demo, MIDI

D2RELOAD MAP10 “Administration” and PLOOF.MID

I can’t really work out what “Administration”‘s theme is! The level doesn’t particularly appear to take place in an administrative building, to me, since the presence of office space and archives don’t even really seem to be implied. Call it more of an abstract level, then, with the main route around the facility involving teleporters and guard posts and what have you. The secrets are incredibly generous on this level, including a suit of Mega-armor, an invulnrosphere and a BFG, which in concert rather take the sting out of the second main battle which leaves the battle on the tiered lifts against a Vile and his undead army the trickiest section to survive. A speedrunner could battle their way up the balconies; a sane player will probably just hope to get lucky with a few rockets. =P

Decoration-wise I quite like the bright white tiling, because anything is better than SHAWN2. This level does seem to suffer from symmetrical detailing the most so far, but there are several landmarks and a fun strange section where a pitch black pathway lights up as you traverse it and battle off Cacodemons from the shadows. I wonder what sort of level set this author could make if he refrained from all the business-like, smartly-decorated symmetrical corridors and opted for something a little sillier? Probably something rather similar to MARSWAR, actually!

PLOOF.WAD is a short stuttery loop meant to confuse and give a spacier atmosphere. Was thinking of Bjork’s greatest tracks at the time of composition. It’s hardly rock music but then the encounters in Administration don’t exactly pump the blood themselves. =P

demo, MIDI

D2RELOAD MAP 09 “Phobos Subversion” and SHWORD.MID

Concept levels are often sneered at by those who distrust “magnum opuses” and movement away from arcade gameplay but frankly I’d love to see more. Gimmickry is… partially… what Doom 2 was built upon in the first place!

Your mission whether you choose to accept it or not is to divert a teleportation ambush from a military ground zero into a more containable environment featuring a HUGE CRUSHING CEILING and, to achieve this, means that Doomguy will have to positively RACE around a small facility laying the groundwork for this subversive counter-attack, draining a reactor, securing key-cards and activating powerlines… it is all very linear, of course, so there’s no real guessing WHERE the reactor is, just a lot of cute representations of those features made out of blocky sector art, most of those sectors being full of rather threatening monsters, with mancubi and arachnotrons actually seeming to cause the most trouble for a speedrunner – and on this level, we’re all speedrunners!

Once you get back to the crusher, you can observe your handiwork through the safety grill, score upon score of viles and barons being crushed below the pneumatic press… installed in this area… for some reason. 😀 Or you can stick around just long enough to grab the yellow key and BFG half the invasion force to come… but my vision of Doomguy is a coward who hugs walls a lot, so I only fight four straggling imps. =P

It’s a really great concept which plays out fairly believably under the constraints of doom, and the only real issue is that the base itself is decorated really dourly and is totally miserable to look at – silver and dark metal are the honey of the beginning mapper. (and also Icarus Alien Vanguard while we’re taking random potshots at under-decorated mapsets =P)  The lighting is good as ever, while sparing on sector demand considering that the maps run without problem in the original .exe, but it really is high time for a new texturing scheme. Consider this: if your levels take place in fantastical outer space outposts then there’s no need to make them look modular and plain. Just assume the colonists took a daring architect with them, preferably one whom prefers more colours than just black and white on their palette!

SHWORD.MID is some strange D&B/metal/something/something else hybrid which combines unfriendly chords with that particularly stupid “YEAAH! YA PUSH IT!” rhythmic centrepiece… in a good way 😀

demo, MIDI

SCRAPING.MID and D2RELOAD MAP 08 “Waste Processing”

OK, I had enough time off… =P

The eighth level here fits into that Plutonic vein, with lots of health and ammo to balance how easy it is to make mistakes thanks to the map’s layout, and how short Doomguy’s life can be for the mistake-prone. No matter how many times I attempted to find a safe route through the level, it wasn’t happening. That’s monster pressure in a nutshell and, as a consequence, it makes me play like a panicking mouse. Finding all the secrets allows you a fighting chance against all the heavyweight monsters packed into Waste Processing – it’s definitely another map whose star player is the Revenant. The decoration is drab and suitably resembling of a sewer (and what I focused on when I was writing the replacement tune, because otherwise today’s song would just be a series of gunshot sounds) with locational sensibilities halfway between Alien Vendetta and Vile Flesh, what with the whole place being plastered in dark metal panelling. I wouldn’t say the map was bad at all, but it’s at that annoying difficulty level where I know a pro could barrel through it but I have to grind through encounters to survive. Oh well, time to practise!

SCRAPING.MID is some seriously downbeat sewer jazz, for want of a better genre, a lonely tune without much snare or hopefulness. The last melody was a little too easy so it is almost certainly stolen from something really famous 😀


gameplay, whatever the hell that is

(MAP 08 of D2RELOAD will have to wait – recording an UV demo with no saves is actually proving to be quite difficult as all the major battles feature multiple revenants… coupling that with the many moments it’s possible to fall into slime and have to backtrack and you have one mean level!)

As the Doom community grows ever more close-knit and hardcore, the idea of “good gameplay” has been honed to certain elements – monster pressure from multiple directions and ideally from above, abstract asymmetrical play-areas which constrain Doomguy – but not so much that he gets constantly stuck on corners – areas that loop in on themselves and repopulate with teleporting monsters at certain dramatic moments, with imps, chaingunners and revenants being the most frequently encountered of the bestiary. The optimal point of monster thickness could be characterized as “mini-slaughter”, with forming crowds complex enough to cause combat puzzles but, once controlled, minimize the need for clean-up time – hunting down straggling monsters who have ceased to ply pressure. Downtime is minimized, eschewing scavenging, puzzle hunting and maze gameplay in favour of funnelling Doomguy to the next set piece. Essentially, arcade gaming, but taking place in architecturally-striking and cinematic locations.

It all sounds wonderful and solved, but note that that’s a description of the modern Doom ideals which totally fails at explaining how the original levels work =P Doom 1 mostly pits non-threatening enemies against the player, usually even activating them within Doomguy’s eyesight. Any really good player can plow through Doom without the need to hide behind doorframes or be particularly tactical about weapon selection, since every level typically contains enough ammunition to kill its denizens twice over. Furthermore, a lot of the stock levels ask the player to back-track or use the map to discern their next move and occasionally feature buttons which, upon activation, give no immediate information about what they changed. Doom 2 improves the strength of hell’s armies by introducing the revenant, the vile and many other stern enemies that make safe positional movement a lot harder to maintain but deploys them on a lot of fairly daft maps which are, variously: inscrutable and difficult to escape long past the point where all the enemies are dead, spacially massive so that monster pressure is defeated by the sheer distance you’re allowed to stand away from enemy fire, or downtime-creating backtrack-athons where no route through the level creates a particularly sexy speedrun =P Ultimate Doom’s extra episode does create shining moments of true modern gameplay, but usually in pernicious ways, ie. the lack of health on E4M1 or the immediate caco-mobbing on the following level, probably the first time the game has presented the player with a fight that’s a losing proposition, forcing Doomguy to plunge into a level whose signatures include treacherous walkways and Barons of Hell too meaty to be removed by a panicking, fleeing player! Good luck with that!

My point is not to be rough on the original levels because frankly I still adore them. I’m just wondering why the original levels are now disallowed from affecting modern gameplay! Speaking as a player who doesn’t become frustrated by repeatedly riding the same lift, looking at the map, sniping monsters from afar, being killed by death-traps, switch-hunting, searching for required, unmarked secrets, pulling off crate-jumps, solving mazes or using the Tyson weapons, it’s a little dismaying to see so many great levels be dismissed as “having bad gameplay” or being “untested” for straying from the formula. It’s a good formula, of course, that gives us BTSX and Valiant but, as far as I am concerned, Doom having such a good basic system means that just about any competent map you care to design in it has good gameplay, because it’s a Doom map! I do worry that these visionary map sets like A.L.T. will become a thing of a past because they simply don’t press the correct few buttons – I know I would be dissuaded from mapping if a genuinely great project I was a part of was received so badly. I don’t mean this as criticism of the community, but the current guidelines on what’s “good gameplay” seem to have unwittingly created a state in prospective players where they are slightly less willing to indulge imaginative levels with imagination of their own. A.L.T. is probably a dreadful experience if you don’t allow it to unfold in your mind, whereas something like Speed of Doom kicks ass on an immediate level without really holding any deeper secrets.

I’m rambling now. I’d just like finish by appealling to the strange mappers to keep bringing the strangeness, whether or not it’s strictly good gameplay. 😀


D2RELOAD MAP 07 “Witch Space”

It’s Dead Simple 😀

OK, the problem with doing a reskin of Dead Simple is that, in the original Doom 2 level progression, you had encountered neither Mancubi nor Arachnotrons in the first six levels, so the ensuing fight really does shock the first-time player, kill them repeatedly and enlighten them to the fact that some enemies need to be fought from rather specific ranges if you’re planning to be at all effective at Doom. Doom 2 Reloaded reprises the theme of Dead Simple but not the point. Sorry. I mean, I love this level set but this is a rather duff decision. Just imagine what crazy things the author COULD have done with the map07 special triggers, rather than doing this =P

Not linking the MIDI because it is pants. Well, maybe if you ask nicely, but everything involved in today’s post is a mistake to be moved past.


no news today =P

No videos or anything from me for the last few days – that’s because I’m working on a very secret MIDI which ain’t for the D2R project or anything like it. Meanwhile, check out the great video below by ellaguro – it’s about A.L.T, my favourite level set anyone has ever made for Doom 2!

demo, MIDI

TERNAL.MID and D2RELOAD.WAD MAP06 “Comms Station”

Doomguy is decidedly in a heap of trouble. As soon as you set foot in the crate warehouse, all manner of demons begin raining fireballs down on your head, while spectres on the ground clog the escape route sufficiently that you’ll have to deal with at least some of the troublemakers above. Revenants appear early and remain your definitive opponent throughout the level. Ammo is not *tight* but it has its limits, and the more the skeleton and vile traps make you panic, the closer to the ends of your magazines you’ll delve. The level mockingly gives you a berserk pack at some point, beyond which you’ll seldom find an enemy that’s safely disposable with just a medically-enhanced punch to the pixels.

Despite many attempts at this level not actually REACHING the spiral stairs and beacon, it actually is the focus of the map. =P Doomguy presses a switch which activates an antenna, raising it high into the air (cutely, the antenna in question is one of those “skull on a pike” decorations we know and love…) which is definitely progress in a storyline sense, but you then have to extract yourself from the building with your hide intact, and there are three big encounters plus a lot of tense moments between you and the transporter bay. If you don’t feel you’ve really *played* a Doom map unless you’ve beaten it without saving, well, prepare to enjoy a few deaths while you learn your way around the Comms Station.

TERNAL.MID is a strange orchestral melody-theft-athon backed up by a strongarm drum tattoo in 5/4. I think the ideas in the tune are good enough that the file might be worth revisiting to create a better, more satisfying loop. Maybe!