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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:
Julius999
Imposter
posted 05-12-20 05:06 PM CT (US)     141 / 153       
Shall I stick my oar in? Maybe a little.

I think it is clearly better to have three judges rather than two. For the sake of a week, it might have been better to wait. On the other hand, both of the judges thought the same scenario was best, so even if the third judge had thought differently it probably wouldn't (and probably shouldn't) have affected that result.

However, I think we should also recognise that judging a contest like this is quite a time commitment. Some of that time, perhaps most of it, will be spent playing entries that are frustrating, trivially easy or don't work properly. I wouldn't have been willing to do it. Both judges have given very detailed feedback informed by much experience of AoK scenarios, of a kind you are not likely to get anywhere else. I don't enjoy criticism better than anyone else but I've always found judge's comments on my entries well worth reading - even where I still disagree, years later.

I think there's some merit in the idea of having a non-judge volunteer briefly road-test the entries to make sure they work, before judging begins. There would be a benefit for the judges, as well as the entrants.

Lastly, congratulations Filthydelphia! And well done to everyone who managed to submit an entry.

1010011010
[ All_That_Glitters | Pretty_Town_Contest | Other_AoK_Designs | AoE_Designs ]
Member of Stormwind Studios

[This message has been edited by Julius999 (edited 05-12-2020 @ 05:11 PM).]

Alkhalim
Squire
posted 05-13-20 11:33 AM CT (US)     142 / 153       
So first of all thanks to the judges for investing the time into both my grindfest of a scenario (maybe not the best subgenre for a contest where people have to play through my scenario multiple times, sorry :/ ) and creating those extensive writeups in the end. Congrats to the winners as well ofc! Also the sheer amount of scenarios submitted this time is really encouraging for me as someone who creates tutorials for the editor (shameless self plug? check!).

I had hoped for a bit of a different result for my own entry, but then again I might just have been a little bit too proud of my work there. After all, not everyone can be the best at something..
Now looking back at my scenario (and having seen the other ones) it really does feel more like a techdemo than a fully competent gameplay experience (nearly no dialogue, minimal enemy variety, at parts buggy AI etc.). I definitely need to address those issues first before I do a broader release of the map, that much I learned here. I spent too much attention to cooking the (approximately) perfect steak and forgot to add any sidedishes so to say.. 11

So after not even wanting to waste another look at my scenario for a few days now I feel motivated to incorporate all the feedback and make it the best possible version of itself. I am still struggling to get AI to actually work properly and reliably as well as having non-garbage dialogues (just look at my Trasimene Map.. :P) but maybe, maybe those are some things I can improve on in my entry for the next contest.

... And yes, originally this was a 4 player coop map (I have heard people enjoy those a lot 11) with the different gods started out as the different player "civs" to choose from at start of the game. By the way, is there a version of triggerstudio which can handle the DE triggers so I could translate it back to MP, I wonder? Any help would be appreciated here, quadrupling all of the triggers now by hand seems kinda excessive.
Mighty Myrmidon
Squire
posted 05-13-20 12:30 PM CT (US)     143 / 153       
@Alkhalim I think that Doorstep to Valhalla would be pretty fun as a 4 player experience actually!

I really liked playing it as it was and the only real problem I had with it was that I didn't love hunting down all of the little huts at the very end. I wrote a more detailed review that should be approved sometime soon, but I just wanted to say thanks for making it, it was an enjoyable experience!
Sebastien
Dark Samurai
posted 05-14-20 00:04 AM CT (US)     144 / 153       
Alright, I finally had time to finish my write ups. They might be a little bit less in depth or quality as the other ones. Unfortunately due to timing commitments and the late playthrough of Gensokyo compared to the others I didn't really get to delve into things perhaps the way I'd like and didn't get chance to re-read or assess my write ups. Anyway, here they are:

duyhung2h - Gensokyo

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 5

This was potentially a very fun scenario but let down by how confusing the story was, literally not having a clue as to what was going on, and containing a few frustrating elements which really got tiring after a while. The first part of the game sees you controlling a character, a spirit lady (Yokkai) and you're supposed to look for some other spirit somewhere. In reality it wasn't clear at all what to do and I spent most the time just walking around wondering what the hell is going on. Don't ask me what the story was at this point, I was genuinely baffled. Occasionally some random people would attack me, or I'd find some spots to improve her armour/health etc (so generally went along with those) but it was only by chance that I eventually found the spirit (the usage of taunt 3 probably should have been explained more). On top of that I absolutely hated the top right dialogue. I never knew what the different colours were supposed to represent and it was really hard to work out what was dialogue and what was instructions. It was also just generally difficult to follow and enjoy the story. Please use a different method for displaying dialogue. Another frustrating thing was my character kept going out of player control as I was walking around. I don't know what was happening but every so often I'd just lose control of my character and have to wait a few seconds before I could recontrol her again. This got really tiring after a while whilst walking around the map trying to figure out what to do. What was this for? Was it some guide or hint? If so, explain it in the instructions or hints!

After finding the spirit it was still completely unclear as to what was going on but I followed her to the temple and then all of a sudden I was told to choose my starting position. How was I to know what starting position was most important? Tbh, I didn't even know WHAT the starting position was even for? "Oh, we're fighting now?", I asked myself (the dialogue and chat up to this point was still confusing). I played a few times and it seems none of starting positions really made much difference, except for the top one being better if you want to capture the blacksmith earlier.

Overall, I really enjoyed the premise and battling in the city for control of the military buildings, but it was let down by its difficulty and questionable gameplay choices. There are also many questionable wtf moments due to explosions. It seems once you've finished attacking the shrine, the whole point is to defend it. Once you defend something, what do you assume? You assume you should put your army inside the walls right? right? WRONG! I couldn't leave my troops inside the shrine because they kept getting killed by random explosions out of NO WHERE. There was no explanation to any of this and I lost half my elite army and all my monks due to this. Why would this even happen? Not only that, but random explosions would even kill my army on the outside of the shrine. I'd charge some troops with my horse units and BOOM. Big explosion and ALL my troops get wiped out in a second. I mean, if they were traps or something - fine, but at least give some hint or instructions that there are traps around instead of just randomly killing off my entire fricken army.

You're probably wondering, this is a 5, so where are the good points? Well, I liked the recapturable military buildings, I enjoyed the map, battling through the streets of the city and I liked the new unit options. I also liked some of the little side quest bits and I liked playing with the heroes (the two that I had). Once you look past the wtf moments it doesn't become too bad and has a lot of potential. I think removing the frustrations this could be classified as a generally 'good' scenario.

Balance: 4

The balance was leaning on the difficult side, even though in game the designer states I was on a relatively easy mode. Relatively easy perhaps because he designed it and knows exactly where or what the enemy will do. For someone new to the scenario, who's still trying to grasp what the hell is going on, what the new units do etc; it's difficult. I wasn't actually sure what the new units strengths or weaknesses were and you never really got enough gold to train too many of them. On my first play through I basically got overwhelmed not long after getting to the defend the spot phase due to not having any gold, and the automatic unit spawn just didn't give me enough troops fast enough. I realised it's extremely important to capture relics in order to make sure you've got enough gold. Ok, I put my monks inside the shrine, let's go get them to collect relics. DAMMIT! They're all randomly dead (no enemy reached the shrine by this point). Ok, restart. On the third playthrough I think I only actually survived the the first few rounds because the enemy unit AI movement was bugged. The top attack area I could see huge numbers of enemy cavalary not really moving at all, but kind of vibrating as if they'd got stuck on two looping movement triggers going opposite directions. The centre of the city was still swarmed with enemy infantry and they'd also took over two of my military buildings. Alright. Let's try one last time. This time I collected relics even before I reached the shrine with my military. I trained troops as much as possible. I was generally having fun, I even managed to capture some scorpions and hire some mercenaries. Overall though, I still lost. I think to make winning more viable, there should either be more relics (I could only find a few) or the unit spawns are faster. I think the unit spawns being faster could work better as it means larger battles and more exciting city fights. Hm but wait - speaking on unit spawns. It did say how often they'd spawn in the instructions but I'm almost certain they never spawned as fast as they said they would. Maybe the unit spawning is bugged, because I rarely got enough troops to proceed and it seems the spawning was very slow. I also think the blacksmith should be moved to a different position. It's so close to the enemy spawn point that it's incredibly difficult to keep hold of. I did like the hero balance though, they had powerful attacks and I really enjoyed moving them around the battlefield along with the regular troops.

Map Design: 7

Personally I do like asian themed maps so I map be biased here but I felt the design was very well done. The map was a good size, not too big or small and had enough different elements in it to be interesting. My main complaint would be that half the map wasn't even utilise or used. The left side of the map near all the farms I very rarely even stepped foot in. However, the map overall had a very cohesive and immersive feel and the designer clearly put a lot of effort into making some really nice individual elements also. Some highlights included: the docks; they looked very authentic mixing the houses with the quays and dock, the caves in the mountains, the rice paddies, the waterfalls and the snow blended foam, and last but not least the shrine steps; with excellent usage of cracked earth to give the appearance of steps leading to the shrine. After visiting many shrines myself, the old rustic and broken steps certainly is something that is predominant in old mountain villages like this. There are some other points of interest throughout the map, some better than others. I didn't really like the roman pillars next to the castle but really I'm picking here. Overall a nice map which fully deserves it's higher score. I think it probably missed out on an 8 here as I felt the use of some of the DE blend modes was a bit jarring at times and felt unnatural with an overuse of layering and random splotches of land mixed together, one example would be the north entrace; which was a little bit too flat, a bit too multicoloured, and seems blurry and lacks contrast due to overuse of layering.

Creativity: 7

This scenario was very creative with it's story, it's map design, units and heroes; giving the game a mix of the usual AOK units with new units specifically designed for the scenario. As confusing as it was, the premise was interesting and successfully brings a fantasy element into the game. The designer really pulled out all the stops here and the use of triggers to create something really unique and different and it really tied in the gameplay with the theme. I liked the use of the advanced functions in triggers to give the heroes unique projectiles and 'magical' effects. I found the triggerable in game events to be fun and creative (I won't spoil the details to those who haven't played it), the usage of taunts to 'show' hidden objects, the shrine SHIELD wall; that was really something else and I'm looking forward to seeing how the designer achieved it! The rest of the creativity lay within the map elements and interesting points dotted around the map as described in the map design section.

Story: 4

This is where the scenario mostly fell short as mentioned earlier, it was basically impossible to figure out what in the world was going on. Whilst it had some nice introduction and story to read through, as soon as you got in game it became difficult to follow along with. I was trying to work out who the bad guys were, what the Yokkai were actually doing, who was she fighting against, why are there three factions, who is the red player supposed to be, and more. I was left with more questions than answers throughout the whole thing. The dialogue would be better served using the new DE center screen chat functions to make character dialogues more interesting and readable. I'm sure if the designer fixed this, and maybe double checked the English and fixed the grammar slightly, then this scenario story would be very interesting to follow along with.

Overall: A really creative scenario with nice map design, but fell short with it's instructions, story and flow of the gameplay. Some frustrating moments but overall a little bit too difficult. I think making the scenario more understandable and giving more instructions might help with the balance. Give clear stats for what the new units do and what they're supposed to counter, and emphasise the need to collect relics.

Filthydelphia - The Last Romans

Gameplay and Overall Enjoyment: 8

First of all, if anyones wondering what a defend the spots objectives should be; this is it! A defend the spot at it's core is about surviving enemy attacks and ensuring your city/town/cart/person/building isn't killed within a set time frame. It should be accompanied by interesting side quests that step you outside of the defending area, in order to find or gain something to help you either improve your defensive capability or reduce the enemies attacking capability. This scenario does it all and even better; it does it with an easy to follow and continuous wave system that actually gives you time to rebuild, regroup, and prepare for the next round. I thoroughly enjoyed this scenario and really felt immersed throughout. The enemy attacks were hard hitting, varied and engaging. In the down time, I had fun prepping my city and exploring the side objectives. I felt the map size to be just about right though honestly would have preferred a slightly bigger map with more side quests. I also felt some of the things I did should have been rewarded further (such as destroying the right island base completely), maybe with extra resources, or finding some siege units, or some upgrades or something (however small or large). It was a little difficult at times and I was forced to retreat back to a unified position in one part of my city, but that just added to the enjoyment. The good thing about this was that, unless you're a very good player, you're not SUPPOSED to be able to hold off the city. Better stories come when you're pushed back, fighting for survival. The Battled at Helms Deep would have been boring if the orcs didn't destroy the wall and push everybody back into the keep. It didn't quite get that far with my playthroughs, but it was still enough of a challenge for an average player like me to enjoy. However, later in the game I felt a lot of the attacks were too focused in specific areas and I was let down by the AI's pathing and engagement (I eventually discovered that if you disengage them they sort of just end up hovering around the outside of your city with swordmen attacking walls on occasion and not really advancing much). It also had some buggy areas which for some reason trapped enemies into certain positions and bugged their movements (such as the aqeduct area that leads to outside of the northern part of the city; maybe three or four swordsmen would attack the aqueduct whilst a huge swarm behind them would bug out and jitter backwards and forwards). It would have been nice to have maybe some stronger units or more varied waves of different enemy types. However, a very worthy winner.

Balance: 6

Whilst it sounds very 'Captain Obvious', the balance is very dependant on player skill, which could be a good or bad thing and I think that rings true more for this scenario than others perhaps. However, I felt it hit a fair line between being difficult and easy, even for players of varied skill. Since playing, I've heard that people had absolutely no difficulty in keeping their walls in tact but for me, I lost my Southern outer walls on the second wave. The enemy were relentless at first and I originally lost ALL of my starting troops and all of my heroes very early on in the game. I started off playing with cataphracts and anti gunpowder troops but lost quite quickly and spent way too much gold upgrading and maintaing the cata army. Eventually when switching to archers and arbelests was I able to maintain some sort of foothold in the city. It eventually got to the point where as long as I kept up a healthy supply of arbelests and skirmishers, I could mow down most of what was thrown at me with relative ease (especially as most of the enemy were swordsmen). I noticed that the game probably did try to break this general flow by sending troops into my base through transport ships. This would have been a welcome change to the balance but unfortunately it was bugged; the enemy troops simply unloaded on the outside of my walls along the beach and instead got stuck on a tiny little section and unable to move. The naval game at first was very difficult for me and actually half way through the game I recieved some reinforcements via two ships which I couldn't even use (they were destroyed) because I hadn't yet even managed to pursue the enemy navy. Maybe thats just me being bad at the game but maybe for lower difficulty level, bring the ships from the north, so it's a bit easier for slower players. After a couple more playthroughs it became easier as I adjusted to the game, so overall, not a bad balance. It deserves a 6 because it's definitely more balanced than other scenarios in the competition, but I didn't like the over reliance on arbelests to win. Perhaps slightly more resources or a slightly higher gold income would have been better to maintain different units and bring different strategies into the game or maybe the enemy waves start varying slightly or throw in different units on occasion.

Map Design: 8

Overall the map design was quite strong with an immersive city to defend with a varied and interesting layout. I liked the mini river seperating the center part of the city which helped seperate the fronts you were on and make falling back if necessary easier. I think the more detailed buildings and consistent render settings of DE really make the city look more realistic and immersive and the designer took advantage of this to full effect. Seeing something on this scale inside the DE editor is certainly refreshing. I particularly liked the mix of ruins scattered across the city to represent a city of old and one that is in it's final days. It also really helped to break up the map and ensure it didn't become repetitive as each area of ruins was also accompanied usually by trees or stone, and other eye candy objects and elevation differences; giving each section a more unique feel. The use of elevation within the city helped break up the monotonous road textures and there were enough individual areas (such as the arch, the palace and the aqueducts) to help break up the usual clumps of buildings you typically see in city map designs. Buildings were a little random at times but seemingly placed well though I would have preferred to see more 'districts' and the use of further eye candy such as broken carts or rugs. If this scenario has proven anything though; it is that FE seriously need to add some more city eye candy such as individual market stalls, or food/wood piles etc. It seems the only thing missing that would really tie the city together (though it didn't lose points for this obviously). Outside of the city the map design drops points as the level of detail drops quite dramatically and the elevation suddenly becomes very flat and the land quite sparse (though I still appreciate the designers mix of terrain blending and layering). That's somewhat ok as you're not usually spending much time there and it's unfair to judge the map on places outside of the play areas, though even the enemy camps on the right and top islands atleast felt very flat and unfinished compared to the city. The last points were sort of just minor points though and I'd imagine with more time would probably be improved upon. The scenario is definitely very pretty and is by far the best in the competition and therefore deserves the higher score of 8.

Creativity: 5

I felt creativity wise this scenario played it quite safe and didn't really offer anything unique outside of the standard AOK gameplay. Whilst it was enjoyable to have sidequests, perhaps they were too few, they were short, simple (especially the first one) and confined to only small portions of the map. There were no unique units or new strategies and gameplay was kept relatively similar to what we already know (and love). I liked the implementation of the wave system and the idea to give players time to rebuild and things whilst not very original, it's definitely creative in the way it was implemented and works exactly as intended. Most of the creative elements came within the map design, but besides being pretty there wasn't really much there in the creativity department for gameplay; except for the ruins offering stone to mine. There's nothing particularly bad here but nothing particularly good either. Nothing really stands out for me and definitely compared to the creativity of some of the other scenarios, this one sits quite low. For that reason I've given it a 5, a mid tier scenario which offers just as much as it needs to.

Story: 6

The story was well written and enjoyable. All the stops had been pulled out for this one to help immerse the player into the story, such as the opening story book style story telling we're used to with AOK, and the good use of voice acting/using sounds and dialogue from other scenarios. The voice acting was hit and miss on this if I'm being complete honest (sometimes it was sort of fake (not immersive - very in someones bedroom) sounding, incorrect emphasis on some words, a little bit unnatural) but it really helps having it there so, similar to another scenario, a +1 for effort. I found the dialogue to be interesting and fun to read, I liked the way the side quests were laid out and the dialogue within them to help carry the story (such as the explanation from your ally as to why they can't (or can) help you. However, I would have perhaps liked a bit more within the scenario, rather than just at the beginning; something to keep the story going, maybe introducing some enemy heros or rivalries or utilise your heroes more other than just an indtroduction on who they are. It's not necessary that they have a story, but felt like something just a bit more would have given the scenario more points here. On the ending, it was nice to be able to play a different direction of history and tied the story together well. Overall the story was good and implemented well, but it sort of lost it's the 'vibe' during the game, with mostly dialogue and everything else focused at the beginning, and no real events or changes during.

Overall: A really enjoyable scenario that I will certainly play again. It's fun and engaging and can be played multiple times with perhaps different results. Next time I'll aim to improve my speed and maybe destroy the smaller enemy camp outside the North gates. There is not much negative to be said about this scenario and offers a perfect example of what a defend the spot scenario should be about (no focus on build and destroy, no destroying enemy bases as a primary objective, side quests which have an effect on your defense or enemy attack capabilities, challenging gameplay utilising different points of a map and the opportunity to fall back where needed). However, it generally played it safe gameplay/creativity wise (which is fine, it was a good challenge and still very fun) but I felt the side quests were a little short and it missed an opportunity to really expand the story.

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 05-14-2020 @ 08:45 AM).]

duyhung2h
Squire
posted 05-14-20 08:27 AM CT (US)     145 / 153       
Most interesting review, and I cannot state it better myself. Overall balancing would be difficult and hard to achieve with a complex scenario like this with mixed elements. However I'm still updating the scenario to fulfill all of its flaws.

The story is an interesting one, as it's an original idea that I came out with. The real problem is executing it the best way to get the idea across the audiences. Often enough I haven't included more backgrounds behind the character's actions, and the relationship between humans and youkais.

The thing is I always want to include some music to my work, that's always one of my top design choice, and it really improves the authenticity of the scenario. For how it works right now, the only way to make a music player is to use "display instruction", so I have to use "display timer" for instruction and dialogues. I couldn't tell it was getting in the way of so many things. This wouldn't change unless Microsoft changes it back the way it worked, I guess.

There're often several cues or sound effects that should tell you what's going on, like what you described, explosion attacks coming from the boss which the cue should have a "play custom sound" effects to it. If you're missing those clues, perhaps your sound files weren't working correctly? As you can tell, sounds are pretty crucial to my scenario, and it wouldn't be the same without it.

Anyways, I'm always taking more feedback into consideration. More hints should be added as well, for how important it is that you should control spawn points and spread out your units. Hope you enjoyed what I delivered so far.

My aspiring new creation for DE:
Gensokyo: Season of Calamity
El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest)
More are in the work...

[This message has been edited by duyhung2h (edited 05-14-2020 @ 08:31 AM).]

Filthydelphia
Squire
(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-14-20 02:22 PM CT (US)     146 / 153       
Thanks for the comments, Seb!

Mr Wednesday
Cavalier
(id: matty12345)
posted 05-14-20 07:03 PM CT (US)     147 / 153       
If I can add one extra set of thoughts...

Losing stings. I think the focus here is on the scores being too low, but I once lose a contest with 146/150 total possible points, and it still bothers me. Losing will sting and contestants will not love losing no matter the score. This isn't just because people are deluded into thinking their scenario is superior (though that sometimes happens too). In reality so much of this 'scoring' is opinion, and you probably design the type of scenarios you like, hence you have an inherent affinity for your own designs.

I actually wrote the metric for 1-10 scores Seb and Sam used. Perhaps it's a bit harsh, but it was to specifically address an issue where it's too easy to get a 10/10. If just 'really good' is 10, then how do you differentiate between 'the best ever' and really good? Worse, if really good is 10, the just kinda good is probably 8 or 9. What follows is the best entries being judged against each other on a one or two point scale.

I think if anything the scoring scale was successful, in that it produced clear distinctions and showed where the judges opinions are at. Read the judging of the 2019 PTC. It's very clear from the write-ups that each judge has a clear 1-2-3 ranking, and yet the scores aren't reflective of that.

The important thing is to realize that a blacksmith review is not the same as a contest score. A blacksmith is a star based review out of five. This is detailed scoring based on it's own metric. If you disassociate these scores from your notions of a reviewz you'll be better able to read them for what they are.

"And Matt is a prolific lurker, watching over the forum from afar in silence, like Batman. He's the president TC needs, and possibly also the one it deserves." - trebuchet king
Kataphraktoi
Squire
posted 05-15-20 05:31 PM CT (US)     148 / 153       
Losing stings
Not being allowed to submit your entry due to arbitrary reasons stings

"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
Lord Basse
MI6 Scenario-Making Machine
posted 05-15-20 07:04 PM CT (US)     149 / 153       
You should give DE a try, Kata. You'll probably hate it, but you never know!

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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
Mighty Myrmidon
Squire
posted 05-16-20 00:33 AM CT (US)     150 / 153       
I think this new version is really good, actually and since it creates so many new trigger opportunities, I think that it makes sense to have it as a requirement for the contest. That way everyone is on the same playing field.

As an aside, the Xbox Game Pass for PC costs $1 for the first month, and it includes Age of Empires II DE as part of the deal. If you're thinking of trying it out, this is a great way to get a taste without buying the whole thing.
Lord Basse
MI6 Scenario-Making Machine
posted 05-16-20 07:13 AM CT (US)     151 / 153       
Even though I like DE in general, I'm still not sold on the DE editor. Some of the additions are superb, like trigger copying, but it still has a thousand issues that hamper it. If they ever get around to fixing all that, then the DE editor could finally realize its potential and become the best scenario editor the game has seen.

Most of the "new" stuff in DE, compared to HD, is also not so much new as it is copied from the UserPatch. Which is great, don't get me wrong, but when you've been designing with UP for six years it kind of takes away the wow-factor from the "new" editor.

For a contest like this, though, it definitely makes sense to focus on DE. It's the most current game version, it has like a hundred times the amount of players (and potential entrants and site visitors) that UP has. So even though I still find myself designing mostly in UP, I think limiting in to DE makes every bit of sense.

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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
Mighty Myrmidon
Squire
posted 05-16-20 10:20 AM CT (US)     152 / 153       
Fair enough. I'm coming off a decade long hiatus and never experienced the UP or anything past original Age of Conquerors CD version, so the changes felt pretty big to me.
HockeySam18
Dúnadan
posted 05-19-20 02:13 AM CT (US)     153 / 153       
I figured I'd give a few days for everyone's emotions to cool before contributing to the discussion:
I think it is clearly better to have three judges rather than two. For the sake of a week, it might have been better to wait. On the other hand, both of the judges thought the same scenario was best, so even if the third judge had thought differently it probably wouldn't (and probably shouldn't) have affected that result.
Agreed. Even if the outcome would probably have been the same, a third perspective is beneficial.
I think there's some merit in the idea of having a non-judge volunteer briefly road-test the entries to make sure they work, before judging begins. There would be a benefit for the judges, as well as the entrants.
Excellent suggestion. Most non-PTC contests in recent memory have featured an entry or two that is unplayable due to draconian difficulty, functional issues, or mere confusion. That naturally puts the judges in an undesirable position regarding the decision of when to cut bait, so to speak. If a judge has played an entry for over two hours and still not made it past the initial stages of a scenario for the above reasons, most rational people would consider the judge to be justified in cutting bait, but the file author's disappointment that the playing experience did not go as envisioned is of course understandable.

The implementation could be tricky, though. The volunteer would have to conduct their playtesting in a timely manner so as to not delay the judging process, and timely results cannot always be expected in initiatives run on a volunteer basis.
The important thing is to realize that a blacksmith review is not the same as a contest score. A blacksmith is a star based review out of five. This is detailed scoring based on it's own metric. If you disassociate these scores from your notions of a review you'll be better able to read them for what they are.
Good point. Those of you who have been around for a while will know my habit of posting reviews on each playable file immediately after a contest that I've judged ends. The review scores are almost always more generous than the contest scores, since the former are meant to approximate quality for prospective players, while the latter are tailored for the purposes of the contest.

~ 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.
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