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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Whispers of Satan

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Posted (edited)
On 8/1/2019 at 7:28 AM, Magnusblitz said:

The main thing that struck me throughout was the ammo balance, playing this one from a pistol start really left me scrambling the whole time for ammo...

That's a good point - I entered with basically full ammo due to continuous and there were times when I was heading down towards 30 shells out of 100 - normally this never happens to me when playing continuous and I frequently chainsaw monsters, so pistol start must have been tight.


MAP30 - “The Verge of Revelation” by Kristian Aro and Paul Corfiatis
And finally I got round to finishing the last map. We have some nice looking empty areas with a few small- scale fights inbetween acting as an extended prelude and warm-up to the icon of sin itself. I don't have masses to say, as each area does look good individually but you simply pass through much of it. I understand that  he authors would hardly have wished to make a big elaborate map as a prelude to a boss fight, although on the other hand, there is precedent for it - it worked on a smaller scale with map29 of the original Doom2 and map30 of Doom2 Reloaded had a lot of combat before the actual icon of sin was even seen, for example. That said it's better than just starting the player in a room full of ammo and a megasphere.


In any case, the IoS fight itself is pretty conventional but has been tastefully tweaked, so that monsters spawn faster and the boss brain doesn't rely on timing a  platform for the rocket launching - a welcome change. Instead the boss brains are more sheltered from the splash damage and take longer to die, and we see the PCorf multiple switch progression trope put to good use for a change in raising the stairs to shoot the icon.


I actually found the map a bit frustrating and died a few times, as I kept getting knocked off of the platform leading to instant death, however this is arguably just me failing to adapt to circumstances - a little bit of side to side dancing and then single-mindedly firing is enough, maybe with a break to BFG accumulated monsters behind if they start getting too much, and then the icon is dead and you win again. I'm not bothered about IoS maps in general, and think the concept needs either reworking or ditching - there's nothing wrong with the Doom1 boss monsters, and they can happily be incorporated into big final battles. So as far as map30s go, this is a better example I think, and extends the idea whilst toning down the gimmickiness a little with no elevator timing rocket shots to bother with. I guess it's an above average average IoS map.


Overall thoughts on Whispers of Satan
And so ends Whispers of Satan. Although I've had reservations for many of the maps I think I'm glad overall that I've played the megawad, if nothing else but to tick it off the list, but also even with my criticisms of many maps, there were some pretty damn good maps mixed in that bring the home the bacon for this wad and deserve to be praised too.


I'm thinking most prominently of Maps 25 and 28 as my favourites of course, with the hell episode in general having the higher overall quality, but also there was a stronger stretch in the early-mid teens at Maps 12-15, but also Map10 was good. The Hexen maps were thematically cool but had some of the most prominent disagreeable aspects I felt, and the first third of the megawad although rarely terrible tended to be a bit indifferent in terms of map quality.


It's been well and truly stated to death that many WoS maps are symmetrical, and that's true, but actually I think the bigger issue has been that these maps have been repetitive, with the repeated switch pressing to progress. Most Doom maps involve switches of course, but the difference is that usually you only need to press one or so before you get to move on to some other, different area - some of the maps were like a broken record for Quake style "X more switches to press!" progression mechanics.


As to the authors' personal mapping styles in this wad, keeping in mind that both have long and storied repertoires outside of WoS, I found Kristian Aro's maps tended to be more consistently good in quality, but also that Aro seemed to have a much narrower palette of architecture in his mapping style in this wad. His maps were generally well detailed with good layouts but copy pasted a bit much and were overly corridors-based and flat - the same ideas from some of his maps (a crate area, some hilly scenery, corridors) tended to reoccur, particularly in the earlier Aro maps of the wad. The latter ones had this a little less so.


Paul Corfiatis' work is much more hit and miss, in that I tended to like his good maps more than Aro's but his weaker ones were significantly less fun to me. PCorf's maps tended to be more varied in height and in size of area - you were far more likely to get a big tall cavernous room with PC than KA. Both authors tended to do better I thought when they mapped on a larger scale and created larger areas. Also the maps with caves/naturalistic settings tended to be better, as that kind of style naturally discourages the repetition and uniformity and encourages randomness and variety, so perhaps that is a factor in strengthening the hell episode.


It would be remiss of me not to note the pretty accomplished ease with which both authors through nearly all of the wad were tastefully decorating their levels - the experience here in the volume of work they've done shows. Also there is generally good use of traps to mix up the play experience of the level (although some traps were very well telegraphed and not surprising). Secrets varied between difficult to spot minute texture misalignments, which if found tended to be either by chance wall humping or via the automap, and other better secrets involving remotely triggered nearby doors, shootable switches and the like. The former sort I didn't enjoy but I think there was some cleverness and good work with the other types of secret.


Below is my very approximate and subjective ranking of some of the maps:



Map 25, 28 (I think 25 edges it for me - well done PCorf)

Map 10, 14, 15, 20, 21, 27

Map 02, 03, 05, 07, 12, 13, 17, 19, 22, 23, 24

Map 01, 04, 08, 11, 16, 29, 30

Cool but flawed:
Map 06, 26, 31

Map 09, 18





Finally, I would like to pay some tribute to both the authors for making this - a megawad is always a big undertaking when done by a small number of people and these guys have produced several which were well-received. It's natural and inevitable that some maps in a megawad will be weaker or better, and given the rather adverse personal circumstances both seem to have been experiencing at the time, in that light I'm surprised that they were able to produce any good altogether. Yet there are definitely some better maps here that are worth playing, plus there is the original music too, and it's generally nicely decorated. I think the wad was worth the price of admission for the better maps, and it was good to be able to play it with the club - thanks guys.

Edited by Sui Generis

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the review.


Even though it was fun creating some the maps I was pretty bored when it came to layout and was more interested in trying to do amazing architecture, while at other times I felt like I just forced myself to make a good map and that actually made it worse. Yes my personal favorite was MAP25 and I certainly had a lot of fun creating that one. I was so bored when creating MAP09, it shows and with MAP18 did not put enough attention into layout, only cared about architecture and effects like the broken glass for example. But if I was to redo WOS again with totally new maps that would rectify my boredom from the past, I would.


Since then I probably have not mapped as frequently and apart from Zone 300 most my maps since then have been for community projects plus some standalone releases with major projects been Incineration (an E3 replacement for Doom) and Doomed Space Wars Zdoom episode for Doom 2. Also the 2048 Unleashed Pcorf community project 2 used the WOS texture resource.


Currently working on an UD megawad (Next Doom Odyssey) that will contain 4 episodes (maybe even considering a 5th thanks to Sigil) and I can promise you maps that are much more focused on layout and gameplay than architecture. The focus has been aiming for layouts with interconnection while limiting backtracking but if you were to backtrack, new areas and ambushes would open up. But I am not rushing into it now that I'm a father to a toddler which limits me a bit more. But if I'm bored, I take a break from mapping.



And here is the top secret Easter egg in MAP16 not many were aware about near the red key. Plus a reappearance in MAP30 (SW corner of creepy area).











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MAP24 - “Ultimate Hatred” by Paul Corfiatis wos24-S01-UVmax-17something.zip

I liked this map, though the beginning is a tad on the boring side with no armour and just the regular Shotgun. Especially when it comes to killing multiple Cacos and a Pain Elemental. Despite the door campy nature, I liked the large groups of enemies that appear while backtracking after hitting a switch. The finale even has something resembling an arena encounter, though it would perhaps have more impact if the Mastermind and Vile were present with the rest of the enemies.

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I recently uploaded a complete OST using the SC-55 soundfont for your enjoyment.



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