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head_cannon

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  1. Happy 10th Anniversary, DWMegawad Club. Whether you contribute regularly, wrote about your experiences & opinions in years past, or are making your very first travelogue as you journey through a mapset, I appreciate the archive of writeups, screenshots, and gameplay footage created by everyone's contributions - these threads make for a neat informal "oral history" whose more chaotic nature as a multi-author free-for-all creates a different vibe than you'd usually find in long-form writing (such as kmxexii's ONEMANDOOM blog, or the Cacoward crew's end-of-year synopsis). I'm no good at keeping up with the rapid-fire pace of the club, so rather than being thorough I thought I'd just attempt an FDA and see what happened. I've been meaning to investigate the surprisingly-expansive Rowdy Rudy universe for a while, and Ray Mohawk 1 is supposed to be a short, breezy romp, so I tried recording a demo of an HMP-Continuous attempt to reach the end, same as how I'd do it if the mapset had been chosen for IronEagle. The demo last about an hour, and shows off 99% of the campaign. (Recorded in Crispy Doom, plays back in -complevel 2) m1HMPhc.zip MAP01 - House by the Bay This opener does a good job at establishing the bright colors and light tone. I guess you can argue that the lighting is a little flat, but it's supposed to be a tropical paradise under the noonday sun, so it seems appropriate. Considering that all the DehackEd weapon modifications are the star of the show in the sequel, it's interesting how reserved the original campaign is. Ray Mohawk 1 makes a show of having a more powerful pistol replacement, but the very first level is structured so that you need to find the Chaingun as soon as possible if you want to survive, thus relegating the "rifle" sprite modifications & gameplay tweaks to the back burner for the remainder of the Continuous journey. My first attempt to conquer this city level resulted in me being swarmed by zombies from every direction, chipping away at my HP until the attrition took me down. The second try, though, managed to make it the Chaingun up on the elevated platform near Ray's house and actually managed to get started. Being stuck with mostly bullets-only during this opening chapter motivated me to try out the enhanced melee attack: it cleans up Pinkies nicely, but I was still inclined to only use it a few times in the campaign, for frugalness' sake, and never really engaged with it as long as I could still safely spend ammo. MAP02 - The Bridge The wooden structures of the town you start in have been left behind, and this level instead depicts two techbases and the natural terrain of the ravine that separates them. I appreciate the way you get to kick things off by blowing up a barrel which the first four unwitting shmucks are clustered around. I took a look out into the reservoir room under open sky, but I didn't see any tempting treasures so I just left well enough alone. These small levels benefit from the focus and clarity, and every beat is enjoyable: Both before and after the bridge is raised, it's fun to traverse the space and leap over to where the next objective is. It's a minor thing, but I like how the Revenant-led squad of baddies who appear on the far side of the gorge after the red key pickup creates a false sense of security that you've already put down the resistance and are free to exit, and then the actual exit room has a surprise crowd that both blocks your path while also teleporting out to attack you from behind as you pause in the doorway. The intermission screen got a laugh out of me back in MAP01, too, but the sudden chaos and disaster of these last few seconds made the intermission gag seem not just amusing but perfectly appropriate. MAP03 - We Love Pollution We've definitely left the natural beauty of the coast behind - just hulking industrial monstrosities from here on out. The big central techbase reminds me of E1M2 and is well done. The visuals are simple, but clean, and I respect the dedication to making environments large enough to run around in even if that makes the detailing in them a bit sparse and utilitarian. Like with the crowd in the red key building back in "House by the Bay", it was an entertaining shock to approach the windows and discover just how many zombies were waiting for me in the next area. Rather than trying to set up camp at the bottom of the staircase, I just took the Rocket Launcher and ran out to see if I could dive past the monsters all the way to the back of the battlefield. It paid off, and made for quite a lively action sequence. I consider myself lucky that I still had a touch over 100% of the previous level's Blue Armor left, and didn't need to ruin it with the mandatory Green Armor pickup on the yellow key ledge - I could harmlessly step over it and collect the Key and SuperShotgun prizes. I like the long con that plays out in the second outdoor area. The initial adventure out into that space concludes in the blue key pickup, everything is exactly as it appears, and you're allowed to peacefully stroll back inside without any further trouble. But when you pick up the red key later, there's this final payoff: the surprise reveal of the nukage ocean and the wave of baddies converging on you from offshore. I love making a thrilling escape from a map, and this one was top-tier. I was running like hell and acting on instinct, so the blocking barrel in the exit room got me good. That was an excellent gag. MAP04 - Little Oasis Thankfully this map starts with enough medkits to recover from that mishap. In contrast to the more open environments of earlier bases, this one starts you off with a constricting corridor, open to attack from the left & right rooms due to the copious amounts of windows. The environment already feels hostile because of all the worries about managing sightlines and not taking too much damage from the flanking monsters, and that hostility is enhanced by how there are a few Revenants lurking around corners which can send you running for your life out of the constricting environment in order to gain the maneuverability to shake off a homing missile. The structure is obviously still pretty rudimentary, but finally taking control of the space truly feels like something hard-fought and earned. It's neat how the front entrance section gets reused with a new wave of monsters revealed. And I thought it was funny how the Revenant working the front desk couldn't be bothered to get up and raise an alarm or do anything at all. There's a pretty effective barrier waiting for you in the exit room since it takes time to chew through the blocking Lost Souls, so I'm glad that I decided to retreat down that awkward corridor one more time to safely put down the final wave rather than try to scrape past them. I quite enjoy the last-ditch attacks these maps make on a player who's heading for the exit - it's a sharp enough jolt to get the heart racing without ever tipping over into a joyless "foreknowledge or die" type of murder machine. MAP05 - Big Room with Baddies We're heading deeper into the belly of the beast. This level is entirely indoors, without so much as a glimpse at the ocean. I like the way that you start off in enemy territory and have to carve out a foothold. The opening setup is rather gentle (especially on Continuous), but it still felt pretty good to react & adapt, seek cover, and gradually take control of the space. It's a minor thing, but I like how in the southern ooze canal there's a cheeky little touch where the player must step across the damaging surface once, experiencing a little bit of grief, and then it's revealed that there was actually a RadSuit tucked away the whole time and this could've been avoided. The switch at the end of that ooze path opens the next section of the big room and allows access to its treasures, most notably the first Plasma Gun in the mapset. There are multiple conspicuous Big Cell Packs collected during the early stages of this level, so when you get the eventual weapon that's promised, you can let loose immediately and live a little to celebrate your new weapon rather than just filing it away and hoarding ammo for emergencies. Similarly to MAP03, I appreciate the pacing of the map's finale. The yellow key pickup was benign, nothing happened, but then when I turned around to leave I discovered that there was a nasty surprise waiting for me back in the main room. It's not just a payoff of the tension of that small section, but for the level as a whole: an Invulnerability powerup was prominently displayed early-on and created a foreboding sense that Very Bad Things were going to happen in here eventually, and the panicked sprint to escape the flames, keep my bearings, and navigate back there correctly made for a very exciting final escape sequence. MAP06 - The Maw of Industry Over the course of these six maps, we've progressed deeper and deeper into these industrial environments, and here at the heart of the operation we get the first blatantly-magical environmental features. The marble reliefs (and the bound demons trapped there as guardians) make it seem like the moat around the green-brick structure is not a foundry's slag runoff but instead has a demonic, otherworldly source. It's fair play to warn the player about the dangerous miniboss + minions waiting inside the yellow key building, but the way the windows arbitrarily switch from crystal sectors to open space was pretty weird. I didn't end up needing the ammo surplus, but I took advantage of the open windows to safely farm zombies for a while just in case, until the Arch-Vile had created a small pile of extra weapons for me. The dead-end treasure room past the main hub's yellow door confused me for a moment, but the red door's right next door. And behind it we find the lava-lit temple lurking behind the industrial facade, at the heart of the complex. It looks cool, but it's structured so that its gameplay is not so much a battle as it is an act of clearing out a monster clog. For me it was mostly a matter of slowly sniping everyone down from the doorway before stepping inside, but I appreciate how the left & right sides of this O of Destruction have staggered niches which are angled so that the ambush monsters hiding within will add a new wave to the battlefield once the player finally enters the room. Similarly, I love how after I thought I'd cleared the temple, there was in fact one more Baron hiding in wait. That made me jump. The exit-room surprise was as entertaining as all the previous ones, but I do take issue with the way that the repeatedly cycling door has a high risk of setting the Arch-Vile up to create ghost monsters. I ended up with an intangible Revenant after me, and rather than take the time & risks to start backing up and up to try to deliver a concussive exorcism, it seemed far safer to just plunge into the exit. ...Except that it wasn't the exit. I had said that the final green marble altar room had seemed a little anticlimactic, so I should have seen this coming, but when level didn't end and instead warped me away to a brand-new battlefield, I was shocked. Not only is the environment of magically-animate flesh, blood, & fire drastically different from everything that led up to this moment, nothing had ever been as mechanically-dangerous either. While I find the arena to be a little cramped and awkward, it's a brilliant escalation: I really love how there's no time to recover from the surprise, no time to stare, mouth agape, and take it all in. While the four bosses might still be sleeping, you quickly realize that a Pain Elemental is immediately approaching to raise an alarm and that you have to get moving NOW, before you're 100% ready. I did happen to notice one of the gargoyle switches as I passed it while running the racetrack, but I was in too much of a blind panic to notice its mirrored counterpart on the other side of the chamber. Even after I'd accidentally bumbled into the secret Invulnerability, I still didn't calm down, take a breath, and assess my surroundings. Instead I kept laying down DPS, committing to my hastily-improvised plan of trying to wear down the HP of all four bosses first and figuring the room out afterwards. This foolish "brute force" path might have actually worked, but I snagged myself on one of those annoying sprite decorations and that was the end of my run. - Overall, Ray Mohawk 1 was engaging and quite playable, dedicated to keeping things moving along with no risk of ever getting lost or stuck while still containing enough peril & surprises to require your full attention. I'm not that big a fan of 90s kitch and the freewheeling unfocused way classic WADs used to throw together sprites and sounds from tons of different sources. It's a technique that has personality, but lacks cohesion. Still, while I might find all the bright neon colors of the new zombies & imps to be a little garish, I have to admit that it still feels appropriate to the vibrant setting of this tropical paradise and isn't a total eyesore. The dedication to keeping the mood light (and filling the soundtrack with absurd midi covers of 80s pop hits) is perhaps at odds with what I normally want out of the game: an ominous, bleak atmosphere and a mechanical design that suggests that the player is up against a diabolical intelligence with a flair for sadism & cruelty. But still, sometimes it's important to take a step back and remember that videogames are silly and ridiculous. Ray Mohawk 1 isn't trying to be a magnum opus, it's just trying to show the player a good time, and it cleanly succeeds at its goals.
  2. head_cannon

    The DWIronman League dies to: Vigor!

    That death montage is a brilliant idea. When you're hosting one of these events, there's already a lot of work to do verifying demos, writing obituaries, and updating the rankings on the frontpage. I've no right to demand that additional time be spent on video editing, but whenever you feel like putting one of these highlight reels together, I think it'll make for a fantastic "closing ceremonies" at the end of the month. (And, like Ravendesk said, if you make more of these I think it would be even better if there was an overlay displaying the player name & map number in the corner of the screen.)
  3. IErespnhellHMPhc.zip Category 1, HMP, PrBoom+ Dead in MAP04 with 172 kills. The lighting was a bit flat, but the texturing was solid. Those were some really entertaining dungeon crawls; I'll definitely be revisiting this one with saves to see a bit more of it and redeem myself for falling just short of getting to see MAP05.
  4. head_cannon

    The DWIronman League dies to: Vigor!

    Ironman_Vigor_hc.zip Category 1, Dead in MAP04 with 24 kills. I didn't expect to take a left turn and end up back in Spain again. That was an entertaining surprise. The opening chapter of this WAD has lean, mean maps that make a lot of use out of a relatively small amount of space. They rode the razor's edge of being vicious but never hopeless - it always felt like I was just barely scraping through, and that nonstop pressure even across maps reminded me of Resurgence.
  5. head_cannon

    Remaking Bobby Prince's unused Doom music?

    Well, for starters, a mapper named 4mer modified un42 to slightly enhance it & flesh it out a little bit when they used it for their MAP24 of the first Plutonia Revisited Community Project. Many of the community midi packs in recent years have had pieces that remix/reinterpret the original song that occupied the slot, and the idea of taking the unused fragments & ideas and developing them into full midis does sound pretty cool. Those midi packs usually take the original motifs and then build and build on them to make them as epic as possible, but I like the minimalism of your idea of just polishing them until it feels like they belong right alongside I Sawed The Demons & Deep Into The Code - like they're from an alternate version of 1993 that could have been.
  6. As always, the Doom Wiki is your friend. The song was "You Suck!", the game over theme from Rise Of The Triad. For a 1-minute fanfare, the Doom community sure has taken a liking to it: Both Scythe and Alien Vendetta used it for really long, brutal marathon maps. I like the song as is, but the 2022 revisiting of it (which reinterpreted the melody into something actually intended to be used to accompany gameplay) was pretty awesome too. Thanks for both of these pieces!
  7. Roofi did that once: just for fun, he recorded mouse-only demos of Episodes 1, 2, & 3 played through in their entirety. It's no speedrun, but it's surprisingly competent - I would have thought that precise actions like dodging and berserk-punching would have been hobbled by the control scheme, but I guess you can at least make it through the IWADs this way.
  8. head_cannon

    The DWIronman League dies to: Man On The Moon

    Ironman_MOTM_hc.zip Category 1, Dead with 78 kills.
  9. head_cannon

    IronEagle Competition 44: Elegy

    IEelegyHMPhc.zip Category 1, HMP, PrBoom+ Survived in 39:22. Elegance & Simplicity was the name of the game here, and I dug the minimalism of having these small levels be a collection of buildings & bridges floating in the sky. Symmetry & encounter repetition is always a boring practice, but whenever it popped up in this mapset, the conciseness & brevity of the levels always made it go down smooth with zero annoyance. I especially appreciate how so many of the scenarios early on were constructed with the assumption that you'd shove your way past the idiots to get to the prize & get out.
  10. head_cannon

    IronEagle Competition 43: Ezekiel

    IEezekielHMPhc.zip Category 1, HMP, PrBoom+ Dead in MAP01 with 44 kills. I went back with saves and pushed through the first couple of levels - it's cruel, punishing stuff, but there's a method to it, and the brevity of its E1 levels makes it easier to stomach. Plus, the visuals are clearly trying to be evocative of Thy Flesh Consumed, so you're warned up-front about what you're getting into. As always, thanks for organizing this monthly event; it's a great resource for trying out lesser-known mapsets which I might not have discovered on my own.
  11. head_cannon

    The DWIronman League dies to: The Rebirth

    IronmanRebirthHC.zip Category 1, Dead in MAP16 with 53 kills. I really enjoyed this one - Rebirth aspired to be a Doom 2 tribute set, and I thought it completely succeeded at its goal. I appreciated the minimalism: the levels didn't go on too long and the visuals were consistently solid, especially the understated-yet-competent grasp of lighting. I particularly liked how the city levels looked, with the brown earth-base textures recast in these dark outdoor sections under a custom Plutonia-esque E2 skybox. I also appreciate the light touch applied with how things slowly, gradually escalate over the course of this gigantic 30-level campaign. For the most part, the player is empowered to take new risks & open new areas at their own pace and allowed to be in control of how new sections of the map get unlocked and how new threats get added to the board. Oh, there are wrong turns to take and mystery switches to pull which will deliver danger, to be sure, but their relative rarity just makes it more effective when one of those moments of panic does occur. I especially enjoyed how the dedication to small environments which you'll crisscross as you take new keys back to the established colored doors results in situations which seem to communicate to the player: "Just grab the prize and run like hell! :D" Overall, what I saw of Rebirth delivered classic-style gameplay while avoiding all the awkward clunkiness of antiquity. It's a little rough around the edges, but I had a blast while trying to fight the fatigue & stay frosty during this month's marathon, and I'll definitely be going back to play the second half of the set. Thanks for selecting it for this month!
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