by Chris "Glaice" Pisarczyk
Glaice - aka Mr. Chris - has long been a fixture in the Doom community. For awhile, he was one of the loudest proponents of Brutal Doom, popularizing the mod with the Brutal Doom Video Vault, among other things. Five years of feature creep have brought him back into the fold, though. Random Deaths and Decoration is his takeaway from the experience, a Doom mod that brings some of the spectacle of Brutal Doom without any of the gameplay changes. This is (almost) a purely visual gameplay mod, so there isn't a whole lot of concrete stuff to talk about, and I feel that an explanation of the changed elements in pornographic detail is outside of the scope of this blog. That being said, there is plenty worth summarizing that may tantalize prospective players.
The original Doom executable shipped with a feature that randomly shifted the pitch of sound effects. I assume that the guys at id wanted to eliminate what sources of monotony they could, and since the crowd-sourcing of sprite editing was not in existence, they went with randomized pitches. Now, the versions of Doom I grew up on never had the pitch-shifting in a working state, since Paul Radek broke the darn thing in v1.4. I think that the shareware copy my dad downloaded didn't have it enabled, and I know that the Registered copy we had was v1.666, so the pitch shifting is such a weird thing to hear, partly because it's not part of the base of my experience, but I think it's mostly because the sound remains the same.
Now that we've got some twenty years of user-created content under our belts, though, we can throw in randomization in other areas to keep the experience from growing stale. That's where Chris comes in, culling what he thought was the most appropriate selection of custom death animations from the modding community, among other things. This isn't a buckets of blood mod, though. Chris leaves that stuff where id left it, in the actual sprite work. That said, the new frames offer plenty of variety to the Doom experience with one slight gameplay consequence. The pain elemental has an alternate death where it doesn't explode, which leaves a corpse on the ground. The pain elemental still releases lost souls, but now that he leaves a body, well, arch-viles make fools of us all!
The new animations really do add a lot of vibrancy to the experience, rather than cruising around and seeing the same poses on the same slain Hellspawn. There are some other cosmetic changes, too. I'm not a fan of the inclusion of the smooth animations. They lack the visual punch of the originals, robbing the affected enemies of some of their urgency. The new idle frames are a neat change, but not every monster has them, which makes for some odd contrasts. It looks like he's changed the blood colors of aberrant monsters to match their death frames, and some new noises, I assume to differentiate between shared sounds. Chris has also added an assortment of random decorations, which like the monster deaths are just variants of pre-existing props, but much appreciated.
The final result is exactly what it claims to be, random deaths and decorations. The upshot is that it's compatible with, well, pretty much any weapons mod that doesn't alter the monsters. Of course, a lot of the big mods nowadays do SOMETHING with your good friends, so the major appeal is that it adds a lot of verve to combat without any gameplay changes... apart from that pain elemental alt death thing.