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About TheOrganGrinder

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  1. Whoops! Per @rdwpa's post maps 31 and 32 do get separate days, I'll post them on the appropriate dates. Didn't think to go looking as far as the second page for answers to that questions. Thanks @tmorrow!
  2. Actually, should we be doing secret levels today? I know the general tendency with 32-level megaWADs is to do them on the same day as MAP15, but doing so brings us to the end of The Talosian Incident a couple of days early - not that I have a problem with that, I just don't want to go stomping ahead of where the club as a whole is it.
  3. MAP15: Solvent I feel like this is the largest, longest, and most intricate map the WAD has offered us for a while, probably since the two-parter that is The Fort, though much of the length here can be chalked up to a frankly unnecessary amount of backtracking, some of which is mandatory, some of which comes down to "Okay, was that the switch that opened up one of gaggle of identical doors halfway across the level?" Combat is more varied than in the recent maps but the design feels rather incoherent, smooth-walled silvery techno-tunnels merging inexplicably into a basement area of mortared stone; unlike the architectural spelunking of MAP04 through MAP09 or the cleanly-rendered techbase four-pack of MAP10 through MAP13 I just don't have a clear sense of what this is all supposed to be, which is a break from the norm, a curiosity and ultimately a bit of a led-down in a WAD that otherwise has been quite deliberately about the triumph of atmosphere over gameplay (and the map here is no great shakes in gameplay terms either). Secret level(s) to follow later in the day.
  4. MAP14: Beneath This is the first time we've heard the original Doom II music track for any given level and I have to agree with @gaspe that it's not wrong but it really doesn't fit the tone of the WAD as a whole, especially coming out of left field as it does. With every previous level having featured custom music I went and checked the Doomwiki entry for this level, which does state that it "uses a music track by John Bye," but having poked around in the TALOSM.WAD file itself, there's no D_DDTBL2 data to be seen. As for the level itself, it's a fairly low-key experience, a gloomy underground of caves and wooden areas in contrast to the techbase theme of several preceding maps; it begins with a downward leap from the level before, and features a couple of similar drops in its gameplay (one into a familiar skyhole-in-the-floor teleporter, one into a chasm) that continue that spelunking theme of delving ever deeper into the bowels of the planet. What it puts me in mind of is nothing so much as the middle episode of Silent Hill 2, the progression of Historical Society to prison to labyrinth all connected by "leaps of faith" into dark abysses; of course, this WAD is a 1997 release, Silent Hill 2 wouldn't be released until 2001 so my mental sense of cause and effect is reversed. Other that that sense of onward, downward progression, this is another map with fairly conventionally Doom-like gameplay. Oh, and... +++ Strange Aeons
  5. MAP13: Get the Hell Out There's only so much one can say about a map that's dominated by a single gloomy arena fight against a handful of revenants and arachnotrons, and after a couple of pretty solid maps the limited scope and undercooked gameplay on offer here can't help but be rather underwhelming. On to the next.
  6. MAP12: Vulcan Another descending lift that takes you deeper into the bowels of this mysterious subterranean installation, where the action is heating up and certainly becoming more conventionally Doom-like; that's just an observation, not intended as either criticism or praise. The "core" area of the map, parallel corridors flanking a shadowy pit from which a host of cacodemons rise and into which a horde of zombies are free to pour, is definitely an atmospheric landmark; the southern area of the map, Containment Area-meetsThe Focus, I'm less keen on, especially in its latter role as the staging area for a massive ambush late in the map's running time (though maybe that's just an impression that comes from the misstep of turning off the lights and trying to fight an arch-vile, a Baron of Hell, and a gaggle of their minions in utter darkness). Overall this is a solid map and I feel like we're finally moving toward and getting into whatever final act or endgame the WAD as a whole has been steadily and atmospherically building its way toward.
  7. MAP11: Software This one is a pretty solid offering; others have already described it as the best map of the WAD so far, and I think beyond that it delivers the most classically Doom-like gameplay and layout of any level yet explored. It's a fairly conventional hubspoke layout with a techbase theme, a nugget of technology embedded deep in the planet's crust after all the player's recent spelunking through buried ruins, with vague but menacing hints of a darker purpose scattered throughout. The level is rather generous with its weapons, with a plasma rifle and secret rocker launcher both made available, though the latter is curiously tucked away in a secret cubby beyond the yellow key and it's entirely possible, even probable, that the player will have splattered the whole of the map's monster population before having a chance to pick it up. I'll confess that I wasn't a fan of the constant buzzing drone that dominates the level's audio track, although this may well be a case of modern sound hardware producing different output than the WAD's creators anticipated.
  8. MAP10: Hardware For all that it's basically a linear arrangement of rectilinear rooms and corridors, this one has a more engaging layout and environment than some of the preceding maps, as the player passes through different "flavours" of technological environment on their quest to collect the red and blue keys from opposite ends of the map. The gameplay itself feels like it's in very low gear, with small numbers of monsters generally placed in ways that limit their effectiveness - there's the spectre ambush @Capellan mentioned, where the player can either jump to safety or stand in place pumping super shotgun blasts into the emerging trickle of translucent demonflesh until it dries up, and following that there are just so many fights where the monsters are basically there to be engaged or ignored at the player's leisure. In any other WAD I'd credit this one as being a breather and a mood-builder, but given the focus on atmosphere above danger in many of the levels so far, I'm starting to wonder if there is indeed anything that the map is mood-building toward. That said, taken as an attempt to do Doom-as-horror-story, Doom-as-Silent-Hill, it's an effective enough endeavour.
  9. MAP09: The Palace As noted above this is a map that comes from the same place, conceptually and thematically, as the split-level experience that is The Fort spanning MAP05 and MAP06, though at least this one lacks the dreaded Roman numerals to tease you with the fact that getting to the exit doesn't necessarily bring the slog to an end. I'm not normally a fan of highly symmetrical layouts but I think this is one of those instances where it actually works, bringing a sense of order to the proceedings and allowing the player to get their head around the map as something to be segmented and dissected, rather than the more random sprawl of the earlier dungeon crawl maps which provided only minimal guidance to the player. Combat is fairly lightweight with hitscanners making up the lion's share of the opposition. Normally I like having lots of secrets to hunt for, but here I found quite a few of the secret tags to be questionable; there are obvious switches and obvious doors and the two are often in close enough proximity that it didn't feel like there was anything particularly secret about the subsequently accessible room or tower.
  10. MAP08: Focus The barely-there subliminal drone of this level's music is on the unsettling side, and in a WAD that has already been heavy on the melancholy and the gloom, I'd point to this as a map that's well-equipped to get under the player's skin. Some of that is the atmosphere, with its shadows and its fondness for soft brown hues, its low ceilings and its tight confines, but while those are generally positives, there's some capricious cruelty on display here - chaingunners behind opaque midtextures, I'm looking at you - that seemed to want to get under my skin in a more negative way. There's a difference between "I didn't see this coming," and "I couldn't see this coming," that I'm not so fond of. Thankfully the map is a fairly tight one and is over before it has a chance to throw too many such outrages in the player's path.
  11. MAP07: The Church This is a bit more dressed up than the expected Dead Simple clone, even if it does ultimately culminate in the familiar two-phase battle against mancubi and arachnotrons; there's gameplay to be had exploring the outer ring and its various rooms, some of which are odd enough to bring a slightly surreal atmosphere to the proceedings. This is mostly a job for the super shotgun and there are enough doors, windows, and pillars about the place that the task of clearing out the pellet-sponges during the final battle doesn't exactly get the blood pumping. On the other hand, there are significantly fewer pointless doors and generic corridors than in the preceding couple of maps, which can only be a good thing.
  12. MAP06: The Fort - II More of the same? More of the same. Meaning doors, and there's one that you couldn't open that you can now, and given the WAD's occasionally limited telegraphing (and equally occasional lack of coloured door trim) it's kinda annoying to have a combination of "doors you can't open because you don't have the right key," "doors you can't open because the switch is elsewhere," and "doors that you'll never be able to open," that all look the same. The prior map wasn't really intriguing enough that I find backtracking through a repopulated chunk of it to be all that satisfying, and I feel as though MAP05 and MAP06 could readily enough have been a single map with slightly more clever use of keys and switches, plus teleporters to repopulate earlier portions of the map when backtracking is required.
  13. TheOrganGrinder

    What Do You Think of Wormholes?

    I'm generally positive about this sort of thing. I tend to think of secrets as being arranged on a spectrum, with "tiny closet with one item in it" at the one end of the scale, and "secret level" at the other - vast, completely optional secret areas of the sort described here probably fall just this side of "secret level" on that particular spectrum. I think the relative rarity of such areas contributes to how satisfying they are to find.
  14. MAP05: The Fort - I Did you ever play Dungeons & Dragons, back in the day? Like, way back in the day, when the dungeon maps were printed on the inside of the module cover in non-repro blue? Did you ever feel that some of the maps tried to fit exactly as many rooms within the boundaries of the page as possible; and that the module writers didn't know just what to do with all of these rooms, so sometimes you'd pick your way along a twisty corridor and kick down the door at its end, and there's a 10' x 10' room with an orc and nothing else in it? That's kind of what this one feels like to me, a sprawl of corridors and doors and rooms with no apparent function in either the narrative of the WAD and the level or in the gameplay it's trying to create; here, pinkie demon in a room on his own, there's no reason to come along this way except to kill him, and very little point in doing that because he's so completely isolated from the rest of the map (by those aforementioned corridors and doors) that there's barely any interaction possible, no sense that he's a part of a system of gameplay. That's on the disappointing side, to me, because I think I get what the map is going for, with its eerie, mournful, contemplative music, its generally gloomy hallways that gradually give way from water-slick stonework to high technology? It needs to be big, sprawling, and sparsely populated, doesn't it, to properly invoke that sense of a haunted and hollowed-out place? But I don't think it coheres well; there are too many branches that taper off into nothing and nowhere, too many isolated sections of the map that don't contribute to that pervasive sense of sepulchral emptiness, but instead distract and detract from it, with their endless additional paces to walk and the repetitive sound of doom doors.
  15. MAP04: The Chapel Now that's better, a much clearer and more focused concept with tighter execution, the anonymous and starkly-lit hallways and out-of-place seeming technological elements of the preceding maps giving way here to a subterranean church and its surrounding caverns. These aren't new ideas by any stretch of the imagination but I think the disappointments of MAP03 help to make them welcome nonetheless; these are familiar themes, executed competently, although the decision not to signpost either of the locked doors nor the exit is a curious one. The former isn't a problem in a map as compact and brief as this one; the latter... feels unnecessary, and definitely caught me off-guard, when I was looking instead for a way to climb up to the chaingunner perches.