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Downloads Home » Single Player Scenarios » ESRC12_Shadows of Betrayal

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ESRC12_Shadows of Betrayal

Author File Description
File Details
Version: The Conquerors 1.0c
Style: Mix
Historically, the Battle of Manzikert was such a shattering defeat that the Byzantines were never able to speak of it as other than "that terrible day". It was on that terrible day in 1071 that "Anatolia, heartland of Byzantium... was lost forever to Christendom". In one catastrophic day the eastern Roman Empire had lost its major recruiting region, its major grain producing region, and its vital trade route between Constantinople and the riches of the East.

But today, you'll find yourself re-living what-if scenarios that will be based on your decisions - decisions that will either follow history or reverse it.

+++ Seven Playable Characters
+++ Thirteen Unique Endings
+++ An aggregate 8 hours or more of game play replay value.

+++ Updated to Version 1.5, thanks to Sword of Storm (aka Jatayu) (changelog included)

Enjoy! :)
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AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
VenGalen shieldwolf23 ....

If I played with all the characters, I only need to finish the Tamis the Turk.

You have a point with that good may result decicion not as bad, but the balance ploblema is that when you take a good decicion, the game is very easy, and when you take a bad decicion, the game is hard, should have a little more balance.

Thank you for your contribution to AOKH. :)
File Author
Thanks Ven, for the time you've devoted in finishing the scenario. Like I have said, Balance is always the tricky one. If another reviewer would point out the same (bad decisions - hard game; good decisions - easy game), I'll be updating it pronto.

If I do update, what would you want me to change? Any suggestions? Maybe give the enemy 75% of the bonus the player gets? Right now, they are given 50% (for example,if player 1 is given 50HP extra, enemies get 25HP).
Taichud This is a very fun campaign with immense replay value. I definitely recommend anyone to download it. So far, it is the best of the 2012 ES scenario remakes I have seen. It's just a shame that you can't play as Alp Arslan or Nizam al-Mulk.
File Author
thanks for the very kind words Taichud! :) Yes, I agree, an option to play the Turks would have been better. To tell you the truth, I really planned to give the player an option to play the Turks, but I was restricted by the fact that in AOK, you can't change civilizations (am I right in assuming that, or is there a way to change it in-game?). I felt that it would be weird to see Player 1's civilization as Byzantines and we are handling the Turkish side. I hope you'd honor me with a review, Taichud. :)
Map Design4.0
Playability: 4
It's a very fun scenario, with more replay value than I have ever seen in a scenario before, no kidding. There are seven playable characters, each with their own storylines and options. The replay value is down to the vast array of choices a player can make. Although the scenario doesn't take too long when played with any of the characters, it's certainly action-packed and entertaining, with big battles that do actually require a certain level of strategy over brute force to win. Unfortunately I couldn't give it a five because of the rampant bugs that made gameplay in some places quite difficult.

Balance: 3
This was the weakest point of the scenario. I would have given Shadows of Betrayal a higher mark if it was a slight bit more consistant in its difficulty. Some of the characters were quite challenging, while others were easy. The fact that characters were given varied amounts of the same troops to win the same battles meant that especially battlefield suffered from a lack of balance. It would perhaps help if you would assign and state a difficulty for each character, which would remove the inconsistancy as a flaw.

Creativity: 5
Balancing historical accuracy with entertainment value has always been challenging, but shieldwolf has struck me as very skilled at this. I have done a slight bit of research and a fair deal of the events in Shadows of Betrayal did actually happen. Shieldwolf merely altered them to make them positively suitable for an AoK scenario. Without hestiation I can say that in this he did better than Ensemble Studios.

Map Design: 5
The map design included terrain mixing, Gaia eyecandy, realistic-looking cities, mixed forests and basically everything that makes a map look good. Elevation was used generously, adding a tactical value in the map design. Too many times have I seen lavishly-decorated scenarios which would have been totally awesome, had the author not ignored the tactical approach to the placement of impassable terrain and resources, the applying of elevation and the layout of cities. A good example of shieldwolf's skill at this comes with Khliat. The tiny garrison and small size of the fort is deceptive. The position of the walls and towers, and the surrounding geography of the town makes it frustratingly costly to attack; battering rams will actually be torn apart by arrows before being able to destroy the castle. Expect to lose a lot of troops.

Story/Instructions: 4
The Scenario Companion and the well-crafted hints that were of value to every character, as well as the lush history behind this scenario require that I give it a high mark. Unfortunately it is just off a five because of a certain limit in instructional objectives, as well as a lack of talking. When meeting a character for an objective, he will emit a comment. Then you are required to look at your objectives, where what the character said will be displayed. It is functional, but could be improved.

Additional Comments:
In conclusion, this is a very fun campaign with immense replay value. I recommend anyone to download it. Going through all the characters may strike you as boring, but personally, after playing through the whole scenario with all the characters, I wished there were actually more characters to play with.
VenGalen shieldwolf23 .....

I've taken some time to reflect your question, I'm sorry I miss waiting so ......

With respect to the upgrade, it would seem a good idea to give the player more time to regain strength in kiliath and Mazinkert before Turkish attack, also give more resources to player 1 so you can recruit more soldiers in the cities, and put more Turkish soldiers but with less attack (historically the Turks were strong force not by individuals but by their numerical strength).

With respect to the bond, I parese good idea, because as I said before the Turks had no strength but were numerous.

I do not like to get into other people's conversations, but noted that'' I just felt it would be weird That to see Player 1's civilization as Byzantines and we are handling the Turkish side'' is very easy to fix. Just put that player 1 is a civilization different from those two as a neutral and civilization would not matter if you're Turkish or Byzantine. Hope that helps at this point ...... this aspect of playing with the Turks would also be good for the upgrade. :D

I repeat, this is the best entry for the contest;)

[Edited on 08/31/12 @ 10:52 AM]

File Author
Thanks Ven! I thought I lost you there. :P

Will do as you have suggested, and update the file accordingly. As to the Turkish side, well, if the downloaders wouldn't mind controlling Turkish units even though their civilization is Byzantine, then, well, I'll give it a go! :D
Official Reviewer
Map Design4.0
ESRC12: Shadows of Betrayal is Shieldwolf23's entry to the Ensemble Studios Remake Competition, hosted by Jatayu. Although there are parts that could use some decent improvement, this is an excellent scenario. Seeing as this is only the 2nd or 3rd(?) submission by this author to AOKH (although the designer, as I understand, is one of the greats at Empire Earth Heaven), this scenario is a very good work by a rising star at AOKH.

Playability: 4
As it says in the author's description, "7 playable characters, 13 possible endings". Upon reading that, my jaw dropped. I immediately thought of Berserker Jerker's legendary work Sabato Returns, what with 3 paths to take and ~10 hours of extremely enjoyable gameplay. Without hesitation, I started the scenario and played through all 13 endings and had quite a fun time. All characters are quite unique and have different agendas, making each story and ending different. Despite seemingly unlimited replayability and fun, there were a few errors that hurt the fun factor. First, the games were too short. I would say that all 13 endings amounted to about 4 hours of gameplay on fast speed. Although I understand there was a contest deadline and the author was pressed for time, I would hope that an update would bring with it longer games than ~40 min per ending. Also, many of the choices for the characters to make were pretty redundant. My breakdown was that Alyates, Romanos, and Bryennios were all the "good" guys, and with one exception in which Bryennios could betray Romanos, they all had the same main objectives. In fact, no matter what character you played, it looked like the main objectives were "Take Khliat" and "Take Manzikert" or "Hold Manzikert". Doukas was the main "bad guy" and Roussel, Joseph, and Bryennios all had the choice to betray or support Romanos, making their games pretty similar. Tamis's game was unique, as was his story; it seemed like he had no allies and just wanted to get out. Despite some redundancy, there is a plethora of playability, easily deserving a 4.

Balance: 3+
This was the weakest point of the scenario. The bottom line is that it is too easy. The only time I was remotely challenged was with Tamis the Turk, due to the overabundance of enemy troops and the looping spawn triggers for the yellow pikes and crossbows. In all other cases, you are given too many troops, whose HP increases seemingly exponentially over time, and unlimited onagers for sieges. Although most characters eventually command about 100 troops, each game is winnable with only a fraction of that force. All the large battles with the Turks or Byzantines (depending on choices you make) are cakewalks, and I find it sad that a rabble army of recruit pikes and skirmishers are often able to best the fabled Seljuk cavalry. The extra HP system, though designed to create longer battles, actually grossly tips the scales in favor of the player, as his troops get more bonuses. However, the good news is that these issues could easily be fixed in an update that makes the scenario tougher. I awarded a 3+ instead of a 3 because I felt that the balance might be a little better for less experienced players. Perhaps the fact that I beat games like Way of the Warrior, Ulio, and Chrombasia on Hard difficulty with little trouble might skew my balance rating, so I will give the author the benefit of the doubt. I advise you, however, to include difficulty dynamism, or if you have, with a greater difference.

Creativity: 5-
This scenario is very creative. Nobody before has attempted such an accurate and detailed Manzikert remake before, and the creativity of 7 characters, 13 endings goes hand in hand with the playability. The author showcases a creative design style, his own take on the event and all possibilities, some cool trigger tricks, and varied gameplay. A 5- instead of a 5 was awarded due to small nuances such as major objectives and plotlines being a little too similar sometimes, as well as a bit of redundancy in gameplay. Overall, this was the scenario's finest point.

Map Design: 4
The map design was excellent. As stated above, the author has a unique design style that fits well with the area of the world he was portraying. Also, as a previous reviewer stated, the tactical placement and use of terrain helped the scenario a great deal. Eyecandy was used well and not excessively. My personal favorite parts of the map were the small town outside Khliat with the irrigated farms, and then Roussel's starting position with the jungle bushes, towers, and ruins mixed with road terrain. The author's affinity for map design is not surprising considering his prowess at EE Heaven. The causes for deduction were the rare but noticeable presence of cliffs cut by elevation, the relative lack of elevation in Erzerum, Manzikert, and Mus, a rough third of an already small map being inaccessible when more space is direly needed, and the tiny size of the map (I was hoping that a game with 13 endings would be on a larger map, as the limited amount of space made parts somewhat boring). Overall a great effort and pretty to look at. I should add that the author displays good design skill in snowy, temperate, and urban terrains, something to be proud of.

Story/Instructions: 4
The scenario comes with an outstanding guide, entitled the "Scenario Companion," which provides much backstory and a map of the region. Before even starting the scenario, by reading this I automatically knew that the author took the time to do in-depth research and that the scenario would be very historically accurate. I was further amazed by the fluidity with which the author incorporated separate choices and the token historical inaccuracy to enhance playability. Seldom have I seen such meticulous work and research performed in an AOK project, and the results are stunning. Stunning, as in this scenario (and companion) could probably be used in a highschool or college history class as a teaching tool for a comprehensive study of the battle of Manzikert, (incidentally, I made a PPT presentation on the Seljuks featuring the battle of Manzikert as a project for my history class last year, so I know a good amount about it already, yet this scenario taught me more). Shieldwolf23 accurately and interestingly chronicles this turning point of history from all views, and does it with creative style. It was very difficult to knock a point off here, but I decided some errors made it necessary. The overall awkwardness and abruptness of many dialogues, despite the author's unique and cool way of looking into the character's thoughts via the objectives screen, and the lack of fluidity in the transition from dialogue to objective hurt. I also feel that despite the useful Scenario Companion, revealers should have been used to mark objective spots, and there were some spots where the player was unsure on what to do. I think lack of experience in AOK designing showed a bit here, something I could relate to as a relatively new designer about a year ago. However, all told, there is no denying that this is excellent.

Additional Comments:
Shadows of Betrayal is an excellent submission and is sure to contend for the win in the ESRC12. Despite some problems and a few crashes and bugs in certain characters' games, this is a great work. With an update, this could definitely hit a 4.5 at least. As is, I thoroughly recommend the download, as it was an incredibly enjoyable (and educative) experience for me. Keep the projects coming, Shieldwolf- they just keep getting better and better!
File Author
Taichud and HockeySam just made my day! :D Thanks guys. I have already begun incorporating the various suggestions I got from previous commenters and VenGalen, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a back-to-back review from you both Taichud and Sam. My heartfelt thanks. :) I'll definitely revisit the whole thing, and especially see how I could nail the Balance issues. I'm also planning to give a Turkish view on the scenario too.

I am wondering if you guys would be interested on a sequel story on how these characters lived out their lives, (a scenario made without time constrictions), and hopefully tied to all the choices you made (and will be making) in-game? I know that would be ambitious of me, but well, there's always a first time to be. :) What do you think?


And yup, I'm blushing on the praise, coming from you guys. :)

[Edited on 09/13/12 @ 01:36 AM]

Official Reviewer
Dude, you should definitely make a sequel. I'm sure it will be awesome. If you are good with AI, you can do a taunt system where your first scenario spits out a code based on your choices to enter in the second scenario (like Berserker Jerker did with Sabato's Holy Grail) and pick up where you left off. I advise you, however, to update this file first, as I definitely see potential for a updated score of 4.5 or more. Once again, what you have going here is great, and I was glad to play it. :)
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