Descent into Darkness

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Descent into Darkness

Post by Development Team » November 14th, 2006, 5:09 am

This is the main development thread for the mainline campaign Descent into Darkness. The original first post for this thread follows.
esci wrote:Descent into Darkness is a mid-size (11 scenarios) campaign focusing on the undead faction. You play as Malin Keshar, a young man who becomes an apprentice necromancer in order to aid him in his fight against orcish raiders. The campaign is scenario-complete and completely playable. The latest version is 0.5.1


Here's a list of things I could use some help with, if you have an interest. I will get to all of them eventually, but your help will speed the process and you may well be better at them than I am:

Playtesting - Help me balance scenarios by posting your feedback. If you think a scenario is extremely difficult or way too easy, please post a replay so I can see what strategy you used

Artwork - Clean up the sprites and animations for all three levels of Malin's unit, plus the Ghast (level 3 ghoul). Malin and his master have portraits right now, but they either aren't very good (Malin's is a hack of the peasant portrait) or appropriate (the necromancer's uses Gwiti from the Dark Hordes, which is a little too evil-looking).

Story - Look for typos, lines that don't make sense, excessively long conversations, or confusion because I left something out. I will consider significant changes to the story-line if someone suggests a good idea.

Debugging - There are a couple of minor WML bugs I haven't managed to squash. The most persistent one is in A Small Favor - Part 2, where after someone picks up the book, Darken Volk heads straight into a wall, despite the fact that he has a [leader_goal] telling him to go in the opposite direction.

Python AI - This scenario has a python AI designed for an all-out attack on your leader. It's generally functional, but chokes if it can't find a path to your leader.
Last edited by esci on December 2nd, 2006, 7:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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zookeeper
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Post by zookeeper » November 14th, 2006, 11:29 am

This actually looks highly promising. However, I didn't get even near to beating the second scenario, since all those goblins simply beat the crap out of my WC's. And I didn't really even get to grabbing any other villages than the nearest 2-3. I'll probably cheat my way through that...

The only minor suggestion (other than the balance of the second scenario) I have so far is TC'ing of the campaign and difficulty level icons.

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Post by Rhuvaen » November 14th, 2006, 12:10 pm

zookeeper wrote:This actually looks highly promising. However, I didn't get even near to beating the second scenario
Same here. I guess the hint to investigate the swamp is the key, but I didn't manage to do so because by the time I got it, I had already sent Malin and the necromancer in a different direction. Of course, it should have been obvious to anyone familiar with "Crelanu's Book". :wink:

EDIT: okay, even with prior knowledge and heading directly for the swamps I find this hard to beat. Why? I have no village holders. By the time I defeat the leader, I have no villages remaining. Now the goal seems to be to own all villages... but new goblins appear even on vilages I captured previously, but lost control of. That increases the number of enemies greatly, and punishes the player for capturing villages early.

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Post by esci » November 15th, 2006, 4:22 am

I've uploaded version 0.4.3 to the campaign server. Here are the changes:

-Scenario 2 was made somewhat easier. Fewer goblin spearmen appear when you capture villages, and I increased the time limit.
-TC'ed all the icons
-scenario 10 is now playable, but still lacks balancing and dialogue

I'll look into completely rebalancing scenario 2 (probably having the goblin guards spawn only once per village) once I get the final two scenarios to the point of playability. For now, a few hints:

It requires a bit of a different strategy than many single player scenarios. I'd suggest ignoring the enemy leader for a while. Take only villages you can hold onto, and make full use of Malin and the dark sorcerer. Move your walking corpses around in large groups. After all, where's the fun in having a zombie horde descend on a village if you take away the horde part? :D

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Post by zookeeper » November 15th, 2006, 8:28 am

esci wrote:I'll look into completely rebalancing scenario 2 (probably having the goblin guards spawn only once per village) once I get the final two scenarios to the point of playability. For now, a few hints:
Getting the ghouls helped a lot. The problem was that the first time I just started roaming the swamp with Malin instead of Darken ("if you and I were to investigate the swamp") - I had wasted too many turns in the swamp with Malin before I moved Darken there, triggering the ghouls. Makes things a lot easier if you just know to stay at the keep with Malin and let Darken handle the swamp. The scenario would also have been definitely a lot harder had the enemy leader not rushed to the village near my keep at the edge of the forest this time, where Darken managed to blast it with the help of a ghoul and a WC or two.

I've almost completed the third scenario, so a few comments about that: not many complaints besides the usual somewhat sluggish cave gameplay (ghosts help a bit though). The water-canyon passage to the dwarf leader is nice, since it gives more possibilities for ghost usage. The ghost turning on you can potentially make you lose outright - I had both Malin and Darken at low HP's withing range of the ghost when it turned, and just got lucky enough to have a ghoul nearby to take out the ghost. A warning or a hint a turn or two before would probably be in order, since surprises can easily ruin the scenario when you haven't prepared for them (and you can't play by preparing for every possible surprise). I had to saveload quite a bit too (to ensure Darken and Malin hit with both strikes on a few occasions, which was often required for keeping them alive after getting hammered a bit when dealing with the outlaws).

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Post by zookeeper » November 15th, 2006, 9:59 am

Also, in "Beginning of the Revenge", it seems the only victory condition is to defeat both orc leaders - objectives claim the victory condition to be to reach the end of the pass, which does nothing. I didn't update to 0.4.3 before trying this though, in case you have it fixed there.

EDIT: Further suggestions: more in-scenario dialogue. More talk with enemy leaders, a bit more talk between Malin and Darken, and so on. The story is good, but IMHO the plot should be advanced also in the scenarios themselves, in addition to the story screens, in order to build more connection between the plot and what you're actually doing when playing.

EDIT: There's a "tagged a unit as advisor" debug message in the beginning of "Return to Hal'al".

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Post by Baufo » November 15th, 2006, 11:32 am

I have tried the first three scenarios so far and it looks very promising. This is definitely one of the best campaigns I have seen for a long time! I can't await to play the next scenarios!

A little thing I would change: give these dwarves in the third scenario any defense against ghosts. (E.g.: Thunderers) . Two level 2 wraiths + Darken Volk are enough to pwn them rather easily (At least on easy difficulty. :P - I am a coward)
I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again. -- Oscar Wilde

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Post by esci » November 16th, 2006, 3:37 am

Version 0.4.4 is now on the campaign server. Updates include:
-in Peaceful Valley, moving either Malin or Darken Volk into the swamp triggers the event, as is suggested in the dialogue
-in Beginning of the Revenge, you now win when you move Malin to the end of the pass (I had intended to change that before, but evidently only got as for as changing the objectives list)
-Descent into Darkness (scenario 10) is a bit more balanced. Still no dialogue
-Scenario 11, the final scenario, is now sketched out. It has no dialogue at all, but if you get there you can at least see where I'm going. It's actually reasonably balanced, as much as it ever will be (you'll understand after you play it for a while).

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Post by zookeeper » November 20th, 2006, 2:21 pm

A bug in "A Small Favor": Darken starts out with the hitpoints that he apparently had when I last saw him (I see no other reason for why he'd start out with 11hp :P). You should either heal him to full before storing him (wherever it was he went away for a scenario or two, I don't actually remember) or heal him to full when unstoring him in the beginning of this scenario. You can do that for example with an [object] (see EffectWML).

EDIT: You also have some typos in various side/AI settings..."agression" should be "aggression", "share_views" should be "share_view". Perhaps there are more, but those are the only two I spotted when glancing at one scenario.

EDIT2: The turn limit for part 2 of "A Small Favor" seems impossible in certain situations, like for example if you first head north/northeast, have to track back to the southwest corner to get the mage (if he happens to be there), go get the book, run back to the northeast corner...

EDIT3: "Alone at Last" has one more of those "tagged unit as advisor" debug messages.

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Post by esci » November 23rd, 2006, 6:29 pm

Either I forgot how to spell "aggression" for a period of about 2 months, or I abused copy/paste even more than I thought I did. Regardless, the typo bugs should be (at least mostly) fixed in all scenarios.

I've uploaded version 0.5.0 to the campaign server. In addition to fixes to all the bugs mentioned by zookeeper, it has the following improvements:
-the last two scenarios now have dialogue (not necessarily good dialogue, but it's something)
-Descent into Darkness now should be winnable without cheating
-Darken Volk warns you not to head down the north corridor in A Small Favor - Part 2

I've also updated the first post in this thread to reflect the current campaign status and request some help.

I now consider the campaign completely playable. All scenarios are winnable and have dialogue. There is certainly a lot of editing and balancing that still needs to occur. Thanks to those who have given me feedback already - keep it coming!

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Post by nance » December 2nd, 2006, 2:00 pm

I happen to have some trouble with the "alone at last" scenario
I killede eveything I encountered (horsedude and the girl with the stick) but I cannot complete the scenario objective : "take the book back from the darken Volk" since no enemies are left on the map.
I've been in every corner, but I don't know what to do now.
Any hints, suggestions?
(pressuming this is a user error ;) )

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Post by (S)elfish weirdo » December 2nd, 2006, 2:15 pm

Indeed, our dear Darken does not appear to arrive at the scene at all. Something appears to be wrong with the unstoring event of that map. Mind you, you can still finish it by killing off one of your own necromancers who somehow have gotten their corrupted little hands on the book. For once, treason pays off.
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Post by nance » December 2nd, 2006, 6:17 pm

hmmz.., thanks, but
I cannot kill any one of my own necromancers....
I killed everything killable...
Perhapse start the scenario again? What's the right order to kill the enemies?

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Post by esci » December 2nd, 2006, 7:03 pm

Darken Volk is supposed to appear on the scene, and killing him should give you the book. This would seem to be a campaign bug. It used to work properly, so I'm not sure what happened. I'll look into it and post an updated version when I can. Once I do, you will probably have to replay the previous scenario (A Small Favor - Part 2) to get it to work.

Thanks for the feedback.
Original creator of the campaign Descent Into Darkness
Currently working on Cities of the Frontier

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Post by esci » December 2nd, 2006, 7:36 pm

There was a small WML error that caused Darken Volk not to appear. I've uploaded version 0.5.1 to the campaign server, which fixes this bug and also includes a few small dialogue changes.

You will have to restart your game from the previous scenario for this fix to work.
Original creator of the campaign Descent Into Darkness
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