Rewriting the unit descriptions

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turin
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Rewriting the unit descriptions

Post by turin » December 7th, 2005, 10:21 pm

The revision is still, IIRC, going on.

And, even if it is not, it should be.

Here is a wiki page with my list of the descriptions I think need rewriting. If you can improve that list (by taking off or adding units), do so. Also, if you have revised descriptions to suggest, either post them here or PM/email them to ott, who is, IIRC, the description guy.

http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/UnitDescriptionRewriting
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Re: Rewriting the unit descriptions

Post by Jetrel » December 8th, 2005, 4:36 am

Huh.

Ott's definitely a guy to talk to about this - he's the maintainer of the english translations.

Some of the descriptions didn't get reworked, because the units in question were going to get completely renovated. Case in point - the saurian tribalist line - heck, those will be getting a name change on top of all else (only the soothsayer will retain his name).

For units used by main characters:
I'd like to move to a character-based system in which the "unit" listing for the hero never gets shown, rather they show a single bio of the character which shows the current stats, but for which the text never changes. This is a special thing that can be used on special hero units, which don't show up in the unit list, or on non-hero units, which do.

What we really need is content, though, a long, half-page description of the history and personality of the character. Since you're a campaign author, you should do this for your campaign.


That said, I'm not really involved in this right now. I'll help redo the saurian descriptions as we rewrite them, but for now, I'm not spearheading anything else. I'm happy to check on anything you make, but i don't have the time to lead this project - I'm too busy with other ones, like the TColor conversion.

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Post by turin » December 8th, 2005, 4:42 pm

Here are some drafts of descriptions for the Ancient Lich, Cave Spider, and Cockatrice. I make no claims as to the quality of these descriptions, only that they are IMHO better than the current ones.
Ancient Lich wrote: An Ancient Lich's true age is almost always unknown, but he may still be justly called 'Ancient' for the arcane knowledge he possesses. His wisdom in the dark art of necromancy is unrivaled, as is his skill at the baser forms of magic that he uses to defend himself. Although this Lich makes a powerful opponent in combat, he keeps far from the line of battle, and perhaps it is because of this that he is sometimes called coward.

Special Notes: The ranged attacks of a lich are magical, and always have a high chance of hitting an opponent. The touch of a lich drains the victim's life to renew the lich.
Notes: It could stand having a bit more detail. Also, this unit is only used in two places (in mainline, anyway): as Mal-Ravanal, and as Jevyan. It might be a good idea to have the Ancient Lich be specific to one of those characters, create another one for the other, and have both of them use Jetryl's character description (instead of unit description) idea.
If we do do this, I think we should keep Jevyan an ancient lich, and make Mal-Ravanal a new unit. I suggest "Dark Archon".

Cave Spider wrote:As the dwarves delved further and further underground, they would often encounter small, cave-dwelling spiders who ran away as they approached. The spiders would come, the dwarves would light their lamps, and the spiders would run away. Growing used to this routine, they were one day caught unaware when a giant, bloated creature, twice their own height, came out of the shadows and spun dark webs all around them, cutting off escape. The spider then returned every few days, crawling through the web, eating a dwarf, and returning to the shadow from whence it came.

This tale was brought to the surface by a lone, emaciated dwarf, who slipped through the webs after all his companions had been consumed. After he returned, the dwarves sent no more expeditions into the deep places of the earth.

Special Notes: The fangs of the Giant Spider secrete a deadly venom, that will poison whomever they pierce. The webs of the spider, coated with an adhesive, will wrap around their opponents, slowing them down.
Notes: The story might be (well, probably is) too long/badly written. However, IMHO the idea (of telling a story instead of describing the unit) is good. It should probably be used for several of the monster units.

Cockatrice wrote:None know the origins of the Cockatrice. Half bird, half serpent, it is found only where men live, suggesting that it was somehow created by them. Whatever their story is, they are to be avoided by civilized peoples, and killed whenever encountered. Although at first glance they appear harmless, they are creatures of death, and a mere glance at them is enough to turn the strongest attacker into stone.

Special Notes: A look into the eye of a cockatrice will stone an opponent, causing them to be held in place, unable to move, until they are somehow released.
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Post by Noy » December 8th, 2005, 7:12 pm

I was involved in doing some of the Drake Descriptions, mostly the Drake clasher line... and I don't mind doing more... although I'd more like to do it as a batch, or a faction rather than one. When I did the Clasher line, I made them all a coherent set of descriptions that fed off of the earlier unit... but then someone did pick and chose between the unit descriptions to use and not use it didn't look all that nice, and I think in the end it detracted the overall style. If new descriptions are needed, I urge that whole blocks or factions are assigned to individuals, and rather than weed them out individually, they are edited, accepted or rejected as a block. (that said I am willing to write the dwarves now, as I have the time)
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Post by turin » December 8th, 2005, 8:11 pm

That sounds good. IMHO we should split it up by tree (so, one person does Dwarvish Fighter tree, but another can to do the Ulfserker tree. Or, the same person can do both, if he has time, but they are accepted/rejected in two separate groups).

Right now, I'm trying to do all of the monsters (cockatrice, giant spider, cuttle fish, etc).

If you want to volunteer to do one of the trees, sign up on the page I linked to above, please, so we don't duplicate work. ;)
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Post by Noy » December 8th, 2005, 8:26 pm

turin wrote:That sounds good. IMHO we should split it up by tree (so, one person does Dwarvish Fighter tree, but another can to do the Ulfserker tree. Or, the same person can do both, if he has time, but they are accepted/rejected in two separate groups).

Right now, I'm trying to do all of the monsters (cockatrice, giant spider, cuttle fish, etc).

If you want to volunteer to do one of the trees, sign up on the page I linked to above, please, so we don't duplicate work. ;)
Actually I'd say that doing trees is still too much separation, and I would advocate that people do races within factions... if not whole factions themselves. This would lead to added consistancy to faction's writing, which I think is a bit missing in some of the unit descriptions.

Talking to Ivanovic, I guess I'll take on the Dwarves as a faction... if there are no objections
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Post by Jetrel » December 9th, 2005, 10:18 am

turin wrote:Here are some drafts of descriptions for the Ancient Lich, Cave Spider, and Cockatrice. I make no claims as to the quality of these descriptions, only that they are IMHO better than the current ones.
Ancient Lich wrote: An Ancient Lich's true age is almost always unknown, but he may still be justly called 'Ancient' for the arcane knowledge he possesses. His wisdom in the dark art of necromancy is unrivaled, as is his skill at the baser forms of magic that he uses to defend himself. Although this Lich makes a powerful opponent in combat, he keeps far from the line of battle, and perhaps it is because of this that he is sometimes called coward.
No, no, no. Don't state the painfully obvious.

And in the case of extremely powerful units, sometimes less is more - we'll be using the following revision to the existing description:
Ancient Lich wrote:A myth made, terribly, corporeal. Anyone who encounters an Ancient Lich likely has far worse things to worry about than death.

Special Notes: The ranged attacks of a lich are magical, and always have a high chance of hitting an opponent. The touch of a lich drains the victim's life to renew the lich.
turin wrote:Notes: It could stand having a bit more detail.
Saying more is good, generally, by rote of giving more information. Saying more in less words is better - that is often the nature of poetry. However in the case of this unit, giving away information is bad.

Men fear most what they do not understand.
turin wrote:Also, this unit is only used in two places (in mainline, anyway): as Mal-Ravanal, and as Jevyan. It might be a good idea to have the Ancient Lich be specific to one of those characters, create another one for the other, and have both of them use Jetryl's character description (instead of unit description) idea.
If we do do this, I think we should keep Jevyan an ancient lich, and make Mal-Ravanal a new unit. I suggest "Dark Archon".
NO. That was a suggestion for the code. I was suggesting that you start making the content, and then someone will make the code to support it. Aye Mak Sicur.
Cave Spider wrote:As the dwarves delved further and further underground, they would often encounter small, cave-dwelling spiders who ran away as they approached. The spiders would come, the dwarves would light their lamps, and the spiders would run away. That the spiders could subside in such an environment, seemingly without food, was an idle curiousity of these miners.

This, however, is no 'idle curiousity', and its diet is eminently obvious.
turin wrote:Notes: The story might be (well, probably is) too long/badly written. However, IMHO the idea (of telling a story instead of describing the unit) is good. It should probably be used for several of the monster units.
Telling a tale is good. Telling a generic "oh the dwarves found a spider and it ate them" is bad, because it's generic. Telling a specific tale, however, is not general. The start, was good though. The bit about miners watching the little spiders - that was a kernel of very good writing.
turin wrote:
Cockatrice wrote:None know the origins of the Cockatrice. Half bird, half serpent, it is found only where men live, suggesting that it was somehow created by them. Whatever their story is, they are to be avoided by civilized peoples, and killed whenever encountered. Although at first glance they appear harmless, they are creatures of death, and a mere glance at them is enough to turn the strongest attacker into stone.

Special Notes: A look into the eye of a cockatrice will stone an opponent, causing them to be held in place, unable to move, until they are somehow released.
Attacker is a bad word - it's an anacronism, unless someone is teaching martial arts "you will be the attacker, and you, the defender." Also, we're changing our cockatrices into basically ... basilisks - entirely lizardlike.

The current one follows. Again, short, curt, and given a touch of dry wit, though in this case the vulgar description of the "this makes them extremely dangerous" might not come off as humor. It was an intention to state something so incredibly obvious, that it would be funny - eg. "I can kill you by looking at you. I'm scary." But, in games like this, people err on the side of criticizing our work as being a mistake, rather than humor.

One of the catches is that in our silly fairyland, it might not be immediately obvious that turning-to-stone = death. It was pretty [censored] obvious in Jason and the Argonauts, but some werwolfwizard / earth mage / furry / vampire might dance along and reverse the effect in wesnoth (hooray for bad fantasy).

I think that we should somehow imply that they might not exist - one way to do this might be changing mystical to mythical.

The following description, I'm a bit iffy about - it's not a final draft, and it's not that great.
Cockatrice wrote:Sometimes known as 'basilisks', these mythical creatures are said to be able to turn the living to stone. If nothing else, it's at least a more interesting way to end one's life.

Fortunately, both the existence of these creatures, and the idea of flesh and blood being turned into stone, are openly mocked by most magi. The latter would imply some unknown active principle in direct violation of several others, all well-founded. Truth can be stranger than fiction, but the world is still governed by immutable laws which dictate its workings.
No special notes - they would contradict the jest in this description. Also, stone will never be used in multi, and much of the fun in using it comes from the player having to figure out what the heck is going on.

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Post by Jetrel » December 9th, 2005, 10:22 am

Noy wrote:Actually I'd say that doing trees is still too much separation, and I would advocate that people do races within factions... if not whole factions themselves. This would lead to added consistency to faction's writing, which I think is a bit missing in some of the unit descriptions.

Talking to Ivanovic, I guess I'll take on the Dwarves as a faction... if there are no objections
Solid suggestions, and please do work on these.

As a primary note, we really don't have to state anything about how these units perform in combat, since the stats do that just fine. Tell what we don't know from the stats (the cultural significance of certain kinds of warriors is usually great material).

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Re: Rewriting the unit descriptions

Post by Viliam » December 9th, 2005, 11:57 am

Jetryl wrote:What we really need is content, though, a long, half-page description of the history and personality of the character. Since you're a campaign author, you should do this for your campaign.
This personal history should probably be a part of scenario file (not a part of unit file). So campaign author can append a few sentences as the campaign progresses.

The personal history should use a different WML tag, not the description. (A simple rule: if there is a personal history, do not show description.) So campaign author can also add personal history to important characters which technically do not have to be hero unit types.

For example one could make four Duelists called Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan, each one same unit type but different personal history. Making four different units could be more "cool", but would require very much work from artists.

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Re: Rewriting the unit descriptions

Post by turin » December 9th, 2005, 1:47 pm

Jetryl: Thanks for the C&C. I think I have a better idea of what to write for the next description I shall write...

Viliam wrote:
Jetryl wrote:What we really need is content, though, a long, half-page description of the history and personality of the character. Since you're a campaign author, you should do this for your campaign.
This personal history should probably be a part of scenario file (not a part of unit file). So campaign author can append a few sentences as the campaign progresses.
That would be interesting... I have doubts about how many people would use it.
Viliam wrote:The personal history should use a different WML tag, not the description. (A simple rule: if there is a personal history, do not show description.) So campaign author can also add personal history to important characters which technically do not have to be hero unit types.
It would be better, IMHO, to have a "characters" part of the help, with a page created for each character. This is really important given the second part of your suggestion, since right now the unit description is not per-unit. It is for the unit type. So, you couldn't have the three musketeers, with different backstories for each unit, because either you would have to choose one cdescription to replace the description with, or put them all together in the same page - both bad ideas.
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Post by scott » December 9th, 2005, 2:28 pm

I like any idea that doesn't require you to make separate unit config files for special characters.

You shouldn't have to create a new class just because you want an instantiation of an existing class.[/throwing around half-understood jargon]
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Post by silvermane » December 9th, 2005, 2:32 pm

"Instantation" certainly is half-understood. Did you mean instance?

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Post by autolycus » December 9th, 2005, 2:55 pm

If anyone has work for me, I volunteer to accept it... writing descriptions if you trust me! :wink:
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Post by scott » December 9th, 2005, 5:21 pm

silvermane wrote:"Instantation" certainly is half-understood. Did you mean instance?
When used as a noun they mean the same thing, as far as my cursory internet research can tell. Regardless, you should be able to create both special and non-special units from a general unit type. The non-special units are given the illusion of indivuality by the computer while we manually provide the illusion of indivuality to special units.
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Re: Rewriting the unit descriptions

Post by Jetrel » December 9th, 2005, 10:32 pm

Viliam wrote:This personal history should probably be a part of scenario file (not a part of unit file). So campaign author can append a few sentences as the campaign progresses.

The personal history should use a different WML tag, not the description. (A simple rule: if there is a personal history, do not show description.) So campaign author can also add personal history to important characters which technically do not have to be hero unit types.

For example one could make four Duelists called Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan, each one same unit type but different personal history. Making four different units could be more "cool", but would require very much work from artists.
Precisely what I was thinking. :)
Autolycus wrote:If anyone has work for me, I volunteer to accept it... writing descriptions if you trust me!
Sure, please do - turin's list above is much of what needs work. :)

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