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AoW1 Scenario & Campaign Design
Moderated by Enginerd, Ziggurat Mason

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Topic Subject: Historical Theme - Capture the Flag by Arctic Wolf
posted 03-07-09 12:52 PM EDT (US)   
This is the Thread to Vote for Capture the Flag, a map submitted under the Historical Theme for the Winter 2008 Mapmaking Competition. Read the discussion below by our judges and then post your score for the map and leave comments in the thread below. Score once for each map, 1-10 points. Voting Closes at the end of March.

Part of the judges discussion is below... the full text will be made available before the judging ends.


Enginerd: OK.. Capture The Flag by Arctic Wolf, made for the historical theme map competition. 3 races, with victory conditions. To evaluate this map we played an online game, it was a lot of fun, our game just ended so we’re here now to start the discussion about this map.
Pawel: I didn't see the surface
Disenchanted: sorry
Pawel: I can see it in the editor
Enginerd: Well.... you can imagine.... when you arrive with one stack... you're screwed..... when you arrive in force like Disenchanted... you waltz right through the AI.
Disenchanted: the drow had a ton of troops at my 3 hex actually
Disenchanted: I came with 4 stacks, think I lost like half of it
Enginerd: I think the key (or at least one of them) for Disenchanted was his ability to get and use lots of elephants, this helped him early on and with all those FC battles the elephants are great.
Enginerd: He did well expanding and thumping on me early on too
Pawel: yes
Disenchanted: that might have helped...I got 1 azrac city and I migrated all evil cities to azracs
Enginerd: Anyways... for the historical theme of this map, your thoughts?
Disenchanted: I actually didn't enjoy his take on the theme so much. The story wasn't very interesting to me, and I am highly interested in computer games, it seems like a bit of a stretch to call it "historical"
Pawel: it's about a 'historical' outdoor game
Enginerd: Have either of you played the outdoor game? (I have, many times)
Disenchanted: when I was a kid
Pawel: me not, it's not popular in Poland
Disenchanted: more recently I played laser tag in an arena where the goal is to shoot the enemy base, it's somewhat similar
Enginerd: yeah, CTF kind of evolved with laser tag and paintball (ouch, that hurt… or maybe laser tag and paintball evolved from ctf )
Enginerd: Anything else on the historical aspect to the map?
Pawel: there are some paintball fans here, but I'm not one of them
Disenchanted: most of the "history" here is about the computer game
Disenchanted: the first paragraph just explains the rules of the game, the next talks about past computer games, and I still say that isn't very interesting (again, speaking as someone who does enjoy trivia and computer games) and not a very good fit for the theme
Pawel: some parts of the text are suspiciously similar to the wikipedia entry on CTF
Disenchanted: lol
Pawel: example:
Pawel: The first computerized game of Capture the Flag that I know of was released by Richard Carr in 1992. It was an MS DOS based game which required players to move one of their characters onto the same square as their opponent's flag, as opposed to bringing it back to friendly territory. - from the description
Pawel: In 1992, Richard Carr released an MS-DOS based game called Capture the Flag. It is a turn-based strategy game with real time network / modem play (or play-by-mail) based around the traditional outdoor game. The game required players to merely move one of their characters onto the same square as their opponent's flag, as opposed to bringing it back to friendly territory - wikipedia
Disenchanted: that last sentence is almost identical
Enginerd: Looks like we know where AW did some of his research.
Disenchanted: maybe it's not so important to me since I wasn't going to give it a high score for the story/theme, but I might have to take off a bit more if the story is not original
Enginerd: Good enough, shall we move on to playability....
Disenchanted: yes, playability
Pawel: I think it should be fun, if you're not opposing such a good player as Disenchanted
Disenchanted: haha thanks
Enginerd: (in case you're wondering, Disenchanted won)
Disenchanted: I agree it's fun, although all games are more fun against humans (as opposed to how we playtested the other maps
Pawel: yes, although the Enginerd's map was quite fun against the AI
Disenchanted: yes, it's also hard to compare SP maps to MP...
Enginerd: Yeah, two different animals there.
Pawel: you fight the AI players here, so it's partially similar to an SP map
Enginerd: We also took a long time to get to the AI on the surface.... because we spent so much time beating up on each other in the maze level.
Pawel: yes
Disenchanted: yes, I almost felt like if you don't control the caverns you'll never win. If that’s always true, whoever wins underground will win the game
Enginerd: I wonder if you just rushed your first stack through the maze if you could establish yourself before the AI got too strong.... I'm sure you could. Buying a few towns along the way in the maze, pick up an elephant.
Pawel: yes, you need gold to produce and upkeep all the units that will fight against the AI
Disenchanted: yes you could if I let you
Pawel: theoretically you can go to the surface fast, but the other players will probably disturb you
Enginerd: Not if you go "capture" your two locations quickly... it's a race in that regard, much like the outdoor game. Don't know how it would work out in the end, our game was played as a battle for the maze.
Enginerd: What did you think of the maze anyways?
Disenchanted: speaking of the maze, when I looked in the editor, I thought it looks like another uninteresting symmetrical map
Enginerd: go on....
Disenchanted: but actually I had fun in the caverns
Enginerd: So did I.
Disenchanted: the mazelike aspect of it adds to the suspense in MP mode and also the theme
Pawel: maybe it's fun, but I still think it's a bit boring
Pawel: there is nothing interesting there, only cities
Disenchanted: it's not fantastically interesting, but a lot more fun than I expected. Paradoxically, I think it might add to the replay value since there are so many paths you can take
Pawel: yes, there are some interesting strategical situations that can occur
Enginerd: And it fits with the capture the flag theme.... sneaking around corners... wondering who you're going to run into.... do I go this way or that way...
Disenchanted: yeah it's like paying CTF indoors, or laser tag indoors (or in an arena)
Enginerd: exactly
Pawel: well, I thought it's an OUTDOOR game
Disenchanted: it can be played in a large building or group of buildings, like on a college campus, I know people in college who played both games in the main quad.
Enginerd: I liked to play in the woods, hide behind trees and stuff, play at night, no flashlights, lots of sneaking around (but we digress)
Disenchanted: it's like a semi-outdoor sport
Enginerd: OK.. back to the playability of the map.
Disenchanted: seems like one problem is the strength of the AI defenses can be incredible...or not
Disenchanted: it’s quite variable, the drow had like 6 stacks hanging around the city (3 in 3 out)
Pawel: it depends when the players will get there
Disenchanted: the goblins only had 4 units in sight (same turn) ...
Enginerd: I found them to be incredible... but also incredibly stupid (typical for the AI).
Enginerd: I had one stack and was overwhelmed with massive floods of armies (my bad for not having reinforcements). Also, with all battles in FC with the AI it made my life miserable.
Disenchanted: yes the reason is the AI is dumb and also does not assign any particular importance to defending your objectives
Enginerd: I sense a theme from last week when we discussed Andelin’s Quest coming on.... Don't stop now....
Pawel: yes, I think it's the same problem as on your map - the cities are independent at the beginning, so it's unpredictable how the AI will defend them
Disenchanted: that was all I was going to say...he could of course garrison the cities manually with 1 stack on guard
Enginerd: OK.. what else?
Disenchanted: I think it would be more interesting if there were upgraded/upgradeable cities and also other structures
Pawel: yes
Enginerd: in the caverns and depths?
Disenchanted: (I know there are a few on the surface, but if you can capture and migrate them then you could have won already)
Disenchanted: yes
Pawel: generally these levels should be more "diverse"
Disenchanted: is there anything else or sould we wrap it up?
Enginerd: How about balance?
Disenchanted: it's symmetrically balanced, except that the orcs are set to expander I think, the other 2 are defender
Pawel: yes, every team has identical units and cities at the start
Disenchanted: the objectives are symmetrical as well, except for the AI races and settings (1 expander as I just said)
Pawel: hmm, I wonder why is it so (2 defenders and 1 expander)
Enginerd: My guess.... just a small detail that was missed.
Disenchanted: well only enginerd saw the orcs, how did their behavior affect the challenge and gameplay?
Enginerd: They kept coming at me in my city I stole from them.... if they were defending then I probably could have migrated and then expanded out.
Disenchanted: with defender doubt you would have captured it in the first place, but who knows, they usually build absurd defenses, but they're pretty stupid
Enginerd: true... I found it with only three or four armies in it, it likely would have had 3 stacks in it.... although the dark elf town only had 3 archers when I tried to storm it.
Disenchanted: yeah they all seem to move troops around and leave cities temporarily undefended
Pawel: it's typical behavior of the AI
Enginerd: I did see them use the ships to cross the waters.... you don't see that every day.
Pawel: I saw it on Skout's map
Disenchanted: I guess maybe the shipyards are there for the humans to use, really
Enginerd: I think so... grab one city, build a ship, jump over to the other isle, grab that city.
Disenchanted: like if someone blocks you underground you can get to your island from the surface
Pawel: looks like when they have nowhere to expand, they can build ships and use them
Enginerd: OK... Closing comments about the map? I think we've covered most of it. What would you do to improve it?
Disenchanted: didn't we already cover that really, more diversity
Pawel: the surface looks good, the normal AW quality
Disenchanted: bigger cities, more structures
Disenchanted: tweak the AI a bit
Pawel: the underground should be more diverse, as said earlier, maybe the objectives should be already owned by the AI, or have strong defenses, so they won't capture them
Pawel: hmm, I just noticed that one of them doesn't have a wall
Enginerd: I'm sure it did when Disenchanted got there in our game....
Pawel: if they are owned by the AI from start, they should have strong stacks on guard
Enginerd: In our game we never had the chance to explore the crypts or prisons... any thoughts on that aspect of the map?
Disenchanted: the defense there is insane, I don't think I'd ever explore them (maybe they're for the AI? no idea)
Pawel: they are there to make you have something to do after smashing the AI and waiting for a ship to be built
Enginerd: And the custom items would be nice too, there aren't too many items to choose from so you're bound to get good ones.
Pawel: a hero with spell casting from the beginning would be nice
Disenchanted: if we were playing with TC (like in a PBEM game) it would be more reasonable I guess. Actually that gives me an idea...there could be a different version with weaker AI for online games… or maybe one really plays online games anymore, which is unfortunate
Enginerd: Maybe we'll start a revolution of online gaming after this!
Pawel: what about starting an online tournament?
Enginerd: I'll start a thread and we can discuss it with the group.
Disenchanted: that was an idea I meant to bring up a long time ago, but since I never saw even one online game being played (though people made some noise about wanting to do it) I assumed it would never work
Disenchanted: I think we should start a revolution though
Enginerd: Before the revolution.... let's finish the map
Enginerd: Are we ready for the scores.... any more comments?
Disenchanted: the revolution will not be postponed!!!!
Disenchanted: and not televised!!!!
Enginerd: lol
Disenchanted:, scores?
Pawel: what does "televised" mean?
Disenchanted: broadcast on television. The revolution will not be televised" is a common phrase
Enginerd: Yes... scores!


Pawel: 6
Disenchanted: I give this map 6 sheep and a snail (bah)(bah)(bah)(bah)(bah)(bah)(sn)… out of a possible 10 sheep (2 snails = 1 sheep)
Disenchanted: so 6.5
Pawel: lol
Enginerd: I have no idea what the sheep thing is... glad you explained it.
Enginerd: Great.... An average of 6.25 for Arctic Wolf. I am most appreciative of the time and energies put into this map... and the fun of the online game


[This message has been edited by Enginerd (edited 03-23-2009 @ 07:04 PM).]

posted 03-15-09 12:22 PM EDT (US)     1 / 6  
Voting is now open. Good Luck my friend.
posted 03-15-09 10:30 PM EDT (US)     2 / 6  
Header updated, added the judges comments except for the score.

Hurry and vote now!
posted 03-23-09 04:09 PM EDT (US)     3 / 6  
Thanks for the great discussion!

Thought I would provide my take on the map and answer a few of the questions that popped up.

First off I accept all criticism directed for the lack of a real historical nature for this map. I believe in at least one post I admitted that the map was only quasi historical and to be honest I submitted it in the historical competition because Enginerd is my friend and I wanted to support his efforts with at least one map.

I did use Wikipedia for my research but I did some checking on the facts via other websites, none of the research was cited as I felt this would make the story too boring. I probably should have done more research but the truth is I really didn't have time.

This means the comments directed in a negative way towards the research element and the rather narrow focus of the research are entirely justified.

As for the map itself, I was trying to make something rather unique. A map where it is not necessary to engage in direct contact with anyone except the AI. I also wanted a three person map that was balanced. I envisioned the players trying to figure out an optimal strategy, How much emphasis on slowing the opponents, and how much on the AI. I purposely made the AI unbeatable with resources that would keep on coming and coming. I also made it impossible for any player to completely eliminate another player. The only way to win was to "Capture the Flags" flying over the target cities. Two Targets were chosen for each player so as to try to eliminate a lucky strike.

The rules were put in place and the spheres chosen such that the human players should be at a severe disadvantage as compared to the AI. Although it was an oversight not to have all AI races set to 'expander' which was the intent.

I should also have made the rule that no walls were to be built in the maze section which I think would have forced each player to defend their flanks more and allowed more stealing of cities.

Each player started with basically the same set up for initial balance but lots of random cities were important for the re playability of the map.

Each player was also given a neutral two hex human city to conquer but they had to build a drill to get it. The idea was to give the player a choice. Try to get to a random unknown two hex in the maze or concentrate on building in their own cavern and migrate the human city to whichever race was most advantageous.

I note in the discussion that most of the action was in the maze level which is what I had planned. As Enginerd notes a player could rush the surface and attempt to gain control early but this strategy is fraught with risk. The AI will keep hammering away and a failed attempt on the surface could be a severe setback. Alternatively I thought some one might take the opposite strategy of building a large stack in the depths and coming into the maze level in force. But apparently this was not tried.

I also note the discussion of the variable effect of the AI defenses. Setting everything to 'AI expander' will alleviate this to a great extent but there will always be a variation in the AI tactics. I guess I saw this as a map people might like to play multiple times and the imbalances would even out over time.

I also noted that each of the judges felt the map was funner (especially the maze) than a first look at the editor would reveal. That comment is much appreciated as I spent more time on the maze than the rest of the map. Although it may seem haphazard it really wasn't. I planned the maze path rather carefully to try to cause as much interaction as I could between the three players.

I think that is all the comment I have for now but if anyone has a question about the map I can try to answer them.

Oh Yes, I will try to look at the other maps and give some comments, but my time is severely limited right now so this may not happen. Based on the few I have looked at I am in no danger of winning this competition and the efforts of others have been superb based on the narrow time frame.
posted 03-23-09 04:50 PM EDT (US)     4 / 6  
Each player was also given a neutral two hex human city to conquer but they had to build a drill to get it. The idea was to give the player a choice.
I don't think we mentioned this in the chat, but I'm pretty sure both Enginerd and Pawel built drills, and I didn't, and they ended up getting completely shut out of the caverns.* Coincidence? (It's possible, seeing as we can't control for other factors, like how awesome I am )

*Pawel had one city left and then we agreed on a truce...
posted 03-23-09 07:05 PM EDT (US)     5 / 6  
No... we got shut out of the caverns for other reasons... the drill wasn't the problem.... I guess we were just exploring a bit too much... and got thumped on

Header updated... added the scores from the judges!
posted 03-24-09 10:32 PM EDT (US)     6 / 6  
To be clear, it makes little or no difference in terms of score whether the history resembled or was partly copied from the wikipedia article. If I had been giving separate scores for story, theme and everything else, I might have dinged you for that, but the those two subscores would have been low anyway because I thought the story was not much of a story and didn't really fit the theme.
lots of random cities were important for the re playability of the map.
True, but does that mean they all have to be random? I wonder if one or a few strategically placed nonrandom cities could make things even more interesting.

Is there a reason why evil cities are allowed in the depths? (You could switch the AI races to neutral if necessary to keep evil races off the map.)

Also I'm still not sure I understand why you didn't include any upgraded cities.

[This message has been edited by disenchanted (edited 03-24-2009 @ 10:34 PM).]

Age of Wonders 2 Heaven » Forums » AoW1 Scenario & Campaign Design » Historical Theme - Capture the Flag by Arctic Wolf
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