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  • GREENIANER PASTURES


     

    When it comes to this dear game of ours, there is little doubt in most players' minds that going back to the past is an integral part of the experience in more ways than one. Be it replaying the old Romero techbases one more time, playing older WADs from the days of yore, or just trying out - and building - new mods and mapsets that are influenced by the classics, there inevitably comes that special time when the Then becomes the Now. What @BeeWen has released this year, nevertheless, proves to be unusual even in that sense, for Greenian is no mere reference to the past. It is the metropolis built over the ruins of the ancient city.

     

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    Greenian was originally released back in May, but was overlooked by some due to being posted to the Doomworld forums only at the closing of November. Its original title was Herian II: Second Life, which gives the whole premise away: this is a remake, reimagining, and remaster of the venerable Herian II megawad all at once. It is, however, something more profound than even that, something more personal. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though, for a small crash course in the history of Herian II is needed for those who may not be familiar with the megawad... or with the Top 100 WADs of All Time where it was initially awarded. As explained back in the day by Cyb, Herian II is most notable for utilizing assorted graphics and sounds from Heretic and Hexen and combining them with Doom, resulting in a memorable and well done mishmash. What I would like to further elaborate on, though, is that despite Herian II's heavy lifting of Raven's resources, it managed, even back then, to conjure an atmosphere that was all its own. Part of that was because ambient sounds and certain features such as fog and deep water were novel, but the main reason was actually its own level design, which does not actually resemble either Raven or Id Software much, in the end. Ian Wilson created mysterious, almost meditative maps drenched in atmosphere and focused on exploration whilst maintaining a very individualistic touch, reflected as much in the environments as in, unusually, the map titles themselves.

     

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    And in comes BeeWen's conversion, done, per his own admission, due to the immense influence the original project held over his mapping career. Right off the bat, what was once considered Herian II's signature element is greatly reduced, as most of the old Raven graphics are either removed or take the backseat for new, high resolution graphics, complemented by significant retexturing throughout that has radically altered the landscape and the structures. Yet, everything feels instantly familiar: navigating the caverns, exploring the towns, unearthing the castles and trekking through the mountains of Greenian feels like revisiting a nostalgic place from one's childhood decades after the fact, even though you'd never immediately guess they were related projects by just glancing at the screenshots. Which, by the way, did I mention look really damn good? BeeWen's impeccable decoration and texture variety makes even the most mundane locations exciting to explore and to just be in, whether they're outdoors or not. Of course, the resulting changes and vibe manage to strike a different chord than Ian Wilson's magnum opus, and so may not be to everyone's taste, but therein lies also BeeWen's greatest feat, which is that of making Herian II into his own world without compromising its soul. Old, somewhat bizarre map titles like "An Old Friend in Need" and "He Shouldn't Be Here" get additional meaning through the new intermission texts, and the way the map layouts have been changed - and entire levels re-envisioned - will mean that those expecting a quick revisit into Herian II will be in for quite the reality check.

     

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    That's because Greenian does not seek to be a replacement for Herian II. Rather, it is fundamentally a case study in the personal relationship that a mapper can have with past works, and in a scene as long-lasting as the Doom one, it is downright heartwarming to see the kind of special place certain WADs have in the hearts of all of us. And I don't mean to steal Ian Wilson's thunder in the slightest, for it is the genius of his original vision and project that, while with its own limits and flaws, continues to inspire mappers well over twenty years after its release. Whether you're Herian II veteran or someone merely intrigued by the premise you can make BeeWen's personal journey to the past into your very own adventure.

     

    - @Dynamo

     

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  • 20 YEARS OF DOOMKID


     

    Following in the wake of Jimmy and Tarnsman’s commemorative mapping competitions, @Doomkid - a longstanding pillar of the Doom community - saw fit to host a similar event celebrating his own twentieth anniversary, and to do so in a style he has spent the past three years perfecting. After all, the success of both the Rowdy Rudy and Ray Mohawk community project sequels is widely known, and can largely be attributed to two factors: extremely distinct theming - extending across every element of the game, from weapons to monsters to textures to their eponymous protagonists - and the ‘Kid’s own reputation as a veteran mapper, community stalwart and all around swell dude.

     

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    Jamal Jones in some ways follows the template set by these prior DK CPs, featuring a fresh protagonist, new weapons and a number of recurring villains from the series. Where it differs, however, is in its relative lack of thematic focus, its eschewal of the loose narrative frames of its predecessors in favour of a ‘greatest hits’ amalgam of recurring elements and motifs, as well as in its relative lack of quality control. In short, Doomkid let open the floodgates, allowing anyone and everyone to run wild with the ‘DK Starter Kit’ he provided. The end result is a massive, three-part gigawad containing maps of every description, more comparable to a port- and theme-restricted version of the Doomworld Mega Project series than its own forebears. In spite of all these differences, it all works in the project's favor.

     

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    True to its pitch, Jamal Jones really does feels like a celebration of Doomkid's twenty years of involvement in the community, for the maps included offer a wide variety of influences from many different eras of mapping, at times echoing projects such as Requiem, STRAIN, Perdition's Gate, and at others very clearly nodding toward much newer productions. The contest saw many contributors get involved, but even if their skills vary, one thing that can be said for certain is that the participants grasped what Doomkid wanted to deliver, and as a result Jamal Jones does not fall short of his previous, more focused projects. The extensive DeHackEd overhaul, texture palette comprised of scaled down versions of high resolution stock Doom textures and an adherence to a minimalistic, quasi-90's aesthetic makes every map in the set blend in with the rest in a more organic fashion than most projects of this type and scale. The end result is a surpisingly cogent experience, one in which unrefined first maps can sit alongside the works of veteran mappers without much dissonance.

     

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    Even after the winners of the contest were announced, Doomkid made a point of underlining how, in reality, everyone who contributed was a winner, because the spirit of the project was carried through exceptionally well by all involved. Nothing could be closer to the truth, as Doomkid has proven exceptional in his ability to galvanize the community around his projects and ideas, and we can only hope that many more people will get to be winners in the years to come!

     

    - @Omniarch / @Dynamo

     

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  • MEETING DOOM MIDWAY


     

    In spite of all the amusing talk about just how many systems Doom has been ported to, undoubtedly the most important ports Doom has received were the ones on consoles back in the 90's, and even though it may be hard to remember these days, those console ports are the way quite a few people in fact originally discovered the game. After Id Software's own port to the Atari Jaguar, there is little doubt that the most beloved versions on consoles have both been developed by Williams Entertainment/Midway Studios, first with their excellent port of the first two games to the PlayStation, and then with what is in all respects a brand new sequel, Doom 64, on Nintendo's PS1 competitor.

     

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    Now, community efforts to port many of the console versions to PC have yielded great results over the years - culminating in Nightdive Studios' excellent re-release of Doom 64, alongside several fan projects - however, as more and more projects either based off or inspired by the console ports appear, it is clear that there is still much left unexplored in this realm. And this is why a project like Doom CE by @molecicco, despite treading familiar ground, nonetheless comes off as fresh and long overdue. As a package, Doom CE feels nothing if not complete. Based off the prevous PS1 TC and D64 Retribution projects, you get the whole of PS1 Doom, PS1 Final Doom and Doom 64 running on GZDoom. But it doesn't stop there. A myriad of enhancements are present, ranging from (optional) visual enhancements, improved sounds and different soundtrack options. Furthermore, the maps that were cut for inclusion in the original PlayStation version have been given the Williams treatment and are featured here, as well.

     

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    It doesn't stop there, though. Considering Doom CE is the latest in a long line of fan projects, it is then fitting that the best feature about it is the inclusion of fan creations themselves. That is because you do not only get the original Id Software and Midway Studios maps, which of course require a copy of the Doom 64 IWAD to play, but on top of that, there are a significant number of fan megawads to play for both the PS1 and D64 versions! So if you've ever wanted to experience projects such as Beta 64 or The UnMaking in GZDoom, there is no better time than now. The Doom 64 side additionally received further enhancements in the form of recreations of most of the missing Doom II monsters, courtesy of DrPypsy's excellent custom spritesets, allowing Revenants and Archviles to finally roam the dark yet colorful lands of Doom 64, should you enable the option to add them in.

     

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    A lot of amazing work has gone into this package - which is true not just for Doom CE itself but also for the projects and mods it has inherited - and it is, by all means, one of the most interesting ways to experience console Doom content, both for those who grew up with it and for those who want to experience these dark, moody levels for the first time. We can only hope to see more D64 and PS1 maps being added over time for an even bigger and more replayable package, but as it is, the level of polish and amount of extra content make Doom CE a thoroughly engrossing experience.

     

    - @Dynamo


  • PROMISING NEWCOMERS


     

    Every year in this spot we say, "Okay, last year's featurette was big, we'll downscale this a bit this year" (no one has ever literally said that -- featurette? -- but you get the point). But every year as we reach the finish line, that feels impractical. Again, this is not every single newcomer one might think of as promising -- just our favorites. 

     

    Perhaps the single most individually productive of the scene's ever-burgeoning crop of new mappers, this year Snaxalotl has been a true dynamo, authoring a welter of maps covering a broad palette of different styles, inspirations, and paces, all realized with an obvious gusto and infectious enthusiasm for the game. Ante Mortem, a Supercharged hybrid of arena-brawler and adventure, already appeared earlier in the awards. Also of note among the author's achievements are Stickney Installation, a complete 36-map replacement for The Ultimate Doom which blends the dueling design sensibilities of Wonderful Doom and the original Scythe, various one-off CP contributions, and a most timely producer/director credit on the horror-themed CP Gorehounds of Doom (all of we devotees of spooks and splatters thank you for midwifing this one, Snax), among others. With a fullscale replacement for Doom II already in the works, this author shows no sign of slowing down, and we all look forward to what's coming in 2023, and beyond. Another of the year's most prolific authors, in 2022 Thelokk produced a full solo megaWAD, The Box of a Thousand Demons (seen earlier in the awards), various CP contributions both on and off of Doomworld, and an unorthodox mapset known simply as [ Untitled ], which seems to merge the experiences of playing a set of Doom maps and walking through a traditional art exhibit in a fascinating way. While at least some of the author's initial stylistic inspirations and references are fairly obvious, particularly to one conversant with the challenge-oriented sphere, a deeper appraisal sees the rapid emergence of a very distinct artistic voice, wiling to take the game's mechanics and visual components in singular directions that openly value personal expression above all other ends.

     

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    Stickney Installation by Snaxolotl

     

    There have been many extremely high quality single maps from newcomers this year. The Old Bean Factory, by kwc, immediately struck a chord with many, with its lifelike presentation, intriguing design and laugh-out-loud humor. Amid a demon invasion, Doomguy would still do anything to get his hands on his favorite brand of canned beans... including fighting through several wartorn city buildings to reach the bean facility itself. This is one of those maps that expertly combine adorable and hilarious details with a slick, brisk layout that will go down as smoothly as iced vodka despite the monster occupancy in the triple digits. The Royal We's The Mauve Zone is on the other hand a very different take on the cityscape setting, with surreal, fireblu-amped visuals and clever tricks and ACS magic that are sure to throw you in for a loop. There is a concrete feeling of dread as you explore the claustrophobic house and the realms it's connected to, all skillfully achieved using a modified vanilla MIDI and original graphics only. Conversely, Large Cat's The Salt Mines might look more conventional - if you gloss over the zombiemen's blue hair - but this plunge into the mining facility will prove every bit as memorable as the latest in fashionable zombie haircuts. The congested caves offer a new challenge for each room, culminating into a huge (and optional) final fight you better come well equipped for. Amusingly, you can eat some of the salt (maybe Doomguy should consider a pet goat next?) to restore your health, but by the time the bodies have piled up, the UAC or whoever else runs this facility ought to consider renaming this into the blood mines! Finally, Lazlo Panaflex made quite a splash with two excellent offerings (Die Teufelsbricht and Acerbic) as part of RAMP 2022, a pair of OTEX-fueled space stations that feel incessantly absorbing, vividly colorful and straight up inhumane, with a perfect mixture of the (seemingly) man-made and the demonic in their structural design. The first map is a deep dive into ancient ruins and even more ancient caverns, while the second's bright reactors and technological edifices leave no room for disappointment. Both maps play excellently and are quite tough to boot, and we're interested to see what other fascinating locations Lazlo Panaflex, and all these other mappers, have in store for us!

     

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    RAMP 2022 MAP11 by Lazlo Panaflex

     

    Another routine scouting mission at a UAC-owned waste processing plant suddenly gone dark uncovers a secret archaeological dig site, and leads to a harrowing journey into the bowels of Hell that to the veteran demon-slayer feels just like a holiday at home. Thoroughly and unabashedly kindred with the original Doom II in style, Lerxst's Hell Unearthed makes excellent use of stock textures and classic themes and settings, and presents them in a finely tuned, tightly balanced and keenly polished package suitable for a modern palate. Fast-paced map design, sly traps, and clever setpieces keep the buckshot flying and the bodies piling up in this new performance of a timeless play. Equal parts Cheshire-grinning whimsy and stone-cold malice, wxndxx's Never Come Back relates the cautionary tale of a lost ship run aground near a mysterious island in strange sanguine seas, and the unfortunate fates of those who dared to venture ashore. Combining a fantastical and playfully macabre setting like something out of a dream with a razor-sharp item balance, a ruthless opening gauntlet, and a climactic battle equally fierce and surreal, NCB is a faerie-dusted gutpunch which immediately evokes the early work of Death-Destiny and other hardcore luminaries, and hopefully the first of many to come from the author. In Burden of Flesh, Arse of team zVOITTO evinces a bizarreness and excessiveness backed by formidable creativity, like staring into the maw of something obscene. It's as if every strain of difficult slaughter over the past twenty or so years -- from Sunderites, Deus Vults, New Gothics, French void gothic, HR2-ites, to Mucus Floes, and more -- was all piled into a blender, yet somehow, through all of that, it not only retained its author's signature but managed to come across as if it had no precedent. Rough around the edges it might be, the author shows great industriousness and talent. 

     

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    Never by tei tenga

     

    And it always warms my cold, black husk of a heart to see a new author find something of value and wonder in the past, and with the fittingly titled A Lost World, Dumbdoot6677 seems to have done just that. Going from zero to a demon-mauling, blood-spattering hundred miles an hour over the course of just its first level, ALW reads as an 11-map paean to the venerable Hell Revealed II and similar monoliths to violence of its age, gifting the player a vast arsenal and plenty of elbow room to use to strategically devastate encroaching legions of demons. Visceral, straightforward, but subtly nuanced fun, cast from an older mold. Last but not least, driven interminably forward by the pulse of a dark-electro soundtrack composed by the author, tei tenga's NEVER is a breakneck voyage through an abstract, industrial netherwhere lit by flickering, flyspecked fluorescents, past towering monoliths of cold concrete and unfeeling circuitry. From simple elements comes a totally distinct impression of a bizarre world of warehouse-scaled liminal spaces, brought to life by an eclectic and energetic suite of gunning and running. And just what are you running from, you may ask.....? Just wait 'til you meet the realm's native strain of cacodemon to find out. 


  • 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

  • LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION DOOM


     

    I hope you're ready for the return of one of the most irreverent, chaotic, memorable and straight up in-your-face Doom experiences ever crafted! Last year Scuba Steve was gracious enough to grant us a remastered edition for Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl, to bring it up to speed with GZDoom's latest state. But as the man himself admitted, he received quite a few requests to carry out a similar work for its somewhat lesser known precedessor, Action Doom... well, one! Released all the way back in 2004, it proved to be one of the most cinematic and intriguing sets anyone had seen up to that point. Heavily influenced by side-scrolling shooter games such as Contra and Metal Slug, Action Doom's sense of humor but also masterful use of atmosphere and brilliant setpieces made it an instantly memorable adventure for anyone fortunate enough to have stumbled upon it. Which, regrettably, was increasingly less people, owing to its age and the fact it did not get along particularly well with the latest GZDoom... But Action Doom: Rampage Edition is here to address this: it is a very faithful remaster, with only a handful of changes compared to the original, which if anything truly proves what a stunning piece of work it has always been. There's nothing quite like being paradropped in the middle of a besieged city, navigating a treacherous water canyon with your trusty speedboat, jumping around on top of moving vehicles while fending off tanks... I could go on, except practically the entire thing is a series of highlights! So, grab your Action Beer six pack, hum the Action Doom song, and get through the perilous trip to the UAC facility in one piece! And due to the multiple paths you can take within the levels, you're sure to be wanting to take the trip multiple times. And hopefully beat your previous high score on Doom Racer while you're at it...

     

    I neither confirm nor deny rumors that I had an action doom sticker on my school diary back in middle school.

     

    - @Dynamo


  • NEW YEAR, NEW RAMP


     

    Last year's Rabbit's All-comers Mapping Project (or RAMP for short) made a lot of people turn their heads, due to its sheer size and the community-building approach behind its creation. It can be hard to imagine following up a 200-maps act so soon, but DavidN quickly went back to the drawing board and during the summer he announced that the next iteration of the RAMP project had begun. At its conclusion, RAMP 2022 managed to garner 117 maps, almost half the size as last time, yet still bigger than almost any other project, including all three of the previous DUMPs that had inspired RAMP in the first place. Beyond its development, the structure of the megawad remains otherwise the same: a single hub map allows you to tackle any of the levels submitted in any order, and in addition, you can obtain and hang several pieces of artwork for the community in the hub map itself. Neat! When it comes to the levels, a grab bag is what you sign up for and a grab bag is what you get: there's maps of all sizes and difficulty styles, some made by people new at the biz, others by mappers with years of experience under their belt. What remains most impressive about RAMP, though, is the community behind it. DavidN has demonstrated that he had not merely caught lightning in a bottle last year: instead, he has managed to build up not just a series of impressive compilations but also a whole dedicated scene revolving around them, one that has not only answered the call again but instead emphasized what a pleasure it was to once again do so and be part of the experience for a second time. I don't know if RAMP is planned to become a yearly thing so long as the concept has fuel in the tank, but one thing is clear: DavidN has shown himself a master of multicraft and it's not just his community that is better off for it, but the Doom community in its entirety, as well.

     

    - @Dynamo


  • TIME FOR DEEP CLEANING


     

    Our local Demon-B-Gone exorcist has received an offer from the UAC that he simply could not refuse…

     

    After unanimously sweeping our hearts in 2021, Infested by @ginc has been updated this year with a brand new episode. Explore ancient rainy temples, ride a mine cart through a cave wherein the darkness will quite literally consume you, and crush the demonic nests that shift the very fabric of the earth, in this second episode of Infested that manages to perfectly transport the intense combat and egregious vistas into a completely different thematic.

     

    While this new episode is sure to keep anyone busy for quite some time, we shudder in anticipation for what the next chapter of this silly journey through not-so-silly realms will bring.

     

    - @Terminus

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