Best Gameplay Mod

DoomRL Arsenal - Yholl et al.

DoomRL Arsenal 2015 didn't have as many standout gameplay mods as previous years, which made this a bit of a tough decision. A good chunk of people were making proof-of-concept stuff, there's another crowd updating and polishing their existing mods, and of course there's the group that tie their gameplay with mapsets rather than standalone stuff.

That's not to say there wasn't damn fine work out there! I'm a fan of Colourful Hell, which is unique as a gameplay mod exclusive to enemies that doesn't mess with weapons. Some colleagues have been singing praises of Trailblazer, another PillowBlaster mod with all of the bullet points that entails. But...it's not like the stuff of yesteryear are barred off after the New Year Baby plops in to wreck house.

Which brings in our current champion's power hour: DoomRL Arsenal, which has been in development since 2013 and even got a little mention in a sidebar last year. At its start, DRLA simply took the weapons, weapon mods, and gameplay mechanics from Kornel Kisielewicz's Doom Roguelike and ported it to Doom. Well, I say "simply", but that shit ain't exactly whistlin' Dixie. Despite the monumental scale of the task, Yholl and his comrades went into it with gusto and crazy Australian ingenuity. Along the way it grew, and two years of development later the mod has turned into a true behemoth.

DoomRL Arsenal at first seems like a simple randomizer; it replaces every single weapon and item with a chance to spawn the typical stuff or rarer, stronger variations. However, the biggest draw is how it expands on the joy of finding a simple weapon pickup. For many years, Doomers were content to wade through a megawad and be pleased with opening a doorway to find a Super Shotgun. With this, however, weapons aren't simply weapons--they're blank canvases.

Every weapon you grab can be modded in a variety of different ways with different modpacks you find throughout the mapset of choice, increasing its stats/abilities and tweaking how it behaves in combat. Do you want the Super Shotgun to do MORE damage? Yeah, DRLA will let you do that. Or, if you slap on the right combination of mods, the weapon may turn into an even bigger beast, more impressive than before.

Armor behaves similarly, capable of being modded, salvaged, reinforced, discarded, etc., and you'll end up far more attached to your slabs of blue megaarmoranium than you would normally. Unfortunately, you can only carry so many mods, armors, and weapons at a time, so the player will need to make tough decisions about what weapon should get what mods, and whether to risk investing in one if something better might pop up later.

The end result is gameplay that spreads itself wide in a variety of ways, covering a ton of different niches and satisfying just about all of them nicely. It gives the player more to work towards than the BFG9000, far more to be concerned with than managing ammo for it, and FAR more ways to play a single mapset over and over... and over... and over.

For folks looking for a bit more of a roguelike bent to their Doom experience... well, come on. It's right there in the name. Doom Roguelike Arsenal. It ain't just for show, mates. Even for non-roguelike fanatics, though, it simply can't be suggested enough. It's a damned good experience all around, with fun gameplay, a whole ton of content, and a staggering amount of replayability. Give it a run; you won't regret it.


Mordeth Award - Surprise! Released project with the longest "development time"

ChaosCore CTF - RoSKing et al.

Mordeth Award ChaosCore CTF ...we meet again. Hoo boy, where to begin? I don't even know. The alpha versions were actually called "ChaosCore 2", but the original was never officially released, and the final (quote unquote, heh) product cannibalizes a few of its maps without referencing the numbering. This puts the project as far back as 2009, which is the date of my ccorectfmp1a.wad, but probably even further. Goddamit, these layouts are ancient! And as I mentioned, this isn't even the final version, and there are still 20 maps in various state of completion to haunt us for years to come.

Three words: law of diminishing. Uh, returns. Like a hurricane. Some of the maps have been very much ready for a long time, but Ros and co. couldn't kick their progeny out of the door. There was always a health pack to be moved to a more optimaler position, followed by weeks of gathering players for testing. Visual improvements unceasing. Not only have these maps gained less and less from the waiting, but some have *IMO* degraded because of questionable decisions. I want to kick in the nuts whoever animated the sky in map01. I find the reskin of GhoulSlayer's ancient ZDE map visually too busy. Some others have improved dramatically in visuals, but I found the older simpler look more appropriate. Stop changing what I already liked, FFS!

There is a lesson along the lines "we rather endlessly tweak what we're already content with rather than go back to the screwed up child we don't know what to do with, so we just keep it chained in the cellar". We've all been there. I just don't think we needed all that water splashing and computer beeping. Most DM mapping has evolved around the idea of producing shit quickly, then throwing it at the wall and taking notes of what sticks. Polishing all of the submissions results in a lot of visually striking maps, but a large chunk of them will still be throwaway experiments. Chasing perfection is a romantic but rather naive notion, and CTF folks should know that after the curious case of SmartCTF. ChaosCore may not be the oldest project around this year (hi, Skulldash!), but it perfectly fits this category in spirit.


P.S.: Yes, I am fully aware of the irony and my hypocrisy, considering my participation in BtSX.

Mockaward - Best comedy wad of the year

-Scuba Steve

Mapper of the Year

Daniel "dannebubinga" Jakobsson

Daniel "dannebubinga" Jakobsson I saw some speculation that people who had won Mapper of the Year were somehow barred from doing so again. That's because two past MOTY winners partook in two MONSTER releases, leaving us with the difficult decision of whether either was deserving of re-celebration. Thankfully, though, there were three strong candidates that stood out thanks to said releases. Even so, while it's easy to pick ten of the best mapsets in a year, highlighting just one person is a task I did not relish. My initial pick was Ribbiks, and I managed to cast doubt on Alfonzo's aspirations of a second golden marine on Skillsaw's mantle. But...

Mapper of the Year has become something we use to laud authors who have shown some sort of personal growth. In pursuing their dynamism, they strengthen the lifeblood of the community, proving again that new things are still possible some twenty years down the line. In this case, I am very happy to see dannebubinga break free from the shackles of Sunder, insofar as many of the levels in Sunlust show him taking lessons learned from insane_gazebo and iterated upon in the Combat Shock series and then applied on a smaller, more intimate scale. The end result reveals the depths of his knowledge of the kinetics of Doom, previously buried under the mega-organism slaughter gameplay that has dominated his body of work and which he reminds you of with staccato force.

My danne watershed moment came in "Proxyon", on a staircase with a 90 degree turn which has imps and spectres teleporting in from the top and bottom with an outer edge of mancubuses primed for sniper fire. It's a complex encounter, requiring you to juggle rocket fire between three different fronts, and while it may not have the customary flash that I'm used to seeing with Ribbiks, the dance is just as delicate. I know that danne is capable of working on a smaller scale, as evinced in his DANNE1 episode, but his own consideration of this work left me with the impression that he was, well, bored if it wasn't his now characteristic battlefields wrought from sinister macrotecture. Sunlust has all of that, of course, but there's also a sort of high skill ceiling gameplay that I could never pidgeonhole as slaughter, delivered with a zest that shows his undying enthusiasm for Doom. Plus, he was apparently on board with the big puzzle build-up of "God Machine" that I loved so much.

I could never completely eschew the notion that the MOTY recipient list from prior years was a factor in the final decision, but dannebubinga's work makes him more than worthy of the crown regardless. Thank you, Daniel, for all that and more; here's looking forward to Combat Shock 3.


2015 Cacowards

Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement

Top Ten - Page 1

  • Sunlust
  • Erkattäññe
  • Skulldash

Top Ten - Page 2

  • Swift Death
  • Breach
  • Valiant

Top Ten - Page 3

  • 50 Shades of Graytall
  • Sheer Poison
  • dead.wire
  • Return to Hadron

Multiplayer Awards

  • Don't Be A Bitch Remastered
  • ChaosCore CTF

Other Awards

  • Best Gameplay Mod
  • Mordeth Award
  • Mockaward
  • Mapper of the Year


Did You Know...

December 10th marked the 22 year anniversary of DOOM?

Did You Know...

January 4th marked the 1-year anniversary of Urban Brawl: Dead of Winter?

Did You Know...

Mordeth and Millennium were still not released in 2015 despite over seventeen years of development?

Strife? You bet!

Late last year (a mere two days after the last 'Wards), Night Dive Studios surprised us by releasing Strife: Veteran Edition, an updated version of the game developed by none other than community staples James "Quasar" Haley and Samuel "Kaiser" Villarreal.

The pedigree shows; not only does the game sport a modern rendering engine that adds enhanced lighting features in a way that works well with the game's art style, but it also sports a load of graphical and gameplay tweaks and a brand-new map that you'd swear was made by the original designers. Plus it's done in such a way that The Original (heh) strife1.wad remains untouched, bringing an unseen level of authenticity to the update. BFG Edition, eat your heart out!

Don't let the prospect of a re-release or the redundancy of "The Original" prefix scare you away; SVE is a labor of love and a shining example of how remakes and re-releases should be. If you don't have it (legally) yet, go buy it!

Zero Seconds

ZeroMaster had a very busy year raising the bar on Doom speedrunning. The war for Doom II UV marched on immediately after last year's Cacowards, with Looper sounding the first shot with more than a minute's worth of improvement at 21:55. ZM followed some time later with 20:32, which Looper beat, but ZeroMaster countered in the best way possible, by pushing the time below the unthinkable 20 minute barrier at 19:59. What a battle! He also went so far as to make a bit of a clean sweep, taking the Doom II Nightmare record (27:21) on two occasions with a bit of back-and-forth between himself and eLim; besting Doom's E2 by two seconds (3:27); throttling the E4 record by 37 (3:42); shaving three seconds off of E1 (4:57); ending E3 at a whopping one second improvement (3:47); and eking out a sixteen second victory (44:16) over j4rio's TNT: Evilution record.

Of course, the absolute craziest thing was the establishment of the Plutonia Nightmare record, which didn't even exist until June of this year - 43:57 of nail-biting, plasma-spouting, wild-ass action, not to mention wresting the Scythe UV-speed record from Dime at a solid 14:53. Best of luck to anyone who wants to chase these records down, and thank you, ZeroMaster, for some incredible performances.

Pelican of the Hour

Thank you all once again for voting in this year's Pelican of the Hour. It was another wing-rustling affair with the selection pool being plucked down to just thirteen nestlings! Unfortunately, the winner couldn't foot the massive bill we sent him for the cost of the award (including spawning, feeding and gutting), so we've had to shill it off to the closest Doomworld member on the market, hardcore_gamer. Enjoy your meal - I hope you like Barramundi!

I'm still bored!

Design a level to be displayed and played at next year's United Nations Climate Change Conference as a convincing argument to cut greenhouse emissions beyond current binding targets. You may not use one-sided linedefs or Hell Knights. Canada must rejoin the Kyoto Protocol.

Still Bored: Gameplay Edition

WANTED: A vehicle gameplay mod focusing around racing on tracks, reaching to the end with the best time while bashing opponents. Reward: 10000 skullbucks

WANTED: A gameplay mod around sneaking past enemies, not actively engaging them. Must be willing to dramatically redo enemy AI. Reward: 100000 health bonuses

WANTED: A successor to Fistful of Doom, a wild west gameplay mod with old-fashioned guns and levels to match. Reward: 10 cacowards

WANTED: A fun multiplayer gameplay mod. Reward: 3 pesos

Special Thanks

The Exceptionally Humble™ Cacoward staff (kmxexii, Alfonzo, dew, and Xaser) would like to thank our semi-usual cabal of volunteers for making the Cacowards happen: Bloodshedder for hosting and support, Linguica and TerminusEst13 for guest writing, Scuba for being Scuba, and all the community members who cast their 2015 award nominations or otherwise have supported us (and the game!) over the years. Rock on, fellow Doomers.