Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Beginning of the End (Part 1) (END1.WAD)


Emil Brundage, aka NaturalTvventy, is one of those 90s authors who continues to kick around this old-ass game. His most recent releases are tied up in projects like Back to Saturn X and No End in Sight, but his first set, released in 1997, was The Beginning of the End (Part 1), a pair of episodes released for the original Doom. Part 2 would follow the next year, which would complete this megaWAD, but that's a slightly different story. Speaking of story, with a name like The Beginning of the End, you'd think that there'd be some kind of framing narrative for all the crazy action that follows. There isn't, though you might be able to wrangle some kind of narrative out of the map titles... Heh.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Operation: BIOWAR (BIOWAR.WAD)


Chris Harbin is one of Doom's more obscure authors. While he donated one of his unfinished levels to Death Tormention II, his magnum opus is this, Operation: BIOWAR. Released in 1999, BIOWAR is one of those Doom II megaWADs that didn't bother to stretch to fit the mythical thirty-two map slots. Instead, it's eighteen normal maps plus one secret level, and I believe the whole thing plays back in vanilla Doom. Of course, Harbin didn't necessarily go it alone, and Biowar also features the stylings of Paul Corfiatis, who revised one of his levels from Twilight Zone II, and John Bishop, who released a smattering of solo releases over the late 90s, and was apparently a contributor to Plutonia 2 in its initial stages of development, though those levels are now confined to the archived development WADs.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Death Tormention II (PE4_DT2.WAD)


1999 saw the release of two Doom episodes bearing Paul Corfiatis's name. The first was Death Tormention, Paul's in-depth study of the Thy Flesh Consumed aesthetic that is so popular among authors. The second was, you guessed it, Death Tormention II, which shows a lot of personal growth... and a few unhealthy fixations. This episode is also among the first of Paul's collaborative works, joining fellow Team Insanity member Kristian Aro in the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship, as well as Chris Harbin, who is known for Operation: BIOWAR, if you know him at all. The bulk of Death Tormention II is a nine-level episode with a .DEH that apparently only works in source ports like Boom. Paul has also included three bonus levels that are pretty silly and underdeveloped and which are hiding in the secret map slots for Knee Deep in the Dead, The Shores of Hell, and Inferno.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Twilight Zone II: Final Dreams (TWZONE2.WAD)


Paul Corfiatis, to me, is the working man's WAD author, a dude who has hundreds of levels under his belt starting from 1998 and continuing to this very day... though he'd be among the first to distance himself from his earlier, "experimental" works. His first release was a full-fledged megaWAD, The Twilight Zone, where you battled Hell through your dreams to get a good night's sleep. A year later, we got The Twilight Zone II: Final Dreams. The current iteration of TWZONE2 is a Boom-compatible megaWAD; though it was released in 1999, Paul went back and remastered it in 2014, stripping out the resources that had fallen out of favor with him... More on that in a bit.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Death Tormention (PE4M_ALL.WAD)


Paul Corfiatis has made a lot of maps, and more than a few of them have been specifically in the style of Doom's fourth episode, Thy Flesh Consumed. Death Tormention is the beginning of a series of such works, released in 1999 in between his first two megaWADs, The Twilight Zone and The Twilight Zone II: Final Dreams. It's apparently vanilla compatible, but the .DEH only works in source ports, I guess. There isn't any sort of attempt at setting up the plot in the .TXT, but you can glean some stuff from the end text.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The City of the Damned (TCOTD.ZIP)


Doomworld Forum superstar Daniel Gimmer, aka Tormentor667, is one of the biggest reasons that the ZDoom engine - and its family - is as popular as it is today. The man has an undeniable passion for the Doom community, especially on the GZDoom side of things, and Realm667 - in spite of what feels like a constant barrage of hacker attacks - remains the most organized collection of custom resources available to authors that want to play around in the Doom engine. Most of his work is highly regarded by a subset of the community that treasures each and every GZDoom level that emerges, confused and alone, into the /idgames wild. The City of the Damned is one of his earliest releases, a single level that was originally meant to showcase his Blood Resource Pack, which has an amusingly draconian permission requirement considering that all of this stuff was made by the hard workin' folks at Monolith.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Extreme Weapon Pack (EWPACK.WAD)

EXTREME WEAPON PACK
by "Doggo120"


Simply not telling anyone about Extreme Weapon Pack would be the worst offense I could commit. Explaining it before you get a chance to see it yourself would be the second worst. So, gentle reader, before you skim any further, ask yourself: "Do I want to spoil the surprise for myself?" You could load this mod up in ZDoom, very quickly, and discover on your own the twisted secret behind Doggo120's 2013 masterpiece. I guess if you're allergic to ZDoom mods, you wouldn't care to try. However, I IMPLORE you to load Extreme Weapon Pack up and experience it before you take a peek at the man behind the curtain.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Big Woodchip (PH_WDCH3.WAD)

BIG WOODCHIP
by James "Phobus" Cresswell


Big Woodchip, released in 2014, is actually the third entry in a trilogy of wood-textured levels by Doomworld Forum superstar Phobus, "Woodchip" was part of Abyssal Speedmapping Session 2, and the follow-up - "Woodchip Woodchip" - arrived in Abyssal Speedmapping Session 3. While this was originally conceived of as a speedmap, the only thing it truly has in common with the rest of the series is its texture theme. The end result is a limit-removing MAP01 replacement that has more of a traditional map progression than its progenitors, and that's cool, because I usually find myself wishing that the authors of these speedmapping sessions had been given a little more room to really bring the proposed concept to fruition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Abyssal Speedmapping Session 3 (ABYSPED3.WAD)


Obsidian is a cool dude who has more or less brought speedmapping back to the Doomworld community. I mean, they had the Doomworld Speedmapping Compilations going for awhile, and then the SargeBaldy Speedmapping Compilations, and then BACK to Doomworld for a bit before Obsidian started things up again. Sure, there have been other programs to fill the void since then, especially in places like the Russian Doom Community, but it's cool to have a semi-regular event happening again, especially if it means we get maps the average caliber of these. Abyssal Speedmapping Session 3, released in 2014, heralds the return of a lot of the Session 2 crew, though Osiris has dropped out to make Obsidian the only holdover from Session 1. I also see in the notes that Tarnsman was around but elected to do something completely different.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

dead.wire (XA-DWIRE.WAD)

DEAD.WIRE
by Xaser Acheron


I hope you don't think that Xaser's been keeping quiet. He's got his tendrils in a handful of community projects, plus the management of both Doom the Way id Did: The Lost Episodes and No End in Sight. Heck, in 2014, he was one of the unifying forces of Back to Saturn X E2. 2015 wasn't a big year for the X-man, but there was a flurry of standalone releases to drink in, starting with dead.wire. This map was a competitor in Realm667's 2015 Doomja Vu contest, and while it did not bring home the gold, it ALMOST did, and if you load it up in GZDoom you'll quickly see why.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sheer Poison (SHPO1.WAD)

SHEER POISON
by "Zan-zan-zawa-veia"


Zan-zan-zawa-veia, aka yakfak, is an author who exalts what is now a fringe interest of the Doom community. The wild, freewheeling puzzle boxes of '95 have given way to a commercial sensibility that seems afraid to confront the player in any manner apart from the monsters that litter the digital playgrounds. Enter yakfak, whose ideas betray an alignment rooted in the early days of Dooming, when players had to have patience because there wasn't like twenty years of community mods already released and begging for your attention. Sheer Poison, an E2M1 replacement released in 2015 as a vehicle for the accompanying MIDI, carries a lot of the strange progression that I would associate with... Jim Flynn, for instance, but with a metaphysical presentation entirely its own.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Skulldash (SKULDASH.PK3)


The vast majority of PWADs we see don't really muck with the core format of Doom. Even when we throw true three-dimensional geometry and custom monsters and weapons, you are still working your way toward a finish line of some sort, whether it's a literal line or an exit switch or the death of the Final Boss. Skulldash, a Zandronum megaWAD developed by Joshua O'Sullivan aka "Dragonfly" and released in 2015, has these same conceits, but there is a significant change in what it means to complete a level that shares one aspect of 2014's Doom: The Golden Souls. Specifically, you've got to pick up a certain number of collectibles to make it to each exit. The difference is, you're on a time limit, and when your hourglass runs out, you're dead.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ol' No Name (OLNONAME.WAD)


The Doom community has produced tons of fantastic texture sets throughout its history. The Darkening's E2 took inspiration from Quake II, but its aesthetics languished in obscurity due to a restrictive clause that prohibited use of its textures... until recently. The only mapset I knew that played with the pack was Yashar Garibzadeh's The Darkening Aftershock, which of course had to be run on top of DARKEN2. This, however, is Ol' No Name, a four-map episode released in 2015 by Doomworld Forum superstar Octavarium. The author exploits its resources at a level as befits The Nameless Project's reputation for vanilla trickery, but in a Boom-compatible context, which adds a little something more.

Monday, November 2, 2015

ICAR2015 (ICAR2015.WAD)


Eternal is Russian's favorite son, a multi-Cacoward toting author with several fetishes, one of them being classic megaWADs - especially in the TNT flavor. It should come as no surprise that he eventually got around to making his loveletter to Icarus: Alien Vanguard, the aptly titled ICAR2015, an eleven-level episode published in 2015 for Doom II that must be run on top of the Icarus megaWAD. As could be expected, this release is completely compatible with vanilla Doom II, not that there's anything stopping you from running it in another source port.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Doom II In Name Only RDC


By some accounts, Doom 2 In Name Only was a disaster. The initial goal of the project was to just take a level name and then do whatever seemed appropriate - to create a map that justified its appellation. When opened up to the community, though, some of the authors went counter to the potentially experimental direction, creating a mixed bag of levels that at times explored one of the most common criticisms of Doom II, that the experience did not hold up to the expectations of the setting, enforcing monster progression and vanilla textures (outside of Xaser's madness) coupled with clashing author styles and a lack of focus. The Russian Doom Community took some inspiration from the release, from which comes this episode covering the first nine levels. Doom 2 In Name Only RDC has some clear goals; it dumps any aspirations of vanilla compatibility, even sneaking in a few scrolling floors. It also uses a bunch of new textures to further distance itself from the original Doom II experience... even if there are some obvious homages crammed in there.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Way Too Many Dead Guys


Way Too Many Dead Guys is Urthar's first release, a seven-map episode for Doom II published in 2015 that targets limit-removing ports... and, the author recommends, something that also disables infinite actor height. Personally, I only ran into a couple of problems with cacodemons biting the top of my head. While this PWAD isn't on the archives yet, it's pretty much finished, and it's definitely worth a play. Urthar shows a lot of craftsmanship and a style that is very much his own in terms of architecture and what he decides to fill his architecture with.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Breach

BREACH
by Alun "Viggles" Bestor


Every now and then, an author comes along to show us just what kind of depth of detail you can get out of Doom in a limit-removing setting. And, every now and then, one of those guys manages to pair it with cool gameplay. Breach, a MAP01 replacement for Doom II  released in 2015, is the first thing Bestor has done since a couple of deathmatch levels he kicked out waaaay back in 1996. It's just like they say - they come back. They always come back. Actually, Breach is only half of Bestor's intended experience, since he actually ran up against the NEW seg limit. Supposing he finds himself motivated, we might get to see the second part. And, uh, I'd be very excited to play it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Estranged (ESTRNGD.WAD)


Foodles is a more prolific author than this blog suggests. He has two Doom episodes to his name and a Doom II hub, all of which I understand are recommended, but which I haven't played. My sole bout of exposure was his joint venture with Esselfortium for Back to Saturn X E1, so I can't say I really had a clear picture of his sensibilities... until now. And how! Estranged is a full megaWAD for Doom II, to be played in Boom compatible ports, released (more or less) in 2015. Like any self-respecting one-man megaWAD, it's apparently been in development a long time... just how long, I dunno, since there wasn't a .TXT when I played it (in a "finalized" open beta). From a perusal, it looks like it started out as "Unleashed" and then morphed into "Uncaged" in 2011. Now, we've got Estranged.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Abyssal Speedmapping Session 2 (ABYSPED2.WAD)


The Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions are an institute founded by Doomworld Forum superstar Obsidian, though it has its foundations in one of Doom's smaller communities, The Abyss. The goal is to get a bunch of folks together making a speedmap in the same timeframe with two hours for the main work, fifteen minutes of texture / music selection, and then fifteen minutes of bugfixing. A common Skype call only serves to add to the feeling of community involvement. The initial showing wasn't that big, fielding a paltry four entries. The crowd almost doubles here, though, with the addition of a handful of community staples.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Erkattäññe (ERKATANE.WAD)


Nicolas Monti has made a lot of PWADs that I have not yet played. After a single level release in 2010/11, he exploded out in 2012 with Eviltech: Soul of Megawad, a Doom II release, then cranked out four Doom episodes, all centering around tech themes, whether it's Phobos, Deimos, or the Alpha aesthetic. While his Doom II followup - Reticula - remains in development as of this writing, he published this eleven map episode for Doom II in 2015 - Erkattäññe. And, now, I'm finally giving Monti a try. Erkattäññe can be played in any engine and comes in two distinct flavors. The first uses Doom II textures while the other is draped in the Phobos theme that Monti is so fond of. Both can be found in the .ZIP file. For this playthrough, I stuck with the Doom II theme.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Power Metal (PWRMETAL.WAD)

POWER METAL
by Robert "Zalewa" Zalewski


Zalewa has been something of a presence in the Doom community, the author of 2009 Cacoward winner Tribute (which I haven't played as of this review) and a co-author of the Doomseeker utility. Power Metal, released in 2015, is a single map meant to be played in any limit-removing port... but describing it as a single map is not an adequate representation of the experience that awaits you. More accurately, Power Metal is a single HUGE map, with nearly 1,000 enemies on the map to start. There is no context given to the gameplay, though the explanation of the title may offer some hint - it's called Power Metal because it's not as Heavy as Black Metal.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Doomed Space Wars (SPACWARS.WAD)


Doom is no stranger to Star Wars; I've seen a massive, light-hearted TC (Star Wars: Chibi Rebellion) and I know that Rex Claussen has had a few SW-themed releases. Heck, according to John Carmack:
Seeing how someone had put the death star into our game felt so amazingly cool. I was so proud of what had been made possible, and I was completely sure that making games that could serve as a canvas for other people to work on was a valid direction.
This time, Paul Corfiatis is taking a swing at the pairing. Doomed Space Wars is a twelve-map release meant to be played in ZDoom, published in 2015. While it uses textures that will be familiar to veterans of Dark Forces, Paul isn't really trying to channel the gameplay, and has confessed that he's not overly familiar with it. So, if the phrase Dark Forces got you all hopped up, I'd make sure that you're willing to settle for visual parity, if nothing else.

Friday, September 18, 2015

50 Shades of Graytall (50SHADES.WAD)


50 Shades of Graytall is partially a joke. It's also mostly serious. Doomworld Forum superstar Marcake took Gez on his jest, creating a project with an unusual restriction, limiting the available textures to what are widely considered to be the three least attractive options - DOORTRAK, GRAYTALL, and FIREBLU. The end result is an eighteen-level megaWAD to be played in a Boom-compatible source port that attempts to deliver, again, on the promise of the Monochromatic Mapping Project. That is, to create a mapset whose limited capacity for visuals forced the authors to focus on the aspects of level design related to gameplay.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sunlust (SUNLUST.WAD)


Insane_Gazebo had a dream. His goal - to pair slaughter combat with beautiful environments, because it's what he wanted to play, and as far as he could see was pretty much nonexistent. It looks as though he may have left, and while some people may still have their fingers crossed, I guess that Sunder is pretty much done... for now. IG may have fulfilled his dream better than he could have hoped, though. His influence is felt through a new generation of authors who have taken his approach to heart, kicking off a revolution of iteration and experimentation, plumbing previously unexplored depths in gameplay and aesthetics. Ribbiks and dannebubinga count themselves among Sunder's disciples, possessed by a strong LUST for the paradigm brought to life by Insane_Gazebo. Seeing each other as kindred spirits, they combined their talents to bring you this intense loveletter to Sunder - Sunlust.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Abyssal Speedmapping Session 1 (ABYSPED1.WAD)


There are plenty of Doom communities besides Doomworld. One of them used to be NewDoom, which was really before my time. NewDoom eventually went behind an insane paywall, forcing most of its userbase elsewhere or out of the community entirely. I guess some of the folks were already Doomworld pariahs. Anyway, some of the NewDoom users migrated over to The Abyss, which served as the foundation of a new Doom community institution - the Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions (this being the first), named as such because of its outgrowth from the Abyss community, though Obsidian wasn't one of the NewDoom emigrants. The goal is to get people to work together over the course of two hours (plus thirty minutes for music / textures and bugfixing) to make a bunch of speedmaps.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Oblivion (OBLIV666.WAD)


Back in 2010, Stormwalker aka Vordakk released Phobos Massacre, an episode replacement for E1 of the original Doom. Then he did a lot of work in both Heretic and Doom II before coming back to this, making him the first of several 2015 authors to go back and take a second crack at something they felt disappointed with. So, here's Oblivion. Like its predecessor, it's an episode one replacement for the original Doom, but where PHOBMASS only worked in ZDoom, this was tested down to Boom compatible ports at the very least, with an optimistic outlook of limit-removing... but I can't guarantee anything.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Phobos Massacre (PHOBMASS.WAD)


Vordakk, also known as Stormwalker, bedazzled us with a brand new Heretic episode in 2011 (Call of the Apostate), eventually belting out a sort of Doom II inspired megaWAD in 2014 with Flashback to Hell. His first big release, though, was Phobos Massacre, a Knee Deep in the Dead replacement for the original Doom, to be played in ZDoom-derived ports. Phobos Massacre eventually got its own remastering in 2015 with Oblivion, but its progenitor is still lurking on /idgames, waiting for any poor unfortunate soul looking for more E1-themed levels to play. The episode doesn't have any story, but it has plenty of thematic parallels with the original, so you can just frame it as you like it.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kurashiki's Kuso Map (KUSOK.WAD)


Kurashiki is almost certainly better known for her excellent fan art of Doom, offering takes on the franchise and the PWADs it has spawned that are both fun and fantastic. In this, she's become something of a Doom icon; I'd never have guessed that we'd get such high caliber art of memorable PWAD moments. She's made a couple of Doom II maps, though, released (more or less) in 2013. Kusok (Kurashiki's Kuso Map) is a two-level minisode made for Boom-compatible source ports. There isn't any kind of accompanying story, but the second level has something of an implied narrative, a techbase that's slowly giving way to infernal influence.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Nuclear Halls (NUKEHALL.WAD)

NUCLEAR HALLS
by Adam "Capellan" Windsor


Adam Windsor has had a long, industrious career of having a hand in a bunch of classic WADs, including Demonfear. He was gone for awhile, but as of 2012's Community Chest 4 he's up to his old tricks. Nuclear Halls is actually a solo release, a single map for limit-removing ports that occupies the ol' MAP01 slot. I'm no stranger to the story, which has you as a lowly security guard at a nuclear waste facility who just wants to get away from the whole "Savior of Earth" thing and forget about Hell. Of course, if it were that easy, we wouldn't have thousands of user maps to play through. Pretty soon, your "guaranteed" gig is a colossal nightmare.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Random Deaths & Decoration v1.5 (RDND15.PK3)

RANDOM DEATHS
& DECORATION

by Chris "Glaice" Pisarczyk


Glaice - aka Mr. Chris - has long been a fixture in the Doom community. For awhile, he was one of the loudest proponents of Brutal Doom, popularizing the mod with the Brutal Doom Video Vault, among other things. Five years of feature creep have brought him back into the fold, though. Random Deaths and Decoration is his takeaway from the experience, a Doom mod that brings some of the spectacle of Brutal Doom without any of the gameplay changes. This is (almost) a purely visual gameplay mod, so there isn't a whole lot of concrete stuff to talk about, and I feel that an explanation of the changed elements in pornographic detail is outside of the scope of this blog. That being said, there is plenty worth summarizing that may tantalize prospective players.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ty Halderman, Rest In Peace

My condolences to his friends and family for a man who more than anyone else helped the Doom community become what it is today

Rest in Peace, Ty

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Gateway Experiments Episode Five: Prime Directive (GE5-PD.PK3)


The last time we got a glimpse of Ethan Watson's Gateway Experiments was back in 2003, with the first episode - Space Station Omega. Omega used ZDoom to take Doom in a different direction than most attempts to modernize it had. Sure, it used fun stuff like slopes and silent teleporter tricks, but the main thing it did was give Doom a more cinematic flair with camera angles and, the most important element of all, the dialogue trees. The earliest taste of the latter came with Strife, which didn't have a lot of player agency, since you spend most of your time getting talked at, rather than with, emphasized by your relationship with Blackbird, who you never page - she's just a voice in your ear. In Omega, the Blackbird equivalent is Elaine, Russell Cartwright's partner in combat, romance, and business. Using the radio, you could call up Elaine yourself, though the dynamic wasn't explored that thoroughly. All of this proof of concept stuff is cool, but I was wondering what it would look like implemented across a broader experience. And now, in 2015, there's Prime Directive.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Gateway Experiments Episode 1: Space Station Omega (GE1-SSO.WAD)

THE GATEWAY EXPERIMENTS
OR
DOESN'T THE MILITARY EVER LEARN?
EPISODE 1:

SPACE STATION OMEGA
by Ethan "Gooberman" Watson


The vast majority of Doom levels available are mostly iterations on a tried and true gameplay model. Marine starts level, marine gets gun, marine kills demons. The introduction of ZDoom offered some powerful scripting paths that allows authors to add in gameplay that is distinctly un-Doom. At least, Doom as it was released in 1993. Today, we are seeing crazy stuff like original Shoot-Em-Ups and tactical combat games and complete recreations of popular games of past like Mortal Kombat and Donkey Kong Country. Doom is still, uh, Doom, unsurprisingly. The early ZDoom forays like Assault on Tei Tenga tried to add story and speaking characters and Hell Factory developed the hub system to better mimic Quake II's execution. Space Station Omega, a single level from Ethan Watson, aka Gooberman, pushes things in a very different direction, one that's rarely seen.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Zero Tolerance (ZP-ZEROT.WAD)

ZERO TOLERANCE
by "Zero Prophet"


ZDoom modding entered something of a renaissance after Xaser's release of Zen Dynamics, which showed just how far the ZDoom engine could be pushed in terms of weapon mods. The engine has come a long way since then, with even crazier gameplay mods and concepts (and surely more to follow). Zero Prophet released his Zero Tolerance in 2008. It's mostly a weapons mod as it doesn't fool with the properties of any of the monsters higher than and including the demon, but it does mess around with the rest of the Doom II trash. The weaponry is far more futuristic than Doom's, as you're playing a rogue android who stands alone against the infernal invasion.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Return to Hadron (HADRON.WAD)


Doomworld Forum superstar Cannonball made a huge splash in 2013 with a megaWAD for the original Doom, titled ConC.E.R.Ned. The whole thing was an outgrowth of Powell practicing mapping, starting out with an E1 theme (CBSPEED) and then moving on to E2 and E3. After finishing his run at E4 in 2014 - Thy Flesh Turned Into a Draft Excluder - the author decided to go back and retool the first episode. And now, we have Return to Hadron, another limit-removing episode one replacement for Doom, released in 2015. It's just more good news for those players with a distaste for the expanded bestiary of Doom II.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crumpets (CRUMPETS.WAD)


Ribbiks, the star of 2013 with his Stardate 20X6 and Swim With the Whales, started dishing up Crumpets back in 2014 as a relief valve while working on other projects. Now, in 2015, we've got a full plate. The final release is a ten-map episode to be played in Boom-compatible ports. The first and last levels are just a framework with just about no gameplay. The rest of it is packed to the gills, though. There isn't any story to be found, of course. Things just start with Doomguy at his observatory on the edge of time, his Earl Gray tea still warm. Except, uh, this batch of tea isn't quite kosher, and you're soon whisked away to a series of nightmares inside your teacup.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pinnacle of Darkness (PINNACLE.PK3)


GZDoom WADs are few and far between, and the ones that really make full use of the engine are even rarer. Pinnacle of Darkness is one such delight, a MAP01 replacement released in 2015 by Nick Laurent, aka Hobomaster22, whose most recent contributions have been to Doom the Way id Did and Back to Saturn X Episode 1. Pinnacle has nothing to do with vanilla limitations and everything to do with embracing the aspects of GZDoom that make Doom feel less like the 2.5-dimensional game that we know and love. I believe that this mapset should play nice with most mods since it doesn't change any of the gunplay or enemy behaviors, though there's one custom monster you'll have to deal with.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Rebirth (REBIRTH1.WAD)


Bjorn Ostmann, aka "Vader", was one of ZDoom's darlings at one point, and assuming that The Shores of ZDoom are released, will probably remain one. Now, he's churning out really cool vanilla maps for Back to Saturn X. He's no stranger to vanilla Doom, though. His debut was one of those strangely coveted one-man megaWADs, The Rebirth, released in 2003. It's an interesting specimen, with a vast difference between the design of MAP01 and MAP29. You can almost watch Vader's talent develop real time as you play from level to level.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Pink Bull

Martin Hunsager and Anders Johnsen - who you might recognize as being a lot of if not most of the driving force behind Alien Vendetta - are playing through WADs in coop and documenting their opinions. Together, as The Pink Bull, they've got a bucketload of interesting opinions, especially since they've actually spent a lot of time within the editor, among other things. Read up here.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

32in24-14: How the Hamburglar Stole Christmas (32IN2414.WAD)


32in24 is a Doomworld community institution, an event where participants make as many multiplayer levels as possible in a very short timeframe. Recent iterations of the proceedings have given the participants time to polish and punch-up their contributions. 32in24 doesn't really tread on the singleplayer / co-op side of things; Diet 32in24 has gone down as an interesting experiment but I've rarely seen it talked up, and it seemed that it would remain the only foray into demonslaying that we would get. Then, of course, there came 32in24-14: How the Hamburglar Stole Christmas. The rest, as they say, is robble robble. This is a 42 (!) level megaWAD of Boom-compatible levels, but if you want to mess around with the bonus levels, you'll need something that can play beyond the usual limit. MAPINFO is recommended as the other stuff is set up in its own special episode.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

UAC Secret (UACECRET.WAD)

UAC SECRET
by "Lainos"


Lainos is hands-down one of my favorite Doom authors of all time. I love huge levels, and I love maps that you have to twist and turn like a Rubik's Cube. He's been taking it easy since 5till L1 Complex, though, preferring to release the occasional short, experimental level. UAC Secret, released in 2015, is something of a return to form. While not the ginormous sort of map that I was hoping for, It's still pretty big, and all the secrets and switchbacks will pad the length out for a good bit. This is a MAP01 replacement for any limit-removing port that can also play back .OGG files; the author's preferred port is the port of choice for Mother Russia, that being PrBoom-Plus.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Beta Labs (BETALABS.WAD)


Few game communities are as obsessed with the vagaries of the development process as Doom's. At this point, we've seen enough beta and alpha materials for an editorial reconstruction on par with The History of Middle-Earth. I've seen plenty of projects come and go that derive some amount of influence from the alpha / beta materials. The ones that are dead-set on using the Doom Bible as their design document have not fared well. The others grab the unused resources and then make something that's like Doom, but not, as reflected by the sensibilities of the authors. Beta Labs is one of these latter projects, a joint effort by Serious_MOod and Chaingunner, two crazy dudes from Russia. Released in 2015, it's an E1 replacement to be played in limit-removing ports, but its architecture and design are far from being a carbon copy of Knee Deep in the Dead.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dark Side of Deimos (DEIMOS.WAD)


Phobos-themed episodes are a dime-a-dozen, and everyone loves the E4 theme, whether it's in its natural setting or being expounded upon in Doom II format. Deimos and Inferno... not so much. We treasure these niceties when we may, so here's Dark Side of Deimos, an Episode Two replacement released late in 2013. I believe that it's targeted for Boom-compatible ports, so take that as you may. It also has pretty much zero story, though you may be able to infer some similarities between the original names and the maps that are now in their slots, especially in cases like E2M8 and E2M9.

Friday, June 26, 2015

E2MWalter (PH_WALT.WAD)

E2MWALTER
by James "Phobus" Cresswell


Phobus is a dude I know mostly for having contributed at least one high quality level to a bunch of community projects. He's kind of like a modern day Adam Windsor, excepting the fact that Adam Windsor is still kicking around. Phobus is actually a pretty prolific author, and the only reason I haven't delved into his backlog of solo releases is because there is so, so much Doom, and so very little time. E2MWalter is an interesting oddity, its genesis being a birthday map for Doomworld Forum superstar Walter Confalonieri in 2014. As advertised, it's a level in the Shores of Hell theme; E2M1, to be exact. It lacks a framing story in a fictive sense, but its purpose is readily apparent.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Ranger (13ZD-RGR.WAD)

THE RANGER
by "TerminusEst13"


TerminusEst13 has taken Doom's modding scene by storm with stuff like Samsara, DemonSteele, and Push. The Ranger was his first release, published in 2011 for ZDoom and Skulltag. It's a new character for Hexen, and an attempt at bringing something of gunpowder tech to a familiar fantasy setting. The Ranger doesn't change any of the core conceits of Hexen's gameplay; none of the enemy behavior has been touched. Any alterations to item behavior are just additions to cover what the Icon and Flechette do when wielded by the formidable Ranger, which isn't just understandable - it's to be expected.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hell Revealed II (HR2FINAL.WAD)


Hell Revealed remains an inexplicable enigma; for awhile, when someone would pop in and ask what they should play after having finished and loved Doom II, a sizable number of people would throw it out there. If I didn't know any better, I'd think they were trolling, attempting to turn people off Doom forever with HR's sheer difficulty curve. The truth, though, is that a lot of people love it, and when the iron was hot, some of its fans got together to make a sequel. Hell Revealed II took a lot longer to make than its forbear, though; about five times as long, in fact. Released at the very end of 2003, its influence is undeniable. I've seen numerous explicit citations when parsing the more elaborate commentary provided by PWAD authors. There are moments of sheer BFG frenzy sure to satiate fans of demon-reaping gameplay. Then, of course, there's the other stuff.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Esselfortium's Birthday Cave (ESSEL11.WAD)

ESSELFORTIUM'S BIRTHDAY CAVE
by Brendt "Megalyth" Pantley


Sometimes, Doomworld members make birthday levels for each other. Sometimes, they get uploaded to the /idgames archives. DTWID alumnus Brent Pantley, aka Megalyth, crafted this level for Esselfortium back in 2011, officially publishing it almost two years later. Titled Esselfortium's Birthday Cave, it is indeed a cavern of sorts, and a MAP01 replacement that should play back in any engine. Birthday levels aren't known for pushing the envelope, and this one isn't any different. It's definitely competent, though, and shows Megalyth as a talented author who must be sitting on like a ton of supercool maps by now.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Titan (TITAN.WAD)


You don't see a whole lot of "normal maps but with ZDoom features" nowadays. It looks like most of the people are making mods instead of maps. If you're looking for Doom+ gameplay, though, this one's for you. Titan is a nine-map episode for Doom II, released in 2004 by one Jesper Krag Rasmussen, aka Ixnatifual. This one WAS made for ZDoom, but a now ancient release, and ZDoom's continued development created a game-breaking bug at the end of MAP02 stemming from a malfunction in the execution of a handful of Rasmusen's major teleport traps. This led to an update back in 2014, which I nonetheless missed out on due to my insistence on using a copy I had downloaded back in 2010. Sorry about that!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Nuts (NUTS.WAD)

NUTS
by "B.P.R.D."


Nuts was selected as one of Doomworld's Top 10 Infamous WADs, and it's not hard to see why. B.P.R.D. went on to have a long, distinguished career as a Doom author; his followup to this bit of totty was Equinox, of all things. It's hard to imagine someone not knowing or understanding what Nuts is, but I'll humor you. Released late in 2001, this is a single map replacement for Doom II. You won't be able to run this in vanilla; I recommend the PrBoom-Plus family for sheer efficiency, but I didn't have much trouble working it in ZDoom. Nuts does have a story, with you sent to eliminate the final Hellspawn army on Litrivin IV, armed with nothing but a pistol because of a past social transgression. Good thing there is a fuck ton of cell ammo and guns at the drop off point, I guess.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Master Levels and Speculation


John Romero released a boatload of dev shit for Doom and Doom II, furthering the already intimate understandings of Doom's development history into previously uncharted depths. A lot of this stuff is tangentially interesting to me, but I'm not someone to go gaga over the pornographic details of how Doom was made unless it turns up something Not Yet Seen, like those art assets. One of the things uncovered during this asset dump is a file that contains at the very least this list of .WAD and .TXT names, which shows an inarguable connection to the Master Levels For Doom II.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Quake: Descent into Heresy (QUAKE-DIH_1.PK3)

QUAKE
DESCENT INTO HERESY
by "osjclatchford"


Do you love Quake? Do you like Heretic? Then do I have a mod for you! Descent Into Heresy is an unusual combo for the ZDoom engine that will no doubt have some players rattling their chains due to the mixture of fantasy and... Quake. The flipside is that people inured to the mixture of Gothic horror / fantasy and gunpowder are probably more ready to accept a mod that throws shotguns in Heretic than the Hexen crowd was at the genesis of The Ranger. This rev of the mod was stamped mid 2015, and in some aspects, it brings the gunplay of Quake to the world of Parthoris.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

not so stealth update

Nebula 95 now has its own series page, which is something I've been meaning to do since, like, March, but it got bogged down in a really long essay on the pathetic "elitism" vs. "rugged individualism" slapfight that I see going on in the community, which i have since cut out. It was a "stealth update" because, uh, that's how I've handled all the Serial Killing features so far. Heck, i don't even know how many people know that the feature even exists!

Serial Killing is one of the features on the blog, which really means that I should be featuring them whenever they're written instead of sneakily inserting them at the day after the last review for the series was posted, but there are many things about this site that I am uncoordinated with. I guess this is my attempt to do these articles justice since they constitute some of the least-trafficked areas of the blog. Serial Killing is a very not politically correct title, and it still feels a little gross having it there, because I find nothing glamorous about its namesake. I am strongly considering changing the name of the feature to "Super Serials" as I am writing this.

anyway, regardless of the name of the feature, it had its genesis in the Master Levels For Doom II article. one of the things I did was do exhaustive playthroughs of all the surrounding material, which included several different series - Titan, Inferno, and Cabal. at some point I foolishly thought that it would be pretty cool to build posts similar to my multi-map reviews for the "collected" series. in fact, I didn't have the infobox style in place at the time. after "borrowing" it from andy olivera's Visions of Doom page, i tweaked the format and tested it out in the series pages and then, on recommendation, reformatted the rest of the site reviews using it.

another thing I started doing like a few years ago but never really knuckled down to finish was something similar to the series feature but geared more toward authors, like a career retrospective. i still have the Christen David Klie article bouncing around in my drafts. I've also had a bunch of other feature ideas kicking around, but the only one that's made it was the hastily slapped-together Maximum Doom article.

in any case, if you didn't know about the series features before, I hope you'll give them a read! they were fun to write, and i hope they're at least fun to read, if not informative.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

KZDOOM6: Hidden Valley of the Aliens (KZDOOM6.WAD)

KZDOOM6
HIDDEN VALLEY OF
THE ALIENS

by Kurt Kesler


Boom appealed to Doom PWAD authors with several advanced features, like BEX, custom color maps, silent teleporters, and "limit removal". Kesler was one of many mappers that experimented with TNT's engine when it became available, producing his KBOOM series of maps in 1998. It was only natural that when the ZDoom engine came along with several more advancements, chief among them ACS scripting a la Hexen, Kesler would try it out, too. KZDOOM6 is the penultimate entry in the self-explanatory KZDOOM series, a MAP01 replacement released in 2000. While the valley setting is pretty much a commonality of his later works, the brick and mortar structures built into the landscape are not.