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The DWMiniwad Club Plays: Suspended in Dusk, The Unholy Trinity, Port Glacia, Bauhaus, Castle of Evil, and Village of Rotten Bones

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Posted (edited)

I just played SiD recently, so I can as well write something.

 

MAP01. The approach to the main complex is breathtaking. The main hall is great, as well as the long climb using various flights of stairs. It is difficult to memorize all these lefts and rights during speedrun.

 

About gameplay, it sucks, of course, but I believe it is exactly what Espi wanted. We have Ultimate Doom monsters, with 3 exceptions: arch-vile, hell knight and a chaingunner in a secret. Shotgun only, unless you find that chaingunner or a berserk (another secret). Ah, you have a rocket launcher, so you can fire two rockets :) Anyway, I will take two approaches of "fixing": conservative and liberal.

 

Conservative: you must take into account that SSG is not an option here, as it will be gloriously presented on MAP03. First, an urgent fix is to give more rockets. Any extra amount (there are none) is an improvement, more than 10 is maybe too much. But this will give more choice of handling the fights, which for me is fun by itself.

 

The arch-vile is fine, it can produce some scare when you play the WAD the first time. But it turns out, if you just run past the main hall, it will not teleport in. This should be fixed as well.

 

The hell knight is used as an indicator: look over there, there's the red key! So it is a thematic monster, but its placement, honestly, sucks. How am I supposed to use berserk there? Shogun only, again.

 

The berserk could be non-secret and more close to the start. It is, technically, not far away from the start, but it should be possible to pick it up when playing blindly. Now you can safely place some revs and the map should gain some life.

 

A liberal approach would be to break loose and place maybe a cyberdemon? (this would mean SSG or plasma or BFG). Right now the player does not need to return to the main hall after the yellow key, so something could be done to make him come back :)

 

 

 

EDIT (Important!)

 

Heh, actually there is a cyberdemon on the map, on multi-player. And SSG. And revs. I played it with -solo-net, and ammo seems extremely tight at first glance, but who knows? Maybe someone wants to give it a try this way.

Edited by vdgg

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Posted (edited)

Look at all the cute Mincubi :D

 

Planning on playing all (non-bonus) stuff this month

 

Suspended in Dusk

 

I'm playing this one on prB+ cl2, UV pistol start

 

I had a feeling this was going to be the one chosen out of my nominations, and I was right :P Like I said, I played Back to Basics by this author, which was pretty good, so hoping this is too

 

MAP01: Entryway

 

Well, looks like Espi didn't give a custom name to this one (or the others in the set), so Entryway it is. Immediately apparent here is...where are all the enemies? This map contains 119 enemies, but the opening section has none of them. So on you go and explore the rocky path, eventually reaching the outskirts of a techbase, and with it, some enemies. I was almost disappointed, wanting Espi to stretch out the monsterless section even further (it seems unique, 99% of stuff these days is dive right in)

 

Shoot some stuff, and you realise the pistol sounds different, but acts the same. Meh. Same with the chaingun. The rest seem unchanged so far.

 

Enter the techbase, and it doesn't take long for Espi to throw an arch vile your way. At that point I was thinking back to my IronEagle run of Back to Basics, and how E2M1 was the map I found most challenging. And sure facing an arch vile that early was surprising and caught me off guard. But it was the only point of the map I felt that vulnerable, the rest was pretty plain sailing.

 

And whilst the map was fun to romp around in, and progression was helped by the early provision of a computer map (which was itself pretty easy to find), a lot of it was very monotextural. STARGR dominates throughout, with the occasional contribution of STARG, STARTAN and the computer/tech textures. Even the areas that didn't follow this texture pattern still tended to be pretty gray. And yes, agreed with vdgg, not sure what was going on with that hell knight placement lol.

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SID MAP02.

 

It is another complex (or base), with lots of grey and stylishness. It seems to me inferior than MAP01, less memorable, so let's see what this map has which the previous hasn't.

 

There is some horizontal door pseudo trickery near the start, but in fact it is simple, and we don't actually see it opening. A nice touch, I guess.

 

One half is pretty linear and the other is only slightly non-linear, but hey, he again made it so you can easily lose sense of direction. Or is it just me? :) There is some symmetry and corridors look so similar to each other and I get easily confused.

 

We have some headquarters table of sorts? This part is awesome, and I admit that in my WAD which makes me cringe a bit now (Transfiguration) the lights are stolen from Espi: 

 

Spoiler

 

lites.jpg.c670606e315c6b7621c771a29db0712c.jpg

 

 

 

Gameplay department: no drastic changes at all! We get a plasma gun (or two) but Espi made sure we have a total number of cells which is correct according to him, but not according to me. This means: At least one Baron needs to be killed using minor weapons (that is, if you are maxing the map). The blue key guardian which is tied to a tiny square surrounding it is ridiculous. Stealing the key is really awkward and uncomfortable, so you'd better find that early secret plasma...

 

If you are pistol starting, prepare yourself for an armorless trip for 90% of the map (or 100%). The armor secret is a bit not obvious, fortunately there is a soulsphere secret which is rather visible, and this can be collected at any time.

 

We have no new monsters on solo-net, but we have the SSG! (also an early plasma, but it doesn't matter, I think the cells count is the same as in single player because you can only pick up one plasma gun out of three). So you can do the killing a bit faster.

 

The previous map was done on Nighmare! (by Never_Again), this one I didn't try but it looks extremely painful due to the chaingunners and that blue key baron.

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Posted (edited)

MAP01 (Suspended in Dusk)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

I thought I hadn't played this but I remember the first few scenes very well, probably one of the most memorable introductions to a wad. I like how the first indoor section plays with the player's expectations by extending the monsterless intro, requiring traversing another tunnel to reach the base proper. Combat is expectedly underwhelming, considering it plays second fiddle to the wad's main focus: exploration. The base is mostly populated by hitscanners and imps with a few beefier monsters appearing throughout, but the lack of traps really limits how threatening they are to the player - in fact, I took more damage against the first few enemies than in the rest of the level!

 

Secrets were surprisingly easy to find though they require some attention to details. The strongest points of the level are undoubtedly its nonlinear, interconnected layout and its visuals. I find the metal walls gradually rusting particularly appealing, the crane hanging from the ceiling is also another impressive sight but overall the level's gorgeous. A final shoutout to the most ineffectual hell knight placement I've seen, rivaling the arch-vile in Plutonia 2 MAP04 - both so pointless I forgot about them :P Neat level, though I expect the combat to pick up going forward.

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MAP02: Underhalls

 

For the most part, I think this level is better than the previous, but it lacks the interesting opener of the previous level. While still not amazing to look at, the visuals are an improvement on the previous level, with more metal, computer and blue textures used (but grey still dominates). The combat is also more of a challenge, mainly thanks to the much more prevalent use of the expanded Doom II bestiary, especially the chaingunner.

 

The jagged door at the start that partially opens up is an interesting detail, as is the alternate lava pits. The platforming soulsphere secret was also very welcome, and saved me certain death near the start. In general, hell nobles are well used, because they are in compact spaces and you are given plasma ammo to kill them rather than grinding them with the shotgun or chaingun (okay, so I might have had the benefit of the secret here, but like the other two secrets, they weren't exactly that hidden). The exception is right at the end where there are quite a few hell knights and unless you're more of an ammo conservationist than me, you don't have the ammo for them.

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I realized yesterday that my introduction to Espi was in NewDoom Community Project and not this jewel. Could it be a crime? :) 

 

Anyways, already played through it so for sure I'll leave some recordings before the end of the month and maybe for the rest as well, but no promises (glad to see a forgotten good Heretic map btw!). Crispy Doom, UV, pistol start(an)s.

 

 

Map 01

 

First reaction was a surprise on two things: the rock and grass textures I recall using in my Interception 2 submission because damn they're neat, and no new title on the other side. Odd, maybe Espi wasn't feeling a storyteller at that time and I get that, but the map has more body that "entryway" doesn't really fit.  

 

Yeah I see why this is well acclaimed. Count me in for the people who were amazed by the fine detailing while remembering every five seconds this is strict vanilla, not requiring a limit-removing source port. Some subtly smaller sectors here, diagonal lines there, shadows and curves, plenty smooth texture variants, it all comes clear now (BTSX), there's no need to rely on decoration when you can combine shapes and angles, add midtextures hanging at a reasonable height where the "top" and "bottom" aren't always visible so you escape weird visuals and basically this is chocolate, because it tastes better than vanilla (#facts). 

 

Though actually if I have to complain about one thing it's the doom 1 midi, very subjective btw. The map is very bright almost everywhere except a few corridors and nooks indoors, which lights still illuminate them enough, while the midi naturally suggests to me both really dark areas and mid-pauses of silence between isolated scary fights (e2m4 has the spectres or pinkies secret in darkness iirc) so one can listen to the track and feel the tension intensifying. The low monster count, sedate one-on-one skirmishes, somewhat leaves a bit of mystery as to when something will pop up from nowhere to scare me, even though that never happened since I tended to peekaboo around corners in case a shotgunner was lurking, and most of them were in fact ready to snipe from the distance.

 

Maybe with a different tune I would have felt a bit stronger connection with the atmosphere, but it's okay, I spent more time awed at the detail sorcery than anything else, like the dynamic silent mini squares in one of the earlier corridors, what you can do with actions and barrels sometimes is beyond me...

 

Sooo, cool stuff!

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MAP02 (Suspended in Dusk)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

Surprisingly hot start, you're swarmed by demons while under fire from shotgun guys on the balcony above. Hopefully you're in good shape after that, because other than a supercharge secret you won't be getting much health for a while. After the neat sliding door we arrive at an outdoor area, the only one in the level. There are a few lava pits nearby and a couple of radiation shielding suits, a bit overkill considering it's perfectly avoidable to step on the lava.

 

The difficulty increases noticeably due to higher tier monsters having more freedom to roam, this coupled with the cramped layout and the lack of armor will certainly provide for some nerve-racking encounters! There's a neat moment where a particularly deviously placed heavy weapon dude can be killed beforehand by paying attention to details. Secrets were a little trickier to find than in the previous level but they're very rewarding. Visuals are once again outstanding, I really like the abundance of windows and the great lightning work. One thing I didn't like as much is the scarcity of ammo for the power weapons, requiring using the shotgun/chaingun to dispatch a few of the beefier enemies. That flaw aside though, excellent stuff!

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SID MAP03.

 

A big, gorgeous creation. Like four medium size maps in one?

 

An interseting introduction, with these teleporting barrels. Then we have a bridge of sorts, awesome, and a dead end, with 3 consoles. Hopefully you know you should be pressing these. One of them requires the blue key, so we will be back here later...

 

Then we head towards a hybrid of STAR* texture facility and CEMENT city. This CEMENT is for me, by far, the most impressive thing done in this WAD. There's lots of sense of three dimensions, even though you don't walk over and under bridges. The ceiling height variation makes it so naturally looking. I am fully aware that CEMENT family of textures are notorious for being a total pain to align properly. They look bad when tiled every 64 or 128 units. Sure, Espi created his own textures which allow more versatility, but still... my jaw has dropped more than a few times.

 

The blue key fight is maybe the most memorable one in the WAD... Again, aesthetic prevails, they just have to teleport in using those cute teleport pads. They cannot do it "from the air" :) For me this is the same aspect of mapping as putting stimpacks on shelves, not just scattered around. It is a smart WAD, not a hellish mess!

 

(Somehow the monsters don't teleport in straight away after picking up the key; the mapper's intention was, probably, that you defend yourself in the blue key dead end area, but in reality, if you are fast and know the map well, you have time to escape the trap).

 

Now there is an optional quest to the megasphere, but I will leave it and not write too much... Good usage of three chaingunners and you may be continuing your quest with 120/120 instead of 200/200...

 

Next step is coming back to three consoles. Hey, an SSG appeared out of nowhere! This was one of these tricks I was fascinated by years ago, but it is very old, Mark Klem used it in MM2... When speedrunning, it happened to me that I skipped the corresponding linedef (I was rushing because my intention was to escape the blue key trap) and the SSG didn't appear... Restart. This is minor, but it is a bit annoying.

 

After CEMENT city we come to another submap, with some new STONE textures and a big courtyard. The yellow key is there and the arch-vile placement (on all skill levels!) is very nasty, though not dickish. It would have been much worse if there wasn't a door between the key and the arch-vile. In other words: you pick up the key, run up the lift, and you can open and close a fast door as you wish (or charge).

 

The last big portion of the map is another heavily STAR* textured and it can be best described by one of the /idgames reviewers: "over abundance of support structures--this place will never collapse!" Very cool metal section is also present, especially the curve with another arch-vile.

 

After the red key you can exit, though the path leading to it is a bit of a surprise. Nice layout!

 

I didn't play fully -solo-net this time, just a bit. We have more arachnotrons, a cyberdemon and a spider mastermind. Interesting, but I think playing the map for 20 minutes (current Max record) is enough. 

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MAP03 (Suspended in Dusk)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

This one's quite large and with a very respectable monster count of almost 300. The first half throws lots of midtiers (especially cacodemons) at you, which I just skipped past until I found a SSG and proceeded to kill them afterwards. I liked the "barrel spawner" that was useful to dispatch the first cacodemons. The blue key trap seemed to be pretty memorable as well but I didn't hang around for long - instead I returned later with the super shotgun equipped and made short work of it.

 

The secret megasphere is nearby and is probably the hardest secret to find yet, though you might be lucky and bump into it if you do things in a certain order. My favourite part of the level is easily the trek to the yellow key. Granted, there's some backtracking involved but the gorgeous outdoor vistas and the clever criss-crossing layout make it all worth it, not to mention the combat is actually exciting due to the abundance of hitscanners crammed like sardines in every nook and cranny :)

 

Hope you grabbed the megasphere or this whole section will be painful, but you get a plasma gun as a reward which will really help in the last stretch. The red key quest is fairly short but potentially deadly, as enemies are used sparingly but effectively - of particular note the arachnotron room, the imp teleport trap and the trigger happy heavy weapon dudes that will take any opportunity to shoot you through small windows. The arch-vile makes an appearance at the tail end but it's easily dealt with. Good level, I feel having the super shotgun available sooner would improve the pacing a lot in the first minutes though.

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SID MAP04.

 

Compared to MAP01/MAP02, the theme is reversed: METAL is dominant and greys are "auxiliary".

Definitely good stuff are these aircraft at the end.

 

Gameplay is mega mega awkward. We have SSG and rockets but everything is so cramped! The fights which I like is pinkies + chaingunners (fun to run past them), and two arch-viles appearing in the very long, previously visited corridor. Everything else get my stamp of being weird. The pain elemental's debut (and farewell), the railings in the arachnotron area which make rocket launcher dangerous for no good reason, and the cyberdemon totally blocking the exit and refusing to move. But also, refusing to show up if you choose the left path and generally hug to the left. Hard to explain properly, but it is possible that he doesn't spot you and doesn't teleport in. I am happy to have discovered this exploit as killing this cyber is totally unfun.

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MAP03: Gantlet

 

Well this really is a large map. The higher monster count suggests it, but really it is the progression that makes this map so long. This really is a meandering labyrinth of a level that has some degree of non-linearity, and though the combat is probably the best of the three levels so far, some of the progression is just too convoluted for my tastes, and there is more backtracking than there really needs to be imo. And monsterless backtracking at that. Otherwise, aesthetically it is very similar to the first two maps. 

 

I found all 5 secrets (again nothing all that hard to find), but one of them was a case of 'one secret, twice'. Again, Doom II enemies are there but in far less quantity than in your typical Doom II wad, which gives it an element of feeling like a Doom 1 mapset in the Doom 2 IWAD. 

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MAP04: The Focus

 

So after a behemoth of a level comes a shorter affair, and like vdgg mentioned, the most obvious thing to note here is that the greys of the first three levels are mostly gone, instead dark metallic textures play the major role this time.

 

This level springs a surprise much like the first - an archvile spawned that I wasn't prepared for - luckily I managed to dispatch it. And then a second one, which took me by surprise too. If you get hurt here the following hitscan corridor can be deadly. 

 

The barrel section that proceeds is pretty fun, giving the player some freebie kills. The liquid here looks like it's damaging, but it actually isn't. Both secrets are in this area, and yet again, are easily found. Overall, the Doom II monsters play a slightly larger role here (the 2nd and 3rd map kinda felt like a Doom map + chaingunners), but aren't exactly dominant. Even in this shorter level, there's some backtracking which feels more than necessary, yet at least this time you get the dual archviles.

 

Just like in Back to Basics, we have a cyberdemon finale, but this one is more underwhelming as it is basically used as a blocker so is much less threatening and more of a grind. The exit aircraft at the end is interesting.

 

Overall

 

A mapset I would describe as 'decent'. Nothing here that particularly caught my eye, save the monsterless introduction, but nothing offensive either, you can tell from playing this that Espi was a highly competent mapper.

 

I do think Back to Basics is better than this, however at the same time I'm not sure I can really compare them fairly, given the conditions that I was playing Back to Basics in (i.e. part of IronEagle). IronEagle / Ironman basically makes any 'moderately difficult' mapset more fun in my view, because your every action matters more, making for a more engaging experience. Certainly the many hitscan corridors that occur throughout these 4 maps would become more tense in that environment.

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Posted (edited)

MAP04 (Suspended in Dusk)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

The last level, wonder what they'll throw at us, perhaps a Cyberdemon? Bingo! Interestingly it's probably the least threatening monster in the level, making for a rather disappointing fight - if it could roam freely it'd be a completely different story. There's a few things I didn't like as well, like the starting lift that takes too long to lower and the pointless shotgun guy near the exit. The level is mainly covered in metal textures, which are a welcome change that adds a bit of variety and they combine well with the muddy section near the red key. Combat wise there's not much deviation from the mostly incidental nature as seen in the previous levels, perhaps the sudden arch-viles are the most memorable encounters even though they're easily dispatched unless you're unlucky. Not much more to say, an adequate finale I guess.

 

Final thoughts:

 

A hugely influential work that's perhaps the crown jewel of Espi's legacy, consisting on sprawling gorgeous techbases that are somehow fully vanilla-compatible. Combat is largely incidental but if you skip past the monsters you might get surprised, they can actually roam to places you don't expect them to. It can get a little bit sloggy at times, but  it's understandable considering the wad's main focus is exploration (and it's highly successful at that). So yeah, a great set and very much worth a play!

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Unholy Trinity.

 

I have played every wad from "100 WADs of all time" up to 1998, except Unholy Trinity. I really don't know why.

 

I knew the trivia about it, and I watched Plut's demo in 2012. Maybe even Never_Again's demos earlier. Despite this it was obvious for me that I didn't remember anything at all. So let's start...

 

My first thought was that I loaded a wrong IWAD or something, upon seeing big black textures behind me :)

 

First 5 minutes were fun. I found a shotgun, rocket launcher, berserk (which solved my low health problems).

Next 15 minutes were not fun. I started wall humping everything hoping to find at least one key. No success! So eventually I cheated with double IDDT which showed me access to the blue key.

 

I don't know if it is bad design or not. I am not sure if I would have enjoyed this map 10 years ago more than now. Is it me just getting old and not enjoying being literally stuck with no monsters to kill... I digress.

 

After that no more problems, I finished in less than 35 minutes and I am not impressed. All the courtyards are mega cool, but the rooms and corridors not so much. Compared to Galaxia, this is inferior. Overall, props for nice texture/photographic work, and the deep water experiment (veeery strange deep water (or lava, whatever)). The title "Unholy Trinity" is also mega cool. I can see some enthusiasm and humour, but I don't want to replay it. 

 

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Unholy Trinity

 

So this map is a 'reasonable interpretation' of Trinity College, Cambridge. Random fact, I interviewed for a place at Cambridge University (not at Trinity College, so I don't get the benefit of playing a map based on a location I'd been to IRL). Didn't get it though, I did pretty badly in the interview. Pretty happy about how things have since turned out nonetheless, so no regrets.

 

And as soon as you start, it's very much clear the environs you are in, starting in the main courtyard of the college. The mappers decided to use a blue sky with just a few clouds, which is a strange choice because it's always fully cloudy in England :P What is also strange, is the black textures, as vdgg mentioned. 

 

So as you can expect from a level based on realism, exploration is the primary draw. The geometry is not particularly suited to engaging combat, especially in the outdoor courtyards. To their credit, the mappers did try and spice things up a little bit with some lost souls, but yeah, that's about it. The secret rocket launcher helped take off some of the grind from the battles.

 

Honestly I found the progression fine, but I am a player that compulsively checks the automap, and two of the keys are in places that you probably wouldn't think to look without glancing at the automap. The cinema room showing 'Trinity Doom' was pretty cute. The rest of the indoors areas weren't really anything to write home about (admittedly this is 1994 so not so much should be expected on this front), but the courtyard areas looked pretty nice. Overall, a mediocre level, but a fair effort for its time.

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Unholy Trinity

HMP

 

As luck would have it, I played through this a few weeks ago when I had a day of playing nothing but 1994 wads. I actually did that because I wanted to play something easy after map 19 of Eviternity burned me out on modern wad difficulty for a day or two. This definitely fit that bill, at least from a combat perspective, though I also had some difficulty with progression. In general, it was super endearing to see what was basically the original Doomcute, complete with that cool theater section. I imagine implementing a lot of this was a nightmare back in 94, and for the most part, it looks alright today. And while I think we've all gotten used to it, it's still pretty staggering that we have so much user-made content that goes this far back. Reading the short readme for this almost made me feel like an archaeologist. 

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Posted (edited)

The Unholy Trinity (Doom II)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

Upon checking the wiki page for this I noticed someone converted it to Doom II. A somewhat lazy conversion though, as it adds no Doom II features but at least it's accurate to the original. About the level itself, it's an experiment in recreating a real life building in the Doom engine. Considering it was released in 1994 and as thus made with primitive tools, it's a quite accurate rendition of Trinity College, Cambridge. Textures don't look too good nowadays in high resolution ports but I do like the crimson tiles that cover large portions of the indoor sections.

 

Progression was easy for me, guess inspecting every window paid off in the end. Gameplay isn't anything to write home about as the large outside areas don't really benefit Doom's bestiary and inside the building monsters are scarce. I liked the lava section but it looked weird, at least on GLBoom+ (perhaps a primitive deep water effect?). My favourite part was the small cinema room, a bit of a shame it's optional. An interesting level, very dated in terms of gameplay but an important bit of PWAD history nonetheless.

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Port Glacia (prBoom+, cl9, UV)

 

At 309 monsters on UV, it suggests a medium-largeish map, but this map is huge. Not necessarily in scale, but definitely in time, I think I clocked around 50 minutes of in-game time on this one. Basically there is a lot of re-use of the same areas of the map, with backtracking exceeding that of Suspended in Dusk, and an element of confusing progression (not overly cryptic, just a case of exploring until you find where to go next). Monster density is very low, with the bulk of the map consisting of mini-battles of roughly 4-8 monsters each.

 

The 'frozen' water that makes up Port Glacia is used as a pain sector here, but one cannot reasonably complain about this as the entrance is marked with the warning sign 'freezing', which is welcome. The rest of the opening section is dark grey and black metallic/base textures that make up the port. Unfortunately, a mixture of similarly dark textures and relatively flat lighting leads to a level that I find pretty drab in the looks department, which compounded with the sparse action and long map duration leads to a level I did not enjoy at all.

 

The ice cave that made up the second section, with the clever use of silent teleportation to seamlessly transport the player between the two sections, provided some brief enjoyable distraction at first, but that was about it. My main gripe with this level is basically most clearly shown in one part of the ice cave, where you pick up the yellow key, and rather than head straight to the yellow door to use it, you have to traverse round the entire outer perimeter of the ice cave (which I had already done by this point) to hit the yellow switch that opens that door, before doing the exact same traverse back again, albeit a few enemies appear. Seemed like needless padding of map length to me. By the end, I was just glad to have finished.

 

The text file mentions this map was originally meant for Joy of Mapping 5, a project led by Jimmy where mappers had 72 hours to complete their map, but the mapper decided to pull it out of the project as the ambition and scale of this map exceeded what could be done in that time limit / what was meant for that project. I guess to be honest I would have preferred a 'trimmed down' 72 hour version of this map, but hey this map got a runner-up in the 2018 Cacowards, so even though I didn't enjoy it, there's certainly other players that found / will find a lot to appreciate in this map.

Edited by Horus

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Thanks Horus for playing it "properly" until the end/exit, I didn't have this patience or enthusiasm. I was so tempted to use the pun "Port Glacia left me cold", but as I quit after 15 minutes, I cannot speak about it as a whole. I couldn't find the way to lower a pillar with a key, and after realizing I had no fun at all I resigned. There was lots of effort put there, so sorry, it just didn't hit the right chords for me. I didn't like the music either.

 

With Bauhaus I have another problem. This is one of my favourite, favourite WADs of all time, maybe top four when I think about it, but I really find it hard to describe. MAP01 is not that special, it introduces the concept of soulsphere on every map, berserk at the end, and has a very open feel with monsters scattered around. My current Max record of 2:00 kind of sucks, I had something like 1:52 with one survivor zombieman if I remember. I liked that mancubus placement, the rest was just OK.

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MAP01: Bauhaus 1 (Bauhaus)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

An opener that already leaves a strong impression. I've never been particularly artistically inclined, but the Bauhaus movement piqued my interest when I first learned about it some years ago, how they strived to combine functionality and artistic vision. Its influence is felt in the design of the three buildings that make the greater part of this level, two of them houses that look spectacularly cozy. Gameplay is a bit less stellar as enemies feel like they're placed just to give the player something to kill, particularly the hell knight and mancubus that you have to kill with weak weapons if you're going for 100% kills. At least the level's short so I can't complain much about that. Solid level, surprised there were no secrets to find though. 

Edited by Andromeda

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1 minute ago, Andromeda said:

surprised there were no secrets to find though. 

 

Don't worry, you'll get your fair share of those on a map later this month...

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MAP02: Bauhaus 2 (Bauhaus)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

Here we start in an interesting black area with some blue bits. As we make progress the rooms gradually transform revealing enemies. I was enjoying the ride but then I got softlocked, couldn't figure out how to open the bars that blocked the blue door. Looking at it in the editor I spotted the problem - I had the option "Use passes thru all special lines" activated on my source-port, which easily breaks levels like this one. With the problem solved, I continued with the level, this time taking more damage in the leadup to the blue door but no big deal as there's a supercharge available.

 

Taking the lift up reveals the next building, akin to the ones seen on the previous level but more extensive and with three paintings proudly hanging on a wall near the entrance. Things get a bit switch-hunty here and I managed to overlook a clearly visible switch that lowered the red key for five minutes, which on the upside made me find the plasma gun and second rocket launcher secrets. Then it's a matter of getting the yellow key, which requires paying a visit to a switch shooting range and afterwards we have a final confrontation against a Spiderdemon. It's a very easy battle since its arachnotron minions are easily angered and start relentlessly shooting at their poor master. I then made them kill the annoying mancubus who kept shooting at me from above and they happily complied. Very helpful creatures! A great level overall.

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Bauhaus 2's first part is a basement. You normally cannot call basement "gorgeous" but I really like the main texture and yes, it is interestingly combined with the implausible blue. Also, gameplay is fun, it has a Memento Mori vibe to me (Jens Nielsen, in particular). Mini encounters, switches, closets opening, one switch is to be pressed three times I think.

 

Second part is a quite realistic house, mostly white, with beautiful bits, such as these ceiling lamps. Then we have an outdoor finale. Easy, indeed. Great map.

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Before I get any further, I just realized something. I have Bauhaus in high regard and this is a crateless mapset. Many good mappers like Dutch Devil use crates everywhere and I don't think it is very creative. Other favourites of mine are MM2, Darkening 2 and Caverns of Darkness.

MM2 has crates maybe in 3 maps, I need to check it (MAP15 and 28 for sure, limited to one room in each), Darkening 2 yes, but apart from Ukiro and Nick Baker and Wiles there are surprsingly few of them IMO, in Caverns of Darkness I don't recall any. There is some subconscious connection in my mind, no crates = excellent.

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1 hour ago, vdgg said:

in Caverns of Darkness I don't recall any. There is some subconscious connection in my mind, no crates = excellent.

"Hey SiFi270, look! A person with similar taste in WADs to yours! What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to be needlessly pedantic and rain on their parade."

COD had a bunch of crates in Map02's green key room.

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MAP03: Bauhaus 3 (Bauhaus)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

Difficulty ramps up a lot here. The start and the end are particularly hot, but the level gives you hardly any room for mistakes. This is due to very good enemy placement and lack of armor (only a few bonuses scattered around). In the first half you'll have to contend with lots of hitscanners and imps, with the odd midtier thrown in to add a little bit of variety. Nothing too difficult after fighting to establish a foothold at the start but avoid losing too much health or you'll have a stop-start experience.

 

The final area is where arch-viles are deployed more liberally and can cause some trouble, you have plenty of cover but if you miss the obvious rocket launcher like I did it'll be tricky to dispose of them. I managed to telefrag one of them and cleared the last two slowly but it would have been a lot faster if I hadn't missed that essential weapon. Anyway, in terms of looks this one takes place completely indoors, but is no less interesting as the layout transforms as we make progress, picking up where the last level left off. Not sure what's up with the super long MIDI, as it still hadn't looped by the time I made the exit in a slow time of about 20 minutes. Good level, wish it had some armor though.

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Castle of Evil (prBoom+, cl3, UV)

 

My word. 47 secrets! 47! That has to be the record out of any Doom level I’ve played. Did I find all 47? Hell no, 19 was what I got, and that’s respectable for me. Have fun, secret hunters.

 

The other thing to notice is 482 monsters, very high for an Ultimate Doom map and very high for a 1994 map. But as you can imagine, this is not slaughter, not even close. Instead it is a sprawling massive non-linear adventure. My Doom history is not good enough to know if this is the first of its kind, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is, or at least one of the first.

 

The problem I have with such levels, is that I inevitably end up going round in circles and get lost. Now this isn’t quite as bad in that sense as other sprawling non-linear maps I’ve played (I got hopelessly lost in Anagnorisis in Eviternity), but there was still a whole lot of going round in circles.

 

The other problem with this level is the overuse of barons and the underprovision of rockets/chaingun ammo. I get its Ultimate Doom so the bestiary is limited, but if you give a player all these Barons, don’t make me shotgun them (even for 1994, mappers should know better!)

 

Still, it is an incredible achievement for its time, and exploring for some of the secrets was fun, even if I had no intention of going for all 47. The use of many different key doors throughout the map did help its sense of direction to a certain extent. The fake exit was clearly a fake exit lol, it comes too soon.

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1 hour ago, Horus said:

My word. 47 secrets! 47! That has to be the record out of any Doom level I’ve played.

 

If "Bury My Heart Knee Deep" is chosen someday that record might get kicked in the nuts (;

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MAP04: Bauhaus 4 (Bauhaus)

PrBoom+ 2.5.1.4, HNTR-PS, no saves, 100% everything

 

The enemy count is doubled here in comparison to the previous level, but it actually felt a lot easier. The healthy amount of supercharges and armors provided might have something to do with it, since monster usage remains well thought out and somewhat dangerous. The level's divided in four main areas, each one identified via a letter ('E', 'X', 'I' and 'T') and containing a unique weapon. To unlock the exit (as you might have guessed) you have to complete all sections - you can tell when you've done a section when a small cube with the respective letter appears on a pedestal.

 

The areas also differ wildly in terms of difficulty: the super shotgun (barely lost any health here) and BFG9000 areas were easy, while the plasma gun and rocket launcher (only time I dipped below 100% health in the entirety of the level) ones were quite tricky. In some of the sections there's a particularly memorable sequence that sets them apart - in the BFG9000 section there's a peculiar wireframe room, while the rocket launcher one holds an interesting supercharge puzzle. The other two areas lack such a thing, but they're connected so that you can access either anytime without having to leave the one you're in. In terms of looks it's the usual mainly white-black visuals that we've come to expect from a Bauhaus level, that pairs well with the clever layout and the fun mix of closet traps, teleport traps and incidental combat that gives life to the level. The best level in the set in my opinion.

 

Final thoughts:

 

A short wad with a unique style, feeling at times more like a work of art rather than a collection of Doom levels. In spite of that gameplay doesn't suffer at all, with the levels proving enjoyable to blast through and even quite challenging (looking at you, MAP03!). A great set, as is expected from a Cacowards runner-up.

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