.: November 29, 2005

The news of my untimely demise has been greatly exaggerated. As you can see, I (or an uncannily erudite impostor) am back behind the pen, so to speak. Unfortunately, I bring little by way of new information. A few months ago I started on a new map, and intended it to be for DooM2.exe but I haven't had the opportunity to test it without a source port. Meanwhile I have done little on Return to Oblivion and have not played Heretic 2 either. Chris Couleur has sent me his Return to Oblivion map, and I intend to play test it when I get a chance. And today, of all things I went out and bought DooM3. I don't see myself playing it in the very near future, given my work and travel schedule. My recommendation to the two of you is not to hold your breath for any new developments any time soon.

.: July 9, 2005

Fear is the Key is complete and has been uploaded. It includes a demo of the map in UV using ZDooM v2.0.96. I'll be the first to admit that it's not the best demo, but I had done and re-done it so many times that I was tired at that point. You can get the entire download here. Meanwhile, I haven't had any time to work on Return to Oblivion or to play Heretic 2. Things don't look too good over the next 3 to 4 weeks either. Stay tuned.

.: July 1, 2005

Fear is the Key is coming along nicely, and the mapping is almost complete. I've tested some of the areas with enemies, but I obviously need to do a complete run-through when the mapping is done. Plus, I want to send it out for beta-testing before release, which might be some time next week. Here are 12 screenshots.

.: June 13, 2005

Lest the two of you think that I've been slacking off since my last update, read on. Much has happened since then, and quite a bit of it DooM-related. First, after almost a year of working quietly behind the scenes, I am happy to announce that I am a member of TeamTNT, and am working on their newest project - Return From Oblivion. To that end I have been plugging away at a 3-map hub consisting of The Crypts, Schloss Adler: The Castle of the Eagle, and Daemon's Sanctuary. These maps are all gothic-medieval in style, and use the fantastic resources of Eternal DooM.

The mapping is hard work, and the scripting, though generally simple, is tricky at times. I'm trying out a new challenge with this hub - the player can enter these maps in any order, and travel from the first map entered to any of the other two maps. [In other words, each map can be started from at least three points in the map.] However, the weapons are only available in the first map entered (whichever the player chooses), and the gameplay in the other two maps is affected based on the absence of weapons in those maps. I hope I don't get too ambitious and blow the whole thing sky-high.

I have made quite a bit of progress. After getting part of the way through Daemon's Sanctuary (Map10), which is a cathedral, chapel, cemetary, cloisters, and compound, I started on the Crypts (Map08) and just kept going. Plenty of creepy areas with abundant signs of the dead and undead. I am almost done with the mapping on The Crypts, after which I'll resume work on maps 9 and 10. Here are a bunch of screenshots from Maps 8 and 10.

I have done a little bit more work on Fear is the Key, and I'll have some screenshots soon. It appears certain that Fear will be released well before Return. Also, I have been playing Heretic2 off and on, mostly off. My job-related schedule has become hectic in the past couple of months, and I use most of my spare time (which is little to start with and is rapidly diminishing) working on Return From Oblivion. Heretic2 is a wonderful game, much under-rated when it was released, and I encourage everyone to play it. I have been taking notes from each level, with a view to writing a complete review when I'm done playing the entire game.

.: March 29, 2005

Several things to report, DooM-related as well as non-DooM-related. First the non-DooM-related stuff. I went back and played Unreal II again, and had as much fun this time around. I have updated my previous review with some additional comments. Next, I have been playing Heretic II, which I am generally finding to be a worthy successor to the original. It uses the Quake II engine, but employs a 3rd person perspective, making gameplay quite different from the regular first-person shooters to which I am accustomed. The game features beautiful environments, and is fun and occasionally challenging. Look for a review soon.

In Doom-related news, I have done a little bit more on the map I had started. Plus, I have a name for it - Fear is the Key. This time I searched the idgames archives using DooM World's search feature, and am happy to confirm that the name is not taken. I've been too lazy to take screenshots, but I'll rectify that situation when I post my next batch of news.

In other Doom-related news, I just discovered today that Phobos Revisited received one of DooM World's 11th Annual Cacowards for wad of the year. Considering the mediocre review by Grazza on DooM World's Newstuff Chronicles, this came as quite a surprise to me. Which just goes to show you that there's no accounting for taste ;)

.: March 3, 2005

Okay, I lied; so sue me. Turns out that the map I started a couple of weeks ago will require a source port after all. Earlier this week, during my trip to Atlanta I worked on the map, and because of the open areas I immediately realized that making it a good-looking map for DooM2.exe would be a challenge beyond me. So I gave in, and went to town with the detailing. But lest you think this is going to be a pretty-boy map with no gameplay value, I've been plotting these nefarious tricks and traps for your scarification and enjoyment.

.: February 25, 2005

Unreal II: The Awakening was indeed an eye-opener. I finally rescued the princess and salvaged the treasure and .... oops, wrong story. I finally kicked as much alien and mercenary butt as I could find, and saved the galaxy. Read all about it right here.

Meanwhile, during my trip to Arizona last week I started a new city-themed map. I haven't decided if it's going to be for doom2.exe or for any limit-removing port. If I can swing the design I'll make it for DooM2 and the eighth map in my Wicked series, but with the map layout I have in mind that's not looking too good. That's the problem with city-themed maps (or any maps with open, outdoor layouts) -- too many areas are visible simultaneously, making it difficult to add detail vithoug causing vis-plane overflow errors.

.: February 2, 2005

Wicked be the Ways of Men is complete, and has been uploaded to the 3D Gamers Archives. It can be downloaded here. Meanwhile, I have put up additional screenshots. At this point all I can say is I'm relieved to be done with that effort. The testing alone took me many hours, as I needed to tweak ammo, health, and enemies for each of the 3 skill level groups. Although I am quite pleased with the outcome, I don't want to look at the map again for a long time.

While I recharge my batteries for my next venture into the wild and wacky world of DooM editing I have started playing Unreal II. After a bit of a rocky start I am beginning to enjoy the game, and a review should be popping up in Stuff soon. So far the game is lacking the wonder and resplendence of the original Unreal, which for me, is one of the all-time great FPS games. But UII does have its moments, and I'm looking forward to spending many jumpy, trigger-happy, and tense hours immersed in the game.

.: January 14, 2005

Wicked be the Ways of Men, the seventh in my Wicked series, has turned out to be a considerably more ambitious project than I intended. Initially, it was just meant to be a medium-sized map with many interconnecting pathways, in keeping with the constraints of maps in the series -- fully doom2.exe compatible but with as much detail that vanilla DooM could handle. Making a map with many interconnecting pathways is a challenge by itself, but I decided to add a twist to the map -- make the map playable in three different ways, via three different player "starts" in different corners of the map. In other words, players starting on Skills 1&2 would start in one place, players on Skill 3 in a different place, and players on Skills 4&5 in yet another place. [Skip the next paragraph if you're not interested in the arcane details of DooM editing.]

I quickly discovered that putting multiple Player1 starts in the game would not work. First, the player would run into the other player starts (the method used for the voodoo doll trick) and mess up the whole concept. [Of course, I could make the individual starts hidden and inaccessible to other skill levels, but see the next point.] Second, no matter which skill level you select to play, you will only start at one location, even if that location has a skill-based player start different from the one you selected. Knowing that I was limited to truly one unique start for all skill levels, I finally hit upon the answer -- have the start in an inaccessible area from which the player teleports to different locations, based on skill level chosen. I had three different transporter pads, with relevant pads blocked off by an electric column thing. So if you started the level after choosing Skill 3, the teleporter pad to take you to the Skill 3 start area would be accessible, but the pads for Skills 1&2, and 4&5 would be blocked by the columns. Then I hit upon a more elegant solution -- have a single teleporter pad, but have the teleport destination things be uniquely assigned to the specific skill levels, and place them in different areas of the map. Et Voila!, or "Wallah" as they pronounce it in France, and I had my solution. No fuss no muss

Not satisfied with creating a map that can be played at least 3 ways, I decided to go a step further and create areas that can only be accessed normally (i.e., without cheating) by players on specific skill levels. [There are of course the common areas of the map that are accessible to players who start at any skill level.] In other words, if you start on Skill 3, you'll have access to a specific part of the map that players on other skill levels do not have. But you will also not have access to areas that are only accessible by players on the other skill levels. On top of everything, I decided that aside from using some different enemies for the different skill levels, I'd make the traps also somewhat skill level-specific. All of these variations are designed to entice you, the player, to try the map under each of the three skill level groups - 1&2, 3, and 4&5. And in case you're thinking that you're a DooM god and don't want to be arsed playing on a wussy Skill level, I have an answer -- the map is really designed for seasoned players, so that Skills 1&2 are not terribly easy when compared to Skill 4 (aside from the fact that the player gets more ammo in Skill 1 and takes less damage).

So there you have it. Wicked_7 has taken on a mind of its own and has grown beyond the bounds intended by its creator. That explains why I haven't released the map yet. I hope you both agree that it will be worth the wait.

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