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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Back to Saturn X E1 & Favillesco E1

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map02
Visually not as impressive than the first map, but this is still a well-put together level from an layout and looks perspective. Texturing is ... well, I'm still not sold on the textures themselves, but they've been used with care and thoughtfulness. The architecture feels simpler and cleaner than map01, but I think it's used better for gameplay purposes here than in the first map. The lifts play into combat, monsters come at you from multiple angles, the air vent secret is one of the few 64-wide corridors I'm ever going to praise, and the peek at the blue armor is a nice touch (I'd already found the secret, but left the armor for later).

Speaking of leaving the armor for later, nice to be able to backtrack from the exit to gather unused supplies, here :)

Monster use is good. On HNTR this has a few arachnotrons, revvies and mancs, which is a faster monster escalation than I would have chosen, but they're presented in situations where the player doesn't need to be hugely skilled to deal with them handily (I dealt with them handily, after all!).

Good stuff.

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HNTR shouldn't throw anything too bad at you. I went through and made sure it was balanced by playing the whole thing twice with keyboard + no strafe and I managed to get through it even extremely nerfed without too much trouble.

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Alright, here we go. I'll be using my usual leisure setup for this playthrough--Eternity (unless I decide to do a demo or two), high resolution, no infinitely tall actors, etc.--and also as usual, I'll be doing all pistol-starts on UV, at least for the purposes of the writeups here--on my own time, I will probably try out the extra solo-net setting for more of a challenge. No other additions seem to be in order this time, as BTSX does appear to be a 'total-package' offering. Without further ado.....

Map 01 -- Back to Saturn X Radio Report - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
I'll differ from some of the previous comments and say that I appreciate it when mapsets (even long ones) start off with a fairly substantial outing, as opposed to feeling constrained to make map 01 a peppy eyeblink-length affair. This map certainly is substantial, assuming that the player opts to take the full tour; those in a hurry can simply do one quick lap of the outpost's main thoroughfare and then exit (a pacifistic style is probably quite feasible with a little luck, although I can see the last arachnotron getting in the way a lot) in a matter of moments--a lot of the actual play space is either entirely optional (e.g. the whole subquest for the secret SSG) or used for narrative purposes (the quiet approach to the base or the silent introduction of the transport hub at the end).

About that, for my part, I welcome the use of narrative in long mapsets, and so I appreciate the few moments of quiet at the outset here, which allow one a little chance to get accustomed to the WAD's visual style--and it is a striking style, certainly. Depicted is a small, anonymous tech facility of some sort--its "C" shape and the fact that it contains many outer windows and several overlooks suggest that it's probably a security checkpoint/lookout post for the main UAC facility. By setting the base in a temperate rocky basin of some sort (parts of which are actually traversed at points), the map provides a nice manufacture/nature contrast, and affords an opportunity to show off a lot of low-key light/shadow interplay. Indeed, I would say this is its strongest point, visually--a soft-bright default light level in open ground and under the checkpoint's skylights regularly gives way to deeper shadows in little caves and the interior stretch of the base. Coupled with the starry, orange-red sky, the whole is afforded a particular dusky, expectant atmosphere not often encountered in techbase settings.

There are some niggles--for example, if you stop to look at the rocks in the outer areas, there are some very sudden shifts along continuous stretches of wall between the main beige rock texture and its slightly green-hued variant that look highly artificial, although I suspect that in places this was done in an attempt to create further artificial shading when looking at things from a distance. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the neopolitan color-striping of the paneling in many areas of the base, either....we'll see how things pan out thematically as the game progresses. As to the palette/colormap changes themselves, I reckon they're pretty classy, smoothing saturation contrast out a bit to allow for more usage of many different colors in a single scene, but I'm not exactly tough to entertain in this regard, it must be said--show me a variant palette that doesn't look like a disco ball and I'll probably be intrigued.

Despite the relative complexity of the map, its gameplay mostly follows tried-and-tested map 01 tropes--that is, the main route is really just a one-way circuit (beginning with the left gate and ending with the overlook where the blue keycard sits), and monsters tend to be placed such that they see and begin to engage you from a distance, their presence thereby drawing you forward along that route in short order, making for a potential whirlwind tour--just like the 'ol Hangar, really. We see more mid-class demons and chaingunners here than are typical for a standard map 01, it's true, but the overall effect is the same. However, to vary things up a bit, there is one small setpiece battle along the way--that being the fairly cinematic introduction of cacodemons by having them descend from the nearby cliff face to raid a windowed bend in the main corridor. There are also a couple of major points of optional diversion, the first of which begins with the (easily-found) soulsphere secret--taking this route results in you being moved up to a sidestop off the main corridor before having had a chance to clear it thoroughly, opening up the potential for some zombies and maybe a hell knight or two to flank you if you aren't paying attention. Similarly, the outdoor sojourn for the SSG also ultimately skips part of the main corridor, although the opposition potentially bypassed is much less in this case.

Kind of ironic that accessing ostensibly beneficial secrets is probably more dangerous for the 'average player' (whatever that means) than leaving them be--the minor teleporter clusterfuck near the SSG probably being the most dangerous point of the map, as well the aforementioned potential to be flanked by zombies (several of which are former human commandos, on UV) following the soulsphere secret--but as a fan of hidden battles, I don't really have an issue with this. My main complaint about the map actually has to do with deployment of monster-blocking lines--the worst offender is seen on the trek out of the SSG area at the point where you reenter the main base (a whole bunch of different monsters just milling about there behind an invisible line, primed to infight themselves to death even more readily than they normally would), but there are others. Now, I sort of figure that a lot of these (like the one near the 3D bridge) are probably semi-necessary on a technical level, given the map's structural complexity and overriding vanilla constraints, but their relative necessity unfortunately doesn't make them any less unsightly/immersion-harming where they do appear.

That's a minor complaint, though, and in all it's an entertaining map that does a good job of establishing E1's setting. I assume the transport depot at the end will be the recurring hub map, but I'd probably better cut this post off before blathering on about that. There will be time later.

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Yeah unfortunately the monster block is due to their inability to cross over the lowered sectors required to make certain architectural tricks work.

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I have now played MAP02, so here are my comments. I can also post the FDA, with a note that all of my FDAs will be recorded in doom2.exe v1.9 like the one on this level was.

MAP02: Postal Blowfish by Kim Bach and Michael Mancuso

The train takes us to a small base full of crates where we can pick up a rocket launcher. Coupled with a lot of small enemies, you can tell how much guts are going to be spilled on this map. There are also many places where barrels can be used to kill multiple enemies on top of that. I was admittedly expecting an ambush at the yellow key, and to my surprise and interest, I didn't get one. I did end up low on health, but if you have to, playing careful is entirely possible. It is overall an easy but fun map, good for the early part of the WAD. As for visuals, it is a serviceable techbase, although there are a lot of right-angled rooms and corridors compared to the previous one (probably due to being a Torn map).

FDA (doom2.exe v1.9, 7:52 level/total time, 92% Kills/71% Items/33% Secrets, no deaths): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6650582/BTSX-E1M2-FDA-byTGH.zip

(UV max to be recorded and posted.)

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Capellan said:

Then I guess I simply don't like the textures - the ones we've seen so far, anyway.

They are just too "dirty" I think, with lots of dots of different color everywhere. I guess the intention was to make them more detailed/realistic but the results just look unpleasant to me. Everything is rusty and lifeless, nothing is bright and shiny.

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Memfis said:

They are just too "dirty" I think, with lots of dots of different color everywhere. I guess the intention was to make them more detailed/realistic but the results just look unpleasant to me. Everything is rusty and lifeless, nothing is bright and shiny.


I am mystified by this post and would like to know what the actual hell you are talking about.

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MAP03 The Room Taking Shape

My SSG accuracy went out the fucking window on this map. Blame that on twitchy reflexes. Level's small in shape, I like, but somehow doesn't really give much flair overall. Music is kinda soft, although this was my first listen so I really dunno. One interesting area with very nice use of crushers was the standout. I used to my advantage and watched the enemies get squished there. Fun. Nothing else really interesting though. Memfis says it could have been the MAP01. I would've agreed, but then there's these two secrets with a plasma gun and BFG. Final Time 3:57.

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A lot of Doom and Doom 2 textures (and a lot of other PWAD textures) do the same sort of color mixing. It's not a "gritty realism" thing; it mainly serves the purpose of allowing for far more colors than would be possible if they were limited to a single color ramp in the palette. TEKGREN in Doom 2 blends a lot of gray into its green to get a distinct hue from, say, GRASS* (which is all green) or ZIMMER1 (which is green, gray, and brown).

BTSX does have a bunch of single-color-range textures in it, like the shiny STAR-styled panels, the red and blue carpets, mesh grid flats, and the numerous colored lights, to name a few :)

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MAP02.

Not as awe-inspiring as MAP01 but still brilliant fun. I managed to find the secrets this time, which was pretty neat: crawling through the air vents was fun. :P One thing I like about the mapset so far is the interconnectivity: I'd think vanilla would be the most difficult platform for this particular feature but it's used a lot, and used well. I was a little iffy on the Revenants,but then again I've had a vendetta against them since MA24 of Scythe. Heh. Also, why are there 2 Rocket Launchers? I was playing on Ultra-Violence, and I'm guessing the RL after the Arachnotron is supposed to be there on the easier difficulties. I dunno.

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Fisk said:

I am mystified by this post and would like to know what the actual hell you are talking about.


Whereas I nodded to every word :)

These really need to be viewed at full size, but there are flecks of pale green in this texture that catch my eye. Once that's done, I can see the pixels in the texture, and it looks weird and fake to me.




Here the fuzziness of the vertical lines sets my teeth on edge. Why aren't they clear and regular, like grooves (which is what they seem to be) ought to be? Again, feels false to me.




And then there's these textures, which I disliked through the level. Under bright light I thought they looked plastic-y, and under darkness they get this odd mottled look
(and looking at the picture, I suddenly wonder why the sector is so dark when there's a floor light decoration right there)

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Capellan said:

Whereas I nodded to every word :)[/URL]


I'm really still not sure I can pretend I know what you're talking about. I hate to sound like I'm just being contrarian for the sake of it, but I'm just not seeing this "fuzziness" nor this "fakeness" that you're finding. The only conclusion I can come to is that you both are just now noticing that the Doom renderer exists, and because of the way it works, textures must be crafted a certain way to fight really ugly vertical banding when the game renders them using the colormap.

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Really what you're complaining about is the art style. Which is fair, you don't have to like it, it does have its own distinct thing going on for it, BTSX does use a lot of soft-edges (which do exist in many building materials - see smoothed block wall and plaster) and the textures themselves are pretty detailed which makes the more subtle aspects of them more apparent. (And if you don't like those aspects, they're going to really stand out to you.)

But I would like to point out the following...

Capellan said:

there are flecks of <insert color here> in this texture that catch my eye. Once that's done, I can see the pixels in the texture, and it looks weird and fake to me


Congratulations Adam, you just described 90% of all the textures ever used in Doom ever. Same with the "plastic" STAR* textures, stock STAR and COMP are very plasticy.

Edit: I would use "rubbery" to describe BTSX's STAR* textures before plasticy. They look like if you throw a mallet against them it'd bounce right off.

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Fisk said:

I'm really still not sure I can pretend I know what you're talking about. I hate to sound like I'm just being contrarian for the sake of it


It's cool. I think this sort of thing is going to be a very personal experience. I'm not personally a fan of the textures, but if other people are then more power to 'em.


Tarnsman said:

Really what you're complaining about is the art style. Which is fair, you don't have to like it, it does have its own distinct thing going on


I'm not even complaining about it. Just noting that it doesn't work that well for me. You'd know if I was complaining :)


Tarnsman said:

Congratulations Adam, you just described 90% of all the textures ever used in Doom ever. Same with the "plastic" STAR* textures, stock STAR and COMP are very plasticy.


I'm aware that many textures do it. For whatever reason, however, I'm finding it much more noticeable in the BTSX textures. Could be a color mapping thing, or a palette thing (BTSX seems to have a modified green, and it's the green flecks that I'm picking up on - the lighter grey flecks in some of the other textures don't have the same effect), or it could be something else entirely.



map03
Well, I have all the weapons now, thanks to the "secret" plasma and slightly more genuinely secret BFG. This level is a pretty linear little thing, but a fun romp nonetheless, with lots of multi-level battles. It's more fond of monster closets than the last two levels (and I do not like the techred texture used in some of them), and it's nice to see varying types of encounter being used. The teleport trap for the yellow key was a fun little skirmish, too, and signposted quite nicely I thought. Anyone taking unawares really wasn't paying attention :)

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Capellan said:

I'm aware that many textures do it. For whatever reason, however, I'm finding it much more noticeable in the BTSX textures. Could be a color mapping thing, or a palette thing (BTSX seems to have a modified green, and it's the green flecks that I'm picking up on - the lighter grey flecks in some of the other textures don't have the same effect), or it could be something else entirely.


It's an art style thing. The greens you're talking about were not touched, nor was their color map. Again the textures are more detailed so things like that will stick out a lot more if you're looking for them.

Edit: the green stuff was based on how it's used in many of the IWAD textures where it is the same green. see SLIME15, SLIME16, BROWN1, and SPACEW4.

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Well, I think their colormapping actually is a bit different in dark sectors, though the desaturated greens themselves are unchanged in the palette. (Doom has two separate green ranges, one vivid and one more grayish.) ptoing did a lot of general cleanup to the colormap to reduce the artifacting seen with the stock one. This shouldn't be having any significant effect, though.

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I can understand what Capellan is talking about regarding the mix of colors and fuzziness of some textures, although I personally disagree and find this to be an excellent texture set. It's drab but still has quite a bit of personality to it with a variety of patterns, tonal differences and details. Of course there's still a lot of brown & grays but it fits the atmosphere perfectly, contrasting well with the more vibrant sights like the water and monitors.

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More blind attempts: HMP, pistol start, recording FDAs in PrBoom with -complevel 2 unless stated otherwise

Map 1: 65% kills, 0% secrets, 0 deaths

Looks good; I would not have guessed this is doom2.exe compatible. And the automap colors are different. Very nonthreatening combat with monsters being alerted from far away for the most part. Mixing deaf monsters with nondeaf ones keeps things interesting. Lowest health value is about 55% so it's evident there's some restraint. There is a telegraphed point of no return which is a minor nitpick. Would have liked a back to the rest of the map when locating the exit.

Demo (which I probably will never release) features squandering of a radsuit. There is some sludge later on which I avoid trekking through due to this. Failing to find any secrets and 33 monsters hurts the ego a bit.

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This thing about nukage and little or no rad suits. Am I missing something here? Shareware Doom had this in spades.

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MAP03 - “The Room Taking Shape” by Skillsaw
Err.... what's happened here

lols

Right the map, well I died several times in the yellow key area, pretty much all of them due to pr-boom acting up and glitches for several tics several times, nothing worse when you have big monsters firing at you all the time.
I liked the yellow key room and it's usage, especially the fact you have to loop round twice, add to that monster closets and teleport ambushes which is a different approach to the previous two. It's a short and sweet map. Though someone made a mess of cleaning this map up :P

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Looks like the node builder shit itself right there. Have no idea where the hell that came from.

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MAP03 - THE ROOM TAKING SHAPE

Level starts under attack from a solitary imp, but he's a pushover and completely shotgun fodder. From a pistol start I wouldn't imagine he's much of a threat either since the shotgun is given away shortly after. In fact, I saw every damn weapon bar the chaingun on this level, even if the cell weapons were secrets. Seemed a bit overkill since this level didn't really push the envelope at all in terms of ambushes or encounters -- the one standout one is totally avoidable, as I bump-collected the yellow key on its lowering plinth; then walked back over the sector out of good, honest, decency for the Megawad Club.

Nothing really to speak of, though I have an arsenal I can't wait to use. Will I be disappointed?

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MAP03 - “The Room Taking Shape” by Skillsaw

demo

This is a great little map, feels small and yet complex, and while the busy texturing and abstract layout is in danger of getting me disorientated and lost the design is careful to lead you in the direction you need to go. Also found my first secret, woo! Couple of hairy moments but always plenty of room to dodge stuff.

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MAP03 - The Room Taking Shape - Skillsaw
08:07, 100% kills, 33% secrets, 0 deaths

The BFG secret was incredibly obvious to me, and such a weapon isn't really needed for the ambush that occurs in that area anyway. The layout does a good job of connecting all of the areas to each other, to the point where I got lost briefly trying to find one of the optional ambushes.
Not much to say on this one really.

I'm not too keen on the music for this one as the last two maps, though I do like the piano section. Stewboy seems to like using those :P

Eris gives this level 7/10!

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I'm playing this in Chocolate Doom. I'm using the already out of date v99i8 linked to a few days ago. I hope there are no serious breaks as I don't feel like starting again or pistol starting. I'm in HMP and playing continuously, saving only at the start of each map unless I start to get frustrated or the maps get too long. OK, let's go :-)

01 Esselfortium/Tarnsman: Back to Saturn X Radio Report

The mapflow was nice, such as how you get the blue key then drop to the corresponding door. I also liked the secret soulsphere. Rewarding players for taking a chance in the nukage is another positive for me.

The level looked really good, although I'm not keen on the nukage replacement flat. Plus I miss some of the more practical stock textures such as locked door markers, switches and doors. The replacements worked well enough but I guess I like the traditional cues for progression.

I wasn't keen on the music. I can say it sounds well made, but just not my thing. I prefer grim atmospheric sounds - I turned it down.

The new palette is very nice, especially the lighter blues. It gives everything a refreshing look and allows the megawad it's own visual identity. Shame reusing it in other projects (once permission is granted) would require including edits of all the sprites.

The map itself had a good atmosphere created by the lovely quiet outdoor start and similarly empty (hub?) lift section at the end, and Although not much exciting happened, I have no complaints about the gameplay (the caco appearance was probably the highlight but even that was not much special). Mid tier monsters were introduced early but munitions escalated disproportionately so it was a bit of a sleepwalk in this regard, though I am playing HMP so this is forgivable in MAP01 I suppose.


02 Torn/Esselfortium: Postal Blowfish

Gameplay wise this is where BTSX really kicks off. Bigger monsters and weapons arrive and while I appreciated the action the progression is a little steep with so many maps yet to come.

The RL really saves this map as otherwise some of fights could have been a bit of a slog but I was able to rocket through it to keep the pace up if I wanted.

I'm really struggling to say much else about this one - other than vaguely recalling a rev fight on the ledge with some more hiding around the corner I'm genuinely struggling to remember anything about it already (by contrast I can remember most of the first 6 RoC maps that I played almost a month ago). I guess that means it's just a really solid map that doesn't have any drawbacks but is without any real distinction either.


03 Skillsaw: The Room Taking Shape

Now this one had character. I played the first half dozen maps of this same beta around the time the previous version was released and this is the level that really stuck in my mind. Of course this is solely because of that one large stair way with the crusher intervals that lowers the yellow key. This was a really cool setup but it felt (at least in HMP with continuous play) like it had the venom removed. Monster closets open as you pass through but if you smell any sort of danger it's so easy just to drop off and have a massive space to work an advantage, or even just wait yonder side of the crushers and watch the monsters gladly reform themselves into processed meat. More floating monsters, blocking railings or even having the ground as a damaging fluid would pressure the player better here.

An issue with the mapset that peaks here is the steep weapon progression. By MAP03 I'd acquired every weapon, which is too soon IMO. I know we've all seen them enough that it's not a surprise anymore but for a large level set intended to be played continuously, I like a more gradual collection of arms. It's not like I even needed to use the BFG or plasma and I certainly didn't work hard to find them. I don't think anyone would blink if they were replaced with low level rewards like medikits, armour or ammo.

Another level where key progression is used well - I love how the three yellow doors guide your backtracking straight to the exit. My favourite map of the three so far.

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I have to say, the music in these maps does remind me of cheesy 90's arcade shoot-em-up soundtracks, it goes well with the graphics which also conjurs memories of games like Raiden. Don't know how intentional that is though, maybe its just in my imagination..

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Map 3

Pretty much what Memfis said. That room with crushers is cool, and the part with walls lowering is neat as well, but nothing particularly interesting besides that. Kinda fine, but expected more to it from skillsaw.

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Map02 (Continuous) – Postal Blowfish by Torn and esselfortium - Kills – 100, Items – 100, Secret – 66. Time 24:33. End Health 100, Armor 51. Death Count – 1

Map02 (Pistol Start) – Postal Blowfish by Torn and esselfortium - Kills – 100, Items – 97, Secret – 66. Time 21:04. End Health 100, Armor 54. Death Count – Zero


This was a super-fun map. The excellent Quake2-style architecture continues and is very well done. Not as pretty as Map01, perhaps, but the architecture seemed to be better exploited for the task of hurting the player. A more amped-up music track by essel suited the map’s fast-paced combat.

This one attacks you right from the start with zombieboys and Sergeants, then a sniping Manc, Pinkies, Chaingunners and a Hell Knight. It’s a measured attack, however, and on both starts I chose to take out the Manc with my shotgun. I played more recklessly on continuous, and took a lot of damage from the Chaingunners. Corner abuse took care of that problem on pistol start, and overall, the combat was much easier on pistol since I’d done the continuous play first to blaze the trail a bit. Not that there’s much trail to blaze in terms of route, which seems a bit fixed. Despite that, ringing the facility with the great outdoors makes the map feel open and immersive.

The Y-shaped corridor you encounter after the early battles was nicely done, but those darned block monster lines! The player ends up in a decent crossfire as a result and is likely to take some damage. After that, you open a door and encounter an easily-dusted Arachnotron, and then a ginormous lift populated by a couple Chaingunners. Ride that down and get yourself attacked by Chaingunners, Hell Knights and assorted scum. I handled this poorly on my continuous run, but with plenty of rockets ready, this battle was easy on pistol. As with many battles in Doom, starting with the right weapon in your hands makes all the difference.

I drew an unlucky straw in the outer corridor battle against all the Revvies, Chaingunners, Arachnotrons, Cacos, and sniping Imps and Sergeants, because I charged in and woke everything up. I had just about killed everything when a sneaky Chaingunner took me out. On pistol-start, after I rocketed the Revvies, I held back a bit and was able to deal death sequentially to each monster cluster. Then it’s open a door and rocket a cluster of Mancs and little scumbags guarding the yellow key.

After you get the red key, you can jump to the secret chainsaw. Chainsaw? Are you fucking serious? All the Pinkies are dead. What am I supposed to do with this, gut some Cacos? Special award for Most Useless Secret Ever. The other secret I got was in the ventilator shaft.

At this point, the map is done so far as engaging combat goes. There’s one more battle with lightweights and a Manc, one more Revvie to rocket, and for some reason, an absolute fuck-ton of health and ammo at the end. It’s Christmas on Saturn! The health/ammo balance had been fairly decent up to this point, albeit heavy on rockets, which I liked, actually, but now it gets ridiculous. What, is there a Cyb on Map03 or something? Anyway, there’s just 4 Cacos to rocket at this point, and 2 of them make a pathetic attempt to envelope you by teleporting behind you. Good thing they weren’t Revvies or Archies! But they’re Cacos, so I laugh as I turn and fade them before dealing with their lumbering buddies.

All in all, a very fun, good-looking and well-lit map. The ending was a bit anticlimactic, but there’d been some nice, fun fights – albeit all straight-ahead – so this ending can be forgiven. Well done!

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