Stellar Void WAD – Part 3

If you have just stumbled across this post, I recommend starting with part 1.

As I worked on Lunar Palace and Solar Sacrifice I was always excited to start working with the BASE texture set, it has so many useful looking textures that I had been avoiding in the Hell based maps. The idea was to begin the wad on a spaceship and exit via a teleporter to the surface of the planet in Lunar Palace, then take a Lift down into the depths for Solar Sacrifice.

As you can see in the below sketch, the core idea was pretty simple, a star shape with each branch higher than the last. The player would start in a docking bay and make their way upwards towards the top of the station. Travel between elevations would happen in a mix between side areas and crisscrossing the main arena space.

Initial Sketch of Stellar Void

A few notes about style – I wanted to make a map along the lines of the Tom Hall maps in Episode 2 of Ultimate Doom, densely packed and elements of functional machinery all over. E2M7 was a big reference point for some of the texturing work initially.

The first side area would have a floor made of platforms that you could trigger in different patterns to eventually jump up to the next floor. A few areas would use shootable decorations as switches like in SIGIL. Those are marked on the map with little target symbols. This would be tutorialized in the first room, the player would have to force open a door into the central room. Confident this layout was the right scope to be the first level, I started working away in the editor.

Things went wrong in short order, though I didn’t really understand it at the time. I wish I had some earlier snapshots of this map as well but you can see how large and complex things got in this first version below.

Stellar Void V1

In order to have gameplay in each of the stars points I ended up making the whole center room much larger – you will note in my sketch the star shape is a lot smaller compared to the side areas. I also became invested in trying to fill in the gaps, trying to reach something like my E2M7 reference point while still strictly following the lines of the star.

Image result for doom e2m7

All of this resulted in some massive spaces this central room below.

The central room early in development

I was also running into limits on how the shootable linedefs worked. I didn’t have experience using them before and there are only a few options. Obviously enough for SIGIL to work, but I couldn’t find a way to get my moving platforms puzzle to work at all. I started thinking this map would have to come after Lunar Palace, something where you return to space before diving down into Solar Sacrifice because it just was way too big to be the opening level.

One of the star points with armor.

In addition to starting with a space that just wasn’t the right scale I also started doing lighting passes way too early. I wanted the level to feel creepy and dark and wasted a lot of time doing essentially look development and avoiding the design issues with the space. It started to feel like this map as never going to come together and I stopped working on it for a while, thinking maybe I could just slap the other two into one file and call the project done. After a few days away though I started a new level called Tiny.wad, which I’ll cover in Part 4!

You can download the first version of the level here: Stellar.wad

I also have an earlier version, from the first layout shot: Stellar_Aug.wad

No promises that either is fun or even playable. Maybe someday.

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