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About Ashley_Pomeroy

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    Warming Up
  1. I can stick up my hand and say that, yes, I wrote half of those. All of the reviews starting "this wad is dated YEAR", plus Gilbert & George, plus Albert Camus. See, the wad was called The Stranger, which was Camus' most famous novel. And there is something existential about the Doomguy. He is an atomic nucleus of controlled willpower. The demons he faces are vital and alive, but they aren't masters of their souls. They have power without control. And the other human beings he meets are almost without exception liars, villains, cheats, misguided fools, sick, venal - they have neither power nor control. There are a few righteous characters, but they're all dead! Only the Doomguy has the moral and physical strength to be master of his fate. He is an atomic nucleus of controlled willpower at the centre of a seething mass of chaos that fills the universe; and yet the compression strengthens him, and over the course of the games he explodes like a new Big Bang. From my point of view Doomworld's review system had three great attributes. It was immediate; it was trivia, so I could just write anything I wanted; it was short, so I had to keep all my writing down to just one short paragraph. Sadly I don't think there's a way of listing a user's reviews, in fact they weren't tied to usernames in those days. I missed out on all the classic Doom levels back in the day and spent a lengthy period in the mid-2000s catching up. It looks as though Doomworld doesn't allow user reviews any more; or are they sourced from the forums, or what? When did I drift away? All those [clicks "random" a dozen times] yes, the Gamarra levels. 2006. A thousand years from now I will be dead and forgotten, but human society will use my reviews as its foundation, and it will be a better world. Also, the textfiles were a fascinating glimpse at life in the early internet era. It was surprising that so many people were prepared to include their home address and telephone number! And the x-rated wads were a nostalgic look back at a time when Erica Eleniak was a thing. And when I say "thing", I mean "woman". While I'm in a manic state, what was the deal with that "King REOL" chap? Was he famous? The textfiles imply that he saw himself as a major figure in the Doom level editing world - and in the world as a whole - but the maps were tedious.
  2. Things about Doom you just found out

    A few things jumped out at me when reading through TCRF yet again. Notably the shotgun in Doom's title screen seems to be based on an early, pre-release version of the shotgun sprite, with a cut-down stock and a prominent band connecting the barrel to the tubular magazine. And that the final punching mechanism is based on the pre-release bayonet attack, which only had two animation frames, which is why the fist keeps punching for a frame after it deals damage. And after literally eight million years it's just struck me that there's a demon chowing down on a bloke in the background of the title screen: I've highlighted it with a green circle, an arrow, and the word LOOK so that if one of those methods fails, there are two more. Three more if you count the textual description in the preceding paragraph. I've always been aware of the Baron of Hell in the bottom-left but I didn't notice the demon until recently. It's probably common knowledge but it's news to me. On a more serious level TCRF has some pre-release art that was unveiled in 2014, and there's an earlier version of the title screen. If you lay it over the finished screen it matches exactly and it's interesting to see what changed: The bottom-left has had a makeover, there's no trace of the awesome demon head, there are some altered pixels here and there and smoother clouds. I've also learned that the version of Doom included with Doom 3: BFG Edition is a perfunctory load of cobblers assembled with the minimum of testing, although the new maps are nice. And I've re-learned that after more than a decade I still can't be bothered to finish Doom 3. I bought it on the day of release and gave up in boredom after a couple of days; after finishing Doom 2016 I decided to check it out and yet again I just drifted away about two-thirds of the way through. Room after identical room of the same trap over and over again, with void acting that's either cartoonish or really bland. "Damn. Piece of equipment X was playing up today. The power keeps going out. But anyway the code for the weapon locker is 4236."
  3. A Tiny Detail in E1M2

    Digging through my hard drive I found my old copy of the first shareware release of Doom, so I decided to fire up DOSBox and check out all the things that were altered in later releases of the game (e.g. the lonesome medkit on the ground outside the yellow armour in E1M1). Exploring E1M2 I noticed something that's actually still present in the game even today: It's in the dark maze in E1M2, opposite the shoot-wall secret. There's a little rectangular sector embedded in the wall. It doesn't have any function and you can't enter it. My hunch is that it was supposed to lower when you entered the secret, but I'm none the wiser. It's consistently present in all the maps I can find of the level over the years, perhaps because people simply ported them without having the authorisation to change the layout. Obviously at least some people at Id or Activision or Bethseda etc must have glanced at once and thought "what does that do? I have no idea, but let's leave it in just in case". It's in the version of the WAD that comes with the Doom 3 BFG edition; I can't tell if it's in the recreated version for Doom (2016) - you can't edit the maps, and , but the wall textures are slightly misaligned. It sticks out because I can't remember anything like it in the other classic maps.
  4. Doomguy at the Dentist

    If Doomguy has recently collected an invulnerability power-up then dental surgery won't work. He'll have to wait for it to wear off. The invisibility sphere would make surgery awkward but not impossible. Berzerk would be risky - Doomguy might accidentally bite off the dentist's fingers. Obviously the Doomguy has fine motor skills, but I've never thought of him having the patience or temperament for dental work. On a tangent, I've been going to the same dentist since the 1980s, and their patient management system appears to be a Windows 3.1 native application - now running on a modern PC with emulation. Which just reminds me that Doom and Windows 3.11 came out in the same month! It's hard to think of them co-existing, but they did.
  5. The obvious problem is ammo resupply. But even then, the Doom marine from the first game isn't particularly tough - a dozen shots from the zombieman's assault rifle kills him. He has speed on his side, but even then he's only a little more than twice as fast as top sprinter Usain Bolt. I reckon that the US military would have no problem killing Usain Bolt. They haven't tried, yet, but I reckon that they could do it. The Doom marine is basically Usain Bolt with body armour and a huge backpack. He could try hit and run insurgency tactics, attacking and then blending in with the local population. But that would only work if the local population consists of Doom cosplayers. In a city like New York he would be extremely conspicuous, unless he went for this look: But even then people would notice an odd-looking 1980s throwback in their midst. I mean, Doom marine vs A-10? The marine can't jump very high and he can't look upwards, so provided the A-10 pilot used a diving attack the Doom marine wouldn't stand a chance. In brief, with surprise on his side he would probably be able to wipe out a small US army base single-handedly, but he'd run out of ammunition and have no way of healing his wounds, so he wouldn't last long. That's still a pretty impressive performance, but he's still just a man.
  6. "Old" Doomers, how did you get used to reloadable weapons?

    I played Doom to death in 1994 and I distinctly remember playing Half-Life when it came out - I still have the original CD. The four-year gap between the two games seemed like forever at the time, and it felt as if innovation in first-person shooters was grinding to a halt. The Build Engine games had become a sad joke, and although Unreal looked and sounded fantastic it only had a couple of good ideas whereas Half-Life had loads. Half-Life's reloading mechanic felt like a breath of fresh air. It was a bit of "business" that added complexity to the gameplay without being coming across as pointless busywork. Reloading the weapons in between fight scenes was a short break from the tension. It reminded me of the lock and load montages from Commando and Rambo etc, and also Die Hard, which was still very influential at the time - Die Hard was one of the first modern action films in which the characters actually had limited ammunition and had to reload. The nod to verisimilitude made Half-Life feel a bit more sophisticated. Really, it was part of the game's blend of here-and-now realism and alien monsters. Like a lot of computer game mechanics it was in theory completely pointless (on a practical level it just reduced your rate of sustained fire) but like so many pointless things in life - such as blancmange, or candles - it was an acknowledgement that a game isn't just a collection of components, it's a coherent world.
  7. Myth/Fantasy Creatures you would kill in Doom

    One of the fascinating things about Humpty Dumpty is that the original rhyme doesn't actually say that he's an egg. It merely implies that he's frangible, but even then the original versions of the rhyme just point out that it was difficult to put him back where he was originally sitting, not that he had literally fallen to bits. I would fight Humpty Dumpty. Imagine if he was full of acid.
  8. The Doom Confessional Booth

    I've just found out how to capture video with my graphics card, so I decided to refresh my memory of this level. I remember enjoying the Master Levels back in the 2000s but it's been ages since I last had a go, so I'm really rusty. It's Map07, and it's one of those levels where you have to kill all the Mancubuses before some walls drop down, which I've never liked: I had to speed up a lengthy section where I had forgotten how to get to the endgame (even though, earlier in the video, I looked straight at it). Sadly I died right at the end. I was telefragged by an imp. All I had to do was chuck a couple of rockets at John Romero's head. Instead John Romero killed me. John Romero won the game, not me.
  9. Least Favourite Weapon?

    I've never been fond of the plasma gun. It's undeniably powerful and in open spaces I use it a lot, but it's the only weapon that irritates me. The plasma blobs obscure the screen at close range. The blobs are slow, so at longer ranges you have to lead the target - except that Doom's monsters tend to zig-zag towards you, so despite being stupid they're surprisingly hard to lead. Unlike the rocket launcher there's no splash damage, so near-misses are wasted. Autoaim often directs the blobs into a wall. The delay after you fire is jarring. The design and concept are uninspired. Doom is all about fire and steel - the thing that made it stand out in 1993 was the use of projectile weapons, with bloody flesh wounds and bullets ripping through demon bodies. Doom stood out because other games had magic wands and generic sci-fi zap guns. The plasma rifle feels like an interloper. Furthermore ammo is generally scarce enough to trigger my OCD. I get stuck in a loop whereby I fire a burst at a monster, check to see if it's dead, fire a shorter burst, check to see if it's dead, etc, so that I don't waste cells. The sound overwhelms everything else. I played shareware Doom to death so it still feels "new" compared to the other weapons. This extends to Doom reboot as well. The new plasma rifle has some of the same problems - it fires slow blobs - and it's less powerful. Its alternate fire modes are a bit crap (a stun blast that's only useful against the shielded soldiers, and a small-scale local smart bomb) and overall I barely used it. In addition to all these problems the plasma rifle: - is responsible for Britain's high train prices - scratched my copy of Selected Ambient Works Vol 2 - is the reason why Mark Hollis retired from making music - caused Deutsche Bank's share price to collapse - refuses to implement much-needed economic reforms - cancelled Pushing Daisies The list is quite literally finite, but very long. Have you ever heard of Peyronie's disease? Google it. The plasma rifle is the cause of that as well. Of the other weapons the pistol is more useful as a tool than a weapon - it can trip switches, and snipe barrels and weaker monsters from long distances. The ordinary fist is a complete waste of time but the berserk fist is awesome. I always play E1M2 through with just the berserk fist. There's something immensely gratifying about being able to punch a monster so hard it bursts open.
  10. How has Doom helped your personal life?

    Doom taught me that no matter how seductive it might seem, a chainsaw is not the answer to all of life's problems. Sometimes you have to use firepower instead. Furthermore if you're ever in a situation where a naked pink demon is running towards you through a blood-stained corridor covered in satanic symbols, you really have to take a good hard look at your life choices. On a more serious note I'm convinced that Doom's automap helped with my orienteering. When I'm following a GPS trace, Doom taught me which direction to turn when you're heading south - it's surprisingly easy to mess that up.
  11. Ever thought about working for a gaming company?

    Didn't a couple of the contributors to the Master Levels turn pro? Christen Klie went on to work with LucasArts but seems to have fallen off the radar in the last decade or so. Sverre Kvernmo joined Ion Storm and then seems to have gone off to do a BA in animation, judging by his website. Tom Mustaine founded his own studio. It's odd that Jim Flynn never turned pro - his maps were really elaborate. My hunch is that Doom level designers from 1994, 1995 or so had a handicap - the Doom engine is idiosyncratic and the level design tools had lots of quirks, so all their knowledge of self-referencing sectors and fake water wouldn't have been much use in the age of Quake and Unreal. The important things would be creative design ideas and the ability to transition to a new platform really quickly, so I imagine that most destined-for-professional Doom level designers left a few levels in the Doomgames archive before moving on, never to return.
  12. Which map is harder, E4M1 Hell Beneath or E4M2 Perfect Hatred?

    That's because I couldn't for the life of me remember how to raise the pillar over the last teleport - even though I had already opened it! At 08:57 and 09:20 I looked straight at it, but it simply didn't register in my mind that the pillar had already raised. By that time I was starting to panic because I was low on health, so I was thinking more about scouring the level for health packs. Then I became convinced that walking over the blue armour square in the hidden room opened up the secret exit, which is of course wrong. At least I remembered the switch at 03:33 that raises most of the middle section of the level. I stumbled on that the first time I played the map. It's not one of the official secrets and it's easy to miss.
  13. Which map is harder, E4M1 Hell Beneath or E4M2 Perfect Hatred?

    Interesting question. I played the original Doom to death, but by the time Ultimate Doom came out I had moved on Doom 2 and Quake, so I didn't play Thy Flesh Consumed until years later. I've probably played the levels two or three times in the last twenty years although I do remember that it was weirdly disjointed - hard then hard (then easy) then easy then easy then easy then hard then really old-fashioned and easy then easy. If I had been in charge I would have had E4M1 as the secret level, and then the rest of the maps would be ordered so that they built up to E4M2 and E4M6 as the grand finale(s). Those two levels have a similar theme - lots of baddies and lava, rock hard, like prototypes for Hell Revealed. For a lark I decided to record myself playing E4M1 and E4M2 on UV with a pistol start, without preparation. I am by no means a competitive Doom player. Notice how in E4M1 I decided to cut my losses before hunting for the Baron secret, and although I got 100% of everything in E4M2 I spent ages at the end trying to open the hidden level, beyond which I almost died a couple of times: E4M2 is of the few instances where pistol starting the level probably puts you in a better position than exiting from the previous levels. In my opinion E4M2 is harder in absolute terms, but it's hard to compare the two levels because they're different sizes. In terms of "hardness per inch" E4M1 is more difficult because it's short of health and ammo - the really hard thing is killing the last batch of Barons, and only then because you absolutely have to ration your ammo. The UV 100% completion videos I have seen generally rely on making the Barons bunch up against the iron railings in the second half of the level so you can kill them with rocket splash damage.
  14. Is there anything in Doom you find truly archaic?

    There's also the game's treatment of the body positive movement. The enemies include diametrically opposite body images - the Revenants are emaciated, the Mancubi are grossly obese, the Cyberdemon has huge guts - and of course the game compels you to destroy them in order to affirm a conservative notion of so-called "normality", represented by the muscular but not overfed Doom marine. The human antagonists in later instalments are generally presented as thin and gaunt; the dead scientists littered about Doom 3 and Doom (2016) include a number of overweight office-dwellers who were obviously too weak to survive the hellish onslaught. Id Software weren't making a game, they were building the pillars of outdated conservative hegemony. Also, breastfeeding. What was Id Software's stance on breastfeeding? I've looked high and low but I can't find anything in Doom about breastfeeding - but the absence of a position is no defence, because if you don't take a position against the heteronormative hegemony of the white male reality you're part of the problem. On the whole Doom's treatment of social issues dates it terribly.
  15. Most overused words in Doom wad titles?

    Someone should release a megawad called Space Death Base: Hell Castle of the Blood Imps. The first map will be called Night City of the Kill Demons. And so on.