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Steve D

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About Steve D

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  1. Map22 - Nova Akropola - by Steve Duff and Cammy Please forgive the tl;dr. A lot of this is extensive playtest commentary for Cammy, plus looking at the whole Realm of Chaos franchise that's coming out in 2024, at least so far as my maps are concerned. ;D These are going to be fairly intensive commentaries because we now have three versions of all my maps; the original Realm of Chaos versions, the as-yet-unpublished Realm of Intensified Chaos versions, and the Realm of Chaos 25th Anniversay Edition versions, not to mention the Abcess version of Map06. The versions in RoC and RoIC are entirely by me, whereas the versions in RoC25 are a cross-generation collaboration by myself and Cammy, although in many cases I haven't seen Cammy's changes until, well, now. ;D Indeed, every map in RoC25 must be understood as a collaboration between the original mapper and Cammy. Viewing them as purely the work of the original mapper, and giving that mapper all the credit or blame, gets it wrong. These are collaborations and should be treated that way. In many cases, there are major changes in architecture and combat: specifically, slaughter fights are all Cammy changes. I don't want to give the impression that I'm upset by this. In fact, I found Map22 very entertaining. I just want to stop seeing "this is the best" or "this is the worst" Duff map. These are not my exclusive property anymore. Get with it! :D That said, some of the alterations Cammy made in Nova Akropola involved changing secrets. This makes perfect sense because leaving all secrets as they were can also imply leaving architecture and fights as they were, meaning that Doomers who've already played RoC will know where everything is, giving them less reason to play this version, which IMO would be a shame. Clearly, there was a point, whenever this project first occurred to Cammy, to just do a bespoke OST and leave the megawad as it was. But from the moment Cammy thought about sprucing the maps up a bit, perhaps in pre-emptive response to such comments as, "Why do a bespoke OST for a crappy old '90s megawad?" he first set foot on the road of mission-creep, one I know very well from such projects as Abcess, Shotgun Symphony and Realm of Intensified Chaos. You quickly learn that modernizing old maps can be tougher than simply making new ones, but you keep at it anyway because you know the old maps have good bones and because you get pissed off by modern players who assume that all '90s mappers were incompetent, pithecanthropoid morons, and this is your chance to make them swallow their own blood. ;) Before finally getting into the gameplay, let's look at the entire sequence of Map22 versions in UDB and GZDB in order of completion, with convenient statistics; Original Realm of Chaos version 1996; Realm of Intensified Chaos version 2014; Realm of Chaos 25th Anniversary Edition version 2023; Monster counts on UV: RoC -- 282 RoIC -- 520 RoC25 -- 491 I played the RoC and RoC25 versions, and part of the RoIC version, today. As might be expected from the monster counts, the RoC version was somewhat easy and I completed the map without dying, though my health was down to 6% at one point. The RoIC version, which dates from 2013/14, is a nasty map from start to finish, though my deaths only piled up in the Red Key section, which is where I stopped. Death Count was north of 12 at that point, with much worse sections to come. The RoC25 version that I played previously was much easier than this one, with 369 monsters on UV, but structurally it was much the same as the current edition, apart from replacing green textures with grey, and without the monsters teleporting into the Blue Key Battle in the Akropola itself. The extra monsters and the greater darkness overall made a significant and very welcome increase in overall toughness. The start is the weakest part of the map, as it's the most faithful to the original RoC version. You begin with a hitscanner hot start, breaking out of the "prison" from Map21. Alas, this really made no sense as you had already busted out of jail at the beginning of Map21! ;D So much for continuity. @LadyMistDragon, unfortunately, missed the SSG and Rocket Launcher in the opening when she ran straight into the outdoors and didn't explore the side wings. I think that both Cammy and myself should make these weapons more obvious in future revisions to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. That said, LadyMistDragon fought on valiantly without them. The outdoor area is an improvement over my hideous original, but the sloggy Spectre fight is still there. I'd recommend replacing them with more dangerous monsters as well as breaking away more from the original visuals. The next area, the red lava room, is the first really big departure from the original, pitting you against 4 Revvies as you seek to reach the main Akropola complex below. I found it to be a fun and surprisingly dangerous fight. Dropping into the Akropola complex presents you, first, with a layout reversed from the original, and a much better fight. I concentrated on taking out the PE first but was bushwhacked by the Revvie on my right. The dark grey textures used here, replacing the original GStone and green Marble, IMO made the monsters more effective because now it's harder to see them. Another nice touch, not present in the original or RoIC versions, is Archies guarding the goodies behind those pillars flanking the stairway on the other side of the Akropolis. What a great way to snatch pelts! Players will likely run in here seeking to tank up on health and ammo, be horrified by the Archie, start fighting it, and then find themselves incinerated by Manc fireballs or Revvie rockets that they dodge right into. It certainly happened to me. Oh, such larks! :) Although it looks really cool, I can't help wondering why there is gradient lighting on the lava since it's all under open sky. A feature retained from the original is that the Red and Yellow key wings can be tackled in any order, breaking away from the map's inherent linearity. By contrast, the RoIC version puts the Blue Key in the Red Key wing and the other keys have to be gathered in a linear order. I tried the RK wing first but was a bit low on ammo and health, so after 3 deaths, I switched to the much easier Yellow Key wing, which also fills you up with health and ammo. Cammy remains quite faithful to the structure of this area, including the guardhouse where you can get the RL if you missed it earlier -- was a BFG in the original -- and then mow down the hordes of hitscanners and Imps. The major addition is the Revvie/Archie platforms at two corners. They add a bit of spice but otherwise, it's a less exciting change than I first thought, so this section remains one of the easiest parts of the map. The Revvie/Archie platforms could be more dangerous if they lower to the floor when the player grabs the RL, though it's a potentially good design choice to keep this area easy since it offers some respite from the brutality found elsewhere. It's a judgment call. Note that in the RoIC version, I completely eliminated this area and replaced it with a 3-part arena loaded with Wolfies, Wolfenstein textures, and a swastika skylight because RoIC is dedicated to tracking down and killing Hitler. The Red Key wing adds a PE to the initial Caco trap, and also removes radsuits from the lava, preventing the player from jumping down there to fight the fliers. However, it's easy enough to back up through the entrance door and camp the fight. Otherwise, if you charge forward, you'll get another trap releasing a battalion of Imps, making for some extreme discomfort for a player at my meager level of skill. Good news is that the BFG is a free giveaway here. Once you raise the lifts, you can attack deeper into the RK wing, facing numerous troopers and Wolfies. As to the mystery of why I use Wolfies, back in '96 it wasn't an issue in the MacDoom world. We didn't care. I still like Wolfies as carriers of a nice machine gun. It's no more complicated than that, but as mentioned above, I decided to make RoIC Wolfie-oriented to justify using the little buggers. Anyway, it's pretty easy to survive the series of narrow, hitscanner-heavy corridors to find the switch that lowers the Red Key. The next mission is to find the secret Plasma Gun. To do this, you need to locate a vertically misaligned SP_Hot texture, which opens a chamber guarded by a Chaingunner and which contains some health and ammo, plus another misaligned wall texture, which reveals a switch that opens the path to the PG. The weapon, guards, and other goodies are the same and in the same place as the original, but the method of reaching it is different. This is the kind of tweak that makes these maps fresh for RoC veterans. Further, as you walk towards the PG, you cross walking triggers that lower a wall at a pillar in the Akropolis area, the one with a question mark on the floor next to it. Thus is revealed a switch that lowers a platform with the Invuln on it. I'm totally thrilled with this new secret progression. Well done, Cammy! As it happens, I didn't find the PG or Invuln on this playthrough. ;D And now for the biggest gameplay change, the slaughtery fight inside the Akropolis itself. I had the BFG, the SS, and all those rockets. I died 3 times using the BFG to blast the enemies, but a new element compared to the last version I played is all the monsters that teleport in, especially the 3 Archies. I thus decided to exploit a weakness typical of many slaughtery fights by doing a ring-around-the-rosie and promoting infights. Worked like a charm but I still died twice more thanks to missing an Archie each time. Given that Cammy separated me from 5 pelts, the fight has to be judged as successful, but given the huge number of monsters required to take me down 5 times, it can also be viewed as unsuccessful, and players more familiar with slaughtery setups might well use ring-around-the-rosie from the start and essentially nerf the whole thing. After this, we have a slightly modified version of the original's exit, this time adding 2 Revvies to the mix and eliminating the side corridor where the exit actually was. Overall, I'd say this map is very successful, with some pacey parts and some rave-up parts, plus a really cool secret progression for the PG and Invuln. The opening area was a bit unattractive, but the Akropolis, with its reversed crosses and scrolling red Marbfaces, looked really cool. OTOH, the side wings can use a facelift, especially the YK wing. I guess it all depends on how much Cammy wants to maintain an old-school look, but there's a point beyond which adding new looks and detail more or less forces your hand, and IMO Cammy's hitting that plateau here. Of course, I can't forget the midi, Dead Prominence, with its forward momentum and sense of adventure. Outstanding work!
  2. Absolutely. Here's what I wrote in the 2013 Realm of Chaos thread, and the links still work! "The title Nova Akropola, or New Akropolis, is from the classic industrial album by the Slovenian art collective Laibach, a band that had enormous influence on Rammstein, right down to some of their iconography. Indeed, the first time I heard Rammstein, I thought Laibach had gone the industrial metal route. Perhaps the most approachable of their “classic period” songs is Slovenska Zena, from their Rekapitulacija box set; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iHAS9Qx2yQ which is kind of cheery compared to something like Vade Retro, from Nova Akropola itself; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4XVh1CCFRo Most people hate this stuff, so it’s not to everyone’s taste. Kinda like this map. ;D"
  3. I always try to max a map, and succeed more than 70% of the time. Given that we have squillons of maps to play, I seldom play a map more than once, so I want to get the full measure of it if I can. However, I won't spend inordinate amounts of time searching for secrets. If I'm at the end of a map, especially a big one, I'll generally say, "Ah, fuck it!" rather than backtrack looking for secrets I obviously didn't need to defeat the map.
  4. Holy cats, @plums! I gotta say that those little stuck Imps look hilarious. I'll have to inspect this area for the sheer joy of figuring out how I did this, and make a fix, natch, in case @cannonball wants one on file. ;D
  5. Map18, Dead Radio by Steve D & Cammy Kills - 87% Deaths - North of 15 Are you ready for Realm of Chaos meets Alien Vendetta meets Hell Revealed? I hope so, because that's what you're gonna get, along with one of the most extreme difficulty spikes ever. Indeed, it seems almost planned that way. Alien Vendetta has a bunch of easy maps until Ka-Pow!!!! along comes Map18. The batch of RoC25 maps I played through before RC1 was completely different and much closer to the originals. With this map, Cammy has decided to go his own way, throwing overboard the anchor of attempting to make small improvements to the old chestnuts and instead unleashing his passion for slaughter. Thus, Cammy is now, truly, using the original maps as "a base" to build additional levels. And he can do that because the copyright/permissions in Realm of Chaos say you MAY use these levels as a base to build additional levels, but you have to ask permission first. Not only did Cammy get permission from me and Rob, he also tracked down every member of the RoC team except Jason Fowler and got their permission. Yeah, he did that. Fuckin' amazing. For those who've played the original, it's much the same until you reach the cross-shaped nukage room. It is much larger than my version and I wondered how Cammy was going to fill all that space. As I found out, he was going to do it with hordes! ;D I should mention here that Cammy has played the 5 maps I've done in Realm of Intensified Chaos, and so has cannonball. I mention this mainly because Cammy and I are sharing some features across the mapsets. In this case, he is using the Plasma Gun secret from the RoIC version. I found the nukage room fight awkward because of the limited non-toxic space and the way the Cybs seemed to dominate the safe lanes. I was also annoyed at all the hanging corpses in the side rooms because they made it hard to see the incoming rockets. At one point I wasn't sure I had enough ammo to kill everything that didn't die from infighting or under the giant crushers, so I made a new save, went into God Mode, and discovered that I had plenty, though I wanted a lot more cell ammo. After I finally got through this fight I pretty much sailed through the following arenas, though I decided there were way too many monsters for me to kill in a timely manner, thus my relatively low kill count. Although this map represents a major departure from the original, being for one thing loaded with ginormous rooms, Cammy still performed detailed visual enhancements to the old architecture. All this and a wonderful, driving midi, too! Personally, I think more cell ammo should be provided before the big nukage room fight to make it less frustrating and so we can avoid peek-a-boo fights around the corners, which seemed to take forever. I'd also consider thinning some of the later hordes, because after a couple BFG blasts you can run past most of the critters without even having to shoot. I also have to say that I'm very impressed with how rapidly Cammy made the changes, These are not minor tweaks, but instead major architectural and gameplay revisions. Well done!
  6. @Suitepee I think you'll have fun with this one, John. There are some really sweet maps and a lot of variety. And importantly for me, we'll see how many pelts I collect from you in E4M2 and E4M6. ;)
  7. It changed a bit. The DS2 version has more sectors, 1,125 vs 929. It also has more monsters, 579 vs 537 as counted by GZDoom on UV. Most of the extra sectors were devoted to visual improvements in the giant secret area dominating the southern quadrant. This mainly involved adding water sectors inside the nukage leak for a more natural appearance, and on the far west end of this section, changing the water column into a pair of Stone columns with lights, plus adding crates and more monsters on the veranda overlooking this area. Without doubt, the DS2 version is better, though I may revise it again for one of my own mapsets.
  8. Time to start playing these maps. I decided to skip AliensTC for now, because it's so incredibly annoying with its weird, awkward staircases, mazey progression, and the possibility that GZDoom wasn't applying the dehacked patches correctly. I had objects floating in the air that IMO should have been on the ground, secret rooms with nothing in them -- Map11 -- and tunnels through alien structures in Map01 that were too narrow to get through. I'll have to research some of these issues before trying again. It seems to me that when I played it on my PowerMac back in the day, using Doominator to apply the dehacked patches, everything went fine. But let's get to the map I actually played . . . Base, by Brandon Davids aka TALON Kills - 86%, Items - 50%, Deaths - Zero As advertised, this is a really sweet map. Combat is pretty easy throughout, with some tedious shotgunning of Cacos and a Baron, but otherwise, it's fast-paced blasting of hitscanners and Imps. Lots of well-placed sergeants who shoot you from behind if you run boldly into each room. What really impresses me is the appearance of the map. It's absolutely fantastic. With a small amount of work, it could appear in any modern Ultimate Doom mapset. The texturing and lighting are top-notch by '94 standards, apart from occasional issues with vertical alignment. A big surprise came at the end with King Cybie guarding the exit. The shock of his appearance put me into Stumbling Drunken Monkey Fu mode, which is probably why I didn't get killed. I survived long enough to grab the God Sphere and run to the exit. All in all, a fun map. Brandon said this was his second map. I wonder if any more are out there?
  9. Just chiming in with a couple of things. First, the super-short Map10 by Jason Fowler. As it happens, this was an unfinished map. It was never intended to be so short, but Jason was -- get ready -- a professional level designer. That's right, one of the RoC team members was a pro. Specifically, I was told he made levels for the Mac 3D polygon-based FPS Avara, released by Ambrosia Software in 1996. The game was weird and a huge commercial flop. Here's a longplay I found on YouTube; As @Cilian has already seen, Map12 shows what Jason Fowler could do. It's unfortunate for us that he had to leave RoC after making the wonderful skies, one killer map, and the start of what could have been another killer map, but his job with Avara came first. Now the next question is, why didn't someone finish Map10? I honestly don't know. It might have been the time crunch. Again, I want to stress that basically, it was me, Rob Berkowitz, Antoni Chan, Jim Bagrow, and Slava Pestov who did an entire megawad in 6 months, in 1996. I'm not gonna bleat about how it was so hard to make maps "with the primitive tools" available in '96, because we had a wonderful tool with Hellmaker. It was easy to make maps as long as you were mindful of its crashy nature. I saved a new copy of each map every 10 sectors or so, rather than try to build nodes over an existing copy of a map. If you built nodes over an existing copy, sooner or later everything would go haywire and your map could become an unfixable mess. But that aside, we did pretty well. Continuing with Map12, the wonderfully atmospheric start is all Cammy. I like it a lot. After playing Map09, @cannonball asked Cammy about how far one can go before altering the soul of the original map. I can say that Cammy has been very respectful of the original visions of all the RoC mappers, but in any case, the originals still exist. So what we have here is Cammy's vision of how RoC could have been -- in 1996 -- if the mappers had been a bit more experienced and had possibly received external commentary. It's worth remembering that the only playtesters for RoC were the mappers of RoC, and mostly me and Rob, and we were noobs. Probably the main reason so many '90s maps sucked is that thousands of people made one map and then left the scene, and those maps had no external testing, so no one could suggest changes. It took years and years for the community to build up the knowledge base of what works and what doesn't, and for cadres of mappers to stick with it and seek to improve their designs. Cammy provides that and mostly the maps are better for it. I'm personally very satisfied with the result.
  10. Steve D

    2023 Cacowards

    Thank you for the correction, and many thanks to @Omniarch for his write-up on Ultimate Doom In Name Only. My apologies for the mistake. As for Slava Pestov's original Map06 for Realm of Chaos, I think 2024 may be the year that I get it, assuming those old Mac SCSI drives still work. If I get it, I'll also snag Antoni Chan's Escape episode and perhaps an unfinished Michael Krause map to boot. :)
  11. Steve D

    2023 Cacowards

    Congratulations to the superb creators of this community for their Cacoward victories, runner-ups, and honorable mentions. It is you, all of you, who make this community so unique and special, and may it always stay this way. And to the Cacoward committee, ten thumbs-up for your tireless playing, replaying, choosing, and then writing the copy on all of these maps, all of this music, and all related content. I'm especially indebted to @Dynamo for his write-up on Ultimate Doom in Name Only. All of us who worked on that project are thrilled to see it recognized. I'm also completely in line with what @Terminus wrote about the awe-inspiring Insanity Edged. It seems we say this every year, but . . . what a fantastic year this has been! Woo-hoo, we go from strength to strength! All this and the new year kicks off with special releases for Doom's 30th Birthday -- Eviternity II, Sigil II, and Thirty Years With Doom. What an embarrassment of riches, but all I can say is this -- "How sweet it is!"
  12. I was just wondering what the Russian Doom Community was up to, so thanks for letting me know. :) Screenies look fabulous and I hope to play at least one episode before final release.
  13. Thank you, Endless! I've been very interested in what you and your fellow explorers of the archives have turned up, but I've had so little time available to explore much of it myself. I started playing Doom in 1995, and played some of these maps back then, such as Castle of The Renegades -- both versions -- Aliens TC, Crossing Acheron, Eternity, Serenity, Trinity College, and an all-time personal fave, Doomsday of UAC, which I have probably played more than any other individual map. What you have done here is provide me with a path to follow, sifted through by enthusiasts. I plan to start at the top, play every map on the list by March 1st, and post my thoughts on these maps in this thread. I'm looking forward to it! :)
  14. Jayextee does an Ultimate Doom megawad? Here come some more sleepless nights. ;)