The Ourea - By WarLord_Designs
Posted on 06/15/07 @ 12:34 AM
I remember when I first made my way between the vast and conquering peaks of ice-cruel, unyielding. I was young then, innocent. But innocence never lasts, not in this cruel world. I knew not of sorrow, nor pain but that of grazed knees or scraped elbows. Nestled amongst the hay bundles and pelts that crowded my fathers old cart-rickety, aged. Too young was I to remember as the life slipped away from my mother’s warm face, like the sun melting behind the hills into shadows-unheard, unseen.
War’s bitter tears of hardy salt had not parched my mouth. I knew not of it but that it had driven us from our home, like starved wolves stalking a flock-relentless in its resolve…
It was on a bitter winter’s morn that we left behind our thatched roofed home in which we had sheltered, the sun still cowering in the shadows. The frost clung to the ground like a newborn to its mother’s breast, and the air struck at you like a cold dagger in ones soul. Not a whisper was heard as we made our way down through a craggy ravine, earth spilling under the weight of the loathsome cart-aged stones echoing down into the abyss. Nestled amongst the pelts and straw I felt myself drift away…
I awoke to the sound of ravenous birds overhead. Others perched themselves amongst bent tree limbs-their eyes a piercing green. But soon their deathly calls became less common until only the occasional cry could be heard. As we made our way down a slight gully, we turned to follow a stream-frozen underfoot. Descending like water over cliff, we made our way down though a narrow in the mount-it was then for the first time that the great valley was upon me…
See Zipfile for the rest of the story.
- 3 invisible sign posts.
- Snow terrain.
- Invisible mountain paths.
- Stone mines: 3
- Iron mines: 4
- Abundant trees.
We hope you enjoy the map.
|Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Posted on 06/27/07 @ 01:04 PM
I think the playability and balance categories on freebuilds should be removed lol... ridiculous. Though, it was kinda fun with the soldiers around the campfire.
What to say...
Alot of creativity is seen in the map design, and terraining! Need I say more?
Map Design: 5
Stunning as usual. In fact, this might be your best terrained map yet. The snow, and the mountains gives such a powerful feeling. It looks incredibly realistic.
Unlike most freebuilds, this is one accompanied by a story at the level of those that comes with most invasion maps, and really good one too!
Probably a wierd comparison lol, but it's a really good story as usual. Exactly what you expect from the WD team!
I hope you two don't mind such a short review, but I never review freebuild maps with such long ones. Actually... I don't remember ever reviewing a freebuild map. =o
I gave a straight 5, because freebuild maps are all about terraining and such, and this map has too be the best one in SH when it comes to that. Honestly.
[Edited on 06/27/07 @ 07:16 PM]
Posted on 09/20/07 @ 02:47 AM
The perfect freebuild? Quite possibly.
The Ourea is, quite simply, an epic freebuild map. With three secret signposts to allow you to use the F1 button for those with the latest patch (probably most of us) and launch either sporadic raiding parties or huge armies hell-bent on razing your newly-built fortification, this map has it all. This is made even more interesting as you don't know where the signposts are until you face the invasions! Want to create a smaller settlement and use your troops to defend your hard work? No problem. Want to make full use of the landscape and create a structure of beauty, then pitch your defences against repeated attacks? Yep. Want to build in peace, but create a strong economy and shuffle around the landscape? Freebuilds are vastly underrated scenarios and the perfect way to relax and spend a few hours going back to the very basics of the game. This map is all about fun... once you overcome the chilling landscape before you! The map lends itself to all building styles and all interests.
Sometimes one is asked how can you rate balance in a freebuild. There are no events, no win criteria, no way to establish how difficult, or easy, a map is. What to do? Balance can be achieved by providing a landscape that is abundant, but not overridden with resources. How easy is it to achieve a steady economy? How do you fare at the start with the initial goods provided? See this map to understand exactly how it's done! The Ourea is a big landscape, not all of it free to build on, and there is more than enough space to create a thriving settlement. The resources aren't on your doorstep, you have to factor in the time spent for iron workers to return resources to the stockpile. Similarly, stone is more than abundantly present but laid down in such a way that it gives the impression of a limited resource. The map is about as perfect as you could possibly wish for in terms of balance: not too tricky to establish a strong settlement but there are a few factors to bear in mind, such as the wildlife and a small group of soldiers who will happily pick off your workers if you don't do something about it pretty quickly! Neglect the food chain too much and you will suffer. Watch out for those pitch ditches too, they can cause real problems if discovered by enemy invaders!
This covers both the map design (predominantly the landscape) and the accompanying story/instructions. Verdict? Another faultless display. The landscape is... well, see below for specific comments, but it is simply out of this world and so well designed that it appears as if Arthus has rediscovered an editor unbeknown to the rest of us. Alexus proves once again that a well written story can grab you and immerse yourself in the very map you are about to play. Both compliment each other so well. But, let's not forget the hidden signposts (a first in freebuilds?) and the small but expertly done campfire for those of you who play the unpatched version (read the accompanying notes, it explains all). To design a landscape for frebuilds is, in principle, easy. To write a story is equally so. To do both properly, and to sit harmoniously together, side by side, complimenting each other requires real talent and skill, and years of experience. The Ourea provides just that.
Map Design: 5
Probably the most difficult part of this review is writing for both the landscape and the story. Where to start? Well, when I read the accompanying article and opened the map, I was taken aback in a way that I haven't for a very long time. Arthus has created a truly haunting landscape, bleak and raw in parts, more welcoming but cautiously so in others. I really did feel uneasy at first, like I was treading on someone's toes, or building something I shouldn't. Arthus has created atmosphere. Eerie, beautiful, maybe even foreboding, but it's there and it leaps from the screen at you. I could really imagine myself standing on the edge of a precipice staring at the valley below. The ice and snow effects are remarkable, not just randomly placed on high ground, but there for a specific reason. Tree placment is natural and authentic, boulder and rocks take on the appearance of weathered rocks that have lain there for a millenia, shrubs cling to the icy ground trying to extract as many nutrients from the soil as possible and the higher ground, inaccessible but brutally stark overlooks all that you do in the valley below. The use of the terrain tools and the skill of Arthus has produced a stunning landscape that is quite clearly one of the finest works available at Stronghold Heaven. Majestic, Arthus, truly majestic.
Following closely on from above, Alexus has a skill that few can match when it comes to writing both an engrossing and flowing story and providing the player with sufficient relevant information via the instructions that accompany this map. The story sets the scene; it is laced with sadness and lament, yet offers some lighter moments before leaving you with a chilling image as you imagine father and son walking on towards the valley floor with a remnant from a massacre protruding from the path they walk on. The instructions provide more than enough information to fill in any gaps, plus a few comments to direct you to parts of the landscape as you build. More than enough content, quite brilliantly written for such a relatively short story and really makes the scenario complete for me. I really appreciate the small minimap and screen image inserted into the accompanying article in the zip file, it's a lovely way to present something (an idea i've already borrowed I might add!) and laid out carefully and presented extremely well.
I like this map. You may have gathered this already. It's the finest freebuild ever made, carefully and diligently designed (and written) by two guys who really know how to give us something special. Highly recommended, without a shadow of a doubt. Please, do yourself a favour and download this beautiful yet haunting freebuild.