Friday, November 14, 2014

200 Minutes of /vr/ (200MINVR.WAD)

While I spend a lot of my time there, Doomworld is far from being the only community hub for Doom. /vr/ is another such place of choice, a different board with a different set of sensibilities. 200 Minutes of /vr/ is a speedmapping challenge that started back in May of 2014; the goal was to get users to jump in the fire, so to speak, and contribute to a megaWAD of vanilla Doom II maps made in 200 minutes or less. And it succeeded! 200MINVR was released to the /idgames archives in early July 2014, and while it's still vanilla, some custom skies add much-needed flair alongside the occasional custom MIDI.

The finished product calls to mind a similar project, the French Doom Community's 3 Heures d'Agonie, which had about twenty less minutes to work with. It's clear that some authors had more experience under their belt due to what they managed to get out of their time limit, but I would be a pompous ass to sit here and tell you that these levels are not worth your time, unless you're some kind of dude that can't handle speedmaps. They're all playable, though many of them are short and pretty basic in terms of layouts and architecture, which is to be expected; 3 Heures exhibited a lot of the same characteristics.

Cheesewheel is an easy mention to check out (MAP11, 14, 26) since his levels basically feel like solid regular Doom II PWADs. The infamous Sgt. Mark IV has a level, MAP18, which is a fun location-based blastathon. The opening "Book It!" is a great way to open festivities, too. I also really liked "Archives", "Junxion", "The Bridge", "Blood River", and "Home Sweet Hell", whose authors preferred to remain anonymous. That's not to denigrate the rest of the contributors, though. RjY has the only frustrating level in the set, and that's entirely by design. Honorable mention to "Anachronism", which didn't meet the 200 minute rule, but became a fun adventure regardless.

2014 has fast become the year of the speedmap, and it's great to see another Doom community coming into its own as far as making maps goes. I hope this group of authors plies their craft to make something more... substantial, since micro speedmaps don't really light my fire. 200 Minutes of /vr/ is a fun diversion; you might want to check it out.

by /vr/

Book It!MAP01
by "Anonymous"
A cool little library level with an easy difficulty grade. You might get shot up by bullets but the most danger is probably in the library where sneaky lost souls could trap you in the stacks. Grinding out the demons in the north hallway is a momentary concern. All the rooms are pretty distinct and the lighting helps to make everything pop. A nice opener.

by "Anonymous"
This little bit of STARTAN only got sixty minutes of love. It opens in a little crate storage area where you'll have to do some pistol action before grabbing the shotgun and moving on to some dark corridor shooting. The action is decent, at least, since it had a bit of that "monsters are coming from all directions" vibe once I entered the southern area.

Command CenterMAP03
by "!!2X5No4WhqAK"
Pretty basic action in this slice of STARTAN but as a challenge it works since the ammo and health balance are pretty tight and that pain elemental / Hell knight room that evokes shades of "Fortress of Mystery" is a nice shakeup. The lack of health makes hitscanner ambush very dangerous.

MAP04Computer Array
by "Onslaught Six"
Opening up with the plasma rifle is a nice way to jazz things up. It's a little ol' computer base with a bunch of square rooms, like the last one. Height variation in stuff like the plasma cell room with the imp ledge helps, though. Because of the plasma gun, it's a pretty easy map, the two chaingunners to the north being the worst thing Onslaught throws at you. 

The DigMAP05
by "Braido"
The opening crossfire is a very effective setup to grab the player's attention and I like the room design, which has nice use of light contrast and simple, appealing architecture. The red key area is just a rocket-fed blastathon with all that space you have to move around in. The eastern area works better since you're stuck with the SSG trying to kill an agitated skeleton. Cool speedmap.

by "Anonymous"
I like this dark, gory cavern series; it's packed full of meat. The jammed up demon ambush in the first big area is a cool, claustrophobic fight that pushes your dancing skills to the test. Shortly after you get a nice outdoor battle with the combat shotgun and some Doom trash plus arachnotrons to weave around.

Opening the Gates of HellMAP07
by "Onslaught Six"
A bog-standard "Dead Simple" blowout, except the mancubuses start out above you on a ring. Save the invul sphere for the Cyberdemon fight at the end to make things even simpler. I like the teleporter gimmick. The main arena looks pretty nice.

MAP08Power Relay
by "Anonymous"
A tiny trappy starbase level. The biggest surprise was the pit that encouraged the fisting of an agitated skeleton. The hardest section is the toxic cistern to the north, which fields a few high-HP enemies plus an agitation turret in the center. Any player worth their salt should be able to navigate it with the combat shotgun.

by "Anonymous"
This is a pretty cool library map with an alternate progression train that will rush you to the end through a series of secrets. There are a lot of monsters to slay and the claustrophobic fight in the stacks to the south is my favorite of the bunch. I imagine that it's a lot easier to work with the combat shotgun but the sheer number of enemies slowly filtering through the shelves will keep it a tense experience. The other ambushes on the way (the false wall and exit room) keep up the action for a fun level.

by "Anonymous"
A classy level with a few clever tricks. I like the collapsing platforming section and the lift function the author was kind enough to put in that returns you to the northeast room. Apart from platforming, it's an easygoing map where the few hitscanners are your greatest threats since the arch-vile feels pretty ineffectual and the cacodemons aren't in the right place to put a lot of pressure on the player. Love the layout, love the MIDI.

The OverhallsMAP11
by "Cheesewheel"
A fun installation that feels pretty integrated for a 200 minute level. There's a lot of action and it doesn't feel the least bit tedious using only the shotgun and chaingun (with a rocket launcher cameo at the end). It has a bit of the feel of an exploration level in spite of its tiny size. The open air of the finale plus the pain elemental make for one of the stickier situations, if not the stickiest. Others may have trouble fending off agitated skeletons with the regular shotgun.

MAP12The Bridge
by "Anonymous"
A nice, large level featuring some cool themes. The opening room with its platform and connecting bridge make for some good starting scenery. I also like the alley leading to the big gray brick chasm, which I assume is the namesake of the map since the area has a lot of action going on in it, with a pretty big wave of aerial monsters. The beginning area opening up to become the final room on your return is a cool touch with some neat visuals like the mess of columns dotted by some nastier monsters.

Cathedral of PainMAP13
by "Onslaught Six"
Some nice setups from Onslaught in this little marble massacre. The secrets help out a lot but fortune favors the bold in the finale where he who hesitates will be hemmed in by cacodemons while trying to dodge arch-vile fire from afar. It's so much more satisfying to just rush the bastard and take him out posthaste. The east and west offshoot areas are pretty bleh. I can't help but love that exit room, though.

MAP14200 Minutes of Tech
by "Cheesewheel"
Cheesewheel bangs out another expansive techbase experience, aided by some Daft Punk. It feels pretty much like a solid Doom II PWAD rather than a speedmap, so that's cool. The health felt a little tight but I think I was having fun and playing recklessly so it's no big thing. I really like the courtyard fight with the super shotgun; you know something bad is coming but when you rush to grab your prize you fail to recognize the commando sniper that's behind the switch.

Valley of HatredMAP15
by "Onslaught Six"
This level is dominated by a valley through which flows a river of blood. It's really tight on ammo; I would suggest trying to find the secret berserk pack as early as possible and going to town on anything you aren't scared of punching, because you don't want to burn all your ammo on that cloud of cacodemons and be forced to punch the end-of-level mancubus. The arachnotron / arch-vile combo looks threatening but since the monsters can't leave their room it's just a test of patience and hopefully not burning ammo on something that the arch-vile's only going to revive.

by "Anonymous"
A decent Wolf3D level. The normal layout bursting into that little canyon jaunt was a much-appreciated touch. Some atypical enemies show up, like a pair of agitated skeletons that alongside the SS Nazis might put you down. The pain elemental is kind of wasted in the body room, though you still have to avoid spending too many bullets on it.

by "Anonymous"
The intention was to use ZDoom's blur sphere as a stealth powerup to walk through three testy groups of monsters to a plasma rifle and ammo and then run the gauntlet again with the red key to the end. The only difference doing it in vanilla is that those barons will be all stacked up on the entrance when you make it back to the top, but your plasma hose should fend them all off unless you clip the door / walls a few too many times.

MAP16Frequently Given Advice
by "Anonymous"
This is a fun little action-packed base level. The layout is basic but the fights are fun and an opening berserk pack means you can go to town on most of this trash. There's also an abundance of rockets and a secret plasma rifle, not that you really need the last one. Speaking of secrets, all of the nooks you'll find are actually staffed with one troll each, though they're all worth finding.

In DeepMAP17
by "Anonymous"
Something different from this author. Rather than try to build a typical indoor level, we go full-on outdoors with a UAC base that stands opposite to a castle on the other end. The scenery is decent; I like both the macrotecture on the base side and the simple keep. The outside fight will cut you up with those two hitscanner packs. All the fun is in the castle compound, which has you under fire from four agitated skeletons while you try to navigate a large pack of demons and a pair of barons.

MAP18Dead Cargo
by Marcos "Sergeant Mark IV" Abenante
Another pretty cool and large level. Marcos takes you through a locker room, outdoor crate storage area, and a blowed-up highway / dam thing. The action is nonstop with a lot of monsters confined to the low side of the dam, where some hunting through the stacks leads to a pack of agitation on one edge and a huge cloud of cacodemons plus two pain elementals coming in from another. It's a pretty nasty battle that requires some deft maneuvering if you want to minimize the drain of the elementals. The other option, I guess, is to just cut and run so that when you reach the top of the dam you can blast them all to pieces with the rocket launcher and plasma rifle up there, which might appeal to speedrunners.

Duck and CoverMAP19
by "Anonymous"
A decent gimmick level based around ducking behind cover while you make your way to the switch that does the Spiderdemon in. It's a pretty easy level as long as you can stomach dodging in a tight area to keep out of Spider attack and even then it's a good ways away so it's not like you're under that much pressure. All of the scary stuff happens once you flip the kill switch, releasing a bunch of aerial monsters plus some stuff on the return trip including an arch-vile.

MAP20Punch It!
by "Anonymous"
A fun little Tyson level rendered in dark metal. It's entirely doable with the berserk, but the author acknowledges how frustrating punch-out is for some people by placing excessive ammo along with the associated weapons in a bunch of fairly obvious secrets. There's even a Cyberdemon to give the ol' Shub-Niggurath to, so that he can dream sweet Cyberdreams. Cute map.

Demon H.Q.MAP21
by "Anonymous"
This is one of those skyscraper levels. The gameplay is cramped, understandably so. In the one open area you'll really duke it out in, the lack of walls is actually to your detriment, especially if you fuck up and let the arch-vile blast you off the top. I like that shootaway wall of flesh and the big ol' chamber with cacodemons, demons, and barons is a nice, claustrophobic battleground.

MAP22Blood River
by "Anonymous"
A fun little blood gulch whose final area is crammed full of monsters. Focusing down the arachnotrons / pain elementals while dodging agitated skeleton rockets and then turning your attention to the Spiderdemon should be a nice, reasonable challenge. The false wall fight is a shock I haven't seen in a long time. I also like the congested red key battle, which fields some very useful weaponry for inquisitive players.

The DanceMAP23
by "Fudge"
Another fun, simple blastathon with a mix of themes. The opening pistol work quickly gives way to shotgun action, then turning to the combat shotgun in the expansive western area which has enough of a monster contingent and weird layout that you have to think, if ever so slightly, about your movement. The little tunnels leading to the red key room weren't as effective since they seemed to jam up the monsters but you can fight your way through and then take the big guys head on.

MAP24Ye Mighty and Despair
by "Onslaught Six"
Really straightforward level where the biggest threat is burning all your bullets on those imps before you take out the agitated skeletons. I guess taking out the barons on top of the blood falls might be a little tricky, too. The finale is just plasma rifle hose.

Home Sweet HellMAP25
by "Anonymous"
A tricky level with a bunch of good fights. The demon / arch-vile storm at the SSG pickup is a classic setup and battling mancubuses in the dark with a chaingunner snuck in there plus some lost souls is a tricky battle. My personal fave tho is the use of pain elementals in the Cyberdemon battle, where the bars let them puke lost souls into the battlefield while preventing them from wandering in for a much faster death, so you spend more time and thought into blasting them with rockets while exposed to Cyberdemon attacks.

MAP26200 Minutes of Hell
by "Cheesewheel"
Another solid level from Cheesewheel, this time exploring a Hell theme. It's got a nice mix of monster closets positioned in just the right places and some cool outdoor scenery like the pillars you run across for the southeast switch and that larger northern area that's trisected by a battlement. Not sure if there's anything I could really label as a standout encounter, though there is a surprise arch-vile late into the map. Just a cool little Hell level.

Walls of JerichoMAP27
by "Anonymous"
A very short arena level where you lower the innermost wall to reveal more monsters and more weapons. None of the rings are that dangerous, though the scattered mancubuses in the final wave add enough chaos to all the barons and Hell knights and demons stomping around that you should probably take them out first. For maximum fun, hit all three switches and then let all of the bastards fight it out in a big brawl.

MAP28200 Minutes of Going Down
by "Cactuses"
A weird level that's mostly blood and marble with some tricky fights. Throwing a pack of cacodemons in the main area is pretty harsh but if you run from them to try to get something better than the shotgun / chainsaw you end up invoking the wrath of a shit ton of agitated skeletons and goat-legged demons. You don't have enough rockets to just shell them into oblivion, so you need to do things in more or less the right order. The marble maze at the end is a curious way to slow the pace down. 

Aggravatingly CrampedMAP29
by "RjY"
RjY isn't joking! This is a masochist Tyson map. Seventeen monsters never felt so rough. I'm pretty good at baiting agitated skeletons but not as good at roughing up Hell knights in a tiny grid 64 battlefield. Spectres in the dark is another rough fight, but having to handle the first arch-vile is hard enough. You pretty much have to stand on the first thing he might try to rez and force him into his little cubby hole. I just skipped the second one; I was glad to be out of here.

by "Anonymous"
Round and round and round you go. The author puts a decent spin on the ol' Icon battle. If you get hung up or more importantly don't figure out the shutter gimmick, you're gonna have a bad day. It's pretty obvious, though, and the fight is over before you really get overwhelmed.

by "Anonymous"
This author started out within the 200 minutes window but heaped more and more onto the level. There's a cool story told through thing placement and the map design where a UAC base tried to contain some kind of Hellish reliquary only to fail and you jump between your world and the its infernal analogue. None of the fights are hard and the two slaughter-type encounters prep you with a BFG that should help speed things along with the usual crowd control strategies, plus you get an invul to pop those nasty arch-vile blisters. It's nice, easygoing fun. I like that big fullbright spiral cave.


  1. The MAP02 entry uses the MAP01 screenshot.
    Thank you for doing this WAD, this was one of the highlights of 2014 for me.

  2. MAP20 and MAP21 use the same screenshot, best regards!