Thoughts on FreeDoom Phase 1 maps

I just completed the first three FreeDoom Phase 1 episodes (not Double Impact, since it isn't a FreeDoom original) on HMP from today's development build, and here are some impressions and criticisms of the maps I've played.

 

* E1M1's texture theme is very interesting but it's never seen again as the rest of the episode is a recapitulation of the Knee-Deep in the Dead theme. It's also very boxy and lacks much in the way of height variation or interesting architecture, certainly nothing like the old map.

* Episode 1 is the best set of maps, but really sags with E1M3 and E1M4, which are bland maps with little going on architecturally or gameplay wise. I feel they should be deleted and replaced with higher quality maps. E1M9, on the other hand, is just straight-up bungholio with not a single redeeming quality whatsoever. With the blocky "architecture", ugly sector furniture, and zero-threat fights where you shotgun a wall of monsters in a huge hallway as they slowly advance, it feels like a level from 1994. E1M5-E1M7 are very good, with lots of connectivity and dynamic gameplay, but perhaps a bit too long. E1M8 is a letdown though, a tiny little stub with a boss fight that is much easier than the original E1M8 despite having more barons.

* The E1M6 music is really annoying and needs to go. Most of the metal music in this mod is inferior to the non-metal music, but this is particularly bad.

* Episode 2 is a major step down, with lots of dull room-hallway-room layouts with 128 high featureless walls and 90-degree angles everywhere. E2M3 is the only standout of the set, an all-around solid map. E2M5 is also pretty good, nothing special layout-wise but it looks nice and there are some good fights. E2M6 is just terrible, a short, sloggy sequence of hallways with monsters thrown in them.

* Episode 3 starts really badly, with small, sloppy, slow-moving maps where you shotgun cacos and barons and wait for them to slowly die. E3M1 even repeats the original E3M1's scene of killing a caco with a pistol, and this time there is not enough room to run past him and grab the shotgun to save yourself the tedium. These early maps are like Sandy Petersen's maps but without any of the playfulness and invention; they are merely charmless, ugly, short, and dull. Later on they get a bit better, but still rely on what I call "noodle" layouts, with linear sequences of corridors and boxy rooms branching out from a main hub, with no connectivity to speak of and substituting fiddly details for actual memorable architecture. E3M9 is the only good map but it (a) is very much an E2 themed map and should be E2M6 or E2M7, and (b) is still pretty noodly, but with wider hallways, like an early Paul Corfiatis map from before his style matured. This episode is just not very good; it needs a total overhaul and needs it badly.

* E3M6 has no secret exit as far as I can tell; the only way to get to E3M9 is by cheating.

* Horizon is too obviously hell to pass as anything but hell--lakes of fire, igneous rock, rivers of blood, walls of flesh. If the monsters are supposed to be aliens instead of demons, I think their homeworld is in need of some new decor.

* The intermission text is really bad. The writing is dry and completely fails to sell the setting or give any sense of urgency or danger. Horizon is "a whole new world". What kind of world? Set a scene, engage the reader's imagination. And please have a native English speaker write it, because there's a lot of Engrish here and it looks very unprofessional.

 

Hell, I might take a crack at the E3 text right now:

 

The armored chassis of the massive\n
fiend before you buckles and then bursts\n

apart, scattering machinery and viscera\n
all over the battlefield. With the\n
mechanized guardian dead, you proceed\n
onwards to find a man-made teleporter--\n
your ticket off this rock.\n
\n
Horizon turned out not to be an AGM\n
installation, but another world\n
entirely, one utterly hostile to\n
human life and populated by beasts\n
from humanity's worst nightmares.\n
But even the rivers of lava and hordes\n
of monsters could stop you, and you\n
step on to the teleporter to find\n
yourself back on Earth...but it seems\n
Horizon's denizens got there first.

 

Wish I had more words to spend on description, but 320x200 is 320x200 and this was as much as I could get without it running off the screen.

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Why don't you submit that E3 text via pull request?

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I probably will, but I should write the rest of them first so they're consistent in content and style.

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19 minutes ago, Woolie Wool said:

This episode [E3] is just not very good; it needs a total overhaul and needs it badly.

Well, you'll be pleased to hear that this is my plan. Don't have much to say on the matter yet, but I will say this: Once I have the time, major reworking/replacing will commence, with a few other people on board to assist.

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7 hours ago, Woolie Wool said:

Horizon is too obviously hell to pass as anything but hell--lakes of fire, igneous rock, rivers of blood, walls of flesh. If the monsters are supposed to be aliens instead of demons, I think their homeworld is in need of some new decor.

Other than E3M9 I did also a story proposal, where Horizon is a partially terraformed planet, justifying in this way the hellish look:

 

 

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8 hours ago, Woolie Wool said:

E3M1 even repeats the original E3M1's scene of killing a caco with a pistol, and this time there is not enough room to run past him and grab the shotgun to save yourself the tedium.

 

If that's not a replacement for my E3M1 (which was a two-hour speedmap to replace the godawful "knife fight in a phone booth" one), then suggestions for improvement are very welcome.

 

However, I beg to differ about there not being enough room to run past the Cacodemon/Trilobite -- in the 3 MAX demos I sent with the map (to verify 100% completions as per requirements) I ran straight past to the Berzerk pack. I aimed, first and foremost, to create a map that would be fun for Tyson-runners.

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"What is Hell?" 

 

Who said Hell consists of lakes of fire, rivers of blood, walls of flesh, igneous rocks? It could consist of anything our imaginations can cook up. The lakes of fire and igneous rocks could have been formed by extreme temperatures. The rivers of blood and walls of flesh, caused by many reasons, such as sacrifices, genocide, maybe the world itself is living thing and is dying. It could be anything.

 

But, damn, you have to admit it's cool seeing all this wacko stuff. Stuff like this is what makes games interesting. Halo's Covenant and Foreunner structures for example (it's all I can think of right now) gives a sense of mystery and awe at times. Freedoom's Horizon should do the same.

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4 minutes ago, Voros said:

"What is Hell?" 

 

Baby don't burn me, don't burn me, no more.

 

5 minutes ago, Voros said:

maybe the world itself is living thing and is dying

 

It's life Jim, but not as we know it. Perhaps the world of Horizon just really fucking hates Earth for some reason.

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13 hours ago, Woolie Wool said:

* E1M1's texture theme is very interesting but it's never seen again as the rest of the episode is a recapitulation of the Knee-Deep in the Dead theme. It's also very boxy and lacks much in the way of height variation or interesting architecture, certainly nothing like the old map.

I suppose we're talking about the map I submitted here, I agree it's quite boxy, I'm not happy with it and I'm still learning, perhaps I'll manage to re-do some sections while keeping the basic layout and learning points for new players, but for now I'm still trying to learn how to properly detail techbases.

Theme-wise, I simply did a "techbase" with the supplied textures, while the outside was made to look like a world unsuitable for life, while the rest of the maps follow a more standardized techbase, so my map stands out thematically, dunno if I should change that.

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14 hours ago, Woolie Wool said:

* Episode 1 is the best set of maps, but really sags with E1M3 and E1M4, which are bland maps with little going on architecturally or gameplay wise. I feel they should be deleted and replaced with higher quality maps. E1M9, on the other hand, is just straight-up bungholio with not a single redeeming quality whatsoever. With the blocky "architecture", ugly sector furniture, and zero-threat fights where you shotgun a wall of monsters in a huge hallway as they slowly advance, it feels like a level from 1994. E1M5-E1M7 are very good, with lots of connectivity and dynamic gameplay, but perhaps a bit too long. E1M8 is a letdown though, a tiny little stub with a boss fight that is much easier than the original E1M8 despite having more barons.

I agree with your opinion on E1M3 and E1M9, the former is an obvious clone of Toxin Refinery while the latter is just plain garbage. E1M4 isn't that bad IMO and can be tuned-up easily.

 

14 hours ago, Woolie Wool said:

* The E1M6 music is really annoying and needs to go. Most of the metal music in this mod is inferior to the non-metal music, but this is particularly bad.

I was thinking the same thing, it sounds more like a song for a desert level than a techbase.

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