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Not Jabba

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  1. Not Jabba

    The Roots of Doom Mapping

    Hey all, As a supplement to the Cacowards this year, and a continuation of 25 Years of Doom, we're happy to present: The Roots of Doom Mapping: An Evolution of Level Design Through the Most Influential PWADs Ever Made Essentially, this is a (somewhat) condensed history of the Doom community, using major releases as a way to spotlight the many changes that have taken place and the way that design trends have evolved. No, I don't expect you to read it all in one go :P Enjoy!
  2. All right y'all, time for another year of mentionations and great releases. I for one have just a few inklings about what's on the horizon, and I can already tell next year's going to be nuts. For those unfamiliar with the "nomination" process, here are some tips... If you play something you find particularly fun, beautiful, clever, or mind blowing... mention it! Post the name and author of a project and a link to its download This thread is merely a place to mention outstanding works of Doom. Keep conversations about projects to a minimum Winners are not chosen by the number of "likes" or the amount of times the project is "nominated" - Judges use the thread to find projects worth playing and decide winners based on personal preferences. Please do not nominate your own project. At the end of each year, there's a grace period to ensure that all releases get fair consideration. In other words, everything released from about mid-November 2019 onwards is up for consideration for the 2020 Cacowards. Happy Dooming!
  3. Not Jabba

    The 2019 Cacowards

    We know you've been waiting for this moment, because you've made your own threads about it and everything. Well, here you go: The 2019 Cacowards are now live! It's been another amazing year, and we're thrilled to bring you this celebration of the Doom community's fantastic content as always. Without further ado, it's time to begin the time-honored Cacoward tradition of complaining about the awardees.
  4. Not Jabba

    The 2019 Cacowards

    AB is a cute and overall solid mapset, but in all honesty we've been trying to understand why it was the most popular and haven't really figured it out. CFC was selected because it has the strongest mapping and was the most creative overall, not just the backstory and its integration into the texture themes and architecture, but also in terms of the individual map concepts, some of which were extremely cool. Our next choice -- the one that was going to get the runner-up until CFC appeared -- was Legend of the Hidden Tech, which was also very creative and thematically cohesive. AB was my third favorite DBP of the year, but I don't think I'd have considered it to be runner-up tier.
  5. Not Jabba

    The Roots of Doom Mapping

    The article is going a bit broader than that, zooming back out to the big overarching styles or schools of mapping, and to me, stuff like this felt not only a bit too specific, but also somewhat divorced from the larger historical trends. In other words, Keranen had a huge influence on later mappers in that they borrowed the specific idea of seeking out vanilla tricks to achieve pseudo-3D effects that looked like they shouldn't be possible in Doom, but that's one very specific idea that's been used by people irrespective of their mapping style. Similarly, the idea of recreating IWAD maps in a more modern form is something that pops up again and again, regardless of what style people are using to recreate them. The immortal "doomcute" trope fell into that same category. These strains of influence are definitely interesting, but I think they'd have to be in the form of smaller, self-contained "gaiden" articles. Maybe I'll find myself feeling that ambitious at some point, but I think it'll be a little while before I'm up for doing much Doom writing again :P I don't think I went quite that far. I would say most modern mapping to one degree or another, and definitely most if not all blockbuster megawads to a very large degree. I'm glad that the current era is starting to move away from being so Alm-oriented and seems to be looking toward generally broader/more diverse ideas of what makes a good map and what techniques or styles can be used to get there, even among more classic-styled maps (See Lost Civ, for instance, which is pretty Doomworld-mainstream and gameplay-oriented and yet has little relation to Alm's style). It's also why I wanted to spend some time talking about the value of individual voices in the conclusion, which as you may note is accompanied by screenshots of the three least conventional releases I could think of. Linguica actually asked Terminus to write that history for 25 Years of Doom, before the Roots article was conceived. He tentatively agreed to it, but a lot was going on and it never got off the ground. One thing that I tried to stress at various points in the article is how pretty much everything seemed to have happened very naturally, as though the course of the history was practically inevitable from the very beginning; the divisions and syntheses are the sorts of things that would happen in any community, and many of the more specific ideas (the way people handled early source port maps, or the way forums led to community projects, e.g.) were natural responses to very fundamental changes in the makeup of the community or the tools at its disposal. The Doom community is unique in that it's lasted for so long and had so much activity that it's been really easy to see these trends writ large. In analyzing the history and writing the article, I also felt that influence in general is something that usually happens indirectly and subconsciously, and can only really be looked at in terms of broader trends rather than what people might directly think is influencing them. Once ideas take hold and become part of a broader culture, they disseminate very quickly, and reach people's imaginations in ways that those people may not expect; e.g., you don't have to have played Eternal Doom to be influenced by Eternal Doom, and even if you have played it, it can be one of your core influences without you even realizing it. I can give you some concrete examples from my own experience with Wayfarer. If you asked me about the mappers who inspired me the most, I would give you names like lupinx-Kassman, dobu, Mechadon, Lainos, and Xaser. And if you look at Wayfarer, you can probably see those influences in the areas where I was most consciously trying to realize big, specific ideas -- the places where I was trying to create a really cool individual area, or the maps where I had an interesting piece of running lore that I was building into the fabric of the level, for instance. But in between all those big ideas was the bread-and-butter of the mapset, the basic cloth of my mapping style, the general mode of combat design -- and if I really wanted to zoom out and look at that as a whole, I'd have to say that it probably all points to skillsaw and darkwave, who are not people I would normally think of as my primary influences but who nonetheless informed the broader, fundamental way that I look at mapping more than than anyone else. This is true of more specific tropes as well. Although I liked Legacy of Heroes quite a bit, I wouldn't have thought of it as one of my favorite mapsets or one that influenced me. But when I played it and wrote about it for /newstuff, I specifically remember being struck by the way it handled secrets vs. everything else -- i.e., the main flow of the action/progression is mostly unobstructed, but the secrets are framed as super cryptic sidequests, significant pieces of the map that create a strong sense of Eternal Doom influence without getting in the way of the broader picture. At some point while creating Wayfarer, I realized that I was doing that exact thing; that particular aspect of LoH's design had gotten stuck in my mind. I could also point to NEIS and Lainos's masterpieces and some other releases for giving me inspiration there, but my mind went back to LoH specifically on a number of occasions as I realized how I was building my secrets. In terms of broad "schools" of mapping, Wayfarer clearly fits into the trend described in chapter 11, which means I'm following in the lineage of Adventures of Square in a fundamental way. I started creating the episode in late 2016; I first played Square in mid-2018. So how is it one of my major influences? I have a pretty good idea. The idea of being able to create something that felt classic/neoclassic while using ZDoom features is something that came on gradually from playing a bunch of different recent releases; it was also forced to some extent by working in a game that has no Boom format or Dehacked support, but I know that I was already interested in it before I started making the episode. The main releases that struck me as being on to something, initially, were Elf Gets Pissed and Mercury Rain. Both were created by members of BigBrik Games after Square E1, and follow the same philosophy as Square to a more limited degree (as does Wayfarer). I was also *aware* of Square, obviously, and other major releases like dead.wire and dead.air (which although I listed them in chapter 5 could also easily be considered to be in the trend of chapter 11). Jimmy and Xaser are both vocal, prolific, and community-oriented people, and I would consider them two of the biggest advocates for the idea of classic-but-GZDoom in general. So yeah, all of this makes historical analysis super interesting. I had a lot of fun not just conceptualizing the trends, but figuring out how to even approach that conceptualization.
  6. Not Jabba

    The Roots of Doom Mapping

    Yes, in the last few years there are a growing number of them, which is a trend I'm happy to see (note that most of those listed are from the past year; you could also count Spooktober and Near Death Experiences among that number). I tried to avoid prediction as much as possible -- the mini-spotlights in the last chapter are intended more as a cross-section of what's currently happening than my thoughts on what will become influential -- but on a personal note, my guess is that Elementalism is going to be one of the major figures in a sort of "new-new-wave" that is currently emerging, which includes works by Bridgeburner, Bauul, Major Arlene, Dragonfly, and others. I barely got into Slaughter Spectrum in the essay and haven't put my finger on many of the design tropes yet, but it looks like these folks are following in the vein of classic-but-modern a la most of the releases listed in that chapter, but just with a bit more focus toward modern, and an emphasis on some pretty slick geometric style. I'm guessing it'll launch a solid armada of ships -- it seems to be doing so already. I'm glad people have been enjoying this mega-essay. The writing and revisions ate up most of my free time in the last 2+ months, including a bunch of late nights, but it feels amazing to have gotten it out the door on time even with all the stuff I kept adding; I learned a ton even as I was writing it.
  7. Not Jabba

    The Roots of Doom Mapping

    And gameplay mods. I just didn't have the expertise, alas. I made sure to note a number of things that weren't included in the conclusion. Hopefully somebody will be interested in writing those histories at some point.
  8. Not Jabba


    Refresh your main pages, Doomers!
  9. Not Jabba

    Lunar Catastrophe - An Ultimate Doom Megawad (RELEASED!)

    The megawad is intended to be played in ZDoom, and the mappers have always been up front about that. Playing in any other port will also screw up the sequence of maps because of the way vanilla handles secret maps, iirc. "Old-school experience" does not necessarily mean "vanilla-compatible." As with anything else, just play it in the intended port.
  10. Not Jabba


    These days, the strongest new mapper in a given year is likely to get an award of some kind anyway -- Viggles's Cacoward for Breach, anotak's Cacoward for Lilith, Nootrac's runner-up for Demonastery, etc. This has been an interesting issue to deal with in writing the Most Promising Newcomers feature -- we want to keep the intended purpose of spotlighting people who didn't get awards, but there are also award-winners who are coming out of nowhere with interesting stories and doing some pretty mind-blowing things.
  11. It can be tough to find good resources for the Raven iwads, so I figured I'd start a graphics jam thread to keep things consolidated and hopefully inspire some more people to create stuff or post their existing work. I know this won't be as popular as the Doom texture thread, which is partly why I decided to make it more multi-purpose -- you can post textures and decorations for either Heretic or Hexen. Since these games are relatively untapped, it's my hope that pooling our resources will make it much easier for people to make maps for them. A couple of basic guidelines: -As mentioned, you can post stuff for either Heretic or Hexen, it can be either textures or decorations, and it can be either edited or completely original. No weapons, items, or monsters for now, please. -If you have made some original textures for Doom that you think would look good in Heretic/Hexen, feel free to convert the palette and post them here. However, please do not post recognizable edits of stock Doom (or Strife) resources. -If applicable, please specify whether your graphics use the Heretic or Hexen palette. -If you're posting lots of content, put it inside spoiler tags as a courtesy to people browsing the thread. -Since resources are limited, I'm sure we've all hit that wall where we could have made the perfect room or setting, if only we'd had that one really cool thing that nobody has made yet. Feel free use this thread as a wishlist; all wishes will be added to the second post in this thread for easy visibility. What do you think is missing from the existing resources that you'd really like to see? Some top picks for existing resources: Baker's Legacy (and other texture packs) Mor'Ladim's prop pack, which has lots of cool decorations. ETTiNGRiNDER's C.R.U.E.L. texture pack for Hexen Converted texture packs for Heretic To get us started, here's some stuff I've been working on. Critiques are appreciated, especially for the weapon/armor racks, which were a big undertaking for me. Everything below is paletted .pngs in the Heretic palette.
  12. Not Jabba


    It is, yeah. I think most people play a lot fewer releases per year than we do, and it's pretty easy to like something and think that it should get an award; but then what happens if you also like 30 other things? It takes a lot of context to appreciate how hard it is to narrow everything down, so I appreciate you saying this. As an exercise, you could count up everything that someone has been really excited about in this whole thread and the whole mentionation thread, and in the release threads for various project, and then subtract 20 from that number (or maybe slightly more than 20, if you're counting some of the specialty awards). That's how many things are getting snubbed.
  13. Another year, another mountain of great stuff to play! The bombardment of awesome projects has already begun, so let us know what your favorites are. For those unfamiliar with the "nomination" process, here are some tips... If you play something you find particularly fun, beautiful, clever, or mind blowing... mention it! Post the name and author of a project and a link to its download This thread is merely a place to mention outstanding works of Doom. Keep conversations about projects to a minimum Winners are not chosen by the number of "likes" or the amount of times the project is "nominated" - Judges use the thread to find projects worth playing and decide winners based on personal preferences. Please do not nominate your own project. At the end of each year, there's a grace period to ensure that all releases get fair consideration. In other words, everything released from about mid-November 2018 onwards is up for consideration for the 2019 Cacowards. Happy Dooming!
  14. Happy Heretic Weekend, everyone! The Wayfarer's Tome is a standalone gameplay mod that lets you use the gameplay rebalance from The Wayfarer with any standard Heretic map. Although the rebalance was designed primarily as a base for creating new maps, I've found it to be enjoyable with any well-designed Heretic map. Hopefully you will too! How does it play with Heretic.wad? Heretic has mixed quality when it comes to level design, and a gameplay mod isn't able to address all those issues. However, playing with the mod does improve the pace of the game and keeps the combat from dragging. I think it's worth playing Heretic with the mod, especially if you didn't like the game much in the past but want to give it another shot. E1 is super quick and breezy with all the fodder enemies, and the tougher maps in E3-E5 are generally more fun as well. E4M1 is still nonsense. If you play continuous, you'll often end up with enormous amounts of ammo and armor, so consider using Wand starts if you're looking for more of a challenge. What do you recommend playing with the mod? I've tested the following maps and mapsets with The Wayfarer's Tome, and I would highly recommend all of them (with or without the mod, but especially with). -Elf Gets Pissed* -Realm of Parthoris -Curse of D'Sparil* -Icebound -Templum Dormiens Dei -Dark Deity's Bastion -Where Serpents Ever Dwell -UnBeliever* *Requires a patch, which is included with the release. Load files in the following order: the mapset you're playing, then wtome_sa.wad, then the patch. The patches are as follows: -wtome_egp.wad: Elf Gets Pissed -wtome_cod.wad: Curse of D'Sparil -wtome_ub.wad: UnBeliever Gameplay changes from Heretic: The Wayfarer's Tome adds a variety of mostly minor tweaks to Heretic, which are intended to make the gameplay smoother, improve the overall balance, fix a few weird design choices that could be considered features but are probably bugs, and so on. The main goal of these design changes is to make the game a bit more fast-paced and fun to play. The following is a complete list of changes. Credits:
  15. Interesting. So what is the normal expectation with a gameplay mod? I know the modding community is almost entirely GZDoom-oriented and I'd assume they default to png in most cases, so I imagine a palette mod like this would be incompatible with most mods in hardware rendering, not to mention mapsets with extensive new content like Wayfarer. Is there some sort of established ettiquette for this, or what? I'd prefer to stick with pngs for mapping, but it should be simple enough to fix up the standalone mod, since @ReaperAA has already handed me the graphics (thanks!) It is a nice palette, btw.
  16. I'm not sure what's causing that. The images are pngs because it's a gazillion times easier to work with and I'm not aiming for any compatibility that requires Doom format graphics. However, all of the pngs are already Heretic palettized, not truecolor, unless I just happened to miss those water flats for some reason -- so GZDoom shouldn't be trying to convert them to anything. Are you sure it's not an issue with your palette or colormap? Edit: I think I misunderstood the problem -- so GZDoom is simply ignoring the palette when you're in hardware mode? I can't really say why the port wouldn't apply a new palette to palettized pngs -- that seems like a problem that should be addressed by the port maintainer.
  17. I've been toying with the idea of creating my own personal /newstuff-style review thread for a while, for a bunch of reasons. First of all, I spend a ton of time playing cool Doom wads, and many of them don't get award recognition because for the sake of our sanity and the usefulness of the awards, we have to draw the line somewhere. But since I played them and liked them, I might as well recommend them somewhere. Second, I get tired of people bashing maps they hate (whether it's among the Doominati or just in the general Dooming forumsphere), and wanted to create something positive. Third, The /newstuff Chronicles aren't really viable anymore, so I haven't had an outlet to keep writing about stuff I like throughout the year, and it's more fun to pick and choose what I like than to write about people's first map projects every week anyway. And finally, working on the Top 25 Missed Cacowards list whetted my appetite for covering WADs I like that haven't received much recognition. So here we go. This thread will gradually cover an assortment of stuff I like that hasn't made the Cacowards/runners up or been recognized in 10 Years of Doom or the Missed Cacowards list. The reviews here are personal and in no way officially connected with the awards, though the other Cacoward judges have carte blanche to post guest reviews here if they wish, and I may invite other guest posters later on. For now, I'm going to start with releases from the last two Cacoward years, and then go back through some of my /newstuff reviews and then open it up to the whole history of Doom mapping if I'm still feeling up to it. I hope you enjoy reading some of these, and maybe you'll find some cool stuff you've never heard of before! Index:
  18. Not Jabba

    "Artificial Difficulty" in video games / Doom?

    Usually the latter, though I think the term once had more meaning. Consider the following scenarios: 1) A game's Normal and Hard settings have completely different monster placement, each one tailored to a specific skill level. 2) A game's Hard setting is the same as Normal, except that enemies do 2x as much damage and attack twice as fast. The second scenario's difficulty isn't *necessarily* artificial, but it certainly sounds like they didn't think about it very hard, and it could be poor design. Monster placement, on the other hand, is pretty much the epitome of a design decision that somebody has to think through. I think this distinction is what people once meant when they said "artificial difficulty," but the term has unsurprisingly been latched onto and overused.
  19. Not Jabba

    Flash thoughts on Hexen: Deathkings' design

    For what it's worth, the fact that the Wyverns and Heresiarchs get thrown at you out of nowhere instead of being predictable arena end fights was always one of my favorite things about Deathkings. I don't like the set quite as much as Hexen itself, but it's a solid expansion.
  20. Not Jabba

    DVII Second Edition underway. It's time!

    I really like what you've done there. Most people who create E1-inspired stuff go full homage, and even the ones that have a more complex artistic vision still use only stock textures (plus the alpha stuff, sometimes). The blended aesthetic in your shot looks really neat.
  21. Not Jabba

    Favorite avant-garde doom wad?

    People are going to be contrary about this, and yet no one is willing to mansplain to us the definition of avant-garde? Tsk tsk. Here's what I get from Google: noun new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts, or the people introducing them. adjective favoring or introducing experimental or unusual ideas. Seems pretty straightforward to me. Anyway, my favorite weird artsy wad is A.L.T., a beautifully surreal megawad that's about being trapped inside your own panicking brain as you are dying.
  22. No Sleep for the Dead by @Jan I've drifted into more critical territory in some of my recent reviews, so I figure I'll hit the reset button by saying this up front: No Sleep for the Dead is bloody excellent. Jan Van der Veken was a household name in the early Doom scene, but had almost moved on by the time I made my way to Doomworld in late 2004, so I only knew him as a periodic namedrop in discussions about classic mapping, and as the creator of some Darkening E1 and E2 maps (which are great, but I couldn't tell you which maps they are), until No Sleep came out. I played through his earlier major works last winter along with Chris Hansen's catalogue, so for those unfamiliar with his mapping, here's a quick rundown of his awarded episodes, by way of introduction. His first release, the never-quite-finished Dawn of the Dead (it has a one-room placeholder for E1M5), starts out seeming like a simple E1 replacement, but then it quickly begins to sprawl out into huge maps with surprising city-like layouts, big open areas, and hellish influences. The Classic Episode (not to be confused with Hansen's also-creatively-titled Retro Episode) is a more conventional Phobos/Deimos-style base that shows Van der Veken tightening up his mapping style quite a bit, with more flowy and compact layouts and any excess grind trimmed away. The Classic Episode 2, the most detailed of the three, offers a more unusual concept: a faux-hub where every other map takes you back to the same central area, with slight changes and fresh monster populations each time. No Sleep for the Dead appeared suddenly after a 10-year hiatus and is ostensibly the sequel to Dawn of the Dead, which came out in 1997, though thematically it could just as easily be a sequel to the Classic Episodes. Van der Veken's skills didn't languish during all those years away, though -- as far as I'm concerned, No Sleep is the best thing he's ever made. This episode deals in the usual design principles and aesthetics for retro E1 and E2 replacements -- tending more toward E1 toward the beginning and more toward E2 toward the end -- but it really does a damn fine job with them. Every map holds true to the basic idea that you should always be moving freely and quickly, know exactly where you're going, and have fun getting there. The episode also follows the core E1 trope of making sure you can see other areas through windows and grates almost constantly as you move around the maps, giving them an extremely grounded, immersive feel that's augmented by the way the branches within the layouts tend to wrap around each other, periodically interconnecting or eventually looping through in ways that feel complex but are pretty simple at heart. Simplicity is really key here -- and I don't say that lightly, because simplicity can often be a bit of an easy way out, an excuse not to worry about developing keen perceptions and methods as a designer. Van der Veken's simplicity is disciplined and consistent; it communicates to the player with perfect clarity. The combat moves easily and steadily, applying heavier pressure at times but eliciting no stress and always offering a path to freedom and a better attack vantage as long as you don't sit around waiting to get hemmed in. Even the face-off against a Cyberdemon on a bridge in the last map is more of a cathartic "fuck yeah!" than a climactic trial by fire. The whole episode is like a dance, something familiar that you feel in your bones, swaying and strafing and turning and advancing in time with the music and your trusty buckshot backbeat, just letting it flow. There's a surprisingly strong sense of place for a classic episode replacement with stock textures, particularly in the later maps. E1M5 plays with the theme just enough to really feel like a power plant, within the context of iwad-style abstraction; E1M6 has just enough laboratory elements to really bring out the feel of the setting, again without relying on detailing that would change the overall aesthetic. Something about the way the layouts shift and expand, morphing their individual themes without losing their sense of identity, makes these maps feel very real and functional to me. The atmosphere becomes progressively heavier and more Deimos-esque, with dim, pervasive shadows and high-contrast lighting cutting around pillars and other obstacles in the way that us Doomers love so much. If you're well versed in Dawn of the Dead -- which I'm not, but I poked around the older episodes again in preparation for writing this review -- you'll likely notice that "Power Plant" (No Sleep E1M5) bears some striking similarities to "Nuclear Plant" (DotD E1M2). Secrets are sprinkled all over the place and are handled with the same philosophy as the combat -- as long as you stay aware and try to find them, you probably will, because you're meant to appreciate them, and having them be hard to find would take away from the intended experience of playing the maps. It adds a nice extra element to the gameplay, something to do on a final pass of the map when things are quiet that lets you appreciate the smoothness and clarity of Van der Veken's design in a new way. I should mention that there's also a bonus map in the E2M1 slot. This map is E4-themed, and as you might expect, it's considerably tougher than anything in the main episode. You can easily be overwhelmed right out of the gate, and if you survive that, the rest of the map is a constantly moving puzzle where you have to squeeze past opponents and try to scrounge up the ammo to deal with everything that's still wandering through the tight, claustrophobic knot of hallways, screaming for your blood. It's a wild ride with lots of adrenaline, and it proves how much range Van der Veken has as a level designer -- which just goes to show that the easy-going nature of the main episode is a disciplined design choice rather than some sort of laziness or weakness. I'm told that No Sleep for the Dead was taken very seriously by the 2016 Cacowards team, though it didn't end up making the cut. I think this is probably because it was seen as a bit too simple -- which is the sort of critical assessment that I would agree with in most cases, but not in this one. 2016 was a dense, competitive year with several high-profile snubs, and the heartbreak that caused is a part of what led us to expand the number of runners-up the following year. Personally, I think that No Sleep for the Dead is among the best classic-styled UDoom episode replacements I've played, and if you haven't tried it yet, you may want to do that instead of sleeping tonight.
  23. Suggestion: put the title of the megawad at the bottom of that pic as well.
  24. Foursite by @Bauul Unlike everything else I've reviewed here so far, I had never played Foursite until now, in preparation for reviewing it. I didn't get around to it when it came out, missed it in the /newstuff queue, and it was a late 2016 snub, so it was before my time on the Cacowards team -- but I figured I'd have to come back to it at some point. After all, Foursite got a lot of attention when it was released -- even a Rock Paper Shotgun article -- despite being the first map Bauul ever made. All this attention centered on the fact that the map was huge, had taken 300 hours to build, and (according to the RPS article) took 3 hours to beat. All of this is a bit misleading, I suppose; the map is big, but not outside the realm of what the community has seen a good handful of times before. It took me about 1 hour 45 minutes on the in-game clock, with 5 out of 8 secrets found during regular play and a single sneaky enemy still banging around god knows where -- I wonder if it liked having the base all to itself after I left. As for the build time, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that the mapper was undertaking this project as a way of learning how to use the editor, figuring out how to do everything as they went; size aside, it's not a particularly complex map, and a very experienced mapper could lay out something along these lines in perhaps an order of magnitude less time. None of this is really intended to detract from Bauul's efforts -- if you want to learn how to make a Doom map, you may as well throw all in like this and end up with something that you learned a ton from and that lets you try out a ton of different ideas -- and even, hopefully, something that you can remain proud of. On the other hand, you'll probably have to be prepared to look back on it and be able to see everything that's wrong with it. Foursite is an extremely ambitious first map. I feel the need to be realistic here: it's far from perfect, and certainly not a map that feels like it has a lot of polish and experience behind it. Most people's first map falls firmly in the "My First Map" genre; I'm sure you know what I mean by that. Every once in a while, you get someone like Viggles whose first release is of high quality, probably because they had a ton of practice maps they never released, and also because they spent many years playing Doom, following theoretical discussions about mapping, and learning the general principles of game design first. Foursite isn't that, but it is promising; it's definitely a My First Map, but it's one of the most impressive My First Maps out there, with ideas that go far beyond what you would expect. I don't feel like dwelling on it too much, and I'm sure Bauul knows all of this already, but I need to go through some of the really obvious issues of this map and just get them out of the way before I move on to what I find interesting or enjoyable about it. The way most of the combat happens is that you open a door or round a corner and the enemies are just there in a mass, and then they funnel toward you while you pick them off. Sometimes it's a large amount of meat being funneled. The architecture of the map is fairly rudimentary, though often in a cute sort of way, and, like the combat, highly variable in quality; you get a few places that are really neat or have fun details, but then also a lot of windy, mazey groups of hallways, blocky rooms, or spaces that are mostly empty. The map was created with the idea that all space needs to be contiguous, so you end up with a lot of large, isolated sections that are stuffed into whatever space is available, designed more to fit the perceived boundaries than anything else. All of these are the sort of basic, fundamental problems that you would expect from a new mapper, so they're not much of a surprise. With that out of the way, here's my favorite thing about Foursite: it's designed with a lot of intentionality. Bauul went into it with a clear vision and sharp wits, and he learned everything necessary to execute the mechanics of it as he went. As a result, there are many things about Foursite that feel like a really distinct experience, and in the most important areas -- the setpieces and such -- you can clearly see the design decisions that went into play as the areas were being created. It's sort of artisanal, if you will. The map features a monsterless opener that sets the mood as you explore through the abandoned exterior of the base and the canyons outside. Bauul really savors the details here, and you get everything you could want for building up to the first encounter: painstakingly crafted wall damage, ominous corpses, barrels sitting abandoned in puddles of their own ooze, narrow passages, slow-lowering doors, a descent into darkness, a gaping abyss. And then, suddenly, the first mob of angry zombies (in front of you, in a clump around a corner...but whatever). True to the map's name, the base complex is laid out in groups of four: first a long hallway with four big sections off of it, and then the final section turns out to have its own fractal quarter-sequence to it, where you complete four challenges to keep lowering new sections of the central arena. The map is completely linear, which surprised me; normally you'd expect a map this size, particularly one with a hub-spoke design, to be very nonlinear and interconnected. That's not always the case, of course. Jade Earth is basically linear, though it doesn't always feel like it; Black Rain has an initial gated section and then multiple linear branches. Both of those maps use their different versions of linearity to create a cinematic feel to the action, controlling the rises and falls and the overall curve of difficulty and monster density, deciding exactly when and where you face the setpiece fights. Foursite endeavors to do something similar. It's framed as a series of rising challenges, each area with its own end fight that works as a sort of mini-climax. It doesn't always work, given that a lot of fights are much easier than intended while some are very tricky for any player due to the way they're set up; my more hardcore friends might say that most of the tougher areas are tough because they are reliant on randomness. But even so, it gives you a strong sense of progression, delving deeper into the increasingly hellish base as new areas unfold, knowing that each time you reach the end of an area, you'll hit a similar switch and open up the next main section. The map is good at communicating how the overall progression works, and the fact that it's tailored as a linear experience undoubtedly adds to that sense of going increasingly deeper. There are some cool individual areas as well. Some of these are enjoyable for their faux-realistic sector art (aka "doomcute"); the biggest is a detailed cafeteria with enough chairs for everyone and plenty of pots of volatile liquid cooking in the kitchen. Throughout the map, every computer console, piece of furniture, pool of liquid, and rock formation is lovingly rendered, even if the overall architecture is more rough-hewn. Some of the setpiece fights have neat ideas behind them as well; the more conceptual ones tend to play out more like movement puzzles than anything else, but you have to go through them while under fire. Early on, there's a sequence where you have unseen Mancubi shooting at you from a set of reactor-like structures, and you have to make it across a set of raising/lowering platforms to reach the end and shut them down. Later on, there's a more intense version of the same idea, a Spectre-filled midtex maze that you have to navigate while a distant platform full of Mancubi rains fire down on you, until you get to the end and have to clear off the platform to reach the main switch. My favorite fight of the map takes place on a huge sunburst-shaped platform that rises little by little, unleashing teleporting waves of Lost Souls and occasional Pain Elementals each time you bump it up. The movement here is tricky but fair; you can fall off if you're not careful and have to take some damage from the toxic floors before you get to a teleporter that brings you back up to the platform. The enemies themselves aren't too bad, but they're dangerous in combination with the movement challenges, and you have to maintain awareness. I also like that this fight is set up for dual strategies; you can either take it slow and carefully clear the waves one at a time, or you can race to the top, grab the invuln sphere, and go to town. The last quarter of the map -- the one that has its own four subdivisions -- is the most cinematic, with the best sense of steadily becoming more dangerous, and although the climactic fight with the Cyberdemons is pretty circle-strafey, with a few too many decorations to get caught on, it's fairly satisfying as a conclusion. After all of this, you get one final fight before the map exit: a nigh-invincible Spider Mastermind occupying the center of the room, and a series of platforming challenges with transforming cover as you rush to hit the various switches and bring a crusher down to kill it. It's an unusual boss fight that feels very fitting as an ending to the rest of the map. If Foursite had been released in the late '90s or early '00s, it would have been seen as a work of sheer genius, and would no doubt still be considered a timeless classic. If you're a newer Doom player, you should have little trouble seeing it from that same perspective, and there's no reason not to have a go. I'd have a harder time recommending this map to people who have seen it all already, though certainly I think there are parts of this map that are worth seeing for almost anyone. In any case, it's a promising map -- and hopefully just a tiny taste of what Bauul has in store for us in the future.
  25. Not Jabba

    Any wads like AV?

    Luckily for you, virtually every Doom map made since 2002 draws some form of inspiration from Alien Vendetta, directly or indirectly. If you want the closest experience, I'd start with Kama Sutra, which Doomkid linked above, or Resurgence, Hellbound, or Bloodstain. (edit: or Vile Flesh)