Demon of the Well
Map 07 -- Brown Room - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Here's another one from JIS. He's quite prolific in this mapset; judging by the extremely simplistic nature of his submissions I'm assuming that they were generally speedmapped, and the layout here suggests this even more than the brevity of Control Center did. What gives me this impression is the progression/flow--the map has almost none of it. It is essentially a collection of about a half dozen simple, structurally unrelated rooms, most of which have no connection to one another--literally. Apart from a couple of blank rectangular sectors joining two pairs of the rooms, all other travel is handled via teleporter. This strikes one as being a 'take the easy way out' approach to trying to make a map out of a bunch of otherwise unassociated ideas. Were it not for monochrome brown theme, it'd feel like little more than 6 map fragments held together with chewing gum.
Ah, yes, the brown. It's all brown dirt here, except for a couple of small, gameplay-irrelevant mud streams (which do fit the monochrome theme, at least). Some folks can't stand this texture, I know, but I find it very inoffensive in and of itself. What I think is more of an issue is that the texture, like the other JIS maps thus far, seems to have been chosen at random, rather than custom-selected to fit the nature of the level. Since what we're looking at here is dirt, dirt, and more dirt, I might've expected some more organic shapes, a warren of tunnels, a big muddy crater, or any number of other things--instead it's the same blocky, boxy, unswervingly orthogonal fare from the previous map. The repetition of this simplistic style is wearing out its welcome at this point, and the disconnect between the structure itself and the texture/color chosen for it lead to it failing to seem like any sort of believable place. Simply making a map all brown (or any other color) is not enough to make it thematically interesting. If one desires to make an all-brown map, by all means, do so!....but it'd be best if the resulting map looks like it should be naturally brown.
At least Jaws' maps do offer us some semblance of gameplay, which cannot be said of all of its cohorts. As others have noted, this is a berserk/chaingun map--and that's quite alright with me. Hell, I think the chaingun doesn't get enough spotlight time in a lot of mapsets (especially where people play continuously). This one gets off to a fast start with many pre-placed enemies in the opening room, supplemented by dual imp closets--run around and hold down the chaingun trigger for a bit, not too shabby. The play gets sloggier afterwards, though....for example, in the mancubus room others have mentioned, the intended tactic seems to be to just stand behind that random L-shaped partition and cheese the mancs from there--it's a position where you can hit them, but they cannot ever hit you. The final room tries to liven things up a bit with a decently placed arch-vile, but the presence of the cluster of pillars and the easy megasphere secret render it pretty trivial (I punched him out, myself), and there's the matter of tediously chaingunning the various goat-turrets to death afterwards, which ends things on a low note.
Not very impressed. Jaws' first map was still his best, thus far.
Map 08 -- Tessel Dose - 100% Kills / No Secrets
.....this is pretty damned dull. We're back to the solid greyscale texture set here; it has been used to render a large, nondescript bossmappy arena with a misshapen pentacle motif in its floor, where the player fights a few waves of monsters before running for the exit (literally). I guess it works as a monochrome selection, but it's a very boring sight to behold, not helped out by its uniform light level. But hey, at least there's some BGM....
Rather than going for visual flair, FractalXX has tried to make things interesting by having the arena alter its shape as each successive wave of monsters is defeated. It's a cool idea in theory, but is not pulled off well here, for two reasons. One, while the surroundings change around you as you play, they almost never change in such a way that they require you to fight any differently than you fought the previous wave, or indeed, if you were just fighting in a big flat box--generally you just circle around in a big flat-floored enclosure (which is sometimes star-shaped, and sometimes circle-shaped). The lost soul wave is the exception to this, as it constrains your elbow room to a significant degree, although being that your opposition is something like 4 lost souls, it's barely relevant. That's the other problem, perhaps even more serious than the first: this is ridiculously piss-easy. I played on UV, and I feel like I accidentally selected HNTR....and I reckon people who actually do play the map on HNTR are still going to feel insulted at how easy this is. There are simply far too few monsters in each wave to justify the vast amount of firepower/movement space the player has for dealing with them. The fact that most of the monster groups are heterogeneous also means that infighting will tend to kill half of them in short order. The finale is a lone cyberdemon, a babe in the woods given the situation he's thrown into. Oh, and then there's the "run for the exit in a long straight line" part. Just do what the onscreen text says or you get hit in the back by a couple of rockets and die; there are no interesting consequences to experimenting, here.
Thoroughly bland. Needs a lot of retooling (at least in the thing-deployment department) before it'll be worth a second look. Or indeed, a first...
Last edited by Demon of the Well on Jun 14 2013 at 23:14