Posted on 07/19/04 @ 12:00 AM (updated 07/26/04
"You have been summoned. The King wishes to see you."
The stony-faced messenger departs after these brief words. A conundrum, to say the least. Only two days ago, the King sent a missive to your fortress overlooking Ruien Head, requesting you journey to his court. Almost as you arrived, the messenger appeared. Perhaps now you will find out what this is all about.
As you walk into the King's throne room, you notice that there seems to be an abnormally large number of soldiers present. Perhaps he is calling the banners. Whatever the case, you go down on one knee and recite the familiar litany.
"For King and Country, I serve."
Strangely, the King lets out a loud guffaw.
"That would hardly seem to be the case. You have been brought here today to answer a rather simple question: Are you a traitor to me?"
"Wh-what?!" you barely manage to stammer.
"A faithful servant of the land has come forth with evidence that you are. Bring him in!" The last words are shouted at the soldiers near the arched doorway.
They leave and re-enter only a moment later escorting a tall, almost lanky man. A rather familiar man. In fact, he is your steward.
"Is this the man you accuse of treason?"
"Why, yes, yer Kingship, it is." The man has a smug grin on his face.
"This is the man you have overheard meeting with the Northern Thanes, plotting my downfall? This is the man who signed those documents you showed me?"
"Aye, that it is." The King glares at him, and he hastily adds "Yer majesty."
Time and again, the King reads out from a list of your supposed offences, and the grin on your so-called steward's face gets wider as each charge is listed.
"In light of the damning evidence put forward by your steward, I sentence you to exile on the Devil's Islands!"
The Devil's Islands are a small cluster of rocky iselets jutting up from a rough sea off the east coast of this land. They are so named because the castle (now ruined) that some fool lord got it into his head to build there is believed to be haunted.
"You and the people you have embroiled in your plot will be transported there and given some supplies. I need not remind you that the Islands are overrun by bears and wolves, so I suggest you make use of the abandoned castle for defensive purposes. Now, take him away!" With that, the King claps his hands, and the two burly soldiers advance towards you.
"W-wait! Do I not have the right to defend myself?" You force the words out, hoping they do not add to your punishment.
The King looks pensively at you. "Perhaps you will. But you will have to earn it. The war with the Northern Thanes is drawing supplies like a leech from this country. If you provide me with some basics, stone, food, iron... I may relent and allow you to explain to me why you are not guilty of treason. But, for the moment, I have important business to take care of. Enjoy your stay on the Islands!"
As you are dragged down to the waiting ship in the harbour, you seethe with anger. Your steward has obviously set you up for this. In the event that you are deposed, all your lands revert to him under the laws in this country. However, you are determined to survive your ordeal and get a chance to strike back at your "faithful" servant.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is version 1.1. Scenario has been tweaked a bit, made a bit more difficult (I hope, anyway). Map design has been updated, and I've tried to remove those annoying trees. Anyway, try it for yourself.
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It was the curious mini-map that attracted me first. And then the very interesting story that Foofanap wrote. The story is written in the second person and it quickly involves you in a plot to banish you from the kingdom and steal your estate. Well written and just the right length. Only suggestion I have here is that the hints should be in a separate file in the download. (Some players do not want to see any hints unless they are really stuck) Story - 4.5
The map presents a cluster of about 19 little forested islands interconnected by stone bridges. The ruins of a rectangular stone castle occupy the entire central island. You start with only some food supplies and a bit of wood and stone and face a struggle to develop the islands' resources while fending off the wolves and bears that inhabit the islands.
The islands are irregularly shaped and terrain details are very basic. Aside from the trees, nothing has been added to give a natural appearance. The resources (stone, iron, pitch) are simply placed on the flat surface without any attempt to make them blend in. If the designer desires a realistic appearance, a lot more work needs to be done to shape the ground and add features such as plants, rock outcrops, etc.
The castle is functional with walls, towers and gates. It is mostly for looks except you definitely need those gates in the early part of the game. The bridges between the islands work fine but the player must be careful if he/she chooses to build on them. Without giving away too much let me say that the ground beneath the gates seems to be at minimum level and building on them may result in a gate which does not function or a gap which can cause problems.
Overall the map has a clever theme where the player must little by little push out into new islands and kill off the wild beasts that inhabit them. Map Design – 2.5, Creativity – 4.
When I first played this game I had a bad start when a massive wolf attack ruined my plans and then when a bear decided to take up residence in the castle. After that I found my winning strategy and completed the game in April 1086 with more than half the time still remaining on the game timer. The biggest challenge I faced was chopping down enough trees to clear land for wheat farms and this was indeed a major battle.
The game was lots of fun to play but really too easy. It would be more balanced if the time allowed to reach the economic goals was considerably reduced. It would be even more of a challenge if wooden gate construction was not allowed. Playability – 4, Balance – 2.5
This is a fine game for your only the second map you have uploaded and first economic game. I am definitely looking forward to more games from this new designer.
Thanks for the review! I'll try to fix it up a bit when I get time - I'll remove those hints right now, though, since you mentioned it! Part of the problem with this map was that wolves and bears can climb walls - which makes a very... interesting dilemma in this scenario. I think I will remove wooden gates, as per your suggestion. It makes keeping the wolves out much more of a challenge. One of the problems was the limited food supply. It's very difficult in this scenario to get food (especially, as you said, with the trees). The trees weren't intended to be an aspect of the gameplay at first, as I didn't realise how long it would take to "break out" of the first few islands. But, once I did notice, I thought it fitted in well with the "overgrown" theme on the islands. I'll try to fix up the resource patches, and add a bit more interesting detail to the map as well. Again, thanks for your review!
This is a very fine first (economic) map from Foofanap!
I didn't find this map too easy (in the beginning), although I never tried building any gatehouses to keep out the wolves. I employed a different strategy which (after a few restarts) seemed to work pretty well. There was quite a lot to do in the beginning: setting up the economy, completing the castle, and ridding the islands of the wolves and bears without getting the lord killed! Towards the end, though, intervention from me wasn't required very much. I finished 20 game years early, and the last 4 or so I was mostly waiting for the iron and pitch to come rolling in. Despite the big iron patch on the map, I found I could only place two mines at a time (I went back and checked afterwards). You might try scripting a few more events for later in the game, to keep the player busy, and then make a shorter time period for game play.
The game was further complicated by not allowing a marketplace, which was a bit vexing the first time through(!), until (after the wolves were dispatched) I realized I didn't really need one. I didn't have a problem keeping the people fed or having the trees multiply too fast. I did have trouble keeping the people happy, until finally I built them some good things, and that was kind of the turning point in the game :)
I liked the concept of all the interconnected islands. I found there was plenty of room for farms, so I was able to expend my energies in other resources besides woodcutters. You did a great job of using the smaller brushes - nice crinkly edges to everything! Varied terrain heights would increase the natural appearance of everything, as would disguising, or blending in, the stone and iron deposits. Nice job on the castle, too - it looked properly distressed to go along with the story! (Map design 2.5, but I'll round up for the castle!)
Creativity & Map Design: 3
Terrific, engaging story!
Good job - I'm looking forward to more from you!