Best Gameplay Mod

Project MSX - MagSigmaX

By virtue of the name itself, the entire purpose of a gameplay mod is to take what we know as Doom and transform its playstyle into something else entirely. At least, that's the theory -- in my own (somewhat biased) experience over years of modding, the most fun mods seem to be the ones that hone in on one or more particular traits that make Doom "just work" and enhance or extend them, rather than replace them outright. While that may not be true in every case (as mods from years past like ZDoom Wars and RSL's many solid efforts are keen to illustrate), I find it a good rule of thumb to stick to: find something about Doom's core gameplay that works, and make it the focus. Project MSX

MagSigmaX's somewhat-eponymous Project MSX, on top of being a stellar mod in its own right, claims the throne for that very reason. This ultra-polished mod boasts more than just an impressive set of weapons, opting to tweak the game balance in favor of one specific aspect of Doom's gameplay: speed. When I say the gameplay is fast, we're talking Sonic-the-Hedgehog-with-motion-sickness fast. Barrages of projectiles rain down on you like ash from Vesuvius as souped-up monster variants hunt your powersuit-enclosed ass down, but that suit grants you a few new tactics for retaliation: tapping the run/walk key results in a short "dash" move that will get you out of harm's way, while holding down the same button will engage "sprint" mode for as long as your suit power lasts. In all, the power suit bit is obviously Halo- and Crysis-inspired, with a recharging shield and abilities that use up a single power source, but the good news is that they serve to encourage Doom's "run around like a madman" mechanic, rather than discourage you from doing anything other than sit in a corner. No headshots or precision aiming to be found here -- just good ol' run n' gun at twice the speed.

Such fancy footwork can't quite carry the whole mod, of course, but that's where the new weapons come in. With a whole slew of smoothly-animated (35fps, damn!) gorgeous guns ranging from pulse blasters to autocannons, you'll find something to tickle your fancy. Everything about the guns -- flashes, sounds, and even the beefy reload animations -- is specifically tooled to make the player feel like a badass. Hell, even the lowly pistol fires explosive rounds capable of taking out a cacodemon in twelve or so shots, though I suppose it doesn't hold a candle to bigger toys like the Nail Shotgun (my personal favorite), which fires a blast of shrapnel that rips through anything in its path and makes an oh-so-satisfying 'clink' sound on impact... I'm getting giddy just thinking about it!

In all, MSX-Powersuitguy's ability to unload a hell of a lot of damage over a short timespan will grant the player an edge over the roided-out competition... if you've got the nads to use them. As a fair warning, the end result of this tense balance is a very difficult mod that may trick one into thinking that the proper way of playing is to duck behind corners and plink away as your shields recharge. It's not. MSX is a mod where you're meant to move, make mad dashes, and unload a flurry of cannon shells or a fully-charged grenade (fun at parties!) into crowds at lightning speeds. If you find yourself sinking into the stay-still trap too often, it may be worth dropping the difficulty down a notch and giving it another shot; MSX cranks things up to 11, and expects everything else to match, including player skill, so watch out.

For folks looking for a damned good experience in a gameplay mod, MSX delivers in just about everything and snags this year's award. I just hope MagSigmaX decides to some day come up with a slightly less placeholder-ish name at a later date so I don't have to keep mentally referring to it as "Project MonkeySeX."


Mordeth Award - Released project with the longest "development time"

ZDoom Community Map Project: Take II - Various

Mordeth Award For better or worse, there's a reason the phrase "development time" is in quotation marks in the award description. Though it would be a relatively simple (albeit mechanical) process to just hunt down the project that has been in active development for the longest number of years, we like to believe that picking a Mordeth is about more than counting backwards.

Having waxed on about Mordeth philosophy once more (Gaston, take note), we're taking a page from 2009's book and awarding the coveted trophy to ZDoom Community Map Project: Take II for much the same reason that Plutonia 2 nabbed it in the 16th 'Wards. Although Take II as we know it has been a massive effort spanning over a year's worth of development (and countless more if we're talking man-years), what makes it particularly qualifying is the fact that this is actually the second incarnation of this particular project. Yep, you're actually playing Take II: Take II; the original ZDCMP2 was started in two thousand freakin' four soon after the release of the first one, but wound up spiraling out of control and crashing sometime mid-2005 before being resurrected years later in 2012. So while the project hasn't been under constant development for nine years, suffice to say that the spirit of this project has survived for so long that it's probably responsible for at least half of all hauntings and alleged ghost sightings along the East Coast.

Not that it matters, anyway, as ZDCMP:T2:T2 would probably qualify regardless given that the new incarnation has suffered months and months of delays of its own, most of which are all due to a single nutjob sitting on the wad for long periods of time. Same nutjob who's writing this blurb, in fact. Same nutjob who already has a list of TODOs and bugfixes to take care of post-release.

Well, shit.


Mockaward - Best comedy wad of the year

Big "thanks" to the few folks out there who decided to keep making actually-decent comedy wads despite basically all of Doomworld publicly pronouncing the Mockaward dead. Now we just can't seem to keep it that way. Way to make us all look like idiots, guys!

Extreme Weapon Pack - Doggo120

Okay, I know this is supposed to be a mockaward article and everything but look, I'm being deadly serious now. This mod is so extreme. It's really, really extreme. Don't believe me when I say how extreme it is? Look at the title. Extreme Weapon Pack

Extreme Weapon Pack.

What do you think that means? I can tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that your guns will be loaded with flower petals, or that your rockets will explode like bread from a toaster. This weapons mod is for hardcore players only, and if you think you're in for a happy little joyride then good luck to you, you're an idiot. I'm not even joking here. It's that extreme. The guns will blast your shoulders off with raw, masculine energy. The explosions will blow holes into the next dimension and then shit you out the other side. You can't handle this. I can't handle this. Nobody on Earth who isn't the son of God or better can handle this kind of power. It's way. Too. Extreme.

...But if you think you've got the stuff; if you think you're capable of withstanding the sheer holocaust of destruction... then enter. And be sure to pack plenty of nail varnish.


Mapper of the Year


Doom is an art. The twenty years that now make up its history have resulted in many changes to the ways we map for it, and in eras that are distinguishable from one another in some way. The repeated embrace of the original form has given way to a platform for ideas, and to a continuum of trends that sometimes reflect the development of games outside our own (Urban Brawl and the Call of Dooty series are fine examples of this, albeit for different reasons). This is partly why it has lasted so long.

Ribbiks receives this year's Mapper of the Year award because he is a great artist, and because his work in Stardate and Swim With the Whales has been as pioneering in the field of change as it as been simply stunning. Although I have always suspected that there would be buildings to challenge the spires of Sunder and Deus Vult 2 (such is the confidence that can be placed in the future of Doom), it is always exciting to see the ways in which these newer monuments compare to the classics and to understand the minds behind their creation. Ribbiks is a musician, a speedrunner, and a project leader. His involvement in the Slaughterfest series and dedication to the gameplay it represents has fuelled the ambition of many, and at least on a personal level alleviated some of the misgivings toward maps of its kind. His obsession with Spoons and his participation in speedmapping events has also revealed a designer that is able to modify his mapping process, adopting the kind of flexibility that allows for the pursuance of new ideas.

For such a talented and promising individual to appear seemingly out of nowhere (from the blue!) should not strike one as unusual, of course. It is the inevitable fate of Doom to go on producing these talents and surprising us at every turn, and not for the expectation that it will someday keel over and die. The true possibilities of the engine have yet to be uncovered by new and enigmatic minds. The kind of minds that will eventually cause the current trends to disappear, and for the next to erupt into a wealth of imp and baron-slaying relish.

Well played, Ribbiks!


PS: Red and brown are my favourite colours. Pretty please?

2013 Cacowards

Special Dedication

  • 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
  • Kuchitsu

Top Ten - Page 3

  • Forsaken Overlook
  • Stardate 20X6
  • Pirate Doom
  • Swim With the Whales

Multiplayer Awards

  • Eyedea
  • Samsara
  • Eon Deathmatch

Other Awards

  • Best Gameplay Mod
  • Mordeth Award
  • Mockaward
  • Mapper of the Year


Did You Know...

December 10th marked the 20 year anniversary of DOOM? Crazy, right?

Did You Know...

September 8th marked the 5 year anniversary of Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl.

Did You Know...

Mordeth and Millennium were still not released in 2013 despite over fifteen years of development.


3'2 English billy, white coat, answers to "Alfonzo." Last seen nibbling the golden caco ornaments in kmxexii's yard before scampering out of view when approached. Enjoys tea, faints around utterances of the phrase "100 minutes." If found, contact Xaser Acheron at (123)-456-7890 and feel free to laugh if that turns out to be a real phone number.


While it may not be our Mockawardee this year (and not quite awful enough to resurrect that cursed Worst Wad trophy), it seems appropriate to give a sidebar-shout-out to WOOO for the bizarreness behind its "development." In a nefarious twist, the "Let's make a BAD megawad" concept extended beyond the maps themselves. Not only did the project contain 32 WTFtacular maps, but the release package was a botched mess: music was missing entirely, some resources vanished, and the entire set of maps was spread across different six wad files for seemingly no reason... all on purpose, of course! Why on earth? To quote the project "organizer", it was done this way "to fit the theme of it being bad." Hats off to taking the project farther than it was ever meant to go!

While the final release on /idgames is a slightly-saner single-wad package with all maps presented as intended (for better or worse), it may be worth a look for those in need of a Mock fix. Just don't blame us when your speakers start blasting distorted J-pop at ten billion decibels.

Pelican of the Hour

This year's hotly contested Annual Pelican of the Hour award goes to last year's Annual Pelican of the Hour Award! What a story! All twenty-seven of us were surprised at the outcome, except maybe for one guy who we're certain rigged the vote. A big thanks to both members of the community who cast their votes. We hope to see you all at next week's armadillo round-up!

I'm still bored!

Create a map discussing the contention that "early 20th century industrialism amounts necessarily to a form of collectivism," featuring prominently in your argument the city of Sheffield. You may not reference George Orwell or Upton Sinclair. You may not use any cacodemons.

Actually, screw it. Just make a map, any map at all, and Xaser will judge it and hand out a leftover Cacoward trophy or something. For reals.

Deadline is January 21st 2013.

Special Thanks

The hosts of the 20th Annual Cacowards would like to thank the Doomworld staff for letting us continue on in our blatant hijacking... er, rescuing of the awards from the brink of lateness (which is totally our fault; but still). Props to Scuba Steve, Esselfortium, dew, and others who dropped in at the last minute to contribute and save our butts from the metaphorical (or, in one reviewer's case, literal) fire. Have a merry fragging 20th, and we look forward to seeing you all next year to share a round of drinks with Doom on its 21st.