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Man of Doom

NewDoom Community Project 2- An Analysis & Postmortem

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So given how just about everyone here knows about NewDoom and how it gave birth to two community projects, I'd like to talk about the style of the second community project and how it could be one of the most interesting megawads out there.


So by all accounts, the first NewDoom Community Project is fairly reminiscent of something like DTWiD/D2TWiD or something along those lines when it came to overall aesthetic and is a pretty enjoyable experience throughout. NewDoom Community Project 2, on the other hand, is a whole different story and is considerably more interesting as a result.


So NDCP2 was released around the same time that NewDoom closed its doors for good, and from what I've heard and seen firsthand, was largely considered "incomplete" due to bugs that would either be unsightly or outright break level progression. It could be speculated that the rushed release was because of NewDoom closing its doors at the time (and yes, there is a patch to fix up most of those bugs).

As for NDCP2 itself, well... I can safely say that it has one of the most experimental mapping styles out there, despite being a community project. Every map seems to have its own flair, yet they surprisingly tie together for a cohesive experience.


The mapping & design:


So 2009 was kind of a transitory time, namely it was the time after works like Alien Vendetta and Hell Revealed, and well before the time of works like Eviternity and Ancient Aliens. It was also the time when none of us were exactly sure if there was even going to be another installment in the Doom franchise, let alone a throwback like Doom 2016.

NDCP2 isn't quite Alien Vendetta with it's vanilla geometries nor is it quite Eviternity with its elaborate floorplans. It also kind of emulates the "semi-realistic" style and the tropes that come with it (bathrooms, tight corridors, computer desks, etc.). But at the same time, there's also a surrealist quality to it that seeps in every level without feeling particularly gimmicky (save for a couple of exceptions). The use of textures is particularly interesting as well, as not every map resorts to the stock textures (in fact, it could be argued that a sizable portion of levels have their own set of textures mixed in with vanilla). You have structures that are clearly meant to be things like cloning pods, satellite dishes, or forcefields, yet they mainly consist of a single flat texture which feels remarkably quaint (and fairly reminiscent of how textures were used in TNT). In this instance, you have levels that manage to create a sense of space while leaving just enough to the imagination, inconsistent texturing and creative use of props and all.

Additionally, the music choices used for the various maps is also interesting as well. Aside from the usually vanilla tracks and stuff from TNT, you also have "Barrel of a Gun" by Depeche Mode and the library music from Resident Evil 2. Hell, you have Rammstein's "Buck Dich" as the intermission music!

More is done to make the levels feel like real places without resorting to excessive detail or the use of ACS. Namely, you have some particularly creative uses of sectors and invisible portals (like with MAP15, for example). In the end, all of this serves to create some particularly memorable experiences that you can't really find with most other wads.


Here's a few examples of the levels that feel supremely experimental in the aforementioned regards:


MAP03: Voiced Silence (A nicely crafted techbase that employs quite a few modern scripting tricks that make it feel like a real place. That said, there is still a bug that can break progression.)

MAP06: AMADEUS (Seriously, just everything about this map. The only other map I can think of that's this ambitious in regards to sheer scale and attention to detail is Shaman's Device from CC4.)

MAP14: Comrade (A solidly-built military base complete with barracks, communication centers/arrays, security centers with forcefields, and maintenance tunnels. Like MAP03, this is more of an advanced techbase, but still masterfully crafted.)

MAP15: Halfway Between/Down the Drain (A cleverly-built map that uses invisible portals to create a nice little puzzle for the secret exit. Plus it plays with the whole "different points in time/alternate realities" concept, which is nice.)

MAP19: Darkseed (This is definitely more of a puzzle/suspense level using some advanced scripting, and is also one of the few Boom-compatible maps I've played which manages to be legitimately disturbing. The music choice of NIN's "The Downward Spiral" certainly helps.)

MAP22: Evil Eye (One of the more gimmicky levels, but has a very nice concept of "don't shoot in front of the eyes or you invoke the wrath of a dozen Arch-Viles". Follows through on its execution nicely.)


How NDCP2 compares to the past and present:


Going back to what I said about 2009 being something of a transitory year, I feel like NDCP2 has mapping elements that haven't been seen before that time, and it has mapping elements that really haven't been seen since (or at least not that often without requiring a sourceport like GZDoom).


Back in the days of megawads like Alien Vendetta and Hell Revealed, just about everything had a very old-school approach to aesthetic. Speaking of megawads like AV and Kama Sutra, megawads like those back then were the types to really throw caution to the wind and give us levels like Misri Halek and that one last level involving a very NSFW version of the Icon of Sin. Hell, just take a look at Deus Vult II!


After the transitory period (and right around the time Doom 2016 came out), megawads started to trend more towards arena-based combat. I'm not even talking about slaughtermaps like the ones Sunder or Holy Hell has to offer. I'm talking about the ornate and elaborate levels usually found in Ancient Aliens or Eviternity where combat is often based on arena-like encounters where the player has to fend off large swaths of monsters after pressing a switch or picking up a key.
This is something I'd like to call "Vanilla 2.0" in that it maintains vanilla Doom's sense of location-based abstractness while upping the linedef count to levels that would cause computers from 1993 to spontaneously combust (incidentally, this is also probably due to the prevalence of more powerful computers).

All in all, Vanilla 2.0 does feel like a logical step after dealing with Final Doom and everything that came afterwards. We've beaten the big bad bosses and gotten off the moons of Phobos and Deimos, so who's next? Why not give us the gorgeous locations that involve alien machines and temples dedicated to ancient and vengeful gods?


So where does NDCP2 fit in all of this?


It's too wacky to be old-school, and too experimental to be Vanilla 2.0.


But it does have something what I would like to call "the balance of realism and the abstract" (just rolls right off the tongue). It provides a sense of having places that feel like real locations, but keeps just enough of Doom's inherent abstractness to leave just enough to the imagination through a combination of sheer creativity and some clever scripting tricks. The end result is the depiction of reality as we know it coming undone in the most visceral way imaginable, with techbases that aren't advanced enough to have slopes but do give us forcefields and corners of Hell where non-euclidean geometry is just another plaything to the dark lords.


So what's wrong with throwing caution to the wind?

(And come to think of it, it's already been a decade since NewDoom closed its doors for good.)


This has been a philosophical reflection on how NewDoom Community Project 2 is unlike most megawads out there.


You're more than welcome to share your thoughts.

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I'd love to see a longer thread on "Vanilla 2.0" by you as your take on that is interesting and hitting the mark I think.


As for NDCP2, I just remember it being broken and quitting by map09.   Not sure of the specifics as it was 10 years ago when I played it; but it felt rushed to completion and untested.   I think it was a switch not working that drove me over to the point that I decided to quit.   I wasn't up for playtesting a finished product at the time---this was way before people did public alphas and betas...


It did have a lot of the newer players at the time so there was some experimental aspects to it (or that was the first one and this had a lot of the same people--again not sure due to how long it's been).    Some of it worked and some of it didn't.


I should probably go back and give it another go in all honesty.

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Well, first and foremost, this really made me want to check out NDCP2. It's one of those wads that I've heard mentioned here and there so many times but have never sat down and played myself. This description really has me sold!


I don't know how keen I am on the term Vanilla 2.0. I feel like the use of custom enemies, modern design philosophies that really don't end up playing all that much like IWAD maps and super-high linedef/sector counts kind of precludes something from warranting any variation on "vanilla" as a descriptor. The use of Boom or even minimal ZDoom features in such mapsets really muddies the waters even more, that stuff is pretty distinctly non-vanilla.


To be clear, I understand the 'type' of WADs you're referring to - Stuff like Eviternity and Ancient Aliens most certainly belong to their own genre, and "well they're boom maps, but they break the limits of DOS Boom and also they use a lot of really pretty custom textures and high linedef counts, also the gameplay is way more challenging and arena based/wave based than the IWADs" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue as a nice, concise descriptor.


My instincts tell me that Boom 2.0 sits somewhere closer to a "true descriptor" as these maps, while Boom compatible, certainly go beyond the scope of what early Boom even allowed for, but then there's the issue of Boom 2.0 actually being the direct name of a specific revision of Boom. Which is unfortunate. Maybe the Boom-format new-wave or something? ugh, still sounds like shit compared to Vanilla 2.0 just in terms of roll-off-the-tongueishness, but I feel like it's still more accurate.


Either way, this post was quality and got me thinking about the trajectory of WADs over the years and made me keen to go check out NDCP2. 5 bags of popcorn.

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