Sucker Punch is my first multi-map WAD for Doom II. It's available to download now from the idgames archive, where there is more information on supported ports and where feedback would be gratefully received.
Back in April, I wrote at length about my initial forays into mapping for Doom-engine games: at the time I felt that I would not try to complete Sucker Punch, which had been released in early 2016 with just three maps. However, such is the lure of Doom that I was eventually drawn back in, and the finished 9-map version of the WAD is the result.
In this post, inspired by one on Matt Tropiano's site, I'll go over my design process for the WAD and explain how these nine maps eventually came about.
The concept for Sucker Punch was only decided upon once I had designed what was to become MAP01. I'd made dozens of abortive maps before, routinely installing Doom Builder 2 in anticipation and then uninstalling it in frustration. On two occasions I'd made maps which ended up in released community megawads, but "Maintenance Run" was the first map I was truly happy with.
I decided that I would try to make two more very small, clean "techbase" maps using the Community Chest 4 texture set. "Maintenance Run" would serve as a simple introductory map, with green detailing, while the second and third maps would use yellow and red detailing respectively as difficulty increased. I hoped that if I could make three maps in this theme, I'd try to make another three in a new theme. From the start, I was thinking only about single play and designing for limit-removing ports.
Maps 1 - 3: Techbase
MAP01 is very much a standard Doom techbase in miniature: clean detailing, linear progression, and very standard use of textures. I consciously tried to use simple shapes that were easy to detail, without falling back on a lot of squares. The title of the map, "Maintenance Run", comes from the sequence of switches the player must hit to find the blue key, which in testing felt like a mundane maintenance task - albeit with the addition of demons.
Similarly, MAP02 is also a standard miniaturised techbase. I tried to add distinctiveness with the "basement" area steeped in dirty water, which is where the main setpiece battle takes place. This had to be modified after playtesters found that the key could be grabbed without triggering the ambush. The title "Attrition" comes mainly from the need to gradually cut down monsters resurrected by the first archvile near the start room.
The final level of the techbase "episode" and designated with the red colour, MAP03: "Those Who Wait" had to be a step up in difficulty. I chose to do this with a pure arena battle - a designer's choice which makes map geometry much simpler, but issues like timing and balance much more prominent. The map uses descending floors to time the warping in of several waves of monsters. These had to be fine-tuned over many playtests to correctly judge the difficulty - it's probably still easy for experienced Doomers due to the wealth of armour and soulspheres made available.
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.