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Patrol1985

Jim Flynn's WADs (a rant)

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I'll start by saying that I'm impressed by the complexity Jim Flynn put into his WADs. Considering his creations come from 1994-1995 one should respect his efforts.

With that said, I must say I'm REALLY frustarted by his puzzles. I've just completed enigma.wad (from 1995), which is a 9 level episode for Doom II consisting of some of Jim's maps which had first been released separately. A LOT of those maps feature keys behind some random walls (without any indication that they need to be opened) etc.

Whenever I got stuck during those maps I looked into a walkthrough and I have a feeling that 95% of places where I got stuck featured some arbitrary means of progress like the one I mentioned above. It's all the more irritating that he mixed them with some really interesting, original and cool ideas, but I would often refer to a walkthrough prematurely solely because I had already encountered enough "bullshit puzzles" to lose hope that some normal ones would still appear.

His style can also be seen in the WADs he contributed to "Master Levels for Doom II" (i.e. manor.wad)

The epitome of arbitrariness of his puzzles could be witnessed in map08 (The Tower) of enigma.wad where the final door is obstructed by 2 stone walls. To remove the said walls one has to ride two button-activated pillars which lead to buttons removing the walls. The problem is, both pillars are activated by the SAME button (one pillar at a time). I was pressing the button continuously and all the time the same pillar would ride down. Then, I watched the walkthrough and could not understand how to make the button activate the second pillar. I started running around, shooting the button etc. (hoping it was about stepping into some sector or something) and FINALLY "something" happened and upon activating the button, the second pillar rode down. I still don't know what I did to make that happen and I would have certainly never found out without a walkthrough that the button's effect can somehow be altered to trigger the other pillar.

And all this got me thinking - maybe that's what Doom's about? After all, Jim Flynn is an accomplished Doom mapper and programmer (he worked on Boom, etc.). Maybe I want it easy?

Thus, I'd like to ask your opinion about Jim's WADs and maps - do you genuinely enjoy them? Do you like to search for solutions even though they seem illogical? After all, a whole gaming genre thrived on this concept (adventure games from the 90s - now THOSE had some illogical puzzles!)

What do you think?

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I like puzzles. But I don't like obscure but mandatory stuff being hidden away in a secret alcove of a big level that's part of a 4-level giant hub.

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Mordeth said:

I like puzzles. But I don't like obscure but mandatory stuff being hidden away in a secret alcove of a big level that's part of a 4-level giant hub.


You've just perfectly described map06 of enigma.wad ("Triplet")

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Combat-wise, these maps are very good: some modern brutality with mid-tier monsters domination is present. But I don't like playing these maps, except for three gems in Eternal Doom. Enigma got three stars from me od /idgames, and this only two stars. Flynn's sense of aesthetics was weird, to put it diplomatically. Puzzles? Yes, they were too obscure sometimes.

I enjoyed tremendously two maps from Reverie (8,10) inspired by Flynn, though.

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Generally speaking, I'd say I enjoy playing Flynn's maps, though in contrast to vdgg I'd say I find his Titan series the most consistently palatable. They really are the sort of thing you have to be in the right mood to enjoy, though. Puzzles/exploration maps are something that can work well in Doom, I feel, but it's important that the author really commits to them if they're going to be a map's bread and butter, and usually Flynn does that--his longer works can be quite rewarding if one is willing to devote the time necessary to unravel them. His maps also tend to feature a lot of dynamism as far as moving/interactive sectors go, often on a surprisingly large scale, which is an attribute that can lend a lot of flair to maps of all sorts (including those diametrically opposed in pace and intensity to Flynn's own), so there's that, too.

I'll grant you that once in a while he goes too far, though--occasionally the riddles will leave the realm of the game's evinced internal logic and start requiring full-on metagaming to solve, not something I myself am particularly enamored with, and certainly something I can see an audience not accustomed to this type of gameplay finding spiteful and infuriating.

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Jim Flynn has an inventive and intelligent style but his maps can be long, complicated and frustrating. I find Trapped on Titan fun enough, but Titan Manor was a wretched experience, even PSXified.

Playing a Doom map where you're running round for twenty minutes looking for a key or a switch is a bit like enjoying a novel written by a master, but needing to stop and decode or translate it every few pages. Some people will obtain some kind of pleasure from exercising their brains like this. I'm guessing a lot of people don't want their leisure time turning into a mental workout.

That doesn't mean puzzle maps shouldn't exist. Eternal Doom is hugely popular of its kind. Cyberdreams is really a puzzle wad too. What shouldn't exist is the infuriating maps where you need to look in an editor to find things.

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Jim Flynn happens to be one of my favourite mappers of the early Doom era. As far as puzzle-centric maps go, I'd say his are more devious, inventive and masterful compared to those by other puzzle masters of his time like Bob Evans and Paul Schmitz (though I'll admit, many of Evans's Odessa maps, especially Maps 20 and 30 of Eternal Doom, rival Flynn in terms of complexity and ingenuity). I've played through all of Flynn's offerings. They are large, expansive, and monumental for their time, no doubt, but the amazing visuals, and his penchant for creating surrealistic environments are really worth it. I can see how some of the contemporary Doom mappers would be influenced by Jim Flynn, especially Valkiriforce as seen in Maps 08, 10, and 31 of Reverie. I'm still yet to beat that secret level, but I will figure it out sooner or later.

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I really loved playing his Enigma episode, felt like I had done a whole megawad by the time that monster was finished.

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One of the trickiest things Mr. Flynn has done was in Eternal Doom IV Map 13, where he put a health bonus behind the bars of a jail cell with seemingly no way to grab it (thus unable to achieve 100% items). The trick was to bump against the bars repeatedly until you seemingly get close enough to it to take it. See video here. It looks like a clever exploit in map design. Another diabolical design by Mr. Flynn was in Eternal Doom III Map 26, where you had to shoot a CLONE of yourself in order to solve the challenge (video). Anyone know how Mr. Flynn is doing now? Is he working on new maps like John Romero recently did?

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I greatly enjoy Flynn's style of mapping; his Titan series were some of the early PWADs I'd played and I remember how amazed I was playing levels outside of the regular IWADs that anyone could make something so big and complex. He was one of my early favorites starting out with making and playing custom levels so of course he's a favorite. Enigma was a very funky but enjoyable effort, and his Eternal Doom maps are the work of a mathematical genius. I'm also curious of his whereabouts nowadays and wonder what he's been up to if he's even still around.

I also remember years ago I tried to do something along the lines of his Titan series with a Titan tribute called, "Return to Titan" but I never got around to finishing it. I'd like to see someone do something like that.

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Paging all zanzans to this thread. :P


Flynn is cool. There's some wonk to his works, and a few bits of it are a bit too obscurified, but the good far outweighs the bad IMO. Matter of taste, of course.

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I didn't mind Flynn's Titan stuff, but his Eternal Doom levels drive me mad. Part of it might just come down to aesthetics: his Eternal maps just look out of place compared to the rest of the WAD.

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He's one of the Eternal Doom mappers and the reason I had a headache while playing it 7 years ago. I think he did a really mathematical puzzle involving platforms that I had to noclip like a sane person.

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Have any of the great WAD makers in the past gone on to make Doom 3 custom maps? While there have been plenty of classic Doom WADs made, there haven't been nearly as many for Doom 3. I wonder why that is. There are still a lot of great classic Doom maps I haven't played, but I have a hard time find good ones for Doom 3. Sadly, my map-making skills are non-existent (I've tried and failed), otherwise I would design and play them myself.

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DoomPhreak said:

Have any of the great WAD makers in the past gone on to make Doom 3 custom maps? While there have been plenty of classic Doom WADs made, there haven't been nearly as many for Doom 3. I wonder why that is.

Because Doom 3's fully 3D map editing is exponentially more time and effort demanding than classic Doom map editing. Specially irregularly shaped areas and such things are hard to do in Doom 3 - on the other hand, classic Doom mapping is almost as simple as drawing, very free-form, and can be done casually by anybody.

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Haven't played much of his stuff outside his contributions to Eternal Doom, but both(?) those maps were/are both frustrating and fun to play while showing off some really innovative design ideas and nice detailing. Better make sure you play these with Doom 2 1.9 comp in ports, I think I remember the "main" stairway in M25 being broken in some port (but can't remember which one), and with all the line-type trickery going on I wouldn't be surprised if these two maps bug out on more occasions. His mapping style inspired me greatly in trying to make "realistic" city-themed maps. The office with the "evil security system" in EDM25 was so cool to figure out, as was finding the way into the valley in EDM26. Hats off to Jim Flynn I say, not every map needs to follow a formula so no-one's feelings are hurt. ;)

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Surprisingly, modern ports have fairly little issue with Flynn's maps.

The ZDoom wiki's automatic compatibility page lists only three things for MAP25 (of which the only one absolutely essential is the stair building compatibility; the other two are to enable the ghost monsters and something to do with rendering midtexes, this last of which I don't even recall seeing the location where it's relevant).

None for MAP26; the only other Eternal map needing compatibility flags to not get stuck appears to be MAP28 (by Paul Schmitz).

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Since the last time I posted here, I went and finished off his body of works, minus Eternal Doom (One does not simply casually play such a behemoth) and consistently enjoyed his Titan maps, alongside the standalone Oracle monster.

I never played his works till I got my hands on Steam's Master Levels rerelease, and I feel like I missed out back in the day. Titan, Oracle and Enigma together were amazing experiences, full of puzzle solving and adventure, often with strange dreamlike visuals.

We need more mappers doing this kind of stuff.

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Jim Flynn has a knack for creating quite alien-like environments using mostly stock resources. He's one of my chief inspirations. Bob Evans seemed to hint that he had more stuff tucked away on Compuserv before it went down that'll probably no longer see the light of day =(. One can only hope!

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