(Deep Into The) Codeaward - Most noteworthy programming effort of the year
- Andrew Apted
(What's this - a new award!? That's right! The Cacowards have finally seen fit to begin recognizing those enterprising souls who toil "behind the scenes," so to speak, to create the tools, editors, and other programming-related feats on which the rest of us Doomers rely on in the course of making our own creations.)
There's been a lot of hubbub in gaming about procedurally-generated content, especially with maps and levels. On the one hand, it's theoretically an infinite amount of content that can be produced with just a touch of a button, each one completely different from the last. On the other hand... well... computers aren't really capable of making art yet. We can distill all of the technical details about what makes a map good and fun in a neatly-arranged bullet-point list of guidelines, but without the human spark of creativity, can a machine follow it and create something that can be as memorable as a painstakingly-created mapset?
The Doom community in particular has wrestled with computer-designed levels beforehand. Of particular note was SLIGE, which was an incredibly impressive level generator at the time--to the point where it became common for newcomers to make SLIGE maps and claim them as their own work! But all good things must come to an end, and SLIGE officially stopped its development in 2001. In 2007, OBLIGE stepped up as the successor, helmed by Andrew Apted; having worked on EDGE and glBSP, he definitely had the ability to take it, but would he be able to improve on SLIGE and make another random level generator that could provide fun times for all the good boys and girls of the Doom community?
Well, I mean, it's getting the award for a reason. 10 years later, it's 2017, and OBLIGE has released its final 7.70 update. It's been a crazy ride full of ups and downs, but OBLIGE has cemented itself as the best random level generator on the market.
The appeal of it is twofold. First off, for nights where the backlog of mods to play seems titanic, and we don't want to prowl through the forums to find something new that might not be appealing, OBLIGE is always there ready to put out something. The levels themselves will never be on the same levels as what Ribbiks, skillsaw, or even what Erik Alm would put out... but honestly, they don't have to be. The appeal of Doom is very simple, running and gunning and dodging projectiles, and everything that OBLIGE puts out will be able to hit that mark. Secondly, for the sake of testing mods, OBLIGE will always be able to give a playable and neutral testing ground, making it a fantastic tool for modders to gauge power level of monster/weapon replacements.
Andrew has said that his only regret with the project is that OBLIGE never reached his vision of what a great random level generator could be, but as it stands now it's already truly a fantastic addition to any Doomer's arsenal. For the very first Codeaward, there simply can't be a finer debut than the 10-year staple.
- Surprise! Released project with the longest "development time"
The TNT 2 Saga
- Team TNT 2 and Team TNT:R
The old Mordeth award was a simpler question of time and prominence. Anything of note that had languished at the foothills of development could declare its candidacy without ever axing its staff or losing its texture resource in a house fire, for example. This isn't to say that choosing things was easy, but the model has shifted in recent times, with the community becoming more prolific and more accustomed to the waiting game. Today, the award celebrates the absurd, calamitous and epic things that hold a project back... and you would be hard-pressed to find a name more true to these qualities than TNT 2.
2017 saw the release of TNT: Revilution—a fine set of maps. On the surface it looked like a megawad plagued by all the usual problems. The disposing of map submissions; the squashing of bugs, and so on. In fact, for as long as the name was associated with the project, there was very little to set it apart from Joe Thirty-two-Pack down the road. Peel back that thin veneer, though, and... ah! A travesty, eight years in the making.
Revilution has its roots in TNT 2: Devilution, founded by Whoo in 2009. After a shaky start in which the contents of one demo were regarded as too unlike TNT (the same year saw the community treated to the long-awaited Plutonia 2, which had managed two Cacowards instead of one), that project disappeared into the wilderness to become an off-again, on-again proposition. This created space for one of the only remaining contributors who was truly invested, Kyka, to ease into the foreground of development, designing bigger, better, browner maps—one half of the roster, roughly—and assisting the more disillusioned aspirants in any way he could...
...any way he could being the operative phrase. In 2014, a rebounding Whoo was made to confront several declarations of Kyka's creative meddling and incompetence, and in turn accusations of gross mismanagement, before drafting up one final assessment... and starting the whole thing over again (almost). The fallout of this appalling spectacle gave rise to the second half of the Saga as we know it, which, surprisingly, has now emerged from the eight-year quagmire before its bigger brother.
I say "surprisingly," because after disappearing from his role as leader, Kyka's trove of levels were either reduced or removed again. An almost banal gutting, at this point, but for the tragedy of its victim.
For all this, it cannot be said that the road to Mordeth was paved by Kyka and Whoo, alone. Yes, it is obscene to find that the same maps you'd used to lay the groundwork for your new project, under-appreciated as they were by seniority in the first, are subsequently ousted from the second, slowly, in the months after you leave. But it is simply much bigger than that. It is as big as a name. Names are powerful, after all: they are seductive and can make us want to realize their bearer's truest form. A dangerous thing, when you're working in the realms of nostalgia; and it offers no guarantee that the those innocent folks who align themselves with an unofficial sequel—TNT 2, Plutonia 2, Hell Revealed 3—have just as powerful a drive to do the work as they do to find themselves in association with it. Delay, it may be said, is inevitable.
Devilution looms large on the horizon, biding its time (it's very good at this). It's recently had its third near-total overhaul of maps... although "recently" is a relative term, in Mordeth.
We wish it all the best for the future, just as we congratulate TNT:R. God knows it will need it in 2018.
Mockaward - Best comedy wad of the year
[this space left blank]
As the Cacowards have gotten bigger and more elaborate, certain things have fallen by the wayside. The "Worst WAD" award had its final hurrah in 2010, as it was kind of mean to single out a work and its author for being especially bad, and it provided perverse incentives to WAD authors to perhaps intentionally make something bad. When we convened the Kacoward Kouncil this year, we began to feel like the Mockaward was getting a little long in the tooth for similar reasons.
First off, the original purpose and spirit of the Mockaward has long since fallen by the wayside. The Mockaward was named after Mockery, a 1998 "jokewad," the only notable trait of which was to intentionally include a whole host of newbie-mapper errors. Back then, this could actually pass as being funny; in the years and decades since, however, intentionally bad WADs have become more of a scourge than an amusement, most notably with the rise of the "terrywad," a particular subgenre of Doom modsmanship which prided itself on being as obnoxious and puerile as possible.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, the most common genre of WAD that usually vies for the Mockaward has grown in a way where it no longer really needs special recognition from us. In recent years, when a Doom WAD has escaped from the confines of the Doom community and crossed over to articles on "mainstream" gaming sites, it's usually been some sort of meme WAD - a single-joke, single-serving WAD based on a contemporary trend or news item, meant to be chuckled at once and then tossed aside. And while this is all well and good, and we should give kudos to the authors for capturing the zeitgeist... it's also not something that we really need to applaud, especially when that mainstream attention sometimes comes at the expense of mindshare for any of the really big and well-crafted community efforts. (And yes, as the author of Selfie Doom, I am aware of the irony in this.)
So with that said, we're kind of done with the Mockaward. For the sendoff, we did have two WADs in mind. First was Run For It, a cute little mod that adds rascally little legs to items, powerups, and more, resulting in excellent mayhem. Second was the Loot Box Mod, which is a WAD trading on the recent furor over "loot boxes" in games, and proves its point by modding Doom to be infuriatingly stingy with its weapon- and powerup-dispensing without the player (hypothetically, thank god) coughing up cash. It's also a mod that has gotten a lot of mainstream game media attention for the sort of reasons I just outlined.
Which is not to say that these mods aren't good! They're clever and we recommend both to you! But at the same time: eh, we're ready to say goodbye to this category. Pretend your favorite of the two mods listed is the final Mockaward winner, and take some solace from that during your period of mourning.
Machaward - Most creative, unusual, or artistically compelling project of the year
The Given - dobu gabu maru
But from death comes new life! Rising to take the place of the Mockaward is the entirely-coincidentally-named Machaward*, a brand-new category devoted to recognizing a work that "breaks the barriers" of what we consider as a usual Doom project. (This could include high art, something wholly experimental, or even a particularly well-executed comedic WAD.) Our hope is to provide a venue to recognize those who probe the limits of what Doom can do, even if that results in shedding the accessibility of what we might consider a more "traditional" award pick.
So for an inaugural winner, we wanted something well-crafted, well-executed, and entirely unlike anything we've seen before. How does an enormous, intricately detailed puzzle map sound? How about one that furthermore features precisely zero monsters, and manages to create a stable of imaginative and complex puzzles using only the notoriously-limited vanilla line actions?
Time was when "puzzle maps" were clever takes on switch-hunts or assorted bits of bad alignment crapped along the wall. You didn't have to observe or even contemplate the possibility of an allegory buried deep within a world of imaginative imagery. A functioning spacebar was all that was required. dobu gabu maru's The Given is quite different, however. There is no combat; no threat; no HUD. There is no immediate objective. There are only the ruins of a dead civilisation, a towering structure, and the promise of an experience unlike any other. An exceptional piece of art that pushes boundaries with its ambition... even as those boundaries appear to struggle with the size of it.
And there's the rub - while The Given is an enormous sprawling epic of a map, filled to the brim with evocative scenery and ingenious puzzles, it buckles under the weight of its own sophistication. Simply put, if you don't have a beefy desktop PC, The Given is likely to present a sub-optimal experience for you; its no-compromises artistic vision runs right at the ragged edge of what the Doom engine is capable of displaying, and the results can be unplayable or at least unpleasant on any more modest system. This makes it difficult to give a unqualified recommendation to The Given - but no one ever said that art had to be easy, or universally approachable.
- Linguica / Alfonzo
*hey, we discussed other names, but nothing else seemed any better.
Mapper of the Year
dobu gabu maru
In some regards, dobu gabu maru echoes the mapper previously celebrated in this section. Like Lainos, he also has "mere" three solo map releases throughout the Caco-adjusted year. But what releases they have been! Again, all three offerings to the community are wildly different, speaking volumes about the author's admirable versatility. Yet they're also easily identifiable, and their style and flavour sets them apart from the rest of the pack. And of course, they're well worth the time spent on them, and any potential grumbling about going too far with the experiments are outweighed by the sheer experience of playing them.
dobu is no newcomer to the community, yet he may have flown under the radar for many. For five long years he's been a true journeyman of the community project, contributing to a wide range spanning anything from grimy street-level birthday projects to snobby university-tier high concept gimmicks. And by the time he decided to go solo, he became a master of the trade who can dazzle not only with architectural pretties and combat trappings, but also with a specific thoughtfulness in the design that transcends the maps into a dialogue between the mapper and the player. And perish the thought that I'm being pretentious or flowery here, because at the very least you'll be cursing dobu's name while almost hearing his evil cackling in your ear.
His first release of the year, Saturnine Chapel, might just be the prettiest map of the year. And what an audacious statement that is, with Brigandine, a few Lutz or Ribbiks contenders and a flurry of ZDoom stunners in the lineup! SatChap channels dobu's curve kink as previously seen in his 50 Shades of Graytall contribution, but it steps up the focus on battle puzzle gameplay. It is a short map, but one that harshly challenges the player in every one of the clever setups it presents. It also wonderfully exploits the tricks of Boom, which is an interesting juxtaposition to dobu's second high profile release, The Given. That one is a stunning, beautifully detailed mega-huge single map that contains no monsters and revolves around solving vanilla-mechanics puzzles. While many pointed out this was to the detriment of the final product, because he could've without a doubt devised even better riddles in Boom, no one dared to speak against dobu's audacity and confidence in tackling such an improbable task.
dobu's third map feels like a combination of the previous two, half-way through between mapping and battle puzzles, but it's still highly noteworthy, because it's part of TNT: Revilution. Does it follow the TNT formula? Hell no, dobu is trolling and pushing the boundary, but by doing so he creates one of the most memorable and thought-provoking maps in the set. Judgment is in the eye of the beholder. Dobu has also utilized his project leader skills from Nova 2 and helped Jaws in Space drag the project over the goal line by "post"-editing several contributions, most of which ended up in the upper echelons of quality.
All in all, this was a year that saw dobu grow into a powerful presence in the community. May he release more excellent maps, manage more team projects and drive the Doomworld Megawad Club for many more moons. And one day he may even release the real BtSX E3.
Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement
Top Ten - Page 1
- Shadows of the Nightmare Realm
- No End in Sight
Top Ten - Page 2
Top Ten - Page 3
- Legacy of Heroes
- Saturnine Chapel
- Stardate 20X7
- Void and Rainbow
- Progressive Duel 2
Gameplay Mod Awards
- Doom Delta
- Final Doomer
- High Noon Drifter
- Mordeth Award
- Mapper of the Year
PRESSED FOR TIME
Would you believe 2017 was a breakout year for Doom speedrunning? Well, it took just over two decades, but it has finally been discovered that Doomguy can walk up to that center platform in Doom 2 map07 and just flick the exit switch in 3 seconds. Duh! Named
impse glzero press after its ubiquitous finder ZeroMaster (first recorded on map15 here), the trick has upset the status quo and led to the obliteration of many *cough* optimal records.
We've seen another massive time cut to the Doom 2 speedrun, which currently clocks at ZeroMaster's 21:54 for Nightmare (demo / video) and eLim's 18:45 for UV (demo / video). The latter run has underwent a mindblowing change, and after being a staple for decades, map31 has been dropped out of the optimal route! The strat is still too risky for NM though.
Other notable d2all speedruns have been firmly a ZeroMaster domain. He has brought down the Plutonia UV speed under 20 minutes (demo / video) and the Evilution UV speed under 39 (demo / video). If you're into getting old in front of the computer screen, ZM has also completed his secret dream and trailblazed an Alien Vendetta UV movie in 1:33:21 (demo / video). In other news, the lands of almost-Doom have caught up with the void glide craze and the Hexen speedrun has been destroyed in under 10 minutes by veovis.
And that's not all! 2017 has seen even more preposterous groundbreakers. In March 4shockblast defied lame pro-tips and completed the much-theoretized pacifist run of E2M8 (demo / video). After mere 12 minutes of passive-aggressively hugging the cyberdemon in a "frozen" state, a helpful lost soul completed all of the damaging. Then in September the impossible happened and the most agonizing challenge left has been conquered. ZeroMaster recorded the fabled pa02, the pacifist run of Underhalls. (demo / video). Needless to say, I had to eat crow. Hats off to both of you!
Last but not least, ZeroMaster has also been proactive on the promotional side and launched a DSDA YouTube channel which now hosts a massive amount of the prominent speedrun records across IWADs and PWADs, all in glorious 60fps. Tell your friends!
THIS YEAR IN DOOM MUSIC
The Doom community is home to the best MIDI composition talent around, and slackers that we are, we haven't done much to chronicle it until now. 2017 has been another great year for Doom music, with several solo projects that have included soundtracks by the mappers themselves. SotNR features intense, atmospheric tracks by YukiRaven that mix ambient sounds and eerie melodies to add to the constant sense of dread. Rise of the Wool Ball's soundtrack represents the opposite end of the spectrum, with plenty of cute, cheerful tracks that complement the cartoony graphics. Deadwing's awesome compositions for Moonblood blend jazz, electronica, and traditional Bobby Prince influences in a way that works surprisingly well for such a Plutonia-flavored megawad.
This year's epic megawad OST is TNT: Revilution, which features Evilution-inspired tracks from a variety of composers. There isn't a track in the lineup that's not at least fun and catchy, and there are quite a few standouts. Highlights include the return of Jeremy Doyle, who worked on the soundtracks for Icarus and Requiem, as well as some truly excellent stuff by Eris Falling, who has really come into his own as both an original composer and a remixer in the last couple of years.
In case you missed it on the forums back at the end of last year, make sure to check out the Velvetic MIDI Pack, which features 36 tracks from various groups KevenHEZ (Nova, Threnody, etc.) is involved in. The music spans multiple genres, though most of it is the sort of moody metal that many consider practically synonymous with Doom -- a great resource for future mappers, as only a couple of the tracks have found homes in Doom projects to date.
WHAT ARE WE STILL WAITING FOR?
Does this enormous list suggest the boundless enthusiasm for Doom and its relations, or the hubris that will inevitably lead to the community's downfall? Is this the same boilerplate text as last year's column? The answer to at least one of these questions is "yes."
Action Doom 3
Adventures of Square E2
Amiga Demo Party
Back to Saturn X E3
Curse of Blood
Deus Vult II-2
Doom 2 the Way id Did: The Lost Episodes
Doom64 for Doom II
Doom: The Golden Souls 2
Final Doom the Way id Did
GMoTA (Go Medieval on Their Asses)
Heretic: Curse of Darkness
Kama Sutra 2
Orange Is the New STARTAN
Perdition's Gate Resurgence
Return to Hadron E3
Return to Necropolis
Revelations of Doom
Scroll Down for Screenshots
The Shores of ZDoom
Slaughterfest 2013 (bit of a misnomer now, ain't it?)
The Space Pirate
Tarnsman's Projectile Hell
Threshold of Pain 2
TNT 2: Devilution
UAC Ultra 2
Ultimate Doom In Name Only
Ultimate Doom The Way id Did
WolfenDoom: Blade of Agony E3
DID YOU KNOW...
December 10th marked the 24 year anniversary of DOOM?
DID YOU KNOW...
May 13th marked the 1 year anniversary of DOOM (2016)?
DID YOU KNOW...
Mordeth and Millennium were still not released in 2017 despite over nineteen years of development?
DID YOU KNOW...
2017 marks the 15th anniversary for Alien Vendetta, once hailed by Doomworld as perhaps the last great classical megawad that would ever be made?
DID YOU KNOW...
After two forks making GZDoom feasible for indie development (GLOOME and GZDoom-GPL), GZDoom took it on itself to go GPLv3 compatible?
I'M STILL BORED!
Delete everything from a copy of Map15 except for the Things and then create a new map around those existing Things. The map must be designed for Vavoom. The prize is your freedom.
Deadline is January 21st 2018.