Vanilla is the flavor of the month!

Well actually, if you want to get technical, it has been for the past couple of months :P

I thought it was about time for another “post some map screenshots” post. This time I’m going to show off some shots from my contributions to the recently announced vanilla megawad Back to Saturn X. A few months ago I was approached by essel asking me if I would like to participate in a vanilla megawad project using an entirely new texture set that he had made. Before that I was well aware of how awesome his texture skills were. There was even a point were I was considering using them in Supplice because of how closely they fit with the visuals I was shooting for. I had a bunch of other previous obligations…so, naturally, I agreed! :P

At the time most of the other team members were all working on techbase themed maps, so I decided to go the gothic route. I thought I might be burned out on doing a gothic map because right before joining the project I was working on Vela Pax MAP04. MAP04, titled “Faxanadu” is going to be a city-style gothic map of sorts. Anywho, I went ahead and started on the map thinking that it wouldn’t be such a big deal seeing as how vanilla’s limitations would keep me from making the map too gargantuan. I ended up eating those thoughts.

So this first map your looking at above is called “Unstable Journey”. It is a very non-linear, large, and exploration-friendly gothic map with lots of tough fights and more paced gameplay in-between those. More than likely it will be near the end of the map rotation in the second episode. I’ve had people compare it to some of my Vela Pax work (in a good way, I think), so if you liked the Vela Pax beta maps then you should like this! It’s not quite as big as the offerings in Vela Pax though, but it will likely take you an hour~ish to finish on your first playthrough. I tried to keep the overall gameplay pretty paced, but it is kind of hard too. I drew lots of inspiration for this map from Quake’s gothic themes and Doom’s hell/gothic themes. Overall I’m pleased with how it came out in the end and hopefully it’ll provide some fun demon slaughtering for you folks :D

Shortly after finishing up Unstable Journey, I started contemplating my second submission. I had some ideas but I needed a good layout. So I sat down one day with paper and pencil and started drawing. This is what my noggin’ cobbled together after about 30 minutes. Afterwards I took my paper concept and got some lines laid down in Doom Builder…and a few hours later, I had a nice, bare layout to work on! About a month later, this is what became of that initial concept.

This second map is called “Gold Star for Robot Boy” (maybe essel will give an explanation behind the map names later on, heh). I just finished it up a few days ago actually, and it is still undergoing testing. It is directly inspired by a Doom 64 map called “Cat and Mouse”, at least as far as the gameplay mechanics are concerned. If you haven’t played Doom 64 or “Cat and Mouse” before, here’s the scoop – At the beginning of Cat and Mouse, you come face-to-face with a Cyberdemon at the start. The entire map is a small maze and the whole time you have to keep clear of the Cyberdemon. The Cyber will teleport around at certain places too, making for some really interesting encounters. So if you haven’t figured it out by now, the Cyber is the “cat” and you are the “mouse” :O . On the whole the map is pretty simple, but the gameplay concept is one that has stuck with me ever since the first time I played it. I have wanted to do a Cat and Mouse inspired map for a long time now, and I figured this project presented the perfect opportunity.

However this map isn’t a straight gameplay copy of Cat and Mouse. The beginning starts you off with a number of Cyberdemons (depending on which difficult you play on). They do teleport around too, and it can create for some great “oh shiii–!” moments. The initial map starts off pretty small but is very interconnected with some height variation. Once you activate some switches/find a key, the map opens up to about double size and the pace gets increasingly more frantic from that point on. It’s a pretty chaotic and difficult map, but it will be taking up a slot in Episode 3 so I think that is appropriate. This was the first time I’ve made a map with this sort of gameplay, so it’s taking a little extra effort on my part to get it to play well. Watching demos of the testers going through it has been infinitely entertaining (and informative!), so I can’t wait to see what the community does with it!

I think the one thing I really about how this map came out is the contrast between the textures and colors. Episode 3 is supposed to be sort of an odd, displaced world where themes are a bit more erratic or mixed up. I went with a gold/black, techbase/gothic theme and the contrasts between those colors and the purple mechanical sky are really neat.

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few months as far as Doom mapping is concerned. No Vela Pax, no Supplice, no TSoZD…that’s about it. When I started I figured it wouldn’t take this long. But even though it has taken longer than I anticipated, I have had a ball doing vanilla mapping. And most of all it has been a huge learning experience, both in terms of learning vanilla Doom’s ins-n-outs as well as how to adapt my mapping style to a more limited environment. It’s one of those situations where the limitations breed more creativity…and personally, I think a limited environment can bring forth some of the best stuff ever made (Suspending in Dusk? Back to Basics?). At the same time though, VPOs and HOMs from over-flowing segs can be one of the most frustrating things ever as far as detail and room construction goes. I still had fun though :P

I may or may not do a third contribution (preferably an Episode 1 techbase of some sort). It really all depends on how much time I have. If not though, I hope you guys enjoy my work that does make it in :) . Also be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more Back to Saturn X updates! The texture set has created some amazing scenes and maps, and the rest of the talent on board just brings this whole project to another level. I’m confident people will really enjoy this one :D

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