Demon of the Well

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  1. I was originally going to post this in a recent thread that basically revolved around the idea that the (mapping) community is actively hostile to new ideas and new mappers, as predicated on some series of events I've not investigated in any real depth where a certain mapper's efforts were barred from a community project for essentially refusing/failing to abide by the project's ground rules. Included was a layout shot of the map itself, which some cursory investigation showed to be essentially a disjointed collection of mostly dissociated rooms and ideas slathered in a motley mix of ZDoom features--a pretty ordinary newbie map of the 'fingerpaint collage' style, in other words, something we've all seen before. As I was writing this, the thread rapidly descended into the worst sort of Internet Melodrama (which was presumably the OP's intent from the get-go), and it seemed somewhat foolish to me to dignify it with a direct response, but I still want to post it somewhere anyway, in the off chance that a new mapper might chance upon it and find a little food for thought. I've edited it to be more general in thrust, but some specific references to the original thread/OP are still there, which surely introduces some awkwardness in parsing, and my posting this here instead of there will  perhaps be seen as needlessly cowardly or passive-aggressive by the reader of a certain social predisposition, but I suppose I can live with that.

     

     

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    I've been playing the game more or less actively for as long as it has existed, and I've seen many a design trope or philosophy rise and fall, and in many cases rise and fall again. I suspect I'll see some of them rise and fall a third, fourth, even a fifth time, if I keep watching for long enough. While the play/design styles between some of these forms are as different as day is from night, they've all proved to have lasting appeal for some significant subsection(s) of the community because they learned from, built upon, or honed in on something that people liked about the base game or from one of the WADs/mods that came before, while de-emphasizing or even entirely discarding other aspects of the game of less present interest to the creator. There is no rational or justifiable reason to view learning from what has come before as a necessarily toxic or self-limiting approach to creating, and the implication that the 'established' community at large really only "wants one thing" as a result of some slavish devotion to convention is, at best--and this is me being artificially civil, here--willfully ignorant at best.

     

    Lately, for instance, I've been watching one of the community's members stream (on Twitch) the creation of a painstakingly detailed, balls-hard but entirely monster-free puzzle map. This is a map that will--quite understandably!--likely appeal to only a fairly niche audience, but I can almost guarantee you most onlookers will be able to appreciate and respect the level of craft and thought involved in the creation of such a whimsical and idiosyncratic thing, even if it's not the sort of thing everyone might actually enjoy playing in their leisure time. I can also almost guarantee you the map will be remembered a few years down the road, something predicated not only on it being what it is, but also on it functioning correctly and at least reasonably intuitively for what it is, which, again, is a state of affairs largely built on drawing from established wisdom and experience (selectively interpreted, of course!). Certain extreme cases aside, most appeals or references to established practice, particularly those between fellow creators working alongside one another on this or that project, are not used as blunt instruments to stamp out creativity or new ideas, but as whetstones to hone them into the best they can be.

     

    I've seen the map screenshotted as a layout in the OP before. I've played it. I first played it in early 1995 or so, when I got my first shovelware CD. I've played it hundreds of times since then, and I'll probably play it many more times in many more iterations before I'm through. I've seen it rendered in a form that will run in the original distro version of the original executable, and I've seen it buried under a veritable mountain of advanced engine features, requiring bleeding-edge SVN builds of modern sourceports to load and launch (I hesitate to say "to function"). It's not without value or potential! I've seen it provide interesting ideas and memorable vignettes that I'm thankful I got to experience. More often than not, I've seen it take the form of a mechanically dysfunctional, effectively and occasionally quite literally unplayable mess, which in the worst cases reads like a tragedy because you can still occasionally see flashes of the cool ideas crushed under the weight of the sundry failures in mechanics and implementation and basic usability design, like a mangled hand poking out of the rubble left in the wake of some natural disaster, weakly grasping at the air. Happily, there have been occasions where I've seen it nurtured, refined, and ultimately built into something worthy of a visit by everyone, giving the cool, sometimes quirky ideas within a chance to shine and get some of the appreciation they deserve. More often than not, though, I've seen them rot on the vine, sacrificed at the altar of wounded pride.

     

    I've also seen the Grand Prophesy declared in the OP (** essentially the idea that the community is doomed by being shackled to convention, though basically phrased as "the meek shall inherit the earth and cast down the Tyrants") spoken many, many times before. Not once in over two decades has it ever been vindicated, which, if we take a little flick of Occam's razor, is likely because no one really wants it to be--newcomer or old hand alike. Something to be thankful for, yes?

    1. Ichor

      Ichor

      The reason why Doom is still popular even today isn't so much because of new people. That's the effect. It's because the game is extremely easy to make maps and mods for just about anything. A new person can download Doom Builder or whatever and make a map inside of five minutes. It may not be Misri Halek, but it's still a map and if he enjoys making and playing it, than more power to him. Just as long as it's not a terry wad.

       

      The game will continue to endure (and by proxy Heretic and Hexen, and maybe Strife). Once that source code was released back in the 90s, that's when Doom took on a life of its own and it won't be halted anytime soon. Now there are so many options for making maps: boom, prboom, gzdoom, zandronum, chocolate doom, doomsday, even vavoom still has some people using it for maps. Doom isn't going anywhere anytime soon, no matter what some random loon might say.

    2. Ichor

      Ichor

      Oh, and I played that map of his. There were a bunch of tech columns blocking the way out of the first room, and the only switch around requires all 6 keys.

    3. Demon of the Well

      Some greater or lesser part of the base map wasn't even of the OP's making, it seems, but was rather made by another new face. Much of the reason for the OP being ousted from the community project was apparently because he insisted on adding/changing a bunch of things (some outside of the project's design scope on a technical level) in that person's map without consulting them about it, which of course is quite understandable. Realistically speaking, in fairness, I somehow doubt the original creator would take these changes terribly personally or anything (not like they couldn't be tried and reverted if need be, after all), but of course it's something of a "principle of the thing" issue, and one can't help but wonder how much more functional/playable the base map actually is without the OP's "visionary improvements."

    4. Eris Falling

      Eris Falling

      "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!"

    5. Myst.Haruko

      Myst.Haruko

      I played half of the map(you needed shoot switch behind pilliars to progress further). It wasn't worth all drama and attention. I played better zdoom maps than this. Now I feel bad for playing that map.

    6. Da Werecat

      Da Werecat

      You were obnoxious and people are yelling at you? Pretend you're being punished for your opinion.

       

      You made a weak map and are being criticized? Pretend you're being punished for your innovation.

       

      It's a long list, but it's unnecessary, because it all looks about the same.