Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Abyssal Speedmapping Session 3 (ABYSPED3.WAD)

Obsidian is a cool dude who has more or less brought speedmapping back to the Doomworld community. I mean, they had the Doomworld Speedmapping Compilations going for awhile, and then the SargeBaldy Speedmapping Compilations, and then BACK to Doomworld for a bit before Obsidian started things up again. Sure, there have been other programs to fill the void since then, especially in places like the Russian Doom Community, but it's cool to have a semi-regular event happening again, especially if it means we get maps the average caliber of these. Abyssal Speedmapping Session 3, released in 2014, heralds the return of a lot of the Session 2 crew, though Osiris has dropped out to make Obsidian the only holdover from Session 1. I also see in the notes that Tarnsman was around but elected to do something completely different.

As always, participants had three themes to choose from: "Episode 4", "Fortress behind a waterfall", and "'Wormhole' style: 2 identical maps,one harder than the other". "Wormhole" is a pretty ambitious theme for a two hour speedmapping session, though Phobus manages to make it work pretty well. Speedmaps are already pretty tiny, and having to cut time spent between one world and its analogue pushes a level dangerously close to looking like two nearly identical map fragments. I do like the idea, "Wormhole" being one of the TNT concepts that grabbed my imagination when I was first running through Evilution. I think you'd have to give it a bit more time to really work in a speedmapping timeframe, though.

Session 3 leans more toward a tight ammo balance than one that's forgiving. It doesn't help that the opening level has you take on some high-HP toughs, including an arch-vile, with the lowly chaingun. Also, witness Alfonzo's entry, which shows his long-lasting love of commanding the player to lurch forward in search of something to kill demons with. Ribbiks's level is, uh, pretty much what I expected considering his pedigree. The rest aren't as exacting but I still found myself clinging tightly to the last few cells or rockets I had. I was surprised to see a Xaser level secreted away in here, which along with Phobus's level goes more for one big arena-style battle aided by excellent accompanying visuals, and I can't argue with the results.

And, uh, that's another cool entry in what's become a dependable choice for popcorn Doom gameplay. It'll be interesting to see who else gets pulled into this debacle as time wears on. Here's to more glorious shitma- err, speedmapping sessions.


by assorted authors

Poof FactoryMAP01
by "Obsidian"
Obsidian goes with the "Wormhole" theme, but it's a poor pick for a two-hour time limit. Half the fun of it is the atmosphere, and all you really have here is one cramped and tiny tech crossroads with easy enemies and one cramped and tiny tech crossroads with nasty enemies. Limiting the player to the chaingun drags out an already interminable experience when pitted against fiends like a mancubus, a pain elemental, an arch-vile, and revenants. The ammo balance is also pretty tight.

MAP02Woodchip Woodchip
by James Cresswell aka "Phobus"
Phobus tackles the "Wormhole" concept, but with a much more appealing execution. There's a clear division between the watery vs. bloody realms and the author is quick to force the plasma gun into your hand and sprinkle a liberal amount of cells about. There are two big fights, the first being the opening, which has high-HP enemies coming at you from every angle with ample opportunity for infighting. The second is the blue key ambush, with a never-ending stream of imps mixed in with a few zombies. The big caveat is that most of the monsters you initially fight in the blood-soaked realm are spectres, which may have you burning some extra plasma ammo... Just to be on the safe side.

by Augustus Knezevich aka "Alfonzo"
Alfonzo belts out this punchy and tightly-balanced wooden fortress. The Fonz has always been a proponent of luring the player forward with hopes of finding munitions to combat enemies, and this level is no different, but it's not a bad idea to at least pick off those commando snipers before entering the citadel proper. Grabbing the rocket launcher before handling the Hell knights and such will speed things up immensely. The upper tier is a hornet's nest, though, with zombies, revenants, and an arch-vile working against your maneuverability. The preferred path is probably TOWARD the blue key, ignoring the welcoming party, but I got bogged down in slowly picking off the revenants after they had dispatched the imps themselves.

MAP04Precursor Consortium
by Xaser Acheron
Whoa, Xaser map! This is a really cool level with imaginative architecture and texturing that skirts the admittedly vague definition of "Episode 4", but it's too good to pass up. After a brief climb, you're subjected to a gentle hail of imp fireballs which on inspecting the ruins quickly turns into a slaughter with two hordes of land-bound Doom enemies. Since rockets are stashed in one glorified monster closet and cells in the other, the smart money is on clearing out the north side and then use the rockets to blast the encroaching pack to smithereens. Fast and fun.

Evil TrainingMAP05
by "Scifista42"
This is more what I expect when I think of 2-hour speedmaps. This is a very straightforward level rendered in marble, but Scifista is actually kind of inventive in his encounters once you get beyond throwing rockets down hallways at barons. The demon trap, for instance, requires you to thin out what you can with the chaingun and then either do cautious rocket attacks or some furious fisting. The blue key fight only has a few barons, but the teleporter lines make things slightly complicated. Cramming a bunch of shotgun guys into the exit is neither here nor there. I like the candelabra / switch hook.

by Zach Stephens aka "Ribbiks"
A very short and very intense level from Ribbiks, which takes on a dark / bright blue theme not unlike Swim With the Whales, just without all the carefully selected textures. It's paced like his other works, just with scaled-down encounters. If you haven't figured it out, yet, your enemies make wonderful shields, whether it's the mancubuses at the beginning or the imps opposite the commandos. The nastiest bit is probably playing peek-a-boo with the arch-vile and the two revenants while trying not to squander what cell ammo you have left. The chaos of the final fight is just sheer plasma spam. Tough and fun.

I Would Walk 10000 BricksMAP07
by "an_mutt"
A pleasant surprise... an_mutt's offering feels like a full-scale level. It's also loaded with teleporter ambush chaos, particularly in the northern courtyard, There's some neat architecture buried beneath those 10,000 bricks, and there's just enough room to blaze around like a madman, waking up monsters and throwing your weight around with the rocket launcher and plasma rifle. Moving from the frigid water to the actual fortress is a bit of an eye-opener and a welcome change of pace.


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