Diaz - Retrospective

I think it was in late 2005 that Marty Kirra and I were in frequent contact. We tended to bounce ideas off each other for our respective projects. I'd send him beta versions of Mister Cola and The Stranger to test, and he'd ask me all manner of gun-nut questions and stuff about his little universe he was making. That universe was the framework surrounding a character of his by the name of Agent Hernandez (he was never given a first name, and Marty and I both joked that he'd forgotten it). Marty eventually revealed to me that, once he learned a bit more about how ZDoom modding worked, he'd make Agent Hernandez his own mod. He mentioned to me another character of his, Olivia Diaz, that Hernandez was supposed to be sort of a "fanboy" of. I can't remember when I had the idea to give her a mod as well, but the original plan was that the Diaz mod would serve as a "prequel" to Hernandez. Well, so far, that hasn't happened yet...but here we go on a retrospective anyway.

After just under a year of work, I put out the original WW-Diaz.wad to /idgames. This was sort of a turning point for my own ZDoom work, where I stopped doing "experimental" stuff and paid more attention to making a more cohesive set of weapons. The one thing I planned on doing right from the outset, though, was getting away from the Doomguy hands. This was something I'd been wanting to do since 2004, back when I was working on the (never finished) Agent Zero mod for EDGE (cancelled because I never did figure out what I wanted to do with it, and fellow project member Chronoteeth was adding stuff to it that I really didn't want...really, cancellation was an act of mercy for that thing, neither of us knew what the hell we were doing back then).

The decision to create a "new" set of hands for Diaz had three major effects. Firstly, I (inadvertently) started a sort of trend among weapon modders to try their hands at using different sets of hands (like Brutal Doom's fingerless black gloves). Second, I find that newbie modders are far less likely to rip material from Diaz wholesale, at least, not without at least trying to edit different hands onto the weapons.

The third and most important effect of this decision...was that Marty and I had to Frankensprite a new hand for nearly every frame of animation. This really didn't do us any favors as far as getting the thing done in a reasonable amount of time. I still have no idea how it only took me "several months" to finish this mod, as opposed to the likely over a year it took to make the Hits Collection version. (Oh, did I not mention, this is only about the original release, and not the 2008 update?)

Really though, I had a lot of fun making this mod - possibly too much, as I'd later find that all my weapons were almost hilariously overpowered to "make up" for the reloading system. For this mod, I borrowed a reload system from DoomRater that enabled the use of a separate, freely-rebindable key to reload (as opposed to the Altfire-based system I used in The Stranger). However, instead of counting by bullets, this mod counted by entire magazines, discarding partially used magazines if the player reloads in the middle of one. A perhaps ill-advised decision I made, though, is that the game will refuse to let you reload unless you've used more than 50% of the ammo in the current magazine. Obsessive reloaders complained as well.

Another really bizarre decision I made, out of a complete lack of understanding of shotgun shells, was that instead of the generic red buckshot shells, I'd make the two shotguns fire triple-B birdshot. For those that don't understand what I'm going on about, birdshot shells are not loaded with the larger lead balls that buckshot shells get. Birdshot is instead loaded with around a hundred very small balls, which - if the name is any indication - is primarily intended for hunting birds, due to the very small size and very high number of them. So my shotguns - the Makoto Type 301 and the SPAS-12 (with some of the positively ugliest model rip sprites I've allowed into any of my mods since Weasel's Weapons) - instead of only firing a few pellets per shot with an average damage, fired almost 100 hitscan pellets dealing only 1 or 2 hitpoints of damage apiece. This made the shotguns almost hilariously overpowered, but also brought many lesser CPUs to a grinding halt due to the particle effect bullet puffs I borrowed from Caligari87. Nowadays, you're less likely to see any performance issues there, but the Hits Collection version still opted to reduce this back to buckshot levels just because of how silly the whole thing was.

If WW-Diaz had any major failing though, it's the "super" weapon - the BFG replacement, the railgun-like Arc Welder, is actually pretty underwhelming as a weapon, since it takes several shots to even take down a Baron. That's why I replaced it with the Neutralizer in the update (which is still kind of lame, but significantly less so, and also more widescreen-friendly). The real star of the show, as far as heavy power goes, is the RPG-7, which is a pretty awesome crowd-clearing weapon. The RPD (which is actually supposed to be an RPK-74, but I didn't know that at the time) is also pretty overpowered, but its uses are heavily limited, thanks to the requirement that you set the weapon up on its bipod before you can use it at all (which I lifted for the update).

The most important lesson I learned from making Diaz was that, just because I've balanced my mod to where I can play it comfortably, doesn't mean that it's balanced for your average Doomer. In the interests of full disclosure, I actually suck a lot at Doom, and tend to play on Hurt Me Plenty on everything. Hell Revealed presents difficulty issues for me. For just about every mod I made after this one, I decided that I should start balancing it to where I would start having trouble with the game again, but not in such a way that the game is unfair. There's a number of ways I've found to soup it up like this, like the projectile bullets in WW-Nazis. But the point is, after this mod, I quit making my weapons so powerful and brought skill back into things.

Some time after WWHC-Diaz was released, I was informed that Richard Smith Long actually made an add-on patch for the original Diaz. As it turns out, some crazy fellows actually prefer this version over the update, but still wanted the recoil and other effects from the Hits version...I really don't understand why that got made, to be honest.

Get Diaz (original version) from /idgames archives