Work-In-Progress Spotlights
May 18th, 2009 by Scud

The Crystal Chronicle

A project by Guthan

So spring has well and truly sprung, and as we are dragged into summer this means for the more scholarly among you it is exam season. Of course, that means you should all be busy working not wasting your time on the internet. Of course, it may sound like I am asking you to stop reading this feature, but I can only say that looking at Guthan's new project 'The Crystal Chronicle' you are not wasting your time at all. In fact, you owe it to yourself to take time out of your busy (yeah right, pull the other one, lads) schedule to have a look at what is shaping up to be a very interesting and promising project. I often throw around that phrase, and some cynics might say I use it without real reason, but I firmly believe in credit where credit is due. Guthan is a fairly new designer to the community, and I hope he doesn't take offence when I label him as an amateur. He has not been designing for very long, and made the inital mistake of attempting your typical sprawling RPG scenario. However, after cutting his teeth in our local Scenario Design & Modding forum, with the support and advice from the community he is flourishing into an established designer in his own right. His new project has been scaled down to a realistic level, but gameplay has only benefited with the genre being a mix of puzzle, RPG and fixed force all in one scenario. Mixed scenarios are rarely produced nowadays, so it is good to see a designer take up the art of the perfectly balanced scenario - the designing equivalent of a variety box.

And now for the story. I hope you are sitting comfortably, and so I'll begin. After a rough and dangerous ride through the forests that border the Kingdom of Ebugard our hero arrives at a local tavern for a freshing ale or two. However, unluckily for our hero and his companions, the tavern is raided by bandits from the near-by forest, and they are left for dead. Like all heroes in fiction, fate smiles kindly on them, and our hero with found by a local miller. While recovering from their wounds, the hero and his companion learn about the Kingdom of Ebugard through tales told by the miller and family. The soon understand that the local Lord and his dynasty are not well liked among the barons or the peasants. Plotting in his sickbed, the power-hungry hero realises he may be able to take advantage of such a situation to his own personal gain, but he must sit and wait until the time is right. After a month of recovering and building back his strength, our hero set out into the Kingdom to instil revolt in the people and claim the Kingdom as his own.

I managed to catch a few words with the man himself, Guthan (for it is he), and pick his brains like the carrion birds pick the corpses (if you've been doing such a feature like this for a long period of time you start breaking up the normal cycle with macabre similes):

What made you come back to the community and scenario design - or maybe that can be answered by what made you leave in the first place?

Guthan: Well, I never REALLY left the community, but I got a bit sick of Age of Kings. The main reason I 'quit' AoKH for some time was because I barely had time to continue my three projects I'm running. I also got stuck in the data's I'm trying to make for them. Stsb77 couldn't find a solution for my problems atm so I guess that'll have to wait. The reason I came back is named Tanks_fst. A while ago we decided to make a new 'studio'. We had a lot of idea's which were somehow the same. However, we never set through with the studio idea, but we became good friends meanwhile. After I didn't show up for a while on msn, he asked me to download gameranger to play online again, since Gamespy didn't work for me anymore. I did that, and we started some games. My old obsession for designing came back. However, I wasn't really feeling like screwing up data again, so I was waiting for some good idea's for a next project. When I was in school, have some boring lessons History (no offence, the cool part of history has already passed lol) I suddenly had a nice idea for a project. So, that evening I started my laptop and started my scenario. I got more idea's with every object I played. So that's why I came back. I still can't believe I was thinking of quiting. Age of Kings is the best game ever made. It's like what, 10 years old? But a lot of people still design for it or discover secrets other people missed.

You say it will have a 'nice' storyline - but fiction is very subjective, are you sure it will appeal to everyone?

Guthan: Everyone has his own taste. Some guys love Drama's, others like big warfare things. Who am I to say everyone would love my scenario? Ingo Von Thiel did a great job appealing everyone with his fictional scenario's (Well Ulio is based on a Greek Myth partly but whatever, everyone likes it so I don't complain). I'm gonna try to appeal as many people as I can with this project. I hope this is a bit an answer to your question cause I'm finding this very hard (Why the hell am I Dutch -.-)

When creating a mixed genre scenario, what do you think the balance between the different elements should be, all equal or one element taking more gameplay time?

Guthan: I have to think about this actually. I can't really describe what it's gonna be mostly cause I don't really know the exact terms for them. But about the balance, some of them should be pretty equal, while others should have just a few elements in it. I said I would use a few RPG-elements in it. Well, these elements can also be described as realistic thingies, but they mostly appear in RPG's. The RPG-elements will be very outnumbered anyway. It'll be more like exploring and make decisions. You'll get a new objective or obstacle to eliminate when you reach a new part, and when you eliminated what you have to eliminate, you can start gathering resources and prepare units for the last fight. There will be some attacks from the Stronghold anyway, so keep your defence high would be a good advise. So I should say, one element should take more gameplay time then the others. One type of gameplay should be main, with some elements from other gameplay methods, to keep it interesting ;)

A small project you say - so will this be high quality to make up for the lack of quantity? More importantly, are you confident you will be able to pull it off successfully?

Guthan: A small project... hmm. I made a small prologue for this yea. I'm not sure if it will be really that small anyway. I have some idea's, but I'm not sure if I would make a scenario after the main game. Perhaps if I get some idea's while finishing the first one. High Quality? Well, I never was a wonderfull designer, but I learned much in the two years or something I was here. So yes, I hope this will be a high-quality 'Chronicle', but that's for the players to decide, not? :) I'm pretty confident that I'll finish this Chronicle succesfully. But my lack of experience in the little details like bitmaps etc might make it look a bit clumsy. I hope I'll find a solution for that along the way. I'll be glad when the main scenario runs fine ;)

Not breaking with tradition, here are three screenshots: