Friday, June 17, 2011

Perdition's Gate research

Because I don't really have enough info to incorporate this into either the Perdition's Gate or Hell to Pay pages yet, I'm throwing something together right now because it's somewhat interesting info regarding the topic and I'm going to be touching on it in the near future. I dunno, it could be feature of its own, maybe something like Connections, but I'm not sure I'm sufficiently interested in other authors yet to really pull something together.

This is a little bit of puzzle-piecing I've cobbled together through independent research. Glancing through .TXTs, searching for author info on the archives, etc.. Tom Mustaine mentions on his website/blog that the Hell to Pay project was headed by an individual named Jim Elson, and that Elson along with Jimmy "Evilgenius" Sieben and Mackey "Avatar" McCandlish helped push Perdition's Gate out the door. Now, glancing through the .TXT file for Perdition's Gate, I come across the following credit list.

Lich: Artwork, Design, Production Manager, Sound
Tom Mustaine: Artwork, Design, Music, Production Assistant
ArchDaemon: Design, Programming
Mackey McCandlish: Artwork, Design
Pavel Hodek: Artwork
Bob Mustaine: Design
Mark Gundy: Marketing
Anavrin: Music
Kristin Weeks: Computer Voice
Jaroslaw Wolski: Artwork

Now, for some connecting. I've actually reviewed one of Pavel Hodek's works, Galaxia. He's also a fairly prolific author in the archives, particularly with deathmatch mapping, though he's worked single player into all the levels (as far as I have seen). Hodek was also one of the primary authors behind H2H-Xmas (which I will be reviewing in the near future), supplying 8 of the 32 maps of the series. It started as a branch off from a small mapset derived from the Head-to-Head International Doomers Competition (read more about it here on Doomworld, the sixth paragraph of ).

The original H2HMud team: Dave Swift aka "Mud", Jimmy Sieben aka "Evil Genius", Greg Lewis aka "Tree", Mark Gundy aka "Mag", and Jim Elson aka H2HMud. From what I gathered in a .TXT of a map by Jimmy Sieben, Elson ran the original H2H competition, and incidentally headed the H2H-Xmas project given his status as "Quality Control & final assembley". So, this establishes Elson as having project leadership skills, and working together with both Jimmy Sieben and Pavel Hodek, as well as Mark Gundy. I'd say H2H-Xmas planted the seeds of the Hell to Pay project, at least.

Here's something that confused me. Perdition's Gate lists neither Jim Elson nor Jimmy Sieben as having worked on it, yet we can clearly see from Tom Mustaine's own recollections that they did. Two people credited for "Design" in Perdition's Gate are using handles, "Lich" and "Archdaemon". From this, we can deduce that Jim Elson, indicated by Tom Mustaine as the project manager and already established as a project leader , used the handle of Lich for Perdition's Gate for reasons unknown. We can also deduce that Jimmy Sieben used the handle of ArchDaemon for Perditon's Gate, again for reasons unknown. Actually, hold it.

Final Doom was released May 31, 1996, though I understand that TNT Evilution had been commercially developed for some time, as TNT's following WAD, Icarus: Alien Vanguard, was released more than two months prior. TNT's own website page for Evilution declares that the original WAD was finished in November, 1995 (!!). Perdition's Gate (and, I assume, Hell to Pay) was released in 1996, I'm betting in the wake of Final Doom. As suggested by Doomworld forumgoer T-Rex, Siebens probably used an alias to distance himself from Evilution, which the community had had a less than glowing reaction to. Additionally, looking through TNT's member names associated with project lists, you can clearly see Jim Elson, aka H2H, credited as a contributor to Evilution. In the list Ty Halderman dropped in this thread on Doomworld, you'll notice that Elson isn't credited as doing any mapping work for Evilution. However, in that same post, Ty states that

"Of course this is just the levels--there was a lot of other stuff done that virtually equaled the effort in doing levels. In fact we only divvied up 1/2 of the purchase price as being for level work."

I'm gonna guess that Jim Elson, given his previous history with H2HMud and H2H-Xmas and what I know of Perdition's Gate and Hell to Pay, worked on TNT Evilution somewhere in the realm of project management, maybe even "Quality Control & final assembley". As such, I'll posit that he used the moniker of Lich for this project for the same reason Jimmy Sieben did. Mackey McCandlish had no such need, not having participated in Final Doom. Of course, that doesn't account for why Tom Mustaine brazenly slapped his name on the project, given that he was just as much a part of Evilution as everyone else. I can only conclude that Tom Mustaine gives no fucks, and that makes him one of the greatest mappers of all.

What I take away from this is that the two Wraith Corp. Doom II commercial MegaWADs have far more in common with the similarly commercial (but overseen by id) TNT Evilution than I originally thought, and that's even knowing that Tom Mustaine started Perdition's Gate with the intent of selling it to id as part of Final Doom. If there are alternate universes, perhaps one has some commercial Final Doom trilogy. There's some interesting parallels, too. Tom and his dad as relatives crafting a megawad with Milo and Dario as relatives working on Plutonia, and here, instead of Milo and Dario getting split off from Evilution to craft their "solo" project, Tom and his dad started out with a solo project and got the rest of the Wraith Corporation team grafted on to it. Now I'll never be able to divorce the idea of the Wraith Corp WADs as a sister series to id's Final Doom.


  1. In a period where deathmatch was quickly taking over as the preferred way to play, these maps were all incredibly boring and only a tiny fraction of the FPS community cared for them.

    This group listed were mostly semi-talented wannabe game designers who were suckups trying to find their way into the industry via id. A few have found their names onto game credits credits but mostly at now-defunct studios and have contributed nothing major in the gaming scene.

  2. I can't really argue about most of the others in the credit list, I mean Mustaine hasn't done anything really relevant, his most recent output being the iPhone Doom Resurrection game. I don't even know if any of the minor personnel have done anything in the industry. Sieben however continues to work at Gearbox as a programmer (credited on Borderlands as of recent) and McCandlish was Lead Designer on Modern Warfare 2. Whether or not you appreciate either game, i would never say that they have contributed nothing major to the industry. Hell, McCandlish has arguably helped define the current FPS scene.

    I can't really argue any points about the Doom scene at the time. I wasn't part of the community then and information on any reaction to the unlicensed WADs is nonexistent, which says enough, really. I will still hold both up with the other '96 megaWADs as quality single-player mapsets. Well, maybe not the "trials of hell" portion of Hell to Pay.

  3. Addendum reflecting changes made elsewhere on the site: I've since discovered that the Wraith Corp addons were actually licensed (just not released) by id. Consider my contrary comment above as a relic of a less-enlightened time.

  4. Tom Mustaine here: This is an awesome write up. As to the credits on those titles, I'm pretty sure they were simply oversights. People changed their nicknames numerous times back in the old #doom #quake IRC days. But you'd have to ask Jimmy or Mackey directly to see what their personal motivations might have been.

    Regardless, the old connections are intriguing and in reality, lots of the oldscool DOOM guys have moved on to build amazing things in the games business.

    As to me not contributing to gaming. We'll to each their own I guess. I've founded 4 different game development companies since 1996. Contributed to games like Medal of Honor, Alice, Counterstirke, Tomb Raider, Doom (series), and LOTS of other stuff. I've shipped something like 40 titles last time I checked. But, most recently I find myself at the helm of a game developer - doing CEO and game design type stuff.

    I do miss the old Doom days, and would love to have continued making levels - now I just don't have the time. Making levels for modern games takes months whereas old DOOM and Quake levels took hours.