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    The /newstuff Chronicles #515


    • Battle for the sphere of chaos - Kenon
      Hexen - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 6.11 MB -
      Reviewed by: Not Jabba
      Battle for the Sphere of Chaos is a pretty interesting idea -- it's essentially a Heretic wad that you play in Hexen, based on the premise that D'Sparil was the one who took over the world of Cronos instead of Korax. It's a set of four Heretic-style levels with Heretic monsters, textures, and music, but you play as the Hexen classes with Hexen items, mana, and weapons (although both the Porkulator and Morph Ovum are present for some reason, which is strange but entertaining). The set is presented as a sort of hybrid hub; the first half lets you choose the order in which you play the two "spoke" levels, and the second half is a linear progression -- although the levels themselves are fairly nonlinear, and the last one plays like sort of a mini hub with multiple separate areas that you can tackle in any order.

      These levels are designed as though you're playing Heretic, which means fast-paced gameplay with high enemy counts, but there's also a lot of mana to go around, and the Hexen weapons stack up pretty well against the Heretic bestiary. I did my main playthrough as the Mage, so I was able to counter the many ranged enemies pretty easily. Even if you do run out of mana, it's pretty easy to fight through with the wand, which feels like somewhere between the Elven Wand and Dragon Claw in terms of power and is highly effective against enemy hordes because it goes through multiple enemies in one shot. Sabreclaws are quite deadly, but the Mage's flechette is fairly useful against them. The Fighter is definitely tough to play as, since most enemies have ranged attacks (this is also true in Hexen, but again, BftSoC pits you against larger numbers), and many of those enemies are set up as hard-to-reach snipers. On the other hand, the Fighter is better at dodging projectiles, better at escaping when hemmed in by many enemies, and better at dealing with Sabreclaws. It's definitely doable, but I'd recommend only playing as this class if you specifically want the challenge posed by fighting Heretic enemies with melee weapons. I didn't really try the Cleric, but since the second weapon is available almost immediately for all classes, it's probably similar to the Mage. Since the Cleric is slightly faster and better armored, and his higher-level weapons and flechettes are the best for crowd control, I suspect he's actually the easiest class for this mapset.

      I noticed a few minor graphical glitches due to the palette change, especially the pale gray sky used in one level, which has some strange black patches in areas that look like they're supposed to be white. A few other things don't work quite like you expect due to engine changes, but they're not really bugs. When you defeat a Maulotaur, it disappears in a puff of smoke (like the Dark Servant summon) instead of dying, and D'Sparil can't teleport around in his final form (he makes up for this with higher health and increased Disciple summons). All in all, though, the hybrid gameplay is fun and gives you plenty of opportunities for experimentation, like seeing what happens if you freeze ghosts or making Dark Servant Maulotaurs fight D'Sparil. The architecture, texturing, and level design are also very solid, with challenging combat and many areas that feel very explorable. BftSoC isn't the best set of maps I've played for either Heretic or Hexen, but it's a neat idea that's well executed.

    • Ultimatum - Riding on the Backs of Giants - Death Egg, Dragonfly, joe-ilya, Libor_john66, Olroda, Pinchy, walter confalonieri
      Ultimate Doom - Single Player - Limit Removing - 557.62 KB -
      Reviewed by: Not Jabba
      Ultimatum is a small community project that aimed to bring together all of the major mapping limitations from throughout the community's history. The end result was seven maps, each by a different author and each created under a different limitation. One thing that's interesting about this set is that it's for Doom 1, even though all of the restrictions it uses were created for Doom 2 mapping projects, so the mappers had the added challenge of a smaller bestiary, and players get a slightly different perspective on each challenge than they normal would.

      Level 1 is a one-hour speedmap. The layout is good for an hour, and I didn't see any errors in the standard E1 base texturing. Basic shotgun and chaingun combat, nothing terribly exciting.

      Level 2 (this is E1M9, incidentally; the mapset automatically skips two slots so that it can have just 7 total and end on E1M8) uses the 10 sector restriction. As a non-mapper, I have only the most general sense of what this challenge represents in practical terms, but the map seems to make very good use of its limited resources. It looks pretty basic but has a nice grand sense of scale, especially when you get a view out over the lava sea. Combat is very light, but it's fun to hunt through the castle for keys and unravel its slightly convoluted layout.

      Level 3 uses the 50 Shades of Graytall texture limitations, and it doesn't make very creative use of those textures. You start out in a big square room surrounded by tons of enemies, and later a few small side rooms open up. I kept getting hung up on stairs, I had to randomly hit walls and find secret doors to access most of the required teleporters, and the way to progress was generally just too unclear for my taste. I didn't enjoy this one.

      Level 4 was limited to 50 monsters. I feel like this was one of the easiest restrictions to deal with in the context of Doom 1, because the number of monsters doesn't have much effect on possible combat setups, and the limited bestiary means that a concise level is generally a good thing. Even so, Pinchy manages to make things interesting by turning the interconnected, roughly circular base map into a hunt for weapons while fending off Sergeants and other weak enemies and avoiding the small groups of Cacos or single Barons that periodically block your way or teleport in to put pressure on you. Once you have the rocket launcher and plasma rifle and all the ammo you need, it's a fairly simple matter to make another round of the level and take out the enemies that vexed you before -- though the Cyberdemon is still a tough customer due to his rather tight confines. The door marked as red actually requires the yellow key due to an oversight, but otherwise this is a very nice map.

      Level 5 is limited to a 64 x 64 grid, which in practise mainly means it can't use super fine detailing. This is another map where I think the author responded to the challenge very well -- instead of detail, they relied on an abstract, surreal environment with empty sky floors and well-executed shifts from more basey rooms to fleshy Hell areas, each with subtly different construction styles to help heighten the distinctions. It has great music too.

      Level 6 is a 1024 map, and it's puzzley and atmospheric -- sort of like a teleport maze, but a very manageable one. Things get interesting when more enemies are let in and start teleporting around the little complex, with them hunting you and you hunting them at the same time and everybody getting shuffled around somewhat randomly by the teleporters.

      Level 7 uses the Five Rooms of Doom restriction, and it suffers the same problem as the original wad, which is that "a room" can basically mean whatever you want it to mean as long as you don't add doors. That said, this is a good map. joe-ilya effectively had no limitations on how many monsters he could use, and there are about 550 of them packed all around the main outdoor area and the fourish smaller interior spaces that you have to access to get the three keys and exit. Combat is intense and fast-paced; you have to constantly watch out for enemies charging or firing at you from every direction, but it doesn't become frustratingly difficult because of the large amount of space you have to move around in.

      To make a long story short, this is a pretty fun mapset overall, and most of the maps did a good job answering their respective challenges. The speedmap is pretty dull and the Graytall map is annoying, but I enjoyed the rest of them. If you're thinking about playing this, it's probably worth your time, partially because most of the maps are very quick to play.

    • Liberate 1024 - Philip "Liberation" Brown
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 313.51 KB -
      Reviewed by: gaspe
      Liberate 1024 is a wad with seven 1024 maps for Doom 2. As you can expect from a work that was made under the 1024 limitation, it's a mapset that you will end in a few minutes. Also every map has a low monster count (the highest was 44), and mostly you'll find low-tier bestiary with some appearances of tougher stuff. Visually it is kinda basic but with many nice touches to give it a more pleasant appearance. It's easy and very short; play it if you are looking for something very quick and simple.

    • Union Aerospace Computers - OverStory_Lover_63
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Vanilla - 133.68 KB -
      Reviewed by: gaspe
      Union Aerospace Computers is a quite big single map for Doom 2. To put it briefly, this is like something that could have been taken out of Maximum Doom. I don't know how effective that comparison is, as people might have different feelings on Maximum Doom, but this map really reminded me of the 90s amateur works: shapes that are either squares or random, and texturing with some coherent things but still a mess. If you play on UV there's a "Good Luck" message made with marine corpses, but to be honest I have another message for the author... There are many hitscanners put in big and open areas, health is quite scarce, and for quite some time you will have only the shotgun and the chaingun.

      The gameplay is kinda uninteresting and the look isn't really appealing (and if you really want to play this I suggest you to use a GL port, as there are some HOMs in software mode). I like some ideas behind the progression sometimes, but there are too many wrong things in this map to justify it.

    • Porn (of which your mainstraem idea is laughable) - RaphaelMode
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Boom Compatible - 142.89 KB
      Reviewed by: Csonicgo
      You know, I have played a lot of crap. Ruba maps, Terry maps, Gamarra maps, edited SLIGE maps by DoomWadStation, LA Worlds... you know, the premium crap. The stuff that makes you go, "Why waste the time?" Well, I'm debating if I should throw this on the crap pile. An interesting concept that doesn't execute well at all.


      Let's have some fun reading the text file...

      This doom mod i am presenting you here contains all that pornographical work would, besides sex. this not mine or any other specific person's fetish, it's Doom's. More or less. What porn would be feasible, raesonable and compatible with a Boom-compatible Doom mod? The possibilities are limited, but in those possibilities, there is a fairly decent array of options.

      'scuse me?

      That's the most absurd thing I've heard in a long time.

      The map's not much better. No monsters to kill, just switches to hit. There is a garbage "language" on multiple whiteboards that you're supposed to follow, but because it looks so stupid and unintelligible, it's not going to help anyone playing. If I'm supposed to write those symbols down, that's not happening. So let me tell you right now, this is trial and error switch hitting. Hit one bad switch, you die. It's really that simple. If that entices you to play, go on ahead. For the rest of us, this is just an exercise in patience. And given the content, I really didn't have any.

      Also, the last area is intentionally broken, so I'm going to spoil it because it's really that dumb: sit in the chair, face the computer, and press use. There. Level complete.

      To avoid spoiling the rest of it (even though I just spoiled the ending), I'm not going to provide any screenshots, but if you want screenshots, you can make your own! Here's how: Take a whiteboard and scribble on it with a red marker. Be sure to make lots of grids and bow ties. Go football coach all over it with some arrows. Then stare at the corner of a white room. If that's not enough, find a treadmill and stumble on it for a few minutes. That should do it. You'll probably have more fun doing all that than playing this level.

    • Must i reinforce this horror? - RaphaelMode
      Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 129.85 KB -
      Reviewed by: fr0gm4st3R
      If you don't want to read the review, just check out the screenshots I took. I am pretty sure that whatever you are about to witness will allow you to craft and formulate some type of negative conclusion before you even give your eyeballs and brain the task of coming in contact with what I say.

      Anyways, to the review... I'm sorry, I couldn't do it. I couldn't put up with this map. It was absolute garbage. Complete utter garbage. All of the textures were gray, blue and green grid patterns. Occasionally, random quotes were placed on the walls to make the map seem almost inspirational, but that failed greatly due to the horrible design of this level. In the middle of my playthrough, I was teleported in front of a horde of sergeants and instantly killed. I didn't bother to try again. The map just sucks. Don't try this level unless this review makes you curious.

    • Geneva Convention-compliant medikits - id; uploaded by Simon Howard (fraggle)
      Doom 2 - Single Player - Chocolate Doom - 4.8 KB -
      Reviewed by: Not Jabba
      This wad replaces the graphics of the stimpack, medikit, and berserk pack with versions that use a red-and-white pill graphic instead of the red cross symbol. The issue at hand is the Geneva Conventions, which establish this symbol as a means of identifying medical personnel and other neutral noncombatants who in accordance with the conventions should not be attacked. As a result, many governments do not allow the red cross to be used for any other purpose. It's the sort of decision that people wouldn't think twice about and might even firmly agree with if it didn't imply modifications to their favorite classic video games. Specifically, the reason many people hate these graphics is that id Software used them in the Doom 3: BFG Edition to replace the graphics in the classic Doom games that were packaged with it.

      I'm pretty sure no one is implying that any government or organization, including the UN itself, really cares whether you, in your own home, use these graphics to play mods for a 22-year-old game, much less that anyone is going to bash down your door and do something about it. The one entity that could actually be considered responsible or held accountable for Doom's medikit graphics is id Software itself, which is why the company used these very sprites in the BFG Edition. Depending on your viewpoint, this graphic change is either a big deal or completely insignificant; some will ask why anyone would bother changing the sprites over an issue that feels so insignificant in the context of Doom, and others will ask why anyone would bother complaining about such an insignificant change. In any case, these graphics are now available on the archive in the event that you A) feel strongly about the relevant issues, B) like the pill graphic better, or C) just feel like switching things up every now and then. I don't think I'll be getting much use out of them personally, but it's nice that they're here as a resource.

    • Chip The Wolf - Michael Jan Krizik (valkiriforce)
      N/A - N/A - Skin Support - 128.96 KB -
      Reviewed by: Not Jabba
      Have you ever thought to yourself, "I wish I could play Doom as a cereal brand mascot"? Of course you have. Duh.

      This player skin allows you to play as Chip, the current mascot for Cookie Crisp cereal (and, if you're my age and don't have kids, probably not a character you're familiar with at all; I remember the '90s commercials with the dog and the burglar as the cereal's mascots). It's pretty cartoony -- as in, it has no shading at all -- but it's easily the second best cereal-related player skin of all time, and it could be a fun way to vary your multiplayer routine. The skin mod also gives you a new set of HUD face graphics, including a pretty funny one for god mode where the character's eyes are replaced by cookies.

      If you think this skin has no use outside of multiplayer, I'd point out that it's not the first time the Doom engine has been combined with breakfast cereal. With a small amount of modification to the art, I could see this character working reasonably well in a Chex Quest mod.

    • Teleport Outpost - RenĂ© "Xeotroid" Fiala
      Doom 2 - Single Player - ZDoom Compatible - 43.55 KB -
      Reviewed by: Memfis
      Teleport Outpost is advertised as a Boom-compatible map, but you will need at least ZDoom to finish it and to see the sky correctly. It is the author's first work and it offers 2-3 minutes of simple shotgun action in small rooms of a typical Doom base. Some furniture is present as well. It is mostly hardcore fans of newbie wads that will enjoy this.

    • JPHOUSE.WAD - JP LeBreton
      Doom 2 - Single Player - GZDoom - 6.36 MB -
      Reviewed by: gaspe
      JPHouse is single level that requires GZDoom; it's a recreation of the author's house he used to live in back in 1994. I wasn't really sure what this actually was when I started it; there aren't any monsters in the level, and there's only an easy puzzle that leads to a secret and to the real purpose of this wad. This is basically a trailer for an upcoming wad. To be honest, I was quite surprised to discover that the author is a professional game designer who worked on the BioShock series. Autobiographical Architecture is the title of this mod, in which JP LeBreton will create an interactive story about his life. For sure this sounds really interesting, and the stuff showed in the trailer looked rather promising, I dare to say. It will be released in more volumes, and the first one should be ready by this year. You can also visit his site to see the information about this wad, but there isn't much revealed other than what I already said here.

    • WadSmoosh - JP LeBreton
      Doom/Doom 2 - N/A - N/A - 3.33 MB
      Reviewed by: mumblemumble
      Wadsmoosh is a wonderful utility which does a very simple, but helpful thing. It combines all base IWADs into one gigawad, so games can be changed on the fly!

      It takes Doom 1, Ultimate doom, TNT, Plutonia, Master Levels, No Rest for the Living, and combines them all into one package, with an episode selection at the "new game" area for the episodes of Doom 1, then picking Doom 2, TNT, etc. Textures and maps for TNT, Plutonia, Master Levels, No Rest for the Living are renamed (obviously you cannot have multiple map01s) and reorganized so there is no conflict, same with music.

      This may not sound like much, but the simple fact that you can play Doom and not have to boot down and boot back up your source port just to switch between Doom 1 and 2, TNT, and Plutonia, and Master Levels are MUCH easier to run, makes this incredibly useful.

      The only thing I didn't like, which might be partial to my system, is it refused to read my wads if they were marked "read only". So if the EXE launches but does nothing, that might be it.

      What else is there to say, really? It's a utility which joins all the base wads up, and makes switching games much easier. Recommended that everyone give this a try, as playing with "Doom complete" is very handy.

    • Doom 2 Minor Sprite Fixing Project v1.7 - Revenant100 aka Marphy Black
      Doom 2 - N/A - Vanilla - 2.52 MB
      Reviewed by: Csonicgo
      Are you the kind of guy who is annoyed by a painting hanging just a little to the right of center? Do you take apart your dashboard five times to stop rattling noises? Did the stray pixel in a torch you saw in MAP10 bother you? Well worry no more, friend; put your mind at ease with Revenant100's Sprite fixing project, where that stray brown pixel on the SSG won't stare you in the face anymore!

      The beef of this mod is that sprite offsets are fixed, so the chaingunner doesn't dance at certain angles, and the revenant loses a little of his "agitation". Some other subtle changes include: touching up transparent pixels in the "model" monsters, removing the magenta pixels on the SS Nazi sprites, and even the status bar face has been touched up a bit. So presumably, if the id dudes had more time to polish things, we might have gotten this - or not, because most of this I had never noticed. So this is for the more "attentive" of us, I guess. There are also the new Romero-provided sprite rotations for the monsters that didn't have them previously. So if that makes you happy, download this.

      Now knowing me, I always have to find something to piss me off. I didn't have to look far, because I can't stand the lost soul fixes at all. He looks "lost" in more than one definition. I hate to bring this up, but if I wanted to use this mod seriously, I would rip those particular sprites out completely. This is my only serious gripe to this.

      Some monsters didn't get touch-ups of things I knew about, or if they did, they weren't enough. Examples are the demon's toes when biting versus walking, one of the angles of the demon's biting attack really makes his left leg look terrible, and the missing toes on the revenant when attacking didn't get addressed, but that's probably me trying to find something to pick a bone at.

      I really like the idea, but some things are "up to interpretation", which is an arena I really don't like walking into. If you don't care about such things, but do care about "sprite offsets" and other miscellanea, this is for you. Just be aware that this will break in any mod with a radically redesigned PLAYPAL, which is becoming more and more common these days.

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

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    thanks for the review Gaspe! I expected absolute evisceration, and instead got an honest and polite review. It was a first map, FYI. The map was mostly about exploration, as many parts of the level are not necessary to enter or complete, but that idea fell flat because all the areas were the same box fortress and were not interesting or enticing. The idea with hitscanners was to make the player run for cover and use more guerrilla tactics, but ended up just being extra grunts so the imp didn't get as overused. I did the same thing that I think most new mappers did and was just so excited with getting a map out that I uploaded one that was really for practice to the archives. My 2 other maps suffer from the same problems, but now that reviews have started coming in, I can finally improve and start making less boxy rooms, a lot less hitscanners, and levels with dynamic paths and the classic doom feel of revisiting previous areas and using more floors. -OverStory_Lover_63

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    Csonicgo said:

    I really like the idea, but some things are "up to interpretation"

    For the record, the underlying fundamental goal of the project was to avoid leaving anything up to interpretation. The intent is and has always been to approach every issue from a purely objective standpoint and address the qualifying matters in an equally technical manner. I am familiar with the minor inconsistencies in the sprites, including some of those you mentioned, but those aren't necessarily errors to be fixed. Issues like those fall under the umbrella of alterations for cosmetic purposes, and that's outside of the scope of this project. The aim here is to fix the errors while being as minimally intrusive as possible. Hence, the end result is a restoration of what id's artists ideally intended.

    Incidentally, many fixes come directly from id's own untouched resources, so this is indeed closer to what we were supposed to get from the beginning.

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    Well I think its better that a spritefixing wad covers more than it needs to than less. Since all the heavy lifting is done, it's easier for the user to delete things to as they see it necessary than it is to add on to the pack for things that are missing.

    I think you did a great job Revenant100.

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    Results don't always match the intentions. There will always be things open for interpretation, unless you ask the artists themselves. And even then, after two decades people tend to forget what they wanted to do.

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    Da Werecat said:

    There will always be things open for interpretation, unless you ask the artists themselves.

    And this is why I used the numerous original id resources available to us (alphas, betas, older patches, Romero's raw sprite sheets) as the primary foundation to create or restore the fixes. The one best qualified to make fixes to id's assets is id itself, and their efforts are certainly responsible for much of the work in the project. The interpretation has, ergo, been left to the original intentions (the resources are of the era, of course) by the original artists.

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    The mod I'm working on does include the "fixed" Lost Soul sprites, but whether it is fixed or not is a matter of opinion. I might consider making an option via ACS that will allow the player to switch the sprite styles of the Lost Souls.

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    40oz said:

    Well I think its better that a spritefixing wad covers more than it needs to than less. Since all the heavy lifting is done, it's easier for the user to delete things to as they see it necessary than it is to add on to the pack for things that are missing.

    I think you did a great job Revenant100.

    Exactly. This is why I recommend the wad - Even if it overdoes it, you can always scale back on what you don't want. I've already thrown it in my autoload, which is bound to bite me in the butt soon...

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