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[Doom] TEETHUPD.WAD - E2M1 UV Maxdemo

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Published on Nov 27, 2012

Pwad: Teethupd.wad
Author: Mark Sloan
Date: 28th July 1994
Map: e2m1
Category: UV Maxdemo
Executable: Doom.exe
Time: 5:28

This level may cause me to revise my thoughts on what constitutes a good Doom level. It's done to an unusually high level of technical proficiency - everything locks together perfectly, everything works - and it shows some genuinely original ideas on what to do with the much neglected level skill setting. Most pwads of the time didn't even bother with skill levels. If you showed more attention to detail than most, you might reduce the monster count on lower skill settings, or maybe give a few more powerups. And to be fair, that's all the id levels did. Whereas Mark's got a different idea - what if, instead of varying the items but keeping the rest of the level the same, you changed the level? The basic idea is that the path you take through the level on Easy is entirely different from the path you take through the level on Hard. And to achieve that he swaps around key locations, and puts skill-specific barriers in front of pieces of the level that are either too easy, or too hard. That red key trap I enter at 3:10, for instance, is blocked off from the player unless they're on UV skill - otherwise the level will provide the key at another, more easily accessed location. It's a good idea if done right, and it is here. And it gives the level a lot of replay level - you can play through on Easy, see maybe 25%, then bump up the skill level to have newer and larger challenges reveal themselves. It's almost three levels in one.

Maybe the centrepiece of this kind of design philosophy is the maze, which I enter at 0:55 and leave at 2:38. On Easy it's basically one passage with a couple of kinks, the rest being blocked by those impassable eyes. On Medium you've got a few interlocked passages. And on hard you've got about 80% of the maze to cover. It's learnable. But (and here's where the complaints start) the lighting is horrific. I can only apologize for the poor visuals here, but keep in mind you've only got to watch the thing, I've got to run it as well. Mark didn't put light goggles anywhere in the level, which I can only assume was deliberate. There's worse in store. Behind 3 or 4 blind turns in the level are some linedef triggers that activate a crushing ceiling covering THE WHOLE MAZE. None of these traps are marked in any way. One even has an imp behind it to lure you in. (It's the reason I switch to shotgun at 1:38). The only way to discover them is to trigger them. Hope you saved your game! Evil, evil. But then the philosophy of this level appears to be that if you're playing on UV then you deserve to be frustrated - these crusher traps only appear in the UV portion of the maze.

It's the same thinking behind the two later crusher traps - you won't encounter them on Easy, so why make them easy? Still, putting one over a 20% radiation floor, and making the other four rising and falling lines of pillars does seem a bit unsporting. I never found a pattern to these, so the run you see here is mostly the result of trial and error. And while I was recording run after run and dying in the crushers I started to focus more and more on the rather bland texturing, the strangely empty layout, the weird Cyber/Spider smackdown at the end. And eventually getting headaches from the throbbing low-lit maze.

In the end this was a weird experience. Everything works perfectly, nothing's fun to do. This may be one of the least enjoyable levels I've ever played, and there's nothing wrong with it. Frankly I'd rather play TEDDY.WAD. Which leads me to think technical finish is overrated.

Final note on the level - the version on /idgames is called THETEETH, and dated 10th July (ie 18 days earlier). Structurally the two levels are identical, the only difference is the /idgames version has much larger monster crowds. Instead of two cacos inside the pool, THETEETH has 10. Barons galore at the BFG, lots of imps and sargeants at the start, and two swarms of lost souls. But the difficulty of the level is in its traps, not its gameplay. The higher monster count makes it a little tougher on your ammo, but mostly just a lot more tedious to play through. 20 lost souls isn't 4 times as exciting as 5, sadly. Strange for an update to only have stuff taken out, but I'm quite sure this is the latest version just from the filename - TEETHUPD.


Download from liquiddoom here: http://liquiddoom.net/doom/pwad/doom/... (teethupd.zip)

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