Friday, October 31, 2014


by "Tuxlar"

People can do crazy things with Doom. After cracking open You Dig, a single map for Doom II released in 2014, I was surprised to find that there is no crazy BEX or DEH to assist with Tuxlar's level design, which means that all of this is pure sector wizardry. As to what kind of wizardry... Well, the author is attempting to marry two very different gameplay experiences. In one corner, Doom II. In the other, the vast progeny of Infiniminer. That's right; in this PWAD, you dig. You dig a lot. You dig because you're stuck in some kind of cavern and have to find your way out, shovel in hand.

Basically, Tuxlar started out with some fairly cool set piece rooms and then included some areas that are crammed full of walls that you can dig out, and by walls I mean tiny square platforms that crumble to the floor after suffering hitscan attacks, with bonuses located on top so that they're revealed as you dig and enemies hidden in little pockets here and there, along with the occasional death pit, but shame on you if you fall into them. There is some very careful orchestration going on as far as progression goes, which is probably why the final product is so linear, but I'm sure that other "Dig"s could create an experience that's more exploratory than Minesweeper.

If digging out all that shit via shovel seems tedious to you, Tuxlar affords the jackhammer, a chainsaw replacement that is a great hand at clearing all kinds of stone, particularly the dark gray stuff. It still won't erase the tedium if you hate this kind of gameplay, but You Dig is basically the perfect proof of concept. This sort of hindrance - having to dig out portions of the actual map layout - will I think either delight players or turn them off completely. You have effectively singled out your niche audience at the onset and any haters aren't really worth catering to. I mean, if you make a map that involves digging shit out of large portions of it, and people hate it because cleanup kills the normal flow of a run and gun level,

Because of this, the WAD's fights are pretty much split between large battles and single incidental monsters that you literally dig out piecemeal. You see this in the very opening, particularly on the "Masochism" setting, where two large tunnels house more than one hundred imps and revenants combined. There was a really nasty revenant-heavy fight in the beta version that's been cut out entirely, but you still get the really cool slaughter in the dark where the very walls start to crack, the nastiest parts of which are dealing with the ring of mancubuses followed by the arch-viles you'll want to save an invul for. Another quirk of the map - your only available weapons are the rocket launcher and plasma gun. I assume this is to keep the integrity of the simulation as far as using the hitscan shovel / jackhammer to mine instead of, say, a chaingun.

You Dig's only real faltering is its lack of interesting architecture. It's a decent looking cave system with neat bits like the lava core, underground river, and cacodemon sand falls, but all of the verve is in digging out rectangular-ish areas that reveal... bigger areas. There's no mystery like steadily unearthing an enormous, ominous monument, or breaking into a nightmarish underground ruin complex. It's just caves, man. And that's why I think there's so much more to be done with this, at least in terms of adventure maps. Imagine digging out derelict UAC bases, collapsed mines, overgrown infernal jungles, sunken cities in the deep...

I like this map. I really like this concept. I think that there are a number of Doomers whose interests intersect enough to like it as much as I do, setting aside concerns for remaining "true" to the gameplay of either Doom or Doom II. If you've ever found yourself digging out dirt in a game and thought "what if Doom were more like this?", well, here's your answer. I hope Tuxlar follows it up with something more... substantial.

This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2014 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Going Down32in24-13Bauhaus
The Adventures of SquarePushBloody Steel
Back to Saturn X: Episode 2Rage CTFMayhem 2048
PlasmaplantBest Gameplay ModWhitemare 2
Shadows of ChronosDemonSteeleYou Dig
Monster Hunter Ltd. 1/2Mordeth AwardThe Wailing Horde
ResurgenceDoom 2 in Name OnlyReconstruction/
Mayan MishapMockawardDecomposition
Urban Brawl: Dead of WinterBrutalist Doom
Thy Flesh Turned Into a Draft ExcluderMapper of the Year

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