Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
roadworx

is it just me, or do 90s-styled wads not feel 90s at all a lot of the time?

Recommended Posts

An important limitation to note is the tools used for the time. A lot of the limitations older editors had directly affected how you could make maps, both in time and technical complexity. You couldn't simply draw sectors over other sectors, for example, you had to carefully build them inside out as no editor had that feature to just construct new sectors out of overlapping lines.

 

In a way, DOS is a vital tool to making a 90s wad.

Share this post


Link to post

you're so right about highly dynamic maps, lots of moving parts... i feel like there's a few lifts in doom 2 which are just so stylish that they inspired old mappers to make more and more byzantine versions of the same. and lots of stair builders etc. with more modern, more arena-like and picturesque approaches to mapping you don't see the big transformations so often, or they're designed as big SET PIECES instead of just being part of the level logic!

 

i don't think optional areas have gone away in particular, even if mappers now imbue their stuff with a stronger linear tug. I guess some things tagged as secrets could just have been dead ends for their own sake though

 

I miss that stuff but I don't miss deep water or pseudo-crouch sectors one bit. ALIENSTC-style descending railings are still cool though

Share this post


Link to post

Almost 30 years have passed, and all those 30 years and technological advancements will have an influence on how maps get made.

Nobody uses the editors that were popular in the 90's. Most people use higher resolutions than 320x200 when designing their maps and they of course have experienced a large portion of map sets that were made throughout all this time. All these factors will affect how the map will look.

 

I find it very rare that some newly released project successfully manages to replicate that very peculiar look of these early maps.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Edward850 said:

An important limitation to note is the tools used for the time. A lot of the limitations older editors had directly affected how you could make maps, both in time and technical complexity. You couldn't simply draw sectors over other sectors, for example, you had to carefully build them inside out as no editor had that feature to just construct new sectors out of overlapping lines.

 

In a way, DOS is a vital tool to making a 90s wad.

not necessarily. down the drain captures 90s wads - specifically the less fondly remembered ones - almost perfectly. it can absolutely be done, you just have to know what you're doing.

 

besides, this is more of a vibe thing, y'know? you can make a map in deu, but it won't necessarily feel 90s because people had different sensibilities at the time. this is more about getting into their heads rather than what tools were used 

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Obsidian said:

I wonder how many of the things we consider hallmarks of 90s mapping are just people copying the eccentricities of specific mappers, heh. Maybe we can do a genealogy chart.

what i'm talking about is stuff that's more shared across several different mappers of that period.

 

take the sector bars (i.e. solid bars as opposed to midtextures) for example. you can find them in the memento moris, requiem, the troopers playground, the darkening e1, there's even some in alien vendetta. it was the trendy thing to do it seems.

 

though, i do get what you mean. people take from specific things rather than looking at the era as a whole when replicating nails of that decade

 

1 hour ago, yakfak said:

i don't think optional areas have gone away in particular, even if mappers now imbue their stuff with a stronger linear tug. I guess some things tagged as secrets could just have been dead ends for their own sake though

 

I miss that stuff but I don't miss deep water or pseudo-crouch sectors one bit. ALIENSTC-style descending railings are still cool though

imo, i think what sets 90s optional areas apart were that they were kinda more out of the way. they were their own little paths, i suppose. kinda like some of doom 1's optional stuff

 

also, that's another thing - railings! people really liked railings back then, heh.

Edited by roadworx

Share this post


Link to post

90s WADs often were made with a more experimental mindset. Modern mappers often have played many Doom maps anywhere from now to the 90s, and there are certain mapping conventions that have been agreed upon since then. In the 90s, it was more of a wild west, where some of these conventions did not exist yet, and so the mappers had to come up with their own conventions. This is why you often get really strange or complex progression in 90s WADs.

 

1 hour ago, roadworx said:

- lots of moving parts. this is something you see a lot of in the higher quality 90s stuff: moving sectors. in dark covenant for example, i believe in map07 you drained a bunch of water to access lower sections of buildings. or in icarus map01, with the cross in the one room that turns upside down. or, in obituary and the troopers playground, where you constantly have raising staircases, lowering floors, etc. this is especially true with visual things, like icarus's aforementioned cross. it was like they were trying to be cinematic, in a way

This kinda aligns with my experimental mindset point, but also 90s mappers were often limited with the Vanilla limits. The easiest way to make Vanilla maps more interesting is not through detail, but by introducing more moving parts to keep it more interesting. But also Doom was very new at the time, and so mappers were probably exploring their options regarding different linedef actions. So that's probably one of the reasons you often get lots of different and obscure linedef actions getting used in early wads.

Share this post


Link to post

Critical analysis of maps has always been one of my weaker DOOM points, but if I had to think on it... 

 

- Performance, as the obvious low fruit. People build modern maps for modern PCs, even when they think they aren't. The most successful 90s map sets will be those designed to run on a 486 or (towards the end of the decade) a Pentium 2, the kind of hardware that outright keels over if introduced to Nuts.

 

- As others have mentioned, the tools back then would force a certain methodology by nature of their limitations, although one cannot blame the tools for subpar work they will nevertheless influence the outcome. 

 

- "An abstract kind of hell". This phrase seems to apply more to older maps than newer ones, with new wads and custom textures often leaning heavily into being a fully realised set of locales, rather than the loosely manifested themes of the older maps. Look at E1M7, for example - a similar map made now, would much more resemble an actual "Computer Station" and might even resemble something like a corrupted datacenter.

 

- Mapper mixing across engines. Doom mapping, vs Build mapping, vs Quake mapping, vs whichever big engine editor you want to name, all have their distinct traits and tropes. As time goes by, these communities intermingle or cross over into each other, which some might argue has a bit of a dilution effect on the specific characteristics of a given engine. Build mappers, for example, seem much more fond of doomcute and thus an influx of Build mappers is likely to result in a realism trend for a map pack.

 

tl'dr: 90s maps really are a product of their time, and without a fairly intimate familiarity of both the tooling and the mindspace of mappers at the time, efforts to replicate it will often end up as fairly shallow homages which only encapsulate a few of the things that made a 90s pack so 90s.

 

This is just my very broadly spoken opinion.

Share this post


Link to post

It did also feel like mappers were trying to do things that the game couldn't actually do but they tried their hardest to convey what their idea was via sector architecture or specific sequences with switches or even just new sprites. Some mappers also desired a more adventure-y game feel to a level with its progression than typical Doom formula.

Something not mentioned that I think is a 90s stable is an emphasis on gradient lighting, this looked very dramatic and it stuck out to me just as much as the other things mentioned in this thread.

Share this post


Link to post
34 minutes ago, Zerofuchs said:

Build mappers, for example, seem much more fond of doomcute and thus an influx of Build mappers is likely to result in a realism trend for a map pack.
 

 

I think the far bigger reason why this wasn't done in the 90's is the low thresholds for render overflows in Doom. It was far to easy to reach either the visplanes or drawsegs limits with such constructs so the engine's own limitations made them hard to pull off. These days where the vast majority of maps is at least limit removing, this isn't a blocker anymore.

 

Share this post


Link to post

I agree that they don't generally feel authentic to the era, but I'm sure as hell not complaining. To each their own but the way I see it at least, the less derivative a work is the better.

Share this post


Link to post

Very valid things you people say in this thread, it could be pretty helpful!

Share this post


Link to post

@ETTiNGRiNDER touched on this but I think the influence of D&D is a major one here, in so far as older WADs have a far more important 'exploration layer' to their gameplay (I was IDCLEV'ing around E2 a few days ago thinking about this precise thing) compared to really any game now. FPSes these days seem big on arenas and set pieces and even tabletop play seems very interested in either the character's story arcs or their 'builds' so in any case you've got a play culture that concentrates on the PC in some form whether that be narratively or mechanically, as opposed to encouraging engagement with what the GM has created on it's own terms (well, I play in the 'OSR' style when I play D&D, which specifically rejects these things, so this is based on what I've heard and read about other people's games. Which sound really boring to me, although I hope they're enjoying themselves anyway).

 

Anyway I'm going to stop there as I think this is an interesting topic but there's a lot to say and I'm not quite sure how to best express myself. Something to do with the way NERDS interact with their virtual worlds -- we seem to have changed from a more expansive view of our imaginary environments, where the possibilities open as they grow larger, to what we have now where we interact in a more rules-based, 'closed' manner. I read an article recently on the mad ambitions of the Ultima Online designers, who seemed to think that the players would spontaneously self-police and create some sort of actual online civilisation or something -- these days of course we all seem to be searching for the perfect set of moderation policies to create our online utopias. Total mindset shift.

I apologise to the reader for all for this stream of consciousness gibberish but if I'm able to organise my thoughts I may be able to make an actually good post on this. Don't hold your breath though.

Share this post


Link to post

Apex CHUD makes good point about D&D and the-then interests/hobbies of that generation which was based primarily in the 80s and 70s (assuming these mappers were 30+ in age like I am now,) that certainly influenced their mapping habits. It should also be stated that despite Carmack's wanton disregard for storytelling a lot of mappers loved weaving sometimes elaborate lore for scenarios to take place in. Sverre André Kvernmo is especially notable for his Cabal series where you (technically) play a Cyberdemon who was transformed into a vengeful human due to mutiny IIRC.

Although unorthodox, there was instances where the author would hide important information on the automap, utilizing it like a treasure map, further adding to the adventure game feel.

Share this post


Link to post

This thread could really use some more specific examples -- I'd be most interested in seeing which maps people do consider nailing that 90's feel. It's a lot easier to talk about "why does this work?" when there's something tangible to look at.

Share this post


Link to post

It's not a 90's wad unless it has terminatortheme.midi or headlikeahole.midi playing

Share this post


Link to post

Moreover, modern mappers forget to put their real name, adress and phone number in the text file. What a shame !

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, Lila Feuer said:

Something not mentioned that I think is a 90s stable is an emphasis on gradient lighting, this looked very dramatic and it stuck out to me just as much as the other things mentioned in this thread.

Speaking of dramatic and stuck into memory, lo and behold, the one of suspenseful suspended crate in dusk.
Suspended_in_Dusk_crate.png
Suspended in Dusk, a WAD made in 2005

Share this post


Link to post

I do not have much insight when it comes to "Vibes" vibes, or the eccentricities of what makes a 90's Wad a 90's Wad, or even if a modern Wad feels like a Retro-throwback. Or what limitations of the 90's tech forced a certain feeling of "Do as much with what you have" type of deal. Im simply someone born at the start of the 2000's.

 

So a Question to OP. From a non-nostalgic view, How much does or does not my list pertain to that "Neo-Vanilla Flavor" of the 90's on this List i made:

Because it has been a genuine curiosity to me if i even managed to achieve a "Neo-Vanilla Flavor" or if i mistakenly mixed in too many toppings to the point that it is a completely different flavor profile to the Vanilla Flavor i intended to gather. (Other than the Console based Wads... I kinda just put them down due to there being a handful of them)

Share this post


Link to post

A lot of people just make shitty maps and then say 90s influence as a shield to valid criticisms regarding bad movement, haphazard monster placement, and overall thoughtless design. It's not really 90s, just a crutch for low effort.

Share this post


Link to post
7 minutes ago, Decay said:

A lot of people just make shitty maps and then say 90s influence as a shield to valid criticisms regarding bad movement, haphazard monster placement, and overall thoughtless design. It's not really 90s, just a crutch for low effort.

Like this? And This?

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Making something that feels like it’s from the 90s vs something that would’ve worked on a machine from the 90s? Levels that can function within the DOS version are by default 90s vibe compatible. The range in quality was just as prevalent then as it is now. 

Share this post


Link to post

I totally agree, I think the main thing is that in most projects people just aren't that critical about "is this 90s enough." Most people are doing a "soft throwback" rather than a hard one, if that makes sense.

 

To really get hardcore 90s vibes, you either need a mapper or team of mappers who are specifically dedicated to reproducing the style and ready to be very self-critical and compare often to real 90s maps, or a community project leader that is willing to be strict about it.

Share this post


Link to post

Yeah, like obviously if you've played enough modern wads, Nostalgia more or less feels like them because of it's concise Scythe-like layout and neat, clean arrangements, neither of which were especially present in the 90s and even more modern 'vanilla' wads might take some slight thematic lessons from Memento Mori or the Darkening but at the same time, it's clear the same mappers have played a fair few modern works and as such, through fidelity isn't really their goal, even when they might believe it.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Decay said:

A lot of people just make shitty maps and then say 90s influence as a shield to valid criticisms regarding bad movement, haphazard monster placement, and overall thoughtless design. It's not really 90s, just a crutch for low effort.

 

Having played those wads in the 90s, my impression is that a true 90s map is a shitty affair made with a primitive tools, and I don’t share the apparent appreciation they receive. To me, a 90s map is an innocent but clumsy at best, obnoxious bug-ridden eyesore (”experimental”) at worst, sometimes without a way to exit.

 

And watching streamers play these wads, my memories seem to land quite near, despite how cute streamers call them. I’m glad 90s pastiches employ some modern sensibilities and are made with UDB instead of DEU 5.21 or such.

 

(Edit: Despite my hostility, I’m not saying all wads in the 90s were bad, just that there were a huge influx of not-so-great stuff made with primitive tools, and I suppose they were important as a way to form the art of Doom mapmaking… but nothing more. The maps I’d play now are few and far between.)

Edited by RHhe82

Share this post


Link to post

I haven't played a lot of 90's styled wads (not that I can remember anyway) but what I was trying to achieve as a mapper in the 90's was the following: 

 

I wanted levels that rewarded exploration with more gameplay.   Not secrets, or power-ups or anything that as a level designer you're expected to deliver to the player nowadays; but more gameplay - because this was a new and exciting hobby that allowed DMs, creatives, and programming types a chance to show the world your vision of this game.   (which was fun as is, but more is better generally and what's better than a new and different looking area to kill imps in?)   

 

As a DM, my players had moved onto marriages and better jobs halfway around the country.  This then became my outlet to try out all my game design ideas and dungeons.  I'd see something in another game and try to replicate it here in the Doom engine (foolishly in most cases, but this kept my mind working) but D&D was a major influence in how I approached combat and flow.   I preferred the incidental combat that D&D's random encounter tables would bring.  So I ended up using a lot of free roaming monsters, that upon hearing the player, would eventually find them.   I think I gleaned this technique from E3M4 and E3M6 specifically (or at least that's where I noticed its effectiveness).

 

A lot of my earliest sketches were basic Dungeon to Doom level conversions.   Almost all of these, I realised quickly, were crap and never saw the light of day as I read more and more about what the Doom engine could and could not do.  

 

The story in the textfile approach worked well for the levels back then.  At least you had an understanding of what was being attempted ingame and you'd make allowances for some of the strangeness.  I started this way myself but stopped as I joined community projects.  (not good or bad just different though some of the charm has been lost I think.)

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
On 4/23/2024 at 4:08 PM, roadworx said:

by this, i don't mean in terms of gameplay, but instead in visuals and certain design choices. they never feel authentic, not even to the higher quality maps that came out of the 90s.

I think decent-to-good-quality '90s WADs usually has some kind of home-brew graphics(maybe because custom textures wasn't much common back then? IDK I don't live in that era), few feels like straight up made from MS Paint, others feels like using '90 3D technology and some retouches, others feels like using real-life assets. They also sometimes employed mapping tricks like self-referencing sector, REJECT table, instant raising/lowering sectors, see-through doors with middle textures. Some of them also employed DeHackEd. Some trying to base off on pop culture.

 

 

On 4/23/2024 at 4:08 PM, roadworx said:

- there were a lot of visual trends back then that a lot of throwback wads seem to gloss over. things like sector bars and curving staircases, for example, were pretty common sights back then. it's always felt like people were trying to make their maps seem more impressive by doing things like that.

Spoiler

image.png.a27ab260ce11aacc6b43f95df0d5bb98.png

Cleimos did it in 1994. You started in a "moving train", and then you are welcomed by floors and ceilings that trying to imitate slopes. The rest of levels feels kinda flat as I can remember, but considering this is few of custom levels that released in 1994 (Doom I released in 1993), this quite neat.

image.png

Share this post


Link to post
On 4/23/2024 at 4:08 AM, roadworx said:

- lots of moving parts. this is something you see a lot of in the higher quality 90s stuff: moving sectors. in dark covenant for example, i believe in map07 you drained a bunch of water to access lower sections of buildings. or in icarus map01, with the cross in the one room that turns upside down. or, in obituary and the troopers playground, where you constantly have raising staircases, lowering floors, etc. this is especially true with visual things, like icarus's aforementioned cross. it was like they were trying to be cinematic, in a way 

Yesss, I loved this aspect of older maps. I love maps that *do* things. Its one of the biggest ideas from the 90s that still carry over to my mapping today. That and trying to recapture the sense of adventure you had playing them as a kid.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×