.: December 16, 2007

Just in time for Y2K comes a map for DooM2 that will have the community buzzing with excitement until the end of the year. Or at least until tomorrow. Or something. I speak, of course, of DooM2: Help on Earth - Millenium Edition. This is a map that I started out making as a joke wad, and many of the elements of a joke wad are maintained throughout - atrocious texturing, non-existent texture alignment, pointless secret areas, weapons that dominate inferior enemies, missing textures, poor use of unpegging, constant use of 90-degree walls. In short, common mistakes made by editing newbies in the early years of DooM editing. But somewhere along the way I decided to try and make it a fun and challenging map too. So I guess it's a joke wad with a good punch line. [Get it? 'Punch' line? Heh.]

What? You're still here? Obviously the wit and repartee was not good enough for you. Okley-dokley then, download away. Feel free to read the text file if you wish.

.: November 13, 2007

TeamTNT is in the play-testing and tweaking phase of completing Return From Oblivion. No promises, but we could see a release forthwith. Whatever that means. Heh.

.: October 27, 2007

Enjay played the final map of From The Ashes of Fear this morning and sent me thorough and detailed comments. I responded and asked him for clarification, and he responded right away. As a result, the wad has been finalized and is ready for download. Now that's a level of commitment we can all admire. Kudos to you, Enjay.

Anyhoo, you're not here for the scenery. So without further ado, download away.. You can read the text file if you wish, or peruse the pictures if you're still trying to decide if the download is worth your time.

A couple of notes - (1) the second and third maps are secret maps, and not everyone will find the secret exits (but feel free to read the secrets&tips.txt text file to find them). Accordingly, you can simply warp to the secret maps and play away; each map is designed for a pistol start. (2) Map 32 is extremely difficult in places. To prove that those areas can be completed, I have made two demos showing that the toughest fights are manageable. Why two demos? you ask. Well, to get to the area in the second demo I would have to complete all the fights prior to that one. I tried a few times and didn't manage to get through. So I simply duplicated the second area in a separate wad and played it with only the items available in the main wad. As you can see, the toughest fights can be done. (3) The demos require ZDooM v2.1.7.

.: October 26, 2007

From The Ashes of Fear is done, and I've sent it to Enjay to play-test before release. I have to say that Map 32 has the most challenging gameplay in any of the maps that I have done. Some of the fights are extremely tough, and can only be won if done a certain way (especially if playing with a pistol start on UV skill). To that end, in the text file that I normally include with each wad that outlines the secret areas, I decided to include some tips on how best to win those fights. So look for the wad in fine bookstores and wherever guns are sold. And that's a wrap.

.: October 12, 2007

In a burst of creativity during my recent trip to Arizona I have made quite a bit of progress on From The Ashes of Fear. I'm about 80% done with the final map, which will need to be play-tested before release. Meanwhile, here is the final crop of pictures from the wad. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

.: September 10, 2007

It's been a while since I talked about Return From Oblivion. Anyhoo, Espi has uploaded a few pictures from his RFO map to his site. It is a moody map with spectacular architecture and challenging fights. You can see some of his pictures here, here, and here.

I'm plugging away at From The Ashes of Fear, but progress is slow. Meanwhile, I'm off to San Francisco for a few days vacation, and I'm leaving my laptop computer behind. So unless I can get the job done before then, I'll only be able to resume work after my trip.

.: August 31, 2007

For a summary, see my update for August 9. Actually, I take that back. Earlier this week, while on travel, I put in a little bit of work on From The Ashes of Fear, but I'm afraid that I lack the creativity and enthusiasm necessary to create a high-quality map. I wonder if this means that I'm washed up as a DooM mapper. I suppose that Time will tell.

.: August 9, 2007

Slow progress on the third map of From The Ashes of Fear, mainly because of lassitude (that's a fancy word for laziness). I have been watching a lot of movies, TV on DVD (American Dad, Venture Bros., Star Trek: DS9), and reading. As a result I have not mapped for a while, nor have I played any games. We'll see how long this slump lasts.

.: July 27, 2007

First, a confession. When I last reported here, I indicated that I had completed a 2-map wad called From The Ashes of Fear. Well, I lied. What I ought to have said was that I had completed 2 maps in a 3-map set. Ha! Gotcha, didn't I? Yes, it's true. I decided to go the whole hog, as they say, and include the "SUPAR SECRIT LEVAL". It is a somewhat simple level, but offers challenging fights. This will, of course, delay the release. However, I suspect that the two of you won't mind too much. Stay tuned.

.: July 19, 2007

Peace flows from the end of a loaded gun. Or something. Anyhoo, lest the two of you think I've tendered my resignation from the Guild of DooM Mapping Enthusiasts, I've gone ahead and completed From The Ashes of Fear. You've no doubt forgotten what the whole deal is about, so let me hasten to refresh your memory. It's a 2-map wad for DooM2 and any limit-removing source port, each map playable from a pistol start. The first map is in the Map15 slot, and the second map is (naturally) in Map31, the first secret map slot. I've even created an exit for Map32, the so called "SUPAR SECRIT LEVAL"; sadly I've run out of steam for the super-secret level itself, so you'll have to content yourself with finding the secret exit. I'll be sending the map to tester and mapper extraordinaire, Nigel 'Enjay' Rowand, and when he's done ripping it to shreds I will release it.

What, you're still here? Am I missing something? Ah, you wish to see the pretty pictures that you were promised. Well, then, go ahead.

.: June 15, 2007

I figured I'd use the momentum to go ahead and write up my overview section of the reviews. I'd like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the many suggestions and pointers I received on the different forums, all of which went to improving my write-ups and helping to make them more balanced. In particular, I'd like to thank Darren 'DooM_Dude' Finch for his unflagging support of DooM Nexus and his appreciation for what I'm trying to do here.

So go ahead, Relive The NightMare. It's right after the Introduction.

.: June 14, 2007

The Deimos Guardian is no more. All hail the Phobos Anomaly. Scroll down that page for the review.

I can finally return to my regularly scheduled programming. [I had intended to write a wrap-up of the whole wad, but it will have to wait. I'm burnt out from playing KDiZD and writing about it.]

.: June 13, 2007

Z1M10, aka Penultimate Evil. Scroll down that page for the review.

.: June 12, 2007

In what seems like a deja vu of Z1M3, I feel like I need another vacation after playing Z1M7. Scroll down that page for the review.

.: June 11, 2007

All I seem to be doing in my spare time nowadays is playing KDiZD and writing reviews. But you're not here to read about my whinging, so with out further ado I give you my review of Z1M6. Scroll down that page for the review.

.: June 10, 2007

Even God is said to have rested on Sunday. Eh, what's that you say? Blasphemy and I'm a mere mortal? Okay, okay. I figured the two of you to have no sense of humor, so I went ahead and completed the review of Z1M5. You know where to find it. Scroll down that page for the review.

.: June 9, 2007

And the review of Z1M4 is done. Yes, it's a tad late, but it's Saturday and I decided to wake up late and enjoy the coffee before getting to my desk. Sue me. Okay, don't sue me if you don't want to. Just head on over to My 2 Cent Take on KDiZD. Scroll down that page for the review.

.: June 8, 2007

Here's the fourth installment of My 2 Cent Take on KDiZD. It's for the secret map, Z1M9 - Military Base. Scroll down that page for the review.

.: June 7, 2007

Here's the third installment of My 2 Cent Take on KDiZD. After playing the map (Z1M3), which is a monster in terms of size, I need a vacation. Scroll down that page for the review.

.: June 6, 2007

As promised, the second installment of My 2 Cent Take on KDiZD. If you've already read my review of Z1M1, scroll down until you reach the review of Z1M2.

.: June 5, 2007

The long-awaited release of Knee Deep in ZDooM is here. What do I think about it? Funny you should ask. Here's My 2 Cent Take on KDiZD. For now, I have only completed the detailed review of the first map. Not being a layabout, and having job-related responsibilities associated with being a Senior Flunky and Management Type (not to mention other real-life obligations), I have a limited amount of free time. Hence, I shall strive to complete one map and one review per day. If I get done with more than one per day, consider that a bonus. Auf wiedersehen, meine damen und herren.

.: May 20, 2007

A first look at From the Ashes of Fear.

.: May 12, 2007

Well, hello again, my pretties! It appears as if Paranoid is plodding along (the operative word being 'plodding'). After a flurry of activity a couple of weeks ago, during which I created a very cool (if I do say so myself) construct, I let things go. Meanwhile I bought the 7-season boxed set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (I admit it, I'm a closet Trekkie) and have spent much of my spare time watching it. And then I re-started work on From the Ashes of Fear, fine tuned the gameplay, and sent off the first map to Enjay for testing. I got back into Paranoid, fixed a few minor problems I'd been having, and added in the two non-player characters that I had created back in March and April (complete with the DECORATE definitions).

In other game-related news, I've been playing the original Half-Life. I had forgotten what a swell (sic!) game it is, and I had even forgotten most of the game itself. Damn! The game is nine years old and it is still capable of thrilling and exciting me. And it's making me wonder if I should add more maps to my currently-planned 5-map hub for Paranoid.

.: April 17, 2007

I have been going to town with the features of GZDooM, especially the 3D structures. I went so far as to create a realistic-looking elevator, complete with ramped guard-rail type sides and everything. Mostly, though, the 3D constructs are more subtle. The other great thing about using a source port that supports portable network graphics (png) is that the in-game look of the map is true to the original graphics. In other words, Paranoid looks like Half-Life. Maybe even a bit too much like Half-Life, and not at all like DooM. I'd have to say that this is my first mod (even among the many total and partial conversions that I have done) that does not resemble DooM. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing I will leave for you to decide.

I have made a boat-load of progress on mapping, but I am still only on the first map. To recreate the first area of the Black Mesa facility up to the Materials Lab where things first start to go horribly wrong in Half-Life I have been playing H-L, taking screenshots of each area, painstakingly building the map in WadAuthor, using XWE to manage the resources, and using DooM Builder to texture the whole shebang. Not very much fun, but quite satisfying to seeing how well the finished work resembles the original (even if I do say so myself). In addition to mapping, I also spent some time creating a non-player character for Paranoid - one of the scientists in Half-Life. This one will be seen pondering something of seemingly great import on a computer monitor or white board, then occasionally wandering off to another location to ponder the imponderable again, before calling out a greeting to the player or other scientists.

Meanwhile, I have started on the second map of From the Ashes of Fear. I have put it in the map slot for the first secret level (MAP31), for the precise reason that the first map is for MAP15, which has two exits - one to MAP16, the other to the secret level (just like in the original DooM2). Although the map has a castle theme, as an homage to the original Wolfenstein-themed secret level I am selectively using the Wolfenstein textures for the map. Also, the map has two exits - one to Map16, the other to the "super secret level", again, just like in the original DooM2. Of course, I'm going to make the map playable with a pistol start, so that even those players that do not find the seceret exit in MAP15 will be able to play the secret level.

.: March 12, 2007

Some progress as well as impediments to report. I have finished the first map of From the Ashes of Fear, and will be tweaking the health-ammo balance before sending it to Enjay for testing; I will work on the second map when I get a chance. Of all the maps that I have made, this one definitely has the highest difficulty index - it uses all the enemies, getting progressively tougher as the level progresses, and there's one of the final boss battles that even I find difficult. It got me thinking about the nature of games and how they should be developed. It occurred to me that a game must have an element of luck. In other words, skill alone should not be enough to ensure success. The knowledge that one could lose, however proficient one is at the game, is what gives the game the edge that makes it exciting. For this reason, I left the boss battle the way it is, even though I sometimes get plastered during the battle because of bad luck.

I have begun mapping for Paranoid (and have actually completed half the first map). I had intended to use WadAuthor, my map editor of choice, even though it does not support .png format textures & flats. By creating a parallel wad with identical textures & flats in bitmap format I figured I could do everything I needed to do in an external wad, and then simply merge the external wad with the resource wad containing the .png format images. All seemed to be going well for a while, and then WadAuthor inexplicably started crashing when I tried to browse the textures. I suspect that there may be a .png format image somewhere in there, but I haven't looked closer. Meanwhile, I am using a combination of WadAuthor and DooM Builder to create the maps, but it's slow going and occasionally frustrating. As I get better with DooM Builder I will transition to developing Paranoid entirely with it. I will still use WadAuthor for my other mapping projects, as they do not use .png format graphics.

.: March 3, 2007

It must be snowing in Miami, because I'm posting an update within three days of my last one. Anyhoo, I have been busy with Paranoid, but more on that in a later update. For now I wanted to post my long-overdue review of Heretic II. I completed the game in October last year, began the review and stopped in early November, and only resumed the write-up yesterday. As I've said in the review, if you haven't already played it, do so.

UPDATE: My 'later update' came a lot sooner than I believed it would. What I've been really busy with is learning how to create sprites from models. Starting with the model for Barney, the security guard in Half-Life, I went through a somewhat laborious process to create sprites for idle and walking states. I've written a tutorial for creating sprites from models, and it may be found here. I plan to use Barney as a non-combatant character in Paranoid, and will create one or more scientists too.

.: February 28, 2007

Time for my monthly status update, I guess. You know how you can watch an ant scurrying along the ground, this way and that, and you wonder what the heck the little critter is up to? Poor, confused thing, you mutter. Well, if you had observed me closely the past month you would probably have thought the same thing. I have been as busy as the proverbial ant, and seemingly just as frenetic and confused. But I assure you there is some method to my madness. Here's what's been happening:

1. I exchanged many emails with my good buddy Enjay about Paranoid, and he convinced me of several things - I need to develop the wad for GZDooM; I need to completely scrap my original plan to use bitmap-based textures in various publicly available wads and extract my own textures in png format from Half-Life; I need to incorporate realistic objectives and missions.
2. I scrapped most of the textures and flats I had assembled into my wad, used Wally to browse and extract textures/flats from the Half-Life wad, used XnView to edit some of the textures, and used XWE to insert the textures/flats into my wad.
3. I was dissatisfied with many of the graphics in the GP32 wad, and decided to build my own. I managed several new graphics for the Start and NewGame menus.
4. I was dissatisfied with some of the death sequence sprites for a few enemies, so I edited and modified them to my satisfaction.
5. I have created two new human enemies.
6. I have created the DECORATE definitions for the four existing human enemies and the two new ones.
7. I have had discussions with Enjay on storyline, mission & objectives, enemy & weapons behavior, and a hint/help system.

I have also managed some progress on From the Ashes of Fear, with just a little bit of work left on the first map. I will probably begin mapping for Paranoid very soon, but I have a few lingering tasks remaining for the resource wad. As for The Phobos Directive, I'm afraid I have no progress to report. But then, I don't have an 'S' on my chest and wear a red cape, do I?

.: January 31, 2007

Hello, folks. After a break of a couple of weeks from DooM editing I got back in the saddle. Initially, I wanted to build what I had decided was going to be the last map in my Wicked series. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) there was an important area in the map that was causing a crash of vanilla DooM because of a visplane error. Instead of re-doing the map I decided to make the map for any limit-removing source port, and so was born the new map in my Fear series. The story does not end here. I decided to make the map one that included all enemies, and had figured out a way to include the SS Soldier without messing up the look and feel of the map - put them in a secret area with a Wolfenstein theme. But the tale grew in the telling, until I decided to make the area into a separate map - the secret MAP31. And thus I embarked on a 2-map set, which I have named From the Ashes of Fear to the Depths of Despair. I am almost done with Map15, and will continue work on MAP31. Screenshots to follow.

But that's not all. I have been playing Half-Life2 on XBox (I refuse to buy the game for PC, seeing as how I need to go on-line to get a pass-code to unlock the game on my PC) and I got real fired-up by the game. I decided to revive an effort I had begun a couple of years ago. Some of you may remember a little thing I produced back in September 2000 called Paranoia. In 2004 I came across a wad for the GP32 port for DooM. The maps themselves were rudimentary and tried to mirror Half-Life, but it had cool new resources. The problem was that the wad contained all of DooM2 maps and textures, and many of the sprite frames were missing. I undertook to clean up the wad, and I got done with that effort in 2004. After that the wad just sat on my hard drive, waiting to be revived. Well, this new effort is, fittingly, named Paranoid. I am still working out the story-line, but meanwhile I have made much progress on the resource wad. There are plenty of new textures, flats, and enemies. I will be using DECORATE to create new enemy behavior, and perhaps new weapons behavior. Like the original Paranoia, Paranoid will have 5 maps. This time, however, the maps will be in a hub that will allow the player to travel back and forth through the maps.

But that's not the end of it. I have also been working on The Phobos Directive, which (in case you've forgotten) is for ZDooM and is based on my DooM Episode 1 replacement, Phobos Revisited. I have set the maps up as a hub, with mission-driven objectives that will require traveling back and forth. I expect to get done with this set well before Paranoid, but well after From the Ashes of Fear... I have also started formulating a story that is meant to serve as the backdrop to the map set. Stay tuned.

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