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The Ultimate DooMer

The /newstuff Chronicles #176

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Despite my life getting worse over the past fortnight, I'm still here and so are my newstuff reviews. This week, we have a rather big haul of maps (including some interesting ones), but nothing really special to be had. That's only my opinion of course, so get your army of source ports ready (you'll need them) and fire up some, many or all of the 40 maps on offer:

  • Braham Manor by Bryant Robinson
    2200kb - Vavoom - SP - screenies unavailable
    Now here's a strange one - a map set in a haunted mansion. Using an appropriate texture set and Vavoom's special features, a great atmosphere is created (despite the disproportionate size of the furniture). Detail is minimal except for the 3D floors and furniture, but this adds to the atmosphere by making the rooms look bare (which they often are in these places). Gameplay isn't too hard, but is made harder by the fact that Vavoom is about the worst-handling engine out there (slow, buggy walk/run modes, automap resets upon loading a savegame) and the ammo/health balance is dictated by choice of route (you're pretty much free to go where you want except one or two areas). So a mixed opinion from me, but it's worth checking out if you can get Vavoom to run on your machine.

  • Unofficial Change Log v1.01 by LogicDeLuxe
    10kb - n/a - n/a -
    A curio for those interested in collecting Doom rarities. (the changelog for the various doom.exe versions)

  • Doom 1.4, the leaked bootleg of 8-apr-94 by id software
    287kb - itself - n/a -
    Another curio for those interested in collecting Doom rarities. (a rare doom.exe version)

  • WADHEX 32Bits - Hexadecimal Visualizator by Javier Fernando Almenara Otoya
    115kb - n/a - n/a -
    A tool that lets you view and edit a wad in hex format. Probably for those in the relevant know-how only.

  • Forever by jetflock
    1330kb - OpenGL port - SP - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Technically it runs on any source port, but an OpenGL one is recommended for this 7-map wad. It's a mixed bag in every department, from size to quality to gameplay to detail. The first two maps have a lot of dark areas in (you need the OpenGL here really), while the next 4 try to cram in every theme going - as a result the texturing seems completely random all the way through those maps (06 - the never-ending map - being the worst offender). In that respect it's a true 'classic-style' wad (MM2 et al), but it doesn't detract from the detail or the gameplay. Detail is mixed, with everything from bare rooms to giant structures to themed realistic areas and high-detail parts. Gameplay is fairly difficult at times due to the lack of health in most places and ammo in others (map 04 has a severe ammo shortage). But the important thing - the fun factor - is here, even though it can be a real slog at times. New sprites, including replacement SS sprites (there was much rejoicing...yay!) improve things, and you also get to shoot up OAC's (old-age cacos) for added funney. In short, a real mixed bag, but one that stands out a bit, is quite interesting and fun, so overall it's recommended.

  • Blind Alley Y: Dissolution by Gene Bird
    115kb - doom2.exe - SP - (img)
    After another loooooong delay, here comes the 15th map in the series. Expect the usual detail (low-medium), texturing (varied but seemingly random) and gameplay (fast and furious). This one looks better in the big areas, but some of the smaller rooms look a bit bare, and indeed repetitive as well. It's action from the first door opening, and will take the health out of you if you're not careful. In other words, it's challenging and fun. It's not too big a map, but it's up to the usual standard and of course is worth playing. Another 15 of these and we have a really fun megawad...

  • Perdid01 by J.S.Graham (psyren)
    95kb - doom2.exe - SP - (img)
    A small-ish techbase map that kinda reminds me of the early Doom 2 wads I used to play. Everywhere is a complex of rooms, passages, stairs and lifts with 90° walls and various amounts of detail (of the tech variety). One or two areas are a little bigger (and these look better too) but apart from that it's a cramped affair. Gameplay is pretty dull, with a population of zombies only plus a few imps, demons and hell knights. There's also too much ammo/health. The wad does have a retro feel (so play it if you like that sort of thing) but on the whole it's quite bland IMO.

  • Perdid02 by J.S.Graham (psyren)
    130kb - doom2.exe - SP - (img)
    A large-ish brick map that kinda reminds me of the early Doom 2 wads I used to play. A lot of 90° walls again, but used in a much better way than the previous map. Detail is fairly low, with most of it coming from the pillars and the shape of the walls, but there are some better looking areas too. Gameplay is better though, with plenty of big monsters to shoot up, although the more seasoned Doomers shouldn't have too much trouble here. Ammo and health aren't a problem, although there's no cells and the rocket launcher is hidden away. This one is worth playing, especially if you like the retro feel. The demo recorders might enjoy it, too.

  • FrasL by Paul O'Neill and Jerry P
    1440kb - Legacy - DM - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    17 deathmatch maps for Legacy. And it's a good thing they are, as these are easily among the ugliest I've seen in a long time. Most of the layouts are weird and somewhat un-DM friendly, architecture often sticks out in awkward places and the texturing is awful. However, some of the maps are quite innovative and many of the later ones use Legacy features to make things look better. Gameplay-wise, there's every type of weapon and powerup under the sun, but I can't help thinking that the fragfests would be somewhat awkward due to the layouts and features. Many of the maps are also a bit too big, so the only way I can see it working is with a big bunch of people. Should've been single player.

  • E1M3: Reincarnated by Agent Spork
    295kb - ZDoom - SP - (img)
    Think E1M3, but with added detail, ZDoom features and some alterations to the layout (it was all built from scratch, too). It looks good, and despite it's tribute status it has some better gameplay, due to the added hell knights and lack of health. But it is part of an overcrowded genre, and despite it's differences to the other tribute wads, nostalgia hunters might be put off by the ZDoom stuff. It's ok for everyone else, though.

  • Real World 2 by Alexis Neuhaus
    549kb - doom2.exe - SP - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Another E1-style wad, but this time we get 10 small/small-ish maps of it. It gets less E1-like as you go through it, with some E2 stuff at the end. Detail is authentic for the most part, but gets a little heavier towards the end. As with most E1 tribute wads (the pure ones anyway), the gameplay is easy and boring - so you'll need fast monsters to get an ounce of challenge out of it. It does improve in the 2nd half, with Doom 2 monsters to up the challenge slightly and the super shotgun to bring the excessive ammo supplies down. The author gets praise for building a multi-map wad on his own (as all who do should), but this one is for demo recorders and nostalgia hunters only.

  • ZDoom menu demo by Sphagne
    945kb - ZDoom - SP -
    A demo wad that shows off some of the increasingly cool capabilities of ZDoom - in this case a menu system. It's a bit tricky to get used to, but it (or some derivative of it) could be useful in many RPG wads in-the-making.

  • Zeo by Rei Yukamuri (Zero)
    845kb - doom2.exe - DM -
    A weapons/monsters replacement intended for multiplayer. Has some good things and some bad (mostly bad).

  • Palladium Electroplate Facility by Samuel A. Villarreal (Kaiser/Deathman)
    288kb - ZDoom - SP - (img)
    A big base map, meant to be the sequel to one of his earlier maps. ZDoom features are used to create things such as linedef doors, breakable consoles and lasers. The detail is impressive, from the lighting to the architecture and new textures enhance things also. But the gameplay has flaws - a horrible start leaves you with not much health (even if you do get the bonus) and in fact you'll always struggle for health, meaning that some of the many traps will give you no chance of survival. The ammo situation is not much better - the lack of enough ammo means you'll encounter many early monsters without the means to beat them (a berserk would've made the difference) - and the layout makes it difficult to evade, too (in fact I only survived at one point by fisting a revenant that got trapped in a linedef door via a flaw in the mechanism). And there's a trial-and-error puzzle that you can't afford to make a mistake on (due to aforementioned ammo/health trouble). Things get better later on (mainly when you get sufficient weaponry) and certainly poses a challenge, but a fair few of you might get annoyed and break your F9 key on skill 4. Overall an impressive map, but one which will require skill and patience to master.

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The Ultimate DooMer said:

  • Forever by jetflock
    1330kb - OpenGL port - SP - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Technically it runs on any source port

  • I don't think that's quite true. It needs to be a port with z-clipping (actors not infinitely tall) or your path is blocked by scenery, decorations, etc. That rules out GLBoom, which is quite a shame, as it would otherwise run this wad rather well.

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    I couldn't view some of the screens - got error 404.

    Aaargh! More bloody E1 maps! I agree with Ultimate Doomer's reviews - they do actually look pretty good, but they cannot challenge today's experienced Doomers (even if E1M3 Reincarnated gives it a good try, and I thought this was a fun map to play).

    I'm biased against E1 style maps anyway since I must have played 200 of them while reviewing on Pray for Death. Does anyone here enjoy E1 themed maps? I am interested to know if people prefer them to the ultra hi-tech maps being built by Bob Larkin and, er, well just Bob Larkin.

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    It doesn't matter to me what the style is. If it's good then play it and enjoy it for what it is. If it sucks it shouldn't be because of the style used but because somebody abused the style and made it look and play like crap. :p

    The linkage to Kaiser's map goes to that Perdid02 jobby......

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    Well I think the review of real world 2 is a bit too harsh. I wouldn't classify it as easy or boring. And I think most people will get something out of it. Not the hardest level set about, but definately not easy. The start of map 1 certainly gets you into the action right away, being quite fast paced with plenty of monsters about. And I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned that it's the sequal to one of the better classic style megawads of last year (I think the first rw had enough levels to be classified as a megawad).

    I think there's clearly still many doomers about that like E1-themed maps, and classic-style gameplay more generally. Personally I don't think it matters what style a map is as long as it plays well, though I probably do side slightly more towards wads that still maintain something of the classic doom feel, even if they do have scripting and what not.

    And how are Bob Larkin maps ultra hi-tech?

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    I can't wait for Elidor.

    Edit: Zeo sucks.

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    TUD great job on the reviews. Honest and fair.

    btw 404 error on the screenie for perdid01 and Blind Alley.

    Psyren, great to see your new maps in the lineup. I really enjoy those. Fun, challenging and nice looking.

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    /me downloads Real World 2

    Mmmmm, E1 style maps, with some E2 at the end. Works for me.

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    And how are Bob Larkin maps ultra hi-tech?


    Have you played Bloodworks and Mitnal? They use an amazing array of visual tricks, especially Bloodworks.

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    NoPoet said:

    Does anyone here enjoy E1 themed maps?

    Me, I'm a huge fan of these sorts of maps.

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    Kaisers new map is pretty cool (as always), but that teleport/imp puzzle is just fucking annoying.

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    Heh, personally, difficulty doesn't matter that much to me. I'm a relatively sucky doomer, and so I don't like maps that kick my ass. I'm all about the architecture, and I happen to be a big fan of E1 architecture. Of course, I confess that I'm really biased, because the asthetics are what I'm most aiming for when I design maps, so whatever...

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    NoPoet said:

    Have you played Bloodworks and Mitnal? They use an amazing array of visual tricks, especially Bloodworks.


    They use a lot of 3D bidges.

    If your looking for great looking architecture Vrack3 is better IMO, if you want detail and tricks try Chris Lutz's maps.

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    Doom Dude said:

    Is it safe to say I think fake 3D bridges look weird.


    But they're better than not having 3D bridges at all though...
    (and they look less weird with railings on)

    The Flange Peddler said:

    And how are Bob Larkin maps ultra hi-tech?


    I thought that at first, but now I know he means that they have a lot of hi-tech/fancy/advanced engineering, rather than a hi-tech theme. (engineering is a better term than hi-tech IMO cos it can't be confused with the hi-tech theme)

    And I dunno what's up with the screenies - all the links are correct and so were the filenames in the zip I uploaded...maybe they weren't put in the right place or something? (in case you're wondering, I tried to take screenies of Braham Manor, but Vavoom crashed every time I hit the screen grab)

    The linkage to Kaiser's map goes to that Perdid02 jobby......


    Fixed, on the thread anyway.

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    The Ultimate DooMer said:

    I thought that at first, but now I know he means that they have a lot of hi-tech/fancy/advanced engineering, rather than a hi-tech theme. (engineering is a better term than hi-tech IMO cos it can't be confused with the hi-tech theme)


    AFAIK that's what mr flange peddler meant aswell.

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    I don't think Bob's maps have any high-tech engineering at all. Just an over-use of 3d bridges. And fake 3d bridges have been about almost as long as E1 themed maps. I remember Marc Klem and the Casali brothers using the same 'technology' way back in the days to create invisible walk-ways. From a gameplay perspective I find Bob's maps very bland. Just boring, linear '94-esque switch hunts. And I agree with Szymanski. Fredrik's maps, and P:AR amongst others, are far more advanced than anything Bob Larkin has to offer (sorry that's not a personal rant against Bob's maps... I just don't see why they would be considered high-tech or whatever).

    Personally I agree with Doom Dude. I really don't like fake 3d bridges. And I definately would not look more favourably on a level just because it has some fake 3d bridges. I don't think they add anything to a level from a gameplay perspective. It's not like you can actually go under a vanilla-doom style 3d bridge and be on top of it at the same time. From that perspective, a '3d' bridge is no different at all from a standard lift/bridge (indeed you could even argue that it's worse - as monsters can't ever walk on a '3d' bridge as you have to have a small gap between the ledge and the bridge). Plus I find it really annoying when the bridges don't 'work' properly - i.e. you sometimes can be on the lower level but you can't actually walk 'under' the bridge because the invisible sector has failed to lower (or vice versa) - a problem with some levels in Community Chest and in Bob's own levels. And from a purely aesthetic point of view, I personally hate it when textures look totally 2-dimensional in doom, and '3d' bridges always look like that to me. But anyway, that's my own personal rant on the (over) use of '3d' bridges over :P

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    The Ultimate DooMer said:

    Fixed, on the thread anyway.

    I think that (i.e. editing the post) is why it now says DUMB by the thread instead of NEWS in the forum listing.

    When you edit the first post, it resets the label for the thread to be the same as the label for the post. I think that if you re-edit the post and change the label to NEWS, it should be OK again.

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    Advanced engineering does describe it better.

    There are some dodgy looking 3D effects in some Doom maps I've played, but not in Bob Larkin's maps. They always look fantastic. They represent fully immersive 3D environments with over-and-under bridges and walkways integrated as near perfectly as possible into the environment.

    It's a style which I prefer. I find that having played about 1,000 different maps, the new style wads with advanced engineering tend to be more exciting because they look so different from what I'm used to seeing.

    My real problem with the E1 style maps is that they are always too easy to beat. I think we're long past the days when a single Baron and eight handgunners makes for a difficult fight. If people still want E1 maps to be built, it would be good to see some hard-to-beat ones. Hell, that would even make ME happy!

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    I accidentally posted the very messed up beta of zeo to the ID Folder, and I couldn't delete it. That's why most of the graphics are FuXoReD.

    (In case you haven't already realized, I am Zero)

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    Next to each listing there should be some stars to let us know what the overall rating is for the review so we don't have to slog through all of them to find out which ones we want to check out. So like... they should be categorized by port or type (preferably type, ie. dm, ctf, sp etc.)

    Just a thought.

    Thanks for doing /newstuff /newstuff people.

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    NoPoet said:

    Advanced engineering does describe it better.


    No disrespect towards Mr Larkin but as someone alrady said. They aren't exactly advanced. It's only claim for that is the faked 3d floors and that is an very old trick that have been done better over and over again. Noone is impressed anymore.

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    NoPoet said:

    Does anyone here enjoy E1 themed maps? I am interested to know if people prefer them to the ultra hi-tech maps being built by Bob Larkin and, er, well just Bob Larkin.


    Yeah, uh, I've got nothing against Larkin's maps, in fact it's been ages since I've seen him around here but ultra-high tech? Maybe if this was '96.

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    My reason for asking is I have played hundreds and hundreds of maps (I think saying I have played 1,000 maps was being conservative) and I rarely see a map with as much trickery as we get in Bloodworks.

    That's not to say I don't enjoy playing "normal" Doom maps with the standard pseudo-3D environment, I just prefer visual and architectural tricks which add more depth to the environment.

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