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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Stomper

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MAP08: The Scrapyards
99% kills, 1/2 secrets

One of those maps that is fine when you're playing it, but didn't really make an impression and I think I'll probably forget about it entirely by the end of the month. Just inoffensive... looking at the minimap, it's got a very IWAD feel with the layout, angles, etc. I actually found the going a bit difficult at first just because of the lack of armor and number of hitscanners. There's also very little health (aside from the ridiculous amounts in the yellow key area). Once the green armor is found (or the blue armor for those who got the secret), it's not a problem. I actually completely skipped the yellow key area and was a bit annoyed by the yellow bars at the end. I do echo mouldy regarding the "dead end" behind one of the blue doors... bit weird.

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Wow I fell behind a bit.

Map06 - "Mainframe”

Ammo feels like it's sprinkled all over like candy here. Shellboxes and Bulletboxes everywhere I look. The gameplay is alright, not quite as good as Map05 but provides challenge. The map certainly is noisy with all those superfluous moving sectors, geez. Also the Radsuit pickup sound feels really out of place whenever I hear it.

Map07 - "The Barricade"

Well, it seems tired to me to use any of the Dead Simple special effects usually, but I guess this map isn't too bad. I mean, it would've been better if it didn't use them at all but whatever. The Demon horde at the end certainly was something. I feel like this map was kind of a mixed bag, guess just not my cup of tea.

Map08 - "Scrapyards"

The gameplay in this map was fine I thought, but the progression not so much. The switch that opens the door to the Blue Key could be telegraphed better, as it's likely a player might not have even been over there yet. Also, when I got to the end I found out I need the Yellow Key. Yellow Key? What Yellow Key? So in my exploration I find later that I could have gotten it far far earlier if I'd gone over to where all those barrels are. It just feels so arbitrary to be able to get the key so early and off the beaten path like that and then not need it until the very end. I almost feel like the Yellow Key should be deleted from the map, have all those monsters guarding a Megasphere or something instead perhaps.

That or move where those Yellow Bars are at the exit to an earlier part of the map, forcing the player to hunt for the key when they're actually in that area and needing it to proceed then at a logical time instead of at the very end.

http://imgur.com/a/edbSC One stuck Imp way off in the distance, and one door that only opens from one side for no apparent reason.

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i decided to play ahead a bit here.

MAP09 Flow Control (Descent to Heat)

What an ironic title. I took way too long on this level when I shouldn't have. Level flow is actually okay, and obviously the title refers to (I think) the central area where the water rises and falls. Actually, that's my least favorite section of the map, but more on that later. With about 70 or so monsters on HMP, this felt rather empty to play on. There's quite a lot of chaingunners, but I don't find anything too threatening. The times when I got lost though were rather plentiful, as I would miss an (often obvious) area I've not been in. Starting with the walkways to the east are my personal biggest headache in Doom, the constant raising/lowering platforms, and it's this same kind of mechanic that the north central area with water has. And in this central area, caged monsters and switches when the water falls. I really hate this lift though because it is so slow, and makes the map drag a bit when you forget to kill a monster. Add to that THREE other lifts to get out. It seems like this style would fit some other people though. I'd say add some more monsters on HMP difficulty to make things a bit more interesting.

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Map 08 -- Scrapyards - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
I think Magnusblitz hit the nail on the head when he commented that this map has something of an IWAD flavor to it, I'd even say that oddly (and compellingly) it's more pronounced here than in those earlier maps in Stomper that actually contained direct references to specific IWAD maps. I think a lot of this has to do with the texturing. The vast majority of the textures used here are from the stock set rather than the custom Stomper resources, and while they are fairly neatly arranged apart from a few noticeable cutoff issues, their composition is quite freewheeling; texture themes change freely from room to room and from area to area, and while there is a significant overall skew towards Phobos green composite, dark metal, and stucco of all things, there are some quirky outlier areas as well, most notably the large northeastern tree room with the zimmer supports and the strange glowing crackle ceiling. The overall impression is both nostalgic yet somehow askew; the best way I can describe it is to say it's something like if one of the Sandy/Tom post facto collabs from The Shores of Hell had been made with the Doom II resources instead (as opposed to being made in Doom and then ported to Doom II).

While I can understand (and to some extent agree with) the notion that map 05 might benefit from retexturing to make it better suit its supposed theme, I actually think you should leave this one more or less as it is. Whether it was intentional or not, its beyond-classic theming lends it a lot of character and meshes well with its largely unguided 'wander around randomly until you stumble upon progress' gameplay. On that point, in contrast to some of the other players, I don't really have a problem with the way the yellow key is placed or the way it figures into map progression (although in the interest of disclosure I myself found the key before the yellow barrier in front of the exit switch, and thus didn't have to backtrack), again it feels very winkingly "classic" somehow, and it's not as though the key is hidden in some obscure way--straightforward exploration inevitably turns it up sooner or later.

There is one aspect of progression that really doesn't make sense at all to me, however, that being the dead end behind the easternmost blue door that others have already mentioned. The support-textured lift near the green armor never seems to activate at any point--can't be used from either side, no trigger in the upper path that it locks into causes it to move, etc. It seems like maybe this lift sector was initially supposed to be a point of articulation that effectively renders the red key optional/unnecessary (which again, would be something of an IWAD trait), but then this idea was scrapped later and the lift action was removed to make the red key mandatory--seems rather ill-planned, to be frank. As I see it, if you're comfortable changing this there are two basic ways you could approach it: reinstate the lift sector and make the red key an optional aside ( if you'd rather not have a largely pointless key just for the sake of id-flavor maybe you could add a room somewhere with a goody that only the red key lets you into, not unlike how the 'secret' yellow key/soulsphere was handled in Stomper's map 04, to add incentive/reward for finding it), or you could just leave the setup as it is but visually change the sector in question so that it doesn't really look like a lift anymore (as it currently stands it really seems like the map is nonfatally broken, even if this setup was NMN's conscious intent), in which case you might also consider making the easternmost blue door a regular door instead (since the area it leads to is irrelevant from a progression standpoint), or alternately putting a better item in there than a green armor and using the blue lock to restrict access to it.

I haven't really talked about combat because very little of it stood out to me--the action here is almost entirely incidental, and most of the risk again comes from a combination of hitscan attrition (although revenants are starting to make their presence felt a bit more often now than in past maps) and a somewhat scant distribution of health. Ammo supplies are once again probably a mite on the excessive side, but the relative imbalance isn't as pronounced here as in some previous maps. Despite not having many real highlights, I think the incidental style works okay for this map, and it doesn't suffer from feeling drastically underpopulated in the way that some of the earlier maps do.

Edit: Oh yeah, forgot to mention, the secrets are visible on the automap.

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Map07: The Barricade

Ehh, I thought this was quite average at the best. A few good fights but a lot of questionable stuff too. First, the decision to put four of the six Mancs in those rising/lowering platform is pretty puzzling since half the time they are absolutely useless and can be pretty much ignored. And when the ground level foes are dealt with, a tedious shotgunning sequence begins for pistol starters unless you notice the RL secret, in which case killing the rest of the Mancs is a littler faster at least. Seriously, as amazing as it may sound, the Dead Simple gimmick has been made worse here by making it more complicated. Simple stationary platforms would've been just fine if this kind of battle has to be included in a map07. Oh yeah, there's damaging floor too but you'll be hard pressed to even notice since the author was kind enough to fill the area with radsuits to munch and then some. I can imagine the rage at zdaemon TNS if there's only one radsuit though so if there's no other way to provide enough suits for multi then I guess this'll have to do.

After that we get some questionable back and forth in cramped corridors, another part of the map I didn't really like. The RK battle was very nice however and easily the highlight of the map. I'm not really sure why it's broken down into two stages though, at least I found the battle to work best when everything was released at once. The final battle in the courtyard is decent and the wall of Pinkies is certainly amusing if nothing else. Kind of a slog to go through all that meat though, unless you find the BFG-secret which isn't a total gimme either. The hordes that teleport (or open up or whatever) into the opening area once you're outside are another puzzling decision as they add absolutely nothing to the map. If you really want to stop the player from being a coward in the final fight then just put some bars there to block the player and a tele in the exit chamber so you can go back if you missed something.

Don't have much to say about visuals so I guess it was decent. Didn't find any major misalignment issues but wasn't really looking either to be honest. One of the secrets is still after three playthroughs a complete mystery to me. I know where it is by the misaligned texture but I have no idea how to enter.

Map08 later.

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MAP09: Flow Control
95% kills, 2/6 secrets

This map certainly makes more of an impression than some of the last ones, and reminds me more of something you'd find in a late '90s/early 00's shooter, with all the moving machinery (especially the wide platforms in the east) and needing to traverse the rising/falling water chamber to advance. It can be a bit difficult to find out where to go at first... I made about two loops around the map before finally finding the switch that opened the first "cage", but from then on it was a pretty easy run through the rest of the map. The main danger here comes from the sniper chaingunners, which will slowly but surely whittle you down as the level goes on. Pretty fun, if a mite difficult to figure out.

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Map08: The Scrapyards

Hmm, a bit of a break map of a sorts this one. Focuses more on the player wandering around confused than intense combat. IWAD-vibes have been mentioned multiple times and yes, I agree with most of that. It's an alright map overall I guess although not very memorable.

There's not even much to say about this honestly. I just wandered around for 10-15 minutes until stumbling upon the exit and left, there's not really any "right" route to go here different players will play it differently. I'll join the group who found the YK first and wondered where exactly would one use it. On the other hand, I will probably be forming a very special group of my own who managed to completely miss the goddamn SSG in my frst TWO playthroughs. I also missed the dead end green armor area and only found it when I read about it here and went looking. And yeah, the whole room is pretty redundant now and something should probablyt be done about it. Another weird room was the one with the PG in it; why is it even a room in the first place? It's not that I'm overly bothered by it but it just seemed weird that there are two 128x128 doors into a small room with nothing else in it but the PG and some ammo. All the monster within are long dead when I get to the room itself.

Combat in this map is mostly incidental and pretty darn easy. The biggest threat are Chaingunners sniping from afar and a few Revs in open areas that are inclided to snipe you from near or from afar as well. I'm hard pressed to call any situation in this map even moderately difficult but the most memorable one is probably those three Revs right behind a door in the YK outside area ledges. I was a little proud of myself even when I handled them on my first run ; SG only, didn't take a hit and stayed on the ledge all the time.

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Map09 - "Flow Control"

Another really noisy map, sectors moving all over the place up and down all the time. I might be mistaken but it also seemed that the Yellow Key was acquired early and not needed until the very end again. Gameplay was pretty straightforward, lots of plowing through monsters. The SSG would have been nice to have on this map, maybe it is in a secret somewhere but the single barrel saw lots and lots of use from me, almost got to be a bit of a slog because of that.

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Map 09 -- Flow Control - 100% Kills / 83% Secrets
I really like the BGM track in this level, whatever it is.

This was a pretty cool map, I thought. It feels like the gameplay is finding its groove at this point--lots of surprisingly large groups of the more dangerous zombies used at all ranges (the big influx of former human commandos into the ditch at the start of the map, which tends to spread out and repopulate previously cleared areas in a very uneven/unpredictable way, was particularly effective) peppered with more powerful demons that force you to stay mobile rather than relying too heavily on cover/chokepointing to handle the hitscanners. Health balance remains fairly tight, and happily the ammo balance seems more on-point than in most of previous maps as well--I did eventually develop a glut of it by the end, so there's arguably still too much in a strictly mathematical sense, but it seems to have been doled out in a more calculated way; I was low on ammo twice in the map (at one point I had 4 shells and 16 bullets, something like that, and I just kept barely maintaining forward momentum by scavenging half-spent clips from dead zombies' weapons) but managed to rebound both times, which is a quite satisfying, I think. Granted, this was partially because I was shut out of the rocket launcher secret (more on that in a bit), but given that it is a secret I imagine other players could reasonably have a similar experience.

It is a very hallway/corridor-laden map, to be sure, but I think it maintains interest pretty well by virtue of its use of vertical space (e.g. traversing some of the main areas more than once at different heights at different points in the progression) and the liberal application of some dynamic sectors, most notably the mechanized system of bulwarks in the dry canal, and the constantly-shifting water level in the atrium to the north. Whereas the previous map had a heavy slant towards the stock resources, this one employs stock stuff and Stomper resources in nearly equal measures, and yet it's thematically one of the most cohesive maps in the set up to this point--lots of classic dark metal matched up with grimy Stomper-tech assets, and the tweaked stock stuff (such as the recolored pipewall with extra metal support braces) often used to segue neatly between the two texture sets. Some of the issues that have been endemic in the mapset to this point are still present--a jarring texture transition here and there, some vertical cutoff issues, etc--but it currently doesn't look like it needs nearly as much concourse polish as, say, map 05.

Some suggestions and issues:

*There's something very odd (in Boom) about the rocket launcher secret in the 'armory' section (that is, the room you reach by traveling down tunnel "3"). Throwing the switch in this room opens all of the doors and lets the hell knights out, but the door to the room with the green armor (and also the dropaway panel that reveals the secret RL) sometimes closes again inexplicably, or perhaps I should say it disappears--the brown brick drops down and erases its existence. If you're inside the room you can open the wall again (and it will eventually close again in the same way), but if you're outside of it there's nothing you can do to get in again. Further, if you throw the switch that initially opens all of the doors after the above door disappears, all of the doors close and jam, and can never be opened again by any means (the switch does nothing if you throw it again while all of the doors are open). Strangest of all, I've only been able to make this happen if monsters are present; in -nomonsters mode, the door never disappears no matter how long I wait. Anyway, whatever's going on here, it denied me the rocket launcher during my playthrough, which meant by the end of the map I had 60 unused rockets or something like that. My suggestion on this point is to put more than one RL in the map, perhaps add another in the secret closet with the switch that raises the lift to the soulsphere secret (or that's what I assume it did, anyway), so that a player has a chance at using this weapon and using the generous supply of ammo for it no matter which direction they happen to wander in at the start.

*The red key room with the constantly raising/lowering floor relies almost entirely on monsters which can't physically reach the player (either because they're in cages or are on the closed upper level), which is a very underwhelming setup for what is essentially the last real fight in the map. My suggestion here is to do away with some of the cages and have open pockets of monsters that are initially hidden while the floor is up, which can actually spill out into the main space and directly attack the player when the water level falls (changing the timing of the raising/lowering floor action slightly may facilitate this). Alternately, using monster teleports in combination with the caged monsters initially below the water level may have a similar overall effect.

*Similarly, I kinda like the dry canal with all of the moving platforms, but I think you could liven it up a bit if at some point you create a situation where monsters attack the player from both the front and the rear--maybe when the player's halfway through a closet back near the entrance could open up and turn loose some more cacos and souls or something.

Just snowballing there. Apart from the weird door dysfunction it's a pretty satisfying map even as it currently stands, probably second only to map 05 for the moment.

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MAP10 Toxic Yards (Berserk Time)

There's not much to go around here because supplies are very abundant and combat is pretty mild. Openness is good for this map though, where cacos can chase me just about anywhere. Secrets are easy, but I never found much use for anything past SSG and chaingun, not even my berserk could find a use for this map. Found some Waste Tunnels references near the NW part. I find that this map reminds me somewhat of CANYON from the Master Levels though. Pretty neat overall.

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Map09: Flow Control

I really enjoyed this map despite having a little difficulties getting through. I have recently developed this ridiculous knack of making all the wrong decisions regarding route choices in non-linear maps like this and this was no different. No SSG, no 40 shells picked up at the start... As a result I barely scraped by ammo-wise, stirring up more and more shit and since health is rather tight, you know how the story ends. Third attempt and I finally tried the lift on the left of the start, took out the Baron and stumbled upon the SSG; and what do ya know, things went much better that time.

So yeah, combat in this map is pretty interesting and it stems from the large height variations and monsters being able to roam rather freely. Very often I found myself surprised by some lone Chaingunner creeping up to me while I was busy with other stuff happening in front, or a Rev or hitscanner sniping me from way above in a similar situation. You really have to keep moving constantly to prevent from getting hit since there always seemed to be something that around wanting to spill your blood, however quiet things seemed. The RK chamber could be a little improved though since the caged baddies are not much of a threat unlike the ones that are firing from above. Letting those monsters loose would probably be the ideal solution, like DotW proposed.

Layout and the looks are really nice too. There is a definite theme here and the author sticks to it mostly. The mechanical platforms are a nice addition, perhaps slightly annoying occasionally due to the constant noise pollution and some waiting around but it definitely adds to the theme and I'm perfectly fine having them around all things considered. Overall a very cool map, one of the best so far.

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Map10 - “Toxic Yards”

It took me an embarrassingly long time to find the Exit in this map. I like how it starts off hard and mostly stays there, decent with the monster placement. Later parts of the map were really swamped with health and ammo though, probably could've gotten harder around there too (past the Red Door/s for example). Very very little nukage in a map with this title, was kinda shocked.

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Map 10 -- Toxic Yards - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
This map appears to be broken in Boom (-cl 9); the two-sided lift in the very first yard cannot be activated with a 'use' command as intended (but works in ZDooM).

********

Alright, finished it. Found what I think is one other ZDoomism at one point, that being that the little hatch that leads back out into the first yard from the southeastern medikit secret will not open from either side. Oh, and once again, the secret doors all show on the automap.

Anyway, this is another solid map in the running Stomper style, a rather complex and highly interconnected layout comprised largely of tangles of walkways blanketing a series of outdoor yards. There's an interesting dynamic where a lot of the play space seems very open and freewheeling, but navigating it is often surprisingly complicated, especially where the main yards meet the roofed-in parts of the complex, which tend to be very door-heavy. Like map 09 before it, it's a lot more aesthetically coherent than many of the earlier maps, probably a positive trend even if it makes the maps seem a little less actively quirky. As per usual, there are a number of noticeable alignment/cutoff/transition issues--the arachnatron gazebo in the red key room, the section of upper wall near the red key door as viewed from the walkway to the secret plasma rifle, the three-way vertical misalignment + transition clusterfuck to the left of the bottom of the stairs in the SSG room, etc.--but again nowhere near as much work is needed as in poor old map 05.

Again there are some balance issues. Monster placement has gotten a lot more on-point since the early maps, by this point in the game the mapset seems to be properly growing into its style of generous dosages of hitscanners attacking from all ranges with mid-tier monsters used from convenient vantages as fire support. However, the ammo/health balance still seem off-kilter; ammo seems pretty reasonable in much of this one, where you rely heavily on the basic shotgun and chaingun, but the map positively projectile-vomits medikits at you for no apparent reason as you near the end of the progression (on the other hand, it least it doesn't give armor away like it's going out of style). The plasma rifle secret is also seriously undermined by the total lack of cell ammo in the map; I'd say it's fine to leave the gun where it is, just put a few small cells with it, or in other parts of the map (in the other secrets, perhaps). I also feel that the exit is slightly anticlimactic once again; by the time the player re-enters that room to flip the switch that builds the bridge to the exit point, pretty much everything is likely to already be dead, and what seems like an imminent booby-trap near the last switch turns out to be nothing at all--maybe there's room to do some last-ditch monster teleportation or turn some flyers loose from closets in the walls, something like that. I dunno, though....maybe it's good to just hold off once in a while, might see what other players think.

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MAP10: Toxic Yards
95% kills, 1/4 secrets

Apparently I'm just lazy because I only found one secret despite them all showing on the minimap :P

This one has another wide-open layout with lots of area to explore before finding the keys, I think I was about 115/180 monsters down before I saw the first key. There's a few oddities (I originally approached the slime area from the east, there's a bunch of radsuits, making me think it's time for a swim in the slime... but there's nothing in the slime) but mainly it was just because the blue key area was the last one I visited. I also didn't even see the red key, so was a bit puzzled when I pushed the switch that lowered it. The general shapes are a bit more modern than the IWAD-style angles of MAP08.

Most of the danger here, as usual, comes from the hitscanners, especially since they tend to be perched above or below the player, where they might not notice them until a chunk of health is gone. As DotW says, the amount of health near the end of the map is a bit ridiculous... maybe it's supposed to be a reward for finishing it, but by the time the player gets there, most of the map has been cleared out. It's also strangely empty after killing the two mancubuses near the end, but the player still needs to go up a staircase, hit a switch, go up the new staircase, go outside, into the exit room... but maybe I'm just too conditioned from other WADs that enjoy placing AVs in every exit room.

Also, the music track started getting really annoying after awhile... it's a good track with a lot of pumping action to it, but not for a relatively long map like this. Feels like it would be more suited for a MAP30 or something, was just TOO actiony.

Oh, and one last oddity I noticed... the first staircase the player ascends has some really weird sizing. The floors go up at intervals of 11, 11, 10, 11, 11, 10. Then there's a nearby staircase that goes up by 15, 14, 14, 14, 15... just interesting, I'm so used to doing everything by eights.

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MAP11 The Bloodtower (War Starts Here)

Where's the blood? This is a somewhat cool level, split into two distinct halves. The first half is a neat homage to E1M2 but with Doom II monsters in the mix. I even meet my first archvile here and obtain a ton of secrets before reaching the second half. Actually, all of the secrets are in the first half, but unfortunately I was able to get only 5 out of 6. Turns out one particular secret is next to another, but I can't enter the sector due to it's thinness and being flush next to the railing. I'd say remove it and have just 5 secrets. Good first half otherwise.

Going to the second half nets me a second archie at first. In the second half we see an obvious influx of monsters, so I tried to get some to infight (revenant vs. mancubus mainly) to ease tension and comic relief. Here in the second half we have a few nasty ambushes as well, opening a door to reveal four revenants has me retreating back a bit, but a hidden wall opens where chaingunners pour in. There's a similar ambush after the last archie once you open up the door to the bloodtower. The eponymous tower being in a rather small area kinda disappointed me, the lone baron distracted me enough for the entourage of revenants who opened up another hidden door! Quite nasty that was! One thing that perplexes me is the hellknight closet before the bloodtower, as it doesn't open until I cross a certain linedef after the bloodtower. Other than that, it's a rather fitting second half of MAP11 to finish off the map and Episode 2. Although I wanted more from the name of the map since it was mostly techbase and less blood.

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Map09 - “Flow Control”

I liked this one, for starters it gave me a shotgun straight away which made a nice change. It has a very arcadey feel to it, I don't know if its the music or the sounds or the action, but it seemed to want to be played fast and loose. Having said that its definitely a map that requires you pay some attention to your surroundings. I never got lost thanks to the very clear and varied way each place looked, the visuals worked very well in this regard, being complex without being messy. I never had to check the automap to work out where i was and where I needed to go. Ammo and health were up and down, sometimes I had loads and sometimes I had none, I guess thats how these things go with a non linear sprawlathon. At one point I was on 1% health for a while which was hairy, and then as if by magic I stumbled on the berserk secret.

The only complaint I would have is that my only weapons for the whole map were shotgun and chaingun. I saw rocket ammo about, but no launcher. The plasma rifle had just enough ammo to deal with the trap it activated. The chaingun is pretty good at dealing with heavy stuff until the ammo runs out, but that happens pretty fast, leaving a lot of meat to wade through with the wimpy shotgun. I'm assuming the SSG was in a secret somewhere, and it does make for an interesting experience to go with out it sometimes, but I'm not sure this was one of those times. On the whole though, I had great fun on this map.

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MAP11: The Bloodtower
99% kills, 5/6 secrets

I didn't realize it until I got to the computer maze, but as Getsu Fine points out, the first half is definitely an E1M2 homage, with open room with the three paths and two "inside" rooms, the dual staircases to the red key (complete with 'outside' secret area) and computer maze. We also get the first AV here, a bit unceremoniously guarding the red key, but still, good to see them (actually three on the level). The second half isn't an homage as far as I know, and feels much more Stomper-y (man, he loves having switches create staircases to new areas) but is still good.

There's a couple places on this map where the player will open a door to fight enemies, and this causes another door nearby to open into a hallway that wraps around to the first, allowing monsters to flank the player - good stuff. I was going to say I really enjoyed the layout of the first room since it actually allows the bigger monsters to be a real threat, but it is just the E1M2 room, so... not sure how much credit I can give there. And I agree that there's very little blood (or tower, for that matter) to justify the name. I was a bit disappointed with the end, when I caught sight of that flesh pillar I figured I'd get to interact with it, but no, it was just a sight to see on the way to the unguarded exit, ah well.

Some of the architecture in this map is really cool, though... good job with the multiple layers of ceilings, use of the light textures as detail, some nice curvy walls, etc.

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Map 09

From the start, map was pretty hazardous. Chaingunner below that trench did quite number on my leftover armor and health, and trying to run over demons took some toll too. Headed left, moved to tunnel 3, we got set of doors, each having hell knight behind them. Can be nasty, if you don't snatch that super shotty. Me? PG'd them.

One thing what I don't understand is that doors close down permanently if you hit that switch again.

Clearing tunnel 2 and the end from monsters and seeing nothing important for now, I headed to right portion.

For long, I have thought that it will be bit too easy to play Stomper on UV continuous. And now, I have been corrected.

Being bit posh, armor is now long gone at this point, I began to clear systematically this area. Thing that makes this area bit dangerous is that some monsters are away your auto aim range, perching on ledges and waiting to put fireball or pump some buckshots at your back. I barely dodged revenant rocket from behind when I went to central pump point (or so I interpret those moving platforms that contained those two revenants.) Being half-deaf is never easy...

Roaming around, seeing some flood gate system or something, I started to wander around, killing mancubus, few zombies and imps, then I began to question my ammo situation. I left two boxes of shells at the start and some chaingun ammo, plus stimpack... Then, I got beset by chaingunners. And I got hit from both sides, making my health go near single digit. At this point, mortality issues began to raise again. And I really had to think where I left stimpacks. And it was that only one too. You can believe my relief when I got that medikit secret. A fucking blessing it was.

Once picking up the yellow key and taking out the ambush group at the start, things slow slightly. I have taken most of enemies littered about, now it is time for red key. The area where it is located is quite interesting, with water flowing up and down, revealing enemies behind them. Chaingunners, imps, revenants and mancubus. And on upper level, there are more dudes. If you happen to forget someone, they always remind you, especially chaingunners.

Things really slow down to the end, with handful of cacodemons assisted with pain elementals and some chaingunners, map ends.

Liked quite lot of this map. Visuals look good on my end, but gameplay is something I liked. I even got trouble in this map, especially when it comes for UV continuous.

Map 10
So, broken in Boom, at least in the start area.

Anyway, map is very, very hazardous, with hitscanners here and there, and the general placement of monsters. It seems I am having dyslexia, I completely missed that one chaingunner in caged tower. "Huh? Where's that coming? Wha- How it can hit me down there?!" Yeah riiiight....

And speaking of chaingunners, they are unusually different to each other. One can't hit the broad side of barn door, some just outright obliterates you or least 75 percent of your health.

Overall, I don't have much thought on here. Lots of height variation, and enemies shooting here and there. Bloody hitscanners...

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Map10: Toxic Yards

Seems like Stomper is really hitting its stride here as this is another enjoyable level. Shares some similarities with map09: non-linearity, a lot of height variation, effective hitscanner placement etc. Thematically it's very different though, no mechanical platforms or dark corridors but a rather standard looking and well-lit base with a lot of outside areas to boot instead. Not much toxic about these yards though, perhaps the lowest level in the middle parts has been filled with toxic waste previously but has dried up as of late? I refused to change to zdoom so I just idclipped my way up the broken lift at the start.

The start is again the hardest part and especially when playing for the first time; it's very easy to escalate things beyond your control if you make a few mistakes and end up starving for health. There is a lot of health here, no question, but you gotta fight for it a bit and that's not really optimal if you don't have much in the first place. Yet again I managed to skip the SSG in my first playthrough but to be fair it's a bit more hidden in this map than in the previous one. Not that you really need it that much since after the initial struggles things get much more laidback as you can pretty much set your own pace and safe spots aren't hard to find. Ammo balance seemed pretty spot on this time though so good job on that.

Visually it's alright, nothing too fancy but coherent and sensible texturing and interesting architecture go long ways. Nothing strikingly flawed caught my eye either but I was mostly concentrating on the gameplay again. I dunno, I don't really have any suggestions or complaints about this one, other than obviously fixing the broken lift. Things are indeed a little quiet near the exit so maybe add something there, when the final stairs are raised. That's about it though, so overall a very solid effort.

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Map11 - “The Bloodtower”

There were an inordinate number of times in this map that I came upon monsters facing the wrong direction. Something felt amiss there, I didn't document any of it though because lazy. The layout got kind of interesting near the end, at first I'd been really confused as to what was going on then I traverse the area hitting switches along the way. Several times there were up to 4 Revenants in an encounter and that was pretty difficult, also Chaingunners would get the drop on me quite a bit. Saw lots of alignment issues but again didn't document sorry.

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Map 11 -- The Bloodtower - 100% Kills / 83% Secrets
Right, back to some very pronounced IWAD homages, not my favorite thing in the world, as mentioned previously, but I think the map plays okay. I reckon the similarity to 'Nuclear Plant' is both pretty straightforward and surprisingly complete (although the server maze is significantly less maze-y); myself, I also sort of ended up interpreting some of the mid/later portions of the map as being consciously/willfully similar to 'Computer Station' on some levels--there are the curved hallways with chunks of sector in the middle that essentially split the hall into two 'lanes', the way you have to go ooze-spelunking to get more than one of the secrets, the pairs of facing windows with spacious interceding nukage areas, etc.--but I might be reading too much into a lot of that, granted. Fairly polished, though texture alignment does noticeably go to pot in a few specific places--the wall behind the lift into/out of the outdoor secret area, a lot of the room with the blue armor secret in the corner (the midtex looks messed up from both sides, and the wall under it looks like a total clusterfuck if one stands in the actual secret sector), etc. No game-ending dysfunctions this time, the only construction error I found was the window sill sector mistakenly tagged as 'secret' right next to the secret sector containing the two ammo boxes, already mentioned by Getsu Fune--redundant and difficult or even impossible to trigger, should just be eliminated. I also noticed that an unusual number of pert demonic/undead buttocks were pointed at me during the course of the map, but I interpreted this as a design feature rather than the result of some soundblocking errors or whatnot.

Anyway, as I said I think the map plays fairly well, not especially predictable despite the stark IWAD homagery. The basic combat concept seems to be in line with what we've been seeing a lot of for the past several maps--enemies on different height levels, attacking through windows and from more than one direction, etc--although there's a more pronounced emphasis on mid-tier monsters (especially revenants and mancs), and there are generally fewer fields of fire that need to cover at any given time (although you can stir a lot up playing the more spacious second half of the map very aggressively as I did). Instead, you periodically face sudden bum-rushes of mid-level monsters (often revenants) to focus your attention on what's directly in front of you. Given the relatively generous width of a lot of the map's hallways, I didn't find it too difficult to face these head-on, but it looks like these encounters are geared with the assumption that you'll be pushed back or flee: there are the chaingunners who are supposed to attack from the wall that opens to the left as you're occupied with the revenants behind the three-arrow door in the southern part of the map, the hell knights who apparently approach from some distance away earlier in the map when the surge of revenants outside of the bloodtower room comes screaming out of their tunnel, etc. This is fine conceptually, but it will generally take the secondary monsters too long to arrive/make an impact unless the player reacts to the more immediate threat in a very specific way. We also see arch-viles for the first time in this map, and while there is almost special fanfare attendant with their introduction, I'm fine with the way they're deployed--you tend to just casually run into them in corridors of no special note as you turn corners, maybe makes you do a little bit of a double-take the first time it happens.

On the issue of theming, I think that what this map presents us with is just fine in and of itself--a labyrinthine supercomputer complex suspiciously devoid of eggheaded corpses (or at least of those which aren't given to loping about and taking potshots at you, anyway) until you start to get closer and closer to the master processing center, which we eventually find has been converted into some kind of unknowable black magic substation via the collection and harnessing of the flayed flesh and tormented souls of the missing staff, all fine and dandy. In terms of surface aesthetic this level also stands out from everything that came before it by dint of being quite clean and high-tech--even sterile-looking--until its gooey center, which is no bad distinction.....it's just not really appropriately named, is all. The bloody bit at the end is just such a small part of the whole, and not particularly dramatic relative to what's come before it, to seem like the obvious choice for providing the map's name, is all. Other maps in Stomper have had a similar issue--Fusion Plant looks strangely antiquated and quasi-gothic for a map of that name, there's not actually very much toxin in Toxic Yards, etc. This is a really minor and almost entirely harmless issue in the big picture, and could be argued to have its own sort of quirky charm (especially if it's going to keep happening as we get deeper in), but I figured I'd mention it now as some others have done so as well.

Edit: Oh yeah, some folks will be displeased if you don't put at least one radsuit around to mitigate some of the damage currently involved in getting some of the secrets. Doesn't really bother me at all personally, but you wouldn't really be hurting anything by making this concession in this instance, I suppose.

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Doing some catch-up after a four-day weekend...

MAP09:
This was good. Hard, but not unreasonably so. Took me a lap or two of the entire map at one point to figure out where to go next (I repeatedly overlooked a doorwa) but otherwise it wasn't too bad, "flow"-wise. I never did figure out that room at the end of a hallway with 5 doors, and (presumably) the last 5 monsters I didn't kill behind them. There was a repeatable switch at the end of the room, but it never seemed to do anything...

MAP10:
Holy Hannah, this map kicked my butt constantly, over and over again. It got to the point where I had to save every time I entered a new room/area, and I'd just get blitzed each time: chaingunners out the window, revenant rockets coming in from the other side, stray lost souls, and cacos silently wandering up behind me... I actually really liked the layout once I got a handle on it, but that took a long time and many, many deaths. In the meanwhile, I kept feeling like I was running low on ammo (though I was able to stock up before the exit) and is it just me or are rockets just hard to come by in general? Lastly, I was unable to find the beserk pack near the end without cheating (though I found the secret portion of it easily enough) but man, I don't know how I would have ever found it there. Anyway: good map. HARD map.

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Map 12 -- Grand Gate - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
My asshole father, eh? The plot thickens. Also, nice opening shot.

'Grand Gate' is very much a change in pace from the past several maps, being a lightly-populated sandbox level in an environment that recalls map 07 more than anything. My interpretation of the action here is that this is very much intended as a breather map; there are 84 monsters spread out over a very large area, with the only significant concentration being the heterogeneous group that teleports in near the yellow key; the only real to-do in terms of combat is simply getting your starting kit scraped together, which can be done very quickly or might take a while depending on where you end up wandering towards first. The amount of space the player has to move around in is considerable (only a few of the indoor sections are very tight, and most of those which are have minimal or no opposition), so avoiding damage from the various monsters on high is generally no sweat at all--even the hitscanners are pretty ineffective most of the time, given the distances involved.

The map's best quality is probably its appearance. While I suspect that some players might wholeheartedly disagree with me on this, I actually quite approve of Stomper's decision not to plaster its custom textures and other assets over every square foot of every map; it allows for a much wider overall variety in level themes when some of the tried-and-true stock texture combos are permitted to cohabit or even alternate with the seedy rust-tech look of the Stomper texures. Apart from some banners with more of that cool-looking 'clutching fist' insignia, 'Grand Gate' is comprised almost entirely of stock Doom II textures, almost all of them from the 'old city' subset--lots of mortar, cobblestone, soil, and water, with cold iron trim. Quite appealing, I think. There's a somewhat old-fashioned aspect to the broad, tall, and mostly unadorned surfaces that define most of what the eye falls upon in the outdoor section of the map (most pronounced where the outer bounding wall of the play area is concerned, unsurprisingly), but each of the main buildings is uniquely shaped with several different facets (literally), so it's never boring to look at. Indoors the decor tends to be rather spartan as well (most pronounced in the yellow key room), but the complex twists and turns of the vertically-oriented inner spaces usually maintains interest, as well. It's mostly clean work, but some misalignments and other polish issues do continue to make themselves known at a few points--there's a big texture misalignment on the building visible from the SSG secret, many of the metal supports related to the 3D bridges look quite sloppy (including the brace textures on the building walls that bracket the bridge leading to the exit point), the iron bar midtextures on many of the narrow windows of the buildings appear slightly off-center, and the skull-lantern props paired with the four dark metal columns in the southwestern building are placed too close to said columns, and appear to clip/bleed into them slightly.

I don't mind that this is a more slow-paced/leisurely map than some of the ones before it, but I'll repeat my general suggestion from earlier maps that putting in more trash monsters might not be a bad idea, and some infusions of flying monsters while the player is traveling around on the upper balconies and bridges and such might be fun too, although I understand the technical realities of the tri-arm 3D bridge setup do limit what you can do with outdoor monster deployment in some ways. The teleporting monsters near the yellow key are fine, but I would suggest having them beam in at 2-3 different points in the room, rather than from just the one point--too easy to choke off, that way. Porting in a few monsters outside to inconvenience those just running away from the yellow key monsters might be worth considering, as well.

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Map 11
Now, this is familiar. E1M2. Or so it felt. Start gives both shotguns, which feels slightly odd, but with the opposition we have here, I guess it's ok in my book. Pretty rough start too, when few mancubuses, revenants and chaingunners roam around. Died when I encountered arch-vile. Bloody lost soul came in and decided to block me to stairs.

Second attempt of trying to kill arch-vile leads to major wounds due to archie's good attempts to resurrect revenants blasting my face, plus hurting myself with rocket launcher. Apparently there's load of secrets to be taken in this red key area.

Moving along to east area, holy damn there's lot of hitscanners here, like in two previous maps. And well placed too, chaingunner made mincemeat of me when I focused one of the areas. Popped right behind me.

Clearing that area and snatching soul sphere, continued to go through red key. Got mega armor, long time no see. Going down the lift, guess who I met again? Arch-vile. Only cover you have is that pillar, but besides that archie, he got some buddies on the stairs and on the windows. This could turn ugly, unless you have plasma gun, which secret could provide for you.

Continuing again, I think I see more of 1993 E1 mash-up here, with few instances of modern stuff here. And I kinda like this area, on visual side. And the area itself could feel like maze to go through. So far, I haven't seen the fabled "blood tower", until I dispatched that last arch-vile. With the revenant ambush, it turns to be slightly anti-climatic.

Apparently, I missed one secret. One thing what I could think is that area with two ammo boxes have separate secret sectors. Dunno, but that's my guess.

Map 12
Now, this map is bit a breather, in my opinion. With 84 enemies, it feels sparse in this large level. Grand gate, huh? Well, level's already grand with its buildings. High elevation, large towers... Oh, and 3D stuff. Those middle beams over water area? Yup, it's a bridge.
One room over room trick... And one other place.

Of course, there's slight problems, too. Middle one works well, but other two has loud sounds (I think they can be fixed), and the one going exit puts that tree floating.

But again, this level is what it is, and I think it is nice breather after three ordeals. Of course, there's always trouble around here, revenants managed to smack me few times with their rockets when I went for super shotgun. And of course, this level is more for looks, and I actually spent time looking every nook and cranny. If you ask me, best looking map so far.

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MAP12 Grand Gate (Crossing the Gate)

TONE SHIFT! This map obviously leads me into earth, in what looks like an "Industrial Zone/Factory" type of map. It also reminds me of a valkiriforce map. We also see some bridges being used, and it almost looks solid as long as you don't look straight down when walking on them. As for combat, about 80 monsters on HMP, and at least half of them must have been revenants and chaingunners. Enough to make Plutonia blush already? The particular room in the NE with the chaingunners in it plus the confounded teleport ambush was the highlight fight. Most everything else was chaingun food. Great E3 opener.

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It's time for me to play hardcore catchup! Here's another four that I've finished:

MAP05: Fusion Plant 100% kills, 100% secrets
This is the point where the difficulty becomes something to be aware of - no more walks in the park. I actually died in this one (the baron/hell knight thing is a bit brutal). Also, I spent a good 30-45 minutes looking around for the last secret until I eventually realized that the pool in the first room triggers it (I had grabbed the item by running as it lowered, completely avoiding the pool in the process). Other than that, it was an interesting map, but I can't help but feel that the map feels a bit 'wonky' and out of place.

MAP06: Mainframe 100% kills, 100% secrets
Suddenly we're dealing with some tech base map - and a brilliant one at that! The secrets in this one were very easy to find compared to the previous few - I had no trouble finding each one (although I got lucky with the hidden switch thing). This map feels more structured (rather than the randomness of the previous map with its twisting hallways and oddly-shaped rooms). However, there is still too much ammo! I exited the map with about 30 more rockets than I entered with, and I came across multiple bullet/shell boxes that I couldn't pick up due to having maximum ammo. Other than that, I like this map - especially the area with the toxic waste. Also, the rising/lowering tech pillars were cool.

MAP07: The Barricade 90% kills, 100% secrets
Major flaw here - some monsters are unkillable (as mentioned by others)! Aside from that and a few texture misalignments, everything was fine and jolly. I liked the beginning area - I felt I had to rush before I ran out of radiation suits, something I've not seen done before. It would be nice if radiation suits 'scaled' with the number of players in the game (to provide more of a challenge), but I know that this isn't possible with the map format used. Also, the switch that raises the 'safe bridge' in the first room is pretty neat - thanks for that!

MAP08: Scrapyards 100% kills, 100% secrets
This one reminded me of Doom II's maps - especially that 'O of Destruction' thing in the middle. The music was pretty epic too! The only flaw I noticed was an imp that was kinda stuck on top of a pillar.

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Seems like a good time to talk about the story, which suddenly came out of nowhere on the MAP11/12 intermission screen. My father is a dictator and I need to kill him? Union HQ? Okay... so how does that relate to killing all these Doom demons?

MAP12: Grand Gate
100% kills, 2/3 secrets

Although I didn't find it that noticeably lightly populated at first, it does become apparent as you continue that a lot of the towers are much less stacked with monsters than they could be - some empty battlements, or maybe having only one imp or one zombie in a room that could easily have more. Still, there's a decent amount of revenants and chaingunners here, so the player can never totally let their guard down.

But the hero of the map is definitely the architecture... between the 3d bridges, room-over-room effects and all the archways and stuff, it almost feels like a bit of a "okay, I'm going to try and make a map with cool architecture" experiment instead of making a map with an actual gameplay/story theme. Some of the stuff is kinda meh for me, but some of the stuff is kinda cool (I really like the archways in the yellow key room). I'm not a big fan of all the tan/brown... I've always found that to be one of my least favorite Doom 2 themes just because it's so... well, brown.

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Magnusblitz said:

Seems like a good time to talk about the story, which suddenly came out of nowhere on the MAP11/12 intermission screen. My father is a dictator and I need to kill him? Union HQ? Okay... so how does that relate to killing all these Doom demons?

Once Xaser completes his map20 and other FEW extra things, it'll make sense, trust me. As for map10's starting lift, I don't even know how come with complevel 9 it refuses to work, from player's side, it's a SR Lower Lift Wait Raise, from the other side it's a WR Lower Lift Wait Raise plus complevel 9 is pure boom isn't it? Also if it happens without complevels, I might change it so it somehow works with both prboom and prboom-plus which have their different set of boom compat issues. So no, this is not a zdoomism as i'm using the boom config in doom builder, it's just your port acting like an ass about it, I might consider an option around it though.

Anyway thanks to GreenHerring I found the legimitate broken lift, not the one AT THE START, in sector 2, fixed it by giving it a tag and the tag to the linedefs.

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No, complevel 9 represents Boom functionality (as are 7 and 8, but 9 is by far the most widely used). There is some error with the way the lift and the surrounding sectors are set up or tagged; that it works in ZDoom (but nowhere else) is presumably a function of that port proactively compensating for construction errors or oversights more than most other ports do.

In -cl 7, the right side of the lift works, but the left side causes the entire map to simultaneously malfunction in a rather comical way--try it yourself and see. In -cl 8, the lift is simply nonfunctional, as in -cl 9.

Edit: Oh, while I was farting around in -cl 7, 8 and 9 (and also -1, actually), you got it figured out. Well, good. Don't forget that malfunctioning secret door (or explain to me how to make it open if I was just too dim to discover how myself)!

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Demon of the Well said:

No, complevel 9 represents Boom functionality (as are 7 and 8, but 9 is by far the most widely used). There is some error with the way the lift and the surrounding sectors are set up or tagged; that it works in ZDoom (but nowhere else) is presumably a function of that port proactively compensating for construction errors or oversights more than most other ports do.

In -cl 7, the right side of the lift works, but the left side causes the entire map to simultaneously malfunction in a rather comical way--try it yourself and see. In -cl 8, the lift is simply nonfunctional, as in -cl 9.

Edit: Oh, while I was farting around in -cl 7, 8 and 9 (and also -1, actually), you got it figured out. Well, good. Don't forget that malfunctioning secret door (or explain to me how to make it open if I was just too dim to figure it out)!

Well the secret door strangely had a D1, but I added the passthru to make it possibly work in all CLs, same with the lift and the door near it.

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