ghost of the past
posted July 31, 2005 09:33 AM
|Edited By: vlaad on 30 Aug 2005
Truth, Justice and the American Way!
EDIT: Here comes more shameless self-promotion.
New Heroes 4: Winds of War map called "Truth and Justice" is available for download!
"The American Way" part of the title of this topic refers to the main theme of Celestial Heaven's mapmaking contest
Explore the empire... recruit a mighty army...and fight epic battles!
Author's notes: I wanted to create an XL singleplayer scenario, a fun hack'n'slash with some quests, like Diablo 2. This means no long AI turns - you get to play all the time. In addition, you will have great movement and fight several battles a day, so save often.
If the very beginning is too easy for you, restart at higher difficulty!
The official news:
Map Contest Results
posted Mon, Aug 29 2005, 19:56 by Psychobabble
Judging for our themed map-making contest has finished and the results are in! I would like to congratulate veteran Heroes III but first time Heroes IV map-maker Vlaad as his excellent map, Truth and Justice has taken out the prize. It was an extremely close decision between that map and Veldrynus' post-"retirement" effort Draconic 2, but in the end the numerous bugs in Draconic (which were undoubtedly related to the contest deadline) pushed the judges in favour of Truth and Justice. I have written full reviews for all three maps (the third was Lowlands) but here is a quick summary of the judges' decision:
It's good to see that first-time (on CH anyway) map-maker Thash gave it a go, but unfortunately his map was simply out-classed by the other entries. This map lacked the polish, focus and enjoyment which the much more experienced map-makers were able to deliver in their entries. Also, the map-contest theme was only minimally implemented in this map, and those unfamiliar with Dutch politics (like me - Wimfrits pointed this aspect out) would probably miss the "rot at the top" reference entirely.
A sequel to the first map I ever gave a perfect 10 to, this was also a great map. The early game was tight and challenging (though a repeated battle got a little tedious), and the end game was interesting and fun. Unfortunately it got bogged down a bit in the middle, with some unfocused quests and exploration, but the landscape was still a joy to explore. This map brought out the contest theme better than any of the other entries, the early game and other aspects created a palpable sense of "mob at the gates" and the protagonist was a well introduced "triumphant individual" with a rags to riches story. Unfortunately, as mentioned, numerous bugs - one of which prevented me from finishing the map - tainted this map a bit.
Truth and Justice
Superheroes is the defining feature of Heroes IV and this map pushes superhero battles to their limits. Sometimes in this game there is a problem with very high level heroes steamrolling all opposition, but not in this map! Vlaad has populated this Diablo-style map with a wide variety of stacks which will give you a lot of fun combat experience. The only bad thing I have to say about this map is that all this high level fighting gets a bit much by the end (the map is XL), but overall it was a blast to play. The contest theme was fairly well implemented, though the story (which references current world events) takes a bit of thinking to figure out. A worthy winner of this map contest!
Keep your eyes on this space, we might have a contest in the works to get the ball rolling on the Heroes V map-making scene. And, finally, I have updated my map picks page with two of these contest maps.
Some issues discussed:
re-posted from CH
First of all, I'd like to congratulate Angelspit - this was the most professional mapmaking contest (unlike some others I don't feel like talking about).
PB has also done a terrific job; not only did he play the three submitted maps, but also wrote the reviews... within a month!
While I agree with everything judges wrote, I feel there is one issue that needs further explanation, and that is the story.
Here are parts of private correspondence I sent to wimfrits; it might explain some issues:
Q: Only troubling factor for me was the lack of story. There are hints of an interesting plot, but no text to back it up.
A: There are books without a narrator. The writer introduces the scene and characters, and then tells the story. Readers must participate by drawing conclusions themselves. Most movies also work that way; rarely do we get to hear bits of story told by a voice from the background ("off"). Thus players tell the story themselves along the way...
I admit that one may seem lost in the beginning of my map. I understand the additional narrative would be helpful. However, I had hoped that eventually the hero would discover that the ruler of the Life empire is actually… undead (surrounded by undead guards, too). His majesty is supposed to hunt deer, but he hunts troglodytes instead. And so on…
I never once felt any threat of the mob at the gates (troglodytes), except for the hint on troglodytes in the day1 text.
I was surprised you had chosen a theme inspired by real life. I realize the entries were not supposed to tell about the USA, but it was hard to distance from such a relevant topic. Living in a country bombed by America didn’t help much either. LOL
Thus I described a conflict between the White Court and the underground nation of Troglodistan... Sounds familiar now?
The Emperor could have made an excellent "Rot at the Top", but his plans are not explained anywhere.
To tell you the truth, I have a problem understanding him myself. LOL His biography features my favorite quote: "Don’t misunderestimate me!" LOL
Seriously, I have a pretty good idea about the emperor’s agenda, but this is getting off topic...
I get the feeling that the whole troglodyte threat was probably just a hoax. But why?
Oil...? Just a guess. LOL
I really didn’t want to go there.
What's Jane's role?
She was supposed to be his majesty’s secret agent... bah. This is clearly a bug.
Why "the typical American"? Because of "truth, justice and the American way!" LOL
And who is Shakti?
In real life or...? LOL
Seriously though, he is a Heroes 3 Dungeon overlord, his specialty – troglodytes.
John is a woman?
Yeah! LOL After I had done a research for the contest, I found out that the “typical American” has changed a lot – today it is “a woman in her early 40s who lives in the suburbs and her biggest budget item is medical care”. Not what one would expect, huh?
The Temple of Illusions looks great!
Yes, sadly, television usually does…
Northern Oracle is creepy!
You know what they say - it’s creepy ‘cause it’s true...
LOL (no, wait, that's not funny)
John starts level 0 and reaches level 1 before his first encounter without any explanation. [...] No text after completion?
Oh, but there are text messages! No idea what happened there.
I do realize that the expectance horizon of an average Heroes player is a bit lower, so I agree some additional story would have been helpful. It is one of the things I will change in the update!
Some comments on PB's review:
Creature recruitment is limited to a few dwellings across the map (I used champions, mantii and the excellent catapults by the end) so preserving them is a high priority
Actually, creatures are useless. LOL
Unfortunately this strength is also the map’s biggest weakness, when combined with its size. Fighting high level battle after high level battle eventually becomes draining to the player and there are hundreds of stacks to fight across this map.
I completely agree with you (and my poor testers! LOL)The irony is I wanted the map to have casual gameplay Diablo style, but I forgot the one thing I hated about hack'n'slash... LOL
You needed to summon a ship to proceed to the final stage, and the hero I had there didn’t know the spell. [...] Most frustrating. [...] Lack of summon ship scroll could wreck end-game.
You have missed a level one shrine and a quest hut (plus at least one apprentice's notebook) along the way. However, I understand I should change this.
A quick note on the graphics. Overall they were fantastic, particularly as this was Vlaad's first time playing with the Heroes editor. There were also some great little touches, such as the boat-on-rock and the magi-eye graveyards. The only reason I took a point off was that it lacked "wow" moments involving crazy use of structures and map objects combined in unusual ways. But this is a minor quibble indeed.
Actually, this is my second H4 map, so I was familiar with the editor. The story is rather interesting... It was back in 2003, when I made an XL map called "The Lord of the Rings" (go figure! LOL). I have already created a H3 scenario based on Tolkien's masterpiece, so I was sure I knew what I was doing. However, I found out that there already was a "Rings" map by some guy named - Veldrynus. LOL Anyway, I opened the file in the editor and was pleasently surprised. So I decided to give it a try... When I finished his scenario, I simply deleted my own. No regrets! LOL
As for the "wow" moments, I have to disagree with you here. I hate water objects on lava rivers and such stuff; those original touches usually ruin it for me. I prefer a more classic approach. In addition, I am a comic book artist, so it would never work for me! LOL I knew that some enjoy such unique features, so I took them to "Temple of Illusions" and "Troglodystan City".
Last but not least, I would like to hear some impressions from my native community , if anyone is still playing Heroes 4.