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  • 544907155_6_multiplayercacoward.png?_cb=

    Horde - @AlexMax & the Odamex team

    Hordamex - @Xenaero and the Hellforge community

    Doom 2, Odamex, 54 maps


    The multiplayer event of the year crashes the awards, to no one's surprise. I don't want to be tarred and feathered for omitting it, thank you very much. However the project does present a dilemma - what exactly should be awarded?


    This February, AlexMax and the Odamex team announced the release of the Horde mode. It is the spiritual cousin of Zandronum's Invasion mode that's been around for well over a decade, however for Odamex it marks one of the first major forays into the field of complex, scripted cooperative modes. It's also a culmination of slow and careful expansion of Oda's PvE capabilities such as ACS and the survival mode, and @killingblair's implementation of fancy new standards, like MBF21 and DEHEXTRA.


    The goal is simple. The players must split their workload as monsters teleport into the map in increasingly challenging waves to ambush and overhelm them, usually capped off by a boss wave. These waves aren't prepared in the typical hard-placed Doom fashion, but semi-randomly spawned from their assigned definition - the mapper specifies monster types, the combined health range of the wave, pacing variables and the arsenal parachuted in for the players. The game automagically factors in difficulty and player count, et voilà! This makes mapping for Horde relatively fast and easy, though custom monster and weapon definitions are constrained by the capabilities of DEHEXTRA/MBF21 (which is a massive pro or con, depending on your opinion on the DECORATE jank).



    Horde provides a few core example maps, but said ease of mapping and a small post-release craze meant that a different mapset became the mode's flagship, and the second half of this Cacoward. The Hellforge collective, directed by everyone's favourite MP celebrity Xenaero, organized a Horde-mapping community project Hordamex (short for The Hordes of Odamex), and mappers descended upon it like some type of... swarm, a host. A throng? It resulted in FIFTY FOUR MAPS. That's like, six megawads or something! It is an overwhelming (boo!) amount of content. Of course there are submissions from names you'd expect - Bridgeburner, Major Arlene, Kaapeli or Insane Gazebo. There's also a number of MP community veterans chipping in, like Exl, RottKing, Dragonfly or Remmirath, or a slew of maps from Horde's co-programmer Electricbrass.


    The maps range from easy to slaughterish, from simpler Boom style to Doom-in-Hexen Zdoom framerate hogs (you know who the usual suspects are). They include over 40 unique wave definitions, many custom monsters that supposedly strain dehextra to its limit, and visuals powered by ukiro's illustrious OTEX. The Hellforge and Odamex communities held lots of events and test sessions, so the final release is a polished, well proofed product of a dedicated fanbase. There even was a "grand reveal" hosted at this year's online QuakeCon! It is impressive how community enthusiasm can make or break a mode's landing. Horde already found its crowd (hsss!), like Push perhaps. And unlike Invasion itself, which never got off the ground properly. And so, 18 years after AlexMax led a mapping flagship project to a brand new Zdaemon gamemode called "CTF", her own new mode became "usurped" by other mappers too. Congrats to everyone involved.


    - @dew



    Frantik DM 2 - @Arrowhead

    Doom 2, Boom-compatible, 32 maps


    Oh... oh! Oh my. Let's start with an apology - the fact that Arrowhead wasn't featured among the most promising mappers in last year's ceremony is retrospectively a big sloppy egg trickling down my face.


    Now, Frantik DM wasn't exactly a groundbreaking hit. Like a lanky teenager in his first suit, it was a little too tall here, a little too constricted there, and with the swagger of, wishfully, three WWE wrestlers in a trenchcoat to convince the guy in the liquor store that he doesn't need to see an ID. But it also was a full duel/ffa megawad by a fresh mapper, yet perfectly serviceable and without glaring errors, checking most of the boxes any self-respecting DM wad should. It was competent.




    One year later: Frantik DM 2 is a 32-map megawad for ffa and its grown into full adulthood. It is truly impressive how much more confident Arrowhead's designs seem just a year apart. The dimensions of the layouts suddenly feel perfectly appropriate for the intended playercount. The second release candidate gave up the pretense of working boomstick spawns in ffa and embraced the iron SSG status quo - a sign of a well oiled tester feedback machine with a receptive mapper at helm. The author specifically mentions laser focus on intuitive map flow and unhindered movement, and I must say the promise is well delivered. In fact, with respectable verticality in most maps and barely any lifts in sight, it's all stairs. If the stairs cover 50% of the real estate, I wouldn't be surprised. Beautifully shaped, wide, semi-circular, unmissable stairs you can reverse run into by memory. I feel like I'm being bribed here.


    I also give points for more adventurous map flow. Mostly gone are symmetric arenas and central pits of jousting. BFGs are dispensed with gleeful daring, with just the right amount of climbing a small ledge, jumping a short predictable jump or waiting for an appropriately tall pillar to make them available yet not a freebie pickup. Off-center soulspheres create secondary focus points. Where the first part followed a cookie cutter formula and often resembled ancient relics of mediocrity like Onslaught, the sequel seems to take inspiration in more modern production - a hint of UDM here, Mechanix there - but creates its own character. It is also a much prettier wad to look at, particularly if you're a fan of: orange, tan and beige. I particularly liked the maps that color code areas with different floor/ceilings, they are so much easier to memorize for new players, yet everything remains clean looking and never slides into garishness.


    All in all, this is a strong mapset that knows what it does best, as proven by ditching aside the gamestyle ambiguity and forcing nojump/nocrouch with MAPINFO. It is good to see a new mapper gain experience and confidence so rapidly, but it's even better to witness the willingness to learn. This should be a great port-independent large party ffa pick for many years to come.


    - @dew

  • 2022 Cacowards


    Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement

    • Frans P. de Vries


    Top Ten - Page 1

    • The Magenta Spire
    • Jumpwad
    • Ozonia


    Top Ten - Page 2

    • Elementalism: Phase 1
    • Dust Devil
    • Malevolence E1
    • Don't Turn Your Back on the City


    Top Ten - Page 3

    • KDiKDiZD
    • The 10x10 Project
    • Overboard


    Special Features

    • Doomkid's Jamal Jones contest
    • Greenian
    • Doom CE
    • Promising Newcomers


    22 More for 2022


    Multiplayer Awards

    • Horde and Hordamex
    • FrantikDM2


    Gameplay Mod Awards

    • Gun Bonsai
    • Voxel Doom


    Other Awards

    • Mordeth Award
      • KDiKDiZD vanilla tech
    • Codeaward
      • Ultimate Doom Builder / DoomTools
    • Machaward
      • Doom RPG port
    • Dootaward
      • Ozonia OST
    • Creator of the Year
      • Deadwing



    Remember Samsara, the hero class mod by TerminusEst13 for Zandronum that allowed you to play DM or coop as Duke, or Ranger, or Caleb, or, or or or or..., with their specific weapons and unique skills? It was quite a hit back in the day, but then it started collapsing under its own weight and the endless class additions. It mercilessly chewed through new managers/developers as they quickly realized what hellish chore they signed up for. Well, Samsara Reincarnation is back, under new new management of Shiny Metagross & team! And this time it tries to refactor and consolidate, not just endlessly expand and patch. Good luck!


    - @dew




    The Multiplayer Doom Federation and the World Doom League decided to merge their efforts under the umbrella of a new entity, Doom Central! Continued from MDF's discord server with joint administration, it promises the same cross-port support for community action, but with more of its own infrastructure.


    Speaking of the two orgs, each ran an Odamex CTF tourney this year. MDF started with another iteration of Vengeance in January, a league based on flags scored rather than wins, promoting aggressive play over careful tactics. At least in the group stage, the playoffs then switched to a traditional round-based format. Neither of them bothered team Jogo Bonito led by Ninjadog (with Edd, Sharp and Ru5tK1ng), who comfortably won both the group stage and the playoffs - ended with a 3-1 win over heavy-hitting Modern Oldschool Zombies (Dragon, Denzoa, Tobi) who barely squeaked into the playoffs, but then roared back against higher seeds.


    Then over the summer break WDL ran its 12th season. With a classic format all the way, the groupstage was won by Sorrier For Plex, captained by... Ninjadog, okay. Along with EXWiz and Saltmine they only dropped one close match, then steamrolled their way through the playoffs to win it all over second seed veterans of Best Ever (RoSKing, Vinny, Caution). The playoffs were particularly a one-sided affair, since SFP cleverly chose a rarely used homefield map and capitalized on its peculiar playstyle.


    - @dew




    Zdaemon introduced a slew of interesting features. There's a speedrun mode in continuous development that tracks times for permanent leaderboards, somewhat reminiscent of Odamex's plasmabump mode and certainly something that could revive the rocketjumping scene. There's also been a drive to recover old missing tourney results, and they've been added to people's profiles. There's one more era to fill in, 2008-2011, when brackets weren't working and stats were kept externally by... uh, me. Sorry, sorry, no rest for the wicked, I guess.


    - @dew