My first DOOM WAD – in progress

Bit of old news at this point but I figured I may as well collect it all here. It’s not that old news, and technically it’s still ongoing news, seeing as I am still– wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

These past few weeks, I’ve been using my 30 minute train ride to and from work to map out my first DOOM WAD.

“A DOOM WAD?” you may ask, appearing to speak in all-caps because of spelling conventions and acronyms. “Why would SQH, an adventure game player of ill repute, be spending his time making a DOOM WAD instead of, I dunno, playing adventure games?”

Well, I’ve always wanted to make DOOM maps. And now, thanks to the adventures of fellow YouTuber David X. Newton and his series of DOOM WAD playtesting (accompanied by his always hilarious commentary), my inspiration was rekindled. After having watched 2½ hours of tutorial videos, I set out with Doom Builder (for some reason not in all-caps) and have been at it ever since.

After making my first map, I invited David on my livestream to 1) play the map I had made:

and 2) create a new map for the WAD — this one an underground lair of hellishness that, bizarrely, ended up looking a bit like a mutant version of the Wendy’s burger chain logo.

Much fun was had, and, as I’m writing this, the WAD project is still moving forwards. The premise, as alluded to in the video of the first map, is that you’re playing a dude that showed up for work one morning with a pistol, intent on killing everyone at the office, but, to his dismay, found that the hordes of Hell had beaten him to it. Now doubly pissed off, he decides to murder all of Hell instead.

I’m 5 maps into the 8 map episode (and I will, of course, also be including a 9th “secret” map that will be deliciously stupid). You will be kept updated, of course.

“But hang on,” you may interject, rudely and unnecessarily, “what happened to all that ‘DOOM killed the adventure games’ nonsense of the mid-to-late 90s? Weren’t you–”

And then I cut you off, saying, “Way ahead of you there. Check this out.”

And then you watched this vlog:

What actually IS a walking simulator?

Last week, I made a vlog about walking simulators. I quite like walking simulators, and I recently played a couple of them on my stream — Dream and Caligo — which I liked, but with some major caveats.

I tried outlining what I found interesting about walking simulators, heaping tons of praise on games I thought did it spot on (Gone HomeWhat Remains of Edith Finch) and lamenting some elements of otherwise brilliantly-executed ones (the stealth sections in Observer can still fuck off and die for all I care).

Some interesting comments arose from this vlog which helped me understand that perhaps my definition of a walking simulator, as rambly and lengthy as it was, was not entirely clear.

To wit: A walking simulator — at least a perfect walking simulator in my mind — does not have, or has at least a significantly limited presence of:

  • Puzzles
  • Dangers
  • Anything that obstructs the player from moving onwards with the story

Consider the closest physical relative to the walking simulator, the printed book. Most books won’t tell you that “I’m sorry, you’ve fucked up; please go back to page 11 and try again.” Likewise, a walking simulator should not impede the player’s progress in any significant way.

It’s okay to put a locked door or a little combination-lock puzzle in a walking sim. Especially when it’s done right, as Gone Home does with the locker in Samantha’s room, because that invites exploration of the house. It’s not much of a brain-teaser — in fact, you could argue that it’s hardly a “puzzle” at all. It just puts up a soft barrier that enables the game’s designer a degree of control over how the mystery is revealed — notably without frustrating the player immensely.

I saw someone in the comments refer to Myst as the progenitor of walking simulators, and I would entirely disagree with that — the obtuse and baffling logic of Myst‘s puzzles are severe cockblocks for people who have no patience for sitting around and working out some stupid machine’s whims and fancies through repeated trial and error.

Anyway, here’s the vlog in question will now make a bit more sense (although I doubt it).

Al Lowe and the rights to Leisure Suit Larry’s legacy

I’ve recently taken up vlogging instead of blogging. Although writing comes more naturally to me (second language and all that), there’s a certain visceral intensity to being told something straight to your face.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and then the perfect opportunity hit: Al Lowe’s auction of his Leisure Suit Larry memorabilia was forcefully taken down by Activision. This was followed by the interesting protest of Jason Scott (of the Internet Archive and Get Lamp documentary fame) reading the entire source code to Larry 1 aloud on Twitch. Full story:

Since I was being very critical of Activision in that video, and also quite perplexed at the legal situation, I reached out to an industry attorney, Marc Whipple, who specializes in these matters. He was kind enough to respond, and I made a video of his response.

So there you go. I plan to do more of these vlogs in the future, and — time permitting — I’ll do my best to remember to post them here as well.