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The DWMiniwad Club Plays: [various things]

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What is the DWMiniwad Club? 


It's like the DWMegawad Club, but we'll focus on single maps and smaller mapsets. Where the DWMegawad Club aims to fill most of its days, this club won't, so that you can still maintain an active slate of other Doom obligations.


How will maps be selected? 


I will pick them, drawing almost entirely from a pool of user suggestions. My goal is to maintain at least some diversity in the selections (along vectors like difficulty and art style) -- so I won't simply choose the wads that get the most votes. Please hold your suggestions until the 26th of the month.


How do I participate? 


Play, do write-ups, etc. You can play any or all of the month's offerings. When a set contains multiple maps, you can do a single write-up for the set or one for each map.


What are those dates beside wads? 


To help with organization, the month is staggered: wads are "unlocked" for commenting on a certain day, on which they become available forever in case you're late.


Why aren't the dates spread out evenly over the whole month?


This is to satisfy a balance between keeping discussion tidy while not forcing someone to wait until late in a month if they are only going to play one or two things. If you're playing everything, feel free to stagger out your play more evenly -- you don't have to play a wad on the very day it becomes unlocked. 


What are bonus wads? 


Bonus content might require a lesser-used source port or iwad, involve a niche game mode (such as multiplayer or rocket jumping), or even focus on a gameplay mod rather than maps. It is designated as bonus content to acknowledge that not everyone might want to go to the necessary lengths to play it.


Have you considering renaming this "The extremely unwieldy thread title club"? 





Wad 1 (June 30): Uplink (3 Boom-format maps by Katamori)




Wad 2 (July 4): Woodcraft (1 vanilla map by Roofi) 




Wad 3 (July 6): Crossing Acheron (1 vanilla map by Dr. Sleep)




Wad 4 (July 8): The Eye (1 Boom-format map by Mouldy)




Wad 5 (July 10): Oberon Base (1 vanilla map by Simo Malinen)



Wad 6 (July 12): dead.air (1 GZDoom map by Xaser) 




No bonus stuff this month! 


Previous Threads


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Cool shit indeed, I should try to join in this month. I've been meaning to replay The Eye, especially since the last time I played it my computer could barely keep up at times.

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Some nice, fairly easy maps with a cyberpunk theme, complete with all-blue statusbar. Cyberpunk as an aesthetic in Doom is such a clash of anachronisms; it's a theme very grounded in the 90s, and yet the map doesn't look at all like Doom maps in the 90s did, but it's still Doom so it doesn't look like anything modern either, and the use of MP3 music furthers its distance from "classic" classic Doom.


Anyhow it all works together pretty well. The visuals/aesthetics are the clear highlight of these maps, and they do a good job of getting a retro-future feel across. The open areas in MAP02 and the very end of MAP03 are the highlight, with large techy columns floating in the air. The occasional STARTAN or other stock texture feels out of place in all of this; at some times it seems like it's supposed to be a boundary between the "real world" and cyberspace, but other times it feels like it's... just there? But it doesn't detract too bad.


I've played a Katamori map or two before, but the thing I remember him most for is watching his video playthroughs of Going Down when it was in the DWMegaC, and generally hating the non-stop onslaught of monsters, though I think the pushed through the whole wad regardless. So I wasn't expecting any major gameplay challenges, and indeed there weren't any. But that's fine, combat was interesting enough with a surprise AV now and then, and it's clear that that wasn't the main focus.


Unfortunately the whole thing is soured a bit by the bulk of MAP03. The start is very promising -- nomo exploration and platforming in the dark, and then a Cyberdemon you need to evade -- but once you get into the glowy maze everything just crashes down. It's not just a flat and monotonous looking area, but the glowing gave me a headache, the combat was grindy and trivial (there were like a dozen berserks but I never fell below 100% health), and mazes rarely work in Doom at the best of times. The end section was at least nicer looking, but evading lost souls and PEs until you can exit the map (or just BFGing them all, if you play continuous) is not a very climatic finish.


Apparently these maps were originally supposed to be part of a bigger mapset; the way MAP03 falls flat suggests that it was maybe just finished like that in order to release it.


Anyhow, 2 and a half out of 3 maps were quite enjoyable, so that's pretty good overall.

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+ each map attempts to do something markedly different structurally: m01, small conceptual intro with a 'pick your poison' structure to the content in the big lower area; m02, more of a traditional abstract three-key hunt in the mapset's virtual-reality setting; m03, linear this time, a chain of concepts and concepts and concepts, most being pretty interesting. 


+ an uncommon concept/setting. virtual reality is not entirely unheard of (lupinx-Kassman's second map in CChest4, Valiant's secret map, and Doom 404 by Capellan come to mind immediately) but it's definitely not in the roster of traditional Doom themes. that adds a degree of novelty that makes Uplink more interesting to play. not really a mapset that amazes aesthetically, tiny bit rough in craft in places, but overall it was decent, and the texture combinations and sky choice was pleasing. apparently server data is stored in big collections of UAC crates. 


+ cool MIDIs. map01's is really dancy and catchy; map02 is pleasant and has a techy 'retro Science show' vibe; map03's is great and suits the dark, spooky mood well. 


+ the start of map03 was easily my favorite part of the mapset. the concepts there are pretty clever. just about everything in that half of the map works for me, but my favorites were the monsterless server climbing and the cyber hallway. 


- combat can be grindy. map02 tends to place lots of stuff in front of you that you chew through with the SSG. pinky hordes in map01 and map03 are too big and it seems like they were designed with a bit of naievete -- that technique where you induce a pinky's melee attack and back up slightly keeps them from ever being threatening.


- the entire blue hallway zone is 3x too long to justify itself -- find switch in eyesore maze, reveal block of monsters, repeat several times -- and hurts what would have been a pretty cool finale. 

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This is an early Roofi map that focuses more on the encounter design and gameplay but doesn't entirely neglect aesthetics. Instead of finer detailing (which is possible even in vanilla, since the rooms and hallways without many connections aren't much of a visiplane-overflow risk), the outdoor design leaves on recurring motifts -- like sector-detail trees (you'll see these in many pwads over the years) and Scythe-like midtex step bridges (those remind me of Kama Sutra). Indoor areas tend to be brown, rectangular hallways, with textures like METAL2 that are pretty HR2-like to me. It still feels like a very gameplay-oriented map, but going the extra step above STARTAN-clad rooms always helps. 


While the combat has a bit of throwing blocks of monsters at you like its main inspiration, a lot of the similarities are just visual. Since 2003 people have gotten a lot stronger at gameplay design. This map avoids the grindy excesses of HR2, and it also has surprising choreography wrinkles in even its cruder-looking fights. Take the fight after the start as an example: three barriers lower after you grab the SSG and RL, and monsters pour down that hallway at you. But you're given just enough rockets (without the secret in the start area), and the hallway is just short enough, and that one vile is just safe enough behind its fatso bodyguards. It's tricky to keep pumping rockets down the hallway with the vile occasionally attacking you, and you do want to hold your ground and prevent the monsters from spilling into the start area. Unless you get lucky -- the vile, extra thirsty for you, dodging its protective squad of mancs, because maybe you were dressed nicely -- that vile is probably going to alive when you have no rockets and you'll need to SSG it down in a hurry before it rezzes stuff. 


Or on the red key leg of progression, there is a crew of low-tier monsters -- sergeants and spectres that bunch up near a lift that is monster-blocked. Bad encounter? Not quite. Look at the BFG. That is an optional early BFG that can only be grabbed with a vile jump. If you kill those low-tier monsters near the lift, near the 64-wide door on that side of the room, then they form a roadblock of corpses that makes it tougher for the vile to get into a good spot to vilejump you. It'll happen but slowly, and you'll chew through lots of shells killing the rezzed monsters. So odds are you want to avoid hiding in the "safe" lift region, and instead bait those low-tiers into infighting, then kill most of them away from the door. You're given a berserk and green armor to heal and make the vile jump every time, but you probably want to soften up the vile with two or three SSG shots before it jumps you, so that you can kill it quickly afterwards. 


Cyberdemon usage throughout is quite cheeky (not in this way), and that is also one of the defining traits of the map. I loved the surprise one in an extemely tiny corridor. There is a cool fight with one on a narrow bridge with two viles overhead (btw these viles are awkward to kill imo, fidgety enough that you need to wait for them to stop moving and then hurl rockets, which is tedious). 


Other minuses: I think the spider mastermind along the red key path is an unnecessary grind (unless you have the BFG from another path or the early vilejump here -- at first I didn't). The popup HK in this area is so close to its trigger line that as I moved into that corner, I ended up getting scratched when it was still rising from the ground. The very last fight in the map is maybe the easiest fight in the map, which is fine, but I'd have liked more 'satisfaction' from it -- maybe more low-tiers to gib -- in that case. The rest is a matter of taste. I'm on record as thinking 'just add more rockets' is sometimes a lazy improvement when encounters themselves might be tweaked to play better, but when I got to the outdoor region on the red key path, I found myself wanting more rockets for the stuff clumped in front of me, before that big group of revenants with two viles. (I didn't find the early rocket secret and I ended up using most of my rockets on other things earlier.) 


Overall this is a solid early-career map that takes inspiration from an older style while avoiding many of its common pitfalls. (You will not SSG a baron in this map unless you spawn one via the console.) 

Edited by ‹rd›

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