Saturday, December 3, 2011


by Callum Guy "phobosdeimos1" Oliver

Zfactory is Callum Guy Oliver's (aka Doomworld forum superstar phobosdeimos1) first foray into wadbuilding, a speedmapped MAP01 replacement for ZDoom. The map doesn't use any of Zdoom's gameplay features, instead taking advantage of ZDoom's format idiosyncrasies, including a new (edited) titlepic. Zfactory has no plot; it's just a small techbase-style map clocking in at 56 monsters. They're mostly smaller trash, but cacodemons and mancubuses will grace your final moments as you make your way to the map exit.

Having played the three releases Oliver has put out since, I recognize the style. The map reuses its cramped space quite wisely and while it features a bit of backtracking you rarely have any more than a few seconds to travel before you get to where you need to be. There's only one secret, leading to a super shotgun that's not necessary but much appreciate. Aesthetically, it resembles a techbase version of one of his earlier Corebinder maps, which were in a more organic vein. I see a few odd uses of the DOORTRAK texture, of course, and the map is in fullbright, eschewing detailing through lighting almost entirely.

It has a few nice details, though. Oliver uses the sewer section as a challenge rather than something to grab a rad suit and stroll through, something more palatable in a map this size. There's also one particular bit of architecture that catches my eye in a really good way, a STARTAN window off the main chamber that peeks into the sewer area's spiral staircase exit. It's a nice hook that helps ease the otherwise bland feeling the static lighting and haphazardly aligned textures give you. The combat, thankfully, is all there, and while not as hardcore as his later offerings, it will keep you engaged through its short length. If I had to pick one standout encounter it'd probably be the cacodemon troupe that invades the central chamber, especially if you find yourself dodging fireballs from the mancubus room.

Zfactory is far from perfect, but it houses the core elements of what makes a Doom map fun, if not stunning. Anyone looking for a homely yet fun romp should give Zfactory a try. Aesthetic sticklers need not apply; I guarantee your disappointment. If you end up enjoying Zfactory, then I heartily recommend Oliver's subsequent offerings – Corebinder, Digon Base and Spire Complex. They're pretty much the same style with slowly increasing map quality.

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