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About This File

Inspired by JP LeBreton's discussion with John Romero at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV6HlBa88js&feature=youtu.be&t=80 and Blackmantis' research at https://www.doomworld.com/forum/topic/85756-found-doom-sky-source-files/, in 2017, we traveled to Yangshuo County, China to try and find the cave from which Tom Atwood photographed "Yangshuo Cavern" sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. Also known as MAJEST3.TIF, this image was distributed by Aris Entertainment in 1991 and 1992 via royalty free CD-ROMs like "MediaClips Majestic Places" and "The Best of MediaClips," an example of which can be downloaded at https://archive.org/details/The_Best_of_MediaClips_2.0.1_Aris_Entertainment_1994. After finding its way into the offices of id Software during the development of DOOM, Atwood's photograph of the Karst Mountains became Phobos, the skybox for the shareware episode of the game, "Knee Deep in the Dead."

Not Moon Hill or Butterfly Spring or Dragon Water Cave, asking for the location of "Yangshuo Cavern" is the equivalent of asking for the location of "California Hill" when searching for the Bliss Screen. Beyond the immensity of the mountain range and vagary of Atwood's original title, in many ways Yangshuo County exemplifies the larger process of historical erasure and cultural amnesia in China. Villages alongside the Li River are undergoing rapid development; every cave we entered was full of concrete, colored lights, and consumed Monkey Kings; and even local cavers and climbers were stumped...is it even possible to find "Yangshuo Cavern" in 2017?

The history of Yangshuo is not only occluded when it comes to DOOM, but also in relation to China more broadly. Even though the 20 RMB note features a shan shui-esque rendering of the region's famous mountains, hills, and caverns along the Li River, Yangshuo is not an ancient site of art and culture. In fact, landscape painters only made their way to the Karst Mountains en masse as refugees during the Second Sino-Japanese War between 1937 and 1945. Whether remediated as an ancient site of national pride or as the backdrop for the shareware episode of DOOM, in many ways Yangshou may as well be Mars.

In this short, single map .WAD, photographs we took while floating down the Li River replace the skybox and sprites of DOOM while Aris Entertainment's original musical accompaniment, MAJEST3.WAV, replaces the music. This is the first of a series of levels we are designing as an essay/megawad about the technologies, histories, and cultures of play around DOOM in China.

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  • File Reviews

    • By Ordon · Posted
      well, the concept is good  BUT...   WHAT THE FUCK EVEN IS THIS??
    • By Cinnamon · Posted
      Definitely shows its age. It was a real grind to play through, mostly due to the levels being boring, but also from a remarkable over-reliance on hitscan, especially shotgunners. For some reason. The third episode does indeed pick up much of the slack, but with the really fun levels being shining exceptions rather than rule for two thirds of the WAD it still left me annoyed and exasperated in the end. The maps look fine most of the time and the music is good to really good, which is something to hold on to. I would still advice my past self to skip most of this one.    
    • By Cinnamon · Posted
      There's not too much for me to say about this one. While it isn't exactly my jam 100% of the time, I'm struggling to see how any creative endeavor could entertain me so thoroughly, throughout all the 32 parts of it. Ancient Aliens is charming, somewhat challenging, mysterious, well-paced... I could iterate over plenty of different variations of lavish praise, but I guess that in and of itself describes my feelings: AA is remarkably well-rounded. A DOOM blockbuster - and I use that description as an honest compliment rather than the pejorative it's sometimes thought of. One for the ages, and it'll be one of the WADs to which many of my future experience will be compared.    
    • By VoanHead · Posted
      On second thought, this wad is kinda mid if you ask me. After playing through all of it on pistol-start I wasn't really blown away by it. The midi pack that was made for this in 2020 was very nice if you ask me, but why this wad ever deserves a midi pack when it's so bland is what makes me scratch my head. Idk man, I didn't like this one as much as others do :/.
    • By baja blast rd. · Posted
      This reads as an early example of arcade-style mapping.   Areas are defined largely by color combinations, with no real overarching theme to the map: there are silver techbase rooms, brick-like Earth rooms, red hellish rooms, without much in the way of detailing or setting-building -- all centralized around a square hub room with key doors, which repopulates with monsters each time you find a key. It's on the simpler side visually, but still a very clear step above "monotextured square rooms"-type design, with some solid architecture, shapes, and texture combos here and there, and even a clever crushing UFO-like "ring" at one point.    The gameplay concepts are very straightforward, with one exception being a room that has you platforming over damaging floor while closets of lost souls and cacodemons open up. Instead, the bulk of the fighting is more often dished out as blocks of monsters often revealed in closets -- blocks at a density far below what you'd consider slaughter. Some of the potential fun involves herding monsters towards barrels; once I waited several seconds for chaingunners to walk halfway across the room, right next to a clump of barrels I could blow them all up with. The ending fight is designed for you to pour rockets into two static cybs while circling, and I skipped that one.    Completed in a bit under 10 minutes.