Wednesday, March 13, 2019


by Richard R. Ward

Rich's levels don't constitute a series as much as they share the same general filename. His first two maps, RRWARD01 and 02, were single releases in 1994 and served as self-contained adventures. The other two, RRWARD03 and 04, made up the only bits of an episode replacement - Nocternal Missions - that he felt comfortable releasing. They were also released a good bit after his debut, the former showing in 1996 with the latter arriving on the archives in 2003 (though it appears to have been finalized in 1999). RRWARD04 stands out from the rest insofar as it is an E1M8 replacement but it should play in most any engine. The author does mention some visual bugs in the now ancient glDoom source port but I doubt whether it concerns the average player of today.

Lo and behold, Rich's website mentioned in the .TXT still works and has been sporadically updated! It even answers what few questions I had about the plot of the abandoned project where this comes from. The gist of the episode is that Doomguy had too much pizza and beer. The narrative action would have covered the resulting nightmares a la Keen Dreams. RRWARD03 was E1M5 and is notably primarily for including a giant turntable and stereo system. The other levels would have featured similar entertainment objects including a billiards table and a video arcade. This, however, is a relatively mundane boss level blowout.

Contrary to what the .TXT implies, this map is neither tough nor all that densely populated for a seasoned Doom veteran. The main playing area consists of a giant, open circle which is way more room than you need to kill the starting monsters, four Barons and handful of lost souls. Especially when you compare it to the star-shaped death arena of "Phobos Anomaly". After you kill the Barons a few walls fall and reveal the friendly neighborhood Cyberdemon. You can quickly swat him with the BFG found on the central dais - depending on your skill level - and then clean up the slow drip feed of monsters that are meant to shake things up a bit. The rest of the population is waiting in the long exit stairwell so you can just corridor shoot your way to victory.

The texturing is plain brown but the ground floor's toxic channels are a nice aesthetic touch that keep things from looking too stale. It's not a terrible level but I can see where people were upset since it hardly equals the adventure of RRWARD01 and 02 or even the sheer DoomCute factor of 03. It's too bad that Ward couldn't get the rest of his episode together. It would have been an affair to remember, not to detract from his short but otherwise gem-filled career.

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