Some edits have been made, just look for the EDIT: parts : )
I like the kinds of maps that pit the player as the underdog, as a King backed into a corner fighting for his life and his estate. But even though the story came through on this point, the map itself, even played on very hard, seems just *too* easy. Since the outside gatehouse isn't functional (made worse by the rampant tree growth), the enemy has trouble mobilizing it's forces. Throw in that the signpost is pretty close to the outer bridge, and the HUGE amount of archers and crossbowman you are supplied with, it's easy to kill the Wolf's entire army with little micro.
The settlement was functional and required little attention, a plus for an invasion, although I constantly ran out of food for short periods of time.
Now the bridge was probably the best part of this map, there were tons and tons of epic fights and skirmishes but they all ended too quickly it seemed. And it was a scary sight to see, on one of my playthroughs, the bulk of the Wolf's army racing across the plains to attack the crenelated wooden walls.
Overall the map was playable, but it came across as unrefined. Nonetheless it was a fast paced action oriented map, fun stuff. I just wish that some things had been caught and fixed in the testing phase, because it could have been so much more.
I'll leave suggestions on improvement at the end of this review. : )
EDIT: This score would be higher, as the other gatehouse really does make the map much more fun and playable, but there is an awful bug that evades even the most experienced map makers on occasion: if you notice, the enemy actually as an open shot to the gatehouse leading to the keep. That is because there is 1 or 2 spots not covered by the wall, which allows the enemy to go through. Go ahead and play it, and you'll see where. When I fixed it myself however, the map was really fun, with battles on two fronts.
Again, all though the story made me out to be an underdog, I never really felt threatened by the idle soldiers being picked off by my archers. Now the reason I ranked this the lowest is because a player could easily cheat and simply delete the stairs leading up to the bridge or the bridge itself. The computer constantly actually attacked the stairs, disabling it's ability to attack efficiently. The gatehouse was also a source of troubles, as it wasn't functional in the latter stages of the map, due to the huge number of trees blocking its line of sight. Plus it's nestled against a little hill, which blocks the entrance. All of these things combine to make the map way too easy for the player.
This is also the reason the player MUST play on very hard, or else it's just like stealing candy from a baby. If you had fixed these bugs, you could have made the Wolf's invasions more balanced and less monstrous. I felt like I was Pinocchio stuck in the belly of the whale, without the stomach acids trying to digest me, lol.
EDIT: Still a lot of crossbowman if employed en masse on the keep. Some enemy siege engines would have solved this slight balance issue. But it is much, much better, so I raised the score.
This is where the map really shines, hands down one of the downright classiest and stylized maps out there. The castle really had a fantasy look, without being completely unrealistic. My only gripe about the castle is that the Knights could never get down to the plains because they can't go down stairs--you should make a seperate path, however subtle, that uses the terrain to slope downwards, so the knights can move around.
The surrounding plains had a La Morte de Arthur feel to it, they were bland as hell, but they actually managed to ADD something to the map, like there was more to it than the bridge and the castle. Like there was something that was happening behind the scenes, it was refreshing and added to the creativity score.
There isn't much to say about the bridge, it looked just fine: remote and faraway, important , like you really needed to defend it. Perfect.
The reason I gave you a 4 instead of a 5 for creativity is because of the story and the Knight bug. But this really is one of the most creative things I've seen from new people, excellent work.
Map Design: 3
The score could have been higher if a lot of the key parts of the map hadn't of been so buggy. Everything looked fine, but that isn't enough to score high here, you need it to function, there are technicalities to work out. Like the previously mentioned nonfunctioning gatehouse and the knight bug. Also the plains looked bland, I didn't really take off THAT much for it because I realize that the action mostly takes place on the bridge and around the castle. But the surroundings also have to look good and function. It serves its purpose of providing a backdrop for the countryside, but it simply doesn't look good.
Again it seemed a little unrefined, but a nice first effort.
Downright silly and strange, but the undead thing was a nice twist. Which is why I gave you a 3 instead of a 2. Compared to some other stories first maps display, this is a decent one and suits the map. Although I would have liked a little more backstory on the Wargod, and it would have been nice if the story had been typed into the map description box.
Again a little unrefined, but an excellent first attempt.
EDIT: This score was actually a mistake on my part. I thought you didn't write the story in the text box, but you did. I raised it to fix this. : )
Wow, I see you becoming a real contender in future maps. A lot of people never reach the stage that you STARTED out on. I am happy you have joined our community and look forward to your submissions in the future, for sure. Here are some suggestions though.
Suggestions: When you have a lot of trees around like this, they're going to grow super fast and they could block a lot of access points, confusing the AI. The simplest solution to this is to just make a tree fungus event hit somewhere in the middle of the script, eliminating a good portion of the trees. Another suggestion I have is to NEVER make gatehouses next to hills (at least never that close) because all too often they block the entrance, which confuses the AI. The bridge was nice looking, but made it too easy to cheat--create a hidden terrain path that leads from one shore to the other, a little hard but it works. The enemy almost ALWAYS attacks the stairs and ruins their only way across, the hidden terrain path would fix that. My final one is to make the invasions more balanced. Hordes of spearmen are fun, but ineffective and weak.
There you have it, an in depth review of your first map. Look at the score and be happy, it's a good score for a first map. It took me months of constant practice and learning with the editor to get to where you are, and you're just starting!
Happy to have you at Stronghold Heaven, I look forward to your future submissions here.
[Edited on 01/08/08 @ 02:28 PM]