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Voltcom9

Was the Icon of Sin a cop out boss?

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I always found the Icon of Sin to be kind of a lame end game boss. What are your thoughts on this as a final boss? If you could change it what would you make the end game boss?

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I think it's an alright idea when used in Doom 2, but I'd say the bigger problem with its implementation is that nearly every megawad ends with some variation of the fight, which can get old after a while (like with Dead Simple knockoffs).

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dobu gabu maru said:

I think it's an alright idea when used in Doom 2, but I'd say the bigger problem with its implementation is that nearly every megawad ends with some variation of the fight, which can get old after a while (like with Dead Simple knockoffs).

That's a little unfair since every megawad would almost always end with any sort of final boss that id had included.

I don't know if I would call the Icon of Sin a "copout" but it's certainly a gimmick, and not a particularly good gimmick at that. I never actually played Map30 "blind" so I have no idea what it would have been like to encounter that with no idea what to do, but I bet it wouldn't be very fun. Even knowing what to do, it's not very fun anyways.

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not really fond of it. usually, Map 29 is a much more climactic map than 30 because it doesn't pull any punches, and the gameplay is much more better as a result because it doesn't rely on a gimmick fight. it's especially anti-climactic if map 30 plays out like a normal level, leading up to the final boss... and then it's the same damn thing, usually, which kind of sours the whole deal.

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I think the concept behind the Icon of Sin was probably a pretty good one: a gigantic demon the size of a multi-storey building that shoots out other demons to attack you. If you think about just that idea, it sounds pretty awesome. It's the implementation in practice that IMO falls flat.

My first criticism is that visually, it fails to impress. Sure, it's huge, and the artwork is as beautifully done as any of Doom's other artwork. But ultimately it's obvious that it's just a wall that you're shooting at. It's a flat texture and it doesn't animate or otherwise move. Despite the ending text talking about "thrashing limbs" there's no sign of the rest of its body anywhere. Basically it's really hard for me to suspend my disbelief that this is just a wall. I'm attacking a texture.

My second criticism is the gameplay itself. The entire challenge of the Icon of Sin arises from the fact that in Doom it's impossible to aim downwards, and you therefore have to fire just before the elevator reaches the top, or just after you jump off it. If the elevator was significantly taller than the required height, it wouldn't be so bad. Or if it was at exactly the right height and you had to score, say, 20 hits, all while fending off attacks from other monsters, that would be fine. But instead, the elevator is only just slightly too tall to fire straight in - so that in real life, if you aimed downwards, or if you ducked down and fired, you'd hit without any problem. It's almost like the game is attempting a form of self parody, making fun of its own self-imposed limitations.

Plutonia 2 did a really good Icon of Sin, visually probably the best I've seen and how Doom II's version ought to have been done. But still, I don't think it's a good boss at all, and it's kind of sad how every megaWAD inevitably has to end with one.

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I hate IoS maps. But here's the thing: I don't so much mind the John Romero head puzzle aspect (by itself.) It's being coupled with the infinitely-spawning high-tier monsters that cheeses me off. "Figure out this puzzle" becomes "figure out this puzzle, then repeat it three times, all while being attacked from every direction by endless waves of the game's toughest monsters." Hate. Most megawads I'll give the IoS map a couple tries before I ragequit and call it good enough. A few can pull it off (D2TWID did, IMHO), but not many of them.

I prefer finales that emphasize either the puzzle aspect (UAC Ultra) or the slaughter aspect (20 Years of Doom) but not both.

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I thought that a flat wall with a scary enemy painted on it was just about the lamest enemy you could come up with.

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The one positive thing about the Icon that I can say is that since it's a final boss that's dependent on a level design trick, it does lend itself well to mappers making their own "version" of the Icon. If Doom 2 had ended with a Super Mecha Ultra Demon or whatever, then every megawad would end about the same way: an arena of some sort where you fight a SMUD, probably BFG it a few times, the end. Instead, with the Icon, mappers are able to design a Map30 where you generally actually have to do something in particular to open the pathway to fire rockets into the exposed brain, and that lets a certain amount of creativity shine through.

P.S. does Quasar still insist its called "Baphomet" or whatever

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Hmm.....no, I don't think the IoS is really a copout, though I understand why many people feel that way. As a dynamic, involved encounter, the IoS by itself (such as it is) is very simplistic, and by its nature, inconsistently threatening--sometimes it shits imps and specters at you for minutes at a stretch, sometimes it seems to puke out little other than arch-viles and pain elementals. In a sense, it's basically a specific type of fight with preexisting opponents where the real twist is a light environmental traversal aspect, and also a puzzle aspect, although the puzzle aspect only works to its fullest but a single time in one's Dooming career. What it is not in any real capacity is its own new type of enemy, with its own unique attacks, movement, weaknesses, etc. In this sense, I can see where it feels like the IoS gave us nothing really new to cap Doom II off with, and that's a valid complaint. I personally feel that the greatest drawback to the original IoS design (and thus naturally, to many that came after it) elides from fraggle's second point, that being that the lynchpin of the encounter blatantly depends on Doomguy's inability to manually aim up or down--it's a battle concept based entirely on self-aware metagamery, a charge we can't fairly level at the poor old pushover spider mastermind, or even to the telefrag conclusion of Quake. There is something fundamentally unsatisfying about this, I'd agree.

However, over time the way I personally look at the IoS has changed. Broadly speaking, I enjoy IoS maps in the way that some other players enjoy things like remakes of Knee Deep in the Dead--it is interesting to me to see how many different ways the same fundamental (and very specific) design can be spun and twisted and, on rare occasions, turned on its head to create something almost new. On a more visceral level, though, I think the crucial 'reconciliation' I had long ago with the IoS concept is that I stopped viewing it as the game's climax.....nowadays I view it as something of an epilogue, a cathartic nightcap to the experience of a mapset. An after-dinner mint to cleanse the palate after the feast of the game's real climax (e.g. in an orthodox megaWAD, this is often maps 25-29 or thereabouts, where the most challenging and/or complex maps in the set often tend to cluster), if you will. Doom's hardly a game that's particularly reliant on a specific, detailed narrative, of course--generally a suitable thematic backdrop/diegesis is more than enough--but the IoS, handled well, is a nice way to bring the story to a close with a bit of flair. As I've said in some of the DWMC threads in the past, the traditional IoS map is one of very, very few types of map I can think of where the aesthetic presentation--the texture/asset theme, the music selection, the minutiae of the way in which the bosswall (if there even is one) is visually introduced and presented, etc.--is significantly more important to the map's role in the mapset than whatever is involved in actually playing it. Finding a way to fit the requisite number of rockets into the Icon's brain, ideally whilst traipsing about strange/grandiose surroundings, feels more like a quirky little ritual of closing to me than almost any other type of play setup in Doom, and there's something special and endearing about that, I think.

Of course, as with anything else, if we can have our cake and eat it too, all the better--PWADsters have been trying to turn the IoS into something that is both a spectacle AND a genuinely engaging gameplay experience for years and years now, and while it's difficult to think of any specific iteration yet that really nails it on both fronts at once, a lot of interesting and eminently playworthy attempts have been made, and will presumably continue to be made, so there's always that aspect of ongoing interest. Which brings me back to the original point....my interest in IoS maps is something that stems almost entirely from things I've seen in PWADs, and not from the IWADs (though I do kinda like Plutonia's IoS, I guess). If Sandy Petersen's original map 30 were the only one of its type, yeah, I'd probably be much more inclined to agree with the general disenchantment with the concept, as that particular iteration is pretty underwhelming on most fronts (although id definitely got the music and the start room right, at least).

There's a lot of other stuff to think about here--for example, how cool is it when you're tooling along happily in the middle of a megaWAD, and suddenly out of nowhere you hear "oremoR" sounding off and promptly start pissing your diddies because it's just not the kind of thing we're used to expecting--but suffice to say, I see a lot of value in the IoS concept, though I wouldn't argue that it's a difficult one to pull off, and is often handled in an underwhelming way.

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I think it was a good ending originally, the main problem is that it only really works once, but for some reason people seem to think that every single MAP30 needs to end in an Icon battle. Demon mentioned the telefrag end to Quake, and I think it's certainly a lot better than that.

I always found it kinda interesting how, in my mind, the Spider Mastermind was always a weaker boss compared to the Cyberdemon - both in stature (Cyber is taller, and sounds more terrifying, as well as having the more impressive level around it) as well as being more threatening game-play wise. Yeah, it's harder to avoid chaingun hits than rockets, but a rocket will usually kill you in one hit, while the chaingun won't. And the Spider can be killed in one BFG hit... the Cyber can't, not to mention the player won't even have a BFG for him on E2M8. So id could've tried giving us just another big boss monster with 8000 health that fires BFG shots or something, but I think it would've felt a bit uninspired.

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It's okay. Better than Shub-Niggurath. I feel like that it was more of a template, though, that the modders could imrpove upon, and maybe make something a bit better. I've always felt that Doom/Doom II were basically engine showcases to some degree, and this map sorta lends itself to that. It's a big tool for modders to work with. It shows us some puzzles you can create in Doom.

And exploding wall triggers.

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Icon of sin was scary as fuck! Also the added ambiguity made it a bit creepier. The boss battle first seems like a rush trip but its pretty simple.

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This has been asked about a gazillion times so I'll just say, in my opinion, the IOS was cooler than the Mastermind.

COME AT ME.

Yeah but the IOS being overused in megawads gets old. IIRC Plutonia 2 was one of the best variations on the fight, though.

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If I were at id Software circa 1994, I'd try to make the Icon of Sin just a large moving sprite-based boss monster in an interesting arena. Sure, a bit more mundane, but I think it'd be a better gameplay experience despite the lack of a map gimmick. It'd be like the Cyberdemon mixed with the Pain Elemental on crack. I don't even care if you'd have to make it a one-angle sprite to work on contemporary hardware.

fraggle said:

The entire challenge of the Icon of Sin arises from the fact that in Doom it's impossible to aim downwards, and you therefore have to fire just before the elevator reaches the top, or just after you jump off it. If the elevator was significantly taller than the required height, it wouldn't be so bad. Or if it was at exactly the right height and you had to score, say, 20 hits, all while fending off attacks from other monsters, that would be fine.

I'm wondering if it'd be deemed acceptable to make that change in my barely-completed vaporware "Unmaker Edition" compilation (I don't really work on it too often, so I'm not hyping it or anything). I try to base all of my changes either in fixes of obvious bugs/errors and creative changes from official versions of Doom (mostly PSX, though I'll occasionally bring in something from a prototype version that I thought was cool), but honestly, everybody hates IoS.

Purists probably wouldn't like Unmaker Edition anyhow, but I do wonder if people would be upset if I changed the lift to go to the exact height and not slightly off. I imagine it would be viewed more as a slight redeemer to make the map merely tolerable (well, almost, certainly more than the original version).

I'm thinking I'll probably move Redemption Denied to finish off E4, just after Threshold of Pain (like in Xaser's E5). I never felt like E4M8 was a climactic ending at all. Threshold of Pain is cool, and certainly more climactic than E4M8, but it serves better as a big, grueling prelude to a giant boss battle than the climax itself. It also gives me an excuse to use that map where it wouldn't be fitting at the end of Doom 2 with the Icon of Sin right next to it. Besides which, I want to remain generally true to the original narrative experience, but simply add to it with extras without reordering/removing what was already there in the canonical PC releases.

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I posted sympathetically about the boss here, over three years ago.

I think it's certainly fine in classic-styled WADs, but it should be consistent with the general style of play and difficulty, just like any monster appearing throughout. For example, a cryptic and obscure final boss would only make sense in a WAD full or tricks and puzzles, while the boss in a relatively standard WAD should have a suitable difficulty but shouldn't deviate wildly from the original final boss, or if it is somewhat different, there should be a way to make that explicit.

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DotW makes a good point. Everyone is so tired by the cliched, anti-climatic IoS setup that expectations plummet to the bottom after map29. I feel like I'm doing the mapper a service by stooping to such a chore, I enter map30 with a dismissive sardonic smile and I ask him to surprise me. It's like in the movies where the pretty upper-class girl yawns and waves off legions of unworthy suitors. Suddenly every details matters and you either reinvent the wheel in an exciting way, or you polish it and make it the best goddamn wheel in town. The map can still be just a glorified outro gimmick, but it has to be impressive.

That said, T.V.'s Icons in Plutonia 2 and PRCP are definitely among the best looking wallfaces out there. The one in Alien Vendetta is cool too, because it's fairly hard and pulls off the scary factor much better than the original. But my favourite is, of course, the "inverted" IoS setup in Speed of Doom. It's actually just another silly gimmick (survive the endless horde long enough), but the wow factor is strong.

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It would also be interesting to see if the Icon of Sin behaviour can be improved via dehacked. As far as I know nobody has ever done that.

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Linguica said:

The one positive thing about the Icon that I can say is that since it's a final boss that's dependent on a level design trick, it does lend itself well to mappers making their own "version" of the Icon. If Doom 2 had ended with a Super Mecha Ultra Demon or whatever, then every megawad would end about the same way: an arena of some sort where you fight a SMUD, probably BFG it a few times, the end. Instead, with the Icon, mappers are able to design a Map30 where you generally actually have to do something in particular to open the pathway to fire rockets into the exposed brain, and that lets a certain amount of creativity shine through.

P.S. does Quasar still insist its called "Baphomet" or whatever


this is what I was about to get into, until you made a follow up post to your earlier one.

honestly, the spider mastermind at the end of E4 was by far more disappointing than the icon of sin in Doom 2. A spider mastermind again??

Although an icon of sin may have been better if it were more flexible and interchangeable in differently designed arenas, were actually pretty blessed with a boss where some degrees of its complexity and difficulty are in the hands of the mapper. You can increase the rate at which monsters are spawned, spawn them in trouble areas, and develop a puzzle or obstacle required to kill it. Granted its not ideal, but its certainly better than every megawad arbitrarily ending with a cyberdemon or mastermind fight. OOOOH This megawad has two cyberdemons instead of one! This mastermind is in the dark! This cybie is in a maze! Theres only so much customization available.

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I would find it hard to beleive for the Icon Of Sin to be a quik escape boss to end development.
Looking at the idea behind the boss they envisioned a giant demonic creature comming out of the wall as if was breaking into
the world to attempt and invade. This i believe was severly blocked by the technological limitations of the engine and so they
seem to have ended up with a textured wall.

I hope i did not play a mod and my memory entangling it but i seem to remember a doom 3 multiplayer or singleplayer hell map
where a giant ass creature with chains is immobile but crawling out of lava trough a broken wall as decoration... which i think was
a reference to what the IoS should have been.

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fraggle said:

It would also be interesting to see if the Icon of Sin behaviour can be improved via dehacked. As far as I know nobody has ever done that.

Like what? How far? The sky's (almost) the limit, but you need to decide how the modified boss would act like.

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I've always felt the next step up from the Cyberdemon would be a large hovering demon that furiously shot Touhou-esq waves of plasma.

I also wish there was a weapon in Doom 2 that had the ability to reflect enemy projectiles.

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fraggle said:

It would also be interesting to see if the Icon of Sin behaviour can be improved via dehacked. As far as I know nobody has ever done that.


UAC Ultra 2 map 7 does this. There's an Icon of Sin at the very beginning of the level, it's been modified so the level won't end when you kill it, but it does stop spawning monsters when it dies.

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printz said:

Like what? How far? The sky's (almost) the limit, but you need to decide how the modified boss would act like.

For example, you could have an Icon of Sin that you attack at the correct height, but with extra health points so that it requires more hits, and an Archvile explosion attack is triggered when you score a hit, to knock the player off the tower.

That's just one idea. There's all kinds of things you might try.

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Interesting point fraggle. I always wondered about applying IoS summoning traits to the Archvile alongside it's resurrection ability. I think a moving IoS, with an attack would certainly make for a more interesting final battle.

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Considering how imaginative and creative the Spider Demon was, I was never impressed with the IoS. Of course, it didn't help that as a child, I would always just turn on noclip and shoot Romero on the other side of the wall. :)

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Honestly, I always thought the Cyberdemon was the greatest boss Doom ever had, but it was only the end boss of Episode 2. Sure, the Spiderdemon is more deadly, but it isn't as iconic, doesn't leave the lasting impression that the first meeting with the Cyberdemon does. As such, the Icon of Sin doesn't even come close for me. I just... I've never been able to get past the fact that it's just a wall texture. A damn good looking wall texture, but even the first time I fought it, it seemed less like an actual boss and more just a puzzle with fancy dressings.

There are some parts of it I like, though. I've always felt that the actual concept was solid, and that actually bringing it to life as an actual creature would would make it an incredible and memorable fight - like the mod that was shown in the video.

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The Icon of Sin boss was... startling the first time I saw it. But all chance of good impression faded away when I found out (in the first 3 mins of game-play) that it's just a textured wall.

Personally, I always dreamed a Doom-II boss to be:

A fast moving grounded hellspawn (like the Archvile) that has a modified version of one attack from every in-game monster with high health and a powerful weapon that I get only at it's map to fight it with (Like the Unmaker from Doom64).

Engine limitations were unknown to me at that time.

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