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Topic Subject: Pretty Town Contest 2022 - Results Posted!
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posted 02-08-22 07:38 AM CT (US)   




This year marks the 20th anniversary of AOKH's most popular contest: The Pretty Town Contest (PTC). Over the last two decades the PTC has provided us with some of the greatest accomplishments in map design and storytelling, from the original themed designs of the early competitions - the Jungle themed Guri Kuta by Tonto_Dave and the winter themed Bargravia by Julius999; to the eerie storytelling of Lord Basse's Sagropireia; and the phenomenal technical achievement that was Mr. Wednesday's Light of Kurishima. The Pretty Town Contest has always seemed miles ahead of the map design game for the last two decades and we hope to see that continue into the future. What better way to celebrate this anniversary than with another contest!

For those of you who don't know, the premise is simple: design the most outstanding town or city map you can! Combat and gameplay are absent, in favour of allowing the player (and the judges) to leisurely tour your map and explore all the attractions your busy (or deserted) towns have to offer. If you are interested and considering entering, please be sure to read all of the rules below before committing your name in a reply. Last time this contest was run in 2019 proved to be the most competitive and exciting contest in AoKH's history, with Lord Basse, Julius999 and Mr. Wednesday all tying for 1st place with some of greatest showcase scenarios ever seen. Four other excellent entries would all also score above average.

This year we are reintroducing the Pretty Town Contest with two big changes. Firstly, we are making the competition exclusive to the Definitive Edition. This is a way to engage new players and also make the competition fair, as DE has far superior editor assets to the previous game versions. Secondly, we are also revamping the judging criteria based on feedback after the last contest in 2019. This promises to be a great contest so go ahead and get creating!

Submit all entries to the Showcase Scenarios category in the Blacksmith, with the initials "PTC22" typed in the submission title. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST, May 31st. It must meet the requirements listed below to be eligible for judging. Otherwise, you will face disqualification. As an added note, we will not be approving the files in the Blacksmith until the judging phase has passed, so don't worry if your submission doesn't appear.

In addition, please keep in mind that outside of some noted minor changes this contest generally follows the guidelines of how the PTC was previously run and judged to keep with the tradition and intended nature of the contest.


Rules

1. No cut-scenes are allowed, except for a brief opening or ending to set up/complete the scenario. Additional triggered events are encouraged but the player should not lose control of their unit(s) and be able to move as they please. The total starting and ending cut-scene time should not exceed one combined minute of in-game time.
2. No combat allowed. Player 1 must win the scenario without having to kill or attack anything.
3. One entry per person or per team only.
4. ALL entries must be playable in Age of Empires II: Defintive Edition
5. Scenarios requiring The CD version, Userpatch, and the HD edition are NOT allowed.
6. The use of Graphical or Data Modification are NOT allowed.
7. Any mapsize up to 255x255 is allowed.
8. There is no trigger limit. However, the use of extra triggers will not necessarily warrant a higher score. Be warned however, that everything which is allowed can be used to increase your score.
9. The use of custom soundtracks and sound effects is permitted and encouraged. Everything which is allowed can be used to increase your score. If using custom sound files, please specify somewhere on which speed the scenario is to be played, as otherwise the soundtracks might overlap if the scenario is played on a speed other than what the designer intended, which will cause points to be deducted.
10. You must supply at least 1 unit that the judge can scout with. Any unit may be used, though the judges may deduct points for unnecessarily slow units which decrease the enjoyment of the scenario.
11. A story is encouraged to add further interest, however large bodies of text are not for everyone and long in-depth stories may alienate some players and potentially the judges. Alternatively, you can have a short narrative, a journal from a traveller or a history of the land to get us, the tourist, into it all! Use whatever you like, but make sure to remember that this is a design-oriented contest. That said, everything which is allowed can be used to increase your score.
12. Please submit your scenario in campaign format.


To reiterate. While this is primarily a map design contest, everything which is allowed can be used to increase your score. As story, soundtracks, and triggers are allowed, it stands to reason that they will matter. Judges experience everything as a whole.


Judging
This year sees the introduction of a new scoring system to try to avoid a tie in the top entries as in previous contests. All entries will be judged on how they look, however only what is seen will be judged. The categories are simple and are as follows:

Scenery and Visual Interest (30 points). This is the single most important category, as it is the heart of what the Pretty Town Contest is about: making a nice-looking map in AoK. This category will be judged from the perspective of viewing the entry in-game, but should be focused exclusively on how the design looks, as if you were judging it as a collection of screenshots. Judges will take into account both the particular high-points and the general level of quality throughout the scenario.

Atmosphere and Sense of Place (20 points). This category aims to reward those entries which are most successful in taking the concept for the entry and portraying it convincingly in AoK. What this means will depend on what the entry was aiming to achieve: a historical city will score highly if it authentically and realistically (within the limitations of AoK) depicts that city, while other entries may seek to create an atmosphere of wonder, melancholy, intrigue, grandeur, horror or something else. It is when judging this criterion that such things as text, dialogue, music, sound effects, life and movement (or a deliberate lack of them), and so on will be taken into account and rewarded if done well.

Coherence and Layout (15 points). This category concerns how the map works as a whole. It can be judged by imagining a zoomed-out picture of the whole map and considering whether it makes sense. Believable geography and smooth transitions between different parts of the map will be the signs of a high-scoring entry.

Ingenuity, Novelty and Technical Skill (15 points). This category concerns map design, rather than other elements. Well-executed but unoriginal map design will be enough to score fairly highly, but to achieve more than 12 points an entry should bring something new to the table or take an established trick or technique further. The technical skill of an entry will be reflected in the map as a whole, but in most cases examples of really ingenious or novel pieces of design are likely to be just some particular highlights rather than being present throughout (especially with a large map).

Ambition (10 points). An entry which seeks to take on something inherently hard to do in AoK, or which embraces the challenge of filling a large map, or which otherwise pushes the boundaries will score highly in this category. Even if the ambition is not successfully realised, leading to lower scores elsewhere, it should be recognised here.

Attention to Detail and Polish (10 points). In this category, small specific mistakes or misplacements or typographical errors that may not affect the judgment in other categories should be taken into account. On the other hand, small touches such as renaming units appropriately can influence the score positively. An entry does not need to be completely unblemished in order to get full marks in this category, but it should be nearly so. Observations that depend primarily on personal taste or which are due to the inherent limitations of AoK should not result in a lower score.




Prizes
  • Eternal Glory
  • An Official Review
  • A Custom Title



  • Judges
    1. Julius
    2. Lord Basse
    3.Seb


    Participants
    - duyhung2h
    - Mr. Wednesday
    - Andanu Trisatya
    - Zetnus
    - seanbyrno23
    - Fisk
    - HawkPVK
    - Talon Karrde
    - TheRealGuardian



    Past Pretty Town Contest Entries for Inspiration:

    [This message has been edited by Sebastien (edited 08-14-2022 @ 02:17 AM).]

    Replies:
    posted 04-16-22 03:28 AM CT (US)     36 / 111  
    Where is the lava terrain from?
    It's from my own mod's local repository, I was planning to add that terrain to my work-in-progress RPG. On a side note, I also was going to plan to use this kind of terrain for some of my cavern / cave area in the PTC entry, but after I re-read the rule, I do ponder whether this is allowed.
    There are a lot of cool ideas in that screenshot, but it's a bit confusing even for a crazy person like me. I'd pick your best idea in each area and let it speak for itself rather than have a bunch competing for air. You have all kinds of cool off-grid placement but I'm not sure what some of them are representing.
    So I've heard. I plan to tone down the details a bit, while still giving it some clarity and interpretation on how things should look naturally (like removing a lot of weird looking pillars on interior walls that only hinder the look of the map to turn some place to be unnatural).

    ✰~Make your dreams come true by finishing whatever you hold dear most~✰
    YOU ._________________________________________________________________________.DO
    CAN/北北北盶__/北北北盶__/FROM VIETNAM WITH LOVE\__/北北北盶__/北北北盶IT
    VERY useful tool for map designers
    Check out my Youtube channel for AoE2 Editor, modding tips and tricks!
    Gensokyo: Season of Calamity | El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest) | Rebirth of the Colosseum (Winner of 2020 Minigame Competition) | And more...
    posted 04-16-22 11:08 AM CT (US)     37 / 111  
    but after I re-read the rule, I do ponder whether this is allowed.
    6. The use of Graphical or Data Modification are NOT allowed.
    posted 04-22-22 10:52 AM CT (US)     38 / 111  
    Looks like the new eye candy objects in the India DLC consist of some statues and ruins mostly. Also a couple of buildings. There's also a 'Forest, Palm Grass' terrain that's just Palm Trees placed on Grass 2. And of course the new units / heroes.

    Not tons of new graphical content which is a bit of a bummer, but still might be worth a deadline extension.
    posted 04-28-22 01:00 PM CT (US)     39 / 111  
    Personally, I don't need a deadline extension for the new DLC and its accompanied bugginess, but I am okay with there being one if other contestants would benefit.
    posted 04-29-22 02:31 AM CT (US)     40 / 111  
    Oh yeah, the new DLC is buggy, and I have to update my designer dataset for my continuation on my entry (I'm used to placing orthodox cliffs and many hidden rubble objects and props on my map) and for other designers to continue with their works. So a deadline extension is very much appreciated.

    ✰~Make your dreams come true by finishing whatever you hold dear most~✰
    YOU ._________________________________________________________________________.DO
    CAN/北北北盶__/北北北盶__/FROM VIETNAM WITH LOVE\__/北北北盶__/北北北盶IT
    VERY useful tool for map designers
    Check out my Youtube channel for AoE2 Editor, modding tips and tricks!
    Gensokyo: Season of Calamity | El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest) | Rebirth of the Colosseum (Winner of 2020 Minigame Competition) | And more...

    [This message has been edited by duyhung2h (edited 04-29-2022 @ 02:32 AM).]

    posted 04-29-22 03:16 AM CT (US)     41 / 111  
    Happy to comply with this. Original deadline was set for May 31st. I'm going give a lavish extension of June 30th. This is mainly due to me being away for most of June.
    posted 04-29-22 10:07 AM CT (US)     42 / 111  
    Oh yeah, the new DLC is buggy, and I have to update my designer dataset for my continuation on my entry (I'm used to placing orthodox cliffs and many hidden rubble objects and props on my map) and for other designers to continue with their works. So a deadline extension is very much appreciated.
    Get on this, please.

    The new DLC changed some parameters of objects that have been in the game since 2019. This broke a particularly nice little trick I had come up with. At least the one. I have to go back and check the whole map.

    Fairly confident though I can finish now with the extra time.

    "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
    posted 05-04-22 10:40 PM CT (US)     43 / 111  
    Thanks Possidon for the deadline extension. I'm fairly sure I can get a decent entry, though it probably won't be a strong contender. Just for the sake of setting a backgroun story of some sort for my bigger project.

    -|- StormWind Studios -|- Blacksmith Files -|- Fabula Fatalis -|-

    "No more gold lights for the queen earth to keep you warm in your kingdoms,
    high on the waves you make for us, but not since you left have the waves come."
    posted 05-31-22 05:57 PM CT (US)     44 / 111  
    Sorry lads, but I wasn't able to complete my scenario in time. Hopefully I'll be around for the next competition.
    posted 05-31-22 07:27 PM CT (US)     45 / 111  
    @seanbyrno23 - Did you see that the deadline was extended to June 30th?

    [This message has been edited by CADi_Master (edited 05-31-2022 @ 07:27 PM).]

    posted 06-01-22 10:03 AM CT (US)     46 / 111  
    Oh yeah, I see that now CADi_Master. Thanks for the update as I thought they hadn't decided yet whether to extend it or not.
    posted 06-05-22 11:30 AM CT (US)     47 / 111  
    Hey that's cool, I haven't started at all I should probably consider if I should do a real attempt at this within the coming weeks then.

    //The warrior of Isola

    "I lack quotes that demonstrate Humor Intelligence or anything about me."

    Pineapplefish
    Cleidopus gloriamaris
    posted 06-20-22 10:48 PM CT (US)     48 / 111  
    Really have been busy for the last few weeks, now I just got the time to work on my entry again. I don't know about other contestant, but can the deadline be extended for 1 more week? I'm pretty sure I cannot finish it in time even if I crammed it before July hits.

    ✰~Make your dreams come true by finishing whatever you hold dear most~✰
    YOU ._________________________________________________________________________.DO
    CAN/北北北盶__/北北北盶__/FROM VIETNAM WITH LOVE\__/北北北盶__/北北北盶IT
    VERY useful tool for map designers
    Check out my Youtube channel for AoE2 Editor, modding tips and tricks!
    Gensokyo: Season of Calamity | El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest) | Rebirth of the Colosseum (Winner of 2020 Minigame Competition) | And more...
    posted 06-27-22 05:33 PM CT (US)     49 / 111  
    I don't mind if we extended it again for duyhung2h. This ok with anyone else?
    posted 06-27-22 07:03 PM CT (US)     50 / 111  
    I think the real questions are how many people have finished their entries so far (I'm not clear it's even one) and how many would make a serious effort to complete something if the deadline was put back to, say, 31 July.

    1010011010
    [ All_That_Glitters | Pretty_Town_Contest | Other_AoK_Designs | AoE_Designs ]
    Member of Stormwind Studios
    posted 06-27-22 10:37 PM CT (US)     51 / 111  
    A week won't make a difference for me. My entry isn't close enough to get it there with a one week push.

    July 31st I'd give it a real effort, might make it.

    "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
    posted 06-28-22 03:12 AM CT (US)     52 / 111  
    I'm happy to extend the deadline as long a necessary. At the end of the day I'd like to have as many polished entries as possible. I certainly don't just want duyhuing to win by default for being the only entry and would definitely like a little competition by having at least 3 or 4 entries if thats possible, if not more.

    [This message has been edited by Possidon (edited 06-28-2022 @ 03:13 AM).]

    posted 06-28-22 04:19 AM CT (US)     53 / 111  
    That settles it. A further month's delay wouldn't bother me because it would give me more time to develop and flesh out my entry rather than rushing to submit it and not having enough time for quality assurance plus bug testing.

    ✰~Make your dreams come true by finishing whatever you hold dear most~✰
    YOU ._________________________________________________________________________.DO
    CAN/北北北盶__/北北北盶__/FROM VIETNAM WITH LOVE\__/北北北盶__/北北北盶IT
    VERY useful tool for map designers
    Check out my Youtube channel for AoE2 Editor, modding tips and tricks!
    Gensokyo: Season of Calamity | El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest) | Rebirth of the Colosseum (Winner of 2020 Minigame Competition) | And more...

    [This message has been edited by duyhung2h (edited 06-28-2022 @ 04:20 AM).]

    posted 06-28-22 05:14 PM CT (US)     54 / 111  
    Another month sounds perfect and gives me plenty of time to finish it off. Thanks guys.
    posted 06-29-22 00:35 AM CT (US)     55 / 111  
    July 31st sounds great. I second the notion.

    -|- StormWind Studios -|- Blacksmith Files -|- Fabula Fatalis -|-

    "No more gold lights for the queen earth to keep you warm in your kingdoms,
    high on the waves you make for us, but not since you left have the waves come."
    posted 07-30-22 02:13 PM CT (US)     56 / 111  
    Any chance we could get like...one more week? I am racing to finish but probably won't make it by tomorrow.

    "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
    posted 07-30-22 04:27 PM CT (US)     57 / 111  
    I'm not planning to get an entry in tomorrow. I'm available to judge, however.

    It's safe to say that this contest has fallen far short of the level of enthusiasm seen in previous editions. I'm not sure why.

    Regarding the deadline, I think we should see where we stand at the end of 31 July 2022. If at least two entries have been submitted which comply with the rules, I think that is enough and we should decide the contest on that basis out of fairness to those who have met the deadline which has already been extended. If we have had one or zero entries, I think there should be a definitely final deadline extension to 31 August 2022 (and if there is an existing submission it can be updated). If even then we only have a single entry, then unfortunately we will have a winner by default, but we have to call an end to it at some point.

    1010011010
    [ All_That_Glitters | Pretty_Town_Contest | Other_AoK_Designs | AoE_Designs ]
    Member of Stormwind Studios
    posted 07-30-22 08:09 PM CT (US)     58 / 111  
    I'm able to release my entry by tomorrow or the day after (Just need to finish my intro and outro slides for the map, and write blacksmith page description), so I'll be able to meet the deadline.


    It appears difficult for the other contestants to me. I'd like to know if anyone else has finished their map besides me, so we can determine if another deadline extension is required.

    ✰~Make your dreams come true by finishing whatever you hold dear most~✰
    YOU ._________________________________________________________________________.DO
    CAN/北北北盶__/北北北盶__/FROM VIETNAM WITH LOVE\__/北北北盶__/北北北盶IT
    VERY useful tool for map designers
    Check out my Youtube channel for AoE2 Editor, modding tips and tricks!
    Gensokyo: Season of Calamity | El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest) | Rebirth of the Colosseum (Winner of 2020 Minigame Competition) | And more...
    posted 07-31-22 09:14 PM CT (US)     59 / 111  
    Well I gave it a good try but I need probably 2 more sessions of work on this to be done. If it gets extended I should be done in a week.

    If not good luck everyone, and I'm happy to judge if needed!

    "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
    posted 07-31-22 10:30 PM CT (US)     60 / 111  
    I have mine finished and submitted, but personally I think it would be better to extend it a little bit longer for people to get those last few edits in. This contest of course needs to end at some point, but I do think that with the nature of the contest, one more week won't hurt, especially if it'll bring more substance and variety to the submission pool.
    posted 08-01-22 12:42 PM CT (US)     61 / 111  
    I submitted mine, the tracking number is 13836.

    Regardless, I agree with TheRealGuardian, 2 entries is too little samples. Especially for those who were too busy, and have already made a commitment to finish their map so that their effort wouldn't go to waste.

    ✰~Make your dreams come true by finishing whatever you hold dear most~✰
    YOU ._________________________________________________________________________.DO
    CAN/北北北盶__/北北北盶__/FROM VIETNAM WITH LOVE\__/北北北盶__/北北北盶IT
    VERY useful tool for map designers
    Check out my Youtube channel for AoE2 Editor, modding tips and tricks!
    Gensokyo: Season of Calamity | El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest) | Rebirth of the Colosseum (Winner of 2020 Minigame Competition) | And more...
    posted 08-01-22 12:55 PM CT (US)     62 / 111  
    Let's see if someone else posts in the next 24 hours, maybe there is a surprise third entry.

    I'll finish mine up this week and submit it either way. Worst case it just doesn't get judged but people can still look at it.

    "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
    posted 08-01-22 01:08 PM CT (US)     63 / 111  
    I submitted on 31st July.
    posted 08-01-22 04:09 PM CT (US)     64 / 111  
    So I checked the blacksmith. There are four entries, one from June, one that made the deadline, and unfortunately two that have been submitted or last updated today after the deadline.

    So if the deadline is July 31 then we have two entries only. If an extension is agreed on we can potentially have 5 entries. I can submit mine tonight when I'm back home. It's not finished but in the interest of only extending the deadline one day I'll have to live with it. I won't submit until we have a decision though because if it's not going to qualify I'd rather leasurely improve my scenario without a deadline and upload later.

    If anyone else was bothering to enter I feel like they will have at least posted within 24 hours of the deadline, so I think that's it.

    Hopefully Possidon is able to weigh on on what he wants to do.

    "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
    posted 08-01-22 04:58 PM CT (US)     65 / 111  
    It sounds like we do at least have enough entries to run the contest, which is good.

    I recall that back in 2015 we allowed an entry from DarthSarek even though it was submitted a few hours after the deadline, so we have previously been a bit lenient in the interests of having a wider contest (although unfortunately in 2008 the decision was different). It would definitely be better to have five entries rather than two, or even four.

    I think fairness is an important consideration and we should give a lot of weight to the views of those who made it in time. I wouldn't want someone to feel disgruntled because they rushed to get their entry done on 31 July 2022 and then a previous winner like Matt can have another week to finish his entry and do some polishing and he might end up winning. Certainly all the entrants should feel free to make use of any extra time that is granted.

    1010011010
    [ All_That_Glitters | Pretty_Town_Contest | Other_AoK_Designs | AoE_Designs ]
    Member of Stormwind Studios
    posted 08-01-22 06:31 PM CT (US)     66 / 111  
    I don't think it's fair to give me an extension really,we all had months.

    Seeing as the other entries were uploaded today as well, I think it's fair to have a grace day and make the deadline today, but again I'll leave that up to the judges or contestants who finished. All that changed between today and yesterday for me was I figured out an immobile AI, but at least it's enough to submit a somewhat unbugged version where people stay still.

    "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
    posted 08-01-22 06:35 PM CT (US)     67 / 111  
    I just wanted to say that I just realized my map's beginning and ending cutscenes were possibly too long (1-2 minutes, instead of less than 1 minute according to contest rule)


    Is it okay for me to do something afterwards to fix this? Or do you think it would be acceptable to implement a "skippable" option that makes you click through the cutscene instead of waiting?

    ✰~Make your dreams come true by finishing whatever you hold dear most~✰
    YOU ._________________________________________________________________________.DO
    CAN/北北北盶__/北北北盶__/FROM VIETNAM WITH LOVE\__/北北北盶__/北北北盶IT
    VERY useful tool for map designers
    Check out my Youtube channel for AoE2 Editor, modding tips and tricks!
    Gensokyo: Season of Calamity | El Nath (Winner of ZeroEmpires designer contest) | Rebirth of the Colosseum (Winner of 2020 Minigame Competition) | And more...

    [This message has been edited by duyhung2h (edited 08-01-2022 @ 06:36 PM).]

    posted 08-01-22 07:06 PM CT (US)     68 / 111  
    Your entry was submitted today at 12:38pm EST, so it's technically late already. I don't see how there could be harm in updating it now with a trigger or two. Either Possidon is going to allow a day late entry or not, but you lose nothing in updating.

    "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
    posted 08-01-22 09:54 PM CT (US)     69 / 111  
    I have submitted my file. I couldn't figure out the bitmap file locations so I just submitted without. It's very much lacking polish but it should still be entertaining.

    Please let me know if the file submission folders need renaming, AOE2DE makes publishing a scenario a total nightmare. Sound files and campaign are there anyway so it should run.

    "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
    posted 08-14-22 01:57 AM CT (US)     70 / 111  
    Entries are now closed. We've got five entries. So all will be sent to judges.

    I will also be joining the judges as the third judge.
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