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    The /newstuff Chronicles #495


    • Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 20 - Various
      Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 2.08 MB -
      Reviewed by: Alfonzo
      Participants of the twentieth ASS adhered to at least one of the following rules: rocket-exclusive maps, doorless maps, and scrolling floors. The trend in all things Abyssal is for designers who are comfortable with their speedmapping process to select the rules that require the least amount of tinkering, and this rings true here, particularly when considering the first and second items. The most interesting levels on offer employ scrolling floors for more than mere flair, but there's always an audience for those couple of maps that play well in their own right. In all, a good showing for this milestone session. Here are the standouts:

      MAP04: Snowflake Technology and MAP17: My One Map That is Good by Jimmy and an_mutt respectively are solid entries without demonstrating anything radical given the rules. They're by-the-numbers; regulars of the series will be impressed by the content and competence despite the build times. Jaws In Space's MAP12: I Should Take Longer Than 5 Minutes To Do Item Placement also falls into this category... the title was simply too cumbersome to fit into the first sentence of this paragraph. Employing the scrolling floor rule to great effect are MAP10: Carousel by ArmouredBlood and the opening area of debutant MarketAnarchy's MAP14: My First Ass Wad, which sees the player performing a platformer-style shimmying over scrolling floors to collect both ammo and body count before they topple over a nearby cliff. Very cool.

      The standout of the set is undoubtedly the master of ceremonies' own Fort Asshole, MAP19. It's a clusterfuck of cruel jokes centered around an hilarious gimmick, and the player is wont to indulge in circle-work waiting for the penny to drop. A suitably frustrating finale – good for a giggle.

      Shoutout to jmickle66666666 and his aquatex texture set, which features prominently in a few of these maps.

    • Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 21 - Various
      Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 1.61 MB -
      Reviewed by: Alfonzo
      Featured in the line-up for this 21st session are gaspe's Cunt Mansion and the familiarly titled Anus: The Lost Hole by alterworldruler, so if there was any doubt as to whether I'd checked out of the Abyssal enterprise at the right time... well, I'd already run the course. There's always been a silly air about the series – it's a good bit of dumb fun – but a groundswell of appreciation for unsavoury gags like this is worrisome; it offers a window into understanding the sorts of "serious" discussions about level design and speedmapping that, I'm loath to admit, were born under my tenure. Jesus, it's like a gas chamber of giggles and piss-takes. This is a very old session as of this writing, though; the news coming out of Camp ASS at the moment is that things have settled down a bit. Less genitalia and more jokes about corduroy trousers.

      Plainly, I'm still operating under the assumption that the acronym was an accident.

      The rules for session 21 stipulate gunfire switches, dynamic architecture and light levels at either extreme. A slight edit to the first rule would have prevented a very lazy angle that veterans are always quick to exploit; maps are littered with instances of switches that could just as well be hit with a spacebar, leaving only a small selection of maps like ClonedPickle's MAP04: This Probably Has Too Many Scrolling Sidedefs, to show an effort in building around the concept of pistol-whip button sniping. In the department of dynamic architecture there are a couple of winners: TheMionicDonut has some fun with his MAP12: The Treachery of Potassium, transforming the playing area into a radioactive feeding ground for demonic trucks (!), and an_mutt turns it on with some flashing lights and a blind meandering in MAP13: Asphyxiation of a Disabled War Veteran.* ArmouredBlood also hones in on the lighting avenue with a minty-looking bubble wrap layout that's pockmarked with turret monsters. Nothing if not pretty.

      Outside of the usual share of maps that play well without impressing through the rule set (contributions by Breezeep, AD_79 and Obsidian are worth a look-in) there is little to big up, here. A couple of bright sparks, but too many passengers to recommend the whole.

      *The record will show that this wonderful title was my bright idea. Hypocrisy at full gallop.

    • DMP2014 - Various
      Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 5.4 MB -
      Reviewed by: joe-ilya
      "27 maps by 27 different mappers. There were no rules and all maps were accepted."

      Who thought that it would still be a pretty good wad? There are a few maps that are bad, but so few that you won't even feel you've got past them. The difficulties are varied per level, so there's no difficulty progression between maps; you may end up playing some calm and pretty map, and the next map you play is a huge slaughterfest with STARTAN textures all over the walls. Something among these lines.

      There are two skip maps to separate between the vanilla/limit-removing maps and the Boom format maps, and it also gives the map pack an episodic vibe. First come the Boom maps, and then later come the vanilla/limit-removing maps; there's a ZDoom map collection for this project, but it's set in a different wad called ZDMP2014.

      MAP01: Skip map introduction for Boom maps.

      MAP02: A challenging medium-sized map with a classic visual style to it; feels like something from the "Memento Mori" series. It has homages to original Doom layouts here and there.

      MAP03: Bite-size Scythe-style map, set inside a lava techbase that eventually lowers the lava and allows you to progress further.

      MAP04: Big sprawling map that rises in difficulty the deeper you go. It has an original style to it and is often clashing between themes; sometimes it's a library, a techbase, or a temple. Lots of secrets too.

      MAP05: Another big sprawling map. This time it's more of a slaughterfest, and the color is mainly grey and there are no clashes between themes; it's a straight up techbase invaded by hell. Lots of arch-viles and cyberdemons, and the BFG is in this map too.

      MAP06: Huge slaughterfest with 4000 enemies. Its architecture is colorful yet dull, oversized and way too symmetric. You use mainly the BFG, and you have to carefully slide between monsters while shooting the BFG and going for the cells; eventually you'll clear a room and will go to the next challenge of a room, big boxes of monsters await.

      MAP07: Small easy map with lots of tricks and traps (see what I did there?). The theme is constant and is mainly brown, but there are several sections that have a different color scheme. There's a weird mandatory AV jump; it's not obvious that you have to do it, and you may end up killing them and get stuck.

      MAP08: Tiny map made with a phone. It's hard to kill everything but there are many supplies to get you by; the map is just a bunch of corridors and rooms stitched together and you can easily skip most of the encounters just by running through them.

      There's a wormhole progression in this map, so when you get inside the teleporter, you're driven into a techbase of the same layout instead of a hellish temple. There are no enemies until you enter another teleporter at the former starting room which leads you to a completely different place where it's just a bunch of hallways with monsters stuck in the walls and a yellow key in front of a yellow door that you can grab and open the door like it wasn't even locked. The ending is painful.

      MAP09: Moderate monochrome map; I quite like it for its super simple architecture yet interesting slaughterfest encounters. It's also mainly dark.

      MAP10: Compactly designed with rising difficulty, big attention to detail. It's set in a hazardous techbase with dangerous hazards and core melting nukage.

      MAP11: Bite-sized Scythe map, more detailed compared to Scythe; the theme is familiar to that of Scythe MAP01.

      MAP12: Interactive metal base, lots of catwalks, moving machinery and many monsters poking you from everywhere; it's hard but also open ended.

      MAP13: Skip map introduction for vanilla/limit-removing maps.

      MAP14: Doom 2's earth meets Ultimate Doom's techbases. Medium sized and medium difficulty with some difficulty spikes such as a cyberdemon. Contains several homages to Ultimate Doom's layouts.

      MAP15: Just another medium sized and difficult map, this time it's only focusing on Doom 2's visual design. It's got a Doom 2 feel to it, but more detailed and careful. Best map in the set.

      MAP16: An easy map made by a beginner, contains excessive backtracking, making it too big, not fun. Monster placement isn't engaging enough for me.

      MAP17: Slaughterfest map set in a spaceship; it's got arcade-y details such as colorful doors, goofy wall pictures and arrows on the floor; hard and claustrophobic. Got a jokewad vibe from this.

      MAP18: Vivid map with many sights, views, and secrets; it's pretty hard and takes a good time to finish. Second-best!

      MAP19: Easy tiny map. You start with a chainsaw and progress a bit to get a berserk pack; the ending has an arch-vile, but it's all in good hands if you don't go too fast.

      MAP20: Easier, tinier map. It's got melee combat, but you can also use the shotguns sometimes. Tricky.

      MAP21: Small map, some cool traps and layout transformations.

      MAP22: Biggest map in the set, also the hardest and the maziest. Non-linear and visually varied, there are a thousand monsters and this isn't a slaughterfest (contains cyberdemons). Many secrets too.

      MAP23: Smallest map in the set. Some harsh tricks are implemented into this; there are several AVs, one of them is hidden in an open field within a fake wall, and to kill him you'll need to do some serious seeking.

      MAP24: Huge TNT style map. Difficulty rises and lowers in here, with many weapons to use and lots of colors. It's got a big homage to Wormhole from TNT.

      MAP25: A big tricky non-linear sandbox map with techbases, caves and trenches. [My map.]

      MAP26: Small classic map with overuse of doors; it has some creative structures and few monsters.

      MAP27: A huge greenwar map entirely made of a single green zimmer texture. It contains infinite amounts of homages to the original Doom layouts. It also has a moderate difficulty to it, but it also has an inescapable death pit which you have to go nearby; the map mainly has a calm, abstract atmosphere.

      MAP28: Tiny flat map made by a newbie; it mainly consists of the default DB2 STARTAN texture, easily escapable monsters and oversized rooms. It's got an untextured HOM under the bridge. At least the bridge can rise, so I guess that's an accomplishment for a newbie.

      MAP29: Three-key HUD map. Finding the correct path is necessery for survival; the biggest challenge is getting the first key and reaching the exit. It starts in a nicely crafted techbase, and then turns into a detailed greenwar map with a runaway monster encounter. Perfect ending for the map pack!

      Doesn't all this make you want to play most of the map pack already?

    • KOKOC - Memfis
      Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 477.39 KB -
      Reviewed by: walter confalonieri
      KOKOC is a set of two medium-sized maps made by the prolific mapper Memfis, made to be played with limit-removing ports (I played this with prboom). The level style changes from the nuclear waste disposal techbase of MAP01 (with some homages to the IWADs in some sections, like the starting room that kinda resembles the hallway start of E3M3, and the room with a huge nuke waste fall from the ceiling resembles the starting blood lake courtyard in E3M7 from Doom) to the ominous medieval castle / canyons of MAP02.

      New textures are used too, I think from Memento Mori, with a brand new sky by FuzballFox, plus new music is included.

      MAP01 has really scarce ammo and health usage, and also some part looks broken, like where is the red keycard? And the door from the room with the caged arch-vile can't be opened from the other side, why?

      MAP02 in contrary has a good amount of ammo and health, but there's a part with a lift that can be only activated by a switch in a another room. Run over the teleport that leads to the lift room before the lift rises back to its origin point and pass to the next section. Unluckily, I'll never catch that damn lift at the right time, making me noclip to get to the next section!

      Overall, it is a good mapset, and if you want to play it, be my guest. Just keep these issues in mind and noclip (or use speedrun tricks) at the right time.

    • The Grand Arising 1.1 - Alias Zeratul 982 / Lutarez
      Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 215.07 KB -
      Reviewed by: gaspe
      This is a quite long map that doesn't follow a strict theme. In fact this seems to be a collection of different areas put together, though the passage from the starting rocky aesthetic to the hellish part was quite nice. There isn't so much to see actually; as you progress some nice touches in the detail start to appear, but still everything is much too simple. The big flaw here is the flatness of the map, and combined with monsters that come only from your front, you have really uninspired gameplay. There are only a couple of moments where you are more engaged, and the later parts were difficult only because you don't have nearly ammo. Play it if you are looking for a bland experience.

    • MRAndom sprite replacements - RaphaelMode
      Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 110.13 KB -
      Reviewed by: JudgeDeadd
      A satire on the "red pill"/"men's right activist" movement. The sprites and text messages underwent some amusing changes, so for example you collect "SMV" in lieu of armor, and "saltspheres" instead of soulspheres. However, if you're unfamiliar with redpill lingo, most of the jokes will go over your head.

      Apart from a graphic replacement, the WAD provides you with a fun little map to play on. It's a short one, but the fights can be rather tough, and the ending battle is sufficiently satisfying. There's a moment where you can fall into an untextured pit and get killed by the Hell Knights inside without any apparent means of escape; I don't know if this was intentional or what. The music isn't half bad, though there's an annoying moment where it goes clumsy and dissonant for a while.

      Overall, worth checking out, both for the nice gameplay and the humor.

    • Castle Library - Castle Dasböurg Bonus - Gustavo Ramos "Gustavo6046" Rehermann
      Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 92.04 KB -
      Reviewed by: gaspe
      A short map where the fact that it's short seems to be its only quality. The layout is very basic and the few locations are all bland, without anything interesting. The gameplay is easy with the exception of suddenly finding yourself in a very cramped room with two revenants and no cover. Overall this isn't worthy.

    • NOVA II: New Dawn - TeamNOVA 2
      Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 13.84 MB -
      Reviewed by: Not Jabba
      Following the successful release of Nova: The Birth, a few of the veterans of that project (headed by Dobu Gabu Maru) decided to make a sequel. Although it still has a strong focus on new mappers like its predecessor, Nova 2 also features many maps by those returning veterans, so it's not a true newbie project in the same sense. I feel like the team struck a good balance between the beginner and intermediate mappers, and it seems like the more skilled members have done a really good job of ensuring consistently good quality throughout the set, either by working with the beginners to help them hone their skills or by going through and detailing/polishing some of the weaker maps. As a result, Nova 2 stands a head and shoulders above any other community project released since CC4.

      As you'd expect from a community project, the settings and visual themes vary widely. There are bases of all shapes and sizes, Plutonia techforts and vine-choked wildernesses, cyberflesh Hell, fire and brimstone Hell, and a handful of levels with more unique settings. My personal favorite was Dobu and Cannonball's "Surreptitious Ichor" (map 26), a watery abyss mysteriously plunked down somewhere in the depths of Hell. The visuals are one area where you can really see how much quality control went into this megawad -- almost all of the levels look good, and quite a few of them are absolutely stunning. Even some of the more spartan maps, like U.O.D's "Vile Complex" and "The Descent" (maps 18 and 24), feel like they'd fit nicely into a Requiem-era mapset or alongside Sandy Petersen's more difficult levels, and map 24 has a shifting-architecture gimmick that I thought was really cool.

      Nova 2 also has one of the better soundtracks of the last few years, although it doesn't match the all-star quality of BTSX and Resurgence. About a quarter of the tracks are original work by newer composers like KevinHEZ, Eradrop, and Egregor, and they're all nice and catchy even if they lack some of the complexity you get from the community's more acclaimed music writers. Most of the rest of the songs are borrowed from Jimmy and Mark Klem, and a few are from other games -- but even if it's a song you've heard before, it's guaranteed to pair well with the level it's in.

      The gameplay is every bit as varied as the settings, so any given player is likely to find at least some levels they enjoy playing, and probably a few that they can't stand. There's the fast, shotgun-oriented pacing of Cannonball's "Panic Station" (map 01); the huge, projectile-filled canyon arenas of mrthejoshmon's "Husk of What Once Was" (map 09); the compact, Scythe- or Vanguard-like gameplay of Breezeep's "Hop 2 It" (map 12); the immense, almost completely nonlinear sprawl of An_Mutt's "Crumbling Metropolis" (map 15), with enemies constantly lurking behind the next corner or taking pot-shots at you from distant ledges; the tough, monster-dense central arena with caverns/halls weaving in and out of it in AD_79's "Red Gas Circle" (map 21), a style instantly recognizable to anyone who's played the author's 50 Monsters megawad; the hard as nails, not-quite-slaughter gauntlet of "Vindaloo Chronicles" (map 23), also by Cannonball; the exploration-driven, almost parkour-like challenges of Pinchy's "Parasite Hive" (map 25); and the brutally epic journey of Tourniquet and Ribbiks' "Anaemia" (map29).

      Nova 2 also continues a tradition started in the previous installment with the enormous megamap "Megiddo 2," which features five individual sub-levels created by different authors. As with the original, players teleport to all five from a central hub area and can choose which order to play them in. The authors were hand-picked by Dobu as some of the most promising new mappers from the rest of the set, and all five deliver really nice challenges in completely different ways (though I confess I didn't love the one set across several marble and stone rooms with little to no cover and lots of high-tier monsters). Tourniquet ties it all together with an intricately detailed hub in the middle of a void and caps it off with an intense final fight.

      Those who have played Nova 1 may notice that "Megiddo 2" is in the map 32 slot instead of map 30, which is a good choice given that the similarly huge "Anaemia" was chosen for map 29. Instead, map 30 is a relatively small (but monster-packed) level by Mouldy, and it delivers a bona-fide boss fight with a custom monster. The boss comes in two forms; the first is a small horde of "clones" that shoot revenant rockets, and the second is a single, more powerful version of the monster that mostly sits in place and shoots a constant stream of projectiles like a turret. The latter may not sound very interesting on paper, but the monster spawners add just the right amount of depth to make it fun, since you can't just strafe the boss until it goes down.

      I mentioned earlier that the quality control is very good, but of course the mapset isn't perfect. The weakest level in my opinion was map 04, which is composed of enormous, mostly empty spaces and a linear layout that forces you to travel through all of it at least once. Obake's "Hated Attic" (map 22) also has a lot of wide open space, often with hitscanners on the other side of it, though it's still a good level in many ways, and I felt like it had sort of a surreal feel that mostly made up for the less savory parts of the gameplay. Map 28 is nicely detailed and textured, but it's mostly a series of square rooms connected by rectangular hallways with unsatisfying or unfair combat, culminating in an outdoor area with an elevated Cyberdemon, six Arch-viles, and Arachnotrons and chaingun ledge-snipers on all sides, and although I have to give the author credit for putting in a fair amount of cover, it left me pretty disgruntled. People might be tempted to skip Joe-Ilya's "Dry Well" (map 07) based on his reputation, but I actually enjoyed it; I'm not sure if it's actually a 1024 map, but it plays like some of the better levels from the 1024 megawads, with architecture that's constantly unfolding around you, and a route that would look like a knot-tying diagram if you tried to draw it.

      Nova 2 shows off the ways that returning mappers like Dobu, Cannonball, and mrthejoshmon have grown, but it also debuted some really talented new mappers who I'm hopeful that we'll get to see more maps from in the near future. Dave the Daring's "Purification Plant" (map 14) reminds me of something like The Darkening 2 or Decadence, and An_Mutt's map 15 is one of the major highlights of the megawad. Pinchy's stuff is sort of different, but I like it. I'd have to give the Rookie of the Year award to Tourniquet, who created or co-created three out of the four or five best maps in the set.

      I feel like it's appropriate to compare Nova 2 to Hellbound in a lot of ways; it's a megawad that tends toward bigger, more detailed levels with a decent sense of adventure, and it has a lot of variety in terms of both quality and setting. It also got eclipsed by a couple of extremely high-profile releases in the same year. I'm not surprised Nova 2 didn't win a Cacoward, but I am a bit surprised it didn't get an honorable mention. For the record, I'm not blaming KMX or Nicolas Monti or anyone else for that. The main point I'm trying to make is that if you haven't gotten around to playing it yet -- especially if you've decided to give it a pass based on the quality of so many other seemingly random community projects released in recent years -- then Nova 2 is probably a LOT better than you think. It's a damn good megawad, so give it a whirl.

    Let me guess; one of those reviewers doesn't know how to properly appreciate a WAD that you liked this week. Want to do something about it? Instead of complaining in the comment thread like you always do, perhaps you can make a difference and write some better reviews than those idiots up there. The /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Put that Doomworld Forums account to constructive use, because you need one to submit reviews.

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    Alfonzo said:

    Plainly, I'm still operating under the assumption that the acronym was an accident.

    If the Abyss forums were still up I could give you proof. :P Maybe I'll see about getting the old ASS thread on there backed up.

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