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Plutonia 2 Shots

So I'm done with Plutonia 2, got rid of the game as promised, and last but not least: just gotta share some of these!

Pictures, that is. I took a few. Mainly of the architectural details, because the architecture's impressive, and especially the latter levels are a work of art not just design-wise, but in regards to what they accomplished with the editor. Like the final staircase. Considering DOOM is built in fake-3D - as the early, ahead-of-it's-time-epic game engine in the making that it was, and single layer, I'm really curious how they built those stairs.

If you haven't thought about it before: look carefully next time you play the game, and you'll notice that levels never have multiple levels, anywhere, only platforms of varying height/location. There's never a first floor directly under the second one, but more so beside it. The designers cleverly make levels in such a way that you never really think of this, though it does pose certain limitations on how a level can be made, and how you need to go about making it feel like it's truly dimensional. So those stairs where you actually walk around the center: really cool. Since it should be technically impossible. Could it be a ZDoom thing...?

Most seem to do a masterful job with this too. Maybe it's easier to work with than it sounds like it should be. One-layer multidimensionalism.

Not to mention the invisible bridges - I've seen some of those before though, the Cyberdemons suspended in the air, the gates that open inwards, the teleportation paths and what have you. Not impossible, but illusive, and clever. I love to find little tricks of the trade like that, and even more so actually figuring out how they did it. Invisible textures. Teleports. Custom animation to give the illusion of movement.

Sometimes it's easy to explain.

If you start looking at the game design as you play there's so much to be impressed with. It's on a whole other level compared to the original Plutonia - even if I enjoyed that one too - but still seems to follow a similar vein considering the arena-type levels with multiple Cyberdemons. The epic dual Cyberdemon gates. The hella difficult finale with three Cyberdemons and an icon of sin amidst them...

I actually cheated a bit with that last level. I had to. Just wasn't ready for it. Maybe I'll replay it again in the future and take on the challenge in full, but for now here's a little glimpse of those bits of design that I love.

Wish I'd taken more. Earlier on. Will do next time.

Splat

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DOOM Phase

I've been a bit stuck in DOOM the last week. Maybe two weeks. I'm not sure how it all started, but it ended with me playing through the fourth episode again, followed by the Eternal DOOM megawads TNT Evolution and Plutonia... and then I somehow found out there was a sequel to the latter, which I'm playing through right now.

It's taking a while, because apparently these episodes are hella long compared to the original episodes, and this particular one seems to be way longer than the ones before it.

In the beginning I was honestly feeling a bit tired of the game and the level designs overall, wondering why I'd picked it up again, but also why I didn't feel as into it as I've been before. The first few levels just didn't have me hooked. I pondered dropping the project, but the further I go the better it gets, and recently I'm awed by the aesthetic of each new level I encounter. From looking forward to finishing the episode I've started hoping I can make it last just a little longer with each level that goes; wanting to see what type of architectural quirks they might come up with next.

It's not just in the structure of the levels themselves, but in the textures, certain additional graphics, most recently a little Commander Keen sprite dropped into a bath of fire, and little bits of trickery like I remember from the old levels. Not just the jumpscares and aggravating teleportation hordes, but the lack thereof. The anticipation. The feeling of hitting a switch and wondering if THIS is when that Cyberdemon you've been staring at for the past fifteen switches will finally come to life and shoot a barrage of rockets at you.

That and the houses of living flesh. The invisible bridges. The little details that make it all so worthwhile, and in the latter levels in particular the demonic hordes, spawned not in unison but strategically, one group of foes at a time, more similar to the open-layout levels of Serious Sam than to DOOM. And I loved that game too. It's an awesome hybrid.

Apart from the design the difficulty level is also an extensively higher one, and I've lost count of the amounts of Cyberdemons that've been on lure in these levels at this point. And the masterminds. With each one I thought it was finna be the final level. The boss fight. But no: it just keeps on going. I'm having a blast. So much so that the recent corrupted save file issue (more on that later) isn't bothering me at all right now.

Though I started this session of DOOM remniscia feeling unexpectedly tired of this particular franchise I don't feel so any longer. I'm having a blast. I want to play more. I'm looking forward to trying out Sigil, too, Romero's newest promise: a full fifth episode, albeit an unofficial one, meant to tie in to the original DOOM saga.

It's got me plotting a whole new marathon, with all the original episodes in order again, and maybe I'll catch it on video too and upload it somewhere. Been feeling like these occasional gaming sessions might feel a wee bit more useful if I do. Extra views too. No extra income because YouTube rates are crap these days, plus third-party content with the music and what-not that'd hinder proper monetization anyway, but at least it'd be out there. At least there'd be something to show for all this spent up time.

Speaking of third-party content this latest segment of my dooming sessions features a pretty fresh, dystopian; true-to-the-original-style original soundtrack too.

I've played a fair share of community WADs at this point, but this might very well be my favorite thus far. It's definitely one of them.

It feels like the series is coming to a close, though. i was thinking I'd run through the levels tonight. All of them. But I think I'll leave the last few for tomorrow instead. Something to look forward to. Something to savor. Plus the bobbing motions in these old FPS games still make me mildly nauseous after extended play. Much less with DOOM than say Wolfenstein 3D, or Duke Nukem, or Marathon, or Chasm, or pretty much any of the other ones from the same time (probably thanks to an appreciatively spacious level design with less bobby ceilings right in your viewpoint).

But anyway, what I was coming to was: after this that's it. I get lost in games all too easily, and I need to take a break from this one at least. So when Plutonia 2 is done I'm clearing out my DOOM directory and starting fresh next time I play. It's a good time as any. And a good time to get the latest versions of the mods and ports I'm using, and put them all in a directory uncluttered by a surplus of other experimental files. You forget which ones really serve a purpose. Which ones really need to be there. Sometimes you just gotta do some drastic things. Start fresh.

I know it'll be a counter-productive move until next time I get to playing the game again, but that'll be a while. I'll make sure of it. After this it's time for a long hiatus from Hell - not until the game beckons again but until I really have the time for it. You can't rush these things. The days aren't over yet. It's still a game to savor. Later.

Procrastination Bastion 2019

So I relapsed.

Earlier this week. I was looking for something to watch and I stumbled upon Black Lightning, a TV show about a black hero who fights gang crime to keep his two daughters safe. Relevant, right? Principal by day, vigilante by night.

The effects were cool, and the relations intriguing - you want to see how they evolve, but the we-made-this-to-last-as-long-as-viewers-and-budget-let-us faux pas shines through, and thus I don't want to waste my time on it. I watched the first episode and that was that.

Then I opened up DOOM and played through almost all of the fourth episode. Classic Doom. With GZ. And Brutal.

I played the rest the next day, and (I assume almost most of) TNT after that, and the rest of that the next day. Plutonia up next?

It's been a while since last time. Even though I consider myself a pretty hardcore Doomer at this point I keep running into new secrets, and committing level routes to memory. For the first time I think I didn't spend hours trying to find the exit in Wormhole - I went into the dungeons by choice, to as Metallica say: Kill 'em All. And I'm remembering that TNT was not my favorite one of the two unofficial extra episodes. It was the one with mazes and enclosed spaces and puzzles I never really figured out.

I'm still having fun with the game, but I'm also disappointed because I'm almost purposefully staying up late again, and eating snacks, and browsing through BBS BS, and posting one of these by effort redeeming posts about it again.

Despite my best intentions it seems that whenever life is going well I turn to time waste to distract myself. Maybe because I'm nervous. Maybe because I'm stressed. Maybe because I'm scared of progress. Maybe because I'm slightly depressed. Maybe because I'm just tired.

Who knows.

I'm taking extra walks, I exercise, I try to be efficient and then I play DOOM for two hours and eat a bar of chocolate. What the hell man.

I swear good things are coming fast though! I've just got to catch some cash flow. Plans supplement out that stomach: I'm gonna defrag and fraction. Life's a kneecap on traction. And like they say about Boyka: good knee, bad knee, no knee - he's still going Oni.

Oh me? Maybe I'll go play the Bungie phony and get a slow meal.

Tripping Through Doom

Tripping Through Doom

Just another day in the Doom...

The NEW DOOM - Early Impressions

So I finally played through the new DOOM a while back! Disregarding the lack of numeral appended to title - which makes the game seem to be intended as a potential replacement for the old classic with the same name which it has neither merit nor meaning to match, it was... boring, easy to get lost in, too much, and too little, with too much grind: a futuristic interface at the expense of readability, with impractical scrolling, fuzzy fonts and more. The rune challenges were both fun and annoying, and so were the other elements of the sort.

They claimed this to be a no-nonsense re-inventation, but though nostalgic elements are indeed both common and appreciated, the overall feel is far gone. It feels more like RAGE than DOOM. More like Bethesda than iD. More like the games I enjoy playing once for the visual experience, than the classics that provide no-nonsense carnage, with atmosphere and pixel perfect simplicity and simple menus for quick re-playability, rather than gargantuan scenes, overly complex futuristic aesthetics and elaborate side-story you shouldn't bother to read.

I'm past the 'boring' first impressions at this point, and knee-deep in the perpetual grind. But this is an addiction more like alcohol than good food. A little won't taste so good, but as your intake grows so will your appreciation - until you're drunk and giddy, and soon wake up with the worst hangover ever, wondering why you wasted so much time in this pit of hell? Good food: can be enjoyed instantly, as many times as you wish; over and over, and over again.

To elaborate on that simile: good food takes time to prepare, as this game very much did, but once it's done you'll want to eat it all at once, and if you really liked it you'll want to eat it again in the future. You'll savor the experience. You'll be satisfied, and maybe surprised, and feel complete with the intricate yet flawless ensemble of ingredients therein. But here... there were some odd ingredients. Something tasted a bit off. Maybe the chef forgot one of the obligatory spices. Maybe he added too much of another. It's tasty, but maybe a bit salt. One portion's enough.

It's not my distaste for the modern grind speaking, it's my distaste for (to focus on plausible reason rather than the finished product) selling (out). The modern gaming experience has shifted from innovation to surplus: better graphics, bigger sizes, more hours with each game. The ingenuity required to craft a legend seems lost with the times, but I have no doubt my later reviews on this game will be more positive, because it's easy to have an honest first impression the first time you play, but difficult to maintain the negativity if you do get hooked to something, and this seems like something it'd be easy to get hooked to... for good or bad?

A few thoughts on the main differences, and new elements in this game:

Doomguy

Good choice not giving him a voice, but chill out with the aggressive personality. Shaking fists, throwing screens at walls, etc. Sure, destroying the energy capsules make sense (as do the glory kills - they're spawn of hell after all), but I always felt the original Doomguy had a near unphasable resolve, strong-willed, quick, smart, tough and with a strong sense of justice. All good things personified, with a little bit of unearthly grit. Don't make it personal.

The background story was pretty cool, though I wouldn't mind if more of it was 'myth'.

Glory Kills

...were easier to get into than I expected, not so much gore for the sense of gore, but because they serve a purpose, and with continual use it becomes a both strategical and satisfying form of easy carnage. Beasts that'd take plenty of additional ammo to tear apart are easy to break with your hands, which does both complicate and make some encounters almost too easy, but also adds an appreciated new strategical element to the battle. And you can manage without them, if you really want to.

Weapon Upgrades

These felt like an unnecessary complication at first, but there is a sense of strategy involved, and the varied attacks are fun. Depending on what upgrades you apply you can make each round a different experience with this. Though I don't think I'd mind if they skipped them entirely, and just went with the...

Suit Upgrades

...because these were just perfect. Simplistic and rewarding. A good complement to the classic backpacks. This, kill counts and secrets would be all the 'extras' I need.

Power Upgrades

...don't look as cool as they could. I liked the old spheres better.

Rune Challenges

These would probably be better left outside the main game. Mini-challenges? Fun, but they disrupt the experience (and require re-loading the level both before and after). Could've made this one of those 'bonus' things you usually unlock when you complete the main game.

Secrets, Collectibles, Bots...

It's too much. I wish I could disable them all. Classic secrets, that'd be enough.

Arcade Mode

Haven't tried this one yet, but I like the idea! Endless variation.

New Monsters

It feels like they were made to be horrifying rather than characteristic and personal. Was the Imp fur too 'cute'? I miss the green Hell Knight plasma too. The new feels a bit generic. New additions are appreciated, and the new combat patterns feel balanced and intelligent - the AI is great, but even if the new enemies remind more of the old than some of the ones in DOOM 3 they're still not like they used to be! If this wasn't DOOM I'd love the new ones too, but I liked the old better. They had character.

There's little hope for this to change now of course, but maybe with a suitable mod we could play this with the monsters like they used to be. The new AI is great, just need a more traditional visual match to their much-improved mechanics.

The 'Documentation'

Trying to back up everything with science and fancy words makes a lot of it lose it's charm. When you embark into hell, at least, then leave out the science. It's uncharted territory; it should be new. Of course it'd make sense humans have been to hell and back before if the previous games were prequels, but this isn't DOOM 3 is it? After Hell on Earth? It seems like this ends in the right place for a reinterpretation of the second game as well, and yet parts of the documented 'myth' seem based on the earlier games. I'm not with it.

Level Builder

This thing had a name, but I just can't remember it right now... I haven't tried it yet, but I both like and don't like the idea of it. What I don't like is how it effectively replaces the extra perks people would've thrown in with their custom levels had they made them on their own, outside the game, and how this feature pretty much renders the modding community (a big portion of it, at least) unnecessary, and not only that, but also relies on official servers to keep said level archive and community alive. What I do like is of course that it lets everyone make levels, and share them easily! There seems to be a big dose of those available so far.

It's a fun feature, but still, I wish they'd made a game that was easy to hack; with which the modding community could thrive for years to come. The original's survived a long time thanks to that.

Hayden and Vega

Great characters. You never really know where you have them, and they sometimes surprise you. They definitely add something to the story.

The Multiplayer Style

Though the Single Player campaign is a big part of the game (and I really appreciate it), it feels like big parts of the game are designed with multiplayer in mind. Boss fights and arenas in particular. The original had some arenas like them, but far from all, and power-up's were often hidden away, or provided at special occasions, whereas here they're all over the place, and sometimes hidden in plain sight in one of the many nooks and crannies of highly dimensional multiplayer-like maps. I appreciate the design overall - it looks awesome, but it feels pretty different from the original too.

Anything Else?

One thing I'd have loved to see here were more segmented levels, where each one provided something new and memorable - architecture that just didn't look good, but had that special something that kept it from just becoming one more level. The boss fights were pretty unique, but all the rest of them blur together. The only big distinction is Hell and Mars.

It's not all bad. I mean: it's a great game on it's own! It's fun, just like the original, and I applaud the effort that went in to making it both easy to play, and replay, with attention to detail and mechanics, all the while keeping it true to the classic in so many ways. But is this the one game that'll replace it? Hell no. This is something else. A good something, and forget boring - I don't know how that seemed like a suitable word to reflect my early moments with the game, but...

I guess wat irks me is that they had perfection with the first game, so why didn't they use what they had to make something even better? I don't mean re-using old level designs, or keeping the graphics crisp and 1995ish, but they had a working formula. A precise balance of elements that made the game. Decades of research as to why it was such a well-received and lasting game, too. Colliding interests? Too many interests? Too different developers? Whatever the reason: it didn't turn out quite like I hoped it would, but it was still a blast to play.

TNT Credits

Has anybody posted this before? It's pretty much the same as the interactive DOOM 2 enemy credits, just with a different background texture. Just in case no, have a go...

Zombieman

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