Friday, September 15, 2017

Genesis (GENESIS.WAD)


Tony Sideris has left a legacy as one of Doom's underrated early authors, churning out all three of his releases in 1996 and then disappearing, no doubt into a career in IT. Most of Tony's accolades in "underrated" WAD recommendation threads are for the curiously-titled Debut for the original Doom and the follow-up episode, Post, published for Doom II. Before either, however, came a two-level minisode for Doom II by the name of Genesis. There is no indication as to the reasoning behind the title of this PWAD beyond the fact that it marks the beginning of his career; Sideris included no story in the text and implies nothing through his level design. All that's there is a pair of mild-mannered Doom II levels.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Forest Valley (FOREST.WAD)


Forest Valley definitely doesn't resemble a forest, nor does it really resemble a valley. The sky, though, is unmistakable. If you've played the Heroes collection you may recognize it as the backdrop of the second episode. Jean Serge-Gagnon is a quintessentially 1994 author, delivering some of the era's least endearing aspects in a relatively playable format. Forest Valley's final version was released in 1995 and includes a preview of his subsequent project, OTTAWAU.WAD. It's a partial episode two replacement that covers E2M1 through E2M4 as well as E2M9 with a few crude graphical accents and some new music.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nuke Mine (NUKEMINE.WAD)


The first time I heard of Nuke Mine (subtitled "Come Get Some", linking to Nuke before Duke) was, as Never_Again reminds me through an old /idgames comment, through Sverre Kvernmo hawking it in his 1995 release .TXTs. An episode one replacement released in August of 1994, it's a word-of-mouth classic whose only real flaws are just as evident in the Serenity and Eternity episodes, making it an easy recommendation for anyone who digs the more polished works from Doom's early era. It wasn't Jason Hargreaves's first release - that would be PANIC!.WAD, which was heavily revised and released as E1M2 of this publication - but you can still see steps of improvement as you play through with a couple of leaps in his proficiency as an author.

Friday, August 25, 2017

PhobosDeimos Anomaly (PD1-ANOM.WAD)


When Hellbent proposed the project that would become Doom the Way id Did, I doubt he thought that it would start a movement. It's daunting to think of all the levels that have become associated with the project, from the 27 in the official release to the 55 of the Lost Episodes, the insanity of No End In Sight's 38, and isolated releases like ProcessingControl's Castle of Fear. Callum Guy Oliver, aka phobosdeimos1, had no less than twelve submissions (thirteen if you count "Dark Passage"). Unfortunately, like his contributions to Interception, Oliver passed away before his DTWiD levels were published on the archives. PhobosDeimos Anomaly, released in the latter half of 2015, is the final element of his legacy supposing that no one has the unfinished third chapter in his Raw Action series.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

TV1998 (TV1998.WAD)


Thomas Van Der Velden has enjoyed a pretty prestigious authorial career, releasing Revolution! and its sequel, Harmony, all on his lonesome. He also made contributions to the much-lauded Plutonia 2 (among other things). TV1998, a collection of twenty-two (22) levels for Doom II, was released in 2004 but all of Velden's heavy lifting was performed before Revolution! in 1998 with a little bit in 1999, hence the title. Its release appears to be one of those happy accidents where someone finds a forgotten backup of materials long thought lost. TV picked it up, dusted it off, wired it some new skies and a TITLEPIC, and sent it back into battle.

Friday, August 11, 2017

SlayeR (SLAYER.WAD)


Richard Wiles started mapping during the advent of source ports in 1998 but remained part of the vanilla vanguard.. His output remains highly lauded, with his highly-varied DICKIE series (well, technically DICKIE10) named one of Doomworld's top 10 WADs of 1998 and clinching repeating nods in 1999 for the brutal but acclaimed Crusades as well as his contributions to The Darkening E2 in 2000. SlayeR, a ten-map plus one secret mapset released in 2001, appeared to be his Doom swan song but Wiles would come back five years later to author the Monolith series. Dare he return some ten years later in 2017? Probably not, but stranger things have happened!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Equinox (EQUINOX.WAD)


Equinox followed right on the heels of the ridiculous, engine-crushing Nuts toward the end of 2001 implying that the former - a Doom II thirteen-level mapset for limit-removing source ports - had already been in development for quite some time. Both were created by the mysterious B.P.R.D. and while Equinox is much closer to traditional Doom level design there are enough instances of large areas and mixed monster packs to suggest that full-on monster infighting was more woven into the author's Doom DNA than the casual silliness of Nuts (created to test the /idgames upload process) suggests. Looking at this and B.P.R.D.'s subsequent releases, including the magnificent yet maligned "Mucous Flow", it's clear that the author has enjoyed a considerable legacy of influence with today's level designers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Inquisitor 3 (INQSTR3E.WAD)


I played Shadowman's Inquisitor and its sequel back in 2014; both are experiments originally begat by Russian "freakmapping" contests where a procedurally-generated layout is used as the foundation for people to make their own levels. The original INQSTR was controversial for its political / sexual undertones focused around a mysterious, metaphorical allusion that sullied an otherwise pretty cool castle adventure stylized after Hexen II. The Inquisitor 2 pushed in a different direction, attempting to channel the dungeon crawler combat of the Diablo series complete with an overworld town and quests that you could accomplish to further your power, exploring a fair variety of dungeons all within the space of a single level. Its bold aspirations were tempered by highly claustrophobic combat and boxy architecture.