Future Unveiled: Ceartainly Trouble


Fact Sheet

Authors King REoL
IWAD Doom 2
Engine Boom compatible engine
Date 1999/5
Levels 1

Review by Colin Phipps

King Reol. You either love him or you hate him. There was a lot of publicity about this map before I downloaded it for review, mostly centering around his 650 sector rooms and Fiffy designing the most complicated level anyone has ever seen. Having now played it, I'm not sure if complicated is the word. Wasteful? Yes. Frivolous? Yes. But as for being complicated, well, it plays just like any (albeit, slowly running) level made for DOOM without 650 sector rooms.

Right off the bat, let me say that, when you cut it down to its nuts and bolts, this is -not- a bad level. George Fiffy, through years of level designing, has become a very capable level designer. This level has a lot of strengths that are typical in his levels. 6fiffy3 has very good game play flow and for the most part, excellent monster placement. King Reol supplies some very bloody battles, which I personally really enjoy. I found his monster placement in this level not quite as good as in 6fiffy1 and 6fiffy2... I kept on opening doors and finding rooms full of Pain Elementals or Revenants, whereas in the other earlier levels he'd place them in more natural settings, solo or in pairs with architectural advantages to give them the strength that bad level designers usually increase by numbers, as opposed to the age-old and by now, very boring "open a door, find some more monsters" setting.

Still, for the most part, battles, even with dawrving odds, are designed so that the architecture is in your favor and you can survive. There seemed to be too little health to me: a couple extra medikits could have been very helpful during the game. I also thought one section, although it looked nice, was a bit strange: at one point you happen upon a set of train tracks, but with no train, and they certainly don't -lead- anywhere, but just exist in the middle of a room. Regardless, what I did really like in 6fiffy3 was the weapon selection: basically, the shotgun and chaingun are your main workhorses in this game. You never get anything above the rocket launcher and you never get the super shotgun. At first, I was distressed that I could find it, but then I found myself glad that I didn't, because it would have made things much easier, with all the ammo lying around for the shotgun and all. These are all things that make up a good level.

screenshot One criticism: I'm starting to notice that a lot of areas in George Fiffy's levels tend to look very similar and stick to the same texturing theme. In which I mean, 6fiffy1 and 6fiffy2 have a lot of rooms that look -too- similarly to ones in 6fiffy3. It might be nice if he got out of the wood and brown stone motif that has been plaguing his last three levels.

King Reol's real problem is that his "goals" in level designing seem to have become ludicrously demented. Take, for example, the mission to design the most complicated level that anyone has ever made for DOOM. You can add as many linedefs and sectors as you want: that doesn't necessarily make the level good or playable. I personally believe that a level designer's main goal should be to make a very playable and fun level, not one that taxes the limits of the DOOM engine. Certainly, if it helps the gameplay, having a 650 sector room can be great. If you are just making eye candy, though, you are ruining the level: you are cutting down frame rates, which slows down speed and enjoyment of the level.

6fiffy3 could have been easily designed without sacrficing much of the beauty (and, in fact, in some areas, enhancing it) and making the gameplay 100 percent better if he had left out all the arches and sloping ceilings that bulk up this level and make it such a slow, stuttering, frustrating level to play. There was rarely a room I walked into that I couldn't see easily having been designed more effectively without sacrificing any of the looks. For example, take the arches that look so pretty in 6fiffy3, but slow one's system down to a creeping halt. If you really want to have arches, why not make an arch graphic and texture a walk-through linedef with it? It will look, more or less, just as nice. Even if it doesn't: is a pretty architectural effect really worth slowing your system down to a single-digit frame rate? The answer, to any logical level designer, is no. Yet Fiffy does it constantly.

Some rooms in this level are beautiful to behold, like the screenshot, with the extravagant arches. Others, despite their 400 sectors of detail, look dreadful, mostly -because- of the extra detail. For example, there is one room where King Reol tries to emulate slanting pillars: they look horrible.

Even in rooms without noticable architectural flamboyances, this level constantly stutters. It crashed BOOM on me twice. I honestly can't recommend a level like this.

George Fiffy, in his text file (which he's still putting in an annoying .bat file), says:

The following level has an insane number of sectors that make up this miracle. You MUST have a P2/350 to play hi-rez decently! Anything under won't be pretty, with P200's going into single digits possibly!!

This is a bit of an exaggeration, but the frame-rate does get slow and noticably hiccup constantly on my P200. I want to mention this however.

This is DOOM. There is no reason, on a P200, no matter how extravagant a level, that you should expect for the frame rate to be anything less than 20 frames per second, providing that a reject map is built. If you want to design arches and slopes, go to a more sophisticated engine. People don't play DOOM to see the same prettiness of eye-candy that they like to see in Quake. They play for fast-action and a good single-player experience, and to jam a level with over two thousand sectors is taking away from that experience.

So what is the final word on this monster? If George Fiffy had been a quarter as flamboyant with his sectors and linedefs, this could have been a 4. As it is, it runs slowly on systems that should be able to handle anything DOOM throws at them and wastes hundreds of linedefs on flimsy, unnecessary effects. King Reol's future endeavors need to focus more on playability, speed, and fun (while maintaining good looks) than focussing purely on eye candy.

Download 6fiffy3.zip

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