Apologies for the triple-post but I want these to be in blocks that are slightly easier to read through, rather than one epic blog that no-one will read.
* There is currently no kind of order to the maps, meaning the TC may lack a sense of cohesion or progression (in fairness, this could also be said of the original PSX Dooms).
* I would recommend creating some kind of PSX Plutonia TC wad to be released seperately, so that players can play through the PSX version of the Plutonia Experiment.
* I would recommend doing the same for TNT Evilution.
* Some of the later maps are relatively easy, but are sandwiched between maps that are very hard - for example, "Compound" between "The Omen" and "Neurosphere" - although this could be seen to give the player something of a break between difficult maps. Your call.
* Some of the maps are too hard for the PSX, particularly the nukage-heavy, chaingunner-heavy boss map "The Final Frontier". This is not such a problem for PC players who can save at will, and in general players will be far more skillful today than they were in 1994, but certain maps would be very frustrating on the Playstation.
* There are inconsistencies in use of damaging sectors in consecutive maps - for example, in some maps green nukage is dangerous, in others not.
MAPS THAT MIGHT NOT RUN ON THE PSX
- The Castle seems quite visually complex compared to many of the original PSX maps, but regardless of this, too many monster types are used and the map would not load on the Playstation due to RAM errors.
- Temple of Darkness contains areas that seem like they might have taxed the PSX once you actually get into the temple area (with the lava).
- The canyon area in Odyssey of Noises seems fairly complex due to its large size and sectors of varying heights; however Final Doom's "Deepest Reaches" is somewhat similar and that ran perfectly.
- Bad Dream contains a huge crushing sector and a number of boss monsters on-screen at once. Cyberdemons were never used more than once in a map; however, Spider Masterminds attack in a pair on Redemption Denied, so I presume that the PSX could have run several boss monsters at once? Would this affect available RAM, or is each monster type loaded in only once per map?
- The Final Frontier is another example of a map with too many monster types. There are several more that I can't remember.
- Icon of Sin was probably thought of by Williams employees only in their darkest, most secret moments; it probably brought them out in a cold sweat and killed their erections. This map, while very enjoyable until the final battle, seems very far beyond the Playstation's capabilities due to large and complicated rooms with too many monster types. Someone once said that using boss monsters in some of the original maps would simply crash the map with a texture cache overflow. I cannot comment on this, but if it is true, Icon of Sin would definitely have that issue. Personally, as soon as someone decided to combine three maps into one (on the PSX of all things), disaster was waiting.
UNUSED MUSIC TRACKS:
- Mount Erebus (amazingly! I was expecting to hear this in every other map)
- Refinery (this is the least interesting/suspensful track but it is still used in Doom and Final Doom)
* All of the other official Aubrey Hodges tracks were used at least once.
* A small number of tracks are used repeatedly (see below).
* A number of tracks are only used once.
* There were several occasions where the same piece of music played on two consecutive maps.
* There were occasions when the same track was used in maps that were close together; generally, these tracks were not used elsewhere in the TC, or did not appear frequently.
* I cannot really comment on consecutive music use for secret maps, as I played the project through using "map lostxx" at the console and so did not keep track of which map leads to which secret.
* A handful of tracks do not suit their maps - for example, Toxin Refinery has a melancholy, wistful style, which is not especially suited to frenetic action and would be better suited to more attractive maps (e.g. in Final Doom, it was used in Vesperas, one of the most beautiful levels). This feedback is subjective.
OVER-USED MUSIC TRACKS:
* Phobos Lab is used in a number of maps. This is subjective, but the Phobos Lab theme is neither frightening, nor particularly hellish, and is not suited to hell-themed or scary maps. It's more of a city or tech base theme. "Deimos Anomaly", "Mount Erebus" and "Hell Beneath" would be better suited to hell-themed maps or maps which are intended to frighten the player.
* "Deimos Lab" is also good for hell or fear-themed maps, but is over-used in this TC.
UNDER-USED MUSIC TRACKS:
* In general, the Final Doom tracks were under-used.
* This list shows the track names - in alphabetical order - and the Lost Levels map number in which they appear. Maps with an [F] are Final Doom tracks.
- Attack (map 13) [F]
- Gereon (map 69) [F]
- Hell Keep (map 37)
- Limbo (map 52)
- Paradox (map 72) [F]
- Unholy Cathedral (map 39)
- Virgil (map 14) [F]
* Generally speaking, most of the maps on UV can be completed by a skilled player who has little or no forewarning, without the player being repeatedly killed.
* Average difficulty is consistent with PSX Final Doom on UV, albeit generally harder.
* Trial-and-error gameplay (i.e. progressing slightly further before dying) is totally unsuited to the PSX. I cannot make a recommendation about this since these are simply conversions of original maps and it is more than possible that I was playing like a moron. This only applies to a handful of the most difficult maps.
* Darkness in some areas of some maps makes gameplay more difficult as the player cannot see the monsters. However, this problem is nowhere near as prevalent as I expected and only occurs in a few maps (noted in their reviews). I believe some maps have been slightly re-worked to take this into account?
* The ammo balance is uneven in a number of maps, notably some Plutonia maps. The player may run desperately short of bullets and shotgun ammo, then at some later point in the map will discover one or more large caches of equipment, sometimes right before the end of the map or after all the monsters are dead. Examples: Bloodsea Keep, but especially Speed. This leaves gameplay feeling like cresting a hill on a bike: a tough trial which suddenly, when the crest is reached, becomes an easy cruise.
* A number of maps, many of them consecutive, might benefit from the addition of a Super Shotgun. The player has to use the single-barrel shotgun and a chaingun to cut through waves of powerful enemies, primarily Cacodemons, Revenants, Nightmare Spectres and Barons, but also Hell Knights, Pain Elementals and Arachnotrons.
* There is a distinct deficit of bullet ammo in some maps, particularly Odyssey of Noises, where these are required to efficiently kill Chaingunner snipers.
Overall, this delivers a consistently PSX- friendly experience with just a few clangers by people who possibly didn't play the original PSX version, and a handful that raised the question of "Would the Playstation actually run it?"
PC players might scoff when they see what's happened to some of their maps, especially the Plutonia efforts, but long-term PSX fans will find the Lost Levels delivers an accurate experience with nostalgic moments and levels that blast you back to the mid-90s when the PSX seemed so far in front of the other consoles.
I still don't feel ready to call myself a Plutonia fan. This was the biggest bugbear of the project to me. PSX Doom is about creeping around in darkened chambers, hiding from Hell Knights and dreading the slow clomping of the Cyberdemon as it draws near. IMO, Plutonia simply delivers MORE of everything: more Cyberdemons, more Revenants, more Hellknights, more Chaingunners, more toxic blood, more wall textures with vines on them. It's a step away from the classic Doom experience and more like the early fan levels which featured hordes of the most powerful monsters, and you can definitely tell they were up against the clock thank to repetition of ideas and themes.
However, I've got to respect that many Doom fans see Plutonia as the natural evolution of Doom. The PC gang don't want to creep around, they want to charge in blurting plasma while Nine Inch Nails shakes their subwoofer apart. They don't want to be drip-fed enemies or to input the -fast parameter for a challenge. This, I imagine, is where the ideologies of PSX and PC fans clash. It's a fundamental issue and it may determine how much you get from the Lost Levels TC.
If you take away the safety net of in-game saves then you significantly ramp up the stress level. THAT'S when you get it; that's when you see the difference between the original and its PSX port. That's when the music starts to creep into your consciousness. That's when the PSX levels, with their lack of BFGs and reduced ammo and monster counts, start to get into your head.
That's when you feel what I felt as a 14-year-old boy, hurrying home from school to get the Playstation on. You'll never know the spine-tingling elation as you hear the Playstation jingle, or how your universe seems to contract when you select your difficulty level and the LOADING message appears with a pistol shot.
This TC WILL help you to know what it was like to exist in those gritty, dark landscapes, feeling like you're the only person in existence, that the exit will bring you closer to the warmth of other human beings but instead brings you another dark nightmare.
Thank you to everyone involved in this project for bringing those memories back to life so we can experience them again.
Last edited by MajorRawne on Feb 9 2014 at 16:50