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40oz

Are our classic megawads dated?

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When I first found out about Doomworld and observed the new releases, I was pretty big on playing Doom megawads. Around that time, wads like Hell Revealed 2, Scythe 2, Alien Vendetta, Rebirth, and Kama Sutra were relatively new.

These, along with the Memento Mori's, Requiem, Hell Revealed 1, Eternal Doom 3, Icarus, and a few others I can't think of atm have been revered as our "classic megawads" and often you'll find in our multiplayer source ports' master server list, a few different coop servers hosting each one.

I've been playing through some of the harder ones lately, especially Hell Revealed 2, Kama Sutra, and Alien Vendetta, since they were above my tier of Dooming skills. I wanted to look into how some of their layouts and traps and stuff were designed for inspiration. Since it was my first time playing some of these maps to their completion, I wasn't able view them with a nostalgic fondness that came with many of the earlier maps of these megawads that aren't quite as painful (for the doomguy I mean, not me.)

Anyway, as I was crushing the monsters in my path, and successfully dipping away from all hordes of homing missiles and circle strafing around giant armies of mancubi in confined rooms that used to mutilate me when I was a teen, I couldn't help but get the feeling that if these same maps were released today, they probably wouldn't have been as well received as they were at the time they were made. Some of the floor plans for rooms with large monster encounters were rather blocky and bare looking, while some other areas have very fine and intricate details. The traps were heavily scripted and some of them were executed in ways that that aren't as efficient as I could have made them if I designed the level myself

I'm not saying by any means that these megawads are bad. Many of the levels in these megawads are boatloads of fun, and after playing them with the sufficient skills to beat them, I have a new appreciation for the levels that were downright hair-pullingly impossible. But there was a time in my life where I believed these were perfect models of good and timeless megawads. It seems now I'm not so sure.

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alien vendetta is a timeless classic. some of the mazy maps are rather questionable regarding maneuverability, but to this day people steal from av like from a cook book. show me a megawad doing short&fast, adventurous and even hulking slaughtery maps that's qualitatively more consistent than av and i'll award you with a cookie.

ksutra is the true sequel to hell revealed with all the consequences - big arena slaughters and boxed in "fuck you" scenarios. and pop-up monsters, heh. i can see how some parts are a matter of taste and some other parts certainly became dated, but i still like it. it's cute and it plays well. unlike...

hell revealed 2. it was divisive from the first moment it was released and many of the Big Name players really hated it, because they felt it didn't do justice to hr. or rather focused on the gimmicky spammy stuff too much, which i agree with. hr2 sucks.

speaking of classic megawads, i'd say it's the first memento mori and requiem that got dated. filler parts, often confusing layouts, requiem's excessive railshooter linearity... i find those lacking when compared to modern wads. then again, i have to admit i adjust my expectations by date of origin. they were on the right path, they just didn't know all the stuff we know these days, blah blah, heh.

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AV may have its fair share of filler/bad maps, but it has enough great shit in it that it rightfully remains an all time great.

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Disclaimer: I haven't played many megawads to the end, and even fewer without cheating (damn you, Scythe2).

I'd say they're 'dated' in that they're older. Sure, they get away with certain things that we'd warn newbies against now, but those old megawads are still classics. Mappers can still learn a lot from them, and players can still enjoy them.

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Good question.

The only one I played recently to comment on was Memento Mori, and like many others who replayed it for the club, there was a lulling sense of staleness or general lack of intrigue. The designs are peculiar and there's not anything wrong with 95% of the levels, but due to being spoiled with highly refined, intense, and gorgeous modern releases, it was tough to go back to a time where these were pretty much the best maps you could get. Part of it is because I haven't played enough random/newbie 90s releases to appreciate the level of polish here, and another part is because MM has simply been outdone in different ways by the mappers it helped to cultivate (in my opinion of course).

Personally I'd love to retry Hell Revealed again, as it was the 3rd or 4th megawad I played sheerly because I heard it was one of the most difficult mapsets made. I also have memories of struggling through it, each intimidating battle being relentlessly action-packed (especially MAP24), but after playing dozens upon dozens of vicious slaughter wads within the last 2-3 years, I would be interested in seeing how my perception and skills have changed. One thing I also recall is how barebones the arenas looked, something that other mappers have definitely expanded upon in that field greatly.

I still think these are timeless wads based on the fact of their impact on the community and how it changed certain authors' approach to mapping, although like frequent sequels to games, the newer maps improve and refine what made the classic gameplay/design great. There's a certain heart to the old masterpieces, an unprecedented approach they provided at their inception that solidifies their place, no matter how boring some levels may seem now.

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Alien Vendetta was incredible for its time, both in terms of visuals and gameplay. Plenty of authors have been trying to live up to it since its release, and most of them failed. I'm sure it would be just as well received as it was back in the days. No idea which AV maps could be considered filler, really.

On the other hand, I'm completely sure that Hell Revealed wouldn't be well-received now, even though it's such a classic and probably the best known megawad. As for the visuals, it's underdetailed and even downright ugly at times. Whilst Donner and Niv clearly emphasised the gameplay, many maps actually don't play well. There are tons of barons and other high HP monsters that aren't that challenging but take a lot of time to kill. It consequently turns the wad into a tiring slog. There are exceptions, though, such as map11, map25, map22, and even map24, which I hated for years, but recently beat it on UV thanks to a more tactical approach. But even so, even if the maps aren't all that perfect, there is some fun in overcoming the odds, I'll admit. Maybe that's why it's become such a classic.

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Good thoughts so far, and good topic.

dobugabumaru said:

. . . and another part is because MM has simply been outdone in different ways by the mappers it helped to cultivate (in my opinion of course).

We are contiguous in this opinion. I think this could be applied to a lot of the classic megawads. Standing on the shoulders of giants, and all that, you know?

Still slightly on topic, this thread reminded me of a picture someone posted to reddit yesterday, titled "6th grader advice to next years[sic] 6th grader; surprisingly deep." [Reddit post] [Picture]

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Of course they look dated. Some of them are old enough to drive :)

To maintain the driving theme, comparing MM, HR etc to the levels of today is like comparing the Shelby Cobra to the Bugatti Veyron. Just because the Veyron can go 100 miles an hour faster and hit 60 in about half the time does not make the 50-year old Cobra any less impressive, to my mind.

(or to put it another way, you try designing a vanilla-compatible map using a 486 with DOS, DETH and BSP, and let me know if making a wad the standard of MM seems like an achievement :) )

When TiC et al put together MM, they set a benchmark. Has that benchmark been passed? Sure, many times over. Some of those times by other wads mentioned in the OP. And thank goodness it has, because there are plenty of bland maps and bad design choices in MM (Cesspool, anyone?). But none of that changes the significance of the wad, or of the benchmark it set.

Of course, this is not to say that we shouldn't look at these wads and recognise the mistakes that were made in them. Recognising mistakes is one of the best ways to get better at something, after all.

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I think the simple answer is yes.

Many of these maps are really quite old and were made when fewer editing tricks and other techniques were generally known about. As such, Doom mapping has probably matured and a lot of what is in some of the older maps would be considered too simple (in appearance, layout or some other element). So within the Doom community, some of the old megawads could be considered dated.

The face of gaming has changed too and a lot of the old megawads have gameplay styles and conventions that you just won't see in modern games (for better or worse).

Basically, fashions move on in many spheres of human activity and anything not made before whatever the current fashion is can feel dated. (Although some classics can transcend fashion.)

However, it is worth saying that "dated" is not the same as "not good". These old maps are a "blast from the past" in many ways but that doesn't mean that they are not fun to play. When it comes down to it, that's what counts. I'll happily play a fun but dated map and would much rather do so than play a dull but contemporary map. Of course, it's also worth acknowledging that old maps can suck and new maps can be great fun.

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Tough question.

When I rediscovered Doom and found out about megawads (around 2002 I think), I loved everything I could get my hands on. We played through MM, MM2, Requiem, AV, Vile Flesh, HR, HR2 and so on several times each in co-op.

When trying to play through the mentioned megawads today...there certainly is alot of nostalgia, but sadly the only one of them I still enjoy is AV.

I guess you could say they are dated, but the old stuff still has its charm.

I dont know, what was the question again?

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I found MMs and requiem to be boring despite being some of the first pwads I've tried. The gameplay was just uninteresting bore. I liked hr2 more, despite being a gimmick haven.

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HR is definitely dated. As it was said here, for a modern player many of the maps are tedious rather than challenging/fun.
Ksutra is dated too but not in a bad way. :) It's pretty easy nowadays with its excessive amounts of recovery items, but most maps are still very enjoyable to blast through and allow very aggressive play, as opposed to, let's say, Speed of Doom, which is often a bit on the sadistic side.

The difference between how people played Requiem and MMs in the 90s and how people play them nowadays isn't that big I think. Regardless of your skills and playing style they will play kind of the same way, so I wouldn't say that they are dated.

AV is somewhere in-between.

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Feniks said:

On the other hand, I'm completely sure that Hell Revealed wouldn't be well-received now, even though it's such a classic and probably the best known megawad.


I wanted to argue with you at first about your contention that Hell Revealed 1 wouldn't hold a candle to the stuff we've seen today, but I restrained myself from posting until I went through and played Hell Revealed 1 with an unbiased opinion of it. I was intentionally avoiding being overly critical of it as I was playing it. My early impressions of it were that it's definitely not terrible, and the message of "this is not gonna be easy" is delivered with 69 monsters in a very short first level. The blocky orthogonal appearance is there, which exposes it's age, but at the same time, the very minimal level of detail that shows is consistent throughout, so I'm not getting the vibe that these guys definitely could of made better looking maps and deliberately chose not to, or were too lazy. And the usage of self-referencing sectors, and importing their own graphics and music shows that this probably isn't their first release. It's cohesive, albeit a little slige-y and if it were released today, I'd guess that these were speedmapped.

I say this because the traps are very primitive; rarely growing beyond your basic E1M7: Computer Station monster closets. There's a teleport ambush here and there but that's about as intricate as it gets from my observations. This is known to be a difficult wad, but it seems difficult for the wrong reasons. Too often I found tall elevator shafts descending or dumping me off in tiny monster infested rooms, where I pretty much had no away to avoid taking damage. This contrasted heavily to other usual rooms with the same volume of monsters that I could easily crush with the supershotgun from doorways. In other cases, I found hell barons at the bottom of some extremely steep staircases, and other rooms overpopulated with chaingun guys and shotgunners that really took a toll on my health. The sheer monster density is really what gives these levels any challenge, even if it's a stupid challenge. I mean I ran into a dead-end room that was infested with hell knights. After defeating them all, I couldn't help but exclaim out loud,

"That was a lot of fucking work for a stimpack and some armor bonuses!"

I think there was a point in my dooming journey where seeing that many corpses left behind me would have made me feel like a beast, but it wasn't really doing anything for me this time around. MAP09 is a huge offender, where without finding secrets, you had to berserk punch your way through hundreds of imps and pinky demons to get to a shotgun with not enough shells. Trying to outrun them awakens more hordes of monsters in the next rooms. Don't get me wrong, I love punching out imps and demons even more so than the next guy, but this particular map was gruesome!

The levels got a little better as you moved on to the double digit map numbers. The rooms were less confined than the ones in the previous maps, where the supershotgun was super overpowered and chainguns and rocketlaunchers were useless. I don't think it was until I got to MAP13 where things started to look up for me. The levels started to look less like your usual classic user-made Doom levels and appeared more gameplay oriented, requiring more circle strafing, faking out monsters, and in some cases, wallrunning. I think a truly successful map would combine both elements of immersion and gameplay, but that's just me being gay.

The gameplay oriented nature of these levels makes the feeling of immersion dissipate, as the appearance of being misconstrued as some sort of add-on to Doom 2 is pretty much gone completely with the exception of using stock Doom 2 textures and monsters. The levels themselves seem to be designed with the sole purpose of challenging the player and only challenging the player instead of looking like a UAC base or a demonic shrine. No biggie, as it's nothing I wouldn't expect from this years Slaughterfest megawad series, and that appears to be pretty popular these days.

I'm skipping around to other levels, some of which feel like mini slaughter maps strung together, especially MAP15. I'm not sure how to comment on them as I'm still trying to beat them. They're actually quite a bit more inventive than anything I've come up with this year, and getting my ass kicked by them is making me laugh out loud. I'm finding myself drawn more towards these style of maps, as the difficulty is more involved with outsmarting the enemy AI, than trapping the player in highly scripted conflicts, such as trapping the player on a narrow bridge where he's easily exposed to monster attack, or having to dodge a bunch of homing missiles from a bunch of spawned in revenants in a 128-width hallway that happens pretty frequently on HR2 and sometimes on AV. I'll have to get back to finalizing my thoughts on this another time because I'm starting to get a bit more committed to beating this thing! So I guess I'm leaving on the same note I started with, that it actually is pretty damn good even in today's standards, even though the body of my review seemed to lend into the opposite direction.

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The only one of those I liked and beat is AV. Mind you I haven't played all of those, but Hell Revealed always seemed pretty crap to me, and stuff like MM, Requiem and such were just boring.

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Capellan said:

To maintain the driving theme, comparing MM, HR etc to the levels of today is like comparing the Shelby Cobra to the Bugatti Veyron. Just because the Veyron can go 100 miles an hour faster and hit 60 in about half the time does not make the 50-year old Cobra any less impressive, to my mind.

This is probably the best comparison/statement that will be made about this topic for the thread's duration, if I may be so bold to say.

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dew said:

hell revealed 2. it was divisive from the first moment it was released and many of the Big Name players really hated it, because they felt it didn't do justice to hr. or rather focused on the gimmicky spammy stuff too much, which i agree with. hr2 sucks.


I never understood this, but maybe it's because I only found wads beyond the original 4 (Doom, Doom II and Final Dooms) a few years ago, so I don't have the same nostalgia for the "classic" megawads as some other people here do. But when I put HR and HR2 side-by-side, it's clear to me HR2 is the better wad of the two.

HR2 looks and has aged much nicer visually, and when it comes to gameplay I find HR2 refined the slaughter-gameplay HR started and made popular. But if there's anything that seals the deal on why the sequel is better, it has got to be the absolutely glorious soundtrack. HR2 has, to this day, the best soundtrack of any megawad I've ever played (and I like to think I've played a lot of those). It enhances the whole experience for me, and takes it to a higher level, giving the whole thing a feeling of "epic!".

I never get tired of firing up HR2 and start a new playthrough, while I'll play through HR much less often. The soundtrack is much less compelling and the levels look much more bland. Now I have nothing against vanilla maps, but HR rarely even tries to give you something nicer than some square rooms to look at. It's like the game says: "Here's your gun, here's four walls with enemies in between them, now start shooting." HR2 at least tried to give you some nice environments to fight in, and has aged much better because of it.

Also, HR's sky textures absolutely blow. =/

But then, that's only my opinion. *shrugs*

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The problem with HR2 is that after a certain threshold, the maps drop in quality and become huge arenas loaded with powerups and a stupid amount of monsters. You can almost pinpoint the spot where the designers said "Fuck it, lets rush this out".

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Keeper of Jericho said:

Also, HR's sky textures absolutely blow. =/

HR's SKY2 is awesome, I personally think.

Adam's car analogy is just pretty much the perfect comparison, IMO. While time may not be kind to certain aspects of the classic megawads (and most notably the "big 4" in MM, MM2, Requiem and HR), it doesn't take anything away from how great they were when they were first released. When I came across the Doom community, I went through the Top 100 wads by year and played each of the megawads in the order they were released in.

I cannot stress enough how impressive MM felt when I'd had no prior knowledge of pwads. The evolution in map design and challenge felt incredible. Only Plutonia felt better-looking than it. MM2 and Requiem were similarly big steps up (the latter strictly from a visual standpoint), but HR is and always will be the perfect ultra-hard megawad to me. The main problem with HR2 is that a lot of the time, the authors seemed to miss out some of the more subtle ways HR made challenges. A lot of the tactical approach was gone. HR taught me that Doom could require more thought than just run 'n shoot. No matter what Breadrobber says, this is something that can be done by mistake.

Are they aging? Absolutely. So is Goldeneye, but that's a fun-as-hell game. You can't discredit a wad because it's old because that doesn't change its original level of quality.

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In HR2 play is more standard aside from the monster count, but in HR there's an almost puzzle-like "set piece" placement and design.

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AV is one of the greatest megawads ever made, and modern vanilla crap doesn't even come close to it. As for others mentioned - well, see for yourself, but I'd still prefer them over today's 'old-fashioned' megawads that play and feel far worse regardless all the tricks and standards known to mappers nowadays. Though I prefer mentioning Icarus in the first place, but that doesn't change things much.

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Everyone has said everything I can say but better, but I'd like to echo some points at least.

The editors Doom mappers were using to make their maps back then were pure garbage by Doom Builder standards. I remember spending literally hours trying to figure out how to connect 2 sectors in WadAuthor, and there's simply no easy way to do it, and I can only imagine even older editors were a pure migrane to use.

dew said:

hell revealed 2. it was divisive from the first moment it was released and many of the Big Name players really hated it, because they felt it didn't do justice to hr. or rather focused on the gimmicky spammy stuff too much, which i agree with. hr2 sucks.


For this i'll pretty much echo Keeper of Jericho. A few years back, I had only played HR2, and continually heard how much better HR1 is. They are both a very, very rock solid challenge for and Doomers out there, but I think HR2's traps and scenarios were more fun to survive than in HR1. The action kept on moving with very little "boring" parts.

Also, the maps looked much nicer in HR2, for the most part. It's been a while since I've played them though, it would totally be worth checking out again, but map01 of HR2 is about 10 times as fun as map01 of HR, in my opinion, and the rest of the maps seem to follow suit more or less.

Urban Space Cowboy said:

Man, if people think that suchandsuch.wad looks terribly dated, they must've not played the original Doom or Doom II levels in a while. :)


Some of the "reviews and opinions" I see for more recent releases often suggest the reviewer never liked the original Doom maps to begin with.

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MM has some maps that I still consider among the best ever. Those Orin Flaharty maps, and the city on map28, make the whole thing worth it for me and justify the presence of any "duds".

I don't think they'll (mm, requiem, etc.) ever be dated, as retro back-to-roots abstract mapping is still very popular even among accomplished mappers, and these are the blueprints IMO. Personally I hold MM as a whole, above vanilla doom/doom2.

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Doomkid92 said:

The editors Doom mappers were using to make their maps back then were pure garbage by Doom Builder standards. I remember spending literally hours trying to figure out how to connect 2 sectors in WadAuthor, and there's simply no easy way to do it, and I can only imagine even older editors were a pure migrane to use.


I wouldn't call them "garbage", at least not all of them. Never tried WAdAuthor, but EdMap was pretty easy to work with (though somewhat prone to crashing) and DCK was a joy to use. They just didn't give you the convenience that modern tools do: no 3D preview with visual texture alignment, no visplane overflow checking, etc. Some did have automatic texture alignment tools (to manage to offsets of adjacent linedefs) but you still had to build the nodes and load the map in doom.exe to check how things really looked. And mind you, the game didn't start up instantaneously like it does on current hardware, and bsp could take some time to run also. So the testing/debug cycle was more time-consuming and tedious, even though the editors themselves were pretty decent. Even DEU isn't too bad, if you understand how it works, and how to use the shortcuts (all explained in the docs/tutorial). Something simple like connecting two sectors is just a matter of dragging two vertices of one sector onto the other sector's linedef.

Anyway, the old tools worked well enough for the classic simple, abstract design.

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Question for the panel.

Modern megawads such as PL2 and PRCP, do you think they stack up against classics such as MM, HR and AV? To me, those two newer megawads in particular feel like successors of many the earlier classics, even though they are sequels of a commercial megawad.

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If you don't count AV (since imo it will never be surpassed), both PL2 and PRCP are much better than MM and HR. Just my opinion.

The only wad that can sometimes rival AV for me is Speed of Doom. SoD is like...exactly what I was looking for when it was released.

And just to give my opinions on HR vs HR2: HR2 fucking slays HR. Since the beginning of this thread I have been playing alot of maps in both wads, and to be totally honest; with a few exceptions, HR sucks, I must sadly admit :/

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Interesting how very few of these classic wads seem to have a unanimous opinion.

Surprising to me what most people said about Alien Vendetta, because I was playing Alien Vendetta when the idea for this thread came to mind. Some of the levels I were playing seemed to feature areas that were detailed for details sake, including supports jutting out of walls and floor borders that in addition to looking ugly, made dodging fireballs a little harder than it needed to be. I also found myself trapped in rooms where giant monster closets or teleport ambushes would happen. I'd be trapped in a rather confined room where the level designer didn't permit to have the control of leading the monsters into corners, and instead crowding around me where the only thing I could do was shoot wildly with my strongest weapons. It didn't happen often though, and many of the levels, despite some differences of taste, were pretty awesome levels by themselves.

What I find myself doing as I'm playing these levels is avoiding the notion of summarizing the megawad with /newstuff-esque review. Instead I'm overlooking all the hype and negative/positive feedback and fond memories that I and many people have playing these megawads, and treating these levels as if I'm playtesting them prior to being released. If these megawads were only a couple days from being finalized and released in the next week or so, would you have a lot to say about them? More importantly, the ones you admitted here that you really enjoyed?

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KiiiYiiiKiiiA said:

Modern megawads such as PL2 and PRCP, do you think they stack up against classics such as MM, HR and AV?


I don't know what PRCP is (will check it out this weekend), but yeah PL2 is stunningly good at some points (those Gusta maps, Joe Pallai's map, immediately come to mind). There are a few in PL2 that I hate with a passion, though.

And 40oz, regarding AV specifically, some of the awkward designs I'm guessing were probably mine. I was fascinated by the likes of vrack, gothic99 (gaudy use of detail just to make the linedef count go up) and so on while I was mapping for AV.

The other kind of awkwardness in AV may be that some of the maps are the authors' first one or two maps (Madani, Hunsaker, Jansen). This was a genius move on Anders' part to include these guys though - they have the freshness of an untainted mapper, but the visual/gameplay polish of a team providing input every time a beta was submitted. Not my favorite maps, but special gems for sure.

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I kinda like quirky "old school" design. I'm not the biggest fan of "todays standard" where everything must be "perfect" in terms of gameplay. Like pillars and supports thats "in the way of movement" barely bother me, and I'd rather have those in ther ethan sacrificing them for the sake of movement/gameplay. I have a feeling "todays standard" are about making the map as smooth as a Quake DM map or something.

I probably didnt get my point through here, because I suck at explaining/getting my proints through in english :P

ps: Your maps in AV are some of my all-time fav maps, Vorpal =)

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