Demon of the Well

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About Demon of the Well

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  1. Same, lots of commitments, Doom and otherwise. I'm glad I managed to finish Moonblood, though, even if I've been very critical of much of it it was crucial to get out some words about the last bit, which left a much better taste in my mouth in hindsight. The biggest issue, I think, is simply that it shows stress/wear from being a megaWAD by a single creator making their first megaWAD (though I know the first part of Moonblood was initially conceived episodically, and that Deadwing made some other significant stuff before this), and so is highly repetitive for much of the duration, though I also suspect that a lot of this doesn't even come from the author lacking ideas per se (he clearly doesn't, especially if you consider the nature of some of his earlier work) as from an over-commitment to the small/minimalist Scythe model. "Short and punchy" only gets you so far over the extent of a long mapset, especially if your personal inclinations in gameplay design tend to de-emphasize the "punchy" part! It doesn't feel like it even begins to really come into its own until E3, but from that point things look up quickly and there's more variety and vibrancy in those last 10 levels (which are of more recent make) than there are in the first 20-22, so in future I would expect to see better and better things from the author. It will probably just be Stardate 20X7 for me, incidentally, since it's the only one of the three I've not yet played.
  2. Finishing up! FDAs pack (skill 4) for Moonblood's endgame, maps 27-30. Rather badly played for the most part, this bit, though in its way this is a good thing, as much of it probably stemmed from my finally having to shake a certain complacency engendered by earlier parts of the game. Fun fact #2: Map 27 was played with intermittent sound outages (don't ask)! Christ in a casserole dish, that's incredibly disorienting. Don't know how ToD does it. Generally speaking, I'm quite pleased with this endgame episode. Moonblood as a whole has suffered somewhat from what I feel to be excessive modesty, repetition, and a certain understatement of spectacle that started striking me as a mite artificial on some level after a point--aiming lower than needed because aiming high would be hubristic or unfaithful to the pre-ordained mapset concept, something like that--and this last bit bucks pretty much all those tendencies to a greater or lesser degree and so sends the game off on a high note. In terms of visual/aesthetic theme, I saw the thread register some disappointment that the setting here is, yet again/still, more corrupted military/industrial base (emphasizing the Plutonian flavor from the midgame more than the sci-fi/OG Doom flavor of the early game) rather than anything obviously 'new', though it's not a complaint I find myself sharing in this case. A major/unexpected shift in theme can be an excellent way to lend weight to and in-world investment in a game's final chapter--the m29/m30 surprise in Jenesis is the example I often like to use, though there are many others--but the real point is not so much that the texture scheme changes as that the mood itself does, and I found that was carried off nicely here. This is owing to a complex confluence of a lot of different things. These levels are bigger (i.e. they're 'medium-sized' instead of 'smaller'), more fleshed out, more conceptually distinct one from another, all true; but something in the presentation I can't quite put my finger on seems to lend them some extra gravitas as well, perhaps a function of aesthetic touches like the unique/memorable music tracks for maps 29 and 30, the increased emphasis on flesh/snakeskin as a visual element, or more generally the use of textures (deliberately or otherwise) that more obviously show the cooling/dampening effect of the WAD's palette filter (which, let's be honest, is pretty easy to forget about entirely for most of the WAD). Map 27 depicts a return to the UAC base after what was presumably a sojourn in Hell proper during the previous episode. As aforesaid, while in practical terms this means it looks quite a lot like what has become before (it actually most reminds me of m06 from much earlier in the game, in hindsight), it has a certain 'oomph' as an actual in-game point of contact with the WAD's story, whereas the set as a whole depends almost entirely on the player's imagination and capacity for investment to form some semblance of narrative out of its largely interchangeable servings of eclectic texturing and spartan sectors, an unusual choice in a set that cares enough about its story to try to adopt a nonstandard way of telling it through its intermission scrawls. On a more practical level, the map is probably most notable for the way it uses arch-viles, groups of the gangling bastards initially seen in stasis, ominously waiting to lope into action en mass when the player collects some McGuffin or other. Openly showing the player the general nature of a fight before it actually occurs is something that never once occurs in Moonblood before this point (a side-effect of its gameplay design nearly entirely eschewing combat setpieces and most forms of arena fight) and never occurs so clearly again afterwards. The fights themselves are not particularly remarkable, esp. after acquiring a BFG, but this kind of more overt mischief or toying with the player effectively imparts a more sinister tone to proceedings, playing into the episode's subtle (but significant) tonal shift from the rest of the game. Map 28 is a different beast entirely, and reads something like the set's semi-requisite 'challenge map', emphasizing combat over the usual dungeon-crawling to an extent even beyond what was seen in m26's 'coliseum' earlier, and featuring more staged encounters during its modest duration than the rest of the game in its entirety has fielded to this point. I particularly liked the playful way the level's opening throws a curve into the set's ongoing focus on resource-austere starts, providing you a BFG and other heavy weapons up front but framing the first fight in such a way that the average player will only get to fire the BFG a single time during due to ammo scarcity, emphasizing the value of a skillful and well-placed shot (and in turn, movement and technique rather than the set's usual focus on management and awareness). Secret-mongers get a second shot if they get to work as soon as they clock in; there's also a third shot pieced out via two backpacks in the fight itself, but gathering those while some of the viles/others still live involves some measure of risk. Later fights vary in style and framing, and while none are quite as clever as this first one, in sum they're appreciated simply for trying a gameplay style that the set has eschewed almost entirely to this point. The author's discomfort with the style is perhaps suggested by an overabundance of spheres which potentially remove a lot of the potential threat (though I was playing quite badly as aforesaid and so used all of them!), nevertheless the spectacle itself is most welcome. No complaints about the crusher-runs from me, incidentally, I think it's pretty clearly signposted that something bad is going to happen in either of those two suspiciously empty corridors. The little gore-blobs do suggest a crusher, though it had also occurred to me that maybe the floor would collapse in sections, or perhaps all of the walls would open into a huge monster ambush or the like. While you can't tell what's going to happen before you actually hop down, pretty much all of the likely possibilities are best handled by running down the course as fast as possible, and so I don't buy the notion that this design is categorically "unfair" or "bullshit." Map 29 is the best level in the game, full stop, and actually the one I will say the least about, I think. The surreal tone the set has been taking its sweet time building to finally comes good here, and I was quite taken with the way the layout wraps in a many-windowed circle around the strikingly grim/gruesome central ritual site, which holds a number of surprises, chief among them perhaps being that that area isn't actually the end of the level. I don't think it's any coincidence that this is the largest level in the game, either; the general form of the non-linear progression, the somewhat austere start, the thing balance and placement style, and other aspects of the game design are really not anything we've not seen many times before in the set at this point, but having much more room to breathe here lets Deadwing instill the map with more variety and much more of a sense of ebb and flow in its pacing than any single level in the game (or, I daresay, even the game in its entirety to this point) has had the opportunity to muster prior. No mapset needs to be comprised entirely of ambitious behemoths to be successful (though this is hardly a 'behemoth', really, it's more like the upper range of 'medium', IMO), but I think Moonblood would have benefited significantly from having a few more maps of this size scattered throughout the game. Apart from its use of cathartic tone, with a striking opening shot and a lovely mapslot-nonstandard midi that I'd love to hear again in future maps, the most salient feature of the final map is of course the presence of a custom deHacked bossfight instead of the traditional IoS ritual. I generally am not nearly as easily impressed with these as many others seem to be, but I did feel that the Sinner made for a fitting/satisfying final battle in this case. Visually the creature's nothing particularly special, an adaptation of D64's "Mother Demon"; in terms of functionality, it's essentially an afrit with an additional ballistic rocket attack, and a somewhat deceptively quick airspeed (initially looks slower than it is due to its size, I'd imagine). As a fight, though, I think it's more interesting than the above description might make it seem, since its speed and power stacked up against the (pistol-starting) player's relatively small arsenal require a lot of movement around its small and topographically complex arena, key elements being a 'random' flesh pillar which is extremely useful for blocking shots and buying time, and some tricky fissures where you can slip into a mildly damaging pit in the arena's center, which is dangerous mainly because it gives the boss a prime opportunity to attack you. Par for the course with this session, I played rather poorly against her, but still ended up pulling out a win, mainly because she doesn't actually have a particularly large amount of HP. I like that the fight here is made by the environment and the boss's abilities working in tandem; real thought seems to have gone into this encounter, as opposed to the author simply being satisfied with plopping a custom boss into a generic arena and saying "it's not an IoS, so it's good enough", as is so often the case with final encounters of this type.
  3.  

    1. Nine Inch Heels

      Nine Inch Heels

      Not sure if "Metal of the Well", or "Demon of the Metal"... Wait... It's actually "Well of the Metal", or is it? Now I'm confused to the point where I might accidentally post some Drum and Bass, hehe.

    2. Demon of the Well

      Heavy metal is the only one of my other interests that has been with me for about as long as Doom has, so if nothing else I suppose I'm quite the repository of potential namedrops. There are a few other styles I like as well (and sooner or later I'll probably post something from them here), but more often than not you'll find me listening to stuff like the last few NPs I've linked in this space (the main reason I started doing that being that I couldn't think of anything else to do with said space, incidentally).

       

      Perhaps ironically, though, for as much as I love Doom and as much as I love metal, I find that the two more often than not don't actually seem to go together all that well. There are exceptions to every 'rule', of course, and I can think of some midi-metal tracks that I've liked in Doom, but generally when I'm shooting demons I seem to prefer smooth melancholic prog-rock ala the BTSX WADs or atmospheric background ambience or the like, for whatever reason.

  4. Congrats Veinen, that's really fast! Esp. considering the final version got a fair bit nastier in a few places than the version I tested. Very good times from Krypto, Plut and Demonologist as well. I was comparatively slow in the test run, incidentally--I don't remember my final time exactly, but in ballpark terms I think I'd have finished somewhere around 7th or so on this table. A lot of the speedrunning mentality is still very alien to me and my usual way of engaging with the game (esp. during something I've never played before), so I focused way too much on not dying via killing lots of things and gaining decisive control of the map (which I did at least succeed in), and not nearly enough on overall progress. Looks like that was the case for many of you as well, which is a challenge that's more pronounced in this particular genre of map than in something more traditional/conventional, I'd warrant. Sorry 'bout the AWOL BFG blast Memfis, never happened to me, though I did see a pillar late map eat a fireball or two IIRC. Thanks to everybody who came out for it, and to cybermind for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it, it was certainly an educative and enjoyable experience.
  5. Paging @Steve D, front and center! I expect to see a run from you on this, seeing as you're one of its greatest fans. No excuses! If I can snark at realtors over the phone while simultaneously playing Moonblood and whatever else, you can find an hour for this. ;)
  6. Well, that's the thing. My memory for Doom topography is better than average, I suppose (nowhere near Krypto's though!), but it's not good enough to the point where I'll necessarily remember all of the fine-grain tactical details about something 30 maps deep into a set I only played one time, what....? 4 years ago now? Confidence comes from familiarity (and indeed, I think the main factor determining Ironman performance, from the top to the bottom of the board, is mainly knowledge, though not always necessarily of specific map layouts), but in its absence it's the more animal impressions we tend to remember, and I distinctly remember getting my shit wrecked by the damned False Man's Bridge back then, whereas I remember scooting through m29 (for example) with little trouble. Highly cheesable m28 may well be, but in order for me to cheese it effectively I'd likely need that kind of detailed recall, and since my brain was going on autopilot for the last few maps anyway (preoccupation with other matters, some minor fatigue), there's no guarantee I wouldn't have simply screwed the pooch trying to be Clever (TM). @RjY, you mean bring up the menu and then tab out of the game indefinitely? I guess I could've done that, but as I see it, in my situation that would've been somewhat contrary to the spirit of the competition. I wasn't going to just be gone for 20 minutes or something like that, my Doom time for the next 24 hours was pretty much officially spent, and coming back mid-run after that span of time skews the game and this sort of 'honor system' thing we've got going on, I think, especially in the context of a 32-map set where the endurance/fatigue dynamic is an especially big part of the challenge. Incidentally, I also think the current/mostly informal system is for the best. I think of this more as a community-building event than an E-sport sort of thing, and I reckon that distinction's pretty important to consider whenever one is dealing with hashing out rules and regulations and bylaws and whatnot.
  7. Shit, now I feel like a cad. Made it to map 26. I didn't die, per se, I just plain ran out of time and had to go do Responsible Adult (TM) stuff instead. I started getting phonecalls somewhere in the middle of m22 and then started more or less Ancalagon-ing not long afterwards, but kept narrowly avoiding death. Eventually I had to man up and opt out lest I have to explain to a client that I was late because I was busy fighting demons from Hell other than the bank loan agents. Sorry for the anticlimax! Still, if I'd have remembered which map 26 was, I'd probably have thought up some excuse and played one more at least, I remember really liking that one. Supposing I'd had no time limit, though, I think I'd probably have died on m28, which I remember being a real dick of a map. 27 should've been no problem, and 29 is dangerous too but doesn't scare me as much, since half the battle with Joshymaps of that vintage is simply not getting intimidated (that and I think carryovers would've seriously capped its threat). But man, that damn bridge trap in 28. I've only played this once before and I still remember that one. On that note, before this I had only played UR once before, when the DWMC picked it way back when it was new-(ish). Some things I remembered (roughly how to get to the secret exit, etc.), others not so much. Don't know any of the skips I've heard so much about, really. Almost wish I did, would've saved me some time and maybe let me get a little farther. Hats off to Krypto, as usual (and all of my other fellow ladder-spoilers). An immutable truth of the cosmos is that sooner or later, everything dies. Best you can do is try to troll the reaper for long enough to guarantee you'll posthumously pass into legend, something which you've certainly already done several times over.
  8. FDAs pack (skill 4) for Moonblood's fifth episode, maps 21-26. Fun fact: about the second half or so of m22, the entirety of m23, and the first part of m24 were played during a business call of sorts, albeit one with a longtime client/friend not bothered by my indulging my Doom hobby while talking shop. Multitasking! (TM) I was mostly pleased with this episode, as it introduced a number of new ideas to the set, coming at a point where the stylistic repetition of the earlier parts of the game was beginning to really overstay its welcome. The segue into new territory is not actually particularly radical, which arguably helps it read better in a megaWAD sense (as this set is comprised of material from a number of distinct mapping sessions); in terms of raw combat, m21 is based on just the same type of resource management + smallscale skirmishes against carefully placed enemies style of play that has been the set's bread and butter for the great majority of the preceding 20 maps or so, but the environment itself is a breath of fresh air. I daresay there's practically more real height variation in m21 alone than in all of the previous levels combined, and this lends the level a very pronounced sense of space (and again, a more pronounced sense of place) than the shoebox stylings of so many of the earlier maps, while also inflecting on the action to be more openly about movement and positioning in the game space than a matter of simply seeing the little traps ahead of time and faithfully checking corners/angles. I also like the look of the level; personal taste, surely, but as I've said before I think that the sort of practical, clean visual/architectural style that Moonblood uses works a LOT better when there's more variation in room sizes/heights. The theme is something like Plutonia + Inferno, not as common a combo as one might suspect, making for some interesting texture combos. Again, a lot of lifting is also done by lighting (all mapset long I have generally approved of Deadwing's willingness to use a lot of dimness/darkness for visual flavor, even if I've forgotten to mention that until now!), and of course the now much greater opportunity for vista and the like. Not a big fan of the E3 sky, though; I'm generally not much of a stickler for things like offcolor pixels and the like in my Doom graphics, but this one does seem a mite cheaply made (it's the Deimos sky but with a sloppy purple paintjob, right?), although I suppose knowing that it's presumably a reference to Bloodborne's 'paleblood equinox' does lend the otherwise doofy-looking purple some diegetic context. Maps 22 and 23 also represent welcome changeups, introducing layout types/tropes not really seen previously in the set. M22's framing as a weirdly complex but technically open space you run around in freely like a headless chicken (for a greater or lesser amount of time, depending on luck and your ability to juke foes until you get tooled up) is a refreshing spin on the style of non-linearity that has dominated for much of the mapset, and again I think it works a lot better here since you never really get stuck to/in a particular part of the garden to eke out your survival until the map decides to eventually re-connect with earlier spaces; instead you can usually change gears and go somewhere else pretty easily if you like, though the 3D flavor of the layout with its different sets of 'circuits' at different height levels may make this less workable for less 'navigationally-inclined' players. M23 and its sort of Gotcha-esque layout continues the trend of feeling like we're finally traveling through a larger and deeper environment, and although far less wild/chaotic in progression than that map, the much greater emphasis it places on traversing nonstandard terrain is again a welcome shift from the more restrained/contained earlier maps, which outside of the odd crusher-run in m17 tended to frame movement challenges almost entirely as lift + switch timing puzzles. M24's an odd one in that it is built/laid out a lot more like the earlier levels in the set, but eases up on the resource austerity (outside of the quirky RL-based mapstart) almost entirely for a level that plays a lot more conventionally, which while somewhat nondescript in the greater scheme of things also reads like the mapset finally doing something different. I dunno about this one, did I just get really lucky and take an incredibly fortuitous route or something? M25 also felt a lot more like one of the earlier maps to me, maybe like an E3 outtake done in a different texture scheme, sort of a 'village' layout (too small to be called a 'city' map, or even a 'town' map!) which most reminded me of everything in m15 following its ambush start. Really pronounced resource austerity (esp. ammo in this case) also reasserts itself as the primary obstacle to be overcome here, after taking a backseat to some other ideas in the earlier parts of the episode. As far as design goes this makes a fair bit of practical sense, since the level's main concept is the teleporting cyber-turret who makes a nuisance of himself in most major areas of the level, giving you a significant threat to worry about in addition to the generalized skirmishing. I didn't like this one as much, I think in some ways the austerity used as a means of shoring up the cyberdemon's presence (and by extension the presence of all of the other/lesser turrets he tends to run interference for) is overbearing, and it only made me want to get rid of him as soon as possible (which I did), rather than playing along with the concept. If the idea is to have the player actively operate under fire, you've got to give the player the sense that they'll be able to comp at least some incidental damage and have access to at least some stretch ordinance to burn off, and the incredibly stingy item placement style (and incredibly prickly monster placement style) here don't work to that end, all the more pronounced because the level still feels that way in spite of at least one no-strings attached soulsphere. M26 is also a bit of an odd one, for me. Normally I don't really much care for this particular layout style, i.e. "modest bounding-box with an eclectic jumble of crap in it" (generally I become more and more onboard with this style the less modest the bounding box becomes, and in turn the more robust/interesting the various jumbles of crap inside it tend to become :D ), though again in the context of this particular mapset I found I was able to get into it more, since it's such a change. Once again, the overall monster placement style of the most of the mapset is here enshrined anew, but the sort of small sandbox plan, with the large height differences between periphery and center and some of the chaotic sightlines between the different piles of rubble/marble/wood and whatnot, sort of compresses and condenses what would otherwise be another slow series of small skirmishes into more of a rolling/running battle, with enemies able to hit you from a lot more angles/distances than is typical in the set. Unlike m25, this extra attrition is also hedged much more readily with an uncommonly generous supply of healing items and ammo (and premium ammo too, rockets and cells and such!), which means it succeeds where that map fails, in getting the player to run around under fire and improvise for at least the first few minutes. Apparently there's one more distinct endgame episode, looking forward to seeing how Deadwing handles bringing Moonblood to its climax!
  9.  

    1. Nine Inch Heels

      Nine Inch Heels

      Okay...
       

       

    2. Demon of the Well

      Ah, Decapitation. Pride of Poland there for a time, though they've long since been eclipsed by Behemoth on the world stage, at least in terms of overall popularity/brand power. Haven't heard these guys in nearly a decade, last time was sometime after Vitek was killed in that terrible bus accident, but before the group later reformed and started writing/recording new material again. This track is a lot heavier on the machinegun chugging (and also the crunch in the tone) than earlier material, which falls in line with the meteoric rise of modern brutal death metal (and later/eventually what came to be called 'slam death') beginning around that time, although even in comparison to how that style sounds today Decapitated are here, shall we say, a lot more 'composed.'

    3. Bashe

      Bashe

       

      Favorite Morgoth track

  10. I dunno, I'm actually kind of hyped. She seems a lot more confident in the ability to give Alfonzo a public spanking than 40oz did, somehow...
  11. I manually key everything on the command line from the (faux) DOS prompt. I have literally no rational reason for doing it this way, and am aware of the many slicker/faster/easier alternatives. Just set in my ways as far as that goes, I guess. If I have to blame something other than my own illogical stubbornness, my out is that my first experience with launchers (other than the base game's SETUP program, I suppose) was an assortment of insufferable garbage interfaces that one used to find on shovelware CDs (often with those wonky 'randomizer' programs and whatnot attached). Never again!
  12. Another FDAs dump, covering episodes 3 and 4 + the two secret levels. After 22 levels of the game, it's becoming clearer both what to expect and what not to expect from the author (or at least from this specific mapset), and so I found myself settling into a nice autopilot groove by map 15 or so. There is something of the "double-edged sword" at work here, I think. Periodic shifts in texture scheme aside, the form/flow/pace for most of these levels is very similar and seems to have been built on some kind of set process or template, and in hindsight I'm not finding it very easy to separate them all from one another in recollection (though some do have distinguishing features, of course), and since the game is 2/3rds complete I'm less hesitant now to start levying some criticism about a certain lack of variety in the set than I might've been earlier on. While the details are far too human for any of this stuff to be mistaken as procedurally generated or anything of that sort, many maps are functionally interchangeable both within the greater mapset's progression arc and within the mini-arcs of the smaller episodes, and the same handful of core design and balance ideas are being repeated map in and map out, which I'm finding slightly wearying. There is nothing wrong per se with using a formula, mind you; just a question of how much a particular formula appeals to a particular player, and speaking for myself I've been waiting for some kind of payoff into something grander and hopefully a little less......what's the word I want here?.....let's say "uptight" in style, and at this point it seems less and less likely that's going to happen. I think what's most getting to me is the overall pacing, or rather the lack of real development in this area. There is thankfully a bit more in the way of open-air content in these two episodes than in the earlier ones (mainly in E3), but all of the architecture remains small and stultifyingly squat, with a relatively high degree of interconnection which often seems less pronounced than it actually is by dint of being commonly created through the use of relatively 'hard' connectors like doors and blind lifts and dead-drops and whatnot. It feels like I've seen all of three different ceiling heights at play for most of the set ('sardine can', 'cardboard box', and 'college dorm'), and the few times there's something a little more pronounced some issues with infinitely-tall actors have cropped up to spoil the impression somewhat (see: m13 in particular, and that damned fountain-shrine place in m15). This kind of construction invites a certain style of thing placement, of course, and so outside of a couple of edgier ambushes in E4 fights have for the most part all remained small/individually unremarkable CQC tussles to be conscientiously fought on a limited resource budget. One of the side-effects of this design is that, while the levels are small in terms of blueprint, they are not particularly quick to play, especially if one happens along one of the less ideal routes in the more non-linear of their number. I am not a particularly speedy player, mind, but most of these levels have taken somewhere around 15 minutes or more to complete, which is something I'd attribute mainly to the encounter style and persistent stinginess with weapons/resources rather than to any particular problems with layout or navigability (though m18's computer-annex puzzle probably took me longer than it should've, that's on me). The genre of small-yet-slow dungeon-crawl is not generally one of my personal favorites, hence my hope for something a little different to change things up. I did say something about a "double-edged sword", though, and the other side of the blade here is that the mapset's core approach to level/play design--this relative austerity, this game of hard-bitten do-more-with-less dungeoneering--is being honed to be more and more effective and immersive as the game progresses. Many of my earlier complaints about nun-ish austerity being used as an excuse for very basic/non-threatening monster placement no longer fairly apply to this latest chunk of maps, and while the tension in the gameplay is still coming 95% or so in the form of the calculus of attrition (the other 5% being the threat of boobytraps) it is now legitimate tension rather than merely practical inconvenience at play, and that counts for a lot. A running theme of E3 seems to have been the use of a variety of different types of shortlived kickstart, each intended to propel you into the midst of the rest of the level while seriously undersupplied, underwriting and legitimizing the need to scavenge and survive from clip to clip while trying to make wise decisions about which direction you should go next. While m15's lowering silo probably offers the greatest immediate intensity here, I felt that m14's 'caves' setup, which can very easily see you run entirely out of ammo before you even get a shotgun, was the most memorable/effective, since the compulsion to drop deeper into the unknown as a matter of survival is very strong. This kind of fight-or-flight response is exactly what you need to evoke to enliven this style of placement, making it feel immersive rather than simply contrived. E4 backs off on these early/defining framing encounters in favor of a few legitimately dangerous flash traps (largely involving arch-viles and revenants), but makes the overall thing balance even tighter than it has been prior, while at the same time finally starting to shift more of the workload towards heavier weapons, away from the basic shotgun, pistol and chaingun. This is naturally best exemplified by the BFG, which appears in a few of these levels and in all cases can really shift momentum in your favor at clutch moments, but only if you have the wisdom and foresight to judge how best to use its typically very limited ammo supply. Again, this is a good way of adding investment to this type of highly ascetic balancing, in contrast to simply providing very little in the way of options in the first place. That being said, I think we might be hitting a point where there's something of an actual imbalance between the scarcity of healing and the author's fondness for high/distant/blindside hitscanners, but perhaps this will even out/sort itself in the final third of the game. Other comments: Of this particular block of maps, the ones which engaged me the most were m14, m17, and m20. M14, as aforesaid, posed something of a wakeup call with its suddenly very emphasized handling of the set's ever-stingy thing balance, and I felt that the way it interconnected and framed its 'dungeon non-linearity' worked out better than in a number of the other/earlier maps, particularly with the sheer number of ways to find yourself in that underground blood/wood chamber. Apart from introducing the BFG, I felt that m17 also carried much more of a real sense of place (albeit in a still largely abstract IWAD sort of style) than almost anything prior, with its strange plaster 'labs' clustered around the dingy and oddly sinister central crossway, with an isolated server wing and a few window views out over an increasingly sickly-looking Jovian countryside. M20, similarly, really spoke to me with its atmosphere as well, carrying something of a mood of portent under its red sky (nowhere else in the set has sky been so pronounced) and persistently shadowy lighting. There's a sort of "Living End Lite" aspect to the way these last few installations are found nestled in a fiery crater (or perhaps the ground has been giving way beneath them?), and while the overall level progression here, with its binary choice of teleporters to kick things off, is really not much different from earlier maps in terms of objectives or pacing, the structural/tonal shift in the environment makes it feel quite different while you're inside of it, and sometimes that makes all the difference in the world. Broadly speaking I would say that Moonblood has not been particularly good about establishing a real sense of place/location through its small and largely interchangeable tangles of geometry (though some of that impression is surely a result of my own gut prejudice about short/modestly-proportioned maps) over its first two thirds, but this is something that seems like it might be getting ready to change for the better in the final two episodes of the game.
  13. Thanks for the bit about the puzzle.