Map01 – Dropoff by Rob Berkowitz – Kills – 100, Items – 100, Secret – 100. Time 9:31. End Health 172, Armor 69. Death Count - 1
Ah, those thrilling days of yesteryear! As the last Realm of Chaos mapper still active in the Doom community, I want to start by saying a few things about the project and about this map’s author, Rob Berkowitz.
First, the project was the idea of Clint Sago. Doom 2 had appeared on the Macintosh in summer 1995, ported by Lion Entertainment, who did a famously awful job of it. Lion ported the game in its bare essentials, leaving out some important functionality, such as the ability to record and play demos. The only cool thing about MacDoom compared to the DOS version was the music. The MIDI Instruments in Quicktime for MacOS 7.5.1 thru 7.5.3 made the music sound great, especially for E1M3’s “The Dark Halls,” which sounded like it had a human chorus. Very creepy.
Not surprisingly, there was no deep bench of apps for MacDoom, including editors. Eventually, DEU was ported as Demon, and in 1996, Paul Davidson released Hellmaker, a beautiful piece of work in its UI, but notoriously crashy. I personally saved after every 10 sectors.
Realm of Chaos was launched probably within two or three months after Hellmaker appeared. I don’t remember exactly when Hellmaker was released, but my first map, which earned me a spot on The Macintosh Team, is dated 5-16-1996, probably at most 3 months after release.
It would be presumptuous to say that the mappers who ended up on Realm of Chaos were the best the MacDoom scene had to offer. It would be closer to the truth to say that we were practically the only MacDoom mappers available. We were all noobs and we learned as we went. Most of us had no dealings with the larger Doom community. Instead, we were Doom junkies gathering at MacDoom Review, a HyperCard-based magazine put together by Dave Kramer. We wrote reviews of WAD files and were able to keep track of what few MacDoom apps became available. And IIRC, it was in MacDoom Review that the Realm of Chaos project was announced and people were asked to contribute maps, which we always referred to as “levels” in those days. I was probably the last person to join after a fellow known as Two-Gun Mojo backed out of the project.
Clint Sago built the team and by June, 1996, things were in full swing. An ambitious launch date of Halloween night, 1996, was set. That’s right, a bunch of noob mappers with a crashy editor were tasked with finishing a full megawad in 6 months. What could possibly go wrong? ;D
With 7 mappers each contributing 4 – 5 maps, the project was at least conceivable, but before long it became obvious that several mappers could not meet their quota. One of these was team leader Clint Sago, whose only map in the set was actually completed by Rob Berkowitz. But I ain’t talking smack about Clint. He did plenty of work, including all the great sky textures and cobwebs, the title pic and lettering, and the somewhat dodgy texture and sprite modifications which I personally never use. ;D Clint also did a good job of distant leadership by delegating the task of running the project to his capable Executive Officer, Rob Berkowitz.
Rob is a great guy and I kept in touch with him for several years after RoC was released. He managed to do 11 maps in 6 months, including one of the secret maps (Map 32), while holding down an intense job doing lab research on AIDS. I’d say he was our most expert mapper, being the best at texture alignment and understanding of Doom functions. Rob, along with myself, was also the primary playtester. Rob and I playtested the entire megawad on every difficulty setting except ITYTD and Nightmare, in both continuous play and pistol starts.
Thanks to Rob’s amazing energy, Realm of Chaos version 1.0 was, in fact, released on Halloween night, 1996. RoC is not, as many people believe, a 1999 mapset. Version 1.4 (this one) was released in 1999 to fix an obscure bug in Map03, and I have no idea what that bug was. ;D
And the rest, as they say, is history!
BTW, I’d like to thank those members of the Russian Doom Community, Heretic, Hitherto and SAV88, whose amazing speedruns revived my interest in this old megawad. I see a few other names on the list that I’m not familiar with, and will check their runs out as soon as I can.
Dropoff displays Rob’s tendency towards logical structure and good traps. He was one of those mappers who put it all down on paper before opening the editor. This is a nice, solid Map01 without any notable mistakes, though one could quibble about the Soulsphere secret. The opening battle against the zombieboys is very easy, but this time I really got nailed by the first trap, rather embarrassing since I can usually play the first 3 maps without getting killed. I was reduced to 37% health by the Sergeants and soon finished off in one of the side hallways, mainly because I decided not to grab the Soulsphere since I wanted to leave the map at 200%. I consider leaving at 172 a major personal failure. ;D I also wasted a lot of time backtracking to get all the dropped ammo from the Sergeants I killed.
I like Rob’s height variations and how you can see the Green Armor through the first window. Detail level is a bit low by later standards, but was competitive in its time. All in all a fine start for the mapset.
Last edited by SteveD on Jul 1 2013 at 02:50