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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: MAYhem 2019 & Alienated

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5 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Map 13


And this here, I never really understood:

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texturing2.jpg.3a2017538151a4797dfd06b70efed281.jpg

 

So, the room I'm in on that screenshot can be accessed without needing the yellow key. And the room behind this very door can also be accessed without a yellow key. Why does this door need a yellow key then? What is the point of denying passage here, when I can get to the other side anyway? At least let me pass the door from this side. What's the harm in that?

 

 

Thanks for the criticism. The unnecessary yellow key issue was actually fixed a week or so ago and should be in the updated Mayhem 19, you must have played an older version.

 

edit: sorry for doublepost

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8 minutes ago, whirledtsar said:

The unnecessary yellow key issue was actually fixed a week or so ago and should be in the updated Mayhem 19, you must have played an older version.

Well, I'd say this is a problem then, because I grabbed version 1.3 of the compilation when Obsidian linked it here, and the map still has the yellow key-locked door.

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15 minutes ago, whirledtsar said:

Thank you for the review / criticisms. What does "YMMV" mean? I did test it in prboom, but maybe in the wrong compatibility, ill look into the lift issue. The secret is intentionally once-only, I just thought that would be funny. The MIDI is from Witchaven, also because I thought it was funny.

 

Your Mileage May Vary; as in, others' appreciation of that element will likely vary (more than usual).

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13 minutes ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Well, I'd say this is a problem then, because I grabbed version 1.3 of the compilation when Obsidian linked it here, and the map still has the yellow key-locked door.

The difference is that the other way into that whole area is also yellow-locked.

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I know it has been like a week since the first reviews of my map but I want to thank everyone for your feedback. It was really insightful. I sort of didn't like how the map turned out, maybe because it was quite big and I prefer short maps. Name, size and non-linearity were sort of an accident as I started with the tall central area and I didn't want the surrounding ones to be simple "meaningless" rooms with a lift or something. Similarly I had the idea of the player starting northwest and then going clock-wise, hence the map name, but then I noticed someone could just jump to the northeast :P. Instead of starting over or artificially forcing that route I decided to go non-linear.

I uploaded a version with a few tweaks: CG/SSG copies, extra secrets with ammo, switched Satyrs with either imps or dogs and changed the RL fight.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1KcH8o7jF0UjQiWJlePqvM8l_5i7hkdAx

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hahahahaha

 

Oh my lack of goodness you guys, the vampire's melee attack is a *delight!*

 

" Yezz, yezz, kom KLOzer my childe, TAZTE ze kizz ov ze dragonnnn, VEEL ze karEZZ ov ze darknezzzz.... "

 

and then it's just WHH-PSSHH! WHH-PSSHH! spanking you like it's your fucking birthday, haha!

 

I love it, Count Orlok's melee attack isn't lifedrain or a force-choke or something like that, it's just a straight up, no frills pimpslap. He really *is* oldschool, not one of those preening come-lately Lestat types. Heh, man....heh heh....

 

...ahem. Anyway.

 

Map 11 -- Maudlin - 103% Kills / 75% Secrets

A relatively familiar design idiom for Obsidian, this is certainly one geared to appeal to a very particular taste, to say the least. Replete with a ton of cool ideas carefully nestled into a very small space, its wealth of artistry in both aesthetics and staging is somewhat lampshaded by a gameplay approach which seems purpose-designed to be a very slow, very careful crawl which openly encourages you to try to game/cheese your way through situations as often as possible.

 

The opening fight sets the tone -- yes, you can play with a mind for flair, dancing around the column to avoid the arch-vile's spells while peppering the trio of satyrs with buckshot, maybe keeping an eye open for a prime barrel-splash opportunity -- but you can also just camp out on the other side of the small wooden door in the east wall, gunning them down with impunity from there. Later fights with the great majority of the map's 'official' complement of ~60 foes play out in much the same way, and indeed, most are significantly less amenable to hardheadedly insisting on an 'agility as defense' approach than this one is (at very least until you've memorized it brick by brick, anyway).

 

Generally, each new room poses you with a new nasty booby-trap or spitefully/lovingly -configured array of elevated projectile-throwers and ground interference, and it's your task to figure out a way to clean up while exposing yourself to minimal risk, as the balance of healing in the level is geared to make every mistake significant (though it's still nowhere near as stingy as something like m02 was, I should mention), and the tight confines make at least some collateral highly likely. Often, there are simple solutions readily available -- retreat through a doorway, hop to the other side of a gap, etc. -- the tactical cost of these being that you have to spend ammo in large chunks to make fights work this way. In essence, then, playing the first 3/4 of the map is not so much a matter of solving individual encounters, as it is of being crafty/grifty enough to run a 'balanced budget' of ammo that ensures you always have enough cheddar to realistically expect to be able to sleaze your way through the next encounter. Sometimes this is satisfying--really emphasizing using your wits over your reflexes/trigger-finger--though even a map as short as this leaning into it to such a degree can quickly begin to feel a mite stuffy. For my part, where I felt it most was when dealing with the sentry-cubes (other than the final trap, which is *fine*), which really seem like nothing more than baldfaced ammo-taxes which heavyhandedly ensure you don't snowball in momentum too quickly.

 

Finding the secrets can help with this to some degree. The megasphere in the second part of the BK micro-quest is probably the biggest point of swing (the Necronomicon is not particularly useful in this map, I'd warrant), but they're all tricky, and mostly just give you a little extra padding rather than changing the overall flow of things. On my first playthrough, I only found one of them for practical purposes -- I had the first vile jump me into the 'zerksphere at the start (the only real benefit this won me was my experience boxing with Vampy, see above) -- and then did the BK quest at the end before exiting (still no idea how to get at the rocket ammo behind the portrait of Aaron near one of the red switches). In a sense, this is something many people quasi-religiously consider a tenet of "good design" -- you don't want to have secrets be " " mandatory " " for playability or w/e -- but I'm mentioning it here because I think the map might've benefited from having some way for an erudite/knowledgeable/lucky player to expedite things a bit, which would play off nicely against getting the player to explore the quite immersive surroundings a little more actively.

 

And this map does have a wonderful sense of setting, make no mistake. For many, the general aesthetic of MAY19 is somewhat of a novelty or gimmick, but Obsidian is already an old hand with this kind of dark, morbid 19th c. 'occult' theme. The choice of BGM is right on point (for once...), and I feel like you're meant to just stand still for a few moments at the outset, gazing at the strange batwing pendulums backlit in chiaroscuro by cold lamplight out of the latticed windows. The entire map has a quality of active surreality to it, progression following a certain sort of vaguely bewildering yet also oddly intuitive series of threads which constantly introduce new developments and reveal initially unseen avenues of travel in its small collection of deceptively complex chambers. It's this sense of dream-logic, a melding of generally 'realistic' styling with a whimsical flow, that here sees the Blood/Undying resources marry more believably to the traditionally Doom-y geometry and layout than in most of the maps seen prior. There are plenty of neat little details, and an overriding air of the quietly sinister throughout, but my favorite has got to be the gradually gathering batswarm which begins accumulating outside very early on, and becomes a true spectacle just before the end.

 

Incidentally, the finale of the map, after all of that grim miserliness, really is brilliant, IMO: leave it to one of the modern masters of dehacked assets to find a way to turn something as innocuous as a 1HP flying rodent into a true boss encounter, one which turns the previously established rhythm of the level on its head as the swarm can find/overwhelm you wherever you try to hide, prompting you to hold nothing back and try to blast them out of the sky (rockets are absolutely best if you can get the distance/angle to use them) before suffering an ignominious death by a million nibbles.

 

Error: the top of the switchplate in the southeast gable (the one that releases the final batstorm) is set as a visibly-scrolling conveyor, as seen once the plate has lowered into the floor.

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Map 12 -- Necropolis Under Papa John's - 100% Kills / No secrets

Hey, I recognize this place. Used to hang out here on lunch/off period before Chem class on Fridays, way back when (the Papa John's was a Chevy's Mexican Grill back then, as I recall, which would explain the change in aroma from 'piquant' to 'pungent'). Memories!

 

This is a bracing romp, loosely in a sort of 'platforms and walkways over an abyss' vein ala "The Living End" or its many many scions, though the element of platforming is minimal in practice and mostly just serves as a more visually exciting way of having you fight in functionally small venues (just as well I suppose, some but not all of the pits appear to be inescapable). Fighting in somewhat constrained spaces is something of a general theme, though it's done in such a way that the level never feels cramped or overly restrictive, not only allowing but rewarding aggressive play, in stark contrast to m11 just prior. From the central casement where you begin, you can see that the the rest of the 'polis splits off into two wings (and much of the rest of the 'polis can also see *you* here, to whit); one leads to the red skullkey, and the other leads to the exit, the final stretch locked by said key. You can make good progress in either direction from the outset, though if you happen to take the exit leg before you have the key, backtracking to the locked door a second time afterwards is something of an inconvenience--nothing changes in the center or elsewhere when you take the key, perhaps something of a minor missed opportunity, so it's just an uneventful backtrack through a short obstacle course, not maximally elegant, I suppose.

 

This is my only real criticism, though -- for the most part the map is straightforward fun, with a no frills focus on fights over high concept, which is refreshing at this point in the mapset. The placements are mostly well-judged for the combination of limited footing and long lines of sight which characterizes most of the layout, demonstrating again that the suite of new monsters and weapons can gel together into a fast-paced and very traditionally Doom-y, run/gun, 'agility as defense' experience (vs. a more attrition-based 'death comes swiftly to either side' flavor, ala Blood), in the hands of an experienced author. Lacking rocket launcher or chaingun, the action hinges heavily on the combination of SSG and the flamethrower, which feeds nicely into the general imperative to move around and tangle/tango with targets up close and personal, rather than trying to snipe your way through the map (incidentally, this was the first time I consciously noticed that the flamethrower increases the light in the environment after you've primed its pilot -- neat little touch). Another new creature, the maulotaur, debuts along the RK leg, appearing for a showdown on a platform small enough to ratchet up the tension and intimidation a few notches. Functionally, it seems to be a cyberdemon replacement, though its 'rocket' attack only launches a single projectile, and it has a secondary spreadshot fireball attack, ala its Heretic forebears. No big deal yet, all considered--he's as flammable as all of the other ghoulies, turns out.

 

Not much more to say on this one, a very conventionally enjoyable map by another of the set's most experienced authors.

 

Map 13 -- Storming the Estate - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets

I seem to recall that earlier on I had expressed a hope that we'd encounter more horror-leaning stuff from MAY19 down the line. Perhaps I should have been more careful what I wished for.....the BGM here, folks, *that* is true horror. Mind-shattering, soul-searing revulsion given sonic shape. Abandon all hope ye who IDMUS13 here, etc. etc.

 

(seriously though, no just no. Definitely recommend turning the music off or IDMUSing to a different track for this one.)

 

That....eldritch matter....aside, my overall impression of this map is that it's akin to a more developed/expanded version of the same set of general ideas/design philosophies we first encountered in m02, trying more for a 'Blood in idtech1 flavor' defined by slower, more 'tactical' attrition-based combat taking place in broadly realistic/representational surroundings, though they tend progressively more towards abstraction the farther towards the map periphery one travels, which seems dominated by a vague 'lab' theme of sorts. The central courtyard is visually appealing and is fairly well-tuned for this kind of action, and some of the intermediate manor rooms are striking as well, though there is some roughness in places (incongruent detailing/alignment along steep staircases in the western annex), some apparent artifacting on certain sectors in the open sky in the courtyard (over the RK door, etc.), and notably more visual starkness in general towards the periphery, though this reads to me more as a result of deadline than of the author not realizing/caring about the relative discrepancy.

 

I also encountered all of the notable bugs mentioned by other posters (save for untagged YK door, which I can't speak to) above; fortunately none really harm the level's overall functionality, but I mention them here again to cover the bases, and say that they aren't rare/fringe to encounter and are definitely worth a fix. I had interpreted the one-time secret in the garden as a bug rather than a feature, for what that's worth--the two ammo items are about equally valuable, but neither one is remotely impactful enough for the choice between them to seem to have any particular relevance down the line.

 

So, like m02, the driving tension and form of excitement in battles in the map is that there's not a lot of healing around, and so rampant aggression is not really well-served. The dearth isn't anywhere near as severe as that in m02, however (ammo is also much more readily available for most weapons), and the general openness and height variation in most of the major areas makes for an experience with far more slack or leash to it than the deliberate battle of inches dominating most of m11. I reckon that most tastes will find this broadly more agreeable than the relative extremes seen in those earlier two maps, and I don't recall any particular engagement or area that I found actively unpleasant or troubling (the best little bit IMO is -- surprise surprise -- the 4-chainsawmbies trap), but by the same token the level does lack a really pronounced sense of pace or escalation as a result; your closest calls will likely be more or less self-inflicted, and the universal solution is generally more caution, taking things carefully until you've healed up (which usually takes a couple of clean engagements or so).

 

The level is not without a climax, however -- releasing the final switch summons the lord of the manor, a version of the classic Heresiarch from Hexen, who has command of several different attacks, all of them devastating (none moreso than his apparent ability to railgun one of the blue wisps at you, rather scary that). In a way, this is something like the cyberdemon fight in "Tower of Babel" -- you face a tough/resilient enemy who can potentially kill you in one hit, or two at the most, no matter how strong you are -- but the amount of both open space and convenient cover available severely undercuts his capacity to levy threat, and so the greatest risk he presents is for players who choose to risk trying to burn him down quickly at close range with the flamethrower. In different circumstances I could see this enemy being genuinely oppressive (though his inheriting the bossbrain's map-ends-on-death property would seem so severely limit his place-ability); in this one his presence reads more like a 'for emphasis' nod to old traditions, which I suppose will naturally appeal to some tastes more than others.

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Map 14 

 

This map is straight-up fights so let's talk about those. 

 

1) The bomb elemental mob. This is basically 'do you know how to tap move to avoid walls of mancubus attacks.' Position yourself one far corner relative to the fliers and move gradually to the other. Fire rockets smartly -- or rather just, not 'stupidly' -- to chain both splash and detonation damage effectively. If you are truly wasteful with rockets, you can run out during the next part, but there is enough cushion that you don't have to make each one count.

 

2) The 'Cthulhu monsters'. I prefire two rockets into where the mob appears before hopping over and setting off the insta-pop, then focus down the mob, trying to herd them all one way. After some finally creep over, run around to the other side and rocket down survivors among the roamers and the dudes up top. The crescent platforming sandwiching this phase is fun enough: I also like it when mappers use offbeat shapes or structures for their platforming. Stilts are cool, don't get me wrong; but when Euclid invented geometry back in ancient Greece, scribes recorded him as saying, "some of these shapes would make bitchin' platforming, bro." 

 

3) The maulotaur trio: Not a fan of this fight... and it's not entirely the mapper's fault this time. The necro as a weapon feels 'off' to me, due to a combination of its mechanics, its sound, its behavior, its damage -- everything. Using it a few times here and there, fine. Having to spam it continuously, however, is not my bag. I also find that missing shots with the necro annoys me. That is not about survivability -- there is practically infinite 'ammo' after all -- but rather it just feels wrong to have to lob slow projectiles at stuff that can occasionally dodge it. Maybe add some monster-block lines to keep them more in place. (But don't restrict them too much -- because perfectly stationary turrets tend not to fire much.) 

 

4) In the next fight, I'm kind of at a loss to recommend a 'strategy' here because I found it near-impossible to get killed while just streaming around orthogonally wrt or under the spider brains' plasma streams. I whittle down other stuff on an 'as I need it basis', and occasionally clear space on the edges with the flamethrower where needed in order to flank the horde. Of the core fights, this reads very much like a a breather fight, which is fine considering its positioning in the map. I think it is super useful for future sections not to blow the entire fuel load. I avoided that 'naturally' in my first attempt at this fight, luckily. 

 

5) The entire penultimate area: I really like this part. What I do is hang back and fire several rockets into the right of the swamp monster meat, then I carve through with the flamethrower and hit the switch behind them. Tanking some damage is okay because of all the megas. Then I run in to the opened chamber and spam the viles with the necro. The oppressive spiders are momentarily your allies, because they can distract stray viles that survive. All that is very consistent. You can leave the area already if you don't care about maxing it. If you do, next there is standard bullet-herding tapping at the now-safe end of the chamber, against the mother brains, while everything you've left behind infights. When a bunch of spiders die, or even before, start spamming rockets to whittle down the huge crowd of Cthulhu monsters. If you just sit around and watch infighting, those are destined to make it to the end in huge quantities, because 240 of them warp in. A few dozen of those could be safely removed, I'd say. This fight leaves a really cinematic impression with the absurd excess: huge space, so many medkits, lots of megas, lots of spiders, lots of maulotaurs, lots of everything... Fun to look at.

 

6) Ending arena. Circle around firing rockets at mummies for a bit. After enough space clears up, it's useful to hit the four switches and lower the vampires. That helps them infight with the maulotaurs more effectively, and usually gets the maulotaurs killed. The mega you warp in on lets you tank plenty of mummy damage, which is fine.

 

Anyway, I liked it overall. I'd guess every player will have their own preferences here. Most of the fights are pretty tapmove-heavy, due to the focus on straight-line projectile firers (or monsters with manc projectiles, which from far enough away are basically straight-liners). But there are enough supplementary nuances and character differences in the fights, and the map is short enough, that it doesn't become repetitive. The map also excels at spectacle, which dresses up the fights well enough in different outfits.

 

Aesthetically this map does a few things that are traditionally frowned upon, but manages to have an odd appeal, due to the grimy textures with baked-in visual activity and the commitment to fleshing out the map's particular eerie, otherworldly theme. The layout is an octagon divided into its constituent arenas. From the overhead, it kinda looks like a sketch on paper, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was started that way.

Edited by rdwpa

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MAP10: Stony Brook

100% kills, 1/2 secrets

 

Another solid map, though aesthetically a wee dull but again I think that's more the source material and all it's greys and browns rather than a problem with the level itself. Very square but there's an interesting use of height here to create some trench-running feeling leading to the above-ground traps (including one portion where the bridges all drop back into the ground forcing the player onto the bottom level again). And we get yet another enemy here, though it's a subtle one (bats). You guys really got a lot of enemy variety in here! Overall I liked the map, though there were a few annoying bits that @rdwpa covered - I'd mainly echo that the blue key fight felt kind of annoying with the hitscanner wave that's basically just luck, and the red key fight could be maybe have the monster placement swapped around a bit to keep the player running more. The last fight with the arachnorbs was also a little bit anti-climatic. I enjoyed the flamethrower secret, though like others I didn't find it until the very end.

 

MAP11: Maudlin

100% kills, 2/4 secrets

 

This one shies away from the monster slaying and instead presents a very limited ammo/weapon balance with a small number of dangerous enemies, which ends up making the combat feel more like a puzzle (at good points) or budgeting simulator (at bad points). That balance combined with the theme and somewhat tricky progression reminded me of Maskim Xul, so I shouldn't have been surprised when I saw @Obsidian's name on the score screen, heh. Some of it was good, but I agree with @Demon of the Well that the plasma cubes definitely feel just like ammo taxes, as did the manc replacements. Especially since it took me forever to find that switch hiding in the white drapes, and I spent a lot of shells on the cubes that probably were intended to be taken out later with the RL or something. And it turns out the bats aren't counted by the game as monsters, so imagine my surprise when I had nearly cleared out the 59 monster count only to be assaulted by a swarm of bats. I found the more annoying than anything to be honest, especially needing to make sure I didn't get gnawed too far to death so that I still had some buffer for the final cubes. Nicely detailed map and really nice aesthetic, but definitely annoying in some parts.

 

(Oh yeah and that guaranteed hit from the satyr after the teleport is bullshit)

Edited by Magnusblitz

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MAP12: Necropolis Under Papa John’s

98% kills, no map secrets

 

Bonus points for the name alone, heh. After last map's cramped, puzzley affair, this one is "have a shotgun and a flamethrower, go kill things." It's not a pleasure to look at but it gets the job done, and for the most part the combat is pretty good and the music track will keep the blood pumping. The maulotaur introduction here works pretty well (though it certainly comes by surprise), but everything after the red door felt a bit like an afterthought. One other negative is the lack of any ranged weaponry, while for the most part this is fine since most of the fights are close-up, there were definitely a few enemies that I just ignored for lack of any easy way to kill them (such as the plasma cube). A good straightforward combat romp though.

 

One design flaw, it's possible to get stuck behind the switch at the start if you go above and fall behind it, but you won't die from the slime because you can stand on the little itty bit of baseboard around it.

 

Also, the map brightens quite a bit once you reach the end, which is something I've noticed in a few other maps (MAP10 for example)... is this on purpose or am I just going crazy?

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1 hour ago, Magnusblitz said:

Also, the map brightens quite a bit once you reach the end, which is something I've noticed in a few other maps (MAP10 for example)... is this on purpose or am I just going crazy?

 

Very likely because you finished off these maps with the flamethrower. Upon being fired, it illuminates the player's view -- an effect that is reset upon firing a different weapon. Additionally, whenever it happened earlier, you probably had other stuff to focus on. 

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1 hour ago, Magnusblitz said:

Also, the map brightens quite a bit once you reach the end, which is something I've noticed in a few other maps (MAP10 for example)... is this on purpose or am I just going crazy?

That's not the map brightening, that's a detail effect of using the flamethrower weapon -- once you draw it and fire it for even an instant (i.e. 'lighting the pilot'), it will make the surroundings brighter until you switch away to another weapon. Makes zero sense from a 'physics' perspective, of course, but still kinda cool.

 

Map 14 -- Minotaur's Inferno - 100% Kills / No secrets

Taking a page out of rdwpa's book:

 

* Pickup fight -- since the platform the fight takes place on is octagonal (i.e. with roughly curving edge) and none too large, my instinct was to dash right up to the righthand corner of the gasbag group while hip-firing rockets into the mid-lefthand corner (reversing this orientation would also presumably work just as well). You only need to get a few off to start a chain reaction of death-explosions which will rapidly thin the crowd through the middle, and you can then run a sweeping arc following the edge of the platform into that corner (if you're not comfortable or familiar with the idea of tap-dodging--for my part I think I tend towards the sweeping 'cutback dodge' approach when given enough space) and continue firing into the rest of the group to quickly finish them off. Easy-peasy, bit of a throwaway fight in that if you're not comfortable with this kind of map this (relatively) soft intro is hardly going to magically 'ease you in', and likewise if you're very accustomed to them it's merely a trifle.

 

* Eldritch waiting room -- As has been said, prefiring rockets is a great trick here (it's a great trick in general to have in your repertoire!), if you start pulling the trigger while you do the platform-hopping you can easily land 3-4 of them, which is almost enough to break the enemy line before the fight even starts. The pair of elevated starspawn are juicy targets, but I'd warrant it's better to aim for those on your level first, since the sooner their numbers are reduced the less likely they are to split into two groups around the elevated platform, which makes corner-cutting/moving from one end of the base platform to the other to gain enough space to continue safely firing rockets at the rest relatively simple. Probably the best of the three 'intro' fights, IMO.

 

* Bovine trio fight -- I think I just got lucky with this one, cleared it very quickly despite the more pronounced diceroll aspect (i.e. do you land the Necro spells, and do they roll high damage, etc.). My tack was to fire at the 'taur in the middle first; he caught most of my shots with little trouble and went down quickly. This frees up the middle straightaway platform (with the 'infinite' medkit stack on it), so that you can dodge attacks from the remaining pair by moving forward/back rather than worrying about making quasi-platforming side-dodges, and also affords you a better firing angle to make it less likely they'll dodge your own shots.

 

* Bloodspouts fight -- Not a huge fan of this one, it's the sort of battle where you more or less inevitably take a lot of chip damage from the roiling crowd of mooks, and so in a sense it's a damage-race -- if you kill enough enemies in the first few moments you'll probably win (albeit an ugly victory) by staying on the move around the perimeter, but try to overthink it or get too fancy/too 'efficient' and the enemies can easily overwhelm you, even though they're all relatively weak enemies in this case. In this regard it's a fight that showcases both the flamethrower's incredible lethality and its problematic rate of ammo consumption; it can carve through anything and everything here in an instant, but its ammo discharges so fast you can't just win the fight solely by carving and flailing, even short as it is. My strategy was to fire rockets into the southerly arachnorb-swarm in the first few moments of the fight (mildly annoying since the fight only starts as you pick up/autoswitch to the flamethrower) and then use the flamethrower to 'shovel' a furrow around the edge until most of the horde had consumed itself. Trying this without doing that initial thinning tended to result in lap interference from infinitely-tall arachnorbs near the weird little cross-shaped outcrop, I found.

 

* Multifront warfare -- The main course. The strategy I settled on mirrors what rdwpa describes almost exactly, though after the first few attempts I stopped bothering with attacking the mob of swamp dudes (and dudettes) at all, just lingering against the southern wall (just before where the maulotaur battery begins) for a few moments at the outset to pull the group that way by a few yards, which reliably opens up a seam to cut back to the north and bypass them on their left flank to reach the switch activating the rest of the fight. I found that dealing with the cluster of arch-viles at the back end of the arena was the trickiest part; initially I thought to distract them with fire from the mother-brains, but the group is thick enough that the viles at the back will still nuke you if you come into range (which you must do to draw the brains' fire in their direction) while their compeers at the front absorb all of the projectiles. Likewise, you can counter-nuke them from afar with the Necronomicon without relying on infighting, but the amount of incidental damage you soak doing that (plus autoaim sometimes wanting to pull your projectiles towards a nearby brain instead of flying straight/narrow towards the viles in the distance) can vary wildly, making the approach unreliable.

So, the best tack is to combine the two -- fire three or four projectiles on approach to thin their numbers, and then dive right through the group of viles to let the brain-plasma on your heels catch the rest of them, works more often than not once you get the hang of the timing. With the viles gone, it's all ring-marshalling (albeit on a large scale) -- hang along the east/left edge of the arena (as you look out from their little mound) to make a seam along the opposite edge in the growing tide of starspawn, then run along said seam, right under/past the maulotaur's hooves, scarfing a megasphere from the stockpile on the way, back to where you first landed on this table, stopping there briefly near the southern wall (spamming rockets all the while) to make another gap along the opposite side you can follow back to the vile-mound to rinse and repeat -- the mother-brains and the maulotaurs will all eventually be consumed by the great horde of starspawn, at which point all you have to do is clean up.

 

* Final fight -- The victory lap. Being limited to one megasphere's worth of health/armor for the duration may seem intimidating, but this is a very simple fight in practice, I would say it's easier than any of the rest except for the throaway intro fights at the start of the map. Perhaps it sounds reductive, but all you really have to do is run laps at the right 'orbit' (that is, at a comfortable distance from the throng/pillar in the center, but not so close to the periphery that the mummies there can sometimes luck into an easy hit), nipping to the fringe to hit switches when it's convenient, until the situation thins itself out; you can facilitate this with rocket-fire, but other than hitting the switches your direct participation is largely unnecessary, in contrast to the previous fight, which had so much density that a largely pacifistic approach is untenable. I was surprised to see that the maulotaurs here expired fairly early on -- evidently they aren't all that super-tanky as they might seem, despite their typecasting as cyberdemon stand-ins.

 

The highlight here is definitely the largest/penultimate fight, which spins tactical complexity out of a simple, flat, minimally-featured playspace (though its angling and shape are NOT accidental, don't make that mistaken conclusion!) by laser-focusing on the dynamics of different monsters' attack behaviors/projectile patterns. Weaponizing your enemies is crucial in this fight, but to do it effectively, you have to really have a plan and guide them to the desired sequence of events from the start (which you pull off using your own greatest assets, your footspeed and your wits) -- you can't just flounder around and let the situation develop unguided. Well, I mean, you can....but you probably won't make it out the other side. You could say this is a very 'meta' sort of fight in that regard, I guess; I generally prefer fights on this scale framed in more complex geometry, versus this more minimalist approach where 'the room' is largely defined as 'where the enemies are standing at a given moment', but this kind of thing has a certain charm of its own, and makes good practice for sharpening/more closely examining the 'metagame' aspect of your combat repertoire. The rest of the fights are all functional enough, though I reckon the map could probably cut any one of them and not seem 'lesser' in impact as a result; particularly where the 'stretching/breathing exercises' intro fights are concerned, though they do have the distinction of emphasizing adversarial terrain much more than any of the later fights, I suppose, which are all almost solely monster-driven.

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Map 14

 

A bit of an odd one out, given this set's overall tone so far. But it's a fun, spammy map.

 

First fight can either be tapped through, or played in wide sweeping strokes. What I did was to start sweeping from left to right, firing rockets at every third or second PE, which makes quick work of the pack at large. I think it should be noted here that this is the first fight where the PE's "revenge explosion" actually counts for something. From a monster design POV this "aftermath" doesn't work so well for the PEs in most cases, as being close to them isn't very desirable. In this scenario it works in favour of the player, and makes for some funny chain reactions. More often than not, I would get past this fight without taking any damage whatsoever, making the follow up medkits on the platforms less interesting. My best guess is that they're there for the purpose of RNG-mitigation.

 

The small platforming section here is more bark than bite. Granted, the platforms are weird in their shapes, but at the same time these shapes also make it pretty obvious how to move from one platform to the next.

 

The second fight is an easy one, if one pre-pumps some rockets, and even if not, it's still very manageable once one is used to the weird shape of the plateau, and really, that's mostly what this fight is about: Coming to grips with a weirdly shaped real-estate. If the idea is to clear this one as fast as possible, the fight even affords one the luxury of maybe tanking a few hits in favour of faster clear, though a couple "high rolls" in succession can be lethal.

 

The next platforming section feels a bit more tricky than the first, since now it appears as though the player needs to move in a way that doesn't necessarily correspond with the shapes of the platforms so well, which I find a lot more interesting than the first few bits in the map. Having said that, it comes across a bit like a small difficulty ramp. So it has that going for it.

 

The minotaur triplet was the only fight in this map to ever annoy me. My first instinct was to clear the centerline, which usually worked without a whole lot of projectile dogding on behalf of the minotaur there, but damn is it ever frustrating if your shots get juked. The RNG range of the Necronomicon make this feel weird, if not ungratifying, given the chance of jukes. Speaking of which, the necronomicon sprite occupies quite a bit of screen space here when fired, which led to me getting "blind-sided" by the minotaur on the right or left occasionally, so whoever made this sprite would do well to think about how intrusive things can get at times of prolonged use. Due to the intrinsic RNG of this trio fight, I also found it to be the most dangerous one in the entire map.

 

Back to spammy goodness, the next fight is reasonably easy to figure out. Spamming rockets at one of the spawn early on takes the edge off quite a bit, and when the hordes are thinned out a little while real estate is threatened, a quick "cut" with the flamethrower can comfortably save the day. Once the remainders are all nicely packed up, it's a good time to clean the rest up with a few blasts from the necronomicon, and a few more rockets on stragglers.

 

Not sure which purpose the viles on the platforms serve here, if I were to guess, maybe "cheese prevention" of some sort... Not that it has a high chance to work that way, if the viles are getting doused in gasoline.

 

Next fight is a big one, but also pretty easy once you figured out that pressing the switch early grants access to megaspheres, lots of rockets, and medkits. From there on out it's all about crowd control, and not getting caught between the lines. A few "safety shots"aside, this fight, if managed properly by way of player movement, more or less solves itself. I have to concur that the amount of cthulus here is a mite heavy-handed. Viles aside, they were usually the last ones standing, sometimes in packs of 2 or 3 dozens, and in spite of the necronomicon's power, cleaning them up feels a bit "meh".

 

Final fight: If you made it this far, then there's almost no way that this one turns out lethal for you. Circling the pit while taking out the perched mummies eliminates the last bit of RNG that this fight could throw at you, and whatever isn't taken down by infighting can be done away with quickly enough with rockets, or depressing literature.

 

Overall, an entertaining map, with a few rough edges perhaps.

 

Visually this one is leaning towards "weird" with broad strokes for the most part. I wouldn't necessarily call it ugly, because it isn't IMO, but in particular the penultimate fight could have used some more eye-candy, since players will inevitably spend a great deal of time there.

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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MAP12 - “Necropolis Under Papa John’s” by RottKing

 

FDA demo on bottom. Watch if you enjoy watching me scramble around the opening fight way longer than I needed to just for extra ammo (and falling into what are practically softlocks because the central slow's grampa slow).

 

Welcome to the masochism tango! Starting off with satyrs is a great way to rankle me, given their odd pathing and stupid fast reaction times. But that's why the starspawn exists, as I eventually realized. Splitting the bruisers and old one between spicy meatballs works quite well, saving ammo for when the tougher stuff comes later on. Boneheads arrive as soon as you lift the shutters, a great flamethrower exercise that whirls you around a panorama view of the map, establishing the stakes. Your position's coveted by projectiles and hitscan fire, so I appreciate the need to get a running start, lop off some of the weaker mobs, and then hop down onto health and armor.

 

From that point onward, the map balances puzzle-y action with a decent amount of exploration, doing a decent job at both. The chainsaw encounter's nasty until you realize there's way to conserve fuel before leaving the revenant platform. Swampcubus can hurt you most as a result of overplaying your revenant strafing, activating him early which sends him down the corridor to harass while you're still killing imps, dogs, and shooters. There's a lot of synergy happening between the layout, enemy placement, and player expectations through which new layers can unravel over an hour or so of play. Another example" the shooter closet taking a smoke break inside the maulotaur pit, just to piss you off! Meanwhile the plasma turret's used to good effect, though it made me pine for an RL later in the map once all but that revolving pest had biffed it.

I found a different solution to the first fight with Mayhem 2019's cybie equivalent: run for it! The satyr in the back's easy BBQ, but the slow lift's still far away enough to make for a tricky sprint. There's definitely enough ammo to wipe out the 'taur if you leave the boners alive, so I'm rather pleased that the alternate route works. (Of course, this meant I never stuck around to learn how the switch works; maybe having a nearby visible sector ornament lift down upon using the switch would make this clear ahead of the fight.) RK approach seemed lacking in threat, nary a turret or confining trap to ruin my escape, and the mummies go down easy from before the steps. At this point, the map starts to wind down from its touchy start and mid-point, utilizing space more for comfort and quick movement than tight roadblocks. I'm fine with this approach so long as the map ends conclusively, but that unfortunately isn't the case.

 

Still, the map plays well, has a rocking MIDI I didn't tire of, and brings a sense of humor to the more straightforward maps in this WAD. I appreciate having a challenging but relatively fair map (where I can easily blame myself for each death) after MAP11's business. The visuals are excellent, never overloaded with detail while featuring some of the better, more readable textures in the set. This feeling of exploring a repurposed old edifice, neither a ruin nor a modern installation, helps break the WAD away from more distinctly flat or gothic environs. Exploration has its rewards, such as the east fork accessible at the start with both extra resources and extra pain from the vampire. I hope the final version adds some secrets, though, which are outright missing and would have helped.

 

MAP13 - “Storming the Estate” by WhirledTsar

 

FDA demo on bottom. I had relatively little trouble beating this, which sucks because I didn't realize offing the heresiarch meant exiting earlier than I planned. Like the others, this "funny" MIDI became a nuisance quick, so down went the music volume.

 

In short, what's a classic-style map doing in my new-school Mayhem set?! The idea sounds great, with memories of The Citadel/The Courtyard and other large-home PWAD maps coming to mind. What I played is quite decent, but in need of some help regardless. Lift in the first BK room, for instance, really blended in at first, rather hard to notice in the midst of turrets and dancers ambushing you, driving you forward into the meat locker. Meanwhile, the RL courtyard hits a good balance up top before becoming an annoyance below, with a lack of monster-blocking lines to prevent the satyr from two-shotting you unexpectedly. Visual goofs aside, I wish the secrets added up to more, though it was fun finding them all serendipitous. Definitely make the RK drop a bit less punishing and slow down on doling out ammo in the YK map segment. Winning against Mr. Robes at the end took hardly any thought thanks to my glut of firepower and health.

mayhem2019v1-3MAP13--PasokonDeacon-FDA.zip

mayhem2019v1-3MAP12--PasokonDeaconFDA.zip

 

MAP14 will take a bit more time, but I've almost figured it out.

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MAP13: Storming the Estate

98% kills, 2/4 secrets

 

Tried playing this with the music track for a bit, but... no. Ended up IDMUSing to 08. Definitely something that needs changing before final release.

 

So this one is a slower-paced exploratory map, clearing out the first main area then starting to go off the side passages on a key hunt. While things are generally fairly linear, the areas do wrap around in spots so you can approach from different angles - I ended up getting the blue key, clearing out all the stuff to the southeast until reaching the red key, where I realized I would have to eat at least 40 damage jumping into the muck by it. So instead I went back the other way, finally finding the lift that got me up to the yellow key which let me explore the western path and reach the red key the intended way. Combat isn't tough, though health is a bit lacking (as is armor, early on) so you do need to be somewhat careful. The heresiarch was a bit of a surprise as it didn't quite seem like a spot for a boss fight (heck, what looks like the exit door doesn't even open!) and it's not all that challenging of a fight given the plentiful fuel and area to circle-strafe in. Also the exit-on-death was a bit of an unwelcome surprise too.

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I honestly didn’t realise IDMUS was a thing until you and DotW mentioned it, d’oh! Useful to know when the next bad MIDI comes along

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3 hours ago, PasokonDeacon said:

MAP13 - “Storming the Estate” by WhirledTsar

 

FDA demo on bottom. I had relatively little trouble beating this, which sucks because I didn't realize offing the heresiarch meant exiting earlier than I planned. Like the others, this "funny" MIDI became a nuisance quick, so down went the music volume.

 

In short, what's a classic-style map doing in my new-school Mayhem set?! The idea sounds great, with memories of The Citadel/The Courtyard and other large-home PWAD maps coming to mind. What I played is quite decent, but in need of some help regardless. Lift in the first BK room, for instance, really blended in at first, rather hard to notice in the midst of turrets and dancers ambushing you, driving you forward into the meat locker. Meanwhile, the RL courtyard hits a good balance up top before becoming an annoyance below, with a lack of monster-blocking lines to prevent the satyr from two-shotting you unexpectedly. Visual goofs aside, I wish the secrets added up to more, though it was fun finding them all serendipitous. Definitely make the RK drop a bit less punishing and slow down on doling out ammo in the YK map segment. Winning against Mr. Robes at the end took hardly any thought thanks to my glut of firepower and health.

 mayhem2019v1-3MAP13--PasokonDeacon-FDA.zip

mayhem2019v1-3MAP12--PasokonDeaconFDA.zip

 

 MAP14 will take a bit more time, but I've almost figured it out.

Thanks for the demo. I didnt realize the MIDI would be that aggravating, I actually unironically like it. Getting the red key by going through the sludge like that is a sequence break, Ill have to iron that out.

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Map 15

 

Structurally this is staged as a 'gear-up' map. If you know where you are going, you can make it to the exit fight very quickly. But realistically speaking you are going to want to stock up on most of the goodies and weapons to have a comfortable go at it, so it plays more like a regular non-linear map with a set truncation point.  

 

I like the start area and how it is set up. It's a test of 'route this, and use the available resources, efficiently.' I sprung a lot of the traps in and around this area loose, and got it brewed up in an infighting cocktail, which ends up being a fun fight. That tucked-away maulotaur you never truly need to alert really emphasizes the 'sandbox of tactical options' structure this map is going for. 

 

Overall I think many of the core elements and the map structure are both good, and there are some decent ideas, but a few aspects stand out as improvable, in some cases very improvable: 

 

- The red-key fight is very uncomfortable/inconsistent to survive if you stay, so breaking free through one of the softer meatwalls is easily the go-to option. But after you do that, the entire fight plays out as protracted cleanup. Two optimizations seem reasonable: remove the liches so you can survive this if you stay, and/or open up the geometry so that stuff paths more fluidly and you can have a more or less conventional fight in the larger environment. For accomplishing the latter, intuitive choices are raising stairs at the one-way drop, and converting the 64-wide cubbies to 128-wide or larger ones or removing some of the solid wall barriers once the player breaks out. (The player can use the invul here, but requiring that for the fight to not play awkwardly seems against the map's concept and isn't great in a vacuum anyway.) 

 

- The yellow-key fight gives you looots of ghosts and liches, and I don't think that works out very well. It's a very campy fight where they aren't very effective but you can't kill them in a fun way either. There are monsters that work more elegantly released up high: bomb elementals, cacolaterns, and/or arachnorbs all come to mind. Vampires are also good monsters for high perches due to their homing projectiles. Alternatively, fewer ghosts and liches, maybe more stuff below, encouraging you to storm up. I'm just brainstorming here -- don't feel compelled to use any of my ideas. What I'm saying is lots of better options exist.

 

^ These two are by far the most important, imo. 

 

- In the final fight, I found it unnecessarily awkward to grab fuel at times. They don't need to be in those little cubbies, because there isn't much risk of picking them up accidentally. Also, later phases get very meaty. Maybe provide a few more rockets before the exit door opens.

 

- The secrets are kinda weird. Two of them are pushwalls accessed by pressing use on the same texture. The secret exit mechanism is very obscure and out-of-the-way. No harm imo, in making the regular exit go directly to the secret map. But the blue key is unused in this map, so maybe use it somehow. 

 

- It is not entirely obvious the tall poles are directly usable. I did it instinctively but I was still surprised. Maybe place a 32-wide switch at each of their bases. 

 

Aesthetically, the ruins areas do get janky at times (that lava-brick transition around the northern perched AVs; lava lifts?!), but this is nice in the natural areas, particularly outdoors. 

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MAP14 - “Minotaur’s Inferno” by Bdubzzz

 

721 monsters can mean only one thing…slaughter. Which is not really my style of map, but it only consists of a few battles which makes things a bit more palatable. The first battle with the pain elementals shooting mancubus projectiles took me a lot of attempts, and yet when I did it I escaped with a lot of health, mainly due to a strategy of staying in one place for a bit, then moving and staying for a bit, etc. Or it was RNG lol. And then the platforming wasn’t forgiving either, took me a fair few attempts as well.

 

The barons weren’t easy either, mainly because they shoot so many baron projectiles so one mistake is really costly. But navigating that by losing as little health as possible is kind of a requirement for the next section with the minotaurs. I don’t know if I was missing something (probably the ability to dodge the minotaur attacks) but this bit just felt like savescum to me. I got there eventually without really doing anything different to my other tries.

 

The next bit is the first real slaughter arena. Seemed really hard until I realized the best strategy was to let the monsters infight, and just circle the outside of the arena, fueling to death anything that gets in the way. So not bad, I had an unused megasphere left over.

 

And the penultimate section is the slaughter to the max. Or so it seemed at first. Most of the monsters can be skipped by heading straight past the mancubi to the switch, getting the invulnerability sphere, using the Necronomicon to clear the archviles, then pressing the switch that raises in that area to teleport out to the final arena. Which won’t satisfy UV-maxers of course – but it satisfied me.

 

This final battle is actually pretty easy. The mummies are not threatening and the vampire projectiles can be easily dodged. The minotaur is deadly but was focused on infighting. So circling and launching rockets did the trick.

 

I noticed HMP difficulty isn’t really implemented on this map because it has the same number of monsters as UV (assuming they are in the same place here). I think the first few battles could do with some monsters cut here and there to make HMP easier, e.g. a few less pain elementals, 1 or 2 less barons, and 1 less minotaur (or a replacement with another monster type).

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5 minutes ago, Horus said:

I noticed HMP difficulty isn’t really implemented on this map because it has the same number of monsters as UV (assuming they are in the same place here). I think the first few battles could do with some monsters cut here and there to make HMP easier, e.g. a few less pain elementals, 1 or 2 less barons, and 1 less minotaur (or a replacement with another monster type).

 

On HMP the map gives you a lot more spheres. 

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20 hours ago, rdwpa said:

 

Very likely because you finished off these maps with the flamethrower. Upon being fired, it illuminates the player's view -- an effect that is reset upon firing a different weapon. Additionally, whenever it happened earlier, you probably had other stuff to focus on. 

 

19 hours ago, Demon of the Well said:

That's not the map brightening, that's a detail effect of using the flamethrower weapon -- once you draw it and fire it for even an instant (i.e. 'lighting the pilot'), it will make the surroundings brighter until you switch away to another weapon. Makes zero sense from a 'physics' perspective, of course, but still kinda cool.

 

 

Forgot to mention this earlier, but thanks for cluing me in. I did see the light go away, but thought it was because I had retreated back into the level somehow (and didn't realize it's because I switched and fired weapons). Cool idea, but sorta awkward execution.

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Heh an interesting thing about the penultimate fight in my map, I always did it in testing by saving the viles alive  till last.. mostly cause i don't like using that book and didn't realize how powerful it actually is :p but ill reduce the amount of green baron guys by a bit and add some closer block lines to the triple Minotaur encounter  to reduce missing shots

 

As far as HMP yeah its mostly more powerups/armor etc otherwise i lazily left the encounters the same as UV :D and well that invuln does give players the option to skip the fight but I think ill leave it.. as its almost as easy to skip the fight with no invuln anyway :p on HNTR the encounters are actually changed (example triple Minotaur fight is 1 Minotaur and 2 swamp mancs ) so if any1 else tries the map and wants easier encounters then HNTR is the way to go. 

 

Also thanks for the feedback so far! 

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31 minutes ago, Bdubzzz said:

Heh an interesting thing about the penultimate fight in my map, I always did it in testing by saving the viles alive  till last.. mostly cause i don't like using that book and didn't realize how powerful it actually is :p but ill reduce the amount of green baron guys by a bit and add some closer block lines to the triple Minotaur encounter  to reduce missing shots

 

As far as HMP yeah its mostly more powerups/armor etc otherwise i lazily left the encounters the same as UV :D and well that invuln does give players the option to skip the fight but I think ill leave it.. as its almost as easy to skip the fight with no invuln anyway :p on HNTR the encounters are actually changed (example triple Minotaur fight is 1 Minotaur and 2 swamp mancs ) so if any1 else tries the map and wants easier encounters then HNTR is the way to go. 

 

Also thanks for the feedback so far! 


Well I was thankful for the invuln :P I will say that as it’s quick to clear the arch viles, the invuln also sticks around to help on the meatiest part of the final battle too

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12 hours ago, rdwpa said:

- The red-key fight is very uncomfortable/inconsistent to survive if you stay

 

Don't feel like doing a proper writeup, so here's my 2 cents...

 

I had to pop this open in a builder to get a decent grasp of how this fight can be played in the first place. To my dismay, the only consistent methods are either unintuitive, or a pick your poison kind of deal. On top of that, I find both consistent ways to be "methodically shallow".

 

Walking forward slowly, activating one pair of cubbies at a time, and clearing the contents right away can work, but it isn't particularly entertaining. This also requires that players know how the cubbies are opened, which isn't immediately obvious to everybody. In that sense, it can be played like an uphill fight of sorts, albeit not a very enjoyable one, imo. Opening more than one set of cubbies at a time is also possible, so it has a mildly sandboxy nature to it, but of course this comes at the potential expense of consistency.

 

The other consistent method is using the invuln, in which case the "emergent purpose" of this fight is to prevent the invuln from being used in the final fight.

 

Ignoring the issue that going in blind can quite likely result in suffering a severe case of "gotcha!", until you trial and error it out, or pop it open in the builder, my biggest gripe is that the potentially most entertaining method is also the most inconsistent one, as dashing for the key essentially boils down to rolling a very unfavourable set of dice.

 

However I frame it, I'm not a fan of this fight, much like I also didn't enjoy the YK-scanfest, due to how limited it is in the approaches it offers players (and what's on the menu isn't very interesting, for that matter).

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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Map 31 

 

Despite being a secret map, this one is *very* conventional. Gotta be blunt: the aesthetics are bland. It has a lot of monotexturing outdoors, and the map geometry is very regular and blocky. In concept it's a castle, sure, but outside of the secret mega area, it doesn't explore the concept all that expressively. 

 

But on the bright side, it plays inoffensively. The abundance of hitscans and doorways early is compensated by the generous blue armor, so I didn't really feel like I ever had to camp thresholds against them... or against anything. Most of the rest is quick enough SSG/CG/RL fiesta against a relatively low body count, predominantly low-HP monsters such as skellies. Actually not a fiesta, but rather a BONEanza. :cane: 

 

So this is not awful (like that joke), just...  noticeably undercooked. 

 

- The radsuit secret is inoperable due to being 0-tagged -- a common ZDoomism.

 

Map 32

 

This map is probably the best-looking map I've played by the author. There definitely are a lot of neat design choices. The outdoor area is a fun idea and can play nicely for stretches, if you take the initiative. 

 

At present, however, it is held back by lots of issues: 

 

- Linedef 2149, action 19. That is way too close of a trigger to the monsters that pop up. Running forward at a normal pace will have you diving right into them due to momentum, potentially getting 'ensconced' in the group and dying to the chainsawers if you run at one of the sides. This is really bad. 

 

- That isn't the first time the map does this. You also get bomb elementals right in your face in the northeast caves. Thankfully those don't have a melee attack. Still rubs me the wrong way. 

 

- The early phases of the gameplay slow down after a few dozen monsters are dead and you have dealt with some of the chainsaw dudes. There is a point where I can just run around with impunity, but can't make good progress towards new weapons without grinding everything down: the SSG is guarded behind lots of meat; and the RL is in that tower and you have to kill stuff to be able to jump back down. I found myself wanting 2-3 extra bullet boxes, to make all that stuff go more smoothly. This is also a good idea because is theoretically possible to do the main portions of the map without the SSG, which can get very grindy. There are plenty of potential spots to put those bullet boxes that still require the player to poke around / fight some of the stuff. 

 

- I'll revisit the point that I'm skeptical of how guarded the SSG is. I don't mean the trap that springs with it, but all the stuff leading up to it that area is overly meaty; much of it looks like it's just intended to get in your way, particularly the monsters behind and in the 'tree' you jump from. 

 

- Also about the RL: the secret cache of rockets is kind of obscure. It's visible enough when you look at it, but the textures are similar enough to not be eye-catching and it's not a spot you might be inclined to ever stop and look.

 

- The soulsphere secret is a softlock if you don't grab the RL beforehand.

 

- The YK trap. It's unpleasant being pelted by nearby hitscanners that warp in at erratic times due to how the teleports are set up. The concept is fine but imo rethink exactly how those dudes are deployed. Maybe use lowering-floor timers to get them to show up in periodic intervals, or perhaps go for another front of projectile monsters instead. 

 

- In the BK area, there are spectral imps around the boxes that you can run into by accident and get insta-scratched. The setpiece in this area is too meaty for its own sake, imo, to the point where it feels crass. Too many hounds all appearing at once. Maybe stagger at least a few of them until the player has a chance to kill some. 

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MAP15 - “Their Daily Bread” by Benjogami 

 

This one starts heavy right from the off, with a minotaur in the opening area plus a few pain elementals for company. After that the map forks off into two different area, each housing a key. The battles are pretty different in both. The YK battle has plenty of room to move around and dodge enemy attacks, and as long as you’re sensible shouldn’t pose too much problem. The RK battle is a far more cramped affair and seems to have an element of luck involved in hoping the minotaur and the vampires infight. In both areas are some very odd choice of texturing…I don’t think lava flow works well on walls. Both battles are really just meant to be prep for the final battle.

 

I get the feeling that this was originally meant to be a bigger map that was then scaled down, maybe due to time constraints. Mainly because I notice on the automap that the pillar containing fuel is blue, but does not require the BK to lower.

 

All 3 items on the pillars are very helpful for the final battle, which I think is the biggest highlight of the map. The invuln helps you clear the hounds with ease and most of the skellies/satyrs, but turns off by the time you get to the real challenge where the pain elementals, vampires, cacodemons and barons come in. There’s enough health (and ammo) to deal with the horde but only if you avoid getting yourself boxed in.

 

The secret exit is really obscure. I had to load GZDoom Builder to work out how to activate it.

 

MAP31 - “Dr Tongue’s Castle of Terror” by Impie

 

Not much to say about this map, it goes by pretty quickly, and is very easy in difficulty. Like @rdwpa said, there’s nothing really about this map that says secret level, it could quite easily fit in amongst the first 4 levels of the set (whilst the map in the number 3 slot is very unconventional). The megasphere must be a nod to continuous players because it has no use for the pistol starters.

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Map 16

 

So here's Dobu's map.

 

Right off the bat this map makes it a point to deprive you of resources and grind you down slowly, rather than outright attempting to kill players by way of difficult and choreographed fights. There are some slightly dick-ish moves here like the vile that is supposed to push players into the large building where they may or may not get mauled by Sartyrs.

 

It's at this point that it becomes glaringly obvious how the map is going to behave for the most part. Larger pickups for health, armour and firepower are few and far between, so keeping your eyes wide for smaller scraps and doing a fair bit of legwork to prevent running out entirely are par for this course. To my personal dismay, there is always a somewhat reasonable chance to run out of something mid-fight, or right at the end of an encounter, it can force weapon swaps every so often, which will either remind you that you're supposed to survive on a minimum wage here, or diminish the capacity in which you can react to the next fight. Running out during a fight rarely ends up being a big deal, however, as most of the time the situation is under control by the time that happens, so it's mostly an inconvenience for marginal gain in that very moment, and maybe impacts the next encounter in some way. As a result of this resource starvation I was juggling in particular RL and SSG  based on ammo provided, in an attempt to stay flexible. I guess in that sense the item placement does what it is supposed to be doing, although I really wish there was a bit less legwork involved here and there. Also getting a rocket or two juked by the monsters really is annoying.

 

Combat wise, this map is largely built around obstacles to limit player movement in some way shape or form, while smaller numbers of monsters are let loose on you. Leaning towards small scale fights and ambushes combined with somewhat limited resources, this map is relatively punchy in places, so saving after every other fight on a first playthrough may not be the worst of ideas.

 

I don't mind the small scale fights, it's the "clerical work" of having to double check my environment for ammunition time and time again that did eventually get on my nerves a bit. Not quite my cup of tea, would be the best way to frame it.

 

Visually, it's a Dobu map, so it's no surprise that it looks great. :P

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Map 16

 

This is cool stuff aesthetically: not just the visuals but also the concepts and ideas behind design. My commentary will resemble a 'misc thoughts' compilation more than anything, because due to other demands, and there being puzzles involved... I haven't finished the map. I'll get back to this later, don't worry.

 

- That randosphere is a curious one. The switching is reliably periodic, so if you want to get a certain sphere consitently, you can learn a setup. I haven't played the map thoroughly enough to know what I'd want ideally, but for the megasphere, which seems reasonable, one can stand adjacent to the columnar wood divider a short distance away, and then run directly forward immediately when the partial invisibility flashes on. That grants the megasphere with good timing and the invulnerability with poor timing, the invul probably being the second-best pickup there, so all in all, I'm happy with that setup.  

 

- Not the biggest fan of those super slow staggered lifts early on. I guess it is part of the map's atmosphere, and one can kill the last stragglers while riding up, but as a first impression / playing through the map without such optimizations, those are kind of slow!

 

- Did like the 'platforming' at the start, especially with the four imps keeping you awake.

 

- Favorite fight is that Cthulhu/cacolatern one in close-quarters, which is a pretty simple/easy fight but just works for me I suppose. 

 

- That first vile is a very binary 'super tricky spot if it catches you by surprise' / 'know it's coming? fire four rockets before it can even escape'. 

 

Map 17

 

Here is the map I worked on. 


Our parts are kind of intertwined. I realized, after this thread was started, that the easiest assumption to make is that one person did the rock-and-buildings portion you start on, and another did the abstract void area. But nah. 


Our contributions were evenly balanced. My parts, not including the rocky connective regions, were: the YK area, the three-key exit building, and the final void area. NIH did the other buildings, before me, in the process doing the important work of inventing much of the aesthetic scheme of the map. Even the elements of mine most remote from hers were loosely based on them. The geometric motif she used in the carpet/ceiling in one of her parts is one I ended up adapting for a couple of my own, and it also directly inspired the theme 'carpet-void' in my final area. There is a lot of interplay of that sort at work.

 

At the end I unified everything with the curvy-rock + houses + ruins + detritus stuff to fit the initial conception of the theme, and NIH added some fun props. The rocky bits are red-brown to contrast with the black-gold of the structures. 

 

Also, generally speaking, I love working with NIH. 

 

Thoughts on my fights:


 

Spoiler

 

In terms of the action, I like how the YK fight turned out -- I like the concept, and moreover, I find it exciting to play. I do have some 'aesthetics of gameplay' concerns related to the exact timing of the later waves, and arguably that the last part is on the main timer. I already have a much better idea for the way the very last bit is handled, which will help the 'concepts' of the fight gel even better (and actually justify that soulsphere). :P

 

I'm satisfied with the final area. Hopefully everyone 'gets' the core mechanic without too much trouble. The point of the little intro fight is to get you to use it before the core action starts. If that turns out to be opaque, don't worry -- I already have ideas. 

 

The archvile wave is basically: use predominantly rockets to gun down the viles, using the little fuel you get to handle dicier spots or get quick kills. A savvy player will use the square nature of hitboxes to their advantage and seek to always align themselves diagonally with respect to the map. (Which means orthogonally with respect to the area, which is built at a 45-degree angle.) [As per the Pythagorean theorem, that gives you a 56-wide target rather than a 40-wide one.] As the fight is currently balanced, and with those stimpacks around, you can do this with none of the stilted megaspheres if you do it exceptionally well. One is more likely. Do it poorly and you have to use two or even more, which puts you in worse shape for the main fight. This is more the appetizer of this section.

 

The main course comes in two plates, and my main focus was to have it play smoothly when placed in a single plate. (I'm taking this bad metaphor all the way, baby!) That is, if you devise a plan, you can hit both switches and turn it into a single hectic fight spicy feast, saving time at the expense of more danger. That is the way I most care about it playing being eaten. 

 

(Err, sorry, I haven't had lunch yet. :P)

 

With the bookshelves, you can choose whichever combination of 'buffs' you want. I set it up so that you can only choose one option: the switches that sink into the floor are still 'usable', because that is how the engine works, but they don't do anything. Some options are better suited to different strategies. I'm happy with that idea. (The pumpkin idea is more lure the pumpkin cacos out to a given spot early, than actually kill them.)

 

I have made a few changes to this area since V1.3:

 

- A few spheres now only appear if you trigger both fights at more or less the same time. That change might seem controversial -- that isn't conveyed -- but I believe that both parts are SUPER lenient done one by one and you don't actually need all those spheres, if you decide to approach it that way. It also strengthens the element of choice: 'I'd rather play slowly, but with less health to fall back on, and it is tense/balanced that way' or 'I'll play quickly, but with more resources to survive the mayhem, and it is tense/balanced that way too.' If people really like the generosity I can be talked into keeping some of it, but imo it looks slightly bad and deflates some of the enjoyment at present.

 

- The protective center ramps up to 20% damage immediately, instead of with the very last part. I don't think there is any reason to lean on hiding there during either of the two parts after the archies. 

Edited by rdwpa

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Heads up about a bug in my map that I forgot to address: the final lift in the minotaur room breaks if you try to ride it a second time, so make sure you do it your first time or be prepared to die in the molten sand. You can also

Spoiler

skip the final fight, but please don't do that :(

 

9 minutes ago, rdwpa said:

- Not the biggest fan of those super slow staggered lifts early on. I guess it is part of the map's atmosphere, and one can kill the last stragglers while riding up, but as a first impression / playing through the map without such optimizations, those are kind of slow!

I purposely made them slow because they're meant to mirror the lift in the minotaur pit at the end of the map, which I wanted the player to understand how it works as soon as they saw it. It's definitely obnoxious, but I didn't want to make it "quick" just because the player might think a viable strat is to try and skip the minotaur fight in a few seconds.

 

4 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

I don't mind the small scale fights, it's the "clerical work" of having to double check my environment for ammunition time and time again that did eventually get on my nerves a bit.

Aha finally I piss you off for once!

 

I still plan on continuing my MAYhem playthrough, just trying to finish up some prose first.

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