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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design and Discussion » Minimalism
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Topic Subject:Minimalism
Ringer
Squire
posted 04-24-06 02:09 AM CT (US)         
I apologize for starting a new thread on a whim. I realize I'm not a frequent poster, and that can be frowned upon in such a high-standard forum as that of AoKH. To compensate, I'll try to be eloquent and knowledgable.

Imagine a very very small scenario. Not necessarily small in dimensions, but simple. I'm talking about scenario minimalism. It's tough to describe ... but I can say, pretty definitely, that it would be without a wide variety of units, trigger tricks, or eye candy. Not that these things are bad -- they are simply unnecessary. An example would be a simple challenge I long ago created for myself (since lost): on one end of a tiny island I placed 16 archers and a single siege ram, for Player 1; on the other side I placed 16 spearmen and two watch towers behind a stone wall and gate, all belonging to Player 2. The setup was simple while the user was left to consider a carful strategy, being overpowered; for example, one might hide four archers in the ram to defend it from spearmen as it knocked out the wall. That being the only example I can offer, I'm not convinced I can get convey the concept to anyone else. I think the main idea is to let the user carefully imagine strategy before fighting.

Put otherwise, I'm trying to create a scenario with the following goals in mind:
- There must not be a wide variety of terrain over one map.
- There must not be a wide variety of units over one map.
- There must not be villagers (read: no resources).
- There must be a single military focus.
- Wouldn't bother with dialogue, either.

"Allowed" features include:
- A powerful unit leading others
- Recruiting of units (as opposed to creation)
- Upgrading of units (not too minimalistic but invokes strategy in spending or something)
- Trigger emphasis placed on buildings or areas (like a farm that feeds your troops and makes them stronger)

I felt that I should present this idea simply to be imbibed by fellow designers. I'm not looking for any particular feedback, but enouragement, examples, and further ideas would be appreciated.

AuthorReplies:
PaulC2001
Squire
posted 04-24-06 02:31 AM CT (US)     1 / 32       
This sounds really good, I've been thinking about doing this myself for a while.
rwilde
Squire
posted 04-24-06 03:29 AM CT (US)     2 / 32       
I greatly dislike the time scenario designing can rob us all of - it can be a pleasure but it can also waste hours of our lives, perhaps thousands if we choose to make 1337 triggers

Your scenario could be fun and quite good overall, but without a story it can hardly score that high. Some people, like myself, consider scenario designing a bit of an art form, and without a story to engage us and teach us something, we can't get the same enjoyment from, or even justify playing, a scenario.

Similarly, while the map may achieve its purpose, blank grass is hardly something to drool over. It may not be your intention to create a beautiful map, but then it's hardly fair to give it a 5.0 either when a person could spend several weeks putting together a beautiful, realistic and artistic map that covers a large area of terrain.

In terms of balance the minimalist scenario has no limits, though if it is extremely simple it may be harder to get balance perfect, as some strategy is often involved in balance.

Playability shouldn't be affected adversely, but again, story and map design are two things that can make a player enjoy a scenario, and without it it may be hard to create something enjoyable, especially if the gameplay is limited and simplistic.

Creativity can be high, but will likely be fairly restricted by the lack of story, map design and triggers, and likely a situation the player has been in before or something similar.

That's how I feel about it. It's a very review-centric summary, but a review is designed to reflect how good a scenario is, and as I understand it that's what you are discussing. For me, it could be fun, but it would be limited to an extent by its simplicity. I do believe though that a scenario can also become bloated with complexity, especially in terms of triggers. One thing that especially bothers me is 'creativity' merely for the sake of being creative. It reminds me of an Andy Warhol film I read about - 8 hours of just the Chrysler building - sure, it's 'creative' and 'artistic', but then it's also crap that nobody can watch. Although, in this case, I think that was his intention. It certainly doesn't offer the possibility for a great deal of creativity, though

I think it's good to put a bit of work an complexity into a design, but also to be careful not to let it become an obession, or a competition to make the most triggers or use the most tricks, even if they don't fit. A minimalist approach can be good, and restrictions do, believe it or not, help creativity, but that doesn't mean a great work can be created with no effort or skill.

If we can balance all these things out, we can make great scenarios, whatever their design intention is.

azure skies
Squire
(id: ThUnDeR77)
posted 04-24-06 03:49 AM CT (US)     3 / 32       
Quite a speech there, rwilde. I agree. The first time I read your thread post, Ringer, I was so utterly confused that I didn't reply. Quite some outside-the-box thinking going there.

I just have to say that if a scenario is fun, and has a good replay value, then it should be loved by AoKH forumers.

Farlander
Squire
posted 04-24-06 05:45 AM CT (US)     4 / 32       
good speech, rwilde. But let's not forget that those AoE designers can create great scns with wonderful storylines and much creativity. And only what they can really do in the scn editor is to set victory conditions! So, well, I do not fully agree with you here.
Colosseum
Banned
posted 04-24-06 10:45 AM CT (US)     5 / 32       
"Minimalism: Bad Excuse for a Low Budget"

Still, the scenario would be interesting and fun to play.

newIdea
Illuminator
posted 04-24-06 11:43 AM CT (US)     6 / 32       

Quote:

- There must not be a wide variety of terrain over one map.


You might want to re-think this one.

If I'm playing a scenario and all I see is Grass 1... my eyes start it hurt.




dannyking.me


PaulC2001
Squire
posted 04-24-06 12:04 PM CT (US)     7 / 32       
By minimalism, I would think of Anastasia's "Dragonfly - The Still Point of Time". Huge rolling hills of grass 2, but it's beautiful. You should check it out.

[This message has been edited by PaulC2001 (edited 04-24-2006 @ 12:04 PM).]

Super_Cell_51
Squire
posted 04-24-06 01:55 PM CT (US)     8 / 32       
Hmm...This is kind of what I had in mind when I first started designing 'Alfred the Great'. I pictured a somewhat simpler looking map, but with some good terrain mixing. I didn't want it to look like a poorly designed map though either, I wanted it to look proffesionaly made. Not too many trigger tricks or anything like that. Anyways, I understand how you feel, and yes rwilde, I agree with you also, so many of my hours are wasted planning maps, designing maps, doing triggers, scripting ai files, and doing the many things neccesary, by today's standards, to make a decent campaign.

___~ Super Cell 51 ~___
"Live every day as though it was your last."
JESUS SAVES!
aka the Pilot
Squire
posted 04-24-06 06:28 PM CT (US)     9 / 32       
"- There must not be a wide variety of terrain over one map."

"You might want to re-think this one.
If I'm playing a scenario and all I see is Grass 1... my eyes start it hurt."

Not a wide variety doesn't mean just grass 1.

Ringer, I like the basic idea. The only problem I see is with replayability.
A "rich" map with many details and complex gameplay simply has more meat to it in that respect, because you will find new things about the map or gameplay each time you replay it. A minimalist map might be really cool, but you'd only play it a couple times at most.


Current projects:

Undead 2 [Gateways] released
Site http://www.hellstromshive.net/UndeadHome.html

• Undead 1 [Resurrection] 99% done

newIdea
Illuminator
posted 04-24-06 07:36 PM CT (US)     10 / 32       

Quoted from also known as:

Not a wide variety doesn't mean just grass 1.


Hey look, there goes the point...
*points over your head*



dannyking.me


[This message has been edited by newIdea (edited 04-24-2006 @ 07:37 PM).]

Enraged Orange
Squire
(id: RoboPaul88)
posted 04-24-06 10:23 PM CT (US)     11 / 32       
At first glance this seems like an excuse to throw together some piece of crap scenario in five minutes and not look like a newbie, but actually this sort of seems interesting, "strategic minigames" I guess you'd call it. A series of these challenges might make an interesting scenario (just one could be beaten in a couple minutes and would definitely not be worth downloading).

I say go for it, although really, "minimalism" should not be the focus - there's no reason not to make the terrain look nice in your little skirmishes, and if triggers add to the effect, don't avoid them just because you feel they'd compromise your "vision." I'd definitely consider that edging into laziness territory. But your underlying idea of little strategic puzzles is a good one.

Fattybryce
Squire
posted 04-24-06 11:15 PM CT (US)     12 / 32       
I like the idea i like straighty games ( thats why i play aokc ) because i like to use my really lardge brain and think of ways to kill the enemy with as few units as posable and i think thats what this sort of scenarios are about. the best i have ever seen is on the game Rise Of Nations it has a very very good one where you have a small force and you must conqueror the enemy without looseing half your men.
As to teh story line i beleve because it is short doesnt mean it cant ahve a story line even a short one. you could have somethink like eg:
the kingdom is in grave danger the castle is suronded you must take all the knights you have and surprise the enemy in the night and destroy there leader.
Who nows
But good idea i might think off doing somethink like this for my 2 hr challenge some of you might be familer with
newIdea
Illuminator
posted 04-25-06 00:04 AM CT (US)     13 / 32       
Good luck.



dannyking.me


Enraged Orange
Squire
(id: RoboPaul88)
posted 04-25-06 00:46 AM CT (US)     14 / 32       

Quote:

As to teh story line i beleve because it is short doesnt mean it cant ahve a story line even a short one. you could have somethink like eg:
the kingdom is in grave danger the castle is suronded you must take all the knights you have and surprise the enemy in the night and destroy there leader.

A throwaway story like that adds nothing to a scenario. If he's gonna make strategic minigames, he should present them as such, nothing more.

Also, for Heaven's sake, actually pay attention to what you're typing. There's absolutely no reason you should be making that many errors.

Ringer
Squire
posted 04-25-06 00:55 AM CT (US)     15 / 32       
Didn't expect NEAR that much of a response ... rwilde, I'm glad you explicitly recognize the fact that I'm not going for a score, but let me reiterate (as I feel the urge to do so): don't give a vulture's johnson about ratings.

Quoted from Enraged Orange:

I say go for it, although really, "minimalism" should not be the focus - there's no reason not to make the terrain look nice in your little skirmishes, and if triggers add to the effect, don't avoid them just because you feel they'd compromise your "vision." I'd definitely consider that edging into laziness territory. But your underlying idea of little strategic puzzles is a good one.

My sentiments exactly, and better than I could word it!

Design time aside, it's minimalism. But really, why make a flat square of an island when you can throw in some trees or a hill. What the hell, right?

Since the terrain thing seemed to give the wrong impression: I meant that there shouldn't be an ocean, a beach, a desert, plains, steppes, a forest, hills, mountains, rocks, rivers, and snow in one map. More of a singular CLIMATE. Make sense? That ridiculous contrast -- which, don't get me wrong, can look great in some scenarios -- would be out of place to me. Some visual effects, like shore fish piled onto shallows, make me retch (nothing personal, IvT).

Also, I really would have to make at least half a dozen of these to make it worth a scenario. But still. Fun ideas.

It occurred to me that, the fewer details you have, the more polished they tend to be. So maybe there are only 50 triggers in one scenario, but then I've recorded voices for the spoken words. The quality is allowed by lack of quantity.

Incidentally, I like to do voice acting, although my characters have thus far been hillbilly pedophiles.

So if anyone else has ideas -- even specific ones -- I enjoy reading them. Thanks for your comments thus far, and let's get some sort of project going if too many people like it.


“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” --Anonymous
Super_Cell_51
Squire
posted 04-27-06 02:57 PM CT (US)     16 / 32       
I have often pondered this concept, but I have never put it into action. I believe that this idea of 'minimalism' is worthy to be tried. In some ways, this thread has inspired me to try this out, and I don't know why I never posted anything about this subject. By the way, have you played 'Macbeth', by dave_earl? 'Macbeth' has, in a lot of ways, inspired me to look at things in a somewhat 'minimalistic' way.

___~ Super Cell 51 ~___
"Live every day as though it was your last."
JESUS SAVES!

[This message has been edited by Super_Cell_51 (edited 04-27-2006 @ 03:02 PM).]

PaulC2001
Squire
posted 04-27-06 03:14 PM CT (US)     17 / 32       
Ringer, you seem educated and literate, not the average little kid just pawing around for credit... I look forward to seeing your finished product here.

By the by, if you ever feel the need for a second opinion just toss it my way and I'll take a look, see what I can suggest...

Ringer
Squire
posted 04-28-06 01:43 AM CT (US)     18 / 32       
Sadly, I have run out of relevant ideas. The editor frightens me. I ended up making a decorative archipelago.

If anyone has specific ideas, I'll stick them into a scenario. I'm tired now, so off I go ...

Boogaloo!


“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” --Anonymous
PaulC2001
Squire
posted 04-28-06 02:28 AM CT (US)     19 / 32       
Hmm oh well, I might give this a try myself...got my imagination working again.
AnastasiaKafka
Squire
posted 04-28-06 05:22 AM CT (US)     20 / 32       
This was an excellent idea, until the back-pedaling started.

For me, the best minimalistic scenario designs in the 'smith are zyx's Defend the Castle, and Zamond's The Kings Garden. The simple and bold elements in Dragonfly seem to get a lot of attention, but the purpose of them was to keep the map design unbalanced, or to contrast with the very ornate and intricate portions in an attempt to follow the historic asymmetrical approach of Japanese design.

Defend the Castle is an excellent example of minimalistic game-play as most arcade type games could be considered as such. Pac Man is a minimalist game. The Kings Garden is a race through a maze, and here the story or game plot is minimalistic too. The common elements in these two excellent designs are basically what Ringer seems to be after for his game play; a single focus for the game play. Still, when thinking about minimalistic game play, we must also think about the objective; how the player advances, is rewarded, or wins. In Defend the Castle we play for levels or a kind of personal high score. In The Kings Garden we race against time to marry the King's prettiest daughter. These are uncomplicated objectives. So while upgrading units might seem counter to a mimialistic game, I think if it is simple or uncomplicated enough i.e., the same simple upgrade objective for all, then upgrading too can remain minimalistic.


"I take it that this is the Anastasia Scud pines for?" - Epic Commander
"What Ana said. Use sugar and the whip." - aka the Pilot
"I think you will realize the emphasis was on Ana and Cake." - Monk

[This message has been edited by Angel Anastasia (edited 04-28-2006 @ 06:45 AM).]

kfish2oo2
Squire
posted 04-28-06 09:12 AM CT (US)     21 / 32       
I totally agree with Ana, the concept would work very well with a sinlge focus and uncomplicated reward systems.
I had an idea similar to this, where you start off with very limited resources and few units, then when you advance to the next scenario, you have slightly more resources, more units etc etc. The idea was to build up skills and by the end of the campaign the player is able to handle very tough situations that often arise in the game. I know for new players the speed and general chaos in a match can often overwelm them, as it did for me when I started off, so my idea was to gently help new players through the basic elements of the game. Since I'm still a very poor player, I've never been able to figure out how to create said scenarios succesfully.
If you ever manage to create the scenarios as you say I would definatly play, as it really sounds like a good idea. Good luck!

"^`'*-=~+,._.,+~=-*'`^"^`'*-=~+,._.,+~=-*'`^"^`'*-=~+,._.,+~=-*'`^"
                            Kfish2oo2
                      -*'`^"^`'*- =~
    '*-=~+,._.,+                      `^"^`'*-=~+,._.,+~=-*'`^"
Ringer
Squire
posted 04-29-06 00:40 AM CT (US)     22 / 32       
So an ideal scenario may consist of a single goal?

Find Relic. Defend town. Get to tower. Kill Nick. Gather sheep.

I think it's the combination of these that makes more complex scenarios fun. And the crunching of too many at once can make a potentially good scenario, well, overdone. Delicate piecing them together, so I think making the simple scenario is for such simpletons as myself.

I'm making a defense scenario. Let's see how this turns out ...


“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” --Anonymous
Enraged Orange
Squire
(id: RoboPaul88)
posted 04-29-06 11:34 PM CT (US)     23 / 32       

Quote:

I totally agree with Ana, the concept would work very well with a sinlge focus and uncomplicated reward systems.
I had an idea similar to this, where you start off with very limited resources and few units, then when you advance to the next scenario, you have slightly more resources, more units etc etc. The idea was to build up skills and by the end of the campaign the player is able to handle very tough situations that often arise in the game. I know for new players the speed and general chaos in a match can often overwelm them, as it did for me when I started off, so my idea was to gently help new players through the basic elements of the game. Since I'm still a very poor player, I've never been able to figure out how to create said scenarios succesfully.
If you ever manage to create the scenarios as you say I would definatly play, as it really sounds like a good idea. Good luck!

Try the William Wallace campaign

Ingo van Thiel
Squire
posted 04-30-06 07:16 AM CT (US)     24 / 32       
Interesting discussion, guys...

Quote:

Some visual effects, like shore fish piled onto shallows, make me retch (nothing personal, IvT).

I assume you mean the shorefish rain trick. No problem, as you are criticizing a subject matter and not a person. Actually, the "nothing personal" part is unhelpful for your purpose, because it distracts from the subject. Back on-topic:

One climate on a map could both be good or bad, but that really depends on many things, especially the map size: The smaller the map is, the more it fits to have one climate. The bigger the map is, the more you risk that the gameplay feels repetitive on that map, if all parts look very similar. However, I'm still not sure what 'one climate' is for you. Do you mean we should avoid extreme climate changes from Hawaiian palm trees to an icy Siberian landscape? Or does a change from mountain areas to open grassland already mean a climate change?

You do have a point that there is a trend towards the overly epic scenarios. It takes up a lot of time. This trend can be discouraging, or stifling especially for new designers. Actually, I've asked myself after Ulio: How about more campaigns with several short and crisp scenarios, that can be played in 10 to 15 minutes and have one clear objective from the beginning?

On the other hand, the Blacksmith already has many over-simplistic one-objective scenarios on one-climate maps. The majority of the maps are not epic. Most of them look like random maps. And most of them have just one task which may or may not require some thinking.

The big question is: Can you create a minimalist scenario which is different from that? Can you draw players into your game just for what it is? Will that magic also be felt by people who have not seen this discussion, and who have not been "charged up" by minimalist theories? Will unprepared players find it refreshing? Or will the result be just like 80-90% of the works that pour into the Blacksmith every week, a random-map type scenario with some palisades, towers, units, and one objective? This discussion is interesting, but it's the result that counts.

I'd say go for it. It should be possible, and it's worth a try. When your scenario is out, let me know. My old AoK:TC CD is broken, but I might get myself another one soon.

Ingo

Ringer
Squire
posted 05-01-06 00:32 AM CT (US)     25 / 32       
Oops, caught me. Although I'm sure a lot of people have used the shore fish trick, IvT is the only one I can recall. Yep, shouldn't have even bothered to specify you!

Climate. Definitely, shouldn't go from Tropic to taiga. Variations, okay, but I'm saying pick a theme and stick with it. There might be a flat area in a mountain range, but (and I'll get some disagreement here) I like to see just ONE terrain type in a map. I don't know why, but it's what I like : )

What I really can't stand is a bunch of different units. I guess it's fun to have to use, say, pikemen against knights and knights against rams. But there's my preference for consistency again ...

Oh, and the William Wallace campaign? I loved that. Beat me silly for saying that, but yeah. Too bad they took his story for the tutorial campaign, I've always wanted to see a really good Braveheart campaign ... such a good movie. Maybe there is one already?

P.S. I've decided to implement sort of an "overworld" type play style; tough to explain ... I'll use an example that will probably become the first few scenarios of the campaign (which may well have a dozen):
Imagine two towns of equal size; let's say 30x30 tiles, bordered with palisade walls. In the first scenario, you have 6 knights, a hero, and 12 archers. You're inside the first town -- the other one isn't on the map -- defending it. Scenario two, both towns are on the map, each represented by a 8x8 walled off square with two houses and a mill. You have to get from one to the other with 2 knights, the hero, and 4 archers. Third scenario, you attack town 2, except everything is back to the big numbers (30x30 town, 6 knights, 12 archers, hero).
So the same things are represented on different scales. Does anyone like this? It's not hard to produce ...


“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” --Anonymous

[This message has been edited by Ringer (edited 05-01-2006 @ 00:47 AM).]

Ingo van Thiel
Squire
posted 05-02-06 04:05 PM CT (US)     26 / 32       
OK... You loved the William Wallace campaign. You dislike variety of gameplay, and variety of map design. You like square towns. You like repeating the same map over and over... right. Maybe you're sitting behind your screen now, laughing your head off because we all fell for a mock topic. If that is the case, congratulations - you're one month late for April Fools, but you really got us there.

If you are being serious, well... frankly, this sounds like a very slipshod and thoughtless project, where each map can be slammed down in about 10 minutes. The Blacksmith is already abundant with maps like that - and they usually convey a feeling of "Coulda tried harder, but couldn't be bothered". Usually, players will feel similar about this: "Coulda played this, but couldn't be bothered..."

I'm still wondering if this thread is a joke. I apologize if it isn't, but well... As you can tell, I'm really, really not convinced at all.

Ingo

PaulC2001
Squire
posted 05-02-06 04:42 PM CT (US)     27 / 32       
Hehe. By the square towns thing, he's talking about using an "overworld" system, much like the total war series, in which you navigate a large world with a single unit, but fight in detailed, small battlefields with your army, represented by the one unit in the overworld.
Ringer
Squire
posted 05-05-06 11:40 PM CT (US)     28 / 32       
Gasp! No, I'm serious. But I didn't mean I like blocky, square villages, huge fields of Grass 1, and 80 Knights running around. I think people got that impression.

Ingo: "How about more campaigns with several short and crisp scenarios, that can be played in 10 to 15 minutes and have one clear objective from the beginning?"

(Too lazy to recall how to tag quotes) that's a pretty good idea of what I meant.

The map reuse was just a thought. As it seems like it's getting really negative feedback ... erm, I won't do that!

classic emoticon : )


“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” --Anonymous
Super_Cell_51
Squire
posted 05-06-06 01:25 AM CT (US)     29 / 32       
What I thought you were emphasizing was strategy.

My idea of this is simple. You have a tactically challenging map, with obstacles and different advantages and disadvantages...You may or may not have a single goal. Classic defending and besieging warfare. Basically, setting up difficult situations that require the player to have a 'strategicaly' set mind. It doesn't have to have detailed, eyecandied maps, because the emphasis is not on the way the map looks, it is focused on the tactical aspect of the game. Basically, the emphasis and purpose of the map is more of strategy and the use of battle tactics...

I like the 'overworld' system in some respects, but it has it's 'ups and downs'.

EDIT:

Quoted from Ringer:

will probably become the first few scenarios of the campaign (which may well have a dozen):

Oh, you are actually designing a campaign with this general idea? I thought that you were only discussing this idea and contemplating the possibilities of this idealogy...As I said earlier, I am also planning to create a campaign with an idea somewhat like this...

If I misunderstood you, then disregard what I just said. Oh, and btw, I usually take people seriously on the net'...Just so you know.


___~ Super Cell 51 ~___
"Live every day as though it was your last."
JESUS SAVES!

[This message has been edited by Super_Cell_51 (edited 05-06-2006 @ 01:51 PM).]

Ringer
Squire
posted 05-09-06 00:30 AM CT (US)     30 / 32       
I think Super_Cell kinda got it.

Actually, I didn't want to be the one to really design this; I WAS just discussing it. However, I felt it would be disappointing not to make something out of it. So I made the first scenario ( the map, at least ), but my meticulous nature filled it with little graveyards and clearings and deer and gardens and huts and roads. I can't make this kind of scenario!


“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” --Anonymous
Super_Cell_51
Squire
posted 05-09-06 11:45 AM CT (US)     31 / 32       
Well, as I am somewhat interested in this idea, I am planning a scenario like this...I have already designed the first scenario. My goal, which may or may not be accomplished, is to find the most challenging aspects of the game, and make scenarios out of these situations. I will probably need some help in find these 'challenges', but a discussion like that may very well belong in the 'General Discussion and Strategy' forum. Anyways, once you have a scenario or two complete, you could send it(or them) to me. I really want to see how your thoughts and ideas on this subject are portrayed in the editor.

Regards,

SuperCell


___~ Super Cell 51 ~___
"Live every day as though it was your last."
JESUS SAVES!
Cesar Bernardi
Squire
posted 05-09-06 11:57 AM CT (US)     32 / 32       
Ana forgot to mention "The Maze" by Berserker Jerker (if he ever released it... I have playtested it), in which you have to "teleport" yourself through several rooms in order to get to a certain point, and then return to your initial position.
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