ACSC07 - The Old Man and the Sea
In 1951, Hemingway wrote his classic story of an old fisherman down on his luck who determines to test deeper waters, ending up in the battle of his life. This cutscene, my entry to the 2007 AoKH Cutscene Contest, is my adapted vesion of that famous book, The Old Man and the Sea.
I have considered makign this for almost a year, and this contest was an excellent chance; while definitely not perfect, I do hope that everyone will find something in it to make it a worthwile download.
So, to use an overused phrase, "Grab some popcorn and sit back and (hopefully) enjoy!"
This scenario contains a heavily edited dat file; do not try to run it without the file, it will not work.
If you are used to handling custom campaigns and dat files (such as Oliver's renaissance), then you need no further instructions. If you aren't such a pro at it, there is a readme file with detailed instructions.
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‘The Old Man and the Sea’ is a stand-alone cut-scene, adapted from Ernest Hemingway’s novel of a fisherman who goes out to sea to catch a Great Marlin. The story of this cut-scene tells of an old fisherman called Santiago who suffers eighty-four days of bad luck catching fish. As a result his young friend, a boy, is forced to leave his side to avoid embarrassment and wherever he seems to wander he draws in the mockery and snickering of the town’s people. The old man finally decides to prove to himself, and to everybody else, that he can catch as great a fish as any man can. The cut-scene runs for a little over ten minutes.
PLAYABILITY: (5.0) +
I have not watched such a feel-good cut-scene in all my long history with Age of Kings, ever. The scenes of tranquil beaches, gushing seawater, and the slow, calm dawn of the morning and an old man preparing to catch a Great Marlin after countless days of bad luck fishing put a smile on my face. The adapted story from Hemingway’s novel was wonderfully told and poetic, bringing chills to my spine. Countless twists and turns draw the viewer in and an array of small tricks and novelties implemented throughout the cut-scene, such as lantern lights in the serene morning or harpooning a fish, were awesome. The plot flowed well and turned to depths I could never have imagined. I almost laughed with the unfortunates of an old man, his struggle to catch a Great Marlin, and pondered over the coming events of shark attacks threatening to devour his prize, which added a new terror to the unfolding plot. The ending of this sharp, immersing tale concluding with a dream of the warm African Coast and beautiful music which brought shivers to my spine and a wide grin gashing the cheeks of my face. This is one cut-scene that is truly feel-good. One that is atmospheric, beautiful and poetic, and which exceeds with every viewing from its ever-ceaseless playability merit. I probably would have preferred the story not to feature mentions of Joe DiMaggio and Baseball, and instead seen an Age of Kings’ approach to the tale, but it was an otherwise incredible experience. This is one fishing adventure you’ll never want to forget.
Balance in this category is usually rated according to the player’s struggle to survive, whether the scenario was too hard or too easy to complete for him or if it was well balanced all around. This is a cut-scene where you do not control a unit, and although there are some rather minor fight scenes, such as fighting a pack of sharks, does not face the player with the struggle to survive and is intended purely to move the story along. According to the review guidelines there is no reason to deduct from the score because of this, and this cut-scene seemed perfectly balanced in it.
CREATIVITY: (5.0) +
Phenomenal. How many cut-scenes can one watch to see an old man sailing on a small wooden boat, adjusting the sail, planting an anchor, and pulling in the oars? Lantern lights pulsate from the decks of fishing boats setting sail in the calm ocean’s morning, and an old man fishes from his boat, watching a Great Marlin traverse the depths of the far-blue sea before him. I witnessed sharks, fins striking the surface of the blue ocean calm and swirls caught by the motion of the shark movement as they hoped for fresh meat. Dreams of lions and gazelles on a warm, African beach conclude an already thrilling experience. All of this is so well implemented with the run and flow of the cut-scene that it seems almost impossible that such things are even possible at all. Other things such as the story, which I have not seen before in a cut-scene, and the beautiful music and excellent characterisation drive the nail home.
MAP DESIGN: (5.0)
The design of the map was excellent and fitted well with the story and atmosphere of the cut-scene. A tranquil beach with hills and palms and the ocean calmly loping over its sides is beautiful. A small village is well managed on a hilltop with excellent terrain mixing and its attention to detail with clouds and a dawn fog charms the eye. Waves visible in the deep ocean blue adds to the perfection that the author has strived to achieve.
STORY/ INSTRUCTIONS: (5.0)
The dialogue and poetic narrative bring you well into this immersing tale and is presented by a great bitmap, which adds to the feel-good atmosphere that is ‘the Old Man and the Sea’. The story is phenomenally well told and implemented, and the character of the old man resonates well with the player, long after he has even finished the cut-scene.
There were, however, a few minor spelling mistakes and even the infamous square-in-front-of-dialogue bug at one stage, but nothing serious as to warrant the deduction of any kind of points.
‘The Old Man and the Sea’ is a poetic cut-scene and the story is a humourous and thrilling one. You will feel shivers running down your spine throughout its viewing time and more than once a smile creeping its way across your face with the design’s sheer creative and original out-look, and of course, its feel-good ending. A must download. This has something for everyone.
In a word – Moving.
In closing – A must download.
[Edited on 12/04/07 @ 09:47 PM]
First, a word to the wise. This is a pure cutscene, and not an action-packed one at that; unless you're prepared to sit back and enjoy something mellow, you will not enjoy this. It is also heavily modded, and so if you're a purist in search of an AoK period and style scenario, again, steer clear. That said, the author had very definite intentions, and while they are not to everyone's taste, it is with these in mind that I write this review.
Bearing in mind the author's aim to represent a Hemingway story, which does not include typical drama or action, this is very enjoyable. The story is told well, and the atmosphere is as it is intended. As a feel-good human drama, it functions superbly and is enjoyable to watch. There is also some music used at good moments. Therefore, it deserves a full rating. My only complaint, is that there are times when it is slow, even for the intended pace, particularly when all falls silent, this hindered the intended atmosphere, but was not enough to deduct a point. It should be noted that if you have tried designing yourself, the cutscene will also amaze you with its technical accomplishments.
The cut-scene does not show fighting, there is no reason to knock down the balance score if there isn't any fighting
Whether it counts as creative to use technological advancements, or not, this cutscene excels. The use of various AoK objects in such effects as lanterns on ships, captured fish and a well realised cloud effect is astounding and for the most part, convincing. For me, the best trick of all, and as far as I know only used by the author himself, is the representation of a dream. The author has gone far beyond the bounds of original AoK. It should also be taken into account that the representation of a classic novel is also creative.
Map Design: 5-
This is very borderline, and I almost gave a 4+ for map design. The village does leave quite a lot to be desired, and with so little else of the map used it is hard to justify full marks. However, the effectiveness of the little tricks and details does have some impact on the map design, particularly the clouds and the moving waves. The sea itself is done as well as can possibly be expected. In the end, the deciding factors were the novelty of the design, and the innovative final sequence, where the dream of the African coast is very well designed. A note to the designer, try to add more detail and variety to the village, it would be a shame to neglect this area when you've done so much with the more difficult setting of the sea.
The story is done well, is self contained, is relatively engaging and, although unoriginal and not really to my taste, has undoubted quality. The telling here is what guarantees this full marks, particularly as the atmosphere of the story is carried off so well. The ending especially is a high point for the story, and shows that the cutscene succeeds in its aim to interest the viewer in this old, unfortunate fisherman. Instructions were good and gave me no cause for complaint. There was the odd spelling error or slight flaw in setout of the story, but not enough to reduce the score.
[Edited on 06/05/08 @ 09:29 AM]