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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design and Discussion » Defend the Spot Scenario Contest: 2020 Definitive Edition
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Topic Subject:Defend the Spot Scenario Contest: 2020 Definitive Edition
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Mr Wednesday
Cavalier
(id: matty12345)
posted 02-15-20 03:03 PM CT (US)         


Welcome to the sixth Defend the Spot Scenario Design Competition, and the first ever for Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Held in 2007, 2008, 2013, 2016, and 2018, DtS has always been one of AoKH's most popular contests. With a new version of the game out, it's time for everyone to revisit their defense scenario designing skills once more!

So, what is a "Defend the Spot" scenario? Simple. The basic premise is that you have to hold out for a while in a limited area against superior forces. The most common type of DtS scenario is a defense of a fortified castle or city against hordes of invaders, but a DtS can be the defense of anything - a forest village, a newly-found treasure, a hill during a surprise attack, the king's ship in the middle of the sea - the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

For good examples of DtS scenarios, check out these scenarios:

Defence at Lorgan's Watch - by Mash (winner of the 2016 DtS Competition)
Assault on Killgary - by White Champion (winner of the 2008 DtS Competition)
Defend the Island 4 - by Lord Basse (winner of the 2007 DtS Competition)
Blood of the Bear - by Mash
The Dogs of War - by Night Conqueror


Rules:
  • Only one entry per forummer or team. If more than one designer is working on the scenario, please list all names when you enter.

  • There are no restrictions on styles - you can have fixed force, build and destroy, even role playing defend the spot games.

  • Your scenario must be mainly playable. Cutscenes/storytelling where the player does not control their units should be limited to less than 5 minutes of in game time total for the whole scenario.

  • The game must be a single player game. No multiplayer.

  • The Definitive Edition of the game is the only allowed version. There are plenty of opportunities to compete with the original CD version, but this is the first chance for everyone here to go head to head with the new editor.

  • No game modifications are allowed



Deadline:
All entries must be submitted to the Blacksmith by 11:59 forum time (CST), April 30, 2020.


Judging:

Judges:
1. Hockeysam18
2. Sebastien
3. TBD


All entries will be scored by each judge out of 50 points in the following categories:

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 10 points for how fun the scenario is to play, the gameplay mechanics, and the overall experience
Balance: 10 points for how well the scenario is balanced for fair, challenging, and winnable play.
Map Design: 10 points for the aesthetics of the map.
Creativity: 10 points awarded for the creative choices made by the designer. The DE brings a wealth of new options that can lead to many new and exciting design ideas
Story: 10 points for the idea behind the scenario, the way the story is conveyed, and the instructions the player receives.

Scoring will be done on this metric:
10: Better than or as good as the judge has ever seen for similar scenarios.
8-9: Exceptional, elite for the contest, little negative can be said
6-7: Good, better than half the entries, a strength of the scenario
5: Average, nothing particularly good but not a particular weakness
3-4: in the bottom half of entries, not of the quality of the winners, and a notable weakness of the scenario
1-2: very poor, heavily lowers the overall opinion of the scenario



Contestants:

If you are interested in participating, sign up! Entries do not need a contest tag in the title, simply post that you have submitted your entry and its name here in thread to be included.

[This message has been edited by Mr Wednesday (edited 02-15-2020 @ 03:04 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Blume
Squire
posted 05-10-20 11:52 PM CT (US)     106 / 153       
Thank you for your time, and I appreciate your feedback! I loved the other entries! I'll keep chipping away at my map. Maybe I'll get right one these days.

[This message has been edited by Blume (edited 05-11-2020 @ 00:14 AM).]

BOT_Alan
Squire
posted 05-11-20 02:58 AM CT (US)     107 / 153       
MrMew and Bassi i couldnt find you to steam nor disc, i rly enjoyed your entries keep up the good work guys!
MrMew i don't wait for the results, result are there but i didn't notice any comments that justifies the results Seb has given. and if dev will judge too why the result has been announced already.
i also asked a question to HockeySam, but i suspect he is not willing to answer to a villager or he hasn't found the time yet, well.. as a friend told, it is what it is.

Discord.[BOT] Alan#6678
steam. [BOT] Alan

[This message has been edited by BOT_Alan (edited 05-11-2020 @ 03:21 AM).]

HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 05-11-20 04:23 AM CT (US)     108 / 153       
Patience, I can't honestly be expected to be on an internet forum 24/7
and if dev will judge too why the result has been announced already.
Dev announced several posts ago that he was backing out of scoring for the contest but would still potentially be providing feedback.
i also asked a question to HockeySam
What is your question? Feel free to post it here.

~ Forgotten Empires ~

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjálfr it sama; ek veit einn at aldri deyr, dómr um dauðan hvern." - Hávamál 77.
BOT_Alan
Squire
posted 05-11-20 05:11 AM CT (US)     109 / 153       
I am sorry for being impatient. Devious said nothing of stepping down(unless he told you in person), he just needed more time to finish the entries and post results, i cant think a reason that he couldn't have that time .. since the other judge is not active. and was supposed to be 3 judges.
Anyway this is my notes i wanted to give you in person and again thanks for your time, it may contain spoilers so others don't read if you intend to play it. if anyone plays it before i make an upd file i suggest to Use marco! not polo just marco.

1 [The cramped nature of the map made the playing experience extremely grindy with lack of room to build]
| Tottally agree it was a mountain top and lacked the room.

2 [resources are slow to gather and less-than-judicious]
| in my opinion the resources and the time given in the map is doubled than one needs. during testing i end it in the half time given and half resources also i forgot to add an instruction for the trade carts IT'S really expensive to buy them in the market ,due to wheels brake in the mountain, thats why i place vils to find them.. maybe you bought too many carts and and spend to much gold.. i 'll try not to give any spoilers, the scenario gave you 2 tarkans at start to scout the map and maybe lost them in process, top is not blocked (you can garrison if you want in fort, the barracks won't block you) and there are 2 more entries to the cave besides top..did you scouted them?
you dont have to put 2 TC's in starting area if scouted the cave. there are 2 more locations in the cave for tc with plenty of resources, and a third location for a krepost. also not all (green)tribe gates are locked,
-i should have clearly put more instruction there.. noted

3 [use of the off-grid placement tool caused pathfinding to altogether fail]
| True. was it the off-grid tool ? or the map layering? i ll explain in the next comment No4.
i suspect the macedons were shiting and pissing their pants in the cave were it was all Dark with almost no light, strange noices and foreighn voices sounds and a stange smell of smoke and burned corpses of their brethren, ancient hostile faces and figures in dark.. sudden attacks from giant cavemen raiders.. god i wish i new how to add sound.
-sorry if you didnt like it.

4 [Another mechanic that was buggy and prone to frustration was the darkness feature inside the caves,
which made it near impossible for units to uncover the map or find targets, troops had to be guided literally every step of the way.]
|True, scenario gave units for slowly gaining vision in cave like tarkans, feitoria, monk, bridge also you can build in cave in curtain spots (if scouted) and it fixes that issue when you know were to click .
clearly i must place a lot more instructions there or map revealers. Thanks for pointing and noted!your experience could have been much better if you dont click to fog of war .. click were your units vision is.
remember its a dark wet scary cave with hostile owners.

[but it is a process trying of one’s patience.]
Back in Alexander's days life was hard! imagine walking and fighting for 10 years and when its over end up in the cave like that instead of sweet Antissara harbor back in Macedonia :P

the player has absolutely no clue what is going on. noted i ll try to fix em
Instructions are difficult to follow and how to proceed is not particularly clear. noted i ll try to fix em

Discord.[BOT] Alan#6678
steam. [BOT] Alan

[This message has been edited by BOT_Alan (edited 05-11-2020 @ 05:16 AM).]

HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 05-11-20 08:23 AM CT (US)     110 / 153       
in my opinion the resources and the time given in the map is doubled than one needs
While this is true, the lack of room to build makes the process of building a camp and collecting those resources extremely slow. I didn't build any new trade carts, only recovering the broken carts with a villager, but the pacing remained very slow.
there are 2 more entries to the cave besides top..did you scouted them?
I did, but there was little strategic value to using them.
True. was it the off-grid tool ? or the map layering?
The off-grid tool. It's generally a good rule of thumb to avoid off-grid placement of any objects that could interfere with unit pathfinding, especially in close quarters. The map layering has nothing to do with it.
remember its a dark wet scary cave with hostile owners.
Back in Alexander's days life was hard!
A commitment to historical realism is admirable, but playability is always to be prioritized in instances where the two may conflict.

~ Forgotten Empires ~

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjálfr it sama; ek veit einn at aldri deyr, dómr um dauðan hvern." - Hávamál 77.
Sebastien
Dark Samurai
posted 05-11-20 08:26 AM CT (US)     111 / 153       
BOT_Alan, Dude, relax. :P
Devious said nothing of stepping down
Actually, he did. He is no longer judging.
since the other judge is not active.
Says who? It's been one day since HockeySam posted his results? The reason for slight delay is because I somehow missed out on Gensokyo so had to have time to play that before finalising my write ups. I'm still working during Coronavirus lockdown and it's not the weekend anymore.
Why did Sebastien give too low points for all entries?
I have high standards and I don't think they're too low at all. Quite frankly there were only two entries which I actually really enjoyed; the rest of them were average. I was actually quite generous on some of them also. I didn't feel like any of the entries were particularly better or as good as previous competition entries, which is why none of them received a 10. A 10 is like a masterwork score; it's to be earned for a very good reason, especially when it comes to things like map design. On more retrospect I probably would alter the scores somewhat, maybe giving Valhalla higher points in creativity, and The Last Romans more map design points for example; but it's not important now.
i felt that Sebastian was a bit generous to me
Why beat yourself down? It wasn't that bad... just badly adapted for Defend the Spot.
Seb will you post a review on your own?
In the next comment.
@bot_alan Dev is still going to release his results, it will just take him longer to finish playing through all the entries.
Dev is no longer judging, and his scores will not change any current given results.

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 05-11-2020 @ 09:42 AM).]

Sebastien
Dark Samurai
posted 05-11-20 09:35 AM CT (US)     112 / 153       
Here are my writeups. Note; Gosokyo is missing because I had to play it late. The Last Romans is also missing as I'll explain my scores in more detail. I should have them finished by tomorrow.

Thanathor - A Most Unusual Package

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 6

This was a refreshing scenario to play and I generally enjoyed it but missed the mark I felt considering the individual skills of each hero. There are plenty of scenarios similar to it's premise which tackle the individual hero element much better (such as one of the Age of Chivalry scenarios, and Tsubasas Tale 2 and more). The scenario was the most unique out of all the entries as you are defending a cart instead of a base. The game sees you control six heroes with different skills and traits and at first you expect a lot of micromanaging, but in fact, there is hardly any. The reason for that is because enemies will generally just come at you from different points and are very easily dispatched of. There is no micromanaging besides putting your two melee guys together and your three ranged guys together and going from there. It really didn't matter what enemy was what because your heroes were so powerful that you could just throw anyone at anyone; the exception being your archer - who you keep away from melee, and your blast radius swordsman - who has horrible pierce armour. The archer was also the easiest guy to target enemy longbowmen. The cart was basically indestructable and never once became close to being killed so I felt like the whole focus of the game was just a side piece to the action and completely unneccessary. In that sense, it was more like some RPG scenario than a defend the spot. I've given it a 6, as it sort of sits in the middle for me in terms of enjoyment compared to the rest of the scenarios. I didn't play the easiest mode with invulnerable heroes, but I'm guessing it wouldn't have been that fun as there's zero challenge.

Balance: 4

I've had to give this one a 4. I can't remember whether I started on hard or moderate (whichever was the harder mode for the scenario) but for me, I couldn't get past the second stop point where you encounter the first elephant. The start of the map was extremely easy and was basically just point and click with no real thought to anything; watching my over powered heroes tackle some sparse troops. That changed when reaching the first rest point where enemy troops were consistently overwhelming me. I was doing ok, but then the 2000HP elephant with ridiculous blast damage arrived and no matter what I did, I couldn't take it down. I replayed the scenario many times, trying to kill it with a bunch of my guys, moving my other guys to one side of the island and having a couple of others micromanage the elephant around some stone carts, having it chase them whilst the other attacked it. Meanwhile enemy troops were still coming in from every direction throwing my micromanaging off course and my other guys eventually succumbed to the numbers whilst I was distracted trying to scratch the elephant. Suffice to say I gave up and went to a lower difficulty. When I moved to the standard difficulty I quickly dispatched of the annoying elephant and managed to complete the game in one sitting. It never really quite offered much of a challenge and I didn't lose one hero on the standard mode. I found it hard to enjoy the last battle also as it was a simple case of putting my melee guys in front of the ranged and watching them obliterate everything, whilst occasionally carefully selecting which enemy to kill first and very occasionally retreating to a safer spot to regain health. The individual heroes unique traits didn't really offer anything here. The only thing was to make sure your blast damage guy isn't getting hit by archers.

Map Design: 6

The map design is the main thing that shines in this scenario. It is one of the better maps of the competition, but some shortfalls let it down; and for that reason I've given it a 6 instead of a 7. The map is not particulary over complicated, and generally it's very safely made with nothing really spectacular on an individual level (except for the starting town which is nicely laid out and designed). What it does have though is consistency and good attention to detail throughout (even on areas not even seen in the game). There are enough elements that aren't overdone to make the map feel natural and realistic. However, at AOKH we've come to expect a lot from some very very good entries in the past, so there are parts that also feel plain to what we've seen before and personally, I don't see anything that really utilises the new terrain painting functions available in DE as well as I'd liked. Gameplay wise; freedom of movement was limited. Often I'd scout ahead of the cart only to spot randomly popped up spawned enemies or to be forced back to where I've previously been because some other units spawned next to the cart. This meant I couldn't seek out in advance any enemies and instead was restricted to the speed of the cart. It makes sense story wise, but not gameplay wise, considering the cart is practially indestructable. Also, the second waiting area was too small given the number of enemy troops that eventually end up on it, especially given that a blast damage elephant arrives on it that greatly restricts where you can move to. There were times where I really wanted to move around or retreat a little, but was greatly restricted, and moving away from that island simply ended in defeat. Albeit a small issue, I also questioned why they walked the extremely long way around after winning on the island. There is literally a bridge which could have cut their journey in half; instead they decide to head North (and even consider heading further North if it weren't for a blockade). Why they went North is not really a big negative, but I just felt like the map route could have been planned more to remove those two questionable occasions. There was also the ending sections with the enemy boss guy. Earlier in the game the enemy boss guy is literally standing right outside your allies castle with a small army to serve a cutscene. Then, when you reach the castle theres a few allied units there guarding the castle. However, the boss guy is now standing on the island from where you came. Again, not really a big negative, it just sort of broke the continuity and seemed like the map layout part was a bit of an afterthought.

Creativity: 5

I'm going to give a 5 here. Whilst overall the scenario was a better one than some of the others, I felt the creativity to be ok and there were some good elements but nothing that truly stands out. The unique points about each hero was obviously creative and won it points here. The fact you're defending a cart is creative given the fact nobody else did it, but the gameplay element surrounding it basically meant it was not really utilised properly. I never felt the cart was in danger when I realised it soaked up so much damage and lacked some opportunities with the story or in game elements to really feel like it was at risk. The hero skills were never really taken advantage of given the types of enemies and was more just point and click. I appreciate the designers descriptions outlining about the enemy unit types, but there wasn't really much in terms of countering as enemies were mostly all mixed together and were essentially the same throughout the entire map. The story was basically a traditional transport and protect the VIP, which isn't bad, it just doesn't win any points here.

Story: 6

I'm actually a fan of short introductions and on the go story. Reading paragraphs of history can get a bit boring and they certainly didn't have that here. What they did have was a nice introductory cutscene which introduced the characters, who they are and what they do. It was relatively short, to the point, and helped immerse me in the world. The characters all had individual names though maybe they could have had some individual dialogues or interaction with each other throughout the scenario to really help pan out their personalities. The transport the princess hidden in the cart is a bit cliche but cliches don't have to be bad and it served the purpose well. We got quickly brought into the action and I actually felt like when escaping the first town that it was part of the story, in fact, the whole thing felt like part of the story. Interestingly, there was no epic battle with the main antagonist and instead the heroes did their job and went on presumably to serve some next contract another day. Overall, nothing too complicated or intense and just enough immersive story elements to keep the scenario running smoothly and for that reason I've given it a 6.

Overall: I did enjoy it and will probably give it another go again at some point on a higher difficulty, though honestly taking the longer route on the map slowed it down a bit and got a little boring and tedious waiting for the cart on such a long journey. A worthy entry to the competition, but I feel better suited to a different genre. The defend the spot element of this would be better suited to an already existing campaign and perhaps slightly shorter. I'd would genuinely like to see the designer take these characters further and really develop a scenario or campagin that implements various gameplay styles and a full story following our new heroes.

BOT_Alan - Perdiccas

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 5

This one was really encroaching the line to what a 'defend the spot' scenario actually is. The gameplay is more consistent to some fantasy-esque style custom scenario and had very little to do with actually defending anything. Sure, you had to make sure your castle wasn't destroyed but this was only an afterthought, and something which only became a possibility later on the in the scenario as the enemy grew stronger. In fact, you didn't care for it at all to begin with as it's not even your castle and your allies have more than enough troops to defend it. Then there was the feitoria inside the cave which you had to defend, but this was simply a case of making sure troops were outside of it with no real thought or objective to it. There was nothing in the gameplay to actually make defending it interesting or necessary. If it were completely up to me, this scenario would be probably disqualified from the competition due to not meeting the criteria for a defend the spot campaign, but I think keeping it in solely based on the later half of the games enemy advancements is probably just enough of a reason. A defend the spot scenario's winning objectives shouldn't be to destroy the enemy base. I actually lost the first time thinking when the timer reaches 0 I would win. I did eventually manage to destroy the enemy castle, but did not come out of it in the end feeling triumphant (despite is being a hard push, and the siege onagers were a little strong considering I had no ranged siege except for scorpions). I have deducted 1 point due to this fact and would have liked more of a 'defend the spot' element to it.

That being said, I did enjoy the scenario overall and felt the gameplay elements were interesting and fun. I enjoyed travelling through the caves and looting the enemy huts and travelling through the darkness with not much line of site (though honestly, those lightbearers were kind of pointless). There was one very annoying part of the scenario though and that is the cave entrance and a few other areas were extremely difficult to traverse and enter, which requires finnicky clicking and controlling of your troops. It was more of a problem because you couldn't set your military building waypoints to inside the cave and therefore had to always manually bring them in. Simple clicking inside the cave would send them on a scenic route half way around the map to one of the other entrances. There were a few areas like this, where moving troops was almost impossible, especially at the base of the map near the shallows and waterfalls. Was the cave entrance thing intentional? Who knows; but I thought this sort of obvious issue would have been picked up in playtesting.

Despite its shortcomings, do I feel it's particularly worse than the others entries in terms of enjoyment? No... which is why I've given it a 5. It's a midrange score which I think represents the scenario overall.

Balance: 6

I felt the balance was just about right, leaning onto the difficult side (which I like). As long as you moved quickly through the caves as mentioned in the hints then generally things were ok. I never had too few or too many troops and the types of troops available really helped the game flow with different strategies. The amount of resources on the map encouraged exploration through the caves and the expansion with your villagers was fair. Overall the gameplay and balance was smooth whilst getting more difficult as the scenario progressed (this is when you ally would start to fail and not be able to defend the castle by themselves). There were a few difficult moments near the end from the orange player getting a bit close to the castle but that's fine and if they didn't, it would have be too easy. I would have preferred it to be more difficult, but I felt overall it did a good job.

Map Design: 4

Personally, I love maps with a lot of creativity and naturalness to them. This map isn't natural at all. It is reminiscent of some multiplayer RPG type map where nothing makes sense and things are plodded around the map with no real thought to how it would look in reality. The mixing of some of the rocks and mountains was a often jarring and extremely repetitive. I was originally not a fan of the black cave with the black terrain and on first look it seems very difficult to spot details, and very ugly. However, on playing through the game more and more the cave design starts to make sense and often times feels very immersive, and in turn, whilst not my personal taste, I grew to like it. The main reason it scores points here is not for it's prettiness as such, but the uniqueness of the terrain that I've not seen in any other scenario and for one that fits its dark and gloomy purpose well. It's definitely not great map design, but it's not average either. I honestly would have given it a higher score probabably if not for the movement issues discussed earlier; where it was very difficult and frustrating to move units in some areas of the cave. It was a big detriment to the gameplay; enough to be unforgiving in the rating.

Creativity: 6

I've given the creativity a 6 here due to the uniqueness of the caves and the use of terrain mixing. It's certainly out there and it's always interesting to see how people imagine designs differently. Caves have been done in the past but this is the first time I felt it fit the theme well. I was also impressed with some of the smaller elements that made the scenario more interesting, such as the trade carts (though it would have been much much better if the trade carts turned from any type of villager (-1 point)) and the unit types/selections that were available from the tents. I was also impressed with the idea to reduce LOS within the cave and having the light bearers.

Story: 5

The story was interesting as it seemed to mix a historical theme with a slight fantasy, and I really felt that fantasy element when going through the caves. I appreciate the fact the designer took the effort to create a backstory and so on, but unfortunately it was let down by the hard to understand English. I just couldn't really delve myself into the lore and characters were not very memorable; but overall it's not a bad story. I just wish the story didn't end with you having to kill your enemy, and instead, should have focused more on how you valiantly defended against them.

Overall: A decent effort from a new designer and would probably work best with slightly more development. Unfortunately was let down by the questionable gameplay for the contest and movement issues within the map design.

Blume - Defend the Fortress

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 3

Another scenario which pushes the boundaries of 'defend the spot'. This one felt more like a glorified custom deathmatch game with a few waves of enemies included and basically what is an infinite source of resources and too focused on build and destroy. The whole objective of the game was to destroy monuments around the map, which took the focus away from the defending part and instead gave me the opportunity to build huge armies and be on the offensive for most of the game. The map in my personal opinion was too large and my base was difficult to grasp at first. It took a lot of exploring and guessing to figure out what to do, where to focus my building, what troops to focus on and what I should be defending. This would be ok if that was part of the actual gameplay, where exploration and expansion was key (like Conan Unconquered or They are Billions), but it wasn't like that at all. Your base was spread out and you were given random villagers in random locations but no real indication of what to do in those areas. In fact, one of the objectives was bring the turkey through some gate or something but I couldn't see any turkey or understood which gate was what (was this a joke objective?). Instead I ended up defeating the basically RM/DM AI type enemy who'd built their bases in respective corners. This was a little boring as it basically meant just spamming units and building a huge base to withstand the attackers. Enemies would encroach on you from spawns, and late game from their own trained armies. I never truly felt threatened and half the map was unused and unneccessary and I wasted a lot of time exploring and building armies and defending spots where enemies never ever came to. And no, I didn't find or bother to look for all the relics.

Balance: 3

I never really felt like I was really 'defending' anything or had anything to risk. The balance is mostly based on player skill at build orders and base building and knowing what troops already counter what, there was nothing I felt specific from this scenario balance wise that made it particularly difficult, and the easier levels were too easy (as all easy AIs are). There were times where the enemies were really swarming my base but because I basically had infinite resources and my farms and so on were located miles away from where the action happened, it was beatable the first time around. When I quickly broke through the first double castle area it's when I noticed the enemy bases were basically just standard AI bases and were extremely easy to overwhelm and destroy with siege. The only small issue is once they were destroyed, the enemy still spawned troops and some of them even ended up destroying a market which was spawned for me to trade with. Overall I expected much more resistance, risk taking, decision making, losing ground (in such a large base) and being overwhelmed; but none of that happened. Instead I got a dragged out inevitable win.

Map Design: 3

50% of the map is basically a random map script, Arabia style on the outside, and the inside is convoluted and difficult to navigate; with cliffs and mountains blocking off and seperating entire sections from each other in a way that doesn't really make any sense. Offering variation is fine, so that the map isn't too symmetrical and easy to read; but it should also be relatively easy to pick up on and establish yourself. The map design itself is very flat and plain, and the mass amount of road terrain is not easy on the eye. Whilst not pretty, that can be forgiven if it suits the purpose of the scenario and was part of the gameplay and offered some tactical meaning etc. However, in this situation I felt the map was simply too large and too confusing and none of it made sense. It took too much scouting to make some sense of where the choke points were, where the enemy entrance points might be, what links to what, where the resources are, and how the rivers run etc. Unfortunately the instructions included on the map explained absolutely none of this and didn't even tell you the gates would eventually open over time either. There were apparantly hidden spots, and little secret areas within the map. I found a few of them; a spaceman who needed to find his spaceship, an Eagle Warrior challenging me for a duel and so on. Unfortunately, I didn't even get to pursue those side quests as by the time I'd found them I was too deep in some battle somewhere and because the map was so large didn't even give it a thought to follow them up (not to mention the fact I was already smashing out huge armies anyway, I didn't feel the need). If those areas were more unique, more obvious, by offering something a little bit more different in terms of map design, then perhaps they'd have been more interesting to follow up with.

Creativity: 4

It's gonna be a slightly below average result from me. Essentially I didn't really see anything new or nothing that hasn't been done before. The hiding and respawing gate idea was ok, and some of the little sidequests offered something slightly unique to the gameplay, but overall they were under achieved and didn't really add anything to the overall goal of the scenario and turned out to be more of a hinderance/distraction than anything. There were no unique units or buildings or techs and nothing gameplay wise that really offered anything substantially different to an arena type deathmatch. I felt the 'defend the spot' element could have been expanded a lot more. Maybe making more from the unique map findings and given more rewards or unique techs for those (or at least, give more incentive to finish the side quests).

Story: 2

There is essentially no story to this scenario. There are also very little hints or instruction given the the size of the map. You are simple told to destroy four monuments but there is no suggestion as to why. No history or lore related to the scenario. Theres an interesting passage filled with skeletons between two castles, which could have been part of something interesting, but it's just there... on the map - with no meaning. There is one story element we know of by name only; the immortal gates. Not really much more to say here. The side quests had there own little objectives but again, no story or real reason for them to be there. I wouldn't consider them part of a theme or story, but more just random encounters that don't really tie anything at all together.

Overall: A fun map for those who love build and destroy perhaps, and don't really mind about map design, or maybe someone new to the game who loves just building stuff. But for me it wasn't really fun and just took too much time. It also didn't feel like a true 'Defend the Spot' entry. Not to say it's a really bad map or scenario, but there were much better in the contest.

Mr Mew - Fountain of Youth

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 3

It was very difficult to enjoy this scenario as the gameplay was basically none existant. There were often times I could just sit there not doing a thing, or go and make a cup of tea, and by the time I got back nothing changed. When taking control of the units movement was very slow and in increments to ensure your troops don't get surrounded. Once you killed the temple leader and went back to your position next to the aquaducts it was the same repeat thing as the previous round; only this time with new enemies which gradually got more and more beefy. There was no real way to counter these new enemies with any thoughtful processing and was just a case of simply trying to protect your ranged units with your pikes and make sure your monk didn't die. Due to the continious and predictable enemy spawing it was like the enemies just forming a nice orderly queue to get shot. There were some gameplay elements which were annoying, such as the statues; which were targetable and sometimes easy to misclick on and distract your troops with. There was no progression, no rest period between waves as such, no upgrades, no real strategy involved other than keeping your guys tight and on stand ground. When I first got in, we see us attacking and entering the temple area, and I thought this would open up some new base or area to defend later on. However, the enemies never stopped coming and it was clear there was nothing more to the 'defend the spot' aspect that I expected.

Balance: 3

At first it was ridiculously simple and easy as long as you kept your monk behind your troops and used the chokepoints as suggested in the instructions. Eventually though, even on standard mode I kept getting overwhelmed by the second round. I felt like I was literally doing the best I can, protecting my ranged troops, staying in a chokepoint, staying on the high ground; but the enemies consistent flow and numbers eventually would take my guys out no matter what. This was especially true because any movement outside of your chokepoints would encourage your enemy to overwhelm you and hit your flanks etc. This was especially true when trying to tackle the elephants; and especially true when the temple/spirit leaders would just wipe out your melee troops, eventually leaving the game impossible to continue with as your ranged troops eventually get picked off one by one. I would say, it's not very well balanced at all and there was no way to improve your skill, number of troops or position (except for making your way backwards around the area as an attempt to escape enemy flanks).

Map Design: 3

The map is very small and simple and one small symmetrical arena set in what I presume a South American Jungle. Overall I felt the map to fit the theme well and used different pieces of eye candy to give it a mystical/fantasy appearance. In essence, it does just what it needs to do in order to portray the intentional scene and tone. However, essentially it was very small and focused and the terrains were mostly just Jungle road with some flowers on top. Elevation was none existant other than the dips into the fountain and I felt quite simple. There wasn't really any variation with anything and kept the gameplay very similar throughout. I'm really wondering whether to push it to 5, due to the fact that it is good enough that fits its purpose. Nothing amazing, nothing particulary bad. However, I definitely feel like it should have been expanded more and perhaps would have worked better with some slight variaty in pathways (especially considering the spawns follow the exact same line).

Creativity: 4

I liked the sort of fantasy element to the scenario, and there were certain map design elements that were a little creative such as the tumbling ruins between waves, but overall I'd say there could be much more to improve on. It also, whilst an interesting premise, sort of fits into the Aztec rainforest spririt magicaly temple Trope like thing too much. With a better story that would have been ok, but the story was practically none existant. Which brings us to:

Story: 3

Basically none existant. We were given no backstory other than a one paragraph entry in the history panel, no introduction, just a few lines of dialogue from a few characters but no motives or interesting plot points. I felt due to the nature of the scenario an interesting backstory could have been developed and really enhanced why they were there, and what the fountain of youth offered. Maybe even tying the fountain of youth itself into the gameplay.

Overall: A disappointing entry, which, while the premise and concept was interesting, lacked in the implementation of those ideas. I imagine if it wasn't such a late entry it would have been improved, but unfortunately it seems the author simply didn't have time for something larger.

Bassi - The Battle of Sighnaq

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 5

The game started off ok and the premise was fun. However, it was clear early on that the gameplay was lacking. It eventually became a game about building walls than making real tactical decisions or having any interesting gameplay revolving around defend the spot. I played on a higher difficulty to start with and I also didn't collect the relic. I lost. I played further difficulties, which I'll go into on balance. Overall I felt this scenario was sort of like a lacklustre cookie cutter scenario from the early 2000's and didn't really offer anything fun or unique (atleast, compared to the other entries). It was very linear and didn't really offer a tactical approach to anything and had little expansion into the things you can do on the map. It also seemingly only became winnable by exploiting the map and taking advantage of the atrocious AI (they have a bad habit of ignoring walls). It's also frustrating in this day and age to be playing maps with just 75 population limit; definitely 1999, especially when the enemy outnumber you dramatically. The game is basically a rush to get as many resources possible, before killing all of your villagers and then training an army. The gameplay was very slow throughout, and then one big wave at the end which changed the difficulty entirely. There wasn't anything really to the scenario other than training some troops (usually just a pick of one or two unit types) and building unrealistic wall fortifications and over all was one of the weaker entries in the competition.

Balance: 4

I'm going to have to put the balance low on this one. Let me explain why. You start off with a full protected base except for a few holes in the wall where the wonder goes. It's very quick and easy to get your economy up and running and you don't even really need to train much of an army to begin with due to your castle and towers doing the heavy lifting and defending your walls well. The enemy will not encroach into your economy or lands apart from a few scouts that serve no problems, instead all marching towards the same main gate. I managed to build some walls in some areas I thought necessary and I was feeling pretty confident. The enemy attacks intensified slightly and they started bringing trebuchets (one at a time). By then I'd already got my army and despatched them with ease. Not once was I threatened or in danger; it was a complete breeze. Even the enemy hero Khan guy served no issues and in fact just ended up attacking my walls ignoring my troops completely. Did he even come with an army? Probably, but they got wiped out with ease. Anyway, the wonder was finished and all was good. There were more attacks but nothing I couldn't handle. Let me be clear, by this point they ONLY unit I'd trained were elite skirmishers and nothing else.

Then...Tamerlane joined the fight. The whole game changed. All of a sudden I had a huge army from the left camp, a huge army from the right camp, and a whole army of Elite Cavalry archers and other heavy cavalry storming my base in massive numbers absolutely ripping me to shreds. I was constantly pumping out troops but they quickly got overwhelmed as the pop cap at 75 caused real issues. Bare in mind up to this point I'd basically been threatened with cavalry archers and scouts, which are extremely easy to counter and was very consistent (just train a bunch of elite skirmishers and stick them on the inside of your gates). This sudden difficulty came at a shock and I had to restart. The next time I played, I collected the relic and had some extra troops but the same issue ensued, the swarm was simply too large. Even this time I was more prepared and countered them with fully upgraded camels and heavy cavalry archers. It still wasn't enough. Eventually I ended up using the map choke points and basically walled off the enemy as much as possible (after learning the first time one layer of walls against Tamerlands hoardes was fruitless). I'd essentially managed to cheat the map by turtling the enemy within their own base. I triple walled the left enemy right outside their base entrance, and built more walls blocking the tight road towards my base. There was also the cliff/mountain entrances from the Northern base which I also had to wall off and I made about three layers of walls thick there too. This held off the troops for a long time so that I could train up my army to max and counter the odd few units that got through the gaps. The enemy rams eventually made it through and even with my huge army of units I still lost most of them. The left army was still hacking away at the walls I'd built; if they'd arrived, I'd have been toast. Eventually, I won thanks to the time countdown.

Map Design: 5

The map design was overall for me quite average. It had nice terrain mixing that we've come to expect but didn't really offer anything I felt was very good considering the designers experience. It generally ticks all the boxes of map design guide 101 (such as elevation 1 roads with elevation 2 banks), some dirts mixed in and then the forest/trees around the outsides. It kind of felt a little plain at times (like grass surrounding random balls of forest) and there were no real stand out areas. However, overall it fits a nice cohesive theme and is consistent in it's design throughout (though it's also not a very large map either). It did however have some pitfalls with the navigation when building walls between the cliffs/rocks and mountains. Often times there'd be really sort of small and awkward ways through the gaps that were accessible from one side of the wall but not the other. This meant the AI had really awkward movements and trips and often got stuck between the rocks, especially along the river. It plays it safe and does just enough and felt like it all worked together well - nothing particularly good but not a particular weakness and that's why I've given it a 5.

Creativity: 4

I mentioned before it was sort of reminiscents of an old style early 2000's type scenario here and I felt that rang true with the creativity. There was nothing really, imaginative, and it all sort of fit into a safe zone of whats is considered enough for a scenario. On it's own standing it could certainly be an interesting scenario, but we're comparing it to other competition entries here which have shown what can be done when taking away the restraints of a MS style standard scenario. There were no unique units, no new tactical choices specific to the scenario, no new costs or base building elements. It was essentially a build and defend the wonder with one collect the relic side quest, and therefore it recieves a low score here. The map design was fairly straight forward and all of the action was generally focused in one area of the map. The enemy units were mostly ALL cavalry and were predicatable with no tactical approach to countering them. The enemy armies were always the same; a few scouts, cav archers and one treb. I just felt like it was afraid to step outside of any box, but then even fell short in it's own boundaries as well.

Story: 6

The story was ok, I enjoyed the premise and I liked the use of cutscenes at the start with dialogue. It wasn't over complicated and set the scenario up well for it's objectives. I've given it a 6 due to the fact it is definitely one of the better stories of the competition. It has voice acting to help enhance the story; however, the voice acting was particulary weak in this scenario. The voice actor sounded very reminiscent of an 50 year oldish guy from South USA who probably hasn't voice acted much, and it sounded a little flat and jarring at times; however, the effort is what counts here and it deserves an extra point for helping it to make the story more immersive.

Overall: Not a very enjoyable or imaginative scenario; maybe played it too safe and simply there were better in the competition. Outside of the competition, this would be an excellent scenario for a new player to the game perhaps, if the final swarm was made easier. Also, I really didn't like the way the gameplay basically forced you to build unrealistic wall layouts with gimmicky exploits.

Alkhalim - Doorstep to Valhalla

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 6

I've given an 6 as overall I enjoyed the scenario a lot and felt it to be a very strong contender for a high spot in the competition, however, it wasn't as fun as the Last Romans, which I gave an 8 to. The flow of the game from night to day was enjoyable and my favourite part was the new concepts the designer brought to AOE2. The new gameplay elements felt refined to the scenario, offering something unique, yet easy enough not to get over complicated with learning new counters and figuring out how to play. However, it let it self down because I felt there should have been more focus on the defend the spot element and more (a lot more) could have been done to make use of your allies (who were just there - for no real reason other than to give you other spots to defend). I didnt like the fact to win you need to destroy the enemy bases and instead would have preferred a wave system where you had to survive through the winter or something. Destroying the enemy fortifications got tiring and a bit same old after a while and didnt really offer anything new each time besides the requirement to send in more cavalry than swordsmen. I think maybe there were just too many of them and it made the game drag on longer than I would have liked (Im refering to the purple bases, not the grey bases). This was the most boring part and the time spent on attacking should have been time spent defending and building up my base instead, for a more challenging defend the spot gameplay.

The game was challenging enough but I felt it let it self down during the night phase by just sending larger forms of the same units every time. I also felt a lot of the map was unneccessary as my allied bases didnt really offer much to the gameplay other than me having to guess which base was going to be attacked that night (and it was more than often the same one (the South Shrine)). Some nights there were even no attacks at all, and then some nights the waves were so large it was almost overhwhelming. I noticed sometimes the purple units would even be out in the wilderness during the day time, and they would even attack the bases at day time too. I presume this wasn't intentional and was more likely some sort of bug where they got stuck somewhere (probably a reason why the night attacks varied in consistency and strength). There was also a minor issue with the new unit and tech descriptions, and that was they disappeared on reloading the game and reverted back to vanilla. This could have been solved by looping the change name and descriptions trigger. Overall though I enjoyed this scenario much more than the other ones in the competition and certainly deserves its higher score.

Balance: 6

I played a few times and on different difficulty levels. Overall I enjoyed the balancing, it never felt too easy and often times there were some tough battles. Using the priests to heal units and retreat your units when needed was vital to survival, especially as the gold was only aquired through destroying grey buildings. I felt the amount of gold was fair but absolutely required expansion and going on the offensive during the day, though I never ran out of wood or food once my vils were up to full production. The late game got more difficult as to destroy the purple bases essentially meant sacrificing an entire army, which youd have to rebuild quickly in order to survive the nights. It got to the point on the more difficult play through where I was running out of grey buildings to loot and still had two more purple bases to attack and destroy. I felt some of the available units were basically useless, the jarl - who killed heroes more effectively was basically a waste of resources and innefficient in their attack. I think if the night wave bugs were fixed then it might make the day times slightly more easy and manageable.

Map Design: 7

Using DE certainly has opened the door to new map types and doing new things. I come from the original game mostly so was impressed how the designer used the new terrains and graphics to create a really beautiful and seemless world. The cold and vast terrains mixed with rocks and cliffs really set the mood for the theme. Quite frankly, the map was not filled with much, it was very plain in areas - very flat, but for some reason I just liked it a lot. I suppose the barren and haunted landscape it's supposed to represent would be quite plain. I did like the center layout though, the use of cliffs and the seperate partitions between bases, with the routes enemies could take; this was the strongest element. I also felt the designer did well with creating a map that was quite plain, but still explorable and the use of forest opening and different things meant I was always finding little nooks and crannies leading to secret areas or hidden enemy camps. However, it of course, wasn't truly magical or anything better than other things in this genre, so it deserves a high 7 here.

Creativity: 6

The creativity really showed off here and the designer did an excellent job at bringing an almost fantasy like realm to AOE2 through the unique use of trigger tricks and gameplay. Each unit was crafted specifically for the map and had it's own purpose. The economy system was reworked to good effect and the night and day system was quite frankly awesome. I really liked the way the designer incorporated the unit changing from dead bodies to live units and then back again. I probably should have given this a higher score but I felt as creative as it is, what it lacks in score is for implementation of those ideas. Some of the units never got used, or were not very useful. The creative ideas regarding night and day were let down by the lacklustre waves of enemies, lack of enemy types and bugs. It also seemed to offer us four bases and the use of allies but they never really offered anything to the game and were quite frankly annoying to have to defend. Why were they there? What purpose did they serve except for expanding the map area? If you put something on the map - make use of it. I felt like the focus on the attacking enemy bases part could have been served better with more creative defend the spot elements - which was basically where it fell short here. Whilst on paper there are a lot of cool ideas, it didn't offer as much of an improved experience to the defend the spot experience as I would have liked.

Story: 6

The story was well written and interesting. I liked the almost fantasy element to it but fell short on objectives. The premise and genre was great and I felt overall the story fit perfectly with the map and gameplay. Not really much to say here but was better than at least half the entries so gave it a 6.

Overall: A strong contender to the contest and a great entry. However, fell short in the defend the spot section considering it's creativity and started to become tedious and boring near the end when attacking enemy bases. Would prefer a tighter game with more focus on building up a base/upgrading/defending etc. Maybe this would be a really good 4 player multiplayer map... or is that what the author originally intended?

Edits: Formatting; fixed some grammer/spelling mistakes.

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 05-11-2020 @ 10:13 AM).]

Kataphraktoi
Squire
posted 05-11-20 01:29 PM CT (US)     113 / 153       
Congratulations for all contestans. I have a question about scores. Why did Sebastien give too low points for all entries?
Dunno about the exact numbers but I heartily approve of the reviews and comments. I didnt realize sebastien was such a straight shooter +1 respect

"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
Filthydelphia
Squire
(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-11-20 02:08 PM CT (US)     114 / 153       
Dunno about the exact numbers but I heartily approve of the reviews and comments. I didnt realize sebastien was such a straight shooter +1 respect
Oh, I didn't realize you played the scenarios, Kata! I know you've given some pretty unique feedback over the years. Did you have any thoughts on some of the entries that you'd like to share?

Blume
Squire
posted 05-11-20 02:34 PM CT (US)     115 / 153       
Again, thank you for your time and feedback. I know the judges have put a lot of time and energy into the competition, and thank you for putting it on.

Having said that, I do have to say that I will not be linking the site in the video, as agreed upon. Here's why:

It seems like this is a yearly competition, and a lot of people put a lot of time and energy into these maps and in putting on the contest. I've been active on the Discord for a few months now, and I'm still seeing new faces pop up, which is great. Even faces that are long-time members of the site that came out of the woodwork to view the competition and play the entries. Which is amazing.

I think that was the overall point of the competition, right? To foster community, bring people together, encourage map designing for veterans and inspire new creators, provide feedback so that maps become better and more enjoyable for other players (both inside and outside of the AoKH community), and of course so that someone can having bragging right for a year of being the best map designer haha.

And a lot of that was accomplished. I sparked up friendships with many people here, and improved my overall map designing skills. But I think the competition failed in many regards. And please don't take this an attack, it's not. I've been playing this game for 20 years, I don't want the memory of a feud interrupting my enjoyment of playing years from now. But some of this needs to be said.

I think the judges failed the contestants. There were 8 contestants, and only one was given a "somewhat" positive review by each of the judges. And I completely understand if the judges are at a very high level, and expect excellence. We want judges like that. But even Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsey (the harshest judges on television) know that you have to love at least SOME of the contestants. No one would watch Masterchef if Gordon Ramsey judged every dish as unworthy of his time. Or if Simon Cowel judges every singing contestant against Aretha Franklin or Frank Sinatra. Every contestant would be a, excuse my language "pile of crap" in comparison. Without fail, when the final entries are up, no matter what the competition is, or how those contestants stack up against the previous years, the judges are going "Oh, this is so tough. That chicken parm was absolutely sensational, but the Panna Cotta by the other contestant was sooo good". We as the audience enjoy that. Crapping all over the bad entries can be enjoyable for some people to watch, in fact, many people only watch the first couple episodes of contest shows so that they can watch the judges tear people apart.

But there were only 8 entries here. And one of them wasn't even played. I have to say, that is totally unacceptable. This competition took months to put on, the maps have been worked on for months (6 months in my case. The "Slow painting" bug in Ludicrous sized maps is a real bottleneck) the reviews took the better part of a week and half, and you didn't want to message that person and say "hey, I couldn't get it to work. I know you spent a long time on this, we're all friends here, why don't you show me where you were coming from, and we can figure this out. Maybe you accidentally turned off an important trigger for testing purposes and that caused the map stall on not progress."

(Which actually leads me to a tangent idea for next yeat, in that there should be "check-ups" on each entry in the month leading up to deadline. This doesn't have to be the judges, but at least a volunteer who can run through the maps, and point out the obvious faults so that the judges don't run into them when they're evaluating them)

All of this leading to my biggest point, which is that I think the spirit of this competition was encourage creators to make maps for others to play, but based on the reviews of the maps, this is actually going to have the opposite effect. No one, not even Filthydelphia, who won, can really brag about the map in the competition. At best, the winner can say "Well, my map wasn't a total disaster like everyone else's, so I won be default. I'm going to go post this on the discord". None of the contestants want can advertise the results of the competition. None of the contestants want to advertise their maps. New players are not being drawn in with the competition (not nearly as many as is possible) and the maps might actually lose audience members and players as a result. I can only imagine what a typical "Multiplayer AoE" player would say if they saw the results of the competition "Well, I never liked custom maps anyway, and these all look like a pile of crap. The 'Best' map wasn't even good based on the reviews" The idea of the link to the competition being posted anywhere online, horrifies me.

Again, I get that you're trying to give an honest and comprehensive review, but I think there's a real calibration problem. No one would watch these competition shows if the contestants were compared to the best in their field. That's not what the competition was. That's a different competition and list entirely. (A list I would love to read)

This is why I can't post the link to the site in the video (nor would most of the contestants I imagine). Because it paints no one in a good light, and will do the opposite of what I'd like it to do, which is to draw more people in, build a larger audience of players, introduce new players to new content.

If that's not the point of the competition, I understand. If this is the kind of competition you'd like to put on, great. But I don't want to participate next time, if that's the case. I'd rather put on my own competition, or spend my time elsewhere.

I know this all coming from the last place entry, might seem like I'm bitter (I am a little, if I'm being honest haha. I had a very large map and no where was that reflected in my scores. Have you seen how long it takes to paint terrain on a "Ludicrous" sized map? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVgjwZT2dGI ) but I don't think I'm alone in these feelings, and I think this is a wonderful community, and one that I'd love to be a part of for years to come. So I hope these comments come off as "helpful and insightful" and not "vindictive" because I really do feel no ill will to the judges, and I would love to be a part of this community for as long as you'll have me.

Again, thank you for your time and energy!
HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 05-11-20 03:15 PM CT (US)     116 / 153       
Blume, out of interest from a quality assurance perspective, was that YouTube video recorded before or after the most recent AoE2DE patch update?

~ Forgotten Empires ~

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjálfr it sama; ek veit einn at aldri deyr, dómr um dauðan hvern." - Hávamál 77.
Blume
Squire
posted 05-11-20 03:37 PM CT (US)     117 / 153       
That was recorded last night, with the most recent update. But that issue has been present since day one of the game launch for me.

Also, the "elevation painting" has the same effect. I know there was an blurb in the last patch about it being fixed, but I didn't notice any change in it's behavior. (That's also why there is very minimal elevation changes in my map)
HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 05-11-20 03:59 PM CT (US)     118 / 153       
Thanks, forwarded to QA.

~ Forgotten Empires ~

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjálfr it sama; ek veit einn at aldri deyr, dómr um dauðan hvern." - Hávamál 77.
duyhung2h
Squire
posted 05-11-20 05:15 PM CT (US)     119 / 153       
Although I'm a very humble person (yes, we do all make mistakes sometimes and need to learn from each other), I appreciate everyone standing up for my map and oppose Mr.HockeySam's judgment towards mine. I spent months working towards this project so I expected my work to be recognized by open eyes, even though English is one of my weaknesses and I need to improve on my vocabulary, my bad on that part. But why would my map being denied by all criticism altogether?
It really looks bad on your part, Mr.Hockey, and it looks like you hold a grudge against me or something.

If this is the case, I don't want to participate in another contest. No one appreciated my work, and I got rewarded nothing. Sorry for my strong language, but I feel like this was needed to be said.

My aspiring new creation for DE:
Gensokyo: Season of Calamity
El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest)
More are in the work...
Lord Basse
MI6 Scenario-Making Machine
posted 05-11-20 06:15 PM CT (US)     120 / 153       
I had a go at your scenario, duyhung. I've yet to finish it but as far as I got I had explored most of the map. I really liked the map design, and there were some really nice tricks in there that caught my eye in particular: the fire sprites made with invisible tiles, and the black cliff opening underneath the castle. Overall it looks really good! I still have no idea of how to raze that haunted tower, though. Hiring the mercenaries doesn't seem to help.

Unfortunately I have to say that I too was quite confounded about what to actually do. I did explore the map and I tried to learn things as I went. And while I can see what you were trying to accomplish with this, I do think the scenario would have benefited from having a bit clearer instructions at the start. Mostly I was just a bit overwhelmed at the first few seconds, with lines of chat and mission texts and such coming all at once, credits repeating in multiple colours (this might be the various AIs sending chats to the player). It felt like you were just thrown in, and not in the good way which I think you intended.

Another example was the mermaid/Turtle Ship. I accidently unleashed the tidal wave on the beach, killing a bunch of innocent civilians, as I thought I was supposed to teleport her by unloading the Miklos unit inside. Apparently not. Poor fishermen. I imagine this feature is meant to be used during the DTS portion later on in the game?

Having the dialogue in chat, rather than Display Instructions, hampered the enjoyment, but I still got the jist of the story, and it does seem like a really interesting concept, one not done often (or at all) before in AoE2. I didn't think there were any major issues with the spelling or word choices, the only distraction was that it all appeared in tiny print up to the right.

I'm also not sure the music and sounds worked as intended... for the half hour or so I played I didn't hear any of the new sounds. I imagine that's a DE issue, though, and not the scenario's fault.

So far I think it is very promising, but unfortunately I have to concur and say that it is pretty unclear what you are actually supposed to do. I don't think the idea of having a vague start where the player has to figure things out for himself is necessarily a bad idea, but I think it could have been executed more smoothly.

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The ||||||||||||||||| Hus
OF | [/ \] |¯| [/ \] | ME
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The Relics of Athalën (5.0) | AoK Opus - 95,000+ downloads | StormWind Studios | "I consider the conversion of Basse to be one of the great triumphs of my modding crusade" - Matt LiVecchi

[This message has been edited by Lord Basse (edited 05-11-2020 @ 06:16 PM).]

Kataphraktoi
Squire
posted 05-11-20 08:28 PM CT (US)     121 / 153       
Oh, I didn't realize you played the scenarios, Kata! I know you've given some pretty unique feedback over the years. Did you have any thoughts on some of the entries that you'd like to share?
Unique? Is that a polite word for bad? Unfortunately no, I didn't play them, but based on my experience with scenarios, the creators past work, and the descriptions offered I felt I wouldn't be surprised one way or another from playing them. Most creators over the years dont learn or improve much so the works are mostly in line with that they made before. In your case and Bassi's case I cannot imagine I wouldnt find those works on the level of a 40\50 but these numbers are entirely relative. I'm afraid I will be sitting out the entire DE experience not that it really matters much if I do or dont.
Again, thank you for your time and feedback. I know the judges have put a lot of time and energy into the competition, and thank you for putting it on.

Having said that, I do have to say that I will not be linking the site in the video, as agreed upon. Here's why:
I see we are having some culture clash here. I dont have much deep insight to offer here, but I have to say I am amazed at this attitude because in my opinion this website and its reviews have always strayed too far into eternal positivity. This is especially frustrating to me when low effort low experience casuals come along and proclaim how enjoyable they find the game when I firmly believe they wont feel that way when they have finally played as many games and as many hours as I have. I really have no idea of what level of pampered safe space bubbles would have to be created to appease the creator of this post.
None of the contestants want can advertise the results of the competition. None of the contestants want to advertise their maps. New players are not being drawn in with the competition
Ive seen arguments like this before but I think what your saying involves a high degree of artificiality and misses the point of why games are popular. Even at AoKH's height the actual percentage of game owners who came here was tiny. What we do on this website has virtually no effect on the flow of the game community which is effected far more by the mood of those who purchase it, and the advertising dollars spent convincing people to buy it. AoKH suffers when the games popularity suffers, not the other way around. And at this point there are dozens of other and better reasons why this website doesnt serve the community well - technical reasons - other than judges being too mean.

"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
Blume
Squire
posted 05-11-20 08:49 PM CT (US)     122 / 153       
Me: The point I'm trying to make is that it's discouraging for someone to enter a competition when they know, no matter what, the judge is going to tear them apart. It also doesn't encourage new participation because it looks like "Oh, this scene is dead. The only people making maps suck at it. It's not worth my time" If the maps are bad, and people play them, and don't like them, but the maps were the best creations of the best players, it might encourage that person to join the competition next time because they think they can beat everyone that is now getting all the attention. Positive reviews are a no lose situation. It encourages the makers, and encourages new makers.

Seb:


Me: I appreciate your opinion, and they were all valid. But what I'm talking about it something different. It's how the competition was judged overall, and how it affects someone's creation of future work. Not just mine. Every contestant. And every future potential future contestant. You're turning money away at the door for this company, and discouraging creation within the community.
Filthydelphia
Squire
(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-11-20 08:50 PM CT (US)     123 / 153       
Unique? Is that a polite word for bad? Unfortunately no, I didn't play them, but based on my experience with scenarios, the creators past work, and the descriptions offered I felt I wouldn't be surprised one way or another from playing them. Most creators over the years dont learn or improve much so the works are mostly in line with that they made before. In your case and Bassi's case I cannot imagine I wouldnt find those works on the level of a 40\50 but these numbers are entirely relative. I'm afraid I will be sitting out the entire DE experience not that it really matters much if I do or dont.
Did you just say that you can judge a scenario without playing it, but by just reading descriptions? That's a pretty ridiculous thing to say, Kata. Judging a book by its cover there. Come on!

[This message has been edited by Filthydelphia (edited 05-11-2020 @ 10:29 PM).]

Blume
Squire
posted 05-11-20 09:03 PM CT (US)     124 / 153       
And Seb, I apologize for posting a private message. I'll admit I was a little irritated at your responses, while still wanting to communicate my thoughts. It wasn't right for me to do that, though, I know you were just as irritated with me.

[This message has been edited by Blume (edited 05-11-2020 @ 09:04 PM).]

Sebastien
Dark Samurai
posted 05-11-20 09:15 PM CT (US)     125 / 153       
the judge is going to tear them apart. It also doesn't encourage new participation because it looks like "Oh, this scene is dead. The only people making maps suck at it. It's not worth my time"
Whether it encourages or discourages is hard to assume. You're assuming everybody thinks the same way as you do. I don't think people were 'teared apart' as such, and the bad points were met with equally as important positive points where possible.
And Seb, I apologize for posting a private message.
Alright, apology accepted. Though I will outline some of the points from it as they mostly outline my thoughts.
Sorry but I don't agree in participation awards
We're here to use our experience and give good feedback
And reward the best
Each scenario got feedback on where it can improve and the positives were also highlighted. Nobody shit on anything.
Maybe you should play more scenarios, especially from previous competitions and you'll see the scoring wasnt so unfair
You are clearly upset with the results, but I will ask you again:
What was the biggest part of the scoring you disagreed with regarding your scenario?
So you don't agree there was no story?
You don't agree there were no instructions?
You don't agree the map was too big?
I'm really failing to see the issue here. Your scores were low for good reason and clearly explained as to why. Feedback was fair and given in earnest. By explaining exactly the points that were an issue; means you can look out those from a new perspective and improve for next time. Why should we give you a higher score when you put ZERO effort into your story, when others put a LOT of effort into their story? Did you play the other entries? Did you play any previous entries? I'm genuinely curious as to why you think your scores deserve higher points. If that discourages you to quit and move away from the site, then that's unfortunate, but it's completely your agenda. If you expected pats on the back; I'm sorry. I think you're looking too much into the other scores. I think most people can take away here the positives and improve themselves for next time. All of the scenarios were generally enjoyable and NOBODY needs to be discouraged.
It's how the competition was judged overall, and how it affects someone's creation of future work.
Again, point to above. If your scores put you off from designing that's unfortunate, but you absolutely cannot let it get to you personally. I'm absolutely positive and confident that if you take the feedback on board your next scenario will blow it out of the water. Don't let it discourage you. Take a few days to reflect, come back and read them again, go into your scenario with the new perspective and you'll find ways to improve them. Like for example: the crashed spaceship. Instead of having the guy just in some random bunch of trees that match the entire map; make it unique. You've played games before, you know you see something cool somewhere and want to go explore it, like in Mad Max. Instead of the random trees, you could make some sort of path of different dirts, use elevation to create some sort of cratery trail impact zone, use a few burnt and bare trees to suggest they got destroyed or burned on the way down where the spaceship crashed. You can use some fire or blacksmith smoke or something to suggest burning. Tie it into the gameplay more, give something to do whilst searching for it, give a big reward for looking for it. You see, there are countless options. In actual fact, due to the size of the map, I couldn't even SEE where the eagle warrior guy was. The only reason I knew about it was because the chat popped up.
Often as a designer it's easy to get stuck in how you imagine and it's easier because you know how you've planned it and designed it.you know where the enemies come from, you know why you built those areas. You have to look more outside from someone who's never seen your map before
How many people play tested it for you?
It's really important for you to play previous maps and compare the quality over the years and see why good and honest feedback is better than dishonest and over-complimentary feedback. There are literally 1000's of scenarios in the blacksmith to compare them to. It's important to get as much feedback as possible because none of us are the same, we all like different things. Even myself have put my heart and soul into something and somebody just only focuses on the negative. I've experienced in first hand, especially with modding. You make a whole total conversion mod and someone just comments, "The XXX is broken/This mod sucks, this unit doesn't have shadows". You get the point, but you can't let these things bring you down.
You're turning money away at the door for this company, and discouraging creation within the community.
Well, let me be clear, Blume; we are NOT here to make money and we do not need to give out participation awards or promote some false sense of achievement here in order to get better 'ratings'. (We're using early 2000's Radiant FFS, it's long gone past the point of making money). What we ARE (everybody who has contributed the site and all members of the regular community over the years) is a place to come and get advice and friendly feedback from an entire community. Some of those people have really earned their stripes though, stood out from the crowd and really have the right to their opinions because they've proven themselves as designers. We absolutely DO NOT shit on people who are not as good of 'designers' and instead the site has actively encouraged improving the skills of everybody here.

It's always been about providing a friendly and safe space for designers, giving good feedback, honest advice, sharing of tutorials and tricks and everything else in between. I've told you already but you're really looking into this too much and for you to come here and start claiming the opposite, and that we're somehow discouraging creation in the community because you're upset with your scores is quite frankly offensive.

For those who entered this year, do not be discouraged. There were some great entries this year (and some not so great) but most of them were enjoyable. There is some good up and coming talent here; utilise the feedback given to improve, not to feel bad.

duyhung2h I'm very sorry your scenario didn't get judged by one of the judges but it's unfortunately sometimes just the way things go. I have almost my finished my write up for your scenario so I will hopefully get some good information across to you. Overall I felt your scenario was quite strong and the map design was great! Unfortunately it did fall short however with the instructions and story and was quite difficult to understand. Personally I only happened to get to the actual defend the spot part by chance. Whilst I don't fully agree with not judging it I can absolutely understand why HockeySam didn't; if the player literally cannot progress past a certain point then there isn't really anything left to judge and would be unfair on the other contestants.

Thanathor I GENUINELY want to see more from your heroes. I really hope you can continue their story as contractors and create an entire campaign; I'll play it in a heartbeat.
Unfortunately no, I didn't play them, but based on my experience with scenarios, the creators past work, and the descriptions offered I felt I wouldn't be surprised one way or another from playing them
Tbf, you should play them and it's definitely unfair to judge them based on descriptions alone.

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 05-11-2020 @ 09:51 PM).]

Filthydelphia
Squire
(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-11-20 09:50 PM CT (US)     126 / 153       
If anyone doesn't have DE but wants to check out my scenario, Ornlu the Wolf has three videos and counting chronicling his attempts to beat it on Hard, while T-West has actually beat it. You can check out his playthrough here: https://youtu.be/tfd_iFntIVk

[This message has been edited by Filthydelphia (edited 05-11-2020 @ 10:20 PM).]

Mighty Myrmidon
Squire
posted 05-11-20 10:58 PM CT (US)     127 / 153       
@Filthydelphia. I was able to beat it on Hard, but it took some doing. There are some definite strategies and tricks that can help a lot, but I won't spoil any of that here.

As for the discussion about the scoring, I think it's also fair to point out that these are opinions of two people, not holy writ. Even HockeySam18 and Sebastien disagreed with eachother quite dramatically (look at the scores they each gave to Bassi). Both of them had plenty to say and backed up their opinions with good reasoning but still came to very different opinions in the end.

I've always found scoring work objectively to be incredibly difficult, this is coming from a professional teacher!

Don't beat yourself up about it, just go on and make a new scenario. If you loved yours the way it was, hey, that's great too!
Blume
Squire
posted 05-11-20 11:25 PM CT (US)     128 / 153       
I realized I hadn't updated my entry with the one on the official mod board. Just updated the file here so the link in the "News" section of the Discord is now to the most recent update. *Poke* to the other makers in case you've done the same!

[This message has been edited by Blume (edited 05-11-2020 @ 11:58 PM).]

rewaider
Squire
posted 05-11-20 11:26 PM CT (US)     129 / 153       
@Blume: I completely disagree.
AOKH is the father of aok custom scenarios, therefore both reviews and its content quality should reflect the fact.
The great majority of the reviewers are, in fact, veterans of aok, so they're being nothing but honest about their opinions - which is the key component of constructive criticism.

I'd much rather get a comment in my scenario telling me about its flaws - so I can fix them up and get better for the next one - than simply a "Wow, awesome scenario" or something.
The same applies for quite literally everything; if you're making a game, for example, you'll benefit a lot more from hearing and breaking down constructive criticism than vague compliments.
Of course, compliments are always good for getting your motivation up, but when you're submitting your work for an extensive review that comes from an AOK veteran, you can't expect only that.

I, to be honest, even think that Hockey's review are written quite in a positive light (sometimes even too much, in my sincere opinion). So if you're, even so, struggling to get positive points about your scenario that way, than there's probably some fundamental flaws about its design.

And yes, in fact, (from what I saw) Sebastien's reviews are quite harsh. But so what? It's his way of criticism. It's not out of the constructive bounds by any means.

When I began designing scenarios, I've received some harsh criticism as well, along with lots of encouraging comments too. And I took it to make my scenarios better; and that's what everyone who knows how to take criticism should do. Even if that criticism may "hurt your feelings" at time... At long term, it'll benefit you a lot more than you may think, both as a designer and as a person.
Honestly, the only discouraging thing about this site is/was its lack of activity/comments on files. In my view, it's quite an entitled behavior to complain about someone taking so much time to write a detailed and well constructed (and mostly important, sincere) review about your file.

Take, for example, AOK:HD's custom scenario quality bar and then compare it with AOKH's. The difference is quite outrageous. And you can thank aokh's "harsh" criticism as one of the reasons for that happening.
90% of the comments you'll find on steam files are just vague compliments. And while there's nothing wrong with that, they also won't stimulate the designer to reinvent himself as well.
Positive reviews are a no lose situation. It encourages the makers, and encourages new makers.
Overly positive reviews indeed encourage new makers... To not look at their flaws and try to fix them. And even more, it discourages experienced designers, as they'll see that no matter what they do, they'll get the same score as a designer who just begun, who still hasn't committed as much effort and work to the art as he did.
Most creators over the years dont learn or improve much so the works are mostly in line with that they made before.
True that. One of the key reasons that raw/honest criticism is important. To prevent that from happening. And I'd even go as far to say that aokh is still missing some.

Knowing how to take criticism is not only a good lesson for becoming a better scenario designer, but also for becoming a better person. So that might be reflecting into a bigger issue here, no offense; but as a person - like most of the people - I've already struggled with this kind of things in the past, so take this as a sincere advice.

The Fall of Hummaria -- Teaser [4.2] -- Project's Thread
Cavern Pirates -- The Treasure Hunt [4.6] -- Captain's Revenge
My Blacksmith

[This message has been edited by rewaider (edited 05-12-2020 @ 04:50 AM).]

Blume
Squire
posted 05-11-20 11:53 PM CT (US)     130 / 153       
Again, I wasn't trying to attack the judges. I appreciate their feedback. I was just trying to show the perspective from the other side, and maybe point out some ways it could be improved for future competitions and to encourage more players to participate. If it came off as an attack, I apologize. Tone is hard to convey over text, and that wasn't my intention.

[This message has been edited by Blume (edited 05-11-2020 @ 11:56 PM).]

HELLKNIGHT61
Squire
posted 05-12-20 02:51 AM CT (US)     131 / 153       
I watched Bassi's and Al_Kharn's entries from T-West channel. After that I read Sebastien's comments about Bassi. I think that Sebastien made a mistake while playing Bassi's entry. Because he didn't create any Mangudai units. Bassi's scenario can be achieved with "hit and run tactic" along with Mangudai units. I think that Sebastien didn't try to train them during the whole game. He found Bassi's entry very hard due to this reason.

Sebastien: "by this point they ONLY unit I'd trained were elite skirmishers and nothing else..."

Sebastien: "Even this time I was more prepared and countered them with fully upgraded camels and heavy cavalry archers. It still wasn't enough..."

I think that Sebastien gave somewhat low scores due to not trying to use Mangudai units. So he missed the benefits of Mangudai units.

Also I think that Bassi is very angry. Because he didn't write any new messages after the results until now.


@Blume + @duyhung2h + @BOT_Alan--> I know that you frustrated so much. But I am the person who is "most dramatic person" of this website. But even this reality I suggest you not giving up and trying to do better next time. Don't give up even if you think that you were wronged. Take new lessons for your mistakes and try to do better next time. Because the life is struggle.


LASTLY MY IDEAS ABOUT THIS CONTEST:

POSITIVE: Good entry numbers... Defend the Spot contest... The newest Age of Empires 2 game... This website became active again... New forum members... Quick judging process unlike other contests... New youtube video ideas...

NEGATIVE: I think that they can wait for Devious. Also they could write a comment to this topic to get new hints from file authors during the judging period. (Especially from duyhung2h) I think that Sebastien is a very very tough judge. He needs to be more generous. Also I know that we are not in 2000-2008 period anymore. (We have much higher standards...) But this game is a very new game. Even this game has too many bugs due to being a very new game. So he needs lower his high standards. But these are my ideas. Nobody needs to accept them...

Regards... HELLKNIGHT61

[This message has been edited by HELLKNIGHT61 (edited 05-12-2020 @ 04:18 AM).]

Sebastien
Dark Samurai
posted 05-12-20 05:51 AM CT (US)     132 / 153       
I think that Sebastien made a mistake while playing Bassi's entry.
I think that Sebastien didn't try to train them during the whole game. He found Bassi's entry very hard due to this reason.
Ok, so I train Mangudai's. Then the last wave becomes easier. Then what? It gets +2 points in the balance department? OR does it lose 2 points because the difficulty level becomes extremely easy? I stand by my scores and review and if you'd like to know the reasoning as to the points, read my comments.

If you wanted to give your feedback you should have signed up as judge. Attacking a judges scores simply to disagree does nothing. This isn't a dictatorship, judging is open to ANYBODY, staff or no staff.
Also I think that Bassi is very angry. Because he didn't write any new messages after the results until now.
He came 2nd. That's not a bad result.
I think that Sebastien is a very very tough judge.
Thank you! But I disagree and I'm not going to change that to bow to peoples sensitivities.

I like my style HellKnight, and this is why we have multiple judges, to make sure we get different styles and opinions. If you actually look at the scores, you'll see the differentiation between scenarios is actually quite balanced and fair and in BOT_Alan's case, was more generous. A lot of scenarios I rated quite highly in comparison to the top ones, and the mid tier benefited from that. The only two that recieved low scores were low for a reason.

The real reason for score difference is how a judge might percieve and act on the point system. In my case it goes like this:
10: Better than or as good as the judge has ever seen for similar scenarios.
This is reserved ONLY for the very, very best. The scenario offers something better (or just as good) than every single scenario in it's category before it's time and competing with ALL top competition entries over the last 25 years. Like the PTC winners when you see some trick that looks amazing, or just something in the gameplay that you absolutely LOVE. Not only does it have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING negative about it, it blows your fricken head off in awe. It's the one thing everybody steals in every scenario for the next 2 years, and is remembered for years to come (like those steps made of bridges). This is elite designer status; hall of fame worthy scenario type stuff.
8-9: Exceptional, elite for the contest, little negative can be said
Zero flaws, amazing. Very, very good. The negative is basically a scratch on the surface to how good it is.

Did I feel like any of the scenarios deserve those higher points based on that reasoning? Yes I did. One of them.
6-7: Good, better than half the entries, a strength of the scenario
The higher points I gave were generally around the 6-7 mark, with the exception of The Last Romans which recieved 8's (and for obvious reasons). That's the highest I could conceivably go in this competition as they were only competing against each other this time round. If you're not better than at least half of them, then you get a 5 or lower. Quite simple really.

Is that a bad thing? No. I don't expect new designers to recieve 8/9/10's unless they happen to be some sort of scenario design wizards. People grow over time and improve their skills.

Anyway, who will be the first person here to really blow my socks off for a 10? The challenge of 2020; I'll send a gift box full of weird Japanese stuff/toys/candies to anybody who gets a 10 from me this year.

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 05-12-2020 @ 10:07 AM).]

BOT_Alan
Squire
posted 05-12-20 07:09 AM CT (US)     133 / 153       
Hockeysam i feel bad and sorry for this villager thing, i will not edit the post so ppl to look how malakas can i be sometimes.. Sebastien i also work during quarantine double shifts (fire emergency rescue) and my wife (hospital nurse) got your point and i m sorry, and i am rly proud that like Gordon Ramsey give such high scores.

Hellknight you are sooo wrong mate, about me at least. when entering the contest my only goal was not to disqualified, in fact i am perhaps the happier person among the contestants! i fill that none of the contestants is happy with their evaluation and even the winners. i am so greatfull to both Judges for their honesty and i 've taken everything said by them to serious consideration. Seb i didn't mean you to be inactive,i was talking for TBD and why you guys didn't even bother to find a third judge to fill the spot.. (more judges more feedback and comments)
and Sebastien Dude(hate this word :P) I am relaxed, read Dev's comment :I'm unlikely to finish until the end of next week, so feel free to post the results if you're both ready| ok i use google translate cuz i have to poor vocabulary but if i understand this right, the first parts suggests that he needs more time to evaluate or to play the entries, and second part tells you to post your results, not make a total of them, since you 1st told him he will judge. why so hurry to end this? when objects in area"judges" "3" are not met?

how you activate a trigger when the condition are not met..(total fail in that part)

Sebastien i thank you for your generosity, but in the end i like to take what i deserve, something more like hockey's, and in my heart i failed you! after all : [Seb If it were completely up to me, this scenario would be probably disqualified from the competition due to not meeting the criteria for a defend the spot campaign]
its ok! the worst critics make better designers, but generally is good idea to be generous in 1st timers(in editing) for the 1st time and only! and NOT in contests that happen once per year. i totally agree with rewaider saying that: it discourages experienced designers, as they'll see that no matter what they do, they'll get the same score as a designer who just begun, who still hasn't committed as much effort and work to the art as he did.

i 'll tell this to all fill disapointed, DO NOT let any judging affects your creativity, or you ll eventually end up doing nothing creative . . .
and one must keep in mind: if you didn't want to be judged, why even bother to take part of this.?

............
[Discord] public chat
Filthydelphia 04/17/2020
We're two weeks away from the deadline for AoK Heaven's Defend the Spot contest! I look forward to seeing some entries and I will be participating myself!
https://aok.heavengames.com/
[BOT] Alan 04/18/2020
hello, can i take part? i ll think about it, even i m bad at triggers
Filthydelphia 04/19/2020
I'm not a judge, just someone participating in the contest, but you can always enter by following the instructions in the link! Just note that you don't have much time so you'll have to work fast!
................
i started right away to make something and spend half the time in learning triggers through this site and youtube(thanks again alkhalim and ALL others) and by downloading and play some of the entries of previous contests in the aoeHD to look what a DTS means.. i had some hard times with triggers but eventually it worked somehow. Myrmidon i am still not able to track variables :P by the way can you add me to steam to play sometime?
eventually none noticed some small details regarding what off grid placement tool could do for other mods besides dts, like rpg or cinematic.. or what illusion might create.. did anyone noticed how the light from torches scattered through the ground in the dark? or how the water from north end up in south through many levels(upground, undreground)illusion stuff or the holes in the ceiling of the cave that allowed some light in the cave.. anyway thats all.. to guys there, that never played it, give a chance to just look at it in marco/polo for inspiration no need to play it.

Finaly Filthydelphia thank you for pointing this contest to me, and set a map reaveal to this giand aokh library of projects from previous decades. i ll stick arround for a while and try to learn stuff more to 3d4k graphics and custom units, i will probably never do contest again in this website due to the reliability of throwing a contest, fail of conditions stated by MrWednesday. judges was 2 not 3, and in my part this contest its far from over, its like disolved for some hasty reason. filthy i ll play your other projects and give feedback when i get the time since i liked your entry really much. and i ll try to track and play work of others contentans as well.

Anyway the website dont have search and its hard to dig, my villager broke his tool many times in blacksmith or university, pahfinding issues like mine 11 :P i suggest and happy to see a fresh aoe2DE topic somewere and a newcommers/welcome topic for one to state "hi i am Demetrius i am new here, how things going here? or whatever".

Hellknight i like some ideas of yours, but Remove this topic about the dying site, its unhealthy almost made me turn off this site(keep the good posts and ideas), make a fresh one instead like "New ideas for the site and the community" if possible. also i still like the video part as it will get more normal aoe ppl intrested like me..

Discord.[BOT] Alan#6678
steam. [BOT] Alan

[This message has been edited by BOT_Alan (edited 05-12-2020 @ 07:14 AM).]

Thanathor
Squire
posted 05-12-20 07:23 AM CT (US)     134 / 153       
This is especially frustrating to me when low effort low experience casuals come along and proclaim how enjoyable they find the game when I firmly believe they wont feel that way when they have finally played as many games and as many hours as I have. I really have no idea of what level of pampered safe space bubbles would have to be created to appease the creator of this post.
I think this is a pretty good summary of my problem with this forum.
It's easy to forget how easy it was when standards were lower. When I made my first map I had no elevation, no real terrain painting. And yet it got a positive response. That response was what drove me to improve.
Most creators over the years dont learn or improve much so the works are mostly in line with that they made before.
While I disagree with this it does highlight the importance of actual constructive feedback (and I wish to thank the judges again for their extensive and very helpful write-ups).
It took me much longer to learn some pretty basic things because on the steam workshop I got no real meaningful critisism.

And yet I'm very happy I posted my work there and not here, because if the reponse I got was that my work was 'low effort' by someone who didn't even bother playing the damn thing I don't think I would have continued.

The balance between critisism and encouragement is difficult, but also very important. While the critisism here is excellent, let's make sure that the encouragement is not forgotten. Because while some entries were made by people with low experience lets not insult them by calling them 'low effort' when they are obviously not.
And to those creators, read through the judges feedback and try to focus on improving something they mentioned in your next map, doesn't matter what it is. I hope to see you all again next time, you'll be suprised at how much you have improved by then.



Also wanted to thank @Sebastien for his feedback. It was harsh, but also fair. Balance has always been something I struggled with, I guess that'll be what I focus on for next time. I'm glad you liked the characters. I am interested in making a campaign about 'contractors', whether it will be these specific ones or some others I don't know yet.
Sebastien
Dark Samurai
posted 05-12-20 07:40 AM CT (US)     135 / 153       
judges was 2 not 3, and in my part this contest its far from over, its like disolved for some hasty reason.
The reason we went ahead with two judges this year was because it seemed people didn't want to wait an extra week or more for a third opinion and it was in peoples best interests to get the results out as soon as possible to not keep people waiting. I know everybody was excited to see the results.

I think moving forward though we should definitely do our best to have at least three judges; so thank you everyone for the feedback.

Just remember, we're only two people and like someone else said; not only our opinion matters. If you disagree or have your own scores, then please don't hesitate to write a review on the blacksmith for the respective scenarios.

Anyway, I've said enough and all the time spent replying here I could have finished my write ups :P

I look forward to the next competition!

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 05-12-2020 @ 07:42 AM).]

Devious Dev
Official Professional Qualified Noob
(id: dragonslayermcmx)
posted 05-12-20 08:37 AM CT (US)     136 / 153       
Congratulations to the winners!

Sorry for any misunderstanding in regards to the judging. What I meant was that I would not be able to finish in time, and since both other judges said they were already done, I decided to drop out to not keep anyone waiting. So yes, once the results are up there is no changing them. Better luck next time. I will still play your entries and maybe write some reviews.
Hammister
Squire
posted 05-12-20 09:17 AM CT (US)     137 / 153       
Congratulations to the winners!
Nice that there were so many participants this year.
In my opinion, this site has a very high standard when it comes to reviews and that's a good thing. Not every player has enough time to play all new custom scenarios and good reviews help you choose what is worth installing and playing and what is not. From a player's perspective, I expect a good scenario to be a great entertainment experience from the introduction screen till the end. What people enjoy can of course be different and and a Veteran will experience some things differently than a casual player - therefore different opinions are also completely ok.
But Receiving negative feedback from someone even though you've put a lot of work into something is part of life. It is essential for improvement.
Possidon
Slayer
posted 05-12-20 11:55 AM CT (US)     138 / 153       
I didn’t really want to get to involved with this but I just felt like I had to say this.

AOKH is a warm and welcoming community which dedicated itself to not only showing off some of the best talent in the Age of Empires community but to also provide many helpful advice and feedback to anyone who welcomes it. We do have a lot of talent here and therefore some very high standards when compared to other places. For example Filthydelphia has been an active member for many years and has since gone on to create official campaigns for the new HD expansions. HockeySam was originally just another regular forummer just like all of us and is now officially a member of Forgotten Empires, the team responsible for bringing us the Definitive Edition which was the whole reason for this contest to being with.

While there is much talent here we like to welcome anyone who loves the game as much as we do. Whether your into scenario design, modding, AI scripting or just playing single player or multiplayer games, there’s something here for everyone, and just as many forummers to talk to about it and offer feedback and help. As is said before we’ve produced some of the best talent in Age of Empires history but even those incredible designers didn’t have the best staff and they’re blacksmith profiles will prove that. Filthydelphia’s first upload was way back in the early 2000s and has a rating of just 2.8, while Lord Basse who has created some of my favourite scenarios like the Relics of Athalen has some scenario which are rated 2.8. What made them better is dedication, passion and the help of fellow member of this community. They weren’t afraid to ask for help and to take other people feedback into account. I’m exactly the same. When I first joined the site ten years ago I was uploading maps which were just plain grass maps with two huge armies hacking and slashing at each other. I started to listen to the reviews I was given and the feedback I got in the forums and learnt how to design detailed maps and I was taught how to create effective triggers. Now, while I can’t claim to be up there as one of the best designers, I can claim that I’m a far great designer than I was when I first started and I credit that entirely to the members of this community.

In terms of contests that we host it’s important to note that these are supposed to be friendly competitions. They’re judged by volunteers who just enjoy playing the game. Everybody plays the game at different levels and has different experiences. As designer cannot expect a player to play a game exactly how they designed and intended it. That’s just not how game designing works. If the judges score are not quite what you expected, that doesn’t mean that’s how everybody will experience your game, it’s just that particular judges opinion. Take the feedback in consideration, see what the rest of the community say about it, and your more than welcome to updated your scenario.

I just want to finish off by saying that I’m so pleased about the number of entries we had to try is contest. I’m especially pleased about the amount of newcomer we had to this contest and that some new talent has arrived her at AOKH. I hope you all stick around and I look forward to seeing what you all come up with next. Don’t be discouraged if you didn’t get the score you wanted just enjoy the experience of designing it and the idea of other people playing your wonderful designs. I’ve yet to play any of them because I haven’t got a copy of the Definitive Edition yet but when I do these will certainly be the first scenarios I play.
Kataphraktoi
Squire
posted 05-12-20 02:43 PM CT (US)     139 / 153       
Did you just say that you can judge a scenario without playing it, but by just reading descriptions? That's a pretty ridiculous thing to say, Kata. Judging a book by its cover there. Come on!
Im not passing judgement, but there is little chance I would actually be surprised by the entries. HS18 is ussually on the money, and if he is off then its because he rated it too highly, not too low. I just cannot imagine playing the entries and then saying they are way better in response to this controversy.

Judging games by their reviews is an essential part of gaming, anyway. There are only so many hours in the day and dollars in my wallet. You have to do the same thing when buying products on amazon for your home usage, or in the store make judgements from descriptions and what you can see. In this case DE was infuriating to get working on my win7 PC and I am not paying for it anyhow. I wont touch it until a community patch exists which might be never.

I know I probably cannot convince you on this al kharn because your one of the few people even more stubborn than I am but look at this quote:
Balance: 4

I'm going to have to put the balance low on this one. Let me explain why. You start off with a full protected base except for a few holes in the wall where the wonder goes. It's very quick and easy to get your economy up and running and you don't even really need to train much of an army to begin with due to your castle and towers doing the heavy lifting and defending your walls well.....I managed to build some walls in some areas I thought necessary and I was feeling pretty confident. The enemy attacks intensified slightly and they started bringing trebuchets (one at a time).....There were more attacks but nothing I couldn't handle. Let me be clear, by this point they ONLY unit I'd trained were elite skirmishers and nothing else.

Then...Tamerlane joined the fight. The whole game changed. All of a sudden I had a huge army from the left camp, a huge army from the right camp, and a whole army of Elite Cavalry archers and other heavy cavalry storming my base in massive numbers absolutely ripping me to shreds. I was constantly pumping out troops but they quickly got overwhelmed as the pop cap at 75 caused real issues. Bare in mind up to this point I'd basically been threatened with cavalry archers and scouts, which are extremely easy to counter and was very consistent (just train a bunch of elite skirmishers and stick them on the inside of your gates). This sudden difficulty came at a shock and I had to restart.
Right, so this difficulty spike is a very common problem in scenario design and one I have encountered many times. The several scenarios I have unfinished even suffered from something similar until I playtested and tweaked. And I spent several hundred hours on those scenarios each. So already based on my own experiences playing, creating, and the words given I am quite sure - I am absolutely positive - that this flaw is 99.9% sure to exist. And the reason is because Bassi is probably a busy guy who didnt have as many hundreds of hours available that I did, that his potential playtesters if any didnt get back to him with the issue, if indeed anyone did playtest it for him.

I could make a similar argument for many of the other critiques offered.

"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 05-12-2020 @ 02:52 PM).]

Filthydelphia
Squire
(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-12-20 03:20 PM CT (US)     140 / 153       
Just to be clear, I was not making a critique on the reviews at all. I was only responding to your comment about judging the scenarios without playing them.

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