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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: The Darkening, The Darkening 2, & Crusades

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I took the weekend off and fell behind - I'm really going to have get my comments posted to try and limit the wall of text size from being too ridiculous...


MAP04 - “Vindication” by Anthony Soto
I really like this level. We have interconnection, foreshadowing. I liked the switch with the view of the half door to show you it raised, the author taking pains to show you what the switch did. In spite of that, I agree with Capellan that the progression was slightly unintuitive at times but generally never for long. The detailing is great without being excessive and I especially like the sense of place that the map has, the way the exterior scenery ties in with the indoor areas and the player feels like they have actually journeyed round a base rather than a series of disjoint rooms and corridors.

Gameplay wise, I find this to be fun enough although perhaps there's not so much variation in the way monsters are encountered - many of them are at fairly close quarters. Perhaps a teleport ambush or two more might not go amiss - something to unbalance and surprise the player a bit more would be good.


Overall these are minor criticisms for me and I think this level has what Map03 lacked and more. For me, this ties with Map01 for best so far.

(As with Demtor, I was surprised to see some of the criticisms of this map too. I guess for me it's as much about the journey as it is the gameplay, which I accept is room by room)


MAP05 - “Melt-Down” by Richard Wiles
This map is rather more sparse, aesthetically than the last one. It makes up for this with more interesting gameplay with teleporting monsters and a neat imp/revenant ambush later in the map. The number of hitscanners and trappy nature of the map means you can take a good deal of attrition and then the traps are there to finish you off.


I did quite appreciate the change of scenery with the odd rocky passages as a variation from all the techbase stuff, although I can accept that it does seem a bit corridor heavy otherwise.

Also, I am seriously going to have to start leaving archies alive now for potential secrets, as I missed the blue armour. Arrgh!


MAP06 - “At the Heart of Decay” by Jan Van der Veken
Of all the Darkening E2 maps so far, I feel that this has been most reminiscent of Quake 2, with the corridors and courtyards motif which is one of the more enduring memories of Quake 2 I have. In some ways, this map is quite simplistic - the layout is essentially two prongs of an early fork which both must be traversed, but there's a lot of mise en scene, with fake doors, air vents as well as the aforementioned courtyards to make it feel like a larger more elaborate place than what it is.


The gameplay manages to be pretty good considering much of it is based in corridors. There's a couple of arch viles to spice things up (although the second one near the red key-locked exit was neutered for me as I saw it's door opening and the narrowness made it easy to contain). The courtyard with the broken bridge, with revvies, PEs and cacos and then hitscanners was particularly well worked. In fact there's a praiseworthy trappiness to this level altogether. I found the secrets surprisingly easy though, which makes a change after my being outfoxed in the D Ep1 Map09 by the same author.


Overall this is competently made and aesthetically pleasing, although for me it is less special than some of the earlier maps. Good stuff.


MAP07 - “Waste Processing” by Nick Baker
So after my compliments on the look of the previous map, I am treated to this one being a continuation of it! I love maps that are continuations of a previous one, and this one has some of the same courtyards and corridors which I was enthusing about earlier. This map is also a quantum leap above NiGHTMARE's earlier maps in the Darkening Episode 1, with not only Baker's small scale detailing being put to better use in places than before but the gameplay is better to boot. I will criticise the progression since I didn't realise that the central barriers near the blue key area had dropped. I'm not sure if perhaps that was just me being dumb and inattentive though.


But in other elements the map shines, the rocky area with the mancs and the yellow key softly illuminated by the crack in the ceiling. (That area reminded me of Beast island from Alien Vendetta actually). In fact the cracks in the ceilings in general. This isn't the first map to feature them but they seem to be used more prominently to make a feature of an area than before, and the juxtaposition of dark metal textures with the ruddy orange E4 sky is excellent. This map broadly drips with little touches to add to the atmosphere, with it lavished with inaccessible areas and doors blocked off by rockfalls, the collapsed bridge from which you later visit from the opposite side. Excellent. I truly wish that more mapsets would do this level of area re-use within maps and in successive maps. My praise of the aesthetics has to be toned down somewhat for the final area which was very corridors based and plain (although it had some rooms with detail these were oases in an otherwise visual desert.


Gameplay wise, notwithstanding the fact I missed the bars dropping, I think this is ok. Although I was surprised the blue key was not more heavily guarded.(Reading the criticisms of the gameplay and flow from the other commenters, I sympathise. Clearly for me, the sense of place due to continuation from the previous map was greatly improving my experience of it.)


MAP08 - “Lucifer’s Laboratory” by Richard Wiles
And now we have a map that not only looks good, with it's slightly more spartan details, oh-so-clean texturing and tasteful architecture, but has good gameplay and an ingenious layout. This is excellent; I feel spoilt. The area re-use and foreshadowing is great, there's a good drip-feed of opponents with the odd trap and revvies or chaingunners ready to serve a kick in the posterior, and the layout makes it very satisfying to play through. In particular, the placement of key doors to both open up new, carefully planned routes back to the next place to be and also sign-posting the way forward across what could admittedly have been a confusing layout. Also, the air vents are a paradox as essentially they are a monotextured maze which I normally hate, yet because they feel such a relevant part of the map, I don't mind in the slightest.


If I was to criticise this map, I guess I could say it looks quite square, yet I don't mind in the slightest.


I wish I'd played this mapset sooner now. :)

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  Never played the first Darkening before and I was feeling confident in my skills so I recorded a blind continuous attempt to try to survive the whole set like an Ironman attempt.  Just getting the recording started was a comedy of errors.  First attempt, I had extracted the wrong WAD so I found myself staring at vanilla Map 1.  Second try, i forget to load the resource WAD so I'm scratching my head at the NO TEXTURE signs about.  Third try finally gets everything working and it's of.


Dead: Map 4  Squandered the invisibility early so find myself scrambling to take down a spider mastermind.  It invades my personal space and shreds me as I try to run for new cover.


Demo is attached along with a bare bones textfile.


Individual map recollections:


1: Straightforward mowing of fodder.  I take more damage than I felt I ought for the level of opposition.  The fake exit room has some bite, I'll give it that.  I deal with it via fast door cheese.  Got lost trying to find the key.  Picked up secret soulsphere before exiting.


2. Really didn't feel like grinding down a baron with just shotgun/chaingun so skip it until I find the SSG secret.  Mostly low level foes, just got to be quick on the trigger sometimes.  Could have used chaingun more, I exit with half shells and full bullets with lots of unspent bullet pickups still around.  Avoided blind drops for as long as I could.  Grab megaarmor after everything is dead so have 200% going into the next map.


3. It's been straightforward blasting so far so the archvile was quite the surprise.  Rest of the action was grinding down masses of monsters from the safest position I could find.  I mostly waste my rockets but didn't feel like trying to aim it in the 64 unit hallways.  Looking back, I didn't need to window snipe enemies that are ultimately behind the yellow door.  It would have been better to have them join in infight baiting and softening up the hellknights and baron there.  Didn't figure out how to reach soulsphere until after everything was dead, which is OK as I go into map 4 with 200 health.


4. Plasma gun!  I thought it was a secret so wasn't prepared for the ambush.  Got lucky when trying to hide from the surprise archvile then inadvertantly demonstrate good archvile luring tactics.  It rushes ahead of other monsters and I empty my new plasma rifle on it.  Would have been better to save those rockets from map 3 to use on the two barons here instead of grinding them down with SSG.  Group of imps get the drop on me a bit later on.  Straightforward blasting and infight baiting until I enter the teleporter behind the red door.  I don't survive the encounter, as already stated.


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MAP11 Powerplant


And back to the cramped base stuff. Probably easier than the last map again, okay. Also vent secrets and back routes to things. It's actually fine in a number of ways, getting secrets early and things. There's one switch that, if easily missed, will probably turn heads a bit. That one in the room with the crates, where the invisibility secret was, I missed it and spent a few minutes trying to figure out where it was. There's Rocket Dongs at the end again, and you can fight him the old-fashioned way or approach the switch and sync a few teleporting enemies to use as fodder to weaken him.

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MAP09 - “Hard Core” by Jan Van der Veken, Ola Björling, Anthony Soto

gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves


Lots of legs to this one. It kept going and going with lots of little good encounters and challenges. Three people put together a lot of fun ideas and an interesting variety of places with unique set pieces.


My favorite part being the secret adventure through the toxic falls for the blue armor and a chance to sneak in to the base from behind. That felt really cool. Fun secret. Unlike the secret/notsecret BFG which was way too easy and unnecessary. I didn’t even use the damned thing!


The crushing box over the dead marine around the shipping area was hilarious as well. Lots of fun detailing in there. Glad it didn’t catch me off guard as thankfully it wasn’t a cheap instakill trick.


Fun map, great music, nice looking work. Good, great, grand. Wonderful.

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11 - very unusual level. I wonder if the author comes from another community because his work looks like something that belongs to a different game almost. Realism, crawling through hidden passages, low monster density... Reminds me of Jedi Knight 2 or something and I like that. The ammo balance is maybe a bit too strict and the ending fight is dull (it just doesn't feel epic enough for a cyberdemon battle), but aside from that this is a really cool level with a fitting soundtrack.

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MAP10 - “Plasmorgasm” by Richard Wiles

gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves


Nice intro through the cell block area. Loved the look of the first shot and the surrounding designs. Very cool futuristic looking prison. Exploring the rest of the interesting looking base seemed like a fairly intricate puzzle with lots of lifts and locked door tricks to it. I enjoyed it a lot. Piece by piece, figuring out where to go and what to do next felt just as challenging as some of the combat.


I really like the fascinating ways everyone is coming up with to show their own kind of crate shipping/dock areas. I usually roll my eyes at box themed areas but in this wad they keep kind of raising the bar IMO.


Lots of other cool stuff. Never did find out how to get that Soulsphere though it was quite an interesting central set piece to design around. I liked the surprise baron in the tight squeezed corridor. Good shocker.


Hahaha, the map named after the ending. Funny. The slow build with giving out plasma ammo throughout the map leads a player to asking themselves, “why do I have all this plasma ammo and nothing to do?” Then, “oh there’s the gun next to the BK but I can see the exit this is practically over so what next? Ohhh, okay. YeeeaaAAHH!! Get some. *LOL*

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MAP11 - “Powerplant” by Ben Davies

gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves


I absolutely adored the experience of this map. Almost like a mash up of System Shock 2 and Doom. I barely saved once I got in and had a good sense that this map required a little extra tension. So many nice touches. One with bringing in additional imps to places you’ve been before. That was a good way to trigger a player’s attention by using their snarkling sounds to their new presence in order to find the newly open door or general direction to move towards. Fantastic. Another was the moments of recognizable discoveries that that felt very gratifying. "I barely remember seeing that 10 minutes ago! Sweet."


Lots of tight spaces with various open areas for larger scaled battles. VERY little health. It was a grueling slog at times where every mistake stuck with you for a while. Those damn hitscanners outside the window up on ledges and in a tower while dealing with 2 barons were quite tricky. I only found one green armor about halfway through after that which carried me to the end.


Speaking of the end, awesome. At first I was thinking it was a 1 on 1 cyber battle for a classic showdown finish but then a few friends joined on the platform above to mix things up. Which was great because I didn’t have quite enough plasma ammo to do the job right and quick. I needed just a little help. "OUCH, that was close." "Jeeeezus!" Lol. I liked that half the ground was damage ground as well. Kept things risky when trying to side step rockets and circle around for more space behind. Outstanding finish to such a brooding map.


So many dark touches and quiet moments followed by violence. More often quiet moments proceeded it. Lots of little extra details in the wall textures and red blood/lava flows. You know me, I do love window views with outdoor detail. Wouldn’t be a favorite map of mine without one. Thumbs up!


I really dug the fiendishly muted music track for a more dark and slower paced exploration styled map as well. It was low beat with slight up key notes here and there on top of a sweet bass line.


Minor nitpick… this is a red key door? Meh, if you say so. Now, I can believe that this is a yellow door. So why leave the red unmarked? Come on now.


Whoa… where were those secrets? I tried being as observant as possible. What did I miss? I think I’ll play through this again with some different mods for fun. Oh ya, feels good.

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A lovely-looking map as always for this set. Lots of nukage to paddle through this time, which can be a little annoying with the progression being quite obtuse, but there are at least quite a good supply of radsuits around.


As for the gameplay ... well, I don't care what Ola says, the crates in this map are stupid. I'm frankly surprised that I managed them as a keyboarder way back when. I guess it was a combination of brute persistence, saves, and finally using the dedicated 'strafe left' key instead of just toggling it with ALT.


To spite the map for the crate silliness, I skipped the cyber, the spider, and all the other monsters in the outside area to just leg it to the exit room, where I mowed down the imps, BFG'd the archvile, and signed off.




Darkening 2 is a gorgeous-looking map set. The gameplay is generally a bit dry for my tastes, though, and I feel like we all got a bit too HK happy. Ammo starvation and "less than obvious" progression are both okay as a garnish, but I feel like they were the main course on too many maps, here.




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MAP12 - “Toxicity” by Ola Björling

gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves


Whoa. This was gnarly. About as wicked as the music. Blaring at times while mellow when not. 


There were some annoyances that really made me mad. The first was with the green ooze falling. You were able to pass through some of the falling toxins but then when you wanted to next, you can’t! I came out of that small opening, dumbfounded while those imps pelted me as I stumbed forward apparently hitting my head against the solid liquid flow. Huh? I just passed through the same stuff moments before! What the hell, man? If you’re going to let players pass through some liqud, don’t make others solid. Have some consistency, damn it. Same with these fucking doors.


Again with this wad! Grrrr!! Is it yellow? Looks like it. Is it blue? Maybe. How could you tell? Do I need a red card? Perhaps, but I don’t know because it’s just another switch. Unmarked, when there are doors that are. It becomes difficult to remember what’s what and which key you might need to find first. Then before you know it, you’re stuck on the other end of a toxic stretch of damage, trying to think of where to go next but can’t be certain because there are no consistent visual cues for appropriate progress hurdles to pick up on and remember. For fuck’s sake. Maybe it's just me and my shitty memory. 


Oh, then there was this. Thanks for that… lol. Felt like I was playing Demon’s Souls for a second. That didn’t happen the second time! Suck it.


Woof, enough of my bitching. This map is pretty stellar after all so don’t get me wrong. Plenty of fun challenges with intense moments in between the bits of mild confusion and exploration. I mostly enjoyed the hell out of this and all of it’s visuals bits and stylings. Lots of good looking open areas over gaps of toxins.


I didn’t mind running through damage floors to progress for the most part. Lots of suits around to time things out. Didn’t bother me. Same with the box jumping segments. I nailed it without too much issue. Get it on.


Very limited arsenal at first. Hell, I pistol shot two imps, a caco (and a switch!) then ran past a baron before finally wrestling a single barrel shotgun from a zombie. Quite a dicey start. From there it’s almost straight on to a caco horde and mixed assortment of imps and a rev before possibly finding the SSG. It felt like that was it for 70% of the map. The PG past the caco swarm came in handy when the BFG ran low later. Hell of a surprise there when 3 panels opened up and they started piling out. Then, if you ran past them, you had to dance with a baron at the bottom of a stairway! Yikes. Well done there.


Finally a map where the BFG gets some solid use though. I mostly ran past the mess at the end but the cyberdemon before it was a solid roadblock. The final caves were slick. Felt good crawling around and getting to the last little temple shrine finale and blasting the AV in his cage. Crazy sequence of stuff there. Interesting choice for an end. 




Final Thoughts

This was great. I had issues with some of the smaller things (read above) so I know this mapset isn’t perfect. You could look past the nit picky gripes but a few of the maps did fall a little short of the mark for me. It is really good stuff though. Damned good at times but those things combined together kept me from giving this a 5. This was a solid 4/5. Perhaps a 4.5/5 if that were a thing. For the maps that didn’t quite stand up to the rest, the bar was so high thanks to the excellent others that it feels almost unfair to compare. It is what it is.


Very interested to see what the rest of you thought. I see @Capellan ended up a tad sour on it at the end for good reasons stated. Me, I just really enjoyed this set and am really happy we played the first one before this. Night and day difference and it was fun to see where this went in it’s second offering.



MAP01 - “Outpost Mortem” by Ola Björling

MAP05 - “Melt-Down” by Richard Wiles

MAP09 - “Hard Core” by Jan Van der Veken, Ola Björling, Anthony Soto

MAP10 - “Plasmorgasm” by Richard Wiles

MAP11 - “Powerplant” by Ben Davies


Weaker few

MAP06 - “At the Heart of Decay” by Jan Van der Veken

MAP07 - “Waste Processing” by Nick Baker


I doubt I’ll be able to write up anything next week and beyond into the new year. Will play and read along when I have time though so I encourage others to do what they can as I do so enjoy it ^_^ Just too much RL shit going on. Happy Holidays everyone!

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54 minutes ago, Demtor said:

I see @Capellan ended up a tad sour on it at the end for good reasons stated.


Oh, I'd still rate it a 4/5.  Its good, and it's beautiful.  It's just not as great as it could have been.


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MAP12: Toxicity


I want to say that the lion's share of this level is exactly what you'd expect the last map of this particular WAD to look like: a visually appealing take on the grungy techbase aesthetic, but bigger, tougher, and more intricate than the eleven preceding examples.  I feel like it's probably the least linear map in the set apart from maybe MAP01; at the very least, I didn't feel at any point that I was being led by the hand or that the only route I could take was the one that led me directly to the next necessary key, and I figure if you can't tell if a map is non-linear or simply disguising its linearity (for example, by throwing at the player enough branching paths, slime-filled tunnels, stairways, and doors that open only from the other side, that they don't feel they've exhausted all possible avenues of exploration before they unlock the next section of the map) then it's got to be doing something right.


I think the closing notes of this map, from about the appearance of the Cyberdemon onward, strike a slightly peculiar tone that's at odds with most of the level and with the WAD in general; after some unintuitive progression through a delightfully maze-like and sprawling techbase, the player is suddenly thrust into a succession of pitched battles, arena-style, in a way that doesn't feel like a logical progression from, escalation of, or conclusion to the gameplay that this project has so excellently delivered so far.  In particular, compared to the detailed and often gloomy interiors that dominate many of the WAD's maps, the ourdoor area with the Spider Mastermind and its minions feels coarsely designed and kind of undercooked, and the descent through cracked earth at the very end, into some kind of subterranean node that's disconnected from the rest of the base, feels like sudden tonal shift that isn't especially well foreshadowed, a jump toward another theme or setting that isn't subsequently followed up on.  Honestly, something as simple as placing and designing the exit to make it feel like a part of the structure being explored, or a deliberate exit from that structure rather than a foothold in some excavated dungeon, would have been enough to mitigate that feeling somewhat.


Overall thoughts to follow, probably tomorrow.

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MAP11: Powerplant

93% kills, 1/3 secrets


I enjoyed the pace of this one at first - a slow, tense journey through cramped (and nicely detailed) corridors. The item balance worked well here I think, I didn't feel pressed for ammo but also couldn't go wild, and there was just enough to health to get by, and only a green armor halfway. Unfortunately as the map went on it started feeling a little too drawn out, settling a bit too firmly into the repetition of 'open door, kill 2 monsters in small room, open the next door, kill 2 monsters, open door...' Worst was when those two monsters were nobles.


I liked how the journey ended up outside, and a cyber battle might've been fun... but I just skipped right past it. I wish reaching outdoors was something more telegraphed in advance, and maybe even the cyber too, instead of showing up suddenly (there's one window you can see it through, but it just looks like decoration, no indication of a exit/boss battle). I agree with @Demtor in saying it captures a good System Shock-ish type atmosphere, but the actual map left me pretty meh.

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MAP12 Toxicity


Yes, point me to being on a lift at the start, except I'm not facing the switch I need. Also have me shoot at the switch on the right wall from beyond the bars. It's angling is very awkward. First enemy found is a baron too.


This map warrants your full attention, which can easily be distracted with the monsters that are provided. A main premise here is using a radsuit to traverse the nukage tunnels, then going through to other rooms and such. All four secrets are grabbed early, much like the last level, though the last two are quite tough to figure out. Who else could think of railing jumping to get one, then finding the other next to it? Also another shootable switch well behind a crate which demarked a dead end? Make sure to shoot that to actually proceed. And would ya know? The red key is behind a door with a red D2 logo, make sure not to forget THAT'S a door. Well if anything great is about this level, it's the layout. Have a bit of fun revisiting a few areas you've been through, as there's quite a few wraparounds. Also don't forget the red switch after getting the red key, as it leads to the yellow and it's easy to overlook when progressing as usual. The crate jumping section, honestly is handled with much chagrin despite acing it this time. I guess I war wrong about there being one crate room, as another (easier) one existed just before a crucial BFG grab. Gotta be prepared, QUICKLY taking down that cyberdemon before he makes his way through much of the hall, then the outdoor combat is the closest thing this whole set goes to slaughter. Amusingly, on a ZDoom port, some of those spiders are stacked onto each other, dumb bug, but kill them the same way, along with the cacos and imps. The ending is a bit boring, having to wait until you can actually exit while killing imps. The arch-vile on the exit portal is a lot similar to the one from Darken MAP10.

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I really thought I adored Darkening 2, but returning to it I realized I'm not a fan of this brand of gameplay - they starve you of the interesting weaponry and ask you to fight Doom 2-style atmospheric encounters without losing any health and hide the chainsaw in unobvious places so all you can do is follow the ammo path


map 1 rules though, the music is cool as heck, but the entire gameplay ethos is based on a nitpicky type of doom skill I will never be interested in acquiring



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We just discovered that one of our turtles died some time ago. It was a very slow and quiet pet that barely did anything, so currently I'm just trying to understand how I feel about the whole thing. Doom seemed like a fitting environment for that since there is something meditative about it, especially when you're replaying a familiar map in autopilot mode. But yeah, sorry If I sound more boring than usual.


12 - the impressiveness of this layout cannot be overstated. Very clever, complex, and doesn't remind of any other level. The gameplay is too slow at the start (zzz shotgunning cacodemons) but gets much better when you find the SSG and some rockets. Lots of satisfying climbing through waste tunnels and balancing on crates. The final battle is not so interesting and in general the map perhaps lacks that endgame feel, but still it's very remarkable.


Overall The Darkening 2 is a unique mapset that truly stood the test of time. The visual style is awesome and still hasn't been recreated successfully by anyone, most of the levels didn't lose their charm at all, and the music is mindblowing, one of the best ever (the whole thread should be just people praising the soundtrack, who cares about the rest?).


P.S. 09 was the best map after all.

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PrBoom+, no music, HMP, continuous, frequent saves.  All classic Doom engine settings.




Lets start with the elephant in the room, which is that I hate the new shotgun and pistol/chaingun noises. Yuck.


The inspiration of Thy Flesh Consumed certainly feels strong here, with the gothic architecture and the "Have some Barons!" gameplay. In fact, I think we see the whole non-Boss bestiary except the demon and the caco in this.


Three keys seemed like way more than necessary. I guess they do have the advantage of creating an easy "where do I go now?" connection that switches lack, but given the map's small size and its layout, it really only needs the yellow. The blue key switch could be a normal switch, and the red key one isn't needed at all.

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Crusades began as a series of individual map releases (called Spooky 1, 2, and so on). Later the author decided to compile them in one wad and created 4 more levels to have a complete episode. It's a unique wad I can only compare to the Death Tormention series, and a fine example of how you can achieve tough but fair gameplay without using any of the Doom 2 monsters.


01 - spooky indeed. This whole place is so evil looking, with red crosses, ominous black trees in background, and sinister music that's disturbing in the best way possible. The second baron is unnecessary and I'm not sure if the MIDSPACE texture fits here, but aside from that it's a classic opener. The custom sounds are lolsy though (I think it was rhinoduck who said that the chaingun sounds like a carpenter squad), I'll probably remove them soon. Check out my UV-Max demo.

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As we're wrapping up Darkening E2 I just wanted to say a few things.


First, thank you all for playing and for providing such thoughtful reviews! This has been a blast to follow. It's been an incredibly long time since we released this so it's hard to remember all the details, but maybe @Jan and @Capellan can fill in the blanks or correct me. Scattered notes:



  • I think none of us in the team have ever met, to this day. I have a bit of contact with Jan every few years, but that's it.
  • All my textures are done in Photoshop 3.0.5 (which I bought a license for in 1996, and never could afford to upgrade) and most of them on a pretty shitty CRT screen with weird colors, which explains some things…
  • I never played Doom with music back then, both because I wanted to hear monsters better and because I couldn't stand the midi sounds. And I was not at all feeling the vibe from the music we had, but the rest of the team liked it I think, and most of you did too it seems? I was honestly bracing for a lot of complaints here so I was pleasantly surprised.
  • The 3-way collaboration map, 09, was pretty much cobbled together from scraps because nobody had the inspiration to finish their maps.
  • The level titles font is a full actual font I designed, called Starlightseed Citysightseeing, named after this song.
  • Alien text on some textures is chopped up bits of another font (that I didn't draw) but one texture deliberately looks like "olas bana" which means "Ola's Level" in Swedish. It's  used in map01.



A lot of it is indeed different from current generation megaWADs, or just from the Doom zeitgeist overall. This is in part because us who made it are old schoolers, remembering the much more exploratory and careful gameplay of the early days. It's what we in the team had fallen in love with 6 years prior, and what we wanted to recreate in a new setting. To me Quake 2 style gameplay was also a big inspiration.


Working with restraint as a gameplay compositing tool rather than feeding pistol starters a bunch of stuff up front actually remains my preferred approach personally, but again I'm from a different era :-) Hell Revealed and similar projects had been out for a long time when we made this but we weren't really interested in that style.


All that said, you're all correct that the balancing is not always what it should be, even if you consider our aspirations.



I appreciate that some of you really like them, but to me they are terrible, at least in execution. Dithering, weird stray pixels, poor to nonexistent contouring/shading skills weird offsets and alignments... And almost no doors :-) But I have to give 20 year old me some slack, it's a fairly coherent set and while heavily influenced by Quake 2, there's a lot of originality as well. While following this thread I've actually created remakes of some of the core textures from this set, but at a fully professional level.


Someone referred to the sky as E4 but it's obviously custom from scratch. It was actually 3D rendered in an early version of the Bryce landscape modelling software. Also, nothing was borrowed from other games (that I know of—Nick did some textures too) other than inspiration.



I'm super proud of map01 and map12 in terms of layout, but they would not exist without Jan. He's the real star of this project and while I like Crusades, it would have been more appropriate to play one of his sets I think.


We did drop the ball on color coding doors and switches, admittedly. In my mindset of more exploratory gameplay this can be forgiven a bit more, but it's still kind of lazy of us.



I'm incredibly proud of the map overall, but ashamed about the ending. Back then, the editors I used were crashing constantly and finishing this map was an absolute nightmare. It was also the very last thing we completed for the project I think, so I was just spent and wanted it out the door. The outdoor fight is not necessarily a bad idea but too easy to cheese, and the arch vile cage is pointless, those bars should have opened much sooner.


As for the start, which seemed at least slightly divisive, I stand by it. Just like map01, you're forced to run past monsters to get better weapons, thereby making sure the player doesn't just take it room by room. I wanted to reward taking risks, but also reward strategy and planning.


I actually never figured out what the fastest route through this map is, because there are so many ways to deal with it. Veinen posted a new uv max world record the other day though, and I think this has to be close to optimal in terms of route:


I think we agree to disagree on the crate jumping, but sorry about the impassable nukage!


Lastly, on an old disk I found the high-res, 24-bit version of the title pic:




Sorry for the wall of text, thanks for playing, and merry christmas!


Edited by ukiro

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Time to finish this one up...


MAP12: Toxicity

100% kills, 0/4 secrets


I really hated this start, the button is difficult to shoot at the angle through the bars, and I think I died 3-4 times just trying to hit the damn button and not get killed by imps or the caco through the window. I don't mind needing to run past the baron at the start, but needing to single-shotgun the swarm of cacos that follows you in was boring. The middle part of the map certainly fits the rest of the WAD, lots of grimy dilapidated techbase. I feel like the actual path is still pretty linear - needing to traverse the slime to 'sneak' behind the red door, get the red key, back into slime to eventually unlock the yellow key, then follow the path of yellow switches to the blue key and the exit. But the level design is pretty well put-together and feels like a real place so the linearity isn't that noticeable. The slime and the one crate jump did prove a bit annoying, though.


The ending certainly does feel like a swerve from the rest of the level (and the WAD as a whole), suddenly leaving the cramped bases for some arena battles. I was personally glad to finally be able to let loose on some big swarm of enemies, even if the setup isn't very dangerous (heck, the SMM can't even move, and just serves to infight). The AV fight at the end also isn't remotely threatening, since his presence is heavily telegraphed in advance and it's so easy to just BFG him, then sit there and wait for the columns. While the AV feels very out of place, I do think the final horde at the end makes a fitting last battle for the level set.

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The Darkening is a very good mapset, initially I thought the music was weird but it grew on me quickly and I actually loved it in the end. Crusades seems to be one of those old legendary wads, that I still have to play it I remember I tried a couple of times the first map...


Crusades E4M1: Looks very nice and there's a strong mood. I think that three keys were unnecessary with this small layout and I'm not sure about those barons, I skipped the second one. The rising walls with the title at the exit was cool. Those custom sounds lol, well at least they aren't obnoxious. It always warms my heart to hear custom sounds, seems like a thing that was done frequently in the past times and now is almost disappeared.

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Okay, The Darkening: Episode 2, overall thoughts.


First, a big thank-you to @ukiro for that detailed look under the hood of the WAD and behind the scenes of its creation.


I think it's hard for me not to talk about this episode in comparison to, and in the context of, the first part of The Darkening, especially having played them both back-to-back this month, and in that context what distinguishes Episode 2 is not just its shift in theme from Quake-inspired medieval gloom to Quake 2-influenced grungy industrialism, but also its greater consistency from map to map.  The playing experience is smoother overall, with less of a worry upon completion of each level as to whether the next will be good or bad; if there's a downside to this greater consistency, it's that the WAD holds fewer surprises in terms of what awaits in its later levels, with refinement, expansion, and progressive iteration being the order of the day rather than novelty of theme or dramatic shifts in the pace and rhythm of gameplay.  If you're down with what Episode 2 is trying to achieve (which, as Ola notes above, is the sort of exploratory gameplay that's familiar to Doom players but also fairly unique to early titles in the Doom and Quake series) then you'll be generously catered to here; if you're not, well, I don't think the WAD is going to deliver anything over its twelve-level run that you didn't get a decent sense of in the first three maps.  For me, this is pretty much why I still play Doom, the reason I've stuck with the game over the years, so I've no complaints about what this WAD is trying to do and I'm genuinely fond of how it goes about doing it.


Onwards, then, to Crusades.  ZDoom, Hurt Me Plenty, continuous play with saves as and when I feel like it.


E4M1: The Awakening


Well, this certainly isn't a softballed introduction, is it?  Barons and pervasive darkness and teleport ambushes of ravenous lost souls as the player progresses through even the early parts of the level, with only the shotgun and chaingun in your arsenal and no armour until quite late in the map's running time.  With the stark contrast of fire versus shadow and the presence of inverted crosses everywhere, this is a map that's shamelessly lurid, taking the familiar Doom themes of Satanic imagery and baroque visions of Hell and cranking them up a few notches 'til they almost bleed from the walls.  On the sound front, I like the MIDI here, which has a low, oppressive harshness to it that succeeds in immediately leaving the player feeling on-edge and out of their depth, but I'll echo what @Capellan and @Memfis have said about the new weapon sounds being unsatisfying; I'm not quite sure what the WAD author was trying to achieve by replacing those sounds, and so it comes across rather as change for change's sake.

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8 hours ago, ukiro said:

I actually never figured out what the fastest route through this map is, because there are so many ways to deal with it. Veinen posted a new uv max world record the other day though, and I think this has to be close to optimal in terms of route:


Now THAT is a max run I like. Any run to beat in sub-10 for a moderately sized map such as that is always fun to see. I even maxed it under 10 too, except on a different setting and continuous.


Darkening E2 final thoughts: I still think BTSX got most of its inspiration from here, regardless of.


Onto a Richard Wiles-only set. And this is after me consistently voting for that other Wiles set too.


E4M1 The Awakening


I like these sound effects a lot, not too annoying. Also good music track, it's too bad the rest of the set only follows suit with IWAD tracks which I nowadays don't like anymore. Interesting opener, have to get a shotgun to get the blue key, and then it's probably better to run past the baron instead of wasting time and shells. Too bad the shotgun and chaingun are the only weapons available here, but an armor helps, just watch for teleporting enemies.

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8 hours ago, ukiro said:


I appreciate that some of you really like them, but to me they are terrible, at least in execution.

It's a shame that being a good artist often means you're unable to enjoy your older work. :)


I liked that final cage with the bars btw. Reminded me of e4m8. I think that kind of slow exit reveal is appropriate for the last level.

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I appreciate the techbase elements here, which makes this feel a lot less like a straight up riff on Thy Flesh Consumed. I'm less enamoured of the return of Darkening 2 style "run all over the place without really knowing If you're moving forward" style of progression. I feel like we're getting a lot of the drawbacks of linear level design - there are firm gates blocking your progress until you complete a specific set of objectives in a specific order – without the benefits of having clarity about what to do next.


I found the route to the secret exit but it was blocked by red bars that were activated elsewhere, and I couldn't be bothered looking for the switch, so no E4M9 for me.



Also, it's the 25th here, so +++ 99 Ways to Die, The Trooper's Playground, The Talosian Incident

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Crusades: I'm jumping on this as it occupies an auspicious place in my history with the game. It was one of the first PWADs I played, the first "new" one (downloaded on release, not a recommendation from http://toolworks.com/doom/ or http://doomgate.gamers.org/~williams/ ), the first whose difficulty was pitched just right to get that "I have to beat this thing, no matter what" compulsion, and the wad that convinced me to use the mouse (although not for the usual reason).


Thus having missed its appearance in Ironman I shall use this as an excuse to play it. I will do "casual" UV-maxes, playing as they come to survive and win, not planning a route and taking risks for speed. I will not revise the maps before playing them; I have played the wad once since, but in 2007, long enough for details to fade.




Before I start, some essential maintenance. Sadly the author seemed to be hamstrung by being a Doom95 user; as such the wad is full of workarounds for a broken engine's bugs. So the first order of business is to move the intermission screen from E1 to E4. Rename WIMAP0 to INTERPIC, and all WILV0* to WILV3*. You can then remove all the other WI* lumps (which only exist to hide the E1 intermission animations). Also I suggest taking the opportunity to remove the awful replacement sounds. Which ones you think are awful is a matter of taste, but I expect at least DSPISTOL to have been removed from many players' copies of the wad.




E4M1 28/28 0 0/0 0/0 3:59+21 3:59


I remembered the start area, and the barons, but not so much the extent to which the route loops around and returns you to previous areas. Being shown a door or switch for which you lack the key, but getting said key you cannot immediately return to the still-visible switch as you've now dropped off a ledge and can no longer reach the switch, so you have to go all the way round, and back to the start, which has been repopulated by teleports. I like this kind of "looping layout" and area re-use, it avoids the boring sense of "clear room, then you can forget it forever and move on to the next one" corridor crawl, even though the actual route is still completely linear. As I recall, this is a pattern which continues through the wad.



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17 hours ago, ukiro said:
  • I think none of us in the team have ever met, to this day. I have a bit of contact with Jan every few years, but that's it.


I (darken2) met up with @traversd (darken) when I lived in Melbourne a few years back. Kind of awkward to talk Doom with his father and brother alongside us at the footy, haha.


Darkening E2 was almost finished when I joined the team. I played a similar role as Surge 2, SlaughterDM, or (in the extreme many-year example) Crucified Dreams where I made the final polishing push to get a release out the door.


I believe my first contribution was detailing deathmatch-only MAP23, adding these banners and this window that I still quite like. The exit room is a homage to Darken1's MAP08 by John Bye.


For MAP02, I only added a minor part of the layout:




I edited other parts like adding the dark-to-light smooth lighting in the start room that somewhat clashes with Jan's minimalist style. The first sectors of mine you enter, in those walls it's apparently I'm trying to get away from 45 degree-angled polygons. But the 64-blockiness of that ceiling gives me away. Again I was obsessed with amplified shadowcasting from Warren Marshall (see 99 Ways to Die) via Ola/John.


On 12/12/2017 at 2:59 PM, Capellan said:



Got stuck for a minute or two with the yellow key, before I thought to just try 'using' the post on which it was placed :)


My internal thought process would have been old school there as that texture is a re-themed SUPPORT3. That traditionally was a platform texture so I assumed the player would know it to be an action surface. Unfortunately addictiv.wad, gothicdm.wad, etc. re-purposed it to be a trim-only texture so now it's gone to the other extreme as ornamentation. Of note: these exit windows are triggering to me now. There's supposed to be architecture in behind where that sky is.


Otherwise I worked mostly on the deathmatch maps, some of which was reverted no thanks to doom2.exe. Odd design decisions like this MAP14 angled overhang are 100% due to hitting 2s-line HOM and VPO limits. I added more lighting in MAP20 that had to be remove due to most of the map being visible at all times.


That may have been a reason for me going tangential and releasing my own Boom-only Lamentations set that uses the darken2 texture set.


Bonus Round


Screenshots from the same era of an unreleased Richard Wiles map, anyone?










At least one room shown here has been recycled into another franken-monster collaboration map.

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E4M2 Night-Watch


The usage of shadows in this one makes it interesting from a visual aspect. Who else had thought of the light shining from an angle? And the layout is just the kind of thing I like, an intricate fort affair. Combat is pretty much a slug though. Rooms of enemies, but when you see cacos around things get a little bit hairier in terms of how quickly they get killed, and besides, you want to save some rocket power for the barons if necessary. The blue key area teleports some monsters in, although they're lost souls, and actually take a while. So as a whole, it's pleasing on the eyes of shadow hunters, but gameplay can use some work.


+++ Reverie, or any 20-approx level set plus SlayeR

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