Descent into Darkness

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Turuk
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Turuk » October 11th, 2008, 1:17 pm

So you're saying that this is a worthless campaign because it is similar to the story and Star Wars, and just like George Lucas, the writer failed to deliver on what you expected it to turn into? :hmm:

Also, didn't you post something to this effect some months back?
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Orcish Shyde » October 13th, 2008, 10:01 pm

Malin Keshar wrote:Because of Malin's idiosincracy (like many real-life genius, Malin Keshar suffers from a notorius bipolar disorder), DiD is more like "Mood disorders will ruin your life".

My problem with Malin is that I'm unable to relate with such a character. Not to offend any manic-depressive reading these lines, but his mood changes just annoy me. I'd whish Malin to pick a characterization and stuck to it. Since his continuous switching from "destroy all orcs and everyone in my way mwarhahahahar" to "alas poor Malin nobody loves me", and back again, drives me crazy.
Malin didn't seem all that bipolar to me - he consistently hated orcs, was consistently bitter towards everyone who rejected him, and never really wallowed in the "alas poor Malin nobody loves me" mindset you complain of. Hell, come to think of it, he was angry and driven from start to finish.

You're right about not getting the moral across though. The only real indications that Malin's dark power is corrupting him are, one the fact that his level 3 sprite inexplicably changes while he attacks (assuming that's not just a mistake), two (more strongly) the fact that when he turns on Drogan and later on Darken Volk, he's goaded by one of his ghost units both times. Maybe if it was longer, and we saw enough character development to know that evil power was accelerating it; as it is, the moral of the story seems to be "don't become a necromancer because the people of Wesnoth are bastards who will turn on you for using such power". Seriously, you'd think Malin's own sister would hesitate to condemn him, intercede on his behalf, or at least believe the evidence of her eyes during "Return to Parthyn". It really stung to see her referring to my "orcish pets" when I'd wiped all orcs from the map before leaving.

Revenge of the Sith has no excuse though. A lot of Anakin's stupid actions can be explained by the fact the dark side of the Force is messing with his head as he uses it, but Lucas didn't put in any shots to make this clear. But this isn't a SW discussion thread.

Short of lengthening the main campaign, which would necessitate some rebalancing, I think the following changes would make it better:
- Crowbar in an appearance by Dela Keshar in "Saving Parthyn". When I first played, I played on Easy and managed to survive that level without recruiting, so it actually mentioned that Dela had been wounded raiding; in the more likely ending, where you have used walking corpses, I'd have Dela talk Drogan into merely banishing Malin instead of killing him.
- Following on from the above, edit the dialogue in "Return to Parthyn" so Dela asks Drogan to let you fight the orcs unimpeded... and fails... but unlike Malin, doesn't think Drogan is a traitor for his decision, and thus goes for revenge as she does now.
- From a gameplay point of view: Add a scenario where Mal Keshar faces a generic Orcish Warlord/Sovereign in the open field, and have it play instead of every other "Forever and Ever, Amen". Played right, this could further drive home the futility of Malin's quest, with 'victory' text saying how little the fall of such a leader really affects the orcs in the long run. The same level could also be used to represent his undead attacking a non-orcish scouting patrol if you wrote things rightly. *would make more detailed suggestions but it's late where he is right now*
- Make "Alone at Last" feel a bit more like a climax. Maybe it should be Malin, not Volk, who threatens to kill the paladins when they show up. Also, as part of showing how corrupted he's become, when Dela shows up, he should decide actively to kill her instead of making another futile attempt to talk her round. Something like "All I've done is try to help, and this is how you repay me? You will die for this treachery. It pains me to think you were once my sister."
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by turin » October 14th, 2008, 6:27 pm

I agree with most of what Orcish Shyde says in the above post. DiD has a lot of potential, but some of it is wasted - I like the idea of making Dela Keshar's story arc, and how it interacts with Malin's, more important.

The idea of having a second repeating scenario, that takes turns with "forever and ever, amen", is interesting. I'm not sure how it would work though. I'd vote for having it be "forever and ever, amen" most of the time, with the other stock scenario just appearing occasionally as a bonus for those who play on.
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Malin Keshar » October 25th, 2008, 9:58 am

Turuk wrote:So you're saying that this is a worthless campaign because it is similar to the story and Star Wars, and just like George Lucas, the writer failed to deliver on what you expected it to turn into?
You mostly got my point. This is not a worthless campaign anyway. I've played it twice and will replay it someday in the future. I just happen to dislike its plot -which, being a videogame, is not so essential-, in a similar way I disliked the story of Star Wars *prequels* (I love Star Wars original movie, a master piece on its own).

Turuk wrote:Also, didn't you post something to this effect some months back?
Yes, I had posted something like "Malin sucks", but failed to explain why on earth do I think that Malin sucks. Sorry for the delay. I'm such an slooow thinker...
Orcish Shide wrote:Malin didn't seem all that bipolar to me - he consistently hated orcs, was consistently bitter towards everyone who rejected him, and never really wallowed in the "alas poor Malin nobody loves me" mindset you complain of.
Hmmm... "Gods of Darkness, how did it come to this? My own sister determined on my death. Nothing has gone right since blah blah blah. Now the only being who still wants to keep me alive is a necromancer."
Orcish Shide wrote:The moral of the story seems to be "don't become a necromancer because the people of Wesnoth are bastards who will turn on you for using such power". Seriously, you'd think Malin's own sister would hesitate to condemn him, intercede on his behalf, or at least believe the evidence of her eyes during "Return to Parthyn".
I'd blame it to sibling rivalry. And if you think Dela is mean, that's because you don't know my own sister.

About "the people of Wesnoth are bastards", we only know about Drogan and Dela. [ranting] As far as we are told, Malin could be the idol of peasants. Military had failed again and again in keeping orcs at bay. Malin has succeed in it single-handely by resorting to forbiden arts. This is undermining the establishment. Drogan and Dela have to discredit Malin and wipe him out, or they risk a people's rebellion. [/ranting]

[further ranting] This leads me to imagine the following scenario: having defeated the bulk of orc chieftains, Malin comes back home victoriously. He finds Parthyn in flames. Soldiers and citizens are killing each other. News about his exploits have unleashed a rebellion. Like it or not, he is forced to lead the rebels and fight his sister. Afterwards, his is the choice between stay and become an usurper, or leave a ruined Parthyn at the mercy of the remaining orcs. Hilarity ensues. Then, Darken Volk comes up with a third option: he knows about a certain book which can help... [/further ranting]

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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Hulavuta » October 25th, 2008, 2:03 pm

Wasn't this Gwiti Ha'atel in a different version who is the master?

And, what the hell, if you don't like the campaign why'd you name yourself after the main character?

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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Orcish Shyde » October 25th, 2008, 2:59 pm

Malin Keshar wrote:Hmmm... "Gods of Darkness, how did it come to this? My own sister determined on my death. Nothing has gone right since blah blah blah. Now the only being who still wants to keep me alive is a necromancer."
That speech doesn't put him in the bipolar camp; that speech goes to show he's human. Let's see, in desperation he's turned to necromancy as a means of saving Parthyn, and in return for doing Parthyn that favour, he's been banished, and his sister has disowned him and is trying very hard to kill him. If you know anyone who wouldn't be depressed and angry after that, they're a psychopath.
Malin Keshar wrote:
Orcish Shide wrote:The moral of the story seems to be "don't become a necromancer because the people of Wesnoth are bastards who will turn on you for using such power". Seriously, you'd think Malin's own sister would hesitate to condemn him, intercede on his behalf, or at least believe the evidence of her eyes during "Return to Parthyn".
I'd blame it to sibling rivalry. And if you think Dela is mean, that's because you don't know my own sister.
I take it your own sister has pursued you to the ends of the earth with intent to murder you, and is still doing so despite your efforts to help and appease her? Because that's the behaviour Dela's displaying towards Malin, so if you think your sister makes Dela not look mean, then your sister must be worse. This would mean that she's clinically insane, and therefore not a good benchmark for sibling rivalry.
Malin Keshar wrote:About "the people of Wesnoth are bastards", we only know about Drogan and Dela. [ranting] As far as we are told, Malin could be the idol of peasants. Military had failed again and again in keeping orcs at bay. Malin has succeed in it single-handely by resorting to forbiden arts. This is undermining the establishment. Drogan and Dela have to discredit Malin and wipe him out, or they risk a people's rebellion.
Minor problem with that: peasants may be uneducated, but by and large they aren't completely [censored]. The moment they saw that Malin's undead creatures were attacking the orcs, they'd realise that their leaders were lying to them about his morality, thereby directly giving cause for the very rebellion your theory says Drogan wanted to prevent. Besides, the only reason Malin's army is able to destroy the orcs is because he doesn't have to defend Parthyn with the same army at the same time. Protecting a city and sallying forth to attack its attackers are two entirely different things.

Also: When I first played the campaign on Easy, I somehow completed "Saving Parthyn" without recruiting. Result? Malin decides to go after the orcs, and Drogan decides to let him do it with "neither my blessing nor my men". No banishment involved in that unlikely case, so why does he then say in "Return to Parthyn" that he banished the guy?
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Hulavuta » October 26th, 2008, 8:47 pm

Probably it's the coding that if you win, well it all goes maybe he didn't put in the code for if you didn't use units
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Espreon » October 27th, 2008, 3:13 am

Malin Keshar, if you think the campaign is not so good... then you improve it and submit a patch to the mainline developers. If they like the changes, then they will apply the patch.

Please make sure you are improving the trunk version, not the 1.4x version or the version in the 1.5x tags.

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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Orcish Shyde » October 28th, 2008, 12:54 pm

Espreon, while I see where you're coming from, that's a little unfair; having the intelligence to think of and suggest improvements and having the WML knowledge to implement them are two different things. That said, you can't expect the dedicated developers to make sweeping changes - they have better things to do.

I thought of another detail for "Alone at Last" though - when the paladins come, Darken Volk should have the sense to suggest that Malin and he set aside their differences to deal with the common threat. After all, left to his own devices he wouldn't be going out of his way to destroy Malin, so why not try to get the only person who'll help you on side? This could lead to an alternate campaign branch where Malin never becomes a lich, or could just allow you to put off killing Volk (or not do so, for those who like a challenge).

The level could also do with some explicit statement that all the Dark Adepts following the pair decided to side with Malin, since they're human and Volk doesn't seem to recruit any. My guess is, they're as pissed off as Malin that their teacher won't share the book. I actually quite liked that they updated the dialogue to make Malin less reasonable in that level though - when I first played, he only demanded that Volk tell him what was in the book, making Volk look like a damn fool for refusing.
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Sapient » October 28th, 2008, 9:30 pm

Orcish Shyde wrote:Espreon, while I see where you're coming from, that's a little unfair; having the intelligence to think of and suggest improvements and having the WML knowledge to implement them are two different things. That said, you can't expect the dedicated developers to make sweeping changes - they have better things to do.
Have you ever tried? For most situations, WML is designed to be very simple.
It's only when you try to do something out of the ordinary that it gets complicated.
Then there are WML Wizards willing to help for the hard stuff.

But for changing the lines of dialogue as you suggested, it's not harder than opening the file in any plain old text editor, searching for the old line of text, and then replacing it with the new line of text.

This game is built by contributions from volunteers, who are people just like yourself: people who enjoyed Wesnoth but thought they knew one or two ways to make it better, others agreed with them, but then they did the work. While some other developer may like your idea enough to grab, adopt, and use it, it could take a while for that to happen (if it ever happens). We have real lives too and limited amounts of free time to contribute.

Personally, I think you've got some decent suggestions, and others have stated so as well.
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Malin Keshar » November 3rd, 2008, 6:56 pm

This discussion is leading nowhere. This is my fault, for having abused psychological terminology. I'll hopefully clarify it later. But first, let me take a breath and recall the status quo.

The module plot is about how Malin Keshar got (rather literally) corrupted. Because of the use of necromancy. Or so it seems.

Because, as Orcish Shyde notices, is not necromancy itself what breaks Malin, but rather being rejected by everyone around him. Being mocked at school hints that he wasn't very popular among his fellow students, to start with. Worse than this, he was eventually fired -so, he must have not been all that popular among teachers, as well-. Back to home, he's banished and everybody wants to kill him, ranging from random dwarves to his sister Dela. To crown it, his master eventually treats him like an used kleenex. This is Orcish Shyde point, if I've understood it correctly.

I must agree that Malin is facing extenuating circumstances. And he's out of luck: everybody in his way happens to be a jerk. I don't get why Malin takes it so seriously, though. Forget about family and friends. All a man needs is minions to command, some gold to pay the maintenance and plenty of orcish throats to behead. In case he's missing human warm, no big deal: he can recruit adepts of his own, which are human. Some of them even are female. In black leather robes, no less!

My point of view is that Malin is not a victim of intolerance, but every punishment he takes is self-inflicted. In a nutsell, something is wrong with his head from the beginning.

At the intro of Saving Parthyn, Malin has an out of stage discussion with the guard captain. Malin wants Darken Volk to stay; Drogan wouldn't deal with a necromancer, friendly or not. They argue again along the scenario, regarding the use of necromancy. Malin shows to be no idiot. He's able to discuss his position consistently, and there's no trace of "poor judgement" in his words. Drogan's only answer is threatening him. He'd rather have Parthyn pillaged by orcs that saved by necromancers.

But Malin's mind is unstable. At this point, he looses his balance and switches to the depressive pole. When I say DEPRESSIVE, I mean MOURNS A LOT, DOES NOTHING. So, at the intro of Peaceful Valley we have Malin "fighting tears and rage", and cursing everyone on earth. A lot of cursing, yes, but he has bent under Darken's threats, instead of staying and fight for his rights. He should have claimed that Drogan is a servant, not a ruler, and can't banish anybody -letting alone a nobleman's son- without a trial.

After meeting Darken Volk, he suggest Malin: "Perhaps removing the threat of orc raids will persuade the people of Parthyn to... welcome you home." To which Malin agrees: "Perhaps. Even Drogan would have to be thankful for a summer without orc raids.", instead of replying: of course, since Drogan is such a grateful fellow, lets save Parthyn again, lets be heroes again, and maybe Drogan feels generous and spares our life... before banishing us again. Darken is kidding here, but Malin has lost his touch with reality. His seeming sanity wasn't but a tiny coat, and under pression it has washed away once and forever.

Please notice that Malin could have reacted in a range of ways. Optimistic: "So good I've been banished. I'm a big fish and Parthyn a small bucklet. Hoorray!". Pesimistic: "Curse magic as well! I'm finished, I won't cast an spell on the rest of my life!" Corageous: "I am the baron's son, fighting orcs is my duty, and whith any other's help or not, I'll do what must be done". Revengeful: "I'll join the biggest army that world have seen and train it in the wilderness. If Parthyn doesn't accept me willingly, they'll have to do it by force". As it goes, Malin is using the wrong means -raising dead- to do the right thing -fighting orcs- for the mistaken reason -the mirage of being welcome back home-.

In the Return to Parthyn scenario, Malin comes across this. What happens when he's forced to face reality? Does the shock take him back to his senses? Nooo: remember that his sanity dropped months ago. He become a full grown manic instead. Again, when I say MANIC I mean UNABLE TO CARE ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS DEEDS. He forgets about his true foe -the last orcish chieftain- and murders Drogan instead. In front of everybody? Oops, bad public relations. Inmediately after he switches again to depressive mood and leave the battlefield in a hurry because he "cannot fight the entire town as well as the orcs". What a poor excuse! Orcs are crippled, loyalists are crippled, half the battle is won.

An Small Favor: under Darken's influence, Malin goes raving manic again. Attacks an innocent town without even caring why is he fighting.

Alone at Last: same old story. Gets manic, tilts Darken like a blind bull. Gets depressed, runs away like a chicken.

The first time I played this campaign -normal level- I was driven by the hope that Malin was granted an eventual enlightment, and redeemed himself somehow. (The second time -hard level- I just ignored the plot. Ignored specific scenario objectives as well. Focus on killing everyone in my way instead. Was a psycho. And farmed gold, tons of gold. Greedy psycho. So much satisfactory.)

This was a ludicrously long post, sorry. I wish I've managed to explain myself.

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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Blarumyrran » November 3rd, 2008, 7:59 pm

Malin Keshar wrote:This was a ludicrously long post
But interesting one, certainly :o

I for one liked Malin's growing irrationality, and wouldve liked to see it shown even more.

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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Turuk » November 3rd, 2008, 11:00 pm

I know you hate the change between a confident, power-hungry Malin and the opposite half which is the world hates me, life is unfair, I'm so upset. I, like Syntax_Error, like the growing irrationality and I know that you have noted as well that you like where the story is going, just hate the ending.

My thought on the above would be potentially that it's not such a complete failure of the dialogue and set up of the story, except maybe at the end, as much as the scenario set up. I feel that it the campaign is not written to suggest that Malin is the prime victim of intolerance, but rather that his meeting with the necromancer was the final little nudge that pushed his sanity over the edge. Then he lives a bit in his own world, and does indeed inflict his own problems.

While I feel the madness he's suffering is mapped out decently in the dialogue and story, the scenarios do not always back it up, and that you get a hint of it but not enough of it to really give closure. I am not so sure that Malin should have redemption per se, but that he should go either fully over the edge into power-hungry maniac or go on living as a broken man, lost in his own insanity.
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Orcish Shyde » November 5th, 2008, 9:20 pm

Malin's portrayal in DiD certainly doesn't start off insane enough to explain all his actions; the idea's meant to be that by delving into necromancy he's losing his sanity. It could well be that actually, Drogan is more than a commander of the guard, and does indeed have the authority to banish Malin without Dela's approval - after all, he was apparently able to send Dela with a raiding party against the orcs, and the impression I get is that Dela's the rightful controller of the place with Malin's father dead. As I said though, I'd change it so that Dela, not Drogan, banishes her brother from Parthyn and all of Wesnoth.

Malin has every right to flee like a coward in Return to Parthyn IMHO - I was certainly too intimidated by Dela's army to try and send Shadows past it to kill her. There's also the interpretation that insane or not, Malin still doesn't want to kill his own people, otherwise why would he be so enraged to see Parthyn in ruins after it rejected him twice? Either way, while I get your point that Malin was clearly desperate to the point of insanity to think that studying the dark arts would get him accepted, I'm of the view that he's not the prime cause of his own woes - Drogan rejected him, Volk manipulated him, and the orcs were too strong to be repelled by conventional means. I hesitate to include the fact that Malin's own ghosts nudge him into attacking Drogan and then Volk, because he's the one that created them and thus the author of his own woes once again.

Basically, I don't think that Descent into Darkness works as a campaign if you take the view that Malin's problems are all caused because he's insane. He's a basically decent kid driven to dark magic because he sees no other way to protect his people from the orcs. If you want a 'redemption' ending for it all, then ignore "Forever and Ever, Amen" and download Shadow Master's campaign "Invasion from the Unknown" where Mal Keshar features prominently, having finally, FINALLY gotten over himself - albeit in the depressive way, saying he doesn't fear an end to his undeath.
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Re: Undead campaign: Descent into Darkness

Post by Turuk » November 5th, 2008, 10:31 pm

Fair enough, it's possible that people are taking various views of this campaign, and the problem, as alluded to earlier, is that it dips enough into each without fully committing to one in order to give it a continuous sense of coherency.




Side Note: I would do away with the colored text to illustrate your points, often times the colors are hard to read based on the background other members might be using.
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