Winner of the Fantasy competition - Dougleass' Ghost
Posted on 09/12/07 @ 10:01 AM (updated 09/14/07
I just want to make clear that there follows a WALKTHROUGH with the map, for people who doesn't know what to do. I have also updated it (09/13), making a way to win alot easier and quicker than it was meant to - impossible to do now.
Greetings once again! This is quite an old map that was created for and submitted to the fantasy competition here on Stronghold Heaven. It turned out this map became the winner of that competition, which i'm very proud of.
The title says most of it. One of the prominent eye candy in this map is the change of color of the enemy, making them look more ghost-like, and the idea of the map is to kill the lord which lives in a haunted palace, but the way there will be filled with traps and puzzles. There will follow a walkthrough though, along with other things like a blueprint of the castle, so you can see the design!
"....Once there was a king who ruled over a very rich kingdom. His kingdom was flourishing due to its mining – mining of gold and iron. This was a king who liked to show off how rich he actual was, and had himself a crown of pure gold, decorated with diamonds and rubies, and his clothes was the finest one could get, his food made by the best chefs and his furniture the most luxurious in the whole world.
His palace though, was an old one, and he felt that even after repairing it, it wouldn’t fit him and that it was far too small for him - despite it being the largest building in the country.
And so he ordered a new palace to be built, the most beautiful palace the world had ever seen, one that would truly fit him. Everyone he asked to design such a building didn’t dare to accept it. The demands he had was too high and such a building he wanted, they thought could never exist.
But after asking everyone in the country he sought one outside his borders, and finally found one who was brave enough.
After 100 days and 100 nights, it was finished and it truly was heavenly. It was ornamented with diamonds, pearls, silver and gold, it shined. Above its beauty, it was heavily guarded and thought to be impenetrable. Some even went so far as to call it a fortress, and it was nicknamed by some ‘The golden fortress’.
The king was happy and rewarded the architect greatly with treasures and gold, and his future career was… golden.
There the king lived happily for years, and couldn’t help but thinking he was most powerful king in the world – a fact that might not have been too far from the truth.
There was just one detail that both the architect and the king was unaware of. The great palace had been built upon cursed ground, where a great necromancer was said to have been buried. This creature was evil in life, and was if possible even more vicious in the slumber of death… His slumber was not to be disturbed…"
-Keep the soldiers on Stand Ground for no risk of them running around by themselves.
-Try to keep the macemen alive… Their speed is at your advantage. Don’t despair if they die though.
-Easy, Normal, Hard and Very hard will affect the amount of your soldiers on the map, this may result in that the difference between these difficulties is very big. This results in - that on Easy, you will not have to save the engineer in the mountain!
-Again, to find all prisoners, also look in the mountains. Protect the engineers!
-Save a lot!
The blueprint for the palace made by the famous architect was found. Take a look at it; it might help you (it also followed with the map in the download).
As always I hope you enjoy it! Check out my profile for more maps.
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I will start by saying that I recently purchased Stronghold 1 just to play this mission! The thrilling story, explanations, programming results, etc. really caught my eye, and, what is more, Dougleass won the competition with this one (Congratulations!). There was no doubt that this invasion is one of a kind�
I haven�t seen many missions which acquire both patience and sagacity while controlling a small force, where every mistake will lead to constant death. Various traps, puzzles, riddles and mazes create a thrilling atmosphere, not to mention the great result achieved in programming with the hexademical editor (I had the same result but just thought that troops look strange). Anyway, your result required a lot of creativity to relate it to the whole mission.
Dougleass �Ghost� is a great example of an rpg mission in Stronghold (I�m working on a map, which will be more like a 3rd person game, for a long time, and I was incredibly glad to see a wonderful example of the quite new idea in playability section). Controlling a small number of troops, solving riddles, avoiding traps and fighting create a touching playability, which is quite rare nowadays.
As a normal Stronghold invasion, your mission offered me four types of difficulty, and to be fair, I first chose the normal one. This is quite silly of me, but I want to explain: while playing Stronghold Crusader for a very long time, I developed skills, which sometimes cannot be used in Stronghold. What is more, the playing styles of these two games are quite different. So my first attempt was on normal; the walkthrough you offered was deleted: I only use hints when I�m really stuck. (I�ve read it after I managed to pass the mission with all four difficulty levels using various tactics). In the beginning I familiarized with the map by searching for a best way to victory, places were I could use the terrain, etc. I soon noticed the secret passage near the east part of the haunted castle (Nice touch). Without any doubt, I saved the engineer (I didn�t use him anyway), killed the ghost-archers in the tower and went to the secret passage. What a surprise it was when the tunnel and the entrance were filled with killing pits. Actually, these traps didn�t stop me from killing the lord while playing on normal, hard or easy. The challenge was on very hard which took me about half an hour to achieve victory. When I gathered my army in the southeast corner of the map, I had 10 macemen and 14 pikemen + two engineers, who constructed shields to help the troops to reach the rocks near the wooden gatehouse: archers and crossbowmen couldn�t see me. When my whole army was near the entrance, I carefully destroyed the gatehouse and then I spent few minutes to find out and clear a narrow path through the killing pits (I had to sacrifice 3 pikemen, though). I was quite good in combinatory so finding the shortest way trough the deadly traps wasn�t a problem. I also started the fire without losing any troops (A maceman managed to escape the flames) and I easily saved four prisoners. At this moment, I had 11 pikemen, 9 macemen and 4 swordsmen, who easily cleared the defense and finished the job. I think this tactic earns the largest amount of points, as the loss of troops is minimal. Anyway, I wasn�t satisfied with these victories; it was obvious that Dougleass created this mission with a different playability scenario. Therefore, I tried various tactics, later I broke into the castle through the main entrance and managed to kill the undead spearmen, later rescued the two swordsmen and marched to the storage room. The oil smelter was the key to victory so I used the pitch cans to produce oil and burn the zombies. The deadly maze of killing pits actually gave me a headache: I wanted to win as fast as possible and this lead to spastic deaths. Anyway, when other prisoners were saved I marched to the lord�s manor, used the last oil pot (One of the pots was used to clear the path near the manor) and finished the mission. This tactic is more thrilling but harder: I had to play several times to achieve victory on very hard as archers and crossbowmen did lots of damage when walking around the castle. However, this is one of the most interesting and spectacular missions I have ever played. Thumbs up!
Balance was very important in this kind of a mission, as every unit is gold-worth. The number of my troops reduced when choosing the difficulty level, and made the mission a challenge playing on very hard. What is more, I think that this mission should be played on hard or very hard, because only then the player values every troop, searches for perfect puzzle solving and so on: this leads to incredible interest, excitement, the gamer pitches in the mission. Only the best missions can achieve this result, and I�m quite critical about the playability and balance aspect, as the invasion�s scenario usually is more important than the map design; a mission can have an outstanding design, but poor scripting, and the overall result turns out to be just a flaw. Your mission is outstanding in both categories; I completely forgot about everything around and focused to the haunted castle, where every troop has a major value: using my second tactic, I won on very hard only once, and the last troop (Pikeman) was prostrate. This fact resembles that a lot of work had to be done to balance the mission. As I already mentioned the number of soldiers is optimal, but it seems that the ghost castle has much more creeps. This enforces to find rational ways to overcome them, as a simple slaughter will lead to defeat. Maybe a little less archers on walls could help concentrate on the inside brawls. However, this is what makes the map one of a kind: you have to think of your next move and avoid various dangers. Many passages, rooms and corridors determines the mission�s difficulty too, as a simple mistake, when choosing the next room or a corridor, leads to heavy losses, which usually necessitates to restart or load. Even the two pitch cans enforce the player to find the best way to use them: burn as many troops as possible. Overall, the map�s balance was perfect in many aspects, thus making the mission enjoyable and outstanding.
This is perhaps one of the most creative missions ever submitted to Heavengames despite the big number of plats. Furthermore, I think that everyone would agree with me. The first view at the story section already creates a wonderful feeling, that this isn�t an ordinary mission. Without playing it�s impossible to take no notice of the great results while working with the hexademical editor: firstly, your army is green colored (I�m not sure, but like in Stronghold Crusader you can only have red troops, the same is in Stronghold right? Only blue�). Anyway, this is not the main thing: just take a look at your enemies! They�re all deformed variously and this aspect is the key, which opens the vastness of imagination and excitement. Nice touch! The mission objective is quite simple: kill the enemy lord. Everyone would say: �Nothing impressive�, right? Nevertheless, look at the castle and at the custom scenario, created without scripting, but using imagination and the map editor. The various rooms, filled with different scary themes, dark corridors, deadly traps, agonized troops and many other creative objects makes you believe that this is really a haunted fortress, and your mission is not only to kill the lord, but to free everyone from pure evil. And this isn�t easy. Designing various passages, rooms, dungeons and, of course, making them look realistic, revealed your creativity very well. The whole style of the mission is very new, and that�s very important, as nowadays you have to create a masterpiece using both editor and scripting to surprise the downloaders. Believe me I was truly rapt! Smaller details like the trapped engineer in the mountains, a secret passage (which I used so well), gives the player a bit of freedom, which can be rarely seen in many maps. Details like sacrificial chamber, the interesting main hall, dungeons, crossbowmen defense near the castle and so on, really makes this mission a great example of creativity for everyone. What is more, the whole story fits greatly to your mission, and it�s amazing how everything is explained. You�ve also added a map (which helps the player orient in the tricky fortress), a walkthrough (I then tried to play the mission exactly how you offered) and a few screenshots, which I really liked; they showed the way, how the castle was designed, and these pictures resemble your hard work. To sum up, the creativity is endless in this mission! As many users say, I�d give you 6 out of five. Incredible�
Map Design: 5
Ok, this category is the hardest to describe as I really don�t know how great design on Stronghold looks like, it�s very different from Stronghold Crusader and even the lousy maps look pretty to me. However, I will try to explain as best as possible.
The first thing that caught my eye was the whole landscape: the mountains and the scar look nice. The wide pathways trough the mountains reveals that the castle was a very important structure before the ghosts (just as you mentioned in the story), and those paths really made me feel as the map doesn�t end, it extends further. I�m not really sure when was the last time I�ve had this feeling while playing. Great work! The smaller landscape details like those rocks, shrubs, pits inside the mountain look really well. The idea of placing the castle on a rapid scar near the sea is a fabulous idea too. That dark cold sea and the lifeless tone near the castle additionally make you believe that you�re in a haunted castle; the atmosphere is just outstanding. I really liked that you used secret caves (I�ve read a curse on creating caves and used them in my recent project too). The whole castle was on high plain but it looked very realistic and I could hardly notice the height difference. Interesting walls, towers, pillars, paths, stares and the custom floor in the main hall is an outstanding example of the perfect editor tools usage. That small pothole near the sea looks very realistic; a small fountain was a great touch either. I�m very critical about the design, and found that the sea needed a few rocks near the coast and possibly a couple of seagulls. Maybe the whole fortress could have been a bit bigger (You�ve mentioned in the story that the castle was very big). However, these small things really don�t matter. It�s a great mission in every category! Thumbs up!
A good mission has to have a good story, that�s my motto. Not really� Anyway, the story was great in many aspects: you�ve actually created a thrilling and mystical tale, which fits to the map perfectly. While reading you come up with an idea that this is the real story, but suddenly the whole telling changes into a fable and we familiarize with new characters as now we can see both true arena and the period of the story. Diary-like stories aren�t used very often here, as they demand narrative skills and grammar usage. I found a few mistakes, but nobody�s perfect, furthermore this fact convinces that you are the author of the story, not an English lecturer or teacher. The story ends with an arcane thought, and you have to continue the narration by playing the mission. In conclusion, the story was a great example of creativity and hard work as well as the whole mission itself.
One of the best maps I�ve ever played during a long, long time. The thrilling playability is just outstanding; you�ve really created this mission like a charm! No wonder it won the Fantasy competition, I haven�t seen other works but I�m sure that judges made the right decision. I strongly advice everyone to wait a few seconds while downloading this map, trust me, it�s really worth it�
[Edited on 10/26/07 @ 12:47 PM]