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rd.

The DWMiniwad Club Plays: more things [including Brigandine, Miasma, etc.]

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Posted (edited)

Colorful list there. This could be the perfect excuse to finally taste Miasma and Criticality by myself...

 

The revenant in the first screenshot reminded me of Jessica Rabbit :x

 

... ah, I think putting some names in the thread's title could bring more attention to the general public, maybe.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/2/2021 at 12:49 PM, galileo31dos01 said:

 ... ah, I think putting some names in the thread's title could bring more attention to the general public, maybe.

 

I'm not too motivated to advertise tbh but sure why not. 

Edited by rd.

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I played UD, D2, and Final Doom for the first time around 1999, and went back to them (well, mostly D2 and Plutonia) every so many years, but the modding scene managed to stay off of my radar until 2016. After downloading my first source port, Scythe 2 was my introduction to full 32-map PWADs, and shortly after that, I tried my first single-map PWAD: Brigandine. To sum up my experience at that time of Viggles’ brown, gothic gem with a single sentence, it would have to be “Holy shit, you can make this kind of stuff?

 

Having not played the map in 4-5 years, time that has been marked by an incredible journey into the Doom scene – both, as a player, and now a happy little mapper myself – this seemed like an awesome chance to revisit Brigandine. I wondered to what extent my view of the map would change, on the back of everything else I’ve experienced since my first playthrough. I think I’m even more impressed now than I ever was.

 

I played using GZDoom on UV, securing 100% kills and items, and a modest 3/6 secrets (I couldn’t figure out how to reach the Megaarmor, the Backpack, and I’m not actually sure what the last secret was). The three secrets I did find were the Berserk cave, the early RL, and the BFG, and this is a perfect point to dive into some of the things I love about this map – to start, I admire just how much fun it is to find secrets here. Each one comes with a small “bonus fight” (the details of which I’d rather not spoil), but it made finding them a lot more exciting, and the fruits of each secret all the more rewarding. As a mapper, I'd really like to use this approach more often. I can’t imagine attempting the blue key region to the south-east without that early, secret RL, but god bless the souls who try.

 

More to the point of what really butters my eggroll about this map is the flow. Flow... what the hell is even that? While I don’t possess a degree in Gamerology, Brigandine offers great examples of what I considered satisfying “flow” at work in a Doom map.

 

  • The layout is smooth, compact, and clear. I was never lost, despite the level utilizing tons of clever “overlapping” in terms of connected space (both visually, and in combat), because Viggles put a great deal of care into making sure that my path invariably led me straight towards my goal. Another defining aspect is found in the lack of right-angles – the majority of corners are rounded, leading to a sort of “roller-coaster” sensation as I zipped around the level. On top of that, there are several doors that open themselves with the careful use of WR (fast) lines, offering Viggles the luxury of a barrier without having to stop the player. In his text file, Viggles expressed his intention to bring “deathmatch flow” to a single-player experience: he nailed it.
  • Combat is bite-sized, even up to the larger "setpiece" arenas. A lot of the fights kick off in a flash, they’re intense, and in a moment they’re over and we’re moving again. Closely tied to that note about the layout and rounded-corners, there’s a focus on momentum in Brigandine. It doesn’t keep you in any one place for very long, nor does it sacrifice its ability to create memorable moments. The map feels like a "whole" experience, rather than a series of individual experiences strung together.
  • The resources, while given cautiously, are abundant just enough to make me feel free to engage however I want. Early secrets and exploration certainly shouldered a lot of the credit for that, but even in terms of health and armor (in addition to shells, bullets, and rockets), I always seemed to have exactly what I wanted in the right moment, assuming I was at least a little prudent. I’m sure there are plenty of unsung playtesters to thank for this balance, as well.

Of course, the level is a visual and aesthetic powerhouse; a pinnacle in vanilla texture usage; a paragon of stunning architecture and evocative environments. Sorry, I’ll put the thesaurus away now. The map looks awesome! Just as it did all those years ago, Brigandine had me smacking the “screenshot” hotkey at almost every turn. The amount of “oh fuck, that’s cool” tricks that this level has with geometry and texture use are incalculable. I wanted to write out a small list of examples until I realized how ridiculously hard it would be to narrow them down, or explain them – Brigandine is a map you simply have to see for yourself. Just download it and play it, it’s worth it.

 

Seeing the detail through “mapping eyes”, this is also something of a masterclass in how to create detail without disrupting things. My biggest take away, and one of the greatest tricks I found Viggles employing throughout Brigandine, was the tactic of creating “inset” detail, where all the beautiful bits of stuff going on were physically set into the walls and out of the way, leaving a single, outer line that the player can slide across in a hurry without getting snagged or bumped about. Noted! This corridor is one of my favorite examples of this technique, from the map:

 

Spoiler

HqH0YHeh.png

 

And, as if I hadn’t learned enough from him already, Viggles proved to me just how much ambience you can layer on top of your level with the right music. The Conelrad track is mesmerizing, given an extra boost being in OGG. Right from the first beat it had this wonderful way of making me feel anxious, and at the same time, ready to fight to the death – like a more intense, and badass version of Bobby Prince’s E1M5 midi “Suspense”. I loved it.

 

Doom 2 has been around since 1994, but it took until 2016-17 for someone to show me what I really want out of the "Hell on Earth" concept. I don’t know how replicable this style is in practice – Viggles might just be a wizard – but it’s certainly one that I’d pay good money to see more of. Thankfully, Brigandine will always be around for me to replay and experience, and enjoy, again and again.

 

Thanks for picking this one, rd. It was a delightful trip down memory lane, and reinforces a lot of lessons I should’ve taken to heart as a mapper, a long time ago. Miasma is another one I haven’t touched in several years, I’m excited to play through it again. I remember getting curb-stomped by some its later encounters, but I also considered anything remotely approaching “slaughter” to be a hot pile of garbage, at the time, so I’m guessing I’ll enjoy Miasma a lot more this time around! And, I’ve been procrastinating on Criticality... I think I’ll take this opportunity to download that sucker, as well!

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Thinking I might join in on this, because unlike with the DWMegawad club, I don't have to "catch up" if I miss a day and I don't have to play maps I don't want to.

 

Looking at the screenshots, Dark Tide and Brigandine look really interesting, so I'll probably give them a try at least. Miasma looks interesting too, but I'm not really into 1+ hour endurance maps, and I'm a mediocre player at best.

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Don't know why it took such a long time to find this again.....but anyway, I'm really glad to be here and to participate in this event! It sounds like a lot of fun, though I won't do all of them. Most likely, Hidden Mountain Factory because it's one of those maps the oldsters like to talk about in the same vein as Fava Beans or something else bland like that, along with Brigadine and maybe Dark Tide as well (Chris Lutz maps are always difficult though, so we'll see).

 

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Surprised to see Big Woodchip turn up in one of these! Definitely one of my stronger single maps, so maybe I’ll revisit it for a retrospective at some point. I’ve played most of the maps I’d usually be interested in here already - Brigandine, Dark Tide and, I think, A Hidden Mountain Factory - so if I’m going to partake in this session, it’ll be maps out of my comfort zone and preference, just for the novelty.

 

Incidentally, the two I know I’ve definitely played are really good.

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Since the DWMC (myself included) is playing 180 Minutes Pour Vivre this month, a set consisting (mostly) of speedmaps, which in general require less lengthy write-ups, I thought I'd also participate in this event as well. I have neglected single-map wads for basically my entire Doom 'career', and now seems a good a time as any to rectify this. Also, I'll take any excuse to replay Brigandine!

 

Expect lengthy write ups in the near future!

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A Hidden Mountain Factory.

 

This was listed as one of the top WADs for 1996 a billion years ago (ok, it was 2003 and no updated list has been made since then so what does that say?). When I read the entry on this on the Onemandoom blog, I remember thinking "not so visually appealing, I may play this because the action sounds cool but...." Yes, this was the only real reason to do it. Because while 172 monsters was impressive for 1996.....it's not exactly up to today's standards when it comes to maintaining action. Is it good though? Oh yes......

 

 See, you've got a great example of a level that actually resembles the title of the level. You start out in a craggy canyon of sorts with lots of imps but with enough ammo to handle them. Unfortunately, it also features one of my least-liked textures in all of Doom. The rock is both too pure white and rendered in a way where the holes stand out far more than they normally should. This annoyed me to no end in many levels in Thy Flesh Consumed (particularly Unto the Cruel) and it had a way of highlighting a map's lack of artistic creativity for me. But due to the shape of the canyon, it's just used very effectively here.

 

When you enter the factory, you're immediately startled by the constant opening of doors and raising/lowering of lifts. It took me some time to realize secret doors weren't opening up and this was just Werner's attempt at creating some ambient noise. The good-news is that it goes silent when you hit a switch near the yellow key - not like it'll help you find the secrets because a berserk pack would sure be helpful. You also see lots of little visual touches like pipes and bits of machinery that tell you you're in a factory of sorts. Nothing remarkable though.

 

 See, while combat doesn't start very difficult, as you descend deeper into the mountain though, the difficulty climbs quickly and you'll find yourself taking on Revenants and Hell Knights with a shotgun in close quarters. Hopefully, you're eagle-eyed enough to spot the hidden door that inexplicably isn't a secret but does have health and ammunition for the taking.

 

And that's one of the main challenges of this map. You'll have to deal with lots of fiendishly-placed enemies and you don't exactly have lots of breathing room to handle them. Finding the secrets will help out some, but I only found half of them. The area where you cross the linedef in front of the Blue key is one of the worst, as it'll trigger a monster closet to open containining a Baron and an Arch-vile who will quite likely resurrect the Manacubus you killed earlier. If you can trigger infighting here, it should be much easier. And hope you killed the Revenants on either side of the hall outside this room.....it feels a little bullshit, to be honest, but Plutonia trains you for these things.

 

You end this map by climbing slowly out of the mountain and having to fight some Barons and chaingunners at the exit(did you find the other hidden door in this section? I hope you did). Don't charge at them and you should be fine. Great 'one final surprise' KME E XIII.....

 

Did I like this map overall? Yes, it's an interesting set of challenges and for 1996, quite excellent indeed.

 

This might be the last miniwad I do because I still have other projects I need to do, but go ahead////

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Posted (edited)

Its a pretty shameful display that i haven't even casually tried out my abandon co-mappers "small side project" as he called it during development, as Criticality is one of the best single map experiences ive had in a fairly long time. @Scotty is far too modest, this is not a small side project in any way, shape or form. The DW ironman club is currently full of people who are killing a few enemies in the first fight, dying and immediately stopping playing, so i figured id post my thoughts in here instead. Played through it a couple of nights ago on UV, blind. Missed 5 monsters in the backpack secret area. Reminded me of Miasma mixed with bit of Entropy, where all the combat seems to have proper thought put into player movement patterns, fight composition and second guessing how players will react to stuff as it happens. The slime room with the revs/PEs and the last (non secret) fight are some of the coolest setups ive seen in a very long time, but i won't spoil the surprise :) Software rendering colormap trickery adds a pretty neat element to the super dark areas, where enemies glow clearly in fights held in total darkness, it made for a pretty surreal experience.

Really liked the way the maps progression loops back in, over and around itself, re-linking to previously cleared areas, completely changing the topography of the geometry as you traverse it multiple times. Being given a choice at the start of the map of which route to take and eventually.. which weapon youll be relying on for the majority of the map, was very cool. Once i gained access back to the start area and started down the 2nd path everything starts tying in together and making a lot more sense, with lots of little dawning moments of realization and "ooh thats neat" as you pop out somewhere else on the map that was previously visible but inaccessible. 

Never felt too punishing or unfair for my personal tastes, and never felt like a slog, grindy or unenjoyable. There is a particular U shaped fight in the east that ruthlessly kicked my ass multiple times, but by that time it was 3am and i was playing like a donkey, so YMMV. Secret 6 key fight felt a little anticlimactic after the hunt to get to it imo, but that could be me just lucking out and oneshotting the fight. Still overall a really well polished product, and possibly one of my top5 all time favourite single map experiences. Cant really say much more than that. 

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Brigandine by @Viggles - 100% kills / 100% secrets

 

It is not every day that I get to describe a Doom map as art. I don't mean that in the generic 'every creative endeavor is art' kind of way. When I say Brigandine is 'art', I am being completely literal. It feels like a painting, rendered in sidedefs and sectors, that you just so happen to kill monsters in. Not that Viggles' combat leaves anything to be desired, to the contrary, Brigandine is one of the few maps I've played that manages to mix top-notch combat and downright autistic detailing.

 

There is a sense of composition here, of depth, of visual focus. The architecture draws the eye, directing you forwards, contextualizing the bewildering amount of detail into a readable whole. Not once did I find myself confused or lost, never was progression obscured or action hindered. And yet, like a vast piece of environment art, the finer details are not lost in the whole. Everywhere the eye may wander, there is something to note, some small detail, some inventive use of texture.

 

The layout is downright mesmerizing, organic and flowing, matching the feel of an ancient city, grown naturally over centuries, bound to the contours of the land. There are small, hidden places, seemingly forgotten, contrasting against the vastness of the whole. Some of these are secrets, meant to be found, and others purely ornamental, serving no other function than to fill a given space with something. Few voids remain within the bounds of the level, almost all space made use of.

 

Similar close attention is given to the wider world, beyond the scope of the map's progression. Beyond the confines of the playspace, the city continues, carefully constructed architecture unbound by the limitations of interactivity giving the impression of an vast city, stretching outwards and outwards until eventually melting into the domineering skybox.

 

There is a palpable sense of place to this city, the impression of a world both larger and more intimate than Doom's ability to render. This place may once have been a magnificent utopia, but for reasons unknown it has fallen to the demonic hordes. Perhaps the city was wholly innocent, undeserving of its fate, or perhaps its inhabitants brought armageddon upon themselves? Brigandine gives us no clues, but it is fun to consider.

 

All this gives a powerful sense of context to the gameplay, which is focused primarily on combat, with exploration being a secondary task. The resource balance is fine-tuned to a truly incredible degree: never once did I run dry, yet never did I feel that the map would withhold punishment for my mistakes. This allows the combat to really shine, each encounter almost pitch-perfect in its pacing and balance.

 

Brigandine, despite its outrageous linedef count, is a relatively short and linear map, eliminating any risk of it overstaying its welcome. It is a precise experience, smooth and professional, every element fine-tuned to perfection over its two and a half year long development.

 

Quality of life seems to have been a priority for Viggles, which manifests in so many small ways, like the almost complete lack of obstructive detailing or the fact that the vast majority of linedefs have been tagged as invisible to keep the automap clear of clutter.

 

In summary, Brigandine is a masterpiece of a map, an interactive work of art, with care and attention given to the smallest detail, from geometry to gameplay to atmosphere. I have returned to this map many times in the past, and look forward to the many times I shall revisit it the future.

 

10/10

 

Note: I could find a place for this, but the music in this map is pitch-perfect, just like everything else. The map wouldn't be the same without it.

 

 

 

Well, that was fun! Only having to write a handful of these long pieces every month is a lot more manageable, plus I get to really cut loose with the purple prose! I'm really looking forward to playing Miasma now, really impressive single maps are a treat!

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Posted (edited)

Ok, today I'm playing Miasma by @tourniquet in GZDoom on UV, with mouselook, the default lights.pk3 (and maybe an equivalent brightmaps?) plus a HUD mod and a couple of other minor tweaks, like the improved sounds and sprite fixes by perkristian (assuming I got that name right).

 

Before getting started, I'm aware this is a Cacoward winner, and my memories of tourniquet's mapping involve great detailing and high difficulty, so I might not like this too much, but we'll see... I'll edit this post when I'm done playing.

 

EDIT: Right, that took the better part of two hours, but I'm done!

 

Actually pretty enjoyable, I thought. I got to the end the first time around with about 68% kills and no green card. I'd already found a green key switch and a set of three switches that wanted a key each to activate, so I was acutely aware of why I was missing so much. This had taken over an hour of playing and about 58 minutes of in-game time. I decided I'd go back and have a look.

 

Sure enough, after a bit of running around, and studying the automap, I got the green key card. No idea when that opened up, but the journey it takes you on to the BFG made it feel like a secret that would've been nice to earn early. Not long after that, I entered the world of pain it had kept locked away, and eventually emerged from the map with a total in-game time of 1:13:50-something (GZDoom helpfully shows you your time and that it SUCKS). There's some irony in me having to work extra hard to get to the part of the map I was least likely to enjoy, but once again, it wasn't that bad. I think part of why I like this map is that it is a well-presented package clearly intended to be one map you can have multiple goes at. It plays well with mouselook (not too many enemies that are easily cheesed), it's long enough that frequent saving is the logical thing to do and the TITLEPIC, CREDITS and INTERPIC, along with the music that accompanies all of those and the level, add up to an atmospheric, green experience.

 

I'm not sure how much of the map is optional, as there seemed to be a fair few switches I pressed that mostly just added to the pain but didn't give me any weapons or keys I didn't already have. They may have opened the map up, or given access to secrets eventually, but as I don't let any switch go un-pressed and don't really replay or study most maps beyond a thorough initial play through (there's so much Doom - who's got the time?) I got a reasonably complete experience. I missed four secrets, but had every weapon bar the chainsaw on my second exit of the map, and with only 5% of the enemies missed, it felt like I'd had a good go of it. Besides, even with how nice the music is, hearing it on loop for a couple of hours is still enough to wear out it's welcome!

 

Combat wise, the map starts gently enough, and then ramps up to a kind of large-scale Plutonia experience, where relatively limited real estate gets plenty of time to shine, and some of the obviously optional areas really pile on the pressure (for example, the Plasma Rifle with the Spider Mastermind). Revenants, Arch-Viles, Cyberdemons, Pain Elementals, Chaingunners... These aren't the sole enemies, but their presence is common and often very dangerous, as is their way. Hell Knights and Barons are used to great effect to deny space on multiple occasions, and even masses of Imps and some Cacodemons, Demons and Spectres play their part. Mancubi, Zombiemen, Shotgunners and Arachnotrons see more specialised use, and aren't the star of any given encounter. Given the quick escalation of my arsenal through the SSG and Chaingun to the Rocket Launcher, this seemed about right, and by the time I really needed plasma, I already had plenty of it, so I never felt very hard done by, despite the general difficulty on UV.

 

Visually, the map is a treat, with a strong green colour scheme shining throughout a gloomy, grimy techbase set into a natural landscape. The green fluid that you start in (to show that it doesn't hurt) is no obstacle, and there's no crushers or anything to really make the map feel like a hostile space. It's more a heavily infested area with a hint of mystery to it - like something was lost a long time ago. Lighting and shadows are well-executed, and bright green highlights often glare out of the shadows to further improve on a scene. I was glad to get to take it all in with a 4k resolution and some nice Vulkan rendering. Would be nice if the key dynamic lights matched the recolours, but that's more on me for loading the lights than anything else.

 

All told, I can see why this was a winner. If it had turned up in a community project, I'd roll my eyes at the "Magnum Opus Syndrome" on display and probably begrudge tourniquet the scope and scale of what he's achieved, just because it's getting the way of the rest of the set. As a solo map, it's a fantastic package and difficult without feeling like a slog, or unfair. I've enjoyed other maps more, for all manner of reasons, but this is very good stuff and should please a lot of players.

Edited by Phobus

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This sounds like a fun club to check out when I have free time.  Count me in! I’ll be playing with GZ Doom, trying to play on UV for most of the maps (I’m not that great so we’ll see how I do). For tackling the maps I’m going to go at it in order that was released. It could be fun to see some sort of progression and see how much more sophisticated the mapping has become over the years.

 

A Hidden Mountain Factory - First played it on UV then played it again on I’m Too Young To Die to hunt for secrets.

Spoiler

 

I definitely think I picked too high of a difficulty the first time through. Ended up struggling to find health and ammo pickups throughout the map. Lots of fights in very cramped quarters (especially that Barron and Archville combo). For me there was a lot of turning corners to get a shotgun/chain gun blast to the face. Since this map was from 1996 I was actually expecting to be a similar difficulty to the classic doom games.

 

One thing I noticed when playing is that there didn’t seem to be much bullet ammo, I found myself relying on the shotgun for the majority of my encounters which got a bit stale.

 

I liked how there were attempts to make the map feel like a factory, with whirring machinery and lifts going up and down, vats of slime. I thought it was an interesting choice to use the nukage vat as a sort of hub area. I liked how you had to jump in through the window from the vat to get to the sewer part of the level. The pipes/vents going through the different rooms was a nice touch, also made everything feel like it was interconnected.

 

I only found half of the secrets on my first playthrough but was able to find all of them on my 2nd attempt.

 

It’s pretty amazing to see how much further mapping has gotten compared to what people were putting out back in ‘96.

All in all it was pretty good, but maybe a bit too difficult for a noob like me. I'd sprinkle in a few more health and ammo pickups to make it a bit more manageable (not a promising start for when I try the harder wads).

 

 

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So I had some time to play Decimate, I did a playthrough yesterday night and did another one today after figuring out where the secrets were (both on UV).

 

To me this is very different from A Hidden Mountain Factory, now instead of a cramped factory we're in a wide open castle area.

 

The difficulty from this map comes more from a lack out ammo as opposed to the fights themselves. On my initial playthrough where I only found 1 secret (the berserk pack, after I shotgunned all the pinkies) I beat the level with only 4 shotgun shells left (also I didn't trigger the 2nd cyberdemon). Really not much room for mistakes in this map. The arena with the archvilles was pretty deadly, I didn't like that there wasn't any cover to hide behind. Probably the best strategy to deal with them is to run into the room behind them, and then duck your head out to take pot shots. Another nitpick of the level for me was the staircase in the castle was too cramped and I got stuck on the geometry a bit.

 

The best fight for me is probably the revenants inside the castle, lots of cover and rocket launcher ammo laying around. The cyberdemon fight after is actually pretty easy if you have saved enough ammo up. The wide open spaces makes dodging a breeze. Also on my both of playthroughs  he got stuck in the level geometry, allowing me to get a lot of easy shots in.

 

Playing again today after figuring out the secret to get to the plasma rifle was a lot more fun.

Spoiler

Check the other side of the switch in the room with the revenants in the castle.

Ammo is still scarce in the early parts of the map, and even with the plasma ammo you still can't play carelessly since it spawns another cyberdemon. Fortunately it does give a bit of breathing room though.

 

I got to say I liked this map more than Mountain Factory, it's got a great initial vista. The fights were a bit bland and ammo scarce, but I liked the interesting layout of the map.

 

Can't wait to get to a map that doesn't have d_runnin though.

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Posted (edited)

Today I've lost somewhere around 2-3 hours on Criticality, a fellow runner-up at this year's Cacowards. Definitely a different beast from my own entry.

 

I played on UV, using Doom software rendering in GZDoom (as requested by the author in the thread), whilst leaving all other settings the same. This gave my CPU and watercooler a decent workout, I suspect, but also meant that the dynamic lights and decals caused random dips in performance, particularly when the BFG was getting a good outing.

 

As I mentioned in the relevant thread, I respect the craftsmanship in this map, but didn't enjoy it and never intend to play it again. The Boom scripting, detailing, technical competence and execution of what was done was all commendable. However, the colour scheme was very dull, with a lot of drab greens and browns lost in murky darkness, offset against some bright green highlights and the yellow sky. Maybe other ports, or some tweaked settings, would've brought me a bit more joy, but despite there being a lot of map, I didn't really think there was much to look at. The music was just sort of there in the background, too. Not offensive, but not exciting or dynamic, either.

 

The bigger drawback for me is that this was unashamedly a heavily-scripted slaughter map. Most battles start with a load of enemies not facing you and a specific trigger to get things started. There's timed releases of enemies and some enemies serving as turrets to be avoided that can be disposed of by clearing the area. Mouselook, plenty of saves and not having infinite-height enemies all worked in my favour, somewhat, but the Pain Elemental Lost Soul supply being unlimited definitely added to the drag, particularly in the earlier encounters.

 

I found 5/8 secrets and exited with under 100 enemies remaining after 1 hour and 20 minutes in-game (and, as mentioned above, probably twice that in total). The key things I know I missed were the yellow skull, which I could see but never worked out how to get to, and the red skull, which I know must be in the map somewhere, as a switch before the ending set-piece wants all six keys, but I never saw that red skull key at all. I somewhat regret getting the first backpack secret I came to, which was the one in the big outdoors area pictured in the OP. The resulting flood of Revenants, Demons and Arachnotrons, with two big lifts full of Arch-Viles, took many attempts and was very frustrating. Save scumming was the only way. I got the blue skull key secret pretty late, compared to when I should have got there, so I already had the BFG by the time I'd found it. Would've appreciated it earlier, but it wasn't missed too sorely.

 

I gather the map has a branching path early on, but I went to the plasma rifle straight away, unaware that there were other options at the time. Rockets were missed for a while, but not as much as a single-barrel shotgun was for the entire map, for Lost Soul clean up. Likewise, it seemed as though the red or yellow keycard could've been found first, but I'm guessing that was tied to the weapon path, as the red key was my only clear option until I'd made it to the matched switches.

 

Encounter design is probably the main point of analysis with this map, but ultimately I found infighting, save-scumming and boldly charging in with powerful weapons seemed to be the main solution to most of my problems, where I couldn't hang back with rockets to soften up particular emplacements. The penultimate sequence with the massed caged Arch-Viles and the one switch that lowers them temporarily was probably the toughest battle, and certainly clever, but I didn't like it, as you're forced into a particular way of handling it and have mistakes harshly punished a lot of the time. It was difficult even to save scum through, as there was a lot of opportunity for badly timing a save!

 

So yes, as I suspected, not my kind of thing. Well done on presumably doing well at what you aimed for, but I don't see the appeal. I prefer my Doom with more "natural" feeling combat with freely roaming enemies and lots of lighter, incidental monster placement, rather than the very narrowly forced set pieces. I'll probably check out one or two more maps that aren't mine here before I give a retrospective of my own, but not today.

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Posted (edited)

The subject of my play today was Hidden Mountain Factory, from 1996. Playing it the usual way, I beat it in 12:59, plus probably about the same again in deaths with saved games being the only thing stopping this session going on much longer than it did. Difficulty here very clearly stems from limited supplies - particularly health, but also armour early on. You begin in close quarters with a shotgun and box of shells, pressed by Imps. This minimal space is a pretty good example of where half of the danger comes from - on more than one occasion I found myself being hemmed in by a Hell Knight with little room to dodge and a closed (or locked) door behind me to make life harder.

 

The other half of the danger is hitscanners. There's lots of them, and they're predominantly shotgun guys and chaingunners, so you're at high risk of losing health, particularly early on, and you only get one or two mistakes (or big hits) before you'll have to limp through with only a hit or two left in you. As this is an early Doom II map, Hell Knights put in a big showing, but you also see some Revenants. These are most notably used in a nasty hallway at one point where there's one at each end and your best weapon is the SSG - they're entrenched, so it's up to you to close the gap and try not to take any big hits. I died many times trying to pull that off, as the RNG had locked on one Revenant hit leaving me with 1hp, so that's where I ended up. You then go straight into a fight with a Baron and an Arch-Vile, and there's a Mancubus and shotgunners lying dead to revive...

 

As you've probably deduced if you've read this far, it's a tough map. The 170-odd initial monster count on UV seems low compared to the last couple of maps I've played for the club and, in terms of final map time, that was reflected. I only found one secret, and that was the sewer area accessible after the blue key door... But I only worked that out when I had the yellow key, so the soulsphere and blue armour within, minus the damage I took to get it, plus a rocket launcher and some rockets, just made getting to the end of the map a reasonable affair at that point. The other three secrets I couldn't begin to guess at (well... There was one closed door...), but I know there must be a plasma weapon somewhere as there was a hidden cell charge pack I collected. For me, this was primarily an SSG map, with the single-barrel and chaingun used mostly to pick off weaker things from a distance or clear hitscanners more quickly - getting to the SSG was a case of wishing I'd already had it, for the most part.

 

Visually, this is the mid-90s, but it's not too bad. A bit monochromatic in places and texture alignment with the rocks outside was obviously not done, but there's moving parts to signify a factory in motion, and they stop when you hit an important switch (presumably what you're there to do). The bulk of the rooms are small and fairly anonymous, but the texture scheme changes often enough and your path is quite linear, so it's all serviceable. Darkness is used to some effect in the caves.

 

Leaving the map seemed quite abrupt, but I guess emerging from the last cave is as good a place as any to draw a line under the experience. With 96% kills and only one secret found, I appreciate I could do more and explore better, but I was pretty happy to call it a day with this one. I probably prefer this style of difficulty to the giant slaughter maps that the modern day sees, but the map itself doesn't feel like anything special, even though it was presumably a highlight at the time. I'm honestly not sure I played this before now - I certainly don't remember it or have a review on the /idgames legacy interface.

Edited by Phobus

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And now for the final map that I've not already played: Decimate by Gurkha Boy, who I'm fairly certain is @ReX

 

This is a map from 1999, so visual fidelity isn't too high, although there's some nice lighting effects, support pillars and a wide open space around the central building. You're listening to D_RUNNIN again by default, and there's no extra graphics or anything (unlike A Hidden Mountain Factory, which had some minor texture edits and a custom M_DOOM lump) so this is purely a level with a little hint of a story. 75 monsters on start-up is comfortably the lowest from this club session, and my play-time could have been way under 10 minutes, but I decided to dig around for the secrets when it was just me and the two Cyberdemons left, as there's a plasma rifle visible at the start. Worked out how to get that, and through studying the map sussed out the berserk secret, but couldn't make it to the cell charge pack behind the plasma rifle. Might have been a shoot-switch, come to think of it... I should've tried that! Oh well, in any case I just breezed past the Cyberedemons once I'd satisfied myself that I'd looked for the secrets properly and finished the map.

 

For a map of it's age, with the stated experience of the mapper (5 years playing, a few maps under their belt) it was a nice, solid effort. Exactly the sort of thing you'd hope to get on a randomly downloaded single map around that time. There's a couple of Arch-Viles that drop in on you when you get the most powerful generally-available weapons and those rooms are fairly open spaces, so that's about as hairy as things get. I took an unlucky Revenant hit, which took a while to recover from, but the map seems fairly balanced to me, as long as you're not too keen on getting 100% kills. If you are, you'll want to find the berserk secret in a timely manner, as there's a big ammo sink there if you don't. The text file does hint at this, but I was making good progress and didn't stop to think.

 

The layout and enemy placement is quite symmetrical, and you seem to do two of most switches and battles, plus you can sequence break and hit the eye switches whilst the pillars are still raised in front of them, although I'm not sure how much further ahead that really gets you, as the two side-towers aren't major encounters. I've played more impressive and better maps from the era, certainly, but this is probably one of the more enjoyable ones from this club session, just through dint of being a nice bit of disposable entertainment. Popcorn mapping - I like it.

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As the last three posts were me, I may as well chuck a fourth one in to get my Big Woodchip retrospective done.

 

I just played this now - total play time of 12:09, with no deaths and 100% everything on UV, played the usual way (as I did with Decimate, I forgot to mention!). Obviously I'm the mapper, so even after 7 years I know it quite well. Doubly so because I replay my own work occasionally and triply so because I included it in Persephone and had to test everything in that a few times as well. I also saw @Biodegradable do a play through not long ago, so my memories were pretty fresh. Light spoilers follow, so if you want to go in blind, avoid reading below!

 

I enjoy playing most of my own work, as I've mentioned before, and I reckon this map came at a strong creative point for me, releasing around the same time as Loathsome Cleft, E2MWalter and Escalation II: Centurion Night. It was meant to be a speedmap, following up on the two Woodchip maps I'd made for some of the earliest ASS sessions, but I got a bit more into it and ended up making a proper go of it, featuring most enemies from Doom II (perhaps all of the "main cast") and every weapon other than the SSG, Chainsaw and BFG. The theme is pretty straightforward: a wooden structure (featuring plenty of metal supports) built into some dangerously hot caves under a (very, very old) night sky. The music is a pretty good MIDI of one of my favourite Earthworm Jim tracks and the level of challenge isn't too bad, so I tend to think of this as a good map for just taking a break and blasting through.

 

One thing I quite like about this map is how it's so linear, but the actual path you take weaves around a multi-levelled open area, which distracts from it somewhat. You can often see where you're going next, and there's an objective (often sitting on a plinth) just waiting for you. Another fun little point is how the first two secrets chain together (and can be easily missed for good), with the first one providing a radsuit and berserk that make getting to the second one survivable early on, before you've got armour. After that, the third secret is a medikit, which is easy to live without but can be returned to at any point and then the fourth and fifth secret are near the end, and provide a blue armour and extra soulsphere additionally, which can make the dangerous final segment with the Arch-Viles and Spider Mastermind much easier to survive. Finally, although people won't necessarily notice this, on the way to and from the blue skull doors there's some narrow wooden paths ringing lava. If you fall in there, you can press the green faces and raise the floor, removing the lava hazard and making it much easier to take on the Mancubi and Revenants you're likely to still need to encounter. As this is Doom, you can press those without dropping down, making life even easier!

 

I'm pretty happy with how the visuals turned out, with plenty of little details (the skin panels integrated into the wooden walls of the Cyberdemon stairway, for example) and an unusually consistent colour scheme for me. There's a nice escalation of opposition along with the equipment and a decent range of encounters, so, all told, I've got no complaints. It reviewed well at the time, which is always nice and doesn't seem to have aged much, IMO, with no decisions seeming regrettable in hindsight.

 

The one problem I do have, is that I wanted to make a sequel - Bigger Woodchip, naturally (the RollerCoaster Tycoon naming scheme runs out there). However, I never had the motivation to get past noting down ideas, picking music and making the starting room. I think, unfortunately, the relative success of this map has made it seem a bit of a monumental ask to overcome, and I'm concerned that whatever I label the sequel to it will review (or be received) poorly by comparison. This issue also killed the Escalation series, the sequel to Claws of the Enraged Beast and the much-attempted Warpzone II, so I probably need to get over myself and go for it at some point... Or maybe I need to stop aiming "bigger and better" with every new release in a series... Or stop making series?

 

Anyway, good times with this MiniWAD Club - thanks for picking this up @rd.

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Miasma by @tourniquet - 70% kills / 70% secrets

 

My only experience with tourniquet's work prior to playing Miasma was TNT: Revilution's MAP11 Pourriture, a map that bares a striking resemblance to its more famous cousin. I found that map equal parts confounding and fascinating, simultaneously enraging and engaging. Miasma is like that but on a truly grandiose scale.

 

There is something almost Sunder-like about this map, a feeling of alien reality that extends far beyond the play area. Of course, where Sunder makes use of vast macro-architecture to literally represent a space that feels like it exists apart from the player, Miasma takes a more subtle approach, using extraneous details in the layout to imply a greater breadth of scope than practicality permits. In this way, it is much like Bringandine, though this design choice and a general appreciation of the smaller details is where the similarities between the two end.

 

Tourniquet's maps are synonymous to me with two related concepts: non-linear progression and optional content. To call Miasma non-linear is a gross understatement. The map feels almost like a metroidvania, an immensely complicated world, run through with countless interconnections, whose depth is gradually revealed to the player over the course of their run, if not beyond. To 'beat' Miasma is to merely scratch the surface of tourniquet's world. In all likelihood, at least two playthroughs would be required to plumb the map's emerald-green depths, or so it seems to me at any rate.

 

The power-curve also resembles that found in a metroidvania, forcing the player to pry the big guns from the map's fetid grasp, sometimes with great difficulty. The BFG fight, for example, would not be out of place in the latter portions of Sunlust.

 

I wouldn't call the world of Miasma a hostile place, nor really an indifferent one either. Despite its apparent complexity and alien aesthetics, the map itself is highly responsive to the player's actions, at least within the play area. Unlike Sunder, which as mentioned above shares a similar talent for world-building, Miasma cares deeply about the player, engaging them, challenging them, rewarding them, more akin to Hallownest from Hollow Knight than the creations of Rikkiks an Gazebo that it bares a passing resemblance to.

 

In many ways, the map is reminiscent of @Mechadon's work, though far less linear and generally more demanding on the combat front than, say, Counterattack. Getting lost in the vast layout is kind of the point with this sort of map. One way or another, the player will eventually end up going where they need to, assuming of course that said player has both the time and the patience to allow themselves to sink into the experience.

 

There is a depth to this map that I feel I have only just scratched the surface of. There are many aspects of its design that I have yet to fully understand, since I've only run through the map once on HMP. Knowing this map is, I think, is the real challenge which Miasma presents. You can beat it, but can you truly understand its subtleties? In this way, the map reminds me of No End In Sight, which, if you know anything about yours truly, is a good thing indeed.

 

 

I decided, for the sake of my own sanity, that I would only write down the first handful of things that came to mind about this monster of a map. There is an almost infinite depth of possible analysis here, and I am very, very lazy. So, the above ramblings will have to suffice. Next up, Criticality!

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Since I'm playing through Miasma for a prepared Ironman attempt, might as well write words about it.  Which also means that I'm making my way through (with the help of periodic saves) on UV rather than HMP as I commonly do.  So far, it's been mostly manageable though the green keycard and silver skull battles kicked my tail many, many, times until I could work out a strategy to survive.  The green keycard fight stands out for feeling like an ant in a box and cybie is the mean kid trying to fry the ant with a magnifiier.  Went from 200 health to 54 and that was the attempt where I survived. (many more ending up at 0)

 

  I've also scouted out the map with -nomonsters and with god mode though I'm looking for approaches to win without cheats or savescumming a fight.  Found a red skull though I have no idea where it's used.  Maybe in one of the secrets I didn't find, which is most of them.  The silver keycard seems to have no specific use either.  The red keycard fight terrifies me though.  I've seen it on godmode and I'm not sure I have the skills to tackle it legit.

 

  The secrets, oh are they ever hidden, at least the tagged secrets.  There are plenty of hidden and optional paths that don't add to the counter but feel just as concealed.  The few I've found seem to require multiple steps to finally reach and felt a sense of accomplishment on discovering the first one.

 

  Something else that gives the map a sense of identity along with the openended progression and complex secrets is that plasma is a scarce resource not to be wasted on small fry or lone mid-tiers.  There's also the difficulty of securing a plasma weapon in the first place as they are all heavily guarded.  The plasma rifle I found was easy enough to reach once I found the hidden path(s); it's leaving with it that is the challenge.  Of the (cheat-less) progress I've made, none of the encounters felt like they required plasma to handle sanely.  So it feels like a panic option to get out of a tight spot but only a limited number of times.  Sure, I'd wished I had it for one cyber encounter that I finished off with SSG dueling but it would have left my ammo even more drained than the current save is at.

 

  I'll have more thoughts as I make more progress.  There's a depth to this map I've haven't delved into yet.

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Criticality -

I played this new beta earlier this month and had fun screwing around with it along with bemused. Wasn't planning on making a demo but ended up deciding to before making this write-up.

 

Spoiler

This map seems to get its rocks off by starving the player for armor and attempting to constantly chip away at the player's hp with lost souls. So the map forces the player to sit in specific spots in the arena to lure the PEs to specific spots in order to allow to kill them as efficiently as possible - nothing infights with them and they don't spit many lost souls. The most notable fight is the one just prior to the secret bsk. The four PEs that spawn in this area force the player to sit just below the hks while fighting the revs in order to avoid a cloud of lost souls. This happens in a few areas. Really enjoyed that part of the map.

 

Following commentary follows my demo's route.

 

I like pretty much all of the fights. The first one for the secret backpack is really just filler and is very forgettable and unfun. I wish I was just able to do some quick platforming instead of spamming ssg at a few monsters. This fight can be really annoying because the first cacodemos sometimes float very high in the air for a bit. After that though all of the fights have something interesting going on.

 

The first fight if you start to go the plasma wing, which this route does, forces you to kill all of the monsters on the side of the arena where the perched vile is. If the player kills everything on the starting area side then the two viles you have to deal with later generally rez things and become a bother.

 

The plasma fight is interesting. You have to deal with the PEs then viles and then clean up. Sometimes the chaingunners which spawn and wander out into the arena become a bother so you have to decide whether to deal with them or if you are safe enough to deal with the viles/mancs/lost souls (dynamic gameplaytm). I never really spent time routing the map ammo wise so I punch the revs guarding the shells and hp for fun. Tbh I kind of wish the revs were tp'd in if the player runs over towards the hp instead of being insta-popped. That way you don't have to do this thing where you have to walk over a linedef to raise them. Just crush them if the player completes the fight instead or something. Maybe could add a few switches in this area to lower some bars.. dunno. Triggering the revs here is kind of weird imo. The final two viles in this area are easily dealt with because of the strat mentioned above.

 

This next room is really cool. It forces you to sit in specific areas to be in complete cover from many different threats. The whole goal of the start of this area is very simple - lead everything towards you then kill the PEs. Onces the PEs are dead it is simple to clean everything up.

 

The room with the two switches is an odd one to me progression wise. It feels more like a secret fight hub area rather than progression - shoe horned into the map. Tbh it is ok because the fight on the return trip is oddly one of the most annoying fights in the map for me because I just wing it. Maps where I lose progression or feel particularly drawn out - and I know it is a linear path - have started to bug me. Sure you telefrag the cyb in the rk area but it would feel more natural to me if the tp to this area was a secret instead. Anyways the fight fight here - going the plasma route - is a cyb and some dudes. Definitely the easy side imo. Just run around and don't get trapped. Generally when the pinkies are dead this fight is free. This area becomes more interesting on the return trip so I have nothing more to say at the moment. Hit the switch and leave.

 

I don't really get the vile on the box in the following area. Just shoot it and continue on. I get the secret before jumping down for.. some reason.. I don't know what it is atm though. This fight is probably my favorite in the map. It is fun how it rewards smart positioning because of the PEs that spawn further off in the distance. You can of course play it without being smart with your positioning but then you will risk the PEs infighting with themselves and have to deal with manc fireballs. Not really too big of a fan regarding the hks above but swapping them out for something that does less damage like imps seem detrimental to the fight because imps do less damage. After clearing out this area you finally are able to get your bfg.

 

The two small fights you have to deal with when you get bfg are simple filler. Just shoot some bfg and then clean stuff up with whatever you have available. The large fight that you can deal with after getting bfg is much more formidable and memorable however. Originally there were cyb snipers in this area iirc but they have now been replaced with large groups of area denial viles. I prefer this setup to the original by a large margin because the viles restrict the player's space quite a bit and the spiders that spawn in restrict that space even further. After playing the fight a few times the setup shown in my demo is what I ended up going with. Bfg usage after the initial bit of the setup here was quite meh so there were a lot of monsters left that I had to deal with using rockets. Shooting perched viles on large platforms is always a laborious task because you have to wait for them to stop moving unless you want to just spam rockets constantly missing them - but once the viles are dead you can get the megasphere secret for your troubles. iirc it was originally a bfg?

 

The following secret fight is trivial with bfg. I kind of wish there were infinitely spawning viles here - or just a lot more of them - until you hit the switch to leave. Even without bfg you can shoot rockets at the viles and win. There is also this annoying tp line behind the viles. Maybe throw a block line back there so they can't tp away if shoved into it. So yeah.. just shoot the chaingunners -> kill viles -> then win.

 

Finally returning to the starting area via the secret lift in the rk area you have a few choices regarding how to deal with the start of the rocket side of the map. You can grab the green armor first and then deal with everything in a small area or you can hit the switch behind the vile/PE which opens the area first. I make the fight trivial by opening up the arena here I assume this also allows the player to play a bit quicker if they want because you can start both quite easily thanks to the slow walls which lower before releasing the two viles in the starting area. Not really too much to say here.. I wish there was a tp pad in the slime to make the player aware of the monsters that tp behind the switch which originally had the vile/PE in front of it.

 

The second bit of the rocket path consists of a mastermind, hks, and PEs. Really just sit next to the mastermind and shoot rockets. Unfortunately the next fight suffers from the same issue playing slower. You can sit in one spot and just spam rockets. I assume this area is engineered for quicker play - combining all of the fights together - so it is a bit looser but tbh I don't like being able to sit in one spot and win. The rev box which opens in the center of the area is trivial if you stuff them with rockets like I do in the demo. You can stack 3 rockets on top of each other easily and hit the revs before they even wake up. After doing that just dodge the rev rockets toward the wall to your left and this area is over. I don't lower the platforms to get back to the mastermind area because it seems more visually appealing to get the yk and rk ammo stashes on the other side of the platforms immediately after dealing with the next area.

 

The two switch room is much more interesting this time around. There is a vile that spawns to the side of the arena you completed first. So you have to deal with that along with whatever crap is also in the room this time. The rocket side has spiders, PEs, and revs. Much more deadly than the plasma side. This fight went poorly because of the vile simply running away from me when I went to kill it immediately - no tracer damage. Because of the time spent killing the vile it allowed the rest of the room to become quite a mess.. but whatever shoot some bfg and win. Similar to the plasma side you telefrag the boss monster and also open up a secret to get to the large fight with area denial viles.

 

Finally the natural route bfg fight. I never really figured out what was going on in here.. just run around shooting some bfg and not dying is the strategy used here. It is a fun fight though. Lots of crap to kill and tons of ammo to give the player the ability to do so. I do wish that there were tp destinations on the floor where the spiders spawn on the sides though. On my original playthrough I face rocketed a spider that spawned in right in front of me. Before leaving this area don't forget the secret switch for the ysk and soulsphere.

 

The dark green area seems to be the most memorable fight of the map just because of the lighting and the way monsters glow green against the darker areas of the room. Looks really cool. Combat-wise the monsters aren't really any threat in here but rather the inescapable pits on the sides of the initial platform (at least I think they are inescapable I never looked for a lift out). So just spam some bfg and don't fall.

 

Bemused told me about the rsk secret. I was never going to find that one. It is quite powerful because it nets you a blue armor which you can carry in between the next few parts quite easily. All of the really hard fights are over (or at least they should be I make the final fight look insanely difficult towards the end of it in my demo). The first fight in the final gauntlet plops a wandering cyb in a room with cacos spawning in and area denial viles, chaingunners, and revs. I found it easiest to hide next to the revs and lure the cyb over. Generally the fool will shoot the cacos and start an infight. Once that happens as long as you keep the cyb in your mind's eye you should win. Scotty let me know that the revs are actually crushed. I dunno when that happens so I just kill them myself. After the revs are dead it is simply clean up time.

 

The following area is completely free. You can easily los the cyb by standing in these ammo caches adjacent to the area you just came from. So just spam rockets to kill the mancs -> kill cyb -> bfg PEs and viles. Tbh this area would be more fun by starting an infight with the mancs with the cyb after you clear one side -> running to hit switch to free the PEs and viles -> bfg everything in the room. But that is effort and I can't be bothered.

 

I really like the addition of the 6 key switch to get to the quad cyb fight and mastermind bridge fight. Iirc it was originally just a tp that took you there. So it was very disorienting in the original version. It is a fun area because it rewards the player with 200/200 for the final fight if they can play well enough. Tbh both fights are quite simple but can go poorly if they aren't routed. I really like the wandering cyb amongst the three turret cybs. All of the walls and pillars in this area give the cyb rockets ample opportunity to hit the player with splash damage. Once the wandering cyb is dead this area is free as long as the player takes care when killing the other three turret cybs. The cyb on the tp leading out isn't the issue, but rather the other two. One cyb is lower than the player so the player has to take care when two shotting because doomguy tends to slide towards the cyb when going down the step. The other cyb is in a tighter location so the player has to situate themselves in an area where they don't take any splash damage from the rockets shot by the cyb.

 

The mastermind bridge fight is always free. How much hp you leave with really just depends on where the viles end up. I never really tried to figure out any kind of setup to lure the viles to a specific spot on the bridge. Just aggro the PEs and then hide while taking some damage from the mastermind. When going on the offensive just grab the mega and kill all of the PEs you are los'ing then bfg the viles and clean up. Got really unlucky here - two hits from the viles. Probably just me not really keeping track of the viles though.

 

The final fight is really cool. The player has to control when the viles in this area are exposed while killing monsters in the arena. Generally the fight just comes down to fighting to keep the switch clear so you can lower the viles again when they rise up. I really messed this bit up in the demo during the final switch press so I had to survive the PEs and final wave of hitscan with 4 hp. A fun moment tbh.. had to hold my wad after 40 minutes in the map.

 

Anyways really great map overall. Thanks for making it.

 

criticality.zip

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Miasma -

I am sure tourniquet has been jones-ing for yet another playthrough of his map. So I provided another demo for this one too.

 

Spoiler

Miasma is very interesting because of the multiple paths available and how they intertwine (at least a bit). I spent a lot of time mostly looking for the secrets my first playthrough years ago. Primarily the gsk fight. That cave area eluded me for the longest time.

 

This write up follows my demo but primarily focuses on the larger fights.

 

Starting out you can choose to get two different ssgs. I have no idea why I always go for the one guarded by all of the hitscan first but that is just how I have always played the map. This hitscan fight is quite effective at killing you if you come in here without much hp because you have no armor. If you are pushed back to the lift that you rode up then most likely monsters from behind will lower the lift with you on it making for some interesting gameplay because you start to get hit from in fight and behind. I recall from one of my streams tourniquet said that this was supposed to allow monsters to wander around the map a bit more (the lift being able to be used by monsters). Not sure how well that worked out because I don't remember ever noticing this happening. Anyways shoot the dudes and don't die is the name of the game here.

 

The next fight is for the rocket launcher. You grab it and lower into this area with dudes approaching from the front. The main challenge here is trying to avoid being overwhelmed by fireballs from the imps and the barons/hks while killing the barons/hks with rockets. You want to make sure you save enough rockets to kill the perched revs and viles.

 

The gk fight is a very striking looking part of the map. Bemused had stated he lifted the detailing in here for one of his Abandon maps and it is apparent why. Probably one of, if not the, coolest looking parts of the map. For my route here I like to simply spam plasma until I reach just over 200 cells and then switch to ssg. Really as long as you avoid getting stuck by imps you shouldn't have any problem here. There is a fun telefrag for the cyb in this room. And I always wondered why the platforming leading to this area wasn't over an inescapable pit.. but whatever.

 

The next fight is for the rk and involves a cyb, mancs, hks, and a vile to force your hand a bit. When originally routing this fight I had realized I could save a lot of time by baiting the hks to hit the cyb while standing next to the soulsphere that starts the fight. Sometimes this works and sometimes not but whatev it is at the start of the map. If the infighting does work out then you don't have to worry about the cyb and can focus on the vile and mancs. So kill the vile and shoot the mancs. You should complete this while the cyb is still infighting giving you time to run all the way back behind the cyb platform and access the secret to the gsk caves and net your bfg.

 

This cave area really rewards aggressive play at the start. Otherwise you find yourself in quite an annoying situation because of the two PEs and the revs blocking you from killing the vile with rockets. The setup used to kill the vile here at the start with bfg works every time so it is easy to deal with. After that simply bfg the PEs which raise out of their slime and then bfg both viles in the green armor nook. Clean the rest of this area up with rockets.

 

The gsk fight can be played in a few different ways. My preference is to play this area quicker so that is what I do here. Start with using enough bfg to kill all of the PEs at the start then run up the steps to release more monsters - most notably the quad viles. Bfg the viles and then jump down to finish releasing the rest of the monsters in the area. This type of encounter design is probably my favorite in Doom. I love giving the player the ability to control the progression of a fight without any timers. Even though a few of my earlier maps use timers it is something I really try to avoid doing now. Anyways shoot all of the dudes from the areas where the PEs started out and leave the area.

 

The next sort of deadly area is the silver/white skull key area. There is this awkward two shot which can go poorly. So just don't screw that up and you will be able to do whatever in this area. Something of note is that there are lots of little powerups all over the floor of this area. Generally it is a good idea to not pick them up because they screw with the lost souls' attacks (they can't attack over items). Again just shoot all of the dudes down here and don't face rocket off of the lost souls.

 

The any key switch fight which releases a cyb, hks, and a few PEs can become quite awkward if infighting doesn't really work out. Sometimes the cyb never shoots and you are just like.. whelp - other times the cyb cooperates and aggros basically everything. Playing quickly you just want to run off and leave the cyb but playing like this is a bit more entertaining because you have to deal with these oddly shaped hallways and a block line. So generally the mosters split into two halves and you have to deal with them all the while a cyb is shooting at you and lost souls are floating around. Sometimes the cyb will infight with the spiders making your trek up towards the monsters easier. But generally just spam rockets and end with a two shot against the cyb.

 

The secret mastermind, hk, baron fight is quite something the first time you arrive. Generally you don't pressure the hks/barons enough and get overwhelmed but with bfg you can lure the hks/barons over to one side and then shove yourself into their green closet allowing for easy rocket spam. The mastermind sometimes infights and sometimes not.. silly thing.

 

The secret bfg fight in here is kind of interesting in that when you enter you can shoot bfg such that you stack two shots and avoid waking anything up. So all of the revs die immediately giving you space to deal with the hks/barons. This is good because you want to avoid killing the hks/barons in front of the viles when they are released. The vile wave is literally spam bfg. I find getting cute with this is always worse than just holding mouse 1. Sometimes the cyb will die from your bfg spam against the viles avoiding having to kill it while using the center pillar as cover.

 

The final fight is a long sequence of events. Monsters come at you from all different angles, turret monsters are everywhere, and shit is constantly spawning in to block your rockets on the floor. I like to start this area out with hopefully getting the cyb just next to this wall of hks to infight with the hks. Once that happens a lot of pressure is relieved from you because a cyb will always be occupied and all of the hks will be pretty much dead when their platform is lowered later in the fight. Eventually the center platforming in the large tower will lower causing revs to flood out into the arena along with another cyb. The whole idea with this bit is to kill the revs outside of the pillar. Once everything is dead outside ride the lift up in the tower, killing each pair of viles as you go, and then exit the map.

 

Definitely one of my favorite maps. Really like the green aesthetic and the light gradients all over the place. The detailing in the rk area is something I plan on stealing for something (the fake floors with midtexture detailing).

 

miasma.zip

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Big Woodchip - by @Phobus (2014) - UV with saves

This is the third in a woodchip trilogy. I haven’t played the first two but I kind of want to after playing this one. Very fun mix of cramped and wide open area combat across giant damaging floors. Great use of verticality. Easily the best wad I’ve played so far for this month's club (so far). And no D_RUNNING music! I like how the map slowly dishes out weapons, with very steady difficulty curve but not so crazy as to be frustrating (except maybe the final couple rooms). My favorite part was probably the arena in the center of the map where you take on several waves of enemies before being able to proceed through. I also enjoyed how in the cyberdemon fight you can make the enemies infight, and if you have enough ammo, even kill the cyberdemon. I was able to make it out will 100% secrets with some poking around , and 100% kills my first time through. To me this walked the perfect difficulty line, not too easy but not ball crushingly hard (I think I’ve gotten more used to difficult maps while playing in the megawad club this month). Good amount of ammo, but not so much that you can rely on a single weapon throughout the map. Very enjoyable, may even play it again.

 

After reading Phobus's thoughts on the map. I have to say I also enjoy linear levels, especially when they loop in on themselves like this one does. Great job!

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Staggered across the exit line in Miasma.  79% kills, 6/7 secrets

 

     There were definitely times the combat felt overwhelming but I was able to eventually stumble across a solution.  Sometimes took dozens of reloads to experiment with various approaches.  The way resources are distributed encourage lots of infighting: I used most of the ammo pickups on the map prior to the grand finale even when I was encouraging lots of it.  Some nice opportunities to gain a position advantage on ambushes.  Some feel intended, others involve some jiggling around to trip an ambush that would generally entail dropping off a platform.  Helps take the edge off but still plenty of difficulty to go around.  If I do try for 100%, it will be on a lower difficulty.  Took advantage of the way the map is set up to bow out of some of the combat since what I did go through felt rough enough.

 

    I don't think I'll be pulling off a miracle survival, especially in one take.  There are numerous areas where I have a high probability of biting it.  The green keycard, the silver skull (though I plan to skip it), the BFG, a big brawl shortly before it (which I survived with 8% health in practice), and the grand finale where the plasma rifle is finally available in a non-hidden area.  There's 3-4 more places I have a good chance of messing up or succumbing to nerves even with a plan.  Feel more confident about making some progress though.

 

  Finding secrets felt really rewarding, if not in material gain, at least in feeling accomplishment at tracking them down.  Several I just happened to spot a suspicious switch when I had slowed down for a bit.  Feel slowing down and being observant is the best way to spot them.  Even if slowing down isn't something one is inclined to do with the carnage this map offers.  I found zero in my initial -nomonsters sweep so feels good to have finished with so many.  And when the map rations plasma the way it does, a cell pack as a reward feels like a big deal.

 

  I got a strong Stardate 20x6 vibe from some areas and other seemed to draw upon The Mucus Flow for influence.  The monster placement feels strongly of the Stardate vein, maybe a little less heavy-handed but still intimidating.

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Posted (edited)

Well hello there, said the pain elemental.

 

Just wanted to exploit this rush of motivation to ramble nonsense without caring about, sense. So bare with me. Today is AHMF, later it'll be Decimate. Next either Dark Tide or Big Woodchip, and if things go well I might make space for Brigandine. FTR I did play Criticality and Miasma, both impeccable masterpieces, but probably not going to talk about them. I do wanna shout out the spider mastermind in Miasma, who miraculously got away with a crew of hell knights surrounding its body (you can see the dead bodies on her platform weren't my kills). Meanwhile TWO cybs were cornered to death in the same playthrough, actually almost three if I didn't intervene.

 

Anyways...

 

 

 

A Hidden Mountain Factory

 

The 90's era of mapping left us with an enormous pool of treats, rarities, and lots of gems too, mostly user-friendly and which hold up to this day. AHMF is perhaps not indispensable in everyone's journey through custom content, but for those still in love of old-school classics like Requiem or Memento Mori, specially at the peak of their experimental highest difficulty, I think this one shouldn't be missed.

 

I mentioned those megawads because that's what the vibe first brought me to. It's a partially linear affair with several branches halfway inside a hidden mountain factory, with a pitched brutality in opposition that reminds me most specifically to Requiem's map 18 -- hence my music choice this time. AHMF has a clear identity, even if you take out the self-explanatory title you know what's going on: it's in the presentation and the details, going down in the darkest depth of a cave with assholes lurking, until you infiltrate the factory, as you hear the tumultuous machinery operating on a constant while former humans and hell knights are guarding them. Who knows what juice flavor those bastards are creating, surely not chocomilk!

 

One of the details I found hilarious was the tall tech pillars in the main hub room, because they look so weirdly tiny. It's also worth noting that some machines aren't just there for noise - there is a little clever trick to acquire the secret plasma rifle, which must be deciphered before you shut down activity or it won't be accessible later. One other secret requires a similar approach, except it's always open - it can save your ass if your health is too low to tank shotgun crossfire. 

 

In general I have no gripes about the combat. The SSG grab can be mildly annoying when lots of things are clogging the doorway, or I guess those pesky trigger-happy hitscanners everywhere, but nothing really terrible to put my finger on... 

 

It's a good spicy antique map, in short words.

 

 

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Miasma

By @tourniquet (2016) - HMP with saves

Fantastic map, love how interconnected it is, had a hard time finding the secrets. Originally I beat the tower segment and reached the exit with 0 secrets and still about 300 monsters left!  Ended up going back, but only found 5 secrets in total. Had some great, hard fights (especially difficult in the optional areas). The level had a real metroidvania quality to it with the multiple paths, the gathering of the keys to open up new areas. It really does feel like this map makes you fight for each and every weapon, key and secret. Very rewarding challenge. Also the detailing of the map is astonishing and the Mucous Flow track pairs well with this one. I'll probably play this again at a later date. Great stuff.

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Decimate

 

I usually find these lesser known titles in kmxexii's blog, which is a great place to glance through if you want to expand your wad knowledge. I picked a random wad -Decimate- then checked it out, and thought it was a nice time spent, bit of a shallow map but enjoyable nonetheless.

 

Didn't mind the symmetry that much, or the lack of custom music (although sure, I imported a different one as I always prefer to do), since it went by quickly in 10-15 minutes, but that might not be your same experience, specially if adventure-oriented maps aren't your thing. Like Phobus said, health is on the strict side and doesn't admit any bumbling with hitscan or a revenant maybe, though ammo seemed enough to work through the pinky horde with SSG in hand. Later on there's a huge stack of rockets, which are handed to trade with the end-of-level, umm, door with health. If you were observant, you'd probably noticed the small gap in the granite near the start is hiding a plasma gun behind a double set of bars. And if you are cool secret hunter, it should be easy to unlock (I honestly didn't the first time, derp). That can make the exit sequence a bit more worth the time. 

 

Visually my favourite touch was the circular light casting around the lamps on the grass, little things that suggest it should be nighttime soon. The fortress looks good to me from afar. I always dig this theme location, which appears to be gone in current mapping (at least not forever). The lighting in the interiors of the towers and the building are in the perfect level, and once again circular lighting sectors make the detailing. I saw a missing texture one of the staircases and it's impossible to miss!

 

Another thing, I agree with the term "popcorn mapping" to describe this. Claussen has made a handful other single maps during the same period of time (1999-2000), which by the looks of things, they may be as modest and brief as Decimate. I guess I'll take a look at them one of these days...

 

 

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Posted (edited)

+++ Tantrum, vanilla doom 2 map by ukiro(?), or Tantrum 2, which I read is an improved version (1996-98)

+++ No Quarter, somewhat big limit-removing e1m3 replacement by "ArchVile46" (2002)

+++ Beware of False Prophets, limit-removing e4m1 replacement by Memfis (2012)

+++ Horse Cradle, kinda long an hard (mmm) boom map by "meapineapple" (2019)

 

uhhh, yeah that's that

 

 

Big Woodchip

 

A really stylistic theme here, wooden underground base in a hot red cavern is kind of rare outside of the speedmap compilation that conceptualized it. The look is very nice and fits well for good thumbnails, with the colour combo of red and brown that's usually an easy win in my book, specially if done so classy like in this map. I liked the central portion under the hollow so I could watch the dots stars.

 

Gameplay is neither frantic nor a cakewalk, well suitable for simple and casual with a few dangerous bits. There's a lot of close combat, sometimes on ledges or enclosed spaces, while there's also generally a safer area to retreat and different vantage points to take care of distant snipers, whether earlier or later. Since it's a linear tour from start to end, each weapon plays the role of checkpoints and each segment has tailor-made skirmishes or formal set pieces for them. Uh and, I never noticed the no-SSG thing the first time... a sign of good measure I guess, there's plentiful rockets, plasma, enough chaingun, and a secret berserk to have fun.

 

One of the highlights is the set piece in the middle, just a series for tp trash spam for chaingun suppression and rockets. I used to jump off because of shotgunners, but I never really had to, that's the cool part, as is also taking out the two revenants up close with plasma instead of using distance. Another highlight is logically the final stretch, maybe a bit restrained from threat if you can ditch the spider before falling in the archvile side, but still a fine finale... I kinda laughed at the one secret with a caged archvile, like who put him there? the cyber? that's kinky :x

 

Additional: the tp spam in the centre broke once in crispy doom (cl-2 equivalent in prboom+), I think only an imp spawned, but the rest didn't. In boom all monsters appear and you can get 100% kills. 

 

Overall, fun. I wanna go to bed.

 

 

Edited by galileo31dos01

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inb4 I forget, couple playthroughs that should speak more than words, because I can't do words today :D

 

 

Dark Tide

 

A thing to notice: playing on prboom will display the orange vomit skybox in the texture pack instead of the intended blue one. If you want the correct sky, you need to import the sky lumps from "dt-lutz" to "retres", add them to patches and edit sky1 in the texture editor, then save and test. If you play in zdoom none of this is necessary at all.

 

second thing, someone posted an excellent midi replacement in the release thread if anyone's interested. I wonder why Lutz didn't use it though, as d_runnin in this map is out of place.

 

anyways, fantastic map!

 

 

 

Brigandine

 

another beautiful map!! :DD

 

 

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