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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: MAYhem2048

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SteveD said:

So what was it that happened? Well, I fought The Blue Key Crossfire Kill Zone of Death, losing many pelts in the process. I then killed the Archie that teleported in on the opposite side when I grabbed said blue key, and the 3 Mancs that came to say “Hello, jagoff, we're here to kill yer ass,” as well. Imagine my surprise when I leaped down to a previous area only to find a couple Manc snipers and 2 sniping Chaingunners waiting for me, which put me in a foul mood because I knew I had to go up the lift, and up there waiting for me was an Archie and everything I had killed on my way to the BKCKZOD. I didn't have enough ammo to kill everything. I mean, I simply didn't have it. Maybe 5 rockets max, about 10 shells and 13 bullets. I couldn't kill all the snipers plus everything waiting for me at the top of the lift. I also could not replay the last fight in the BKCKZOD because I had saved my game after emerging triumphant. So now, at best, I could take out all the snipers and pray for some infighting up above. Or I could try to ignore the snipers and ride up the lift to see what would happen.

It seems that the map malfunctions in Risen3D; the arch-vile that you describe waiting for you at the top of the lift when you go back to the first part of the map after getting the blue key in the second part is not supposed to have appeared at that point--he's supposed to appear after you use the key to get past the blue bars and approach the big skull switch that's in there. The trigger that appears to release him is quite far into the room, doesn't seem like something you could somehow manage to trip before actually opening the blue bars--I certainly haven't been able to get it to happen, anyway.

Map 19 -- Axe Murderer's Domain - 101% Kills / 100% Secrets
A Chris Hansen map! If I'd have known he had a map in this set I'd probably have already played it before now, like I did with some of the others. As it is, it's a pleasant surprise. I'm going to assume that Steve had a hand in naming this one, either directly or indirectly, incidentally.

Anyway, I'll concur with the observations that this seems to be in a similar vein to what Memfis' map 06 offered; it's a fast-paced map that attacks the player from many different angles, whose main challenge elides not so much from the monsters themselves as from a relative scarcity of the commodities needed to combat them, in this case mainly healing items. The dearth of healing items is actually a pretty standard aspect of Chris's style, and a prime contributor to player mortality in the majority of his work, particularly his older maps, as several of us should remember from 2002:ADO (ironically, Marcaek's bitterly unforgiving map 18 is somewhat reminiscent of these). Unlike those maps, though, which tended to combine both attrition-based and ammo-miser play aspects, 'Axe Murderer's Domain' is really only light on health; there are piles of bullets and bombs sitting around that you can use to dispatch your foes with extreme prejudice without much of a second thought. This somewhat skewed item balance combines with the map's efficient use of both horizontal and vertical space and the relative openness of most of its main areas in combination with a lot of the Doom II bestiary to engender a gameplay style that encourages the player to move quickly and act aggressively/dangerously while at the same time providing relatively little safety net--very arcade-like, if you will. It's been quite a while since I've played a map by Chris in this particular style (partially a function of his fondness for Doom/Ultimate Doom, no doubt), good to see him return to it again.

As expected, the map is visually solid--the texture combinations are very natural/tasteful (including some effective use of the somewhat difficult-to-employ Eternal 'Zimmer' substitute), and there's a recurring motif of objects precariously placed on pillars to add a sense of particular character, ranging from torches and other props to a few important/crucial items (my favorite is probably the full suit of armor over near the soulsphere). This one doesn't go nearly as far as map 06 in fleshing out the sense of place with scenery beyond the bounds of the playable area, but what's there works well enough--rocky/hilly terrain simulated effectively by Doom's standards, and I like the way the many trees silhouette against the sky, particularly in the more northerly parts of the map. My main complaint on an aesthetic level is one that I have about many of the MAYhem2048 maps with an outdoor setting--I feel that most of the map is far too bright and flatly-lit, and would look much sharper and more believable with more shadows or at least a general softening of the overall light level. I seem to make this complaint an awful lot about maps that use this particular sky, so maybe it's just me.....but when I see that blazing, dusky orange I immediately think of sunsets, which to me naturally betokens moodier lighting.

On a vague technical note, I noticed that I tended to fall through the first 3D bridge disproportionately often (in prB+ -cl 9), suggesting a looseness in its construction, although in hindsight that looseness is probably worth it since it's what enables the monsters to pass under it to the extent that they're able (contrast with the trapped hell knights from map 13). Less easy to overlook are the sacrifices made for the 3D bridge before the exit--it's one of those cases where rockets and other projectiles tend to be swallowed up/disappear by invisible planes when fired from certain angles.

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Demon of the Well said:

I'm going to assume that Steve had a hand in naming this one, either directly or indirectly, incidentally.

It does reek of Steve D's cheeky MO.

MAP20: A nonlinear map that really overuses the teleport trap, especially when it comes to chaingunners (I found myself autosaving frequently because of it). The ending fight is pretty clever but it was pretty much the only one I enjoyed, since the others just felt like rolling the die in an attempt to get a good run (though I’m guilty of this in my map as well :/). Thought it was okay, nothing special.

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Map18 – Black And Blue by Marcaek (continuous) - Kills - 100, Items - 100, Secret - 50. Death Count - 21

UV, Risen3D

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment we've all been waiting for – Dick-Move, The Map!

I playtested this, DNFing on both UV and HMP, and lodged my complaints, which basically echo everyone else's. Marcaek was not moved to make changes, I guess because Marcaek is one mean dude. ;)

This map reminds me of my days in Uncle Sam's Navy, standing under the shadow of the battleship Wisconsin's 16-inch guns – 40.6cm for you metric types – with a long sea rolling at morning muster, and our Chief Petty Officer reminding us of an old Navy saying – “A bitching sailor is a happy sailor.” Replace “sailor” with “Doomer” and obviously everyone was ecstatic over this map. ;)

Okay, end sarcasm. This map is an example of unsmiling, stone-hearted cruelty. As DotW said, the Megasphere secret “is a GIANT fuck-you to pistol-starters.” Very true, and with continuous players, also to the next mapper, because the Megasphere inevitably trivializes the start of The Axe-Murderer's Domain, but thankfully I've already pistol-started that one twice.

I agree with DotW that the night sky makes the map look much better. The blue checkerboard wall looks really cool, and the overall blue/grey theme works well. I didn't think much of the map's looks before, but I've changed my mind. It's a nice-looking map.

As to the gameplay, I never minded the Imp trap. After all, I start my second Amiga Demo Party Map with a much nastier Imp trap, so this is Wimp City by comparison, though it's possibly the only moment in this map which can be so described. ;)

Going further, we meet Chaingunner snipers on very high platforms, a major challenge for your auto-aim, but not theirs. Memories of Industrial Zone, a map I despise. I occasionally turn on mouselook to deal with these threats.

Having ammo and weapons going into this soul-crushing nightmare of endless dickishness is a big advantage, allowing me to dust-off all the Chaingunners, Revvies, Hell Knights and high Imps that so bedevilled me the first time. And Archie? I rocketed his ass before I left the starting area, because I well remembered that horrifying run through the Imps and getting torched again and again. In spite of all this, my health is way down because of the damaging water and the many bullets and missiles that have hit me, along with the low amount of restorative health. I wait as long as I can before I grab the Zerk and then set off the Plasma Gun trap. I think I get killed once in the mob, but I find a relatively safe area in the southeast part of the map – Sector 37 – that the Pinkies can't get into, and which also sets up a lot of Imp/Pinky infighting. A few Imps manage to work their way in, only to be pummeled by SSG fire, and when they're all dead, I punch-out the Pinkies.

After this, some dread platforming to get the Blue Key, some health, and rockets.

Things are going good so far. I then die at the blue bars Revvie trap. Good one! That was nasty in a way that made me smile. I then open a save, set off the trap and run towards Sector 37 before turning around and feeding the boneheads rockets. Nice to have the ammo for that. ;)

But my Waterloo is fast approaching. I find myself at the switch that reveals the Cyb,

After 1 or 2 deaths, I decide to get clever and drop down to stand behind Herr Cybie as the Caco fireballs close in, and BTW, that was a visually impressive bit of transformation as all the platforms rose and the Cacos teleported in. Anyway, I'm standing behind Cybie, he gets hit by Caco slobber, and what does he do? The fucking jagoff turns around and shoots me! :D :D :D I mean what the flying fuck is that about? Did the Caco saliva that splattered upside Cybie's head contain a secret message that penetrated his hide, then flew along his nervous system to that walnut he calls a brain, and say, “Look behind you. The jagoff who started this mess is waiting to shoot you!” Whatever it was, it's time to open yet another saved game and try it again. Altogether, it seemed that 33% of the time the Cacos hit him, Cybie turned and killed me. Other times I either got cornered and killed by Cacos, or Cyb rockets hit me while I was distracted by the gasbags. Given the results, I changed my strategy, and as the Caco fire closed in, I exited Stage Left.

When it finally happened that Cybie and I teamed up to wipe out the Cacos, and I survived, I had a new problem. I had to go all the way back up and run along the now-elevated platforms – and we all know how much I despise platforming – and somehow make the 90-degree turn while under rocket fire. Given the dismal prospects for success, I sought to kill Cybie first, but with my health at 35% or so, it seemed that if a rocket struck the floor or a column within a quarter-mile of me, I'd die of splash damage. To be honest, I thought I'd take out a weakened Cyb with a blast or 2 of the BFG, but the Cacos had caused him little damage. He was a rompin' stompin' Cyb in a superior position and blasting the shit outta me. Oh, the humanity! ;D

So then I tried to do the platform run – “Damn the rockets, full speed ahead!” After 50 million tries, I finally reached the exit area catwalk, and it was then that what DotW described as “cheeky” for anyone who tried to avoid the Cyb, happened, for lo and behold, to mine horrified eyes the Cyb's massive platform lifted up until he was at the same height as me, in order to keep shooting me without the platforms getting in the way. I experienced severe psychological trauma at this point and shrieked like a frightened seal as rockets rained down on me. Brothers and sisters, Marcaek left no stone unturned. With the unerring evil of Satan himself, he considered every contingency. Wanna run away from Cybie? Marcaek's got something fo' ya! I swear to God, this was sheer fucking genius, a true rhythm of cruelty. I laughed so hard I almost fell outta my chair. Brilliant! Just brilliant.

Thus defeated, I dropped back to the ground, where I ultimately found a reasonably good space between 2 columns where he couldn't kill me as often while I practiced corner-abuse, emptied my BFG on him, and then plinked away with chaingun and SSG until he finally died.

The map is basically over at this point. Marcaek finally takes that cleated boot of his off my bleeding face, and I'm left to dust off some Revvies, a Hell Knight and a Chaingunner, grab the Megasphere, and leave. I guess the biggest surprise is that he didn't have 10 Archies waiting for me at the exit. Maybe he's getting soft in his old age. ;)

I can't say I enjoyed the map, though I did enjoy the grim humor it displays here and there. As mouldy said, this map inspires way too much save-spamming because of the inadequate health, the evil snipers, and the sheer extent of the damaging floors, which results in boredom unless you're the kind of Doom God who can take this map head-on. This is not what you'd call a “balanced” map, it is the mapping equivalent of a baseball bat full of razorblades hitting your face again and again. Players like DotW, who is at least 69 times better at Doom than I am, are among the few who can truly appreciate the challenge here, but while I'm not personally up to the challenge, I tip my hat in respect to the evil genius and the unbending cruelty of it. And I do actually look forward to more Marcaek maps that are perhaps a bit less extreme than this one, and I did enjoy the hell out of his map The Wharf in D2TWiD. Marcaek is a very talented mapper, and I'm a bitching Doomer.

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Demon of the Well said:

It seems that the map malfunctions in Risen3D; the arch-vile that you describe waiting for you at the top of the lift when you go back to the first part of the map after getting the blue key in the second part is not supposed to have appeared at that point--he's supposed to appear after you use the key to get past the blue bars and approach the big skull switch that's in there. The trigger that appears to release him is quite far into the room, doesn't seem like something you could somehow manage to trip before actually opening the blue bars--I certainly haven't been able to get it to happen, anyway.


Yep, I'm guessing the same thing re Risen3D somehow not working right here. When I get a little more time, I'll do some God Mode runs to see if I can induce the errors again. After that, I should also pistol-start the map in GZDoom or even -- shudders! -- GLBoom+ to see if I'll enjoy it.

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MAP20 works for me in ZDoom as well, though it does list a bunch of those errors in the console upon loading the map. So I assume Zandro just automatically quits instead of trying to load the map unlike other source ports.

Demon of the Well said:

On a vague technical note, I noticed that I tended to fall through the first 3D bridge disproportionately often (in prB+ -cl 9), suggesting a looseness in its construction, although in hindsight that looseness is probably worth it since it's what enables the monsters to pass under it to the extent that they're able (contrast with the trapped hell knights from map 13).


That reminds me, I meant to mention the same thing... the trigger for the bridge is set VERY close to the start of the bridge, so walking over it at an angle fails to set it off quite often. (I killed a Caco on the bridge, so it's corpse rising/falling made for a good indicator). I would've probably moved the trigger a bit farther away, but that would allow for the player to abuse the bridge by activating it then jumping off.

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MAP20:
See, this is my definition of "Fuck You: The Map", because every single action is rewarded with sadistically teleported in pain, so you have to learn each battle as it comes if you want to get through without taking too much damage. Even playing continuously won't help much here, because you don't know what you're responding to and your powerful weapons aren't always much good in confined spaces or when you're surrounded. It looks good to me and the key hunt works, but the map seemed just a little too mean for me. I got through it with only a couple of deaths, but I think part of that is because I did playtest it from pistol start a couple of months back.

Note for the intermission text, I imagine it isn't meant to be "superb owl run", but rather "superbowl run" :P


Hmm, I may have a problem for this next map. Shit tons of hardware, but I caught a Cyberdemon rocket or two before a couple of Revenants backed him into a corner and beat him to death, so I'm starting this map with 20 health and 19 armour... And I know it's a tough one.

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MAP20
This is the crampiest son of a bitch I ever played since 1024cla. Not enough health, space and ammo. I couldn't even get into the exit portal blocked by a couple of barons completely because I ran out of ammo and didn't find any secrets. And the detail gets in the way all the time, gah.
0/5 Sorry plut, this really sucked, take my advice and it'll get better.

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MAP20, "Palace of Chaos" by Plut. Played in prBoom+.

Whew, this was a tough map. Small, cramped rooms, enemies teleporting in at every step and a non-linear progression that makes it entirely possible to start with the hardest key to get, which was what I did. I had some ammo issues towards the end, but I'm pretty sure I was just off my game, becaue I missed a lot of shots. Overall, this map wasn't as well-made as some previous ones (MAP32!) and maybe went a bit too overboard with the teleport traps, but it was still a fun experience. One thing though: the final Cyberdemon fight was much easier than Map 32's.

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Map 20 -- Palace of Chaos - 106% Kills / 66% Secrets
Haven't been having too much difficulty with the WAD up to this point, but I died a few times in this one, all of those deaths coming in the first couple of minutes--certainly it's one of the more lethal maps up to this point. Map 18 is probably tougher overall (of course, I enjoyed the benefit of foreknowledge of that one for this playthrough), but on UV this one places you in an extremely bad situation at the start (sort of impressive in that it's accomplished using mostly weak monsters), from which it can be rather difficult to recover given the once-again-scarce supply of healing items; because the imp forces you to move at the start, the combat space is so tiny, and you must kill a sergeant to get a shotgun, it is very difficult not to suffer heavy damage in the first 20 seconds of play (most of it in the few seconds it takes to first get that shotgun) unless you avoid the opening situation and run to the north, which has its own complications and is of course an option that's only going to become solidly apparent with some degree of hindsight. This is essentially the way in which the whole map works; it's built on encounters that require split-second reactions in order to avoid damage, achieved mostly via Plut's favorite thing in the world: teleporting monsters which materialize at point-blank range, room after room after room (although I guess there are a handful of closets too, in fairness). It may be worth mentioning that, as has been the case with many of the more challenging new maps I've played this year, the difficulty curve is on a marked downslope here--if you can make it out of the first 2-3 rooms alive, the map gets significantly easier from then on, despite a bump in the road or two, ala the silent-teleporting vile near the red key (which really is just bullshit, and this time I'm not using the term in a fond way).

Looking at this a second time as I write this, I think that it contrasts with maps 18 and 19 in that health packs are not actually that terribly scarce; it just seems like they are because it's so difficult to fully avoid damage in many of the encounters, at least not without complete foreknowledge of the situation. If the real enemy in Chris Hansen's map was a lack of medical supplies, the real enemy here is a lack of space--this is a 2048 map, but it plays like a 1024 map. It's odd, but if you've played any of Plut's unrestricted maps you know that they're set up in pretty much the same way as this one is (even the end fight is very similar in all of his maps), and that left to his own devices he doesn't make his rooms/areas too terribly much larger in scale than the ones in this map....but that extra bit of space makes all the difference in terms of the player's experience. It thus appears that the intended gameplay of the map suffers a little from being slightly under budget in real estate: Plut has chosen a nonlinear three-key setup for the map's progression, but fitting all of the rooms involved in that quest into the 2048x2048 space required him to make almost all of said rooms very small and cramped, which doesn't always work as well with the type of action he likes to implement, establishing a sort of 'trial & error' rhythm to the gameplay which likely prompts a lot of savescumming from players given to doing so, and a lot of very cautious/defensive/preventative play from non-saving players like myself--especially if you get off to a bad start in the map, which is more likely to happen than it probably should be.

Aesthetically, this is par for the course for what I've come to expect from Plut--very colorful, very 'realistic' in its Doom-scale (these two attributes are probably why a lot of people sometimes mistake him for Memfis, I reckon), and with a heterogeneous tangle of textures and detail insets. I think it actually looks a little cleaner than many of his other maps I've played (probably because the limited amount of map space prevents him stuffing the walls full of the aforesaid insets), apart from a few jarring texture transitions and a misalignment here and there (the stairs, Plut!).

Hmm.....well, maybe it's hypocritical of me to say this after standing up for map 18, but I think this map's flow would benefit from a few small but important balance changes, most of them pertaining to the opening 30 seconds (and maybe THAT arch-vile)--take some of the monsters away, put more health in the room immediately to the north, make it so that the player can pick up a shotgun with the green armor behind the start point, anything. Anything to either put the player in a better position to handle the next few minutes of map after the opening furor, or ideally, anything to give the player a little more control over his/her own destiny in regards to how much damage is taken in that opening 30 seconds. I mean this sincerely, I'm usually one of the last Doomers in the world to hide behind the 'boohoo, your combat is luck-based!' argument, but there does seem to be a somewhat overpronounced element of that here.

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Map19 – The Axe Murderer's Domain by Chris Hansen (continuous) - Kills - 100, Items - 95, Secret - 100. Death Count - Zero

UV, Risen3D

This is a magnificent map by Chris Hansen, and the leading contender for my favorite map in the Megawad. If I was Goldilocks, this is the map that would be “just right” after Marcaek's “too hot” map. Everything about this map is quality – the architecture, texturing, layout, secrets, combat, you name it, this map excels at it. Chris even did a much better job using the entire resource pack than just about anyone else.

Of course, I've been kind of a slobbering Chris Hansen fan since the DWMC played 2002:ADO and I had a chance to get my ass seriously kicked in just about every one of his maps, yet he beat the shit out of me in a way that I found masochistically enjoyable, even in that infamous “stuffed in a closet with Barons” map. I was also perhaps the only DWMC member who was totally stoked about his other infamous map, E3M6, with its hectares of damaging floors that pissed-off just about everyone but me. It was one of my faves from the megawad! Indeed, it's among those that earned Chris the title of “your friendly neighborhood axe-murderer.”

DotW suggested that I may have been indirectly involved in the title of this one. Perhaps so. I've been playtesting Chris's recent maps, and kind of pushing him to get away from his “kinder, gentler” modern phase and maybe let that good old axe-murderer out of the attic to cause a bit of mayhem – heh. ;) Now, Chris has said that I've been “whining” about how much I miss the axe-murderer, which is not to suggest that I've been in any way disappointed with his newer maps, like Flay The Obscene – Reversed, and The Wailing Horde, which are both outstanding. However, he seems to have designed this map with the intention of slapping me silly – always a worthy goal for any mapper – and thus gave it the title you see here. His plan worked, because my first time through on UV, I believe I got killed 16 times, and on my second go, I got killed 14 times. Yay!!! ;)

I did Chris a disservice today by playing this beautifully-balanced arena on continuous, coming in at 200/200. I only played this way to prep myself for Plut's map, which is one of those “stuff the player in a tomato-can with heavy meat” oddities that are not my cup of tea. Even so, because I played aggressively, Chris managed to strip me of my health and armor and even kill me once in the Archie fight. When I reached the exit, I was under 100%, Chris having blitzed me so badly. So I stopped before the exit and played again, this time with almost Doom God skill, but also much more carefully, save-spamming like crazy and re-fighting the tougher battles to keep my health up. As a result, I reached the exit at 182/192, and then went back to grab the Soulsphere I'd saved. Maybe I'm finally learning this map! ;)

Unfortunately, it was all for naught. There I was, eagerly awaiting a chance to start Plut's map at 200/192 with 100 plasma cells, full loadouts of shells and bullets and about 30 rockets, when Risen3D puked on the map just like Zandro did for Seele. I got a message that Map20 contained “too many fatal errors” and that was that. So all that work through 4 maps for nothing. I guess it's about time for an email to Abbs. BTW, Map20 launches just fine on GZDoom, so I'll at least attempt the map on that, though I see a DNF in my future.

It might be a good idea to go back to Risen3D after Map20 to see if any more of the maps are broken on that port. We're at 2 so far.

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Map20 - “Palace of Chaos” by Plut
If you're familiar with other maps by Plut - you'll know what to expect here. Trademark cramped dickishness all over the place, prettiness and ruthlessness everywhere (think of HR2 map17, I've come to a conclusion that these are spiritually connected, though I may be far from the truth since HR and alike are clearly not this author's wads of choice; still, lots in common there, so I like to think that way). I admit that this type of gameplay has become really tiresome to me, so I didn't really enjoy this map. I dislike cramped combat in general, so what else could I say. Still, it's nice-looking, it uses the space provided very well to create pretty long odyssey of pain, and is sadistically smart. Predictably. Not a bad map, but not the one I'd play again I suppose. In the end it kicked me much, much less that map18 though. And map10...

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MAP20: Palace of Chaos by plut
100% kills, 1/3 secrets

This one definitely feels quite aggressively hateful towards the player, as nearly every action is rewarded with a chaingunner teleporting in behind the player's back, or a revenant closet opening up in a tiny cramped room, or an Arch-Vile coming in to wreak havoc. The hardest room is actually the first (from a pistol start) just because the player is surrounded by enemies with little room to manuever and no way to instantly slay enemies (god you suck pistol, so much). I agree with Demon that adding a shotgun to the green armor or changing the start might be a good idea, since it just feels far too frantic and requires foreknowledge of the map to really make the decisions needed to survive.

That's actually a pretty good take on the whole for this map... each room is a deadly little setup, and given the relative paucity of health/ammo (and the cramped setup of the rooms), really requires knowledge of what is going to happen: "okay, the chaingunner will appear here, then I turn and get the revenant, dancing away from the demon..." etc. This is basically Save Scum: The Map, which is fine with me as I'm a compulsive save/reloader, but others might be bugged by needing to do this for every room. After the first room and early ammo struggles, it actually becomes easier as it goes along.

Design-wise, it's a bit of what I call room-vomit, with a bunch of different-styled and -sized rooms all connected in a seemingly random way, sort of like a Tom Hall map with less spaghetti hallways. Which is actually fine, and the rooms each look pretty nice on their own - Doom being abstract is nothing bad. The main takeway is how dang cramped everything is, as others have said, it does feel like a 1024 map in many regards.

Overall, I actually enjoyed it, once I realized it was going to be "that" sort of map and started save-scumming like crazy. Each room was beatable after only one or two attempts, so I found it far less aggravating than MAP18, for example.

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Map20 – Palace of Chaos by Plut - Kills - 95, Items - 100, Secret - 33. Death Count – 26

UV pistol-start, GZDoom

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that I actually enjoyed this map. I thought for sure I'd DNF this puppy based on having played up to the nasty SSG room a few days ago, while idly messing about. I figured if every room was gonna be like this, I wanted no part of this map.

So anyway, I survived the starting fight with ease, just a little Single-Barrel Ballet with a Revvie after dusting-off the other little jagoffs. Survived the second room, and the third as well. According to the reviews, it was supposed to be smooth sailing now. And then I started to die in the 4th room. Once I survived that chain of fights, I decided it was time to get the SSG.

The SSG trap was surprisingly easy, because I save-scummed whenever my health started getting in drastic territory. Of course, grabbing the SSG lowers that bar, trapping you in there, but after taking a good look at the situation, I set myself up for a running start, grabbed the SSG, and scooted out before the bar descended! The Revvie was really pissed about that. Hah-hah!

There followed a series of reasonably tight encounters, but nothing too obnoxious. Plut has a fondness for throwing Archies at you in areas where you have little or no cover. Nasty stuff that started upping my death count.

Things began getting real serious at the red key trap. If I was an intelligent player, I'd have jumped in the blood, used the wall for cover, then ran up the steps to the other side, turn the corner and fight those monsters in that big closet, and after killing them, peeked around the corner to rocket Archie and his minions from a distance, but I decided to stand my ground and try to pain-chance him, an endeavor in which I continually failed. I survived on several occasions with 21 or 22 health, never able to budge that higher, so I eventually settled for that, knowing at least 1 Medikit awaited me on the other side, but I had to be careful to avoid Revvie and Chaingunner fire. Not careful enough, as it turned out, as I died a couple times, but I was able to almost completely restore my health once I finally prevailed, so I was happy.

Then comes the damned blue key fight, a real SteveD pelt-grabber, that one. And I was so pissed off when I finally survived only to accidentally load up a save when I wanted to save the game instead. Several deaths later, I finally managed to survive at 100% once I decided to sneak around starting infights instead of trying to rocket the Revvie first. Plut made ingenious use here of a Pinky to screw-up my rocket attack, a tactic he used more than once in the map, along with good spacing between Revvies and Chaingunners in monster closets, so that most of the time at least one could get a shot on you before you killed them. Good use of Hell Nobles as ammo sinks, too. Clever fellow, this Plut.

By comparison to the meat-grinders before, the Cyb fight was comparatively easy. Got killed on the first go, but the second was a relaxing infight spectacular, and I was even given a BFG. Christmas comes early! Thanks, Plut! ;) Thus armed, I was able to slap down the Archie, a very satisfying experience considering the pain his brothers had inflicted on me, then it was circle-strafe Herr Cyb as he finished off the Hell Nobles for me, and after that, I BFGed his ass. Where did all that plasma come from? Must've arrived by FedEx while I was otherwise occupied.

So there I was, surrounded by corpses! Commander McBragg would be so proud. And I'd hardly even been touched, meaning that after I dusted off the Barons guarding the Stargate, I'm going into tourniquet's map at over 142% in health and armor. And I've already pistol-started that one on UV, so a little break will be nice.

The only secret i found was the Zerk, which was rather easy.

The Palace of Chaos is a good-looking map. Not the kind of thing I'd like to play every day, since trap-based gameplay is so stop/start, but this one distinguishes itself as one of the crueler and tougher maps in the set, though more difficult maps are still ahead. Anyway, I think Plut did a good job and I'm happy to add to his pelt collection.

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Map20 - “Palace of Chaos” by Plut

A series of tough micro encounters. This very soon became an exercise in saving before every footstep and doing each fight over and over until you learn exactly how to beat it or get the lucky attempt where you don't get hit. The health and ammo are stringent enough that any mistake will either kill you or echo into the eternity of your game, especially where archviles are involved - its can really be down to luck whether they decide to resurrect more than you have the bullets to deal with. This map didn't feel like it wanted me to have fun, it just wanted to kill me for having the nerve to try playing it. I was literally on 1% health when I found the berserk secret, after that health and ammo wasn't such an issue, though the difficulty stayed pretty uncompromising. And yet somehow after dying in pretty much every single room, the one fight I managed to get through first time in one piece was the final one. I think it was down to the luck of getting the cyber to hit the archvile straight away.

Map21 - “Aberinkula” by Tourniquet

Utterly gorgeous map, a level of detail that verges on ridiculous. The gameplay is a stark contrast from the previous map, lots of ammo, space to run around the enemies and health to recover when they hit you, making this a lot more fun. The star of the show really is the visuals, so intricate and well lit. I had a bit of trouble getting through the red key skirmish, I wasn't high on health going into it so couldn't afford to get hit too much. Was strange to not get any health afterwards as well, especially with a cyberdemon yet to kill, but I felt like I was squandering it a bit so my own fault really. Lovely stuff.

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MAP21, "Aberinkula" by Tourniquet. Played in prBoom+.

I have compared a map in this series to Sunder before. Well, Aberinkula is a Sunder map, only done in 2048x2048 (not nearly as impossible as you might believe). It looks gorgeous, with the same kind of colour coordination and intricate but non-obtrusive detail you'd expect from Insane_Gazebo's own maps. The same difficulty too. You'll face both hordes of monsters trying to overwhelm you with sheer numbers as well as lone snipers shooting at you from inconvenient locations. The height of this map's insanity might be fight the red key room, which I'd argue is a bit too difficult. You face hordes of monsters of increasing difficulty teleporting in, with too little room to circle around and instigate infighting, and too little ammo to massacre them as they come. Eventually I had to resort to extensive savescumming, essentially saving after every action to find the ideal follow-up in order to survive.

Nevertheless, I found this to be an amazing map with a suitably tense final fight (though more for lack of health and armor not allowing me to get hit even once than anything). More like this and less like 18, please.

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MAP21
More invasion crap, when will this stop? It's not original! It's boring to me. The detail's cool but all the maps have detail anyways, so it isn't that good.
1/5

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Map21 - “Aberinkula” by Tourniquet
Fan-fucken-tastic. Visually this map is downright jawdropping, with lots of detail, consistent color combinations, deep atmosphere and overall really gorgeous appearance. Gameplay is fun, sometimes on a more cramped side, but never overly so. Red key fight is definitely the highlight, haphazardous yet fun and reliably beatable (I had ammo issues in earlier versions and had to do some fistfighting with a group of revs, but I believe it's fixed since then, so no problem at all). One of those maps that make this whole mapset worth playing after all. Definitely my favorite. Outstanding job, tourniquet!

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MAP21:
I was right, establishing a foothold on such low health was a struggle, with all of my deaths in the level coming from that. After that my heavy firepower and pre-knowledge got me through handily. Absolutely beautiful map and the best part is that the monsters can actually navigate it just fine even with all the sector-detail - I was most impressed with the rocky slope that the imp ambush comes in on. Really good map.

The next map is one of those extra-unimaginative arena maps, which is a disappointment, but oh well, that's tomorrow's problem...

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Map21 – aberinkula by tourniquet - Kills - 100, Items - 100, Secret - 100. Death Count - 1

UV continuous, GZDoom

As everyone has said, this is a scrumptuously gorgeous map. I rate tourniquet as one of the true finds – for me – of this mapset, since I'm completely unfamiliar with any of his previous works. If tourniquet is reading, feel free to PM me a list of your maps and where to get them.

It's also nice to see Demonologist completely stoked about a map. :)

This map has the feel of a ruined temple lost in the jungle, where the dread acolytes make an annual pilgrimage to summon their God of Gibbering Evil. And you, lucky Marine, have been sent to shit all over their pagan ceremonies and wipe them out to the last, cackling Imp.

In my UV playtest, I got killed 9 times and thought the map was rough but not truly hard, given that I tend to define a “hard” map as one where I get killed at least 10 times. But that's all relative, actually, and you really have to scrounge a bit for health and ammo on pistol-start to keep up with the meat being thrown at you. Of course, this is absolutely and positively a Meat Game map, not exactly my favorite style, as I've said often enough. I'm not sure the Doom 2 Meat Game would really be possible without Revvies, as using ponderous Hell Nobles would lead to shockingly dull and borderline harmless gameplay, unless you stuff the player into a can with them. But importantly, meat-monsters give no ammo when they die, so ammo starvation is always a dismal likelihood in a Meat Game map. I ended up leaving with only 50 bullets even though I came in continuous from the previous map.

When tourniquet does use hitscanners, he can use them in fiendishly dickish ways, for example the high Chaingunners in the southeast corner of the temple room. I gotta give a thumbs-up to tourniquet for providing us a path to get their precious ammo.

It has to be said, as well, and I said it in my playtest, that the Spectres in the nukage serve no purpose really except as auto-aim bait if you try to kill the distant Chaingunners in the shack, as well as a time/ammo sink for UV-Maxers. Then there is the stairway in the southwest corner that's loaded with Imps. This is the only part of the map that actually bugged me. The first batch of Imps was alright, but they posed no real threat and were easily killed, leading to “tedious shootage,” as scifista42 would say. Ah, but then tourniquet teleports in 3 times as many, plus a Hell Knight. This is a complete waste of time and ammo. And behind all this is a stairway loaded with silhouetted Imps, plus a Revvie. This was visually impressive, and it made me flash on the great Joan Blondel belting out “Remember My Forgotten Man” in “Golddiggers of 1933,” while silhouetted doughboys marched on the steps above and behind her. A truly great moment in American cinema, and it's not every day a Doom map ignites such an association in my mind. But in gameplay terms, this was more tedious shootage, albeit I did get hit by the Revvie once, so it wasn't a total loss in terms of offense. ;) And, hilariously enough, it seems the Imp ambush was Phobus's favorite part, so there ya go -- different strokes and all that. :D

I was ready for the Archie, having gotten the extra ammo accessed from the Baron's room, and with my BFG primed as I went for the yellow key, but to my surprise, Archie survived the BFG blast and torched me for my only death in the map. I eventually learned to pull the trigger and then charge the key, so Archie would materialize into the plasma cloud. Fun. ;)

I like the teleport into an an Imp/Hell Knight ambush. That might irritate some players, but it's the kind of dickish move I like. Well done, tourniquet!

And now comes the big red key fight, sort of a Variation On The Theme of “The Shaft,” except without the actual shaft, but similar in the way the waves come at you. I seemed to have more trouble with this on continuous than I did on pistol-start, with the exception that I didn't get killed, but only because I was quick on that reload key when the going got rough. Surprisingly, the toughest part for me was the Imps -- so damned many of them – and then the teleporting Pinkies and Spectres, especially the latter, who kept blocking me. I had to haul out the Plasma Gun to deal with this horde, because I kept getting cornered. Once their numbers were reduced, the stumblebum Hell Nobles arrived and were easily circled. I didn't even bother shooting at them. Instead, I switched to SSG to take out the remaining Pinkies and Spectres. Thus, when the very dangerous Revvies began to pile in, I switched to BFG and soon emerged triumphant with about 93% health. So that was certainly an entertaining bit of business, and IMO the highlight of the map.

All that was left at this point was The Gibbering God himself, Herr Cybie, who I BFGed, SSGed and Chaingunned from a safe distance, whereas the Doom Tough Guys probably 2-shot him right on his platform. It's tough being a Gibbering God these days. No one shows you the proper respect. ;D

So anyway, a beautiful, moody, atmospheric map with a spectacular BGM perfectly suited to its grim environs. Definitely one of the highlights of this megawad, and I look forward to lots more maps by tourniquet.

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MAP21: Aberinkula by tourniquet
99% kills, no secrets

Yup, really nice looking map, though I could quibble with some of the colors (at the exit, for example, there's a mix of orange sky, red lighting, and green slimefalls). Okay, yeah, that's really just quibbling, especially given how many other nice details there are, from the rock cavern ceiling to the skylights to the rock slopes and amazing opening room.

Gameplay is pretty fun, though I can see disliking it if teleporting monsters aren't your thing. Ammo is a bit skimpy in some places, especially for the red key battle - I ran out of cells and had to use my last few shells to finish off the last revvies, despite the energy cells that kept teleporting in. Thankfully, I had saved (read: didn't notice) the berserk pack in the middle cavern until the end, so I had a bit of leeway there. Still was pretty low on ammo after finishing off the Cyberdemon. I actually had the most trouble with the imp slopes because I kept trying to just blitz it with the SSG, eventually settled for sitting back and plinking at them with the regular shotgun. But yeah, great map.

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MAP21: Probably the hardest thing about this map is trying to come up with a reason why it’s not the best looking creation in the set. Tourniquet did an absolutely damn fine job here, constructing a haunting underground depository of nukage, wood and metal, filling every inch of the area with at least something to look at. Unfortunately I don’t think the gameplay is especially strong here, since every fight besides the red key battle just feels… underwhelming? Maybe the ornate detailing gives off Sunder-vibes but I expected more of a challenge, and other than a handful of “fuck you” moments (like the AV happily popping up when you nab the yellow key), it was a pretty simple affair. Not that I minded much, since I got to gawk at the scenery, but I was expecting some crazy stuff to go with the visuals. Neat nevertheless.

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SteveD said:

[b]

feel free to PM me a list of your maps and where to get them.


I'm afraid there's nothing really interesting to show besides 2 vanilla maps plus i'm not a huge fan of self-advertisement.

In general it's rather strange to recieve so much positive feedback since i personaly agree with dobu, interesting visuals but the gameplay is sort of Bleh.
But yeah still cool u guys kinda liked it.

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Behind but will catch up

Map18 - “Black and Blue” by Marcaek
This map has some horrible monster placement, a distinct lack of health and a lot of unavoidable damaging floors, this leaves a sour taste in a map that despite some glaring visuals is actually quite well thought out. It just feels horrible to play to be honest. Sorry.

Map19 - “The Axe Murderer’s Domain” by Chris Hansen
This was a really good map, a couple of cheap chaingunners but that is about it. This plays a lot better than most Chris Hansen maps I have played. The visuals are also top notch. Good stuff.

Map20 - “Palace of Chaos” by Plut
This wasn't great to be honest. The only interesting area was the final room which can be easily navigated. Too many traps which are either easily cheesed or complete bullshit. In the end the usage of space is decent but that is about it to be honest.

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Map 21 -- Aberinkula - 100% Kills / No secrets
Some have said that there's a Sunderesque vibe to this level; the first thing that comes to my mind is Skillsaw's mapping. I see it in the aesthetics, yes--I think the main contributing factor is the emphasis on bright colors (mostly green and orange here, with some red) as highlights against an earthy/dingy backdrop. This is arguably true of Sunder as well, but this map uses many different textures and sub-themes to create a mostly coherent whole, whereas Sunder tends to be starkly monothematic and uses a spartan texture selection most of the time. The main point, regardless, is that the map is certainly a looker, although it perhaps goes a little overboard with the saturation of competing colors for my tastes...I guess the only spot I really noticed this was looking towards the exit area from the floor, though (I really think the area would look better without that red translucency layer on the inverted crucifix). A lot of care and attention has been paid to detail and layering on ceilings, walls, and floors; probably to the point where it will offend the sensibilities of some players, but I think that it's consistently applied enough over the whole structure that it looks natural enough.

There is a certain price to be paid for this in the sense that the dreaded 'bumpy floors' phenomenon makes itself felt at more than one point during the proceedings; for my part, floor bumpiness doesn't usually bother me very much unless it's very severe, so for the most part I don't think it negatively impacts the map much, although it is somewhat annoying on the circular platform with the exit switch--makes it significantly more inconvenient to fight the cyberdemon like a man, encouraging the player to snipe him from the ground (which is much less fun). Other small points of concern include a blocking hanging corpse over the blue armor (which means that the chaingunner under it is stuck in place), and the high height of the crystal sector used to simulate the revenants/other trash dropping through the ceiling in the main area gives the player ample time to shoot/hump the side of said sector (which is harmless but nevertheless a blemish). Oh, and I think there's a texture error on the lefthand cross-pillar by the door at the top of the steep stairs; it doesn't match the other three in pattern, anyway.

All the babbling about aesthetics aside, the main reason I find myself comparing this to Skillsaw's mapping has to do with the gameplay--I see a lot of that same 'high budget big game safari' style of action that has served Skillsaw so well. That is to say, if you look at the monster and item counts, or you read descriptions of the various fights on paper, it probably sounds like it's going to be rather intense/pressing, but it's not, not really; despite the large number of dangerous monsters involved in some fights, the gameplay has been balanced with a deceptively gentle touch. Take, for example, the stream of warping monsters protecting the red skull--it's a small space, there's only a limited amount of supplies, and the encounter requires a few solid minutes of concentration, yes.....but it's a stream, not a flood, and an encounter that the player can gain control of and keep control of without having to deal with any sudden complications or changeups. Sure, if you screw up too much you're still gonna die (I reckon the main danger is probably burning too many cells too early and thus not being able to mitigate enough of the nobles wave before the revvies wave), but it's actually quite a forgiving scenario....and the same applies to most of the other main scenarios as well--you can snipe the cyb if you want (although I personally didn't want), with a little quick thinking you can jump down the hole and double back to thwart the yellow skull arch-vile, etc. What really drives the similarity home for me is the imp wave on the steep stairs, though--simplistic bloodshed for the sake of bloodshed.

Don't get me wrong, the map is fun (as are the majority of Skillsaw's maps), but there is a definite awareness while playing that its bark is worse than its bite--in a sense, I think it's easier to criticize the gameplay here for what it 'could've been' than for what it is, because for the most part what it is is just fine. But it could've been more! In most of Skillsaw's more famous work, he mitigates this by tossing in one or two fights per map/mapset that really are genuinely threatening to anchor the rest of the action, and it usually works out pretty well for him. 'Aberinkula', as a one-off in this set, doesn't really even need to worry about this too much (since there's nothing else quite like it in tone and pace in the set), but supposing Tourniquet were to do his own small-middling mapset (and I hope he does!), I strongly suspect he would need to up the ante at some point relative to what we see here in order to make the experience feel truly complete, if that makes any sense.

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Map 21 -- Aberinkula

Inspiring. Levels like this are the reason I still play Doom. The visuals are jaw dropping, the game-play feels reminiscent of Combat-Shock, which I loved, though without going the full hog into slaughter arena play. Play it like you're playing Sunder and you'll walk away with a pretty easy map. Otherwise some of the battles the level throws at you will be the death of you. Highlight was battling imps up a rocky outcrop.

5/5, a masterpiece of Doom level-making.

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I forgot to mention earlier the funny text after Map20. But there was that one little bit about the 1985 Chicago Bears going to hell. Hmmmmm, possibly written by a New England Patriots fan? Given that I'm from Chicago, all I can say is . . . The Fridge!!!!!! ;)

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I wrote it.
I am also from Illinois.
I am ashamed of this second fact, and will be fixing this in the coming week.

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^ You can't change where you came from, chief.

MAP22: A fun, quick, nutty little slaughtermap. It starts off slow enough but by the end you’re strafing in circles blasting a dozen AVs to bloody little bits. Don’t have much to say other than it was strangely entertaining from start to finish.

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dobu gabu maru said:

^ You can't change where you came from, chief.

MAP22: A fun, quick, nutty little slaughtermap. It starts off slow enough but by the end you’re strafing in circles blasting a dozen AVs to bloody little bits. Don’t have much to say other than it was strangely entertaining from start to finish.


Fair enough. I will be living somewhere else, then. And I can complain about Chicago and not get dirty looks.

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