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Everything posted by Rook

  1. MAP09: Blood From a Stone The foreboding tower and its rocky environs set within a sea of blood are really impressive visuals, but I found much of the gameplay here to be a real slog. It's frustrating to take a lot of damage from enemies that are too far away to realistically attack: when I was on the cliff I was being attacked from the tower, and when I'd made my break for the tower I was being torn to shreds by enemies I'd left alive on the cliff. The claustrophobic trap at the blue key area had me reloading several times, and the final ascent was a real grind, with hell knights blocking the narrow walkway. I didn't enjoy this map as such, but there was a great moment as I sprinted along the narrow bridge to the tower, with a pair of arachnatrons trying in vain to fry me in plasma. MAP10: Piston Hurricane Definitely a better map than pinchy's first in this mapset. Set on a platform within an ocean, it's almost constant pressure here from successive waves of lower-tier enemies, a ton of snipers in distant raised positions, and hell knights at close quarters indoors. I don't find the progression particularly clear and personally I found the clever editing tricks (conveyors and a curious "light show" at the end) didn't add much to the experience.
  2. MAP08: Lodi Eno Rebmun Si Ocin To me at least, an almost hilariously vicious map from Tarnsman. With its compactness, cyberdemons, lava and paucity of safe spots it strongly reminds me of the old "favourite", Perfect Hatred. I'm not ashamed to admit that Even on HMP ths was too tough for me, by quite some margin. Despite being unable to beat this under my own steam, I found a lot to like including Tarnsman's usual economy of lines, tidy visuals and clever re-use of space. Ironically, the only part of the map I felt comfortable beating was the one I liked least - the separate arena featuring revenants and a pair of archviles. It's more manageable because cyberdemons can't intercede, but breaks the flow somewhat. Still, an excellent - if truly ruthless - map.
  3. MAP05: Vaalbara Reborn A curious map which takes the form of a good-looking base within a large sea. Finding the secrets is presumably mandatory in order to defeat any significant portion of the ending horde, which doesn't seem suited to the map's geometry. Once again it's fairly easy to skip around these reinforcements, even the imposing pair of cyberdemons. It's a well-crafted map up until the strange ending, which just doesn't fit. MAP06: Ziggurat Mayhem To be honest I didn't fancy playing another version of the same map so soon after the first instance. I may return to it. MAP07: Darkvault More like Brightvault, amirite? This is barely dark at all, which makes its title seem quite surprising. I can't honestly say that I find much that I like about this map - its aesthetics are quite ugly, with 8-tall ceilings stuck awkwardly under the sky and thin slivers of lava in the floors. There's an annoying platforming-oriented area and the fights don't grip me. Finally, the progression is obtuse for such a small map and I eventually gave up trying to find out how the exit is accessed.
  4. Work on Sucker Punch has been a little slower than hoped, but I've got MAP07 completed and have made a start on MAP08. If anyone would like to play the original three maps they're available from my site here, and if anyone would like to playtest maps 4-6 don't hesitate to DM me. MAP07: "Compression" (working title)
  5. MAP04: Affinity A strongly interconnected map with a tricky opening that can cost a great deal of health - I very much appreciate the fact that the player can go backwards from the spawn point, as well as forwards. I would definitely liked to have had more ammo: a couple of times I was reduced to fumbling with a near-useless chainsaw. As per usual, no idea where any of the secrets are and (as is seemingly a trend with this WAD) I was able to skip the last fight, even juking around a barely-glimpsed archvile.
  6. MAP02: Will o' the Wastes This map has an almost uniquely frustrating combination of ammo starvation, archviles with ample opportunities to ressurect monsters, and pain elementals. It's always a pleasure to have a rocket launcher-oriented map, but less so when enemies warp in immediately in front of you as they tended to do on my run. It's an attractive map, but I found the gameplay tiring and was seized the chance to skip the last fight altogether. I never got so much as a whiff of any secrets. MAP03: Steel Coffin I haven't played The Darkening 2, but this seems to be an attractive use of its textures. The difficulty of one or two fights here seems a little overcooked even on HMP (particularly the wall of chaingunners with a fearsome elevated firing position) and again I could simply avoid or ignore some of the monsters that arrived last, but this was a fun excursion. I'm not sure the outdoor areas added much to the look - the interiors are much more pleasing.
  7. Mayhem 2016 MAP01: XssHsss Zsss Having braced myself for a real meatgrinder, I was pleasantly relieved by the manageable difficulty of this map (at least on HMP). The real kink is that monsters behave a little oddly because of the way they are hemmed in for the map to work - for example, I had real trouble beating the mancubus to death at the end because of its erratic movement. This map is a great example of Tarnsman's remarkable economy, using no more lines than neccesary and very often making each one serve multiple purposes at the same time time: decoration is geometry, and vice-versa. As a result the map is really quite attractive despite (or maybe because of) having few lines.
  8. I remember this! I had a boxed copy of it and played it for many, many hours as a kid - although I don't remember progressing too far in it. It was genuinely really quite novel and capturing new heads and finding uses for them was great.
  9. I've belatedly polished off Dimension of the Boomed, but will only briefly comment on the sunstantive maps for I move on to get clobbered by Mayhem 2016. Note that sadly I did resort to some, erm, assistance (cheats) for MAP05 and MAP06. In summary I'd say that this is an extremely well-made mapset with excellent visuals. I did have very real issues with navigation and confusing progression - to me there are too many teleporters that drop players off in unintuitive or unwanted locations, and too many switches without obvious effects. As I said in a previous post I think that Quake's textures have major implications for visual clearness because they're just so monochrome and muddy. MAP05: The Witch House The music for this map isn't witch house at all - which is inexplicable, really. Still, void-like exterior and interior alike are as beautiful as I have come to expect from this WAD. It wasn't initially clear to me how important it was to explore the exterior thoroughly, and I somehow appear to have missed the rocket launcher altogether which put the hair-raising stair-raising section beyond my abilities. MAP06: Malign Masters Frankly I just didn't really get how to approach this map despite various attempts. After the first few spiders I was just getting repeatedly incinerated by plasma without ever really figuring out where to go. MAP08: Ziggurat Mayhem I had a much better time with this map, which is definitely one of my favourites in the WAD alongside MAP01. The exterior area near the exit may be the most attractive in the whole mapset, and the battles are hard but fair. Once I'd survived the opening few rooms, I had a relatively manageable and very enjoyable ride to the end, cyberdemon included. Great stuff.
  10. MAP04: Necropolis (DNF) It pains me to say it, but I ultimately abandoned this map, which I found infuriating. I've had navigation problems in every map so far in this WAD but this one was often almost completely opaque to me. The visuals and fights here were as usual excellent (although the nature of Quake's muddy and monochrome textures makes navigational confusion more likely), but I just couldn't face spending more time wandering around aimlessly.
  11. You reminded me about The Beginning. What a wonderful, unique game that is. I had a boxed copy which I bought at a car boot sale just as it was released - it was an unwanted competition prize, apparently! I'll pick up a copy on GOG, it's a paltry 69p right now.
  12. There are two third-person action games that I have championed for a long time, and which were released in very much the same era. The first is Urban Chaos, which I really think is one of the best games made in the UK. It came out in 1999 but has a fully-3D, psuedo-open city environment, driveable vehicles, and a mix of gunplay and hand-to-hand combat. You mostly play as a rookie cop called D'Arci Stern - very probably the first ever playable black woman in a game, and not at all sexualised - fighting crime in Union City. You begin with trivial street crimes, encounter a virulent gang, and then the story really escalates from there. Some elements of it are quite crude now, but it's remarkable how ahead of its time the game is, having been released well ahead of Grand Theft Auto III. You can choose to arrest the criminals you encounter, and it's often very funny. It's on sale for about a quid on GOG, currently, and I can't recommend it enough. Sadly, its developer Mucky Foot did not last long. The second is Oni, a semi-forgotten game made by Bungie and put out in 2000. I'm not really an anime enthusiast but the Japanese stylings are used really well in this game. It's very indebted to Ghost in the Shell, but has a very compelling and unsettling story of its own with excellent characters and voice acting. Like Urban Chaos it has a female protagonist, this one called Konoko, and a mix of gunplay and martial arts. The guns are very much secondary and quite clunky, but the fighting is like nothing else you could get on the PC at that time. There's a huge moveset and each enemy type even has their own extensive selection of attacks (they're playable via cheats as a remnant of a scrapped multiplayer mode). The environments are notoriously bland and yet interesting in their own way, because they were ostensibly based on input from "real architects" (!). Sadly, its sequel was scrapped but some test footage has emerged. It's not on any digital platform, but boxed copies can be found second-hand.
  13. Rook

    Your thoughts on the Wolfenstein series

    Personally, I think of Return to Castle Wolfenstein as one of the great overlooked shooters of any era - to the extent that I wrote about it at length last year. I mentioned in my post about Unreal II the other day that many developers took several years to learn the lessons of Half-Life - Gray Matter were an exception. They had caught up on a lot of Valve's innovations as early as 2001, but combined them with a more traditional FPS template (by including secret areas, an episode/map structure, and the occasional cutscene). The game looked and sounded consistently great - the Team Arena iteration of the Quake III engine was pushed very hard, and the textures derived from real-world sources resulted in some stunning environments. Bill Brown did a tremendous job with the orchestral score, too. I'm sure I heard it used on a WWII documentary once. Unfortunately for RTCW, it was released only about three months before Medal of Honor: Allied Assault which (with its much more banal take on WWII action) stole its thunder to some extent. Then, Call of Duty was only another 18 months away and the rest, as they say, is history.
  14. Rook

    Your thoughts on the Unreal franchise

    UT99 was one of my formative experiences with games. I memorably bought the Game of the Year edition (packaged with an assortment of strange mods, I seem to remember) it for £10 from Toys R Us. I never played it online but I still probably know Turbine, Deck 16 II and Facing Worlds like the back of my hand. While I enjoyed UT2003 and 2004 and did play the latter online, they always seemed a bit like pale imitations to me. Unreal itself was a huge blindspot in my otherwise fairly exhaustive knowledge of '90s FPS games - I only played a portion of it a few years ago, when I picked it up in a GOG sale. To be honest I found it a little boring, so I'll have to revisit it especially because of its notable anniversary. As for Unreal II... I played that when it was fairly new. It had some interesting ideas, like the radically different environments on each planet, but it felt very rigid and slow. To me it's filed alongside the likes of Doom 3 as a shooter that was made to feel very antiquated indeed by the release of Half-Life 2, which was like the meteorite that did for the dinosaurs. It seemed like HL2 had taken a long time to develop, but I've always felt it had taken other developers just as long to catch up with HL1! EDIT: Incidentally, I've just noticed that various Unreal games are heavily discounted in the current GOG sale. I'll pick up UT99 later.
  15. That's... really odd. I didn't look at my kills percentage, but I'm sure I didn't knowingly see any. Maybe I missed them somehow.
  16. MAP03: Gibbous Grotto Another impressively atmospheric map with top-tier lighting and cleverly designed encounters. I must admit, though, that I've now become fairly seriously disoriented in every map in the WAD so far, which is taking the edge off my enjoyment. I also feel that balance is a little odd for me, playing on HMP - it's fairly challenging in parts, but some of the secrets seem overpowered to the point of uselessness on this difficulty (particularly invulnerability spheres and BFGs). There also don't appear to be any scrags on HMP. Again, clever but not excessively hidden secrets are a real pleasure here.
  17. Rook

    Expansion Packs: Your best, okay, and worst

    I definitely agree with everyone who has praised the Shadow Warrior expansion packs. I first played them when the game was remastered a few years ago, and there are numerous maps that I think are superior to most or all of the maps in the core game. Charlie Wiederhold in particular did some very technically experimental work on Wanton Destruction, which he details on his site (along with comments about other expansions, like Cryptic Passage for Blood). To me, the beauty of expansions for shooters is their relative brevity, while the core games can be exhaustingly long - Shadow Warrior included.
  18. MAP02: Blight Wharf A move away from techbase visuals now, towards a dingy stone complex. Surprisingly, there actually seem to be fewer powerful monsters here and more zombies and imps by way of compensation. There is a archvile "trap" at the gold key, but it seems oddly toothless to me even for MAP02. The mega-armour gag mentioned by tmorrow is clever, and there's more and interesting use of water, here too - as the map title implies.
  19. I must admit I've never been too fond of Quake - most of the weapons and monsters are unsatisfying to me, and the weird mash of themes always seemed like a daft compromise on id's part (I much prefer Quake II, which doesn't have these issues). To me, transplanting Doom's gameplay into the Quake aesthetic seems like a thoroughly good idea. I'll be playing in PrBoom+ on HMP. MAP01: Slipgate Vertigo I hear talk of a cyberdemon here, but there's apparently no such threat on HMP - there a pair of mancubi up on high, which may serve the same function. In any case, this map makes a very good first impression. It's significantly larger than I expected from a MAP01, with more in the way of higher-tier monsters. The layout and texturing are mostly very slick, although I did spend five minutes or so wandering around lost because I initially missed a critical pathway that opened up as a part of a trap.
  20. I'll give this one a go - I think the only previous Megawad Club sessions I'd been involved in were Vile Flesh and Epic 2, back in the heady days of 2014.
  21. Rook

    Scythe X. Episodes 1-2

    The final, sadly unfinished entry in the Scythe series is a WAD I enjoyed very much with the exception of the final two maps. MAP09 has slightly obtuse progression and very little health even on HMP, while MAP10 is admittedly atmospheric but represents an aggressive step up in difficulty which I found very jarring. These maps aside, Erik Alm did a superb job here. These are small, intense but not excessively difficult maps with a broadly tech-oriented theme. Because this was intended as the start of a megawad the higher-tier monsters and weapons are barely used, but the encounters are all very thoughtfully designed. It's a testament to the quality of Scythe X that I almost completed it in a single sitting.
  22. Not only is the map named after that song, I'm listening to Crystal Planet as I type! Half the songs on that record would make good map names - not least "Raspberry Jam Delta-V".
  23. I recently took a look back at my last efforts at mapping and wrote a blog post about them. This prompted me to take another look at Sucker Punch, a WAD I shared back in 2016. I've begun building the extra maps I'd originally intended to include, continuing the colour-coded difficulty with new visual themes. MAP04 - MAP06 have a gothic look - the first two are tune-ups of my original drafts, while MAP06 is all-new. MAP04: "Assault and Battery Acid" MAP05: "House Full of Bullets" MAP06: "Rev-olution" gaspe has kindly played this second set of maps and given me a perspective. I plan to add three further maps, and maybe more, before I share Sucker Punch again on Doomworld.
  24. Just on the subject of map layout images: the ones I like best are the ones produced by SLADE3 - I've always thought they are intelligible and very pleasant to look at. Having said that, I don't think I've tested it on particularly large maps.
  25. The main issue I remember having in Valiant was getting surrounded quite a lot and struggling to carve out space in certain maps - Ancient Aliens often seemed more open somehow.