Final Thoughts on Realm of Chaos
So Realm of Chaos is finished. After the first 2 episodes, I was prepared to agree with its 3.5 lifetime rating, but even with a pair of rose-tinted nostalgia glasses, I thought there was enough ďmehĒ in Episode 3 to drag it down to a solid but unspectacular 3. Which isnít bad, really. As Tarnsman said, RoC has a lot of mediocre maps that didnít reach their full potential. Still, I thought most of them were clean work. I am, as Iíve said before, a fairly simple soul when it comes to Doom. Doom is a game of rooms and corridors with monsters in them. You go in, kill the monsters, and leave. As long as a map isnít offensive to me in some way, if it gives me monsters to kill and some tense situations, Iíll probably like it. I think most of the maps in RoC delivered on that score.
The RoC mappers were all noobs, but Iím sure we werenít the only team of noobs in Doom history to get together and put out a megawad before we really knew what we were doing. As a result, certain annoying habits stayed baked-in all the way through, such as a tendency for slow-rising platforms, unintuitive progression, switches activating distant sectors, mediocre fight design, and a tendency for maps to be front-loaded because too much health and ammo was given towards the end, making potentially good maps way too easy. Most of the good fights seemed to be against hitscanners, but when heavy meat was tossed in, we went all wobbly and started spraying Medikits, Soulspheres and so on at the players, along with armories worth of weaponry. All this for a few nobles and Revvies, most of the time.
Despite that, there were some clever and mostly good designs which, IMO, are still fun to play. The different mappers also had distinctive styles. Slava Pesatov tended to produce homagey, derivative maps that were sometimes over-complicated and almost always too easy, but he did use a more complete arsenal thanks to his teleport traps, and I liked his clean designs and even some of his puzzles. Antoni Chan also used a fuller arsenal with teleport traps, but he tended towards squinchy spaces and was very tech-base oriented and a little too much in love with hub-spokes. Rob Berkowitz was Mr. Abstract, producing mostly large, peculiar maps with relatively high monster counts. Jason Fowler was a pro who alas produced only one complete map, but it was quality work. Clint Sago took part in only one map, and almost certainly designed the more attractive parts of Map03, but covered himself in glory with 3 great sky textures and some decent mods of the Doom items. Jim Bagrow, of course, was the resident axe-murderer who, with a little more time to develop, might have been a great mapper. And then thereís me, producer of straight-ahead run Ďn gun maps with lots of monster closets.
My favorite maps in RoC, by mapper, exempting my maps, of course, which I'll discuss in a few hours.
by Rob Berkowitz
Map26 Ė Above And Below. This one is ideally matched to my skillset and, on pistol start, delivers tense, exciting gameplay every time. Great ammo/health balance. Drawbacks include the stupid platformer bullshit in the ďBelowĒ section.
Map15 Ė Infestation. Big, splashy map. Not very difficult and not at all pretty, but its epic scale, mixed with a few tense moments, makes it a fun romp for me.
Map13 Ė Bloodlands. Some cool concepts and epic scale, plus a clever batch of fights in the wood area, but the map is brought down by a dreadful maze section and an irritating voodoo doll ending.
By Slava Pestov
Map08 Ė Research Lab. This homage to Tricks Ďn Traps had some clever work, some clean texturing and occasionally decent lighting, and a big teleport trap that misfires at least half the time. It worked perfectly when Suitepee played and I had a blast watching him scramble to deal with it. This map is almost too clever for its own good, but somehow I liked it.
Map28 Ė Fortress of Death. This homage to The Abandoned Mines has a tight health/ammo balance and some great bits. Slavaís love of gimmicky boss areas is once again showcased, but there was too much annoying switch and rising floor nonsense for this to be as great as it could have been.
By Antoni Chan
Map02 Ė Outpost 27. Small, squinchy, clever map with surprising face-first encounters. I donít know why I love it, but I do. I have always been a Chan Fan and so I remain. ;)
Map11 Ė Mars StarPort. Here we are at baggage claim on Mars! Possibly Antoniís best map in terms of flow and fight design, with opportunities for the player to make clever jumps and also some tasty design work on the consoles.
Map20 Ė Teleporter Central. This is an inherently great map with cool early fights if you avoid the giant teleport trap and its dumbass BFG. The BFG and the health spamming ruin the map as you go.
Map25 Ė Castle of The HellKnights. Pretty much the same story here. Grueling early fights and a brilliant Baphomet trick before the bottom drops out at the hub-spoke.
By Jason Fowler
Map12 Ė Home Sweet Home. The most polished map in the megawad, and quite possibly the best of the lot. Super-cool, solid design from beginning to end, with the platform that lowers a Chaingunner at the same time a teleport trap is set off being my favorite moment.
None, but special award for The Map I Love To Hate goes to Map04 thanks to its Fucking Archvile Room! ;D
Honorable Mention for Map03, Mars Base Alpha, finished by Rob Berkowitz. Itís too bad Clint got too busy for mapping, because the attractive areas here make me sad for what we missed.
In the end, I had more fun playing RoC than I expected. I hadnít played any of these maps, including my own -- except for Map09 -- since probably the year 2000 until I searched for comments on RoC in the forums in 2011, and found all the speedruns. This revived my interest, so I played my maps again, saw the flaws, and planned the revisions. But I wanted a good excuse to play the whole thing, and I thank the DWMC for going along with my crazy scheme.
Even though RoC is messed-up in many ways, I remain proud of the accomplishment, and I wanted a chance to expound on the other mappers while getting mine playtested by experts. I honestly think our two teenage terrors, Slava Pestov and Antoni Chan, did exceptional work overall.
Realm of Chaos was the first Mac-made megawad, and to the best of my knowledge, remains the only Mac-made megawad that isnít a mod or TC, such as the Batman Doom TC, or Laz Rojasís Wolfenstein 3D 2nd Encounter. For this reason alone it was worth a play, and now, The Pestov Platform lives forever! ;)