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The /newstuff Chronicles #523

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  • Cursed Realms - Path Over The Abyss - StormCatcher.77
    Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 877.78 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Cursed Realms - Path Over the Abyss is a single moderately large GZDoom map with nice visuals and an almost purely green/gray/black aesthetic. It's set in a void-like otherworld that's sometimes reminiscent of Quake. It's also full of lethal bottomless pits that you will probably come to hate and fear (but since this is a video game, mostly hate). This isn't to say that the gameplay sucks -- the level is well put together, and the challenges are fair. Be warned, though: much of the gameplay revolves around platforming, and the most difficult challenges come from having to deal with platforming and combat at the same time. It's easy to accidentally strafe off the edge of the abyss, and the level requires jumping to progress in several spots. In and of itself, the combat is pretty moderate, with no hitscanners and few Revenants or Arch-Viles.

    This level is carefully designed, and I appreciate that. Everything about it is deliberate. The author knows exactly where to put those pits, and exactly what to throw at you while you're trying to cross them to make your life difficult (mostly flying enemies, in case you're wondering -- the platforming adds a whole new level to closing in on a Pain Elemental). There's no slow weapon progression here; you're given the SSG right off the bat, your next major weapon is the plasma rifle, and the chaingun is nowhere to be found. I think this is a good choice given the gameplay focus, since you don't have to worry about weak weapons slowing you down and can focus on how to move around.

    There are a couple of additional minor annoyances that could have been fixed. The final yellow key door is marked as red, and one /idgames reviewer points out that the level is completely broken in coop, mainly due to the way the level intentionally freezes when you die. There are a lot of things about this level that will annoy a lot of people. Players who dislike platforming, GZDoom, or heavy use of Lost Souls are all advised to approach Cursed Realms with caution. I have to say though, I am all of the above and I still found this map pretty enjoyable. The port features make this level nice to look at (I particularly like the smoky floating platforms that appear throughout), and the combat is well designed.

  • The Mines - FlightPhoenix
    Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 227.51 KB - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    The Mines is the author's second map, and although it's not the worst beginner map I've seen by any stretch, it has its share of newbie issues. The rooms are all very square, and the map is mostly laid out as a couple of straight lines. Combat is very basic and dull, and most of the tougher moments are easily resolved by herding monster hordes through doorways into narrower halls. Item and monster placement feels pretty random -- you have what you need, but there isn't really any refinement to the design -- and there are way more keys than there need to be for such a simple layout (the yellow keycard is sitting in the open, practically right next to the doors that require it). The architecture is mostly flat walls and isn't very nice to look at. I also noticed some weird scrolling textures in the yellow key supply room due to improper unpegging. The map requires GZDoom, but I'm pretty sure the only reason for this is a bleeding sky glitch that I know can be addressed easily at much lower compatibility levels.

    In its best moments, this map seems to draw a healthy dose of inspiration from Tricks 'n Traps. There's a somewhat interesting rocket launcher grab setup in the blue skull key room, and an Arch-Vile trap that caught me by surprise in another part of the map (though perhaps mainly because all other combat was so unsurprising). The best area is the giant chasm where you have to raise a couple of platforms to make a bridge across. There are a couple of doors there that open much slower than you expect, giving the monsters across the pit a moment of surprise in which to pummel you with projectiles, and patience will reward you with the opportunity to eliminate most of those same monsters without combat. I also noticed some light fixtures in at least one room that shut off when you shoot them, which I thought was kind of neat. I wouldn't recommend this map, but there are definitely times when it feels like the author is on to something, and I hope they'll continue to improve.

  • Doom with MIDI-Converted Sound Effects - Jaxxoon R
    Doom/Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 3.9 MB
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    This is a sound conversion for Doom and derivative IWADs (Doom 2, Plutonia, TNT) made by Jaxxoon R where every sound from the game has been converted to MIDI files, fully working on the Doom engine!

    That's pretty impressive for an achievement, but what's the trick?

    The trick is that these files, as Jaxxoon explains in the text file, have been converted by one of these online MP3 to anything else converters, an MP3 to MIDI converter in this case, and then recorded to a WAV file with audio capture, and then put into this very wad with SLADE3.

    The result is a funny sound replacement, but personally I was bored pretty quickly of piano midis everywhere, and I dropped out even before the MAP01 exit...

    But if you guys want to play a sound conversion with a weird twist and an interesting technical achievement, play it. But otherwise, skip this one!

  • Server Doom - Nicholas "Tiger" Gautier
    Ultimate Doom - N/A - ZDoom Compatible - 49.3 KB
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    This little mod has just one purpose: it merges all four episodes of Doom together so that you can play the whole game continuously. Whenever you exit the last level of an episode, you're greeted with the map intermission screen for the next episode (this is done properly, too -- you see an unmarked map, followed by a "you are here" sign pointing to the location of the first map). This screen is followed by the intermission text, and the story images at the end of each episode are eliminated altogether. You're probably not going to use this mod for solo play, though -- its main purpose is to allow a continuous coop playthrough. Server Doom has apparently been around for a long time (with the first version dating back to 2008), so I'm not sure if this is a minor update or if it just never ended up on /idgames until now. In any case, it's a very simple but very useful mod.

  • Server Heretic - Nicholas "Tiger" Gautier
    Heretic - N/A - ZDoom Compatible - 5.43 KB
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    This is exactly the same as Server Doom, but for Heretic. It allows you to play all five episodes of Heretic continuously, and when you beat E5, it loops you back to the beginning of the game.

  • Realistic proportions - Eevee (Lexy Munroe)
    Doom/Doom 2 - N/A - ZDoom Compatible - 2.07 KB - (img)
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    This is a little mod made by Eevee for ZDoom-compatible engines that replaces the player heights with the official one given by Tom Hall according to the "Doom Bible" documents.

    In other words, this wad turns into a giant in a world of dollhouses. In other words, in many of the maps (if they don't have a huge ceiling or a large open area like map13 of Doom 2 in my example) you'll find yourself too little for every map, so you're forced to keep crouching to play this map. Is a nice idea but the result is pretty awful; skip this thing.

  • Warehouse of the Damned - Carlos Lastra
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 131.4 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Another nice Doom 1 map by Carlos Lastra, this time occupying the E2M2 slot. This level looks like a standard E2 base with a bit of extra detailing; there's relatively little Hell influence, but some good atmosphere in the darker areas. It tends to have a very open feel, with many possible paths out of the starting area and lots of windows that peek into other areas. Overall it looks very good, though not quite as unique as Big Trouble at Deimos Base.

    The map starts off with a pretty tough battle as soon as you start moving, with enemies coming from everywhere and slightly tricky (but fair) navigation due to the room's psuedo-crate-maze layout. After that, the action is pretty standard Doom 1 fare, with a couple more moderately challenging ambushes and one crusher trap that you'll potentially have to be pretty observant to avoid (I got squished the first time). The combat is fun, just enough to keep you on your toes, and as long as you save your bullets for the Cacodemons, you shouldn't have much trouble. Worth playing, especially if you're an E2 fan.

  • Corrupted By Chaos - Entryway - StormCatcher.77
    Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 108.64 KB - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Corrupted By Chaos - Entryway is a short single level for GZDoom. This map is the winner of a mapping contest held on the forum of the Russian Doom Community, where the participants had to build a level based on the first map of Doom 2 and they couldn't modify the lines of the level geometry. This map uses many 3D floors, and the use of the restricted space was well done. Combat takes place in tight areas, apart from the last fight in a more open area, and as said before the map is really short. Nothing too exciting overall, but this is a pretty nice map, and maybe some mappers will also find this interesting for the restriction of the contest.

  • The Rooms - VeeTHis
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Skulltag - 39.38 KB - (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    The Rooms is a rather unimaginative and generic title, but it very much fits the map. A series of flat rooms that use Doom Builder default textures where the monsters are just shat into the rooms. Avoid.

  • Seamless - Zalewa
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Vanilla - 128.4 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Seamless is single level for Doom 1. The text files says that the map "makes no 'use' of lines", which doesn't seems very clear, but I guess that it refers to the fact that to progress you don't need to interact with doors/lifts, and there aren't any switches. Gameplay overall is really fun and the flow never breaks, as what you can only do is go ahead. There's a trap at one point that's pretty much instant death, though. Another thing that could probably turn someone off is the '95-esque look of the level. It has some good moments visually and the combat was nice. I guess you won't find this map very appealing if you don't like old-school stuff.

  • Quake Style Ending - Massao
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 25.77 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
    A Doom 2 remake of the ending map from Quake made by Massao, an almost-newbie mapper in the scene (he made a pair of maps so far). In layout terms the map is kinda similar to the original; some texture choices like ashwall4 as a slimefall texture doesn't convince me at all. Also, more lighting in the middle sewer section could be better.

    Also the gameplay follows the style of the Quake map, but on a much easier side... sometimes too easy.

    This map doesn't have a lot of stuff to say or criticize, it is just an OK remake. If you want to play it be my guest!

  • Star Portal Return - DarkWolf (Steven A. Martin)
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Vanilla - 98.93 KB - (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: gaspe
    Star Portal Return is a wad for Doom 1 with three levels. The last two levels originally were made for a project named "Star Portal Crisis" that has its roots back in 2002. The author was also collaborating with another person for this project which in the end was never done, so he decided to edit the levels a bit (they were made with WinDEU) and make a new level to fill the E1M1 slot. The theme is the classic E1 replacement, and the look and the architecture is really clean and simple, though you can notice that the first map, even if shorter, has some more nice details. Gameplay was rather fun; it gets better with every map, though nothing was really notable. Overall it is a nice wad, but nothing too fancy.

  • Quarantine Breach - Matt "cannonball" Powell
    Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Limit Removing - 60.92 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Cannonball is acknowledged as one of the masters of Ultimate Doom mapping, and although this E2M1 replacement seems simple at first glance (and in fact isn't much more than a pair of large set piece battles with a bit of extra corridor running in-between), it shows once more just how good the mapper is at using a fantastic layout to force players to keep moving or die.

    Cannonball cites "Containment Area" as the main inspiration, so of course I assumed going in that it was going to be one big crate maze, but it's nothing of the sort. There's not a single crate in the entire level, so it's a bit hard for me to see just where the inspiration comes in. It's definitely E2 to the bone though: a gray stone base map that's defined by blue tech trim and sheets of red-hot metal.

    The map has one of those eerily silent openers where you see your starting gear (shotgun and mega armor) sitting right in the middle of a large space, and you just know things are about to get rough. And man, talk about going straight from zero to 60. It's possible that you may get enough starting shells to kill all the Cacodemons and melee monsters and establish a foothold in that central starting area, but more likely you're going to want to hit the ground running, find the switches that open up the pathways to the various higher tiers, and try your luck somewhere where you're less of a sitting duck. The layout is nicely open here, with plenty of avenues to allow you to dodge/flank enemies and crossroad-type setups where you can strafe in and out of cover. After you've made it through all of this and enter the final area with the red key, all hell breaks loose again, this time with a lot less room to maneuver, and if you decided to use that shiny rocket launcher to sucker punch the starting Cacos, you may find yourself wishing you'd saved the rockets for later. This map is nonstop challenging action, true to form for Cannonball, and I highly recommend it.

  • Moon's Call - InsanityBringer
    Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 129.5 KB - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Not Jabba
    Moon's Call is the sequel to Moonsong, a level I reviewed back in The /newstuff Chronicles #509. The theme is similar to Doom 2's haunted-mansion-style Hell levels, with most of the level made of brick, stone, and wood. The music is an extremely subdued piano piece that takes some getting used to and may feel a bit out of place at times, but there's something pretty eerie about it, especially when the fighting stops and you find yourself suddenly in near silence, surrounded by shadows. The architecture is rather basic, but the lighting (as with Moonsong) is nice and clean, with good contrast.

    Combat is hit or miss. There are many battles that you can easily beat by camping around a corner; in particular, I remember coming back from getting the yellow key to find a horde of imps in the starting area that were really trivial to snipe through a window before I even went back out into that area. The imps all over the wood town area were also greatly weakened by their very limited movement and the fact that they rarely had a good enough line of sight to threaten a player using a hitscan weapon. If you've got an aggressive playstyle, you may not notice any of this, since the battles are all pretty easy to handle out in the open as well. There are some nice battles too, though. The starting area immediately throws you into a fight against Sergeants and Imps from all sides, and with all the hitscanners, it's a little harrowing to pistol your first zombie to get the shotgun so that you can really establish a foothold. The Revenant/Mancubus sandwich in the plasma rifle battle was also nice and deadly, and the entrenched Revenants supporting the final Cyberdemon were a good way to make that fight more threatening. Health seemed overabundant; ammo balance was better, aside from the massive stock of every type you get along with a Megaarmor at the entrance to the Cyber's den, which seemed a little silly.

    Overall, I'm not sure this map has the same je ne sais quoi that Moonsong had. The prequel had a neat contrast between the brightly moonlit exteriors and dark abandoned interiors that gave it its own unique character, but this map feels a little more basic. It starts getting more interesting toward the end with the assault on the strange townlike area, and then the surprise detour into the ending area from Moonsong. Once you reach the exit, you're greeted with an intermission text that sets you up for another sequel, which will take place on the moon. It sounds like an interesting note to end InsanityBringer's debut series on, so I'll once again eagerly await the next release.

The /newstuff Chronicles is a usually-weekly roundup of new items uploaded to the /idgames archive, and it is written entirely by community members like you. If you wish to contribute, the /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Register on the Doomworld Forums first if you don't already have an account, because you need one to submit reviews. Special thanks goes to the nearly 300 users who have submitted reviews over the past several years.

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Thank you so much for the review!! Looks like i need to focus more on making sure that a room looks nice before adding stuff like breakable lights and details (i like to implement small things to give more depth to the map, but i usually forget about the general layout of rooms and end up creating squares) . I'll make sure to create more complicated layouts and to place monsters and items in a smarter way in the map(s) i'm working on right now. Thank you again, i always apreaciate criticism. :)

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gaspe said:

The text files says that the map "makes no 'use' of lines", which doesn't seems very clear

The actual quote from the text file is "[the map] makes no use of "use" lines", ie. there are no lines that activate by pressing the "use" key.

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I'm guessing that Quarantine Breach was inspired by the central area of E2M2 rather than the crate maze. It's a lot more wide open than Containment Area though. Like Not Jabba, I was impressed by how the map maintains a "keep moving or die" theme, right up until the point when I eliminated the last monster. I found the red key area to be the trickiest bit.

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Zalewa said:

The actual quote from the text file is "[the map] makes no use of "use" lines", ie. there are no lines that activate by pressing the "use" key.

Oh, now I see. All's well that ends well.

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