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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design and Discussion » Defend the Spot Scenario Contest: 2020 Definitive Edition
Topic Subject:Defend the Spot Scenario Contest: 2020 Definitive Edition
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Mr Wednesday
(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

  • 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

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


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


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).]

posted 05-02-20 00:42 AM CT (US)     71 / 153       
..which is clearly a stylistic choice to help people to get into the medieval aesthetics of aok

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 05-02-2020 @ 00:43 AM).]

posted 05-02-20 02:16 AM CT (US)     72 / 153       
Is it too late to sign up as judge?
This is most welcome. Glad to have you!

~ 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.
Dark Samurai
posted 05-02-20 10:40 AM CT (US)     73 / 153       
Awesome stuff. Cant wait to check all these out and post my results.

Good luck to all.
posted 05-02-20 03:26 PM CT (US)     74 / 153       
Hey, so I just talked to Alkhalim, and we were talking about a video where we count down the judges picks, and talk about our own favorite aspects of each entry. We were also talking about the idea of actually getting the maker's of each map in a call with us. There they could discuss different aspects of the map, the challenges, what they would do differently, respond to questions, and even share their pick for their favorite map of the contest (not allowed to pick yourself haha)

We're still toying around with the scheduling of the calls and how best to go about it to minimize the amount of work, but we'd love to see if people are interested, and maybe start jotting down some schedules.

So, is anyone interested?
(Also, no pressure. I completely understand that's not something you'd be into)

Judges too! It would be great to hear from you!

[This message has been edited by Blume (edited 05-02-2020 @ 03:28 PM).]

posted 05-02-20 04:00 PM CT (US)     75 / 153       
@Blume I am interested, even though I'm not really confident in my English-speaking tone, but I want to give my full insight behind my map and what I was trying to convey through it.

My aspiring new creation for DE:
Gensokyo: Season of Calamity
El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest)
More are in the work...
Mighty Myrmidon
posted 05-02-20 05:16 PM CT (US)     76 / 153       
Man, I sure wish I was able to get mine done on time. It sounds like a lot of fun community engagement.
posted 05-02-20 05:28 PM CT (US)     77 / 153       
7aahh Sounds fun, I am interested, even though I'm not really confident in my English too, or my entry.
posted 05-03-20 05:51 AM CT (US)     78 / 153       
@Blume I'm interested as well. You already know my discord, that's probably the best place to contact me as I'll see it soonest there
(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-03-20 09:38 AM CT (US)     79 / 153       
Blume and Alkhalim, that's a great idea! Let me know what you need from me. I'm happy to help.

posted 05-03-20 11:38 AM CT (US)     80 / 153       
I just finished the last entry. My results should be done by tonight.

~ 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.
Lord Basse
MI6 Scenario-Making Machine
posted 05-03-20 12:22 PM CT (US)     81 / 153       
Nice! Looking forward to the results! I also like the video idea, Blume!

The ||||||||||||||||| Hus
OF | [/ \] |¯| [/ \] | ME
______________________________________________________________________________ |__ _ |¯|____|_______________________________________________________________________________
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
posted 05-03-20 01:31 PM CT (US)     82 / 153       
Wow, I'm really happy with the response! Seems like we're going to have a lot of great voices on the calls!

Also, I've started playing the entries, and WOW! Some amazing stuff. Definitely makes me want to go back and improve my own entry haha

I'm going to start sending off notes on Discord for the people I know already, but if you don't hear from me in the next 24hrs on Discord, shoot me a message. I might not have been able to find you on the discord list
posted 05-04-20 08:52 AM CT (US)     83 / 153       
AOE2DE error
Exception type 0xc0000005 occurred

An unfortunate event happened yesterday and i can't fix it. any suggestions ?

i downloaded the last entries to play with,
Defend the Fortress by Blume(upd)
The Battle of Sighnaq by bassi_aoc
Doorstep to Valhalla by Alkhalim
and must have done something wrong when moving the files, the game won't start.
(i hit play via steam) launched and died in ~3 secs.
checked to the last logs of aoede and this is what it says in the bottom lines
(its not full log just bottom lines of the txt tell me if you need full log to post it)

Initializing Time System
Exception type 0xc0000005 occurred at 00007ff75a0536fb
Writing out log.txt

googled and found a lot of stuff regarding this error in Microsoft, ageofempires official forums, and some blogs.
followed a lot of ways to fix it, some of them are:
Checked integrity via steam
unistall & reinstal the game x3 (even in another ssd in case of bad sectors)
clean setup latest vga drivers
nothing seems to work.. i am thinking to format the machine :
have you ever encountered something like this?

____________FIXED(the only solution that worked for me)
if anyone faces the same problem and can't play aoe2DE
1. Uninstall STEAM.
2. Clean registry from steam or aoe2 remnants.
3. Re-Move the folder located in
C:\Users\(username)\Games\"Age of Empires 2 DE".
(don't delete it you might need it later for mods recovery).
4. Reinstall steam app and the game.
p.s. i also changed the steamapp downloads folder in a new one.

can any moderator remove this post or redirect it to aoe2DE bugs or something ?

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

posted 05-04-20 02:28 PM CT (US)     84 / 153       
Edit: No worries. Working on it.

[This message has been edited by Blume (edited 05-04-2020 @ 11:26 PM).]

Dark Samurai
posted 05-05-20 02:28 AM CT (US)     85 / 153       
Hi Guys, I've finished my judging.

I will continue to fianlise my write up. I believe HockeySam is probably finished also.

Devious Dev , you expressed interest in judging, did you go ahead with that? Should we wait for your results?

[This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 05-05-2020 @ 04:43 AM).]

posted 05-05-20 09:34 AM CT (US)     86 / 153       
I believe HockeySam is probably finished also.
Correct, my scores and write-ups are ready. I've no problem waiting for Dev if he plans on scoring the entries as well, though, as a third judging perspective is always welcome

~ 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.
Dark Samurai
posted 05-06-20 10:45 PM CT (US)     87 / 153       
Ive emailed him also. If he doesnt reply by Friday PM we can go ahead and post the results for the weekend. No point in keeping people waiting too long.
posted 05-07-20 01:47 AM CT (US)     88 / 153       

~ 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.
Devious Dev
Official Professional Qualified Noob
(id: dragonslayermcmx)
posted 05-07-20 05:33 AM CT (US)     89 / 153       
I'm unlikely to finish until the end of next week, so feel free to post the results if you're both ready
posted 05-07-20 06:39 PM CT (US)     90 / 153       
A little update on the video:

We're aiming for this coming Thursday/Friday (the 14th and 15th) to film the contest video. I'll be sending out messages to people with the their time-slot information soon, but please message me if these dates don't work for you, or if you have a specific time during these days that would work best for you.

I also wasn't able to find @Lord Basse on the Discord, and I was too scared to message @HockeySam18 directly haha, so please get in contact me, at your convenience, if you're interested in being a part of the video. We'd love to have you!

Speaking of which, for the calls, Filthydelphia had the idea of doing video as well as audio (I hope you're still interested in this haha). So I was thinking of maybe giving people the option of doing both. How does everyone else feel about this? Any takers on doing video?

Also, I'm not sure how the judges feel, but the video isn't going to be ready until at least 3-5 days after filming (that's probably the fastest I can edit everything, if I push hard) so we're looking at close to two weeks before the video is available. That would mean, if you wanted to delay the results a little longer, that Dev would still have a chance to judge the entries, and we could release everything on the same day. I've already talked to Seb about incorporating the AoKH site and Discord into the video, and I could put further links to the site, and to the judges full write-ups on the site [the video acting as "light" review, more like teasers for the map], in the video and description. I think that would funnel more people in their desire to read the full judges reviews, and download the maps themselves. We could even encourage the viewer to express their own opinions after playing them to get them more involved.

Is that something people would be interested in?

Edit: Also, another video idea just came to me. For those of us that are going to continue to work on our maps, it might be kind of cool to have another video, a couple weeks later, where we "check back in" with the maker and showcase all the improvements since the contest and reviews came in

[This message has been edited by Blume (edited 05-07-2020 @ 08:01 PM).]

(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-07-20 08:18 PM CT (US)     91 / 153       
If Seb and Sam are ready to announce the results in time for the weekend, I don't think we should delay for the video. In fact, might be better to have a few days to digest the results and feedback before the video is recorded.

As for webcam, on second thought I imagine none of us have gotten haircuts since Coronavirus started, so no pressure on the webcam idea. Might actually be better to concentrate on showing gameplay rather than our faces. But if others want to be on webcam, that's cool as well.

[This message has been edited by Filthydelphia (edited 05-07-2020 @ 08:20 PM).]

posted 05-08-20 02:00 AM CT (US)     92 / 153       
If Seb and Sam are ready to announce the results in time for the weekend, I don't think we should delay for the video.
Agreed. Expect the results imminently, by the way

I won't have the time to partake in the video, and in any case I reckon it's best for the onus to be on the designers themselves showcasing their gameplay, rather than me talking about my impressions of it--you'll already be getting some healthy write-ups of that with the results!

~ 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.
posted 05-10-20 09:40 AM CT (US)     93 / 153       
Results are in!

Sebastien's scores:

Alkhalim: 6 + 6 + 7 + 6 + 6 = 31/50
Bassi: 5 + 4 + 5 + 4 + 6 = 24/50
Blume: 3 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 2 = 15/50
BOT_Alan: 5 + 6 + 4 + 6 + 5 = 26/50
duyhung2h: 5 + 4 + 7 + 7 + 4 = 27/50
Filthydelphia: 8 + 6 + 8 + 5 + 6 = 33/50
MrMew: 3 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 3 = 16/50
Thanathor: 6 + 4 + 6 + 5 + 6 = 27/50

HockeySam18's scores:

Alkhalim: 6 + 7 + 6 + 9 + 5 = 33/50
Bassi: 9 + 9 + 10 + 7 + 8 = 43/50
Blume: 4 + 5 + 2 + 6 + 1 = 18/50
BOT_Alan: 2 + 2 + 2 + 6 + 2 = 14/50
duyhung2h: N/A
Filthydelphia: 10 + 9 + 9 + 8 + 10 = 46/50
MrMew: 4 + 6 + 6 + 5 + 4 = 25/50
Thanathor: 7 + 7 + 9 + 8 + 6 = 37/50


1st Filthydelphia: 33/50 + 46/50 = 79/100
2nd Bassi: 24/50 + 43/50 = 67/100
3rd Thanathor: 27/50 + 37/50 = 64/100
4th Alkhalim: 31/50 + 32/50 = 63/100
5th MrMew: 16/50 + 25/50 = 41/100
6th BOT_Alan: 26/50 + 14/50 = 40/100
7th Blume: 15/50 + 18/50 = 33/100
N/A duyhung2h: 27/50 + N/A = N/A

~ 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.
posted 05-10-20 09:52 AM CT (US)     94 / 153       
My comments:

Alkhalim - Doorstep to Valhalla

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: 6/10

Doorstep to Valhalla sets players in the shoes of the Norsemen in Vinland (North America), whose settlement is under constant pressure at the hands of Skraelingjar. The goal is simple: eliminate all Skraeling encampments while defending at least one of the shrines within the encampment. The player is given access to a fully modified tech tree with a variety of Norse units and must balance defense and attack forces while being wary of an ever-oscillating day/night mechanic: during nighttime the natives grow stronger and their attacks increase in ferocity. While the essence of the concept is quite nice and several creative uses of AoE2DE features enhance the gameplay (more on that below), the gameplay of the scenario is quite slow, as one spends hours grinding away at endless enemy hordes while building forces that will be sacrificed, one after the other, to achieve a series of small gains between the exceedingly low time windows to operate beyond one’s base.

Balance: 7/10

The scenario was balanced in that the balance of power between the player and the enemy forces always felt close, but the constraints placed on the player combined with this culminated in a situation conducive to extremely low tempo in gameplay. While a wealth of options were available to the player, only a handful had true viability and most played a mainly novelty and cosmetic role. The modified gameplay also led to an immense amount of multitasking, with the need to constantly attack to earn gold and divine favor while training and allocating troops to defend and the much-dreaded feature of training livestock as one’s only source of food. While the scenario was balanced to account for all of this, the result had a negative impact on other aspects of the playing experience.

Map Design: 6/10

The author took the approach of creating a cold and bleak, rocky landscape (to match the bleakness of the historical setting, perhaps). The player’s settlement on a rocky promontory was surrounded by forbidding forests and cold bodies of water, and the overall feel was a mysterious setting that was creative-looking and enjoyable to explore. Overall, the aesthetic quality of the map design was firmly average, but the positive impact that the overall layout--with its careful balance of open areas and strategic choke points--had on the gameplay improves the score here.

Creativity: 9/10

This was the strongest aspect of the scenario. The author has made adept usage of the AoE2DE scenario editor to create a fully modified tech tree with various unit options and the ability to worship one of three Norse deities, each granting separate unit and tech options. In a way, this scenario is almost its own game, and the creativity in the map design bolsters that impression. As an exhibit in this category it is firmly impressive; however, as hinted in the other sections, the impact on other spheres of the experience is questionable, and the slew of new game mechanics and modifications is not introduced effectively, leading to considerable confusion on the player’s part as they endeavor to learn a new game at a torrid pace. Overall, it must be questioned how much this impressive amount of effort actually enhances the gameplay, which still boils down to a repetitive, grinding slog. In this I’m reminded of a comparison made by a judge in the prior DtS contest to a microwave powered by a miniature nuclear fusion reactor: functionally it is beyond impressive, but it still only heats your leftovers.

Story: 4/10

The introduction of the scenario is quite promising, consisting of a brief overview of the Norse settlement in Vinland as relayed by the Icelandic sagas. However, this sphere all but disappears during the scenario itself, and while the author has made an admirable effort to incorporate Old Norse culture and mythology into the mission, it is largely unexplained and the garbled Old Norse terms, though recognizable thanks to my knowledge of this ancient language, are, I imagine, incomprehensibly confusing to most.

Total: 32/50

Bassi - The Battle of Sighnaq

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: 9/10

The Battle of Sighnaq casts two familiar figures, Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh Khan, as antagonists while centering on the fascinating but obscure figure of Urus Khan, a man who deserves much more than a mere footnote in the pages of history. Holed up in the fortress of Sighnaq, Urus fends off the feeble attempts of cowardly assassins before facing a much more visible threat: the forces of Tokhtamysh Khan approaching his citadel. With no time to lose, the player must build up the city’s defenses and endure the periodic assaults of enemy forces. A combination of map layout, enemy positions and troop choices, restrictions on the player’s technology tree, and the late appearance of a deadly enemy make this a strategically rewarding and fast-paced but manageable experience.

Balance: 9/10

Underpinning the balance sphere in this entry are the aforementioned factors that contribute to strategic value. Most significant, however, is the player’s low population limit of 75, which takes us back to the small-scale setup known from the days of Age of Kings. Nowadays, many players dread low population limits; however, this is nevertheless the feature that makes the experience of this scenario so unique and salient. It demands a delicate distributive ratio of economy to military units, and the defense thus relies on shrewd fortifying procedures combined with the deft allocation of a small, mobile garrison that rushes around, dealing with each threat as it arises. Unsurprisingly, the notoriously powerful and versatile Mangudai become the player’s main tool here, but shrewd management is nevertheless required. One strike against the balance here is that it was all too easy to fortify mountain passes and funnel the enemy forces into a nest of castles protecting the player’s wonder; considering that the AI had ample means to pull it off, the occasional pressure on those would have added a little to the experience. As it stands, however, dealing with enemies arriving from two directions (and a third, once Tamerlane joins the fray) makes for vivacious and gripping gameplay.

Map Design: 10/10

Aesthetically, the map is nothing short of exemplary. The author has constructed a convincing fortress nestled in forbidding mountain terrain and various winding avenues from which to approach. Particularly strong in this regard is the judicious combination of familiar assets and terrain usage with new features from the Definitive Edition, which firmly enhance the visual experience without getting too carried away. Although the region depicted is mountainous, the player will delight in observing open plains, thin forests, and bogs, and the overall result is that there is ample space to maneuver and build defenses. The map’s small scale is one of its strengths: it suits the gameplay well while allowing for perfection in detail. It is a functioning visual masterpiece, and more than worthy of a perfect score in this category.

Creativity: 7/10

Calling this a weakness of the scenario would be firmly inappropriate; nevertheless it may appear as such merely because the entry excels to such a degree in all other aspects. The author has taken the blueprint that earned him victory in the 2018 DtS contest and improved upon it. It is similarly simple, yet refreshingly so: the player will find no extensive modifications or vision of an entirely new game here, just tried and true Age of Empires II gameplay executed in optimal fashion. A couple of things deserve special mention, however: the map design, for one, excels in its aesthetic and its shrewd usage of Definitive Edition features, and in this regard it is groundbreaking. The author’s spin on retail campaign content is likewise a plus: he seamlessly fits it into a sequence of events well known by now from the stories of Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh, but from the opposite perspective. Further features, such as randomized placement of a relic at the start of the mission, the defense of allied wonder builders in a vulnerable location, and shrewd usage of sound files are not novel, but pleasant features nevertheless and contribute to a familiar yet improved experience.

Story: 8/10

In recognizable fashion, the author provides players with an informative yet digestible historical context for the scenario before allowing the player to dictate the course of history. The injection of narrative within the scenario itself is typically minimal, but enough to give the major players some personality, contribute to the atmosphere, and drive the gameplay forward. Upon winning the scenario, the player is treated to a historical aftermath of similar structure as the introduction. Particularly notable here is the author’s usage of visuals in the introductory and concluding slides to enhance the viewing experience. Overall, the result is not earth-shattering, but it is far above average, and a credit to the overall effort.

Total: 43/50

Blume - Defend the Fortress

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: 4/10

Defend the Fortress is an interesting take on the DtS genre. Rather than the tailored gameplay and settings common in most entries, the author has seen fit to place the player in a familiar position, harnessing the base mechanics of AoE2 random map gameplay with some unique twists. The player must defend him/herself from multiple opponents who build and function like the default AI but have broad tech trees and receive additional preplaced and spawned assets. Victory is achieved by destroying the monuments in the various corners of the map, and as time goes on the removal of obstacles will make the player’s position increasingly vulnerable. For the most part, the gameplay is smooth, although the exceedingly large map (480x480) and the cramped nature of some parts make things rather awkward. Overall, it feels generally like a random map, but with some added detail and creative twists.

Balance: 5/10

The pacing of the scenario is quite good, although it does feel variable by each playthrough. The AI players, initially slow to build up, will leave the player in peace but gradually pose a larger threat over time, particularly as the main enemy player’s triggered spawns increase. The large population and map size lead to considerable problems in managing each front and dealing with each opponent, as the masses of enemy troops become problematic to face and they arrive with powerful weapons through countless avenues. The overall feeling is decent, yet unpolished, and middle of the pack for the contest.

Map Design: 2/10

This is a less strong point of the entry. Aesthetically, the entry feels like a random map with some extra resources, and although there are pockets of decent detail to be found, generally the predominant factor is large swaths of undetailed terrain. The map does play decently well, although it feels quite constraining, and the author clearly has a good deal of creativity and skill--one might surmise that the massive map size made it difficult for this to be applied with consistent excellence. Nevertheless, it was functional and intriguing to explore and battle over.

Creativity: 6/10

This was the entry’s strongest point. The author trod relatively new ground in the endeavor to transform the standard RM gameplay into a DtS experience, and some aspects of the map design exhibited considerable creativity. Most impressive were the various secrets to be discovered, although the implementation felt rather clunky, at times confusing, and generally tangential to the primary gameplay rather than complementary to it.

Story: 1/10

This was the aspect in which the entry was most lacking. The player is thrust into a RM-like situation with little-to-no context (or conclusion afterwards); a price of submitting merely a scenario file. Furthermore, ingame instructions were rather lacking or nonexistent, although to his credit the author did provide some playing tips that would be useful to inexperienced players. Nevertheless, the lack of any support of narrative depth detracted from the atmosphere of the entry and greatly decreased the investment level that a player might have in the course of events.

Total: 18/50

BOT_Alan - Perdiccas

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: 2/10

Perdiccas places the player in control of a Satrap’s forces during a civil war (at least, that was what could be surmised from the scarce introduction). The player’s task was twofold: to help hold an allied position while destroying an enemy fortress and killing its commander. To do this, one must navigate caves (or wait until the enemy has destroyed the barracks beside the fortress so that the player’s troops can pass by that avenue). The cramped nature of the map made the playing experience extremely grindy: with lack of room to build, resources are slow to gather and less-than-judicious use of the off-grid placement tool caused pathfinding to altogether fail; troops had to be guided literally every step of the way. 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, even when there were torch bearers in the vicinity. Overall it cannot be said that the playing experience was very enjoyable, and it is recommended to the author to check out some of the higher-rated content at AoKH or on the AoE2DE mod manager for guidance moving forward.

Balance: 2/10

The difficulty level felt somewhat appropriate, in that it was at times challenging and required good strategic management of various avenues of threat on the part of the player. Bluntly, the AI was quite weak and the only thing preventing a total steamroll were the playability issues that made playing the scenario functionally difficult. It is eventually possible to overwhelm the enemy, but it is a process trying of one’s patience.

Map Design: 2/10

Some parts of the map looked aesthetically okay, such as the player and their ally’s starting position. However, the lack of detail in the visible portions combined with the unappealing look of the caves and the negative impact that the map layout had on the gameplay rendered this a low score, and one can only echo the advice given at the end of the Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment evaluation here.

Creativity: 6/10

This was the scenario’s strong point; the author has made some clever usage of AoE2DE features to create some interesting terrain combinations and to have the player train units from tents that cannot be rebuilt. The units, while resembling Macedonian military units in name, suffer from a lack of immersion: phalangites and peltasts are clearly Inca Kamayuks and Slingers, to name an example, and the changes to the tech tree had a questionable impact on the balance.

Story: 2/10

This was firmly a weak point of the entry. The scenario opens ‘in medias res’ in a less optimal sense of the phrase: the player has absolutely no clue what is going on. Instructions are difficult to follow and how to proceed is not particularly clear. The author has stated that English is not his first language, so one should take that into consideration, but it appears that the language barrier is not actually the root of the issue: the text, when it appears is perfectly legible, but the manner in which instructions are presented is lacking: the flaw is not necessarily in the nuts and bolts but in the overall approach.

Total: 14/50

duyhung2h - Gensokyo: Seasons of Calamity

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: NA/10
Balance: NA/10
Map Design: NA/10
Creativity: NA/10
Story: NA/10

Total: NA/50. It was not possible to fulfill the initial task and progress in this entry, due to the instructions being totally vague and unclear, so I have refrained from scoring this submission. For what it’s worth, the map design had quite some impressive detail, but it was impossible to know how it would have played out.

Filthydelphia - The Last Romans

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: 10/10

It is the year 1453 and the fate of Byzantium rests in your hands as legions of Ottoman Turks approach the walls of Constantinople! The Last Romans places the player in command of the massive walled Byzantine capital, with the task of building up its defenses and repelling the besieging forces. After a short period of preparation time during which the player can array the garrison, research technologies, put civilians to work, and strengthen the position, the onslaught begins as droves of Turks come pouring towards the gates of the city. The task: to resist until the summer heat and the threat of relief forces compel the Turks to abandon the siege. Each section of the city has its own unique features that make it strong or vulnerable and give the player various means of defense: expect to constantly (re)allocate troops to hold the gates while cavalry sally out to destroy siege engines and cut down Janissaries. As the scenario text states, there is a natural rhythm to a siege: each assault is followed in turn by a period of respite during which the player can heal, redistribute, and upgrade defenders, repair fortifications, and attempt secondary objectives in order to cripple the enemy or increase the morale of the defenders. Well-paced, appropriately challenging, action-packed, and enjoyable to play, this entry is more than worthy of a perfect score in this category.

Balance: 9/10

In a scenario like this, pacing and balance go hand in hand, and this entry excelled in both. Assaults come from multiple directions in varying forms, requiring the player to adopt a versatile approach: both land and sea must be safeguarded, the latter not just due to its situation as an avenue of attack, but also as it will soon become the city’s only source of food. Side objectives are appropriately challenging and rewarding, but the sense of urgency climbs over time as the strength of the enemy assaults increases. With a quick start, it is possible to complete most side objectives quite rapidly as well as focus on clearing the sea of threats while the land assaults are fairly feeble, and it is refreshing to see a setup that rewards such swift and decisive action. If one critique were to be levied here, it would be that the playing experience becomes somewhat predictable as the experience goes on; threats from the sea are quite feeble and are easily dispatched by a handful of ships or the garrisoned Leander’s tower, and the flow and composition of enemy attacks was fairly consistent, and, while increasingly challenging, capable of being parried through the same sets of tactics.

Map Design: 9/10

Aesthetically, the map is utterly brilliant. Players can expect to encounter a vast, diverse city whose detail is matched by that of the surrounding land and sea. The product as a whole was appealing to look at, fun to play, and made with a keen eye for historical detail. In its visual value it was barely surpassed only by one other entry, but what truly sets it apart is its ambition and the high level of quality that is maintained regardless. The city of Constantinople is depicted in worthily massive fashion, and players will delight in regarding the well-represented and detailed variety of the city’s districts and the surrounding regions, which make adept and judicious use of the Definitive Edition features and assets for a believable and enjoyable result. The entry’s ambition might be its sole weakness; Constantinople is so massive that players might feel overwhelmed by the task of defending a city of such sheer size and the practical issue of remembering the location of production buildings (control-group hotkeys are a must), but that is an intended part of the challenge. One minor quip: the sea gates forming the Golden Horn chain had a dreadful effect on the pathfinding of ships, and I was compelled to delete them. Regardless, I daresay that a DtS entry of such scale has never been executed so well, and it goes without saying that in this category it excelled.

Creativity: 8/10

Another firm strength of the scenario. As aforementioned, this entry pushed boundaries in its scale, but otherwise was fairly standard and accessible in its structure. The author did an excellent job of incorporating historically accurate and justified aspects of a siege into gameplay in a seamless fashion, and the economic setup combined with the ability to access several unique upgrades at the Hagia Sophia was also something new. To enumerate some other things that added to the experience: the method of quantifying assaults by digital time but the overall siege in days was both realistic and accessible and added to the immersion, furthermore, the side objectives and challenge quests present players with the additional factors of replayability and the ambition of completionism. Overall, the entry is not groundbreaking in this sphere, but it is more than well above average, and worthy of a high score here.

Story: 10/10

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the scenario behind the gameplay, the narrative seizes the player’s attention from the start, with a well written and voiced introduction complete with music and sound effects that contextualizes the situation with flying colors. Instructions are clear and direct, and in typical fashion the author prefers to let the player take control of the narrative through the gameplay. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is maintained through the shrewd usage of dialogues for the occasional instruction or flavor, each with excellent voice acting of the author’s own recording. One can sense the emotion and passion in each line and feel inspired to continue with vigor. The concluding narrative slides pick up right where the introduction left off, taking a firmly historical but nevertheless impassioned and entertaining tone, complete with the atmospheric qualities of the introduction. There is nothing here to criticize, and everything to praise.

Total: 46/50

MrMew - The Fountain of Youth

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: 4/10

Step into the boots of Spanish adventurers seeking the Fountain of Youth! Upon locating it within a temple, the spirit guardians, offended, trap the prospectors and unleash all manner of guardians to eliminate them. The temple provides many obstacles and crumbles over time, changing the conditions slightly, but as a whole offers little strategic depth. It is a short and simple mission that is executed decently well, but is somewhat linear and in some ways does not work as intended; enemy units enter the temple by two avenues, but by remaining on one side it is possible to avoid confronting one half of the enemy units, which are subsequently cleared after each wave. This lack of polish detracts from the strategic depth of a rather average experience: the gameplay is generally somewhat monotonous: plonk all of your units in a spot, protect your monk, and watch the enemy units die while ensuring that you eliminate each guardian.

Balance: 6/10

The balance of the mission is actually rather decent, although as aforementioned it is possible to exploit the setup to not have it work as intended. Nevertheless, the diversity of enemy units that flood the player’s way demands a certain level of troop management, and players will find themselves required occasionally to adapt to changing circumstances.

Map Design: 6/10

The author’s depiction of the inside of a temple is actually quite decent and makes deft usage of some of the resources that the Definitive Edition has to offer. An indoor temple fountain and its passages are an interesting setting for a DtS, and to a point the map design complemented the gameplay; however, the scenario suffers from a lack of ambition that has its roots in the extremely small-scale design, and in this category is overall above average, but only slightly.

Creativity: 5/10

The setting and its depiction demonstrate a decent level of creativity, and some effort has been invested in order to ensure that the playing experience will evolve slightly. However, as the entry is simultaneously slightly proficient and deficient, an average score was deemed appropriate.

Story: 4/10

This was definitely a weakness of the entry. While the instructions are clear, the player is thrust into the mission with minimal context and there is little done to advance the plot or to conclude it. As a whole it is functional, but merely that, and the lack of commitment to the narrative detracted from the atmospheric value considerably.

Total: 25/50

Thanathor - A Most Unusual Package

Gameplay/Overall Enjoyment: 7/10

Take command of the 7th Spada, a mercenary band tasked with delivering a most unusual package--a fugitive princess--to her homeland and safety. The playing experience benefits greatly from its unique concept: to protect a moving cart as it slowly rolls along a meandering path through the countryside. Constant pressure combined with the strategic value of individual units with diverse strengths and weaknesses make for an action-packed and enjoyable experience, but where the gameplay suffers is in its lack of diversity: the player grows accustomed to facing the same units over and over again while traveling throughout the countryside, and even the occasional stationary defenses, while cosmetically different, did not change the strategic approach particularly much. The best approach remained to place the overpowered hero units in a manner so as to block enemy units from harassing the cart while a ranged unit kited the occasional elephant around until it was dispatched.

Balance: 7/10

At the risk of reiterating the above, the mission was challenging owing to the constant pressure, but somewhat monotonous in its relative lack of strategic depth. The changing scenery made the player adapt to differing conditions at least visually, but in practice did little more than that: the rising level of challenge was due more to the increased volume of enemy units attempting to take the cart. Still, the overall impression, considering the specialized hero units, changing locations, and increasing enemy threats, was quite above average--but did not quite fulfill its potential.

Map Design: 9/10

This was without a doubt the strongest point of the entry. The map design is downright gorgeous from an aesthetic perspective, and the manner in which the gameplay was scripted to progress was such that it essentially served as a showcase of the map design. Players will look on in delight as the scenery shifts from gorgeous and detailed towns and settlements to colorful forests, rushing rivers, stinking bogs, and verdant grassland. The author has made ample usage of the new Definitive Edition features to create an attractive experience and spared no detail. The only criticism that can be levied is related to the aforementioned strength of constant movement: while this is appealing and groundbreaking visually, functionally it did not serve to provide the degree of strategic variety that one might expect from such a setup, and in that regard has somewhat unrealized potential as well.

Creativity: 8/10

This factor was another strong point, and runs from the overarching concept of the moving defense location to the details of the map design and the ample unit customization. As aforementioned, the modified player units contributed to strategic depth, and the manner in which the cart was dealt with here was also a plus. However, the immense amount of customization was also a weakness: with little explanation behind it, it is somewhat difficult for the player to grasp, and it can be daunting--and perhaps not particularly necessary or contributory to the gameplay experience--for a player to suddenly be forced to relearn the functions of standard units by experience on the fly. That said, this sphere was nevertheless far above average, and a credit to the overall effort.

Story: 6/10

Generally speaking, the story was a positive here. The introductory cutscene partially compensated for the lack of proper introductory material, and did a good job of setting the stage for the gameplay. Nevertheless, the player is left entirely without context as to who the characters are and who the major players and their motives are, and feels somewhat lost. The narrative effort is clearly concentrated in the gameplay, so in that regard it is relatively easy to follow, but the lack of a proper conclusion leaves the player further wanting here.

Total: 37/50

~ 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.
posted 05-10-20 11:34 AM CT (US)     95 / 153       
@HockeySam18 I see you couldn't judge my scenario based on the vagueness of my design standpoint, as I want the player to figure things out for themself, but it is what it is. I haven't updated many of key instructions in my old submission, so players would often feel lost.

If you can accept my file update and have another retake in the future and clarify what is it you're struggling with my scenario, that would be appreciated.

My aspiring new creation for DE:
Gensokyo: Season of Calamity
El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest)
More are in the work...
posted 05-10-20 12:33 PM CT (US)     96 / 153       
For the purposes of the contest, I cannot consider the updated file when scoring, but I could look at it sometime for the mere purpose of providing feedback on the scenario.

The main issue is that you place the player into the world of your scenario with insufficient context as to what is going on. Dialogues are vaguely written, fly by too quickly, and are displayed sub-optimally (Display Instructions is much better than Send Chat for this). The first objective is likewise extremely vague and the player can only haphazardly guess at what to do; entering certain areas of the map results in certain death if you do not buy the mercenaries, but even then the player is no closer to discovering how to proceed.

I can understand the sentiment of wanting to make the player figure out for themselves how to progress, but the fundamental goal of scenario design is to create a product that is accessible to all players and capable of being played through and enjoyed. There's definitely a happy medium to be found where a scenario is both playable and mentally stimulating.

To provide a silver lining: the map design is aesthetically quite pleasing and is far above average in terms of visuals. Seeing as the category of map design encompasses both the visual and the gameplay values of that sphere (and the scenario was not playable), I could not have scored that category higher than a 5/10, and thus decided not to score it all, but was nevertheless impressed by the detailed aesthetic of the entry.

~ 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.
posted 05-10-20 02:15 PM CT (US)     97 / 153       
An amazing results. So happy to see so many entries and discover so fantastic new designers to our forums. Congratulations to Filthydelphia for winning!
Lord Basse
MI6 Scenario-Making Machine
posted 05-10-20 02:36 PM CT (US)     98 / 153       
Can't say I am surprised! Congrats on the Win, Philty, and to Bassi for a strong second, a good showing for SWS!

It's also really nice to see some new names up there! Special congratulations to Thanathor for taking the bronze for the first time in an AoKH contest!

The ||||||||||||||||| Hus
OF | [/ \] |¯| [/ \] | ME
______________________________________________________________________________ |__ _ |¯|____|_______________________________________________________________________________
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
Jan dc
(id: Den cekke)
posted 05-10-20 03:23 PM CT (US)     99 / 153       
Congratulations Filthydelphia on winning the contest! Good to see so many participating in the contest as well.
(id: Al_Kharn the Great)
posted 05-10-20 03:51 PM CT (US)     100 / 153       
Thank you! Congrats to Bassi and Thanathor on their strong showings as well!

It was awesome to see some very diverse entries by some designers new to AoK Heaven! It bodes well for the future of this franchise that Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition has helped bring a lot of new folks to this game and designing scenarios!

I look forward to seeing what each of this year's contestants do next!

posted 05-10-20 03:53 PM CT (US)     101 / 153       
Congratulations for all contestans. I have a question about scores. Why did Sebastien give too low points for all entries? (His highest score is 33/50 for Al_Kharn) Also he gave 24/50 for Bassi. (Weird because Bassi is a strong designer.) So I want to see and read Sebastien's review too.

[This message has been edited by HELLKNIGHT61 (edited 05-10-2020 @ 03:53 PM).]

posted 05-10-20 03:58 PM CT (US)     102 / 153       
Congratulations to the Winner's!
And to all that worked hard in the name of AOE! yea right i saw the amount of work done by all some amazing trigger numbers! i really enjoyed being part of this contest and i wish you all the best!
I want mostly to thank HockeySam18's sincere judging to me, i felt that Sebastian was a bit generous to me, Seb will you post a review on your own? and thank you both for your time and Patience to playtest that many scenarios and also for the notes given. Also i wonder were the third judge go is he ok ?? and why Dev didn't took his place? he wanted but just needed some time. And why 1 entry didn't get an evaluation. i really didn't like the last one.
i might have some notes regarding my scenario for HockeySam18's. i don't know if its offends him though, can i place them here or somewhere in person?(it might contain a spoiler)

Discord.[BOT] Alan#6678
steam. [BOT] Alan
posted 05-10-20 04:25 PM CT (US)     103 / 153       
Congratulations to FilthyDelphia and Bassi, well deserved wins.

And of course a big congratulations to all the other contestans, especially those new to the editor. It can be very daunting to first participate in a competition where you will be judged, but it is also a great way to improve!

On that note a giant thanks to HockeySam, your commentary really points me in the direction I need to strive to improve on, something I hope to do in the next competition
Mighty Myrmidon
posted 05-10-20 09:00 PM CT (US)     104 / 153       
Great work everyone! These were fun to play through. Personally, Thanathor's unique hero atributes, challenging gameplay and neat checkpoint system made A Most Unusual Package the most enjoyable one for me, but I also loved The Last Romans and can't begrudge Filthydelphia the win at all.

Hopefully I'll be able to take part next time.

[This message has been edited by Mighty Myrmidon (edited 05-10-2020 @ 09:53 PM).]

posted 05-10-20 09:39 PM CT (US)     105 / 153       
Congrats to the winners and good job to everyone who entered. Don't let contest scores discourage you from continuing to make scenarios

@bot_alan Dev is still going to release his results, it will just take him longer to finish playing through all the entries.
Seb stated on the discord that he'll release results soon.

Time of Tea
Still in the Dark Age
Don't be a melodramatic clown. ~Mr Wednesday
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