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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design and Discussion » The Playthrough Thread
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Topic Subject:The Playthrough Thread
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Leif Ericson
Seraph Emeritus
posted 03-10-17 01:07 PM CT (US)         
I've been getting back into playing through scenarios, and I thought it'd be a cool idea to have a place where we share the scenarios that we play in our spare time. It should be a good way to show different designers some hidden gems out there that could inspire some new ideas. Feel free to just mention which games your playing, give a summary or recommendation, crosspost your reviews from the Blacksmith, or even any scenarios you want people to playtest for you. It should be fun.

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Tarsiz
Squire
posted 09-25-19 06:27 AM CT (US)     841 / 846       
@Kataphraktoi
I read your whole feedback message. If I'm not mistaken you play multiplayer at a decent level on Voobly (I think we played a couple of times?) and I find your take on campaigns quite interesting as I have the exact opposite opinion on many scenarios (while also dedicating most of my playtime to multiplayer).

I can't stand scenarios that are a massive "late game" grind, especially those which rely on artificial ways of increasing the difficulty at the expense of fun: constricting the player to Castle Age (bonus points if you face fully upgraded Imperial Age AIs like in the dreadful Magyar scenario of the Forgotten), giving infinite ressources to the enemy, littering the opponent's base with a ton of towers, etc.

Build & Destroy type of scenarios are usually interesting at the start when things are getting into place, and then become really easy as the AI can't match the player's boom. I like those that find a way of amplifying the difficulty at that point, Into China is probably the best example that comes to mind when played for the first time and finding out Yellow is building a wonder...

For this kind of stuff, I can play multiplayer games. When playing scenarios I'm expecting different things and that's why missions like the Burmese and Portuguese campaigns were my favorites of the new campaigns. A lot of interesting and original gameplay.

I think designers in general would probably profit from playing more multiplayer and getting a sense of how the game is supposed to be played (competitively). Although I doubt it would be feasible to completely get rid of the "difficulty curve problem" of B&D scenarios they would come up with clever ways of keeping the players on their toes at all stages of the mission.
Kataphraktoi
Squire
posted 09-25-19 02:56 PM CT (US)     842 / 846       
@Kataphraktoi
I read your whole feedback message. If I'm not mistaken you play multiplayer at a decent level on Voobly (I think we played a couple of times?) and I find your take on campaigns quite interesting as I have the exact opposite opinion on many scenarios (while also dedicating most of my playtime to multiplayer).
Historically and around 2013 I tend to be a 1600 voobly player. So baseline competent but too slow and too weak to do much. I keep hearing a 1600 voobly player from back then is worth a 1300 voobly player today so I am not sure.

I used to spend the majority of my time in multiplayer too. Unfortunately where I live only satelite internet is available and this has a built-in ping of 700 minimum. Therefore I have ceased multiplayer completely.
For this kind of stuff, I can play multiplayer games. When playing scenarios I'm expecting different things and that's why missions like the Burmese and Portuguese campaigns were my favorites of the new campaigns. A lot of interesting and original gameplay.
Fair enough, its a solid reason to like those campaigns. They did do things a bit differently and the portuguese campaign in particular has a much different scale and intention to it. I do feel like almost everything in there has been done as well or much better in other RTS campaigns if not blacksmith campaigns\scenarios. These types of scenarios would go over much better with me if the map design was top tier level too;especially low pop atmospheric type scenarios. I feel like the mapping was either weak or borderline acceptable in all the scenarios with only a few being somewhat nice.
I can't stand scenarios that are a massive "late game" grind, especially those which rely on artificial ways of increasing the difficulty at the expense of fun......giving infinite ressources to the enemy, littering the opponent's base with a ton of towers, etc.....Build & Destroy type of scenarios are usually interesting at the start when things are getting into place, and then become really easy as the AI can't match the player's boom.
The lategame fall-off is a chronic problem that plagues B&D:my own Nicaea on the smithy even suffers from this problem despite my trying to head it off. And that same scenario does give the AI infinite resources which indeed can be obnoxious;bleeding the enemy out was always a patient strategy I favored employing when I first started playing. I fully agree on the bases full of towers problem, I cannot stand attacking into those types of bases.

I think the main cause of these problems is relying on crutches such as infinite resources instead of proper and well rounded methods. When I made Nicaea I was just figuring out the very basics of AI and I didnt want to have to invest so much time making a real AI that played as if it was a skirmish. The AI even in good B&D tends to be a facade that pretends to be an opponent but is just a mechanical dummy underneath. Unfortunately its 10x faster to deploy this facade AI so I tend to do something similar myself.
I think designers in general would probably profit from playing more multiplayer and getting a sense of how the game is supposed to be played (competitively). Although I doubt it would be feasible to completely get rid of the "difficulty curve problem" of B&D scenarios they would come up with clever ways of keeping the players on their toes at all stages of the mission.
Yeah, I agree completely. I think a lot of designers around here would benefit from playing a couple hundred arabia 1v1. Hockeysam is an exception but most commentators on this forum are freshly grown blueberries. One of the best designers around even lost a game to a wolf;typical AoKH userbase problem.

Anyway Its good to share an alternative viewpoint. I certainly dont want to be the only voice but still I think my perspective needed to be shared too. Ultimately the write up was mostly for catharsis so I can move on and review the AoK DE campaigns when it comes out.

"Excellent could be any map that has the quality of a ES random map or ES scenario. AoK is an excellent, award winning game. That's where I'd start." -AnastasiaKafka

"Hard work is evil. Bitmaps are stupid. Working on a scenario for more than one afternoon is stupid. Triggers are stupid. Testing your own scenario is stupid. The world is stupid. You are the Greatest." -Ingo Van Thiel
Al_Kharn the Great
Squire
posted 09-25-19 08:45 PM CT (US)     843 / 846       
When playing scenarios I'm expecting different things and that's why missions like the Burmese and Portuguese campaigns were my favorites of the new campaigns. A lot of interesting and original gameplay.
Thanks!

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HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 09-26-19 01:26 AM CT (US)     844 / 846       
One of the best designers around even lost a game to a wolf;typical AoKH userbase problem.
To be fair to Mash and provide some context, this occurred in Imperial after I had demolished his base on Black Forest. He ran his last surviving villager into a corner, meaning to wall himself in, but unluckily encountered a pair of wolves. He's actually one of the stronger players among the scenario design community here at AoKH.

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rewaider
Squire
posted 09-26-19 12:50 PM CT (US)     845 / 846       
Yeah, I agree completely. I think a lot of designers around here would benefit from playing a couple hundred arabia 1v1.
Indeed. That's exactly the reason why I tend to just either skip or not even play most of the blacksmith's B&D scenarios... With the only exception being the ones that actually (or at least) try to shake the game's core loop by introducing ground breaking mechanics, try to "modernize" the (IMO) outdated micromanaging mess of AOK's B&D and such.
Examples on the top of my head are: Rockspring Revolution/RoA, Nyctophobia, Wind of the North, Tamerlane (for its time, of course), the GoT MP map by LoCoDoN (yes, it's a multiplayer map, but still qualify at the whole "shaking the game mechanics significantly enough to make it not boring" part).

Not to mention that it's kinda futile to try to compete against the Multiplayer's B&D format... Because it's always gonna be superior to your scenario if you don't use the editor's unique features enough to make it stand out. No AI is gonna be more interesting/surprising than a human; No bot enemy is gonna be more diverse than the 20-something civ pool and team bonuses/compositions of a MP game. I'd much rather use the scenario editor for its own thing, instead of trying to emulate the much superior experience that's already much more fleshed out than yours.

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[This message has been edited by rewaider (edited 09-26-2019 @ 12:52 PM).]

Kataphraktoi
Squire
posted 11-01-19 04:45 PM CT (US)     846 / 846       
Not to mention that it's kinda futile to try to compete against the Multiplayer's B&D format... Because it's always gonna be superior to your scenario if you don't use the editor's unique features enough to make it stand out. No AI is gonna be more interesting/surprising than a human; No bot enemy is gonna be more diverse than the 20-something civ pool and team bonuses/compositions of a MP game. I'd much rather use the scenario editor for its own thing, instead of trying to emulate the much superior experience that's already much more fleshed out than yours.
That is certainly true, but I also think the multiplayer format delivers a difference gameplay experience that is not exactly what I am seeking nowadays. What I would like to see is a game where you control the map and have cities, villages, and castles to build, control or influence. Comepetitive multiplayer demonstrates that ES's vision for the game doesnt play out in reality;the entire map becomes a metropolis and I dont think anyone was anticipating crossbow vs mangonel duels back in 98' when designing this. Actually if you play in 500ping or above the gameplay changes quite a bit as modern micro tactics stop working since the units are too lethargic to be handled like they are now. This showed up in the old viper vs Tim matches quite a bit where the gameplay between them devolved quite a bit due to the latency issues.

I think what I really want is an age of empires game that mixes AoE, Civ, Total War, Stronghold, and Europa Universalis\Imperator:Rome into one game. The RISK maps are a tiny bit like that with a big focus on territorial control, but adding dynasty and religion is something you cannot do with the AoE engine.

Thinking back on my dissatisfaction with the DE campaigns, I think in order to break through the burnt out and jaded perspective I have, a scenario needs to deliver a truly outstanding performance to begin registering as fun, so its very tough for any scenario to do that in the first place. That is why I was so enthused over the PTC17 contest winners too, as its very rare for gaming content to be so good I can forget everything and just enjoy the experience.
Tamerlane (for its time, of course)
Yes, I love tamerlane back then and dont enjoy it so much now. Thats because my skills have improved along with the communities over the decades to the point most old difficulty-based gameplay is trivialized, especially if its macro based gameplay with a economic build up. Such a campaign becomes boring when it loses it toughness, which damages its fun factor and balance and makes it hard to see in a strongly-positive light anymore.

Well, Ive been on haitus from AoK for a month or two to try out some new stuff while waiting for AoK DE. Bit off topic, but Kingdom Come Deliverance is a pretty good skyrim-level RPG and its fairly well patched up since its disastrous launch. Would recommend it for anyone interested.

"Excellent could be any map that has the quality of a ES random map or ES scenario. AoK is an excellent, award winning game. That's where I'd start." -AnastasiaKafka

"Hard work is evil. Bitmaps are stupid. Working on a scenario for more than one afternoon is stupid. Triggers are stupid. Testing your own scenario is stupid. The world is stupid. You are the Greatest." -Ingo Van Thiel

[This message has been edited by Kataphraktoi (edited 11-01-2019 @ 04:46 PM).]

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