Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Abyssal Speedmapping Session 5 (ABYSPED5.WAD)

The Abyssal Speedmapping sessions changed hands a couple of times but it's still going strong. At this point I'd go so far as to call it a Doomworld institution. The general idea is that a bunch of authors get together on a group Skype session and then kick off a two-hour limit for making a map. Once the initial period is up they get 15 minutes to change textures and pick music and then 15 more for bugfixing. Excepting chaps like Gus, who was notorious enough for taking an extra hour that doing so was dubbed "The Alfonzo Treatment". Session 5 was released in May of 2014, replaces MAP01-MAP12 of Doom II, and is meant to be played in Boom-compatible ports.

Every instance has a selection of themes to choose from. ABYSPED5 is about as concrete as its predecessors with the first two being "mineshaft" and "foundry". The third gets a little high concept and references Alien Vendetta's "Killer Colours". Obsidian was the only author included who elected to pursue it though ol' Walter tried his hand without understanding what it was. His entry didn't make the cut since it failed to adhere to any of the intended themes but he released it separately as WTF is killer colours. As for the rest, the mineshaft theme narrowly beat out foundry at 6:5. That's a pretty good spread!

None of the levels are super crazy concept-wise. Some of them get really rude with a few of their encounters and here I'm mostly thinking of Tarnsfonzos' MAP09 and MAP10, both foundry levels. Where Alfonzo has most of the difficulty front-loaded, though, Tarnsman saves the nasty stuff for the finish. The only other one to really surprise me is 40oz's MAP07 which is super thick in spots. It's nice to see Vail finally show up in an Abyssal event considering that some of his 2010 reputation was established by a nonstop cavalcade of speedmapped birthday presents. His "UAC Ultra 2 Sneak Peak" - a title in jest, I assume - feels more like a Hell Revealed- or Speed of Doom-lite. Maybe HR2 trying to put on a darkwave0000 hat.

The rest of the maps have a few shocks but nothing that should be hard to overcome, especially once you've seen it. My least favorite bit of the whole set is Osiris Kalev's MAP02 due to how freakin' dark it is. I was a little frustrated by MAP01 because of its ascetic ammo balance but you can sort of work around it. The pacing of GRB's MAP12, which closes out the set, is less than thrilling and feels more like a lukewarm funhouse compared to his typical pedal to the metal. The rest of the authors do a pretty good job of making small levels that are fun to blaze through. It's nice to see the smaller side of Gifty after he poured on the hordes in ABYSPED4 and Jimmy's "Meinshaft" is exactly what I'd expect to see in a mild-mannered megaWAD.

The Abyssal Speedmapping Sessions show once again that they're a great one-stop shop for short-form Doom II gameplay. It'd be nice if they had more robust difficulty settings but double ammo and half damage in ITYTD will probably give you the edge you need to muscle your way through the tougher encounters. See you next mission!

by assorted authors

Looks More Like a CaveMAP01
by "Mugsy"
"Mineshaft". The author is right; it's a plain-looking underground tunnel and it connects three disparate base sections. Most of the monsters are Doom II trash but the hitscanners make things plenty dangerous. Ammo balance is really tight and given that the final guardian is a mancubus I would save where I could in infighting and especially precise pistol-shooting the zombies and sergeants. The inclusion of a pain elemental makes the tuning even more dubious. The cavern sections look naturalistic enough.

MAP02The Tale of Sir Mineshaft
by Osiris Kalev
"Mineshaft". This one hurts my eyes; the light level is just above pitch black. You can still see projectiles and make out general shapes but the first big chamber feels particularly dangerous given the hitscanners and then specters that intrude a little while later. You won't be hurting for ammo, though, and Osiris gives you a launcher and a bunch of rockets for it to plow through the monsters in the exit room.

by James "Phobus" Cresswell
"Foundry". A small but tight and enjoyable level that feels like a neat setpiece out of a larger map. It's basically a large channel of molten metal that divides opposing walkways on each side. The combat feels complex because you're exposed to the monsters on the initially inaccessible portion and there are a couple of really sharp surprises once you make it across. Very action-focused; a fun exercise.

MAP04Some Kinda Foundry or Whatever I Dunno
by Matt Tropiano
"Foundry". This is another tight, combat-focused level. The geometry reminds me of "A-Bad-Toir" from ABYSPED4 with the outdoor spaces, irregular room shapes, and multiple tiers of play except the layout's a bit simpler and thus flows much quicker. For a small map you're given a ton of ammo and it's fun to be able to abuse the rocket launcher. Especially when you have to deal with surprise revenants and an arch-vile plus meatshield. Solid stuff.

A Mine is a Terrible Thing to WasteMAP05
by "Gifty"
"Mineshaft". The fact that the enemies aren't as numerous as his "Abbatoir 5" makes it feel more manageable. It's still kind of dense but nowhere near as oppressive... unless you completely balk at handling the first squad of revenants that you encounter. Nice little ambush, there. The main gimmick repeatedly routes you through the starting cavern with its several tiers of imps. The heat sort of kicks up once you get the plasma gun but you have some room to retreat. Another cool spot of action.

by James "Jimmy" Paddock
"Mineshaft". This is a fun, underground cavern. It doesn't try to push the player too hard outside of a few commando snipers and the final couple of encounters. You get the combat shotgun early, don't have to deal with ammo starvation, and the green goo puddles are hazard free. The level also has a pretty complex layout; I could easily see it being part of a larger mapset made up of small-to-mid size levels. If I'm not mistaken he also composed the simple but atmospheric MIDI during the same time period! What a guy.

UAC Ultra 2 Sneak PeakMAP07
by Jon "40oz" Vail
"Mineshaft". A significantly tougher level due partially to enemy placement. Beyond that, 40oz tends to favor the hardbodies like revenants and mancubi. The opening encounter pits you against a bunch of demons and a mancubus with a Berserk pack as your only real weapon while a couple of imps attack from an elevated position. You can open up a combat shotgun but you'll have to handle its three wicked steprevenants as well. If all this is a bit much then you definitely won't be prepared for the finale. It helps to know your way around since you'll want the rocket launcher after having triggered a Hell knight / demon invasion. Looks pretty cool; sort of strikes me as darkwave0000-lite a la Speed of Doom.

MAP08Tarnsman's Pretty Little Cage
by "Obsidian"
"Killer Colours". I didn't realize why the yellow key is green in this set up until now. There aren't a great many monsters but they're either high-HP or chaingunners. The author tries to have a little interaction between the color-themed wings. It's appreciated; the bit with the lowering blue key pillar is pretty cute. The commando ambush might be slightly problematic but the biggest threat is a potentially nasty arch-vile surprise. You can just take your time during the rest of the battles, including the perfunctory Cyberdemon showdown.

Smelt You LaterMAP09
by Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich
"Foundry". This is a very tough map that follows the author's trend of twisting the player into uncomfortable positions. It's a bit more in-your-face about it, though, what with the two arch-viles encountered. Your first drop into the molten slag is a perfect example of tons of moving parts (monsters), any one of which can ruin your day. It's all downhill from there but handling the post-blue key switch revenants may still prove to be a little dicey if you linger. I like the lowering liquid level exposing the exit.

MAP10Alfonzo Conquers the Archbishop of Nepal
by Richard "Tarnsman" Frei
"Foundry". I like the first part of this; it's a cool metal slag complex with naturalistic, jagged caverns attached. The monster placement is a little tricky, especially given all the chaingunners serving as budget area denial, but the worst surprise is an arch-vile who isn't even scary as long as you save your rockets. I couldn't get a grip on the day-glo ending, though. When I finally opened up the exit I was less convinced that I'd mastered the fight, instead feeling as though I'd captured lightning in a bottle.

First I Was Lost, But Now I Am FoundryMAP11
by James "an_mutt" Collins
"Foundry". It's pretty fun. The opening compels you to sprint ahead to a less dangerous situation between the starting pit of death, the fliers lurking in the atrium, and the cacodemons in the little catwalk area to the west. It's not difficult to clear once you get all that sorted out, though, since an_mutt gives you plenty of guns'n'ammo. The big outdoor arena to the east is a pretty cool structure. I like the Cyberdemon platform and the radial ledge that stands opposite to it.

MAP12Shaft 427
by Sebastian "General Rainbow Bacon" Graham
"Mineshaft". A plain, dark, underground cavern. I'm mildly amused at the solid brick of revenants guarding the switch that grants access to the red key. There's also a relatively helpless mass of chaingunners in the northern chamber who are pretty good at taking themselves out. The Cyberdemon guarding the exit was expected; the throng of arch-viles waiting at the top, less so. The gameplay is pretty dull. The best bit is the semi-secret lava chamber with the soul sphere and blue armor since the pain elementals and cacodemons make for a nice, dynamic encounter with the scattered islands on lava.



  1. MAP12, as I recall, is supposed to be played in a port which supports the "Ghost monsters" bug, so that the "helpless mass of chaingunners" can come back with a vengeance as an incorporeal execution squad.