building a campaign - "A Second Front"

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gleedads
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building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » October 19th, 2009, 4:01 am

I'm building a campaign. I'm very new to this and am still learning my away around WML and the core files. Here's a brief description of the campaign concept:

When the humans and elves defeated the orcs at the Battle of Weslath in 20 SY the elves of Wesmere Forest had sent most of their armies to fight in the battle. Some orcs, who had refused to join the main orcish host, were influenced by some necromancers to attack Wesmere while it was vulnerable. The campaign follows Ildriel, an elvish druid, who led some of the defenders. Ildriel starts the campaign with few resources at her disposal because the elven armies are away.

The campaign is intended to be very "branched". In other words, from most scenarios there are several possible "next scenarios". Often "losing" a scenario in various ways (such as by retreating or running out of time) does not result in the end of the campaign but instead takes you down an alternate story line.

Currently the campaign has 7 "main" scenarios, with an additional 5 scenarios in side branches. It's actually hard to say which are the main scenarios and which are the side branches. I'm still fleshing out the last part of the story (it's just the skeleton of a plot so far), but I suspect the campaign will be about 12-15 scenarios long when completed, with as many as 12-20 additional scenarios in side branches. I realize that this is extremely ambitious, especially for a newby like me.

The story will make significant reference to the "path of earth" and "path of faerie" of the elves and the nature of the elvish connection to the faeries. The faeries themselves will make a prominent appearance in the campaign.

Over the next while I expect I will post additional messages here asking for advice on various matters. The first thing I'd like to know is how likely it is that anyone would contribute art? I'm learning the coding and have what I think is a good story. But I stink at producing the art! I realize that I'll probably have to provide considerably more detail before anyone will take an interest.

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zookeeper
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by zookeeper » October 19th, 2009, 7:04 am

gleedads wrote:The first thing I'd like to know is how likely it is that anyone would contribute art? I'm learning the coding and have what I think is a good story. But I stink at producing the art! I realize that I'll probably have to provide considerably more detail before anyone will take an interest.
This thread will probably give you the right feel for it. That is, it mostly depends on how good you make your campaign. If you make a really cool campaign, then someone will probably make art for it sooner or later (the latter being more likely), and pretty much all you can do is just try to make the campaign good enough that potential artists would like it enough to do art for it.

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gleedads
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » October 21st, 2009, 3:47 am

Thanks very much, that's about what I figured. I'll post more detail on the campaign as it continues to develop. I see from browsing other threads that people are not shy about posting plot synopses that qualify as spoilers, so I will do that in the near future.

It looks like I've already been following much of the advice in the link you sent, such as producing one frame per unit for playtesting. I've also created some terrain graphics that I needed in one scenario. Much of what I've done artwise has been Frankensteining, so as it approaches readiness for playtesting I should probably ask for permission from original artists where I can track down who they are.

Here's a graphic I did up for background to part of the storyline at the start. Anyone who wants to steal it should feel free.
mountains_lake_mozaic.png

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gleedads
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » October 21st, 2009, 5:05 am

...and here's a sprite I just did up roughly from scratch which just shows that I don't know what the heck I'm doing. This is for a unit: Faerie Queene (yes, I know queen has no "e" on the end in modern English. It's a reference to Elizabethan poetry, so sue me for having pretentions to being literary). She doesn't show up well on the white background.
faerie_queene.png
faerie_queene.png (4.21 KiB) Viewed 3484 times
The unit is (feedback appreciated, but I realize that without the rest of the tree you might not be able to say much)

Faerie Queene
lvl: 3
cost: 55
HP: 42
MP: 6
XP: 150
advances to: none
advances from: Perie Enchantress

ambush, leadership
sword: 6-5 (blade)
faerie touch: 9-3 (impact) (magical)
entangle: 5-4 (impact) (slow)
charm: 0-2 (impact) (slow)

The charm is currently using the second charm from the WML_Abilities wiki, but with the code removed that makes the *charmer* switch sides. This is probably terribly unbalanced. Also, the sword hardly seems necessary and is only there because the earlier things on the advancement tree also had swords.

The ambush ability is because all faeries have ambush - they ought to be elusive.

So basically it's a leader, with ambush, magical attacks and charm. The counter balance is that advancing to this is really hard (I think, not playtested yet) and she kind of sucks in direct combat because of low HP.

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gleedads
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » October 23rd, 2009, 4:21 am

Here is a bit of a summary of the scenarios that already exist. Like I say, this is a very "branched" campaign. Under each scenario I indicate what the next scenario is in various cases.

01 "Thrust of a Spearhead": Ildriel is the seneschal of a border castle (Nindoluin) on the edge of Wesmere. Because the armies have marched off to the Battle of Weslath she has almost no forces at her disposal (she can only recruit shamans and a zero level elvish unit I've made up: "Elvish Novice" - not a good name, I'd like another). The orcs attack. It should be a very stiff fight, especially since orcish reinforcements arrive a few turns before the end. But the player can retreat.
retreat -> 02 (with whatever forces you have)
defeat orcs -> 02a

02 "Running": Ildriel and whatever forces she had at the end of the previous scenario (there is an opportunity to recruit but the player should have very little money) are fleeing down a track through the forest. Ildriel has a dream that the forest wants to talk to her. There are goblins ahead and behind. Ildriel must break through the goblins ahead of her to be able to make it to another elven castle. Along the road she meets Ylardwyn, a sorceress fleeing from another elven castle (Dwimmermere) that has fallen to orcs.
Fighting through the goblins shouldn't be hard, but if time is running out an option of retreating in another direction is offered.
fight through the goblins -> 03 (with whatever forces you have)
retreat to south -> 03a (with whatever forces you have)

02a "The Second Wave": Nindoluin is attacked again by a stronger orcish force. There are also orcs coming out of a tunnel near to the castle. Ildriel suggests a plan of moving to the tunnel entrance and first stopping the orcs from coming out of it. Her advisor suggests retreat.
defeat the orcs -> go to 03c
move Ildriel to tunnel entrance -> go to 03b (with all current forces)
retreat -> go to 02

03 "The Relief of Caedenwyth": Ildriel arrives at a larger elven castle (Caedenwyth) only to find it under seige by a mixed force of orcs and humans. The forces in the castle are being commanded by a lord named Galbarond.
defeat the orcs and humans -> Galbarond joins Ildriel, with his army (Ildriel can now recruit elvish fighters, elvish archers and elvish scouts). Go to 04
run out of time -> Galbarond and Ildriel retreat to the north. Go to 04a (not made yet)

03a "Deeper into the Forest": Ildriel flees into a deep, rarely visited part of the forest, still pursued by goblins. Her path is blocked by spiders. A nearby hill looks like a good place for a last stand. Arriving there she finds woses, led by Awee, an ancient wose. They join the fight against the goblins and spiders. If the battle goes badly Ildriel has the option of retreating to the west.
retreat to the west -> go to 04b (not made yet)
defeat the goblins and spiders -> Awee joins Ildriel (she can now recruit woses). Go to 03

03b "An Underground Struggle": Note: this is a very tough scenario. Ildriel and her force descends into the tunnel to try to stop the orcs from using it. In exploring they should meet Thoradin, a dwarvish explorer (new unit). Thoradin suggests diverting a stream to flood the tunnels. The player is also offered the option of retreat.
retreat -> 02 (via a story only scenario)
flood the tunnels -> 03c (via a story only scenario)

03c "On the Dwimm Moors": Ildriel has now defeated the orcs twice but they are pressing upon other parts of the borders of Wesmere. The Ka'lian is impressed with Ildriel and send her to relieve a seige at Dwimmermere. The enemy have also noticed Ildriel. On the road Ildriel is ambushed by a mixed force of orcs and (this is the first time we see them) undead.
fight through -> 04c
retreat -> 02

04c "Messages on the Road": (story only) Ildriel finds out that both Dwimmermere and Nindoluin have fallen. She flees towards Caedenwyth.
go to 02.

04 "To Dwimmermere": Ildriel and Galbarond find that they are cut off from the Ka'lian. They decide to try to recapture Dwimmermere. On the way, if Ildriel has not already met the woses (led by Awee) in 03a, she has the dream again that the forest wants to talk to her. Then they meet woses who are being attacked by orcs.
defeat the orcs -> The woses join Ildriel (she can now recruit woses). Go to 05.
time runs out -> Ildriel is forced to retreat. The opportunity to gain recruiting of woses is lost. Go to 05.

05 "The Seige of Dwimmermere": Ildriel and Galbarond arrive at Dwimmermere and find it held by undead, with orcs camped outside. Shortly into the seige Ildriel has a vivid sense that some horrible ritual is going on inside Dwimmermere and that it is very important that they stop it.
defeat the orcs -> 06a (not made yet)
retreat or time runs out -> The ritual is completed. Before retreating Ildriel sees "Fallen" (new unit) and the necromancers in future scenarios will be able to recruit Fallen (which are *nasty*) Go to 06

06 "Flight Across the Moors": Ildriel and Galbarond and whatever forces they have from 05 flee across the moors. They become surrounded and take refuge on a hill with a circle of standing stones on it. If Ildriel uses any magical attack then she feels a "surge" and a magical portal opens on the hilltop. Ildriel must move to the portal. Go to 07.

07 "Where Are We?": (only partly made) Ildriel and Galbarond and whatever forces they have left find themselves in an unfamiliar forest. Awee, if he is with them, gives them hints that they must be in the half world of the faeries. Ildriel has a sense that they must move to the west. They meet other groups that have arrived here via portals. One group (demons - the Anakes from BEEM) is hostile. One group (the Clockwork Dwarves from BEEM) is neutral unless Ildriel has Thoradin with her. If Thoradin is along then the small group of clockwork dwarves join Ildriel to try to get out of this place. The other group they can meet are the Windsong from EoM. These join Ildriel. Note: the groups joining are not powerful and Ildriel does not gain the ability to recruit them. Each friendly group is only a few 1st level units. They are here to provide a few interesting units for the recall list from this point on. Eventually they meet the faeries. The faeries have brought them here to make an offer. The connection between the elves and the faeries has been waning for some time. The faeries will help to fight off the invaders of Wesmere but only if Ildriel (who they have specifically chosen) will offer herself as a bridge to reestablish the link. If she accepts then Ildriel will live only a short life as an elf and will then die and return as a faerie, reforging the connection in the process.

That's as far as I've gotten. If Ildriel accepts then she will be able to recruit faeries (a small faction with 3 advancement paths) and will have some additional help in future scenarios. But she will receive less help from the Ka'lian because they will be suspicious of her (this all has to be set up in a story scenario that would likely be the next scenario). If she refuses then she will not have faeries, but will have more help from the Ka'lian.

There will be some events near the end of the campaign which depend on which choice was made at this point. The rest of the story is written, though some only in skeleton form, and most of the branching from this point on hasn't been fully worked out. But I think this post is quite long enough already and I need to go to bed.

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gleedads
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » October 25th, 2009, 5:43 am

At the beginning of the campaign all the player can recruit are Elvish Shamans and Elvish Novices (I don't like the name "Elvish Novice" - can anyone suggest an improvement). The player starts with a single Elvish Archer to provide just a bit of offensive punch. Here are the stats on my Elvish Novice.

Elvish Novice
lvl: 0
cost: 10
HP: 22
MP: 5
XP: 18
advances to: Elvish Archer, Elvish Fighter, Elvish Scout

sword: 4-2 (blade)
bow: 3-2 (pierce)

I realize that balance is not such a big issue in campaigns, but do people think that unit is reasonable for what it is supposed to be?

Here's the portrait (shamelessly and badly modified from the Elvish Fighter portrait):
novice.png
novice.png (30.13 KiB) Viewed 3424 times
And here's the sprite
novice.png
novice.png (3.27 KiB) Viewed 3424 times
They both serve to demonstrate my lack of ability as an artist.

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gleedads
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » November 25th, 2010, 1:54 am

Phew! It's been over a year since I've posted here?? Wow, working for a living sucks! OK, I'm hoping to spend some time on this again. There actually has been progress since the last post. I'll summarize it soon.

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gleedads
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A detail map of Wesmere Forest

Post by gleedads » April 6th, 2011, 4:56 am

The whole campaign takes place in Wesmere Forest. I'd like to have a journey map for the campaign. But if I do it on the main Wesnoth map then it will all take place in much too small an area. So I've made a detail map of Wesmere. I hope it isn't too much at odds with peoples' picture of the geography of Wesmere. In particular I've introduced a small range of mountains and hills that runs through the middle of the forest (sort of like the Mountains of Mirkwood in Tolkien) and some small rivers and lakes. Here is the .png
The .png of my map.
The .png of my map.
I'd like to make the .xcf (the GIMP file) available so that people with more artistic ability than me can improve upon it. But even zipped it is too big to attach here. If anyone has suggestions re. an easy way to make that file available somewhere on the Wesnoth site then let me know.

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gleedads
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Other progress

Post by gleedads » April 6th, 2011, 5:13 am

I've completed scenario 07 described in an earlier post. I've also completed scenario 08 and have mostly completed a story scenario that goes after it (there's a big block of dialogue that needs to be filled in). I've more or less completed a scenario 09 (it's a complicated scenario and I'm not convinced it entirely works yet). I'm working on scenario 10. I think by the time the story is told it will go to scenario 16 or 18. But there is a lot of branching to add so there are considerably more than 8 scenarios still to be created.

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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by Gwynnedrion » April 6th, 2011, 2:29 pm

Well, seeing I am the first to reply in over a year, I'd say great job! I'm certainly looking forward to this as it is not the shamble story of Orcs vs. Loyalists/Elves/Dwarves. This has potential, a good storyline, an enthousiastic developper and branches (something not that common).

Instead of Elvish Novice, you might take the Elvish Citizen (already has a sprite) that can be found from "The Militia" campaign if I remember.

P.s: If you want somebody to playtest it, contact me, I'd be thrilled.

Gwyn.
”Rise, adept, and tell me about the enemy.”

You are a Horseman: you charge ahead without thinking of the consequences.(80%)

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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by Neuromancer » April 6th, 2011, 8:48 pm

gleedads wrote: The campaign is intended to be very "branched". In other words, from most scenarios there are several possible "next scenarios". Often "losing" a scenario in various ways (such as by retreating or running out of time) does not result in the end of the campaign but instead takes you down an alternate story line.
Concept sounds very promising.
gleedads wrote: ...bit of a summary of the scenarios that already exist.
From reading it I get the feeling the whole campaign will be arsy-versy. Instead of capturing/conquering/advancing (as in other campaigns) the player will run away instead. I like that :) Also I like the idea that elves are not in control of the forests (as is usually depicted), but de facto only live there, as are many other forest creatures.
gleedads wrote: I think by the time the story is told it will go to scenario 16 or 18.
I recommend cutting down the total number of scenarios. 17 scenarios wont capture players attention the whole time, especially if you use branching ones. Moreover, if you will continue in your current rate of work, you might end up finishing campaign in 2013 or even later. In that point, you will need to rewrite the whole thing to the Xth version of wesnoth :D
Enough ranting from me. I can help with map design if you are interested. If you want to look at my work, you can check out maps from Mercenaries campaign (located on 1.9 addon server). Look for example at Ambushers_Ambushed, Big_Map or World_Map.

About Elvish Novice: I suggest naming the unit just plainly "Elf". The name reflects the nature of the unit perfectly.

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gleedads
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » April 9th, 2011, 1:54 am

Thanks for the comments folks and the offers of help!

I'll have a look at the Elf Citizen sprite and I like the suggestion of just calling the unit "Elf".

I've seen some people just post zipped folders of their campaigns. At some point I'll need to learn to place it on the repository but I think for now I'll see whether it zips up small enough to do that so that people can have a first go. I'm not going to do that quite yet because I know there are a lot of problems with balance and some poorly designed scenario maps. It'll take me forever to test and adjust balance but I'd like to address the big issues with it before I post the partly done campaign. Some of the scenario maps are bad enough that I'm not willing to post them yet. I'll try to fix those things up and then post it here.

Point taken on how long this is taking me. Summer's coming and I get more done on this sort of thing over the summer. Here's hopin'. I'll see whether I can shave it down to fewer scenarios, though at the moment I'm not sure what I would cut.

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gleedads
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by gleedads » April 28th, 2011, 2:47 am

I decided I wanted another unit to reflect the challenges to Wesmere of mustering an army quickly to respond to the sudden invasion. The pretext for this unit is that with the main armies away there was a shortage of horses that were suitable for battle. So training new scouts was difficult. In my previous Elvish Novice unit (which I'm now calling just an Elf because of Neuromancer's useful comments) it could level up to an Elvish Fighter, Elvish Archer or Elvish Scout. But now I've replaced the possibility of leveling up to an Elvish Scout with the possibility of leveling up to an Elvish Runner. This is supposed to be like a scout without a horse.

Here's the description:

When the armies of Wesmere Forest went to the wars in the time of the Battle of Weslath they took with them a large portion of the horses suitable to be used as war horses. Many parts of Wesmere were left with almost no horses that could be ridden by scouts. The need for scouts in the absence of horses led some leaders to seek out the fleetest of foot among the trainees and train them as runners. These runners usually chose to use a sling instead of a bow, because it was lighter and the ammunition could be found as needed rather than carrying a bulky quiver of arrows. Also, because a scabbard can catch on branches and slow a runner down, they most often used a staff instead of a sword, which also made them more agile in rough terrain.

And stats:

name= _ "Elvish Runner"
hitpoints=28
movement_type=woodland (I might fiddle with this)
movement=7 (a bit faster than an Archer, but not as fast as a Scout)
experience=30
level=1
cost=13

staff: 5-2 (impact)
sling: 4-3 (impact)

They are not very capable but I'm planning on making them level up nicely. Also, their impact attacks will make them useful against undead, which is a big issue in this campaign. I haven't made the units they level up to yet. But I want one branch of this unit tree to give units with the Skirmisher trait.

Here's the sprite, which is the only graphic I've made for them so far:
runner.png
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What do people think?

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Neuromancer
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by Neuromancer » April 28th, 2011, 9:54 am

What is the main reason of creating this unit? Fighting against undead? Woses and fairies already do that, more effectively. Scouting? I think two - three scouts given to the player at the first scenarios would do the job too. Skirmisher? That can be useful, especially if player will have some units with backstab ability at his disposal too.
Anyways, I think you will get the most relevant comments when you release demo of the campaign. In that way, players will see the units in context of an army and their usefulness will become clear.
Sprite looks nice, you can borrow sling from footpad to make it even better, and you will save time in animating too.

Scaeb
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Re: building a campaign - "A Second Front"

Post by Scaeb » April 28th, 2011, 4:03 pm

I love your ambitious project! The branching gives it a "full control" flavour!
But let me ask:
gleedads wrote: 06 "Flight Across the Moors": Ildriel and Galbarond and whatever forces they have from 05 flee across the moors. They become surrounded and take refuge on a hill with a circle of standing stones on it. If Ildriel uses any magical attack then she feels a "surge" and a magical portal opens on the hilltop. Ildriel must move to the portal. Go to 07.
What if she does not use magic? Leaders often stay around the keep, do not participate in battle...

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