SUBMISSION DETAILS:

MAP19 - Bedlam
Alfonzo
Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?6j7zcw4e0811l7b
Playable on: MAP19
DESCRIPTION:

A sandybox creation loosely based on the idea of a city center collapsing into the maw of Hell, the exposed walls of earth crushing the city and forging a cruicible of combat. It's a largely underground affair featuring large, blocky buildings and isolated concepts.

There Will Be Mancubi.

Comments:
zodiac wrote on 06-Mar-2013 (07:10)

Great job with the layout, the setting is compelling and the room layouts for the tricks and traps are excellent.  That said, the difficulty is WAY overbalanced.

The main problem isn't the monsters themselves, but how little health and ammo there is on the map - especially uncharacteristic of a Sandy exploration map.  To draw direct comparisons, Maps 13, 19, 24, and 28 all have at least double the easily accessible health and more ammo along outdoors/open paths.

A lot of this comes from the combination of open layout and narrow spaces - you have a lot of directions but little room to dodge or flee if you make a mistake.  Combine this with sparing health, and a mistake is often a death sentence.

Petersen did sometimes do this, Tricks and Traps in particular, but the key difference is map size.  Here it can take a lot more work to recover if you're doing well and die to a surprise trap.  Tricks and Traps cleverly makes all the choices available right away, so you can pick wrong, die, and try again very quickly.  I'm guilty of this myself in Slaughterhouse, which from tester feedback is why everyone hated the crusher and a few of the other traps there.

All in all, a great effort, and nothing a bit of tweaking can't fix.

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(really) Detailed Commentary:

+ The southeast "rise from the slime" room is a great Sandy-like trap, but the hitscanners ruin it.  Just waiting for the platform to rise and get out I'd lose 60+ health with no armor, which is tense but workable with the medkit.  With the hitscanners, though, the two natural urges fail -- run for the megaarmor and die to shotgun blasts, or grab the other two medkits and dodge the mancubus right into a chaingunner line of fire.

+ The lost souls tend to be problems in Chocolate Doom or any vanilla port, in that they fly so high you can't see them, but they still block jumps or just hit you.  This really sucks if it knocks you into the damage floor separating the buildings.  It would also be a more Sandy-like design to gate some of the souls and Cacos so they don't hear you from pretty much anywhere - ducking into a lot of the buildings will leave a mass of flyers outside of it.  I like how they provide the element of surprise, I just think it's not always fair (got the yellow key, made a break for the berserk, and was blocked across the width of the alley by two cacos with more behind me, and not much room to dodge on the tiny ledges).

+ No room to dodge is a related issue.  As hinted above, if the ledges were just a bit wider a lot of the traps would be manageable.  Likewise, the light-up steps at the end (which I *LOVED* as a concept) are extremely tough with the revenants, because you can't see past the next step, while the path takes an odd turn and the platforms don't give room to dodge fireballs.  So "run fast" doesn't really work like in Map 24, but "dodge and kill" is really tough.  You can fire a few shots, jump off the platforms to dodge, blunder in the dark a bit, and repeat, but that's not really a fun way to do it.  Having rockets or BFG out would help, but I had neither out because their ammo was scarce and the preponderance of lost souls and close encounters made me wary to use rockets.

+ I really liked the SSG courtyard as a fun place to fight - waiting there for the lost souls and cacos made the kind of running battle I associate with Sandy's open maps, and the cell secret on that route was a brilliant use of the 30 second trigger.  I'd say a bit more "stock" here would help -maybe a medkit and another box of shells and you'd be good to use it as a base camp for the level.

+ The route to the yellow key is fun areas but raising the little curved wall from the slime is really a signature Romero trick (Map11, Map29, E1M5, E4M2).

+ The yellow key route is really an example of where things come to head.  Since it's right in front of you, it seems as a good place as any to try first.  You'll need an average of 32 shells to kill everything in your way, and there are 48 total (including Sarges).  The problem is that at least one Caco and two of the lost souls will navigate to you, and you need to kill the 3 extra sarges across the alley.  If that weren't tight enough, grabbing the key causes way more spawns than the shell box/SSG will net you if you're coming down that route for the first time, and with a total of 35 health through the ordeal including the spawns.

+ The mancubus/hell knight gauntlet to the automap and the nearby secret were just perfect.

+ Special demerit for Chaingunner 372, who will be taking an extended leave of absence ;).  He once saw me as I looped to get the chaingun outside, then stayed active and killed me in the courtyard from halfway across the map.  I had just beat the yellow key ambush and couldn't even see him! (must have been right on top of the RL.

Pavera wrote on 05-Mar-2013 (14:22)

I wasn't originally sold on the underground look of the map before it had been textured, but I think you've officially convinced me. Great work!