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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: 50 Shades of Graytall & Erkattäññe

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MAP05 - “Concrete Flagellation” by Quakis - UVMax on fourth try

Things are going warmer here, even though health is quite scarce, that forced me being cautious in the revenant room not standing near barrels to get blown while avoiding their homing rockets and to not let the pain elementals flood the air with countless lost souls. But the map's main point to me is its design under the project's limitations: actual crates with nice shadow effects, lots of work done on trimming the textures, a decent amount of detail and that very pretty switch to top it all. Great job!

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MAP05: Concrete Flagellation
100% kills, 2/2 secrets

Like last map, this one starts off with a striking use of the "sunlight creates heavy shadows" trope, though I think it's more effective than Alfonzo's use (especially because I don't see a spot where the light sources screw up). This map also uses mini-alignments for the GRAYTALL, but uses the red stripes mostly for edgework and actually uses the slime trails over and over. The key door is a DOORTRAK/GRAYTALL mix of bars with a micro-aligned FIREBLU blue bar at the top, doesn't stick out but it works. There's also a sector-made double colored switch at the end (with moving lever!) which is cute. A FIREBLU gateway serves as a elevator trigger.

The opening is pretty benign, mostly just zombie/imp/pinkie riff-raff, but once the player drops down it opens up. I really liked the revenants dropping down from the elevator, it makes for an interesting dynamic way to move enemies into the player's threat zone (and without feeling fake like instapop floors). The door at the top of the same elevator isn't well marked since it can look like another wall decoration, but not too bad. The SSG ambush is a decent trap fight, and I liked the setup with the Arch-Vile since the plentiful cover from the crates actually incentivizes the player to drop down instead of snipe the Vile from afar. Ammo is plentiful and health is scarce throughout, but that's a good balance since health is mitigatable (just don't get hit) unlike the lack of ammo the last map had problems with.

I think this is the most solid map so far, though one could quibble and say that it does kinda play it safe with the textures provided and tries to make them work as normally as possible without doing anything inventive with them.

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MAP05 - “Concrete Flagellation” by Quakis

Very fancy shapes in yet another style, all great. That fake switch near the end was excellent. Fun gameplay too, in all aspects that matter to me. I eventually got killed by a Zombieman who just got revived by an Archvile whom I killed with an SSG at the same moment, I've found it both frustrating and funny. :)

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Nice to see 50Shades on the curent playlist because I'm actually glad to see more feedback for my contribution considering it's my debut into the Doom scene, so I appreciate all those commenting. Some mixed opinions regarding gameplay but all helpful feedback - still have an itch to work on more Doom content, but we'll see.

Just throwing it out there for anyone interested in my previous work, you can check out my Duke3D release from last year; https://forums.duke4.net/topic/8235-rel-the-flaming-shipwreck/

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started playing... and saw some amazing things ;)

btw, the pic in the development thread is hilarious.



MAP01 - "Entrygray” by Jimmy

easy map, chainsawing zombies? at least the start. then a chaingunner took me by surprise, brought me down to 15 hp as i rushed everything with the saw. nice introductory map with a surreal look because you're walking on the sky.



MAP02 - “Tall, Gray, and Handsome” by Ezormer

mid tier monsters appear in some orchestrated fights pitting revenants and mancubi against each other as well as a bunch of imps, who mostly die. good use of a few rockets. i found the switches irritating, i had to look for them, as they're not obvious to see like in conventional maps (excepting eternal doom of course ;)



MAP03 - "The Gray, the Blu, and the Trakly” by Megalyth

a map that taught me not to charge headlong into some room, because running from monsters only reveals more of them. some interconnected layout. 50 shades showed its teeth here with a pair of cyberdemons where i didn't expect them yet. took them frontally, annoyed by the revenants who wouldn't fire so i could cheapshot the cybs. then i noticed a lone PE, drew the saw... and ran into several revs and an archvile. ok, they're simple to rocket as long as you catch them in the corridor.



MAP04 - “The Alfonzone” by Alfonzo

a running start, with only a shotgun and limited ammo, pretty difficult until you establish a foothold. the map has several arachnotrons with large fields of fire, you're pretty much gone if you run into one. the final battle left me with 4 hp and a few shells at the exit. there were 2 archies, several revs and some hapless chaingunners (who kept getting killed and revived) stuck below me, while i didn't have the equipment to jump at them and kick their asses. i didnT find the ssg, if there is one, for example, so my progress was a bit slow. but anyway well thought enemy placement with overlapping fire zones. columns are neatly made of the same graytall aligned so it looks dark. funny music. i searched for the exit some time, not noticing that i had i right under my nose after that fight, because it was all so fireblu...



MAP05 - “Concrete Flagellation” by Quakis

visually striking opening, despite the texture scheme. the author manages to create a lot of variety. a mix of low and mid tier enemies is used. i liked the outer area (after the revenant elevators) best, its strong contrast indeed reminds of valiant's lunar episode. you have to enter the fight with the 2 PEs here with enough health, as the stupid souls pick away some health while you're in close quarters with their mother. then below, the archvile that appears also has only zombies to revive... but the attrition continues. hiding behind the thin pillars works if you'Re careful.



MAP06 - "Count Trakula’s Castle” by NoisyVelvet

haven'T finished this one yet, and sadly i'm too tired to continue now, but i'm impressed. moody music and a large, castle-like structure with various interior courts and a front resembling a face, with eyes and mouth lit in fireblu. i had only a shotgun for cleaning most of the court's population - imps, revs and spiders, so i had to shoot and run. i'm sure this will play a lot better when i know where the stuff is.

the part when things got interesting was the mirror hallway, giving an impression of another dimension. the moment when i picked up the blue key, an archie attacked me, and i ran straight into an invulnerability, and i'd say this moment is one of the wad's highlights.

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Just in case: UV demos for all first five maps are up.

MAP06: Count Trakula’s Castle by Noisyvelvet

UV-Speed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxTFZQWSxTc&feature=youtu.be

Would you believe that, a gigantic fortress, easily worthy in size of Sandy Petersen’s “The Citadel”, but made entirely of GRAYTALL, DOORTRAK and FIREBLU. Luckily, the very low lighting helps alleviate the absurdity of it all. All in all, it’s quite impressively structured. As it turns out, the early part where you’re running around the outskirts, reaching for ammo to fend of the opposition while being assaulted from all sides is the really difficult part. Once inside, it’s a series of distinct ambushes, none of which are all that hard (the Blue Key fight would feel a lot meaner if there wasn’t an Invulnerability RIGHT THERE. I guess the deliberate use of HOM makes it a little trippy, but not disorienting enough to matter).

The Backpack and BFG secrets were really neat and I’m glad I figured them out alone, even though the powerups themselves are completely useless in this case, which kind of weighs the whole thing down. Still it’s a nice bit of theming, and so are those hidden doors that open back up on the outside as you progress through the map. That face at the end is complete goofiness though. I love sprawling and moody levels like this, so I’m going to consider this one my favorite for now. Noisyvelvet did a stellar job here. On the other hand, I don’t know how I’m going to do a demo for this one! Update: I felt like speedrunning it for some reason. Here's to my first UV-Speed ever!

Anyway, the subverted DOOM2 intermission text was amusing even if nonsensical, especially the fact that it uses DOORTRAK as a background. I exited with only two keys, so now to find a way to grab that yellow one… …did it! I also found the armor pickups near the tree, but as for how to reach that supercharge, I got nothing. (Well, now I’ve seen Suitepee grab it in his stream and I have do admit that I’m not sure how on Earth I missed that.)

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MAP06: Count Trakula's Castle

Big jump in both monster population and map size here, along with a disorienting opening courtyard fight that places you under fire from multiple sources as you dissect the castle's barbican and gain entry. From there it's on the keep itself, a grim and sprawling edifice made entirely of DOORTRAK; the MIDI rendition of Sephiroth's theme from Final Fantasy VII fits perfectly here in the sense of knowingly evoking a sense of dread and menace the resources available just can't keep up with. For a project with such a limited texture set, the map author has done a good job of making internal navigation of the castle comprehensible, especially when the automap is of limited use thanks to drastic vertical spaces not reflecting in its two dimensions. The underground 'hall of mirrors' through which the player transits at one point is a surreal delight, pulsing lights combining with the HoM eerror effect to create the impression of ghostly after-images filling the player's peripheral vision with every step and turn, though supplies are provided for the attentive which curtail the challenges presented within somewhat. The distribution of supplies is a bit unusual, a constant trickle of small health, armour, and ammunition bonuses allowing the player to maintain their status at a moderate level but allowing few opportunities to rise to towering heights of sufficiency. The level is also good at presenting the player with choices and opportunities to tackle encounters in different ways, from different positions and directions. All in all really good stuff.

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MAP06 - "Count Trakula’s Castle” by NoisyVelvet

Awesome map, with fun non-linearity, exploration and challenge! Very good usage of Lost Souls roaming around the whole place and keeping action even if the player decides to progress slowly. I liked the frequently-used combination of DOORTRAK and FIREBLU vertical stripes, this glowing lift particularly impressed me. On the other hand, I didn't like this HOM corridor and the blue key room, I can't think of it otherwise than that it's atrociously glitched. The usage of Blur Spheres as eyes was cool, but I guess it prevented collecting 100% items, unless there was some voodoo-doll trickery to make all Blur Spheres be collected by voodoo dolls a moment before the player exits.

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Map06: "Count Trakula's Castle"

Pain Elementals are the sadist's favorite gasser, but I can't think of too many Doom II maps that use directly placed lost souls as the driving nuisance. Coupled with the imp-heavy, SSG-absent start, "Count Trakula's Castle" starts off feeling a bit like a Doom I level, until you go a bit deeper and encounter roving packs of spiders and mountain-dwelling tribes of mancubuses and pesky clusters of chaingunners -- without the weaponry to effectively dispatch them. The start is in fact staged as a sort of scrounge for arms and provisions. Driving that point home are the small pickups -- four shells, single rockets, bullet clips, stimpacks and the like -- that you'll have to subsist on in the earlygoing, scattered around to have you running like a mad dog as you try to shake off whatever group of monsters latched on to the smell of your ass this time around. Astute players will notice eventually that there's not a single armor vest in sight (on UV); armor pickups are exclusively doled out through the little helmets that make your screen glow too long!

That castle. Of course it has the face of a pain elemental. Progression through the doortracked depths is almost comically serpentine and vertical -- leaps, drops, stairs, those cool multi-tiered lifts. Combat inside is extremely light (unless you're a smartass who tries to exit prematurely ;)), but it's of the bloody variety, plenty of SSG fodder with every step. Then you're up for a nasty surprise. The blue key setpiece is weird as fuck (what were you smoking NoisyVelvet? ;), and luckily there was an invulnerability around, because dodging the dual area-denial techniques of both regular archviles and blurry HOM archviles isn't a challenge I'm up for, ever.

The opening view had me thinking, These maps sure look a lot alike, this will probably end up being a bigger version of Alfonzo's map, but I think this map not only carved out a unique identity (that much is clear) but also exceeded that particular zone, if only for its sheer creativity. Navigation was confusing, so I probably won't replay this one anytime soon, but it's a very good map in my book.

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MAP06 Count Trakula's Castle

NoisyVelvet scares us all with this immense level. I've already been familiar with his works in NOVA II, and he's got quite the sense of style alright. Put that with the texture limitations and it's haywire. This is true right in the blue key area, which is where that seizure warning you've been seeing all this time finally comes to view. God damn this area to hell. that trolly vile sure wouldn't stop perplexing himself to the "cells", well at least an invulnerability sphere helped me out when I needed it. Interestingly enough, only two keys are needed, for removing sets of torches and what not. Since four invisibility spheres can't be reached, I can't get 100% items. Boo. Also if you don't shoot the Romero head, you can easily miss an arch-vile. so yes, interesting level, in many ways.

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MAP06: Count Trakula's Castle - NoisyVelvet
Deaths: 3 | Time: 16:18

Fantastic map.

Before I first played this when 50shades was still in beta, I had no idea who NoisyVelvet was, so seeing a map like this was a very nice surprise.
The map takes place in and around the eponymous castle, which is textured pretty much entirely out of DOORTRAK and FIREBLU. The "rocky" hills around the perimeter are formed out of GRAYTALL, meaning the texture is actually taking a bit of a back seat role in this map, contrary to previous ones.
I'm not sure if we ever see Cunt Trakula himself, unless he's supposed to be the Arch-vile who lurks in the dungeons. Regardless, even though the name is just a clever pun, the map really does have this sort of really old NES vampire game feeling to it, which owes itself to the music selection.

Not only is this the first of the 50shades epics, it's also the most creative map so far, by a long shot. Lots of cool ideas present in this map, some of which perhaps many of us haven't seen before in Doom. I certainly haven't, at least. Simple things like the invulnerable Romero head in the castle's lobby (for lack of a better description), which spawns an arch-vile if you try to shoot it, as a punishment for trying to get out of the map early. The face at the front of the castle is also quite goofy, in a good way, though I personally much preferred that big smiley face that opens its mouth at the exit. It's the sort of silliness that in any other project I might think was kinda dumb, but it just works really well here. Silly things for a silly project, good stuff.

The real jewel in the crown though of this map is the dungeon, the majority of which is deliberately untextured. The first time I saw HOMs being used artistically like this was in some screenshot from the Monochrome Mapping Project, but this really goes all in with the idea. Running through the passageway gives that trippy HOM effect with the DOORTRAK on both sides, which is actually pretty beautiful. As a side note, somewhere in the TNS highlights video for 50shades, there is a point where I was spectating from this passage, and Memfis ran right across my view, leaving this giant image of a white-armoured Doomguy plastered across the opposite wall :D
This area also does the same thing with FIREBLU in its centre, and initially it looks like a convincing implementation of an infinity effect; the FIREBLU just seems to fade off into the distance, seemingly endlessly, though this doesn't really stay if you shoot or look around, etc.
When you take the blue key and invulnerability you get this cool effect of travelling some sort of void made out of HOM, with these eyes made out of partial invisibilites watching you as you travel towards them.
All these ideas, some of which are silly and some of which are clever, give off a 90s vibe in terms of their innovation, but the execution of them is a lot better.

Gameplay wise, the castle's exterior is certainly the most difficult part of the WAD so far. Spiders were used effectively, and lost souls weren't dangerous themselves, but made themselves enough of a nuisance to cause a distraction away from the tougher monsters. Very easy to slip up there, and taking the invisibility isn't necessarily helpful either. Fortunately, there is at least a berserk pack at the start for insurance if you start to run low.
My method of tackling the map was to clear the exterior first, though I found there wasn't really enough ammo to do this, so I had to finish cleaning up a bit later.
Things get a lot easier once you're inside the castle, which isn't really difficult at all except for the dungeon, which has that arch-vile who silently teleports all over the place in the hope of catching you off-guard and incinerating you from behind. While there are other monsters that join in on this fight, this could be one of the most dangerous uses of a single non-boss monster I've ever seen. It's evil as all hell, but again it's also a stroke of genius, and because of that I just can't fault it. Plus, there is an invulnerability sphere provided, at least on HMP, not sure if it's there on UV. I can imagine that room being a bit of a nightmare without it.

I was certainly nervous about going down there, because I knew it could potentially end what had been a good run up until this point (I should note that I'm actually playing without mid-level saves, so dying on large maps is not preferrable for me :P). I got a fair few rockets into the archvile, but before I could deal the final blow, he disappeared again and the godsphere was starting to wear off. Having already been blasted once after the godsphere disappeared, I decided not to risk having to start over yet again, and just got out of there leaving stuff alive. A very tense fight for sure.

Whew, after writing all that I feel like I'm a DotW with a lesser vocabulary. I think it says a lot about my opinion of a map if I can write that much about it. I mentioned early on that this WAD had gems, and this was one of the maps I was referring to when I said that.
Maybe a bit more ammo would have been nice on the exterior of the castle, but other than that I can't think of a bad thing to say about this map. And to think, this was a map by someone I had never heard of before. NoisyVelvet, I salute you sir!

10/10

P.S. I see that sergeant on the ramparts was still stuck :)

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played it again. fantastic map, i have to agree with everything eris falling said, despite lesser vocabulary ;)

the use of HOM is one of the best i've ever seen, really makes an impression of an alien dimension, with a non-boss monster made dangerous due to the disorienting mirrors and the clever teleporting. that's defused however by the invulnerability, an artifact too powerful, especially if you happen to have the rocket launcher already. perhaps a blur sphere would have been better (or rather dangerous to the player in these conditions ;). health and ammo are spread over the whole castle to keep the player moving, but the start is by far the most difficult part, and once you have some better boomsticks, there's not much that can happen. there are no teleport ambushes or reinforcements. btw, i ran around the outer part for minutes because i expected a trap of sunlusting proportions if i jumped into that big fireblu hall, and when i did i found only light opposition. so, the map focuses more on exploring than on fighting, and it does this admirably, especially for a map made with such a limited texture choice. one can find paths through battlements and towers, like the one leading to the bfg (reminiscent of quake's castles), getting it was a nice reward. also the use of torches instead of doors to open the exit, and the movement illusion in the archvile hall. i hope there's more like this.

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Eris Falling said:

I'm not sure if we ever see Cunt Trakula himself

That's an unfortunate, but oddly appropriate, typo.

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MAP06: A really inventive trek through traksylvania! I love the sense of atmosphere that arises from this goofy map, and how utterly maniacal the castle basement is (it was clever using the HOMs obscured the AV’s location). Between this and Megiddo II, NoisyVelvet can make some really nasty open-field maps where you’re frantically searching for bite-sized munitions and scampering towards cover so you can catch your breath. I like how intricate the inside of castle was and the DOORTRAK/FIREBLU lift in the center, but the basement steals the show above all else. A fun, dangerous piece of ugly real estate that’s probably my favorite map thus far.

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Map 05 -- Concrete Flagellation - 102% Kills / 100% Secrets
Again, really dig that opening shot, very evocative. The sharp directional lighting that Alfonzo made good use of in map 04 really comes to the fore here, and indeed I would say is decisively the driving force of the map from an aesthetic standpoint, a bold approach given how relatively understated the rest of the presentation is in concept. Of all the maps in Graytall up to this point, 'Concrete Flagellation' is easily the most Gray and Tall of their number, prominently featuring the mapset's namesake texture over the vast majority of its real estate, with dootrack mostly used as finescale trim and filigree, and FIREBLU relegated to a rarely-seen highlight texture--I believe its most prominent usage is in the upper parts of the roundhouse bit out in the main yard, but I only really remember taking note of it as a backdrop texture for the decorative hanging corpse alcoves lining the main stairway. One thing that struck me about the use of GRAYTALL here was that Quakis seems to have taken almost the clear opposite tack to handling the texture as most of his mapset cohorts to this point--whereas previous maps all made a point of 'civilizing' the texture by playing up the its red stripe and hiding its grimy streaks, what we see here is much the contrary, with most of the level dominated by unbroken planes of untrimmed cold concrete, marked here and there by scuzzy mineral stains, giving the whole tableau an uncanny sort of similarity to a stylized lunar landscape, which is weird considering that in architectural terms this map seems to be grounded much more in 'reality' than most of the set's other maps. Full disclosure: when I first played this, I don't think it entered my addled little head for even a moment that I might've been looking at a 'normal' Doom setting painted in GRAYTALL, but after reading other players' comments it seems so obvious that this is actually a strange spin on a decidedly classic UAC 'storage depot' sort of angle, complete with crates and control booth and all. Weird how easy it can be to miss the forest for the trees sometimes, eh?

As far as the action goes, I feel like it's kind of similar to maps 01 and 02 in that it's certainly palatable, but doesn't seem to leave a great deal of lasting impression after it's over. Broadly speaking the setup here, which prioritizes shotgun/chaingun work vs. zombies and other weak enemies firing through windows and from a number of distances and heights, seems the like the sort of thing that would be right at home in the map 01 or 02 slot of a modern megaWAD, somewhat softballed used of larger monsters later on and all. Wouldn't be fair to characterize the action as trivial or without bite--getting shot actually counts for something here, since health kits are fairly sparse on the ground and the only armor vest is in a secret (IIRC)--but the map is brief enough and opposition generally restrained enough that many players will probably be able to successfully tank through it on pure aggression in 2-3 minutes or so. There are attempts at more toothsome encounters farther in, note: I reckon the surprise (one-time?) early triggering of the lift with two revenants in the basement area is the most likely to catch a sloppy player out, since the appearance of the first arch-vile makes more of a pop than a bang, IMO. I reckon this latter encounter is a case of the author being a little too hesitant to be a dick for the sake of fun--the gasballs are obviously supposed to pressure the player down into the yard with the vile (and then follow suit themselves), but there's too few of them and too much space up top for them to levy appropriate pressure to cause this (the three pinkies or whatever else appears up there barely even register), and so the vile is unlikely to get to play spoiler and instead just sort of gets cleaned up unceremoniously at the end. It's true that sometimes less is more, certainly, but just as often it's equally true that MORE is more, heh.

I'm probably levying unrealistic expectations on what is clearly meant to be a more traditionally-paced outing as far as all that goes, though. All told, the level plays well enough, though it's one I'll certainly remember more for its majestically fucking cheeky sector-switch at the end (literally laughed out loud at that one!) than for any of its combat, reckon.

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Map 06 -- Count Trakula's Castle - 101% Kills / 100% Secrets

Eris Falling said:

All these ideas, some of which are silly and some of which are clever, give off a 90s vibe in terms of their innovation, but the execution of them is a lot better.

Couldn't have said it better.

Fantastic map.

Also, this. :D

Had an absolute ball with this one, it's a heady blend of oldschool nostalgia with a much more modern timber to its action, a sort of tight funhouse + sandbox map that more than makes up for in its intricacy and imaginative ideas what it may lack in actual physical expanse or the looks department.

Yes, there's a part of me that wants to make a crack about "a face only a mother could love" here, but I can hear you all groaning in disapproval already, so I won't go there. Suffice to say that NoisyVelvet's approach to the mapset's texture restriction concept is to play it completely baldfaced, and so what we get here is a Doomcastle made entirely out of doortrack (complete with jiggy alignment hiccups around windows and between crenellations) with psychedelic FIREBLU guts, set in a crudely angular Spaceman Spiff-ass GRAYTALL valley. A rather hamfisted rendition of the theme from Sephiroth's descent into madness in FFVII completes the whimsically D!Zone shiekh-chic presentation. The use of HOM or what used to be called the 'medusa effect' also returns here, cropping up early on as a sort of stylized 'visual distortion' effect around a blursphere pickup, before returning full force for the mad genius of the castle catacombs later on. 'Objectively' speaking, to say that the castle looks 'ridiculous' would be an understatement, as would a comment about it being 'hideous', but given how much I immediately found myself enjoying the outing so much I couldn't have cared less. There is something deeply nostalgic for me about free-play castle maps....seems like a nigh disproportionate number of ancient PWADs that I enjoyed playing so many years ago had this kind of setting (perhaps because it's one that the old engine can often simulate more credibly than more modern architecture), and so in some ways my sojourn through Traksylvania felt like meeting an old friend, perhaps not just in spite of the bass-ackwards aesthetic, but partially because of it.

My old friend does seem to have become quite a bit more curmudgeonly in the intervening years since last we met, I couldn't help but notice. I began the map by running around everywhere outside like a headless chicken, and thus soon had all manner of ghouls 'n ghosts n' fatass hill-dwelling goblins clamoring for my blood, and found that fighting them was a sort of catch-as-catch can guerrilla war of making laps around the castle scooping up bits of ammo and health here and there, promoting infighting and inflicting casualties where convenient. The overall monster placement outside seems pretty scattershot, even borderline haphazard, but I found there were more nuances to it than were immediately apparent--for one thing, there's not as much in the way of constructively usable safe spots as it may at first seem given the weird geometry of the southerly TALLcaves which allows monsters to sneak potshots in from unlikely angles and distances, and for another, there were just flaming skulls EVERYWHERE, seemed like they were gradually pouring out the castle windows for most of the runtime. Initially I thought this was due to the pain elementals I'd stirred up up north, but apparently a lot of the lost souls are directly placed, a rare effective use of a monster usually treated as little more than a momentary distraction. Amidst all of this hullabaloo eventually my lust for heavier weaponry got the better of me, and I plunged into the heart of the castle, promptly flinging a spitball at the languidly sneering mug of Count Trakula himself, which of course saw me just as promptly nuked by his ninja-ass vizier, leaving me to flee deeper in. And so I found myself stuck in the castle basement, wounded, beset from all sides, and pretty much desperate enough to start humping and bumping on the trakbricks and BLUscotting of the foundation in hopes that I just might find a hidden pot roast or chicken leg in one of the walls. :D

And find something I did (most timely secret soulsphere in months!), allowing me to continue my ADVENTURE against all odds, soon enough finding myself making flying leaps from the castle battlements into the surrounding GRAYhills, eventually scoring an SSG, an RL, and even a BFG before returning to wreak my vengeance on my earlier oppressors. Then it was off into the mysterious netherealm of the castle catacombs in search of the final skeleton key, locked in an extradimensional sanctum. What can I say about this segment that hasn't already been said? I generally prefer to refrain from speaking in absolutes when comparing WADs to one another, but I feel quite comfortable saying that this was the most ingenious use of this particular rendering bug that I've ever seen (not that it's got a particularly long list of competitors, in fairness), more than worth the price of admission alone. I actually kind of wish the fight down here was more pronounced--maybe much more meat to clog the corridors to try to keep you stuck in the central room under the mirror-vile's withering gaze for a bit longer, especially considering the presence of the V-sphere (also there on UV, incidentally)--but can't have everything I suppose, and the aesthetic concept down here is so endearing I find it impossible to feel any real enmity for the segment. I'm glad I happened to come down here last of all, great sendoff for a thoroughly enjoyable map.

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MAP07: Address Unknown - Marcaek
Deaths: 0 | Time: 10:18

Beat this first attempt, which I'm quite surprised by, as the map isn't exactly what I would call easy, even though there have been tougher offerings already.

As soon as we get started, we're thrown into combat, which is generally pretty fast-paced. The map is composed of several separate areas which are all visible from one another, so monsters are able to attack from far across the map, which can really add to the pressure being put on, since there is nothing you can do about it until you actually get to where they are shooting from. Arachnotrons were the main perpetrator of this on UV, as long-range plasma streams aren't so straightforward to dodge when your focus is on killing the monsters directly in front of you.
My biggest nitpick about the gameplay was the usage of cacodemons, which due to their low mass, had quite a susceptibility to float off into the far distance out of range, which for a while has been one of my pet peeves in Doom. This is at least slightly remedied by the fact that the cacodemon will probably end up floating by one of the other areas of the map, so you may see it again and get a chance to shoot it down there.

A lot of the monsters seem to be contained in this secret area, which I found, picked up the ammo by the teleporter and immediately left again, since I was late into the map when I found it, needed ammo, and was low on health. Thus, I exited this level with just 58% of monsters killed.

Visually speaking, this map takes the limitation but fails to really do anything interesting with it. Sure, those little steps made out of sky are pretty nifty, but on the whole, the entire map is just completely covered in GRAYTALL, and there doesn't seem to be any clever usage that makes the best of the limitations (compare this to MAP06 before it, quite a sharp contrast there). I guess in that sense you could say this map looks like what you'd expect if you heard about this project but hadn't played it before; bland and maybe even somewhat ugly. So in the visual department, I feel pretty certain that it's the weakest so far, and from what I remember, also one of the weakest in the set.

Despite this, it is memorable for the design of some select areas (particularly the dark ring area), and combat also has some memorable moments, the highlight for me being when you're waiting for a teleporter to open, and there's imps teleporting in behind you and arachnotrons firing from the far distance.

Good, but really unambitious with the guidelines, given the kind of creativity we can see it has the potential for.

7/10

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Map07: "Address Unknown"

First off: The austerity start is annoying bullshit, especially on an early playthrough. It's an imaginative setup, I'll grant that, but 95% of the challenge is kowtowing the RNG to deal out <50 or so damage from the fucking chaingunners as you first run around on the top deck and later squeeze past or take out the fucking chaingunners on the green armor ledge. You could plink away at the three cubbyledge fucking chaingunners with your bare pistol, too, obviously, but zzzzzzzzzz . . . that's not my idea of fun. The secret shotgun and RL are there to make the setup more palatable, but that basic shotgun really should have been doled out for free. Having those four rounds in stock wouldn't have changed the scenario too much -- you would still have to weave around revs and extricate the zealous (fucking?) chaingun-overseer HK from his lollygag hole (a cool idea!) -- but it would have made dealing with the (fucking!) chaingunners a lot less tedious. Hell, take away that medkit too afterwards, and then make every other ambush and set piece in the level harder, because the rest of the level was pretty leisurely in comparison (or maybe even in absolute terms). I'm not complaining about the difficulty of the start, just the bullshit.

But fear not (completely) . . . the level improves a bunch when you hop to the next surreal ultra-tall GRAYTALL-tower-rising-from-the-endless-figurative-depths or whatever these are. I enjoyed the low-pressure caco-PE-manc-trooper setup with the 'tron sniping in the distance. I enjoyed the dead drop into the imp conference, just before the blue key -- I love the thrill of having to clear out space immediately with my SSG lest risk getting gangtickled to death. I enjoyed, most of all, however, that I was allowed to leave only having killed 58% of the monsters, because my patience supplies for the afternoon were completely depleted. I'd say there's a non-zero chance I'll make my own private edit of this level -- moving the shotgunner in the first building to the ground will do -- and replay it with the goal of exploring whatever I missed.

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MAP07: Address Unknown

Another big monster count map; the honeymoon is over and things are starting to get serious now. Compared to the previous level this map lacks much of a thematic hook, consisting instead of a series of isolated, brutalist platform-structures hanging in an endless void; the feeling is less "let's work with the limited texture set in creative ways," and more "let's build something sufficiently abstract that the limited texture set is irrelevant." It's a very strong contrast to what's come before.

Gameplay is fast-paced and hectic, ever pushing you forward to avoid enemies that you don't have the resources to tackle immediately and to keep ahead of the long streams of yellow-green plasma being hosed at you from eager arachnotrons halfway across the map. Your path will return you to those early areas once you're better equipped to deal with them, but the feeling of it isn't especially forgiving, and a mistake or misstep will deprive you of health and armour much more quickly than you can get them back. I eventually exited the map with one monster left unmurdered after having cleared out the bonus area; navigation isn't pleasant enough that I have the patience to hunt down whatever straggler escaped my guns. Maybe another time.

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MAP07 Address Unknown

the island hopping concept in the texture theme. I'm not a fan of this and really disappreciate the snipers. the progression is pretty cool though, with a few bits of looping around and going through things. I think I caught my worst at the stairs on the west island, where a far-off arachnotron and imps were attacking me from the north while cacos nearby were coming. It's also here where I find a very unorthodox way of reaching that megasphere secret. Tell me, is there a much easier way to reach it other than jumping through a small window and bouncing my way onto it and onto a teleporter? Pretty odd, but if it's actually doable and is a secret, I guess it's okay.

there's no sector tagged 53 in this map. I assume they'd be for getting the soul sphere on the ledge, as they are the lifts which rise after the switch press, the same that raises ledges the teleporter. I then theorized, after returning to the same island, that I could still get the soul sphere by jumping from the ledge where I entered the same room, jumping from the opening which is sector 86, and making it onto the window, which of course means a very carefully calculated jump onto the ledge sector 78 and making sure I don't overshoot there when I reach it. From there, I get the soul sphere. Man I come up with the craziest schemes.

working my way back to the island I started, I get the blue key and then find my way back to the blue door. From there, I can exit the level quickly OR find the secret teleporter to reach the northern island, totally optional. Highlights here are the pincer attack in the roundabout with imps and revenants plus the archie in the middle tower as well as the cyber later on who loves to come in close. Most of the secrets are in this area. I gotta say, I envy Marky for how he hides his secrets, some of them require guesswork, and/or timed jumps. the soul sphere I mentioned wasn't even secret, but it took me some thinking to find out it is possible to get it. 100% items doesn't seem like something people care for nowadays, but I managed to get that in this map.

btw platforming is the kind of thing I thrash my keyboard over.

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MAP07: Adress Unknown by Marcaek

UV Demo (will be edited in later):

So, it turns out this map is quite obnoxious to play single-segment, which means the demo will have to wait as I really don’t feel like recording it right now. Anyway.

The first thing I have to get out of the way is that I’m really glad we’ve avoided “Simply Gray”. Anyway, if there’s one thing to be said for 50 shades, it’s that it doesn’t lack gameplay variety (good thing the peculiar visual theme helps tie it all together). We got high-adrenaline romps (MAP03 and MAP04), old-school intermissions (MAP05), a sandbox adventure (MAP06), and now a survival map (!).

No, seriously, you basically have to tackle the first couple rooms in Pacifist mode, as you get absolutely nothing to fend off the opposition with for the first minute or so. After that, you’ll spend the rest of the map reaching for health and ammo as you try and conjecture the way to the exit.

I really dig the “big sky fortress” locale that is being evoked here, but honestly the heavy use of HOM makes the whole thing look more than a little unpolished, in a way that the rules about texture limitation don’t necessarily excuse in this case. So, this map has a really cool concept, plays well (even if it is quite unforgiving), but strictly speaking doesn’t look all that good.

Update after watching the stream: So, isn’t it a little self-defeating of Marcaek to hide the most interesting area away from the player?

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Eris Falling said:

Visually speaking, this map takes the limitation but fails to really do anything interesting with it. Sure, those little steps made out of sky are pretty nifty, but on the whole, the entire map is just completely covered in GRAYTALL, and there doesn't seem to be any clever usage that makes the best of the limitations (compare this to MAP06 before it, quite a sharp contrast there). I guess in that sense you could say this map looks like what you'd expect if you heard about this project but hadn't played it before; bland and maybe even somewhat ugly. So in the visual department, I feel pretty certain that it's the weakest so far, and from what I remember, also one of the weakest in the set.

TheOrganGrinder said:

Compared to the previous level this map lacks much of a thematic hook, consisting instead of a series of isolated, brutalist platform-structures hanging in an endless void; the feeling is less "let's work with the limited texture set in creative ways," and more "let's build something sufficiently abstract that the limited texture set is irrelevant." It's a very strong contrast to what's come before.


It's kinda ironic that the map from the project leader would be the one that fits the project's theme the least. I suppose however it's to be expected, since it was the first map to be done and all others have pushed the envelope.

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MAP07: Marcaek’s map is uh… quite something. On one hand it doesn’t really use the textures to the extent that the other maps do (it feels kinda pasted over), but it is refreshing not to see DOORTRAK used as trimming and I think the "space islands" theme is novel. Gameplay on the other hand is kinda wild…. I think a little too wild for my tastes. It’s neat how long you go without a proper weapon but having GRAYTALL everywhere makes it hard to decipher the path you need to travel, and doubly so with chaingunners perched from afar. Right about when you acquire the rocket launcher the map becomes bearable, but by then it’s mostly over (ignoring the hidden area to the north). So due to the constant panic Marcaek puts the player in, I didn’t really enjoy this as a 50 Shades map; the guy can definitely design some interesting maps, but his stuff is often hit or miss for me.

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MAP07 is incredibly fun so far, but I was annoyed when I barely survived through half of the map without any cheating or saving, then deliberately managed to leap over a railing where I suspected a secret, and died on a damaging floor in the outer ocean. Not nice, actually a similar concept to unexpected death traps - leaping away from the island could have just teleported me back, not kill.

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MAP06: Count Trakula's Castle
94% kills, 4/4 secrets

Sharp departure here, as we move from stuff which would generally be appraised as "general Doom maps with a few concessions made to the theme" to this map, which completely eschews trying to make anything nice out of the three textures and instead goes somewhat bonkers with the effects. I must say that playing this map made me feel uncomfortable the whole time... maybe it was the Sephiroth music, maybe it was the constant feeling of being under siege from lost souls and cacodemons, or maybe it was the layout... it all works together pretty well.

The last maps all used a lot of alignment tricks and such to present the textures as best they could, but this map goes the other direction and instead just uses the ugly textures in vast swaths just to create contrast. Ugly if you look at it, sure, but you don't play 50 Shades of Graytall to see something pretty. The layout here is very well-done with great use of vertical space, it certainly feels 3D in spots, especially with the multi-level lift and the large amounts of vertical space (and of course the basement silent-teleport trick). Speaking of which, I really do like the DOORTRAK-HOM effect in that hallway, very nicely done... granted, I didn't really want to fight there after grabbing the key, but it's a pretty awesome effect. Also loved the blur sphere pillars and teleports too, nicely done (though the Romero head pillar doesn't work as well). It really is quite the adventure, even though only two keys are needed to exit.

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MAP06: Count Trakula's Castle
I really liked this one, as it allows the player to explore at their own pace. The beginning is rough due to the high number of enemies shooting at you from all angles and the lack of ammunition to deal with them all initially, but after that, it becomes a little more manageable. The castle itself is nice and big with several areas to explore, and the surrounding hills and structures provide even more exploration opportunities. The basement area was trippy, and I don't exactly know what was going on down there - I basically just ran for it as soon as I grabbed the key. This is my favorite map so far.

MAP07: Address Unknown
This map uses a new gameplay style: constantly pushing the player forward. After the initial room is cleared, the player gets little time to relax - there is danger in all directions, and very few places for the player to hide. It's very different from everything before it. I don't think it's possible to kill all the monsters with the ammo provided, but maybe I'm wrong. Anyways, I liked the idea, but it was a bit too chaotic for my tastes.

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MAP06 - "Count Trakula’s Castle” by NoisyVelvet - UVMax on fourth try (with a couple saves)

Now that's quite a monster count jump we have here. Lots of exploration to do and clever secrets to find and traps to face, as many others described before me. Not quite yet the Eternal Doom scale epic castle level but hey, it's only MAP06!

Special mentions for the HOM teleporting archvile, the soulsphere secret and the light blue "LIFT" arrow to make it more evident on the early computer map. I liked less the Romero shoot trap that was responsible for my first death, having just entered the castle with a mere shotgun and chaingun only to face a teleporting archvile and its revenant friend.

I thought the outdoor part is designed with step to step progression, and the chainsaw/berserk pack provided incites the player to some early Tyson play on imps and lost souls so you can save ammo for cacodemons and mancubi. Then the castle throws out more than enough stuff to finish off things and hunt keys. I would've made it so all three keys are required to exit the map, though. I also liked the rather unusual way ammo, armor and health bonuses are spreaded out in the map.

Just a small critic, maybe it's due to my playthrough but the rocket launcher could've been given a bit earlier as you are given a few dozen rockets over the map before you can actually use them.

But this is clearly one of the mapset's strongest efforts and my favorite so far.

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MAP07: Address Unknown
58% kills, 0/4 secrets

Woof. I agree with Gez that it's certainly ironic that the project leader's map seems to be one of the weakest, at least in terms of the project's concept. Aside from a couple of bits here and there, nothing interesting is done with the textures provided, and feels less like "what can I do that's visually interesting with these limitations" and more "I don't feel like texturing a map so I'm going to come up with this idea so I can just make a map and not texture it." Most of it is just slathered in GRAYTALL everywhere with the occasional texture change just to add some contrast, and most of it just feels like a grey-er version of when you first open up DB2 and everything is covered in STARTAN.

I'm not a fan of the gameplay either to be honest - while I often do get a kick out of action starts that force the player to run around, gather weaponry and find a niche to begin fighting back from, this isn't really that. Mainly because it's largely linear (though the player does return back to the start), so it's more just running from everything instead of searching for a place to battle back. Because of this design, it feels like it's quite easy to "fail" sections - eat too much damage early on, for example, and you won't be able to get past future hitscanners. It probably doesn't help that the worst area for this comes right at the beginning where it's complete luck of the draw whether the chaingunners will blast you or not. The other big stumbling block for me was the caco ambush that opens right before the soulsphere jump/berserk pack by the switch - move too slow in this area and the cacos will follow and make things nearly impossible in the highly vertical area. I ended up finishing this map at a whopping 1 health 58 armor... and partially because I didn't even realize the exit was the exit!

I think something good can be done with the "force the player to run through the gauntlet" theme, but this is a really rough execution of it. Too many hitscanners, chaotic progression and downright ugly to boot.

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I didn't really have any intention of commenting at first, but I would like to address part of that: If you really think the whole idea behind this was "I don't feel like texturing a map so I'm going to come up with this idea so I can just make a map and not texture it." I invite you to read the textfile or the project thread. This is absolutely not the case, and I don't much like being accused of being dishonest to cover up percieved shortcomings.

Basically, MAP07 is the way it is because I wanted to make a kind of "obstacle course map" which would be somewhat challenging to replay even if you know what's coming in advance. I was going to touch up the visuals, but towards the end of development, between waiting on maps or responses and a couple of bizzare WAD errors I really lost a lot of enthusiasm for it :/ You can kind of see where I was trying to decide what to do with it if you bother to open the map in DB2 or something, IIRC the optional island area has the beginnings of graytall alignment before I washed my hands of it.

Update after watching the stream: So, isn’t it a little self-defeating of Marcaek to hide the most interesting area away from the player?


I like large optional secrets so I decided to take the opportunity to add one here, I don't consider that defeating at all, really. I kind of wish more people would take the risk and add them, given how many people are likely to play a particualr wad, even if NOBODY replays your map someone will luck upon it the first time they play.

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