PTC02 - ¤Dragonfly¤ The Still Point of Time
Posted on 07/15/02 @ 12:00 AM (updated 10/31/02
Dragonfly - 2002 Pretty Town Contest Map and Tour -
Days and months are the travelers of eternity So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of the Ages, spend every minute of their lives traveling. There are a great number of the ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the clouds, and filled with a strong desire to wander.
I've moved here from the Immortal's place. Flowers everywhere we didn't plant before. The courtyard trees are as green sculptures. At the ceremony, tea cups float in a new spring. Dark balcony. Path through deep bamboo. Long summer dress. Confusion of books. I sing in the moonlight and ride a painted boat, Trusting the wind to blow me home.
Tenshi Kaminari (Angel Thunder)
It was only toward the end of summer that I returned from rambling along the coast. I barely had time to sweep the cobwebs from my house along the Ibo River, when the fall mist began to rise over the field. Then I wanted to be on the road again to turn the Dharma wheel at Engyoji through winter and to cross the Seki Bridge at Taishi in due time. The gods seem to have possessed my soul and turned it inside out, and the roadside images seemed to invite me from every corner, so that it was impossible for me to stay idle at home. Even while I was getting ready, mending my torn trousers, tying a new strap to my pouch, and applying moxa to my legs to strengthen them, I was already dreaming of the setting sun over the beach at Mitsu.
Himeji is located in the heart of the Himeji plain in the southwestern part of Hyogo Prefecture. Progressively amalgamating adjacent towns and villages since its municipal inauguration, Himeji now stretches 23.5 km to the east and west and 21.3 km to the north and south and boast a total area of 273.47 km squared. The city nestles in the shadow of Mt.Shosha to the north, and gazes toward the calm waters of the Seto Inland Sea to the south. Nurtured by a moderate climate at the fertile delta of the Ichi, Yumesaki and Ibo rivers, the huge plain including Himeji flourished over the ages, as an industry and transportation center in proximity to the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. The Climate of Himeji Blessed year round with the unique mild climate of the Seto inland Sea, Although it does snow in Himeji, the city also enjoys many warm days in winter.
Japanese castle towns situated in the heart of the domains flourished as military, administrative, and commercial centers, in which respect they were much the same as towns in other countries. A feature of these provincial towns in Japan, however, was that they had no walls and gates. In order to promote commerce within their territories, the various domains encouraged merchants and artisans to gather around the castle. Residential areas for members of the samurai class and areas where the merchants and artisans lived and worked were kept separate, and Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines tended to stand round about the periphery.
Japan is a pallet of visual texture and color, from flying white castles, and sculpted green trees to the meticulous hues of a teahouse garden, and delicate molded Japanese candy. From architecture to the presentation of food, the Japanese approach to design has historically been asymmetrical, with texture and elements emphasized creating a visual display of depth. Dragonfly is an Age of Kings map representation of the historic castle town, Himeji.
The Japanese concede imagination to all people. It is not art, therefore, to paint a complete picture or write a poem complete with denouement. Rather it is craftsmanship. Far better is it to capture one universal thought or image and with it guide the imagination of the reader along the path you wish them to travel but at their own pace and to their own destiny.
AzN PaRaDoX - Shoreless Water
Zanzard Lothar - ADVANCED Immobile Units AI
Angel Thunder - 2002 Pretty Town Contest
New Design Features:
Gaia Shorefish into Shoreless Water
Seafoam or waves eyecandy
Dragonfly received Honorable Mention in the 2002 Pretty Town Contest.
Dragonfly is dedicated to Cat, team leader of our sister team Dragon Game Design Network.
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Note: This scenario is a city tour as intended by the author and the contest in which it was in. There is no combat in this scenario so please be aware of that as you comment, play, and review this scenario.
This campaign was an entry in the 2002 Pretty Town Contest. Dragonfly was an honorable mention in the contest and rightfully so. The objective of the contest was to create an outstandingly pretty town, village, or set of buildings using the Aok map editor. There was no set size of the map of or the town/village although there were some guidelines; a scout unit of some sort needs to be provided to explore and view the map, some instruction on where to go should be provided because the map will be judged solely on what could be seen with the scout unit, simple triggers an AI can be included but nothing to advanced, the town does not have to take up the whole map, and you may enter just once either by yourself or with a team. All entries were examined for the basics, instructions, a scout unit, and a town. They were awarded a score out of ten, which included a basic score for beauty and originality. Those nine entries that scored 8 or better were then examined in greater detail by both judges and awarded scores out of ten for their town's buildings and another score out of ten for the terrain, which includes eye candy such as flowers and the like.
Playability: Dragonfly had excellent playability and provides hours of entertainment. The map design was remarkable only mounting to the experience of this campaign. You play as Kaminari or “Thunder” in Japanese and are provided with immeasurable amounts of information and beautiful poems about Himeji Japan and Castle Town. The amount of work put into this map is obvious; pages upon pages of information are unveiled with this amazingly accurate portrayal of the Japanese culture. You are guided perfectly throughout the beginning of the map and for the most part you are given a fast unit and/or some other means of transportation. There are no noticeable bugs and I experienced no lag at all. Anastasia has revised her map after the contest making it suitable for the blacksmith rather than abiding by the strict contest rules, therefore this category earns a perfect 5.
Balance: This category is related to the skill of the player and is somehow subjective, as the reviewer rates, if the scenario was too hard/easy to complete for him or if the scenario was well balanced. You cannot loose a city tour, as you have no enemies, but the review system demands a rating here, even though there is no balance. The category is rated by taking the average of the four other categories. If the numerical value has a fraction, the next higher figure will be the rating for balance. In other words there is no balance in a city tour and there is none intended but there must be a rating for this category. The resolve is to average the other four scores it receives and award that to the balance section. 5
Creativity: Creativity was also another strong point in this map. Using the corner less walls trick Anastasia contrived her own type of bridge, by placing sea rocks underneath walls you got the effect that the bridge was actually being suspended. There is also sea foam/waves made with a combination of shore less water and snow. Those two examples plus many more creative map design features such as, various map copied buildings, a waste disposal, and a small camp/cooking fire give this great creativity. Unfortunately lack of creativity with the story and triggers doesn’t allow for the next highest rating. 4
Map Design: This is probably the one of the best is not the best point of the map. The map design was outstanding, great eye-candy, terrain mixing, use of elevation and most importantly an original sense of style. As said by the judges of the Pretty Town Contest, “A fantastic Japanese themed town with a lush green look to it. Perhaps an example of "less is more"? Open green areas are left untouched by any sort of eye candy giving it a groomed appearance.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Capturing the essence and beauty of Medieval Japan seems like an impossible feat but it is done perfectly in this gorgeous map. 5
Story/Instructions: In this campaign there was a brief story but the lack of details and closure left something to be desired. Throughout the beginning of the campaign you are given great instructions but toward the middle you are left to wander the map aimlessly. Although there was a lack of guidance toward the end there was always something for you to see and the map was revealed making it impossible for you to not find your way. 4
Overall: An excellent map that is definitely worth the download and your time to play. 4.6
If you have any problems with this review or any comments/suggestions please feel free to e-mail me; Dark_Warrior_1_@hotmail.com
¤Dragonfly¤ The Still Point of Time is a RPG, a city tour. Dragonfly was the submission to the Pretty Town Contest 2002 by Anastasia, where it became third out of 17 entries with 34/40 points. The contest's rules were made by Thunder, who organized the contest. The contest's objective was not really to create a town, as it could have been also a village, a collection of buildings, but outstandingly pretty, because the most breathtaking creation would win. There should be a unit to explore the map, but only for the parts the designer wants to be minded. The maps were judged solely on what was seen. Instructions like "Follow the paved road" or flags and signs were possible. Cut-scenes were not allowed, no music, no bitmap and no mod pack. Simple triggers as well as simple AI files were optional. The map could be any size, small and any size town, which doesn't have to be the whole map. You could enter a town as a team, but you could enter only once. The playable part would be reduced to exploring a map with no enemies, which had as only object the creation of a pretty town.
¤Dragonfly¤ The Still Point of Time is the second edited version of the original tour where you control a villager, as well as a mounted tour. You play Tenshi Kaminari, Japanese for Angel Thunder, who leaves home for holidays around and in Himeji Japan, which totals over 270 km squared. The winter he sojourns at Mt.Shosha to the north, waiting for spring and the snow to melt, join him at the beaches of the Seto Sea with its rivers Ichi, Yumesaki and Ibo, near his home, where the journey and the summer end.
PLAYABILITY: At the beginning the player has the choice between two units for this marvellous city tour. You can either explore the map on horseback or walk a revealed map. Tenshi Kaminari as a light cavalry is travelling at double speed on this giant map as Tenshi Kaminari the villager. The choice is up to the player, this review is based upon the scout tour. It is a pleasure to travel the great map with many beautiful sites; the scenario creates a realistic atmosphere with sounds from tea houses, mills, travellers, rivers, horses, carts and blacksmith shops. In plus of that you read stories, legends etc., just amazing how much work went in to this. Unfortunately the boat tour does not work correctly. Too much of the map is revealed taking the transport from Aoi, leaving you confused. Arriving at Mitsu your boat and a sandbank block the ferry to Mitsu; if you take up north the ferry from Taishi to Aoi, it brings you back to Mitsu and uploads you on a wave, as the access to your area of disembark is blocked. 4
BALANCE: The scenarios goal is to take you on a city tour and it is in the intention of the author that there will be no fighting. From the review tutorial: “One important item to note about scoring the balance category for scenarios where no fighting takes place, such as cut-scene scenarios, some puzzle scenarios and some rpg style scenarios, is that just because the player cannot die in such scenarios, that doesn't mean the scenario isn't balanced. You also need to take the author's original intent into account, giving the author some benefit of the doubt. If the author never intended the player to face a struggle to survive, then there's no reason to knock down the balance score if there isn't any fighting. So keep in mind that you do need to take the intent and goals of the scenario into account when scoring the balance category, especially for those scenarios where fighting is not included.” 5
CREATIVITY: Anastasia’s creativity is well above average, one of the strong points of this tour. The mounting and demounting of the horse, the creative map, renaming units and buildings, the art of writing, stone bridges out of corner less walls, waste disposal sites, downhill skiing, new items like shore fish in shore less water and sea foam or wave eye candy. I loved the map reveal effects of sites like Hemeji Pear, Tea House and Garden, Market Street and Hemejan University, as well as the lightening of the Maritime Light and Observation Towers. 5+
MAP DESIGN: Another strong point. The map design was fantastic, good terrain mix, elevations, realistic, breathtakingly beautiful without overloading with Gaia. There are many great sights, impossible to name all of them. The historic castle town of Himeji is astounding. I saw photos of the sight at the SD-Forum and until Dragonfly I did not believe that an adaptation of this high quality would be possible with the AoK editor. 5+
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: The instructions are clear, good Read Me, an outstanding author's description page, a beautiful BMP and many hints. You are told that Tenshi Kaminari leaves for holidays, which is not much of a story, but Anastasia makes it up with in game information about Japans and the regions eastern culture, history, events and legends, a rich source for the interested player. The scout tour is well organized in the beginning; small revealed map areas to show the way and road signs, as well as in game text with directions, until you left the ruins. From there you will see five areas to visit, the land tour I presume, which is well guided until the end. Arriving from the ruins at the sea side the ferry from Aio to Mitsu is recommend and at its destination the player has the option to visit 9 revealed map areas in the east, north and west of his location, which was confusing without any idea where to go next. 4
OVERALL: A creative city tour with good playability and a breathtaking beautiful map.
OBSERVATION: Dragonfly improved from the submission to the pretty town contest in many aspects and a lot of effort was put into it. A scenario done for a contest does not automatically suit as a blacksmith submission. Other than the first contest, where story/instructions, creativity and playability were supposed to have an influence together with the map design of a pretty town by the contest rules, the contest of 2002 determined the winner solely by the design of towns and landscape, asking more effort to adapt these submissions to the blacksmith and the review tutorial in operation.
SUGGESTIONS: Do not reveal the harbour of Aoi after the ruins, have only a land tour, as it plays now, where you reveal small map areas to guide the player. Have the boat tour just as another option to use for the player. Change the name of the ferry "Taishi to Aoi" or have the ferry go to that destination. Change the sandbank to water or have more than one dock at Mitsu to disembark the ferries in different areas. Reveal the historic castle town of Hemeji when the scout arrives or garrisons; it is such a beautiful site. Prevent Tenshi Kaminari to go back to his home after he ungarrisons the Mountain Inn. Make the visit of the cave work from a saved game, clicking a stone pile for example.
IN CLOSING: I recommend this city tour to see a great map, good trigger effects and new eye candy.