The Altaz Mariners (multiplayer pirate campaign)

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mikeanthony
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » January 31st, 2018, 8:51 pm

One thing on island colours:

I love the colour-changing names of the island showing when they are safe and when not; (brilliant idea!)

one quirk though; we went to greystone the first time (and met crow) and it was yellow, for reasons we worked out after talking to Chot, the friendly neighbourhood pickpocket.

We sailed off, found crow's contact, and came back - to find things had taken an interesting turn (so again, understandably, still a yellow location). Once we'd dealt with all that though, things seem a bit more settled - but the location is still yellow on the map, which seems odd?

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 1st, 2018, 11:02 pm

Back to our questing: with business taken care of at the Ivory tower, we sailed back to explore some of the locations we'd passed by before (doing a bit of trading on the way to replenish our gold).

The island we decided to stop at was Farrow - where we immediately found ourselves wading into the midst of a messy bit of politics. I like the way that good guys and bad guys aren't too clean-cut in this campaign; I went into this one not really sure who the good guys were, and I'm still not sure now!

The mission was nice; there was a profusion of mounted units (3 each for both players and the AI made for quite a force); I wonder if it was a bit too much; the difficulty on this one was definitely a bit lower. Admittedly, the AI horse units just charged ahead and got themselves quickly killed, but even so, the fact that we had a squad of 6 horsemen/cavalrymen between us, in addition to our recruits, gave us quite a punch. The enemy side could have done with a few more piece units (archers? spearmen?) to exploit the lower resistances on our team, perhaps. It didn't feel like we were ever really under threat.

The layout of the island was nice, again. I like the fact that although you've used smaller maps, in several cases you've laid out the terrain such that it's a roundabout path to the goal, (following a 'U' or 'Z' path for navigable terrain) meaning you get a sense that the maps are bigger than they are. But you've kept multiple pathways around, so that it never feels too linear, and flanking manoeuvres are still possible. Nice touch.

By the time we got to Lothar, the battle was just a clean-up, and we dispatched him very safely. I think I mentioned something similar with Morteau; it's a common theme with Wesnoth battles, you build momentum, and by the time you get to the enemy leader, he is no threat at all; (worst-case, it becomes an XP mining operation, to dispatch him as slowly as possible with as many pecking attacks from low-level units as you are able to manage, which very much breaks the thema of an evil villain!) Now in a balanced PvP scenario, this is inevitable, but in a one-way, narrative-driven playthrough, where you know the outcome is working towards a player victory, my feeling is there is no harm in deliberately interfering in the play mechanics to inject a bit more challenge at the end; often in campaigns this is a gold-boost mechanic (as the enemy leader says "how dare they do so well?! send in the reserves!" / cut-paste with variations on a theme) - which is fine, but equally boosting the stats on the enemy leader (or his loyal bodyguards) can work well (putting a village right underneath them for healing can help). Having enough castle tiles, spread along to discourage the classic keep-blocking tactic works well too. And of course doctoring the map to make the terrain defenses favour the defender heavily; all valid approaches, and I think on this map I'd be tempted to dabble with one or another of those, perhaps, just to spice up the difficulty on the final furlong. Forgive me for stating the obvious a bit there! I thought that a nice example was the fight on the pirate ship docked at greystone port; the leader (a bandit I think?) was sitting on a "village" on the ship with good defence, and had a fairly hefty attack, which meant, with just hugo and largo to take him on, we had to really plan our attack - time the attack just right as darn broke, to get a few turns while he was weaker; exploit backstab between the two of us, and try to spread out the hits we both took - so we just about managed to defeat him before nightfall, which was quite satisfying when we pulled it off.

Anyhow, in the end, we'd cleaned Farrow up fairly easily, helping Renaldo to victory, and set sail to make sure we hadn't missed any other islands. After a few naval encounters (the undead haunted shipwreck was a nice little encounter), we stumbled across Hellenia. A very different, very imaginative level! (Pirates and philosophers - I sense a forthcoming hollywood b-movie...). Although we were baffled as to what to make of it, for now. We probably almost as confused as Hugo and Largo by our first encounter here, although I guess more may become apparent on a later visit. Didn't find anything to steal, despite having a good sniff around the island. We'd be poor pirates, if that didn't leave us a trifle disappointed! I'm sure we must be missing something here... (but nice layout and nice art, in passing)

We poked our heads in at Newhart and greystone port, to see if anything had changed since we were last there (we didn't quite feel prepared for the 'red' islands on Thantos and Lludwyn quite yet). We decided we'd call it a day at that, but popped back into Farrow to see how the story had developed. Another tempting figurehead!
figurehead-farrow.png
No idea what it does. Want it anyway!
Tried to pinch it (of course), but apparently we aren't allowed to just yet...
We've got a lead to hunt down Hilldon, so we'll follow that up next time; but enough adventuring for another day!

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Bob_The_Mighty
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by Bob_The_Mighty » February 2nd, 2018, 1:05 am

I'm enjoying these nightly updates. They're like a cross between a bug report and a let's play!

Some great suggestions too. In every playthrough I've done Farrow has always been approached quite early on, so I never thought of it as a walkover. I agree with you that the ai leaders need a bit of a helping hand when their army is spent (same on Morteau, possibly Dahazi too). I'll definitely address this.

I'm glad you're enjoying all the little details (such as the signposts, hehe). In future updates it would be useful to know your global turn count (which tracks the total number of turns since the start of the campaign, as shown on the world map). Some battles are weighed using this counter, but you're not expected to know that. Perhaps you can tell us the GTC before each big battle, like a captain's log?
My current projects:
2p Campaign: The Altaz Mariners
3p Survival: Save The Village

mikeanthony
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 6th, 2018, 9:57 pm

(Was away for the weekend, so a slight pause on these updates...)

On the global game turns: no problem; just as a fill-in on the more sizeable battles we've done so far:
(I'm going off the save-games here, so this is after the end of each battle - in some cases I'm guessing from the closest save game)

Dahazi beach: about turn 100
Elixion: about turn 230
Morteau: about turn 700
Ivory tower: about turn 900
Farrow: about turn 925

No idea if that is quick or slow progress, as I've nothing to baseline against; we haven't been rushing it, but we've not entirely been drifting aimlessly either; trying to avoid needless travel back and forth.

I'll make sure going forward I pop the odd global turn counter in there too

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 6th, 2018, 10:48 pm

Right, on with the campaign!

We'd talked to Mikal when we were at Elixion, and had been meaning to get around to exploring Thantos (because having a healer on the team is always a handy perk), but we'd been slightly deterred by the red text, so put it off up until this point! But with our new units from Farrow, it felt like time to tangle! we nipped via Reef Town and Greystone Port to do a bit of trading on the way. In passing, we had a eureka moment, that's what that random item was for! (This inventory system is starting to get more interesting!) - so we popped down to Morteau to resolve some unfinished business, and pick up a helpful new assistant (finally getting a follower is very welcome!). Incidentally, on that particular puzzle, it was quite well-pitched; didn't need any overblown clues or prompts, as the use of the item was fairly intuitive, really. Nicely done.

(As we got to Thantos we were just below turn 1000 on the global counter)

Of course, having just been given some very nice horse-units, we were determined to get some XP on them. A heavily wooded map? Countless archers with pierce attacks all around us? pah! Common sense be blasted...

This was a good little battle. The difficulty felt quite ramped-up by the mystery of not really knowing the location or number of the enemy. I think we both lost a unit or two on this one, which is a good indicator that difficulty is about right. The loyalists were wiped out in absolutely no time, I assume this was intentional? I guess the map might struggle with a bit of a runaway metric; if the loyalists get lucky and inflict a bit of damage, then the subsequent fight might be a lot easier than it was for us. As it was, it was a good battle which required care and tactical unit placing in the face of elevated uncertainty; nice one for more thoughtful play.
It's a shame the enemy unit variety was limited (necessarily, by dint of the rare ambush trait), but then rangers are solid units, so present a decent challenge with all that forest around. I wonder if one or two level 3's in the mix might increase the variety a bit? I guess having woses in there just wouldn't quite fit. I'd be tempted to have a few more forest hexes for the elves, especially on the north-east peninsula where it's a bit bare and their ambush ability is of less use.

I'd say the special item on this map could have been a bit more subtle, in terms of the artwork; although I guess you want people to find it. We came specifically looking for the item for Mikal, and even though we didn't know exactly what we were looking for, that thing stood out very plainly. Might be better to make it feel like a bit of a hunt. Even had it been on a mushroom grassland tile, it might have been just a bit less obvious.

The opening bit with the loyalists was nicely scripted, made it a more interesting fight. Nice dialog for the possible elf vs elf scenario, although the text "No elf should ever have to fight his own" sits a bit odd if the friendly unit speaking is female

The temple-hunting mechanism added a nice element of interest; I enjoyed our protagonist's "gold!" "silver!" exchange in the dialog at the end! We left slightly scratching our heads as to what it had all meant, but again, maybe it's one of those locations that will make a bit more sense on another visit.

With all our gold well and truly depleted, we set sail to stock up on some more goods to trade, with a vague plan to get enough gold to tackle Lludwyn, the last red location we could see on the map. On the way, we had a hunch that the best place to get books for the ivory tower library might be from the philosophers on Hellenia, so we'd re-visit there too.

Choicerer
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by Choicerer » February 6th, 2018, 10:56 pm

This looks great, I'll be sure to give it a go!

mikeanthony
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 7th, 2018, 7:00 pm

Our journey resumed, heading eastwards, with a plan to get a bit of cash ready for the 'red' skirmish at Lludwyn. On the way, we stocked up on more gems from reef town - (it was a massive boon finding such a large stash of gems there by the time we first got there; I guess they must have been accumulating gems for trade since the very start of the game or something? There were 10 chests available back when we first arrived. Having a galleon with the greater carrying capacity has proven invaluable in doing more trading with less travelling around).

While we were on the east side of the map, we popped back in to Hellenia, for what was supposed to be a quick visit, to see if we'd missed something - whereupon we discovered the 'argue' option in our discussions with the resident philosophers...

this proved to be a brilliant, entertaining, and slightly exasperating little diversion! At first, we didn't get the point of arguing, until we got blind-lucky, and decided to be cocky advocating the un-changeability of change; we were actually caught by surprise at the result!

The one thing I'd say here is that, of the six, five were pretty easy to find the key-word for, but one was a bit of a mystery to us. We actually ended up googling it a bit (and learned a bit more about ancient Greek philosophers on the way, which maybe is no bad thing!). Plato and Aristotle were straightforward, Zeno and Epicurus were ok, it was Parmenides and Heraclitus who gave us bother. The answer Heraclitus was looking for wasn't obvious from what Parmenides said; or at least, the way the question was phrased was maybe a bit odd, grammatically it didn't point towards the correct answer (we actually guessed
Spoiler:
fairly early on, but although it's the same root, that doesn't parse as correct); might be worth a slight re-phrase for clarity (or allow more passable variations).

It took us a bit as well to cotton on as to how it helped us at all to start these arguments; eventually we twigged! I guess we'll be heading back to the library at the Ivory Tower soon, then...
inyourtemple.png
I iz in ur temple, stealin ur philosophin!
One minor spelling issue in the philosopher's dialogue: Parmenides at one point says: "It was not or nor shall be..."

I wonder, it might be nice if Socrates gave a clue as to each of the three 'pairings' for a player who hasn't picked up on it (not just Plato and Aristotle), it would also add some variety to his dialog (so each time you ask what's going on in any other news, he makes reference to a different pair)? Just a thought

(p.s. I like the seemingly entirely pointless 'wise' trait attached to the philosophers - nice touch!)

Anyway, with that little jaunt aside, onwards to Lludwyn!

ahmannar
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by ahmannar » February 7th, 2018, 9:59 pm

Should the campaign be available in the 1.12 or the 1.13 add-on server? I searched and didn't find it in either of them.

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by jb » February 8th, 2018, 12:10 am

Bob told me to check the thread. I must say your enthusiasm is contagious! Keep the posts coming, I love reading how your discovery unfolds.
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by Bob_The_Mighty » February 8th, 2018, 12:31 am

ahmannar wrote:Should the campaign be available in the 1.12 or the 1.13 add-on server? I searched and didn't find it in either of them.
Hi ahmannar, mikeanthony is playtesting an unreleased version of the campaign. When he's done, and we've got it all fixed up, we'll release it on 1.13.
My current projects:
2p Campaign: The Altaz Mariners
3p Survival: Save The Village

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by Bob_The_Mighty » February 8th, 2018, 7:34 pm

Hi Mike. I'm glad you figured out the word game on Hellenia. I reckon that if each paring was easy/medium/hard then it's just right. Having said that, I've now expanded the correct answers for Heraclitus to include grammatical variations on the keywords. Unfortunately I can't make the clues any less obscure, because all the dialogue spouted by the philosophers is actually taken from historical written records. Fun AND educational!

I'd be interested to know how your army is coming along. Perhaps you could post a screenshot of the top tier of your recall lists? By the way, is it made clear that followers can train as well as leaders? How many blessings have you managed to notch up so far? Are they rare enough?
My current projects:
2p Campaign: The Altaz Mariners
3p Survival: Save The Village

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 8th, 2018, 10:47 pm

Ah, those bonuses and blessings, yes, we've had one or two... mostly for hugo's side, as my units seem to have a gift of perfectly missing that blasted randomiser :annoyed: (p.s. I still smile at the "Wesnoth and its unfair RNG" line!)

We've had a few, probably about statistically correct; ranging from the entirely unlooked-for and useless (a skirmishing wose; which doesn't do much when you have 4 movement points!) to the rather tasty (I've managed to get the +2 melee on a saurian ambusher, which will make him a 10x4 melee beast at level 3; but James playing Hugo has topped that with his +2 on a knight, soon to be a paladin with a boosted 10x5 arcane sword... ouch!). It makes every recall a bit of a drama; you're desperately hoping that blessing turns up on just the right character! I definitely wouldn't make blessings more common; I think the current settings feel about right; when one happens, it feels like a big deal. I don't know yet how long the campaign is, but my feeling is, if more than half of our recalls have ended up with a blessing by the end, that might be a bit over-the-top. but again, it will depend on how you recruit; if you keep getting the same few units out, I guess the chances are higher that they will get blessed.

(Incidentally, can a character get blessed multiple times? Certainly not something we've encountered yet. Or, more probably, can a blessed character get a further bonus?)

Here are our recall lists:
recall-largo.png
Recall list for Largo (around global game turn 1100)
and
recall-hugo.png
Recall list for Hugo (around global game turn 1100)
(As you can see, I've been generous in letting Hugo take more of the xp, but we aren't too far apart in terms of level 2's and 3's). Again, no idea if that is typical for this point in the campaign; it's just what has worked for us. I think the most we've ever recalled or recruited on one mission is probably 3 or 4 units apiece; and we've been focusing on getting a small squad of units leveled up, it feels like a better economy, from what we've seen so far. But we're fairly happy with the teams we have so far...

(Well, Hugo is... perhaps I'll be a bit happier if I can fluke a good blessing or two! 8) )

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 8th, 2018, 11:08 pm

Right, I said we'd get on to Lludwyn, but we got diverted slightly!

Passing through Farrow, we spoke to Rodgers (the dragoon), who sent us on the trail of Hilldon at the very piratey-sounding "black rock"

(by the way, a minor bug in Farrow; Sayer says "I shall remain on the ship. Few will be as forgiving of my form as you have been." - but then he promptly appears on land with us)

Black rock was an interesting little aside, and actually more dangerous than we'd judged - Hilldon wiped Hugo out with a few lucky hits and we had to reload that one! We gave him a sufficient whooping on our next attempt!

Just a thought on this one; in terms of using the 'stash' a bit more here: since this one isn't our stash, maybe we could find this one with (a bit of) stuff already stashed in it? (ditch the visible barrel of rum, and put some surprises in the stash - or maybe other juicy upgrades...)

We figured Peoria ruins was close-by, so we dived down there; keeping our recalls to a minimum, as we were trying to save our gold ready for Lludwyn still - although I did pull out my Melee-boosted saurian ambusher (hello, swamp island!) and Hugo his outlaw. I think we got lucky and got that about right, as our force was about right for the number of foes we faced. The boss almost gave Largo a good chopping, but we managed to get through alive! With the enemies dispatched, we turned our attention to that statue... hmmm, decisions, decisions. We didn't like the idea of crawling around like fish, but the thought occurred to us that at some point, this could be a really useful niche ability, and if we nicked it, we could only get that by chance on our recalls (not followers or leaders) - so on balance we didn't uproot the statue either, we left it be for possible future use. The right call? Time will tell (I'm liking that in this campaign; there are some things which feel irreversible, but you just have to make a choice and stick with it; we never did attack farmville in the end, in case at some point we get a chance to trade or run missions for the peasants; we still don't know if that was the right call, but I guess we'll find out somewhere down the line).

The only other thing I'd say here is
Spoiler:

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 8th, 2018, 11:39 pm

Right, finally, Lludwyn!
(I didn't note the global turn count here, but it was somewhere just past 1100)

now this was a fairly major scrap! Glad we turned up with a fair bit of gold for this one...

For a start, another follower in the mysterious Kashmir was welcome; we haven't really been swapping followers around, so having one each now feels a bit more balanced, which is nice.

I think we both recruited more here than for any mission so far, and that was probably smart. We also pulled in a few new level 0 units, since there seemed to be fresh recruits available on the island (which possibly is slightly odd, if it's overrun by trolls and nagas? but we weren't complaining!)

this felt a lot more like a 'standard' Wesnoth battle than some of the previous ones, which was quite nice now we had decent armies to field. Neither of us really had great units for venturing out into the water to battle the nagas (by the time we realised they were there, we'd recruited already, so our team was aimed more at battling trolls). We did send a few units wading off through the shallows (more in case there were any juicy bonuses or treasure items to be had, than necessarily to find a shortcut or bash a few naga warriors!)

this fight felt nicely paced, and the fact that the final boss had a serious hitpoint boost made it a more tactical operation at the end to dispatch him. I think that reinforces what we were discussing earlier about making the enemy king a challenge by the time you get to him. I guess the advantage of doing the boost with hitpoints is you don't present the player with a big xp platter; all those extra hitpoints don't translate to a major levelling benefit, so overall advancement of units to L2/L3 remains largely unaffected (aside from a few extra strikes here and there in combat).

We managed to make nice use of our slowing attacks with the druid and sorceress, and didn't lose any units on this one!
...Well, didn't lose any important units...
Which is to say, all those level 0 woodsmen we recruited kind of made interesting patterns on the troll-clubs....
hagwylyn the unfortunate.png
Hagwylyn: His deeds will live forever! (did anyone check his pockets for gold?)
but hey, their brave sacrifice is appreciated, and will always be remembered as we blah, blah, blah - hey, did someone say treasure?
(well, we are pirates, after all!)

Speaking of which, in the final dialogue, the line:
"Very well, let's finish up here and make merry when we're get back onboard"
I guess should be when "we" get back onboard or else "we're onboard" - (and is onboard one word or two, or maybe aboard?)

Anyway, our coffers lined with troll-gold, and a new follower in tow, we set sail from Lludwyn. We've been meaning to go hunt down the "black blade" for some time now, so our compass bearing is set for north-west ready for our next installment!

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 9th, 2018, 11:47 pm

Another day, another installment!

It's a quieter one today, as we focused more on a bit of exploration, and advancing the story (as opposed to walloping trolls; although both have their merit; times and seasons, dear boy...)

We decided to sail west first, and then north, as that gave us an excuse to drop in on a few locations we wanted to re-visit, for trading but also notably the Ivory tower, to trade in our stolen philosophy 101 textbook for library access. Only to find, of course, that the library fundraising committee know a thing or two about the tiered donor model. Ho-hum... scouting the first floor of the library we at least managed to kick-start a promising career in travel writing with Hully (note to self: remember to drop back here when new locations are discovered).

A possible bug here: we already had a skull in our inventory from Reef Town; when we saw another cranium carelessly abandoned on the benches, we obviously dived in to tidy up. but after we picked it up, a check of our inventory still only one skull was listed. We've seen with other things (e.g. the rose oil) that we seem able to carry multiples of some things, so I'm not sure why we can't have multiple skulls? Two heads are better than one, after all...

oh, by the way:
2-B.png
This. Brilliant!
...may be my favourite bit of Wesnoth dialog ever!

Anyway, beyond that Calron didn't seem talkative, (although I have a hunch he'll matter a bit later on), so on we went.

Blade point was pretty straightforward, not much danger here, but a bit of tactical challenge to keep the 'locals' on poor defensive terrain. I guess (based on what happens next) we can never get back up top (walking onto the stairs says "there's no point in going back up there" - it's nice not to be blocked from going to certain locations, even if there is no point in doing so - adds to the "open world" feel); maybe that's just my subjective take on it.

The cavern down below was quite interesting, talking to everyone. Starting to get a sense of a plot coming together here... although we were left wondering what we were supposed to do at the end of all that dialog; find the palace, maybe? but no-one is telling us where it is...

Ratty: he was quite easy to retrieve, in the end. I guess he's only a week unit, so it's not a big deal; but I'd have been tempted to put him across deep water maybe; perhaps so you had to use that naga curse if you wanted to retrieve him; could have him trapped on an island where you can see him but can't (normally) reach him, and after you "naga" across once, you can lay a plank or a bridge out so ratty can get back himself. Just a thought.

there's one spelling error in the dialog with Deliana: when you ask about Marco, she says:
"He was granted a island in the south, might you know which it is?"
which should be "an island"

So, an interesting, location, but we came thinking we'd get some very clear answers or a clear way forward, and instead we're left a bit confused; sounds like finding the palace is important, but I guess it's down below that huge storm barrier; but how do we clear that? Lots of questions... it might be time to do a bit more detailed exploring and questioning at some of the locations we've been to, to get some more answers...

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