(Updated on 10/02/09
All That Glitters
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Several centuries ago storms lashed the bay, the feeble rays from the lighthouse lost in the gloom and rain, a ship laden with gold and other treasures floundered on waves higher than cliffs, the mast snapped and with a great crash the hull was ripped open on a cruel rock... the ship and all its crew sank to a watery grave in Davy Jones' Locker. Many years later, two brave men intend to dive to the very bottom of Fool's Cove and retrieve the vast wealth that lies beneath.
Bernard and his companion are two luckless treasure-seekers, and in this campaign you can follow two of their adventures. The first (story above) is a remake of The Treasure of Fool's Cove, the second is a new scenario that relates the story of The Gold of Jackal's Valley.
These two scenarios are not packed with action and fighting (although there is some), but have the emphasis on story, humour and creativity. They are also partly intended to showcase ideas I've had that don't fit well into other projects (underwater scenes, a prison escape). If you're looking for something fresh, this might be for you.
All comments are welcome, and a review would especially be appreciated.
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'All that Glitters' is a two scenario design, and a refinement of the author's previous submission from some years ago, 'the Treasure of Fools Cove'. In this version, players can expect with interest a more fulfilling game play, improved map design, some new sound effects and even an extra scenario to accompany the package.
The story is eventful and humorous, and takes a dive into the unlikely partnership of two old friends, Bernard and his unnamed companion, in the doubtless completion of a few treasure quests at the infamous Fool's Cove and Jackal's Valley.
PLAYABILITY: 'All that Glitters' is one of those rare file's that in some mildly nostalgic sense reminds me of an old comic book series, such as 'the Adventures of Tin Tin' or 'the Phantom'. The story told here is in much the same manner in that it looks at a remarkable part of a few characters' adventures, and their misfortune as they go about it. In saying that, the file is very entertaining to play, if only that it is seemingly too short. However, maybe that's because the scenarios involved are mainly cut-scene-driven stories, rather than action-fledged scenarios and I perhaps feel I missed out on a reasonable amount of potential game play. The characters are very likable, and reminded me of Ingo van Thiel's Charles and Siegfried from 'the King's Best Men'. The characters interact nicely with the audience, and I believe I actually felt for them a few times, albeit often laughing at their misfortune to retrieve gold from a sunken ship in the ocean, or the hidden treasures from a desert valley. As such, humour comes refreshingly in this with a few laugh-out-loud moments, and compliments the story very well. The game play is distinct to the nature of the scenarios, and players can expect many new implementations rarely used in an Age of Kings scenario, such as exploring an ocean bed, ransacking a sunken ship, and a new way of escaping from a prison in the middle of a desert before you are sacrificed to blood-thirsty natives. However, there were one or two problems with the second scenario in that it was initially very difficult to discover an exit from the prison, and I found myself studying the author's triggers in order to find a way to escape. Not a major issue though, as the author has recently supplied a walk-through for those horribly stuck. 4.0
BALANCE: Despite there being minimal fighting, the game is well-balanced enough in the aspects that do feature the challenge to survive. In many confrontations, the player must simply apply commonsense and basic strategy where needed, such as using elevation to your advantage when against slightly stronger opponents. In others, running away rather than standing your ground is the way to go. I commend the author however, on using a few thought-based battles that allowed for more scope for 'strategy' as opposed to just attacking. For example, the duel toward the end of scenario two required a few reloads on my behalf, and was in general tough and challenging, albeit brief in nature. 5.0
CREATIVITY: There is much here that is new or just plain fun to work with, and 'All that Glitters' showcases a fair few creative devices for its weight. There are two scenarios, each focusing on a particular idea to carry the story. The sea bed in scenario one was mysterious and as much as the editor can allow, fairly realistic as well. The ocean floor contained enough elements of interest to manipulate the editor to its most practical, with a submerged town, enough hidden dangers lurking the depths, and mysterious sea creatures wandering the canopy of seaweed harmlessly. The oxygen metre and slow-moving underwater suit expressed the importance of doing things quickly, and the ship interior was conveyed effectively, with separate rooms and the restless souls of the ship's fallen crew, in addition to a new way of breaking into a locked room. I particularly enjoyed the humour in the story, which kept things widely more interesting than most. 5.0
MAP DESIGN: What is seen here is sometimes minimal, other areas allow room for the player to explore his surrounds and to discover what the game has to offer, but in general the map design is very well done. Terrain blending and the application of eye candy meld together nicely, and the seaside town and desert settlements were not only pleasing to the eye, but looked the part as well. The seabed was mysterious and dangerously drew the player on into exploration, despite the oxygen metre slowly ticking away, and the desert landscape always tended to look like it was going nowhere that the player always found himself becoming lost trying to find his destination. 5.0
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: The story is well-polished and entertaining, with many humorous instances, twists and turns, and the dialogue is interesting to follow. The instructions are adequate, and with exceptions to the prison escape everything was clear, if only that the story leaves a little to be desired in terms of length. I suppose like others before me, it would have been a certain plus had there been a little more to draw the player further. 4.0+
CONCLUDING: 'All that Glitters' is a good notch above its predecessor, 'the Treasure of Fools Cove'. However the file is still very short, and plays rather as a small adventure to convey a few unique ideas than as anything exceptional. Still, the file is well-told and designed to a very good level of quality, and can expect to please many.
In a sentence - Two unlikely adventurers, two treasure quests, a humorous tale and the misfortune of others'.
In closing - A highly-recommended download.
[Edited on 09/29/16 @ 04:46 AM]
A majority of the two scenarios is cutscene-like. You sit back and read/watch what's infront of you. The story was enjoyable and humorous, and the flow of the cutscenes were superb. The author did not mention what speed to play at and from my experience, the dialogue goes by too fast on Fast, and it even sometimes goes by too fast on Normal. I believe there is a bug in one of the dialogue for the first scenario. Right after the view is changed from the boat to the water for the first time, two different DIs occurs on the same spot. The portion where you explore underwater was slow to me, but it's realistic. I just don't like walking slowly, not to mention that it was a TK and the speed was on Normal. The boat exploring portion was decent, however I find it confusing to look for an axe that's hidden in a green cactus. Also, if you went to the green cactus prior, there is no message indicating what it is.
For the second scenario, the search for water in the desert was very annoying. It seems that there is no clear way to accomplish this goal, it revolves around luck - or trial and error. Then there is the prison portion. It was executed well but there was no given indication that you can/had to stand beside a wall and click it to move it. To learn of this, you had to check Hints.
Since the majority of gameplay was cutscene-like, there isn't much balancing involved. The goals that were given to you are not difficult to accomplish. Players would likely have to reload a couple of times in order to make it to the end.
This campaign was definitely creatived since it was a fresh experience for me. The prison portion was very creative and it's the kind of puzzle-like gameplay I love. The finale of this campaign was something unique. The author set it up in a way so that only a certain method of attacking can defeat the guard. There are other aspects in this campaign but these are the ones that stand out in creativity.
Map Design: 5-
The map for both scenarios is visually appealing. The author definitely worked at it in the editor and it shows. There are a few issues though but it is not severe to take a score off. Sometimes, overlapped buildings don't look right. Take the double TC for example, you can clearly see this weirdness on the left arm roof. In the desert scenario there are a few grass patches, it could work out I guess, but I also think it doesn't - just something to take note of. Another thing to note about the desert are the cliff points, like the grass patch, it's debatable. Lastly, it wasn't clear to me on how the prison was made. Was it inside a building or was it just walls set up to form a cage? I'm asking this because the prison seems to link with the Barracks/Blacksmith/House. Lastly, there is a gap at the beginning of the second sceario that allowed the player to wander off far away from course. The gap is south-west from the starting point.
Excellent story. No typos and grammar problems, aside from these two, "more water than fits in a bathtub again" and "will kill you soon as look at you". The instructions were sufficient and all of the tabs are filled with information. As mentioned above in Playability, the issue with the axe/cactus and the prison escape hurts the score.
A good short campaign to burn some time with. Julius999 obviously knows his/her way around the editor and aokts. I hope to see more work that leans toward the puzzle/rps/rpg genre.
[Edited on 12/31/09 @ 11:44 AM]
All that Glitters is a campaign that consists of mainly cutscene but with some playable parts too. The parts that I could play were very good. Exploring the seabed for the shipwreck and then exploring the shipwreck for the treasure. I did feel however that I missed out on a lot of gameplay because there was mainly cutscene.
But all in all I found this campaign very enjoyable with many creative and interesting aspects.
The balance was perfect when the player was actually playing. In many circumstances the player must use common sense like using Elevation or just simply Running Away.
The Campaign was very creative. I liked the fact that over half of the first scenario was set underwater. The part where I had to search for an axe was creative but took some time. I also liked the ghosts and the rotting cargo, which made a good effect on the map design and balance.
Map Design: 5
The map design was perfect if you look on the screen, the underwater wildlife and the rooting shipwrecks were fantastic. The underwater ruins and the seabed look very realistic.
I liked the story very much. it was interesting and entertaining, with humorous parts too. The instructions were clear apart from two places. At the part where I had to find the axe the instructions didn't tell me anything and for a while I didn't know what to do. Also the escape from the prison part was unclear.
Overall I think that "All that Glitters" is a fun and entertaining campaign that has many creative and fun aspects.
A highly-recommended download.
Edited for typo
[Edited on 02/03/11 @ 02:17 PM]
"All that glitters" by Julius999, is a scenario which is a mix of RPG and Cut-scene style, leaning more on the latter's side. This is a highly enjoyable scenario which is worthy enough to recommend to others who haven't tried it. Even though I had to do very less, I liked both the scenarios very much equally and it was fun sitting there, holding the mouse and just watching the wonderful dialogues and the story, as well as enjoying some puzzles here and there such as the jail puzzle and others. I will never know how much effort the author put into thinking this up, but each and every general gameplay aspect seems to be put together here but it looks so intricately planned with a mix of aspects such as exploring (The sea and the desert. Nothing much to look at in the desert, of course but still...) , thinking (The prison puzzle and others), et cetera et cetera.
Overall, it was fun to play and when I went for it a next time to play, it is also fun to see the results of what would happen if you do exactly the opposite of what you are supposed to do. I once did all those things like changing diplomacy stance with the archaeological professor and killing him and watching what he says, or things like heading directly to the new well instead of going to the old one, and all that, It's really hilarious seeing the effect, so this game is adaptable to all environments.
This game's balance is perfect whether in the haunted ship or "Getting rid of that irritating guard", as you say it. From fighting to tricks, from head to toe, and from start to end, this game maintains a smooth, fluid and unwavering amount of balance from using elevation in the ships to finding out the way to freedom from the people hungry for your blood. Also, if can prove to be fatal if you don't micromanage your units properly such as using elevation or distraction when fighting the guard or saving yourself from the sailors. I myself don't exactly remember how I got past the guard (Zagwaa!), and so balance was kept very well in all situations. And also, lots of the scenario were cutscenes and so I see no reason to deduct marks from the non-playable parts.
To me, I know that I would never for the life of me would be able of think of something like this. An underwater scenario? Come on, how many underwater-featuring scenarios do you see regularly in the blacksmith? The dialogues were very creative and the idea of using farm-in-progress terrain as planks was an excellent idea. Also, the ghosts on the ship made the game more exciting with a little action. In the second scenario, escaping from the prison was a job well done too. I can't say much here, except that it deserves a perfect 5.
Map Design: 5
The map design was outstanding with the seafloor being so beautiful with all sorts of seaweeds and some weird plants and the fish and the ruins and the... something. Also, the design for the town seems to have improved vastly in comparison with the town of the older version. And even though the desert was mostly barren it featured excellent use of elevation to create sand dunes. The prison also was very well designed, and same goes for the valley. Another perfect 5 here.
I don't know why the others think so, but I found the instructions very easy to understand even in the prison. The story is excellently crafted with witty and humourous dialogues which seem to blend very well with the background of the scenario. (Aren't the paragraphs getting shorter and shorter?)
Overall - An excellent scenario.
In closing - A highly recommended download, as Mashek says it.