An Exercise In Punishment
Knowing Tronyn style, I didn't lend myself to any illusions about the difficulty of these levels. And rightly so... tough as nails to say the least.
I remember the first map from one of the Something Wicked betas. Sadly, it seems not much has changed from the initial build despite the problems being known. While the vertical/low gravity idea is nice, certainly something unusual in Quake, in this map it just doesn't work the way it's done.
The constant spam of zombie attacks makes it no fun to play. Hordes of z-aware zombies with seemingly unlimited range and pretty much all awake at once, coupled with an environment that makes their projectiles very hard to see and slow movement speed due to the gravity, is guaranteed to leave the player frustrated and annoyed fast as there is no way to keep from getting hit all the time.
One little screw-up can lead to losing a large amount of health since the zombies can basically keep the player stuck in mid-air and leave him incapable of dodging the attacks.
In such an environment, important items like chainsaw, wand and armor should be given *before* entering the lion's den, not inside and easy to miss. You generally want to allow the player to be well equipped at least if he's going to be sent into an unfair combat. This is not the case here - there's a lack of ammo and especially health which quicky leads the player to considering the situation impossible to master.
Another thing that I found to be bad was the lack of proper clipping. There are countless architectural details the player gets stuck on or has to jump over, e.g. light fixtures on walls and floors, when especially jumping means taking the risk of being unable to dodge the attacks from all sides. Wouldn't have been a problem to clip off stuff and turn some things into illusionaries.
It's good there are shortcuts, but their usefulness is decreased by the fact that the player has to use the teleporters once in order to unlock their counterparts on the bottom floor. And one of them above boots you right over the ledge again.
Once one reaches the middle of the map, gets the plasmagun and disposes of most of the zombies, the map becomes more bearable, although the mummies and the morph guy are way overpowered.
The second map was more fun, although it suffers from similar problems as well.
The initial battle is very hard - again, lots of hard-to-see but deadly projectile spam from the scorpions and very limited supplies. After the unlocking the upper building, it was more or less okay. The SK crusher felt like an asshole move. The spikes kind of give the trap away, but most people drop down right onto the key not expecting anything like this.
It's possible to jump over the GK bars (over the coffin) as well as up onto the scaffolding. But it's probably not a deal-breaker. The Shubs all face the same direction, presumably the default angle, which felt like sloppy design. Does the map really require BSP2 format? It doesn't really look that excessive, at least not in a "limits++" kind of way.
I'm suprised many of these issues either didn't come up during playtesting, or maybe they did and the feedback was not addressed properly or ignored. It's a bit of shame, because I believe these maps would have been received a lot better if they hadn't been made this uncompromising in terms of gameplay.
In maps like these, let's call them "slaughtermaps" for the lack of a better term, the player needs to be properly equipped, not grind on his gums most of the time. You may think too much ammo and stuff makes them too easy, but this is not the case. Even fully equipped with full health and red armor, the player can easily get overpowered and die nevertheless. Taking away supplies in this situation makes the odds even more uneven.
Add to that the fact that the Drake mod seems to be catered to your preferences (versus a general purpose mod) so the difficulty is greatly increased to begin with - monsters have more HP, faster attacks and movement speed, deal more damage etc. So you might want to use it with discretion. As it stands, most of your maps have the player under constant pressure throughout the entire map, constantly punishing him. Use the skill settings more considerately! Currently your normal skill is often harder than id nightmare.
In Nyarlathotep, it was only halfway through the second map that the item balance finally worked in the player's favor.
Generally, I did enjoy the maps. However, in my view they are unnecessarily stressful where they could or should have been fun, and leave a lot of room for improvement. I suppose it would be appropriate to regard Tronyn as some sort of excentric artist, all stuck in his ways... :)