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Zulk RS

I just finished Icarus: Alien Vanguard and I want to gush about it.

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So normally I don't make threads like this and I probably won't either. I just finished playing Icarus and it was awesome. Before I say anything else I want to give a disclaimer that I am kind of sleep deprived right now and so the post might get rambly and a bit nonsensical.

 

So most of Icarus' maps, I loved. I hated a few of the puzzle maps and maps with very confusing progression but I loved all the other maps. I think my impression though might have been skewed a bit. Against what I normally do when playing wads, I decided to play this with Complex Doom. I normally don't play mods on map packs I've never played before but this time I just felt like playing it with Complex for some odd reason.

 

The thing about this megawad that I absolutely hated was the music. I don't know what it was but 80% of the tracks either pissed me off immedietly or started off good and then became unbearably irritating and grating as I played the level. The music pissed me off so much that I stopped playing around MAP06 or something and just paired it with music from Empyreon so I can use Changemus console command to change the music whenever a track started to piss me off.

 

TNT is my favorite of the IWADs. I think that's a big reason as to why I liked Icarus. Though the maps look pretty bland compared to TNT, I think what I loved more was the creativity on display. The wad tried to do cool locations and interesting ideas. The ideas didn't always work out as well as one would hope but the ideas itself were pretty cool. Really it feels like TNT but more experimental. There was an upside-down level, scrolling textures to simulate being on a moving spaceship, a feeling of adventure as you go from place to place in your spaceship and run combat simulations to pass the time and visit different demon planets.

 

And now here's the part which made me make this post. Plutonia and TNT were the two halves of Final Doom. Out of the two, Plutonia is the clear community favorite (with good reason). I don't think I'm wrong in saying that Plutonia heavily influenced many great mappers and wad authors. Many of the earlier classic megawads have traces of DNA from Plutonia's aggressive and mobile combat encounters that pressure the player (in a good way mostly) and from Plutonia's arcadey map design. A lot of megawads that took Plutonia's formula and evolved it to the next level. These megawads, in turn, influenced more megawads and we are where we are now.

 

While playing Icarus, I couldn't help but think about an alternate reality where TNT was the more well regarded of the two Final Dooms. I wondered what would the cacoward winners, classic megawads and the mapping philosophy would have looked like in that universe. Where wads had very experimental designs to them which would later be perfected by other wads that would come afterward. We'd have a lot more "Adventure" wads. We'd also have maps that feel like they are part of a larger world or a larger story-line than just Great Doom Levels that are loosely connected by theming. It made me a bit sad thinking about all the cool and experimental shit that could have been in the megawads. However, it also made me grateful for the megawads we do have because of how we've refined encounter design and how almost all cacoward winners have solid challenging gameplay. I can see that being an aspect which would be lacking had TNT been what was loved more than Plutonia.

 

So yeah. That's my ramble after getting like a combined 7 hours of sleep in two days. Sorry I went off the deep end there.

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Icarus bland in comparison to TNT? The WAD that truly put the "sci-fi" into the sci-fi horror of Doom? It's true some of the maps are stupidly bland (Donnybrook and 1 or 2 of the spaceship maps at least) but the amount of colors displayed easily put TNT to shame without any question.

 

Yet, while I have probably the second fondest memories of it, it's also one that's difficult to justify a replay of when stacked against everything it came after. Also, while I recall liking the music (Jeremy Doyle and Tom Mustaine were among the composers contracted to provide tracks) it just wasn't memorable in the same way as the Memento Mori soundtrack, as a contemporary comparison point (MM2 on the other hand....while David Shaw did turn in some fantastic tracks (whatever's in Map 06 for instance), Mark Klem still sounds stronger to my ears. Thinking back, I think it may have been slightly gimmicky in some ways, but eh, if I become a mapper, I'll have zero time for revisiting anyway.

 

I'm actually not sure if Hell Revealed or Plutonia deserve more credit for pushing the difficulty even though Plutonia 'did it first'. To answer your question, people would probably be viewing the Doom modding scene in quainter terms than they would probably even Quake 1 for instance. While I tend to think the Jim Flynn and Bob Evans style of obtuse puzzling would have largely withered, there might be still some presence of that aspect in more accessible terms. Honestly, I'd bet that difficulty would gradually increase anyway (was Map 29 in Community Chest 1 really influenced much by Plutonia design-wise?), but something like DBP 35 and Arrival would be close to the upper end if not already there.

 

Tbh, I'm starting to think Drake O' Brien would be unintentionally influential despite his departure likely remaining the same because his maps are probably  the most difficult next to the Casalis in TNT. He was clearly someone who wanted to experiment with Doomcute in all probability, but probably got told by Ty and other project leaders those details would make his maps run highly inefficiently (of course, they let a moronic visplane oveflow go in Habitat, but that's indicative enough of the map as a whole that it's hard to care too much. Because the only one who could probably compete with Drake in the difficulty department might be Jimmy Sieben, and I'm just not familiar enough with Robin Patenall to make any judgements about them.

 

Hopefully, that'll give you something to chew on.:)

 

Another thought I just had is what if JustinWhatshisname had finished The Nemesis Experiment instead of having a nervous breakdown and quitting Doom mapping for good? Idk how people would respond necessarily, but I could say it gaining the same sort of fame as Half Life TCs for an entirely different reason. I know close to fuck all about that other project, other than 3 maps were released as a demo,

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9 hours ago, LadyMistDragon said:

Icarus bland in comparison to TNT? The WAD that truly put the "sci-fi" into the sci-fi horror of Doom? It's true some of the maps are stupidly bland (Donnybrook and 1 or 2 of the spaceship maps at least) but the amount of colors displayed easily put TNT to shame without any question.

 

I actually agree with you on this point. I called it bland in comparison to TNT more in the sense of architecture rather than color or theming. What I mean is that Icarus as a whole has more color than TNT, yes. It also takes you to super interesting and general more creative places than in TNT. However in terms of level architecture, Icarus has way more monochrome hallways, empty rooms and awkward looking architecture. Though it does have some nice looking rooms near the later parts of the wad.

 

9 hours ago, LadyMistDragon said:

I'm actually not sure if Hell Revealed or Plutonia deserve more credit for pushing the difficulty even though Plutonia 'did it first'

 

With Plutonia being one of the best loved IWADs, people are bound to take more inspiration from it. Even if it didn't do it the best, it inspired people to refine and perfect the aggressive gameplay style present in it. Also I think there's more to Plutonia's style than just the difficulty. It's that style that got popular.

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You just had to post this while I'm busy with Eternal Doom history, so I wouldn't have time to talk about how Icarus is the best thing ever :DDD  

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Some tracks from Icarus are freaking amazing, some of them I still listen while mapping till this day. For example, Map01, Map02, Map15(defmy fav) and Map29.

Also another thing I like is, there is actually an icarus theme(the title track) that will constantly appear in later midis which is something other megawads never do, and I love this idea. If you haven't listen to it, just go check it out.

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Posted (edited)

Regarding Icarus music, I found this yesterday. Can't remember if it was linked here or if it showed up in my YouTube recommended feed.

 

@Zulk RS Check out that playlist if you want; maybe it will sound better played through the Roland SC-55. I notice some midi tracks grate on my nerves if using a bad sound font in-game.

 

 

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i kinda had the opposite experience, i loved a lot of the music but there were really only a few levels that i actually liked

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Posted (edited)

Maybe Icarus looks a bit bland with its grey/basic textures, but regarding its scenario and music, it's a great experience. I keep coming back to it every few years just to soak in the atmosphere.

 

BTW, even though it's shameless self-promotion: If you are using (G)ZDoom, consider running Icarus with the custom MAPINFO I created some years ago since it adds a neat background story which gives a lot more meaning and purpose to the entire thing.

Edited by NightFright

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Posted (edited)

I'm playing through Icarus right now, and I've got to say: it's incredible. The environment, music, map layouts. All 10/10. I have a preference for 90s and early 00s-style wads.

 

Icarus is a total adventure wad from the past. The issue I have with newer adventure wads today is the way mapping layouts are done. There's been this tendency to have piss poor lighting and multiple, consecutive slaughter zones. It gets old after a while. I love being able to walk around and explore rooms without worrying about an archvile up my ass every couple minutes.

 

TNT was incredibly bad. I think I got bored around map 9 or 10 and just kept playing through because, well, that's what a Doom fan does.

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Posted (edited)

I always found Icarus to be like the B side of a record, in comparison to TNT. 

 

While the A side is usually the more popular song in the end, some people usually prefer the B side ( wich is usually more experimental) . 

Edited by OniriA

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Posted (edited)

You know, another thing I forgot to point out. These maps age really well.

 

I'm playing a mapset that was built 25 years ago. I don't know any game that exists where I could make such a claim.

 

I have a ritual of playing through Sonic 1/2 and Super Mario Bros. 2 every three or four years. Why? Because they are fantastic games. Like a great novel, these are works of art. Not "toys" (as videogames in the mid-90s were labeled)

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I also played icarus rather recently and I just wanna make sure that Icarus uses leitmotif in its music. I havent checked every song but I believe the ones that take place on a spaceship use the title screen leitmotif in some way. I cant think of any other megawads that do this and I just think thats so cool. (I absolutely ADORE Icarus's soundtrack)

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2 hours ago, StarSpun5000 said:

I also played icarus rather recently and I just wanna make sure that Icarus uses leitmotif in its music. I havent checked every song but I believe the ones that take place on a spaceship use the title screen leitmotif in some way. I cant think of any other megawads that do this and I just think thats so cool. (I absolutely ADORE Icarus's soundtrack)

 

Are there any other WADs that do this?

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12 hours ago, StarSpun5000 said:

I also played icarus rather recently and I just wanna make sure that Icarus uses leitmotif in its music. I havent checked every song but I believe the ones that take place on a spaceship use the title screen leitmotif in some way. I cant think of any other megawads that do this and I just think thats so cool. (I absolutely ADORE Icarus's soundtrack)

Eternal Doom soundtrack by Rich Nagel has multiple great leitmotifs. 

 

The Icarus theme plays on the Title and Text Screens, as well as Maps 02, 04, 07, 12, 31, 26. I may have missed some. 

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On 6/9/2021 at 12:02 AM, Zulk RS said:

While playing Icarus, I couldn't help but think about an alternate reality where TNT was the more well regarded of the two Final Dooms. I wondered what would the cacoward winners, classic megawads and the mapping philosophy would have looked like in that universe. Where wads had very experimental designs to them which would later be perfected by other wads that would come afterward. We'd have a lot more "Adventure" wads. We'd also have maps that feel like they are part of a larger world or a larger story-line than just Great Doom Levels that are loosely connected by theming. It made me a bit sad thinking about all the cool and experimental shit that could have been in the megawads. However, it also made me grateful for the megawads we do have because of how we've refined encounter design and how almost all cacoward winners have solid challenging gameplay. I can see that being an aspect which would be lacking had TNT been what was loved more than Plutonia.

 

On 6/9/2021 at 12:55 AM, LadyMistDragon said:

I'm actually not sure if Hell Revealed or Plutonia deserve more credit for pushing the difficulty even though Plutonia 'did it first'. To answer your question, people would probably be viewing the Doom modding scene in quainter terms than they would probably even Quake 1 for instance. While I tend to think the Jim Flynn and Bob Evans style of obtuse puzzling would have largely withered, there might be still some presence of that aspect in more accessible terms. Honestly, I'd bet that difficulty would gradually increase anyway (was Map 29 in Community Chest 1 really influenced much by Plutonia design-wise?), but something like DBP 35 and Arrival would be close to the upper end if not already there.

 

Tbh, I'm starting to think Drake O' Brien would be unintentionally influential despite his departure likely remaining the same because his maps are probably  the most difficult next to the Casalis in TNT. He was clearly someone who wanted to experiment with Doomcute in all probability, but probably got told by Ty and other project leaders those details would make his maps run highly inefficiently (of course, they let a moronic visplane oveflow go in Habitat, but that's indicative enough of the map as a whole that it's hard to care too much. Because the only one who could probably compete with Drake in the difficulty department might be Jimmy Sieben, and I'm just not familiar enough with Robin Patenall to make any judgements about them.

 

I asked myself this same question on a thread long ago.
But i can tell that, even without Plutonia, Hell Revealed would had existed, as it was in development way before Plutonia.

Also, the Casalis Bros were experimenting with high difficulty on maps before Plutonia, too.

 

H2H-Xmas is probably an underrated and highly difficult gameplay oriented mapset from the very beggining of the Doom modding scene.
So even when TNT:E could have been the more loved of the two, gameplay oriented mapset would have existed mostly on the same proportion.

 

Something that is not usualy noticed is that atmosphere and mood where achieved way before gameplay oriented mapsets.

Aliens TC is one of the very first TC and also one of the very first project to transform Doom on a really scary and suspenseful experience.

From there, people experimented with atmosphere and mood far more than with gameplay.

why?

Because everybody tried to tell their own story at first.
Backthen, a game could have a good story, a bad story, and a silly story, but games with no story didn't existed somehow.
So even little mapsets and individual releases had somekind of story behind.

Doomsday of UAC is a good example.


If you check the sister release to Final Doom, that is the Wraith Corp. Duology, Hell 2 Pay and Perdition's Gate, they are quite similar in design to TNT and Plutonia, respectively. Hell 2 Pay being an epic adventure far more cohesive than TNT, and Perdition's Gate being small action packed maps but with a good sense of place and story underneath it.
If hipotetically we had an alternate reallity where the Warith Corp. mapset were released as Final Doom, the outcome would be quite similar to the actual line of events, with just minor differences.

In the end, a mapset similar to Alien Vendetta that mashed up both styles perfectly would had appeared, and a lot of mappers would try to make something similar to it or even better, thus leading to Skillsaw releasing Radiant instead of Valiant, and Dreamtime instead of Ancient Aliens.

 

On 8/10/2021 at 10:39 AM, princetontiger said:

I'm playing through Icarus right now, and I've got to say: it's incredible. The environment, music, map layouts. All 10/10. I have a preference for 90s and early 00s-style wads.

 

Icarus is a total adventure wad from the past. The issue I have with newer adventure wads today is the way mapping layouts are done. There's been this tendency to have piss poor lighting and multiple, consecutive slaughter zones. It gets old after a while. I love being able to walk around and explore rooms without worrying about an archvile up my ass every couple minutes.

 

TNT was incredibly bad. I think I got bored around map 9 or 10 and just kept playing through because, well, that's what a Doom fan does.

 

i don't get how you get bored with TNT and not with Icarus.

TNT:Evilution is the adventure version of Doom 2, more in line with Ultimate Doom than with Doom 2.

Is just the same you described for Icarus.

 

On 8/10/2021 at 11:08 AM, OniriA said:

I always found Icarus to be like the B side of a record, in comparison to TNT. 

 

While the A side is usually the more popular song in the end, some people usually prefer the B side ( wich is usually more experimental) . 

I have the vague impression that when TNT:E was aknowledged by Id Software and they started to make Icarus as the free alternative to it, things get really difficult to handle and some maps of Icarus are scrapped ones from TNT:E and viceversa, and aslo, that some that should have been on TNT: E unfortunatelly get to be on Icarus.

 

One example of that is mapp11 of TNT: E and map01 of Icarus.
They are perfectly cohesive.
I the first one you get into a storage area to hid on it and get into the ship. On the later, you start inside a box, and make your way to the ship.

Coincidence?
I don't think so.
 

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I personally felt like Ancient Aliens was more TNT-esque. I don't know why. I played Valiant (only the first episode) and Ancient Aliens. For some reason I just couldn't get into Valiant (which is why I've only played the first episode) but I absolutely loved Ancient Aliens.

 

1 hour ago, P41R47 said:

don't get how you get bored with TNT and not with Icarus.

TNT:Evilution is the adventure version of Doom 2, more in line with Ultimate Doom than with Doom 2.

Is just the same you described for Icarus.

 

Yeah I don't get it either. I'd say purely gameplay wise, I might actually like TNT more than Icarus but I like adventure Icarus takes you on more.

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On 6/8/2021 at 10:55 PM, LadyMistDragon said:

Another thought I just had is what if JustinWhatshisname had finished The Nemesis Experiment instead of having a nervous breakdown and quitting Doom mapping for good? Idk how people would respond necessarily, but I could say it gaining the same sort of fame as Half Life TCs for an entirely different reason. I know close to fuck all about that other project, other than 3 maps were released as a demo,

What's that wad? I looked it up, but the name was too generic, couldn't find anything. You have piqued my interest. Haha

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6 hours ago, P41R47 said:

i don't get how you get bored with TNT and not with Icarus.

TNT:Evilution is the adventure version of Doom 2, more in line with Ultimate Doom than with Doom 2.

Is just the same you described for Icarus.

Icarus is far more cohesive, polished, and consistent in quality than TNT, and has far more varied and interesting combat encounters.

 

TNT’s overindulgence of low-level enemies really works against it in many of its levels.

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5 hours ago, Dusty_Rhodes said:

What's that wad? I looked it up, but the name was too generic, couldn't find anything. You have piqued my interest. Haha

It's on idgames under 'nemisis.wad' It features in it's second map some incredibly trippy and imaginative use of architecture a la MC Esher. Justin also seems to have planned  a number of custom enemies, but hardly any of them can be found here (it was basically nothing more than concept by the time he went Pete Townshend on the Doom community's ass).

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19 minutes ago, LadyMistDragon said:

It's on idgames under 'nemisis.wad' It features in it's second map some incredibly trippy and imaginative use of architecture a la MC Esher. Justin also seems to have planned  a number of custom enemies, but hardly any of them can be found here (it was basically nothing more than concept by the time he went Pete Townshend on the Doom community's ass).

That's sad to hear. Thanks for the response.

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2 hours ago, Faceman2000 said:

Icarus is far more cohesive, polished, and consistent in quality than TNT, and has far more varied and interesting combat encounters.

 

TNT’s overindulgence of low-level enemies really works against it in many of its levels.

well, i don't know if cohesive is the word.
I found the all time changing between planet-ship-simulation quite confusing, as there is not a simple serie of maps with the same theme at all.
Don't take me wrong, i like that and its one of the strong points of Icarus narrative.
But cohesivenes is something more in line with what one found on the IWADs, like techbase, city, hell.


TNT:E also follows this scheme, but do that with far more liberty than the other IWADs to use the contextual storytelling for its own purpose:

 

1-first episode all experimental labs, showing different kind of experiments on teleportation, even temple style demonic summon teleportation.

 

2-second episode militare areas, prisons and the last storage area near a military outpost,

 

3-third episode outside of the spaceship, crater being from where it is boarded, nukage processing the toxic waste area of the ship, steel works being the gigantic furnace like place that fuels the turbines of the ship, dead zone the top side of the spaceship, deepest reaches the down side of the spaceship, processing area being the place where data is distributed withing the ship, mill being a place between the labs, prison, and fuel area of the spaceship, shipping/respawning being the storage area of the ship, and central processing is like the commandement bridge area of the spaceship, but also show how the player ventures into the inner parts of the hellship, thus leading to its interior hell themed maps.


4-And final episode, hell themed maps, this are still inside the ship, but hell is a taken as it was on Doom 2, where demon precense corrupts and change the different parts, thus administration center is a block of buildings with vague reminescense to administrative areas all mostly deformed to the max, habitat is the habitat deck flooded and deformed, lunar mining project and quarry being some of the places dug up to traverse the hellship, Baron's den is stright up the first hell area inside the ship, ballistix is literally the balistic area of the hellship corrupted, mount pain marks the last descent into the deepest parts of the hellship, heck and river styx being just follows up to that, and Last Call the very center of the hellship. But also is a signal of the sequel TNT probably wanted to make and never spend time doing, thus the mapset ends with an enigmatic note.

In comparison to that, while playing Icarus, sometimes i get confuce if i was inside a planet or on a simulation, only realising what it was at the end of the map thanks to the exit.
That makes the mapset far more diverse and not thematically boring as most usual theme transition mapsets out there, but also makes it less cohesive thanks to the disparate places present on the simulations and on the planets.
It is consistent on offering a wide diversity of areas thematic wise...

Edited by P41R47

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11 hours ago, P41R47 said:

I found the all time changing between planet-ship-simulation quite confusing, as there is not a simple serie of maps with the same theme at all.
Don't take me wrong, i like that and its one of the strong points of Icarus narrative.
But cohesivenes is something more in line with what one found on the IWADs, like techbase, city, hell.

 

I honestly didn't find it that confusing. The way I interpreted it is that you're on a ship and piloting your way across space to get to the source of a Demon invasion (with the final level basically being the Demon's flagship's reactor core)

 

During your journey your ship is often invaded by demon boarders and you need to defend against them (the ship levels). Traveling through space takes a long time and you want to be ready for demons so you train yourself with simulations while you wait (simulation maps) and finally on the way you stop at small worlds that were under demon control to weaken their supply lines or just kill more demons in general.

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