ESRC'12 - Joan's ride to chinon
Posted on 08/08/12 @ 10:07 PM (updated 09/12/12
Joan's Ride to Chinon
A light rain falls on the ground, wind rustles the grass and leaves of the trees. It is spring, a moment of rebirth and growth, a new life for a land stained with blood. The pale green of the newly-grown saplings and shafts of light that pierce the young leaves overhead give testimony to the grown, but the scars in the earth where battles have raged, where fires have swept away tracts of forest, where the animals no longer sound, show the damage that has been wrought in the months before winter. It was as if a past life was being wiped over, and would soon be invisible Ã¯Â¿Â½ and eventually healed. A truamatizing moment in a child's memory healed with naught but a hug and kiss. But the land had been torn for very nearly a century by a war that had left the woods empty, and the people of France broken. Three generations of peasants had passed since the beginning of the war, and very few knew the cause was none more politics. To them a king had died and new king should be crowned. It was simple, there were rules in place for this, Salic law was certain in it's reckoning.
But the British came. They came, and they conquered. But the french people resisted, they fought. However, it was as if building a sandcastle before an oncoming tide. No preperation is enough to stop such an undeniable force, and for 91 years, they fought, slowly losing a war that would leave them exaughsted as a people and a land. Only divine intervention could possible save these people, which, in fact, it did.
This scenario is based on the original Joan of Arc campaign. It is remastered with new map design, while leaving much of the old layout and even dialogue. As this was often the first scenario played after finishing the William Wallace campaign, I found that this inspired nostalgia in my friends and I while playtesting. However, I tried to add more to the story to give the feel of a war-torn France, and to add more gameplay to avoid it being a cakewalk.
Please note that this is not a departure from map layout or essential gameplay, it is intended to be a rather complete reconstruction of the original, while adding to it. It is NOT a complete redo with a more historically accurate map and gameplay.
Natasha Warnes performed the music you hear during the course of this scenario.
EDIT: UPDATED FOR DIFFICULTY August 21st, 2012.
EDIT: UPDATED FOR MUSIC FILES AND A FEW BUG FIXES August 26th, 2012
EDIT: UPDATED FOR ONE LAST BUG FIX (hopefully) August 27th, 2012
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It's nice to play again a revamped scenario that most of the community had played a long time ago when started to play AoK campaigns, this scenario made by Karol had some nice eye candy touch and some new ideas for the travel that Joan had done to Chinon in her first scenario in the campaign Joan of Arc (duh).
The game playability still very similar to the ES scenario playability, most of ES scenario get good ideas and famous historical events (like Agincourt or Genghis Khan battles), but all of the ES scenarios (and this is my opinion) are easy and not very realistic. The contest was a chance to Mapmakers do a better job with important events that ES didn't treated very well, and I didn't saw any improvement that makes this game more fun than the ES scenario.
The journey could be more interactive with the player, you just walk/kill/run the whole scenario.
Since you have increased the difficulty of the game, I increased your rating too, after the last edition, the game is a bit more hard and challenges more the player, this makes the game better in my conception. Usually most of the players get more satisfied when they encounter a challenge that makes then to try more than the obvious (that's just my opinion, of course).
You have done a better balance for the enemy, now the player have to be more cautious with his few units. Because of that, I will increase your review (but the game still without any major danger for the player or any original surprise, like I have said in the first review).
The creativity still with a reasonable rating. I don't agree with you about your description of the goal of the contest. It isn't about just doing a better designed ES map. The contest is about doing a better use of the historical content in ES scenarios. For me, you had the chance to be more creative adding new elements and tasks that aren't present in the ES scenario, not just a "graphical update" with very few new elements (Your entry for the contest had almost the same "action order" that exists in the original ES scenario: Start in french camp, get new troops from the yellow player, walk, sneak and pass through the battle, walk, kill enemies in the road, walk near the burgundy camp, get more troops from yellow village, etc...).
Also, a quote from the topic announcing the contest:
"The aim of the contest is to remake a scenario from any of the Age of Kings/The Conquerors campaigns in a better way. If you feel that ES made a botch out of some historical event, or that some scenario or campaign could be better done, here's your chance!"
That's it, you could have done much more in that scenario, I'm not talking about a map full of complex triggers and hardcore puzzles, I just expected a more interesting and dynamic scenario, not just a common ES scenario with eye candy and a cutscene.
The burgundy castle in the northwest area of the map still useless, the first time that I have played this game (The ES version) I thought: "hmm, ES should have done something nice there and could give some reason for the player to destroy this castle or some battle like that", and you didn't had any interest about that too, the game still a simple "walk to place X and win" game.
The mission still easy and slow, with a very few surprises, the river with the galley trying to kill the transport ship still untouched and without anything new... Letting the Briton army at the start in the middle of the path was a intelligent idea, the player should lure the enemy away from your heroes, but why just that? The briton army still strong even after the battle with the yellow, why they couldn't go north and wipe out the french camp? It would be a nice touch for the game if Joan had to try to escape from a slaughter between the french camp and the remnant of a briton army!
Map Design: 5
All the map got a better design and improvements (The burgundy fortress got a gate, the transport ship place have a nice pier, and we can't forget about the bridge demolition by the Britons, which was a fantastic idea!). You could had done a couple more things, like improvements in the french camp at start and doing a more interactive and realistic camp, but in the overall, you had done a very good job, so you deserved a 5.
The instructions was clearly and short. (Like the instructions in the original scenario made by ES), since I always had a idea about what to do in this scenario, I can give a 5.
My first review, I hope that you will find my feedback useful :P
And sorry about my english!
[Edited on 08/21/12 @ 02:50 PM]
CarolKarine's entry to the first Ensemble Studios' Scenario Remake contest keeps true to the object set forth by the designer: "a complete reconstruction of the original... with a more historically accurate map and gameplay". But personally, I feel that the designer could have deviated a little more to provide us, players, with a more engaging scenario. Finished in a little over 32 game minutes playing on Fast:Moderate.
The gameplay is very linear, although there were a few pleasant surprises. The earlier versions of the scenario involved a couple of bugs that hampered an all-out play, but, following the latest update, all of them have been addressed. Playing the scenario one time is nostalgic, as HockeySam said, but owing to the straight flow of the game, re-playability suffered. Originally rated at 3, I'm jacking up the score to 3+ following successful updates.
I think this is the strongest point of the scenario. As Mazzarin said, the player's restrictions to a few units made it quite a challenge for me. However, after a times, the tactic of luring the enemy so that Joan's party can pass made for a somewhat redundant gameplay experience.
The scenario itself stayed true to the objective of the designer. But as I said, I feel that the author could have presented side-quests or a more militarily-oriented gameplay to make the scenario more memorable. Some suggestions include an RPG-like part on the intervening years of the adolescent Joan, or a quest to get/ persuade villagers to take up arms and join Joan and the French army. The occasional trigger tricks helped boost the score.
Map Design: 4
A solid map design, and a couple of neat tricks (blown bridge, fountain). There were places where an additional terrain mixing and vegetable patches could have improved the look and feel of the area, but overall, a map that is nice to look at as well as a functional one.
I don't get why the Knights sworn to protect Joan leaves Joan to fend for herself and instructs her to find a ram. I find the apprehension of the Knights to push through and arrive at the base (considering they are on horseback!) a little bit odd. Also, Hockey's comment on being able to choose different paths did not trigger on the latest version. I had to use Marco Polo to know what to do next the moment the towers were destroyed (destroying the gate to push east). Plot-wise, the occasional dialogues were sometimes hurried, although the bits and pieces of these NPC dialogues giving a realistic view on war-torn France is a welcome thing. Minor point deductions on grammatical mistakes.
Specific areas you can look into include:
1- Extending the area of the first broken cart (sometimes, Joan's party pass without firing the dialogue about the "massacred supply chains".
2- As I have pointed out under Story/Instructions, it's better for the "Tower" objective to be deleted entirely, and the corresponding "at last we can join you" dialogue too.
3- Once in the Army of France's first base, the dialogues of the Yellow player are jumbled, I had to click the dialogue bar in-game to know what they said.
4- Dialogue under GRAY (woman farmer) should have been GREY to fire the color trigger correctly.
5- Chinon's area, while allied to you, should be an enemy to the Brits. What I did was to run straight for the castle, but the pesky enemy came up right past the gates. I thought Chinon won't let them past (since they are plot-wise, enemies), but they did. And yep, Joan was killed. No worries though, I had a saved game for that. :)
6 - Consider too in giving us more background music. While Natasha's piece is good (RIP Natasha), it's my personal opinion that it's too short to really comfortably fit with the scenario.
Worth the wait for the updates to be made.
ESRC12: Joan's Ride to Chinon is CarolKarine's submission to the Ensemble Studios Remake Contest, hosted by Jatayu. Although it is very similar to the original ES scenario (the author's purpose in mind was to recreate the map while enhancing gameplay and the experience), pretty much everything about is better.
I had a good amount of fun playing this scenario. The author basically took the Joan 1 mission and said "How can I make this experience better for the player?" Varied gameplay, decent challenge, excellent design, and good story advancement speak for themselves and show that the author accomplished this. As a player, I never got bored, save for some long walks and gameplay that got redundant at times. However, whenever I started to get a little bored, something new and exciting happened to reawaken my interest. I only wish that the scenario had been longer. A couple of in-game choices somewhat helped replayability.
I seem to have this gripe with many scenarios, but this scenario also was a little too easy. The author added a little bit of difficulty dynamism, but not enough to really make a difference. I won't go as far as to say that it was a cakewalk, but once you find the right strategy, it is hard to lose. At most points of the scenario, you can either win battles outright or use your troops as a decoy to distract the enemy while Joan, Bertrand, and De Metz slip past. I see balance as the most difficult aspect of scenarios to achieve, as you must cater to players of all different levels. However, it is not a colossal challenge to achieve balance in FF scenarios, and I wish some parts had been harder. I will not knock it to much, however since for many players, it might be harder.
The author has evidenced himself as a very creative designer, and used his creativity co create varied gameplay that was unique and increased the fun factor. Highlights were entering an enemy castle, sneaking past potent enemy fortifications, watching a bridge blow up, and multiple workers farming the same field. One should definitely take note that in this regard, the author took the ES Scenario, already a good one, and added his own creative elements, inspiring nostalgia while surprising me with new and cool things. Subtle tricks, such as the glide trick in the St. Michael cutscene, a realistic fountain, and good use of Trigger Studio to make the game look more realistic made a huge difference. Excellent work here.
Map Design: 5
CarolKarine's map design skills are definitely enviable, and the most impressive part of this scenario. Everything is there for a reason, and the author shows expertise in design of cities, camps, countryside, bridges, villages...well, everything. The map, on the whole, was very pretty to look at and a definite model for new designers. Another great job!
The story didn't vary much from the original scenario, but that was the author's intention. Indeed, many of the dialogues were the same, but the author also added his own dialogues and new parts as well. Excellent write ups, clear instructions, and solid hints rounded off a fine effort. Although nothing was above and beyond in the way of story, the author put a lot of care into this sphere and it showed.
This is an excellent scenario and a worthwhile download to say the least. I expect this to make a serious bid at winning the ESRC12. Great work CarolKarine!!!
[Edited on 09/23/12 @ 09:26 AM]