Making the South Guard better.

Discussion and development of scenarios and campaigns for the game.

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Eleazar
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Making the South Guard better.

Post by Eleazar »

The South Guard starts out as a great campaign for beginners, but after scenario #5 has some real problems. And there have been some nasty bugs.
I tried to maintain this campaign, but found that anything beyond basic WML is too much of a struggle. But it looks like we have some volunteers to maintain mainline campaigns, so i'll put some of my notes down here.

This thread is for discussing ways to change tSG to better. Please report bugs in the other thread.

Known Issues: (this list is a little old, and i may have missed someone else fixing these.)
1.Born to the Banner:
* Deoran's instructions about moving between keep and citadel can assume he's somewhere he isn't if for instance you use Moreth to talk to Garrick.
* The Mermen don't seem to be much help. Perhaps more waterway would make them more relevant— or would that confuse the issue?

3.Desparate Errand
This level starts with a dull 7-9 turns of moving without combat. Recommend adding a few outlaws near Deoran's starting position.

And when combat begins, it tends to be short because the enemy go after villages rather than you.

4.Vale of Tears:
* Deoran may ask Ethiliel "why won't other elves help us" after her bodyguard has appeared, making the question seem odd.

6. Pebbles in a Flood
It's very unclear how this scenario will end from the description. "Hold the line" Does that mean if an enemy crosses a certain point it will end. Does the death of either or both of Gerrick and the Outlaw end it? Haven't played through it yet....
* Also why add the poacher to the recruitment on this scenario. Doesn't seem like he'd be much use, but a new player would recruit him just for the novelty
*Give the units in "Pebbles" traits.

6b. The Long March
*Give "the long road" more replay value than fighting a naga.

:arrow: 7a. All the problems of cave levels. This one is not usually considered fun, especially for beginners.


Ideas:
Sound:
*make a macro or something to automatically play victory or defeat music at the end of each scenario.

Gameplay:
* Randomize the "choice in the fog" map or make 2-4 variant maps that would be chosen randomly. To enhance the "we're lost!" feel.
* It would be nice to be able to keep Ethiliel's bodyguard after Vale of Tears.
* Use Scott's L3 bandit pack?.
*Try including an experience % increase for easy as part of balancing.


Story:
* Give special but expendible units like Jarek and Moreth some lines, as a small reward if they player keeps them alive.
* Give the slayer of the zombie leader in "choice" a line indicating that the zombie was not the root of the problem.
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Chris NS
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Post by Chris NS »

My suggestions:

1) Make Deoran more versatile. It is very difficult to use a leader who can only charge as a bit of rotten luck loses you the game instead of one unit.

2) In "Pebbles in the Flood", change the scenario objectives to something like: "Feeble, hold out less than 12 turns" to "Legendary: Hold out for more than 24 turns." And probably vary the last scenario based on this more, because at the moment very little is at stake.

3) I'd consider changing the elf line completely. Maybe a mirror image of the rogue line where maybe ... Deron sacrifices his life and Gerrick finishes it off?

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Post by zookeeper »

Give Deoran a lvl3 advancement. Having the main character stop at lvl2 is just lame.

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Post by wsultzbach »

zookeeper wrote:Give Deoran a lvl3 advancement. Having the main character stop at lvl2 is just lame.
My idea for that was the: "Knight Commandeer".
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Post by Wintermute »

Good thoughts! I hadn't played tSG before, so I am currently still playing through it (I thought that would be a good starting place). Some of these I had noticed, and several should be very straighforward to fix. I am currently not setup to make changes, but I hope to get down to business and make some progress in the next week or two. Especially since I am freshly out of the 1v1 tourny. :wink:
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Post by Eleazar »

Chris NS wrote:1) Make Deoran more versatile. It is very difficult to use a leader who can only charge as a bit of rotten luck loses you the game instead of one unit.
That makes sense. I remember as i started out, i couldn't keep horsemen alive long enough to level up. Of course that was because i was a sloppy player, but that's not a lesson that's fun to learn with your leader.

I'll animate a sword attack for him (like the knight's) unless someone has a good reason it should be something else.

winter wrote:I hadn't played tSG before, so I am currently still playing through it (I thought that would be a good starting place).
A very good place to start...
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Post by Temuchin Khan »

Chris NS wrote:3) I'd consider changing the elf line completely. Maybe a mirror image of the rogue line where maybe ... Deron sacrifices his life and Gerrick finishes it off?
I like most of the suggestions, but I'm not sure about this one. I think it would seem a little too contrived if the two branches were mirror images of each other.

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Post by Noyga »

Eleazar wrote:
Chris NS wrote:1) Make Deoran more versatile. It is very difficult to use a leader who can only charge as a bit of rotten luck loses you the game instead of one unit.
That makes sense. I remember as i started out, i couldn't keep horsemen alive long enough to level up. Of course that was because i was a sloppy player, but that's not a lesson that's fun to learn with your leader.

I'll animate a sword attack for him (like the knight's) unless someone has a good reason it should be something else.
It makes sense.
Btw IIRC Deoran can gain an extra mace attack (through AMLA), which isn't well animated.
(if you're looking for it, it's in the AMLA_MACE macro in data/campaigns/The_South_Guard/utils/sg_unit_utils.cfg)
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Post by wsultzbach »

Noyga wrote:It makes sense.
Btw IIRC Deoran can gain an extra mace attack (through AMLA), which isn't well animated.
(if you're looking for it, it's in the AMLA_MACE macro in data/campaigns/The_South_Guard/utils/sg_unit_utils.cfg)
IMO the strange AMLA should be removed altogether, seeing how this campaign is aimed at first-time players.
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Eleazar
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Post by Eleazar »

wsultzbach wrote:
Noyga wrote:It makes sense.
Btw IIRC Deoran can gain an extra mace attack (through AMLA), which isn't well animated.
(if you're looking for it, it's in the AMLA_MACE macro in data/campaigns/The_South_Guard/utils/sg_unit_utils.cfg)
IMO the strange AMLA should be removed altogether, seeing how this campaign is aimed at first-time players.
I don't see what's strange about it except for the fact that there is no animation. Though i think we should make sure there are no more than 3 total attacks available.
Feel free to PM me if you start a new terrain oriented thread. It's easy for me to miss them among all the other art threads.
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Post by Wintermute »

Eleazar wrote:
wsultzbach wrote:IMO the strange AMLA should be removed altogether, seeing how this campaign is aimed at first-time players.
I don't see what's strange about it except for the fact that there is no animation. Though i think we should make sure there are no more than 3 total attacks available.
I am also somewhat doubtful about having a special ALMA in this campaign. I think that it would encourage a playstyle that would hurt some players in other campaigns (namely, giving xp to units that won't get any further advantages). My instinct would be to get rid of the ALMA, and perhaps add a level 3 advancement (who would get the attack) instead. But what do others think?
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additional bug?

Post by Wintermute »

I noticed that the "turn flag" by the turn indicator is always the player flag - it doesn't change to the AI flag when the AI is moving. This is a bug, right?
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Priorities

Post by Wintermute »

Ok, I have played as much as I can. I found "Into the Depths" to be confusing, and ultimatly not completeable. I found and killed the litch, which seems (?) to be the mission objective, only to have nothing happen, and be defeated when turns run out. I also didn't see any way to free the trapped unit, deal with the trolls, etc. That scenario needs to be completely reworked or replaced IMO.

Here are some thoughts/observations:

1. There are some fun ideas, and a good mix of different scenario objectives. I think that this is a good way to learn. I like keeping the story somewhat linear at first, but perhaps some more choice in later stages of the game would add to player creativity and replayabilty.

2. I think that the maps need to be reworked while keeping some things in mind: You are given some fish (hunters), but it is hard to tell when they are useful. I think that for beginers it would be helpful to be clear (with dialogue, and via the map layout) when some fish would be useful.

3. The unit mix available to the player is not very effective against undead. If the player is just learning how to play Wesnoth, then pitting them up against undead (especially litches) without any serious fire or impact at their disposal seems somewhat cruel. ;-) Also, what is this campaign setting the player up to play next? The unit mix and tactics seem to be somewhat unfocused. What units should I be giving my experience to? What is the core of my force? What support units will I need? This seems unclear to me, so I can only imagine that a beginer would be heartbroken after leveling up several bowman, pikeman, and merman hunters to go into the last scenario trying to kill a litch in a cave.

So after some reflection, here are my thoughts on the near future of the campaign:

Establish a focus and goal for the campaign. Since tSG is intended for beginers, I would suggest that it should introduce and focus on the tactics of one primary faction. Either Rebels (setting up HttT) or Loyalists (setting up the other human campaigns) Either that or perhaps creating a more clearly outlined split in the campaign, where loyals may be the inital focus, and elves in the second half - perhaps with both types of units needed in the final battle(s). Also, if the focus is on loyal units fighting undead, then mages or HI are a must! I think that this can be implemented by tweaking the existing framework of the campaign (i.e. not adding or removing scenarios)

Then, I think it makes sense to rework the maps with the unit mix available to the player in mind. This will take care of several of the bugs and gameplay problems that have been mentioned above. Fixing the rest of the bugs and adding more dialogue explanation of strategy and hints (a la HttT) would then follow.

This is my take on what the gameplan should be, but I am open to suggestions. What do others think?
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Re: Priorities

Post by Eleazar »

Wintermute wrote:I found "Into the Depths" to be confusing, and ultimatly not completeable. ...That scenario needs to be completely reworked or replaced IMO.
Aelius (the original author) agrees about the need for major fixes, and so do i. I haven't played through it recently, but it used to be winnable.
Wintermute wrote:2. I think that the maps need to be reworked while keeping some things in mind: You are given some fish (hunters), but it is hard to tell when they are useful. I think that for beginers it would be helpful to be clear (with dialogue, and via the map layout) when some fish would be useful.
I think the fish may be mildly useful in the first scenario if you don't advance very fast. I like to use them in the various "Westin" scenarios, but i'm not sure if noobs could use them well.
There's 2 ways we could deal with them:
1) make them easier to use, and provide hints how to do it.
2) consider the merfolk an optional element for the more advanced beginners. i.e. It would be harder to get the merfolk on your side, and it would be something real beginners could skip, but would add reply value for those who are starting to get the hang of things.
Wintermute wrote:Establish a focus and goal for the campaign. Since tSG is intended for beginers, I would suggest that it should introduce and focus on the tactics of one primary faction. Either Rebels (setting up HttT) or Loyalists (setting up the other human campaigns) Either that or perhaps creating a more clearly outlined split in the campaign, where loyals may be the inital focus, and elves in the second half - perhaps with both types of units needed in the final battle(s). Also, if the focus is on loyal units fighting undead, then mages or HI are a must! I think that this can be implemented by tweaking the existing framework of the campaign (i.e. not adding or removing scenarios)
A more definite focus and goal are a great way to start out.

You did play both of the branches that divide at scenario 5, right?
For me the game-changing choice the player makes in the middle of #5, is the single best dramatic moment in a Wesnoth campaign i've played. I don't see how it can be retained (or the good stuff following the choices) if the focus is simply on Loyalist units.

Currently you can recruit
  • 4 kinds of loyalist units: Peasant, Bowman, Spearman, Cavalryman
    + 1 merman (if you visit their place in scenario 1
    + 2 outlaws in the outlaw branch: Footpad, Thug, or
    + 2 elves in the elf branch: Elvish Shaman, Elvish Fighter
Though i think you can play with several other types of units provided in different scenarios.

Something more modest than teaching an entire faction— is probably appropriate for a beginner campaign. Simply learning a few key units from various factions, is a good start for beginners.

So i agree that that recruit-able units and the provided foes need to be reconsidered, and a stronger focus is needed, and quite a few changes.
I just think a beginner friendly focus could be found that won't require the best parts of the campaign to be thrown out.
Wintermute wrote:adding more dialogue explanation of strategy and hints (a la HttT) would then follow.
There are some pretty decent hint in the first level on easy. It would be great if they were added throughout the campaign.
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Re: Priorities

Post by aelius »

Glad to see someone's going to take up the banner as it were.
Wintermute wrote:I found "Into the Depths" to be confusing, and ultimatly not completeable. ...That scenario needs to be completely reworked or replaced IMO.
Into the Depths is a travesty. It was originally going to branch out into a longer digression, but that destroyed the dramatic momentum of the campaign. I would pay actual cold hard cash if someone rewrote this scenario not to be worthless dreck.
Eleazar wrote:I think the fish may be mildly useful in the first scenario if you don't advance very fast. I like to use them in the various "Westin" scenarios, but i'm not sure if noobs could use them well.
My intention was for the mermen to be useful in the second and third scenarios to hold the rivers. It would probably be good to add some notes (like those in the first scenario) explaining this. I also want new players to see that there are water specific units!
Eleazar wrote:1) make them easier to use, and provide hints how to do it.
This was my original intention.
Wintermute wrote:Establish a focus and goal for the campaign. Since tSG is intended for beginers, I would suggest that it should introduce and focus on the tactics of one primary faction.
On the contrary, I wanted new players to gradually be introduced to a variety of units (Loyalist, Outlaw, Undead, Elven in roughly that order).
Wintermute wrote:Also, if the focus is on loyal units fighting undead, then mages or HI are a must! I think that this can be implemented by tweaking the existing framework of the campaign (i.e. not adding or removing scenarios)
I purposely excluded these units to force the new player to rely on tactics, local numerical superiority and the time of day instead of simply recruiting a million heavy infantry and wailing away with them.
Eleazar wrote:For me the game-changing choice the player makes in the middle of #5, is the single best dramatic moment in a Wesnoth campaign i've played. I don't see how it can be retained (or the good stuff following the choices) if the focus is simply on Loyalist units.
This is the single most important thing about the campaign. That stark moral choice is what the story hinges on and the dialog is all centered around it. Before that scenario all the characters are telling you how evil the Bandits are preparing you for a difficult choice:

Do you show them mercy when it becomes clear that they're not in control any more or do you exact justice for their crimes?

What flows from there is intended to illustrate that either choice has a cost (i.e. Garrick's sacrifice or the justice of the enraged elves).

I would ask that this fundamental dramatic dynamic not change, no matter what else happens to the campaign.

Thanks for working on it!

- b.
La perfection est atteinte non quand il ne reste rien à ajouter, mais quand il ne reste rien à enlever. - Antoine de Saint Exupery (of course)

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