point, I'm sure many folks are scratching your heads wondering why the most obvious item has yet to be mentioned. For one, it deserves its own paragraph (or two), and secondly,
the likely reason folks even know of said item is because of Kaiser's efforts. I'm talking about Doom 64, of course, that marvelous gem of a Doom game that once existed exclusively on an aging console. Following some early work on porting some Doom64 and PSX maps to PC Doom in the simply-named Console Doom project, Kaiser gathered a crew and spearheaded the Doom 64: Absolution TC for the Doomsday engine with the aim of creating a faithful remake of the game for the PC.
Though Absolution is an impressive work in its own right that would cause most of us to declare victory and sail onward, the inevitable differences between the TC and the original game spurred Kaiser to lock himself in his metaphorical workshop with naught but a ROM, a hex editor,
and god-knows-what other esoteric hacking tools to reverse-engineer the hell out of the game. He emerged victorious with Doom64 EX, a near-perfect PC "port" that not only brings the original game to the PC but supports modding as well (complete with a fork of Doom Builder specifically for this purpose - yikes!). I could write pages upon pages about EX itself, but to share at least one thought, I wouldn't at all be surprised if we see a Doom 64 PWAD grace the Cacowards one day. Not a bad outcome from a single man with his sights set on a previously-unmoddable game, eh?
Such an impressive and illustrious career is tough to summarize, and I'll be damned if I can fit enough words on this page to really give his efforts justice. I suppose that's even more evidence as to why Kaiser is the first recipient of the Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement, as his career fits the title to every extent of the term. Major props to you, Kaiser, for your constant efforts in contributing to Doom, giving new life to a near-lost chapter in the Doom saga, and practically inventing your own Doom-engine game along the way. Here's to hoping your future efforts (Turok!) are met with such success. You can bet we'll all be cheering you on.
- Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement
Top Ten - Page 1
- Back to Saturn X: Episode 1
- Doom 2 The Way id Did
- Unholy Realms
Top Ten - Page 2
- ZDoom Community Map Project: Take II
- Fuel Devourer
Top Ten - Page 3
- Forsaken Overlook
- Stardate 20X6
- Pirate Doom
- Swim With the Whales
- Eon Deathmatch
- Best Gameplay Mod
- Mordeth Award
- Mapper of the Year
DOOM TURNS 20!
With two decades' worth of pent-up excitement over Doom, there was bound to be plenty of celebration for the occasion. Though the Cacowards themselves are a little late, the greater community has more than picked up the slack in a multitude of ways. To recap, here are some of the offerings:
- John Carmack talks Doom in an interview with Wired, mercifully using language we mere mortals can comprehend.
- IGN posts a walk-through commentary of Knee-Deep in the Dead with John Romero. We're not sure if his memory is photographic or he just stepped out of a time machine.
- Fraggle (with help from underlings Quasar and Kaiser) unveil Chocolate Doom 2.0.0, now boasting Heretic, Hexen, and Strife support. The version number is totally a coincidence.
- Brad Harding sneaks out a new Chocolate-forked source port, Doom Retro, to mark the occasion. It's chock full of little tweaks to the vanilla game while remaining true to the roots. Check it out!
- Entire mountain ranges of Doom articles celebrating the 20th have cropped up everywhere, but space here is limited. Luckily, Chris Hansen has kindly compiled a huge list of articles published on the 20th for the bookmarking. Have at it!
START TO CRATE
A decade ago, a crack team of Doomworld archaeologists led by Cyb and Linguica formulated (or ripped off from Old Man Murray) the most accurate objective and measure of a game's quality ever devised: Start to Crate. What better way to introduce this year's awards than to put our top ten picks to the test?
- BTSX E1: 0:08 - Pair of barrels right in front of the main entrance to the base. Guess that settles it the question of BTSX's true quality once and for all. Sorry guys!
- D2TWID: 2:07 - Nothing at all until MAP03, around the first bend. Sadly, this actually beats Doom 2's time of 1:52, meaning that D2TWID is objectively better than the IWAD it's allegedly meant to replace. For shame!
- Unholy Realms: 0:04 - A barrel lies just down the stairs to the right. Snakes, you crafty serpent(s)! We waited so long!
- ZDCMP2: 0:05 - At least we can commend the effort it took to pass the map around 50 times to perfect this barrel's placement.
- Fuel Devourer: 0:15 - Crate right next to the blue key. In the authors' defense, it's nearly the same color as the surrounding walls, so maybe they just didn't notice it was there.
- Kuchitsu: 0:08 - Easy to miss, but if you turn around and dash to the green key, there's that sneaky barrel. Almost had me fooled, Memfis!
- Forsaken Overlook: N/A - Whoa, stop the presses! In an unforeseen twist, MTrop's effort has... no crates at all! Inconcievable!
- Stardate 20X6: ??? - Well... uh, give me a moment. I'm sure there's a crate somewhere in this wad... dammit! Dead again! I'll... uh, get back to you guys on this one.
- Pirate Doom: 0:10 - Another deceptive one, but if you spy through the windows to the main cabin, there's a couple o' barrels inside. Arr! Pirate reference goes here!
- Swim With the Whales: N/A - Nothing. Nada. Now I'm convinced that Ribbiks is just trolling us.
Bah, I give up. You know what? I'm just gonna pretend that all maps take place inside one giant crate. You all get zeroes. Have a nice day.