Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fuel Devourer (FUELDEVR.WAD)

by "C4tnt" and "Archi"

The Russian Doom community has a little institution called the First-try Demo Contest. The basic idea is that someone makes a map that no one's ever seen before and then presents it to contestants at a predetermined time, who then record first-try demos trying to complete the map. If you're not familiar with FDAs, the point is to basically start recording your virgin playthrough of a level, deaths and all, until you reach the exit. Fuel Devourer was the level developed for FDC#11, released afterward in 2013 by its architects, superstars C4tnt and Archi.

Fuel Devourer has no story associated with it; it's just a bigass techbase with an E2-style layout, targeting limit-removing ports. By that, I mean that the level is arranged primarily for exploration. You can pick one of several different directions to start off in and just proceed from there. Some of the things you'll have to do might seem a bit obscure as you poke around, grabbing keys, but the authors are pretty good about letting you know if you've messed with something far away. That is, unless it's a secret, in which case you can only poke around suspicious places you've been after pressing a switch that seemingly does nothing. The secret switches are well-hidden, too, kind of like the micro-buttons in Double Impact.

One of the nice things about FUELDEVR is that there are some nice concrete fixtures that leave the level feeling less like a VR battleground and more like, well, a fuel base. There's a loading dock with a crane, what I'm assuming is a nuclear reactor mockup, a science lab, and an adjoining wilderness complete with escape craft that you can climb inside. The authors also hint at extraneous areas that you can't get to, like some hallways to the east that can only be viewed via grated walls, or the malfunctioning door accessible only by a secret jump. The big outside area to the west was a nice surprise...and left me drawing comparisons between this and Lainos's Object "34", which was also 2/3 techbase and 1/3 outdoor area which comprised maybe 5-10% of the actual gameplay. Fuel Devourer is more...user-friendly, though.

Which isn't to say that the authors don't challenge you. Most of the combat is kind of incidental with a few nasty surprises in weapon guardians (like the plasma rifle) and the end-of-game reveal. There's a surprise Cyberdemon you'll have to dance around, several arch-viles with friends, and one underground battle with two barons and a pain elemental you'll want a bunch of cells for. The Spiderdemons, not so threatening. Archi and C4tnt definitely do a good job of putting pressure on you, even if they have some nice, wide-open spaces that feel oddly bereft of enemies.

In spite of its lack of variety, I found the finale to be one of my favorite segments, really giving the level a sense of being beyond its techbase identity. The Spiderdemon fires down at you from the landing platform, and if you're exploring, you're liable to wander into a cave...only to find a horde of possessed miners boiling out, attempting to overwhelm you. It's a fun moment, and deadly considering how fast they move, which works on top of getting into the ship only to find...that it's ready, but missing something. Then you have to go back into the dig sites to find a very cool surprise. Loved it!

Fuel Devourer owns bones. I think it's cool that the First-try Demo Contest ended up with a map like this, which has me thinking that the rest of their targets are well-worth checking out. I also love that huge exploratory base maps like Polygon Base still get spiritual successors in this day and age when authors are often scared of losing the player. If you build it, I will play it. Props to Archi and C4tnt.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2013 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Back to Saturn X: Episode 1EyedeaInterception
Doom 2 the Way id DidSamsaraHadephobia
Unholy RealmsEon DeathmatchHellbound
ZDoom Community Map Project: Take 2Best Gameplay ModHigh / Low 5
Fuel DevourerProject MSXSoulcrusher
KuchitsuMordeth AwardStomper
Forsaken OverlookZDCMP2
Stardate 20X6Mockaward
Pirate DoomExtreme Weapon Pack
Swim With the WhalesMapper of the Year


  1. Hard to believe this map was made merely for a demo recording contest. It's one of the more memorable levels of 2013, and definitely has the Polygon Base style vibe! The FDC levels had always been pretty good but nothing like this before.

    1. yeah, it completely surprised me, especially when it has such a cool finisher.