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Tower of Babel Redux (Another Map of Mine)

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Recently I've been making a map which takes place in a suburban neighborhood. Then like a genius I decided every house would be fully accessible and it became very tedious very fast. So as a way to kind of take a break from it, I started a new little pet project, a retelling of the classic Ultimate Doom map, Tower of Babel. I figured that I'd take the plunge again and attempt to share it here. The PWAD can either be thrown into a Doom 1 IWAD or played directly off of Doombuilder or something similar. Additionally, I tested it in Chocolate Doom as I wanted it to be Vanilla compatible and it looks like I finally wrestled it into submission on that front.

Here's the wad: https://www.dropbox.com/s/wb5lnztk7toc9a5/Tower%20of%20Babel.wad?dl=0 Wad requires Doom 1 as a resource if you're using it in an editor.

And some screens:

And now additional information nobody wants or asked for.

I love the original Doom Levels, they're always my favorite, and that includes Tower of Babel, a classic Arena setting for a big fight. However one thing that always rubbed me the wrong way about it: It's not a Tower. In fact there are barely any height differences at all in terms of traversable terrain. So for my version of it, I made sure the player spends plenty of time climbing stairs. Doom's inability to do room over room makes it a bit of a cheat of course, but at least the intent was there. I also conceptualized the Tower to be a place of punishment for both man and demon, although I sort of underrepresented the latter when it comes to the torture-themed decoration. Anyway, all main rooms of this level further the concept of punishment in some way. The level itself is rather short. When it comes to boss levels, I like for them to feel like a boss level, and thusly put the focus mostly on the boss. I don't care so much for those lengthy ones that happen to end with a boss fight. So although there is more to this level than the original it is attempting to pay homage to, it's still rather lean and simple in design.

If you did decide to play it in chocolate doom or actual vanilla doom, the only bug I'm aware of potentially happening is a visplane overflow but that should only happen if you're using the no-clipping cheat, in which case standing on the normally unreachable southern wall of the final room might trigger it if you're near the east or west corner. It's worth noting I myself never triggered it but saw the potential while looking at the Visplane Explorer in GZDoom Builder.

Thanks for looking. If there's anything horrifically wrong with it, go ahead and make it known for all to mock.

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This isn't something I would normally download and play (no offense, it just doesn't grab me) but I was so glad to see something with some effort in the midst of the recent spate of shitty maps that I decided to give it a runthrough as a 'THANK YOU' for doing your due diligence. :)

Here are my thoughts as I go through the level:

Start: Visually okay, appealing in a classic sort of way. Texture misalignments under the windows.

Caco room: Decent gameplay, not as exciting as I'm used to but again it fits the classic mood. Right now you've got the blood fountain texture (GSTFONT or something?) which gives you bloodstains along the base of the wall part of the way, and then perfectly clean green marble in other sections of the same wall, which looks weird. Either make the bloodstained texture consistent or don't have it at all.

Red key seems a little bit extraneous here-- why not just have a second switch that opens the door?

More texture misalignment at the very beginning of the stairs out of the caco room. Stairs look good overall though.

Room before the blue key door is mostly good. Good example of how to make nice atmosphere with vanilla textures and simple architecture. Using a door texture as a wall texture looks weird though. I'd try using a wood texture for those walls and manually adding trim/details with metal textures.

Speaking of trim with metal textures -- good attempt at this on the stairway after the blue key, but align them so the rivets are properly centered (or whatever you want the alignment to be-- just don't make it haphazard is what I'm saying).

Yellow key area -- looks great. More of that classic architecture. Having the energy cell pack out in the open and the plasma gun in a secret is backwards, though, unless there's a non-secret plasma gun soon. edit: there wasn't, as far as I can see. Just give the player the plasma gun.

Nice stairways after yellow key-- the dark one in particular really builds up the suspense.

Very hard to grab the blue armor and soul sphere without eating a rocket. In particular, the little pedestals they're on are very easy to get stuck on for a moment when trying to run in and out, and a moment is all it takes. Take the pedestals out. Better yet, just put the supplies down on the arena floor. Aside from this, the design of the boss fight is cool and good.

Overall thoughts:

Needs more health (some medikits at least) and maybe some more armor too.

Aside from the aforementioned texture mishaps, the level is actually quite visually appealing in the classic style, but the automap would look a lot better if you kept the rooms closer together and maybe added a bit more connectivity. It's fine if you intend the player to encounter the rooms in a predetermined order, but right now it's just too obvious that they're setpieces connected by narrow staircases.

Once again--thank you for making and sharing this--it shows a lot of effort so far.

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@JerrySheppy Thanks for looking. The map wasn't visually perfect and I knew that, but I figured on posting the "rough draft" first which would give me a better idea of where the errors most stand out. I'll address the necessary concerns in order:

Texture misalignment under the windows annoyed me to read because I totally meant to align them and just forgot. I'm also reminded that I meant to change some other things in the starter room.

I see your thing about the blood fountain. The explanation there is that the floor originally had the blood stains all the way down but when I added the cages, I could no longer line it up correctly and then never went back to edit the fountains. I also noticed that I forgot to change the ceiling texture above the blood canal in there.

I guess there could have been a switch but I preferred the running theme of collecting all the keys. Personal preference.

I know most players wouldn't like using the door texture as a wall but that particular texture is just something I've always used interchangeably for doors and walls, I just happen to like it for both. I don't always adhere to the norms even at the risk of criticism from players.

The Plasma gun secret is one I sort of mulled over. Basically, the level is designed to be played both as a stand alone AND as the conclusion to the Shores of Hell. This means that the plasma gun secret is for players playing it from scratch and gives them a worthy item to find. However, if they played the previous levels, then they don't really need it and that's why there's 40 points of health in there too, so it's useful either way. The Cell is there mostly as a hint for the players who need the gun, and a nice chunk of ammo for players who do or don't need the gun (Plus the Plasma gun is missing from the original Tower of Babel. I included it here but figured I'd hide it a little).

Glad you liked the dark stair room, I spent ages worrying about how that would come off.

As for the supplies in the boss fight...I did notice that you can get hung up on the pedestals, I myself ate at least one rocket while doing it. I'm not sure if I'll drop them or not (It was mostly a decorative choice so the important items weren't just on the floor, so I might just make it so they can be climbed over but still high enough to see from a distance), but I will say that I intentionally left the supplies in that area. My intention was to make the fight harder in several ways and one such way was to make it so that you had to put your neck on the line a little in order to fuel up. Yes I give the player those nice things but I don't exactly give them away.

Most of my levels would have more connectivity than this (I have 3 other maps in an earlier thread if you're curious) but as I said this is a boss level and I kind of designed the parts before the Cyberdemon to be kind of a series of "trials" so to speak. If it feels "setup" that's kind of how it's supposed to feel. Like a mini game in and of itself "Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Boss" that kind of thing. As for needing more health, I was very undecided on whether or not I wanted to include more so that's another reason I posted it as is, I figured I'd see if there are complaints about the lacking health (though there ARE 260 points of health available in the level, but 120 of them are in secrets). If there are enough, I'll toss some stacked health bonuses in the Caco Room.

I'll certainly have a look at some of those texture issues (I admit, I'm not the best when it comes to texture alignment, that kind of tedious works tests my focus problems). I'm more or less content with the actual gameplay elements for better or for worse, I know I can be a bit of an oddball when it comes to map features but hey, every fan made map should have some personality, eh? I'll think the pedestal thing, whether to keep them as is or make them easier but I do prefer to have all those supplies up where they are.

Thanks a ton for the feedback, helped remind me of a lot of things I need to fix.

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Map doesn't put any pressure on you -- I was able to reality it (beat while taking no damage) quite easily. I think the caco encounter is decent as a warm-up (the good thing about it that the other fights are lacking is multi-directional pressure) but the all-pinky mob and baron duo would be better off being mixed-species fights, with a smattering of threatening monster types (lost souls, sergeants, etc.). Couldn't hurt in certain areas to use indirect reveals (monster closets, teleport traps, etc.) to keep the player off-balance.

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rdwpa said:

Map doesn't really put any pressure on you -- I was able to reality it (beat while taking no damage) quite easily. I think the caco encounter is okay-ish as a warm-up but the all pinky mob and baron setups would be better off being mixed-species fights, with a smattering of threatening monster types (lost souls, sergeants, etc.).

Fair enough, it wasn't necessarily designed to be a super challenging thing, just more so than the original. Although I recently have tried sharing them here, among the more die hard doom fans, I typically show these off to the more casual fans and try to keep the difficulty in check. Among friends and family I'm the only one who ever felt the interest in actually playing through Plutonia so I try to keep that in mind when making some levels (though I do have some that can reach out and bite you). I admit that the rooms could perhaps do with some varied monsters, though I sort of tried to keep every room "themed" with this one and relatively simple as I just wanted these rooms to be little appetizers before the end. I did consider adding in some additional monsters that would only appear on higher levels, such as lost souls in with the Cyberdemon (an homage to the original map) and some imps up in the cages of the blue key room.

All the same, thanks for giving it a try.

PS. if anyone grabbed the file in the last few minutes and got a version which goes straight to the boss fight, I apologize, it's possible that got uploaded by mistake, I've since fixed it.

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Looks interesting. I never cared much for the original E2M8, which is short, mostly empty and pathetically easy. The same goes with E3M8. Why Id Software thought they would make for a good finale is beyond me...

Anyway, about your map...

I like the idea of having to go through several challenge rooms before fighting the Cyberdemon. I just wish there was more of them. Like, a room for each enemy type. I also think the map could use a lot more enemies to fight and also more hazards to be wary of. For example, monsters could be hiding behind walls, waiting for you to get to the center of a room to ambush you.

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JohnnyTheWolf said:

I like the idea of having to go through several challenge rooms before fighting the Cyberdemon. I just wish there was more of them. Like, a room for each enemy type. I also think the map could use a lot more enemies to fight and also more hazards to be wary of. For example, monsters could be hiding behind walls, waiting for you to get to the center of a room to ambush you.

I did consider adding more rooms but as I said before, I like Boss levels to mostly be about the boss and so I didn't want too much distraction. Plus, I tried to keep in mind that although it's a standalone PWAD, this is only the 2nd Boss of the game (assuming you count the Bruiser Brothers), so I decided that I could hold back a little, like if for example I decide to try the same thing with "Dis," then I'd
want more to fall back on. I'm trying to convey that I didn't intend for the level to be a new challenge for very experienced players, I mostly designed it to be a realistic alternative to the original, not so much harder that it feels out of place among the rest of Episode 2, but not as easy as the original either.

I've seen multiple things about how people regard the original "Tower" and "Dis" maps as boring and easy. I think the thing to remember about them is that at one time, we were all new to Doom, and most of us at the time probably didn't think "Geez, E2M8 could really use some more texture mapping" but rather, we thought "What the hell is THAT?" and our faces were exploded while we were trying to figure it out. While doom as cultivated an impassioned community of die hard fans, the original games were made for the casual PC gamer. And in that way, the maps are what they are.

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Made changes to the WAD based on some suggestions here and some issues I noticed independently. Some changes include:

-Many textures properly aligned

-Minor edits on texture mapping

-Some unnecessary vertices removed

-A few additional monsters if played on Ultra Violence or Nightmare!

Thanks for the feedback so far, especially JerrySheppy for taking the time to be so thorough.

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