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Ragnor
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Ever since I bought Final Doom for the Playstation, I had wondered about the Master Levels. I originally thought they were made exclusively for that port, especially since all but the last three had special music tracks. When I found out what they really were, a badly organised collection of PWADs, I made several attempts to get my own copy, never could get a legal copy till this year's Steam sale.

Previously a friend gave me them from his own Steam directory, but I wanted my own copy. I did have a (disastrous) personal project to combine them, as some miiiight remember, but more on that sort of thing later

Using the really cool Master Levels Menu frontend for ZDoom, I finally completed the full level set after all these years, and its something I really wish had gotten more care and time. Very few were made especially for the project, and there are many clear cases of "Here, have these levels from my series" or "Have this map I had lying around"

Five maps from the Cabal series, five from the Inferno series, two from the Titan series, with the remainder being individual maps from Chris Klie, Tim Willits and his sister, and Tom Mustaine. This annoys me, because those series were doomed to incompletion, Cabal in particular had a lot of promise, all of Sverre's Master Levels were very atmospheric, and really got that feel in the level notes across.

Overall I found the "series" maps to be the best, with Black Tower, T.E.E.T.H, Bloodsea Keep, Titan Manor and Trapped on Titan being the top five (All of which I had never played before, as they were all cut from PSX Final Doom), with Klie's maps being easy time sinks with interesting map philosophy, with nothing binding them together. Its amusing how he pretty much always puts keys on display, in open mockery of Doomguy's inability to reach out his hand. Dr Sleep's maps were good, but the various bugs in a few of them killed the feel, and Vesperas has the stupidest Yellow key I've ever come across. I had to youtube that! I really liked Paradox, seemingly the only level truly made for Master Level's design goal, and Canyon was pretty nice too. Attack though, is terrible and should only have existed if there was going to be a proper progression.

Too bad id couldn't communicate that across, Romero knew it was going to be random pile of PWADs from the beginning, yet Shawn Green, the bloody project coordinator, either didnt know that or failed to communicate it, as nearly everyone thought it was going to standard-fare episodes. As such many levels end with items to prepare you for the next level, Catwalk has two big secrets at the end that are practically armouries to raid for example. If they were a combined file, Attack would be level 1, with Klie's maps following (Maybe Canyon at 5), then Paradox, Bloodsea Keep and the rest.

What do you all think of the Master Levels?

Side note: Mephisto's Mausoleum is creepy at the end with Doom Expanded. Also, fuck that level, seriously.
http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o181/Ekerezan/th_Screenshot_Doom_20130207_024118_zpsdd855770.png

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o181/Ekerezan/th_Screenshot_Doom_20130207_024951_zps9cba11d0.png

Old Post 02-07-13 01:39 #
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scalliano
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Ragnor said:
especially since all but the last three had special music tracks ...


Turns out that wasn't originally meant to be the case.

Black Tower aside, I found the maps that made it into PSX Final Doom to be the best of the bunch. Incidentally I did combine them into one wad with a different order from the PSX, grouping them by sky texture (hadn't discovered the wonders of MAPINFO by that point).

And yeah, Mephisto is a pain in the arse covered in barb wire and dipped in hydrochloric acid. Hate that fucking level.

Old Post 02-07-13 01:52 #
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Shadow Hog
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IIRC Elbryan42 had listed out a "preferred order" of his for playing them in, so when I finally got myself a copy over Steam, I combined them up in said order (keeping as much information about the relevant map slots as possible via MAPINFO), and then playing through the lot as one single WAD. Was a fairly interesting ride, honestly, but not one I remember a whole lot about.

Old Post 02-07-13 03:23 #
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kmxexii
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The Master Levels are pretty cool. I think it sucks that Kvernmo and Sleep never got around to finishing the collections they started but in the case of Kvernmo I'm not sure I'd like the non-id influenced version of the Cabal series.

Old Post 02-07-13 03:48 #
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hex11
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I liked Black Tower and especially Bloodsea Keep, but the rest didn't leave much of an impression on me.

Old Post 02-07-13 06:01 #
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Ragnor
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I think I'll play the PSX TC and remind myself what my very first encounters of the levels were like, with the special effects that the Playstation used. I cant wait to see the PSX TC's Lost Levels versions of the remaining Master Levels. I know Bloodsea Keep was done already.

Whats the general opinion on the known rejected levels? Tom Mustaine had a Inmost Dens style map that was thrown out the door by Mcgee, seemingly in a tantrum, and Chris Klie has five on the archive. Any others aside from these?

Old Post 02-07-13 06:25 #
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kmxexii
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Ragnor said:
I think I'll play the PSX TC and remind myself what my very first encounters of the levels were like, with the special effects that the Playstation used. I cant wait to see the PSX TC's Lost Levels versions of the remaining Master Levels. I know Bloodsea Keep was done already.

Whats the general opinion on the known rejected levels? Tom Mustaine had a Inmost Dens style map that was thrown out the door by Mcgee, seemingly in a tantrum, and Chris Klie has five on the archive. Any others aside from these?



There are six Klie rejects. Some of them aren't that hot at all. I'm not sure if all of Kvernmo's submissions made it, but I don't think that every CABAL map was submitted. Some of them are sketchy but have some neat ideas. Mustache actually made two other maps for the Masters that eventually became part of Evilution.

Old Post 02-07-13 12:12 #
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Gez
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kmxexii said:
Mustache

Heh.

Old Post 02-07-13 12:19 #
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Ragnor
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kmxexii said:


There are six Klie rejects. Some of them aren't that hot at all. I'm not sure if all of Kvernmo's submissions made it, but I don't think that every CABAL map was submitted. Some of them are sketchy but have some neat ideas. Mustache actually made two other maps for the Masters that eventually became part of Evilution.



Whoops, miscounted. I downloaded all seven known rejects while playing through the main levels, havent played them yet. Yeah, TNT Map 1 and 17 were originally Master Levels rejects.

Old Post 02-07-13 12:30 #
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printz
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Eternity Engine has a built-in Master Levels menu.

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Old Post 02-07-13 13:05 #
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kmxexii
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Gez said:

Heh.



I'm pretty sure that's an iPhone autocorrect that slipped by, but if it was a legit typo, I have a perfectly valid reason as to why I typed mustache.

Old Post 02-07-13 15:04 #
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Xfing
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Soooo, has anyone consolidated the levels into a single wad or is that kinda illegal around these parts?

Old Post 02-07-13 20:17 #
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Grazza
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Combining them for your own use is probably OK (though pointless IMO). Distributing them in any form is clearly not.

Old Post 02-07-13 20:28 #
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qoncept
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I don't know how anyone could be even remotely interested in buying this. There are a million wads better than everything on that disc that are free and easier to get.

Old Post 02-07-13 20:29 #
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BlueFireZ88
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What are the rejected Master Levels anyway? Is there a full list?

Old Post 02-07-13 20:30 #
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Gez
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Kmxexii has a good recap page.

But in short: Mustaine, Klie, Kvernmo, Anderson.

Old Post 02-07-13 20:59 #
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Xaser
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It hasn't been widely publicized, but as an alternative to Zippy's ZDMLMenu, Blzut3 has put together a patch utility (near the bottom of the page) that will combine all the Master Levels into a .pk3 for ZDoom. The cool part is that you can pick from one of several map orderings so you can choose whichever makes the most sense to you. Note that you'll currently need to refer to the textfile to see what the actual map sequences are, since they aren't displayed in the patch tool.

I'm sorta self-promoting, since one of the possible orderings you can choose from is my own preference (with music to suit), but you can choose from several including alphabetic and the quasi-official PSN order from Doom Classic Complete (which arranges things by map slot first, name second, so there's actually decent progression for once). In my defense, it was Blzut3's idea to include the Xaserlist, not mine. :P

As for my own opinion on the Master Levels, I love 'em, though I dislike the disorganized distribution method. Hence all the mentions of combinations/ordering every time I seem to discuss it. :P

Old Post 02-07-13 21:19 #
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Vermil
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I wish the installer for the non-Steam version worked on Windows 8 :(

Even with the compatibility set to Win XP, it still doesn't work.

EDIT: I'm assuming it's a Windows based installer of course; at least I don't recall it being a Dos based installer.

Old Post 02-07-13 21:25 #
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BlueFireZ88
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I'd wonder if someone tried to make a "Doom: The Lost Master Levels" collection. Seems like it would have some kind of merit.

Old Post 02-07-13 23:59 #
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Ragnor
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That could be a good idea for a project I think. A tribute to the original Master Levels, its the only Doom product that lacks such a thing. "The Master Levels the way Shawn Green co-ordinated" lolololol

And Qoncept: Probably because its an official id product. When I bought these, I filled the gap and now have every PC classic Doom (Ultimate Doom, Doom 2, Master Levels for Doom 2, Final Doom, Lost Episodes of Doom, Perditions Gate, Hell to Pay). All I need now is a PC version of Doom 3 BFG Edition for No Rest for the Living, but that ones a special case. Im not paying all that money just for Nerve's level set thats inside a game I alredy own for the PS3

Kmxexii: That was a really good read. *gets lost reading other related reviews*

Old Post 02-08-13 02:00 #
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Urban Space Cowboy
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Gez said:
Kmxexii has a good recap page.

But in short: Mustaine, Klie, Kvernmo, Anderson.

Hey, I remember that Mustaine MAP14-alike! It was going to be Evilution map 10 until it was rejected for similar reasons to Id's -- way too on-the-nose an "homage". Funny how there're several such "homages" in Plutonia, then. And the blue key missing from this map in Hurt Me Plenty difficulty doesn't help. :(

E: Clarified phrasing

Last edited by Urban Space Cowboy on 02-08-13 at 09:34

Old Post 02-08-13 04:08 #
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Ragnor
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Plutonia was kind of a special case with id, and it was just the two developers. I think they overlooked the homages there to get there hands on a second megawad within their timeframe for the project. Plutonia had nothing cut from it afterall, unlike Evilution.

Old Post 02-08-13 08:40 #
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BaronOfStuff
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Ragnor said:
Overall I found the "series" maps to be the best, with Black Tower, T.E.E.T.H, Bloodsea Keep, Titan Manor and Trapped on Titan being the top five (All of which I had never played before, as they were all cut from PSX Final Doom)


These probably are the best maps in terms of content, offering the biggest adventures in the set. Trapped On Titan is a wonderfully open assault course (to a degree), T.E.E.T.H. is somewhat ingenious (for the time) in how it dictates progression, and Black Tower in particular is deceptively and remarkably time-stealing for how simple it looks.




Catwalk has two big secrets at the end that are practically armouries to raid for example. If they were a combined file, Attack would be level 1, with Klie's maps following (Maybe Canyon at 5), then Paradox, Bloodsea Keep and the rest.

What do you all think of the Master Levels?



Those big secrets make the rest of the PSX episode laughably easy, although to an extent it's already considerably easier than it probably should have been.

Really though, I like The Master Levels. They're the sort of difficulty and design that I'd expect from such a package, and offer a half-decent challenge without resorting to shitty Revenant spam (opening to Mephisto's Mausoleum aside). My least favourite map in the set is probably Minos' Judgement; despite a reasonably strong layout and nice flow, it's a bland world of light brown bricks with fewer landmarks than your average Wolfenstein 3D map (slight exaggeration). Getting lost in here the first few times -- especially on the PSX version, with its almost universally brown lighting -- is way too easy.

Old Post 02-08-13 22:49 #
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Processingcontrol
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The Master levels are worth playing just for Kvernmo's and Flynn's masterpieces alone. The other wads aren't anything special by today's standards, but they're certainly far better than most maps made at the time. Even Mephisto's Mausoleum (the only non-awesome Kvernmo map) has some pretty cool ideas, which were unfortunately horribly executed.

Old Post 02-09-13 04:33 #
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Soundblock
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Gez said:
Kmxexii has a good recap page.

But in short: Mustaine, Klie, Kvernmo, Anderson.



Hey guys! (Kvernmo here) :p

/dodges cabbages and tomatoes while picking up tips and bouqets

The only map of mine I (at the time) really felt should have been on the "outpicked-non-maximum" Master Levels list, was The Image Evil... I sent Shawn an early version while the map was still flesh-themed, thinking the special mapview would be enough to get a greenlight for further development. It was deemed "too weird" though, and despite a wood & metal re-working of the level (admittedly still a bit strange in the layout) it ended up in the reject bracket. It was only later that I found out that there's a potential sidedef overflow in there that crashes the game, which might occur if you're stood close to the gap of the teeth, looking north. Just as well Shawn cut it!

Its been a lot of years since I played those maps btw, but the one that sticks to mind is actually Klie's antigravital Catwalk - weird and almost Dark Forces-like in its layout/execution, is how I recall it. Not that I'll go back and play it now - some memories are best left undisturbed. :-)

Old Post 12-21-13 03:14 #
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Ragnor
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..So I saw this thread, and thought "Cool, another master Levels appreciation thread!" only to realise "Oh, its the one I made >_>"

And then Sverre himself is the thread bumper.

Ive since played the entire set a second time on the PS3, and some of the levels in PSX mode (Still very buggy as of now, Mephisto also got entirely redesigned to a bossmap is getting reworked back to its original monster list, sans boss shooter) and I stand by my decision that the maps by you and Jim Flynn are the best ones on there. Mephisto is my least favourite of yours (across the entire cabal series no less) but its still better than anything Klie dished up. Maybe I'm biased because that one room with the corpse of Mephisto rising out of its coffin is so amazing. Revenants are my most despised monster though, so the centre room's first battle stresses me out to no end. Especially with the graphics mod I used, which crashes a lot if too many Revenants are shooting at once.

Image of Evil is definitely ML quality to me, but I think its more of a "Map 29" than "Map 30", it lacks a truly definitive finale. I mean, a lone cyberdemon in a room with an invuln is hardly "true final boss of the entire cabal" is it ;] Trapped on Titan was able to VPO, so not all maps in the ML project were perfect, several were even impossible to 100%. Thanks for the history on IoE, I know ive said this before, but that map is THE reason I went out looking for Doom mods on the internet. Never thought I'd ever meet the guy who made it!

Watchtower and Temple of Death would also fit in with them with some adjustments (I never liked the "surrounded by barrels" start of ToD, rest of the map was great though, you'd hardly know it was your very first wad if the barrels werent there ;])

Old Post 12-21-13 10:31 #
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Gez
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Soundblock said:
Hey guys! (Kvernmo here) :p


Since you're here, any comment about the level ordering hypothesized on the wiki?

Old Post 12-21-13 11:20 #
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Soundblock
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Gez said:


Since you're here, any comment about the level ordering hypothesized on the wiki?



Phew....

/wracks brain

No, not really. Mr Willits' levels were really accessible, I guess they would have been good openers... I remember playing them thinking "but, but... this is EASY!" It kinda made me wish maybe I should have made mine a little more accessible. Mr Flynn's were always good sprawlers, latter stages stuff. The Klies and Paradox after those from Willits? You would have to space out Anderson's sirloiny stuff, just to keep player interest. Most of mine would have been good secret optionals I guess, being screwed a bit tight as they were. Not enough secrets to go around to place all of them though, so much as I'd like them to come in first, like most mappers do, they're probably best placed near the end of any proposed ML episode.

They weren't made to stack though, we were all over the place with phone lines, snail mail and proto-email in those days. Most of my maps were close to done before I even knew who the other guys were. Communicating on a creative level was quite an effort cross-country/continent, so you would definitely have to have a lot of time allocated towards that to try for it, and we didn't have that.

Old Post 12-21-13 11:31 #
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Ragnor
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Quite a few levels did end up ending with items and weapons meant to carry over to another map though. I'm assuming the Black Tower items at he very end are from before you sent them in? They are used really well in the PS3 version, but in the original PC release, they are entirely redundant due to the "20 seperate wads" plan

Klie's Catwalk and Flynn's Titan Manor also ended this way, Catwalk has HUGE secrets at the very end that are practically big armouries and Titan Manor ends with a megasphere.

Klie's levels are pretty much all easy, with Subterra the only really challenging one. his rejected Hive level was his hardest one though, wonder why that one was rejected, it was my favourite out of rejected levels.

This is a reeeeally long shot, but, a lot of articles on the Master Levels say that you replaced a guy on the team late into the project, do you have any clue who that was? Its always bugged me that one of the "team" is still unknown.

Old Post 12-21-13 11:46 #
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Soundblock
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Ragnor said:
Quite a few levels did end up ending with items and weapons meant to carry over to another map though. I'm assuming the Black Tower items at he very end are from before you sent them in? They are used really well in the PS3 version, but in the original PC release, they are entirely redundant due to the "20 seperate wads" plan

Klie's Catwalk and Flynn's Titan Manor also ended this way, Catwalk has HUGE secrets at the very end that are practically big armouries and Titan Manor ends with a megasphere.

Klie's levels are pretty much all easy, with Subterra the only really challenging one. his rejected Hive level was his hardest one though, wonder why that one was rejected, it was my favourite out of rejected levels.

This is a reeeeally long shot, but, a lot of articles on the Master Levels say that you replaced a guy on the team late into the project, do you have any clue who that was? Its always bugged me that one of the "team" is still unknown.




I find the "treasure-trove-at-the-end" syndrome is kind of a foam-of-the-beer carry-over from Doom's incremental build-up system, where you experience increasingly harder weapons/monsters - it tends to go overboard by the end of the map - usually ending up rocking the boat of the next guy's carefully balanced map. Working on Eternal Doom, there was certainly enough, uhm... shall we call them "discussions", on the team, concerning the player's initial power level when starting the map. Basically, no one wanted a 200/200 health/armor marine walking all over the first half of their map.

Judging by that project, by which time internet collabration was getting a litle easier, the state of the items on the Master Levels you describe would likely have changed form somewhat, to accommodate neighbouring level designs. That is to say, the maps would likely have had slimmer end-troves if we were mapping sequentially. Certain weapons would probably have been left out entirely (or made secret) from certain maps, which again would have triggered new design processes to maintain the existing mapflows.

Its worth noting though, that Master Levels was always more of a "who's-got-good-maps-out-there-that-haven't-been-released-yet-that-we-can-give-DZONE-a-run-for-its-money-with?" rather than a "let's-start-making-kickass-maps-starting-right-now-for-the-sake-of-the-art-of-mapmaking" type of project.

EDIT:
I have no idea who the person was whose maps mine replaced, though I understand he (I presume it was a he) was quite young at the time. I would love to have see those maps, but I fear they might be lost to the world by now.

Last edited by Soundblock on 12-21-13 at 12:27

Old Post 12-21-13 12:18 #
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