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Downloads Home » Showcase Scenarios » PTC17 - Agartha

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PTC17 - Agartha

Author File Description
Lord Basse
File Details
Version: The Conquerors 1.0c
Required Modpack (if not included with the download): UserPatch 1.5
Agartha is my entry for - and the joint winner of -
the Pretty Town Contest of 2017.

Step into the shoes of a young Sherpa and explore the lost realm of Agartha, the city under the Earth, and uncover its story.

Brought to you by StormWind Studios.
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Official Reviewer
Rating: 5

Agartha is Lord Basse's entry to the 2017 Pretty Town Contest.

Aesthetic: Lord Basse once again showcases his remarkable affinity for the Mesoamerican building set in a unique take on the theme: an underground, semi-legendary city. Vibrant, verdant landscapes surround the mysterious (and lovely) city of Agartha, a metropolis that was clearly meticulously planned every step of the way, from the initial concept to the design and the story and atmosphere surrounding it, which were highlights of the scenario for me.

Creativity: The aforementioned novel take on a PTC design was remarkable enough, but the author has returned to the PTC armed with the design features that the UserPatch provides, and the result is astonishing to behold. The combination of design tricks and solid map work create a result that is paradisiacal, and the story that is a cornerstone of the entry is a work of pure genius. The author has combined past elements of his wheelhouse with new innovations to excellent effect.

Layout: The entry is nothing short of masterful in this sphere, with a compartmentalized yet fluid and organic mesh between landscape and cityscape, with each part of the map not just looking distinct and fitting the part but also interacting well with the story that accompanies it. Particularly impressive is the pure scope of the map, which is rendered even more of an achievement considering that the quality of the design does not suffer at all from it.

Attention to detail: Agartha is spot-on in this category, and there is truly not a single issue to pick out. It is a manifestation of expertise, and what is perhaps most impressive in this category is that the extensive story within the scenario contains not a single spelling or grammatical error, a testament to the meticulous care put into the entry.

Additional Comments:

Another stunning work from Lord Basse, this one is likely even better than his previous PTC winner, which in many ways changed the face of the competition. It is needless to say that I recommend the download.
iLikeHell One of the best PTC ever
Official Reviewer
Agartha is Lord Basse's entry to the 2017 Pretty Town Contest. It was a joint winner, tied fro first place with Julius999's entry Juval Province.

Rating: 5
Agartha is a remarkable piece of designing from Lord Basse, a masterpiece that incorporates beautiful artistry and map design with an intense and mysterious atmosphere brought through a very well written back-story. Agartha is a "legendary" underground city and is therefore abandoned. Lord Basse create a mysterious atmosphere in the large city will artistic use of sound effects and music and a mysterious back-story told in the style of a journal from the Sherpa you are controlling to explore the city. Lord Basse truly shows off his talent with the editor as he create a map that is designed to perfection. The layout of the city is by far one of the best I have seen, and Basse shows off skill with building placement to make the city look full and busy without making it overcrowded. Basse utilises the off-grid placement stunningly using bushes and trees to cover certain parts of buildings to create new styles. The Mesoamerican building set, a particular favorite of Basse's has been used well to fit the theme of an underground city, and Basse merges the buildings together to create an interesting style. Its not only the layout of the city that makes this one of the best Pretty Town Contest entries ever made, but the gorgeous landscape surrounding it. The landscape utilises extraordinary mixing of terrains and amazing use of cliffs to create unique mountains. The use of GAIA objects to create additional eye-candy is also done very well.

Additional Comments:
Overall this scenario is an amazing design which well deserved it's title of Prettiest Town 2017. It shows off incredible design tricks using both clever artistry with the map designer and intelligent trigger tricks.

Well Done Basse

Lord Basse
Official Reviewer
File Author
Many thanks for the review, Possidon! Glad you enjoyed the scenario so much!
Official Reviewer
Agartha leads the player into an underground jungle city while combining stellar map design with absorbing prose to achieve a feat of world-building few other maps can approach. The holistic unity of the map is perhaps its greatest strength with every location contributing to creating a sense of realism;from farmlands to housing districts to remote temples along with a very clever road layout that reminded me of the road network in Winter Storm which received actual usage by player and AI alike. The massive story presented is a feat itself; not only does it never impede the flow of exploration, it rather enhances the effect of the map design as it closely mirrors the players journey, providing a descriptive account of the players firsthand vision rather than AoC's isometric perspective. There is some slight room for improvement here, as perhaps a more tightly scripted sequence of journal notes would enhance the experience even further, as I sometimes struggled to place a few of the locations mentioned.

Due to the map trading blows with some fierce rivals in the PTC some direct comparisons to other maps can scarcely be avoided. One could argue that Juval delivers slightly superior map design while Spires brings an unrivaled creativity in set-piece construction with Agartha placing a greater reliance on its storytelling genius. One could even say that in a pretty town contest, only the map design should be focused on with a strict limit placed on the beneficial effects of a good story, a position elucidated by yours truly in the lead-up to the scoring. In this way an argument could be made that the reviewers decision to score this map one point higher than its competitor was a slight mistake, but after pondering this for some time I came to a different conclusion. Map design and storytelling are often examined as two separate entities, but they can also be seen as two equal sub-components of a larger category, the process of world-building. In this view the two cannot be separated and are of vital importance to the other;who would remember the epic RPGs such as Morrowwind, Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy if they had failed to bring their locations to life with an immersive story? Their map design, as it were, and graphical fidelity alone could not carry the day in creating such a memorable experience. In this manner I justify my PTC scoring. That said, as one hoping to make a high quality PTC map in the future this is a dreadfully intimidating conclusion, as making a compelling story and delivering it in a manner that even approaches the quality offered here is a quixotic goal indeed.

As mentioned, a jungle map is on offer, with a touch of prehistoric elements intended perhaps. Portrayed is a desolate city fallen into ruin with its population having mysteriously vanished some years prior. Some references to dinosaurs were made, which actually added a sense of foreboding to the map, though in the back of my mind I couldn't help but think this was unlikely to materialize in any way without modding support. The map is impressively large, with its sprawling city stretching on out leisurely while still offering a good amount of open terrain between important locales, something I wouldn't mind seeing more of in other maps. Those locations provide some memorable setpieces such as the temple with bridges for walls with a nice ruined hole effect. The wharf in town was quite nice as well, going for a solid bulk which I found quite convincing. Building usage through the city was excellent with a good mix of routine house placements with important centers of activity sprinkled in;the placement of all structures felt both natural and practical. One section that struck my fancy in particular is the ruined and overgrown district to the right of the farmlands;though nothing stands out in particular here in terms of innovative location design, seeing the city being overtaken by growth here left a distinct impression on me during exploration. The central palace complex was quite nice with its buildings peeking out tantalizingly as the player traversed the city but I do find some room for improvement here, with perhaps some strategic map revealers called for;sometimes the players LOS does not reveal on the structures particularly well forming odd visuals. Usage of the UP Effect to increase map revealer LOS temporarily would be helpful here to alleviate the designers struggle in placing the map revealers - they are quite annoying to deal with in pure vanilla.

The terrain was spectacular with a nicely overgrown jungle with some open areas that display good terrain mixing. The waterways were quite vibrant and a delight to behold with nice desert and beach ratios, though no usage whatsoever was made of the UP freeform terrain placement, which is surprising;the feature was added during the PTC, so maybe there was no time left to incorporate it. I wonder if the swampy archipelago to the far left-hand side of the map wouldn't benefit from swapping its shallows\beach for shoreless desert shallows. The Atlas Fingers were the only unconvincing element here, as the designer came to grapple with the nearly insurmountable task of convincing the viewer that these touch a ceiling. As AoC is essentially designed to portray a sunny European countryside this is a valiant attempt but I couldn't quite buy it. Thinking about other isometric games with caves, I wonder if the tops of the Atlas Fingers might benefit from an application of the dark tiles;this could attempt to replicate the stalagmite graphics merging with the ceiling. I was still able to buy that the map took place underground from the map design atmosphere and storytelling elements combined, however, so this was no detriment. The overall effect of the terrain landscaping was immensely convincing of a real location, with signs of life sprinkled across it in the form of various tucked away structures, and also providing contrast to the dense interior city.

As mentioned in the opening, the story is magnificent;its quality of prose is nearly unrivaled in AoC, clearly displaying the author's ability to trade blows with the legend of AoC who looms over all story telling attemptees. This massive body of text had me deeply concerned in the lead-up to the contest judging;I was blown away by the smooth writing which despite interrupting the exploration for minutes at a time, never overstayed its welcome with perfectly timed journal entries. This could clearly be formatted into an actual book which should be quite pleasing for those who enjoy exploration mysterious and fantastic locales. During a replay three typos were found, though I had overlooked them before. Very good quality control for such a massive amount of text.

Conclusion:An incredible feat of world-building places Agartha on a well deserved pedestal with several 50\50 scores in the '17 PTC. I struggle to imagine a map exceeding this one;I envy the reader who has played such a map in the distant future.

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