ACSC12 - White Light on the Black Sky
WHITE LIGHT on the BLACK SKY
On the eve of a clash between the armies of the city of Freose, led by Lord Josef II, and Hanaket, led by Lord Karlek, a storm raged through the heavens. As lightning split across the sky, one man falls down a downward spiral of fear and desperation beneath its light, leading him to his own destruction...
An 18 minute cinematic scenario, submitted to the 2012 AOKH Cinematic Scenario Contest.
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"White Light on the Black Sky" is Paperclip007's submission to the 2013 Annual Cinematic Scenario Competition. It is a very nicely executed cutscene, about a soldier called Jack Lousill and the circumstances that led to him becoming a deserter and the consequences of it. It is somewhat more cerebral than the regular AOK cutscene, meaning that focus is on characterization rather than action. Don't expect to find epic fighting scenes here, but rather an exploration of the human psyche, which is much more interesting for me at least, and much more unusual for this format.
Though I enjoyed the cutscene overall, there are a couple of things that reduced this enjoyability. For one, the story, though very well constructed and using the "Tarantino" trick of disregarding chronological order, seemed to have a rather anticlimactic ending for me, and that's maybe because of the main character, but more on that in the "Story" section. One other thing that turned me off at some points during the cutscene is the jazzy music. I do understand the need the author felt to have a cohesive soundtrack, but even though some of the tracks fit in perfecly with their scenes (such as the build-up to the murder scene) others just don't sound right to me (such as the moment when the soldiers notice the other army going through the woods and a rather upbeat jazzy song is playing).
The only slightly negative thing worth mentioning related to the technical aspects of the cutscene is the fact that a few longer pieces of dialogue seemed to disappear too fast. Other than that. Everything was very nicely implemented and no there were no timing problems with the sounds either, that could distract you from the action.
The author has used quite a few tricks to good effect, more notably the forest taking fire or the troops going through the forest, and a very extensive use of sound effects does wonders in immersing the viewer. Let's not forget the non linear narrative, which was pretty clever and serves the purpose well, and is seldom seen in AOK (I'm not sure I've ever seen it before actually).
Map Design: 5
Very nice. Anyone who has already played Paperclip's scenarios knows what to expect and won't be disappointed. It's a rather minimalistic design but very nice on the eyes, and the tricks being used during the cutscene such as the lightning bolts only enhance the visual impact.
As mentioned earlier, I didn't enjoy the ending nearly as much as the rest of the cinematic. I didn't like the main character at all during the course of the story, but I did expect him to experience a redemption of some kind before the end. For me however, it was too little too late, he just seemed like a total asshole either way (won't spoil anything though).
Regardless of my subjective problems with the main character and the impression he left me with (I can certainly see other people disagreeing with my views on this), this was undoubtedly a well crafted and well told story from start to finish.
This is clearly a recommended download and a nice "psychological" cutscene that will challenge you to think more than the regular cinematic would, and put yourself in the protagonist's shoes, rather than just watching soldiers go at it in epic battles.
[Edited on 02/20/13 @ 01:29 AM]
This is a very unique and enjoyable cinematic scenario, with something as rare (for an AoK scenario) as a psychological story. The narrative structure, cutting between the present and flashbacks, and the jazz music both make it feel like a film noir. Some apparently think the music is a bit too upbeat and unsuitable for a scenario like this, but I'd say it's quite the opposite. The music fits perfectly, and the escalating craze of the music just adds to the psychological horror that the main character is experiencing. Very atmospheric, and overall fantastic.
Pretty much perfect. The dialogue is pretty quick, which suits the speed of the story and the increasing madness of the main character, but it's never so fast that it flies by. All other events are timed perfectly. Overall, after my first viewing, I'd say the flow is flawless.
Apart for the atmosphere, structure of the story and the film noir feel, which all add a lot of the creative aspect of the scenario, the author also uses a bunch of inventive design tricks. The constant flashing of thunder was creative, but after a while it could get annoying... but not so much that it ruined the cinematic. The trick I found was the most eye-catching was the lights in the forest, which I thought was just brilliant.
MAP DESIGN: 4
A tad bland and simple in some areas (mainly beneath the mountain), the map design was overall very good. It's a shame though that you didn't get to see too much of it, as the screen stayed black for most of the time. Overall I'd say the map design is solid, with some particularly nice bits, like the swampy crossing.
STORY & INSTRUCTIONS: 5
The story is very unique for an AoK story, and much more psychological than the ordinary "wars & brave knights"-story. Instead of just focusing on the rise and fall of military leaders or brave knights, with about as much personality as a piece of cardboard, we take a small peak into the psyche of a common soldier. I'm not going to give anything more away, though, because I don't want to spoil anything! All in all it's a very interesting story, and the instructions are quite sufficient. The intro text actually reminded me of a manuscript for a play, with the roles listed and all, which was a nice touch!
All in all, a must see!