I’ve recently released a new mapset for Doom II. Sucker Punch 2 features nine small, single-player maps and is a sequel to the original Sucker Punch, which was released back in 2018. A second release candidate is available to download and play now.
This project has been a long time in coming - while it was made over about three months, it has been three years since I released any Doom maps. One of the factors which helped to end this hiatus was the OTEX texture pack made by Ola “ukiro” Björling. A monumental contribution to the Doom community, this pack contains thousands of new graphics for mappers to use and has really helped to fire my imagination.
What I set out to do
The main aim of Sucker Punch 2 was to explore and improve my mapping skills, within the same framework of the original mapset. Accordingly, the number of maps is the same, and as before they are organised into three mini-episodes of three maps each. To take my mapping up a gear, I had a few key aims, often based on what I had learned from Sucker Punch 1. Specifically, I aimed to:
Broadly, I feel that I’ve been successful in achieving these goals. Really, there are only three maps which are in some way non-linear (MAP02, MAP06 and MAP08) but small maps make this more difficult to achieve. I still have some way to go in terms of making outdoor areas, but the geometry in Sucker Punch 2 is significantly less boxy and predictable than my earlier maps.
MAP01 to MAP03: dark techbase maps
With crushing predictability, the first mini-episode consists of techbase maps. These ones look very different to the ones that opened Sucker Punch 1, however, because they use much darker, more grimy textures. MAP01: “Back in the Ring” is a very linear opener which is set entirely indoors. Its layout relies significantly on backtracking, but teleporters are used to bring in additional monsters to keep this from becoming stale. It just so happens that this map is the only one to use any liquid floors.
MAP02: “Live-Fire Exercise” is quite a bit larger and more non-linear. It is primarily outdoors, and therefore brighter - the action takes place in a facility which surrounds a fairly large open yard. The map has something of “hot start”, with two mancubi appearing behind the player at the outset - but powerful weapons are nearby. The exit requires all three keys to open - a mechanic I hadn’t used before - and these can be grabbed in any order, each one triggering a separate ambush.
Of all of the maps in the WAD, MAP03: “Fighting Firemen” probably underwent the most changes. As its title implies, the map is built around three distinct encounters with archviles and was loosely inspired by MAP03 of skillsaw’s Vanguard and MAP11 of 50 Monsters by AD_79.Originally, the opening fight forced the player to use only the berserk fist, but this proved excessively difficult especially in ports which make punching enemies particularly challenging (looking at you, PrBoom+).
MAP04 to MAP06: medieval maps
The theme of this second episode is again similar to that of the original Sucker Punch, but I think it looks better thanks to OTEX and especially the night sky. MAP04: “The Torture Garden” (pretentiously named after a book by Octave Mirbeau) is very linear and comprises three fights focused on the shotgun, super shotgun, and rocket launcher respectively.
MAP05: “Rhythm of the Knight” is quite tight and claustrophobic, but opens up somewhat after the player obtains the blue key. The archvile fight has the potential to become quite troublesome, but the finale is comparatively relaxed as the player has access to the plasma gun and plenty of cells.
One of the maps I am most pleased with is MAP06: “Last Hurrah for Chivalry''. Named after the 1979 film directed by John Woo, it is a fairly tight but non-linear map. The player needs to activate three switches to expose the exit, but each one unleashes numerous monsters and only the rocket launcher is available. Deft footwork and careful use of rockets is key here. This map was quite influenced by MAP08 of the original Sucker Punch, which was generally felt to be the best of that set.
MAP07 to MAP09: desert necropolis maps
One of my main regrets about Sucker Punch 1 is that the third mini-episode wasn’t very distinctive and was too similar to the first. To correct that for the sequel, I went for a deliberately exotic theme set inside a series of desert temples. MAP07: “Tomb Eternal” has a silly pun for a title which I wanted to get to first, and is a very linear but fast-moving map. It features a “lock-in”, which traps players in a tight space to fight hell knights, revenants, imps and shotgun guys for the blue key.
Just as MAP08 was probably the best map of the original Sucker Punch, MAP08: “State of Decay” is very likely the best map of Sucker Punch 2, as well. This is quite a frantic map, which traps the player in an open yet dense environment which is packed with primarily high-tier monsters. The player spawns on a tall pillar - different weapons are available first, depending on which way they jump off.
MAP09: “Where the Dead Go to Die” is a pure arena map - no exploration here, just combat. Like MAP03 of SP1, this is a timed arena: the player must survive four waves of monsters teleporting in until the blue key descends on a pillar and the exit becomes accessible. Like that older map, the main design challenge here was balancing the combat. It’s probably still a little too easy for seasoned Doom players, but hopefully has the feel of a good climax to the mapset.
I write about classic science fiction and occasionally fantasy; I sometimes make maps for Doom II; and I'm a contributor to the videogames site Entertainium, where I regularly review new games.