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About Cipher

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  1. Cipher

    What difficulty do you play Classic Doom on?

    For all the original iwads and most user-made wads, UV, no mid-level saves, continuous. If it’s too absurd, I’ll drop it down (managed to get to the end of Scythe on UV, but anything above that would probably be HMP material). I’ll play pistol start occasionally for individual levels.
  2. Cipher

    Your thoughts on TNT Evilution

    TNT's my least favorite of the official iwads, which isn't to say it doesn't have its good moments. I find its first episode pretty strong. In general, the feeling I get is that a lot of its maps were designed around environment/setting first, and enemy placement second. This leads to a lot of erratic difficulty within single levels--as in, they'll be largely sleepy, but eventually you'll get picked off due to wandering hitscanners (who never, ever go away; there are so many haphazardly placed hitscanners in TNT, even across different designers, which is amazing), or rare beginner's traps stuck some way into mostly unchallenging levels, which is ... ugh. It really just feels like wasting your time. Succumbing to a trap in a tightly designed, difficult level is one thing, since you know you can work on improving your consistency in earlier parts. Getting hit by a trap near the end of a longer level with more haphazard enemy placement is really just a grind. Nearly all the Episode 3 levels are waaaay too big for their own good. The best of TNT feels like a better Doom II. But the levels I come away remembering are the ones that did me dirty. Half of the game is quite fun, and the other half isn't something I ever care to replay. I feel bad dragging the designers of the better parts through the dirt with that overall assessment of the game, but it's hard to respond to anything but the full experience here, as it's presented. And the highs of its earlier levels for me do not reach the equivalent lows of its later ones. Bangin' soundtrack though.
  3. Cipher

    Most favorite level from Episode 3

    I find Episode 3 a lot of fun on the whole. I think my favorite level is "House of Pain," which is like the archetypical Doom "Hell" level for me--just a constant, wacky mix of environments representing the game's unique take on Hell's aesthetics, and a slew of memorable combat scenarios that offer some challenge for first-time players. Even now that it's been thoroughly defanged, I find it fun to run through. It's a constant string of, "Oh, this part. Oh, this part!" Fleshy, organ-filled open arenas; crowd-based combat in castle corridors; a tech-based switch puzzle interspersed with group fights? This level has everything, and amazingly it all coheres. Quite a lot of flexibility in terms of how to tackle it as well.
  4. Cipher

    Your thoughts on Plutonia

    One of the best games ever made; in my top three favorite games on the whole. When I first played Doom two years ago, this one seemed completely out of reach. I didn't know if I'd ever beat it (of course, I was playing the original keyboard only at that time; I'd never really gamed on a computer before and didn't even have a mouse). Finally beating it less than a year ago, the satisfaction was immense. Over that time, too, I came to love the intentional difficulty of its level designs, and how perfectly fit they were for a fair, though legitimately challenging, experience: the quick pace--but not too quick--the traps that offered consistent solutions, the utter thoughtfulness in how enemies were positioned around each other and the environments to make things most difficult for the player. Of course, by other wads' standards, it's not that hard. But that's another thing that makes it so enjoyable: It's a genuine challenge, but one that can be beaten by mere mortals, who can then focus on improving consistency. It's just pure fun. I'm currently through about half its levels, scattered, from pistol-starts, and they all play wonderfully that way as well. It's a game that pulls off the same trick I love in my other two all-time favorites: Castlevania III and Super Mario Bros. 2 JPN: A sequel that feels at liberty to take an established, robust gameplay system and take the gloves off to challenge a player to really know it inside and out: a game where the overwhelming sense is that the creators just hate the player, but you know, in your heart of heart, they truly don't. The challenges are too well-thought out, too encouraging of improving your skill, to think otherwise. The kind of game that can get in a few cruel jokes on you and have you laugh with it, because you know it's just a challenge to do better, and because everything leading up to that moment was fun and intense enough to replay while getting better one step at a time. Plutonia is awesome. I have no idea how such a gem was forged in such a quick timeframe, but the Casalis had some kind of magic working going into this. Bonus points for the immediately identifiable, pleasing color scheme. Favorite levels: 1-3: All great; excellent way to start off the game. "Congo" perfectly sets the tone for its gameplay. 5: "Ghost Town" - Totally adore this level. Again, it's really good about setting the tone of the game's encounters. Not a dull moment, and each bit of combat is fun to solve. 9: "Abbatoir" - The game's love of clever monster combinations like Revenants and Pinkies comes out in full force here: a series of great and difficult encounters before a truly absurd ending 20: "The Death Domain" - A fantastic "get inside the base" level. There are a lot of options for handling the inside portions vs. the outside field, in terms of order, and it's satisfying to beat in either continuous or pistol-start play. Maybe even better from pistol start. 21: "Slayer" - A compact "O of Destruction" homage that outdoes the original in every way. 22: "Impossible Mission" - Again, great series of setpieces 27: "Anti-Christ" - Amazing 28: "The Sewers" - Find this one really fun to navigate, and, again, memorable encounters throughout In general I don't think there's a level I dislike except maybe "Tombstone," which just has too much going on, and is too bloated, to be very enjoyable from a pistol start. Even levels I'm mixed on, like "Hunted" and "Speed" have things to love about them. ("Hunted" is fun to learn to do safely; you feel like you master combat against Arch-Viles, and "Speed," if overlong, has such an unbelievably cruel ending section, and good combat throughout, that I can't help but smile at it.) It's astounding how consistently good the game is. I've played about half of PRCP, and all but the final two levels of Scythe (often recommended as a similar-in-spirit next step), and as packages they do not live up to the magic of Plutonia. Then again, to fuel @DeadAstronaut's point, I also love Zelda 2. But yeah, Plutonia is The Lost Levels of Doom. I couldn't not love it. Yeah, screw that noise. A fair few of the Master Levels are harder than anything offered by Plutonia.
  5. Cipher

    The tone of DOOM [BEWARE: walls of text]

    I think this is about spot-on. The old Doom games are certainly tongue-in-cheek to an extent (just look at any of the promotional material, the instruction manuals, etc.; the names of the different difficulty levels; even the infamous "Daisy ending" and really all of the in-game story text; it's having fun with itself), but they don't exclude the possibility of a more horror-based or somber atmosphere, which is also part of the fun. More importantly, which you captured here, the tone constantly feels skewered toward "survival" against overwhelming odds, and this dovetails with the gameplay, where you really do feel the odds are stacked against you, in terms of both navigation and enemies, rather than being about the power fantasy. That said, the power fantasy and the survival aspect can both draw from similar senses of whimsy--you're always a one-man army against a cadre of rather silly monsters (though the aesthetics of the earlier games allow them to be scary as well; at least as scary as any collection of fantasy monsters)--but the older games and new one are definitely different spins. I would describe the original run of games as being subtly silly, while the new one wears that element on its sleeve.
  6. Favorite: Plutonia Experiment - Absolutely fantastic level design that curates a difficult, but conquerable, experience for the player. Not a dull moment. Helped solidify the system's potential for arcadier gameplay. Nice, consistent aesthetic too, with the browns and greens. Levels are short without being too short--each one winds up containing a few memorable setpieces and bits of navigation. One of my favorite games ever. Everything feels so well thought-out. Least favorite: TNT Evilution, among the official campaigns. Bits of it are great, but a lot of its levels are simply tedious with erratic difficulty spikes. I understand the people involved were a big, loosely constructed team, and many had different goals, but the overall result is a game where it frequently feels irritating to die, as opposed to something like Plutonia which remains fun when you die (and you die a lot) because you're always aware of the intentionality of its traps and that there's a way to navigate them more consistently if you can improve your play. Second favorite is Doom 64 EX, which I think winds up delivering a more tightly designed version of the original Doom's relatively compact exploration-based gameplay--while slightly upping the difficulty. Each level is fun to figure out, and the combat is nice and toothy. Even if its enemy variety leaves a bit to be desired (lots and lots of Hell Knights), they're used well. Can't think of a level in there I really dislike, and I love the few times it decides to get really cruel at the end of a fairly difficult level (like the one where it unleashes a bunch of Lost Souls and drops the floor out from under you if you run to the corners; it's just so fucking mean it's hilarious). Picked EX since I can't speak to the controls of the original, but I only ever play it with a keyboard so as to not totally break the intended difficulty with a mouse. At any rate, I really like the level design. Second least favorite is Doom II. There's a lot that's good there, but a lot that feels bloated and haphazard. I can't put my finger on it, but it's not one I feel compelled to finish when I start, as I do with the original, 64 and Plutonia. Again, it's all down to level design.
  7. Cipher

    Do you find Doom a relaxing game?

    It's stressful more than relaxing, since I play without saves and usually play levels that will challenge me, but that's how I like video-games in the first place. Should be a challenge rather than something you can sleepwalk through. Stressful but fun.
  8. Cipher

    Why you should NOT hate the pistol

    The best thing about the pistol is that it's a pistol.
  9. "Anti-Christ" > "The Final Frontier" > E4M6 > E4M2 > "The Living End" Fite me.
  10. Ah, maybe I was trying to get a shot in by the front pillars too often. Should've tried hanging back. Was trying to avoid chaingunner rezzes as the closet Vile approached.
  11. E2M2 vs. E4M2? I like to play E4M2 more, personally, but I think E2M2 is still the best single, accessible representation of Doom. And if we get into the ways I think E4M2 is good, there are probably ten or so Plutonia levels I'd put above it for best iwad map.
  12. Finally beat map 11 from a pistol start. It helped to realize I didn't need to collect the Plasma Gun until my second trip back to the main area, before heading into the final section. The unpredictable nature of the two Arch-Viles in the blue key area actually started to really frustrate me this time. (You can just run upstairs if the second one comes out early, but then you're likely dealing with a few Revenant resurrections and it's just a bad way to start; can't figure out what if anything changes their behavior.) Probably going to fall a bit behind from this point on, as I don't think I'll be finishing map 12 tonight. @Spie812 "The next memorable fight is the teleporting arch viles, which I forget what map they are an homage to but they fit in here rather nicely." That's also from "Speed."
  13. Map 11: "Will You Be My NME?" by Darkwave0000 PrBoom+, UV, Carry-over (from map 10), No saves That midi tho. This level is full of impressive architecture, fun gameplay, and clever ideas. A version of "Hunted" where you're forced to spawn the Arch-Viles yourself as you pick up items throughout the level? That's really, really great, and the presentation here is stellar. I like every bit of combat on its own. (Also, props for including two non-turret Masterminds that actually manage to be engaging and threatening!) I only have one real gripe with this level, but unfortunately it's one that's rather central to how it plays. I mentioned at the end of my last post that this map is fucking insane from a pistol-start. It's too long, and with Arch-Viles mixed in among other mid-tier enemies, ammo can easily wind up feeling low with a bad resurrection or two (which is very, very possible in some spots). And believe me, I tried. Many times. Each loss can mean up to 30 minutes of lost effort. Just check out the 40-minute times here from veteran players. It's a suitably Herculean effort on its own, but it's a bit much for level 11 in a megawad. I generally feel it might be too much for a megawad at all. I finally got through this for the thread playthrough by applying my minimal pistol-start route to a continuous run just to have it over with. I like it enough to want to complete it from pistol-start eventually, but I'd still be stuck on it if that were the case. Again, this is a serious time sink. I will throw out one gameplay-related caveat, on that note. Much as I like the encounters and overall conceit here, coupled with the length some of them are frustratingly inconsistent. That's probably a result of mixing Arch-Viles in among mid-tier enemies in this frequency to begin with, but for an early example: After grabbing the blue key, if you don't kill the first Arch-Vile in time, which somewhat depends on him being generous with his movements and not, say, running back and forth in the doorway, as happened to me once or twice, a second will walk down the stairs to join him (though the timing on this also feels random). If you get both of them hemming you in on the pillars, it's much more difficult to survive unscathed, and there's quite a long start from scratch down the drain. The double-Arch-Vile trap by the second Soul Sphere (you're basically required to trigger the Plasma Gun trap from a pistol-start) is another frustration point, and it's followed by a third who's very likely to resurrect the Mancubus he shares a room with to chew through ammo. Though not consistently. There are a lot of little luck-based things that can go wrong here, with high penalties, and the sunk time due to the length of the level is just a bit much. People will undoubtedly point to longer levels with the same kind of taxing monster movement-dependent design, and that's fine, but this isn't Scythe map 30 or a slaughter or something designed to present that kind of hyper-niche level of challenge. At least I don't think it is. Basically, it hurts to see that amount of time tossed away by what seems like bad luck. I like this level and would still probably be trying to conquer it from scratch if not for the club schedule, but I have some misgivings here and there. It feels weird to say a map could be a little more forgiving, but at slot 11 in a megawad, I feel this one could be, at least with regard to time. The thought of a meager fourteen Arch-Viles in a maze with nothing to resurrect starts to feel breezy and quaint. If this were just a bit shorter, I'd love it. Plutonia homages: None, but wouldn't it have been cool if the original had a level that was nothing but Arch-Viles? The shameful tally: (20 minutes. On continuous! For 55% kills!) Next: Dis Velocity Edit -- I do wish everyone would continue to specify difficulty, pistol-start vs. continuous, and saves or no saves, because I feel like those matter a greatly in contextualizing comments. Would that be an unreasonable thing to build into the opening posts for club threads?
  14. Cipher

    Who wrote Imp Encounter?

    Much like The Plutonia Experiment, Hell Revealed, and other early wads that drastically rethought Doom's gameplay, we must credit "Imp Encounter" for spawning an entire genre of design whose lineage would include entries like "HDoom" and that picture someone posted recently of a map shaped like a woman receiving a flaccid penis. I think it may have been designed by a genius.
  15. Ah, no worries. I'm garbage-y too. I was just surprised to hear that comment directed at this level of any in the wad so far. Different playstyles, I guess.