Ancient Aliens - final version on idgames

This is probably the most gorgeous mapset I've ever seen.
edit: whups top post

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A megawad of easier but still pretty maps is something I'd eventually like to have a go at myself if I can ever get past the inability to make anything of a map beyond a single room, since I'm clearly not very adept at the game myself :P
I do feel like it's something worth exploring, and seeing how well such a project would be received in contrast to more intense stuff like this and Sunlust.

As a side note, with the exception of some really tough maps here and there (naturally), I don't remember having much trouble beating Sunlust on HNTR. Granted my skills were probably a lot sharper back then, but the first five maps of this WAD have already killed me dozens of times, heh.

Anyway, glad to see the lower skills will get a bit of tweaking, thanks skillsaw :)

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Also, is there a hidden rocket launcher in MAP02 that I don't know about? I see rockets are given, but it's bothering me that I have no heavy weapon to finish off the red-key area.

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This is incredible... It's 2016, and incredible stuff continues to be released!

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rdwpa said:

Yeah I agree with Cynical about those two arch-viles. It seemed way more likely to be lethal than nearly everything else in the level.


Wait, you could just leave the room right?

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rdwpa said:

The cyber fight seems to be designed to scare you. It's literally non-threatening unless you, I don't know, actually focus too much on killing things. I don't think I fired a single shot, iirc, until it was time to take out the cyber. Maybe one or two fewer AVs elsewhere and make that fight more beefy?

You don't even have to be pacifist. Trigger it, run back to the end of the hallway you started on, select rocket launcher, hold down M1 until only the Cyberdemon remains, strafe him and kill him with SSG.

And, no, you can't just leave the 2-vile room, since the gate is timed.

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Pretty interesting of skillsaw to co-opt the "long series of arenas" gameplay mechanic from Doom 2016 before it even got released.

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This will probably end up being one of my five favorite megawads ever. If there's anything I can criticize, however, it's the thematic homogeneity so far (up to map09). The maps have some geometrical and structural variety*, but the texturing has been mostly samey, which has the odd effect of making an incredibly strong theme an afterthought while I'm actually playing the levels. The design that's prop-based (ufo, tombstones, cacti, etc.) or interactive (the desk thingy in map01, the odd teleporters, the blood message at the start of map03) has been really strong where it has appeared. I enjoy feeling as if I'm not just playing Doom levels with a snazzy dress where all I have to do is win fights and find keys and hunt for switches. Things like that really make the experience richer, and though I feel there's space for even more, I'm glad it is in there.


*Okay: there's a lot of "ledges and small collections of rooms set on the perimiter of a central rock-bordered area" design, a template I've ironically seen a lot more from the best skillsaw acolytes than from skillsaw himself. But the character of the central area varied enough from level to level that it didn't grow tiresome. The gameplay, very early on, not so much. In map01, map03, and map04 -- there are three "turreted central monster exerting pressure while being uneconomical to kill" maps very close to one another, and map05 followed it up with a similar concept in using a roving cyber! For variety's sake, I'm not a huge fan of map04, which I feel is the most typical of the bunch.

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Shoutout to Joshy for the great map 09. Took me a good 50 minutes to clear. Which double Vile part are people complaining about? The one after the Cyber hallway with the stairs? It was quite unexpected but I used the stairs as cover. Now the triple Vile part right before, that killed me. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but does opening the gate require straferunning? I wasn't able to get there by moving normally in time.

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Map 15 Red Key setup needs larger platforms for the mancs -- right now, they tend to shift around instead of firing. Also, the outside monsters on the yellow key setup don't really do what I think they're supposed to; they're just a speedbump while you snipe them out. Also, the BFG is too easy to miss IMO.

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Map 08, fucking map 08. Masterpiece.

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What a time to be alive, as someone said some time ago. I've played map 1 to 10 by now and I think this WAD is in a really good spot difficulty wise, as far as UV goes.

Cynical said:

And, no, you can't just leave the 2-vile room, since the gate is timed.


I don't quite get why people complain about those key rooms. The 3-vile room is relatively large and has a pillar working for you (Where the Caco/demon ambush was), and the 2-vile has its stairs which seem to work perfectly fine most of the time.

The blue key ambush is the most lethal thing in my book, because as soon as the revenants pop-up they raise the temperature quickly. On my second, planned attempt I left the mastermind alive to sort things out for me and it did work fairly well. I will say, though, that Joshy's map is a little stingy with rockets from my point of view, but perhaps it's because I have a fetish for pumping those, because reasons... ;-)

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So, I probably should have written down a map-by-map review or something, but so far (I saved at the beginning of map10) I have to say that this is a gorgeous was with some very interesting layouts. It's not just good looks, but good fun too!

I think it was Map06, the map with the 2nd cyber you encounter (playing on Skill 2) was the least fun so far, I save-scummed my way through that one because the cyber was a relentless piece of shit, heh.

The animal-trip teleporters are amazing, a real nice touch. Also entertaining how this holds more of a storyline than Doom/Doom2 by this point, heh.

SFoZ911 said:

Map 08, fucking map 08. Masterpiece.



Map09, the fist non-Skillsaw map iirc, was also great fun but the gameplay shift was very identifiable. The monster count went from the 100-200 value to 450+, with LOTS of low-tier fodder; which I found fun blasting through with the RL.

So far, so good. Will update on my progress, assuming I get a good chance before Doom '16 is out.

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Sure Bowb said:

What a time to be alive, as someone said some time ago. I've played map 1 to 10 by now and I think this WAD is in a really good spot difficulty wise, as far as UV goes.

I don't quite get why people complain about those key rooms. The 3-vile room is relatively large and has a pillar working for you (Where the Caco/demon ambush was), and the 2-vile has its stairs which seem to work perfectly fine most of the time.


And I thought the BK encounter was easy. Different strokes for different folks.

Both AV encounters aren't going to be particularly challenging with any sort of preknowledge, but what's relevant here is how they play the very first time they are met in comparison to the rest of the map's encounters.

One of the problems with the three-AV encounter is that the pillar is situated around 100 mu away from an irregularly shaped two-sided impassible line. Those are really screwy. I endured a blast in my playthrough because I got caught on it while moving into cover. The location of the pillar should be adjusted.

Since a given playthrough can only tap into one possible way an encounter might develop, it's certainly possible to be fortunate enough to avoid this during the first attempt. I've certainly met clusters of AVs I dispatched more quickly, without having to give up any ground. But provided one ends up having to retreat to the pillar, it's possible for the irregular line to represent a real source of unfairness.

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Sure Bowb said:

The blue key ambush is the most lethal thing in my book, because as soon as the revenants pop-up they raise the temperature quickly. On my second, planned attempt I left the mastermind alive to sort things out for me and it did work fairly well. I will say, though, that Joshy's map is a little stingy with rockets from my point of view, but perhaps it's because I have a fetish for pumping those, because reasons... ;-)


That one felt like a pretty classic Sunlust encounter with a wall of meat as well as more dangerous Revenants closing in. I was sitting at something like 70 rockets though so I just held M1 like a madman and died once due to some shitty Revenant RNG. Seriously, got killed by 2 rockets while at 100/100.

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rileymartin said:

That one felt like a pretty classic Sunlust encounter with a wall of meat as well as more dangerous Revenants closing in. I was sitting at something like 70 rockets though so I just held M1 like a madman and died once due to some shitty Revenant RNG. Seriously, got killed by 2 rockets while at 100/100.


Yeah, you had more rockets in the bag there than I did the first time. I thought max dmg per rocket is 80 for revenants? Ah, OK... green armour, yeah that's unfortunate. Seriously though, when I can't afford hard hitting revs, I take 50 at the very least, when I'm on 200/200 I take like 20-ish dmg at times. It's crazy how that damage range can screw players over occasionally.

rdwpa said:

And I thought the BK encounter was easy. Different strokes for different folks.

Both AV encounters aren't going to be particularly challenging with any sort of preknowledge, but what's relevant here is how they play the very first time they are met in comparison to the rest of the map's encounters.

One of the problems with the three-AV encounter is that the pillar is situated around 100 mu away from an irregularly shaped two-sided impassible line. Those are really screwy. I endured a blast in my playthrough because I got caught on it while moving into cover. The location of the pillar should be adjusted.


I get where you are coming from. Often enough things like that end up being a matter of knowledge instead of purely reactional skills on the players side, which is part of the reason why many folks have their fair share of trouble with appreciating Sunlust, for example. Maybe Joshy can be convinced to add a second pillar, or, you know, make those viles visible earlier, so that players can come up with a strategy instead of hitting the panic button.

My issue with the blue key encounter wasn't that it was hard to the point of being a guaranteed screw-over on first attempt, but when those revs are "seeker happy" it becomes a real threat.

Speaking of the BK ambush, is it intentional that the player is able to blitz back out of the dead end? I just tried that for funsies and I literally had to kill one demon to get out of there entirely.

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I loved Lunatic, but this is on entirely new level.
Dumb question; Trying to get this to play with Smooth Doom, but the colour palette is messed up, doesn't seem to matter what load order I use. Any ideas?

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Ancient Aliens uses its own unique palette. Smooth Doom's sprites are in standard Doom palette. You would have to modify your copy of Smooth Doom.

If you're playing in a port with OpenGL renderer (GZDoom, Zandronum in OpenGL mode):
1. Make a copy of your Smooth Doom pk3.
2. Open it in SLADE3.
3. Select all sprites and convert them to PNG (Truecolor) format.
4. Play Ancient Aliens with this new pk3. (load Ancient Aliens first)

If you're playing in a port with software renderer (ZDoom, Zandronum in software mode):
1. Make a copy of your Smooth Doom pk3.
2. Open it in SLADE3, and open aaliens.wad too.
3. Copy PLAYPAL from aaliens.wad into the new pk3.
4. Select all sprites in the pk3 and convert them from "Doom" palette to "Existing/Global" palette. They are not guaranteed to look perfect after the conversion, but at least most of them should look good enough.
5. Play Ancient Aliens with this new pk3. (load Ancient Aliens first)

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Hey, thanks for your reply. Converted all the sprites to true colour .png but that just turned everything black and white.
Oh well, I'll just play this wad vanilla.
Thanks again for taking the time to write that out.

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Cynical said:

(didn't finish map 09 though, lol 2 arch-viles in a small room with no cover, not bothering with that retarded bullshit)

You'll have to wait for the next RC when HMP is fixed for less skilled players.

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Seeing people mention the double archvile room on map09 I have to say that trap annoyed me as well. I'm sure there is some specific technique to do it reliably, but its just way too awkward and deadly a scenario to learn in.

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dew said:

You'll have to wait for the next RC when HMP is fixed for less skilled players.


Wait, is there no difference between HMP and UV? After hearing about the difficulty in this thread I started on HMP and IMO it's been rough, but fair.

Having said this, I've only beaten the first episode thus far (I play in small chunks, as I burn out pretty easily).

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I'm on MAP31, yes I found the secret exit on MAP15 which was one of the best frantic maps I've ever played(track was awesome btw). I absolutely love the new enemies, they add so much to the vanilla bad guys and I actually needed to adjust my dodging mechanics and enemy priority to tackle them without being overrun. Those little martians works great when they're cloaked since you can't clearly see them, especially when there's a ton of bodies lying around from past battles. They do a fine job at keeping you on your toes the entire fight and they can easily kill if not dispatched quickly. The new flying skulls are also great since they explode on death which can be very useful, especially since they come in packs and you get this cool chain reaction of death.

UV is not to harsh, I remember dying a few times but I find the ammo/health ratio to be pretty good, I don't recall being out of ammo in any specific map but the berserk packs are a nice and useful edition.

Anyways just had to drop by and post some thoughts, can't wait to get back there!

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TheOligopolist said:

Converted all the sprites to true colour .png but that just turned everything black and white.

I just did it myself, and everything was fine and properly colored in the game, neither grayscale nor wrongly colored. This is how you were supposed to convert them. Also make sure you aren't using outdated GZDoom.

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mouldy said:

Seeing people mention the double archvile room on map09 I have to say that trap annoyed me as well. I'm sure there is some specific technique to do it reliably, but its just way too awkward and deadly a scenario to learn in.

For a more cordial answer: IMO the northern tomb in map09 (YK) is crueler than the southern one (RK). rwdpa has a point with the bumpy midtex fence around the bend and it's a very close call even if you do retreat to the fence and spam back all the time. The RK one.. eh, the ledges over the stairs are your friends. It's only nasty if one of the viles hangs right in front of the stairs instead of getting above you. I really didn't think that place was somehow deviously murderous, actually Joshy had to add the lock-in bars to prevent cheesing and even have any challenge at all.

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scifista42 said:

Ancient Aliens uses its own unique palette. Smooth Doom's sprites are in standard Doom palette. You would have to modify your copy of Smooth Doom.

If you're playing in a port with OpenGL renderer (GZDoom, Zandronum in OpenGL mode):
1. Make a copy of your Smooth Doom pk3.
2. Open it in SLADE3.
3. Select all sprites and convert them to PNG (Truecolor) format.
4. Play Ancient Aliens with this new pk3. (load Ancient Aliens first)

If you're playing in a port with software renderer (ZDoom, Zandronum in software mode):
1. Make a copy of your Smooth Doom pk3.
2. Open it in SLADE3, and open aaliens.wad too.
3. Copy PLAYPAL from aaliens.wad into the new pk3.
4. Select all sprites in the pk3 and convert them from "Doom" palette to "Existing/Global" palette. They are not guaranteed to look perfect after the conversion, but at least most of them should look good enough.
5. Play Ancient Aliens with this new pk3. (load Ancient Aliens first)


I noticed AA broke with the LCA addon (which has its own palette) so I made a quick and dirty fix wad with just the aaliens palette: http://www.best-ever.org/download?file=aaliens_palette.wad
For a zandronum server (for example) you would load aaliens.wad first, followed by complex/lca/whatever complex addons you want, and aaliens_palette.wad as the last wad. I would assume Smooth Doom would have the same procedure.

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mouldy said:

Seeing people mention the double archvile room on map09 I have to say that trap annoyed me as well. I'm sure there is some specific technique to do it reliably, but its just way too awkward and deadly a scenario to learn in.


The way I did this reliably was to place myself mostly to the right side of the stairs, which seemed to convince the viles to not block the stairs, so I could use them as cover. I think however, that the sides of those stairs could be a little higher, because I slipped a bit too far once and got double torched, because one of the viles seemed to have my head in their line of sight in just the right moment...

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Ribbiks said:

I have a theory that any maniac willing to spend so much time with doombuilder and make huge detailed projects is probably rather adept at the game. Couple that with a map-familiarity during playtesting and it's not hard to imagine difficulty scaling with project size :)

also, blah blah difficulty settings, etc..

well, forgive me for my ignorance as i haven't played this yet, but apparently, even HNTR, the easy difficulty setting, is relatively difficult here compared to other mods on higher difficulties. now i don't mind challenge at all, but if this is true, isn't it kind of the opposite to make the easy difficulty a sort of "hard-lite?" again i haven't played this yet, and i might just be talking out of my ass here, but it'd feel kind of dumb to make even the easy difficulty fairly hard, especially for less-experienced players.

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Did anyone figure out how to UV-max map 15 and exit to map 31? I couldn't find a way back to the secret teleporter after clearing all the monsters in the main area. And once in the secret exit room it seems there's no way back.

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Doomhuntress said:

well, forgive me for my ignorance as i haven't played this yet, but apparently, even HNTR, the easy difficulty setting, is relatively difficult here compared to other mods on higher difficulties. now i don't mind challenge at all, but if this is true, isn't it kind of the opposite to make the easy difficulty a sort of "hard-lite?"


The way I am hearing it, this WAD is not yet a "full-blown release" but rather a release candidate, so I suppose it is a good time for feedback. I can say that monster counts are lower on easier difficulties, but that does not mean they have to be a "walk in the park" for that reason.

I can see where this discussion might end up, and the idea of discussing "individually catered difficulty" alone is "uncomforting" for lack of a better term. I mean, you might want to check out the .WAD beforehand. Where is the point in discussing how much easier "easy" should be compared "hard", and how "medium" fits in there, without any first-hand experience? Let alone that difficulty is very subjective in and off itself. Someone saying a .WAD is too difficult is basically saying that it is too hard for him/her, mind you.

I might be talking from a point of ignorance here, since I only played this .WAD on UV and find it to be challenging but generally fair. I daresay that there might be a lot of folks who would want to have a "hard-lite" experience, since sometimes HMP is tuned down too much for them to deliver a satisfying experience while UV is too demanding and stressful, but that's where "catered difficulty" might also be applicable.

EDIT: At the end of the day, you can't please everybody... and yes, that is why trying to do so is an exercise in futility...

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