Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
40oz

What was the best year for doom maps?

Recommended Posts

Between the years 1994 and 2016, which year do you think had the most positive impact on the doom mapping community?


How would you measure the best year? The year that had the largest boom of new mappers? The year the most of your favorite released wads fall under? The year that fostered the most innovative evolution of map design?

I'm kind of undecided. I used to really like old stuff but I'm more open to modern stuff lately. And despite so many mappers coming and going, doom mapping seems to be a little more prolific each year.

Share this post


Link to post

For me it's hard to pinpoint an exact year. I like Requiem, Eternal Doom and Hell Revealed which are 1997 projects (I think?). But I also love Alien Vendetta which is from 2002. Also a shout out to Return to Phobos (1994).

Share this post


Link to post

I don't really believe you could pick a best year without really subjective reasoning but I'm gonna go ahead and say 03 because Erik Alm and Scythe inspired so many people afterward.

Thing is map design is getting better as tools improve and new gameplay avenues are explored.

Share this post


Link to post

I'll go with 95 because that's when D!Zone was released. If maps weren't at their peak back then, there would be more D!Zones!

Share this post


Link to post

I really like the era from the first Memento Mori to Alien Vendetta, so mid 90's to early 00's, and pretty much anything with Mark Klem's music in it. I need to play more recent stuff.

Share this post


Link to post

I'll have to say 1994-1995 for sentimental reasons. When every new map felt fresh and innovative, even if it actually was mediocre or really bad. But nothing beat the feeling of having an infinitely expandable game, esp. when a new map also came with new graphics, sounds, or some interesting gimmick. Each one of them felt unique.

Today, there's no deny that technical perfection, features (with Boom/DECORATE extensions) and size have improved, but there's not quite the same feeling as loading an unknown PWAD off some shovelware CD-ROM ;-)

Share this post


Link to post

The most true Doom maps were made somewhere between 1994 and 1996 (maybe plus one or two years). After that people started taking the game in weird directions, making levels that were too artistic, too sophisticated, too technically competent and just generally too serious, and so pwads lost the adventurous arcade feel.

Share this post


Link to post

Toss up between 1996 and 1997. A larger number of good wads in 1996 (amongst a greater quantity of less good ones), but those who stuck with Doom (rather than migrating to Quake or whatnot) produced more polished products in 1997.

In purely numerical terms, the top years were 1995 and 1996, no question. Not clear which one is the 'winner' since many wads did not make it into the archive (especially in the early days), and there has been an increasing tendency to package maps into multi-level wads - earlier releases were more likely be just one map.

Share this post


Link to post

Best years for doom maps were 1994-1996 for the fact that ID software licenced fanmade maps.

Best years of doom maps are 2015-present because they're generally better.

Share this post


Link to post
Memfis said:

The most true Doom maps were made somewhere between 1994 and 1996 (maybe plus one or two years). After that people started taking the game in weird directions, making levels that were too artistic, too sophisticated, too technically competent and just generally too serious, and so pwads lost the adventurous arcade feel.


I dont want to come off ostracizing but makes wads made during that time more true?

I kinda get what you mean -- when I play wads of those years, I find myself filling in the empty space with details from my own imagination, so naturally a big square room made of ASHWALL with a burnt tree in the middle and a sky ceiling looks more like a mountainous landscape than an infinite number of jagged sectors designed to simulate terrain.

As a mapper that's a risky road to tread on because you have to make the assumption that people are going to make those kind of fascinating interpretations themselves when I know from experience that many players here can not.

I have to tip my hat to how gameplay focused maps have gotten in the past couple years because playing old stuff tends to feel very stale to me in comparison. We've gotten a lot of huge exciting and difficult wads in the last couple years that deserve all the credit they receive.

Share this post


Link to post
Memfis said:

The most true Doom maps were made somewhere between 1994 and 1996.... After that people started taking the game in weird directions, making levels that were too artistic, too sophisticated, too technically competent and just generally too serious ....

Yet in the comments in the /levels area here, time after time they say like :

"Meh. Was written (or looks like it was written) in 1995, what crap, looks old, might have been good enough then but we expect better today [etc etc]."

Obviously you are not one of those commenters (FWIW neither am I).

Share this post


Link to post
Memfis said:

and so pwads lost the adventurous arcade feel.

I strongly disagree. There's nothing "arcadey" about wandering in sprawling corridors, searching for an inconspicuous switch that opens a secret compartment in a sideroom that contains the key you need. These idolized 90's maps actually suffered from enforcing dungeon crawler sensibilities onto FPS games, which is probably the direct opposite of "the arcade feel". Hexen or Eternal Doom plays like Stonekeep in the ways it should not. Some may like the CRPGish ponderous, explorative style that treats the player like dirt, because they don't redraw the automap on a paper with markers and labels, but I refuse calling it "the adventurous arcade feel". It's anything but.

Share this post


Link to post

If anything, there are mods coming out contemporarily that are more indicative of an arcade experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Memfis said:

The most true Doom maps were made somewhere between 1994 and 1996 (maybe plus one or two years). After that people started taking the game in weird directions, making levels that were too artistic, too sophisticated, too technically competent and just generally too serious, and so pwads lost the adventurous arcade feel.


I think this is a really good point.

On the flip side, Doom was also the Crysis of its day. I don't think the game could spread its wings until people stopped seeing it as a spectacular, novel toy.

The staggeringly virtuosic, refined maps of the past few years have been some of the greatest gaming experiences of my life. I feel like Doom is getting better all the time.

Share this post


Link to post

1994 Bad
1995 Bad
1996 Good
1997 Average
1998 Average
1999 Average
2000 Bad
2001 Average
2002 Average
2003 Good
2004 Bad
2005 Good
2006 Bad
2007 Bad
2008 Average
2009 Average
2010 Good
2011 Good
2012 Good
-I may be biased past this date as this is when I started playing wads at their release
2013 Good
2014 Good
2015 Good
2016 Good

Share this post


Link to post

The overall quality of Doom maps have improved incrementally since they were a thing. The late 90s seemed to be a high water mark for the 'old guard' of Doom mappers (Ola, Iikka Keranen, Fanatic, Afterglow ect.) where stuffy pomposity drove mapping into a more refined endeavor.

The early to mid 2000s on the other hand were a really embarrassing, awkward phase and arguably the worst era of Doom mapping. Cutscenes, particle fountains, rough slope architecture took precedence over solid gameplay. The maps that did not adhere to cheap Zdoom / Dehacked effects are the few that stood the test of time.

Share this post


Link to post

I think people were too influenced by single player FPS games of that era. All those cool FPS games in Quake 2/3 engine and Unreal. And maybe they were trying to shoehorn Doom into something it is not, modernize it. Does anyone that was active then agree? I remember Doomsday and its 3D stuff was the rage for a while lol

Then there was a return to unapologetic retro gameplay. Even purposefully limited projects to avoid detail, purposefully vanilla projects to avoid the slippery slope of modding, even projects that emulated the style of the old games, not just paying tribute to them.

I don't think people in 2000 would believe that in 2016 most megawads would be boom or just limit removing heh

Share this post


Link to post
40oz said:

I dont want to come off ostracizing but makes wads made during that time more true?

Perhaps the best way I can put it is that when I'm playing a modern wad, I typically feel a strong presence of the author. I see how he put a torch there to prevent me from jumping out of the window and grabbing the key prematurely. I realize that this bunch of barrels is meant to be used on that group of cacodemons when they come closer. It's obvious that he connected the location I'm in with the starting one so that the player wouldn't have to backtrack for too long. You're no more a daring explorer of a mysterious unknown world where strange things can happen. You're a machine guided by your masters in a tightly controlled environment. Everything is already calculated, tested and refined to provide a smooth, safe and fair experience. Arguably the biggest attraction of pwads is lost.

Share this post


Link to post

Of course its subjective, what might be a okay year for some might have been great for others. I'm interested in knowing what year appeals most to each individual person.

Share this post


Link to post
VGA said:

I don't think people in 2000 would believe that in 2016 most megawads would be boom or just limit removing heh


I actually think this has less to do with people going back to their roots but with ZDoom's project leader being an utter catastrophe at leading and guiding the project in the latter half of the 2000's and beyond.

This seems to have driven a lot of mappers off ZDoom because it cannot work if the leader is unavailable for months apiece leaving the second developer without clues what's up and at the whim of a community trying to pull the project into different directions.

With better management, I think, it might have come differently if 12 years ago a different course had been set - one that has a clear goal, and a leader who could gude the project toward that goal.

Share this post


Link to post
Memfis said:

Perhaps the best way I can put it is that when I'm playing a modern wad, I typically feel a strong presence of the author. I see how he put a torch there to prevent me from jumping out of the window and grabbing the key prematurely. I realize that this bunch of barrels is meant to be used on that group of cacodemons when they come closer. It's obvious that he connected the location I'm in with the starting one so that the player wouldn't have to backtrack for too long. You're no more a daring explorer of a mysterious unknown world where strange things can happen. You're a machine guided by your masters in a tightly controlled environment. Everything is already calculated, tested and refined to provide a smooth, safe and fair experience. Arguably the biggest attraction of pwads is lost.


i think arcade is the wrong word to use. i also think that you cannot avoid feeling the artifice of the architect. i think that the big difference is where that artifice is bent toward. does their heavy hand lie on DoomCute things like sector toilets? do they create a morass of sector machinery a la Jim Flynn that must be constantly turned over and manipulated like a Rubiks Cube until it is finally solved? or is it spent polishing the gameplay until it's so smooth and so seamless that it's like a devil of a waterslide at a waterpark?

"presence of the author" is a pretty good expression. i mean you can see the authorial hand in just about everything but some times the action is more... directed like a director, and you're just an actor, with little freedom to interpret your role, less like exploring a world that the author wants to share. it's "professional" but in the sense that the author is clearly developing a product and highly knowledgeable about the things that will cause the average consumer to quit out. that's when we start hearing about stuff like map flow and signposting.

i think that there's plenty of room for these highly approachable pwads as well as the stuff where, and i think i am paraphrasing something Ribbiks once wrote, the amusement of the author trumps everything else. with all these highly polished mapsets being thrown around Sheer Poison came to me like a thunderclap in how hostile both its action and machinery were to the player and to have a complicated mystery in achieving its "true" ending which featured of all things an enormous shrine to Elon Musk, to me the epitome of a mysterious unknown world of strange things. but, of course, you are just as adverse to lacking a "smooth, safe and fair" experience as the chaff that guzzles down these professionally-polished mapsets when it comes to some things.

Memfis said:

Music was cacophony, there were no weapons and the monsters began hugging me in 15 seconds. I see what you mean by "I find it incredibly hard to convince people to play my stuff" and I think you'll find it even harder in the future. Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Hell Theatre said:

I actually think this has less to do with people going back to their roots but with ZDoom's project leader being an utter catastrophe at leading and guiding the project in the latter half of the 2000's and beyond.

This seems to have driven a lot of mappers off ZDoom because it cannot work if the leader is unavailable for months apiece leaving the second developer without clues what's up and at the whim of a community trying to pull the project into different directions.

With better management, I think, it might have come differently if 12 years ago a different course had been set - one that has a clear goal, and a leader who could gude the project toward that goal.

I think demo-friendliness drives the bus a lot more than you might expect, at least as far as this forum goes.

The fact I can easily record demos using modern tools that will consistently replay in the target source port of choice goes a long way towards the type of replayability a wad will have to a good chunk of this community, as well as the type and quality of feedback that the author will receive.

As streaming and video recording becomes more ubiquitous the value of demo recording will lessen, but I think it's had an impact.

Share this post


Link to post

I'm going to go with 1999. By then, the source code had been released for a while which provided time for source ports to improve. Even if the maps that year are subjectively so-so, source ports laid the foundation for bigger things to come.

Share this post


Link to post

One of the interesting contrasts between recent years and dooms earlier years are that even though earlier years were pretty highly prolific, there is much less crap in recent years than any period of Dooms existence. I think its really cool how conscious mappers are of what source ports they are mapping for and demo compatibility and stuff. So you really dont run into a lot of corny experimental stuff as you may have used to a decade ago. I think its unfortunate to admit that many of my favorite mappers aren't mapping anymore, but that also means that a lot of my least favorite mappers aren't mapping anymore either.

There's been some pretty great newcomers as of late and it seems many of them are more cognizant of what it takes to be a skilled mapper before diving in and starting. I think this a great thing for players who are likely not to find garbage maps to perpetuate peoples love for the game, but I also think it has the con of making mappers make fewer maps a year than mappers might have severs years ago.

My memory is a little fuzzy though so i could be talking out of my ass but I'm still pretty undecided of whether we are in Dooms best years or if Dooms best is behind us. Doom still has long future of uncharted territory. Does it seem to be heading in a better or declining direction?

Share this post


Link to post
40oz said:

Doom still has long future of uncharted territory. Does it seem to be heading in a better or declining direction?

My view on this: there's no need to fret over whether a straight-A student will get a 95% or a 98% on their report card.

Share this post


Link to post

Great topic for a thread!

Looking back through past Cacowards and the 100 best WADs, I'd probably say 1997. I'd argue that 1996-1997 probably constitute something akin to a "golden age" of WADs - certainly it seems like an overwhelming majority of the best megaWADs of the '90s were released those two years.

It's something of a sweet spot where the level authoring scene had matured enough that people were producing really good mods for it (in teams of skilled mappers), but the game was still young enough that a lot of people were interested in it. There's good stuff in the surrounding years too - 1996 had Final Doom and the two Memento Moris, and nice stuff came out in 1998-1999 too, but the concentration of really good stuff in the 1996-1997 era is so high that it's hard to ignore.

Plus, the end of 1997 saw the Doom source release, which gives something of a coda.

Share this post


Link to post
fraggle said:

Plus, the end of 1997 saw the Doom source release, which gives something of a coda.

A code coda?

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×