Phobia: The Age - Kristus

Last year, high Tech Hell 2 was released, which was, for me, one of the first wads to really show just how Legacy could be used to produce a mod of incredibly high quality.  It exhibited excellent USE of 3D floors and scripting in a port that sees few releases.  Phobia: The Age takes one final element, GL lighting, and makes it work right.  Kristus uses these 3 elements (scripting, 3D floors, and custom lighting) to create a magnificent and breathtaking experience for Doom.

From the very start of Phobia: The Age, you know you are in for a thrilling experience.  Standing on a wooden dock overlooking a large lava sea, you seen an enormous, ornate castle in front of you adorned by tremendous statues holding outstretched torches with glowing bulbs.  You chose your difficulty based on gameplay style, thinking or doing, and the gameplay changes depending on your choice.  There isn't a single piece of this wad that isn't legendary quality when it comes to the design.   Castles with marble hallways that reflect a slightly modified version on the floor, puzzle elements that change your surroundings, and new artwork and sprites which create a seamless world.  Every year, there are released maps for Doom that I play and are immediate inductees into the Hall of Fame, and Phobia: The Age was one of them.

Foreverhood v1.0 - Skadoomer

Foreverhood almost doesn't belong on this list; it is as much Doom as Strife or Heretic are.  The only thing validating Foreverhood for the Cacowards is the requirement that it needs Doom 2 and ZDoom to run.  Other than that, there is no Doom remaining in Foreverhood.

This year, a strange theme permeated the releases, strange worlds that exist in a dream-like state.  Oniria, Phocas Island 2, and Phobia: The Age all create environments meant to make the player believe they are in a fantasy world; a place that does not exist on earth, but in a fantasy novel or a dream.   However, no project released has captured that feeling quite like Foreverhood has.   Every single piece of the world was hand crafted by Skadoomer to fill his imaginary world and make it believable.  Hopping squid creatures, eyeless floating skulls, and 4 armed oracles inhabit this world and make you believe this is somewhere other than the Hangar. 

The architecture also conveys the same feeling.  Without 3d floors, skadoomer has crafted enormous mushrooms which rise from the ground, overgrown bogs with rotting trees and vines, and cliff faces which rise thousands of feet over a void.  Your actions in Foreverhood decide whether you will be fighting for good or evil, and your powers change accordingly.  If you have not played Foreverhood, you are really missing out on a great experience.  And for the rest of us, we will stay tuned for the next installment.

Classic Episode 2: Singularity Complex - Jan Van der Veken

The community has troubles agreeing on just about anything, but it is almost a unanimous consensus that Episode 1 is one of the best sets of maps for the original games.   Perhaps this is why so many create their own homage to this episode, or try to remake it in their own vision; Phobos Revisited comes to mind, as well as the anticipated Knee Deep in ZDoom.  Jan Van der Veken, author of Classic Episode 1, has released what must be the sequel, Classic Episode 2: Singularity Complex, an episode 1 replacement in the same style.

Besides Episode 1, which everyone seems to enjoy, Classic Episode 2 also features hub based gameplay; you will find yourself returning to the hub map after each level.  Much like Equinox and other maps of the same type, your return to the hub is changed slightly with each incarnation, making it familiar, yet still a new experience.  I believe that mix of familiarity and unexpected is why so many enjoy this style of gameplay.  The maps themselves are very nice, as to be expected from the author, and are compatible with limit removing and are several notches above the quality of the original Episode 1.  Classic Episode 2: Singularity Complex is one of this years "Don't miss" projects.

Crucified Dreams - Various Artists

What do you say about a deathmatch set that has been in development for over 8 years?  What can I say about Crucified Dreams that hasn't already been said?  The community has been following this release since the last millennium and, like so many other projects of the same infamy, was likely worried a release was never due.  Fortunately, the project has seen the light of day, and the community cheered the release.

Of course, one needs to be skeptical of a released project with such a staggering length of development time.  Will the work be representative of current standards, or will levels feel archaic and out of touch with the expectations of maps of the last few years?  Fortunately, before release, the project leader, Derek "Afterglow" MacDonald, went through and painstakingly modified levels, adding detail and playtesting to ensure they would meet the quality standards of the community today.  Crucified Dreams can be described as the culmination of the Gothic series, taking the elements, designs and textures from them and creating what is, arguably, the best Gothic-themed deathmatch set created for Doom.

Did I also mention the title image is beautiful?

2006 Cacowards

Page 1

  • Phocas Island 2
  • IC2005
  • Hellcore v2.0

Page 2

  • Newdoom Community Map Project
  • Operation Overlord
  • Vae Victus 2

Page 3

  • Phobia: The Age
  • Foreverhood v1.0
  • Classic Episode 2: Singularity Complex
  • Crucified Dreams

Other Awards

  • Best DM
  • Worst
  • Mordeth Award
  • Mockaward
  • Mapper of the Year




Zen Dynamics

Each year a number of levels are cut from the list.  Oniria and Zen Dynamics, despite being omitted, are two terrific levels any self respecting Doomer shouldn't miss.  Oniria takes you through a hybrid of Void and Happy Time Circus, while Zen Dynamics may be the first wad to incorporate the new ZDoom weapon functionality into a real project.  (In all honesty, isn't mentioning them here technically not omitting them?)

The 13th Annual Cacowards was written by Scuba Steve.