Sunday, December 22, 2019


by Pablo Dictter

Dictter's WADography is kind of a pain to sort out. He shopped some of his PWADs around online before uploading them to /idgames so the dates of creation are less than clear. Forget the fact that his first ten or so levels never found their way to the archives! This particular release has its own curious detail. Pablo notes that Warehouse won a Doom WAD Station contest. I can't find anything mentioning it on the current iteration of Larkin's site, though. While there are a few snapshots of DWS back when it was hosted on the now-defunct NewDoom they are pretty much identical to the way it's currently laid out. Minus the garish background, of course. Whatever the case, it's an E1M1 replacement for The Ultimate Doom. The author suggests that you use a Boom source port but Varun Abhiram was able to play it in vanilla.

Pablo actually included a story with this one and the events happen during the original Doom trilogy. You aren't Doomguy but part of the UAC's space marine contingent stationed on Phobos. When everything goes south your platoon comes under attack. Whether you're transported by the malign force or got Dacote'd, you return to consciousness in an unfamiliar place. Without any friends or weapons to speak of the odds are against you discovering just where you are, much less finding your way back home. Something be it duty or self-preservation compels you to press onward, trusty sidearm in hand.

WAREHOUSE is sitting in an E1 slot but its texture scheme is plainly E4. There's a ton of marble and metal and the fiery orange sky is a dead giveaway. It isn't quite Hellish, though, since there are computer terminals in the cut stone walls and a plethora of crates upon which the level's name is hung. The actual layout tells a different story. It's endemic of Dictter's early aughts maps; its stringy and claustrophobic spaces make it difficult to distinguish rooms from wider portions of the same interminable corridor. I'm not trying to be funny, mind you; his Chemical Base from around the same time had more distinguished architecture.

Pablo knows how to pour a ton of detail into a hallway, though, and the more ambient lighting alone puts it ahead of the superficially similar PD-TWR. The red rock panels in the hallways are an interesting motif and sort of take the place of sterile, techbase light panels. Some of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it things include the irregularly-shaped door right off the starting corridor as well as the Baron of Hell that teleports in from the other side of the porthole to Inferno. The immediately prior barred metal corridor has a cool, basic aesthetic and the various rings that are built into the ceilings look great whether they're sunroofs or nuke chutes.

Dictter basically speedmapped (hours / days) tiny levels during his early career and this one only has a scant 35 monsters. It's proportionally beefy, though, and fields a couple of Barons as well as demons, spectres, and even an end-of-level caco. The zombies aren't much of a threat because of the available cover but the congested confines give tougher fare a greater chance of being a threat. The Baron encounters especially shine because Pablo's busy detailing gives you plenty of things to get awkwardly hung up on while you're trying to dodge green fire. The shotgun / chaingun focus draws out the smaller fights, too, not that you'd want to be trying the rocket launcher in close quarters.

I'm kind of cool to Warehouse because its practical layout is so underwhelming. It's a decent bite-sized slice of corridor shooter, though, and shows the raw potential that Dictter would go on to harness in his later career. If he'd amassed a whole bunch of these little offerings then it would make a cool bowl of popcorn Doom. As it stands, it has a nice look and shows a bunch of great detailing ideas.


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