Posted on 02/14/07 @ 05:01 PM (updated 04/01/07
||The Conquerors 1.0c
||Role Playing Only
The long awaited project made by the forumers of Age of kings Heaven. Taking place around a secret location of Serentine, you follow Lucius in a quest for the unknown.
The idea for this map is to have a scenario completely influenced by AoKH. The goal is not to make the prettiest looking map, nor to make the most intricate triggers. The goal is to see how a community, like ours, can work together to achieve a goal. It is actually more of an experiment in this way. The goal I speak of, is to make a scenario that has map design and triggers from many different designers. The only way I could think of to achieve this, was to make a blank map with sections marked out. Everyone who signs up will be assigned a section. You may get multiple sections if we do not get enough designers.
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"Piece by Piece" is an interesting concept and worth checking out. Various designers worked on the project, and the end product is a mosaic of unique design styles in different areas. One would rarely see this in a normal campaign. I understand that there are practical limitations on what can be accomplished in a project like this, but the only way I can remain as unbiased as possible is by reviewing the final product and my experience with it.
Scoring well in this category is difficult for projects like this, not only because of technical issues, but also due to each designer's limitation of one square. Nevertheless, this scenario falls short because of the shallow gameplay.
Most of the game involves going through some "obstacle" to get from one side of the square to another. Unfortunately, most of these tasks are not very fun or rewarding. In addition, they bear little relevance to the story. Because of this, they just seem like frustrating filler, and the game progresses too slowly as a result. I spent the whole game completing these in anticipation of something greater, only to be forced to the conclusion that these tasks are the focus of the gameplay.
The game may have been set up as an adventure to find Serentine, but the linearity and lack of any actual adventure (exploration, questing, gathering clues, journey elements, etc.) say otherwise.
I did not find any noteworthy glitches or other problems. (The cliff problem has been fixed, so the rating is revised).
There wasn't much combat or strategy, so there aren't many balance issues. The few instances of combat were very easy and didn't really require controlling my army.
Because the gameplay focuses on small tasks, their difficulty determines the game's balance. Most of the tasks were very straightforward and could easily be made more challenging, rewarding, or meaningful. Also, I generally do not like having to save many times and using trial and error to complete an objective, but I found these necessary since I would die for answering some obscure question incorrectly or struggling through the exploding maze or blowing up randomly elsewhere.
The concept alone is extremely creative, and a few areas of the game also showed additional creativity. I do not believe a piece by piece map design has ever been done this way before, but this campaign successfully assembles parts from a wide variety of designers. Some specific areas I found creative were the moving bridge and the humor towards the end.
Map Design: 4
By itself the map design is great and most squares transitioned nicely. However, in a game without excellent visuals (like AoK), the map design is only a means to an end. Great map design assists the story or the gameplay, and this scenario did not have much of that. Nevertheless, most of the environment was nicely decorated and a good representation of the setting.
This category is one clear example where the story needed more direction and relevance to the gameplay. I get the feeling that there is a good story somewhere in the game (hopefully in part II) but it just doesn't get developed until the final squares. The plot may center around finding Serentine, but most of the game is just a series of apparently meaningless tasks. There is enough narrative content but the uneven distribution and slow presentation cripples the game. Conversely, when there is storytelling, the gameplay is absent. Instead of long periods of slow-moving dialogue and huge sections without much story, I would have liked to see the fusion of gameplay and story.
(Some of the problems in balance and playability could be solved with more specific instructions.)
As an experiment, it does enough to set up the sequel and successfully demonstrates the viability of community design. Currently, the scenario is a loosely-connected compilation of individual works. One suggestion for future endeavors of this sort is to have more direction in terms of story and gameplay elements. The resulting campaign would be more of a collaboration than a collection of mini-scenarios. Such an approach would foster plot development, allow for more gameplay elements, and remove the limitation of linear progression. That said, the story was slowly being shaped towards the end and nicely sets up a potential sequel. I look forward to it and hope for the development and integration of story and gameplay.
[Edited on 04/02/07 @ 08:57 PM]