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Demon of the Well

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  1. Here's a pack of FDAs (skill 4) for the whole set, using PrB+ (-cl 2) and V2 of the WAD: http://www.mediafire.com/file/zu87sdzugd78b3x/rudy_v2_DotW_FDA.zip/file Enjoyable mostly, I thought, and seems more coherently compiled than Shovelware Adventure did as far as the DeHackEd work and such goes. TBH I found most of the textures butt-ugly, viewed in a vacuum, but I sort of get the sense that's half the point, and the dirty, grainy look does help to capture the essence of an early-era partial conversion or shady 'standalone' game. The difficulty spike that starts on m08 vs. everything that has come before is perhaps a mite severe, but in truth I kind of *like* severe spikes such as that. Others' mileage will doubtlessly vary, of course. A few of the maps I went through a second time where I saw some potential issues, many comments here are based on this and general supposition. Speaking of, has m08 appeared anyplace else? I'm 99% positive I've played it somewhere before, probably in a CP or perhaps some sort of miscellany compilation. Also probably my favorite of the maps in the set, incidentally, along with m09. That........thing.......you did with m08's exit door, though, assuming it's intentional and not some weird happenstance, well.....I'd like to think I'm pretty open-minded about weird progression stuff, but this is something I really can't recommend. It looks legit broken, not like a puzzle, and I half the suspect the only reason I didn't quit out of it with that assumption is precisely because I remembered playing this map (and seeing the same thing) at some point in the past. Others have commented on m10 a bit, my two cents about the arch-vile directly behind the door into the northeast flesh room is that it simply being there is perhaps reasonable enough, but in the context of the room you're entering from and the map's general thing balance, it is probably more conducive to hassle than fun. I got lucky and pain-stunned it with the plasma gun (you put a 'zerk pack in a weird-ass place like that and I tend to figure there's something bad on the other side of the door), but many won't be so lucky, and the only ways to seek cover are to leap down to the left and take shelter behind the entrance into the pit room, or to fall in the pit and soak damage from the lava down there. Because you have to wait on lift-platforms to get out, if the vile is aggressive you can be put in a situation where you have to soak a lot of damage just keeping out of sight and waiting for an opportunity, and on the other hand if the monsters get shut behind the door you have to roll the dice and run up there to open it again, hoping things work out more conveniently. My suggestion for keeping the overall idea the same but making it less janky would be to make sure the monsters can open the door from the other side once awoken (so if you've had to retreat/paid the trap toll you can at least snipe them down from a better position), and perhaps put the berserk pack somewhere less obtrusive, so that it could be used as a health top-up as needed. The IoS in this same map is fairly straightforward, and those that don't simply nope out of it immediately just for being an IoS should be pleased to see that the challenge is mostly in combat/execution rather than figuring out what to do at all (I was glad that there was no lift/shot-timing aspect in play once the Eye was finally vulnerable, that would've been a step too far for fun's sake IMO given how inconvenient it apparently is to get back to the firing point). Regardless, I think the room could use at least another radsuit, and maybe even two; health/ammo seem fine. I would *strongly* suggest removing those pairs of prop-gates (like, a head-pole and a torch close together on one side so you have to edge around them rather than run between them, you know what I mean?) on either side of the peripheral walkway, though. I can't tell if this is an intended obstacle or an aesthetic inconvenience, but it's really bad for flow and can lead to some serious obnoxiousness in combination with (infinitely-tall) monsters in the pit below. Another possible way of softening the whole thing slightly without changing the overall design would be to make each section of the central snaking path a lift, perhaps, rather than just the first. More general thoughts: I think the DeHacked changes all balance out pretty well, personally, though in an ideal world I might want more of a visual distinction between the 'weak' commando (which is presumably replacing the SS soldier?) and the strong/normal one. Of the the new creatures I most liked the orange pyro-cacos, which are fairly intimidating (that flame breath is scaaaaaarrry, even if often not particularly damaging) and the stealth-imps, which I found much harder to keep track of than a traditional specter, and thus a much stronger inflection on the gameplay. I did not particularly care for the burst-rifle (though it's obviously more effective than the classic pistol), and in general I felt the set only started to get going in m03 or so, where chainguns begin to be more common. On that point, one of my favorite things about the set writ large is how much it emphasizes the chaingun (and plasma in some maps) rather than being traditionally shotgun-dominated most of the time, and indeed the scarcity of shells in early maps is a lot of what helps drive the action, even if it does betoken perhaps a little too much center-stage time for the rifle (in my opinion). The decision to start the player with no ammo from a fresh spawn is an interesting one, as well, presumably meant to mirror certain other PCs/TCs of note, and leads to a few 'pistol-starts' being a fair bit more involved than one might immediately expect. Mostly I think this plays out fairly well (people who prefer pistol-starts should expect/enjoy having to occasionally deal with this kind of thing), though the bayonet-start in m01 probably makes a bad/grindy first impression (I would suggest starting the player with a berserk pack just for fun's sake, honestly), and there are points where the balance potentially gets stretched uncomfortably thin as a result. The most prominent example of this in my playthrough was m05; it presents a binary fork in the path early on, and if you go into the dark warehouse before taking the detour with the plasma gun/armor vest, the feel and flow of the level are seriously impacted (significantly slowed in this case). This kind of 'unbalanced' placement can be very interesting in more open, sandbox-y, or nonlinear maps, but in more generally linear levels as seen in this mapset I think they are something more of a diceroll. In this particular case I think you could find a reasonable halfway solution without greatly altering the design/intention by leaving the plasma gun where it's at, but having an additional armor or a bit more extra conventional ammo along the other part of the split, as well. As pertains to the overall balance, it did strike me that even as monster counts rose most of the real challenge came from a relative scarcity of ammo/health/armor in some combination rather than from trap/fight design per se (m08 is again something of an exception here), which can at times play off problematically against the attrition/hitscan-oriented flavor of much the action, enforcing a slower/cover-shooting/door-camping style of play and making even minor-negative RNG constellations in certain traps potentially disastrous, particularly where you drop or teleport the player amidst groups of pre-activated hitscanners, ala maps 07, 09, and 10. The aim for more of a cover-based/gunfight-based style of play is a valid enough design goal assuming it's what's intended, of course, but this is nevertheless something to keep in mind.
  2. Demon of the Well

    Orange Is True Love [3 halloween speedmaps]

    Goth X-mas = Best X-mas
  3. Demon of the Well

    DOOM 404 - complevel 2 megawad - now on idgames!

    I'll give you a hint: it's obviously an infinite monster-spawner setup, but it's not really an IoS setup, and it's not rockets that you need. :)
  4. Demon of the Well

    DOOM 404 - complevel 2 megawad - now on idgames!

    "Demesne" is certainly one of the tougher ones (I think m26 is probably the toughest in the set, though, at least from pistol-start). It's handily defused with a number of different strategies, though of course this can be hard to see when you're knocking around in it for the first time. You may find some solace, though, in this little anecdote: IIRC the first thing Adam ever said to Steve and myself about it after he first made it was something like "I'm not sure whether or not this is realistically beatable without the BFG secret." :) So, of course, I had to try. As I also recall, I think I failed my first attempt (finding the BFG secret but refusing to pick it up for the Sake of Science) and got whacked by some rotten tomato who sneaked up on me through a side window after retreating back to the start yard to regroup and buy some time to come up with a plan for dealing with the gasbag swarm. On second attempt I was able to win by funneling said swarm into the foyer and pounding them all to death with the rockets I'd amassed and saved for just that purpose; dealing with the viles later was mainly a matter of separating them--I think I lured two of the three down the stairs to the ground level and SSG'd them to death from the safety of the connecting hallway, and then blasted the third guy with a handful of spare rockets I'd scraped up while futzing around. Having the BFG changes things, of course, and in that older version you could pretty handily steamroll the back half of the level, even with its limited ammo, provided you knew where to find it. This current version of the level is slightly harder than that older one, for what it's worth. The BFG is no longer 'secret' but ironically is now harder to get/fuel/get into position with to just bulldoze the final waves, though you can still do it with enough stubbornness (and foreknowledge). However, there are also more rockets and healing (if you can believe it) than there used to be, which can buy some slack. Here's a quick/very dirty skill 4 .lmp where I sort of combine what I'd consider to be the two main strategies for handling the back half: http://www.mediafire.com/file/6eaau93b76w4wdu/doom40427_sup.lmp/file The caveat here is that this run uses all secrets, though the only one I'd consider crucial to my strategy is the light-amp tunnel, not for the items it contains but because it gives you a second way to enter/exit the inner reaches, incredibly handy for outflanking/grouping the horde; the strategy is more or less identical for a no-secrets run, though that probably requires you to slowball through the earlier opposition with conventional ammo in order to free up more movement space through the center and also conserve rockets. In this run I save the BFG for the viles (and so end up with a lot of cell ammo left over), but this is mainly for flash/show; it's probably more efficient to use it on the gasbags, and then use the resulting rocket surplus to shell the viles into submission from any number of relatively safe positions.
  5. Demon of the Well

    The DWmegawad Club plays: Disjunction & Scythe X & Counterattack

    That's kind of what I mean, though--imagine how good it could be (especially as a contrast piece for the more 'usual' Mek style) if it were something actually taken seriously! Map 03 -- Aegritudo Things take a decided turn for the macabre here, as the Counterattackguy finds himself in a warped analogue to the processing/shipping facility, something like a huge plant for channeling or.....refining?.....hundreds of thousands of gallons of festering blood, a twisted industrial nightmare equal parts Satanic dieselpunk and opulent Byzantine palace. It is in the second half of the game that the set's stylistic commitment to stock assets really shines, as it's in these later hellscapes that Mechadon has assembled some really striking/original texture schemes, showing that his signature architecture works equally well with more complicated color/material schemes as with the more safe/standard tu-tone military/techbase look of the earlier levels. This one most readily reminded me of "Dreaming Garden" from Sunder (another set largely defined by strong texture schemes married to imposing architecture, incidentally), but its bloodstained industrial trappings and heavy contrast between the gloomy, fetid inner chambers and pale-litten marbled outer yards readily afford it a feel of its own. Of the main maps, this one sports the smallest monstercount at 'only' 460 or so, and while it's similar in size and expanse to "Phlogiston" or the facility proper in "Aggilus", it's more focused than either of them, leaning less on an endless array of exploration/route possibilities and more on a few complex core chambers or areas which will be traversed several different times (often at different height levels), perhaps best exemplified by the central 'smelting' chamber where the yellow skull key is kept. This is an area that you can initially see (and shoot) into from an upper floor while exploring early on, one that you actually enter for the first via a transformative booby-trap that it's very difficult to see coming, and one used for at least three different discrete fights at different times, culminating in the surprise appearance of an overseer cyberdemon ala Romero's classic E4M6, which by this point the room strikingly resembles (and not by accident, I'd wager). To compliment this comparatively tighter focus, the thing balance is a mite quirky, starting you out with berserk fist and.....a plasma rifle, which you won't actually see much ammo for for some time but which basically acts as an early 'get out of jail free' card for a tight spot. Other basic armaments and ammo are delivered largely via zombie kills rather than from placed pickups (though there is evidently an early chaingun tucked away in an alcove which I've somehow managed to miss every time playing the map), and moreso than in previous levels it behooves you to spread out your weapon usage to avoid running critically low on any particular ammo resource. As with m02, secrets are both very tricky and very powerful, and once again can have a huge impact on your options as you get stuck in to the meat of the level, ala the secret BFG. Again, it's debatable as to whether these finds swing the balance of power too much in your favor in later encounters (by which I mean to suggest there's room for said encounters to be bloodier/meaner rather than that the player should be kept with limited arsenal), though this is mitigated somewhat by the aforementioned early dearth of cell ammo, and because the "OP" potential is strictly confined to avid secret-hunters in this case I think this doesn't dampen proceedings in the way that some of the bonus stuff from m02 arguably does. Also of note here is the blue key casement, which transforms first into the "blue key yard" and then again into the "blue key park" before opening entirely for one last hurrah. Apart from how clever this unfolding of the area is (at first you'll be a few feet away from the key without even realizing it), it's also the first example of a large/protracted battle designed to play out in phases (and which the daring/perceptive can optionally hasten into a much larger, single encounter), an element which will be of some significant prominence in the next two maps. Map 04 -- Maeror Now THIS is quite the undertaking, the largest map by far in a set of large maps. Depicting something like a massive palatial tomb or funerary complex, its wide avenues, looming arches, shadowy arcades, and seemingly endless concatenation of basements and crypts and sub-basements present a tour at once arrestingly stately and decidedly morbid in aspect. Brief glimpses of a barren, lifeless landscape of endless fire and brimstone beyond the walls can be had on rare occasions, but there is no escape, only the possibility of a deeper descent. Scored by a BGM track that most players will recognize from the legendary "Misri Halek" (Alien Vendetta m20), and despite teeming with ghoulish creatures, the overall mood of the place is one of isolation and a certain loneliness, steeped in a gauze of countless eternities. As you can probably tell, I'm absolutely smitten with the theme here--while I enjoy a smoldering hellscape or a glowering gothic cathredral-volcano-castle as much as the next Doomer, I'm more fascinated by less traditional but no less grim depictions of Doom-Hell, particularly those with a bit of poignancy to them, and this map certainly delivers that in spades. The gravity of the map's imposing size may not immediately dawn on you unless you happen to try the flesh-switch in front of you at mapstart: it's a six-key switch, meaning that very little of the map's considerable expanse is optional, in contrast to the earlier levels. While it's still possible to skip or miss a few of the connecting areas between major locations, for the most part you'll be taking the full tour. The tradeoff is that "Maeror" is more truly non-linear than any of the other maps, and allows you almost entirely free reign of where to go and when from the very outset, the only caveat being that each of the three skull keys can only be acquired after you've obtained the keycard of the same color (so, BK gates the sadistic BSK vile-torture box, RK gates the exhilarating RSK 'dragonfly' chamber, etc.). Even with this restriction, then, there are many many different ways in which the map can be played; the incidental fights outside of the key setpieces tend to vary widely in their own right depending on which avenue of approach you use when you happen to come upon them, and weapon progression can vary widely as well, which can make a significant impact on both the incidental action and the setpiece fights. On some level, the bigger marquee fights later on in progression do potentially suffer from the same issue as some of their brethren earlier in the set (i.e. they are wont to be less intense than the player's arsenal could potentially warrant), but in the majority of cases this is heavily predicated on your order of play, and there will always be some fights you must do without the BFG to use as a crutch, which IMO is a much more 'complete' handling of the challenge of balancing item distribution with player choice than any of the earlier maps quite managed. And there are no shortage of nicely staged fights here. Most of the keys feature their own dedicated setpiece or arena, many of which are heavily transformative and organically integrated with the initial state of the architecture/layout in some really clever ways. Without fail, the fights tied to the keys are all quite bloody, and several cross decisively over into what could fairly be called 'slaughter' territory, though use of this term invites certain qualification in this case. To be clear, many of these fights use proper slaughter mechanics or principles--decisive area denial, pressure to juggle multiple fronts of encroachment simultaneously, shaping and execution of heavily patterned movement, etc.--and bodycounts sufficient to make them function, but they are generally very approachable in overall effect, by dint of using tons of softbodies rather than more advanced creatures to comprise much of the bulk of the hordes, and by generally supplying a veritable surplus of healing and ammo, asking only that the player keep moving and fighting (as opposed to turtling or camping or hiding) to stay comfortably in the thick of things. The result, pretty much wholesale, is a selection of big bloody fights that are assuredly great from a spectacle standpoint and worthy of a penultimate epic such as this, though in certain cases I feel that the overall placement is too restrained, irrespective of the non-linear balance, most notably the yellow skull fight, which reads as markedly underpopulated for the space provided even if you rush it to release all stages at once, and kind of wanting even then. I'm inclined to interpret this less as a desire not to make things too challenging for accessibility's sake and more as a way of hedging bets to eliminate possible 'grind' at more extreme iterations of the level's non-linear possibilities, but whatever the case it's hard to entirely escape the impression that things are underpitched. Fortunately, in most of the similar cases, ala the final gloom-shrouded death-vault, rushing the fight is a more effective redress (for those who may not know, "rushing" generally means triggering as many available stages of a multi-stage battle to occur simultaneously as possible, which is theoretically both more efficient and exciting provided you can survive the furor), and on the whole the action remains a suitably visceral companion to one of the most entrancing locales seen in a Doom map lo these past few years. Map 05 -- Dolor If "spectacle" was a watchword for the later battles in "Maeror", here in the finale it's the name of the game from beginning to end, where what was foreshadowed comes to pass and where Hell mounts its final frenzied offensive. "Dolor" is at root a sequence of three major fights, each bigger than the last, taking place in some truly spectacular terrain representing some of the most striking use of stock textures I've seen in 20+ years of Dooming. The non-linear/optionality aspects of previous levels are here discarded in favor of a more curated crescendo of action setpieces (though there's a lot of freedom of approach within two of the three); fine by me, as I always say you generally want the finale of a significant journey to have some kind of wow-factor differentiating it from all that came before, and the grandiose brawling here serves that end well. Or, if I'm honest, it can. Rehelekretep is absolutely correct in observing that all three of these battles are neatly segmented (generally by switches) into several distinct phases, and if these phases are methodically fought one at a time one after the other they generally represent several orders of magnitude of decrease in intensity (and also fun) than they do if the savvy/thrill-seeking player tries to get more of a ruckus stirred up.....or would if the player were afforded less of a security blanket of control over the situation to begin with, which IMO would have been more ideal in this case. The issue is similar in all three arenas, but most pronounced in the second and third--the great majority of the resources (to say nothing of the available movement space) are available from the outset in both cases, and generally vastly outpace the pressure/encroachment potential of any single wave or phase. While it's possible that a weak player might somehow manage to exhaust/squander enough slack in this early freedom as to make the later waves truly oppressive (cowardly wasting the V-sphere in the third arena far too early or the like), for most players I think this is likely to be a little TOO consistently manageable and thus tiptoe dangerously close to the edge of repetitiousness (the various waves tend to be more or less symmetrical in nature, though there are some surprise developments to mix things up at certain points as well), and in hindsight I might've suggested something like halving the switchpresses/wavecounts in each particular instance to facilitate more consistently roiling combat-cauldrons. All of that being said, fortunately it's pretty simple to rush the encounters (simple enough that I'm sure this was a fully intended part of the design compromise) to full completion in each case (you can even get some cinematic 'seal the Flux Gate' kills in the second arena if you're fast/aggressive enough), and played this way they are a pack of delightful slaughter-riots, still pretty accessible given the piles of resources but not to be taken lightly for their potential to overwhelm you through sheer force of numbers, either--played this way, I can confidently say that here at least the hordes will surely be worthy of your arsenal. Not content to settle for scale of spectacle alone, as a topper Mechadon has included a new custom creature to lead the final wave of defense, a pair of disquietingly fast and agile levitating brain-demons, boasting scads of HP and some withering rapid-fire Afrit-style attacks. Even played at a full rush, it's telling that these things are formidable enough to usually be among the last few breathing beings in the final arena, and so make a suitable climactic foe in that regard. The level, and the mapset, ends with your explosive decommissioning of the demonic power conduit channeling the power of the pulsar (the massive, otherworldly superstructure of the final arena), shunting you first into what seems certain doom and then into.......Vela Pax? Dare I to dream....? Yes, yes I do, but it's a dream for some other night. In the meantime, Counterattack's finale leaves a lasting impression with its gorgeous battlefields, armies of hellspawn, and picture of the heroism of yet another lone, indomitable warrior, a suitable conclusion to a quintessentially Doom-y adventure.
  6. Demon of the Well

    The DWmegawad Club plays: Disjunction & Scythe X & Counterattack

    Hello all, long time no see. Glad to see you've all been enjoying the three sets featured this month, feels like the first time Disjunction is really seeing a lot of people actually play the thing, certainly deserved. Also must echo some of the bittersweet reception of Scythe X as well, not only because it's unfinished (and probably eternally so, let's not kid ourselves) but because in some ways one doesn't have to look so hard to see at least part of *why* it might be unfinished--stretched a bit thin in places, like the well was starting to run just a bit dry by that point, no? However, the real reason I'm here is Counterattack, which was not only one of the best mapsets of last year but also an immediate personal favorite of the past several years, and one I felt compelled to play again given the excuse, and also to say a "few" words about. Map 01 -- Aggilus Opening in suitably grand spectacle with a view of a huge warp-gate in the depths of some nameless UAC bunker (dimensional gates and the machinery that powers them being a recurring motif in the set's very traditional Doom-story), this is not your typical m01, and in some ways is not what we might've previously called a typical Mechadon map. Prior to Counterattack, I think it's fair to say that the great majority of Mechadon's public releases (mostly solo maps appearing as parts of community or team projects) were all broadly similar in style--similar scale, similar layout and progression tropes, similar pacing and very similar combat; always couched in his singular architectural sensibility, of course, but very much a matter of 'variations on a theme.' I don't mean this to sound untowardly backhanded, mind, as it was a formula consistently executed well, and one I'd probably have been content to continue to play new iterations of indefinitely; I bring it up because it highlights a big part of what makes Counterattack so damned good, showcasing as it does an author's ability to expand his signature style to include more variety, additional layers and nuances without compromising on any of that style's core strengths or character. The action proper kicks off with a bang, or rather with several of them, complimented by the interminable pitter-patter of gobbets of flesh and viscera raining down over the rocky landscape. The memorable rockets-n'-barrels start here is a prime example of the mapset's strides in adding depth and freshness to the otherwise familiar, and sets a tone that persists for the majority of the set: your enemies are legion, but you're quite formidable to say the least, and have countless options at your disposal for beating them back. While the RL being the primary weapon for the game's very first spate of combat is unusual in itself, it's notable that the action here is not heavily choreographed or remotely setpiece-y in nature, instead being more framed as free exploration/free play in a topographically complex area, very much in keeping with what we might think of as more traditional early-game fare. So, while the set opens with a lot of flashy, bloody over-the-top action, it also establishes early that these incredibly rich/complex maps are primarily meant to be explored and navigated at your leisure, presenting not only countless routes to take through them but countless ways of battling the creatures infesting them as well. The Aggilus complex itself, evidently primarily a shipping/receiving/logistics station, is outwardly not the most imposing structure one could imagine, more squat and loosely sprawling than towering and imposing, but its concrete and steel walls hide one of the most complex and intricately woven layouts in a set full of them. Parallel corridors and throughways wind and bend at many minor gradations of height, and countless windows, grates, terraces and guard booths ensure that almost no matter where you are in the complex, no matter how you got there or where you've been before, there's always the opportunity for some kind of view into (and potential exchange with) some other sector, offering opportunities to snipe or be sniped or to develop a plan of action in advance. Changing from one 'track' to another in these often narrow/winding confines can initially seem a bit of a to-do, especially in the early going when you don't know your way around, but don't get stuck thinking too conventionally--often you can switch on the fly by hopping through windows or with a leap from one overlook to another. Progression in this level is designed so that there is no 'wrong way', and no matter your itinerary you can make meaningful progress and theoretically eliminate the need to wander through previously cleared areas almost entirely, though I think it's fair to say that the layout is complex to a point that most players (including myself on my earlier playthroughs) will not realistically be able to tell the necessary from the unnecessary or indeed even glean that they have the degree of choice in itinerary that they actually do in the first place. Fortunately, all of the content is suitably entertaining, ranging from intense, almost comically bloody close-range gunbattles with hordes of zombies in the interiors to looser, splashier action ala the opener vs. waves of encroaching foes in the floodplains surrounding the base, with an optional sidequest to an alternate dimension (foreshadowing the final areas of the game) to net you the SSG and some other goodies (which may end up being largely irrelevant if you don't hit upon this progression thread early enough, granted) for the particularly keen explorer. So, while the optionality aspect of the design is ironically probably more opaque/less clearly communicated here than in later levels, I think most players will able to forgive this based on what a good time ripping and tearing through the base and its scads of defender mooks is, by whatever route and whatever means they happen to do this. Map 02 -- Phlogiston This was the entry to the Vinesauce contest which spawned the larger project, which I don't think I was actively aware of until this most recent playthrough (when I finally found a certain secret). For the most part it blends in naturally enough with the rest of the maps, but the contrasts with m01 are immediately apparent: where m01 was squat and sprawling and intricate, here the architecture is much more vertically-oriented and imposing, with towering silos looming over the core campus, long, cold oversized halls, and badly-lit meandering stairways and bulky pneumatic lifts connecting the different levels, enough to send any OSHA inspector into nervous fits. While "Aggilus" sported a relatively clean corporate/tech look, save for the tan masonry and some piping/trim "Phlogiston" conspicuously uses textures from OG Doom almost exclusively, giving it a dour, unfeeling military-industrial look to suit its grimier/slimier theme. While the ineffable "bigness" and striking aspect of the architecture naturally conceal the fact, the complex itself is actually smaller and simpler (though not necessarily more compact) than that of m01, though in some respect this is because there are no extended grounds to explore this time (and indeed, it would appear certain pains have been taken to avoid ever raising the question of just what lies beyond the walls of the complex), and its 600+ monsters come in spurts and surges vs. the more constant stream of fodder offered in the previous map. Like m01 before it, a goodly chunk of the content here is optional, though which chunk precisely that happens to be depends on the player. The overall route is far less potentially divergent--the red keycard always comes first, and then you need either the blue keycard or the yellow keycard (or both) to open the way to the red skull, which in turn seals off the exit. The paths to the blue and yellow keycards actually cover a lot of the same terrain and skipping one is basically a matter of skipping whatever ambush is tied to it (the YK one being the nastier of the two IMO), though, so again it's likely many players will get both before returning to the keycard hub seen earlier on. Doing so has an added benefit in that possessing all three cards nets you a BFG 9000 to be used in the strange crusher-fight for the RSK; on the one hand I think it's praiseworthy that the designs in these levels unfailingly offer extra layers, perks, or other content for the true explorer/completionist, but on the other the BFG here is probably overkill, trivializing the RSK fight while needing relatively little investment to acquire. This is one of the set's most persistent issues (perk equipment allowing you to easily steamroll major fights), but in most of the following cases it's justified or requires a lot more investment or planning (or luck), whereas here it chiefly serves to take a lot of the thrilling bite out of what is otherwise a creative setpiece fight, wherein the challenges of making a tense fight in spacious architecture are met by weaponizing the architecture itself. This relatively streamlined/simplified main progression is an interesting contrast to the hidden stuff, especially as regards the level's overall balance. Played straight, there's more of a flavor of 'survival' gameplay here than in other levels--enemies are fewer and spread out a bit more (outside of the characteristic bloody closet-traps and the like), but your own weapon progression is vastly more conventional than in m01 (shotgun and chaingun dominate, with heavier weapons appearing mostly in the last third or so), and nowhere else in the mapset is healing and armor in shorter supply, emphasizing tactical sniping and defensive/retreat tactics to a greater degree. The many secrets, however, are quite cleverly hidden--diabolically-placed impact-switches are one recurring concept--and several of them chain together into potentially massive gains in power for the player, particularly early on, underscoring the set's emphasis on exploration in a more traditional way (note also the presence of not one but *two* secret BFGs, which I think further casts the 3-key bonus as excessive). Map 31 -- Desiderium This map has no set place in the running order despite being a perfectly natural inclusion to all appearances (a sacrifice to the traditional/hardcoded secret level placement in Doom II, presumably), and so I'm somewhat arbitrarily placing it here. I would venture that it would fit best as the second map (after Aggilus) in thematic terms, and as the third map (after Aggilus and then Phlogiston) in terms of gameplay progression, and so here it is. A very "Doom II" toxin-processing base in aspect (though its convoluted core of access routes is again very KDiTD, I suppose), in some ways this is the most 'by the book' Mekmap in the set, combining the intricate, nuanced interior constructions of m01 with the grander exterior architecture of m02 and a slow/steady ramping combat progression that opens with skirmishing against squads of zombies and packs of imps and gradually tilts towards much heavier onslaughts in the lategoing, culminating in a comparatively small/brief yet nevertheless frantic --slaughter-- fight (gasp) at the final five-point gate. Progression in the interior segments is a complex web of if/then route choices, and while this area is relatively small in spatial terms I don't think I've ever had two playthroughs be quite alike here. Differences range from small (i.e. which door clear out a given room from) to the more pronounced, as in the case this time where I ended up finding my way into the guts of the facility ductwork and cargo conveyance system, using it to ambush a pair of viles and a bunch of other minions from their blindside long before I would've been able to enter that room normally. The later/exterior segments eventually converge and neck down into a series of linear brawls, hordes of demons charging you through a series of breach-points as you climb up the outer skirts of the complex towards the gate chamber just offsite, itself the host of a structural/combat motif that will gain more prominence in later levels. While this is perhaps the most linear/on-rails sequence in the game (and a fairly long one, as if we interpret it as beginning in the poison canal it occupies about half of the map), it's convincingly delivered by virtue of the palpably greater intensity of the battles and so is a welcome change of progression in that regard. However, it's worth noting that a certain sequence of exploration allows you to skip the whole thing--finding the red keycard misplaced somewhere in the ductwork allows access to the disused storage warehouse west of the facility, where the secret exit can be found amidst a not altogether normal Narnia of crates. I'm not entirely clear on just how much of the main progression this allows you to pass over, or how much the hunt for the red card is its own distinct thing largely separate from main progression, but at very least it renders the entire poison canal and everything connected to it (including the normal exit) completely optional. So, while "Desiderium" shares the same design goals of many of its setmates of rewarding exploration and bolstering replayability, in no other map in the set is this commitment more dramatically in evidence, an odd quirk driven by its otherwise janky/suspect placement in slot 31, away from everything else. Map 32 -- Microland I don't have any really serious comments about this one, but for all of its silly delivery it's easily one of the hardest and most calculated or 'choreographed' challenges in the game, and shows promise for future Mek projects which may at some point call on him to be more wholesale dastardly in encounter design (I salivate at the prospect!) :)
  7. Demon of the Well

    The DWIronman League dies to: The Darkening E1 & E2

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/xr6dxa88ih0j2nd/Darken_DotW_Iron.zip/file Survived, imagine that. Feels like forever since that's happened. Final time for E1 is 22:13, final time for E2 is 1:07:10. Category 2, of course. The original The Darkening is both old/famous enough that even a speedrun Luddite such as myself knows a lot of its big skips (though I had never heard of the exploit with the YK in m06 that RjY speaks of before now, quite ingenious, that), and despite piles and piles of hitscanners and the like I reckon it's a fairly accessible WAD for going quickly, since most of the layouts are compact and mostly intuitive, m05 perhaps excepted (which is one of the better maps, mind, just not as intuitive perhaps). A mixed bag even by the standards of its own time, it has some lovely maps (m04 and m05 are my personal favorites) and a few which are rather weak I think (m03, m07, m08), fitting in with the team CP flavor of yore neatly, reading like a smallscale 'classic' WAD ala the Moris or the like which if nothing else should be credited for keeping the bloodshed up across all 11 of its levels, elegant or otherwise. E2 is quite a different beast, more strictly balanced and vastly more complex/intricate than its older brother. Survival aside, navigation is a challenge here, especially for blind players I should imagine, since as Krypto rightly remarks the styling of all of these levels is persistently 'realistic' and commits to the grungy, gritty, and visually homogeneous theme of rimworld squalor unrepentantly, meaning that both parts of levels and whole levels themselves can tend to blur into one another. There is, however, method to the madness, and almost all of these levels flow in a really elegant, intricate way once you've become oriented. Criss-crossing paths and shortcuts to minimize backtracking abound; the rub is that the designs almost never billboard-signpost these, so seeing where and what they are relies on your own sense of in-world spatial realization (or just brute familiarity!). There is real charm in this, I think, a certain sense of satisfaction in navigating well in this kind of setting versus a more modern tendency for layouts to flow openly/overtly (where the evident flow is part of the aesthetic itself, you might say), though granted it's certainly not something I'd want to confront all the time! I think I navigate pretty well in this run, but don't play particularly well otherwise, with some really shameful near-death bumbling in the m10/11 stretch and an almost universal incompetency for anything which could be loosely termed "platforming." Nevertheless, glad to have finally managed to survive again.
  8. Demon of the Well

    The DWIronman League dies to: Rush

    Rush Ironman, aka Roll the Bones This is a baaaaaaddd performance for me. Died on map 05 in a "I have reverted to my skill level in 1993" moment while vastly overarmed and charged up with health/armor. Kill me now. Protip, kids: to beat the cyberdemon, simply shoot it until it dies. Category is 2, as per normal; I played this once the week it hit the Archive, haven't touched it since. Probably wouldn't have made it much farther anyway, in truth, as after m06 there's a long stretch of the WAD that I remember literally nothing about up until m12 (which is the one almost everyone remembers, of course).
  9. Demon of the Well

    The DWIronman League dies to: Double Impact

    I <3 Double Impact E1M8 got me, same as lots of other folks. Almost had it, but got greedy/impatient with the last switch, should've kited those cyberdemons away one last time first. Very, very, very slow, too, probably 3 hours or more--went to the secret level, did a lot of secret-hunting in general, etc. etc. Cautionary tale about doing stuff like that (esp. in long sets that are only really hard at the end) as far as the rankings go (you're welcome 'Fredo!), for sure, but I love this set waaaaaaaayyyy too much to try to 'speedrun' it (to the extent that "DotW trying to play fast" is not an insult to the institution, ofc), rather than savor it. Plus I probably would've died before the halfway point doing that, of course! Double Impact remains the king of all Phobos episodes; it still has yet to be bested, or even challenged in this regard. Big, sprawling, dark, disorienting (at first), packed to the gills with secrets and diversions, and above all incredibly fucking BLOODY, this mapset captures, distills, and even magnifies the KDitD essence, encapsulating all of the good things about that episode and expanding on them in a way that is truly timeless. My kingdom for Double Impact E2!
  10. Demon of the Well

    TNT Revilution: Final release now on ID Games!

    Oh, don't be such a stick-in-the-mud, Tourn. That's my job. Congratulations Revilution team. Thinking on it, I might go so far as to say that Revilution has perhaps had such a relatively wide appeal because it's filling a particular niche that's not as populated as common sense might assume it to be--it's a modernized take on an old-fashioned approach to the traditional megaWAD, reminiscent of your Memento Moris and Requiems and the like in an earnestly authentic yet personal way, which has rung more true to many than other WADs which more actively strive for an idealized "Classic" brand. There's a lesson somewhere in there, I'd warrant!
  11. Demon of the Well

    Is Split-Screen Multiplayer Dying?

    I'm tempted to say I'd miss it, but in reality that's probably not the case, given circumstances. Nostalgia, I guess.
  12. Demon of the Well

    The DWmegawad Club plays: Super Mayhem 17

    The third and so far final time I had played the map, he got pinned/immobilized against one of the outer posts and was being eaten by a couple of pinkies, -cl 9 and all that. I rescued him, because that's just the kind of guy I am, but it's certainly not inconceivable he won't always make it to the end considering how many actors and thus AI/RNG possibilities there are in that fight. His big HP pool should be enough to carry him most of the time even if he doesn't attack much, seems like, but of course there's weirdness that can happen in the engine that there's no real accounting for.
  13. Demon of the Well

    The DWmegawad Club plays: Super Mayhem 17

    Map 26 -- Bowser in the Black Abyss - 96% Kills / 0% Secrets - FDA A fine climax to the set, this, not merely designated by being the set's hardest map (which is debatable in itself, perhaps), but something clearly designed to be the big finale, final bossfight with Bowser and all. Most welcome, and not to be taken for granted in a mapset created after this particular type of CP model (i.e. theoretically open to all/run in a condensed timespan), though the Mayhem series has generally been pretty good about trying to go the extra mile regarding this particular aspect of arrangement, I suppose. The author combo here is quite tantalizing in prospect, as Marcaek and rdwpa have, at least going by their past release histories, what I would describe as markedly different approaches (esp. to balance and encounter design), and so I was expecting something rather unusual. TBH, this is not what this is, and rdwpa's account of who did what--i.e. most of the structure and layout being of Marcaek's design, with most of the actual placement and fights being of his own making--explains the final result pretty clearly. Writ large, this absolutely plays like an rdwpa map in his heretofore established style (though probably both slightly easier than average, as he says, and also a little more concise/condensed/focused in terms of progression), and with little hint of what I've seen from Marcaek in the past, though hounds for analytic detail will likely notice the pronounced differences in architectural style and such versus rd's own. So, the map's not the chimerical creation one might've surmised and hoped for, it's true, but what it actually is functions well regardless, and is consistently fun and exciting enough that it's difficult to feel too disappointed (though I would still absolutely love to see a more organic collab in future!). Setpiece fights are the order of the day, each different, each effectively toeing the line between invigorating empowerment and oppressiveness, usually offsetting heavy pressure from multiple simultaneous sources with fairly generous supplies of healing and ammo. While the map generally wears its heart on its sleeve as to where its intentions lie, versus m11 which casually used tight setpiece fights in the context of a more adventure-oriented map, I would say that it feels significantly fleshed-out in framing versus the simplistic m21, thus more compelling. The arrangement of the early fights in particular has a lot of efficient nuance--unlike in m21, where there is a set 'starter kit' which precedes all of the action, here which of the first two fights the player goes to first (RL fight or RK fight) has a major impact on how the next fight plays, and the possibility of nicking items out of the RL fight's ante-area to use in the RK fight instead adds further layers. Additionally, there's also the secret/optional BFG fight to consider, which is easily the map's nastiest fight as far as packing the most lethality into the smallest amount of time/space goes, but pays off with dividends that have a major impact on the player's options in later battles. I somehow missed this in the FDA, in lazy contravention of my own rule about carefully checking behind/around you at mapstart (same deal with the shotgun secret in m20, come to mention it), and so my workhorses for the map were RL and plasma gun. I found it was balanced beautifully for this, whereas having the BFG + foreknowledge significantly tilts odds in the player's favor later on, making proceedings more of a showfloor for ruthless efficiency. This level of balance in this style of map is rarely achieved, and is laudable. While there is essentially zero incidental combat and little genuine exploration/traversal element involved in map progression, the map avoids feeling entirely like a disassociated sequence of arenas by dint of stylish use of quiet time and 'void space' in gameplay terms--the silent fortress veneer, Bowser sitting in shadows in the otherwise empty, massive throneroom before you are subjected to the penultimate ordeal, etc--allowing the setting itself to carry some of the load, and establishing a more palpable sense of buildup through the earlier fights to the finale. My favorite of the fights, incidentally, was the big scrappy final scuffle in the lava-floored throneroom with Bowser and an eruption of mercenaries from Below. While not as brutally efficient as a couple of the earlier fights, it absolutely has the greatest sense of shit coming unglued and there not being a whole lot you can do about it other than to hang on for the ride, balancing a heavy aspect of incidental damage and a sort of implicit (but by no means mandatory) complication to stay off of the lava floor with a ton of healing and other items drip-fed in over the course of the fight to keep you in the fight as long as you don't mentally turtle up. Bowser himself is no slouch as a classic tank, as expected--mountains of HP with a powerful but tactically straightforward attack--though I admit I was both surprised and pleased to find that he and I were the last two things standing at the end, considering all that been flung into the fight just prior. His behavior/routine seems familiar--Adolf Hitler from Xaser's map in D2iNO, maybe?--but feels a natural fit for the scenario, quite amusing to see his flame-breath bulldozing through groups of zombies and imps and the like. There are quibbles, mainly technical, but they're very minor. I too noticed and was somewhat disapproving of the red hell sky which shows through instead of the abyss in places; it appears consistently enough in 'interior' spaces to read as a possible deliberate design choice, but looks jarring enough to just as credibly read as an oversight. I thought that the final fight would've felt slightly glossier if the height difference between the lava floor and the raised stone floor structure radiating out from the center had been halved or so, as well--as it stands larger corpses (cacos, mancs, groups of pinkies, etc.) can collect on the raised part and make it surprisingly difficult to see clearly what's going on across the room (and shit flying at you), which doesn't seem intentional. Also a couple of mechanical hiccups--in the FDA you'll see the visual error around the megashroom in the center of the throneroom (which I've not been able to replicate), and in the RK fight three out of three times I've played the teleport-flashes on either side of the green armor have behaved irregularly, once both lasting until the nobles appeared, once with only the left lasting until the nobles appeared, and the right lasting until body-blocked by the mancubus in the FDA. Excellent closer with a suitably imposing look/feel, together with a couple of the other maps almost gives me hope for the viability of the Mario aesthetic. Almost. ;) Map 27 -- Congratulations! - FDA, for completeness' sake. Outro/bookend map intended to separate Mayhem17 from the palette-molested stock maps remaining in slots 28-30. As aforesaid, Mayhem has often been more conscientious about these niceties than similar CPs, though in some respect this is perhaps necessitated by its willingness to settle for a final mapcount other than "32+ at any cost." I admit I was secretly hoping for some kind of easter egg with the IoS face in m30, but no dice. :)
  14. Demon of the Well

    The DWIronman League dies to: 50 Monsters

    Here's me, not such hot shit this time. Died on m11, like lots of other folks. Feels bad, man....took a double-hit from the last two viles (if the initial tease accounts for all of 'em, anyway), who had positioned themselves in a really nasty checkmate position, and began their attacks nearly simultaneously. I tried to dodge both with a wild cut into the hallway, but misjudged it--hall wasn't long enough to get me out of view of either of them. Wise play in that case would've been to go behind the iron partition and accept a hit from just one of them, hoping to come back from there. On the upside, had relatively little trouble with either m33 (Sunder 01 tribute yay!) or m35 (YOU BORKE THE RULES), despite certain slapstick errors. All of this is a rare true category 1, for me--never played this before, never seen it streamed, etc. All I knew about it was that all of the maps supposedly had 50 monsters, that it had cybruisers in it somewhere, and that it supposedly leans heavily on really nasty gotcha traps in its later parts (which, having played further afterwards, seems to be true to some extent). Good work from AD_79 and his occasional guests keeping variety high under the project constraints, though in most cases you can tell these are older maps by less experienced authors (like looking at Jenesis vs. something Jimmy made the last couple of years, for example), particularly where they are homages to other maps/authors. Makes me want to see more recent stuff from all of these chaps!
  15. Demon of the Well

    The DWmegawad Club plays: Super Mayhem 17

    Map 25 -- Bastille Bowser - 102% Kills / 50% Secrets - FDA While not particularly long in terms of runtime, I reckon this is one of the physically largest/tallest maps I've seen Breezeep create, good to see him branching out in that regard. A relatively straightlaced take on the Mario texture pack, depicted here is part of an imposing grey castle-town sort of place, all ramparts and battlements and beetling streets, very vertically inclined with only a couple of yards and one recessed pool area to expand in lateral chunks. Like a few of the other maps, it opts for plain fullbright lighting over large stretches of its real estate and so looks a mite static (to me) in places, but the texture scheme, dominated by subdued greys, browns, and blues as it as, offsets this--no eyestrain here to speak of, aesthetic quibbles/bugs aside. :) Interior spaces do use some reduced lighting, and there's been a lot of attention paid to detailed architecture and scenery which sits outside of the actual playable space, so the overall impression is of a full, developed presentation which has made certain choices, as opposed to something like m09, which sort of looked like it lacked lighting because it ran up against a due date (whether this is or is not actually the case). I think the highly stylized "sky", such as it is, does this map no favors, but on the other hand the music track's great, one of the many renditions of "Bloody Tears" from the Castlevania series--Castlevania, now there's a Mayhem theme I could get behind! The map's enjoyable, being both vertically inclined and fairly roomy in most places it feels good to move around in (with a few designed flying leaps to reach items/armor to highlight this), and avoids any obvious pitfalls re: pacing or fight design or such. Considering the mapslot, however, to some degree it's perhaps inevitable that there is an overriding impression of how relatively easy the level is--stone castle theme aside, it could've easily fit somewhere inside of the first 10 maps or so--which some say may see as slightly odd given that it's the penultimate map proper and is designed for straightforward action rather than anything highly conceptual (read: it doesn't really fit the Limbo Model). Speaking for myself, I don't think there's anything wrong with having an easier map in E3 (or a genuinely hard map in E1, for that matter) in the service of contrast, and so for the most part don't see this an issue, but at the same time I can't entirely ignore that, again/still, I played quite badly and yet still managed to survive, and so in that regard I do think like the heat needed to be turned up a little in places. The fight for the RK in particular seemed like it needed to be bigger. As an aside, while I only found a couple of them in the first playthrough, the secrets in this map are fun to locate, doing a good job of playing off of how nice it feels to move/poke around in the layout. In balance terms, though, they don't really fit naturally (i.e. there's really no call for a BFG here, secret or otherwise), which underscores that the level could've been even more enjoyable with a bit more violence/intensity, IMO. Also, I am formally changing my vote to +++ 99 Ways/Playground/Talosian Incident.
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