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  • 957279000_3_cacowardslogosmall.jpg?_cb=1

  • Espi Award - For lifetime achievement

    6_espi.png?_cb=1544228975Erik Alm - The WADfather


    So far, every Espi award selection came naturally. Without that one titan of the community, we would still be playing Doom by banging flint on a stone tablet like our ancestors. Without the other awardee, we would trust speedrun.com as a reliable source of information. Without the other other person, we wouldn't even live in this timeline and you'd be reading the Halowards now. But what if we wanted to quantify how exactly current day maps themselves became the way they are? Can we pinpoint the quintessential mapper whose output pushed the entire community to transcend to the next level? Are we so comfortable in our hubris?


    Well, duh.


    Erik Alm


    I feel honored to usher in the sixth Espi award, and the first one awarded to a mapper's legacy, which cannot go to anyone else before Erik Alm. It would be highly subjective to make this choice by merely comparing the, uhm, cartography of all the celebrated creators, but it becomes obvious when considering Erik's status as the ultimate mapper's mapper. It is practically impossible to escape his influence in high-profile projects of this decade and most of today's star mappers either directly credit Erik as their prominent source of inspiration, or they trace back through someone else who does, be it Deus Vult II, Speed of Doom, Sunder, Epic 2, Back to Saturn X, any modern project by skillsaw, and a plethora of other mapsets.


    That is not to say Erik was borne out of thin air with his specific style already developed. His presence in the community dates back to 2001 when he self-admittedly returned to Doom editing after earlier 90s homebrew Internet-less experiments, the apparent reason being all of his Diablo 2 hardcore characters getting killed off. By that point of history Doom mapping was already a lush terrain and Erik picked some of his own inspirations to follow throughout his career: the violent tendencies of Hell Revealed, the complex designs of his Swedish compatriot Fredrik Johansson, the visual hallmarks of GothicDM, and perhaps most importantly the martial style of speedmapping.


    His initial mapping output was nearly feverish. Five HR-style maps for the oneweek speedmap challenge. The entire Europa trilogy, a trio of large HR/Vrack-inspired studies in non-linearity, all inside of half a year. One Bloody Night, an episode worth of vanilla maps significant for its radical difficulty curve, a feature revisited in all his larger projects, ended with perhaps the craziest Icon of Sin fight ever. Next to that, Erik was also very active as a speedrunner and a DM player. You probably couldn't turn over a rock without Alm jumping out from under it and throwing some Doom content into your face during those years.


    Erik Alm


    And then came Scythe. Already celebrated among the Top 10 WADs of 2003, this mapset created in 25 days is notorious for its ridiculous difficulty climb. Teasing the player with just hints of difficulty throughout the first two episodes of "doomcute" fun for the entire family, episode 3 slammed the pedal to the metal and introduced many players (myself included) to concepts such as modern inescapable slaughter that leaves you no space for cover (the infamous, 666 monster-wielding Map26: Fear), or mandatory SR40-or-die speedrunning (the equally infamous Map28: Run From It). Scythe became a massive hit with the speedrunning community with its blend of easy to play, but hard to master, racking up over 1000 demos to this day and making it the single most popular PWAD that outpaces even the Compet-N mapsets.


    And then came Scythe 2. Without any hyperbole, it should be considered the second most influential PWAD after Alien Vendetta. This community darling is almost assuredly on your favorite mapper's top 5 list. AV's Misri Halek may be one of the most famous maps of all time, but "Doom Egypt" gets designed and textured with Scythe 2's second episode in mind. The "metal border makes any plain room look cool" trope may originate in GothicDM, but this wad wore it best. It is another speedrunner favorite and perhaps more importantly, a beloved playground for gameplay modders (e.g. Demonsteele was unashamedly balanced around its monster structure). It is a wad loved and hated for its slaughter finale, it is a study in clever design and impressive architecture, but also efficiently sneaking in square rooms floodfilled with one monster type. It presented the two most notorious custom monsters, the afrit and the evil plasma marine, that get ripped off regularly to this day. All in all, Scythe 2 was the easiest Cacoward slam dunk ever.


    In the twilight of his presence in the community, Erik released the third installment of the Scythe series (marked X), but only as a first episode demo, promising new greatness that never came, as the author decided to retire. There were new monsters teased, new themes hinted at, but ultimately weariness got the better of him and thus we never got to see Scythe X in its full swing.


    Erik Alm


    A brief review of the seasons of Doom


    Framing Erik Alm's career is a peculiar thing, because it strangely lines up with certain massive changes under the surface of the community at large. Paradigm shifts, if you please. While one could split the 90s into finer elements, the era is undeniably considered our golden age as a whole. Everyone knew Doom and almost everyone played Doom. When 1997's Requiem was mockingly called the last megawad before everyone's inevitable migration to Quake… the mass desertion didn't really happen. Half-Life, Unreal, Halo all took a bite from the remaining faithful, but it wasn't until the next "last classical megawad," 2001's glorious Alien Vendetta, that the words actually started to ring true.


    Erik became a prominent Doom community member just in time for its gradual internal settling. The 2000s era could be described by many monikers. "Lukewarm" if measured by thermometer placed on the perfect median mapset of the era. "Oddball" when considering emerging projects like Void or Action Doom that bravely explored new but very unDoom-like features provided by modern ports. But most importantly "divergent," as people's interests split considerably among the classic, the modern and the outright futuristic (Boom, ZDoom, and Doomsday / EDGE source ports, respectively). There also came the rise of the online ports. Between so many wildly different choices, the talent was spread thin, and the new possibilities vastly overwhelmed the audience.


    In this climate of uncertainty about Doom's future direction, with so many flavors to choose from, Alm eventually chose to stick with vanilla, and became, along with Gusta of Kama Sutra fame, a principal torch bearer of classic design. Scythe 2's adherence to the lessons of Hell Revealed, with a slick and modern overcoat, paid dividends when the hunger for classic content reached critical mass and Plutonia 2 kicked off a vanilla / Boom renaissance in 2009. A flurry of projects spiritually channeling Plutonia 2 and Scythe 2 dominated the first half of the 2010s and the stream shows no signs of weakening. If anything, it seems to be (G)ZDoom's time of catching up with the ever-increasing quality of community output. Ironically enough, Erik himself disappeared very soon after the beginning of this era, but perhaps that is OK. After all, we have an entire squad of supermappers these days, but they all owe a part of their powers to the first among them.


    Cheers, Erik!


    - @dew

  • 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



    In December of last year the ZDoom community suffered probably its most heart-crushing loss in recent memory. Kate Fox, veteran modder and programmer and vital staple of the community since 2003, was cruelly taken from us in a house fire.


    One of the most helpful and bubbly people you could ever get to know personally, her technical knowledge was unmatched and her imagination immense. She left behind invaluable contributions to both the ZDoom and Eternity source ports, and a unique catalogue of maps and mods filled with her unique brand of cartoon silliness like Pokémon Doom, Error:Doom, and A_RandomMod - although many of her works like her flagship project, Krazy Kate, and promising cartoon crossover mod Super Rainbow Squad, either went unfinished, or unreleased, irrevocably lost now.


    Kate was a deeply inspirational figure, who endured an unfathomable degree of personal strife and insisted on bringing unfettered joy to others in spite of everything. She was truly loved by many and her legacy will be - must be - carried on into eternity.


    - @Jimmy


    Kaitlyn Anne Fox
    D. December 19, 2017



    When we wanted somebody to write about the passing of two of the oldest and most important members of the community, Doomworld’s largely millennial-or-younger userbase knew very little about them. Now that we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of Doom, you begin to realize our modding community is remarkably old and storied. It’s not hyperbole to say that there would be no Doom community today without the early contributions of hobbyists like Jim and John who were diving into Doom modding before there were even commonly available map editors.


    Dr. Sleep was literally one of the first mappers for Doom (the first community editor, DEU, was barely a few months old when he released Crossing Acheron). There was no Doomworld and there existed a barely functioning /idgames for using a 14.4k modem to download new maps—for most of us, we were getting our fix of Dr. Sleep’s work from PC Gamer CDs that would arrive in our mailboxes every month. In addition to being a pioneer in the usage of architecture, lighting, and textures, he also left an indelible mark on the commercial side of Doom, having numerous maps in Master Levels and contributing E4M7: 'And Hell Followed' to Ultimate Doom.


    Jim Flynn, like Dr. Sleep, was also one of the earliest members of the community and, while he has level contributions in releases like the Master Levels, he’s best known for his programming contributions (Jim’s defunct resume on his website describes his experience writing Pascal and Fortran code in the early 1980s!) It’s easy to see why Doom was so attractive to computer hobbyists of the time—those early days of Doom modding were the wild west of game design and programmers like Jim Flynn were throwing their expertise behind modding tools like DETH and hacking on the Doom codebase after the release of the source code in 1997. Jim was one of the primary leads in the development of the BOOM source port, a monumental release that completely changed mapping. His contributions were so significant that the Boom licensing page on the now-defunct Team TNT website simply read, “Any questions regarding the license for Boom should be sent to Jim Flynn.”


    We younger Doomers with our prolific history of forum posts and social media footprint might lament the fact that we know so little about the personal lives of our earliest Doom contributors, but I think it’s just a sign of how things changed over the game’s 25-year history. Jim Flynn and Dr. Sleep were laying the foundation for our entire community in the pre-world wide web era when the primary means of WAD distribution was a BBS, a walled garden like Compuserve, an alt.binaries newsgroup, or other prehistoric venue. They began the modding of a game that continues to thrive, almost 3 decades later, due to their early contributions. Hopefully the community will continue to make them proud for another 25 years. Thank you for everything you started.


    - @Scuba Steve


    Jim Flynn

    ~1952 - 2018


    John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson

    November 7, 1956 - April 2018