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  • 2084987713_6_gameplaymodcacoward.pngGuncaster - Pillowblaster et al

    Doom 2, GZDoom

     

    Many yonks ago, Aeons of Death struggled with the question of "at what point should you actually stop putting stuff into a gameplay mod?" Even now, it's difficult to really pinpoint when a gameplay mod can be considered "complete." There's always another extra feature you can add, another weapon, another item, another thing, and as it goes on it becomes increasingly tough to have content mesh and feel consistent throughout play.

     

    Guncaster

     

    Guncaster does. Yet another wild mod from the mind of Pillowblaster, who treats subtlety and balance with the same disdain as he would the mud on a Tuesday morning, Guncaster sets you in the shoes of an angry dragon named Cygnis. Armed with a starting revolver capable of one-shotting even basic imps, you proceed to use a combination of extremely overpowered guns and weapons in tandem with each other to romp through whatever mapset you want to trivialize today in an endless rampage.

     

    On paper, the gameplay is similar to Psychic: You run around, kill demons, get money, use money to buy things in the shop, use the stuff you buy to kill more things. Simple. However, while simple on paper, actually going into the mod reveals a ridiculous amount of content available to the player. The amount of things a player can find and buy and fiddle with is, frankly, absurd. Use guns to shoot demons, use magic to kill demons, use "stratocasters" to upgrade your weapons with abilities, use syringes to enhance your abilities, use summons to get allies by your side, use artifacts to get persistent effects while demon hunting...it just doesn't end! Pillowblaster has provided the player not so much with a mod as he has a sandbox of murder.

     

    The scope that Guncaster covers is truly gargantuan, and not a single part of the mod feels like a placeholder that still needs more dev-work to tighten up things in a later release. Every single weapon, spell, and item has been handcrafted with love and care--custom sprites, delicious particle work, highly-tightened codework, and probably three different cvars personalizing their behavior. While the unapologetic power fantasy gameplay will likely be a turn-off for some players, the monumental work that Pillowblaster and company have put into this simply must be respected, and nobody can argue that Guncaster is one of the definitive mods of 2018.

     

    - @TerminusEst13

     


    2084987713_6_gameplaymodcacoward.pngNetronian Chaos - Captain J

    Doom 2, GZDoom

     

    Captain J is a long-running cheerleader in the ZDoom community, and was mentioned last year as one of the Most Promising Newcomers with his debut project Netronian Chaos. Featuring a cute art style and a lot of promise, it seemed like an auspicious modding start. The end of 2018 has rolled in, and what seemed to be has come true for sure.

     

    Netronian Chaos

     

    From first glance, the most defining aspect of Netronian Chaos is its unique graphical style, lovingly described as "MSPaint" by the author and undoubtedly invoking jealousy in anyone else who has worked with MSPaint. Items, weapons, and even an entire enemy roster(!!!) have been painstakingly sprited in a simplistic cartoony art-style, making for a bright and colorful sci-fi world that's both cute and incredibly dangerous to wade through. More significantly, however, is that it allows important actors to pop out instantly in the typical Doom texture environment, making sure that the player is always aware of their presence.

     

    Gameplay-wise, Netronian Chaos acts as a randomizer mod. Randomizers are a classic type of gameplay mod, utilizing the RandomSpawner actor in order to take a weapon spawn and, well, randomize what actually spawns. It's easy to see the appeal--you'll never know what you'll get, and even a mapset you know like the back of your hand will play differently with each session. Netronian Chaos takes this concept and provides a whopping 24 different weapons spread across the typical weapon spawns of the Doom arsenal--you've got your shotguns, your double-barreled shotguns, heavy pistol, burst pistol, burst SMGs, heavy machine guns, and more, with a chance of spawning in the place of their respective weapon slots. Letting the player be able to carry everything and scroll through dozens of redundant weapons would be a pain, however, and so Netronian Chaos limits the player's arsenal to a mere six weapons that can be carried at a time.

     

    While still significantly more than the punishing two/three weapon limit that's become so commonplace in modern shooters, this is still enough of a limitation to turn every weapon spawn the player runs across into a bit of a tactical decision. What do you think the next encounter will be? What ammo do you have on hand right now? What sort of item spawns are placed in the area that you can scrounge? The end result is a nice tweak of the traditional Doom run-and-gun gameplay, providing just enough variety to spice things up while not bloating the player with too much stuff that they won't need.

     

    Captain J goes far beyond the call of duty in creating a unique mod that looks unlike anything else, but can still be approached with a typical Doom mindset. Netronian Chaos is truly a gem that combines cute art and simple-but-effective gameplay, twists it just enough to make it really fun and unique, and slaps a hell of a lot of polish on top. Truly magnificent, and worth a download.

     

    - @TerminusEst13


    2084987713_6_gameplaymodcacoward.pngGMOTA by Combine_Kegan

    Doom 2, GZDoom / Zandronum

     

    For posterity's sake, first things out of the way. Yes, Kegan is a friend of mine and I like the stuff he makes, so I'm pretty biased. On the other hand, I'm the only gameplay mod writer available right at this moment and holy shit have you played GMOTA yet?

     

    GMOTA, short for "Go Medieval On Their Asses", is a gameplay mod that emphasizes tackling down monsters with melee weapons and some special subweapons, preferably in the direction of their posterior. Started in 2014, the initial releases were promising (it was even mentioned in the 2014 Cacos at the time!) but struggled a bit with direction in gameplay. But after taking in feedback, Kegan reached the much-coveted 1.0 status after four years(!) of development and put out a solid rehaul, smoothing over many of the existing issues and creating an extremely fun gameplay mod.

     

    GMOTA

     

    Melee combat in many gameplay mods is usually treated as an afterthought--click button, animation plays, weapon does X damage about Y feet in front of you. It's usually a last-resort weapon, something that you never want to seriously rely on unless everything else is out of ammo. In GMOTA, however, gameplay is completely designed around your melee weapon--melee is a consistently powerful and reliable option that encourages you to wade in and start cleaving through things. Hell, for the first character (Lord Blazkowicz), some weapon spawns are replaced with additional abilities to make your melee even stronger! This change of focus from ranged combat to melee avoid-and-cut-down completely overhauls the way Doom's gameplay is approached, and enemies have been appropriately modified to fire slower projectiles instead of hitscans and to be more susceptible to being cut down, allowing you to act the wildest dreams of a lawnmower on full power.

     

    To top it all off is the incredibly genius and simple addition of sub-weapons. When defeated, enemies randomly have the chance to drop a small additional weapon that can be used by the player. They're not overpowering to the main arsenal, but they provide a fantastic little additional boost that the player can swap between depending on the scenario. While many weapon mods before have experimented with rare weapon drops from unique monsters (usually giving the Nazis a secret weapon), this has been expanded across the entire monster bestiary to make for a rewarding way to encourage players to keep on killing more and more.

     

    There is a primal joy to be had in screaming while charging into a gigantic mob with nothing but your loincloth and sword, and GMOTA fills that niche wonderfully. While it still has plenty of development left to go (if the roadmap is any indication), its 1.0 release is a solid gameplay mod scratching a unique niche, and it has more than cemented its position as one of the most notable releases of 2018.

     

    - @TerminusEst13


  • 2018 Cacowards


     

    Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement

    • Erik Alm

     

    Top Ten - Page 1

    • Avactor
    • Dark Universe Part 1
    • The Adventures of Square: Episode 2

     

    Top Ten - Page 2

    • Preacher
    • Dimension of the Boomed
    • Struggle: Antaresian Legacy
    • REKKR

     

    Top Ten - Page 3

    • Maskim Xul
    • Doom: The Golden Souls 2
    • UAC Invasion: The Supply Depot

     

    Multiplayer Awards

    • Quake Champions: Doom Edition

     

    Gameplay Mod Awards

    • Guncaster
    • Netronian Chaos
    • GMOTA

     

    Other Awards

    • Mordeth Award
      • Total Chaos
    • Codeaward
      • Doom Builder X
    • Machaward
      • Mr. Friendly
    • Creator of the Year
      • Revae

  • MINI MOD SAFARI


    Every year, there's always a slew of people with gigantic projects that want to sweep everyone and everything away, but there's always a bunch of people that just wanna make something small. While often not big enough for awards, many times there's a handful of tiny (Z-port) mods that just make things...neat.

    autoautosave is a must-have for anyone who frequently forgets to save across long periods of time but doesn't want to resort to savescumming, automating the saving process every X minutes under Y conditions. Extremely useful!

     

    Super Mario Agilities is for those who like having a little more mobility options for Doom, accentuating Doomguy's limited jumping and giving him the ability to leap high and even stomp on enemies!

     

    Demon Counterstrike is simple in idea and in execution: As you go through a level, areas you've visited will have demons and small items populate in the areas again. Backtracking will now result in surprise ambushes or equipment. Fun!

     

    Liquidated Doom takes Doom and sets it entirely underwater, purely through ZScript. Perhaps the most out-there of all the modlets on this list, but it does mix things up quite nicely.

     

    Champions is a small and crazy-compatible enemy mod that provides variations of existing monsters without replacing them, making for nasty surprises in otherwise-normal encounters. Neat!

     

    For those who want to play DM maps in singleplayer, or really liked Skulltag's Invasion mode, Supreme Invasion converts DM maps into pseudo-invasion maps, spawning enemies in waves to hack down the player.

     


    DOS BOOT


    The original DOS versions of Doom may be buried, but they're not quite dead. 2018 saw small flickers of life for the executables that started it all. Espi Award Emeritus @fraggle has been laying the foundations for cross-port multiplayer, compatible with DOS Doom over the IPX protocol(!), with a long term eye towards resurrecting the classic multiplayer frontend DWANGO. On-again-off-again classic EXE hacker @xttl returned only the other day with word of a new breakthrough: the ability to create a "loader" to patch arbitrary code into the DOS executable. Your humble webmaster @Linguica started his own vanilla EXE hacking hobby and managed to create a DOS EXE for Selfie Doom that actually saves the selfies as screenshots. Watch this space in the future - can a DeHackEd 4.0 be far off?

     


    MOST PROMISING NEWCOMERS


    It should come as no surprise to anyone that 2018 has seen yet another incredible influx of new talent. Fun fact: 8 out of 10 Cacowards and 7 out of 10 honorable mentions this year went to first-time recipients. Although most of those winners are not “newcomers” per se, it just goes to show how much the constant sea of relatively new blood does to help keep this community thriving.

     

    This year’s grandest entrance was made by @Nootrac4571, who showed up out of nowhere to release the jaw-dropping Demonastery. Through the cloudy tubes of the internet, you could practically see everyone in the figurative room leaning over and whispering to each other: “Whoa, who is that?!” All right, Nootrac, you’ve got our attention – what’s next?

     

    Others may have made slightly more understated splashes, but they wowed us with the quality of their work all the same. @Plusw appeared at the tail end of the Cacoward season with an entrancing little dreamworld called Unwelcome, which combines a surrealist mood and an artsy palette with clever puzzle mechanics. If you prefer your surrealism a little more Escher and less LSD trip, you’ll want to check out @FishyClockwork's The Quirky Domain, which uses GZDoom portals to create some really mind-boggling dimensional loops. And last but not least, there’s @Nirvana, whose standalone release Breathless, along with contributions to SlaughterMAXFlotsam, and Mayhem Orange and Purple, have helped keep the slaughter/challenge genre moving forward to the delight and chagrin of various community factions.

     

    While these may be our MOST promising newcomers, everyone new to the community is promising, and we look forward to what all our new blood will put out. Try it! You might like it.

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