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Soundblock

new megawad: ECHELON

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Download:
my blog (version 1.5)
idgames (version 1.5)

Here are the fruits of my last three years (and then some) worth of Doom labor, Echelon.

What to expect?
--- Fast paced, bite-sized maps, with a few exceptions towards the end
--- A reimagining of the Doom II storyline
--- Plenty of new graphics, including a couple of new monsters I made myself.
--- Music made by Ribbiks, Jimmy, MFG38 and Blueworrior.
--- No slaughterfests
--- Ultimate Doom style gameplay, on Ultra Violence (no SSG until the end, no BFG at all).
--- Early SSG and BFG on lower skill settings.
--- Reduced monster counts on Hey Not Too Rough & ITYTD.
--- Ammo counts screwed on tight for UV pistol starts, more lenient in episodic playthrough.
--- Should be a breeze for hardcore Doomers, hopefully accessible for all player skill levels.
--- Echelon evolved out of my now defunct Project PAR.
--- Featuring graffiti made by the Doomworld community.
--- made in ZDoom
--- supports jumping/ducking, though not strictly neccessary - no items or important areas are reachable only by jumping/ducking. They can give tactical advantages though.

Some screenshots:

Spoiler


























Also, the good people over at The Week In Doom have been kind enough to put up an article about Echelon.

If you find any problems/bugs I'll fix them. Just leave a note here with the relevant info should you find anything of that nature. General feedback is of course also welcome, be it good or bad.

Good luck in there!

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Oh man looks awesome! Love that the maps are story-driven and bite-sized, as I feel like there's not enough short-yet-cohesive projects on Doomworld.

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Soundblock said:

--- No slaughterfests
--- Ultimate Doom style gameplay, on Ultra Violence (no SSG until the end, no BFG at all).


This concerns me greatly.

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Up to MAP12 on HNTR, one of the strangest WADs I've ever played, and I can't for the life of me figure out I like it or not. Some of the visuals are good, some not so much, and ditto for the gameplay - some strange design choices going on, worst of those for me was MAP08's red key, it's pretty much a mandatory secret :|
I will play further though..

Also what's with the dog lite-amp visor on MAP04? That was last thing I was expecting it to turn out to be, heh.

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Cynical said:

What sauceport?

It looks like I see 3D floors there, so I assume GZDoom?


I made it in ZDoom, GZDoom should work just fine.

Eris Falling said:

what's with the dog lite-amp visor on MAP04?

Oh that thing - I never give out the visor-powerup, so I turned it into a little doggie, just for shits & grins.

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I played the first several levels. It's pretty cool. Nice design, cool music and cool gameplay ideas, will finish it and give my full report.

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I'm up to Outpost of Hell, UV continuous. I get that the levels were intended to be vignettes, but you could certainly make larger and a bit more substantive while still fitting comfortably within the bounds of "bite-size". As is, the problem is that there is constant interruption of play to read interlude texts.

One common mistake with withholding weapons is that it makes the gameplay slower-paced (or even tedious) without making it harder. Map06 is a good example; the arachnotrons are harmless against the single shotgun, and with HNTR/HMP's chaingun withheld, everything is simply slower.

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rdwpa said:

One common mistake with withholding weapons is that it makes the gameplay slower-paced


True dat, the gameplay is more laborious at UV. Took me 1hr 13 mins to play the entire thing, last time I played it on HNTR. 3 hours plus on UV.

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Sweet, was just about to whine in the "TWiD" thread that there was no download for this. Grabbing asap!

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Eris Falling said:

worst of those for me was MAP08's red key, it's pretty much a mandatory secret :|


You can reach that by pressing the jump button. Echelon supports jumping and ducking, should you feel the need to do so (stated in the text file, but I'll put a not about it at the top post too). Not encouraged, but it will provide the odd shortcut and can quicken up play.

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Cool stuff.

quick review:

Spoiler

Layout/Visual: Most maps are simplistic, but pretty interesting despite of being simplistic. Other maps are on the fancier side. All maps are stylish and good for a nice "nature hike" through them.

Gameplay: fights are mostly basic, but +1 for lots of barrels. i love barrels. There are occasional quirks, ones that I like but others don't; for example, the ziggaurat map in E3 had an open-field fight that quickly turns into a key-hunt adventure in the very same battlefield.

Episode 3 drastically increases in both difficulty and quality. I died a lot here; it felt like health was sparse too. Map29 was neat-o

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You might want to look into these startup warnings:

Texman.Init: Init texture manager.
Unknown patch S3DUMMY in texture S3DUMMY
Texture S3DUMMY is left without any patches
Unknown patch DMOR64 in texture DMOR64
Texture DMOR64 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_TSCN2R in texture N_PLNTRD
Unknown patch N_TSCN3R in texture N_PLNTRD
Unknown patch N_TSCN4R in texture N_PLNTRD
Unknown patch N_TSCN5R in texture N_PLNTRD
Unknown patch N_TSCN6R in texture N_PLNTRD
Unknown patch N_TSCN8R in texture N_PLNTRD
Unknown patch SUPP916A in texture SUPPB24A
Unknown patch TROFWL01 in texture TROFWL01
Texture TROFWL01 is left without any patches
Unknown patch TROFWL02 in texture TROFWL02
Texture TROFWL02 is left without any patches
Unknown patch TECHMET in texture TECHMET
Texture TECHMET is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF01 in texture N_SNWF01
Texture N_SNWF01 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF02 in texture N_SNWF02
Texture N_SNWF02 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF03 in texture N_SNWF03
Texture N_SNWF03 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF04 in texture N_SNWF04
Texture N_SNWF04 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF05 in texture N_SNWF05
Texture N_SNWF05 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF06 in texture N_SNWF06
Texture N_SNWF06 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF07 in texture N_SNWF07
Texture N_SNWF07 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF08 in texture N_SNWF08
Texture N_SNWF08 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF09 in texture N_SNWF09
Texture N_SNWF09 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF10 in texture N_SNWF10
Texture N_SNWF10 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF11 in texture N_SNWF11
Texture N_SNWF11 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF12 in texture N_SNWF12
Texture N_SNWF12 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF13 in texture N_SNWF13
Texture N_SNWF13 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF14 in texture N_SNWF14
Texture N_SNWF14 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF15 in texture N_SNWF15
Texture N_SNWF15 is left without any patches
Unknown patch N_SNWF16 in texture N_SNWF16
Texture N_SNWF16 is left without any patches
If I had to guess, the problem is that you are trying to create Textures entries with the same name as the patches that you are inserting into them.

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Okay, I've finished this one. It took me slightly less than 3 hours to beat with blind UV-Continuous. What an awesome megawad with casual difficulty, I must say! I really like the environments of this wad with custom green and blue(YES!!!) textures. The wad starts with soft combats, but it's getting right with a reasonable difficulty curve except few cases. Here are some more thoughts about this wad:

Spoiler

Before I start, I need to mention that I played it with ZDoom 2.8.0

- Viper, a red ophidian with flamethrower, could use its own custom sound effects rather than original sound effects of cacodemon and revenant. Most of the times, I was confused because of same sound effect, thinking "Was that a cacodemon or viper right behind me?". This problem gets serious at darker areas. While I prefer to fight against cacodemons with close quarter, dealing with vipers from close quarter is normally not a good idea, since they cause explosion after the death. So I think vipers should have their own sound effects, something suitable for ophidian monsters.

- I can tolerate texture misalignments from some levels, but here are some cases for your information; MAP07, MAP21

- In MAP16, commander keen replacements(something like demon fruits) could be used for designing a secret area by using tag 666. Honestly I was expecting some kind of secrets after I got every demon fruits from the trees.

- There's a imp stuck to the wall in MAP23. You can still shoot it with your weapon, but you cannot see it unless you use IDDT cheat via automap. Its thing number is 199.

- In MAP19, linedefs for blocking chaingunners above the floor don't work properly because of holes around them, allowing chaingunners to run away from the player. I think giving block monster flag to Linedef 455 and 458 will solve this issue.

- I'm not against to allowing the jumping. But jumping might cause some issues that can interrupt the gameplay experience. This can be minor issues, such as allowing players to access to the inappropriate areas in MAP24, or even game-breaking issues like falling into inescapable pit in MAP10.

- The roof of gate to the underground dungeon in MAP29 should be inaccessible, because the players can still activate the silent teleporter from above. Same thing goes to the gate from the opposite direction, where the player can reach with jumping.

- I thought it was a glitch after I found the secret exit from MAP15. But I realized later that this wad doesn't have secret levels. The secret levels are not mandatory to the megawad, but it could be better if it had MAP31 and MAP32.

- Not an issue, actually. But I really missed my SSG from the secret area from MAP22, the map that based on the deathmatch level you uploaded long ago. :)

Despite of some issues I've mentioned from above, I still enjoyed the overall gameplay of this megawad. Like I mentioned from above, I really liked the environment and layout of each level. Early levels have some modest architectural details. But the detail gets better level by level, resulting a giant fortress with green marble textures from MAP29. Overall playtime was a little bit short than I anticipated, but I spent my 3 hours very well with this one. Kudos to you!

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Stopped at MAP14 for the night. It's a pretty cute set! I think the beginning is a bit strange because the first handful of maps fly by in a flash, but then the wad starts to pick up pace right around MAP06. I'm playing on HMP continuous because I kinda just wanna blitz through the set and see what it has to offer... there's been some interesting stuff so far—nothing that's floored me, but I've enjoyed my time with it more or less. The only map that's annoyed me was MAP12: I'm fine with the concept but I couldn't find the red key for a while, and think it's kinda rude to put it on a METAL pipe lift (at least make it the same type of red METAL as the other lifts!) Also, this door should probably be open-able from the other side to provide the player with a shortcut (since I hadn't found the blue key when I reached the blue key door either, meaning I had to take the long way back).

Fun stuff—looking forward to more.

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MAP 9, I actually managed to get behind the second set of bars when the trap with vipers was triggered. Couldn't find a switch to lower them from the other side.

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WildWeasel said:

You might want to look into these startup warnings:


Dunno how to fix those. Luckily they don't affect the gameplay or visuals any, they just leave me feeling a bit... dirty.

antares031 said:

Despite of some issues I've mentioned from above, I still enjoyed the overall gameplay of this megawad.

Thanks for the detailed feedback Antares! I'll get right on fixing most issues, but I think I'll leave the Viper SFX as they are. I kinda like the guessing game they force. Also, the demon fruit could have been utilised better, but I think leaving it in was better than axing it altogether, which is what I was considering for a while. The secret exit in map 15 was an omission, I could swear I had deleted that before. Will get right on it.

dobu gabu maru said:

at least make it the same type of red METAL as the other lifts!

That lift is much taller - the texture used on the other lifts wouldn't tile so well, vertically. I mean, its marked by that texture on the side of the lift, so I'm gonna say its OK with me if you ran around for a little in there, sorry. ;-)

dobu gabu maru said:

should probably be open-able from the other side to provide the player with a shortcut

You're free to use the duck function there, to crawl under the door.

Firedust said:

MAP 9, I actually managed to get behind the second set of bars when the trap with vipers was triggered. Couldn't find a switch to lower them from the other side.

Did you try activating on the bars themselves? They should open if you do.

EDIT: Antares' issues fixed, and file updated to version 1.1

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Played up to map12 and I really appreciated the inclusion of some maps that are on the larger side of what is considered bite-sized. The funny thing is that there are two encounters in the map with >100 monsters that some people, with the exceptionally stretched definitions of 'slaughter' that are common these days, might consider a 'slaughterfest' :D. The fish monster that explodes into health bonuses is my favorite thing in the set so far. :)

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Soundblock said:

Did you try activating on the bars themselves? They should open if you do.

EDIT: Antares' issues fixed, and file updated to version 1.1


I didn't, haha. Didn't try the most obvious thing. 50 mins in and already on map 17 :) Pretty interesting concept this is.

EDIT: Map 20, mega armor secret, there is a hom on the door when standing in the secret room.

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A little missing texture on map29:

There's also a spot on that blood river where you can get stuck if you can't jump (but then, this already requires ZDoom, so...)

My only criticism is, is his wife safe at the end? We need to know, man!

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Albertoni said:

A little missing texture on map29:

Fixed that and the jump-pit, will update to 1.2 after the weekend.

Albertoni said:

is his wife safe at the end? We need to know, man!

She went to her mom's, a place so far out in the boonies that maybe even the demons overlooked it. Then again, she might have turned into something terrible, and be the boss of Echelon II!

Nah, just kidding, she should be ok. Happy ending. :)

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Sverre megawad!!! Going to play this with friends after my exams!

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This is done by Cranium, right? The guy who contributed five levels to the Master Levels? I think I gotta check this out...!

Regarding the startup texture warnings, maybe this thread helps a bit with fixing the issue (especially check the last post in that thread).

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Loving how elder.wad turned out after only a decade-plus in the making. Will follow-up later on a more thorough review but it seems you wanted to balance detail-oriented design with some sparse retro elements?

What happened to the level you posted a screenshot of that had a submerged creek-bed with overhead forest?

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