demo, MIDI

H2H Czech Series 1, from March 1995 (and CAYDE.MID)

Some authors cottoned on to clean, sane map design earlier than others – here’s an early example of a map which feels IWAD-worthy while introducing its own small quirks. H2HCZEK1 provides pressure by piling on the zombie grunts while restricting the health supply and punctuates that with Revenants, to deliver knock-out blows to anyone who scrapes through the crossfire! The locale is base-y and reminiscent of Knee Deep despite heavy usage of sequel textures; space to fight is provided, but slip out of that space too early and you’ll be waking up the deaf enemies hiding around every corner. Another comparison to Doom’s shareware episode you could make is that there are hardly any traps built into the map – excepting one sneaky cupboard full ‘o Demons, the enemies are already at their battle stations and it’s Doomguy’s choice how to approach each battle.

Also includes a one-way barrel deathtrap for players who have become a little to accustomed to gleefully throwing themselves off cliffs and down holes, because there’s “always” an escape route. Bravo! 😉

I wrote CAYDE.MID over the past two days and the overall idea of the song changed many times, leaving it a little confused, but it’s built on a doomy Doom reference and unfolds into something that sits squarely in the middle of the funk/prog/crap spectrum. In a good way.

demo, MIDI

DMOMEN, June 1994 (and ROBFRIPP.MID)

An early map by a husband and wife team who later contributed to the fascinating and incredible Eternal Doom, DMOMEN is a hellish base replete with red-brick and toasty human remains. Love that dark tunnel full of demons and vines – such simple design but perhaps the optimal place for snug pinkies to live!

The opening room is the hardest part because of the nature of the shotgunner – sometimes they just kill you! Luckily, rushing over to the rocket launcher room creates a safe strategy where many of the enemies approach you and get caught up in little fights of their own. The rest of the map is largely clean-up, but it’s pretty clean-up in an environment on par with the IWAD hell maps. Just thought I’d share this interesting little level with everyone – grab it here! I couldn’t find any demos for this WAD on DSDA but I’ve learnt that all levels from 1994 go by many names, some less intuitive than others. =P

ROBFRIPP.MID is an incredibly disingenuously-titled funk tune, since I love the idea of dark funk accompanying doom guy’s jaunts to the underworld. There’s a little humour and Parliamentary formula thrown in, plus not too much guitar!

map, MIDI

Sheer Poison and POGCHAMP.MID

OK, here’s a level I made! Don’t expect me to review it or do a demo, that’s your job! =P

SHPO1.ZIP (i’ll get this up on /idgames/ when that’s functional again)

Using Ultimate Doom, pick E2M1 to play and I recommend Hurt Me Plenty. I’d be impressed by anyone finding their way through to the secret exit first time around!

The tune inside is all orchestral-progressive stop-start sometimes-rock, intentionally fragmented and hopefully interesting enough that it can loop for a whole hour while you wander around levels at least this strange. 😀

demo, MIDI

D2RELOAD MAP 11 “Phobos Lab” and THISASA.MID

“Phobos Lab” is a reprised name from Doom’s history, but the old map didn’t have a zillion chaingunners. Your reason for traversing the labs this time around is to find the means to teleport yourself to the planet surface below, and the trip takes you through dark, infested labs, storage areas and the level set’s trademark corridors, neatly book-ending the episode.

The level is dense with monsters in general, with the lobby fight on your way back from unlocking the warehouse appearing to be the stand-out encounter; the ambush is volatile and resistant to a simple solution because an incredibly PSYCHIC Arch-vile seems to naturally step in and cause chaos as soon as you’ve decided how to approach everything else! That’s the sign of a well-planned encounter, especially as the battle can get entertainingly out of hand without ever quite rendering the level unbeatable.

THISASA.MID overbears with nonsense chords and anti-orchestral instrument usage to mock old synth units. Poisoned rock in 20 sugary flavours. I’m proud of it but at the same time I know how lazy the tune is and how much better it could be with actual transitional work and and and

I won’t be continuing to make tunes for the next episode of Doom 2 Reloaded, or at least not for quite a while; I remembered that the blog is meant to be about levels from before the year 2000, so it’s time I revisited some old Doom 1 PWADs next!

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 😀