Doom classic - Sourceports, WADs, and MODs

Those hooded figures near the end of the video, with the Baron of Hell, those are straight from Hexen, aren’t they?

Damn, I have to play Hexen again.

Yes, they are. It isn’t strange for a Doom mod to pull art assets of some of his “cousins”.

Arise!

I was thinking on doing a thread for Doom modding / sourceports, but this thread is more or less already about that, so I will re-purpose it.

Also, we wad another thread were we talked about Doom itself, here

This week I just played The Slaughter Spectrum. As the name indicates, it’s a 4-map slaughterfest wad.
They were very, very, pretty. But it’s also a bitch to move properly, you need a recent highend cpu (ie 8700k!) to do it without problem at all situations, because even modern sourceports like GZDoom aren’t multithreaded. The worst part is some areas of the first map. At least the second and third maps, which are the longest, had better performance than the first one. The fourth is a much shorter map, with an interesting gimmick.

Speaking of, GZDoom has now a Vulkan renderer in experimental phase, in my case it just crashes :(.

In any case, this mod is an intense experience, and it has some interesting parts, but it’s a slaugther map which I find a bit boring at times. You know, 90% of combat is holding the fire button with the RL, plasma or BFG. It also plays mostly with an arena design, where you reach an area, monsters spawn and area is closed, you kill them and area is opened again. No keys or interesting exploration, either.
On some occasions I had killed 350 monsters already and started being a bit tired of the map, when I noticed the monster count, being 350/750. Ouch. Difficulty is also pretty high (for me), although at least it supports all difficulty settings, I played it on the HNTR.

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After playing that, I got in the mood of more Doom, and I found Eviternity. It’s a 32-map megawad which uses a very good, cohesive texture pack, and it’s being great. Maps are small but well designed, interconnected and twisted in interesting ways. It doesn’t rushes out in putting out the biggest weapons and enemies, instead it follows a more natural, paced progression, and the difficulty is gasp normal and balanced, unlike so many wads that are too hardcore.


Still, I wanted to play it a bit more differently. I usually play this levels normally, but this time I wanted something that would spice up the gameplay itself a bit, without reaching the extremes of Russian Overkill, and would maintain normal themes and balance (so no Guncaster where you are a Wizard Dragon or Neutronian Chaos with MSPaint style either).

In the end it was recommended to me Final Doomer, which is a very well done collection of weapons. Five collections of weapons, to be more exact. They maintain some basic standards (pistol / shotgun / mg / RL…) but each set has it’s own interesting spin, like one where you have a bow that paralyzes enemies, or the super shotgun has a very reduced range and the normal shotgun fire energy projectiles that can bounce projectiles. The design, sounds, animations, it’s all pretty pro.

I also got a list of misc. mods to improve the experience. They are:


Doom HQ music
Droplets (better blood, without being an exaggerated gore mod)
Doom HQ Sfx
Smooth Doom (smoother animations)
Faithful Doom + Neural Upscale (well, I have FDoom turned off right now, it has some incompatibility with Final Doomer)

edit

Final Doomer has an imcompatibility with both Faithful Doom and Smooth Doom, so as replacement of the latter I’m using Beautiful Doom, which is somewhat similar.edit: Beautiful Doom has a BIG impact on performance, so I don’t recommend it, as least not for the big maps.

Final Doomer gives newer collection of weapons, ok. But, what about the monsters? In some wads I played over the years, I’ve seen maps with Heretic enemies (oh hell, even Duke3d enemies), or with recolored enemies like ‘shadow imps’, or with some slight variations, so I was thinking, it would be cool if there was a way to put new enemies in any map, automatically. And if possible, in a way that preserve the original aesthetics and design balance.

I started searching for mods that do that. There are thousands of Doom mods, so I was sure this was a solved problem! This was what I found:

Shades of Doom. This is a nice mod with tons of variations, but it’s only a cosmetic mod, it doesn’t change anything of the gameplay.
Colorful Hell is a mod that adds color-coded version of enemies, each color more and more powerful than the last. Ugly, imo.
The famous DoomRL Arsenal mod has its own monster pack that can be used individually, although I found that the new monsters are rare and only appear more on higher difficulties.
LegenDoom adds random legendary monsters, tougher than usual and that drops a legendary weapon.
Champions adds colored elite versions with new abilities.
Complex Doom is a bit like the previous two, but with real new monsters instead of colored skins. Each monster type has 3-4 tougher variations, and they drop new usable items/powerups. Weapons are also redone.

There are also bigger mods like Aeons of Death, which puts lots of new enemies of tons of games, but it also has more stuff like spells and new weapons and they can’t be turned off, and in general it seems it screws over the balance a lot.

Finally, I discovered Super Shuffle, which is much closer to what I wanted in the first place. It’s a collection of new enemies, mostly lifted of other mods or taken from the beastiary, but it mostly keeps the theme (no cartoon characters or strange shit), and the original balance (although not totally). It also has new items and a series of ‘classes’ (7 new weapon sets), like Final Doomer, although they don’t seem as good as some of the ones in FD. In any case one of the classes is the original Doom, so you can play with that if you don’t want new weapons.

No love for the Doom Visor mod? After looking at the same HUD for 25 years I thought it was a nice change of pace. Very well done and loaded with customization options.

This is probably going to sound snotty but I truly don’t mean it that way at all, but… Why? I’m totally curious what the draw is for playing new stuff in the old Doom engine. I loved Doom back in the day but I don’t have any desire to go back, seeing those videos.

That’s NOT me being judgemental, that’s just me not understanding so asking for some insight from people that this is a draw for. :) From the development point of view I can understand the technical challenge of trying to push an engine so old to do crazy things, it was just the playing it part I was curious about.

This?



It looks ugly as hell! in fact, it’s the opposite of how I play, usually, with as little hud as possible:

Well, if you gotta ask, you didn’t love it as much as other people, then :)

It isn’t about technical challenge, it’s because it’s fun to play? The reason people usually play games, you know. :P

Yes! It looks great! I turn off some of the stuff that’s on by default, but it’s really well done. There’s even a feature where if you look into a light in a certain way you can see a hint of your face’s reflection in the visor. Since Doom isn’t exactly photo-realistic, I think that kind of stylized HUD is a fantastic option; especially since the Doom marine does actually wear a big helmet.

Apart from the nostalgia, Doom is still the pinnacle of this kind of FPS game in my opinion.

I finished Doom’s mod/megaWad Eviternity/. In a shocking turn of events (not really), it was an excellent megaWad to play. Thanks to being divided in six chapters, it has tons of level variety. Each one has a theme, from the stone & moss medieval feel, to a refined techbase, to water themed levels, winter levels and of course, Hell levels and Heaven levels.
Most of the levels are actually kind of… compact? (in comparison with how crazy Doom wads can be now), with pieces than open up slowly and known locations connect in unexpected ways. There are some exceptions, there are a few levels that are more sprawling and crazy, and they serve as a nice change of pace. The difficulty level is well balanced, HMP feels as it should, UV is for veterans, etc, it doesn’t go crazy with the difficulty like other doom mappers. Something I liked of the mod is a well balanced use of the enemies, without abuse of the tougher monsters (in fact in some of the coolest levels the low-mid level monsters are the star of the show). There are times where they will throw you 20 barons and 20 reveneants but they feel appropriately as ‘peaks between valleys’, in the overall enemy distribution. Speaking of enemies, it also has a few extra enemies, like a cacodemon that can move with bursts of speed and fire extra fireballs, a metallic Baron with both heavy machine gun and rocket launcher that fees like a mini Cyberdemon or a new version of the pinkies, with extra speed and hp.
Graphically, it uses its own pack of new textures that gives it a colder tone, and a smoother, slightly more painterly look (it reminds me a bit to BTSX), and the performance overall is good except in two specific levels (where is clearly so different than the rest of the megaWAD that I wonder how they didn’t fix it).

But there’s more. I played it with Final Doomer weapon pack. I liked this mod a lot, it has 5 new weapon loadouts, and unlike other weapon mods, I feel they are worth playing with because they have both a new identity (instead of being just skinned versions of the vanilla weapons) with different balance, ammo limits, etc, while still maintaining a consistent internal balance, and enough polish and good production values. It’s ideal to play with Eviternity as you can use a weapon pack per episode. Here it’s a reviewe:

PLUTONIA
Power Saw,Melee,Revolver,Scoped Shotgun,Super Shotgun,Machinegun,Grenade Launcher,Heavy Machinegun,Quantum Accelerator

Perhaps one of the most conventional loadouts, the changes are small here. The SS has more pellets than vanilla but it’s more inaccurate than usual, the HMG is a beast that replaces the plasma gun but it will lose accuracy after a pair of seconds of continued fire, and finally the Grenade Launcher is the star of the show, it’s a RL whose projectile flies like a rocket but bounces and falls like a grenade once it hits something that isn’t an enemy (like a wall), and it has a bigger than usual AoE. Very nice against big groups of enemies and you can bounce it around walls. For the rest, it’s a pretty traditional loadout, feeling a bit samey in how it has two machineguns.

EVILUTION
Halderman Device,Melee,Prototype Pistol,Tactical Shotgun,Burst Shotgun,Dual Machine Pistols,Missile Launcher,Maser,Incursion Annihilator

A nice balance between familiarity and some originality. The chainsaw is replaced but an utility device, it has three modes, in each you hold the fire button to gain an effect: hazard protection, light mode and defense mode (you seem to receive 3-4 times less damage than usual). The SS is replaced by a delicious auto shotgun with 4-round cartridges, the chaingun is replaced with akimbo uzis which have worse range but higher RoF and slighter higher DPS, the missile launcher has a nice RoF but it can be hard to aim because the rockets has a delay fuse to activate (like a RL javelin), the Maser is a very similar to PG but with a continuous beam with instant travel, and finally the BFG replacement stands out to have a much much shorter range than normal but it can fire in ‘auto’ mode, cleaning up hordes like there is no tomorrow.
This loadout is pretty good thanks to the weapon feel, the mainstay weapons like the auto shotgun and the uzis feel very nice, and even they are traditional FPS weapons, they are a good novelty in Doom.

ANCIENT ALIENS
Stasis Bow,Melee,Ancient Pistol,Ancient Shotgun,Hybrid Shotgun,Ancient AK,Photon Scepter,Alien Elite Weapon,Illuminator

Even more originality with the theme of alien weapons here. Again the chainsaw replacement is pretty new, it’s a energy bow that paralyzes enemies for two seconds. Nice against big enemies to give you a bit of breathing room, and even using them as cover. The theme on most human weapons (pistol, shotgun, AR) are being old and rusty, leftover weapons you could find. The SS is a monstrosity of hybrid alien weapon that shots pellets in a wide horizontal line (so less damage against individual enemies unless you are super close, but can hit 3 enemies together).The RL is replaced by the Photon Scepter, an alien weapon that shoots waves of light with a trick: they start being less damaging than the normal RL but will do more damage (up to a cap?) the farther they travel, and it doesn’t cause damage to the player. he PG is a weird tentacled thing that starts firing projectiles in diagonal until it transform into a continuous rainbow ray of death, and the BFG needs more time to power up and consumes a good amount of ammo… in exchange of delivering a stream of death instead of a single explosion burst.

JAPANESE COMMUNITY PROJECT
NRG Katana,Katana,Silenced Pistol,Neutron Pulser,Neutron Cascader,Burst Needler,Prism Cannon,Ofuda Caster,Onmyou Devastator

Weeabo edition. The katana can be used in normal meele weapon mode, or in sheathed mode, where each strike as it comes from the sheath does a high amount of damage (and in theory it’s also a stealth weapon and won’t warn monsters). Both shotguns are very nice, with a distinctive feeling, and gameplay wise they fire an energy projectile, so they aren’t hitscan weapons like normal shotguns but in exchange you can snipe more with them, as the projectiles will travel indefinitely. The MG is replaced by the Needler, with one of the key weapons of this loadout. Any hit of this weapon causes a speed and damage vulnerability debuff to the enemies (around 33% to both?) so you will use it a lot in combination with other weapons. In addition it fires first a burst, pauses, and then continues in auto mode, so it has a distinctive feel in combat too. The Prism cannon is a RL that shoots balls of sacred light, upon impact the light ball stays doing DoT for a while, which opens up new ways of using the weapon. They also don’t damage the player, but light ball blinds them, with is a good twist on giving different pros and cons to the weapons, and the PG instakills enemies at 30% of less HP so it’s excellent to finish up tough monsters.

BACK TO SATURN X
NanoCore,Power Fist,Charge Pistol,Arc Blaster,Machreaper,Pulse Rifle,Pulse Cannon,Plasma Vulcan,X-Spark Cannon

One of my favorite loadouts, combining great weapon feel with new mechanics. It starts with a Power Fist with good damage that can be charged up (for every more damage) as melee replacement. The Nanocore is a very special gadget, you use it (only once per map!) and it will boost your weapons (more damage, in some weapons with extra effects) for the rest of the level UNTIL you lose a % of your current HP. The pistol shot can be charge up for extra damage, the shotgun is a energy weapon similar to the JCP version but it also bounce off walls if it doesn’t hit anyone and there are enemies close by, the SS is an impressive boomstick in sound and animation but the range is super short. The pulse rifle is an auto weapon where the first shot does x3 damage (only once every 30 seconds) and has a very sexy bolt action animation, and PG is a energy minigun which needs a spinup to start firing and the BFG leaves a sparkly damage field and does stupids amount of damage but only has 3 charges.

TurinTur, have you ever checked out AMC TC? It’s an outrageously ambitious Duke 3D total conversion that completely overhauls the game to create a multi-episode campaign featuring a large roster of characters with unique abilities and missions. It’s basically a tribute to all things Build engine. ICARUSLIV3S posted about it on his channel today:

I tried past year. But a combination of issues with the engine used, the controls and the obtuse base-hub made me forget about it.

Doom fans will celebrate the release of SIGIL, but to be honest, it looks like it was done in 1993-1994, both technologically, artistically, and design-wise. If it wasn’t done by Romero, it wouldn’t hold the player’s attention.
There are so many polished and advanced modern free WADs that is hard to justify to pay for it. Just yesterday I was checking out quickly (in god mod and noclipping) Hurt, it looks like this:

Imgur
Imgur

That AMC Duke mod is beyond off-the-charts.

My retro Doom streak continues, surprisingly. This time, with Golden Souls 2, winner of a Cacoward in 2018. For those not in the know, it’s Doom mod with some inspiration from Nintendo titles. In practical terms, graphically it means there are some bright light and colored maps, in green pastures and beautiful lakes and all that. Gameplay wise the changes are even more important, it goes from being a shooter, to being a shooter/platform/adventure game. Expect lots of jumps, lots of exploration, levels where the exit is kind of hidden, and some puzzles (and even some interesting collecthaton aspects), all in addition played in a SMB3 inspired hub.

At first it was just ‘eh’, but after the first two levels the experience improves as you visit cooler places and the level design is more involved and the experience is more different than Classical doom. There are pyramids full of traps, scenarios with an Arabian flair, underwater grottos, cliffs played on sunset, beaches of white sand, haunted houses, desert areas with Western theme, sunken ships, snowy landscapes, and a long etc. Really, there are a lot of underwater parts but don’t worry, you hold your breath indefinitely.
This is one of the most ambitious mods I ever played, both in length (near 50 maps?!) and variety (8 areas each with a different theme, I think), to truly new enemies and not only reskins, and novelty gameplay mechanics, form a Doom mod. Visiting mirror worlds, having to fly over lava, changing the water level with switches, maps that play around portals heavily, switches that alternate that doors are open in the entire map, moving spikey columns, traps, slippery ice levels, panels that have to be triggered by bouncing shots, etc.

When I first started playing I thought ‘oh I’m going to rebind quicksave to Q or some other nearby key’ with all the jumps over death cliffs you have to make, but after a while you get on the groove and get better on the platforming, even if the movement is slippery as always. I mean, you still have to quicksave a bunch, but not as much as it seemed at first.

Finally, as you play you collect coins that are used in different shops to buy health, armor, and ammo, and even potions if you are good enough to discover some secret paths. You can even get weapon upgrades with special hidden coins. on that regard, I would like to have the ability to buy big coins in exchange of 1000 normal coins, that way you make a money sink and you help the player in getting upgrades he is only short of 2-3 big coins.
One curious thing is that you can leave a level, go to the shop and buy stuff, and then go back to the level and resume it on the same state it was. You can ‘optimize’ your run a bit, even, going back a completed level where you know you left a ton of rocket ammo (because the game gave it to you to fight a boss) to take it back. This may sound silly to some, but I really like this feature where if you do it well, nothing is wasted, I went back to ‘finished’ levels to get a few hearts and some ammo several times. Maybe I have some undiagnosed OCD lol

The game can be pretty tricky, in a few occasions in an almost unfair way. For example in one level I was stuck, so had to watch a YT playthrough and learn that way that some maps can have MORE THAN ONE EXIT (each one unlocking a different path in the hub). And once you go past the first 15-17 maps, their complexity increases and sometimes the mod goes a lil’ too far in using switches without absolutely no clue of what it activated.

I have no idea of speedrunning, but I find the videos of this guy fascinating. Soothing voice, detailed narration, interesting details.