The DWmegawad Club plays: Bloodstain



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?
Whatever day of the month it is, is the upper limit for the map you can post on. So if it's the 6th, you may discuss up to MAP06.

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. Remember to add a “+++” before your vote to make it easier to count.

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>>>DOWNLOAD BLOODSTAIN HERE<<<

After exploring some extraterrestrial conspiracy theories out in the desert, it’s time to return to a more traditional journey through hell! Bloodstain is a one man megawad by Pavel “Pipicz” Tvrzník, containing some gorgeous architecture packed with plenty of monsters to shoot. Onwards!

Maplist for Bloodstain:

MAP01 - "Inception”
MAP02 - "Brass Square”
MAP03 - "Conquered Quarters”
MAP04 - "Fallout Shelter
MAP05 - "The Intersection
MAP06 - "Anomaly Entrance
MAP07 - "The Amphitheater”
MAP08 - "Toxic Sea”
MAP09 - "Mountain Outpost”
MAP10 - "Shimmering Grotto”
MAP11 - "Verdant”
MAP12 - "The Slimy Dens”
MAP13 - "Autumn”
MAP14 - "Dryad’s Garden”
MAP15 - "Secluded Stronghold”

MAP31 - “Labyrinthe”
MAP32 - "Heavenly”

MAP16 - "Malleus Maleficarum”
MAP17 - "The Eerie Keep”
MAP18 - "Terracotta Palace”
MAP19 - "Icebreaker”
MAP20 - "The Great Furnace”
MAP21 - "The Purgatory Gateway”
MAP22 - "Chambers of Suffering”
MAP23 - "Perdition”
MAP24 - "Sulfur”
MAP25 - "The Disciples of Babel”
MAP26 - "The Corrupted Mill”
MAP27 - "Slaughterworks”
MAP28 - "Descent into Madness”
MAP29 - "Ov Fire and the Void”
MAP30 - "The Deepest Abyss”

BONUS CONTENT
kmxexii’s review
Lingyan203's playthrough
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OLD THREADS
2012

2013201420152016

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Well it's about time! Surprised it took this long to get voted in honestly. I'll probably do a play-through of Bloodstain on stream, might post some comments in the thread as well. We'll see :)

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Rayzik said:

Well it's about time! Surprised it took this long to get voted in honestly.

With a lot of other high-profile names taking the spotlight, it's been a tough year nominations; I honestly think Hellbound has been our most neglected megawad thus far (though I'd also argue Alien Vendetta has been perplexingly absent from our votes too.)

Anyway, playing in Zdoom, keyboard, saves, and *gasp* continuous! Main reason I’m doing this is because of dew’s impressions in the Bloodstain thread, where he foretold of some grindiness later on that’s likely to grind my gears if I’m not given a rocket launcher. Might abandon ship if the maps get too long however, since I really want to spend my time this *mapping* rather than *playing* this month.

MAP01: Fairly tame opener here. Tvrzník gives us some nice detail to ogle here but nothing too ornate—honestly it’s a hard act to follow Ancient Aliens and still get us to drop our jaw. Anyway, the gameplay is your typical MAP01 fare with maybe an unexpected rev that shows up at the end. I like the double platform drop trap executed here, but that’s about all that tickled my fancy.

Gonna reiterate that Hell is usually my favorite part of a megawad visually & gameplay-wise, so I expect all the easy-peasy techbase stuff to do no more than mildly entertain me.

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dobu gabu maru said:

Anyway, playing in Zdoom, keyboard, saves, and *gasp* continuous! Main reason I’m doing this is because of dew’s impressions in the Bloodstain thread, where he foretold of some grindiness later on that’s likely to grind my gears if I’m not given a rocket launcher. Might abandon ship if the maps get too long however, since I really want to spend my time this *mapping* rather than *playing* this month.


I would also agree that, just like Hellbound, Bloodstain is probably more fun played continuously. I would honestly like to see more megawads that take continuous play into account and are not all about being made for speedrunning. Although I did do a pistol start run prior and it wasn't as bad as I expected. At the very least, you frequently get some armour and a weapon near the start. As far as map length goes, only a few of the later maps are lengthy but nothing compared to Alien Vendetta or Hellbound. I think it's a pretty great wad, and as that review mentioned, plays quite a bit differently than what you'd expect from a modern release. It really has that feel of something released 10 years ago.

Edit: Major advice for anyone using Smooth Doom or some other sprite enhancing mod. It screws with the new Baron and can potentially mess up the Nazi replacement Zombie as well. Remove the smooth, beautiful, sparkling or whatever versions of those monsters from the mod.

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The usual: Playing in Zandronum 3.0 with a ton of visual mods, UV Pistol Start and out of combat saving.

Map 01: Inception

Hey, we're back on Phobos again with the classic E1 Chinese mountain sky. Looks like it has been terraformed though and is full of green trees and grass. Certainly helps make the unusual sky choice back in Doom 1 make more sense here. Plus, I'm a big fan of tree sprites. The corpses in front of you set the tone and get you ready to open the door and pistol some Zombiemen. For those who aren't huge fans of pistol gameplay, there's a Chainsaw secret switch which lowers the lift in the small "room" to the immediate left as well as a backpack to help with continuous play to the right, all up in the towers overlooking the starting area. If the pistol and chainsaw aren't your weapons of choice, there's a Berserk Pack not far ahead with an obligatory demon warp in to do some punching. The second trap involves a lift that gives you a shotgun and lowers you into a cramped room with a 4 Imp party. I like how the bridge is used here to give a more 3D feel to the level since you walk over it and then under as you move to the next area. This wad features a ton of bridges that cross over parts of the maps. The final secret is some armour behind metal bars to the right of the blue key tower with the lift. The maps ends with another Imp party at the bottom of a short drop and an easy Revenant to punch out if you hit only one of the switches to partially open the exit.

A standard but enjoyable map 01 with some melee action, if that's your thing, or pistol/shotgun shooting if it ain't.

Also I might try some of that demo recording stuff for the fun of it so here's the first map.

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haha thanks for the demo rileymartin!

- i didnt think to use the shotgun on the imp drops so got myself caught out trying to punch them
- thanks for showing the chainsaw secret; i very much doubt i would find that myself!
- cool little exploit for the revenant. i didnt think of that either.

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rehelekretep said:

- i didnt think to use the shotgun on the imp drops so got myself caught out trying to punch them


Punching them out works quite well too. I was surprised when I got trapped before the exit and nearly scratched to death by the two side Imps. Also, with tall actors on, if you somehow lower the platform before jumping down, the Imps can block you from below and shooting down without free aim doesn't work too well there. It's my least favourite part of complevel ports.

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........................

.....what's with all the anime girls lately? *

Uh, anyway. Ultraviolence, pistol-starts, etc. etc. etc. Kind of like rdwpa's experience with Ancient Aliens last month, I've played bits and pieces of this set prior to the Club's runthrough, and I also happened to catch Nevanos streaming a couple of the midgame maps (without actually having played them myself), but there's still a pretty good portion of it that'll be new to me. I already have some general impressions percolating from what I've played so far, we'll see how experiencing the whole shebang impacts that.

Map 01 -- Inception - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Very orthodox opening shot, here, with Doomguy standing outside of yet another podunk UAC base where things have apparently gone pear-shaped, in what appears to be the oft implied yet seldom seen Phobos greenbelt. The visual style is an interesting one, understated and with a very self-consciously "classic" sensibility, yet with unapologetically modern production values. It's a look created not so much through wild new texture assets, ostentatious architecture, or histrionically idiosyncratic shapes, but rather through some fresh inflections on very traditional themes and an eye towards little bits of worldbuilding flair like the bodies (marine and otherwise) strewn around the base's entry latch, or the implicit positioning of the base proper just above the greenbelt's treeline.

The base proper is a very utilitarian installation of brick, metal, and unpolished cement with a grassy yard or two--the sort of stone and earthen look which could just as easily pass for something from the greyer parts of The Plutonia Experiment were it not for the iconic Phobos skyline being there to manage perceptions. It's squat and neat and small in scale, with a more or less orthogonal blueprint, but never really feels blocky or spatially cramped except for where it's actively attempting to (e.g. the ambush-lifts), again putting me in mind of something a bit more old-fashioned. The action is very traditional PWAD map 01 fare in pace and scope, as well, kicking off with a solid dose of handgun vs. zombies play, with melee (either flavor) available as an alternative from very early on. The berserk pickup is even accompanied by a complementary pack of pinkies to pugnaciously pulverize with your pugilistic prize, a trope that is approximately as old as dirt (still one I personally like, though), and the casual inclusion of which may be taken as another hint on the general bent of things to come. This sort of traditional map 01 gameplay is not really my bag, as I've said before, and so I personally got more out of the 'touristy' part of the experience (e.g. looking at and thinking about the architecture, that sort of thing), but it works well enough for what it's trying to do, and will probably appeal to many.

There are a couple of snags I want to mention, though. First, even at this very early stage, we can already see signs of one design element that, from what I've played and seen, continues to be an issue moving deeper into the game: monster pathing, or rather the lack thereof. Blocking lines and thresholds that otherwise stymie monster movement show up noticeably in more than one place here, which can make the action feel a bit more stilted than it needs to; for example, the monsters on the grass pad in the main yard are not allowed to use enter the building proper or use the stairs to climb to the elevated patio, which compromises the initial glut of imps and is flat out demeaning to the two HKs which appear there later. In some cases these incidents can be brushed off as calculated sacrifices in the name of aesthetic (e.g. the monsters south of the 3D bridge not being able to cross to your side when you meet them), but in many cases these inclusions, which are presumably some sort of balancing tool in most cases, hamper the feel of the final product (IMO). It is perhaps worth noting that Czech mapping writ large has seemed to retain a sort of rescaled/repurposed 'zone of influence' flavor from the old Hell Revealed school of design, which certainly has its place, and of course it's also true that if you're any kind of man/woman/entity you'll probably jump down there and mix it up with those HKs rather than cheesing them from the patio just because you CAN, but, like I said, something to keep in mind as we move forward. The other thing is that I personally disapprove of the shotgun's placement. If you've read my ramblings in these threads before you know that I often play the apologist for design decisions that others consider to be categorically improper, but weapon-switch time used as the principle source of danger in an encounter is one of my personal pet peeves, especially when you don't even have the option of not picking up the weapon to avoid the issue! This is a very minor case, of course (just a few measly imps), but like I said.....PEEVE!

Nevertheless, the stage is set, ready to move on.

* Rileymartin's is the cutest. No contest.

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map01

(I wrote this on the 30th, so things like "traditional map01 fare" were plagiarized through a wormhole. :))

This is very traditional mid-2000s map01 fare: a small base staffed primarily with low-tier monsters, tight and looping progression, a polished and unambitious design scheme of a primary structural texture (Plutonia brick here) regularly accented by a support texture. It even has a berserk pack with a very unsurprising pinky warp-in. I'd say the map as a whole is noteworthy for how resistant it is to introducing anything even mildly groundbreaking.

But for what it is, it's fine. I find it hard to dislike these levels when they have a berserk pack, because Tysoning imps and pinkies and hell knights and revenants is fun. This map begs to be played at least somewhat aggressively -- hiding around and chokepoints and pistoling imps isn't going to go so smoothly -- so this time around I rushed to get the shotgun as soon as I remembered the map had one.

Only major gripe is the imp deadfalls are a bit too claustrophobic. Being unable to avoid a scratch or two if the RNG wills the imps to attack immediately is something I don't really like, even if it poses no actual threat to survival. It's uncomfortable. But apart from that, it's an acceptable opener.

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UV, pistol starts, no saving, for as long as i can!
-------------------------------
MAP01 - "Inception” demo here



there was always going to be a come-down after finishing Ancient Aliens off, so i gave this a night's sleep before coming back and writing this up.

+ i like that you can make this harder or easier depending on your preference for a map01, even within the difficulty setting you choose. its perfectly possible to go Tyson only for the whole map if you choose
+ i also liked the intertwining architecture. all very traditional, but done very well

- the MIDI feels incongrous somehow; its very dramatic but the map doesnt feel that way.
- would have preferred a bit more colour variation - not quite sure if this is a base or a prison or something?
- tiny hidden switch secrets!! argh! these are a pain in normal play, and a fiddle to hit during speedruns so i dont like them at all :(
- i also dislike weapon-switch traps. feel very game-like/manipulative

decent start!

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Demon of the Well said:

........................

.....what's with all the anime girls lately? *
* Rileymartin's is the cutest. No contest.


now i really want someone to animate a shaking anime girl gif :D

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Demon of the Well said:

........................

.....what's with all the anime girls lately? *

* Rileymartin's is the cutest. No contest.


it appears to be some sort of new in thing for certain people here to weird others out. I'm generally ambivalent to it but the amount of drama is starting to remind me of '05 or so.

anyways, I assume that dobu has never heard of Agent Orange, they had a hit song called "Bloodstains", and I was hoping for a music pun. I always like to jump on music puns at the first instance. So, same deal as always, getting double ammo since I suck horribly at wasting it, and playing continuous, hey! Someone mentioned it's cool to play continuous. This is hope!

MAP01 Inception

Already we're getting into semantics with the level title eh? Joking of course, but this is a relatively easy opener, mostly pistol action with some berserk action and some easy secrets. Splendid.

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A few words to consider: You might want to avoid playing on UV, especially pistol starts. Yes, yes, it's generally easier and some big hallmark fights might feel a bit defanged in comparison and so on and so forth, but HMP is much more fun. There's a fairly big difference in the HP amount of the corridor fill... the thickness of the doors with health, so to say. Pistol starting every map on UV kept driving me so furious I'd be the Republican presidential candidate if I was American. Continuous might soften the effect because of the carryover arsenal though.

Heed my warning, proud Troy.

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MAP01

Off to a rough start already, more difficult monster placement than the average MAP01 of a megawad, more than a welcome start. Looks like something from "Coffee break EP1" (a mix of all the classic doom Iwads)
I like how layout looks and works, it's not too symmetrical as "Hell revealed", but sometimes it is, the sargent prisoner duo and the exit with the two switches but it's all in good hands as long as it's not abused to the point where it becomes predictable.

5/5

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Taking dew's advice and starting this on HMP -- I am so burned out from Sunlust and Ancient Aliens, neither of which I completed despite being excellent (but I played both out of sync with the DWMC, hence my not posting) so hey let's take it a bit easier.

MAP01: Inception

Spoilers, it's an exit in an exit.

Dunno what to say here. An adequate enough starting map, loving the fact I got a bit of pistol play before anything better came along (zerk, shotgun with few shells; I didn't find the chainsaw) -- it's enough to punch most things, save for shotgun guys and any other humans to high or far away to justify it. One exception is the post blue-key Hellknight, whom I spent 5 bullets and 2 shells on (I was keeping to roundish figures so I'd "have enough" should I need them) before finishing with a zerked punch to the butt. I wish I'd have recorded that.

Ending sucks, I managed to punch the revenant through the bars after one of the fake switches, suffering no damage.

It was alright. I generally love anything that opens up making me think 'Plutonia' (because I'm such a fanboy it's not even funny), but I'm almost reconsidering that HMP decision because this was a bit lacklustre...

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dew said:

A few words to consider: You might want to avoid playing on UV, especially pistol starts. Yes, yes, it's generally easier and some big hallmark fights might feel a bit defanged in comparison and so on and so forth, but HMP is much more fun. There's a fairly big difference in the HP amount of the corridor fill... the thickness of the doors with health, so to say. Pistol starting every map on UV kept driving me so furious I'd be the Republican presidential candidate if I was American. Continuous might soften the effect because of the carryover arsenal though.

Heed my warning, proud Troy.


Probably doing this when I get to the maps that are mostly long, multi-component doors with health. lol machoUVornothingism.

Getsu Fune said:

it appears to be some sort of new in thing for certain people here to weird others out. I'm generally ambivalent to it but the amount of drama is starting to remind me of '05 or so.


I changed to this avy because I feel I'm meant to be a cartoon girl in actuality. You cisgenderdimensioned people are lucky. :(

The people who are weirded out by the changes in the avatar thread have me scratching my head, though. It's like chill out, it's not that big of a deal.

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dew said:

A few words to consider: You might want to avoid playing on UV, especially pistol starts. Yes, yes, it's generally easier and some big hallmark fights might feel a bit defanged in comparison and so on and so forth, but HMP is much more fun. There's a fairly big difference in the HP amount of the corridor fill... the thickness of the doors with health, so to say. Pistol starting every map on UV kept driving me so furious I'd be the Republican presidential candidate if I was American. Continuous might soften the effect because of the carryover arsenal though.

Heed my warning, proud Troy.

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Alright, I played one level of this wad last month and it looked good. I didn't cast my vote since it'd already run away with the poll. Hopefully I can stick with this as I work my way through the other 3/4ths of DUMP 3. 78 maps is no joke, but I contributed one level to the project, so doing write-ups on the others is my way of giving back. If there's one thing I can do besides mapping, it's writing about other people's maps. I've sure gotten lots of practice here.

I'll be playing on UV continuous with saves and freelook. I hope this doesn't become another Hellbound at the midway point like some people are saying. That could make me drop it. Hellbound bored me to death around MAP25. But yeah, on to MAP01, which I'm replaying after a week's absence. For DUMP 3, I cribbed rdwpa's bullet point structure for my feedback. I'll do the same here.

MAP01: Inception
100% Kills 66% Secrets

-Slow start! I like the traps within traps, not so much boxing the player in with imps. That happened twice.
-I had to punch out two hell knights. That's not good. No wonder people are saying don't pistol start this.
-I like how soft the pipicz's shadows are.
-I DON'T like inaccessible outdoor areas like the section below the initial helipad. Stick a secret in it!
-The frantic battle after you get the shotgun was the highlight of the level for me.
Overall: Lots of zombieman pistoling. At least it gets good when you get the shotgun.

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dew said:

There's a fairly big difference in the HP amount of the corridor fill... the thickness of the doors with health, so to say.


Indeed, HMP was quite a bit more fun from what I recall. Visual prettiness aside, I was really put off by the "flood-fill every otherwise spacious or inconsequential room with enemies, to the point where most of the monster placement feels largely thoughtless" that becomes increasingly burdensome on the higher settings.

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Since I need more posts for an anime girl avatar, I suppose I will participate.

I plan to post cl 9 skill 3 FDAs with saves, in my usual 0-20% secrets and 70-100% kills style.

MAP01 !

Map was pretty fun. The midi was playful, with some bombast--a little bit spicier than the pleasant, professional, middle-of-the-road variety that seems to be in style these days, but still too self-conscious and inoffensive for my tastes.

I expect that these midi reviews that only make sense to me will occur frequently during this playthough since I struggle to comment on gameplay or visuals unless there's something especially cool or egregious.

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SoundofDoomDoors said:

I'll be playing on UV continuous with saves and freelook. I hope this doesn't become another Hellbound at the midway point like some people are saying. That could make me drop it. Hellbound bored me to death around MAP25.


I got bored with Hellbound at around map04. It was a shame, because this opening area in map01 was excellent and had me hoping for a Going Down-style aesthetic with more polish (but less charm and humor, because mouldy is probably #1 at that).



From what I've seen of both, including peeks in GZDB, Bloodstain and Hellbound share a tendency towards simple room shapes and texture schemes elaborated on with competent but very "Tormenter's Detail Guide"-ish detail -- a design style I'd associate most strongly with the mid 2000s to very early 2010s, common in CC3 and CC4 and also a lot of smaller projects from the time.

Seems like Hellbound is more varied and quirky and inclusive of old-school sensibilities (the latter of which means "creative", if we're being honest about a lot of new-school mapping :P), so I might give it a playthrough on HNTR, just to soak in the aesthetics, and maybe put together a Dehacked patch that halves both starting HP and the boost given by all health pickups.

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I'll have to finish Ancient Aliens this month, as I had to leave just when it was getting fun because I was compelled to spend time in HOM Hell on a vanilla mapping project. I know that Dobu can feel my pain. ;D

As usual, GZDoom, UV, keyboard-only, savescumming shamelessly, but thanks to warnings from Dew and Dobu, I'll play continuous this time. That was once my typical oldskool MacDoomer habit, but since switching over to pistol-starts sometime back, I actually feel butthurt over playing continuous. Then again, it might increase my death count since I tend to play overconfidently on continuous, and a high death count is always cause for rejoicing. ;)

That said, a pretty easy, nice-looking Map01. Lots of pistol work, which I don't enjoy, though Jayextee digs that kinda thing. ;) The most notable trope is the dickish Imp deadfalls. This suggests that future maps might be fairly nasty, though I hope not in this particular way.

The only thing that roused my ire was placing a Medikit in front of a switch. Unavoidable items in front of switches or doors is a potentially major waste of resources, not that this map in particular required a lot.

I found 2 out of 3 secrets. Had to leave behind the secret Green Armor. I managed to die once by getting too close to the bars when shooting the Revvie -- eating those Dumbass Pills again. :D I was at 28% health after the Imp deadfall, so it only took one punch to fade me. Luckily, I left at 100% after replaying the fight.

dobu gabu maru said:

Gonna reiterate that Hell is usually my favorite part of a megawad visually & gameplay-wise, so I expect all the easy-peasy techbase stuff to do no more than mildly entertain me.


"easy-peesy techbase stuff"? Thank you for waving the red flag in front of this techbase fan. It's now my mission in life to create ultra-nasty techbases just for you! :D I personally blame conventional thinking on this one. Most megawads follow a tech/city/hell format and continue the antiquated notion that there needs to be a "difficulty curve," whereas I promote the idea of going wide-open-throttle from beginning to end. Start going for those pelts within the first 10 seconds of Map01 and don't fucking stop except for an occasional breather map.

@Getsu: "Bloodstains/Speed kills/Fast cars/Cheap thrills/Rich girls, fine wine/I've lost my sense I've lost control I lost my mind." Saw them back in the day. Great show!

@rileymartin - It's really hard to balance for continuous. The essential problem, to me at least, is preventing the continuous player from swimming in ammo without starving the pistol-starter. As with the discussion on HNTR last month, the more testers you get, the better you can do this.

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^ I'm always down for some tough techbase stuff (you're pretty good at that), it's just that in most "traditional" megawads the combat/monster use is always pretty tame.

Getsu Fune said:

anyways, I assume that dobu has never heard of Agent Orange, they had a hit song called "Bloodstains", and I was hoping for a music pun.

Sometimes a good reference comes to my head when making the title pic, other times it doesn't. I'm also not a punk aficionado so don't expect any references in the future :P

Demon of the Well said:

.....what's with all the anime girls lately?

Following in the footsteps of Mr. Confalonieri, a couple of people adopted Love Live! avatars in celebration of everyone's favorite™ idols, and a lot of others eventually glommed onto the fad to support their own anime waifu. I (of course) couldn't resist showing my support for the best anti-waifu of all time (seriously, Saya no Uta is a pretty great Lovecraft-inspired visual novel, so long as you have the stomach for it.)

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dobu gabu maru said:

^ I'm always down for some tough techbase stuff (you're pretty good at that), it's just that in most "traditional" megawads the combat/monster use is always pretty tame.

It is kind of unfortunate that the typical "default" thematic progression has led to that tendency (and, probably to some degree, even expectation) for tech-themed levels to be more tame and straightforward on average than hell-themed levels.

I'd think, though, that with the overall increase in wads' expected difficulty over time, combined with the availability of countless exotic and new themes that don't really have an analogue in the original games, that tendency ought to be lessened somewhat nowadays... right? (Maybe not as much as I'd hope.)

Saya no Uta is a pretty great Lovecraft-inspired visual novel, so long as you have the stomach for it.

I adore what I've seen of Gen Urobuchi's work, so I might have to check that out sometime, though I haven't bothered with any visual novels before. I know it's dark as hell, and that's about the extent of my knowledge, haha.

dew said:

Pistol starting every map on UV kept driving me so furious I'd be the Republican presidential candidate if I was American.

That's a truly wonderful analogy, haha.

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esselfortium said:

It is kind of unfortunate[...]

Yeah I definitely think you get a lot more variation in E1s today—Ancient Aliens is a really good example of an E1 that bucks the "gentle" trend—but the later maps of megawads are always more ambitions and remarkable, which is where my real interest lies. Rarely too, is there an E1 that's without a filler map: something that specifically feels like it was added because the author wanted to hit that golden "32" number. It's an odd trend to set since the first handful of maps at the ones that are going to get played by the most amount of people, so why not start with something more impressive?... or something challenging, which is my personal philosophy.

Saya's is a good VN to read since it's mostly kinetic, meaning there's only a handful of choices (hell, one could easily experience it via youtube, though you miss out on the superbly uncomfortable sex scenes and the text crawl might make some impatient). Like Berserk, you kinda have to steel yourself for some grotesque fuckery, but it's definitely some of the most tasteful and artistic fuckery one can experience... in my opinion anyway. Urobuchi is super talented, especially considering how wildly different (but also great) Madoka is compared to this.

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Dobu: I see. Well, whatever floats folks' boats, I guess. Hardly the oddest thing I've seen, on a bygone heavy metal forum I used to post at there was a thread where a fellow used to review speed metal entirely in character as Gandalf the Grey, which eventually snowballed into a bunch of other posters RPing reviews as other iconic media characters--Batman, Marshall Dillon, Ronald MacDonald, Ron Jeremy, etc. Ah, the innocence.....not something I'd expect to find much of in a Mythos-themed VN, incidentally, now that I think about it that's simply too logical a combination not to have happened!

I think the traditional/iconic thematic progression through a megaWAD--that is, Tech--> Whatever--> Hell--still has a lot more potential to be fresh and original than folks give it credit for. Thing is, the operative word there is "potential", and perhaps reaching that potential involves certain realizations about or conceptualizations of the theme that for one reason or another we don't see very often. "Hell", for instance, doesn't have to be fire, brimstone, redrocks, and evil-looking castles and cathedrals; it can be almost anything an author wants, provided it's sinister and macabre in some way (see: Doom II's squalid, abstract, urban decay-themed Hell). Likewise, lots of flavor can be added to a general techbase setting by extrapolating on the theme a little a more--maybe it's a science station inside of an active volcano that is becoming increasingly unstable, or a research facility situated in an archaeological dig site, things like that. The issue of difficulty ramping, though, where tech tends to be first (thus easier) and Hell tends to be last (thus harder), does seem to be somewhat more intractable......somehow I don't think having a completely irrational curve would go over very well with many players, but perhaps there's some other way around the issue. Maybe by having each episode be difficult in a different way, or by having a different gameplay style (allowing for more pronounced ramping within an episode)? Dunno, just spitballing here.

Anyway, Bloodstain, to whit, is an exceedingly (and presumably intentionally) traditional megaWAD in more ways than one, including its approach to thematic transitions, it seems. Looking at things from a bit of a different angle, this DOES set it pretty far apart stylistically from the vast majority of its contemporaries, in fairness.....

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@Dobu @essel @DotW

Just to close out my thoughts on the "easy techbase" problem, one solution is to simply invert the episode order so the techbases come at the end. That way mappers will be more inclined to step on the "challenging" gas as well as going whole hog on the architecture. Natch, the techbase, being defined as a more representational map type based on things that might resemble actual buildings, will have a greater tendency towards orthogonal shapes than more abstract Hell maps. But nothing ever has to be a certain way, and mixing/matching styles is always fun.

DotW is probably right that Doomers in general are hardwired to expect a difficulty curve. If they don't get one, they might be upset. However, I still agree with Tarnsman's view that only the official game needs to have a difficulty curve, because players have to master it as they go. By contrast, user megawads can start at the very highest difficulty threshold and never let up, because experienced players are the presumed audience, especially for a game as old as Doom. ;)

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SteveD said:

@rileymartin - It's really hard to balance for continuous. The essential problem, to me at least, is preventing the continuous player from swimming in ammo without starving the pistol-starter. As with the discussion on HNTR last month, the more testers you get, the better you can do this.


I find that if a wad is difficult enough, no amount of extra ammo will help you beat a hard encounter. Even on pistol start, bullets and shells are almost always "infinite", so that really leaves rockets and cells as something to balance. I see pistol starts as something you do to add extra challenge if UV is too easy. So pistol starting while playing on HMP or lower makes no sense to me. I usually play continuous unless the author states that pistol start is the intended experience in the text file. Also never pistol start Hellbound. Just don't.

dobu gabu maru said:

Saya's is a good VN to read since it's mostly kinetic


It's also a good VN because it's well paced and doesn't have a 30+ hour bloated script!

SteveD said:

By contrast, user megawads can start at the very highest difficulty threshold and never let up, because experienced players are the presumed audience, especially for a game as old as Doom. ;)


Plutonia pretty much did just that where it starts hard and maintains that difficulty throughout the whole wad.

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dobu gabu maru said:

Yeah I definitely think you get a lot more variation in E1s today—Ancient Aliens is a really good example of an E1 that bucks the "gentle" trend—but the later maps of megawads are always more ambitions and remarkable, which is where my real interest lies. Rarely too, is there an E1 that's without a filler map: something that specifically feels like it was added because the author wanted to hit that golden "32" number. It's an odd trend to set since the first handful of maps at the ones that are going to get played by the most amount of people, so why not start with something more impressive?... or something challenging, which is my personal philosophy.

A really impressive MAP01 is important to me too. It doesn't have to be the biggest and most bombastic part of the mapset, but I find it weird when wads open with a tiny and completely unremarkable map, as though the mapper just decided that that's what the first map in a set is required to be. Speaking personally, though, I prefer to have some peaks and valleys in pacing and difficulty throughout the wad.

Deus Vult II's MAP01 is a great example of a really solid opener, I think, as it instantly brings you into its cinematic and grandiose world, but it also doesn't give away the mapset's biggest ambitions just yet. Ancient Aliens has another excellent one, using a much smaller scope, closer to the "conventional MAP01" size and length, but making great use of its brevity to quickly showcase its gameplay style, theme, and sense of humor.

Urobuchi is super talented, especially considering how wildly different (but also great) Madoka is compared to this.

I hadn't even considered the YouTube option. Thanks for the info and recommendations there! Urobuchi's a much more skilled and versatile writer than I think he's usually given credit for, considering the "Urobutcher" nickname and the expectations that go along with that. Madoka is beyond fantastic, and Gargantia is another great example I've seen of him taking his favorite thematic ideas to pull out a totally different type of story and conclusion than what's commonly expected from him.

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