Thursday, July 25, 2013


Andy Sheppard crafted two episodes, one for Doom and the other for Doom II, back in 1994 and '95, respectively. This is ASDOOM, an E1 replacement, consisting of nine levels. Sheppard places the level's story immediately following the original Doom, before the plot of Doom II was known. You emerge from the teleporter at the end of Inferno and arrive on Earth, with your superiors debriefing you for all the information you have on your encounters, because while the demons never made it to Earth, the UAC did lose contact with their Io base, which was executing the same kind of gateway experiments. As was the case with Ripley, you're sent as an adviser as you're the only human to have encountered the forces of Hell and survive. Of course, when you arrive, the forces of Hell wreck your dropship and you're forced to fend for yourself, fighting your way from the deepest level of the base to the top.

Some things about ASDOOM - Andy Sheppard's Doom II episode is somewhat notorious for being unbalanced for pistol start, making it a pain in the ass for demo runners, and I assume that ASDOOM is no different given its item placement. Played straight through, it's pretty easy and full of huge, wide-open corridors, but there are a few cool bits to break up the 1994-ish level design, admittedly Sheppard's first foray into authorship. Sheppard also abuses the hard-coding of secret level exits, so a full run of ASDOOM will result in playing E1M4 twice, which fits within the story as I suppose you're journeying through the gateway experiment to Hell and then returning. By the way, the level titles aren't official, hence the quotes. They're just culled from Sheppard's descriptions of the installation through the story.

ASDOOM is not a typical E1 replacement. It doesn't look to retread the steps of Knee Deep in the Dead. It's a decent romp, well in line with anyone used to some of the older user-crafted PWADs, like Return to Phobos. Given the way his craft seemed to be improving, I'm looking forward to see what Sheppard was capable of when playing around in Doom II. It's...actually pretty consistent, story-wise, something I didn't really think about as I was playing it. I don't think my Doom skills were tested to the limit as Sheppard hoped, but he did a decent job of it. If you enjoy the action of OG Doom, give it a whirl.

by Andy Sheppard

"Deep Construction"E1M1
Plain semi-tech map. Starts out with some cave section before two boxy corridor sections linked by some mazey air ducts. If you go exploring you can nab a soul sphere, but it's not important with all the health. It's mostly popping shotgun guys with the occasional imp in frustratingly narrow ducts so you can only avoid fireballs by backpedaling and ducking a corner. The highlight is a mob of demons backed by a baron that just take a while to take down with your weapons. Nothing special, though I like the leap across the lava pit.

E1M2"Waste Disposal"
Lots of imps and lots of nukage barrels in this bland outing. It's obvious that things aren't balanced for pistol start - no rocket launcher or shotgun are to be found, yet ammo for each is available, particularly shells. You run through an obstacle course with abundant rad suits that eventually dumps you off back at the beginning, where you can leave as long as you take the time to flick the switch on the other side of the pillar that lowers the two barons to the ground floor. I like the semi-secret leg that leads to the plasma rifle, though it's pretty boring in execution.

"Computer Archive"E1M3
Primitive techbase map with two larger hallways joined by a crossroads from where you can access a variety of computer rooms. Sheppard has some larger packs of monsters roaming around which you'll want the plasma rifle for just to cut down on some of the monotony. I like some of the action but there's a lot of eye strain potential with those blinking hallways, especially when you're trying to pick out spectres coming at you, which in this level appear quite a bit. I like that room with the imps waiting in the wings, though.

E1M4"Gateway Experiments"
This teleporter-heavy level has some neat bits of architecture, mainly in that central, silver / grey concrete section. The rest is tech corridors but with a few interesting ideas, like machine columns obscuring imps (rather than the vine textures used ad-nauseum in a previous outing) and the main compound has a decent little armory. My favorite part is the jaunt through Hell though, a secret area which houses the blue key and is full of lost souls, imps, and a few other nasties. This houses the secret exit, by the way, which will return you right back here.

Short, silly level that's loaded with monsters, starting off with a pretty memorable cacodemon / imp crossfire, admittedly mitigated through some crusher switches. The rest of the baddies are either imps lurking in little spines in the main side corridors or barons, like that huge crowd in the exit area. There's a bit more to explore, but you won't see it if you don't pick up either key hidden in the little off-shoots in the blinking corridors.

Tech level with a lot of huge hallways sectioned off by massive, color-coded doors. It has a few memorable moments, to its credit. That zombie ambush at the beginning is pretty big and I like the cherry red tech cores near the beginning. There's a Cyberdemon, too, in an area with a fairly intricate layout. Generally, though, it's zombie slaughter, or spraying plasma / rockets down huge, featureless corridors, and having to go all the way back to the red key door to flip the switch to get access to the exit is kind of lame.

"Living Areas"E1M6
Huge Hellish level. There's a lot of marble, some metal, and some wood. I'm not a huge fan of that metal maze to the southwest but some of the marble stuff is alright by me, like that neat staircase to the northwest or that altar room. Sheppard starts to throw out the stops with a very heavy number of barons to fight here, with a cadre guarding the yellow key and more hiding in the room of sacrifice, not to mention a healthy number of cacodemons. Still, there are a ton of zombies waiting to pepper you with bullets into oblivion. That staircase feels like a big step in the right direction.

Back to something more concrete in this crate / storage installation. Some care has been poured into the markings on the floor for some realism but it's just another techbase in execution. Not a whole lot of memorable encounters besides some claustrophobic demon fighting. The obvious standout is the blue skull key, which is protected by a few barons and a ton of cacos, which you'll probably end up hosing down with plasma as you circle strafe them. Getting out is a bit of a timer puzzle, but nothing unforgiving.

"Landing Pad"E1M8
Gotcha! It's just a Cyberdemon / Spiderdemon showdown. Get things going with the invul sphere and then finish the loser off (probably the Spider). Then keep your eyes peeled; the exit blends in with all that concrete. Pretty insubstantial...but par for the course, really.



  1. Just finished playing this one - while I have seen negative comments about the simplistic level design and the bland use of textures on some maps, I found the actual playing of the episode quite entertaining - yes there are a few odd quirks that do detract from the experience. Andy Shephard used simple design concepts to make some fun maps. Just take a look at the computer room with the blinking lights on E1M3 to see how create a tense situation with no special tricks. The episode does show it's age but is a great example of how to make maps if you dont naturally possess the artistic flair of John Romero. Worth a look for a couple of hours of fun

    1. IIRC Shephard also went further than Romero in making his levels actually look / structured like the places they were purported to be, a nice variation for early Doom maps.

  2. Some exciting battles when the number of Barons/Cacos start ramping up and some close quarters fighting detracts from the lack of flair on the level design, but it's not enough to make this simple episode replacement stand out.

    1. I like it for the variety. Not one of the first-tier Doom eps, maybe, but as far as 94 goes I think that it's not too far from Cacoward-quality.