War of the White Rose - Teaser!
|Lance O Lot
Posted on 02/02/06 @ 07:55 PM (updated 02/05/06
It's just the Prologue for my upcoming campaign called
War of the roses - Tale of Richard III
Check it out at the scenario design forums!
When you play, please play on normal speed.
-Lance O Lot
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This is a prologue to an upcoming campaign by Lance O Lot about the life of Richard III. I can definitely say right now that if the campaign is just as good as the teaser, then I'll surely be the first one to download it. Of course, it is very easy to make a cutscene bug-free so those seldom affects the playability score. What does affect the score is actually only a few things since there is hardly any interaction between the player and the game. Things like the well-crafted map and the many creative aspects of the game added to my positive experience of the game, and although I'm not overwhelmed with anticipation I'm certainly looking forward to the release of the campaign. This is a weak five, I *almost* decided to give it a 4+, but changed my mind and gave it a 5. The main thing I don't like is the choice and use of music in this cutscene. True, whether a scenario has music and sounds or not doesn't affect the score, but bad use of it does. The first tune is average but the second one (from LoTR) felt misplaced, plus the cutscene ends before the music finishes. Here's a suggestion for the designer too: add a sound effect to the event when the soldiers yell "For Richard!!"
The scenario is a 100% cut-scene and it is in the intention of the author that there is no fighting, according to the tutorial that is a 5.0.
This, in my opinion, is the strongest part of the scenario. There are lots and lots of pleasant tricks like the new torch, the man in the river, the camp fire... I could go on and on like this but you probably have other things to do (like downloading this map) so I won't. Some tricks like those mentioned above will catch your eye immediately, others are more subtle like the simulation of waves with thin lines of ice (actually invented by myself ;-). The designer easily scores a strong 5 here.
Map Design: 4
Too... much. It seems to me as if the designer has focused solely on loading the map with eyecandy and completely forgot about realism. This is a winter map, and since I'm living way up north I know what winter's like. Gray. Boring. Melancholic. I understand that pushing the map too far towards realism is dangerous since the map itself could end up gray, boring and melancholic, but here the designer has chosen the entire opposite way. Everywhere there are broken carts, paths, bamboo trees, gold mines, beta ice and shallows, cacti, forage bushes, sea rocks... practically everything the gaia 'other' list offers. The excellent terrain blending boosts the score, but not all the way to the jackpot.
Nothing much to argue about here. The story is told with confidence and feeling and I have already some theories regarding the unfolding of it. The instructions were clear and concise and I also liked how you were given time to read the instructions, thus getting rid of that annoying green button without interfering with the timing of the music. Another thing I must comment is the excellent scenario instructions picture. Some more text in the 'Aftermath' section would be lovely, by the way.
Download it and pray the campaign will be just as good. Looks like the future of scenario designing is still quite bright.
[Edited on 02/20/06 @ 07:51 AM]
I've been looking at "The War of the White Rose" for several weeks now, and I must say that I was less than chuffed when the prolific Oliver pipped me to the post with his review. For the most part, I agree with Olly- what follows is a pared-down version of my original review, to avoid repetition:
Lance O Lot seems to be one of AoK's great up-and-coming designers. To my knowledge this is one of his first submissions and it's very, very good. I've been following his WOTWR thread in the scenario design forums and have no doubt his campaign will be one to watch.
Having said that, I've been marginally less genenerous in my review than Oliver has. In fact, I have been struggling for some time over the ratings. The cut-scene feild is a very competitive one at the moment, and to acheive a high score in all categories, I feel a cutscene really has to shine.
The War of the White Rose- Teaser, is a one scenario cut-scene. It forms an introduction to Lance O Lot's upcoming campaign, which presumably will be based upon the famous 'War of the Roses' in late fifteen century England. The last Plantagenet King, Richard III, was defeated after a long and bloody civil war by Henry Tudor, who went on to found of of the great dynasties of English royalty.
Like Oliver, the first thing that stuck me about Lance's scenario was the music. Enya is not my favourite performer any day, and I cannot, of course penalise Lance for that. However, the Lord of the Rings theme tune was simply not appropriate. Judging from Blacksmith submissions alone, there is probably not a single Aok out there who has not seen Peter Jackson's epic trilogy. And that is exactly the problem. While the first three or so minutes of the second song are innocuous enough, the climactic LOTR horn riff hits just at the cut-scene's climax (and. alas, is then cut off). Come on Lance! Are you making your own epic, or someone else's? To be honest, this choice did really spoil it for me.
On the upside, Lance's use of a wall to "start" the cut-scene was very thoughtful and appreciated. I never have the music on off and the speed on normal, so I invariably have to re-start a scene after adjusting the settings. It was a pleasant change to start at my own leisure.
A small but unnecessary bug- the "scout defeated" message that plays when the messenger leaves- could easily be corrected.
One other small annoyance- which doesn't seem to fit into any other category- is Lance's use of the "change units at barracks trick". In the cut-scene a number of villages are created, tasked to a barracks and then "armed". This would be no problem, except that its done 11 times! After the first five "created villager" noises I was ready to keel over. Then after a further six villagers were created and sent to the barracks, I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that infernal "create villager" racket was over. But no! I then had to watch the process repeated a further seven times as the archers were trained! Arming the soldiers is a great idea, but I'm sure with some thought a better way of doing it could have been found. The whole process took well over a minute, and considering I'm downloading over 9MB of music to watch the cutscene, that's a megabyte of downloading to observe the arming performance. 4.
Cut-scenes get a five. 5.
I must agree with Olly on this category. Lance has come up with some nice new tricks, and implemented some old ones well. Creativity shouldn't be just about tricks, though! Lance backs up his tricks with a nice looking bitmap, smart art direction and general creative savvy. 5.
5. MAP DESIGN
Once again I agree with Oliver. There are simply too many things on the map which seem to do very little. Destroyed siege machines, those annoying "ice" betas, and, help us all, cacti. One the whole, though, the map is very nice. If I had the option, I'd give it a 4.5. I don't, so I'll give it a 5. I also think that the Instructions are worth a 4.5, so I'll give them a 4, and it'll balance out nicely.
My advice to Lance is to remove some of the eve candy, add a bit of elevation, and have a look at some snowy terrains. The Winter Olympics are on right now! Check 'em out!
The War of the Roses is ripe for the picking when it comes to great stories. Unfortunately, we're not given many of them here. Don't get me wrong- the story presented in the cutscene is well told and interesting, but I think it could be padded out with either i) a bit of background story, or ii) a bit of historical information. At the moment the victory screen is sparse, as are the instructions generally. We all know how to watch a cut-scene, so a brief note on volume and speed should suffice. Fill up the rest with interesting, useful stuff!
The scene itself, which was generally told brilliantly, was occasionally marred by naff, incorrect or hard to understand dialogue. There are quite a few spelling errors ("invisable farm", "invinite farm", "triphumps", and "furgure", for example). On one occasion, Henry Tudor is spelt "Turdor", which sounds crappy. I'd actually spotted the same error in an earlier part of the scenario, which Lance has subsequently corrected, but the whole scenario could do with a good once over regards spelling. Granted, Lance has specifically requested someone help him with the dialogue for the campaign at the start of the scenario (perhaps better included in the victory or instructions screen?), and I'm sure he'll benefit from this. Occasionally, the dialogue is less than moving: "Tell my wife that if I die today... I leave all my belongings to her...".
One other issue I had with the plot was that, during the second half of the scene, the character names went missing. During the first half "messenger", "Francis", etc are displayed in front the dialogue. Once Francis washes up on shore, they are gone. I've been told I'm a little slow- so forgive me if it's just me- but once these were gone, I quickly lost track of whom was supposed to be whom. In fact, it took me three times to work out that the "lad" who was invited inside was the chap on the horse, and not the one tilling the field. Silly me. But this could be easily rectified for clarity and consistency.
A final story difficulty I had with the campaign was series of short fight-scenes that occurred outside the hut when Francis was narrating his tale. "Why", I thought, "are there people fighting in his garden?" Then it twigged. They were flashbacks. There's plenty of space remaining on the map, perhaps it would have been better to create little vistas for each of the "battles" rather than have them all on the same spot. The black fog of war trick, though cool, makes this even more confusing.
As mentioned above, I'd love to give the story a 4.5, because, apart from the aformentioned errors, it was really very good. But I'll give it a 4, to average out with the map design score.
7. OTHER COMMENTS
Lance, you are certainly on the brink of being a great designer. Like many people, I suspect, I am looking forward to the War of the White Rose, and hope it plays as well as it looks.