After the Storm

Review and rate user-made single and multiplayer campaigns and scenarios.

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Re: After the Storm

Postby BTIsaac » January 5th, 2018, 9:24 am

So I got into this immediately after finishing IftU, and I'm going to guess it's somewhat of a work in progress, as it's not as well refined as that one. Anyway, I played all three episodes on Easy (still plenty of challenge for a casual scrub like me) with version 1.12, and latest update. Episodes 1 and 2 were good, and I don't have any complaints about them gameplay-wise (the story is a whole different matter, but I'll get to that later).

Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to love episode 3, it felt like the reading the final act of Homestuck, with all the 2-3 part scenarios, intermissions and heaps upon heaps of exposition. At first I tried to understand the lore, but after dozens of info-dump crystals, flashbacks and journal entries, my brain just shut down and started phasing it all out. I don't think even a flowchart could've helped me comprehend everything.

The last couple of playable cutscenes i mean dungeon-crawl missions were becoming increasingly repetitive, consisting mainly of a couple of overpowered characters making their way across narrow hallways of cannon fodder that can't even kill them, with only a couple of them leading up to a boss battle that actually had some stakes, or were in any way challenging. Everything else about them feels like a waste of time. Then again, one of them led up to that brilliant mindscrew sequence I mentioned in the earlier post.

The large-scale battles with the controllable allies were fine, although not having a full Aragwaith recruit list - with the witches and swordsmen included - made me feel a bit cheated.

In terms of the plot...
Spoiler:


As you can see, while you did say the story is set in stone, most of my issues are with the writing rather than the gameplay. Not trying to tell you how to tell your story, but there's clarly a lot of polishing to be done. I'll get around playing Genesis eventually. My understanding is that it's basically the backstory that a lot of the infodumps are alluding to, and if that's the case, then I'd recommend axing at least 50% of the exposition, on account of it being redundant. It could make the story of AtS easier to digest.

Anyway, looking forward to more of your work, and sorry for the excessively verbose post.
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Re: After the Storm

Postby shadowm » January 5th, 2018, 7:32 pm

NOTE: This post is 100% spoilers, so I am not even going to bother with the spoiler tags. Read at your own risk.

With the recent addition of a cutscene (the last third of E3S9, which was previously short and took place on a void landscape) that didn’t originally make it to 0.9.0 due to time constraints, AtS is finished in terms of its story.

Something that has always bugged me about mainline Wesnoth and, to an extent, user-made campaigns as well, is that people tend to abuse the power of open-source to take an existing story, change it however many times they want, and present it to an always-changing audience every time claiming it’s still the same thing. This has been done to several mainline campaigns that were originally completely different in their UMC incarnations. To me, it feels like a cheap trick on part of the authors, because it lessens the importance of writing and planning when you can come up with something half-baked, throw it at your audience, and then refine it as you please over the years. It also feels like a waste of time for people who are not the original author who then take over their material, because instead of writing something new and exciting, they bikeshed the crap out of what’s already been done. In the process, regardless of what you do, someone in the audience will be displeased (just look at all the controversy behind HttT’s portraits, which hasn’t completely died down yet).

Before even getting to the halfway point of AtS Episode I, I did this with IftU, a lot. So much, in fact, that it essentially halted AtS’ development for over two years (2009-mid 2011), which I mostly spent wondering whether it was worth it to continue coding this behemoth after E1S9.2 (Triad Part II). At the same time, I started to question the plot I had written for AtS episodes I and II (note: Episode II at the time was considerably different from what we ended up with) as well as its untitled sequel (which became part of Episode II and the entirety of Episode III) and a tentative IftU prequel (which became part of the last third of Episode III). Eventually, I reached a point where I decided that if I wanted to actually release anything at all, I would do it my own way, scrapped some aspects of the original plot for E2, and came up with something that I felt would be more palatable to the audience, while keeping the rest.

I’m going to take this opportunity to mention a few constants throughout AtS’ development. It was always intended to be a stepping stone meant to introduce the overarching conflict with Uria, it always had Galas’ death happen at some point during the Triad scenario in some form, it always had Mal Keshar exit the stage at the end of E1 in the same fashion he eventually did, and the story was always not about Galas. To put it another way, IftU was Galas’ story, AtS is Elynia’s, and the sequel will be another character’s entirely. To say that Galas’ death (or indeed, his very existence) contributed nothing to the plot seems rather shallow, because in the end much of Elynia’s motivation stems directly from the events that transpired between IftU’s third quarter and AtS E1, and in fact, she wouldn’t even be around if it weren’t for Galas’ actions. I know firsthand that when you dislike a character it’s really hard to pay attention to their story, but I’d like to think that nothing of what I’ve said here isn’t already there in the story, whether explicitly stated or implied through the characters’ actions and lines.

And if I had to rewrite IftU and AtS now (yes, I did rewrite IftU after completing AtS, because I felt I had to in order to increase AtS’ exposure and also weed out some of the people who’ve decried the change in tone and style between both since day zero) I’d certainly do away with the love subplot between Galas and Elynia, since to this day I feel that it’s dangerously close to the abhorrent and pervasive characterization trope that requires female characters to have their arcs revolve around love interests or the lack thereof. Not to mention that it’s a gender-flipped version of the other overused gender-based characterization trope where the male protagonist loses his female love interest to the bad guys and turns into an edgy emo try-hard anti-hero ripped straight from the 90s, looking for revenge and crap like that.

I’ll also admit that Episode III did not need another necromancer sidekick and I’m decidedly not fond of that choice, especially since it’s the one design aspect of AtS’ story that I conjured out of thin air to justify a gameplay gimmick, namely, the ability to keep recruiting undead after what was supposed to be the end of AtS.

But it is your comment on there being a “love dodecahedron” where I find myself more than a bit baffled. So, I decided to draw a helpful flowchart explaining how the love stuff works, for your convenience:

lovechart.png


... Okay, I see your point.

As for the “elusive story [...] that may never even happen”, I didn’t start this endeavour knowing that the Wesnoth community as well as my interest in the game would both abruptly decline before being able to finish (let alone start) the sequel. I didn’t know that several of the things that have happened in my life that have kept me from working on the sequel would happen either. Making a comparison with Hollywood marketing ploys when I make no profit from this (if anything, making content for Wesnoth has always been a negative profit venture) seems just a tad rude to me even without taking into account the aforementioned. And while I’m addressing this particular bit, I must also point out that any time a person says “I don’t mean to be X” or “I don’t want to say Y”, yes, they are being X or saying Y, no matter how much effort they spend in sugar-coating their words. I don’t particularly care about Elynia being called that at this point, since I’ve been reading that even before I published the first version of AtS, but I thought you may want to keep this little fact in mind when communicating with other people in the future.

The bottomline is, you get what you get, and what you get is pretty much done. All that remains to be done (hopefully at some point in the future) is refine some gameplay aspects that I recently introduced in IftU and port them to AtS, as soon as a non-zero number of people actually bothers to provide some feedback on that matter, and as soon as I actually have the ability to work with Wesnoth without it feeling like a constant uphill struggle with technical issues and an apathetic community that doesn’t care about feedback anymore. And also, commission some portraits some day when I’m not constantly on the verge of bankruptcy since, again, no profit whatsoever from this, only losses.

Anyway, thank you very much for the insightful post. Your time and words are much appreciated. ♥



Oh, also, Genesis is a completely independent project from nemaara and we don’t really have the time to talk much these days (you’ll notice Genesis’ update pace has slowed down considerably over time), and it’s also far denser than AtS in terms of lore while also presenting a character-driven story of its own that has no bearing on IftU/AtS/EOL.
Author of the unofficial UtBS sequels Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm.
I also made Wesnoth RCX, a team-color preview tool for artists and content creators.
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Re: After the Storm

Postby BTIsaac » January 6th, 2018, 9:25 am

Well first off, i didn't say Galas was shallow. Quite the contrary, my complaints were about an established and developed character getting unceremoniously killed off and the majority of the new characters introduced being unremarkable and pointless.

Also
the abhorrent and pervasive characterization trope that requires female characters to have their arcs revolve around love interests or the lack thereof

Uhm... you do realize this is just called bad writing. You don't need to make it sound like having romance is inherently bad or something. Same for those revenge stories you mentioned. People come up withall sorts of conspiracy theories about women in refrigerators when the entire existence of that trope could be chalked up to lack of originality. Which is evident how a lot of these characterisation tropes come in waves. That's because someone tells a story and people see it at a formula for success.

And while I’m addressing this particular bit, I must also point out that any time a person says “I don’t mean to be X” or “I don’t want to say Y”, yes, they are being X or saying Y, no matter how much effort they spend in sugar-coating their words.

I think you missed my point. I did not say "i don't mean to be X". I said i want to avoid using a specific term because it's the most overused label people use to brand characters they dislike (mostly without even knowing what it actually means), and I did not want to imply that i dislike Elynia because that is simply not true.

And also, commission some portraits some day when I’m not constantly on the verge of bankruptcy since, again, no profit whatsoever from this, only losses.

Maybe i could help with that, though i understand if professional work is preferrable.
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Re: After the Storm

Postby shadowm » January 6th, 2018, 4:20 pm

BTIsaac wrote:Well first off, i didn't say Galas was shallow.

I know you didn’t. I said your observation on the matter is shallow. At least you now elaborated a bit more on it, but I continue to disagree with the general premise and my point still stands.

(To be fair, he was legitimately shallow at the time AtS was completed. The Galas you see in IftU now is not the Galas that was in IftU 5 years ago.)

BTIsaac wrote:
shadowm wrote:the abhorrent and pervasive characterization trope that requires female characters to have their arcs revolve around love interests or the lack thereof

Uhm... you do realize this is just called bad writing.

You can call it or justify it however you want but it doesn’t change what I said, especially in the context of Wesnoth and its UMC selection and community. Also, I disagree with calling it “conspiracy theories”, but I am not about to waste more of my time debating that here in my thread and on these forums.

BTIsaac wrote:
And while I’m addressing this particular bit, I must also point out that any time a person says “I don’t mean to be X” or “I don’t want to say Y”, yes, they are being X or saying Y, no matter how much effort they spend in sugar-coating their words.

I think you missed my point. I did not say "i don't mean to be X".

You said, paraphrasing, “I don’t want to use X”, which is for all intents and purposes the exact same thing I was talking about here. I don’t see the point of arguing semantics when you know I know what you meant even if you didn’t say it outright. Just mentioning the term, be it directly or in a roundabout way like you did, still has the same effect of making me lose interest in your point for the very reason you just stated.
Author of the unofficial UtBS sequels Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm.
I also made Wesnoth RCX, a team-color preview tool for artists and content creators.
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