Age of Kings Heaven
Downloads Home
Best Files
Review Guidelines
Main site
Code of Conduct

Advanced Search
Showcase Scenarios
New Releases
New Reviews
New Comments

Submit File
Browse Categories
New Files
Recent Updates

Downloads Home » Showcase Scenarios » PTC19 - Dravona

Download File Post Review Post Comment

PTC19 - Dravona

Author File Description
File Details
Version: The Conquerors 1.0c
Required Modpack (if not included with the download): UserPatch 1.5
Entry to the 2019 Pretty Town Contest
Joint winner

Dravona is truly, or so its citizens believe, not merely the capital but also the shining jewel of the empire. The city is one of sweeping avenues, green spaces, grand buildings and bustling shipyards. The surrounding countryside offers expanses of fertile fields and open meadows, magnificent villas, welcome inns and way stations, apple orchards and lemon groves. Come and see.

-- + --

This file was designed in UserPatch 1.5, and is best viewed using that version.

Should anyone like to borrow any aspect of this file and use it in their own work, they are entirely free to do so. The same goes if anyone would like to use the map as a whole as a template.
AuthorReviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Dravona gave me a bit of a fright, seeing as how the map starts off a bit slow and with some starkly minimalistic areas;handing a designer like Julius a 4.5 would take a good dose of liquid courage beforehand. Fortunately I can say with confidence that this is a very good map with nice overall design. This map has a low density, meaning it is on the large side so that even a good amount of content, when evenly spaced out within it, might appear a bit thin. On the other hand, that means the map is full of hidden treasures and uncovering everything takes a bit of time but is so very worth it.

The story elements of Dravona are good;the writing of the journal notes and historical background is enjoyable to read and there is plenty of dialogue and characterization, but the delivery of these journal notes is a bit of a weak point. The player receives journal notes at each location giving a snippet for context which are nice to read, but they are difficult to find by scrolling down and at first look can be a little tricky to mentally link to a location since you cant see the game when opening the objectives. Previous maps that had something like this like Agartha just forced the most recent journal note to the top solving this issue, although that brings its own issues. That said these snippets are a bit too large to dump into the chat either so I am not sure what the solution is this time.

Combined building placement is a work of beauty in this map with many new combinations that were lovely to behold. This also demonstrates the value of contrast;the finale shot of the cold britons buildings was stunning, except I never thought much of that architectural set to begin with;but compared to everything seen leading up to it made for a strong impact. Some of these building combinations went together so smoothly I didnt even notice them until I focused on it, like the teuton town center construct near the start. There are plenty of inns and villas dotting the landscape, and each and every one was a focal point well worth resting the eyes upon. The city especially is lovely to explore and ponder how well placed and positioned every building is to make the most out of repeatedly used assets. The continual variety created by obscuring or revealing different parts of the same building leaves a very positive impression.

I have to admit there were a few spots I didnt understand and I think they dont work. The most obvious one is near the entrance to the city with a tower of flies with a stone wall on top of it;I am scratching my head in puzzlement over this construction, which looks very poor to me. Just to the right of it are some of the high walls with an odd shadow and their purple glitch graphics visible;looks a bit off. There are a number of areas where walls have detailing work underneath with the bases of obscured objects used to provide some detail, but I cannot shake the impression that these walls are floating above that materiel. These points dont seriously detract from the map but there are enough of them that I am quite puzzled over it. I think this is symptomatic of the community in general becoming so extreme with its combined object placement that even for a longtimer like me I cannot make it work anymore. I never did understand the waterfalls of fish and various other combined tricks never look so good to me as those who describe them make them sound. This sometimes leaves me with the impression I am the protogonist of the short story regarding the Emperor's clothing. I could point out these flaws in every top scoring PTC map and well regarded offgrided blacksmith map, so its hardly a major fault of this map alone anyway. Its just part of pushing the limits in a limited 2d isometric game.

Terrain in Dravona is a major facet of the map both at the micro and macro level. This map presents a large region which transitions from mountains to farmlands to ocean;the way each area flows sensibly into the next is quite smooth and natural. The water detailing on the ocean in particular is superb and creates a nice effect when viewed from orbit. This terrain does a great job at setting up the setpieces such as villas or inns, which make prominent outliers against the natural scenery. At the micro level, the map does well with terrain mixing and foliage usage to keep things appealing, though I would say a few specific areas pushed the limits of minimalism to the breaking point;the most obvious example is between the nomad camp and major castle, where the terrainwork is quite sparse;there are a number of areas like this, which make me wonder if they are actually intentional or symptomatic of the map size being so large. This doesnt bring down the experience in a significant way, and it is somewhat natural that some terrain be more mundane, I suppose. There are more than enough phenomenal areas to make a strong and convincing impression in the end. Many of these open grassland areas do look quite nice, and the occasional usage of a tiny bit of shallow to make a slightly wet spot is a nice touch.

The opening shot is an odd point;on 1600x900 resolution and below, it looks very nice and has a nice hook to get you interested with the offgrid building trick in the mountain luring you forward. However, on the standard 1080p resolution, which itself is already being superceded by 1440p and 2160p, this doesnt look so great with the bases of the mountains visible on the fog of war, especially on the far left with blank terrain visible with the default camera placement. This doesnt effect the score or my enjoyment in the long run but it did contribute to a surprised first impression that combined with some minimalistic terrain spots made me feel the map was a bit off from 100% completion.

Assessing the quality of urban life, this map does well with a large number of NPCs who are moving about the city;these all have dialogue lines, and over time they seem to work their way all throughout the city, as on subsequent replays I noticed NPC dialogues from one area where found instead in another spot entirely. It seemed like everytime I went through the city I found some new dialogue that I hadnt yet heard;I find this quite impressive. This city does a great job to setup various little districts that are separated by rows of buildings that might be a little too widely spaced for realism but do well to succeed within the gameworlds limited isometric view. That said I did feel the city when compared to earlier works like Azgara felt slightly more sterile and clean in comparison, and with less fancy setpieces;this map relied more on lots of dialogue, movement of people, and the excellent structural lines of the buildings. Its a more senatorial, mature and dignified work while Azgara was sometimes so over the top it was comedic, but I do feel like a little something like soul or heart was diminished along the way.

Dravona is, in summary, a very strong map that does well in all areas. Its strong point is the broad scope of its regional depiction allowing for points of interest to be separated by goodly amounts of terrain. A lovely map that is a joy to explore receives a solid 5.0
Mr Wednesday
(id: matty12345)
Official Reviewer
Dravona is an entry by Julius to the 2019 Pretty Town Contest, his fifth such entry since 2008. It is the fourth of his entries to win outright or at least share in the victory, having finished in a three-way tie for third. It also is the first ever PTC contest entry to be awarded a perfect score, an honour it shares with its two joint winners in 2019.

This history is important to consider when reviewing Dravona, because the backstory is in many ways the real story of this scenario. Games, scenarios, and other creative works can often be thought of as revolutionary or evolutionary, and so it is with this history in mind that I can say Dravona is almost entirely evolutionary, and mean only the highest of compliments by it instead of slighting the author's revolutionary abilities.

Azgara in many ways changed the PTC forever, revolutionizing large portions of the AoKH design community's understanding on how to make maps pretty. In ways only the best of the blacksmith's files can claim to have influenced other designs, Azgara changed how people design urban areas, rural areas, farmlands, forests, etc. If you think you have seen similar areas in other designs to those in Azgara, you probably have. Azgara, simply, is a scenario that inspired new ways of designing.

Juval Province too, while sticking close to the original formula of Azgara, is a revolutionary scenario nonetheless. The off grid placement of the User Patch, bursting on the scene in PTC 2015, was still a largely unexplored territory in 2017 when Juval Province was released. Julius managed to maintain his winning formula while moving it in a bright new direction, showing once again that the editor has unexplored frontiers even nearly two decades later.

But this scenario, Dravona, feels much different. It feels like Julius is sitting back, a master of his craft, already having won this contest three times. His style is fully formed, and Dravona will hold few surprises to players of his previous entries. Sure, a trick here, a clever point of new design there, but nothing you feel you haven't seen from this master before.

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel which he himself already invented, Julius has built the perfect wheel. It's his biggest entry yet. All his entries contain considerable life and NPC dialogue, yet this contains the most. His famous use of town center pieces and his love for stacking buildings together is better than ever here. His story is even remarkably similar to Juval Province or Azgara, yet slightly more personal and engaging. The countrysides are still there, as are his usual farmlands, but these feel even more naturally to encompass the city, rather then set pieces in a storybook.

There are numerous little details one could fawn over for paragraphs, and in many ways that is what most reviews do. Similarly, there is the odd design flaw based on the real concerns of having to finish by a contest deadline, and the occasional imperfections that come with most AoK scenarios, in one form or another. But listing pro's and con's and then giving a rating is no real way to review a work as good as this.

In short, it is the perfect honing of a style after two decades of design experience from a truly great designer. Everything he has learned is in this scenario. It may not be as to your taste as another entry, and that is fine. But for this style, which Julius invented and so many have mimicked, this is the highest example we can hold up.

A perfect entry is an entry that accomplishes what it wants to accomplish completely. I fully agree with the judges giving this 50/50 each.

For my part, I also give it 5/5.

[Edited on 12/20/19 @ 01:29 PM]

Official Reviewer
Rating: 5

Dravona provides the viewer with the same level of consistent excellence that Julius has delivered for over a decade. The style is the designer’s typical minimalism, but let that not fool you--the amount of detail is utterly stunning and the cohesion is such that the player is left feeling that the whole is indeed more than the sum of its parts. Highlights include the author’s patented skillful use of town center pieces, the various mansions, estates, and taverns scattered throughout the map, and another of the author’s trademarks: cleverly-positioned scenery objects overlapping with buildings and scenery pieces to add an ounce of extra flair. The overall layout and composition is nothing short of excellent, and reflects a high degree of aesthetic, creative, and atmospheric excellence from the most minute details to the overall whole. One atmospheric touch that worked out especially well is the author’s choice to have the townspeople randomly wander about rather than follow linear patrolled routes--this, along with the dialogue, creates a distinct effect, if a little dominated by the theme of hastiness, perhaps a reflection of the author’s rush to meet the contest deadline. The ingame story, a staple of past PTC winners, was a welcome addition as well. Furthermore, the realistic positioning of the town amidst the sea, open grasslands and moors, and verdant woodland (as well as a gorgeous forest of blue pines) was another plus typical of the author’s form.

Additional Comments:

Needless to say, the entry was a joy to view and merits only the highest praise; it speaks to the high level of the other top entries that it is not the undisputed sole winner of the contest.

[Edited on 12/20/19 @ 04:44 PM]

Official Reviewer
Dravona is Julius999’s entry into the 2019 Pretty Town Contest. The contest requires a designer to design a large town or city and is judged in numerous aspects to do with design, mainly Design, Layout and Atmosphere. Dravona ties for first place in the contest along with Light of Kurishima and The Bells of Shangri-La.

Rating: 5.0
Dravona takes Julius’ signature designing style and amps it up to 11. The city is a massive walled settlement with much life and activity. Much like Julius’ previous PTC entries, particularly his winning entry of Azgara, the city is bustling with life and there is much to see. Villagers are wondering about their business, working hard at jobs and waking from place to place, whilst soldiers patrol the streets and train in the local barracks. There is plenty of activity for the player with most citizens of the city able to communicate with you and there’s plenty of humorous dialogue to read.

In terms of design the city is beautiful. The buildings are laid out well, making the city look busy and compact whilst also open enough to wonder around and not get stuck. There are plenty of open spaces such as the Palace and parks, as well as a very nicely designed harbour. Outside of the city there is some beautiful landscapes. Where you start off is quite minimalist in design but even so portrays some exquisite terrain mixing and placement of eye-candy. There is also some farmland and plenty of amazing mansions belonging to the high lords and noblemen of the city. These mansions are made up of overlapped buildings, many of which are very unique but visually appealing. The use of the off-grid tool available through UserPatch is fantastic and it has allowed Julius to create some nice eye candy. A particular highlight is the use of graves to create a statue hidden in the outlying forest.

Additional Comments:
Overall Dravona is an excellent piece of scenario design. It is full of typical Julius style and is very different to the other two winnings of this years contest, this deserving of its joint win. If you looking at designing a busy city full of life then definitely check this out.

Post Review Post Comment

HGDL v0.8.2

Forum Username:


Create a new account
Forgot password?
Favorites: [Who?]0
Size:32.53 MB