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25 Years of Nodes!

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March 30, 1994: DEU 5.0b4 is released, launching the era of vanilla modding.


It's hard to picture the internet being small, but it was.  Faced with a technical problem, the count of community members with tools, time, coding skill, and great ideas might be zero!  So you waited, checking store shelves, playing Tetris and E3M6 again.


Suddenly life changed and there were new maps.  Pour one out for the developers -- everything achieved by reverse engineering and with lawsuits being seriously discussed.  Carmack and Romero may have brought strong ideals to the workplace but, like anyone else, were overruled.


It's also hard to imagine content being scarce, but it was (especially if paying by the minute).  Each precious file was grabbed and worn out, without first comparing it against the entire world.  Yes, I thought AURORA1 was bold and inventive.  You learned to get around bugs too, instead of posting rants: the author might not spend much time on the internet, and your local shaman couldn't figure out that special effect or subroutine.


Nowadays, strict vanilla is a regular practice for few, but I hope everyone can agree with Peter Gabriel: it was a healthy part of growing up.  Further, a hundred scripted megawads can be googled in 0.7 seconds, and haters are only a tap away for your WIP, so are people too intimidated to release small works in 2019?  That would make me sad.


Does anyone play 1994 levels who missed this period entirely?  :D  What do you like about them?

Edited by Xeriphas1994 : less volatile link

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I was actually happy to see that 1994 Community Tune-Up Project. While the levels may be pretty ass in and of themselves, the mere idea of having not just new levels, but endless new levels, was so damn fresh then that it honestly made a lot of people excited to play even the lousiest levels, and of course, the really good ones got known, remembered, and downloaded even more. And as that project proved, some levels may have been diamonds in the rough that more experienced mappers could shine up and turn into an amazing level.


Still, for every god of editing back in the days, you've got to remember they fought the same clunky tools and probably churned out the same crappy maps many others made and published - they just had the sense to not put them up there on the web yet, and instead pick the game apart even further. :)

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In the early days it was a treat to find new pwads on cdrom.com and I did not mind the bland architecture and iffy gameplay, as long as I could play a new map.


Building new maps, at times, was a tedious process using DETH and NewWadTool.


And playing multiplayer over a dial-up modem was quite exciting, even playing in a stamp sized window because of high ping rates.


However, now, with improved editors and game ports the sky is the limit to what can be achieved.

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