- Work in Progress Spotlight XXXVII: The Shadows of Kalpireia!
- Posted by Possidon on July 13th, 2021 @ 05:07 a.m.
- Today we return to the fabled Works in Progress Spotlight to feature one of the biggest campaigns to every grace our heaven. For those of you who are unaware of the Works in Progress Spotlight, it is an opportunity for me, everyone’s favourite Cherub, to interview the creators of some of the most exciting upcoming projects so we can learn more about what to expect and build up the excitement to their eventual releases.
Today’s feature is one of the most ambitious campaigns I have ever heard of, but don’t worry about it not being finished because it’s coming from one of our most experienced and popular members – the scenario making machine that is Lord Basse – and the campaign is the highly ambitious 8 scenario campaign; The Shadows of Kalpireia!
For those who may not know, could you summarise what the Shadows of Kalpireia is about and how it fits into the larger Gwyndlegard series as a whole?And just when you thought you couldn’t get any more excited about this scenario. Here’s a couple of exclusive screenshots for you to drool over.
"The Shadows of Kalpireia" is essentially the Next Generation (or, rather, Next-Next Generation) of Gwyndlegard. It takes place roughly 50 years after the end of the original trilogy, and the main protagonist is Samuel Fardaugh, grandson of Immanuel, the hero of the original series. You will encounter a few familiar faces, and play in some familiar (but significantly better designed) locations, but overall the cast is fresh, and the story takes you to places that were left largely unexplored in the original trilogy. The closest link to a previous work is actually my defend the spot scenario "The Winter Storm", which takes place right before the events in "The Shadows of Kalpireia".
This sound amazing, and it's refreshing to be able to explore a whole new part of this world a generation later. When you first released The Relics of Athalen it was marketed as the final instalment in your grand Gwyndlegard series. What made you want to come back and revisit this series?
For about three years, I was certain that "The Relics of Athalën" would be my final major campaign, but even then, I had had this idea for a sequel kicking around for a while. Over time, that vague idea grew and grew until I almost had no choice but to turn it into a campaign!
When you spend so much time creating a world, as I did for the original campaigns, it's very hard to ever truly leave it behind! Over the years I have had ideas for a host of campaigns and smaller projects set in that same world -- a prequel campaign where you play as Xaphira during her rise to power; an adventure scenario where Marvin, Rob and Urdana go and explore the far west of the world; and a few campaign ideas set in between the fall of the Old Kingdom, and the "present day" timeline that begins in Gwyndlegard. They all had one thing in common, which is that they never grew beyond a vague outline. "The Shadows of Kalpireia" was the first one that did.
As you've said, the whole Gwyndlegard saga is set in a grand world with a huge amount of backstory. I have to admit, that I personally find the series to be one of my favourite set of scenarios ever, and the Relics of Athalen to be my favourite campaign ever, and one of the best things I have ever experienced in AOK. How to intend to top that with this new campaign?
Thank you, that is really awesome to hear!
I think that you actually nailed what has been the biggest question for me over the course of this project. I knew the story I wanted to tell, I knew the world I wanted it to take place in, and I was (and am) quite confident that it will make for a campaign which I will be proud of in the end. Still, it is hard to make something that feels bigger and better than a massive project such as RoA. The simplest way (well, sort of) to do so is to just make it longer, which is something I have done: "The Shadows of Kalpireia" has 8 scenarios instead of RoA's 7, and a total of 7 playable missions as opposed to RoA's 5; but that happened mostly by accident, as the story I wanted to tell here required more room.
Rather than trying to make this bigger and more epic than RoA, I have primarily tried to make it better and deeper. I have kicked up the map design another notch or two, improved on things I really liked from RoA -- like indoor scenes and boss fights -- and, most of all, tried to make the world more immersive; more real. You very likely won't see a single typical B&D base in this campaign, even when there is B&D gameplay, as the maps are designed to resemble, as far as possible, actual places.
In this vein, another thing I have focused on in "The Shadows of Kalpireia" is the characters. Creating fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters in a top-down, 2½D game like AoE2 has always been a challenge, but I do think it can be done, just as you can create relatable characters in top-down RPGs like "Pillars of Eternity". Each character among the Band of Heroes™ will have a somewhat fleshed-out personality and at least something resembling a character arc. So, if you liked the character interactions and world-building elements from RoA, I think you are going to enjoy this campaign quite a lot as well; and if you're only here for the gameplay, you can always taunt 50 to skip the cut-scenes!
That's all very exciting. I've always personally felt that a scenario is only as good as its story, and you have definitely proven yourself a master storyteller. Now moving on to gameplay; just like RoA, this campaign also utilises extensive modding. Can you give us a little insight about what we can expect from the mod?
Much like for RoA, the mod for "The Shadows of Kalpireia" is made entirely for the purpose of enhancing the story and gameplay. You won't see any new civilizations or complete building sets, but rather a ton of smaller items that serve a specific purpose in the campaign: new indoor graphics, old ruins, unique castles with walkable walls, the snowy bridge that our very own Matt LiVecchi originally made for the AoKH RPG that never got finished, and much more. The mod for this campaign expands upon the one used for RoA, so both campaigns are going to be compatible with the new mod. At this point I have added roughly 1,000 new units to the game; and while many of those work behind the scenes, that is still more than most official expansion packs come with!
I love how you can use the same mod for both this and RoA, it allows people to play both campaigns without having to switch Mod Packs. So when can we expect to play this epic campaign?
This is by far the hardest question to answer! So far three of the eight scenarios are done, except for some final polishing, and the fourth one is in a good state as well. I am hoping to have the first six scenarios done by the end of the year, but time will tell how optimistic a goal that is. In any case, if things continue in the pace they have been going for the past year and a half, the campaign should see release sometime late next year.
How excited are you to play this epic campaign? Keep up to date with all the latest news about its development over at the Project Thread.
- Hidden Gems IV: AIs for Scenario Design
- Posted by Possidon on May 25th, 2021 @ 08:32 a.m.
AIs for Scenario Design
For our latest Hidden Gems feature I’m going to be looking at something a little different. Actually you’ll probably say that most of these are not hidden gems at all, because the first one is used by practically every scenario designer ever. But this feature will act more of a guide on the uses of these different gems and give scenario designers a complete list of them. So without further ado I’d like to present you a comprehensive list of the best and most useful AIs for scenario design.
It’s fitting that this list starts with the ultimate scenario design AI. Zanzard Lothar’s Immobile Units AI is probably the most widely downloaded and used AI in AOK history. As its name suggests the AI makes all units owned by player in which the AI is set immobile, therefore creating the perfect blank slate for a designer to work with. Units only move as commanded by triggers ands therefore you don’t have e to worry about villagers going to work, building random buildings or chopping down trees and ruining your map design. Neither do you need to worry about enemy soldiers randomly attacking the player when you don’t want them too. Zanzard Lothar initially created Immobile Units in March 2000, and regularly updated it. ADVANCED Immobile Units AI, created in February 2002 is the ultimate Immobile Units AI and highly recommended for every scenario designer, no matter what style of gameplay you’re designing.
Next up we’ve got an AI which was created by an AOKH legend - Ingo van Theil. This AI is effectively Immobile Units with a twist. Whilst the AI immobilises all of the players military units, it allows all of its villagers to continue to work and gather resources. This Ai is incredibly helpful for designers who want a busy looking map yet do not want their NPCs to be randomly walking around or building, yet saves the time of having to use Immobile Units and tasking every villager to their individual tasks. The AI comes with three different fills of varying Passivity, with solider only attacking players to defend themselves if the players units come within a certain radius.
Taunt to Trig
Another useful AI, specifically for RPG scenarios. There have been a couple of attempts at this but the best I have discovered is a simple one made by Lord Basse who has uploaded it as part of a tutorial on how to use Taunt to Trig. The AI is designed to read a players taunts and then react accordingly. This is a great way for designers to create multiple options for the player without having to do complex trigger work. For example if you want your character to select from two different options you could send a message saying Taunt 1 to Fight the Demon or Taunt 2 to Run away. The AI will detect which taunt has been sent and then activate the appropriate trigger for that decision. Its a really clever way to save some work yet spice up your gameplay and make it more interesting. The AI also incorporates the Immobile Units as well which is an added Bonus.
This is AI by Leif Ericson provides designers with a fantastic way to improve the balance of their scenarios and stop players from cheating in their scenarios. The Cheat Detector AI does exactly what it says on the tin - it detects whether players have used cheats in game. The AI will be able to detect whether a cheat code has been used and will then send a signal to the scenario so the designer can set up relevant punishments or consequences through triggers in retaliation to the players cheating. The AI also includes Immobile Units AI and therefore allows you to have an Immobile team that can also detect whether the human player is cheating. A must have for designers who want to stop their players from doing this.
Removing Food According to Population
This AI is an inventive way to spice up your Build and Destroy scenarios and add some much needed realism in your games. What this AI does is detect the size of the players population and then removes food from their stores accordingly to feed the people. It can present a unique challenge to players, especially in the early stages of a B&D scenario, before their economy has really grown strong enough to preserve their mass of villagers and military forces. An excellent way to spice up the gameplay and also add some realism - people need to eat. Like the other AIs on this list it to includes Immobile Units AI so it’s pretty much perfect for any scenario.
All the AIs we have looked at above are Immobile AIs, and therefore have inactive units for the whole scenario, unless attacked or specifically triggered to do something. But what if your scenario started off as an RPG that required Immobile Units but then became a B&D which needed a much better attacking AI? Well that’s where these next few AIs come into play.
This AI by Lord Basse is a mix of the Immobile Units AI by Zanzard Lothar and Aggressive AI by ENOTH. This AI starts off as Immobile AI but when triggered by tributing it 10 Food it switches to Aggressive and sends an onslaught of soldiers to attack its enemies. With a tribute of 10 gold it will then switch back to an Immobile AI again. This AI presents players the ability to switch a team from Immobile to Aggressive easily for portions of their scenario which switch styles but is very aggressive in its attack, barely giving the player an opportunity to build up its defences if switched too soon.
If you want a switching AI that’s far less aggressive than Lord Basse’s then check out Lazarus II’s Immobile/Normal AI. Like the previous AI this one starts as an Immobile AI but when singled will change to a simple AI, not much different from the AIs made by ES that came with the game. This provides a far less aggressive AI for designers to choose from yet still provides Immobile villagers and units before the switch is activated.
Finally, a shameless plug for a simple AI I designed. This AI sits somewhere between Basse’s Immobile/Aggressive AI and Lazarus’ Immobile/Normal AI. It aims to be less aggressive than Basse’ AI but slightly more challenging the Lazarus’ AI by building up a quicker army and sending small skirmishers toward the enemy players in order to challenge them before they build up an army too quickly.
So there you have it; a comprehensive list of some incredibly useful and effective AIs that any scenario designer can use no matter what type of scenario you are designing. Don’t forget that if none of these AIs suit your needs then we have a helpful community off scriptures in our AI Forums who would be happy to help with your questions about scripting and may also make an AI for you if you ask.
Which of these AIs do you use and is there a new discovery here that you’re thinking of checking out? Let me know in the comments below.
- Dawn of the Dukes - New Expansion Announced for Age of Empires II: DE
- Posted by Possidon on May 17th, 2021 @ 10:22 a.m.
Well they say news is better late than never so here you go!
In case you missed it - back in April the team behind Age of Empires hosted a fan preview event. This event included some exciting updates on the upcoming sequel Age of Empires 4 including some great gameplay previews. They also provided updates on the Definitive Editions of both Age of Empires II and Age of Empires III.
Excitingly for us, the update for Age of Empires II: DE included the announcement of a brand new expansion pack that is expected to arrive this summer! The new DLC is called Dawn of the Dukes and is expected to focus on Eastern Europe. The expansion will introduce two new civilisations, but as of yet we do not know what they will be. The other exciting announcement is that the developers have confirmed that "a specific set of campaign missions and historical battles" in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition will get co-op later this year.
To find out more watch the fan preview video below.
What are you most excited about from this awesome update? Start placing your guesses for the new civilisations in the comments below.
- Blacksmith Feature: Shattered Empire (04.26.21)
- Posted by Possidon on April 26th, 2021 @ 04:27 a.m.
For the first time in eight years, and only the second time in history, the Blacksmith feature today is going to focus on a random map script. Random map scripts are fairly common pieces of work, you’ll find thousands of custom maps in the blacksmith, but to make one stand out among the rest, an author has to not only be an impressive script writer, but an artist. That’s what today’s author is above all - an artist.
For today’s Blacksmith Feature we’ll be looking at a classic, one of my all-time favourite custom random maps – Shattered Empire by Mark Stoker. If that name sounds familiar to you, Mark Stoker is the designer of some of AOKH’s most popular campaigns. Tamerlane, Prince of Destruction, Nyctophobia and Ottoman Onslaught, just to name a few. As well as being a popular designer of single-player scenarios, Stoker as dabbled in random map scripting and Shattered Empire is his crowning glory.
Shattered Empire showcases an empire shattered by civil war. Based in part on the classic Fortress map, each player starts with a walled city, completed with all of the military buildings, towers and some residential houses. Add in some additional starting villagers and you’ve got an action pack game with plenty of space for rushes and early sieges. Beyond the intense gameplay that this map presents players, the highlight of the particular script in its beautiful visual appeal. In his single-player scenarios Mark Stoker showed off his artistry and he has managed to convert that beauty into a script for this map. Never before have I see such a detailed and gorgeous looking random map, with a beautiful blend of terrains and eye-candy.
Whether you’re a player who likes intense action pack gameplay or you just like to admire the beauty of a map designers craft then this is definitely the random map for you. So go ahead and download it now!
- Minigamne Competition - Results Announced
- Posted by Possidon on April 22nd, 2021 @ 03:58 a.m.
After a very prolonged judging process the results of the 2020 Minigame Competition have finally been announced. Four creative scenario were submitted to the contest but one shone above the rest to claim the crown: duyhung2h!
duyhung2h's winning scenario titled Rebirth of the Colosseum showcase a variety of creative gameplay elements and design skills, in a story which reimagines the colosseum being reopened 800 years after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Congratulate duyhung2h and see the full results, complete with the judges comments over at the official contest thread and download all of the entries from the Blacksmith.
- Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition: New Expansion - Lords of the West - OUT NOW
- Posted by Possidon on January 28th, 2021 @ 2:42 p.m.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition now has a brand new DLC expansion available to buy right now!
It features two new civilizations; the Burgundians and Sicilians, three new campaigns, and also adds new achievements.
Check out the new expansion now on Steam or the Age of Empires Website.
- Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition Expansion Coming soon!
- Posted by Sebastien on December 21st, 2020 @ 05:15 a.m.
Roughly one year ago we finally got the expansion (and HD update) the game deserved. At the time, the devs made it clear they had no plans for any future civilisation updates in future; and instead were going to focus on content and additional campaigns etc.
Well, turns out that wasn't true as they've recently announced another expansion called, Lords Of The West. Lords of the West will feature not three new campaigns, but an additional TWO civilisations.
Players will now be able to take to the battlefields as either the Sicilians and Burgundians. On top of that, there are three new campaigns in total, and a possible remake of the original Joan of Arc campaign to include the Burgundians.
Rise from a mere duchy to the marvel of Western Europe through economic might, cultural achievement, and the use of advanced military technology and tactics. The Burgundian unique unit is the Coustillier, a cavalry unit that utilizes a powerful shock attack when charging into battle!
- Cavalry Civilization
- Economic upgrades are available one Age earlier than other civs
- Fallen Knights return 50% of their gold cost
- Coustillier: Cavalry unit that can charge their attack stat
- Flemish Militia: Heavy infantry unit with a bonus vs cavalry; can only be obtained via the Flemish Revolution technology
- Burgundian Vineyards: Convert all food into gold at a 2:1 ratio
- Flemish Revolution: Upgrades all existing Villagers to Flemish Militia
Experience the diverse cultures and martial spirit of the Mediterranean’s crossroads as you build one of the most coveted kingdoms in medieval Europe. The Sicilian unique unit is the Serjeant, a hardy infantry unit that can construct the formidable Donjon.
- Infantry Civilization
- Castles and Town Centers are constructed 100% faster
- Land military units absorb 33% of all incoming bonus damage
- Each Farm upgrade grants Farmers +1 carry capacity
- Donjon: Unique fortification used to train Serjeants. Units can garrison in the building for protection; Archers and Villagers shoot additional projectiles when garrisoned.
- Serjeant: Infantry unit which can also construct Donjons
- First Crusade: Upon researching, each Town Center spawns a one-time group of 7 Serjeants
- Scutage: Upon researching, each team member receives a one-time payment of 15 gold for each military unit that they own.
The expansion is currently taking pre-orders, and it set to be released on January 26, 2021.
- Minigame Compeition 2020 - Deadline Closed
- Posted by Possidon on November 09th, 2020 @ 08:01 a.m.
The Deadline for the Minigame Competition has now passed. This year we've received for interesting entries and we can't wait to hear the results. Now it is time to wait for the judges to play through them and write up their results. Stay tuned for more...
Whilst you wait you can play through the entries yourself by downloading them from the blacksmith here.
- Re-Revived Community Spotlight II: BF_Tanks
- Posted by Major Helper on November 08th, 2020 @ 12:09 a.m.
The heavy curtains shrouding the stage open once again, revealing the familiar stage behind. The interviewer, Major Helper, can be seen standing in the spotlight. After a small yet theatrical bow, he asks the audience to warmly welcome the newest guest, BF_Tanks. As Tanks enters the stage from the right while waving, he is given a pleasing amount of applause. After safely bumping elbows with the interviewer, the duo take seats on the two six feet apart comfy armchairs.
Well then, how are you feeling, coming to this interview?
Excited! I don't know what to expect, it'll be good fun.
No doubt, it's fun to talk about yourself every once in a while, after all. Let's start with the general stuff: A/S/L?
I'm 26, a bloke from Scotland.
A strapping young adult, then. Tell us about yourself outside of the internet, what sort of person are you? What do you study or work on, what hobbies do you have?
Hmm, well, outside of the internet I basically look for reasons to go back on the internet. I've been into computing and gaming for as long as I can remember. I've always loved games that let me create things, so Age of Empires was always a big part of my childhood. I also got into the idea that one day I'd be a game designer and work with Ensemble on some mythical Age of Empires 5 or whatever it would be by then. I was always good with computers, and I like to dabble in programming here and there. I did a computing degree in college, and now I'm studying game design and production in university, though it is quite a bit different than what I was expecting/hoping for. I guess I'm stuck in the past there.
Did you start with computer games, or were you more consolically oriented at first?
Well, my dad had a PC, so I've always had that exposure to it and I'd often play GTA 1 or Age of Empires with him. I had a couple of consoles before I got my own PC though, so I kinda have a bit of both sides in me.
GTA 1?! Now there's a retro game. Did you enjoy car games and other more action-packed stuff before strategy games took a hold of you, or was it love at first sight?
Well, I didn't have many options, but I played everything we had. I also played SimCity, Age of Wonders, and Doom. I enjoy them all still. I'd say I had quite a broad spectrum of game genres for the time. By the time I got my own PC, I was getting really into Halo whilst still playing Age of Empires like it was a religion.
Haha, that’s the way. So, generally speaking, you played what your father did?
Yeah, I would play AoE with my dad and my brother. My brother had his own PC. We'd play over LAN and my dad didn't like it because we'd always win. I'd say my dad was a big influence on me doing scenario designing and getting into design and programming in general. He did web development and had a big ol' book about programming games in an arcane language called DarkBASIC. I still have that book, in all its tea-stained glory.
Oh wow. You mentioned that you've dabbled in programming and other more involved parts of computers and computing even outside of your studies. What's that like, what sorts of languages have you utilized? Lua or something?
I use Lua on a regular basis. I do "work" in C# and I've done a bunch of Java and HTML stuff in college.
Ground up stuff, or more of the editing and fixing type of stuff? Well, probably both, I'm guessing.
For Lua, it's all mostly from working in mod projects. Java and C# are from the ground up. I've done Android app development in college and that was all "from the ground up". Oh! In college I made a turn-based RPG with a hand-written GUI in Python.
Coolio! Sounds like you've got a pretty good repertoire of coding skills, then.
Eh, I'm okay at best. There're programmers that I've worked alongside in Uni that are leaps and bounds ahead of me.
Those are probably the type who live and breathe coding that I keep hearing about. Well, let's come closer to "home" next: when did you first dip a toe within the circles of HG? What brought you to AoKH? Why not tell us about your username, too, while you’re at it.
The Blacksmith brought me to AoKH. I was using it to get all the most popular multiplayer scenarios. I would pick them apart and make small edits to them, or make my own maps based on what I'd learned. I didn't actually join the forums for years, and I wasn't going by any particular name. On the MSN Gaming Zone I called myself Tanks_FST. Tanks because I like Tanks, and FST because I wanted to pretend I was in a big clan of map designers or something. I can't remember how it came about, but it stood for "free style terrorists". Years later, I joined Black Forest Studios and BF has been in my name ever since.
That's a funny "clan" name you come up with. Have you enjoyed your decade plus long stay? What sorts of things do you remember from the years, if any? Also, obligatory “Counter-terrorists win!”.
I'd say so, but I haven't been consistent with my stay. I've come and went and come back again a couple times. I'd say some of my most vivid memories are from working on (and winning awards for!) Silent Evil and Seas of Egressa with Popeychops, who also quickly became my real-life mate. Other memories include arguing with Aro when he was the dictator (I used to think he was awesome until I actually spoke to him in person) and the hours I sunk into playing classics like Ravenous RPG and Simpsons RPG online with Popey and friends. Oh, and can't forget all the work I did with UserPatch and the modding side of things. Also, that morgoth guy, if that was his name, he's a c***. I remember arguing with him the few times I'd dare go into the Town’s Crier. That place is like a whole separate community… Weirdos.
You've been a familiar face 'round these parts for a while. It's good to see you've accumulated various memories. Also, hey, I’m from the TC as well, we’re not THAT strange!
Honestly, I wish I stuck around more, but at the same time I think my periods of being distant have been good for me. It's helped me to keep perspective on things.
No doubt, many have admittedly burnt out during the years.
I used to think HG was the be-all-end-all AoK community, and that if people knew me there, I was basically famous.
*theatrical shock* You’re saying we aren't?!
Well, there certainly was a time when HG was the s***, but I think anyone who's been here as long as I have will agree that these days it's like a dusty relic.
Well, can’t argue with that. Now, it's basically a nice thing to have and look, but it's no longer all that useful. Like a wired phone or something. We're still trying hard, though!
Yeah, something like that. It'll be sad when the day comes that the servers get taken offline, but y'know, we have archives of the stuff. The community has a place on Discord and we've all made connections outside of the forums. Take my friendship with Popeychops for instance, he's a good friend and I've been to his place a few times. Good mate to have and I wouldn't have met him if it weren't for AoKH.
Yeah, we're still doing things to try and keep AoKH afloat and not have all our eggs in one gum-patched basket. Plenty of interaction over Steam as well. And yeah, gaining new friends over the internet has gotten more and more commonplace over the years. Internet spilling into the real life is always something special. Gaining something concrete on top of the usual internet perks.
That's most of my friendships. *laughs* I met my girlfriend whilst I was trolling in an MMO, I met one of my best mates playing the early alpha of Rust of all things, and today I've got an entire family of Canadian friends from a mod team for another game. Eventually we're gonna fly over there and have a big meet.
*enter sudden narrator* It is here that the interview quickly gets side-tracked.
Ooh, a fellow Garry gamer, I see. Never played Rust myself, but I was an avid Garry's Mod gamer and a long time Facepunch lurker. Wooden Wars was the s***, and racing around self-made tracks.
Gmod is easily my most played Steam game. Got a good thousand plus hours of my life wasted making Source physics glitchy vehicles and stuff. I loved Flood and Dark RP.
Was Flood that “build a base and fight off hordes of zombies” mode?
Nah, that's Onslaught. Flood was where you built boats out of parts you bought from a store, and after a time limit the walls came down and the map floods and you fight the other boat teams, the water would kill you. Gmod was my first encounter with Lua too, I made various addons for that.
Oh right, Onslaught's what I was thinking about. I liked that one as well. Never played Flood, I think. And yeah, same, Gmod’s the only game where I did Lua editing to adjust some mods to my liking.
I had my own server and everything. Although, *lowers voice, forcing MH to lean in* I conned a guy, making him pay for it for me for a couple months, and then locked him out of access and stopped talking to him.
*utterly shocked, eyes widen*
The audience has a hard time hearing anything, but it reacts to MH reacting. Small hushed conversations arise as people try to guess what’s going on.
I even convinced another server admin that I'd donated for admin, and I made up a fake receipt from PayPal to convince him. He gave me admin rights and all I used it for was spawning in guns in the DarkRP server.
*flustered reaction intensifies*
*looks around restlessly, spots the venue guards, gestures*
Hey guys, GUYS! We got a self-admitted scammer over here! I can’t let this slide as a moderator! GET HIM!!!
*a fierce dust-laden scuffle ensues while the audience begins clamouring for explanation*
*as the spotlight is temporarily moved away from the fight, a money envelope secretly switches owners within the mess*
*straightens coat and tie, looks at the restless audience*
I apologize, I must’ve misheard Mr. Tanks. Nothing questionable to see here! Back to the normal scheduling…
*clears throat while turning back to Tanks as the audience begins to quiet down again with scattered discontent muttering*
*coughs* I guess I ought to snoop a little about something to satisfy audience curiosity: what sort of things do you and Pops have gotten up to in real life?
*slicks dishevelled hair back to some semblance of order* Well, I have gone down to London to visit him a couple times. I introduced him to another friend of mine and now they actually hang out more than we do! I’m hoping to get him to come up to us at some point, though that’ll probably have to wait until after the pandemic. And by us, I mean me and my girlfriend. We're one unit. *sudden mechanical voice* We are Borg.
*sudden mechanical voice* You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile! *snaps back to normal voice* Do you live in the highlands or more in the city areas like, uhh, Belfast? I must admit my Scottish geography is non-existent…
BELFAST?! That's in bloody Ireland!
Oops. *a brief Google Maps session on the phone later* I may have been thinking about Glasgow, but I have no excuses. *nervous chuckle*
*gives side-eye, then shakes head disappointedly* Well, I live in Dundee now, which is exciting for me because it was the home of Rockstar. We used to live right down the road from DMA Design when I was a few years old. That's how my dad got GTA in the first place, he was an early tester. Before I moved here for university, I lived in the middle of absolute nowhere though. My mum had a thing about never staying in one place for more than a few years, so we'd been up and down the country.
Would that not have made getting friends difficult?
Sure, I've never had a big friend group IRL. Most of my friends are online anyway. My best mate I met in college, in Morayshire. We've kept in touch ever since, as well as one other friend from my childhood.
It's pretty impressive to still keep in touch with a childhood friend. Shows something about one's character. Let's go back to internet for a bit: Tell us about your own works and the BF studios.
Hm, well, I've done quite a lot on my own, but only published/finished about 5% of it. I really liked RPG scenarios, and I also liked Blood maps for the sheer mindlessness of it. I would explore ideas of making more in-depth RPG mechanics, or Blood maps with some sort of a twist, like only having monks and needing to convert neutral AI units in the middle of the map to form your army. In BF, I joined as a nobody, but ended up essentially taking over the place.
Rags to virtual riches, huh?
Well, nah. The old leadership just drifted away, and I was there to take the flag.
Ah, rather than riches, you're holding down the fort.
Under BF, we released Silent Evil, which is probably still my most finished work. *self-mocking smile* Even with that, though, I had help. I once made an RPG based on the Highlands area I lived in at the time that had some pretty cool eye-candy mechanics, but I never finished it. It would've been pretty revolutionary for the time. It was completely open world. Nowadays, BF is nothing but a tag, though. We haven't really done anything together in years. I put together a site and a Discord for us, and a few of us were actively publishing maps under the BF name, but nothing else really came of it. We like to have our pretend rivalry with StormWind Studios, but even then, I dunno if that's still a thing. Honestly, I'm pretty disconnected from it all.
The high tides have passed, I guess. What are you yourself up to then, future-wise? Let’s start with AoK-related stuff, and then zoom back out to real life.
I've been playing AoK: DE, and I rant about how shitty they treated the map editor and UserPatch in the AoK Discord, but that’s about all I do currently. Well, I want to make a "Definitive Edition" of Silent Evil, and I've been ever so slowly laying down the plans for that, but I haven't really spent much time in-editor. Might be something I'd wanna communicate with Popey about, but he's a busy bee these days. Silent Evil sequels are something I've toyed with for a long time, but never finished. Probably for the better, sequels are never as good. I made a spin-off DTS map once, though. That was good fun.
A tiny little “HEY, TAKE THAT BACK!” can be heard from AoK's audience seat’s general direction.
What about IRL? Got any big plans?
I'd like to pass my course, get some job, and work towards releasing my own games. I have some kind of a plan for forming a company, which I've already started down the path towards, but it's slow going right now. Uni is hard. I plan to try kickstarting my card-game and getting it printed and published. Then, my team, "Paper Knights", will really kick off and I can start making games.
Are you a one-man institution, or do you already have fellow aspirants?
I have me and my girlfriend, my good friend Connor (who I mentioned as the guy who I introduced Popey to), and my German friend Marko. But the last two are kinda unofficial still. I want to make strategy games and FPS/RPG hybrids, off the top of my head. Ever played E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy? That game is woefully underrated, and it is exactly the kind of hybrid game I want to create. For strategy games, I look to Supreme Commander and Earth 2150 for inspiration. And AoK, of course.
Can't say I've ever heard of E.Y.E.
it’s like if Deus Ex, Doom, and Half-Life had a baby, and it was French.
*tries to imagine*
Fast-paced dystopian action with lots of upgrades, with a main baddie who goes "hon hon hon" when he laughs? *chuckles*
Yes, that’s almost exactly it. But you can also hack into things, doors, people, have cybernetic abilities, and super legs that can send you flying 50 stories into the air if they're upgraded enough. And magical psionic abilities. It's wild. It's a very mixed bag. It's based on a tabletop game that the developers invented, so the source material is a real hodgepodge of things. It's heavily Warhammer inspired, and the devs even went on to make a Spacehulk game, Spacehulk Deathwing. There're three main characters and all of them are the protagonist.
So, you're sort of following in their footsteps with the concrete card game and then PC stuff?
Well, kind of. I never really thought of it that way. I don't think their tabletop game was anything much outside of their own personal group, whereas I want everybody and their nan to play my card game.
Ooh, dreaming big, then. I don't have much experience with card-based games, but are we talking something like Dominion, or something along those lines?
I don't know what I can relate it to. You have a deck of resources and characters, and you fill a field of three cards by drawing from the deck. Each player takes turns to choose which card they want to take and they have to exchange other resources for it, or play characters that have abilities to manipulate the deck, field or other players. The idea is that you're all heroes given a quest, and you collect three resources matching the quest to win it. The first player to win 3 quests wins the game. It's still a work in progress. When we started, it was a solo game where you had to pick cards blindly and deal with whatever thing you picked. If you didn't make an exchange, you'd lose. But we wanted to make it multiplayer. We won the Game Jam with it and got a trophy. In fact, we're the last winners as the jam doesn't run anymore, so we're always gonna be the reigning champions. *laughs* We won it off our simple yet fun gameplay. We had all age groups able to pick up, play, and enjoy the game. It was a big hit, hence why we want to take it further.
Sounds like an excellent start for the game, I'm definitely rooting for your continued success!
We'll see. We're confident, but we have a lot ahead of us.
Sounds like you're quite hopeful for the future, which is wonderful to hear!
*takes a peek at the wristwatch*
Now, after all the heavy-hitting questions, it’s a good idea to end with a lighter note. Rapid-fire question time! WARM UP THOSE VOCAL CORDS!
Bring it on! *fist pump*
Favourite and least-favourite colours?
Dark blue/purple and green.
Salty or sweet?
Sweet. Or both, if it's popcorn.
City or nature?
Uhh, that’s tough… I love both.
Both certainly have their good sides. *nods understandingly*
Hot or cold?
How hot, though?
Not too hot, I'm Scottish after all.
That’s what I thought!
Heavy lifting or aerobic exercise?
Sedentary life for the win, huh?
Truth or dare?
And to cap off this interview: give us a piece of your wisdom or recommend us something. The word is free!
Play more indie-games! Stop buying from triple A publishers, and boycott everything Bethesda does. The hatred I have towards them is immense. It’s bad enough that Palpatine might show up any second now and tell me to let it flow through me.
*struggles against the momentary instinct to start rampaging from all the hate*
Instead, play Noita! It's the game of the decade, a technical masterpiece!
*steam billows out of nostrils*
*very nervously leaning as far away as possible from Tanks*
Um, yes, yes, I can agree with that. Play Noita! It's, it’s Finnish, after all! Finnish! Finnished, finished…
Major Helper suddenly springs up from his armchair, takes a couple steps, and faces the audience. “And there we have it, the great, the amazing, the wonderful, BF_Tanks! Let’s give him the applause he deserves!”. The audience is flummoxed as MH hurriedly walks towards the left of the stage while nervously glancing back at BF_Tanks. The curtains come crashing down. A muffled “I didn’t finish complaining about the big developers yet!” can vaguely be heard as the audience belatedly begins applauding. “It was quite eventful this time, huh?” seems to be the general sentiment, as the audience begins to gather up their coats to leave. “I wonder what the next interview will be like.”
- Minigame Compeition 2020 - 2 Days to Go!
- Posted by Possidon on November 05th, 2020 @ 03:35 a.m.
There's only 2 days to go until the deadline for the 2020 Minigame Competition. Get those final playtests in and upload your campaign to the Blacksmith before 11:59pm (forum time) for you entry to count, and the judging process begins.
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