Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 17 - TheMionicDonut - Project Lead 4shockblast AD_79 Breezeep Travers Dunne Dusk Memfis Jaws In Space Jim
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1.38 MB -
Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
So, today we're going to see the 17th installment of the "Abyssal Speedmapping Session" aka ASS, held originally by Obsidian and for some months held by TheMionicDonut. This is a monthly speed mapping session held via Skype or the forums by various mappers (including yours truly, but not this time!) in the timeline of two hours, one extra hour for the slower mappers to make a map, made under three certain themes.
This session started incidentally with the "BEST DOOM MAP EVER" contest held on the Doomworld forums by Linguica. The winner was Containment Area and the prize for it was the appearance of the the most iconic part of the map at the upper-left section of the forums, so TMD decided to dedicate that session using the themes of E2M2 (tactical crushers, crates and lower tier monsters, no hitscanners) to celebrate the winning of that map, so our YEDS--sorry, wrong speed mapping event!
So our gang came up with 13 maps by different authors; that's a pretty big number for two hours, isn't it?
How did this come out? Well, pretty good for just two hours per map, but... this came out as a mixed bag. Some levels are pretty good but some others aren't that good. Now let's take a brief look of what was good in each map:
- MAP01: A map from Travers Dunne, a mapper known for his work on 1994 tune-up project and 100 lines. This map mimics very well the original E2M2 with some twists, a pretty good opening map.
- MAP02: A map by scifista42. A nice map with some interesting stuff in it, like a twisted meat area in screenshot 4. Also starting from this map, titles start to have some inside-jokes.
- MAP03: A map from TheMionicDonut. It's an OK map, not a fan of that lift secret... The ending section is weird but cool.
- MAP04: A very spacious map by Jaws in Space that doesn't appeal me that much. I found myself roaming a lot; also, this map is very sparse on ammo, and since this is a half easy slaughter map without any berserk or other items that will change the settings of the battle, it is no good. I liked the usage of BLAKWALx in the screenshot 6, it is a rare texture to see used!
- MAP05: Nice map from Surreily, good use of detailing and tricky paths using the crates, clean and straight to the point.
- MAP06: Pretty cool and fun map by Breezeep. I liked the texture usage (reminds me of Vrack) and the gameplay was pretty good.
- MAP07: OK, this map from Jmickle6666666 has pretty cool Quake-ish textures, but as for gameplay and layout... is pretty cramped. Not a big fan of this, sorry!
- MAP08: Is a pretty good map by Jimmy; the layout is pretty good and the gameplay works fine. There's some reminiscence of MAP10 of Doom 2 in the room with crusher stairs. Like Surreily's map, it is a well done and flowing map, and the title is pretty hilarious.
- MAP09: A map from the prolific Memfis here. It has a strong Final Doom feel in it. The map is tricky but funny; the only part I wasn't fully pleased with is finding the right lift to the red key, but other than that it is a tricky funny map.
- MAP10: Pretty cool map by AD_79, with beautiful outdoors and texture choice. Gameplay was fast, layout is fluid, and everything is good with this map.
- MAP11: ...and now we have this letdown. This level by 4shockblast is set inside a cave, the entrance looking nice, but then you go in this plain huge cave filled with crates. Climb the crates, push switches, and then reach the exit. Gameplay is similar to MAP04, but smaller and easier. Sorry, but after the previous map it wasn't a good follow-up.
- MAP12: A map from dusk in the spirit of Plutonia MAP11, only without that huge maze to save your sorry ass from the archvile's rage. And if you run from the wicked army there's always chaingunners and a revenant waiting for your sorry ass! If you can finish this without huge damage you're the best around, and your legend will be handed down forever! Or, if you are a casual like me, put some on cheats and jump with the fire on your legs! Literally.
- MAP13: Last map of the bunch except the secret map. It is a nice "jokewad" by Pinchy (I feel this map is like a jokewad; maybe it wasn't, but I think it is) set in a brown building filled with CRATINY (it is even in the sky! Also, how was that fireblu crate put in the bunch of crates in the skybox?). Another easy half-slaughtermap like MAP04 and MAP11; there's some tricks here and there, and it was nice to play.
- MAP32: Is MAP12 with more texturing work and detailing, but still the same old cruel map.
But overall, this mapset was good and fun to play, if you want to play around in some short good maps, even some letdowns as you see here. But remember, these maps are made in a short stream of time, so they couldn't be totally perfect! Go play it!
Nukage Processing - Michał "dejzen" Tomczyk
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 327.46 KB -
Reviewed by: scifista42
A medium sized classic-style techbase with frequently used ZDoom features. It looks mostly good, varied, and is rather fun to explore. The balance is not always OK, though. This is most noticeable when you open a certain door: a horde of 18 Pinky Demons awaits you, and you will probably only have a shotgun + chaingun with very limited ammo (and even if you have enough, the fight will just be tedious). It is actually easy to run out of ammo at some points. The map also contains bugs such as HOMs on sides of slopes, one-time-only teleporters where they should be repeatable, and switches placed on high-up ledges so close to the edge that they can be pressed from far below (because Doom's switch logic doesn't take the Z coordinate into account).
Overall not too bad, not too great, but good. If my description of this map in the very first sentence of this review sounded sympathetic to you, feel free to try out the map.
Hypertek - Jacob H. Orloff
Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 413.8 KB -
Reviewed by: scifista42
Another medium sized techbase for ZDoom. This one uses ZDoom features only minimally. The modern-style detailing (made purely of stock textures) looks good, but is kind of repetitive. The theme stays consistent throughout the map. The layout is elaborate, but extremely corridor heavy, fully orthogonal, frequently cramped, and also very annoyingly switch-hunt heavy. Progression is obscured by numerous same-looking doors, some of which can be opened directly, and some that need to be opened by a remote switch at random place in the map. For example, I almost failed to find the blue keycard because it was made accessible by one of many ordinary-looking switches whose effect was not immediately clear at all when I pressed it.
Gameplay is balanced tightly. If you are a "run and gunner", it might be uncomfortable for you, because there is relatively little ammo early on. But if you are an ammo conservationist, willing to use the Chainsaw wherever possible, you might appreciate the balance. Still, I didn't like the gameplay very much, due to too many fights against high-HP monsters in cramped spaces with a limited arsenal. Oftentimes you open a normal door and get attacked by 3+ Hell Knights or Barons; the fun factor may be non-existent. Lock-in traps and teleport traps are also frequently used, sometimes quite harsh (spawning an Archvile when you kill enough monsters in a small room). The map culminates with a several-stage final battle, but its threat is heavily neutered by monster infighting.
All things considered, this map is average. It suffers from many problems that spoil enjoyability, but it's not terrible either. Play if you like tightly balanced maps with a strong techbase theme, and if you don't find it tedious to spend considerable time shooting big monsters while trivially dodging their attacks.
ContactLost - Meandog1000
Doom 2 - GZDoom - Solo Play - 928.93 KB -
Reviewed by: scifista42
Let's put it straight: this wad is bad. Wads can be bad in various ways - newbie-ish, lazy-ish, troll-ish, incompenent-ish - but this one is actually somewhere in-between all these.
The wad consists of a single map, which is MAP01 - even though MAP02 contains its own custom name and custom music track, there is no MAP02. MAP01 starts with an unskippable cutscene that is longer than the map itself, and most of the cutscene consists of a static camera view into a random room where nothing is happening, listening to (somewhat unfitting) fast-paced music, and reading cheesy dialogue which also describes sound effects that aren't played. Then the map actually starts. You will advance through several basic rectangular rooms, easily shoot down low-tier enemies (with two custom enemy types among them), get a black keycard by jumping (and an optional "secret" by crouching), and then the map ends upon stepping close to a door.
Practically no challenge is involved - the most "challenging" moment is when two opposite walls open into a trap, but you can chaingun down all monsters rather safely anyway. Layout and progression are top basic. Detailing isn't exactly top basic, but still basic. Some custom textures were used, but the visuals are okay at best, ugly at worst. Camera changes at the beginning might be a technical achievement, but the cutscene is annoying, needless and long.
All in all, this map provides nothing impressive worth checking out. The mapper has yet a lot to learn about qualities of good level design and good gameplay, and he would do better to learn that instead of bothering with camera effects and putting custom resources in.
Control Center - Diego Cea (Doomer)
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 113.06 KB
Reviewed by: Chezza
This wad is a medium-to-large single map paying homage to various levels of the classic Doom episode Knee Deep in the Dead. In fact, you will notice, just as the author states, various rooms that mimic a few of these levels nearly perfectly, but with some modifications, such as room size and slightly different textures, which I believe were adjusted to better suit co-op.
The map contains over 250 monsters, most being trash mobs. Every room and corridor will have at least a handful of Zombiemen, Sergeants and Imps to take out. However, it didn't bother me, as the numbers kept me interested, and it still was quite fluent.
Most of the ammo was obtained from my enemies, as opposed to placed pickups. As a result, there were moments I was counting every bullet, which further kept me focused. The difficulty was just right for an experienced Doomer, but I fear co-op wouldn't be very challenging unless played without caution. Splitting up the ammo fairly would only be the one true challenge. In fact, I re-played the level with Brutal Doom v19 to increase the difficulty and fluidity. Now that had me counting every medkit, and the level was still fun.
Control Center effectively captured the original Doom experience. Not only were the room designs and textures (even the rooms not directly copying Doom levels) true to the classics, but the traps were also familiar. The crushers, the closet monsters, and the blue computer strip of pain were all there, including the old school-style secrets.
Overall, there is nothing innovative nor ground breaking about this wad, but that's not what it's about. Control Center wants to be a classic co-op level offering twice the level length, monsters, and challenge, perfect for two, and it did so admirably. I can't pick out any major flaws, and it's not worth extending this review with nitpicking. If this wad sounds like something you would enjoy, then definitely give this a play.
E4M1 - Reincarnated - Gunsmith
Ultimate Doom - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 157.41 KB -
Reviewed by: scifista42
This small map claims to be a "remake of E4M1 level of The Ultimate Doom". It is, however, very little reminiscent of Hell Beneath - apart from one vaguely similar area (see the middle screenshot; that's the whole area).
Beware of one major bug this map has: the start door will only open once, then close, and if you stay inside, you will never get out of the start room.
In contrast to the high amount of decent quality detail and usage of ZDoom features, this is clearly an amateurish work in terms of level design and gameplay. The layout is simplistic, only consisting of several square-shaped rooms that need to be explored in a fixed order. Gameplay provides nothing other than the following situations: 1. Shooting galleries of meaty walls of enemies while camping at doors; no challenge, just tedium. 2. Getting locked in a cramped room and having to shotgun/chaingun down a Baron or pack of Pinkies; only then will a way out open, and needless to say, this can be tedious too. 3. Skippable encounters like a couple of Barons near the red key, which the player has no motivation to fight.
So to sum up, the map is only worth playing if you have relative patience and if you appreciate (good but not awesome) visuals over playability. It's playable for sure, but I just didn't find it satisfying. The mapper has decent potential, if only he improved his level design skill.
Auxiliary Base (E1M2) - Agtronic
Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 200.25 KB -
Reviewed by: Sui Generis
A nice, easy, medium-large E1 style map running on E1M2, with some neat variation in room, height and light levels. Aesthetics are good, and the E1 style is hit by the author pretty well. There are, as with many E1 maps, brief instances that clone occasional elements of the IWAD E1, but for the most part it's original stuff. The pace though is quite slow-burning; there's none of the hurriedness or traps of say E1M6, for example. Instead, I'd say this is a very exploration-focused map with a lot of areas to visit and with no less than 13 (admittedly straightforward) secrets to hunt for. It's a map that rewards players who like to explore. But it's well-interconnected, and areas and secrets are often foreshadowed or advertised, which is good.
I would however have to criticise the map's ammo, health and monster balance though as completely off: on UV I spent most of the map on 400/100 bullets and shells, with a few rockets and nearly 600 plasma cells; then there are two soulspheres and four green armours, this being in addition to more than adequate health provision. All of this is for the sort of opposition you'd get playing IWAD E1M3 through a couple of times. It's totally overkill. Still, nobody plays E1 maps for difficult gameplay, so who cares if it's easy and you're overflowing with health and ammo? Another possible criticism might be that it's quite possible when playing to reach the exit with parts of the level unvisited and some monsters still alive. Moreover, grabbing the automap from an early secret gives away many of the later ones, but ironically I don't believe credit for finding the automap secret can be claimed, as the secret marked sector is thin and a step immediately afterwards prevented me from touching the floor of the secret sector, at least with PrBoom+. Overall though this is a good looking classic map - it is particularly impressive for the author's second ever level.
I recommend this if you enjoy nice looking E1 maps with easy, casual gameplay and you find exploration rewarding.
Canto - Jacob H. Orloff
Ultimate Doom - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 179.46 KB
Reviewed by: Chezza
The Canto wad contains a single map replacing E3M1. Short and sweet as I would describe it, the sweet being the challenge side of it. It only has 40 monsters, but the map is a bit on the claustrophobic side and spoon feeds you just enough ammunition to kill the enemies in front of you. Sometimes you may need to run around them to acquire it.
You primary enemies are cacodemons, but neither you or they will have much space, so you will have to get your dodge on. As you reach near the final part, you will face a few powerful demons, with once again just enough ammunition to emerge victorious. You will want to make every bullet count.
A few little triggers here and there; I wouldn't be surprised if this was a test map for some linedef specials or ACS scripts. The wad is neither good or bad.
Junction Station - Malrionn
Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 102.78 KB -
Reviewed by: Chezza
Junction Station, a single-map wad that supports co-op. The layout and aesthetics are very true to the classic style of Doom, and in fact feels more like a Doom map than its actual recommended IWAD Doom 2, except for the use of Chaingunner zombies.
I'm quite glad there isn't much to criticize, especially since this is Malrionn's first wad. It is very competent, definitely no major flaws and reasonably fun for a trash mob-filled level. The map has some nice tactical uses for explosive barrels which can on more than one occasion get you out of a jam. The detail is what you expect for a first wad but done quite well, and deserves recognition for a clean design with no offset issues (that I could find).
I found the beginning of the level the most difficult part. There were plenty of think-fast moments where you had to wall hug to avoid fire, quickly shoot barrels to avoid a lethal ambush, or simply do a tactical retreat. Then as the level progresses the ammo was way too much in abundance and the challenge lessened considerably with linear shoot-outs against small numbers of pinkies, zombiemen and imps.
Malrionn has great potential. He uses ambushes, barrels and textures well. You can see he favors a good clean map, and whatever he puts his mind to he does right. Keep it up!
Five Rooms of Doom - Various (Project leader: Keeper of Jericho)
Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 10.97 MB -
Reviewed by: Csonicgo
Remember when 10sectors was a thing? The winner got a video card that can't even play the latest GZDoom! Then came the projects without prizes. 100 lines. 2sector. 1monster! Switcharoom! The way Grandma did. 1024. 512! 64! and now 5room! It's Five Rooms of Doom! In Boom... format.
Yes, the Doom community loves its gimmick maps. For now. This megawad focuses on maps with five rooms. So what exactly constitutes a room in Doom? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some decided that was an enclosed space with a door as its exit, leading to small, right-angled maps, and then some decided it was any area that could be closed off with a door - therefore, outside is a room! Take that, rules!
And then some decided to do "rooms within rooms" which kind of hurts my head, and "anything goes" where rooms aren't technically rooms because doors open into previously established areas but might be a part of the original room you came from since it's just a retainer wall or something.....
Anyway, gameplay, uhm, quality is once again varied. One map I beat purely by cheezing the key doors until monsters infought to death. Some actually played pretty competently! Hilariously enough, the best playing maps didn't have solid room boundaries whatsoever. For example: load up MAP20 and tell me how many rooms there are, and where the rooms are. It's impossible. In fact, the higher into the megawad you go, the more the word "room" becomes a vague suggestion rather than a concrete definition. By MAP27, the concept of a room has been twisted into knots. There's no use analyzing what's left. Just try to survive, because the final ten levels are unforgivably brutal.
Play these maps now, as they're going to be played for a little while and then left alone to rot in the archives like the rest of the gimmick maps, simply because they're gimmick maps - because when the Doom community has a backlash against mapsets with a common theme and goes for the next new thing, they'll miss the gems in this megawad simply because of the gimmick that taints them all.
And after you're done playing this one, play the other gimmick maps in the archives. They need your love. They're all impressive given the limitations!
The /newstuff Chronicles #483