Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Hell Factory Hub One (HELLFACT.WAD)

Tei Tenga made manifest some of the promises of the ZDoom engine's early features, like hubs, cutscenes, and text dialogue. Tomi Rajala's Hell Factory, released in 2000, developed these concepts, albeit in a fashion similar to Quake II, to give Doom II players something more action-oriented to sink their teeth into. It's got four different areas that you'll travel between, comprising the first "hub" of Tomi's Hell Factory. But, uh, the later hubs were never finished / released, so this open-ended adventure is the only thing we have.

It isn't really clear what the finale of Hell Factory would have been, but we have the lead-up story and first hub, anyway. It's hard to tell through the broken English, but the marine has been dispatched to the location of a para-military organization that is attempting to manipulate demons to their own ends. Part of this is in simple experimentation, as witnessed mainly in the first level, in juvenile fashion (the "crusher room"). Either the appearance of the marine has thrown a wrench in things or shit hit the fan at about the same time, because stuff starts malfunctioning and things start exploding once you're inside the compound, and the cause isn't you. It looks like the demons are starting to spar with their captors, but to what end, we may never know.

The core gameplay of Hell Factory is basically Doom as a corridor shooter with tight, cramped spaces. You won't face a lot of large, pitched battles, but you can expect to take on several enemies at a time. It's not too hard except for the moments featuring one of ZDoom's most divisive features, stealth monsters. The first one will come as a shock if you're not expecting it and later stealth encounters feel pretty cheap, like close-up stealth revenants. Supplies are generous enough that you won't be running out of ammo anytime soon and if you're at all decent at secret-sniffing you should be stacked for health and armor.

Hell Factory doesn't add the clearest objectives, like grabbing those goofy quest items in Quake II, so in tried and true fashion it's all about running into a barrier and then finding a key or switch that gets you past it. This hunt for progression may take you back through several previous hub-areas for segments that last less than thirty seconds, if that, which left me feeling just a tad bit disoriented. I think that part of this is due to trying to get the most out of hub-interlocks when you're playing with introductory level sizes. Some of the stuff is pretty cool, though, like a cutscene which activates a cannon that exists solely to blow out the door to the warehouse. Bonus points: Try killing the two zombie guards during the opening cutscene.

As far as fluff, Rajala does a great job at using some of ZDoom's more striking visual features. Sliding and swinging doors go a long way toward making Doom feel... more advanced, and he does some scripting to simulate the compound's slow destruction as you return to some areas, though most of this is seen in MAP03. Particle fountains I don't care one way or another. There are a healthy dose of faux-3D walkways, but that isn't really specific to ZDoom (though the way they're done here might be). All the moving polyobjects are cute, too, though they don't really add much beyond visual flair to help the visuals seem less static.

Hell Factory definitely improves on Tei Tenga, but it never delivers on its ultimate promise, which leaves me feeling disappointed. I think Rajala tried to do too much with what he had, making for some confusion on the player's part, but I do appreciate it. Check out Hell Factory if you love the hub-style of Quake II or thought Tei Tenga's execution was a bit limp in the action department.

by Tomi Rajala

Entering the BuildingMAP01
Bog standard Doom II gunplay with some Quake II-ish trappings. Rajala shows off some of the ZDoom features that bring it closer to Quake, namely that deep water that you can swim around in for goodies and the like. Since this is the human portion of the base, there are a lot of hitscanners to contend with, but the only room you'll have any trouble in will be the "crusher" station, and once you take out the snipers you can off the projectile monsters with the flick of a switch. You come back here twice, both times to flick a switch in a remote section of the base. The second time comes with a decent explosion and a skeleton, I guess.

MAP02The Sewers
A cramped monster lovefest in the sewers beneath the base. Rajala does fork over the SSG at the beginning of the map, so you're pretty much set in terms of firepower for the rest of the level. There's a lot of skirmishing and a mix of zombies and demons, but the main surprises here are the stealth monsters, and the first one you'll meet is an arch-vile. Now, granted, the area you fight him in is more than suited to the task of slaying it. Still, though - stealth arch-vile! The colored lighting is interesting, if bleh under that shade of green. Nice to see a faux-3D walkway. When you come back with the orange key, Tomi throws some random Doom trash monsters into the areas on your way back to the orange door. The trick is figuring out how to get out after flipping the switch, but there's so little to search that it should come rather quickly.

Destroyed BaseMAP03
Some decent effects like the malfunctioning door and a random plasma gun trap. I like the courtyard fight, as simple as it is. Killing a bunch of imps and a Hell knight is just relaxing work. On your return, you'll see a bit more of the area, and have to fend off a horde of demons, some of which are stealthed. On your third run-through, the area is mostly smoked out after a bad explosion. You can either run straight through to the nukage area or go investigating for that soul sphere you've been eyeing up since the first trip. Your final visit is a weird tangent to a crate storage facility that requires its power restored whose door you blow open with a turret. You have to kill a couple of barons and a handful of stealth imps.

MAP04The Nukage Area
Some nice machinery and vats and things compounded by cramped gameplay with a stealth revenant thrown in for good measure. The nuke pit area you use the rad suit in is kind of cute, I guess. When you come back, there's substantially more play area and play time to gun through, even if it feels like half of the enemies you fight are stealth monsters. Feels pretty good to be able to start unloading with the rocket launcher. On your third trip, you find that the yellow key has been inexplicably interred behind a previous, suspicious brick wall. The amontillado! And, just like that, it's over.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 2000

The Darkening Episode 210 Sectors
Chord 3Classic Episode
Hell FactoryPainful Evil
Atomic TombContainment Area


  1. If you like hubs you might also want to try out 'Trust' by Tommie 'Fatal' Quick. It was released after both Tei Tenga and Hell Factory and the ending actually left me satisfied in a 'sick' sort of way (you'll what I mean see if you play it!).

    There are more hubs than that too, I'm just listing one I played (albeit 5 and a half years ago).

    1. i think trust is on the list, but its al ong list

  2. Hey, since you're checking out hubs, for a large-scale hub-based megawad, you'd might want to check out Team TNT's Daedalus: Alien Defense. It's a sequel to Icarus, and was originally called Doom 2000 as it was intended to be released on the year 2000, but was fully completed in 2003. Some obtuse puzzles and annoying bits here and there, but overall a pretty neat megawad that takes hubs to a whole new level from what was accomplished in Tei Tenga, Hell Factory, and Trust, though there are more advanced projects nowadays.


    1. Daedalus is definitely on the list, and one i am looking forward to

    2. It's really worth the shot. Funny fact is that Waverider was among one of the mappers for Daedalus, so I think it's cool to see some of his early offerings prior to PRCP and his Micro Plutonia minisode.

    3. you know i think i saw that but i must have forgotten. looks like a lot of authors cut their teeth on that stuff. plus more paul schmitz levels

  3. Wrote a lengthy time consuming post and my fucking computer ate it!!!!!!!!!!!! ARGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????????????

    Anyway, here's some great HeXen hubs because I think this amazing game needs more love, because HeXen.

    Shadow of Cronos by Kaiser - Loved the atmosphere, architecture, flow, interesting layout, creative use of scripting, and overall a great experience and it was pleasure playing through this. And hey, this is especially mandatory playing because it's been nominated for a cacoward haha. :P

    Scourge of Viscerous by Matt Tropiano - I played this back in 2010 at the time of release and loved it to pieces, just like the above map, it has a great atmosphere, lovely architecture, and overall just a pleasant and challenging experience. I guess the author's name alone is enough to be a seal of quality? This was my first exposure to Matt's levels and it was a fitting introduction. :)

    1. i know that i have to play these, and also serpent: resurrection, though it's very different from the two you mentioned. i luv me some hexen