My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Chat on the Original Spear of Destiny Game

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Martin
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My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Post by Martin »

Devoted and fanatic SOD fans - don't read this one.. It will only irritate you.

Last time I've been thinking a lot about Spear of Destiny, and about it's success inside Wolfenstein 3D community. It seems that SoD is very popular here, and many people choose to build their add-ons on it's source. It's a very big surprise for me; I always thought that our small community is a reflection of the "big world", but in smaller scale. It's not truth. I prepared a bit before creating this thread, and found some old computer magazines with reviews or notes about Spear of Destiny; and I must say that they aren't very optimistic... they say it's very boring, and it's really worse than old Wolfenstein.

I think it's a good opinion. I still really can't see what do you like in Spear so much (maybe someone of you can tell me). I'll tell you why I don't like Spear of Destiny even a bit...

First, I don't like it because of seamless levels. That way of building the game makes it more boring. You still follow the same storyline. Second, the game shows all of it's secrets and features in first three levels. After playing even a second, you know what's behind the corner. The Wolfenstein-ish feeling of anxiety is gone somewhere; I don't know do you understand me fully (I'm not good in explaining, heh). In every episode of original Wolfenstein, the creators added something new. You cannot find any officers in Escape from Wolfenstein episode; there are new textures in some episodes; and id map creators tried to change the style of creating levels in all episodes. That makes Wolf 3D a unique, surprising and cool game. And Spear of Destiny doesn't have it. OK; Spear has some innovations. Let's see - three or four new textures, some new bosses. No source changes (excluding the seamless levels modification) - that's good. But where's more? Come on - SoD isn't just a "level pack", it's a sequel.

I had the same feeling when I played DOOM II; very good game, but nothing really great if we look at first DOOM. It's a shame - just a waste of potential. Maybe it was all about money? A deadline from chiefs? I don't know but it didn't turn out well for Doom itself (or Wolfenstein)..
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here's mine too... woohoo - lol

Post by Chris »

That's quite the message Martin. I think the first game that people play is always the one that sticks in their mind the most - it's like the first time you buy a CD from a new band, or your first kiss I guess. Once something new hits the shelves, people are already anticipating that it carries many things that their original experience held; and, well, it's not as fresh and new as their first time... so there's always a few things that feel missing when they play sequals. I found that the secret for me is to work backwards, buy something new - or in the middle of the crowd... have fun with it first (this way it will be your new experience), and than travel back and see how everything started out. Strange, but it's always left me appreciating every part of the cycle alot more than going forward from the beginning.

Another thing I like to do when I didn't enjoy a sequal is to try to alienate myself into only playing the original game for a long time (keeping in mind that I didn't like the sequal, and exploring that hatred to new levels - helping me appreciate all the ideas that the original has to offer). Than, once I'm confident that I've found nearly everything I could in the original that makes every level in every episode (in this situation) have some kind of deep and exciting meaning, absorbing an understanding and pashion for every quality in the game that I can uncover; than, going back to the sequal when the undeniable curiosity to explore further strikes - expecting that it will just ruin everything, and scare me into going back into playing the original... but not letting myself go back, and see what happends. :?:

It actually took me a long time to really get into Spear of Destiny. Like you, I was disappointed with some things about it at first... like how the new music stopped after level 4, how some levels felt less conventional, and I didn't like any of the Rock Textures at all (they felt too serious and/or colourless for my tastes). I did enjoy alot of other things about the game though. Exploring through some of the levels was alot of fun... like the very strange level 20, or being able to go outside in level 11. For the most part, though, many of the SOD levels just felt too weird, too different from what I remembered in the original; and I didn't want to get into that kind of thing. My problem was that I didn't see the game for what it was, I just saw it for what it wasn't.

I remember Gary Ragland once saying something along the lines of: "Some of those upper SOD levels are the best of Tom Hall's work I've ever played", and that comment didn't really hit me until recently. If he can appreciate these levels, under all the things that I initially didn't like about Spear of Destiny; than what's stopping me from being able to dig deeper and find something special about them too? Maybe the secret is to know what you're NOT going to find, and instead look into what kind of things can be hiding underneath all that decieving outer shell. I know I've found my little paradise inside Spear, and it's not in the form or a level or feature; it's from personal adventures, and coming across new meanings from the layouts and ideas that I have never thought to consider before. Just goes to show you that someone's journey into optomism lies exclusively in how far they want to take it.

Unlike you, I never get the impression that people around here loved Spear of Destiny nearly as much as they loved Wolfenstein 3d. I would agree that there has always been an overly high amount of people that use "seamless" floors to make their addons, and it really makes me appreciate games like TGE and the Original that still use the nice, classic "6 episode" idea (which feels alot more homey and free for me). I think the only reason that most people discuss SOD at all is because this section of the forum exists on the main page, and people see it all the time; so many of them just pick the most obvious things they can think of to discuss (the bosses, the death level, etc.) to be part of the conversation.

I don't really believe that there's any devoted SOD fans out there, to tell you the truth. There might be a few people who play it every now and than, but it's very minimal (like your research shows). My guess would be that Wolfenstein 3d gets played about 50-100 times more than Spear of Destiny by the average gamer; and it's probably because of all the reasons we described above. If someone manages to overcome those "it's not like Wolfenstein because..." thoughts, and eventually finds some hidden qualities Spear of Destiny has to offer, great. But if they don't - hey, it's their choice! I think your logic is pretty cool Martin... those types of opinions make SOD feel more like a "secret personal adventure" everytime I play it. :)
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Re: My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Post by ZuljinRaynor »

:? Wat, can I say? I like SoD the most because that is the first full version Wolfenstein game I played. I like the seamless level progression since you never have to start at the "begining" of a new chapter. Puls this was used because it was one castle.

Why build of SoD? I don't have Wolf3d (just on GBA rom but it sucks big time) and I only have SoD files. It is just what you become attached to, I guess.
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Re: My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Post by Mikey X »

I actually liked SOD better, I thought it was more of a challenge to me. I thought the bosses of Wolf 3D were too easy. Even though the levels in Wolf 3D were better. :)
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Re: My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Post by Guest »

I liked Wolf better, but SOD wasn't a disappointment to me. It was more Wolfenstein. At the time, Wolfenstein was my major obsession.

Still, I think that the original Wolf3D engine has much more in-built capabilities than Spear does. Just look at the source code and all of that #ifndef spear stuff. Spear features would be easily added to Wolf3D, while Wolf3D features would take much more work to get added to Spear.
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YAY I CHANGED THE SUBJECT

Post by Martin »

That was pretty cool! I'm going to try out your way of enjoying sequels as fast as I can - I've got many examples which I can use - Doom II, SoD, Hexen...
All of that id software's politics of releasing the games is pretty odd.
First off, they make a game with episodes (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Heretic), and then they follow the same line releasing "mission packs" (SoD, Doom II, Hexen). For me, it looks like a quick plan to earn more cash. Sure, I can't say Spear of Destiny is really bad. I also liked some things about it (you can always find something good in every situation or thing, lol) - the upper levels actually were a sort of experiment. I also liked the new bosses, but all of those "semi-changes" is nothing compared to what could be really changed - guards, sounds, textures, source code. Don't you think that SoD would be better if the creators would follow the same path as Lost Episodes creators did - they changed nearly everything (let's don't talk about the results here; I mean ambitions, lol). If good quality would follow the good idea, then Lost Episodes would be undeniable better than Spear of Destiny or even Wolfenstein 3D.

It's pretty cool to see that you also disliked the textures from Spear of Destiny. I don't know, but when I played SoD, I just thought those are rip-offs from Doom; this of course is impossible (maybe SoD textures were used for Doom.. who knows?), but doesn't change my judging about them. I think they don't fit well into the game.

About SOD fans... well.. this was just a sort of precaution from my side..
if people make the TC's based on Spear of Destiny, then they probably like the rest of it, not only the seamless levels source modification. Come on - people are "uncalculable" - ROTFL. Of course SoD never got as much attention as Wolfenstein got and yes - that's because all stuff you (and me too, probably) wrote here. It's hard just to guess other people tastes and feelings about the game only from two posts - yours and mine... so if anyone has some word to share with us in this topic, then it would be pretty cool; I'd love to hear what do you guys think about Spear of Destiny.

The paragraph about your adventures with SoD, about finding "the truth" about the game just under your shoe, not somewhere "there" was pretty cool. I had to read it a few times to understand what did you mean, but looks like I did - lol. I had such a situation with a few music bands, where I was looking for a big experiment, lol, maybe even something that I never heard before, and of course, it didn't come up to my expectations. Just a few days ago, I found a frenzied enjoyment on hearing standard drums. Heheheh... I'm crazy.
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Re: My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Post by ZuljinRaynor »

Spear was I think a more updated version of the original wolf code with some things disabled. Hey, we all have our likes. Lets apprecitate that.
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Re: My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Post by Hair Machine »

First off, they make a game with episodes (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Heretic), and then they follow the same line releasing "mission packs" (SoD, Doom II, Hexen).
I agree with you about SoD and Doom II; they were a bit like seamless level mission packs (although Doom had a huge number of new enemies and a new weapon, there were still no major changes); but I disagree about Hexen! For a start, Hexen was a Raven Software production, the only thing id had to do with it was supplying the original Doom engine. So id "sequel policy" played no part in it. Also, Hexen was a total redesign. The whole game engine worked around a new, innovative Hub Level system, and the addition of character classes also added a whole new dimension. As well as this, Raven allowed much larger drops to be implemented; you could die if you fell long distances (physics damage) and also the land could terraform, like Duke Nukem 3d's engine. It basically pushed the Doom engine to its very limits, and was a definitely seperate game from Heretic; so I think it deserves to be called a 'real' sequel!

Just a few words from an avid Heretic/Hexen fan... :mrgreen:
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Re: My feelings about Spear of Destiny...

Post by Mikey X »

I never played Heretic or Hexen, but Doom 2 was a really cool sequel. I agree that Spear of Destiny's new walls are pretty much total crap. They probably should have added a new enemy or 2, also maybe a new weapon.
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Post by Barry »

Spear of Destiny made a huge impact on me the first time I played it. Before I discovered Wolfenstein add-ons, getting my hands on more Wolfenstein in the form of Spear of Destiny was very exciting. I really liked its larger, more extensive maps compared to Wolf3D as well as the fact that each set of 4-5 maps had a different theme. I especially like maps 11-15. I also liked how it went more into the supernatural realm than the original Wolfenstein did. If I had to criticize it at all, it would be the anticlimactic maps 17 and 18, which weren't very good following the awesomeness that came before them.

I didn't really care much for the Lost Episodes. While they are a good source for graphics when making mods, I didn't particularly like the feel of the levels and I feel they lacked the addictiveness that the original SoD and Wolf3D had.
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Post by MrWolfForever »

I +1 Barry. SoD's levels aren't any less fun than Wolf3D's. The last few (after the Ubermutant) are a bit anticlimatic as if their designs were rushed a bit, but they've inspired many better tributes in SoD mapsets. I still don't think the original Ramparts is that bad a level, just rather quick.
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Post by Tricob »

I liked the Ramparts level overall, but I thought it was a bit too repetitive. Levels 18 and 18 Part Two (a.k.a. Level 21) did have less complex structure than the preceding levels (What *is* it with Levels 17, 18, and 21 and the lack of doors?), but I thought they played quite well.
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Post by Tris »

The Ramparts song is the most awesome song in the game!
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Post by Cyanosis »

Tris wrote:The Ramparts song is the most awesome song in the game!
Agreed! And that level is unique for being the only one to officially have an outdoor section, albeit just vaguely if you pay attention to the outer walls..
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Post by Tris »

Indeed.

I, for myself, always liked Spear more than regular Wolf. First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed the seamless level flow - pushing you to keep finishing levels to explore and discover more. Whereas the regular Wolf, with its episode selection, simply made me lazier in gameplay - whenever I wanted to play something else, I could just fire up a different episode. I do think Spear was not a finished product - more weapons could have been added, like the Mac flame thrower or some such, and perhaps a regular enemy or 2 more. Apart from making all the red blue and mapping a few new levels, it feels as if Spear was finished in 2 months or so. That said, I still vividly remember being stoked about the SOD demo, playing the first 2 levels over and over and over again.
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Post by ronwolf1705 »

^^Agreed. As for SoD overall, it is quite fun and more action-packed than Wolf3D, but some of its levels lack the original sequences that Wolf3D did so well. It feels, on some levels, like they're just throwing a bunch of enemies at you. It's like the majority of Doom mods in that regard. And while that can be fun, it lacks a certain uniqueness that Wolf3D did possess.
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Post by Thomas »

From a personal point of view, not having Spear of Destiny in my life at the same time I discovered Wolf 3D, it has never really meant as much to me. I can only appreciate it the way I appreciate mods, as I got into mods at the same time I played the full Spear of Destiny, which did not impress me much. Had I played it earlier it would surely have impressed me, especially with the new textures, the new music, the seamless level flow and the merging of guards in the middle level 12-15. Unfortunately I discovered it too late, though I remember imagining how it would play out, as the Spear demo was present at the same after-school computer as the Wolf demo was.

I agree that it is all too much, the chain gun is there from the start, the ammo box is introduced in a weird way, level 1 uses textures in a non-flattering way (especially the secret treasure area) but there are many cutting edge designs as well, e.g. levels 4, 6, 9, 12-15 and the ramparts level all brought something unique to the picture that fueled many a mapper's inspiration.
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Post by Barry »

What impressed me most about Spear of Destiny was the complexity of the maps compared to most levels in Wolf3D as well as the new textures. I loved the brown cobblestone texture from the first time I saw it. Looking back on SoD there really is very little filler material in it.

If I had to criticize SoD in any way it's making items like the chaingun too common out in the open as well as being too generous with the 25 ammo box.
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Post by Executor »

Tris wrote:Indeed.

I, for myself, always liked Spear more than regular Wolf. First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed the seamless level flow - pushing you to keep finishing levels to explore and discover more. Whereas the regular Wolf, with its episode selection, simply made me lazier in gameplay - whenever I wanted to play something else, I could just fire up a different episode. I do think Spear was not a finished product - more weapons could have been added, like the Mac flame thrower or some such, and perhaps a regular enemy or 2 more. Apart from making all the red blue and mapping a few new levels, it feels as if Spear was finished in 2 months or so. That said, I still vividly remember being stoked about the SOD demo, playing the first 2 levels over and over and over again.
You're almost right--Spear took only one month to complete. They had an obligation to do a commercial retail release, and they threw together 20 maps and some token new features. Since they were much more experienced than before they started Wolf3D, the new levels and textures are generally superior, but it is indeed a rush job.
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Post by Tricob »

I was told (but can't confirm) that many of the maps for SOD were actually made for Wolf3D originally, but they didn't work right. But in the SOD code, they do. It all seemed to do with Deaf Guard placement; all the maps worked if you placed a Difficulty One moving actor in the same room as the Deaf Guard. The exception was a frozen SS in a hidden area of Floor 4. This is simply a mapping error that was never corrected.
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Post by AlumiuN »

IIRC none of the code for the handling of that stuff was changed between Wolf3D and SOD.
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Post by Chris »

I always know, when Tricob posts, and AlumiuN posts after, that AlumiuN's post is going to dismiss whatever is written in Tricob's post. Maybe I've been here too long :lol: Now this is the part where Chris says something witty and smart to join Tricob and AlumiuN's posts together in harmony, with some obscure fact or detail that makes both posts make sense, and like always I know exactly what to say too, but am too tired to write this remarkable discovery now and going to sleep. *cliffhanger*
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Post by ronwolf1705 »

the new levels and textures are generally superior
I like Spear and all, and Wolf3D definitely has lower lows and some filler levels throughout.. but the best levels of Wolf3D still top the best levels from SoD, in my opinion. Those best levels are just more interestingly crafted to me than Spear, which occasionally feels like they just put a shitload of guards on the map and then let chaos reign. Which is fine, really, and it can lead to a lot of fun levels.. but from a design perspective it's slightly less interesting than some of the scenarios created in the original like E5L5, E2L4, E5L6, E6L8.. stuff like that. To me, at least. Spear is still great though.
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Post by Tricob »

AlumiuN wrote:IIRC none of the code for the handling of that stuff was changed between Wolf3D and SOD.
I can't replicate the problems in the newest EXEs, no. The problems only surfaced in older versions.
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Post by Thomas »

ronwolf1705 wrote:I like Spear and all, and Wolf3D definitely has lower lows and some filler levels throughout.. but the best levels of Wolf3D still top the best levels from SoD, in my opinion. Those best levels are just more interestingly crafted to me than Spear, which occasionally feels like they just put a shitload of guards on the map and then let chaos reign. Which is fine, really, and it can lead to a lot of fun levels.. but from a design perspective it's slightly less interesting than some of the scenarios created in the original like E5L5, E2L4, E5L6, E6L8.. stuff like that. To me, at least. Spear is still great though.
Agree 100 % - Wolf had much more breadth and variation, a lot of memorable levels, superior in both design and gameplay. Spear had its quick successive units (tunnels, dungeons, etc.) but you always felt like it was a bit the same thing most of the time. In Spear it seemed like they had to show off what they had all at once, explaining the guard placement, weapon snafus (6 machine guns? really?) and so on... But - Spear is still great. Also dig the ceiling color in level 9.
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Post by Barry »

Thomas wrote:
Agree 100 % - Wolf had much more breadth and variation, a lot of memorable levels, superior in both design and gameplay. Spear had its quick successive units (tunnels, dungeons, etc.) but you always felt like it was a bit the same thing most of the time. In Spear it seemed like they had to show off what they had all at once, explaining the guard placement, weapon snafus (6 machine guns? really?) and so on... But - Spear is still great. Also dig the ceiling color in level 9.
I have always felt like Spear was a chance for id to be a little more experimental with the mapping as opposed to the original game. However, it does feel a little rushed towards the end, specifically after the Ubermutant. As much as I love Spear, the hell level could have been so much better and so much more of a challenge than it was. Overall however, Wolf3D had a lot more filler I feel. With that said, the most memorable levels of Wolf3D are quite a bit above the best levels of Spear (thinking about masterpieces like E5L5, E5L6, and E6L8).
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Post by ronwolf1705 »

The hell level is really odd. It could have been better, and tougher for sure.. but it's also a level that is really hard to map. In all the mapsets for SoD that I've played, the hell level never stands out. And having created a couple of final levels for SoD myself, I can confirm that for some strange reason, it is a really hard environment to get right. Easier to make it more challenging, but somehow that setting can never reach true greatness, for some reason.
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Post by Thomas »

In order to make a convincing hell level, I don't know... It seems more suited for Doom than patchy old Wolf and Spear. Some of the sprites are quite imaginative, but the weird breathing thing the Angel of Death does makes it way too easy to kill, the ceiling is for some reason brown (?) when everything else is red... The silly ghosts flock about and let out a pooting noise when put into "dead" mode... The only cool thing about that level is the music. But level 18 itself is also a total letdown. You start in a room filled with ammo and a chain gun and meet the Death Knight first thing. Really, really weak ending material. Situations like these makes me scratch my head over those who prefer Spear to Wolf, different strokes I guess.

Considering how great some of the middle area mapping is (especially levels 11-16) it really makes me wonder why they half-assed the remainder.
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Post by Cyanosis »

I used to like Spear more because back then to me 21 levels vs. 60 was more manageable and I often flocked to Spear-based sets because of this. But variety wise and some of the better maps in the stock games I'd say Wolf3D has more going on than Spear. It's still pretty good though.
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Post by Barry »

Thomas wrote:In order to make a convincing hell level, I don't know... It seems more suited for Doom than patchy old Wolf and Spear. Some of the sprites are quite imaginative, but the weird breathing thing the Angel of Death does makes it way too easy to kill, the ceiling is for some reason brown (?) when everything else is red... The silly ghosts flock about and let out a pooting noise when put into "dead" mode... The only cool thing about that level is the music. But level 18 itself is also a total letdown. You start in a room filled with ammo and a chain gun and meet the Death Knight first thing. Really, really weak ending material. Situations like these makes me scratch my head over those who prefer Spear to Wolf, different strokes I guess.

Considering how great some of the middle area mapping is (especially levels 11-16) it really makes me wonder why they half-assed the remainder.
I think the Volcano level of Operation Serpent did an excellent job of what could be a hell type level in the Wolf3D engine. However, I believe you are right if you are sticking to vanilla graphics and minimal code changes. While it sounds cool in concept, it can't be done very convincingly. As Ron said, it's not easy to get right and in most Spear sets, the hell level is never one that stands out. Can anybody think of one that was actually done well?

I also agree that 18 is a letdown. Spear in general starts to feel rushed after Floor 16. While it generally did a better job at more complete, difficult, and extensive boss levels than Wolf3D did, 18 is the exception.