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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Realm of Chaos

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Apologies for the double-post but I'm not sure if it would be such a good idea to add even more to that wall of text that was my last post :p

Map 24: Burnt Guts

I’m gonna have to agree with what others have said about this map already. This is one of the best looking and thematically consistent maps in Realm of Chaos but compared to others what it gains in visuals, it loses in gameplay. The outdoor areas look really good and they depict a hellish landscape quite nicely. Even the trippy rabbit holes didn’t feel too out of place the way they were placed in the map. However, the combat is far too easy for map 24 which brings the grade down considerably. It does have potential though as for example those small towers would indeed be perfect for Revs and the Pestov platform teleport trap could be miles better with more monsters teleporting in quicker. The secret is so obvious I didn’t even notice it was a secret until I read about it in this thread and watched my demo to see for myself that I had indeed been there. The ammo balance here is spot on though, like several others have mentioned before me.

Pestov really has some good ideas here and with better execution it could have been one of the highlights of this wad. But alas, like this it’s a rather average map among many other average maps in this wad. FDA, no deaths and about 90% of the damage I take in the entire level was by a single Chaingunner.

Map 25: Castle of The Hell Knights

And now for something completely different. I admit that I’m a relative newbie to the Doom mapping community and I haven’t played a ton of obscure custom wads but this is certainly something you don’t encounter every day. And in 1996 this was probably even more unique than nowadays. The goal in this map is to simply invade the Icon of Sins brain and get rid of the peasants inhabiting it. The map starts off great with the intimidating figure of the IoS right in front of you and fireballs flying from multiple directions. I’m sure I was not the only one to think that this was going to be interesting as there’s very little room on the ledges and creating an enjoyable IoS fight right there would certainly not be easy. But the Icon never woke up but instead it opened its jaws and inside I went.

The innards of the Icon are pretty much what brains can look like in a Doom environment and while it’s still good-looking and all, the gameplay sadly takes a complete nosedive here after the solid start. Let’s sum up what happens inside: ssg HK’s in a tight space, ssg a Baron in a tight space, ssg Spectres and hitscanners in a tight space, surprise! shoot some HK’s in a little less tight space until they die, ssg some Cacos in a tight space, ssg or *gasp* rocket some Mancs and then ssg some more until you press a switch that ends the level. I think I ssg:d Imps at some point but can’t exactly tell when that was. So yes, not really memorable or interesting in the slightest. It’s also laughably easy for a map 25, I wasn’t even close to dying at any point.

Overall this map follows mostly the same route as the previous one. This map too is very good visually but lacks in combat for it to be truly considered a successful map. In this map the difference between the two is even bigger than what it was in Burnt Guts so this one lands comfortably in the bleh territory. I will probably remember this map in the future solely because of the interesting idea though. FDA

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Map 25 -- Castle of the Hellknights
Another small one. You're immediately dropped into a somewhat exciting but also slightly awkward starting fight (which contains a secret reminiscent of setups found in maps 18 and 28 in MM, where you must wait to build some stairs. However here it is quite unintuitive to do so, and you're unlikely to find the secret unless you happen to choose the wrong side door and stumble into the completely unmarked hole) and from there quickly make your way into the "castle" of the Hell Knights.

I wasn't quite as captivated by this as other club members (partly perhaps by the fact that Antoni does away with the "inside the Icon of Sin" theme after a few corridors). This area features some cramped combat with roaming HKs but you're given far too much health for this to pose much of a challenge, and if you stumble upon the plasma secrets (which I quite liked) it's very easy. From there, it's off to two small optional side rooms with additional powerups and rockets, or go straight to the last few rooms, which feels like a forced hub -- as in, the author felt he needed to lenghten a very short experience, so he did it as quick and dirty as he could... feint to the left, feint to the right, and finally head towards the goal.

It looks quite old-schoolish nice, and I'll admit entering the Icon through the mouth is a memorable moment, but nothing else is memorable, and you're given way too much health and ammo, even if you don't find the plasma rifle and another(!) blue armour tucked away in secrets. --2/5

Map 26 -- Above and Below
I found this one to be much more interesting (and fun). It's more or less a concept map wherein you progress through raising ledges/lifts crossing through various rectangular rooms (via pedestals), filled with an assortment of monsters. Most of the goodies are found up on the pedestals and alcoves, but to reach the exit you are forced to collect two keys by jumping down below, where a small legion of monsters assault you from ... everywhere basically. I really liked how you feel hunted throughout the map -- the design is largely symmetrical and somewhat open, so monsters below you, once awakened, can follow you around the map and creep up on you. There are also some flying monsters which you need to dispatch of as soon as possible or they will cause you much grief.

Rob shows a good grasp of how to make the most of the scenario he's put you in by creating difficult (but not infuriating) setups. It's generally safer to hang out above, but your movement is very restricted, whereas there is a much fiercer resistance on the ground where you can move more freely. Several times you need to jump over gaps which may have one or two roaming monsters beneath blocking you (or even making you fall down!), and there are several crossfire situations where imps, HKs, Barons even, fire at you simultaneously while you try to take them out from the safety of an alcove, or while precariously balancing on the ledge-lifts. Knowing that falling down may land you in the lap of several angry imps or demons is quite exciting. Some side rooms available from the ground level contain the keys needed to exit and some much helpful powerups. These rooms were a bit difficult to spot (Rob made the tunnels dark, perhaps to make things scary?), as I ran past them several times before noticing them. That is probably my biggest complaint as far as progression goes. I can understand that there needed to be an incentive to visit the ground area, but it's not so elegantly done.

Visually, it's very plain but I really dug the gameplay here. In my first playthrough I stupidly didn't realize I could activate the raised ledges as lifts and spent what felt like an eternity scrounging for ammo and health and fleeing from roaming monsters, continuously waking up new monsters in the process (and finally succumbing to a cheap Caco bite in the back from way up above after some valiant fighting with minimal resources). :-) Rob turns the screws on you with this one, and I liked every minute of it. Fun map! --4/5

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MAP26 Above and Below

"I was up above it!...and now I'm down in it!"

Not gonna lie, this is my favorite map in all of Realm of Chaos. Sure, it's about as ugly as Kinetics, but the gameplay hook is very neat and I'm a sucker for gameplay hooks like this. Although those lifts are indeed quite slow.

Heretic's demo shows that a pistol start is not easy, you had to scrummage for ammo and be a bit conservative. Also, the weapons were in the "above" part of the level, and enemies could get on you by being directly underneath if you try to get back to ground level. They also could stuck behind areas and it could be easy to miss them. And then there's only one blue armor too.

Clearly the best strategy for a continuous player is to take care of the "below" part first. This includes the four-room-sort-of areas in the close to the center. In my run, I somehow awakened lots of monsters and lured them to the northeast part of the map, don't know why, but I guess it's fine cause I handled it well. Both the red and blue keys are in the SW-center and NE-center rooms respectively. The area with the red key with an archvile and revenant had an annoying damaging floor but otherwise wasn't bad. The blue key area required some interesting platforming. The other rooms netted either mancubi or revenants along with supplies (the NW-center room had the blue armor).

With the "below" cleared taking out the imps, knights, etc. in the "above" part proved, rather boring, since those lifts can wear out the time. But it was cool how I progressed, and there were a few surprise enemy encounters when stepping foot on an alcove on the edges of the map. It may have slow lifts and bland looks, but the progression was so cool and I still love this map to this day. Final Time 7:32.

I hope Steve doesn't pull a "venomous" surprise considering how much he's been anticipating the next map. No action at the start this time, but lets see what Steve pulls off in this swan song map of his.

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Hurricyclone said:

MAP26 Above and Below

Not gonna lie, this is my favorite map in all of Realm of Chaos.


I'm really glad you and Kristian like this map so much. It does tend to be a polarizer and provoke strong opinions, but it was always one of my favorites, too, and along with Bagrow's Map04, was always the most grueling to test from a pistol start. For me, this map was a punishing battle of attrition and I can remember being in agony with about 10 bullets and 2 shells left, then all of a sudden there's Barons, or a PE, or Revvies, or something horrible like that. The kind of thing that makes your Doomer heart sink. ;D

As for Map27, the main thing I'm trying to do, and this is no lie, is to prepare people for how awful and bizarre it is. It's 9,000 kinds of ugly. Its progression, though linear, is still almost incomprehensible. The blue key puzzle requires you to press 3 switches, 2 of them on a platform which is, hint, just to the west of the blue key room in a Great Big Ashwall Room that gets revealed when you press a switch in the courtard you can see from the blue key room, and some walls come down. The platform in that Great Big Square Ashwall Room can be seen, but there's an overhang that places the switches themselves in pitch darkness. In pitch darkness! And in order to progress in the pyramid room -- yes, a pyramid room -- you have to find pressure plates on the floors, but they're the same RRock05 texture as the rest of the floors, and at the same height. The only way to recognize these pressure plates is A) by accidentally walking over them, or B) because they flash at different times than the rest of the floor, or C) look on the automap, because the lines are not hidden. Yes, that's right, that's how I did it. It was the result of the way I did tags in those days, because to create a trigger line, I built a whole sector for Hellmaker's version of tagging, called Group Mode. So the sectors, despite having the same floor texture as the surrounding sectors, had a different blinking schedule, and I thought, "Hmmmmm, this is kinda cool," and left it that way. ;D

So this is the thing to watch for. There's no weird sneaky surprise like putting you in a small room and teleporting 4 Cybs in for company. It's a straight-ahead -- literally -- run 'n gun map that is just plain weird. But it does have 287 monsters, second only to Map23, so at least there's plenty of action and a couple of rough encounters.

I almost forgot to mention, progression occasionally requires setting off traps, ala Map12 of Hadephobia. So if you see something that looks tempting, even if you don't need it, walk over it or you're going to get stuck.

You've been warned! ;D

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Veinen said:

Map 23: Ancalagon

I liked this map a lot.


Cool! ;) And thanks for another amazing demo. Because it's the time of the month when I tend to fall behind, I caught up to both your Map22 and Map23 demos during breakfast yesterday.

Even though you didn't like the red key area, as a mapper, I always watch demos to see where players are losing health, and that was one of the areas where you took some fairly serious hits. As a mapper, I view these results as a success, because killing and/or severely damaging the player is my goal. Really, I wanna take yer ass out, and more than once, but it's very hard to accomplish that against modern, experienced players, especially in these old maps. But of course, that's not the whole story, because the trick is to hurt/kill the player and make them like it. You weren't the only one to get damaged in the red key area and yet find it boring, so I have to figure out how the change that.

As for Wolfies, they'll be back in Map27. I've actually considered Wolfies as a central theme for RoIC, as the player gets closer and closer to Hitler Hell. No, seriously. :D

The texture-misaligned secret doors, maybe I went a bit overboard in this map, especially since many of them were in darker corridors, and of course, there's a lot of misaligned textures in these maps that don't lead to secrets.

I've also moved the lift in the Human BBQ Baron Shack closer to the wall so it's a fairly easy jump without straferunning.

I was impressed by how you coralled the Cacos in the Chaingunner rooms at the start, as did DoTW. I'm a face-first rather than strategic player, and in all these years, I have never done that. It's so cool to watch the different ways other players handle these situations. Just like in the Map22 demo when you went into the side corridor from the yellow key room and fought the red key battle at the same time. Very cool.

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st.alfonzo said:

Whatever you choose, oh Megawad Club, make sure it's something good. I need an antidote after the awfulness that was Realm of Chaos.


Speaking of which, in the playthrough you asked if any of the RoC mappers did anything else in the Doom community. The answer is yes for Rob Berkowitz. As Robert Berkowitz, he released the 4-map Enter Night set in 1999, and then released each map individually as well, including 2 different parts of one map as deathmatch levels. As Rob Berkowitz, he released all of his RoC maps individually in 1999, and he also released 2 other maps in '96. Further, he earned a spot on the Mordeth team. Whether any of his maps remain if Mordeth is ever released is yet to be seen. After this, he made deathmatch maps for Unreal.

Antoni Chan left the Doom scene after RoC and made deathmatch maps for Quake.

Slava Pestov never made another Doom map but grew up to be a genius programmer and developed the Factor programming language. He has his own Wiki page and can be seen in a YouTube video giving a speech on Factor.

Clint Sago was probably a graphic designer and responsible for the prettier parts of Map03, plus all those great sky textures, and along with Jim Bagrow and Jason Fowler, never did another thing in Doom so far as I know.

Even though Beau Mullis got his name on the wall in Map30, he never did anything for RoC. Apparently, at the time that Clint modified these walls, Beau had signed on to the project, but he soon signed off and was never heard from again in the world of Doom.

And that's the name of that tune.

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MAP26 - ABOVE AND BELOW
by Rob Berkowitz

Part of this map is an utterly boring and repetitive romp through a series of identical and menial switch-and-platform pairs, the other half is hunting around the underneath for two keys; one of which on some poorly-judged platforms over damaging lava, the other a poorly-judged fight in some slime.

I hated both parts.

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SteveD said:

There's no weird sneaky surprise like putting you in a small room and teleporting 4 Cybs in for company.


Berkowitz's MAP29 had this, if I recall.

The blue key puzzle requires you to press 3 switches


Crap.

I almost forgot to mention, progression occasionally requires setting off traps, ala Map12 of Hadephobia. So if you see something that looks tempting, even if you don't need it, walk over it or you're going to get stuck.

You've been warned! ;D


Never played Hadephobia, but thanks for the warning.

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Map24 (Continuous) – Burnt Guts by Slava Pestov – Kills – 78, Items – 78, Secret – 100. Time 10:40. End Health 176, Armor 176. Death Count - Zero

Map24 (Pistol Start) – Burnt Guts by Slava Pestov – Kills – 79, Items – 84, Secret – 100. Time 9:33. End Health - 100, Armor - 56. Death Count - Zero

A very attractive map by Slava, which gives us a nice view of the great outdoors. Slava’s texture choices really show off Clint Sago’s beautiful E3 sky, too. I’ve liked the looks of all the Slava maps so far. They might be basic, but they are clean. Map24, however, is the best one yet.

Combat, alas, is fairly trivial for the most part. The open yard areas needed Chaingunners and Revvies to bolster the overly large group of zombieboys. Not enough Sergeants, either. As with Map23, there’s an overabundance of Pinkies who cannot get at you unless you fall into their pit. The most damage I took was going into the room with Imps at the top of the stairs and on the sides, and then the two face-to-face Revvie fights.

The surprisingly popular Pestov Platform returns after an absence of several levels, and may be the best Pestov Platform yet. And let me remind everyone that, in the name of all that’s unholy, cannonball put a Pestov Platform in E1M7 of Concerned! This is a sure sign that the end is at hand! ;D So like it or not, Realm of Chaos continues to inspire modern mappers! :)

This map could have been a real winner with better combat. As others have noted, this is far too easy for Map24. It would have been better as Map03 or 04. The secret Megasphere only made everything worse. On pistol start, I grabbed it before the Revvie fights just so I could face them more aggressively.

I left the map without bothering to go through the tedium of killing nobles in high towers, or butchering the helpless Pinkies, or killing the Imps in that homage to the Berkowitz yellow key trap in Map07. So overall a very successful map visually, but with disappointing fight design.

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Map 27 -- Venom
I think Steve's final map of the WAD starts out rather enjoyable -- the opening sections have plenty of neat monster closet traps, and keep the powerups to a minimum. In short order, you're going through about 150 monsters, nearly all of them imps or zombies, in classic room-to-room combat. The theme isn't the most cohesive but it sort of works. I didn't find anything confusing or frustrating, quite the opposite, I was enjoying myself here. I could make out the two switches to get to the blue key on the dark platform without any problems (I have a good gamma correction for this monitor) and found the progression very reasonable. Mind you, I did notice the blue key door before I went off in search of either the red or blue keys. Otherwise, I would perhaps have scratched my head a bit wondering where to go after grabbing the BK. A pity there were no new monsters waiting for me as I made my way back to the BK door. The RK area is very small and the key could easily have been replaced by a switch, it's just lying there past the door. I loved the spectre trap BTW; I was totally expecting a trap, obviously, but did *not* expect the entire wall to open! There are four secrets in this part of the map, all of them are just monster closets... Strange.

Anyway, the second part of the map follows, past the RK door, and this is where the map changes completely, featuring some vast rooms with monsters strategically placed on ledges, sniping at you. This wasn't quite as fun even though monster placement was good enough to not become awkward (a good example is the chaingunners on the pillars in the nukeage room, they can easily be sniped with the SG or chaingun safely from a large distance, as they're placed on the same level as the player). The fights grow bigger as you're fighting more monsters at the same time, and more ammo is dished out, alongside the rocket launcher (even though I liked that it wasn't just handed to you and required some exploring to find, it did feel a bit haphazardly thrown out into a corner). The largest hall features a pyramid which the player must ascend by running over specific linedefs.. this sounds more unintuitive and weird than it is, I immediately caught on to the principle when running behind a pillar with a HK on it to try to activate it, and found that it lowered "by itself".

The map ends with the player being teleported into a small courtyard with a mixed group of monsters, including several chaingunners, and overlooked by more hitscanners (SS troops again!?); this fight felt a bit harsh but not unreasonably so, however I was glad to be at 180/180 at that time and not 40/40.

This one was surprsingly quick to play through, in spite of the monster count and size, but this is mostly a blunt and fast paced map. The first part was definitely better, as the fighting, with the exception of the ending teleporter ambush, was a bit more intense and I didn't have a whole lot of ammo or health to waste yet. There was a strange dispersion of powerups throughout: being fed armours when I was almost at full armour, and being given several -- at least three I think? -- berserk packs, etc. Thematically it didn't quite hold together towards the end, the last three battle arenas didn't make much sense to me in contrast to the first areas, and had no real connection between them. Side note: what happens if you use the teleport at the top of the pyramid before grabbing the yellow key? ;-) --3/5

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Map26
The repetitive nature of the 'above' parts is very boring. It's just the same thing over and over. The 'below' parts are a bit more fun, but other than grabbing the two keys - which are of course the least interesting part of the lower areas - there's no reason to be down there.

Calling it as ugly as Kinetics is unfair, though.


Map27
I disliked this level up through the red key door. Linear and unintuitive progression - two foul tastes that taste foul together!

Once through the red door, the linearity and unintuitive progression ... well honestly they continue. But thy're not quite as bad: progression is linear, but at least the architecture is more open, and it's unintuitive, but once you work out the blinky floor mechanic, it's at least consistent. There's nothing as egregious as the blue key nonense, for instance.

Not the best of send offs for SteveD, whose map06 remains head and shoulders above the rest of this project (understandably, given that it was made quite a bit later).

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MAP27 Venom

No really fancy gameplay traps in Steve's final map of the set thankfully, it's just a moderately hard map that sort of fits its slot. Having monster closets as secret sectors was pretty weird though.

Northern part of the level: There really isn't much to talk about this area (or am I losing steam like Alfonso and Tarnsman perhaps?). It was a boring romp through to get the one blue key as the enemies that SteveD usually uses continue to make their appearance. One switch, on the platform that Steve comes closest to making a Pestov platform with, opens up another area (marked as secret) with two other switches and lots of monsters. Good thing those switches could actually be activated from the ground floor like the demo demonstrates. And with that I head back and get the red key without trouble either.

Big area with walkways over nukage: Hmmm, I seem to have a flashback to Die Hard's awful marble area. But at least Steve provides radsuits in case I fall. Had a lot of trouble here still, the baron in the center surprisingly enough was the real trouble spot. It's hard to hit him with rockets cause the window is quite small, and then there are the other enemies who help dwindle me down to nothing. In the nukage are spectres and imps, which can easily get punched with the berserk (by the way, there are about four of these berserks in the level. Too much?)

Pyramid area: I wonder if there has been an uglier pyramid made with Hellmaker than that. Combat was okay here, for some reason I kept using the chainsaw instead of berserk fist on spectres and cacos. Climbing the pyramid involves walking over rectangular sectors. Thanks to Steve, who tells us that they flash differently than the rest of the floor, I managed to climb this pyramid. It could be easy to miss the yellow key as it's next to the teleporter, and sometimes the mancubus's fatass corpse gets in the way.

Final area: Hey more Nazis! Well, they're up on the ledge there with some zombies. And some annoying monsters kept giving me hell here on ground level, even behind the yellow door. Funnily enough, one of the Nazis finished off a hellknight in my run! Oh well, I guess it was an okay level, thankfully with no real bad tricks. It is quite ugly in places though, with the obvious "pyramid scheme" but at least it was an enjoyable level that shows its old-school look. Final Time 7:56.

Let's see what Mr. Pestov's finale is like.

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Map 26 -- Above and Below - 100% Kills / No Actual Secrets
I've got to differ with some of the positive appraisals this one received...I'm afraid I found it to be rather dire. Apart from being extremely dull to look at and explore, gameplay doesn't pan out very well (or very much), either. The lack of aesthetic flair can sort of be partially excused in that the area's form does fit its function, and if one has a generous imagination it might be conceived to be some sort of giant demonic puzzlebox; but the persistently dull action cannot be so easily forgiven.

There are essentially two types of play at work here: while you're up Above, you essentially use scads of shells and bullets (maybe the occasional rocket if you hang around up there long enough) to play 'threshold warden' over and over and over again, against walls of increasingly recalcitrant meat (again we see hell nobles used as timesinks) that can't even so much as approach you unless you go out of your way to build a bridge for them. Maybe having more flying monsters or stuff warping in behind the player onto previously cleared platforms might've helped this out, but as is, it's almost insultingly repetitive. By contrast, when you're down Below, you are essentially little more than a sentient, self-guiding Drano Bottle Bomb, clearing various little hairballs and scraps of turd out of so many dank, featureless pipes. I guess there are the key rooms and the soulsphere room, but apart from the strikingly mean-spirited nature of the red key room (ninja monsters + damage floor), there's not much of note here, either.

When I played, I stayed up Above right until the point where I ran into the skullbars (figuring that Rob would be actively trying to force me Below, I was determined to prevail), and so did the Below section after all of the walkways were already built. Being charitable, I can imagine a scenario where, by luck of the draw, doing this would result in large bodies of monsters closing in on you from two directions through an initially disorienting maze, which might build some tension, but in my case most of the riffraff that hadn't already been killed via infighting was bunched up around one or two key intersections. I can also sort of imagine that the map might stimulate the 'ol ticker a bit more if you end up getting knocked off of the upper section before amassing much in the way of ammo/armament, but again, my actual experience was not nearly as interesting. As another vague concession, I do appreciate that Rob at least made it so that monsters could use the bridges if the player gives them the chance, and the total lack of armor does add the potential for some theoretic danger....indeed, if things don't go well for the player early on, this is probably one of RoC's most difficult maps, which I respect. Yet again, though....just stay up Above as long as you can, and it's pretty damned easy.

I'm all for concept maps, really I am.....I reckon this one needed a lot more polish, though. If it were significantly reduced in size it might make for an interesting setpiece within a larger map, but as it is it has already overstayed its welcome by the end of the few minutes it takes to complete.

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Don't have a lot of time to read comments, just posting my thoughts.

MAP26: What starts off as a super gimmicky, slow map slowly becomes my favorite endeavor from Berkowitz. Why? It had great gameplay.

I’m a big fan of symmetrical arenas, and the amount of ruckus you can start up just by moving around is… pretty threatening. I died a whole bunch to barons I didn’t keep track of, managing to make their way behind me to paint my ass green down below. I also jumped down to clear out the hordes before obtaining the PG, so it was pretty hectic to stir up so much trouble and try and work out whether I had the ammunition to handle it. The downside is that it’s repetitive and monotone in style, but I really liked the “variation on a theme” as you unlock harder and harder creatures to fight on such thin walkways—it’s among the best ways to use the hell nobles. This was a map that definitely resonated with my style.

MAP27: Duff’s final map for the megawad is a decent one, fitting in well with the hell theme and having a ton of his trademark hitscanners. I found the beginning the most difficult since I didn’t want to waste ammo and tended to tear my enemies asunder with the chainsaw, losing a lot of health in the process. I found the layout pretty strange and was unable to find out how to lower the protective shield to the blue key, noclipping through it in order to progress. There’s two larger rooms past the red key door with mildly entertaining fights, if only because you’re trying to reduce how much damage the hitscanners are doing as fast as you can. Unfortunately due to a surplus of health and armor (I rarely think I went under 50 armor) survivability is simple and the rest of the map progresses smoothly. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Duff map if there weren’t SS soldiers guarding the exit.

Hardest section of the map personally was killing that revenant at the top of the stairs, as the steps hindered me in every way possible.

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MAP27 - VENOM
by Steve Duff

This wasn't as duff (pun not intended, but I'm going with it anyway) as Steve's previous two offerings. It starts off weak, with door after door after door and then crawling through dank underground tunnels to source the blue key (in a nice-looking area, I admit) and a red key (in a not so nice one). What follows are two rather nice large areas that deliver a sense of scale that only Doom delivered back in the day - though not the carnage. Yellow key, then final room which went out less with a bang, than a squelch. I expected a Cyberdemon battle in the arena, I settled for Barons and Lost souls.

Oh, and Steve's trademark nonchalant use of SS soldiers. Not bad, expected this to be terrible and it wasn't that horrible at all.

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http://youtu.be/RQ1yeR9sq9g = promo video for part 2 of my livestream of this wad.
twitch.tv/johnsuitepee = where the livestream will be happening.

Time to resume my descent into the Realm of Chaos tomorrow evening at 7pm BST/GMT! Hopefully going to get through the middle part of the megawad tomorrow, leaving about 5-7 levels left for the final part. Or I may end up blazing through the rest of the megawad, who knows. In any event, more livestreaming for the thread!

Hopefully SteveD will be free once more to provide yet more fascinating mapper insights into his team's creation.

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@SteveD: You are absolutely right regarding the red key area of map 23 in that the combat there is indeed threatening but it's not very much fun, which is the problem. I don't even mind getting killed at all and for mappers the goal should definitely be to get as many players to die as possible but in a way that makes them want to try harder next time. This is not really the case with the aforementioned red key room since had I died it would have been more like a "Oh come on" -moment rather than being "Goddamnit, next time I'll get ya!" –like.

Map 26: Above and Below

Hmm, interesting concept to say the least and the execution is not bad either this time. This map is another experimental-y map as it's just a giant rising walkway "puzzle" for the most part. The goal is to press all the switches to raise a shitload of walkways that eventually form cross-shaped bridges in each of the symmetrical rooms in the above-section to reach the exit door all the way on the other side of the map. But that’s not it, the player must also jump down to the below section, locate a few extremely poorly marked “doors” in darkness to find the keys needed to exit.

Visually it’s marble and nothing but marble except for the two holes where the red and blue keys are hidden in so not very interesting but it’s inoffensive so I’ll give it a pass. The holes do look somewhat out of place though as one of them is a pink mud pit and the other is a hellish lava pit. Biggest problem is the fact that those keys are indeed hidden, as the “doors” of the two holes are extremely poorly marked and can be easily missed. Actually the whole below section suffers from this same thing as at least I felt in the beginning that jumping down there would not be wise and there’s absolutely nothing at any point in the map that would suggest otherwise until the very end where the player discover those red and blue bars blocking the exit. I did jump down before that myself because I was running low on ammo so thing’s didn’t turn out too bad this time. And on top of that I accidentally stumbled upon the doors down there so I didn’t spend any excess time searching for the keys.

The gameplay is extremely repetitive in the Above since all the rooms look alike and only the monsters get progressively tougher as the player progresses. There are some monster closets that open up up when switches are pressed but after the second Chaingunner ambush I was expecting them and so they were a non-factor for the rest of the map. The Below is rather sparsely populated to be honest but it can get pretty interesting due to monsters being able to wander around the premises freely. For example I got surprised by both of the barons down there when I was concentrating on other enemies. There are four of those doors in the Below, of which two of them are those key caves and the other two are just boring Manc and Rev infested pick up rooms. The key caves are probably the worst parts of the map. The mud pit is very small, has a damaging floor, a noble and an Archvile that can block the small entryway and deal some serious damage as there is no place to take cover. The other cave is just unnecessary platforming stupidity combined with non-threatening enemies.

Seems like I bash this map a ton here but somehow I did find it enjoyable on some degree when all was said and done. Like dobu mentioned, the nobles are very effective in the narrow walkways and you really had to be aware of your surroundings when balancing on the narrow bridges and ledges. This map wasn’t hard by any means but at least it was a bit more challenging than the last two. FDA.

Map 27: Venom

So this is the much anticipated map 27 by Steve. I had low expectations due to Steve’s comments about it but it didn’t turn out too bad in my opinion. Yes, it’s very ugly for the most part and the texture theme changes from room to room for no reason but the gameplay was decent and there were some good looking parts like the Bagrow-esque Marble gorge and that little wooden pillar maze. The pyramid was mildly amusing and despite the fact that I happily triggered one of the lifts by accident and thus didn’t have to look for them, they are very hard to spot and poorly designed. Also the secrets are actually not secrets at all which is kind of puzzling.

But like I said, the gameplay is fairly decent at least and provides some challenge with the abundance of hitscanners scattered throughout the map. I got punished once in the very beginning for overestimating my chainsawing skills but that was it for this map. A couple of close calls in the areas before the blue key though and I seemed to be pretty low on health until the soulsphere. The Chaingunner ambush in the metal/mud section was especially devious but to Steve’s disappointment I somehow miraculously escaped with only 7 health left :p When I opened the door to the marble gorge I instantly though it would suck Bagrow map 24 –kinds of ass but thankfully it was much tamer and everything went smoothly. Got rocketed a couple of times when ascending the pyramid but I had full health at that point so it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I think this area had some good ideas for combat design like the HK’s on the platforms but it still lacks punch somewhat and could maybe use even more enemies. I know I’m asking for more enemies for almost every map but I just can’t help myself. The finale was not great and that yellows door “ambush” was just plain hilarious. it was a perfect setting for a cyber or a mastermind but instead we get two easily disposable Barons and some lost souls. And the Nazis make a glorious return in the end but they weren’t able to stop my one man wrecking crew either.

I’d say this was a decent map overall. Visuals need some heavy customization and there are some odd nooks and angles that don’t really belong. The gameplay is okay though if not a little too easy in the latter parts of the map due to excessive health pickups. And as usual, here’s my 20-minute demo. An FDA this time since the only death came very early.

Next up, The Abandoned Min…, err, Fortress of Death by Slava Pestov.

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Map25 (Continuous) – Castle of The HellKnights by Antoni Chan – Kills – 100, Items – 75, Secret – 0. Time 12:15. End Health 170, Armor 120. Death Count - 3

Map25 (Pistol Start) – Castle of The HellKnights by Antoni Chan – Kills – 100, Items – 75, Secret – 75. Time 14:27. End Health - 160, Armor - 148. Death Count - 6

Another short map, but this time far more violent than Slava’s Map24. The Baphomet room is very cool-looking, and has a nasty, nasty opening fight on a high platform where you’re pelted by HK and Imp fireballs and on top of that have Spectres teleporting up. Yikes! As if that’s not enough, a dangerous Manc and 2 more HKs are targeting you from below. I died once up here on pistol start.

The view of the Baphomet is so dramatic that at first it’s easy to be distracted from the important business of survival. The ceiling looks cool, too, but onward to death we go, gathering the chaingun and rocket launcher, and working Antoni’s stair puzzle before heading off to the Baphomet itself. This is where my troubles really begin, because after dusting off the HKs and Baron down below, I spend a little time playing with the Baphomet’s teeth. Pure infantile glee as I enjoy Antoni’s clever lift trick. But inside, hell awaits this keyboarder, as I’ll be forced to battle nobles in 64-wide corridors, even worse than in Map01 of Obituary, although as compensation for slightly more dodging room, Obituary uses more Hell Knights to pin you down. I suffer numerous deaths in the Baphomet’s “throat” before I can advance further. Antoni does a nice job here with fleshy textures to simulate the throat effect, but as others have noted, a ripply wall would have worked even better. However, keep in mind that we had no way of aligning textures on complex walls other than by doing math and checking it again and again. Thus, I can forgive Antoni for his straight walls.

On pistol start, I lured a couple HKs onto the platform outside the Baphomet, a rare example of strategic play on my part. After that, and after finally defeating the first group of nobles and grabbing the goodies found at the top of the lifts, it all becomes disappointingly easy. All the gruesomness is at the bottom level, apart from the early sniping of the nobles above. The nobles on the two upper levels of the throat are constrained by curving walls and stairs they can’t navigate, so it’s mere target practice to kill them. Then we have a very small hub spoke, with Antoni’s trademark use of squinchy spaces this time failing to achieve a decent level of difficulty. The key fights are all very easy, made even moreso when Antoni imitates Santa Claus with all the health he throws at you. Flowing, madcap fights, as we have seen, are not Antoni’s strong suit. His maps tend to be a bit too controlled in that respect, and often seem to be front-loaded, like this one. Nonetheless, I found this to be a good-looking map with some unique and clever design elements. The high death count I suffered was achieved by Antoni stuffing me into narrow corridors with nobles, an annoying but effective choice. This map could have been much, much better if he’d opened up the top level instead of making it a teency hub-spoke. But still a pretty good map in my book.

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MAP26 - “Above and Below” by Rob Berkowitz
Intriguing idea, would work very well in co-op. The execution is about as lazy as you can get. Just a bit of shape and variation to the level would have helped it's cause. Still the combat was pretty frenetic at times.

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Map 28 -- Fortress of Death
Aptly named, this, because it is a sort of fortress set in a vast lake, and given the gameplay, a lot of players are going to die a whole lot. The fighting in the first areas is relentless: you start in a Doom 2 map 26-like scenario where you are dumped in the lap of a lot of monsters screaming for yor blood. There's just no way of playing this start safely -- you have to dash past the first group of monsters and grab the SSG, and hope there's enough infighting for you to reach a safe spot. You progress by finding keys in side areas and come back to the main area. The main area, two stone/wooden blood filled courtyards connected by a metal corridor, I thought was very well designed -- it is pretty to look at, it is well interconnected with other parts of the map, and it changes gradually throughout the course of your progression as you're running back and forth through it, as walls lower, doors open etc. There's also a very neat sequence, almost cinematic, as you enter one of the two courtyards in the main area for the first time, where the light level is lowered and monsters start teleporting in. Once you reach past the red key door, the map eases up and the first time I reached that point I made it all the way to the exit. I must've been killed at least 7 or 8 times prior to that though (most of those times at the start obviously).

The side areas are for the most part okay, but they vary a lot in theme, and parts of them are very stupid or feel gimmicky, as is the case with the various switch tricks, at least one of which -- the one right behind the RK door -- can be broken inadvertently and prevent the player from completing the map. What is the point of the four Barons? They pose zero threat to you and killing them is a hassle as they can move so close to you from below that you can't see nor hit them. I ran away and came back to kill them last ... boring!

A whole slew of traps are found in the side areas, too, and most of them were good. The YK trap is a little douchey but you're beamed into a reasonable ambush and not a ring of Arch-Viles or something, so I can live with it. Progression is sometimes gimmicky but otherwise fine with a few slightly unintuitive things; for example, it wasn't entirely obvious when the doorway to the pinkies opened.

The boss monster arena (with another Pestov Platform!) I felt was gratuitous, and frankly, very poorly executed. It posed no challenge at all. I awoke the monsters and then let them all infight until there was one Mastermind and one Arachnotron left. All this time I did nothing, except kill a stray Baron which found its way through the protective pillars, and took almost no damage.

The secrets aren't well designed: two of the four secrets are two extremely obvious side areas to the initial lift with a little bit of ammo and health, and then there's two for the price of one past the YK door (with an easy-to-spot texture change) with some health and powerups, most of which, frankly, you don't need. The chainsaw or berserk could be used for the pinkies later on I guess (but by then you are likely to have a lot of shotgun shells), and the medikits are nice but you get a whole slew of them just after fighting the Mancubus close by.

It's a map which I want to like more than I do. Damn it, I enjoyed the fast and furious, tough-but-fair gameplay this one served up, and loved the fact that I was challenged a bit for once in this WAD. But there're many stupid bits. Side note: did any of this give anyone flashbacks to MM map 29, "Island of Death", at all? Maybe it served as inspiration for some things here... --3/5

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Map26 (Continuous) – Above And Below by Rob Berkowitz – Kills – 100, Items – 100, Secret – 100. Time 33:30. End Health 100, Armor 29. Death Count - 2

Map26 (Pistol Start) – Above And Below by Rob Berkowitz – Kills – 100, Items – 100, Secret – 100. Time 32:10. End Health - 49, Armor - 99. Death Count - 5

I went out on a limb saying how much I liked this map back in the day. Would I still like it? Yes, indeed I did! My pick for Rob’s best map so far and one of the best of the megawad.

On continuous play, I took Hurricyclone’s advice and attacked the “Below” part first. Alas, I was a bit too eager and leaped off the platform without pressing that first switch, so I broke the map and had to clip back up there once I’d cleaned out the crazies below. This is obviously a design flaw and yet another epic fail by The Steve & Rob Playtesting Team. ;D

There are plenty of intense battles down below, as not only do you encounter nobles with meat shields of Pinkies and Spectres, but there are some Chaingunners appearing at inconvenient moments, plus if you flee through the corridors in terror like I did, you wake up everything, including the Cacos and PEs. That was all kinds of uncomfortable, especially since this map has an admirable health/ammo balance, especially on the ammo side. I’m pretty sure all 3 of my continuous deaths were “Below.”

For pistol start, I chose to begin with the “Above” but mix in the “Below” to at least reduce the opposition before I went down there for real. Sometimes I made bad choices about when to drop down, and got killed. Sometimes I got all wobbly on the walkways and fell down, which usually led to a bad result. I’m pretty sure 5 deaths on pistol start happened “Below,” including a death in the Revvie room with the Soulsphere, and a death by Archie getting the red key, because the slick bastard slipped right by me as I was pumping the plasma into his ugly ass. The “Above” death is really embarrassing, because when I triggered the Caco’s monster closet, as I backed up I got hit by both the Caco and a homing Revvie rocket because Revvie’s door was opened at the same time on another platform. Nice little trap by Rob there.

I had to turn off Risen3D’s ultra-intense auto-aim early in this map. This basically involves turning Mouselook on, since that disables the auto-aim. On pistol-start, it wouldn’t turn back on when I decided to kill the final 2 Chaingunners to get 100% kills. Because the Chaingunners are 40 units higher than the platforms, all shots without auto-aim hit below their feet. Ultimately, I had to activate mouselook and elevate my barrel to take them out, which caused me to take a lot of damage at the end, since I was at 100% at the exit but only 49 when I finally left.

Yes, this map could have been more attractive. Yes, the blue key platformer bullshit was . . . bullshit. Good thing I save and reload! But the good parts of the map outweigh the bad, IMO. For one thing, it’s rare among RoC maps in building the difficulty throughout. The monsters get progressively tougher, the nastiest part for me being the meet ‘n greet with 2 PEs after you grab the plasma gun. You’re never safe on the platforms since the map is basically a bunch of elevated, interrupted tunnels, and for most of its length, you’re faced with Imp fireballs and green noble slime heading your way from distant stations while you’re trying to battle something closer. It was unnerving for me and a tense nail-biter all the way through. So yes, I loved this map.

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SteveD said (about map 26):
On continuous play, I took Hurricyclone’s advice and attacked the “Below” part first. Alas, I was a bit too eager and leaped off the platform without pressing that first switch, so I broke the map and had to clip back up there once I’d cleaned out the crazies below. This is obviously a design flaw and yet another epic fail by The Steve & Rob Playtesting Team. ;D

Huh? You can activate the starting sector as a lift. (or just push the switch from below of course but you shouldn't use such tricks) ;-)

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Map28
Scrap all the "what the hell did that switch do?" moments of this map, making progression more obvious, and eliminate the rather pointless yellow key diversion, and this would easily be one of the best maps in the set. It has some nice looking areas, some decent fights, and a suitably epic PESTOV PLATFORM for Slava's last hurrah.

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Kristian Ronge said:

Huh? You can activate the starting sector as a lift. (or just push the switch from below of course but you shouldn't use such tricks) ;-)


Yer right, but the wall texture is the same as its surroundings, with no texture offset, so it's at least very obtuse. Which means I didn't break the map, just my brain. ;D I did try to activate some of the platform switches from below, but I gave up because I was under fire. ;D

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Veinen said:

@SteveD: You are absolutely right regarding the red key area of map 23 in that the combat there is indeed threatening but it's not very much fun, which is the problem. I don't even mind getting killed at all and for mappers the goal should definitely be to get as many players to die as possible but in a way that makes them want to try harder next time. This is not really the case with the aforementioned red key room since had I died it would have been more like a "Oh come on" -moment rather than being "Goddamnit, next time I'll get ya!" –like.


One thing I can do is open the angled northern sectors to a new area with nastier monsters and more flowy design. I've also added platforms in the walls of the lower side rooms that host more monsters, and might put some nastier ones in the rooms themselves instead of just Imps and hitscanners.

On to Map27. Thanks again for another excellent FDA! That hitscanner opening worked a lot better than I expected. If I'd have held back on some of the Zerks and Medikits, it would have been much better. The Big Stone3 Platformer Room needs more, and deadlier, monsters. It was too easy for you. Likewise The Pyramid Room, in reality, The Ziggurat Room. You breezed through that. Not good! ;D And when you teleported into the EEE-Vile Room, you handled that with ease, too. I just might have to put a Cyb in there as you suggest, plus some Barons to guard the teleporter from behind Block Monster lines, so you can't just run away.

As for this;

Veinen said:

The Chaingunner ambush in the metal/mud section was especially devious but to Steve’s disappointment I somehow miraculously escaped with only 7 health left :p


Yet another bitter disappointment to discuss with my therapist . . . :D

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MAP28 Fortress of Death

Hmm...this doesn't look like a fortress from the start, although from one particular view it does. It's a no-holds-barred gameplay here, as the "death" part of the title is given with some bad baddies. Yet even through all this I see shotgun guys and zombieman trying to mix in. Come on dude, it's MAP28, some bigger meat certainly is more acceptable.

First off, two rather weird secret sectors once I press the switch in front of me in a sort of "Abandoned Mines" fashion. Action won't let up here! I had to rush-kill some enemies with the PG as they would definitely cause me some mither. Then I head for the red key, which involves a small lift puzzle that isn't too hard...

Uhhhhhhh...

http://i.imgur.com/bmaB0TV.png

okay?

Then a trip through the red door nets me some rather thin halls to open up the left side. On the left side where the barons in the blood were, I somehow fared well. My priority target was that annoying chaingunner which would eat a rocket, then everyone else ate rockets too after that. I finish another lift puzzle to get inside the left building. There, plenty of enemies await behind torches, and then one switch would be pressed to raise me to the southwest portion of the map. More thin halls, and also having to press a switch thrice to get past a rather annoying rockblock. Interesting yellow key trap where it can be debatable on whether zombiemen or spectres are annoying. The real annoyance were the switches that can easily be missed, as they are to the direct right when you teleport. Behind the yellow door, I proceed to a veranda where a mancubus resides, and barons are swimming out there. This, folks, was probably the most annoying part for me in the entire level. Trying to kill them is difficult, regardless of the weapon, as they flush up against the wall a lot and most of your shots would miss.

Back in the hub after finally clearing out the nobles I had some trouble figuring out where to go in the newly open and bright areas. Turns out a new area where demons were running around has a rather nicely hidden switch. It reveals a grand-slam of a battle, spiderdemons, pain elementals, and arachnotrons, (with two cybers on UV). Not only that, but the final Pestov platform. The last one (trust me, I know MAP29 by heart to know it doesn't have the Pestov platform). It's actually easy when played recklessly, with the amount of health, cells, and the BFG there is plenty of room for error. I finally open up the northern door after a nice round of fighting, kill some caged enemies and exit. Pestov definitely threw out a good finale for me to enjoy, with mild lift puzzles and tight halls as well, and a coup de gras of a Pestov platform battle. Only the swimming barons in the west proved annoying, and that's only for players like me who go for max kills on every level (unfortunately the next level is impossible for max kills!) Final Time 6:25.

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Map 27 -- Venom - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
First off, the customary (and final) UVMax Demo. It's silly and scrappy (including at least one Good-at-Doom moment), but then, so is 'Venom.'

Very clearly SteveD's earliest map to appear in RoC. It has many of the hallmarks of a just-born mapper, chiefly evidenced by its corridor-only early section and its complete and total hamfisted linearity. It's also quite ugly in places, although this is often due more to simply unappealing architecture than to horrid texture choices or a uniform light level (although these problems also appear once in a while).

For all of its obvious amateurism, though, it still has more interesting scenarios to offer than many of the more stylistically developed maps of other mappers in RoC. Mostly this comes in brief, crass bursts, like the big wall-length 'fuck you' monster closets near the second green armor or the red keycard (Steve will be pleased to know that I was very nearly killed by the latter, as the sheer number of specters caught me off-guard, and they are especially difficult to spot against the mud puddles and dark metal in PalPlus). However, there are entire areas that are fun to clean out, such as the room just beyond the red door or the madcap stucco-ziggurat. The former is heavily reminiscent of the most off-kilter room from Jim Bagrow's 'Die Hard', but is far more sensible on the whole, in that the acid is much easier to escape and, indeed, contains some goodies (although killing monsters that get lost down there is still a pain). One of the hallmarks of a good battle scenario is that it can naturally be tackled in at least a handful of ways, and this room certainly has that quality--e.g. do you take care of the ledge snipers by finding and using the rocket launcher? Do you use the pressure plates to board their platform and fight them close up? etc. etc.

The stucco-ziggurat is vintage 199x zaniness in both looks and play, and probably the most memorable thing about the map. It's so damned ugly it will probably strike you blind if you stare at screenshots of it for too long (I think it's really the use of that glowing lava crust flat that does it, although the uniformly bright lighting doesn't help), yet strangely alluring in its garishness. Similarly, the play is a wacky liftstomping affair that invites the player to tear ass around at those ridiculous Doomspeeds, stirring up all kinds of infighting mischief while simultaneously fighting with things at 3-4 different height levels. This is another situation where I kind of wish the map had more rockets, and that this room had more bodies, but it still works fairly well as-is. There are only a couple of commandos, which is good, because I reckon this room probably works best with all manner of projectile-slinging demons, rather than with hitscanners--heavy zombie population would encourage much more conservative play, which wouldn't really suit the room's otherwise ludicrous style.

Granted, there's some pretty turgid or botched stuff here, too, like the room Steve refers to as the 'EEE-Vile Room', featuring an observation booth stuffed full of Nazis and sergeants that essentially can't hit anything but each other because the window of their booth is much too high, the fact that the map becomes irreparably broken if you teleport into said room without the yellow key, the various unsecret secrets, the long corridor of pointless doors early on and the flat corridor-centric nature of the earlier parts in general (in the demo, I entertain myself by using the chainsaw and fist a lot). One thing I will differ on is the blue key issue, though...maybe I was just lucky, but I didn't have any trouble finding out how to access it. I mean, yeah, two of the relevant switches are in the dark, sure, but they're also right next to each other on a platform you're bound to look at on account of the chaingunner up there if nothing else, and you can hear what they do from where you're standing when you flick them.

All in all, it's pretty much the quintessential SteveD RoC map--full of some really weak stuff right smack next to some really fun stuff. Far from the WAD's best map, but far from its worst, as well.

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Map27 (Continuous) – Venom by Steve Duff – Kills – 100, Items – 100, Secret – 100. Time 35:32. End Health 100, Armor 55. Death Count - Zero

Map27 (Pistol Start) – Venom by Steve Duff – Kills – 100, Items – 66, Secret – 100. Time 36:53. End Health - 76, Armor - 64. Death Count - 1

I do have some nostalgic feelings for this map. It’s the second map I ever completed, right on the heels of the first map, which earned me the slot in TMT. Here’s a scene from that first map. Weep, all of you who wanted heavier meat in this one, because this room from my first map has a Cyb and 2 SpiderQueens!
http://s1329.photobucket.com/user/steveduff2/media/RoIC/Screenshot_Doom_20130726_012333_zps6f2fa2d9.png.html?sort=3&o=1

Just for shits ‘n giggles, I played that map last night and got wasted 9 times! ;D

As for Venom, to be honest, I found this weird, linear, uglyass map fun to play. The opening is a nice hitscanner-heavy progression through several traps of increasing severity, leading to the blue key puzzle. It just seemed like a fun idea to lower the water in the cistern, then the outer wall and finally the key pylon. It would have worked a lot better if I didn’t put the switch platform in darkness. Darkness was used too much to veil things from the player.

And yes, the tagging of monster closets as secrets is just plain weird and dumb. I’m guessing the reason for that is because we wanted each map to have 100% secrets, but we couldn’t be arsed to put actual secrets in there all the time. Thus, in some maps, you start in a secret area, and in this one, the monster closets are secrets. ::rolls eyes::

My first map had no active sectors other than doors, but this one introduces a staple in my maps, the dropping floor. In this case, the first dropped floor is a giant lift that reveals 4 corridors with hitscanners attacking you from each, and also serves as a progression puzzle. I thought it worked out very nicely. The second is the narrow walkway past the red door that drops you into the nukage in The Big Stone3 Platformer Room.

The Big Stone3 Platformer Room is my favorite part of the map. I was working on this concurrently with Map09, and they both feature pressure plates in nukage, with large lift sectors that drop down and then raise you high above the action. From here, I enjoyed rocketing the high Imps, jumping down to get ammo from the dead Chaingunners, fight the chokepoint Baron from the Chaingunner platforms, then leap down again, activate the lift, and jump down to the angled walkway that surrounds the Soulsphere shack. All the platform jumping is pretty easy, and there’s a fair amount of exploration in the nukage itself, where you’ll find the rocket launcher and a bunch of rockets.

I guess everybody has their own idea of fun in a map. When I was playing Map02 of Stardate, I asked myself, “Is it really fun to circle about 100 Revvies and Barons while they infight, until I can finish off the survivors?” The answer, for me, was yes. By the same token, racing around and jumping about the platforms in this room was great fun, and also allowed the player to attack the room in different ways. It could use a few more monsters, though, to make it dangerous. I barely took a hit in here after dusting off almost all the hitscanners and Imps with door-camping.

The Giant Ziggurat Room is more of a challenge with mostly heavy monsters. On Co-op, this room also contains 2 SpiderQueens. You can easily jump to the first level of the ziggurat when you take that “Leap of faith,” as Alfonzo described jumping into Jim Bagrow’s “Marble Gorge” in Map14. These leaps also occur in a few of my maps, including my new tech map for the Team Mapping Project, and always, the only way out is through. ;D Once again, as Veinen and others have mentioned, this room needs more monsters, though not, as DoTW noted, more hitscanners. This is mainly a room for fireballs and heavy meat.

Once you ascend to the summit of the ziggurat, you teleport into the EEE-Vile Room. I make no apologies for the psychedelic colors, because I was honoring the source material. This room is directly inspired by a room in the influential early Mac PWAD EEE-Vile 1 & 2, now perhaps lost for all time to Bit Heaven. I personally like psychedelic colors. As a kid, I was a big fan of the underground comix artist Richard Corben, whose work had, to put it mildly, a vivid color scheme. I figure most players will hate the looks of the EEE-Vile Room, but when I say this map is ugly, I’m actually referring to the rest of it, not this room. ;D

Aside from exploding the player’s eyeballs, this room was intended to scare the shit out of players teleporting in, and distract them long enough with all the meat coming straight at them for the Chaingunners and Sergeants to the side to waste them. Keep in mind, we’re talking about something designed in ’96 for the average player of the time. I’m guessing a fair percentage of players have fallen to this room over the years.

As DoTW said, the Wolfie window is much too high, so their fire is less effective than it could be. Instead of a window, this could be an open platform giving those Wolfies the best possible firing angles. That alone could greatly increase the difficulty of this room.

Veinen wanted a Cyb or SpiderQueen in this room, but I hated (and still hate) Cybs and all the ammo you have to add to take them out. If you add it just before the battle, you tip your hand. If you add it well before the battle, you end up with the problem in Nova Akropola, where all that firepower is turned loose on weak enemies who might otherwise cause you significant damage. And aside from some of the more extreme mappers and players, in ’96 it was generally considered unfair to plunk players into a room this size with a Cyb and expect them to SSG the bastard to death. Further, since this map was being designed for my own planned mapset, it was never intended for the difficulty expected of a Map27 slot. I’m pretty sure it was planned for Map03 and was never juiced up to where it should be for Map27.

Of course, by its very name, Realm of Intensified Chaos will be more extreme and will feature a fair number of Cybs and Archies.

This map will be put in drydock and given the most complete overhaul of all my RoC maps. I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with this, but one thing’s for certain, The EEE-Vile Room stays!!!!! ;D

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MAP28 - FORTRESS OF DEATH
by Slava Pestov

Oh, fuck this level. Mainly because it's totally possible to break it and get stuck beyond the red key lift/door combo, and I totally did. Twice. The level is a standard runaround with some "hey look, I discovered raise-to-next-higher-floor" switch abuse and a few cramped fights until the breakable platform/lift beyond the red key door. After which it's a bit of a cramped affair and then a yellow key trap which saw me having to multi-task between soldiers and spectres, and then I managed to eventually open up the main stretch of the level; after a fight with a mancubus atop some stairs.

After this, there's a not-so-easy-to-find switch which opens up this map's coup de grace -- a red stone Pestov Platform area with monsters galore! With a BFG handed to me and enough cells to leak out of my ears, it was clear to me what to do -- fire a singular pistol shot and get them infighting! A soulsphere and enough health to get by were provided, but no popcorn.

After which, a dark trek to unmarked exit territory. This level had a couple of neat encounters and I'd have liked it more had I not got stuck in a badly-conceived puzzle twice.

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MAP27 - “Venom” by Steve Duff
You can tell it's a first or second map of someone, mix of square boxy rooms connected to sometimes insanely shaped rooms with extreme height variation. But the gameplay is solid enough to not put it in the Jim Bagrow camp :)
Missed a couple of kills near the start where there were some extra rockets, not that I needed any more after rocket spamming the final room.
I guess some areas near the start need a little redesigning, some of the latter areas could be made a little better looking with some good texture usage.
The gameplay could have been a little harder too

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