Fathers' Sins, Chapter 1: Beyond Good and Evil (Version 1.1)
Posted on 09/19/07 @ 11:48 AM (updated 03/30/08
And the sins of the fathers shall be visited
upon the heads of the children,
even unto the third and fourth
generation of them that hate me.
Time has witnessed many events, when young ones had to suffer from their own fathers’ faults and misdeeds; sons and daughters needed to correct the old mistakes, glorify their families once more and expunge the old sins from everybody’s memory, what was often too hard to do. The following map series will include three chapters with different characters, their complicated life stories and, of course, interpretations on Stronghold Crusader. The maps are going to be various; with new ideas, both in scripting and map design categories. I wish everyone to have pleasant moments when playing!
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I realized two trials on this map, losing on the two. Yet, I think I've unterstood the concept of this map, so I can write a review (the first since a long time).
I can say that, in this map, I begin with nothing. Few resources, and very restrictive lose conditions... So, when launching my game, I was very curious about this map. I've never played before on a map where we can't have more than 50 Gold or more than 18 peasants. When I began, I couldn't imagine how this map could be difficult. The resources present on the map are very weak (I can just put one farm), so, having more than 18 peasants is quite difficult. Moreover, I can't put any hunter's post, which can be very useful in this game. The hunter's post already here doesn't give a low of food, so I put very quickly my farm (a wheat farm) in order to produce nouriture, the only way I find to have some money. Globally, I find this map very interesting and captivating, because it's a concept very original (I've noticed that you make almost all the time originals maps), but I can't put a 5 because I think the difficulty is too harsh (I'll come back on this point in tne next section).
I think that, without the advices and tips you give, finishing the game is absolutely impossible. But, even with the tips, it's also very difficult. In a way, the tips just give "the way to win", but no "how to win". And the great problem in the map is to have money, in order to put fear factor. In my mind, the time between the first and the second assault is too short. Only two years to totally change the fear factor, knowing that a negative fear factor element is more expansive than a positive fear factor element, it's too short for me. Indeed, the only wai I find in this map to have money is to use the impositions, so to use the food. But, with only a one wheat farm, we can't have a lot of money. Moreover, the plague descended on my castle when I begin to put negative fear factor elements. So, when the second assault comes, I've just a negative fear factor on 2, instead of having the 5 required to survive. Well, I think that other players more strong than me have finally triumph, but not only with two trials (or else, they're very strong). And the Review Guidelines on" Stronghold Heaven" say clearly that "a player should not need to reload 15 times to get by a certain part of a scenario". And, even if I think I can win without making 15 trials, I think we're in this case with these map. This is the reason why I put a 3.5.
The game is very original. This is all I can say. The losing condition sare very surprising. When I see that I can't have more 50 Gold or 18 peasants, I was thinking : "Damned, what's this map ?" In fact, I don't know why we can't have more than 50 Gold in this map (maybe because a Player can accumulate a lot of money in order to create quickly the negative fear factor elements, just for the assault...). Using fear factor to create bandits who kill the enemies is quite ingenious. It show that you have a excelent knowlegde of the Editor game, making maps very original, and very difficult too...
Map Design: 5
A very beautiful map. For me, the design gives a impression of natural chaos. The map is small, with lot of rocks and ruins, creating in my mind a idea of chaos.
I think I've unterstood the scenario, and it's, in a way, the continuation of a precedent campaign, "Crimson King's Campaign" (I didn't play on it, and I don't totally unterstood your summary, sorry for that). So, the presentation of your map is very good, with a image, colored titles, etc... But, if I can't put a 5, it's because I find that, in fact, the scenario of the game is quite simple. Basically, our father just told us to survive in the desert. Nevertheless, there're some details, so, it's indeed a story like a novel.
Additional Comments: A great map, but too difficult for me.
Let me introduce each category of this review with some quotes from the author's description. You may start with reading the Story / Instructions section.
"The mission can become very irritating, it has been designed for patient and scrupulous players!"
"... when fear of the death merges with agony and pang and simply vanishes, only then we become men, real men."
A very dense and focussed scenario, rather an economic undertaking than an invasion scenario. Because only if you lead well all supply factors available you will establish the conditions to survive on this map. Firstly it's about the core principles of Crusader gaming. How long does it take for a hunter to bring in the meat? What surplus of food is gained by bread production, to make some money with? Which way do taxes (in both directions!) and popularity influence each other? In my opinion it's a very great success of the author to "tame" the immense economic power inherent to Crusader.
The price for this is that the player feels decisively constraint at first. Fewest buildings are allowed, not even hunter's huts. But this fits senseful to the aim of gameplay: Make your way � and your choices! - within a very close structure. This meant that I placed the granary relatively close to the eastern hunters's hut, then immediately sited the wheat farm, then razed a woodcutter's hut located far away in the south-west and replaced it near the trees by the river. Of elementary meaning are decisions like wether to give extra rations early or double rations later, wether to raise the population to 18 already in part one or later. The Lord may fight some sleeping lions, workers have to be re-distributed from the mill to the bakeries or from cutting wood to manning a well.
Secondly this mission is about scripting and how this tool and the player's behaviour can be interrelated, interactive. Habits make us play comfortable, we dislike being disturbed and would react annoyed. This mission is the opposite of "more of the same" but turns many things upside down. Can a Travelling Fair event become dangerous? Yes, if it attracts you to raise taxes too high. This dimension both is breathtaking and made me see red. Lost twice when I forgot the amount of gold goingn to exceeded the limit of 50. Suffered immediate defeats by bandits and lions after making minute mistakes. Missed some task by a second. So much greater was my satisfaction when I eventually made my way like a sleepwalker.
All together the scripting makes this mission a new Crusader style, similar to a mod pack. What a mastership it takes to know the various influences of events (on popularity and taxes) and how many months they last. Even more they all fit into two periods of 2 years!
In the third part the player has all the time he / she likes to either pile more Good Things or to go for the recruit of bonus troops with a special kind of food. This demands to manage the problematic setting on an advanced level because you may have to bridge a period of empty granary by giving money to the people. Easier are half ration while the loyalty creators hold the people's mood high. Used an apple orchard; for a dairy farm I did not have the patience.
Reaching this third part allows a wider range of distributing the peasents. The final thrilling battle, with big packs of bandits charging every two minutes, brings the mission to a happy ending.
Loved and replayed the map, not without restarts ;).
"every detail and character was very important to me, I often spent time watching workers, animals."
"every worker, every man is somehow important, the win conditions would be puny, but challenging."
It's not the objectives or the invasions that cause a problem. It's the extremely unfamiliar scripting.
To be honest, I could not win the first part of the mission without closely studying the related triggers in the editor. Needed to know all conditions I had to avoid and events I would simply have to face. This is kind of �meta-fighting�: You act within a "tunnel" of scripted restraints, the effects being visible on the map. Either you make it through with a black eye or you decline. You are very busy all the short time watching the triangle of granary, popularity and taxes. One eye also goes around watching the map for possble punishments to appear.
Maybe it would have been possible to offer the player some more possibilites to fulfill the objectives and even better reach the purpose of the mission by testing his / her own abilities. For example, by allowing hunter's huts (later destroyed by bandits) but with one herd of deers that would extinct early. Wether this could work is yet beyond my knowledge.
"The scenario is quite complex with logical operations 'lower than'."
For this category I completely agree with Battle Mage corp's words (so I will not repeat them with my own). Both the "taming" concept of population and the scripting dimension are pioneering with breathtaking results.
Pure observation of the inside and outside of something is pretty seldom. A soft, empirical way making oneself almost identical with the object of observation and this way forming a theory of Crusader in nuce. This map helps to overcome usual habits and shows the possibilies to be applied in many more exciting maps.
Story, setting and landscape fit together perfectly. Also does the title which is worth appreciating. "Beyond Good and Evil" for me means the very moment of experience.
Map Design: 5.0
"new ideas, both in scripting and map design categories."
Here most details have been already noted by Battle Mage corp, too. The overall impression of the map provides the desperate, erratic feeling of the player's situation. A hunter's post and the quarry far from the (probable) place of the keep shows the map being worked corresponding to the concept. Some of the punishing constraints have their support in nature (cutting down trees may make them disappear at all).
A low sized map has become a whole new world. Many details have been worked on with great dedication and patience. I liked most the fine nuances of the surface of the plain: Earth changes with sand and earth&stones. Such almost unnoticable details in fact clearly encrease the atmosphere of the landscape.
However there are some aspects that did not convince me. Along the river � and the big spring west of it - there should appear more greenery (if there is also moisture for swamps!). In other words, if the author wanted the fertile area to be very scarce the water should come as a thin stream or oasis only. The pitch tiles seem to dominate the marsh too much. And the ruins are squeezed into the rocks without any way in or out.
In any case, a unique, memorizable landscape.
Scripting counts here, too, and very well balances the mentioned weaknesses.
Edit: I'm very critical regarding this category. Have been playing many early economic maps and often had to see poor landscapes being rate a 5! So came back to honour this work stronger. Instead of 4.0 it deserves the best score.
"Warning!", "interpretations on Stronghold Crusader."
The clear and structured form of the description looks especially attractive and inviting. AZ ViTrAzhAs' style is characterized by a wide range of vocabulary and a pleasant, friendly tone. He explicitally explains what motivated him to create this map and what is important for playing it. We are well advised to take his words serious. (Don't overlook the statement "Very hard" beneath the minimap. The story is quite a text: Would you like to be in the shoes (or rags) of this prince? It introduces you to the situation and feeling of the map, also giving some hidden hints. And for your help the instructions are formulated very clearly and comprehensive. There are additional hints in the zip file. It' was a good decision for version 1.1 to pack them aside as long as the player doesn't feel the urge to read them.
An outstanding and successful experiment. I'd like to compare the meaning of this creation of Az ViTrAzhAs for Crusader mapmaking with that of Ulysses by James Joyce in modern literature. It explors the borders and widens our understanding of the object and of our role in this (game) world.
Two tips: If something is going to disctract your attention to the tax income just set the tax rate to zero or you probably will be defeated.
When you're constructing the castle be careful to wall in the "Good Things". This will help you to fight the nomads.
[Edited on 11/12/08 @ 12:32 PM]