Spencer's Closet

Valley of Echoes Comparison

Since the release of avbl I've seen it mentioned often that it's "loosely based on" or merely "inspired" by the original. This bothers me way more than it should because I'm a vain prick so I'm going to use 50,000 words to argue how wrong that is, and how heavily it does take from the original. For starters, the start:
original remix

We're spawned facing somewhat awkwardly southeast in the middle of a square ring, with the sg/ssg "hidden in plain sight" within pissing distance. I've put a soulsphere here to assist the player in noticing, however I'm pretty sure Johnsen also had a soulsphere there in dev versions of the map so it's faithful in a way haha. Keen folks will pick up on how I'm establishing that metal light texture as the symbol for "hey, this is an elevator you can use" for the rest of the map. From a gameplay standpoint in both the original and remix, you will be pursued by 2 groups of pinkes from the east/west wing entrances and peppered by chaingunners as you traverse the spawn area.

Then there's this totally needless but satisfying-to-pump-rockets-into "oh gee I wonder if this is an ambush" ambush:
original remix

One of my main gripes with the original was the amount of grinding against massive hordes of enemies, so I applied that here by just making it 20 or so lesser baddies instead of a battalion of chaingunners.

This "chaingunner garden" that lets you overlook the layout at cost to your well-being:
original remix

In both versions, this west wing area has the player prepped with a megaarmor, with the ultimate goal being a switch which opens access to the central cross. It's not really communicated to the player what the switch does in either version, just put on some pants and explore. In both versions you have the option of exiting the way you came, or utilizing a less obvious route back to the spawn (and a soulsphere for your trouble). My version differs again with the reduced amount of grind, although that means less infighting and arguably more danger. Johnsen's version only provides you 1 radsuit if you fall down, whereas I prep the player earlier with 3 or 4 radsuits. Both versions however do punish the player for attempting to explore down in the slime, it's very much a "get out as fast as you can" place. Both versions are a sort of parody of a maze, requiring no actual navigational skills to solve even if you ignored the overlook... I dunno about Johnsen but in my case it came from a severe hate for mazes in FPS.

Fun Fact: I tried 6 or 7 different abortions of the chaingunner garden, and was considering burying the project indefinitely as a result, but when I asked Martin for ideas he replied in about 30 seconds with the simple but brilliant "what if the chaingunners could walk on the 'maze' itself?" and that gave me the inspiration for the iteration that survived to release!

Next is the south wing:
original remix

In terms of geometry, yeah this is nigh unrecognizable, aside from perhaps the chaingunner perches having four square thingies to break up a bit of line-of-sight. Both versions' entrances are only guarded by some specres, both versions prep you with invisibility, and both have the aforementioned chaingunner perches, a central omnipotent vile, and arachnos down below. Both versions have secret megasphere + bfg, meaning this is the manliest of the 3 wings to attack from the start. Both versions are exited by a cascading bloodfall. From a gameplay perspective I think the only notable differences are the volume of enemies decreased, and in Johnsen's version "door camping" here was an issue, so I punish that through the use of increased distances so that the lack of auto-aim forces you to jump in. If you use mouselook in doom you're an asshole.

Fun Fact: For this section I've copied and pasted a Johnsen secret vertex for vertex, but retextured it. It's from the canyon section in the latter portion of his original.

Oh yeah, the cross:
original remix

Alright this one I'll admit has more differences than similarities. Johnsen's is much more appealing to look at, since I was under a major visplane crunch (my version is open with 2-sided linedefs) I had to simplify geometry drastically. However that open concept allowed for more dynamic gameplay with the cacos able to fly over the walls in pursuit. My version also murders the player for falling while Johnsen provided a teleport out, this is a spin on my less-dangerous ambush: we both guarantee the death of a virgin to the cross, his through insane ambush and mine through mis-step.

The 1963 Cyberdemon Memorial Dam
original remix

The east wing of the original was almost a copy/paste of a section from Romero's "Abandoned Mines", and the other part of the east wing was tributed in AV24, so I felt that this area could axed entirely. I then looked elsewhere in Johnsen's map for ideas, and I liked the idea of the dam which the player needs to spelunk around caves and ledges to reach, with the 360 degree harassment of the ol' goatlegs. I took huge liberties with the design here but I wanted to keep a high difficulty without the grind, and none of this area would have been conceived without the seed of the original.

Fun Fact: the dam in the remix is wholly optional, really all you achieve here is a non-secret bfg. But it's about the journey not the destination, man.

Lastly, I think I retained generally the weapon progression. Shotgun/SSG are both at the spawn, plasma also available nearby in the northeast tower thingy, chaingun from the clutches of various chaingundudes, and bfg available in the south wing secret from the start. The rocket is the only odd duck, while still obtained in the eastern section, I no longer require a key for it. While the overall grindiness of the enemy placement is utterly aborted, I tried to keep the difficulty very high, yet provide enough ammo to let the player go crazy - Valley of Echoes ain't about conservationalist gameplay. A lot of effort was spent on the lower difficulties as well though, so there should be fun to be had even when we're in the retirement home with arthritis and dementia.

Alas, the proverbial "valley" in terms of the vast rocky expanse, is gone. Since it consumed the lion's share of the map in the original, I understand this is probably why people feel it isn't a faithful remix/remake/overhaul/whatever. Performing an overhaul on such an enormous area would have meant many months of additional effort, and frankly I don't feel that Johnsen's canyon offers valuable gameplay elements either (though it is perhaps a stress reliever, in the way of gunning down entire legions with the bfg). It would have been way too much work to save something solely for the sake that it has "valley" in the name, so I decided to focus my attentions on the much more inspiring fortress sections.

There, now the truth is out there and everybody will read this and swoon at how wrong they were when they spoke of its loose interpretation of the source material, and I will be given medals and keys to cities and several concubines for my efforts.