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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Unholy Realms & Zone 300 (simultaneously!)

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Ribbiks said:

I'd call it a nonchalant max, but 2 enemies fail to teleport in and I have no idea why. I didn't learn the map well enough (recorded this demo after just going through it once with saves),

Cool demo :-)

The two monsters that fail to teleport in are two mancubuses; I had a quick check, the teleporter is too short- 56 units, and mancubuses, since they're noticeably fat, are 64 units tall. So Snakes will have to make sure the teleporting linedef ceiling is moved upwards an extra 32 units.

and I feel like I probably broke something by straferunning across that one gap, not sure what the intended route is, actually.

Indeed, DotW is correct, it's intentional although not mandatory. I figured UV-maxers would like a little flexibility in constructing routes rather than being forced to adhere to the designed gameplay scenario.

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Unholy Realms MAP28 - "The False Man's Keep (Fraud)"

I must say, apologies, Snakes, for what I've said last time, this map was again one of the good ones I enjoyed. While the E3 nature remains apparent, the map in several aspects returns to the E1 part of Unholy Realms, my favourite part of it. The aspects could be characterized as:

  • Interconnective layout that gradually opens as you advance.
  • Possibility to hide/run away/camp, but not real necessity to do so.
  • Interesting mechanics, traps and encounters that don't make me totally desperate, hopeless and destroyed.
  • Wise use of damaging floors, for once.
(The lava on ceiling damages you really? That is intentional? Strange, yet interesting.)

Great map is this one! I died on it several times, but was always able to quickly figure out an ideal strategy for the next try. Thank you for this map.

However I've found out that the first scrolling flesh textures (the ones around the start area) render badly, in Zandronum at least. Also I found all three secrets (clever ones) and wandered all the map through including the lava-flooded areas, but 4 monsters stayed left somewhere, probably didn't teleport.

I can't make other negative points, really. Again, I enjoyed the map.

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Unholy Realms MAP29 - "Snakeskin Treachery (Wrath)" (map by Joshy)

I have definitely confirmed this thought: Snakes apparently maps with the premise to prepare challenge, before anything else. Joshy (and any other author contributing to Unholy Realms too) has a different approach. It is all recognizable from the player's perspective. While playing this map, I very often had this feeling: "Snakes wouldn't do this thing. He'd find it to be too easy / simple / cheap." But these choices were actually what I've liked about the map the most. Particularly I am talking about the encounters... In fact, about practically ALL encounters in this map.

Great map, nonlinear, interconnective, just how I like it. Very challenging, but not driving anyone insane from the difficulty. Although small, sometimes requires a bit of exploration, as the main path isn't always highlighted the most of all. At the first glance I didn't like it, but then I realized it's actually something I enjoy - to explore - and I eventually appreciate that choice a lot. Besides, from my own experience I know it is difficult to always keep the right way the most highlighted one, and even if you achieve so, then the map feels somehow "unnatural and scripted". For this reason, I am very glad for exploration and nonlinearity elements in Doom maps.

The theme / setting of MAP29 deserves praise too. I like the texturing accompanied by all the gore lying around. Beautiful :)

Now I can't wait for the final map!

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(sorry for triple posting, this is the last one)

Unholy Realms MAP30 - "Dis"

Ah, I should have expected that kind of map. I didn't, actually!

Reminds me of Zones of Fear MAP30. Which part of it, you ask? Both the first, long, monster-filled part and the second, final core-shooting area combined together. Its Unholy Realms counterpart looks nicer and is generally better crafted out, has to be admitted though.

Well, there were moments in this UR MAP30 when I was confused and didn't know what to do next. A few extra attempts solved it though. Shooting the brain was getting harder with each try, as there was always more and more annoying lost souls around. But as I was really excited by all the hecticity, loudness and the awesome music, AND I WAS, I just wanted to make it to the end. And I eventually killed the Icon. Ooooooh.

Awesome looking map, too, great ending of the megawad in my opinion.

Unholy Realms overally

Great mapset. My enthusiasm was at top during the first episode. As some of the later maps got to the point when difficulty was driving me insane even with all the save/load spam, my enthusiasm cooled down. But all in all, everywhere in Unholy Realms where I looked at, I have seen only high quality. A low bow.

The thing I want to criticize are those unfair moments when an archvile (or archviles) gets teleported somewhere in the map when you don't even know it, and starts to revive monsters in the fields. For the first time it happened in MAP14, I think. I hate it, don't do it, please.

Difficulty I'll keep aside from my judgement. I am no good hardcore played and I am no machine who doesn't make mistakes. I take it as a matter of course, that I make stupid mistakes every now and then during my playthrough. I'd like and I am trying to get better, thus I am glad there is a variety of mods, maps and mapsets to practice on. And Unholy Realms was a great experience for me.

Good job, Snakes and all who are responsible for creating UR. It definitely is a wad I'd support for Cacowards.

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Unholy Realms Map26: Village of The Unblessed (Heresy)

Yeah this is an excellent map. Dobu commented earlier that this seems like a map that is fun to speedrun and it did not disappoint. Like most sandbox maps, this one offers many and more route possibilities and every attempt is a bit different from one another so there's plenty of replayability. I have no idea if the route I used is any good but I think getting the BFG asap and releasing the first Cyber early to wreak havoc among the lesser demons are the right ways to go.

YK and RK are easily obtained, although after grabbing the YK an Archie foursome appears outside the little structure you're holed in. They always gather around the same area though so they aren't that hard to dispose of. The PEs are probably more dangerous with their neverending Lost Soul spamming and infinitely tall blockades. BK is the hardest key to get, not because of the horde inside the hut but because you're easy prey for all sorts of snipers out in the courtyard. Found the secret relatively easy and I must admit it's pretty cool. The total darkness outside of the battleground there creates a desolate atmosphere and the minislaughter is an enjoyable scrum as well. Nothing bad to say about the overall combat really, there's very little height differences but there's plenty of threat at the ground level to make this a somewhat challenging map. I say only somewhat since if you play this casually or survivalist style, it's really not that tough but speeding things up makes this much more difficult. Got only 289 kills because one Archie (Thing 408) does not teleport in no matter what I do.

Visually it's pretty simple, wooden structures on rocky terrain. The blood fountain in the middle of the arena is the main tourist attraction but I did like the little graveyard patch and the Chaingunners cozy looking coffin too. There has certainly been better looking levels in this mapset but this one does have a certain village in hells deepest reaches -feel to it.

Speedrun-corner returns with a quick pacifist run. I thought the trick here was really clever and nicely designed so extra props for that. Not the easiest trick in the wad but not the hardest either and I got this time fairly quickly. It's still a pretty good time though. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5okR_x9L0I.

Map27 coming today too most likely! Already have a few exits and the map isn't really that hard when you get the hang of it.

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scifista42 said:

Unholy Realms MAP29 - "Snakeskin Treachery (Wrath)" (map by Joshy)

I have definitely confirmed this thought: Snakes apparently maps with the premise to prepare challenge, before anything else. Joshy (and any other author contributing to Unholy Realms too) has a different approach. It is all recognizable from the player's perspective. While playing this map, I very often had this feeling: "Snakes wouldn't do this thing. He'd find it to be too easy / simple / cheap." But these choices were actually what I've liked about the map the most. Particularly I am talking about the encounters... In fact, about practically ALL encounters in this map.

Ha, that's the exact opposite of my impression. Snakes has a lot of stuff placed in his maps that's just fun "add to the chaos without adding any actual threat" (the epitome of this would be those Arachnos in map 14, and nearly all of map 18), whereas Joshymap is all about "how do I brutally murder he player next and drive him into despair?"

Then again, I've never really grokked any of his maps outside of Surge and maps 13 and parts of 15 from SoD... map 01 of PRCP even brutally murdered me for hours on HNTR difficulty. I am probably the weirdest choice of playtester he could have possibly made for the Surge remaster, heh.

Anyways UR as a whole:
The first 28 maps were mostly good fun. Sure, it doesn't really hit stride until 17 (although the improvements to 14 have certainly made the first three maps of Ep. 2 another "highlight section"), and there's a few kinda "blah" ones in there (especially 4, 5, and 24), but overall, it's good fun. The last two... well, I'll just pretend they don't exist. It's easy enough to quit after map 28, I suppose.

My top 5 for the wad:
1. Map 27
2. Map 17
3. Map 14
4. Map 19
5. Map 26 (barely gets the nod over 23 for me, but could easily change depending on my mood.)

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Well... I'm behind. So here's 9 maps from UR. I'd have done more, but I got tired of playing.

Unholy Realms
MAP13: Temple of Leviathan:
Great music and a beautiful map. The challenge is weighted in the player's favour, what with all the weaponry and the soulsphere. All in all, a very positive experience.

MAP14: Drifting Complex:
This one felt very Plutonic. Metal-style music, brick, damaging liquids, darkness and enemies everywhere. As with most of these kinds of map, I found taking control of the nukage and using that as a vantage point to move around the map with plenty of space to strike at the entrenched forces made life a lot easier, although the sheer amount of roaming enemies was definitely a wise move by Snakes. The use of Arch Viles was pretty good, with the central one being a constant threat until you eliminate it and the others being there to upset you and catch you off guard by repopulating buildings you thought were clear. A hectic start definitely set the tone for a violent and surprisingly small map.

MAP15: Ravine of the Hated:
Looks more traditionally Plutonia than the last map, but plays a lot less rough, for the most part. When I collected the blue skull and then SSG'd my way through the ensuing crowd at mostly melee range I found my confidence swiftly turning to arrogance - only for the fight triggered by opening up the normal exit to be even easier due to how you can cheese it. I found 4/5 secrets, which was enough to get me to the secret map, happily. The music felt like it wouldn't have been out of place in one of the IWADs, IMO.

MAP31: Destructive Infinity:
A collaboration between two old(er)-school mappers, I believe. Weird HOMs on the landing Plutonia-pad in the soulsphere secret in ZDoom (it's like you only remembered to put the lower textures on half of each sidedef), would be the sum total of my bug report. Otherwise we have a very vicious map with a novel starting approach (particularly the secret accessible from the start) and a frantic scramble for breathing room. Once a foothold is established the dark atmosphere and fast music lead to an odd feeling of there being something missing. The switch you have to shoot to get the yellow key is very dark, so I ended up guessing there was something there to shoot. The secret exit was also beyond my ability to work out, despite finding 4 of the secrets, so I cheated to get to MAP32. :(

On a "not really the map, but worth mentioning anyway" note: the Yellow Skill Arch-Vile was finished off by a single shot from a zombie man for me after the Baron took most of my BFG blast!

MAP32: A Charming Khorus:
Well, this is clearly not a Snakes map :P Large, open spaces, lots of curves, high contrast areas and only stock textures being used all cement that impression. Kind of plays like a slaughter map, but with relatively low numbers. It felt a lot longer than most of the maps before it, despite having a similar population. Pretty good, would be my opinion of it.

MAP16: Dockside:
Pretty good music (albeit different) but this map felt off to me. Chaingunners, Arch Viles and Revenants out in the open, I found neither one of the secrets and somehow missed 27 monsters whilst still finishing the map, despite it being one big arena. One of the weaker ones of the set, IMO.

MAP17: Missing Gamma Sector:
Twilight Tech Frenzy, perhaps? I like the music and the slower overall pace. 270 monsters seems huge for this map set though! Great views, some good set-pieces (others, like the whole blue key bit, including the two AVs that followed, seemed bullshit to me). I think I appreciated this more as a work of art than a playable level, really.

MAP18: Of Brick and Crimson:
Recognisable music there - it's the Bunny Tune, but ramped up! This map seems to exemplify what I don't like in Plutonia maps: AVs and Revenants being sprung on you often; enemies that aren't being sprung on you are all entrenched so hard you really have to eke out progress; a strong need for foreknowledge in order to make it through a close-quarters trap (two HKs and a Spectre really doesn't do the SSG well in such a cramped room and the SSG is very much my default weapon in Plutonia-land). Another "meh" from me.

MAP19: Borough of Blood:
Another frantic start to a mid-sized map full of hard-hitting foes, heavily entrenched enemy placement and shock Archies and Revs. I liked the idea of the map (what with the urban-esque layout and all), but found myself growing tired of the game play after a while. I think I've played too much of this map set in one go or something as it just feels like its overstaying its welcome now. I'm finding it too easy to die when coming in aggressively now and too heavily packed to play cautiously and have any fun. Just sort of end up running around taking pot shots for a bit, stirring up the hornets nest and then, once I'm armed, hunkering down to stake a claim to some land before starting a slow and laborious pest-control situation that occasionally bites back very, very hard. Good for one or two maps, but evidently not to my liking when there's loads of them in a row.

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UR Map30 - "Dis": Our trip through Hell climaxes not with the treachery circle, but a massive landscape packed with an endless array of demons to grind through. Others may find this challenge too pressure-filled and chaotic to work through, but I adore this fight for no other reason than it’s as close to the connotation of hell as an IoS map can get. The map has a nice backdrop surrounding the sulfur city, and it’s not too difficult to deduce where to go (probably finding the lift to the eastern fortresses is the most clandestine part), and there’s a healthy chunk of megaspheres to keep you powered up as you make your trio of trips to fire rockets into the baphomet’s brain. Lost Souls hilariously become your archnemesis in this struggle since they populate the battlefield like fleas on a hobos bed, eating stray rockets gleefully for their inert master. It’s an evil map and I embrace the disorder it wants to create; a fantastic finale in my book.

Minor issues: any thing that spawns here seems to get stuck in Zdoom. Also, the arachs that spawn at the ledge near the yellow key door can get stuck.

Z300 Map30 - "Eternal Core": Or “Eternal Use of MAP30 IoS Fights” :P This encounter is fresh in its visuals and the abundant amount of “HP” it was given is a nice bonus, although finding the invul secret (while providing a neat twist) absolutely crushes the challenge in this map. Even without it the battle can be completed it a minute and a half, since there’s ample opportunity to just blow its brains out before coming under fire. An okay finale (MAP29 felt like a more suitable ending).

Closing opinions n' thoughts tomorrow

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Zone 300: Map 30 - UV, pistol start

This was an incredibly easy final map. All you have to do is hit 3 switches & just stand on the highest platform & shoot 16 or so rockets into the brain. I didn't even bother killing any of the monsters that were attacking me & I still beat it on the first try.

Overall I thought that this was a pretty mediocre wad at best. There were only 6 maps that I thought were good & would go back and play them again, the rest were just okay to downright bad. I would honestly say that I would never want to play 16 of these maps again because I didn't enjoy playing them. I put the blame on the fact that this wad was thrown together in about a month's time, that is simply not enough time to ensure that you are making a quality map set, even if you maps are small. The use of 300 lines I felt was pretty wasted here, nothing really special was done for most of the maps to make me say wow that was only 300 lines. As far as I'm concerned this could have just been called Pcorf makes really small maps.

My favorite maps were 19, 15, 23, 3, 10, & 4

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UR Map 30 -- Dis - 341% Kills / No Secrets
Alright, here we go, IoS map coming up. I'm the odd sort that is fascinated by these, so I've been looking forward to this.

Fittingly, this final map of Unholy Realms is very clearly done in what I've come to think of as Snakes' characteristic style--it's a freewheeling sandbox (bigger than any before it in the WAD, in fact) that garners most of its intensity from the sheer amount of crap that eventually starts flying at you....or that's the way it feels, anyway. In actuality, I reckon there's not really that much pressure, simply because the spacious sandboxy nature of the play area makes avoiding damage quite doable in most circumstances, and there really is are quite a lot of munitions and artifacts (I think it's something like 7 megaspheres and 2 soulspheres) to live off of for a while. Of course, the constant monster-spawning is bound to be on the player's mind at all times, but the rate of birth is really quite low relative to the size of the map, with most of the biggest chunks of monsters coming unglued as the player makes progress.

Aesthetically it's about what one would expect, a conglomeration of chunky buildings of wood and black stone set in a charred valley surrounded by glowering redstone/crackle hellscape. Perhaps not as thematically unusual as I might've liked, but the greater sense of scale (far larger than any other map in the set) certainly sets it apart, and there are some interesting touches, such as the western side of the valley being dappled with nothing but bloodfalls, while the eastern is scorched solely by lavafalls, or the way the Icon's pit is shrouded in deep shadow despite the open-sky setting. Also dig those random floating marble-cube-sky-gibbet-things. The one thing that sticks out to me as being a bit wonky-looking is that the pentacle textures on the red structures at the four points of the central lava square are simply too large for the surfaces they're applied to, and thus get cut off on both sides.

Actually making level progress is the main challenge. There's little in the way of direction given to the player at the outset; one just has to strike out in a random direction until finally hitting on a juicy lead. I figured out how to get the yellow skull and how to gain access to the tower one eventually has to leap from to reach the firing point for damaging the Icon early on (acquiring the BFG in the process); the biggest stumbling block for me was figuring out how to raise the bridge from the first eastern building to the elevated shrine. I can't help but carp a little bit here, but the reason it took me as long as it did is that for some reason the switch one needs to use is behind a slab of marble that slowly lowers when one approaches what normally appears to be a completely anonymous spot of wall. I can stomach many kinds of non-intuitive progression, but this a little needlessly obscurantist, even for my taste. After finding this, though, it was all clear from then on out. Once all 3 keys have been collected, damaging the Icon is very simple; it's simply a question of whether or not you figured out how to reach this point with enough stuff left to use to see you through the few trips to the firing point it takes to destroy the great beast.

A few small bugs, visual and otherwise: One of the eastern teleporters out of the large lava lake that separates the start area from the rest of the map simply doesn't work. The switch puzzle behind the yellow door can be easily cheesed because the player can use the marine's noggin to block the upper shield from resetting into place. There's some kind of texture artifact in the sky high over the start area, visible without mouselook if you back up from the player start position. In the eastern building with the switch I complained about, the northwest corner (grey brick texture) has a weird inexplicable angle in it that none of the other corners do. There are some alignment issues in the building with the switch that raises the stairs to the BFG, visible along the bank of platforms to the left where the chaingunners stand.

Despite that one hiccup with the switch, this was certainly a satisfactory map 30 (and remember, I take map 30s quite seriously), largely by dint of entertaining gameplay that feels like a summation of what we'd seen a lot of earlier in the WAD.

I quite enjoyed Unholy Realms overall, it was certainly worth the effort of seeing it through completion, Snakes (& co.). Will say a little more about it (and Z300) later.

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UR MAP30: Dis

Hnnrh... I wanted to like this map. I really do. The aesthetic is top-notch - as DotW pointed out, the blood flow/lava flow split, or the sense of scale/place (especially in the back by the start), or the use of shadow - all very cool. (I do agree that the bright red things with the pentagrams on them look kinda dumb though). But the progression was just far too puzzling. It's annoying enough on a normal map, but when an Icon is constantly spitting out enemies, it's beyond frustrating.

After running around the level multiple times, finally find the door in the back of the building to the yellow key... and ugh, a pretty hard jumping puzzle. Okay, grab the key... there's a tiny sliver of a yellow door on the minimap of the southern eastern building for some reason. Nothing to hit. Finally I find the switch in the back that opens the switch that raises the bridge... okay, fine. Figure out the blue key/red key puzzle, hit a switch... now what? Why aren't the keys lowering? Time to go hunt again... okay, run around the level some more, finally figure out the bridge by the mastermind raised, oh hey there's a red key up here (that I couldn't see before), guess the blue key's over in the other corner... ok, time to find out how to teleport to the red/blue bars... I bet it's on that teleport column, no idea how to lower it... check DB2... oh it's the same switch that lowers all the ammo/health... ok, finally done.

I dunno, I'm usually pretty good with switch hunts (usually other people complain more about having trouble with them than I do in these threads). Maybe it's just my brain doesn't line up with Snakes' style, but I had trouble figuring this out in a bad way. If you know how to do it, it's pretty fun map... but getting there was ugh.

Or you could just use mouselook and kill the Icon right away like I did the first time. Heh. But I do like having a wide-open sandbox style map with an IoS in it, better than most IoS maps. 3/5

Zone300 MAP30: Eternal Core

Yeah, the Romero head on this one is high up, because if you use mouselook and shoot from the starting position, you can kill it in 2-3 hits, whereas hitting the switches and shooting it "normally" takes about 15 rockets.

Not bad for an IoS map I suppose, proved more challenging than I expected, though that's only because 1) every goddamn time, a spectre would spawn on the right switch, and for some reason I bounced off it into the lava every time, and 2) every time, an arachnatron would spawn on the right side later on and kill me while I was trying to shoot the million rockets needed. I think if I worked off a different save and gotten a better position in the RNG table it'd be a lot easier. Of course, the invuln secret is there for a reason. 3/5

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Crap I forgot all about Unholy Realms final thoughts, and I could've just put my thoughts then and there after quitting MAP18. But no, I decided to skim-play through the rest of the wad, see what I was missing; gonna keep most of 'em short. No reality runs here folks, just some Halloween candy for all.

MAP19 Borough of Blood

For once, a start that doesn't give you slaughter right away, but it becomes that way once I take the elevator down at the start. It took me FOREVER to figure out how to get fucking red key. Really terrifying how this plays.

MAP20 Rite Of Passage

Big arena, and probably the only other E2 level I like in UR other than MAP17, but that's because I can run around like an idiot while enemies kill each other. Kept killing the archviles, when I realized the secret requires a jump upwards to there. Also the spiderdemon appeared RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FUCKING FACE when I was running around.

Death exit? Well fuck you too then.

MAP21 Ashen Layer (Purgatory)

Fuck you playing at? Berserk action and big monsters don't mix in my book. Oh look, there's more monsters when I open up the exit, fuck this, I'm outta this map.

MAP22 Halls of Fallen Undesired (Lust)

NO WAY this is a breather map, I barely have an arsenal at hand dammit! I get some weapons back, but not after biting dust multiple times. This theme is actually pretty ugly too. Oh look I teleport back to the beginning only to be welcomed by a cyber, but I can still escape.

MAP23 Cliffs of the Consumed (Gluttony)

Ironically enough, everything BUT the archviles gave me nightmares on this map. There's the rough start, the shotgun guys who apparently have lavaproof feet, and the fucking horrible crusher sequence (past that, you can jump a gap and skip three hellknights).

MAP24 The Keeper's Castle (Greed)

Another map which handed my ass to me, so I did the speedrun trick with an archvile jump to the exit.

MAP25 The Bitter Fortress (Anger)

THE break map, but only because I used an invuln properly when monster hordes started appearing. Couldn't be bothered shooting faraway revenants though.

MAP26 Village Of The Unblessed (Heresy)

I wanted to keep a safe foothold somewhere in the southwest part of the map, but things got too sporadic, so I sped through and got three keys and exited trying not to lose too much health.

MAP27 Serpentine (Violence)

Skillsaw dun stole the show for the best map. There's barely a foothold, but then again, things are very open spaced and not having random-hitscanner placement everywhere. Infighting makes things more fun. Big, but not frustrating at all, other than the chaingunners at the BFG trap.

MAP28 The False Man's Keep

Teleport traps = the map. When weapon switching becomes a problem and monsters are too fucking varied and surrounding for me to use the right weapon on.

MAP29 Snakeskin Treachery (Wrath)

Very manageable without being ridiculously offensive, I guess. It has some moments, like the "ohshit" cybers around the corner near the start. The blue key attack wave was pretty decent and that whole southern part with the classic barons vs cybie setup was great. And for once there aren't any fucking zombiemen on an endgame map. (on HMP anyways)

MAP30 Dis

Long MAP30? Pass.

Final Thoughts (hurr..)

I'm kinda in the same boat as scifista here, the first episode was really good and manageable, but then the difficulty goes apeshit in the next two episodes where things start attacking you on more than three different flanks and running to some presumed safe haven just opens up to more monsters. I need a GOOD comfort zone when playing, and the Snakes maps don't offer much of that. No wonder I stopped halfway through the wad. I even found Stardate 20X6 easier than this!

At least PRIMEVAL gave this wad a soundtrack that truly rocked, gonna be listening to it a lot. Thanks.

The best map has to be MAP27, the best Snakes map is MAP17.

And as I said before, I'm taking next month off to do some multi-level maps of my own creation.

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Unholy Realms Map27: Serpentine (Violence)

Ugh, spoke too soon last night. Got tired and sloppy and got killed in the final areas couple of times without an exit. Got this in my first go today and it's good enough for public showing.

Anyway, this is pretty different kind of beast compared to Snakes' maps in this episode. It's pretty awesome though, in an epic journey -like way. The combat is interesting for the most part, although there are a few quiet moments namely when advancing from one set piece battle to another. Good excuse to admire the amazing views though. The two major set pieces, BK and BFG, are easily the most memorable fights here. The BK one is not very hard at all since there's two soulspheres ready for taking and plenty of room to run around. But it's an enjoyable bout for sure and the highlight of the map combat-wise. The AV at the end of that fight is a bit dumb though and poses no real threat even if he appears right away. I'd have probably put him in one of the side areas in the cavern and let the rest of the bunch teleport in front but I'm a dick like that so I might be in the minority. The BFG fight is a bit harder since it's easy to get surrounded and/or blasted. I had an opening and went for it in the demo but the gaps closed quickly and I thought I was done for but somehow got out. I was a bit disappointed that Cyber didn't make an appearance though and that the very last room was completely empty. Seemed like a good spot for some lightweight fighting.

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UR Overall: While slow to start, Unholy Realms really hits a groove when it starts going. Some of the later maps tend to be quite long in length, and the challenge is ultimately unyielding but there’s a ton of fun to be had. It looked to emulate Scythe's style but surpassed it in my book due to how refined each outing feels (and, I'd argue, has a gentler difficulty curve). Great visuals, sweet music, exquisite traps, flexible encounters, clutch moments… a great series of maps. One of my favorite megawads; Bravo Knox.

E1: Favorite was MAP10 while least favorite was MAP03
E2: Favorite was MAP14 while least favorite was MAP15
E3: Favorite was MAP28 while least favorite was MAP24

Z300 Overall: Zone 300 is a mixed bag. Corfiatis is pretty skilled to pump out a full mapset relatively quickly but it was clear that the goal was to make a megawad, not necessarily maximize the usage of linedefs. This allowed him to put some flavor and detail into the maps but kept them feeling quite samey, understandably coming from a single author. It’s a fun romp that’s not too difficult but is no slouch either, and people should play it if they’re looking for mini-maps to kill time, (yet not for a technically proficient use of layout). Favorite levels were MAP06, MAP19, MAP24 and MAP29, with MAP05, MAP11, MAP25 and MAP32 sitting at the bottom.

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On the whole, Unholy Realms is a consistently enjoyable mapset, which wears a lot of its influences on its sleeve, the most notable of course being the original Scythe, also known for its small-but-formidable runaround-based gameplay. Now, vis-a-vis some of my forthcoming comments, it may be worth mentioning that it's really Scythe II and not the original (or Scythe X) that is "The" Scythe in my eyes, but I do appreciate a lot of things about the original, and many of those same things can be readily found in UR.

Perhaps chief among them, this mapset demonstrates that neither monster spam nor lack of elbow room nor scarcity of health/ammo supplies are necessary to create legitimately challenging gameplay. Now, for my part, I have no problem with periodic stints of slaughter-style play, occasional claustrophobia, or the survivalist/supply-miser styles, and UR does dip its toes into each of these pools at brief moments throughout its expanse, but for the most part it creates danger through pure and simple monster deployment; I think the fact that the WAD plays smoothly both when it's operating on a trap-centric basis (much of E1) and when it takes a more incidental multi-directional projectile-hell approach (much of E2) indicates that Snakes, like Alm before him, knows how to use the different monsters' attributes to give the player a workout, no clearer than in E3, which switches from trap-heavy to runaround play on the fly.

It's not simply a Scythe clone, though; it has attributes that set it apart from its influences and indeed, from a lot of other contemporary WADs. The best of these, I think, is the way it marries playstyle with thematics. Of course, most full megaWADs feature three (or more) general paradigm shifts in aesthetic style over their expanses, and UR does as well, indeed in a highly traditionalist way--it starts out in tech/earthbases, moves on to earthly settings in the middle of being subverted by Hell's influence, and then on to full Hell itself. And of course, most megaWADs naturally tend to be most difficult in their later stages, and least in the early stages, and again this is true of UR. But UR also quietly associates particular playstyles with particular aesthetics--techbases with traps, clash-of-realities with fast-paced sandboxery, and Hell a sinister marriage of the former two with a dash of resource austerity--which is not at all common in most megaWADs, past or present. These gameplay/setting associations greatly enhance the normally anemic 'episodic' feel of the 32-sequential-maps format, and help keep the WAD feeling fresh throughout, important considering that the author does have a pretty set-in-stone architectural/visual style.

On that point, I would say that aesthetics are probably UR's low point, though of course that's a relative term. It is by no means characteristically tacky or unpolished in appearance, with only a relatively small number of really ugly spots (mostly the rainbow-nightmare symptoms that show up in some of the earlier maps), but it is perhaps a mite too persistently understated and internally consistent for my taste. Again, it's kind of like the original Scythe in that the compact/efficient nature of the layouts tends to sacrifice very little function to form, and so there's not much room for grand spectacle, and a lot of the same types of shapes tend to appear over and over (in this case it's smaller boxes inside of larger boxes). One of the side-effects of this is that there's not as much thematic distinction as one might expect between E2 and most of E3 (though this is an area where the work of the guest mappers certainly helps out); the most visually distinctive part of the mapset is probably the odd Plutonic-Deimos bit that appears after the first text intermission and before the second. I was also a bit disappointed that E3 generally didn't do a lot visually with the Inferno/Sins theme; I'm fine with using my imagination to fill in the gaps here (in fact that's something I like about Doom in general), but there is some part of me that wishes I'd been given a little more to work with in this regard, as most of E3 consists of quite standard (though competently wrought) Hell themes. I found the music to be a very mixed bag; some of it I quite liked (particularly the calmer, more atmospheric stuff that characterized a lot of the second half of E1, and the first track in E3), and some of it I found overbearing by dint of being both very loud/insistent and very repetitive.

But all of that's a pretty passing concern, because as I said, in this case the efficient/simple construction style does suit the gameplay it hosts just fine in most cases. Overall UR is quite a consistent mapset; there were no maps in it that really bugged or bored me, just a small handful that seemed just a little below the set average in one way or another (03, 05, 15, 20, 32), and a good time to be had in the rest. Favorite maps, in no particular order:

1. Map 11 -- Death
2. Map 17 -- Missing Gamma Sector
3. Map 22 -- Halls of Fallen Undesired (Lust)
4. Map 14 -- Drifting Complex
5. Map 29 -- Snakeskin Treachery (Wrath)

Lots of honorable mentions here--09, 10, 26, 27, 28, etc.--which bespeaks the aforementioned consistency of the mapset. Once again, good work Snakes & co., thanks for making Unholy Realms.


As for Zone 300, I reckon I've already said most of what I have to say about it as a whole. But, to reiterate, I'll say that it's essentially 'Diet PCorf'--not only in terms of portion size, but in terms of its depth and richness, as well. While I stand by my earlier assessment that the 300 line restriction here doesn't seem to have been very relevant in influencing anything but overall mapsize (it hardly seems a legitimate 'restriction' at all in PCorf's case), the biggest issue is simply that the WAD has a very pronounced case of 'quantity over quality.' Some might find it impressive that Paul created this whole thing in about a month's time; for my part, I say that taking more time and releasing a more balanced/consistent product would've been a much more impressive achievement. So much of this is disjointed or phoned-in....and what's frustrating about it is that I know PCorf can do better--much better, even--when he chooses to. He's a veteran mapper that's been doing this for years and years, and has some memorable maps under his belt, and so it's difficult for me to see most of this as anything but the product of a passing fancy to tag along with a community mini-trend. About the best I can say for it is that I did genuinely like several of the music tracks, and it does seem to get a little more consistent in its last third, with maps 23, 27, and 29 probably being the three maps I complimented most, but on the whole I found it entertaining/interesting only very sporadically. Can't say I can really relate to most of the high praise it has received, sadly.

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Unholy Realms Map28: The False Man's Keep (Fraud)

Still doing this and it's map28-time. I thought this was a pretty tough map, although I can't really pinpoint any overly difficult spots with perhaps the exception of the exit area when you first enter. I got my ass handed to me several times there although even that doesn't seem very complicated looking back. Just an overall punishing map I guess. The YK fight could be pretty brutal if not for the laughable "secret" invuln. Skipped the bridge fight completely with a wallrun 'cause I'm a cheating bastard like that. The final battle is pretty damn fun and I imagine one could increase the fun-factor tenfold if you left everything there alive until the finale. Nice as usual visually, metal and lava mix very well together. Here's a rather crappy playthrough-max. Only 274 kills since once again a handful of enemies refuse to come out and play... Great thumbnail tho :P

Speedrun? Well, I don't have one but there are possibly a few shortcuts. One of them is especially puzzling and I honestly don't know if it's intended or not. It's a clever trick if it is indeed intentional and the way it's set up, I've got a feeling it might just be. I'm talking about a way to get the BK very early without AV-jumping, in case the author & speedrunning specialist are wondering.

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Final Thoughts:

Unholy Realms

There's definitely a lot to like here. After skimming a couple levels, I had high hopes, and while there maybe aren't many "wow, this is a 10/10" moments, it's very consistently enjoyable throughout, with no real weak points. And when you're doing an (almost) one-man WAD, there's something to be said for that. There's a definite progression, as well - the first few maps feel like earlier designs, before MAP04/MAP05 starts to open up and ramp up the design. I found the underground designs of MAP06 and MAP07 to be a high point, before moving into the dimly-lit dilapidated bases in MAP08-10. The middle episode feels very Plutonia-ish, and we start to see what seems like Snakes' calling card with the "sandbox" maps with lots of little structures contained inside one large square. The last episode goes back towards more hellish bases, but also feels cohesive and similar. It's not just about looks, either, though those are usually good... but there's also a lot of good gameplay moments as well, especially the use of devious traps.

There are a few negatives - some of the maps seem a bit bugged (usually teleporter lines) and some maps, especially the sandbox ones, have non-intuitive progression and can sometimes be difficult to figure out. Also, the aesthetic of the non-hellish maps can be a bit all over the place, with many levels suffering from "rainbow overload", since Snakes tends to use as many different colored lights as he can fit into a room as possible. But these are mostly minor complaints.

My favorite maps: 06, 07, 31, 17, 19, 27, 29
Least favorite maps: 10, 32

Even though I gave the vast majority of maps a simple "3/5", those ratings are always somewhat on a curve for my expectations, and I was expecting a well-polished, 2013-quality WAD. It met those expectations, and consistency is something to be proud of - the sum is great than the parts, so overall, I'd give it a 4/5.


Zone 300

On the other hand, we have Zone 300. I was really excited after playing MAP01, since the map played great. I felt that the 100 lines concept was interesting but a bit too lean; that a limit around 200 or 300 could create some really interesting levels and designs.

And while knocking out a full megawad in such a short time is impressive, at the end of the day, I was disappointed. I got the feeling at points that PCorf was simply going through the motions, slapping down some lindefs without really having 30 solid ideas. Instead of each map feeling like a full level, they just felt like chunks of larger levels. The best 100 linedef maps still felt like full levels (albeit ugly or with lots of design decisions, such as use of crossing hallways, double-sided walls, height differences, etc.) Most of the Zone 300 levels have none of those decisions, instead serving up fairly banal levels and not trying to maximize the 300 linedefs to their fullest. There are plenty of examples of "wasted" linedefs to make the levels look pretty... quite a few could probably be 100 linedef maps with largely the same gameplay. And of course, the Meat Corridors at the end proved to a be horrendously bad design decision. I can understand PCorf's reasoning... but they still really blunt the ending of each level.

My top maps were: 06, 10, 15, 19, 23. I don't really have only a few "least favorites", but the ones I marked as below average were: 02, 03, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, and 25.

Overall, I couldn't really find myself recommending this WAD to anyone. There's a few good levels (my fav was definitely 15), but most of it is small chunks of normal boring levels... so why bother?

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I know Zone 300 was an awful wad like most of my wads because they are too easy and have bad layouts. But thanks for all your feedback anyways, much appreciated. When designing Zone 300 my personal favorite was MAP23 for sure, even the MAP23 music was my favorite song.

You could always ramp up the difficulty by playing each map from a pistol start on Nightmare.

Remember I am a terribly skilled player. You guys are experts when it comes to skill.

I thought to myself UR was fantastic in many ways. Very, very hard maps for sure and some fantastic new music too.

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pcorf said:

I know Zone 300 was an awful wad like most of my wads because they are too easy and have bad layouts. But thanks for all your feedback anyways, much appreciated. When designing Zone 300 my personal favorite was MAP23 for sure, even the MAP23 music was my favorite song.

You could always ramp up the difficulty by playing each map from a pistol start on Nightmare.

Remember I am a terribly skilled player. You guys are experts when it comes to skill.

I thought to myself UR was fantastic in many ways. Very, very hard maps for sure and some fantastic new music too.

Don't worry, you're not the only poorly skilled Doomer. I share your pain. I enjoy your maps a lot.

Also, thank you for the kind words on my music for UR, that means a lot.

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The difficulty wasn't an issue for me; as I noted around MAP08 I found that doing pistol starts made the challenge perfect for me. Lots of the last episode of maps had some decent fights, too.

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Should probably finish the last 2 songs here...

Map29 "Guardians of Acheron"

Inspired a bit my Savatage, this song being another rock tune. Slow, dark, and foreboding. For a little throwback for myself (or any non-existent die hard fan of my music :P ) I put in a string segment for one of my first Doom related songs I ever made (for the Battle For Mars RTS game that never saw the light of day).

Map30 "Lucifer's Throne"

An intense final battle calls for something equally as tense with a touch of epic. I hope this meets some expectations. Pipe organ, string, choir, guitar, the whole kit and caboodle. Inspired by Yngwie Malmsteen (even the chorus is sorta borrowed from "Disciples of Hell") this is probably my favorite track of the whole.

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Unholy Realms Map29: Snakeskin Treachery (Wrath) by Joshy

I definitely liked this one. It's tough but very manageable like Hurricyclone said and there always seemed to be a safe way to deal with the encounters. Still, there are a lot of heavyweights stuffed into this smallish complex so you better watch your steps if you don't wish to turn into a cloud of red mist. The big battle in the bowels and the lone towered Cyber caused me to most grief since there's no cover and only little room to dodge. An overall very impressive penultimate map by Joshy, good work.

The demo then, well seeing as Ribbiks posted his nonchalant max, I didn't just want to mimic his route and tried to do something different. So this is what I came up with, slightly less conventional but I think it could be pretty effective with some practice. This is my first exit with this strategy and I had no idea what I was going to do after the BFG grab so it doesn't look very convincing now haha. I even had a bit faster time with the "logical" route but I think this is more interesting.

A short UV-Pacifist run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JczG-o_SjX8. Pretty simple and easy.

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Unholy Realms Map30: Dis

Well I'll be damned, this is actually a pretty great IoS map. It's a large sandbox with shit flying at you constantly from every direction so what's not to like. The ever-spawning monsters are actually threatening since the map is fairly long and shooting everything in sight would just lead to some serious ammo problems later on. Archies are the only spawned must kills since they can blast you halfway across the world and it's pretty hard to take cover if you don't even know which way he is at.

Maxing this map was really difficult, probably the hardest map in the wad in that regard. All those Cybers and Archies caused all sorts of trouble and what seemed to be a shitload of health at the start, is pretty much all used up when all is said and done. Also I don't get the point of the Baron and Manc that are stationed on top of those rocks in the middle of the lava lake. They provide nothing and are just annoying to kill. Killing the Cyber there can be even bigger of a chore but at least he can do some damage if you stop moving near the BFG pedestal so his presence is justified.

So with that we are done with Unholy Realms. I thought this wad was pretty damn good as a whole and recording these vids was really fun for the most part. The speedrunning tricks were much appreciated as well and I really enjoyed finding these tricks and putting them to use. Levels ranged from good to great and there's no map that I really disliked personally. I agree that there wasn't really a highlight 10/10 map though but the consistent goodness more than enough makes up for it. The broken teleporter closets were a bit disappointing, most notably in Docksde, but I'm sure they will be fixed for the final version. Favorite maps? Uhh, there's so many of them... 06, 08, 13, 17, 19, 25, 26, 27, 31 and honorable mentions to pretty much to the entire other half of the wad. So great work Snakes & co. and thanks for the fun ride!

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Right, a final round-up of Unholy Realms, delayed while my internet was broken..

Map 27

This was great fun, I didn’t even mind the damaging floors (always plenty of rad suits around). Very open plan, on my first go I ended up in the plasma rifle room somehow, I never got around to figuring out how, so after dying and restarting I then ended up in the blue key room with only shotgun/chaingun. I like a map that lets you go where you want but makes you hunt for the weapons. This seemed to be a lot more forgiving than some of the previous maps, with lots of health and ammo everywhere, and I found it more fun. That’s not to say it was easy, but the tough bits never felt too unfair (the bfg bit was pretty harsh though, I don’t imagine many people surviving that on their first go). My only complaint would be that the ending with the revs and raising platforms seemed a bit anticlimactic. I did find it one of the hardest parts of the map, but it felt a bit repetitive and grindy after the chaos of the rest of the map, revs switch platforms revs switch platforms revs switch platforms exit.

Map 28

Very cool looking map, love the dark and red colour scheme. Fighting was nice and brutal, I like the multi-tiered barrage with random enemies spawning in at the outside area. The final battle I had to leave behind, there was no way I had enough ammo to deal with all lost souls and vile resurrections which was a shame as it looked like an interesting layout to fight in (I do tend to waste ammo so that is probably my own fault). My only gripe with this map is the leaking rad-suits on the damaging floors. There is plenty of health around to make up for it but it is annoying to be forced to take damage no matter how you play, and there is nothing worse than surviving a hard fight on low health and then dying from random floor damage.

Map 29

Lovely and foreboding map, hell with all the blood and entrails that go with it. I’m guessing the treachery in the title refers to the infighting going on in many of the battles. The interconnectedness of the layout gives you a lot of options for dealing with the skirmishes, which is cool. There are some blue-stuff-in-front-of-switches scenarios which might annoy some people but I found the amount of health lying around never made being conservative an issue. Great stuff.

Map 30

Right, this gets plenty of plus points for the general epicness of the setting and relentless battleground – the endlessly spawning monsters could have been overwhelming but there seems to be enough health and ammo to keep them in check, and I like the way you have to figure out what to do while all kinds of shit is flying at you. There are a few minus points as well, firstly the yellow key platform hopping – well that’s just me hating that kind of thing and I did it eventually so its not too bad. At some point there was a switch that seemed to be hidden behind a wall that I totally pressed by accident but turned out to be necessary. Well I think it was.. I can’t be so sure because of the way the switch hunt in this map is so massively obscure, there is very little clue to what switches are doing and where you are meant to be going, which is bloody painful with infinite monsters spawning in. You end up running around looking everywhere while ammo and health are wasting away. Luckily health and ammo are pretty abundant but when you have constant threat and have to keep moving to survive it makes switch hunting so much harder. The final minus point is the usual descending lift shooting through hole business which is always tedious, but in this case the hassle of getting to the lift each time made it such a pain in the arse that I just gave up. At that point there is so little left of the game that its just not worth enduring something that isn’t fun just to complete it. Well, map 30 is meant to be tough, and this definitely is. And there are plenty of other wads that I never finished for the same reason, so yours is in good company.

Final thoughts: this is a great collection of maps, plenty of variety and good looking design. The fights are pretty damn tough in places, I'll definitely play this continuously next time. The only citicism i would make is about obscure switch puzzles - like I mentioned above, there are a few cases with switches that you have no clue what they did after pressing them. It never completely halted my progress, but its just a game design niggle I have. Apart from that its pretty damn good. I should also mention the music is great as well, really fits the style of the maps and has an old-school 'doomy' feel to it.

Sorry I couldn't keep up with zone 300, I will play that at some point I'm sure.

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I took a brief hiatus from Doom on account of this wad's release. I felt like I stared at the computer for a month straight in October and did fairly little socializing. Thankfully, that trend has reversed and now I'm comfortable enough to come back and provide further thoughts on these maps as a whole. Before I do, let me say - I'm very happy with the overall reception of this wad. Consistency is a strenght and a weakness from what I've read. This is, coincidentally, with how I started to view the wad after about 18 maps in to the project. That being said, I'm ecstatic that I managed to finangle enough freshness into the maps that people didn't just up and stop 13 maps in (for the most part, anyways):

Map10: Premortem

As I said, Map09 made it apparent that I was making super-linear map. I was very conscious of this as I made this one. It's very obvious that I wanted to avoid that concept. The reaction has been surprisingly mixed - I love this map, personally. From an aesthetic standpoint, it's quite uneven: the main room's not great, the courtyard's completely out of theme, but the YK area is maybe [i]the[i/] area I'm most proud of in this project. I love the transformation it undergoes. It's completely unlike anything I've mapped before or sense and it stands out in my memory as a particularly inspired idea.

All in all, this is probably my favorite E1 map (Map08-Map11 all clocking in near the top). The "reverse" teleporter trap creates a firm sense of paranoia and the last trap, while completely unavoidable, is still solid enough to stand on its own two legs. Yay me, I guess.

Map11: Death

This is one of two maps that I hated originally only to have it grow on me later on. You see, I at first pegged this for what it was - another linear E1 crap map. As a matter of fact, I also pegged this as a modern, spiritual successor to Into Hell (an old, unfinished project of mine) what with the underground setting. That being said, its visually appealing and I feel like I balanced the gameplay as properly as possible: both weapons have a strength and a weakness. I used the idea of comfort vs. quantity here as everyone loves the SSG but the PR gives far better options to the player from an ammo standpoint.

That being said, this is definitely one of the more obvious "demo crowd" maps as there are both major shortcuts for the speed crowd and options for the max crowds. The end result grew on me the more I played it - the depth of it isn't obvious at first. The Worch influence also feels a bit more satisfactory now as it isn't a copy but is definitely a derivation from the original MM2 Map03.

Map12: The Other Side
Fuck. Yes. I love this map. It accomplished everything I wanted - it's open, nonlinear, and it's a carved outdoor excursion. This is something I absolutely felt hopeless on for the longest time before nailing it here. The shortcut's my first real obvious effort at a trick (all prior ones were integrated later on), and while it's rather plain to look at, the abstract ideas are there.

All of that being said - the gameplay is just spot-on with my ideals. It encourages the player to hit all possibilities early on and gives options as to how to approach each fight. The secret, while on a quick-glance is a big POS, is another obvious speedrunner adjustment. I've considered using a partial invisibility or something of the sort as an alternate and will probably adjust it on the final release but it's till effective in a non-obvious way. This was actually taken from MM2 Map22 where you can kill the cyberdemon off via a surprise teleporter and I like the concept still. I also like the rev's appearing in the star at the starting area with the MIDTEX beam border. Simple, yet effective.

Map13: Temple of Leviathan

This might be the only map I've made that I drew the layout ahead of time this side of 4maps.wad (my first project). I actually really enjoyed the result of it all. It's straightforwad but effective. The shadowing effect is unique to me as I don't usually consider lighting details like that, the crusher trap is a standout because it's so bizarre compared to the run-n-gun nature of UR, and the soulsphere placement is clever enough to make a more skilled player reconsider grabbing it right off the bat.

THis is one of my favorites in the second episode because it all clicks just right here - good secrets, unique gameplay at the right difficulty, and a visual appeal that while note perfect, stands out amongst the crowd. I consider this one of my stronger efforts.

Hope to continue this if the thread doesn't get locked out :P


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