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Downloads Home » Single Player Scenarios » ESRC12_Shadows of Betrayal

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ESRC12_Shadows of Betrayal

Author File Description
shieldwolf23
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 )
shieldwolf23
File Author
Thank you Ven! For the initial support and the confidence given. :) I'm almost done with the outlines I have been doing, to further make each character's plot line unique. Although I will not make the update on this file, because the one I'm planning to make is almost a different scenario entirely, without the time constraints, I'm hoping to release it before the year ends. Again, thanks VenGalen! :)
HockeySam18
Staff
Official Reviewer
Shieldwolf- great to see you're doing another scenario. Just a piece of advice, if you plan on having so many characters again, I would make the map on a "giant" size map. It will help keep the players more interested. I would also make each character's game longer (shoot for an hour at least per character, per ending), and vary the objectives more (the larger map will allow this better). Just like the contest judges said, there are more possibilities more than destroying Khliat and Manzikert over and over again. The battle of Manzikert was fought over all of central and Eastern Anatolia, and having different characters fight separate battles will certainly keep the game interesting. Also, playing as the Turks would be a cool option. And finally, look into scripting AI (or getting the help of a good scripter). Good and diverse AI's can really help with the enjoyment and challenge of a scenario.

By the way, if you need a playtester, I'm in. I have free time during the Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring breaks. Good luck with this, its sure to be awesome!
shieldwolf23
File Author
Thanks for the interest Sam! With the map-copy option, I might consider your suggestion. If this was done in EE --- AI and triggering would be a lot easier, but the map, that would just be impossible. So yes, I will consider using a giant map. As to objectives, there would be surprises in store, and a diverging plot-lines for each character. I hope I could pull this off. *fingers crossed* The moment I'm ready for PT, I will open up a thread in the Forums, and I hope you could help me with it, Sam. ATM, I'm done with the outline, and will start on the scenario revamp over the weekend.
HockeySam18
Staff
Official Reviewer
Multiple players of the same color representing the same faction but using different AIs can be an easy solution. I am currently making a scenario that has one enemy under an immobile-style AI and another with an Aggressive AI. When I want an aggressive battle, I just use a change ownership trigger giving units from the immobile player to the aggressive player.

As for the forum thread, you might want to post a project thread now, updating progress as you go. Aside from gaining more attention for your project, you can get feedback on your screenshots and ideas from the forummers. Lord Basse's Relics of Athalen thread is a perfect example of this.

If ever you need advice, ideas, screenshot critiquing, or any form of help, or when your scenario is ready for playtesting, shoot me an email at hockeysam@me.com
panel
Official Reviewer
Rating
4.4
Breakdown
Playability4.0
Balance3.0
Creativity5.0
Map Design5.0
Story/Instructions5.0
"Shadows of Betrayal" is the well deserved winner of the ES Remake Competition, and one of the most creative games uploaded to the blacksmith this year. It revisits the battle of Manzikert in a much more exciting way than Ensemble Studios did, adding intrigue and multiple playable characters and endings in the mix. I'm pretty sure this game is the AOK record holder as far as the number of endings go. But sometimes more does not necessarily mean better, and the scenario is a bit rough on the edges at times.

Playability: 4-
Is it revolutionary? Yes. Is it enjoyable? Yes, but to a lesser extent than it could be. The main problem is the fact that the lack of time has not allowed the author to properly test the game for bugs. Though the game is mostly playable, there are some weird things that pop up sometimes, on top of which some balance issues also show up, many of which have already been brought up by other reviewers. I will focus on another aspect that brought the playability down, and that is the discontinuous nature of the game which is sometimes likely to frustrate the player. You will be pausing the game frequently either to look at the objectives for stuff that could have easily and much more elegantly been presented in-game through cutscenes, or to get out of the game altogether to look at the game companion and see which route you're supposed to take. Some objectives are not even explicitly stated within the objectives tab, and that means the player will try to guess what he has to do next (I've had this problem with the Nikopheros game, when you are loyal to the emperor, IIRC).

The game does have a ridiculous replay value with all the possible paths to take and different choices you are presented with. However, it mostly boils down to the same thing in most cases, defending or taking Manzikert. Some of the "choices" are really "booby traps" that just end the game abruptly, so that's was a bit of a bummer.

I am aware I presented quite a lot of critique here, but the playability factor of the scenario is still strong, helped by the other factors such as the narrative and the map design, and some more or less unexpected twists that come up... such as... betrayal?... The whole package is quality stuff, really.

Balance: 3+
This was not the game's strong point. Even though decent, I can't help but feel the challenge should have been increased. And this is coming from somebody who is not a great AOK player by any standard. Most of the missions I did, i was able to accomplish without even a reload. When Turks attack Manzikert, they are very far from the aggressiveness they were famous for. Some of their troops just stay behind and wait for you to come slaughter them, reducing the balance greatly. In one of the storylines (don't really remember which, I think it was Andronikos), the Turks behave even weirder and start running back, conveniently allowing you to kill Arp.

I'm not very familiar with custom AI but I do believe it would be one of the best paths to take in order to solve this problem, and much more elegant than using a lot of triggers to try to influence the units'behavior.

Creativity: 5
The game shines here. A lot of the features are unique, such as the Scenario Companion and the replay value that I have already touched upon. The music is a great addition. Even though some of the tracks have already been used to death in AOK scenarios (such as Ocean Blue :) ), it's still a very well chosen soundtrack and it enters at all the right moments. Basically all areas of the game show a well above average level of creativity and it's a very fresh take on AOK design, you can tell the author has been "schooled" in a different scenario editor.

Map Design: 5
I really love the map, it's exactly what I was expecting given Shieldwolf's previous AOK designs, and at the same time it presents an improvement over them. I like the terrain mixing and the layout of the cities, and also the use of elevation. The map is not only made to look good, but also to influence the game tactically and last but not least to properly represent Anatolia, in fact I believe it's one of the best attempts of it we have at the blacksmith. Perhaps a bit too many palm trees though, having been there I don't recall seeing that many :p . Snowy regions so close to areas where palm trees grow might also be perceived by some as not very realistic, but the whole map is put together very stylishly so it would be nitpicking to deduct points for that. Overall a fantastic job!

Story/Instructions: 5-
I think this is the area where Shieldwolf has really outdone himself. The game is extremely well documented, very few designers would go to such lengths for a scenario... And the alternate histories provided are realistic and well within the historical framework. The player is warned about this from the very beginning, and the game stays true to this "alternate history" theme throughout, making it a fascinating experience, compelling the player to try each of the paths and see how they turn out. The scenario companion is a fantastic addition to the game, including detailed descriptions of all the characters and the historical background, and a map with the important locations. The only problem is, the need to rely on it in-game which as I said fragments gameplay and is not good for the game's flow.

One thing this game lacks in my humble opinion, and which would also improve said flow, is cutscenes. The author has probably left them out because he had a very realistic outlook on the time he had to spare (and I believe it was a good decision at the time). However, they would probably increase the playability if done right.

Additional Comments:
A designer who puts emphasis on the narrative aspect of the game is such a rare thing nowadays that I am immensely happy we have Shieldwolf around, and I hope he sticks to designing in AOK for years to come. This scenario is an obvious improvement over his last one, and I have strong reason to believe the next one will be even better. This is a very recommended download, especially for history freaks and people that like their game to have a very detailed background and tons of choices and different play options. Enjoy your win Shieldwolf, it's well deserved!
shieldwolf23
File Author
Thank you very much panel! :) Had a minor accident, and your review is an uplifting thing this morning! All smiles for me, really! :) I will definitely make things more interesting.

@Sam - Thank you. I will open up a project thread, as soon as I have transferred at least 50% of the current map to a Large Map (Giant map would be way too big, I might end up filling the rest of them with trees, but not Palm Trees as panel put it. :P Thank you guys for making my day.
Lord Basse
Official Reviewer
*** This scenario received the award "Best Gameplay" in the Game of the Year Awards of 2012, tied with "The Jaguar Gold" ***

*** This scenario received the award "Best Map Design" in the Game of the Year Awards of 2012. ***

*** This scenario received the award "Best Story" in the Game of the Year Awards of 2012. ***

http://aok.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/aokcgi/display.cgi?action=ct&f=4,41304,0,10

[Edited on 01/27/13 @ 10:18 AM]

shieldwolf23
File Author
Thanks for the heads-up Lord Basse! And please, kindly extend my sincerest thanks to AOKH forummers and those who voted and participated in the GOTY 2012 awards. As I have told panel, I can't seem to access the forums to post or reply on things there, so if it will take time to fix it, I do hope that I have expressed my deepest appreciation on this humbling achievement. :)
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Rating
4.0
Breakdown
Playability4.2
Balance3.0
Creativity4.6
Map Design4.0
Story/Instructions4.0
Statistics
Downloads:1,220
Favorites: [Who?]2
Size:23.00 MB
Added:08/21/12
Updated:08/24/12