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The /newstuff Chronicles #469

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  • Desolation - Dzyan Kelsick (Arclite)
    Doom 2 - Zandronum - Solo Play - 57742232 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Zalewa
    When the .zip file size clocks at over 50 megabytes, we wonder if the download will be worth it, or if it is just a waste of bandwidth. For me, the size of the files I download over the Internet doesn't matter, but I know there are others who aren't in such lucky a situation. Did I have fun with this WAD? Yes, I did. Did it annoy me at times? Yes, it did. Was it challenging? At first no, then extremely. Is the download worth it? I believe that yes, it is. It's a very good map set, but still, it probably won't blow you away.

    Here we have 12 maps that, as author states, are a mix between a horror and action-filled settings. Personally, Doom didn't scare me back when I was 7, and it doesn't scare me now. There are some horror elements here that sort-of work, but it's best to just approach this WAD as you'd approach every other one.

    I've actually played twice through this. The first time was a two-player survival game with two lives. I must say that the WAD works well in cooperative game modes. There is enough room to fit more than one player, and maps frequently branch off in multiple directions that you can explore simultaneously. My grief here, and a great annoyance, is that cause-and-effect is not always obvious, and sometimes it requires backtracking through entire maps. You press a button or find a key at a dead-end and must go back to the beginning to progress into a different branch. There are also some holes that the player can fall into and get stuck forever. Some of them are inside damaging sectors, but some of them are obvious mistakes made by the mapper, as you just get stuck with no way out. There are also some teleports that work just once, but they branch you to sections that either don't need to be reached by other players (even if you die immediately), or can be entered from another direction.

    My second playthrough was single-player. This took me almost three hours to beat. This time I was paying more attention to overall gameplay and map design. First of all, there's no point in describing this WAD one map at a time, as all maps are very consistent in every manner possible. The only map that stands out here is MAP08. It's also a sewer level. A good one. When it comes to difficulty, what author states and what I've noticed are two different things. The WAD is laughably easy up until and including MAP07, mainly because you get plenty of powerups that keep your health above 100% at all times. You can basically blaze through it on auto-pilot. However, MAP08 is a complete turn-around that keeps you on your toes. Medikits and ammo become rare, while enemies are abundant and attack in hordes. You need to think who to shoot, where to cause infighting, and when to run and never go back. This mapset also offers some difficult cyberdemon encounters in tight quarters. They're not easy to win and not easy to avoid. In multiplayer you can team up so that one player lures the cyberdemon away while others attack it from behind, but in single player you need to be careful where you kite it.

    Source-port features are used very well. Even though it's a "Zandronum" WAD, it uses a lot of resources that came with its predecessor Skulltag. You get various Skulltag power ups, monsters, and all weapons (minus the BFG10k, or at least I didn't find one). If there's anything that could be balanced better here, I'd say that the WAD could use fewer power-ups and a bit more rocket launcher ammo.

    Visuals are made of tech walls with textures of brownish color or of different shades of grey. Outdoors are set on an ice planet. Everything is well detailed, but otherwise pretty monotone. I'll let the screenshots speak for themselves.

  • Bloody steel - Big Memka
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 42126796 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: mouldy
    This is billed as a ten-map episode, though technically it's an eight-map adventure with a "thanks-for-playing" and a bonus map at the end. It sure felt like more than eight maps though, as a lot of them are pretty epic in scale. The first thing you will notice is the visual style, which is gritty realism in both textures and detailing. While this may not be everyone's cup of tea, and has a few ragged edges, the overall result is pretty damn impressive, and even jaw-dropping in places.

    Most of the maps are set in run-down industrial zones (with some excursions to more exotic locations later in the wad), and while the mishmash of textures can occasionally look a bit chaotic or jarring, it does a decent job of feeling like a lived-in and messy environment. There are times when ease of navigation is sacrificed in the name of realism - bumpy floors, cramped rooms, awkward scenery and the like - but nothing I found too offensive.

    I have to say I really enjoyed this wad and would definitely recommend a download. The gameplay is fairly tough: there are sniping hitscanners, nasty traps, and eventually a bit of slaughter. I wouldn't say it is too difficult though; I imagine pistol starts might be a bit rough-going on some maps, but the ammo balance is pretty good for playing continuously.

    There are a few problems worth noting. I used ZDoom and saw visual glitches on most of the ladders, and there is a relaxed attitude to texture alignment here and there (but with the complexity of the detail and architecture I can live with that). Some of the grey door textures are a little difficult to differentiate from their surroundings perhaps. My main criticism would be some of the music is quite horribly compressed, which is a shame because it mostly works really well with the maps (apart from the map06 music which got on my nerves). In the end though, nothing could really detract from the awesome scenery. One of my favourite wads of this year.

  • Hexasketch - Zan-zan-zawa-veia
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 188880 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: mouldy
    A couple of rough and barely working maps, advertised as "switch hunts", though the first map appears to rely on mechanisms so incomprehensible I couldn't even work it out after opening it in Doom Builder. I suspect it is either broken or so obscure that you would need precise knowledge of its construction to solve it. The second map works at least on a technical level, though I'm not entirely sure if it worked as intended. Either way, both maps feature garbled design and woefully untested gameplay.

    On the plus side, the music tracks are also by the author, and they are pretty cool. I would recommend that he/she gets people to test their maps more though, especially if they include obscure progression, as people will only invest the time to working them out if they are also nice to look at and fun to play.

  • Simple weapon rebalance for efficient combat - vanilla DEHACKED mod - scifista42
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - N/A - 44491 bytes - (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: the_miano
    This is a mod made by scifista42 that has re-balanced weapons. I personally enjoy playing mods that have altered weapon mechanics, but this one just doesn't seem all that special. The faster pistol, bloody/faster chainsaw, and faster chaingun were the only things I liked about the mod. The shotgun reloading sequence (for both super shotgun and regular shotgun) has been sped up making it a bit too easy to gun down your enemies. The BFG fires at a very fast speed, though its damage has been reduced, which makes killing Cyberdemons and Spidermasterminds not so easy anymore. The zombiemen also move faster.

    Well, that is pretty much it. There are probably plenty of other WADS that have much better re-balanced weapons than this.

  • Azrael's second level - Zbigniew Pietrzyk
    Doom 2 - Zandronum - Solo Play - 224079 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Tib
    As you can see in the title, this wad appears to be Azrael's second level. Given that the creation of Doom maps is a skill that takes years of practice to master, one may be dissuaded from playing this level on the assumption that, as the author's second map, it is amateur.

    While one may be correct in making such an assumption, I felt a certain nostalgia playing it, taking me back to the days when my own mapping endeavours were in their infancy. It is frustrating to navigate, way too small for the amount of monsters it contains, and full of some downright ugly detail.

    But were we any different when we made our second level? Azrael had the guts to publish this for better or for worse, and I hope they keep working on new maps to hone those essential skills needed to create amazing Doom levels.

    If you've got a few minutes to kill, give this level a shot and tell the author how they could improve it.

  • Spiderdemon Boss Remake - nambona890
    Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - Solo Play - 418333 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    This is a map for Doom that plays in the E3M8 slot. The author's goal was to make a map that was better and harder than the original Dis. This map succeeds in one of those two goals; the map is meant to be played continuous from E3M1, as there are no weapons or ammo in this map, yet even if you do play continuous, I still doubt that you would have enough ammo to kill this ridiculously strong Spider Mastermind. The map itself is an open arena with an SM in the middle that sends out a variety of attacks; most if not all of the attacks can be successfully avoided by simply running around the map in a large circle. After three attacks the SM will teleport off his pedestal and then you will be able to damage/kill him.

    A lot of effort seems to have gone into the scripting of the wad to make the SM enjoyable, but in the end the lack of ammo and overly large amount of health makes this fight not only impossible, but also quite boring to play.

  • Dimension of Hades - SpiderDisease
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 38771 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    This is an extremely simple map, essentially just a single linear hallway. Gameplay is almost non existent, just a few zombies thrown in here and there, but then you reach the final room which suddenly throws a few high-tier monsters at the player, but this room is easily skippable by running to the exit teleporter. Considering it's the authors second map I don't look at it with too much negativity because hey you got to start somewhere, but still he should have spent more than just a few hours on it, and tried to make something at least a little more complex than this.

  • E1M8 Replacement - Smedis2
    Ultimate Doom - Vanilla - Solo Play - 26119 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    This wad is the author's first attempt at making a vanilla-compatible WAD. It contains a simple E1M8 replacement for Doom that is only slightly more complex than the original E1M8. This map has you fight a few different types of enemies as you go around hitting a few switches until you get to the final arena where you fight four Barons. I can't say that this map is better than the original E1M8 because it lacks the atmosphere and the lighting needs a bit of work, but I do like the lead up to the Baron fight even though the Baron fight itself is a bit of a breeze due to being given the rocket launcher early on in the map. I'd say to go ahead and give this one a try, but don't expect it it to blow your mind.

  • Novice's House - SpiderDisease
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 11634 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    So this map titled Novice's House is in fact not a "my house" WAD, unless the author's house is a series of long hallways leading off into several different directions with a room at the end of each hallway. This map appears to be one of SpiderDisease's first four maps released, so as expected it's pretty simple. I will say that this map is a bit more complex and enjoyable than an earlier map of his that I played, but that's not really saying much. The fights here consist of standing in a doorway and holding the fire button until everything is dead, except for the final room which pits the player against two Revenants and an Arch-Vile in a pretty confined space, but after that fight the map is over. SpiderDisease does seem to be slowly getting better, but it will be quite a while yet before he starts making good maps.

  • Canofbacon's Ultimate Doom Metal Replacement - Canofbacon
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - N/A - 221652 bytes
    Reviewed by: joe-ilya
    A MIDI jokewad parody inspired by Mr. Chris's own metal MIDI replacements. This one however is mostly just funky music and arcade songs and lacks MIDIs for Ultimate Doom.

    You can't really put these into your wad because they don't fit at all, unless you want to use them for a jokewad of yours.

  • Military Artifact - SpiderDisease
    Doom 2 - Vanilla - Solo Play - 5237 bytes - (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    Here is a quote from the text file of this WAD: "It's my first map and it's terrible." Yes, I agree. This map is two boxes connected by a hallway filled with imps and a Hell Knight. Don't waste your time with this one.

  • Corrupt Bathroom busting Bloodbath - SpiderDisease
    Doom/Doom 2 - ZDoom Compatible - N/A - 4356 bytes - (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    Corrupt Bathroom busting Bloodbath is a weapons replacement WAD that replaces the regular chaingun with a chingun [sic] that fires an unlimited number of rockets at about the same rate as the plasma rifle. The wad comes with a box map filled with imps to test out the weapon. After blowing through the imps I tested the weapon out on some regular Doom 2 maps. Sadly the weapon becomes quite useless in tight spaces due to the splash damage from the rockets, so I turned on god mode and then proceeded to blast through a few Doom 2 maps. Not a very practical gun for a serious WAD, but as a joke it's fun for a few minutes.

  • Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions: Session 10 - Various
    Doom 2 - Boom Compatible - Solo Play - 891124 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    The Abyssal Speedmapping Session is a speed mapping/Skype session hosted by Obsidian about once every month. Anyone who wants to join is given two hours to make a speed map and an additional 15 minutes to choose custom textures and music, unless you're Alfonzo, who gets "Alfonzo Time" to finish his maps due to his exceedingly slow mapping ability. The session is held over Skype so everyone making a map can talk to each other and have a good time while making their maps, and whenever Tarnsman is involved he will usually stream his map-making process on his Twitch.TV channel so others can watch and listen in on the fun. For the October ASMS we have a WAD consisting of ten maps, each of a variety of three different given themes. For this ASMS the themes given by Obsidian had to do with a choice of a texture pack, the first choice being Erratic Texture Pack 1, the second choice the DrDoctor Texture Pack, and the final option Marcaek's Super Special FIREBLU Ensemble!

    Half of the mappers chose the DrDoctor Texture Pack, two used the Erratic Texture Pack 1, and three brave souls attempted to make maps using Marcaek's Super Special FIREBLU Ensemble! By judging the maps based on how well they utilized the texture pack, those that used Marcaek's Fireblu are the clear winners here; they have a very interesting visual combination of Reds, Blues, Greys, and Metals. The Erratic texture pack is decent enough; as far as I can tell from its use here, it seems to contain a lot of brick and vaguely gothic textures. The DrDoctor maps are hit and miss with their usage: Map 2 and 3 underutilized the resources, and I hardly noticed the new textures as I played through the maps. Map 4 starts off the same, but in the second half of the map the DrDoctor Textures come out in force. Maps 9 and 10 both heavily use the DrDoctor Textures, but I didn't realize it until I read the text file, as they basically could have looked exactly the same by using Marcaek's Fireblu texture pack.

    All of the maps here are of at least fair quality, except for Darsycho's maps; it's pretty obvious both maps were rushed instead of just spending time to make one good map. Alfonzo's map was the most fun to play, as extremely challenging gameplay and a good layout provided for some intense fun. Obsidian and RottKing's maps were also pretty good maps, but they were a bit on the easy side for my liking. Obsidian is usually pretty good at ordering the maps from least to most difficult, but I think that maps 6 and 7 should have been switched up here. All the other maps were OK; they had good elements and they had bad elements. There seemed to be consistency for complete and utter crap endings across a lot of the maps. Map 1 has an Arch-Vile that I didn't have enough ammo to kill, Arch-Vile hordes appear in the exits of maps 3 and 8, and map 5 has a crusher that kills you at the exit. Monster usage got stupidly hard starting with map 7 and then became a complete joke with map 10. So overall this wad was pretty okay; for every good thing in each map, there was an equally stupid thing to dislike.

  • El Ăšltimo Pasajero (The Last Passenger) - RicarDooM
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 135679 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: Jaws In Space
    This an older wad for Doom 2 originally released back in May of 2005. There's only one map here, and it takes place on a ship that was on its way to Deimos when suddenly bad things started to happen. The author attempted to go for a more atmospheric approach to this map, which succeeds as far as the level design goes, but falls flat in the gameplay department. The player starts off in the pilot's seat of the ship, then has to work their way through several hallways, computer rooms, storage rooms, and engine rooms before escaping the ship via an escape pod. The ship itself is quite atmospheric; there's lots of moving mechanical looking things, blinking lights, almost all of the doors open automatically as you approach them, and just an overall moody atmosphere that seems at least slightly inspired by the Nostromo from Alien. Gameplay on the other hand is just all around slow and mostly uneventful. It takes some skill to make an atmospheric maps either fun or scary to play, but sadly it's just rather boring here. I'd recommend giving this one a try if you like moody atmospheric maps, but if you looking for fast paced action, stick with something else.

  • Lost maps - Ilya "Joe" Lazarev
    Doom 2 - Limit Removing - Solo Play - 912667 bytes - (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img) (img)
    Reviewed by: the_miano
    Lost Maps is a compilation of 23 poorly-constructed single player and co-op maps made by the one and only Joe-ilya. According to the text file, some of these maps were rejected from past community projects or spontaneously constructed over a period of two years.

    The maps are ugly and they resemble the sloppy, half-assed layouts and texture usage from most 1996 WADS. The techbase-looking maps are just as bad as the few hell-themed maps. They are nothing more than just demons cramped in sectors and random item placement. Finding keycards is also an annoying scavenger hunt, although in a few maps finding the exit wasn't much of a challenge.

    The gameplay is also horrible, mostly due to the imbalance of weapons, ammo, and health. The first map for instance: you battle multiple barons of hell with a super shotgun while in a caged sector having to shoot over a dozen switches that open a sector to a teleport. There are other instances where you just can't even beat levels without the use of cheat codes because you are thrown into thresholds of powerful enemies and nowhere to find cover. That is my main gripe with the majority of the maps in this WAD.

    Overall, there is really nothing creative about Lost Maps. It's an incoherent mess that isn't worth your time playing. And for the record I don't mean to be bashing Joe-ilya at all. I genuinely think that he tries to make maps that are unique, but he needs to improve on his mapping skills and get with the new Doom standards. It's not 1996 anymore.

Let me guess; one of those reviewers doesn't know how to properly appreciate a WAD that you liked this week. Want to do something about it? Instead of complaining in the comment thread like you always do, perhaps you can make a difference and write some better reviews than those idiots up there. The /newstuff Review Center is the place to do so. Put that Doomworld Forums account to constructive use, because you need one to submit reviews.

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the_miano said:

Simple weapon rebalance for efficient combat - vanilla DEHACKED mod[/b] - scifista42
Reviewed by: the_miano
[B]I personally enjoy playing mods that have altered weapon mechanics, but this one just doesn't seem all that special. ... There are probably plenty of other WADS that have much better re-balanced weapons than this.

IDK what did you expect from a simple weapon rebalance. I didn't want to make a mind-blowing weapon mod, if I wanted that, I wouldn't use DEHACKED. I actually wanted to make minimum changes to vanilla behaviour, and only for the sake of an improvement:
-Pistol is worthlessly slow -> Sped it up, made it accurate.
-SG is slow (superseded by SSG) -> Sped it up.
-Repetitive SSGing many enemies might get boring -> Sped up the SSG too.
-Chaingun+Chainsaw underpowered -> Sped them up.
-BFG is an unbalanced game-breaking weapon -> Removed blast effect and made it comparable to the plasma gun.
-Zombiemen are harmless -> Increased aggressivity.
-Pinky demon is harmless -> Increased walking and attack speed.
-Revenant's missile is OP -> Decreased damage.
-Arachnotron's not threatening enough due to long charge -> Shortened their charge.

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the_miano said:

There are other instances where you just can't even beat levels without the use of cheat codes because you are thrown into thresholds of powerful enemies and nowhere to find cover.

Guess that means I'm a 1337 player. Never even used saves, let alone cheats.

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Da Werecat said:

Guess that means I'm a 1337 player. Never even used saves, let alone cheats.

Weirdly enough, neither did I.

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can't work out what was "untested" about the zzsketch gameplay, I played the hell out of them before uploading. very dismissive review

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yakfak said:

I played the hell out of them before uploading.

You need to get other people to test them. Not just to make sure they work, but to make sure the fighting is enjoyable to play (which it wasn't) and the puzzles are intuitive to solve (which they weren't). You can never know those things from self testing because you know where everything is and how everything works.

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Pirx said:

wow, that's indeed beautiful. barely looks like the good old doom engine.

Yeah. Visually, it's just the sprites that remind you of the fact that you're in Doom. :)

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I played Hexasketch in December and recorded some speedruns for it, too. Can largely confirm all that mouldy wrote about it.

Take MAP01, for example. It's a very small map but you can run around it in circles for an hour without getting anywhere. Why? Because to make any progress you must run counter-clockwise three times around the tower in the middle. Once you do the third circle, the lift with the chaingun lowers. Very clever, indeed; but how is the player supposed to figure it out?

Yes, the tripwires the player is expected to cross are represented by light strips on the floor, but these are faint and could be easily dismissed as mere decorative lighting. The only other clue is the noises from the control sectors inside the tower that rise and lower while you circle it. Yes, the observant player may connect those noises to the running, but they are more likely to make him think that something is not working right rather than point him the right way. All this is not intuitive at all.

An intuitive way to do this would be something like this: colored arrows scrolling around and blinking numbers at even intervals on the tower walls. The latter would count down each circle - 3, 2, 1. You'd need to think of a way to reset them, too, if the player stops or makes a wrong move. Sounds complicated but isn't more than the actual mechanism you employed.

There are also two small rooms where monsters teleport in. They are on opposite sides of the map and have doors that only open from inside. Once the last monster gets out, each closes for good. Both are set as secrets, but there's no way you can get into both with all the monsters in your way. Ungettable secrets, like unkillable monsters, are a design failure.

The second map was a lot less arcane and thus a lot more enjoyable. There was a huge HOM at the end when the floor of the whole main chamber rises, though.

And looks like mouldy completely overlooked the unlisted secret map (MAP31). That one was fun to solve and run through quickly. Like with the first two, killing everything would be a little tedious, even though the arsenal is a little more generous.

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Lost Maps was the only thing I enjoyed from all this.

I guess there's really nothing left in this community for me, if everyone wants to crush the few things made I still enjoyed. Thank god there are still places that value their roots.

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hex11 said:

Lost Maps was the only thing I enjoyed from all this.

I guess there's really nothing left in this community for me, if everyone wants to crush the few things made I still enjoyed. Thank god there are still places that value their roots.

"What you enjoyed" is subjective, of course, but Lost Maps really didn't flow well. They were frustrating, unbalanced maps.

"It's not 1996 anymore" is harsh, but we all know of maps that age badly, even maps from 2007 that look like crap now. That's what he's talking about.

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hex11 said:

I guess there's really nothing left in this community for me, if everyone wants to crush the few things made I still enjoyed. Thank god there are still places that value their roots.

drama queen tbh. the review is the opinion of a single person, not "everyone"... for example I liked the baron cage room that was explicitly called out for being poorly balanced.. or whatever. And though a lot of responses to joe's mapping is negative (often for what I'd consider valid reasons) his work is definitely not universally hated.

Unless you're bdl I don't think you need widespread community approval to personally enjoy something. If most people dislike what you like then congrats you're now 'niche', and you have that whole underdog thing going for you now. Similarly, I find a majority of new releases aren't to my tastes, which is pretty much the entire reason I make maps in the first place. Either way, taking an active role in creating/supporting content you enjoy is certainly more productive than rage-quitting the community (which is a threat no one cares about anyways).

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