The DWmegawad Club plays: 50 Shades of Graytall & Erkattäññe



What is the DWmegawad Club?
This is a place where we settle down, have a cup of tea (or drink of your choice) and take a month to play through a megawad on our own, together! Any keen observations, criticisms, or frustrated ranting about it goes here in the discussion. As long as you want to say something about what you've played, feel free to speak your mind.

Can I join?
Sure. The only rule is that you have to play at least some of the levels in our monthly megawad to contribute, but you're generally encouraged to finish the whole thing, even if you've played it before.

What levels am I allowed to post about?
We’re playing a map a day of 50 Shades of Graytall first, and then starting Erkattäññe on the 19th, one map per day as usual.

Do I have to post an entry every day?
Nope, not at all. This is only for our more enthusiastic members. As long as you play through it with us you’re part of the club.

When do we vote on the next month’s megawad?
Voting begins on the 25th of the current month.

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>>>DOWNLOAD 50 SHADES OF GRAYTALL HERE<<<

>>>DOWNLOAD ERKATTÄÑÑE HERE<<<

We have a dangerous double decker of two 2015 mapsets barreling towards us at high speeds! 50 Shades of Graytall is a Boom compatible set of maps that only utilizes 3 (ugly) textures and 2 flats to create some wild visuals and gameplay. On the other side of the spectrum is Nicolas Monti’s unique Erkattäññe, a vanilla-compatible “classic” episode based around Doom 2’s techbases (or Knee-Deep if you’re into that). We'll be ringin' in the new year with some interesting maps!

Author & Maplist for 50 Shades of Graytall:

MAP01 - "Entrygray” by Jimmy
MAP02 - “Tall, Gray, and Handsome” by Ezormer
MAP03 - "The Gray, the Blu, and the Trakly” by Megalyth
MAP04 - “The Alfonzone” by Alfonzo
MAP05 - “Concrete Flagellation” by Quakis
MAP06 - "Count Trakula’s Castle” by NoisyVelvet
MAP07 - "Address Unknown” by Marcaek
MAP08 - "At the Mountains of Madness” by mouldy
MAP09 - “The Killing Fields” by Joshy
MAP10 - "Big Dwayne’s Orbital Concrete and Propane Emporium” by Mechadon
MAP11 - "Stardust Mayhem” by Breezeep and mouldy
MAP12 - “The Cake Way” by Ribbiks
MAP13 - “Everlasting Fireblu” by 4shockblast
MAP14 - “Astral Nausea” by dobu gabu maru
MAP15 - “The Serpentine Lemniscate” by Xaser
MAP16 - “Mr. Graytall” by TimeofDeath
MAP17 - “THE END” by Marcaek
MAP18 - “Killer Color Blindness” by Argentum


Maplist for Erkattäññe:

MAP01 - "First Matters"
MAP02 - "The Scorpion"
MAP03 - "The Islet"
MAP04 - "Urinals"
MAP05 - "Camara Obscura"
MAP06 - "Dead Signal"
MAP07 - "The Fountain"
MAP08 - "Peri Physeos"
MAP09 - "Abudhnas"
MAP10 - "High Voltage"
MAP11 - "Erkatanne"


BONUS CONTENT
Doomwiki for 50 Shades
Kmxexii reviews: 50 Shades | Erkattäññe
DSDA for 50 Shades
Suitepee plays: 50 Shades 1 2 | Erkattäññe
Lingyan203 plays: 50 Shades | Erkattäññe
Surreily plays Erkattäññe
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OLD THREADS
2012

201320142015

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I like that the club oscillates back and forth in time in mapset choices. After an oldschool megawad we're off to some of last year's acclaimed projects, starting by what I falsely thought it was a jokewad when I came back to Doomworld but rather one of the latest community projects based on a mapping limitation experiment.

Before starting things out, I got a dozen MAPINFO errors when loading 50shades.WAD in GZDoom 2.0.5. Are these errors irrelevant for playing through or should I consider switching ports for a better experience?

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UV. PrBoom+. Pistol starts. Etc.

Map01: "Entrygray"

A very light map modeled after Doom 2's "Entryway": among other things, we see the start room with triangular stairs in the center; the outdoor shotgun secret in the southeast; the potion alcove at the northeast, which guards a secret SSG instead of a RL. The progression has been changed, however -- the imp lift is now mandatory, and not secret. The overall geometry is even more distorted and TWIDded than the original Doom II (!), fitting for the psychedelic aesthetic the limited texture set naturally depicts. We can treat HOM as a fourth texture, by the way. Cute. Map01 introduces us to what I imagine might be a general rule of "50 Shades" -- when you aren't sure how to progress, just hump walls at texture shifts.

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I hope people enjoy the shapes of Erkattanne... just like 50 Shades, it's easy to dismiss as garish but the simple looping and stepped layouts of Erkattanne maps really are joyous. I've played both these maps sets to death already but I hope you all enjoy them too!

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Two of the worst picks for cacowards in the history, yet who am I, only the discord to be silenced. Enjoy your morbid surrealism(tm).

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Preamble: 50shades.wad

50 Shades of Graytall. I first played this when it was still in beta, and I was pretty surprised at its quality. Even discarding the generally solid gameplay, some of these maps look better than I ever could have imagined possible with such a limited and crap selection of textures. Liking what I saw, I suggested it to the rest of TeamTNS.
And then the time for that survival session came. We started playing at 7pm, and though players came and went, some of us remained until 11pm. The following evening. We played through the WAD completely five times. The sixth rotation was so sadistic, it finally brought the session to an end, after which me and Nevan got to work making the highlights video (see below), which turned out to be an hour long itself.
After playing a WAD for over a day with little break, I didn't think I would be playing 50shades for a very long time.

And now here we are! The survival session was my main experience of this WAD, so I'll probably be referring to it throughout write-ups, assuming I can actually keep doing them for once :P



So let's begin. HMP, continuous.

MAP01: Entrygray - James "Jimmy" Paddock
Deaths: 0 | Time: 01:50

Embarassingly, it was only until a couple of days ago that I realised this is a re-imagining of Doom II's first level, as if it hadn't been made obvious enough already by the pun in the map title. I can only think that this must have been due to the radical change in texturing, and the changes to the layout. Everything seems more interconnected in this map than in its original counterpart. In fact, it was only the health potion room with its SSG secret that made me realise Entrygray's origins.

In keeping with its ancestor, Entrygray is as short as one would expect from an opener. The only gripe I had when I first played this was that the HOM switches seemed to be an odd choice, but I guess they're positioned in such obvious places here (and the fact there's only like two in the map) that it doesn't really make a difference. What I would say though is that they were kind of annoying in multiplayer because we had no idea if a player had already pressed a switch before us. When you're not first to join, you assume that all the players that rushed ahead of you have completed some portion of the map. Such a complaint doesn't really apply to this map, but it was a small irritation later on, if I remember correctly.

Not much else to say about this first map. It's by no means the most fun to be had in the WAD, but is still good enough to fix that idea that 50shades isn't going to be the appalling mess that you might expect from looking at screenshots of some maps.

8/10

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Let’s give this a try, if only because I want to vote for HR next month.

MAP01: Entrygray by James Paddock (Jimmy)

UV Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93AW8mUQ2QA&feature=youtu.be

I’ll warn you right now, this run is a total mess and not slick in the slightest. OpenGL seems to work better than the software renderer (which gave me HOMs on the switches), so I’ll stick with that for now. Not sure what to think of the design here, it has a sense of holistic completeness but it’s very, very weird. This is reasonably challenging for a MAP01, thanks to those Revenants and the constant absence of cover. Good start.

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All right, let's do this. ZDoom, HMP, continuous play.

50SHADES MAP01: Entrygray

Well, this is all kinds of trippy to look at, with its skyfloor and flaming blue-red walls and ALL THE GRAY. Underneath the psyschedelic paint job the gameplay is a relatively straightforward reworking of Doom 2 MAP01, though placing the start point out effectively in the fenced-off area beyond that map's chainsaw does a good job of disguising that origin until you've got your teeth into the rest of the map a little bit. It's going to be interesting to see what the WAD's various authors can wring from its limitations. :)

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GZDoom, freelook on, pistol start, UV.

MAP01 - "Entrygray” by Jimmy - UVMax on third attempt

Wow, that's a lot of translucent textures: mostly no floor, lots of surrealism tricks that hides corridors, and some shafts such as the green armor and the secret SSG just does not have any textures at all. I don't think I would've recognize Doom2 MAP01 without the other's comments.

Gameplaywise it's just about what to expect from a MAP01, mostly hitscanners and a few revenants here and there. The chainsaw has little to no use (though I guess it's here for the MAP01 tribute more than anything else), and the couple deaths taught me to not waste shells on zombies. Though discovering the SSG seals the deal against revenants.

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hi, happy new year guys.

MAP01 Entrygray

it's Entryway done with minimalism and a cool purpley sky. um, I got nothing.

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Alright, so a preface for those of you that don’t map—these textures are terrible. I mean it’s obvious if you look at them, but when you’re sitting with Doom Builder and staring at a blank canvas, it can be difficult to think up something to do with a white wall with one red stripe, a black/gray strip, and an animated texture that uses two bright, clashing colors. Mapping out a level first and then pasting GRAYTALL over the walls can result in an competent experience, but it won’t make for an interesting mapset if you played 18 “ugly but fun” maps. Failing to utilize the textures in a way that make them seem interesting rather than the rejects they are would essentially doom the project as an eccentric joke, so it’s cool to look back and see how that was avoided (primarily due to Marcaek, as he did a fabulous job leading the project and booting any projects that didn’t capitalize on the textures—kudos on your stern hand!)

Beyond how nasty each texture is, you also need to solve a lot of other problems you don’t encounter while mapping. What do you use to signify a door? What about a locked door? A lift? A switch? How do you make one room feel different than the next? Whereas all of these might be answered with “use texture X”, now you’re forced between three texture at all times, and some of the authors here have really creative solutions to this problem—the most versatile being the skybox stuff. Lighting is also super important and will be used in a lot of clever ways here too, both for atmosphere and utility.

50 Shades is a bit of a strange project to look at if you’re not a mapper in my opinion, as part of the fun of playing it is seeing how each author executes differently than you on this premise. I feel this way with a lot of the limiting maps—speedmaps, 100 Lines, 1024 projects—but perhaps it’s more interesting here since it’s about handling textures in a unique way, as opposed to architecture and design (well, that’s a part of it too, but it’s in service of the visuals). I mentioned this in Suitepee’s stream, but I feel 50 Shades is the spiritual successor to the Monochrome Mapping project, and in many ways surpasses the minimalist goal Monochrome was aiming for. I actually haven’t played the mapset without IDDQD yet (I just wanted to check out what each author made), so I'll get to see if the gameplay is as solid as the visuals this time around.

MAP01: Fantastic work from Jimmy. Not only does it feature a good amount of detail from room to room, but this is how you do a redesign of a classic map. The homages are there but it’s not in your face with its Entryway-isms. The revenants are a peculiar inclusion as you’re at a disadvantage while fighting them (only have the SG and a few shells), but everything plays okay and remains fun. Love the invisible sky stairs; sometimes I feel like Jimmy is incapable of making a bad map.

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MAP02 - “Tall, Gray, and Handsome” by Ezormer - UVMax on first try

Less hitscanners and better weaponry makes for a easier level then the first one. Most of the map has actual floor (indoors that is), for some reason I'm still puzzled about having skybox floors (that happen to always remind me of Eternal Doom MAP23) but I suppose there is no proper stock floor texture to go with outdoors that meshes well with GREYTALL and friends. But, well, there's still 16 maps left.

So here we have switches symbolized by lighted arrows and key doors with colored torches. I liked the intertwined progression of the level with very little backtracking that makes up for a smooth playthrough. The second secret trick was well thought, too.

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MAP02: Tall, Gray and Handsome by Ezormer

UV Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_ZUVOH6YPw&feature=youtu.be

I accidentally stopped recording before the end time showed up, but it was 7:43. This one is visually very similar to MAP01. It starts off easier, but requires more and more infighting and quick thinking as time goes on, especially since ammo isn’t plentiful. Not bad, but I won’t say I’m necessarily warming up to the aesthetics.

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Map02: "Tall, Gray, and Handsome"

Another light outing, "TG&H" is a vomitbase in the middle of space, a residence for cacodemons who like to paint their faces all sorts of garish colors and spook kids in the middle of the night. The population slants towards mid-tier monsters, but they are far from threatening with the ample space the player is provided. You should be humping FIREBLU-DOORTRAK fixtures in the absence of any special cues, which makes the light arrows come off as an unneeded hand-holding gesture. The soulsphere secret is basically free. A voodoo doll in combination with skill-dependent blocking objects could have been used to keep the arrows to the lower difficulty settings. The layout loops around itself smartly -- at the end, we revisit the starting ledge, which has transformed into a bridge to the exit. A quick post-session glance at the level in GZDB shows that all of the GRAYTALL walls are split into countless smaller pieces, presumably to get the red stripes to align in a fashionable way.

Spoiler

Just shows the extra amount of effort mapping this way must take!

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dobu gabu maru said:

I mentioned this in Suitepee’s stream, but I feel 50 Shades is the spiritual successor to the Monochrome Mapping project, and in many ways surpasses the minimalist goal Monochrome was aiming for.


Yeah, I was going to say, I think the two naturally link together and it's quite interesting how they ended up differently. Seems to me that MMP ended up being filled mostly with new authors and as such mostly amateurish efforts, though there were a few gems here and there. 50 Shades, despite the jokey title, seems to have attracted many more veteran mappers. Part of this is probably due to stricter, more interesting rules ... for example, MMP originally limited it to two flats/two textures but then let people choose textures of their own, including colored lighting). But I do wonder if it also happened because they wanted to "do MMP right" or whatever.

I also agree that a lot of these maps are more interesting from the design perspective than as the end product.

MAP01: Entrygray
100% kills, 2/2 secrets

And this is a perfect example of that. On it's own, it can be summed up as remade Entryway with a weird sky floor. But it's interesting to see a few of the tricks used. First is that two textures with sky next to each other with different heights will eliminate the 'step' texture, allowing for the sky-floor to have invisible steps. The other is the use of dummy sectors to get in some extra switch textures (albeit with HOM effects). Not much to say beyond that.

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MAP02: Tall, Gray, and Handsome

Much more variety in monsters and weapons here, as well as a wholly original layout to keep things fresh. The limited textures force every possible texture use to be boiled down to three categories, which are each assigned a single texture to represent them - GRAYTALL for 'plain' textures, DOORTRAK for trim textures, FIREBLU1 for functional and detail textures, representing doors and switches and popping up in places where conventional maps would use a fleshy or tech-detailed niche, a gargoyle, anything to break up the monotony. One consequence of this is how visual information is reduced to the functional and the structural.

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MAP02: Tall, Gray and Handsome - Ezormer
Deaths: 1 | Time: 02:57

This is where it all ended in TNS. On our sixth rotation of the maplist, we turned on perma-reality mode, where you would be killed if so much as a zombieman hit you. It never got past this map.

The main thing to talk about in Tall, Gray and Handsome is the well-crafted layout, which loops around on itself in quite a few places in quite a neat way, and manages to do so without using any map transformations, except for the bridge that rises when you head for the exit. The impression that I got from this map is that it wants you to use the rocket launcher, but for me it just doesn't seem to provide enough rockets, so the SSG ends up doing the bulk of the work. Not that this is really an issue, but I do love going nuts with rocket launchers, and I did so when I could here. That is, until one of those evil eyes got in the way and I blew myself up on it. Bah.

Although TG&H has the more complex layout, there are no areas that particularly stand out in comparison to Entrygray before it, for example, Entrygray's start area is quite memorable with its sky floor and other such things, whereas this map doesn't really have anything in that regard, except for that bit where you teleport from one side of a sky pit to the other, on the way to the red key (this also presents a decent opportunity for telefragging lost souls, I find).
Still, with decent enough gameplay to make up for it, the map does well enough, though this might also be helped by the fact its part of a larger set, such a map released standalone might not be rated as highly.

In summary, Ezormer presents us with a solid layout, and decent gameplay, but with a lack of distinctive interesting areas that a map with such unusal limitations really needs in order to shine. It's a good one, but there are gems to be had in 50shades, and this isn't one of them.

7/10

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MAP02 Tall, Gray, and Handsome

I like small levels with very rote gameplay that some people consider boring. it's a nice level without too much in the way of challenge and just quite relaxing. the switches aren't too hard to figure out either.

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MAP02: Tall, Gray and Handsome
100% kills, 1/2 secrets

The first thing I noticed is heavy use of texture alignment on the GRAYTALL here, in order to remove the greenish slime trail part and thus allow the texture to be a somewhat nice grey/red-stripe mix that tiles well vertically. There's also an answer for "how do you handle switches and doors" - in this map, the doors are FIREBLU with DOORTRAK stripes, and the switches use a unique design with a FIREBLU stripe, dark cubbyhole and a small lit triangle. What I like is that the map does a good job of teaching this to the player (somewhat like Portal does) by providing an unskippable, obvious switch/door setup at the start.

I echo Eris' comments that this map has a nice looping layout, but ultimately plays it pretty safe, as it's a lot of monolithic corridors with a few windows to other areas.

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Alright, as I probably mentioned somewhere else before, I've played bits and pieces of 50 Shades of Graytall previously (mainly beta/early versions of certain maps, including a couple which used the concept but didn't make it into the final set), and so I've got a pretty good handle on what we're getting into here--expect the unexpected. Limitation-based projects are usually not of any special interest to me (as in, I generally don't consider them any more attractive than a 'regular' mapset would be, perhaps even less so depending on the nature of the limitation), but I've been quite looking forwards to playing this particular project for quite some time, based almost entirely on its roster of authors, which on name value alone I would consider to be uncommonly strong for a "community" project of this general type, featuring both a number of well-established purveyors of Doom goodness and a hearty smattering of work by several interesting up-and-comings whose main body of work presently exists either A) in chronically dev-locked projects or B) in the form of speedmaps (which I suppose I'm guilty of mentally denigrating to some degree in comparison to "full" maps, whatever that distractingly vague label means). The project limitation is a very challenging one, but this is also a very talented group, and so prognosis is looking bright, like so much FIREBLU and starlight.

Given my somewhat piecemeal exposure to the WAD to this point, I'm just going to do a laid back/leisurely first play here, which for me means Eternity, UV, pistol-starts, little to no saving unless I find myself decisively outmatched, etc.

Map 01 -- Entrygray - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets

*snorts noncommittally at the epilepsy warning conspicuously pasted onto the intermap tally screen*

Or maybe I DON'T have any real idea what we're getting ourselves into here....

.....anyway. Don't beat yourself up, Eris, were it not for the level's title I reckon I very easily could've overlooked that Jimmy's map 01 offering is an Entryway homage, as well (which speaks in its favor, IMO). The most obvious points of reference are probably the two secret weapons (esp. the tactically superfluous but nevertheless welcome chainsaw); once you recognize those the origins of the rest of the layout become much more clear, but that realization notwithstanding, I reckon it's easy to miss the similarities not only due to the obvious aesthetic departures, but also because the order of emphasis on cardinal areas of the ancestral map has been changed somewhat--i.e. the analog to the two-switch/blue carpet room is now the focal point of enemy resistance, accessing the placed shotgun's patio is now very straightforward because the same mechanism ties into the level's exit, etc.--although the overall flow remains largely intact.

Moment-to-moment gameplay is, perhaps intuitively, for the most part very standard map 01 fare, presenting a slow trickle of imps and former human deadbeats for the player to scornfully thresh through like a rockdrill through warm marmalade, with the two commandos in the erstwhile 'pillboxes' along the bending northerly hallway (some kind of vague/playful E1M1 reference, perhaps?) representing the only thing remotely resembling an obstacle. The presence of a sergeant or two early on means you no longer need to use the pistol for very long, probably the biggest fundamental departure from the original map's gameplay. Given the very 'classic' tone of the opening moments I suppose I was somewhat surprised to see a few revenants used farther in, but it's no big deal....I think I met the first guy in the zigzag hallway when he casually jogged over to me from some other part of the level (as opposed to first encountering the enemy in a designed setpiece or the like). I said "hi" and attacked him with my chainsaw for no real reason. He said "HAAOORKHHH" (translation: "hi") and punched me once for minimum possible damage (thx RNJeebus). Then he fell down and stopped moving. I said "okay bye" and went along my merry way, wholly unagitated. This 5 second exchange was undoubtedly the climax of the map's action.

On a more abstract gameplay level, I reckon the main thing that stands out here is Jimmy's use of HOM to denote switchfaces, doortrack to denote other types of interactive surface, and architectural indentations to denote actual doors (none of which can be opened directly in this case). The issue of conveyance of key points of interactivity such as these is naturally going to be something of a sticking point for the assorted authors given the project's strict resource limitation, and so in that sense I suppose it makes perfect sense to open up the mapset with a riff on one of the most famous of all IWAD maps--presumably the vast majority of Doomers know map 01 by heart, and so knowledge of the original's level progression conveniently serves to demonstrate how things like switches and lifts and doors and such might feasibly be rendered with Graytall's very limited pool of assets. Jimmy's conventions for these things here are hardly hard/fast rules for portraying similar objects in other/later maps, notably--HOM is not always a switch, doortrak doesn't always mark lifts/platforms, etc.--but in broad form they serve as a good primer on what to look for for the benefit of any 'navigationally challenged' Doomguy who may happen along.

Aesthetically the graybase (tallbase?) here is serviceable enough, though I suppose it's telling that the level feature which most persistently catches the eye is entirely cosmetic, that being the delicate fireblu colonnade crowning the peripheral walls, which serves to frame and highlight the 'outdoor' areas as notable points of focus in the layout, something which might otherwise be a bit of a blurry distinction given the roofless aspect and prevalence of skyfloor in the 'indoor' areas, most notable with the simulation of an invisible inclined plane on the stairway out of the base's foyer. The BGM selection was a mite too silly for my taste (though this can hardly be parsed as a project that takes itself deathly seriously to begin with, of course), but on the whole, the overall presentation is quite palatable and coherent, not the inert gray blob one might expect. There is much to be said for asset selection in presenting a good-looking Doom level, of course, but as the purveyors of 50 Shades aim to demonstrate, you can do quite a lot with very little given some imagination, a deference to structure and lighting, and a bit of elbow grease.

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I'll skip to make comments on 50 Shades. I'm still playing it since it was released and I'm currently on MAP08. Aside MAP04 and MAP07 I didn't like so much the rest of what I have played so far. Seeing how the lightning and things were used to give some decorations to the levels with the tricks and gimmicks used to make doors/lifts/switches was much more interesting than playing the wad itself.
I'm looking forward to play Erkattäññe.

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Map 02 -- Tall, Gray, and Handsome - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Ezormer is one of only two contributors to this project whose name I don't know from somewhere else (the other being the mysterious Argentum). From what I see here I might conclude that he (or she) is a relatively new but well-grounded mapper, here delivering a solidly playable but fairly unambitious/traditional offering in the map 02 slot, perhaps not quite what one might expect to see in a project with such a weird root concept.

Combat here is simple and direct, offering a steady stream of mostly frontal/direct opposition to chew through not at all unlike what was seen in map 01, but also quite well-paced, with a marked skew towards Doom II enemies (commandos, revenants, mancubi, etc.) that still feels decisively like an early game outing on account of a direct focus on the SSG and the rocket launcher (with a touch of 'zerk fist for extra flavor), as well as very practical yet also quite comfortable approach to economy of space, where most battlegrounds (even the fairly nondescript hallways between larger rooms/yards) offer the player plenty of room to move and/or retreat at will while being structurally simple enough to shape most encounters as freestyle dodge/shoot engagements. Proper traps/ambushes are rare to nonexistent (even the flanking popup hellknights in the last upstairs area are of no real concern given the ease of breaching/clearing their spacious room), but the author has done a good job of keeping the blood flowing by regularly porting fairly meaty squads of monsters into the interstitial hallways throughout the level's runtime, making the playspace feel more 'alive' by precluding the somewhat sterile feeling of methodically clearing a series of one-off rooms while also offering the player the opportunity to fight in familiar locations from unfamiliar vantages, ala the chance for merciless snipery against the weaklings below upon obtaining the red skull key. The spacious nature of rooms and general freedom to retreat allows different Doomers to comfortably move at different paces and use different tactics, which is about as much as one can realistically ask from something as straightforward as this is. Myself, I used a goodly amount of infighting and all of the rockets at my disposal to clean house as efficiently as possible; on that note, I would agree with Eris that a few extra rockets would've been nice, as it's fun to shoot them at the reinforcement squads while they funnel haplessly through this or that corridor, but there aren't quite enough of them to be able to do this consistently. Also of note is the second secret, which supplies neither a material reward nor a hidden vista or the like, but provides a teleport line to allow the player to instantly outflank one of the reinforcement squads. Rather novel concept of "reward" there, I must say, although it was lost on me because I didn't find it until re-searching the level at the end, and I don't remember encountering any battle where the ability to blink away would've seemed like much of a real boon.

Aesthetically, this is again quite presentable, in no way something I would deem 'ugly', though given the stark resource restrictions and generally very practical approach to architecture/layout there's not a whole lot to stand out here besides the glowing/scrolling FIREBLU pilasters which mark the aperture which eventually turns out to be the level's exit, and perhaps the FIREBLUE/dootrak-stripe standard doors, which I felt were visually rather crass and thus not much of a feather in the level's cap. Some significant degree of care has obviously taken to wrangle the limited resources together for a very visually 'clean' presentation--the careful trimming of the grimy streaks on GRAYTALL itself as mentioned by other Clubbers being a prime example--but all told a nondescript cleanness is really the level's only lasting impression, which is why I labeled the approach to the set concept as somewhat 'unambitious' above. BGM suited me better here, at least, an anonymous/pleasant backbeat tune to go along with the somewhat anonymous/pleasant surroundings and action.

Certainly palatable, but I can certainly believe what I'm reading from other posters that it's not likely to be one of the set's more memorable maps.

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MAP03: The Gray, the Blu and the Trakly - Megalyth
Deaths: 2 | Time: 05:38

After a fairly subdued experience thus far with the first two maps, Megalyth ramps up the difficulty with this one. Although remaining quite small in size, the map presents us with a monster distribution centred heavily on mid-tier monsters. It's a pretty fun challenge for sure, and a first time player will likely be caught out by some of the traps here. That said, once you know their coming, it's just a case of having the right weapon ready when it's needed. Rockets are very useful for in cleaning out the spiders and the first arch-vile, and later the revenant horde before the red key area. The plasma rifle is only really useful when you first get it, though it makes a nice substitute if you run out of rockets, which seemed to be very easy to do for me.

The cyberdemons on the other hand aren't quite as straightforward. It's all too easy to dodge the rocket from one of them and then run into the rocket of another, which happened to me twice. The safest method seems to be luring one of them around the structure that houses the red key, and killing it before the other can get you back in its sights. Simple in theory, but it's not the easiest situation I've come across.
I noticed that both cyberdemons are present on HNTR too, which I find questionable. Not sure if your average HNTR player is really up to the challenge of taking on two cybers at once, but knowing what the rest of this WAD is like, it probably doesn't even matter in the long run. Nevertheless, I probably would have just the one there myself.

FIREBLU features prominently, and can be seen here plastered across large surfaces, forming the primary texture of what I assume would be some sort of rocky cavern were this a map for a normal project. Of course, it's ugly as sin, perhaps fitting given the title of the map, but that said, it's less offensive than one might expect when you mention "rooms made entirely out of fireblu." The lighting variation does wonders in that regard in the first of these areas, though the second is pretty much devoid of it.

Overall, this is a pretty good map, presenting a well-balanced challenge, although it is certainly a pretty sharp and sudden increase in difficulty. I don't remember the following two maps being particularly difficult, so this map might be misplaced, though it's been a while, so I could be wrong there.

8/10

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Map03: "The Gray, the Blu, and the Trakly"

We're still in the early days, so there's nothing particularly challenging here, but "The Gray, the Blu, and the Trakly" is where the mapset starts to make token nods towards danger. In fact, this map stakes its emotive claim almost entirely in that initial thrill of falling into a trap. That's a feeling that I like, and so this was a map that I enjoyed. The polyspecies blue key trap is possibly the most dangerous, but once you hear the warp in, gtfo-ing and camping out in safety at the mouth of the caves is fairly natural, spiders deployed to block the escape path be damned.

In contrast to map02's smartly looping layout, map03 is somewhat disjointed, however, twice calling for awkward stretches of backtracking on the journey back to the key doors -- cleverly represented by tiny squares of FIREBLU aligned to emphasize their respective colors. At least the first stretch pits us against a light surprise repopulating of the start area, in keeping with the map's theme.

Aesthetically, "TGBT" is about as rote as they come at its core -- the bedazzled equivalent of a techbase or light brick fortification set in the middle of caves. But color me surprised as all fuck that the full-bright (!!!) FIREBLU caves managed to look as good as they did. That the floor and sky are so complementary plays a not too small role in that.

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