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:
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
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:
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:
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:
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
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
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.