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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: MAYhem 2019 & Alienated

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MAP32 - “Private Property” by joe-ilya

 

This felt more like a secret map, with the two properties surrounded by many low tier enemies, and a whole bunch of those pesky chainsaw dudes. The yellow key property is more of a storage area, and grabbing the YK triggers a series of enemies which can barely damage the player at all thanks to the barrier between you and them. The blue key property is the residence, and packs a bit more of a punch, with mummies, hounds and more chainsaw dudes ready to pounce. This also seems to be the first map featuring the spectre hound. A fun map, and visually interesting, with the properties pretty well decorated.

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MAP16 - “Madman’s Vault” by dobu gabu maru

 

I was looking forward to playing this map. Before I go into the map I want to say thanks to @dobu gabu maru for setting up this club. If it was SIGIL that got me back into Doom, it was the DWMC that got me back to Doomworld. And now for the map - right from the off we see exactly how the lava flow should be used – in a vast expanse. But it’s only until the first lift fully raises you get to appreciate the beauty of this map – it is stunning. Getting to the main vault requires a bunch of platforming that is slightly complicating by imps sniping at you, but is easy enough once you get the hang of it. The detour to the building on the left is welcome to stock up on weapons.

 

Then for the main event, the actual vault itself. I started by going round the outskirts, starting with the library area, which is a pretty neat set of mini-traps. That gives away to one of the hardest bits, navigating first through an ever rising/falling set of bookcases whilst surviving the arch vile and mummies, and then the outdoor area, which is made tricky by the vampires and plasma brains set back far enough to snipe at you. After that the soulsphere and green armor is pretty welcome.

 

Much of the rest of the map is a series of mini-traps, with nothing too lethal. I found one of the secrets on top of the crusher room where a mummy was perched and I pressed a switch – but I must confess I have no idea what that switch did. It also looked like I could have skipped straight to the final battle by starting in one of those arch vile rooms - but again not sure if there is any kind of penalty attached to that.

 

Then the journey to the central part of the vault – and one of the meanest traps with an archvile and two plasma brains in front of you and a hound behind you. The finale is a battle with the minotaur and a supporting cast of other monsters – the fact that you only had a small lava-free area to navigate makes this battle more difficult – but with the soulsphere handy it’s not too difficult. Luckily I did not realise this battle was skippable until I finished it. And I also rode the lift first time, whereas I’m often clumsy and drop off :P

 

Excellent map! The highlight of the wad so far, with only two levels left (I’m guessing the next one is going to be pretty difficult)

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Map 17

Right, since now I'm past the height of the flu that I caught, without any of the headaches and the fever for the most part, I might as well try and give some commentary on how my parts of the map came together.

 

Basically, when I started mapping, the building that players will enter first was also the first thing I put together. The geometry was largely in place long before I had even figured out how to texture the bloody thing. To begin with, I started experimenting with most of the brown textures that looked like stitched wounds and whatnot, but the scale of the building itself, as well as the shape of it, didn't really lend itself well to some of those textures, in particular because some of the brown ones also came across rather "dull". By the time I plopped down the geometry I already knew what kind of fight I wanted to have there, so what I ended up getting stuck with was the texturing.

 

To avoid a mild case of mapper's block while going through the frustration of trying to somehow make things come together, I simply started building the next best thing in the map, but went with different textures, and that part was the crusher section, followed by the RK fight with the perched occultists, viles, and all that good stuff.

 

The reason this crusher section exists at all is because of the textures with the teeth on them. I thought that it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn't build something around crushers, because I found the idea of chewing DoomGuys to death hilarious. That being said, it isn't a very hard section, and the crushers aren't necessarily lethal (but can be, if you get stuck beneath 2 at once or are low on health), but they're in a spot where I'd think that most people would be concerned enough about the health loss that it ends up being exciting to run through this small section, and then ending up in the cathedral where the action would continue pretty much without missing a beat. I just wanted some movement skill check in the map that would result in penalties if failed, and this section ended up being just that. What I also liked about the setup is that it would serve as a lock-in as well, at least temporarily, which I found more interesting than just raising bars or whatever. At the time I made this section I wasn't 100% sure how I would let people get out of the cathedral once the RK fight was completed, but making people run through the crushers again was an option I had on my desk relatively early, I simply wasn't sure how I would go about it in the end. I mean, the lazy way would have been to simply run a reversed voodoo doll setup while locking the other one. Would have been easy enough to build, but I found it lame, because it would have been the exact same thing twice more or less, so I went with the cubbies players could use to "swim against the tide" in the end, which I found more interesting, in spite of "the stop and go" aspect of it, or maybe that aspect was what made it fun in the end, not sure, but either way I'm happy with how this turned out. A lot of thought went into how DoomGuys would get chewed like bubblegum it seems...

 

Anyway, back to building things... It was when I started building the cathedral that this black/red/beige/gold-ish theme came together, which I found both satisfying to look at, and flexible enough to work under practically all circumstances. It was also in that large cathedral that the theme with these composite-flat carpets emerged. I needed something that wouldn't be intrusive to movement, but I also felt like I had to get rid of these huge black flats somehow, because those would look horribly bland against the backdrop of some of the sector detailing. Much like it was when putting down the first building, I also already had a pretty definite idea how this area would play in the end.

 

For encounter design, I wanted a simple warm-up fight, something about (mild) spatial awareness. So I went with a 2 vile setup, a bunch of skellies and mummies, and a big bully. I think in the end this fight probably ended up being a bit too easy for more experienced players, but I believe most people will find it exciting enough as is. I liked the idea of making line of sight with the viles more or less the primary problem that people would worry about when playing this for the first time, as it allowed me to also deliver some rocket spammy action that I think is always satisfying to do. I am aware that the maximum range of viles can come into play here, but I didn't feel like addressing that to any extent, nothing wrong with rewarding players for being knowledgable, imo.

 

The cathedral fight I wanted to be noticeably more difficult, for that matter. It's at this point that cycling your line of sight with the occultists becomes a primary concern, in particular during the skelly-wave when your real estate is under more immediate threat, due to the skellies' movespeed. The imps I put in because I basically wanted something slower but with a much harder (melee) attack than what the skellies can muster, and the PEs at the end which I spawn from 2 separate locations to give them several angles on the player ended up working quite well, and much better than the alternative that would have been the cacolanterns or the floating brains. I didn't crush the occultists in the first iterations of this fight, but eventually I felt like taking them out was too much time spent for no actual gain, so I chewed them up as well, limiting the cleanup to the vamps and the viles, which doesn't take long with the RL anyway.

 

As for things I would perhaps improve, sure, I can always just add more detailing (duh), but I think overall it's neat enough to not look bland, and that's what really matters to me personally. As for fights, I could probably tweak those for days and weeks and what have you, but in the end I feel like the way everything plays is palatable, if you're into that sort of gameplay...

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Map 15 -- Their Daily Bread - 102% Kills / 100% Secrets

This one's just a little bit ridiculous. I love it!

 

While it doesn't have a hot start per se, the meat & potatoes of Daily Bread is using carrot-on-a-stick item placement together with a big bovine bully to propel you ever forwards into an ever-mounting, ever-escalating series of monstrous incursions, eventually culminating in a map-wide clusterfuck (and also likely your brutal death, until you figure out what's what). On a first play, the likely sequence of events is that you get quickly chased out of the first area, and then, desperate for something to help you beat back your pursuers, you  A) find yourself hemmed in because you foolishly tried to be brave and stand your ground somewhere, B) keep running until the map loops back on itself and you suddenly find yourself face to face with all of the horrific shit that set you running in the first place, or C) you find yourself in the ominous/surreal exit area, where nothing can chase you, but where you stand basically zero chance of surviving the exit fight without the gear/artifacts which are the true progression linchpins of the rest of the map (my first attempt ended in C), for the record). Doomguy as 'the Final Girl', indeed.

 

Learning the terrain and which pickups cause what developments in the monster population is key to success, natch. While small, the level layout is essentially a slipknot loop. No, really! -- look at the automap, try to mentally phase out the hill geometry of the starting area, and voila, noose (key paths) + hangman's knot (artifacts altar) + gallowsbraid (exit area). So, it's a circuit traversable in both directions, with the exit as a dead-end detour; each of the two key areas has an all-important weapon (rocket launcher in the YK's cave, flamethrower in the RK's fiery demesne) which you basically need to survive that area, and which you can also use to clear out earlier parts of the map or to make an attempt at the exit. The start area itself also has a certain degree of flex to it, in that you don't actually have to rouse the first minotaur to enter the fray at all, though by taking this tack you miss out on the trio of soulspheres he's guarding, which poses a loooong, dangerous stretch with no healing available at all. Thus, there are many different possible combinations of waypoints, itineraries, and an unusual degree of optionality in small map.....in theory.

 

The reality is, for all practical intents and purposes, you basically need to perform a complete clear of the map in order to become strong enough to win the final fight (on skill 4, I should emphasize -- perhaps the optionality is more effective on lower difficulty settings?). On point, I'd say the red key is a lot more important than the yellow; for the sake of fun/science I've learned to do the fight well enough without the V-sphere, but speaking for myself at least, I don't think I want to imagine attempting to clear it without a fueled flamethrower, given that there are no rockets whatsoever supplied for the fight per se -- if someone has a good strategy for doing it without any keys at all, my hat's off to you, and I'd love to see a .lmp/video! Incidentally, you can get the megasphere with either key, and for what it's worth I found the three braces of skull symbols above the altar used to show which key you need for which post intuitive enough. The thing is, though, given how the map loops its areas together, and how bruising the key fights themselves can be, if you're going to get the red key you might as well get the yellow (or vice versa); taking one but actively abstaining from the other strikes me not so much as a real/practical strategy, but rather something one might attempt as some sort of self-imposed challenge, ala abstaining from the V-sphere.

 

All of this could fairly be taken to mean that there's a certain hamhandedness or inelegance in the map's overall balance. Make no mistake, there's definitely more than one way to clear the map -- the easiest/most reliable certainly being to learn everything and then creep through it at a snail's pace, cheesing the RK fight, micromanaging infighting with the minotaur to clear the start area, which in turn allows you to flee/safely camp the YK fight, etc. -- but a lot of the options which seem to be on the table  are functionally no-hope red herrings, due to the realities of thing placement and the really severe attrition which a loop through the map tends to betoken (particularly at the RK fight), which in turn tends to strongly incentivize gathering/using resources from all areas, rather than leaving some behind as a tactical sacrifice. In this sense, then, the way progression and the basic logic of the map is framed is somewhat disingenuous, accidentally or otherwise. Yet, after playing it a few times, I came to feel that the over-the-top way it's balanced is crucial to the adrenaline-addled flight/fight + crash/burn playstyle which I found so appealing in this case, and other than the possible addition of more rockets for the final fight I don't think I'd want it toned down to be more 'sincere' in its optionality.

 

For what it's worth, I liked the RK fight the most, and in its way it is the most flexible of the map's fights -- you can trigger it a little at a time, you can trigger everything and then quickly carve a path out and flee into the altar area/the back entrance to the YK cave, or you can stick it out and 'climb' from cubby to cubby, using them as cover from the liches' withering hexes (which, interestingly, targets only *you*, in the way that a vile's spell spawns on its target), incinerating everything in swathes like mowing a field. The ending fight, by contrast, is mostly about momentum and not spending too much fuel too soon, rattling wildly from bible-slab to bible-slab, like fighting inside an agitator sieve or such.

 

The secret exit is a little unusual, in that you have to backtrack for it after finishing everything, though its location (and by extension the route of ultimate ingress to it) is visually telegraphed early on, and it's very simple to reach once you've put 2 and 2 together. The trick is realizing that you're able to leave the exit area once you're there; all it takes is a simple usepress, though in fairness the lift hardly looks like a lift in the conventional sense (not that some unconventional visual language like this should be surprising to those who've played some of Benjogami's other maps, I suppose).

 

Map 31 -- Dr. Tongue's Castle of Terror - 100% Kills / 66% Secrets

Like much of Impie's work for Doom, this is a direct reference to another game, that being the top-down shooter "Zombies Ate My Neighbors" (which is pretty good, if you're into that particular vintage). The map is named for and uses the music track from one of the game's posterchild levels, and very loosely follows some of the same structural beats (though it's greatly simplified/de-mazed here), most notably the laboratory at the heart of the castle.

 

These Jeopardy/Trivial Pursuit/etc.-grade factoids are the only remotely interesting things about the map. As a Doom map, this is *extremely* bland; its impression is of a cleaned/polished presentation of what could very easily be a competent beginner's very first completed map, and given the author's experience is presumably just a scrap/fragment tossed in here as a bonus, not to be taken as an earnest offering. Walk through a few flat squarish rooms (and one somewhat foetid courtyard with an extremely simplistic switch "puzzle") and dutifully shoot a light smattering of enemies loafing about in them, who will likely be grateful you rescued them from their boredom. The end.

 

Error: There is a radsuit in one of the sarcophagi in the main hall to allow you to avoid taking damage from the poisonous ground in the courtyard (not that it matters on point, as the map's thing balance renders any and all damage you take entirely irrelevant), but it cannot be accessed in non-ZDoom ports due to a tagging error/omission.

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MAP17 - “Naraka” by rdwpa, Nine Inch Heels

 

Well this was a fitting final map, and the most ambitious map of the lot. I was expecting it to be very difficult, and it was even on HMP. Despite the slaughtery nature of the map, I actually really enjoyed this one, probably due to its creativity.

 

It starts serene enough (save its infernal setting) with a couple of random skellies. But its not long (or long if like me you take a while to find the trigger that opens the first door) until you get into your first battle. A minotaur, with a large helping of mummies and skellies with two arch viles for good measure. I eventually figured out the best strategy was to kill the arch viles then use that area to snipe at the remaining enemies. Once I did that it was pretty simple.

 

After pressing the BK switch, I found a winding thin staircase to go up. I ascended it expecting to find something. But nothing was there other than highly clashing sky textures (see my screenshot).

 

Then the next battle, the YK area, is a step up, with a minotaur to deal with in pretty cramped conditions, and a ton of other monsters for good measure. But the generous helping of spheres made this doable without too much hard work.

 

The crusher test to get to the RK area was pretty cool, and clearly showed me that my dexterity in this game isn’t up to scratch – it took me quite a number of attempts to finally get through without being crushed. The ‘reward’ is the hardest battle yet. My strategy was to clear out most of the zombiemen with the RL first, then clear as many of the skellies with the RL as I could before they got too close, before circling around that first area until the remaining monsters were dead. Then it was easy enough to snipe the vampires and arch viles (which are well-placed to stop the player trying to be too gung-ho).

 

Then to my surprise, there was a crusher journey back, but it was very different to the last one, needing to be completed in stages rather than all at once. As before I struggled, especially with the penultimate bit with its multiple changes in direction.

 

But none of this really compares to the final arena, which is a triumph of mapping, and I thought very innovative. The end result is that my patience was much higher than when I normally find an obstacle that kills me again and again. For the first arch vile battle, timing is key, ducking in and out of the central fire pit to kill the arch viles as quickly as possible but not get blasted by them.

 

Then there are two battles left which can be done in any idea. I opted for the chainsaw massacre first. Not going to lie it was pretty cool having a chainsaw dude slaughter section. I tried to kill as many with the RL as I could before circling with the flamethrower and slowly taking care of the rest. The vampires that spawn on the corners are pretty lethal, and if the chainsaw dudes didn’t finish me off they often did.

 

After that battle I worked out how to activate the crushers (maybe it would have been useful for the previous battles!) and then triggered the final battle, which was also the hardest. The wall of plasma from the brains was so treacherous, basically relying on the crushers to shield you from death. I used the Necronomicon to kill as many as I could, before turning on the pain elementals, which were also hard to dodge. But a number of times I died also came down to the arch viles, which were hard to kill cleanly as I was low on fuel. Finally, with a handful of brains still left, I found the switch to the exit (not sure how quickly in the battle it appeared).

 

Awesome map!

Screenshot_Doom_20191018_194724.png

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MAP18 - “Epilogue” by Obsidian

 

A nice touch to all the mappers that contributed to the project.

 

Overall

 

Overall I found this wad a mixed bag and there were certainly some frustrations, be that due to the choice in level ordering, enemy placement or MIDI. What was good to see in this thread was a engagement by a number of the mappers, both in terms of commentary on their maps, and taking onboard feedback. Personally I would play around with the map order a bit, e.g. Map 31 doesn’t feel like a secret map and it’s also pretty easy, so it could be brought in amongst the first few levels. Map 3 was very quirky so would be a candidate for Map 31 in my view. I also thought Map 2 was very difficult for its slot.

 

The wad ended on a high note, with both of the last two maps Madman’s Vault and Naraka being stunners. But the first half also had some highlights, with Chrono and Rats in the Well both being very fun to play.

Edited by Horus

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MAP10: A fairly decent map. It's got some nice circuitous flow going on that both gives you plenty of room to move around and fight foes at your leisure, as well as keeping you pushing forward on a main path. The chainsaw men were giving me quite a bit of grief throughout the map—I can see why Demon loves them so—but at least the map gives you space to deal with everything. That is, until the BK fight. While it's not a bad fight per se, accidentally running into a window cubby is extremely frustrating, especially because a lot of foes hit hard if you stop for a couple seconds. This was one of those cases where I feel like making the windows impassible would greatly help this particular section, as it's not too troublesome otherwise (although the chainsaw men sure like juking my SSG shots and punishing me for that). The fight after that with the AV and flood of enemies is a good example of how to do a more proper, open encounter that uses the lemniscate layout of the map, but overall, not a bad map at all.

 

MAP11: Ah, Obsidian! Old friend! It's been a few years since I've last played something by you! Huh? Super MAYhem? No no, please, I'm pretending you didn't make me suffer through that. Anyway, let us sit down and—hey, what's that archvile doing behind me?...

 

Oh no...

 

Obsidian is perhaps the sharpest MAYhem mapper I know of. He really likes small areas full of pointy, deadly things, and above all else, seems adamant about not allowing you to recover more than 50% health without finding a secret. I managed to stumble into a blue key but that was about it; my time spent in Sid's House of Horrors was primarily spent cowering in fear at 1% health, ducking past flying bones and flinching every time I heard the cry of a bat. I bemoaned the MAP07 insta-pop AV trap for being too fast, but a handful of traps here are literally designed to slap the back of the player's unaware noggin. As brutal as this map was (the small squad of sergeants killed me more than I've been killed throughout the entirety of MAYhem 2019 thus far), I did enjoy the gloomy atmosphere and Undying paintings nestled around corners. Plus I liked how much the map forced the shotgun upon you, as it made every enemy feel threatening. Far from my favorite map, but it does have a certain smartass charm about it (what other map uses a swarm of bats as a terrifying force?)

 

Just please, for the love of god, let me have that megasphere...

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MAP14: Minotaur's Inferno

DNF

 

First fight with the bomb elementals or whatever took me about 10 deaths, took me while to remember how to dodge mancubus fireballs (strafing at top speed usually avoids one fireball and runs right into the other) and not fall off cliffs. The small cthulu encounter wasn't so bad, though it did feel a bit luck-based as it's far easier if they don't split up and pincer around the column. The maulotaurs took me awhile as I kept falling off as well - between the movement from getting hit by a fireball and the movement the necronomicon itself does, became a pain in the ass. Finally I got one run where they spent more time wiggling than shooting and I was able to kill one easily, which made the rest easier. The next stage really took me a long time, I just kept running out of flamethrower fuel too soon - I suppose I should've taken more time early on with the rocket launcher to thin things out. As it was, plenty of deaths due to arachnorbs deciding to lower in my face just at the wrong moment. Tried the next fight a number of times but just gave up after awhile, not my thing.

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Map 32 -- Private Property - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets

3 seconds in and it's IDMUS anythingbutthis, boys and girls. It's a Joe-ilya map, alright.

 

A Joe-ilya map in what is by now a fairly familiar pattern for the author: a big (though it's really not THAT big) bounding box framing the play area, with smaller boxes scattered around inside of it, and a loose collection of crap and allsorts stuffed into said boxes and also showered over the general premises, almost randomly to appearances. If you've ever had a storage shed, and had a family of raccoons take up temporary residence in the shed for some span of time, the overall effect here is really something quite similar to what you'll have encountered in said shed come springtime. Odor included.

 

Many ilyamaps fit this broad description to a tee, though to give due credit I felt that this is one of the stronger examples of their number in recent memory. It may be that the bent towards a realistic/representational setting, which the Blood resources invite both aesthetically and by artistic reference, suits him better than Doom's relatively greater degree of abstraction. So, level progression is less harebrained/more structured than usual, involving finding keys to reach the house's master bedroom so you can take a flying leap out of its window to reach the other side of the creek; enemy placement is also more 'themed', which sees many of the creatures used in ways that naturally suit their abilities to a greater or lesser degree -- chainsaw dudes to chase you through the hedgerows, cacolanterns and their ilk to spit at you through second story windows, etc.

 

The map's best moments involve the initial clear, which quickly supplies you a chaingun and positively *showers* you with bullets, allowing you to lark about fighting anything and everything milling about outside, bottlenecking slightly at the (optional) 'picnic' area in the woods but still functioning reasonably well regardless. Interior placements are generally much more hamhanded and occasionally nonsensical clearing/grinding affairs (i.e. the barn trap, which throws three fronts of threat at you, two of which.......are incapable of actually reaching you with attacks), but all things considered it could've been (and historically has been!) much worse. The confetti-showered item placement makes for a striking contrast with the austerity of the broadly/thematically similar structure and stylings of m02 from earlier, and I think most tastes will agree that this map is by far the more enjoyable of the two.

 

Map 16 -- Madman's Vault - 103% Kills / 100% Secrets

A Dobu map!? A Dobu map with monsters in it!?!? Be still mine heart.

 

(I didn't mean that *literally* Dobu)

 

Who the titular Madman is or was is anyone's guess, but his Vault is evidently a sorcerous bastion of twisted arcane knowledge, doubling as a storehouse of innumerable occult texts and treatises and as a sort of vivarium for a wide assortment of creatures from the nether planes, presumably summoned here for research purposes, willingly or otherwise. The current prize specimen in the collection is the bloodthirsty minotaur housed in the center chamber, which on closer inspection seems to be little more than a glorified dogfight pit (complete with spectator boxes) when one gets right down to it, suggesting that the place's proprietor, through hubris or insanity, held no more respect for demonic life than for the earthlier sort. The goal here is to reach the dimensional gate, housed in a niche on the second story of the northernmost tower, but all roads there lead through the dogfight pit, and it will take a resourceful traveler indeed to unravel the mysteries of the vault and gain enough power to overcome the current reigning champ.

 

In the most general sense, then, this is actually quite similar in concept to m15 before it -- the path to the exit is actually quite a short one in theory, but from a pistol-start simply heading straight for it from the get-go, even once you know exactly where it is, is almost guaranteed to end in death at the hands/hooves/horns/fangs of its guardians without proper preparation. Instead, the general idea is to explore the vault at large, amassing weaponry and (if you're skilled/clever) other resources which will allow you to contend with the 'boss fight' on a more even footing. A full tour through what is readily accessible will provide you with the bare essentials, while working out all of the various secrets can eventually combine to make *you* the real monster, able to swat aside the final encounters while hardly batting an eyelash.

 

As far as the optionality/non-linearity aspect goes, the way progression is handled here is a lot more rich/nuanced/elegant than that seen in m15. The Vault contains two major interior paths girding the central pit and an additional major area in the form of an open landing to the north, as well as a trio of minor towers at the south end, where play begins. While the terrain and the locals are both uncanny and inhospitable enough to make navigation a daunting prospect at first, once you've got your bearings (or if you're just uncommonly lucky or insightful) you can visit almost anywhere on the map at almost any time, and in the order of your choosing (or your stumbling, survival-oriented non-choosing). Most will go in the front entrance, which splits off into four smaller paths from the foyer, two of which quickly lead to the center (and thus the exit) while the other two twine around to the landing at the north. However, with the green armor, good health, and a bit of cussing, you can also wade all the way around to the north landing first, and come at either of the two major interior paths from the back, which changes how a number of the major traps flow, while also offering you a chance at some earlier armament at the cost of somewhat greater initial combat risk. While playing, I eventually explored the whole thing as is my wont, but I reckon that there are actually many different *real* possibilities for how to complete the map, depending on one's skill, knowledge, and preferences.

 

A lot of this is only really evident in hindsight, of course; many of the more elegant/unusual possibilities are only realistically likely to play out for a player who already knows a lot about the map (i.e. getting to the north landing early can allow you early access to the flamethrower, which is a huge game-changer, but only if you already know the puzzle solution which unlocks it, etc.), and for most first-timers it's wont to be more of a grueling affair of grim survival. On my first playthrough, I actually missed the early tower with the first SSG/first RL in it entirely -- distracted by the obnoxious imps in the distance while platforming about on the shattered brick pilings -- but was still able to hold my own in the Vault proper (later copies of these weapons are wisely supplied), my route being something like foyer -- > west library -- > north landing -- > east library, and then the two balconies and a lot of secret-hunting before utterly steamrolling the last fight in the center. It's a level where you can be made to feel both vulnerable/hunted and sardonically powerful in the span of a fairly short playtime, and this really smart multi-facetedness in both level design and balance is certainly the map's most sterling quality.

 

The more you engage with that multi-facetedness, the easier the map gets, of course. And in that sense, this is actually surprisingly gentle/approachable (at least by the author's previously established tendencies), I thought; most of the most dangerous combat takes the form of traps, or strings of traps in close proximity (i.e. the west library), but almost everything seems to be balanced from a worst-case-scenario sort of perspective, i.e. so that you can survive each encounter or area with minimal armament provided you practice strong movement, astute situation management, and good tactics, while reaching them with heavier weapons affords you many more options and in some cases can allow you to make very short work of them without a lot of deeper thought.

 

There's a tension here in what the 'average' player will likely experience, since many of the possibilities involve finding secrets (which many players don't habitually bother with), realistically emphasizing the austere/survival horror aspects of the map for many first-timers/one-timers, while those who do explore all the level has to offer become almost *too* powerful, to some degree undercutting the threat of most encounters and, more crucially, the sense of excitement in the climax as a result (give me more shit to kill in there!). For the sake of contrast, it's in this regard that I think the broadly similar m15 shines brighter -- it's far less elegant in most respects of both design and balance, but its manic, ruthless over/under-tuning ensures it keeps that visceral edge no matter how you play it, each time and every time. A case of Dario Argento vs. Joe D'Amato, let us say!

 

(I'm a sucker for both, for the record.)

 

Quality of life suggestions: have a few bits of broken tile or wood that can be hopped over to cross from one side of the north landing to the other without having to eat a hit of damage-floor each time (or having to avoid this by walking all the way around through the Vault proper to the other side). This makes engaging with the two pairs of puzzle switches for the north tower secret less needlessly standoffish/inconvenient, especially for someone working on solving it for the first time. The way the slow/halting spider-lifts will drop you back down to floor level if you don't immediately step off of them (thus requiring you to take the slow/halting ride another time) is also bothersome; surely they can be made to only descend as you actually step off at the cost of some additional voodoo-scripting?

 

Minor bug: The pairs of arachnorbs in 'sealed' cages which accompany the arch-viles on the small southwest and southeast balconies all become active together (presumably via sound propagation) as soon as a player steps onto one of said balconies and triggers the fight there. This means that when you go to the other balcony, the 'norbs there will be jittering around impotently already awake in their cages, whereas the vile remains dormant until approached.

Edited by Demon of the Well

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MAP15: Their Daily Bread

99% kills, 3/3 secrets

 

This is a bit of an odd one, what seems at first like a regular map with a key hunt turns out instead to be a 'gear' up map instead, using the keys to unlock some powerups to use for the final fight. I actually didn't really clue into this until it was too late - I grabbed the yellow key as part of just normally clearing out that staircase area, then grabbed the red key and ran back out into the lava cavern, and grabbed the powerups and used them for the red key fight instead. I looked at the minimap and saw the three columns were key-coded (one blue? Or is this because it's either/or red/yellow?) and then figured the last fight would be for a blue key, but nope, just a big arena fight to exit the map. Took me awhile to figure out how to get back out of here too to look for the secret exit... lots of esoteric texture use here. Flames for doors! Flames for lifts! FWIW I didn't even set off the minotaur until the end of the map, quite easy to avoid him once you know he's there and don't blunder into him. Overall it's a decent map, the aesthetic is workmanlike but does a good job thematically, and the fights are pretty well-designed. The last battleground actually works really well with the cthulhu monsters, since their movement speed is fast enough to be threatening and if they get a bead on you, you're toast, so gotta keep moving and find a new bible to hide behind.

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MAP31: Dr. Tongue's Castle of Terror

100% kills, 2/3 secrets

 

Pretty generic map of the "creepy gothic mansion" variety, on the small side too. Not much to say about this one, everything is pretty ho-hum, though the textures do some work in helping to dress up the relatively plain geometry. I did like the secret laboratory room.

 

MAP32: Private Property

98% kills, 0/2 secrets

 

Happy fun times at the family farm I suppose, given that overly chipper music. The theme here actually does work pretty well, with some obvious structures/landmarks (main house, barn, silo, even a picnic) and the monster use is pretty decent too. The first lock-in fight was fine (if anything, too easy, lots of the stuff can't hit you), but the one in the house for the blue key really left me scambling since I was running bone-dry on everything but rockets and hadn't explored the north yet. Not bad all-in-all.

 

Next up, that guy's map, and then those people's map... ;)

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Map 17 -- Naraka - 108% Kills / 100% Secrets

Leaving aside that this is a collab map, it certainly evinces something of a dual nature, in more ways than one. While it may be a brooding luxe-Carpathian citadel host to so many incidents of blood sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, mass immolation, and similar atrocities in its day that it was eventually cursed and sucked down into Hell itself, it also has something of a lighter side -- a book at bedtime, a friendly arthropod or two, a voidscape of cashmere and crushed velvet, a pet caco who is DEFINITELY ONLY SLEEPING -- and though it boasts some of the largest and most violent fights in the mapset, there is a definite playfulness to most of the proceedings.

 

Like m14 before it, this is a map which hinges almost entirely on a variety of staged/choreographed setpiece fights, though here there is a little more time and space set aside for you to wander around the grounds and see the sights if you wish -- the overall impression is somewhat akin to if Tim Burton directed a hyperviolent slasher flick + romantic comedy set in medieval Transylvania -- and there are a few short breaks or interludes given over to markedly game-y bits of track-running, basic platforming, or light puzzling (I admit it took me a few minutes to figure out how to open the first door as well!) as well. Nevertheless, a fight-by-fight look back, ala m14, seems a natural approach here.

 

* Dance Hall / BK fight : the first fight, and appropriately enough the easiest. This is a traditional ballroom-blitz type of fight, all about crowd management, involving kiting the droves of skeletons and mummies back and forth in a tidy butterfly waltz while thinning their numbers with rocket fire and coyly avoiding eye contact with the sole stag minotaur for as long as possible. The L-shape of the hall makes this more involved than something one could simply circle-strafe (in fact, circle-strafing is generally not a good answer to any of this map's fights), but its spacious proportions keep it from being terribly taxing provided you know to throw rockets where you're going to want/need the seam to be in a few seconds' time. There is another slight complication in the form of the two viles on the extended widow's watch outside, but despite all of the windows they can only actually "see" you when you're standing on an elevated point in the hall, making them a marginal factor provided you keep moving, which you should be doing anyway. With solid technique it's no great feat to save the megasphere here until after the fight; doing so gives you a real leg up in the next fight.

 

* Royal Hall / RK fight : the next two fights can be done in either order; this was the one that I did first. While this initially appears to provide an even more spacious runaround than the BK fight, looks can be (and in this case are) very deceiving. This battle involves heavy area-denial and puts a premium on your ability to levy effective rocket-suppression against rapidly spawning/rapidly moving incursions of bonemen and other mostly minor foes while sticking to a sharply limited bit of legroom -- technically you do have the whole hall to run around in, but the nave/narthex is categorically denied to you by groups of perched arch-viles at the far end which you won't have time to dispose of until later, and two of the prime suppression spots are initially overlooked by batteries of liches who end up being crushed only after you've held out near the entrance for a bit.

Preceding and tailing this fight are the aforementioned spates of track-running and light platforming; the latter is very simple and should be well within the abilities of almost everyone who plays to this point in this mapset -- simple to the point where I was surprised there wasn't some additional complication, to be honest -- but the former is a very direct "hello fellow speedrunners" wink/nudge and is tricky to take no damage in until you've memorized the path (and not trivial for most even then), presumably why the penalty for failing it is rather light. Speaking for myself, I was not thrilled at having to niche-hop back through the track in reverse to get back out again; at this point I felt the marked diversion in style from the general gameplay loop of the rest of the map was insisting on itself a little overly much, though it might be argued that this kind of quirk is emblematic of the map's overall charm.

 

* Observatory / YK fight: this fight also requires heavy rocket-suppression of streams of enemies appearing in close proximity to you, but prioritizes aim and, uh, prioritization a little less, and your ability to react to enemy movements and change position in a dynamic/chaotic situation at a moment's notice, both to avoid being swamped and to minimize attrition from your own rocket-splash. The much smaller space coupled with an extra element of peril from the collapse in the floor at the third of the room nearest the entrance (fall in and you're dead) would be enough to make this a more heated and intimate fight than the others by as it is, but there are still more complicating factors to contend with : the player is force-fed a blursphere at the start of the engagement, the entrance is host to a mother-brain which needs to be shut out by periodic use of a pair of shutter-switches on either side of the room, *and* in the final phase a pair of arch-viles port onto raised plinths in the small space. There is no cover to be had, so outside of favorable painstun/attack state RNG your only play is to quickly distract them with friendly fire from some other foe, ala the minotaur (did I forget to mention him?) or, better yet, the aforementioned mother-brain.

This kitchen-sink pile of ideas all in play simultaneously in this one small space certainly make this a memorable fight, and easily the most frantic one in the map as aforesaid. Moreso than any other fight in the mapset it also reads as the one most cognizant of this being a -cl 11 mapset (vs. the more common -cl 9 or -cl 2) on a deeper simulation level; infighting is significantly less reliable/predictable on this setting, and both the way the mother-brain is leveraged here as a real and pressing danger, and the use of the blursphere to provide an approximate offset in normal threat levels of this and other creatures involved in the melee, says that the designer damn well knows this. The creativity and erudition in combining so many elements in such a small space is more than a little impressive, but I have to admit I reckon it's probably just one step past the point of overdesign for a space/timespan this short. My main point of contention is the (forced) blursphere, which on one level facilitates the loose/casual use of so many squishy hitscan zombies and cultists for the initial rocket-pounding, but also reads as a hacky/heavyhanded way to underscore the brain's threat (in this small shooting gallery, she's *more* dangerous with this artifact in effect, not less), thus enforcing the use of the shutter-switches, and also cops just enough duration to make the window for distracting the two viles who eventually appear with friendly fire razor-thin.

 

* Circle of Protection fight / Occult abyss part 1 : It took me a couple of attempts to understand what's going on here -- while you're in the small candle-braced sector at the very center of the arena, you cannot be "seen" and thus cannot be attacked by any of the creatures here, though you in turn can't attack them either, and being in the circle slowly drains your lifeforce, such that you can't simply linger there indefinitely. This is a really cool idea! I don't think I've seen the 'seek cover' gameplay which the arch-vile brings to the table used in quite this way in the past, and it neatly fits into the mapset's general black magick/occultic overtones as an extra treat. Naturally, you want to kill the timed pairs of viles as quickly as possible -- firing at roughly perpendicular angles to and slightly ahead of their general vector of travel helps, as does letting them close a bit before exiting the Circle -- but given the vagaries of RNG it's likely that sooner or later the rate of spawn will get ahead of you a bit, at which point the fight becomes an endeavor of calm focus under pressure, not letting yourself be compelled to exit the Circle until the right moment (said moment often occurring when the later viles are clumped up/merrily resurrecting some of the shotgun cultists which crash the party at a few points). I recommend lowering all of the megaspheres on poles to floor level before beginning (leaving them up so you can use the thin poles to block line of sight for viles is a pure 'style points' thing which most players will not need) so it's easy to nip out and grab one when you need to top up. Once I understood the fight, I was able to pass it using only a single sphere; having more available puts you in a very good place for the finale.

 

* CYO Slaughter / Occult abyss part 2 : And for dessert, a big scrappy open-field brawl (or a pair of less big, still pretty scrappy open-field brawls) which invites you to choose two of four available perks (from a pair of internally-exclusive pairs) to help tackle the final enemies. All of the blood and guts and screaming and gnashing of teeth aside, it's EXACTLY like build-your-own sundaes at Coldstone or something!! Yay!! My choosing was the Necronomicon and the phantasmal velvet pillars offering periodic cover, to whit; I preferred to have the cacolanterns release with everything else (their streams of fireballs are good for distracting the fast-running chainsawers in groups, whereas the battery of arachnorbs can do the same but is too troublesome to let live), and had plenty of 'spheres to work with such that I didn't really need to worry about slightly reducing the coverage of damage-floor in the arena for the big brawl. The final phase can be done in halves, which makes it *very* approachable given all of the other advantages you likely enjoy at this point, but for optimal fun/violence it also plays well doing both simultaneously. Interestingly, the Circle of Protection is still in effect for this fight and a few bonus pickups even spawn in there, though at some point its damage-factor ranks up to 20%, making it more an extra little perk of convenience (with a cost) than a cornerstone of your strategy. I actually didn't enter it at all in this fight in my game; the cycling pillars + the Necronomicon afforded me a fast (if sometimes a mite spammy) answer to the last set of viles, and the many healing powerups allowed me to outlast the horde in a general riot without the need for sanctuary.

 

Map 18 -- Epilogue

 

...and a nice, quiet tomb in this classy little credits map, where we can finally get in some R&R. Sounds good to me.

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Alienated

 

MAP01 - “Sentient Asteroid”

 

And now back to UV (continuous), let’s see how this goes. I played this level on RC1 then realized there was an RC2, so I redownloaded it and played it again to see the difference. It’s an Ancient Aliens themed episode, but I haven’t (yet) played Ancient Aliens so if there’s nods to those levels I won’t notice them.

 

The player starts in a water-filled cave and is soon presented with the chainsaw. Which is essential here, because ammo is very tight. But as long as you chainsaw everything that can be chainsawed (cacos excluded), you’ll be fine. It also helps to play ahead a bit, because the first teleport battle is made easier if you make your way into the next area as it has a shotgun.

 

Then you may your way down the (one-way) lift indoors into the futuristic base, which is very well detailed with a wealth of colours and texture types used. There are two separate rooms which both need to be cleared in order to exit. Thanks to the soulsphere, the orange-blue room is easiest, and also easy to cheese just by clearing the hitscanners/imps back into the central area (not that cheesing is necessary here). The damage sectors if you drop off here are also pretty forgiving.

 

The teal/grey room can catch out the unsuspecting player. When you make your way up the stairs, six chaingunners spawn, so with the wrong weapon you’re toast. The trap by the green armour can also be difficult, unless you manage to get the revenants and mancubus to infight.

 

Nonetheless, the level wasn’t too difficult and made for an entertaining opening.

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Map 01: "Sentient Asteroid"

 

alienated-rc2-wad-MAP01.png

 

Difficulty: Easy

 

We start in a cave and eventually reach a colourful alien underground base. The objective is to use an elevator located in this base. Alienated introduces the player to the alien theme mixed with natural landscapes

 

The difficulty is worthy of a first map despite the absence of armor (at least at the beginning) that forces us to play steadily. The level is also quite long, with the possibility of exploring two distinct zones in the underground base , which breaks the overall linearity of the map.

 

Traps mainly consist of monsters that teleport after activating a button or passing through certain places. The main thing I have to say is that Lorenzo hardly worked on the architecture and details. The rooms vary enormously, both in terms of colour and architecture. It's very nice, but I wonder if the rendering wouldn't have been better with a little more homogeneity between the rooms. Anyway, I have a feeling that the wad focuses more about aesthetics than gameplay.

 

I liked this map anyway. A nice initiation to the natural theme mixed with aliens structures. The traps are quite basic and may be a little too predictable but the level is fun and not frustrating.

 

 

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MAP02 - “Hidden Base”

 

Here it pays to look before you shoot! A sergeant and a couple of imps are hidden to your right, and might have otherwise made for an awkward start. The low monster count made me think I was in for another fairly easy ride, far from it, this is a step up from the last level.

 

The map continues on the teal/grey theme from the west segment of the last map, and starts as a fairly innocent hitscanner fest but soon ramps up. The three revenants can cause a bit of trouble if you don’t know what’s coming. The hell knight doesn’t advance and attack you unless you go right up to it, not sure if that was intentional or not.

 

The elongated dark blue corridor gives off the feeling that grabbing the SSG will come at a heavy price – in reality, a few spectres are easy pickings. I wish I did that before opening up the next section with all those cacos.

 

The map then springs a nasty surprise of a trap on you once you’ve made your way through the platforms – a HK and a Baron in a narrow small corridor, with the platforms turning into crushers preventing any cheesing.

 

Likewise, there’s no cheesing on the final battle either, set in another imposing dark blue room, which gives you plenty of rockets, but also plenty of enemies, and not much room to strafe around. The exit is a little anticlimactic, with a token two hell knights not causing any bother.
Another good map.

 

Between now and final release I would try to get new start screen and intermission screen music, don’t think classic Doom II music fits here.

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MAP16: Madman's Vault

94% kills, 3/6 secrets

 

Dick move one comes right away, by placing a bomb elemental right over the player's head to instantly blow up anyone who planned on plinking away at the imp and zombies across the way. Dick move two comes shortly thereafter if you try to reach the shotgun first. Definitely a dobu map... but that also means it looks really nice (the cool design of the platforms leading up to the main area alone are really snazzy), has a cool theme and some nice exploratory/puzzle action, and some good low-count but high-stakes combat as well. The first fight at the top of the platforms took me a couple tries just to learn what to do (I ended up rocketing the vile first, then running in to grab ammo, then kill everything else), and the cthulhu/cacolantern fight gave me a bit of trouble too, so I left it for later and then had no trouble coming in from the other direction for some reason (I think the cthulhus pathed differently and I was able to get more damage on them before needing to step forward and unleash the cacos). Cool secret being able to raise more floor room in the minotaur battle. I really do feel like I missed something though, with 4 secrets left on the board... no idea what the repeatable switches with the torches were supposed to do, as I never found any clue as to what pattern to do (I assume there's a pattern!). Upon going back I figured it out, turns out I just forgot about the counting the statue in the middle, heh. Cool map, no less than I'd expect from the author.

 

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Map 02 - Hidden Base

 

alienated-rc2-wad-MAP02.png

 

Difficulty : Medium

 

A much more generic title compared to the first level, but the quality is no less.

 

This map is very reminiscent of Stardate 2016's universe but this time the turquoise color dominates. The difficulty climbs quite quickly with more dangerous traps and "timed" battles.

 

To be honest, I didn't like the way the level starts. The placement of the monsters is quite messy and we must constantly grind with the little shotgun to progress. On the other hand, the real interesting battles begin when you get the SSG. The blue key trap is probably the most difficult and proposes an ingenious use of imps and hell knights obscured by the darkness.

 

There is a lot of improvement in aesthetics compared to the first level. The whole is much more coherent with a strong dominant of turquoise and grey. The architectural forms are more varied also with a lot of curved shapes. The theme is also interesting with the subtle inclusion of hell-themed textures such as pentagrams or marbled faces.

 

In short, a good turquoi level with quite original and difficult battles despite the grindy start.

 

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I played Alienated in RC1, and I enjoyed it.

 

Map 01: "Sentient Asteroid"

 

A tale of two halves. 

 

In my first playthrough with RC1, I speedran the first half, grabbing the chaingun, hitting the necessary switches, and dropping into the basement, all without killing much. There are a lot of mappers who become self-conscious about fights that are easy to skip, and would immediately read that and try to install a lock-in timer, or obfuscate the appearance of switches, or plop a stationary mid-tier right in your way. But I'm pretty glad I could skip this area.

 

Because it is pretty dry of ideas for the relative amount of content. Lots of perched imps, grinding down six cacos with nothing stronger than a chaingun, hitscanners the only threat (but irritating when they plink at you) . . . it doesn't amount to much. There are some clever 'jumps' to get on rocks but none of those are secrets or afford you any injections of a stronger weapon to smooth out the grind. There are barrels but those are awkwardly placed right up against the walls, and thus are neither effective nor much fun to weaponize. This part feels like it was... speedmapped.

 

But after that, the map gets much better.

 

Downstairs introduces what becomes a strong attribute present in most of the mapset. You've got the AA-tex, and areas that recall episode 2 of Ancient Aliens, but it's not a lazy homage. There are plenty of design ideas you'd never see in Ancient Aliens. It feels more like the similarities are there because AA-tex is so distinctive that anything using it will feel AA-ish. I liked how the zones had markedly different color schemes. Combat is sleek, dominated by smaller incidental combat and ambushes you can bleed together. The yellow-dark area introduces hints of a recurring characteristic, which is that the setpieces tend to look cool, how they are set up and staged.

 

Map 02: "Hidden Base"

The first area reads to me as Map 01 part deux. That is not something I minded in RC1 playthrough having skipped the first map's intro fare, but now I'm feeling 'this is slow' -- and in fact Roofi's comment reflects my own thoughts, at least playing it more conventionally. There is a lot of grinding stuff down with the shotgun and chaingun, if you don't make a beeline for the SSG, which to be fair, even with the PE around is easy to do (just lovetap the PE so it doesn't make a mess in your absence). Am I really meant to kill those revenants and spectres with only the chaingun? I ignored them and went into the area with the SSG and came back. 

 

After that, you get better stuff: close-quarters HK/baron jousting with the SSG where you can slip past the HK but have to contend with revvies, a nice little 'projectile hell' setpiece that looks very cool. These two maps definitely show the learning/ambition curve involved in the development in the set. Later maps become much stronger.

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im very behind but im on holiday so wanted to participate at least for this month :)

 

as usual glboom+, -cl 11, uv, pistol starts, saves

 

mayhem2019 map01 fda

+ interesting enemies on the most part

+ ok midi

- blue things are just obnoxious - they need a sound to alert you to them as theyre deadly and restrict movement

- map is quite 'flat' and uninteresting


map02

this one is a bit more interesting. it actually reminds me of both Blood and Outlaws (the little 'frontier' feeling town at the start).

thankfully there are no blue bastards here :)

it is very low on health at the start, and i only survived because the cultists seem quite slow to fire: this might just be my imagination and they are just reskinned zombies and shotgunners.

the cthulu blobs are ok and the viles at the end were an interesting fright but i gambled that the exit would be a instant switch :)

Edited by rehelekretep

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Map 03 : Seatooth

 

alienated-rc2-wad-MAP03.png

 

Difficulty : Medium

 

"Seatooth" is a level that takes place in an alien base located on the sea. The complex is characterized by a circular room that acts as an intermediary between the different sections.

 

This level corresponds to the classic definition of non-linearity defined by the three keys to be collected in an unspecified order. The pillars must be lowered by activating buttons that will trigger large traps usually indicated by the presence of a megasphere as if you play a Sunder-like wad.

 

The number of monsters is pretty large and the difficulty increases quite fast. On the other hand, it is fairly easy to survive in the traps. On the other hand, I tend to think that the ammunition in this wad is very limited. I wonder if it's a pure gameplay choice or if it's unintentional.

 

The theme is very multicolored like map 01. The different rooms are once again very different but this time the architecture is much more imposing to such a degree that my computer is struggling a little bit in some places. The large dark green room, the great circular room with all three and the structures located outside the base near the spawn are, in my opinion, the most memorable areas.

 

In short, a sympathetic and non-linear level. Quite amusing with not too hard fights.

 

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MAP03 - “Seatooth”

 

Well this level is very pretty. One of the prettiest levels I’ve ever played. That said, I did also upgrade to the latest version of GZDoom (from v.3.6.0) last night and I got a big visual improvement from that. The overriding colour scheme here is a series of blues, teals and greens, but other colours make their appearance too.

 

The weapons given to you at the start mean that there is no difference between pistol start and continuous. That’s one way of balancing the two I guess.

 

The ultimate design of the level is to get all three keys on the raised platforms. But two of them (BK and YK) are guarded by some serious monster swarms. However, the level is very generous with spheres (if anything too generous, I had two unused spheres on UV, and I’m not exactly an amazing player) which along with the fact that aside from the 3 arch viles, the monsters spawned are low-to-medium tier, makes for a trivial, if fun, battle.

 

I had more trouble with the BK battle, but that’s because of poor strategy. The centre is a losing battle, with ever spawning hitscanners whilst imps flank you from each side, then a couple of revenants for good measure. By far the easier method is to go back down from whence you came, and launch rockets as the imps on that side spawn, then mop up the rest with the chaingun / SSG.

 

The RK on the other hand, is just in a room guarded by only a few monsters, with a very nice use of sloping to make your way down to the exit.

 

Overall, fantastic level

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MAP04 - “Flower Cave”

 

Don’t let the monster count fool you, this is the hardest level yet, with the alien cave holding some nasty surprises, the nastiest of which is the hell knight trap, for which the plasma gun seemed mandatory. Even then, the plasma gun seems nerfed – it took longer than usual to clear up. And with the black liquid there was little room for manoeuvre. The BK trap is fairer as it hands you enough radsuits. Here the run and rocket approach is pretty useful. The switch then surprises by revealing even more revenants – which need to be taken care of before the cacos come too close.

 

Not sure the exit cyberdemon adds a whole lot. It’s just there – far enough way and a lot of room means it’s not really a threat. Likewise with the arch viles – in a place really easy to camp and kill where it can’t chase you.

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Map 03: "Seatooth"

 

This is more like it. The starting monster count exceeding 500 is misleading; most of it is fodder, and in fact, many areas feel underpopulated more than anything. It is a quiet map that screams to life at select moments. The scale is expansive but by content it is squarely 'mid-sized'. 

 

The blue-key setpiece is quite a spectacle. The cinematic flair is definitely high, what with the functionally kinda superfluous but cool-looking crushers, the way imps trickle in, the party of hitscanners in the center, revs crashing in at the end. Good stuff. What I discovered, varying my route from the RC1 playthrough, is the indoor setpiece commencing the RK path plays really well with SSG alone -- as a neat 'attention split' technical challenge. Without a surplus of rockets to demolish everything, you have to hold off imps warping in nearby with the SSG, while dodge-patterning against mancubi you aren't shooting at. The 'green' setpiece, set in the dark, is defined more by its ambiance and mood than how it plays. It's so front-loaded -- all three archviles released, and easily killed, at the beginning -- that I can't help but think staggering those would be an improvement. Like, two duos instead or something, one of those showing up later. 

 

In the way of improvement: maybe provide an alternate way of accessing the exit area, available from near the start upon gathering all three keys. The current sole teleporter is placed well if -- but only if -- you do the RK last. Otherwise you have dull backtracking on your plate. 


Map 04: "Flower Cave"


"Flower Cave" fashions out of AA-tex's distinctive scale textures a polychromatic theme with no analogue in Ancient Aliens itself. I'm reminded vaguely of certain abstract uses of CC4-tex's compblue recolors I've come across over the years, although this scaly texture certainly looks way better for that. The fabric of the gameplay is small-scale skirmishes, and these play well. The dropdown setpiece along the YK route, though the understated and less memorable of the key fights, is my favorite in the map, weaponizing the map's ubiquitous slime in a more organic way than any other part of the map -- elsewhere it tends to be an easily sidestepped distraction or, in the case of the BK fight, harmless due to the surfeit of radsuits.

 

Like Horus, I feel the lone cyb at the exit isn't interesting. It is begging to be a complementary 'overseer' in a lock-in setpiece confining you to one of the side ledges -- or, without an idea of that sort, to simply not exist. One change I'd suggest: add the single-barreled shotgun to the starting pile so it can't be picked up at an inopportune moment in the map's lone encounter featuring shotgunners.  

Edited by rdwpa

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Map 04 : Flower Cave

 

alienated-rc2-wad-MAP04.png

 

 

Difficulty : Medium

 

We fell into a strange tricolor cave. I will also call this map "RGB Cave" because of the colors used. In any case, as mentioned above, the difficulty is increasing considerably.

 

As at the previous levels, we must survive large timed traps in order to recover the keys necessary for progress. In addition, we can notice the presence of the first cyberdemons in the wad. However, they are not really dangerous: the first is easy to kill by doing "circlestrafing" and the other at the end can be killed by camping at one of the two doors requiring a key.

 

I had less problems with ammunition this. On the other hand, it is harder to navigate through the traps because of the high presence of toxic liquids.

The level is not as impressive as the preceding one in terms of architecture. The very cavernous layout tends to make the whole thing a little monotonous.

 

In short, a level certainly less impressive than map 03 but with some rather intriguing traps.

 

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Thanks for playing Dull Needle. My weakest point is still balancing multiplayer monsters. Will fix texture missaligments and prob. add an chainsaw somewhere.

 

When I get a new computer.

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MAP05 - “Acid Flow”

 

Erm…wow. I’m always partial to a good-looking map, and this is another one of them. There were quite a few times in this map I just stopped to take in my surroundings. Particularly the outdoors area with the pits of purple acid, complemented well with the greys and blues of the base.

 

Difficulty-wise, this is pretty simple, might even be the easiest map so far. The first battle has a lot of monsters, but also a lot of room, ammo and health so as long as you circle strafe enough you should be fine. The only real time I was nearing the brink was the spectre mass (before I realized I could teleport up and easily deal with the rest) and the dual revenant and arch viles in the small cave area.

 

The only thing to watch out for in the BK area is the hell knights that spawn behind you…if you are not listening carefully enough then you will pay. As for the BK trap itself, also simple, take care of the revenants quickly first then the rest is rocket spam.

 

So in conclusion a great map that might benefit more from a bit more sting to its tail.

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Map 05 - Acid Flow

 

alienated-rc2-wad-MAP05.png

 

Difficulty : Easy

 

I agree with Horus. There is a certain drop in term of difficulty. It gives the player the opportunity to have a break before starting the next level which seems much stronger than the precedents. Map 02 was even tougher than this map.

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We continue our adventure in rather cavernous environments. To be honest, I didn't find the level very beautiful compared to the previous ones. I'm not a big fan of the purple color. It's not a colour I like to see in Doom in contrary to many people. I remember that I preferred Mayhem Orange much more than Mayhem Purple last year.

Anyway, I think the most significant place in this level is the strange shield-shaped room with narrow gzdoom bridges located high above (map spawn).

 

As Horus said earlier, the level is easy because the resources are not scarce but especially because it is very easy to do "doorcamping" in the area where the plasmagun is collected. To this must be added the very few intimidating traps. I am thinking in particular of the blue key's arena where we think that many enemies will appear when in reality only a few ghosts, barons, hell knights teleport.

 

In short, a relaxing and rather fun level but on the other hand not very impressive.

 

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MAP06 - “Clash”

 

This one is definitely harder, but still not all that hard. The map continues on the structure seen on other maps with a ‘get the keys in any order, then head to the exit’ approach. One path (the BK) is much longer than the other (YK). I took the BK first. Right away you have a cyber, HK, imp and demon battle. But circle strafing whilst plasma rifling is pretty effective here. The rest of the area is a series of mini-battles, most of which contain an arch vile – fortunately, cover is adequate. Having finally completed the BK area, I returned to the main base completely lost on where to go next.

 

Eventually I remembered the brown lava cave area had multiple forks, and took the YK path this time. Which I feel would have been better without the lost souls. Mainly because the area is so expansive it’s so damn hard to kill the stupid things.

 

Then with all two keys you can take the middle fork, and with it another arch vile battle. The secret exit on this one is pretty forgiving, because the automap actually shows you the exit-trigger linedefs before you actually get there, making the hunt to get there that much easier. Which is appreciated for someone like me who is less inclined to linedef-hug.

 

A decent enough map, but felt repetitive at times mainly because a lot of the battles followed a ‘arch vile + a clump of enemies’ approach. Visually, another success story, certainly the multicoloured starting area anyway

 

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