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Describe the process of making a complete scenario starting
from the idea and ending in the submission of your finished
scenario. Do you have a schedule in which you have written the
exact tasks for every day?
The process starts with an idea. It doesn't necessarily have to
be a castle, or a sequence of events you would like to see.
Sometimes a good story will be enough to allow the imagination
to run riot. The landscape may be determined by the story, but
more than likely by the image I have in my head, or how I would
like the AI, or the event win criteria, to be achieved.
Difficult to describe, but our Mapmaking 101 section will soon
blossom to life with my thoughts on this. I don't stick to a
schedule, I work on a map when I feel inspired, when I am free
(busy life outside of Heavengames!) or when an idea springs to
mind. More often than not, the final version of a map is a
heavily edited one from the initial thought I had.
What is your first piece of advice to a new scenario
It could be to check out the maps available here. The vast
majority have something worth investigating, and naturally some
more than others. But the key to a good map for a new designer
is to take time out before hitting the editor and work out what
you want to happen in your scenario. Pen and paper will always
be at my side as I work.
How do you decide the map size of your scenario?
Difficult to summarise. There are usually many factors that can
decide how big you decide to build. I try to choose the
smallest map size possible, rather than have a 400 x 400 map
with 20% of it being used. I like to think big, generally
speaking. The vast majority of my maps are 300 x 300 or even
400 x 400.
How do you balance your scenario (invasions, events and
Playtesting. Lots of playtesting. Some people are very good at
map design and seem to naturally achieve good balance. For me,
it takes many hours and I still don't get it right (in my eyes,
anyway). I try to make the win conditions relevant to the story
if possible, or at least try to have some relevance to where I
want the scenario to go.
How long does it take you to design a scenario? (you don't
have to answer this question if you have already mentioned this
in question #1)
Again, this depends. Historical castle reconstructions take me
hours and hours. Gathering information, pictures, snapshots,
etc can cover a good 40% of the design time. I try to look for
small details as well as grand, overhead images that are more
Landscaping takes me a minimum of 20 hours' work. Sometimes
more, depending on the scenario and what I want to achieve.
Playtesting can again take 20-30 hours, trying different
approaches, and attempting to explore 'what if' situations,
given that everyone approaches and plays a map differently to
how I do.
What is your favourite eye-candy and why? What is the most
common eye-candy you use? (note: this does not exclude natural
eye-candy, such as rock formations, erosion etc.)
Lowered walls is my favourite eye candy trick, and what I use
more than anything else. It's not that I want to recreate huge,
intricate castles all the time, but I want to be able to add
something a little special to the scenario where a pre-built
castle is planned.
Do you design scenarios for multiple games at the same
No. But then I only design for Stronghold (and Crusader) at the
moment. My choice, that's all.
What do you like and what don't you like about the SH
The 'look' of the game, from buildings to landscape, is
something that appeals to me. It has real atmosphere. The ease
of use is refreshing. I have concerns over the erratic
behaviour of the AI and I would like to see more options for
events as well as building objects. There's nothing in the game
that I would say that I don't like, but there is room for
Do you playtest your scenario yourself or do you ask for
More often than not, I playtest myself. I do occasionally ask
people to look at my scenario, but I prefer to choose people
who I know I can trust, and who have a good idea where I am
coming from. I've been designing a while now, and I feel
comfortable that I know what I'm doing.
How do you know your scenario is ready to be
I don't. Given the chance, I'd tweak and amend until the map
had completely changed from the original idea. Sometimes you
just have to say 'enough is enough' and press that button. If
it works, looks okay and covers the main ideas I want to
include, then it's ready.
If a fancy eye-candy you want to have on the map requires
you to make playability worse, would you add that eye-candy on
the map? (i.e. the graphics vs. playability issue)
This is one hell of a question. I've recently submitted a map
(Sylvandell chapter 5) that has bags of eye candy and I think
that playability did suffer as a result. The AI were hell-bent
on destroying everything, rather than doing what they were
supposed to do... kill the defending armies, but I sat and
thought about the scenario. I wanted a city to be completely
under siege, and overrun with hordes of enemy units. In some
way this worked out okay, and the reviews have been generous to
this effect. If the eye candy makes the map glaringly
unplayable, then no. I'd prefer to remodel.
What makes a scenario fun to play?
A map that works, does what it is supposed to do, and invloves
the player in some way. We're talking about correct use of
events, or a scenario that means you don't just sit back and
let it happen.
If you're considered a creative designer, then what is the
secret behind your imagination and creativity?
I wouldn't consider myself to be any different from any other
designer. To regard myself as creative, or better than anyone
else, is shallow and pretentious, two traits I genuinely
deplore in people.
All I try to do is design something I think I would like and
that would appeal to others too. Anyone can design what is
regarded as a quality scenario if they take their time, plan
carefully and have a genuine interest in what they are trying
Which one is better, designing ten 4.0 scenarios or one 5.0
scenario (quantity vs. quality)?
Neither. Whilst I'm always open to reviews of my work (I do
like to see if people think I've done something they enjoy, or
hate for that matter), I don't really pay too much attention to
the scoring. Some people can be obsessed with obtaining perfect
5.0 scores. Some people will only submit what they feel to be
the highest quality maps. To me, that's not what designing is
about. Designing is about fun, sharing ideas and enjoying what
Do you work on many scenarios at the same time or do you
concentrate your efforts on a single scenario at a
Sometimes, depending on what I have in mind. My Sylvandell
series was developed all at the same time, but only because I
had such a strong idea of what I wanted to do and where I was
going with the series. But aside from this, no. I try to
concentrate on one map at a time. It's really what works best
for the designer, for we are all different.
Do you work on your scenarios regularly or
Irregularly. When I feel like it, I will design. If I'm busy
with other things, I won't.
After you've submitted a scenario, do you feel confident or
uncertain of the success of your scenario? How do you try to
ensure the success of your scenario?
I suppose I feel somewhere in between. Obviously I think it's
okay and should be well received. I hope others enjoy it too.
Success to me isn't about the score or the review, but if
people like what you've done, you usually find out one way or
another, and not necessarily via a review.
I don't try to ensure the success of my work as such. I do what
I like to do. If people hate it, then so be it. If people
really enjoy it, then that pleases me. If it inspires others to
do something themselves, then that's the best part. I prefer
that relaxed way of working.
Would you submit a scenario if you were certain it wouldn't
be rated high (high is 4.0+)?
Yes, why not? I know that some of my stuff has weaknesses, and
I try to do my best to combat this. I'm nowhere near the best
map designer out there, and I don't try to be either. I don't
think I design bad maps, some aspects are well received, others
aren't. If I think the scenario in question has something to
offer, it will be submitted.
What keeps you motivated to design scenarios? Why did you
start designing scenarios?
Motivation? No idea. I have peaks and troughs. I find the
editor addictive, and I can't stay away from it for too long.
But I'm reaching a stage where I think I've done everything I
wanted to do in the editor. So who knows...
I started designing scenarios after finding Stronghold Heaven.
I also played some maps by two designers here and was so
impressed that I wanted to have a go myself. As the forums
sprang to life and discussions ran riot over how to design for
the game, I wanted to try it for myself.
What do you do when you're not motivated enough to design
I work on my garden, go for long bikerides, read, draw, paint,
sketch... I don't let a lack of motivation bother me. There's
always other things that need my attention!
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