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  • 957279000_3_cacowardslogosmall.jpg?_cb=1

  • Mordeth Award - Surprise! Released project with the longest "development time"


    Total Chaos - wadaholic


    The earliest mentions of Total Chaos date back to the ZDoom forums in the summer of 2008. wadaholic posted some proof-of-concept images of his project and how volumetric lighting and fog could be created in the GZDoom engine using additive sprites and textures. It was an interesting demonstration video, but countless unfinished projects have come and gone after a promising mockup. Over the course of the next decade, teaser videos, screenshots, and assets would sporadically appear on the Total Chaos website showcasing the progress of the project. This began in earnest starting in 2012 but interest in Total Chaos had waned as the Doom community completely forgot about the project... it had been four years of development to this point. It was so forgotten that we completely ignored the project for our “What are we still waiting for?” featurette in every edition of the Cacowards!


    Total Chaos


    That all changed in 2016 when wadaholic, after eight years of development work, released the very first demo for Total Chaos. We were blindsided by the significance of this and even contemplated considering the mod for a Cacoward that year because we were almost sure it would never be completed. Fast forward another two years and, to the surprise of everyone and true to his word, wadaholic released the completed version of one of the single most ambitious Doom projects.


    Several past Mordeth award winners have had decade long development cycles, but what might be the most impressive accomplishment of Total Chaos’ lengthy development is the unbelievable consistency from start to finish. The concept, themes, and gameplay that wadaholic laid out in that very first post in 2008 lined up exactly with what was released ten years later. In a community where projects go through numerous lead developers, level remakes, and visual redesigns, it’s a testament to the vision of its creator who stuck to his original vision and saw it brought to fruition. While Total Chaos challenges our general understanding of what constitutes a DOOM project, its lengthy development within the community leaves an indelible mark and we would never deny this project its Mordeth due.


    - @Scuba Steve


    With all that said, Total Chaos puts us in an awkward position. While the Mordeth Award has a long and proud history, it's still not a "real" Cacoward. And while Total Chaos is a very intriguing project, it's not one that is even recognizably "Doom" in any way. Which makes us wary to consider it for a proper Cacoward - but we still like it! So the only solution is to invent yet another new award, the possibly-reoccuring


    The Spaceship of Theseus - A noteworthy project that has become so removed from Doom that we're not even sure what to consider it

    Ship of ThesusTotal Chaos - wadaholic


    There’s no denying it: GZDoom isn’t just a source port anymore, it’s a complete indie game making engine. If you don’t believe something with such humble beginnings can accomplish so much, check out the development of Operation Echo, The Forestale, or Hedon. Or better yet, play Total Chaos, which was released this Halloween and has already shown just how much the engine is capable of. 


    Spaceship of Theseus


    Total Chaos is theoretically a Doom mod – and we emphasize “theoretically” here. It’s a game developed in a source port of the Doom engine, eliminating all of the features of a Doom-engine game and filling in the void with all kinds of more modern features created for the port. Sprites are gone, 3D models are in. All the enemies, all the mechanics, are something you’d expect to find in a modern indie game. When we were trying to figure out what on earth to do with this strange and beautiful hybrid of a game, Scuba Steve asked us: “So Total Chaos is the answer to the ‘Doom Ship of Theseus’?” I responded that it was more like someone had taken the Ship of Theseus, sunk it, and built a spaceship in its place.


    Is a game like this even Doom anymore? We’re gonna go with “no,” in all honesty. We could no more judge this as a Cacoward contender than we could a Doom 3 mod. But since it’s a game that has its roots in the Doom community, and since it’s so impressive, it’s not something we’d want to ignore entirely either.


    “Impressive” is a word that comes up a lot when people talk about Total Chaos. Everything about it is deeply polished and beautifully executed (at least from the perspective of someone who rarely plays horror games). The environments are intimidating, the sound design is chilling, and many of the monsters are truly terrifying. Above all, a huge amount of love and attention has been poured into the pacing and the design and presentation of encounters. Whether you’re searching for a switch in a cavern full of sleeping spider-monsters with your radiation counter steadily ticking upward or trying to follow a hand-scrawled map through a dark network of tunnels with only your flares to save you, there are some unforgettable scares to be had here.


    In the meantime, you’ll be scrounging for supplies, building items, and managing space in your limited inventory, which adds another level of strategy (and worry) as you try to avoid or defeat the various horrors lurking about. The whole thing has a great sense of realism to it, a feeling of being weak against deadly opposition, that’s entirely fitting. The extensive game world also leaves you with a sense that there are some pretty deep secrets to be uncovered – and indeed, the developer has hinted that there may be a less grim ending for people who are willing to uncover all those secrets.


    Total Chaos isn’t the first fully 3D indie game made in GZDoom’s cybernetically augmented engine, but it’s probably the first that felt professional enough to receive widespread attention outside of the Doom community – and I doubt it will be the last. It remains to be seen how GZDoom will compete with the commercial game making tools, but we’re looking forward to seeing how this new community evolves.


    - @Not Jabba

  • Codeaward - Most noteworthy programming effort of the year

    6_codeaward.png?_cb=1544275061Doom Builder X - @anotak


    One aspect of the Codeaward that makes it somewhat unusual is that it lends itself to a more forward-thinking perspective. Last year OBLIGE won for an effective lifetime achievement award, necessitated by the author bringing the project to a close. But in general, the Codeaward is intended to recognize something different from basically any other award we have. WADs and mods are expected to be finished before we deem them worthy for consideration - after all, they're to be judged as whole creative works on their own merits. Programming efforts like source ports and tools, on the other hand, cannot be judged in a vacuum. Their value is derived, first and foremost, from what others can do with them, now and in the future.



    Purely on its merits, Doom Builder X, by 2017 Cacoward winner anotak, would be a very strong contender. Doom Builder X is not the most feature-stuffed Doom editor ever made; that title still belongs to GZDoom Builder, or, alternately, GZDB-BF, its spiritual continuation. Doom Builder X, however, is the only modern Doom map editor dedicated primarily to making the user's experience better. anotak has meticulously pored over the Doom Builder 2 codebase to fix bugs, memory leaks, or code snarls that cause persistent slowdown. The updated editor also includes more visible quality-of-life changes such as new hotkeys, more menu options, integration of ZokumBSP, and the ever-useful Automap, Sound Propogation, and Sound Environment modes.


    However, Doom Builder X has added another feature this year, and one that is more potentially revolutionary than anything since the original Doom Builder itself. Doom Builder X now includes the Lua scripting language, and anotak has integrated it into the editor in such a way that a user can write a Lua script to interact with the map, edit geometry, place things, calculate statistics, or basically anything else a programmer might dream up. Doom Builder X is not the only tool to travel this path - the newest version of swiss-army-lump-editor SLADE also includes the first vestiges of Lua integration, but it still remains pretty threadbare.



    This is where I face the most trouble in writing the Codeaward, because I feel compelled to venture into speculation. Today, on the 25th birthday of Doom, I have seen tools evolve from DEU to Doom Builder X and beyond, and I feel I must predict: the greatest transformation for Doom editing I foresee in the next 25 years is with the introduction of tools that harness computing power and complexity in a more robust way, be it through embedded programming languages, or machine learning, or something we don't even know about yet; and which do so with the understanding that even the most powerful tool is hobbled if it's not also a joy to use. Doom Builder X, especially with its Lua integration, is a glimpse of that future today, and one that I hope sees more attention and development.


    - @Linguica


    Machaward - Most creative, unusual, or artistically compelling project of the year


    Mr. Friendly - JP LeBreton


    Who has ever looked at Doom and thought, “how can I make this game go from bloody and brutal to a calm and sweet adventure?”


    Well, several people, actually- and they totally nailed the idea.  Take for example, 2017's Kill ‘Em With Kindness- a single level that lets you pet puppies and make flowers dance. But if you’re not quite into that level of cute, and just want to take a nice stroll through some of your favorite Doom levels, there’s mods like MooD and Tourism Deluxe (Tourism Deluxe also by JP LeBreton), which allow you to take in the scenery without having to shed blood (or worrying about the exit not opening because of scripts). And for those of you into ASMR, there’s a mod just for you- put on your favorite relaxing music and bring your SSG… purely for some soothing sound bites (bytes?).


    Mr. Friendly


    But the mod that really takes the cake is a mod known simply as Mr. Friendly. At first, you’re dropped into the map with little to no idea what to do. You have no weapons, just a fishing pole, a grabber thing, a texture zapper, and some funny-looking goggles. All the monsters simply walk around, and if you talk to them they’ll say various little snarky quips in a text box reminiscent of what you’d see on any early 2000s-era RPG game. As you move through the map, you’ll eventually meet a monster that will give you a quest. JP cleverly introduces all of his neat little gadgets through these quests, allowing the player to understand how they work, which is often appreciated when we’re used to just… well… shooting things.


    Probably the best thing about this mod is the fact that it doesn’t try to cover up the original assets of the map- in fact, it embraces them. It’s highly entertaining to walk up to a green armor and see it referred to it as a t-shirt (Went to Hell and Back and All I Got was This!). You can also go fishing in any body of liquid. Watch out for the dopefish!


    So, if you’re ever in the mood just to kick back and relax instead of kicking demon ass, give Mr. Friendly a whirl. It’s compatible with all of your favorite Doom IWADs and most custom vanilla levels, so you can customize your experience. And with the texture sampler tool, you can even re-texture the map any way you want to- even if it’s only temporary, you can redecorate the Entryway or paint E1M8 red- and not with blood.


    JP LeBreton's long and rich history with the gaming industry has gifted us with much more than his awesome mods- he's best known for his work on Bioshock and Bioshock 2, as well as his stint at Double Fine, where he recently announced he would be returning to work. That might mean a halt to development of Mr. Friendly for the time being, but his fruitful experiments with Doom modding will undoubtedly make his future professional work all the more intriguing.


    - @Major Arlene

  • 2143949703_6_creatoroftheyear.png?_cb=15Creator of the Year - @Revae


    First of all, you’re probably wondering about the name change. Well, there’s more to life than mapping, isn’t there? Or at least, there’s more to mapping than just the maps. Level designers have always had the main 10 Cacowards as an avenue for recognition, and have always been first to get the credit for the amazing work they’ve been involved in – and they deserve every bit of their accolades. But behind those successes are also the people whose work they build upon: the music composers, the texture artists, the spriters, the gameplay modders. Making a great project is often about all of those things, and this award should be too – though of course we won’t forget about the mappers.




    This year’s winner, Revae, is the whole nine yards – mapmaker, game designer, and pixel artist. The maps alone might be enough; here’s a mapper who’s managed everything from conventional fast-paced interweaving Doomy maps to lengthy adventure maps to clever puzzles and concept maps to boss arenas all within the same game, and all with a great flair for mood and storytelling. Maps like “Mistory” (E2M7) and “Seeing Red” (E2M6) show just how good Revae is at conveying a whole world of ideas without words. And speaking as a mapper, anyone who can make a game this bloody and grim but also have the player reach the secret maps by rescuing puppies is someone I want to be when I grow up.


    Good sprite/texture artists are also very hard to come by, and sometimes when you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. Revae created nearly all of the art for Rekkr, which in and of itself is a massive undertaking – and Rekkr is a gorgeous game as a result of that hard work. The whole neo-retro-viking-steampunk aesthetic isn’t just a coat of paint, it’s the soul of the game. Brilliantly colorful, wonderfully varied, equal parts cute and dark, and with all sorts of great world-building baked into the textures alone, it’s simultaneously like nothing you’ve ever seen before and also a clear and unmistakable homage to an entire genre and era of games. The bestiary, too, is unexpectedly expansive for a game that theoretically only has Ultimate Doom’s smaller number of actors to overwrite, and each one is beautifully hand-drawn. Dear reader, do you have any idea what it takes to make a complete set of monster sprites for a Doom-engine game? I mean, Jesus.




    But even beyond all of that, it takes a huge amount of vision to create something like Rekkr and see it through to completion. Revae announced Rekkr in September 2016 with just a few concepts and screenshots to show and released the game a little over a year and a half later, wrangling collaborators along the way. And it’s clear that the game they made was exactly the game they wanted to make, and the execution is every bit as great as the vision.


    Rekkr wasn’t made by one person alone, of course. There were several worthy guest mappers, as well as a fantastic composer and an equally fantastic sound designer. But for the incredible amount of work they put into making Rekkr the game it is, Revae is no less than the Creator of the Year. Keep up the great work!


    - @Not Jabba

  • 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


    You may have noticed that the Cacoward statuettes seem somewhat... better... this year. @hidfan has spent much of 2018 working on a high-resolution sprite and texture mod, with a twist: he is using state of the art neural net technology to get results that range anywhere from "pretty good" to "outrageous." We asked him to work his magic on our statuettes, and it is nothing short of a revelation.





    Fans of Doom 64 are hardly lacking for options this year, as we’ve seen the release or continuation of two separate remakes of the game. Doom 64: Retribution aims to be a mostly faithful recreation of the classic Doom 64 experience, but with some remastering and improvements, with future plans for an all-new episode and ports of all the maps from Absolution. Doom 64 for Doom II is a demake that recreates the whole game within the limits of the vanilla engine but remains as true to the original level design as possible. Why pick just one? You can have your cake and eat it too.



    If you had to name the best soundtrack this year, it would be hard to pick a favorite – so how about three? @Deadwing's soundtrack for Exomoon is absolutely sublime – it’s groovy as hell, but with an underlying sadness to it that perfectly complements the strange, melancholy backstory. Like the game world itself, it’s simultaneously familiar and alien, leaving you wondering whether you’re in mourning for a whole planet’s worth of extraterrestrials you’ve never met or if the whole thing isn’t actually a lot closer to home.


    Rekkr’s soundtrack, by @HexenMapper, is a completely different beast, channeling all the charm and earworminess of mid-'90s game music, but with enough depth to it to avoid feeling oversimplified. The distinct medieval Scottish/Celtic flavor and grim, battle-ready tone continually refuel the player’s lust for ass-kicking.


    @PRIMEVAL’s tracks for Ashes 2063 Episode 1 are also nostalgia-driven, but with a sound that’s straight out of the post-apocalyptic '80s action movies the mapset is based on. Whether it’s pumped up or slow and atmospheric, it offers all the cheesy synth and overblown reverb you could possibly need to imagine yourself as the next Road Warrior, and it adds immensely to the sense of desolation you’ll get while exploring the wastelands and burned-out cities.


    There were plenty of other great tracks made this year, and we can’t cover them all, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Requiem Reimagined, a remixed and professionally recorded version of the entire soundtrack from the classic megawad by the original authors: David “@Tolwyn” Shaw, Mark "@markklem" Klem, and Jeremy "@JDoyle" Doyle. It’s a must-listen for fans of the original MIDI soundtrack.



    2018 yet again pushed boundaries on the most revered runs and it's hardly surprising that @ZeroMaster010 was driving the effort. He retook the Doom 2 UV-speed movie record from @eLim in 18:40 (lmp/YT) and improved his own Doom E1 UV-speed to 4:51 (lmp/YT, 6:12 really, but E1M8 time ignored for historic reasons).


    From this point things get surreal quickly. Back in January ZM conquered the last Ultimate Doom pacifist challenge and exited the notoriously claustrophobic E4M6 in 1:02:49 (lmp/YT). Spoiler: he holds the cyberdemon down in a hug for 40+ minutes while some barons shoot it until you know what. Another previously undone feat is Evilution Map08 pacifist in 6:11 (lmp/YT), thought unrealistic until ZM discovered a void glide assisted by a pinky demon. There's also a previously unknown keygrab on Evilution Map01 (lmp/YT) and the French speedster @Ch0wW applied the zero press trick (named after guess who) to finish Doom 2 Map07 in just 4 seconds (lmp/YT). ZM also showcased out-and-back void gliding in a few coop TAS runs, further destroying the integrity of maps themselves (E1M6, E3M1, PL22, Map28: YT). Last but not least, he also proved the pacifist on Doom 2 Map30 is technically possible with this ridiculous TAS. Don't hold your breath for unassisted variants though.


    With the zero tax paid, the one feat competing with his shennanigans was @Ancalagon's UV-max movie of Alien Vendetta in 4:13:37 (lmp/YT), a monstrous piece of marathon running. Worth noting is @j4rio's insane map-by-map Tyson crusade through Eternal Doom (lmps/YTs), or @Killer5's Anca-beater on the infamous No Chance UV-max in 34:32 (lmp/YT). Yet when it comes to defining what the community did in 2018, the biggest demo haul came from a drive to fill tables for as many 1994 wads as possible, because what is "priorities".


    If you're a fan of streamed runs, you could've watched @4shockblast at ESA Summer18 completing a RTA (Real Time Attack, utilizing saveloading) of Scythe and the pack of assembled Doom runners had a follow-up mini-con. In more streamed news, Jace Hall of Twin Galaxies ran another survival coop Doom Arena Challenge for a $1000 prize and some TG swag on a hilariously unfair map that took the winning team (Ancalagon, Abyrvalg, @Looper) over 5 hours to complete. And next January @Dime returns to AGDQ2019 to run both Ultimate and Doom 2, so check that out!



    Does this enormous list suggest the boundless enthusiasm for Doom and its relations, or the hubris that will inevitably lead to the community's downfall? Is this the same boilerplate text as last year's column? The answer to at least one of these questions is "yes."


    • A Boy and His Barrel
    • Action Doom 3
    • Adventures of Square E3
    • Amiga Demo Party
    • Ashes 2063 E2
    • Autobiographical Architecture
    • Back to Saturn X E3
    • Cereal Killer
    • CyberShade
    • Dark Universe E2
    • Darkmoon
    • Deus Vult II-2
    • Doom 2 the Way id Did: The Lost Episodes
    • DOOM GTS
    • Elementalism
    • Eviternity
    • Favillesco E3
    • Final Doom the Way id Did
    • Fortune's Run
    • Heretic: Curse of Darkness
    • HocusDoom
    • HPack
    • Infinite Void
    • Interstellar Enforcer
    • Kama Sutra 2
    • kbdoom
    • Lost Civilization
    • Mordeth E2
    • Necromantic Thirst
    • Panophobia
    • Perdition's Gate Resurgence
    • Return to Hadron E3
    • Return to Necropolis
    • Revelations of Doom
    • The Shores of ZDoom
    • Strife: Mothership
    • Supplice
    • Switcheroom 2
    • Tarnsman's Projectile Hell
    • Threshold of Pain 2
    • TNT 2: Devilution
    • UAC Ultra 2
    • Ultimate Doom in Name Only
    • Vela Pax
    • WolfenDoom: Blade of Agony E3



    Mordeth was still not released in 2018 despite over twenty years of development?



    After over 20 years of "development", some of the planned maps for Doom Millennium were finally released?



    December 10th, 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of Doom? ...Actually, yeah, you probably did.