Revised--Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

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ImaginaryFriend
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Revised--Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by ImaginaryFriend »

As a semi-professional writer for whom BfW has become entirely too much of a time-suck, I suppose it was inevitable that I'd want to try my hand at building campaigns. I write both humor and serious fiction, but since my current "big" project is a fairly serious novel, humor seems the way to go for my BfW experiments.

I've begun teaching myself WML (baby steps) and doing a discovery outline of the first campaign. I've perused some of the excellent general advice posted by various Wesnothers, too, but before I go much further, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Detailed feedback/advice/code snippets/offers of help would be best, but even something like, "sweet, go for it," or "No, step away from the code editor and keep your hands where I can see them," would be nice.

Okay, on to the meat. Please excuse me if this reads as being rushed. That's because it is. (I really do have to make more headway on that novel today.)

Edited for clarity, and to note the changes I'm making in response to zookeeper's input
I initially focused this post on the differences between this and most other campaigns, which in retrospect I can see was confusing, so here's my attempt to outline things more coherently, as well as to take zookeeper's input (for which I am very grateful) into account. If I'm going to try my hand at this, I need honest input from experienced hands (even if it hurts) so I don't waste my time building something no one is interested in. (I left the bulk of my original post at the bottom, BTW.)

I initially labeled this as a humor campaign, but a more accurate description is in order. The storyline is primarily a combination of "fish out of water," and "coming of age," stories, in which the primary protagonist must make difficult choices both in and out of combat. When I called it a humor campaign what I should have said was that I would try to use humor, and specifically parody, throughout. The campaign would (at least initially) revolve around recovering a powerful artifact.

The basic premise is that two fantasy-world denizens have been using a powerful and ancient artifact to scry on a technology-based world. They accidentally summon a human from this world. (An oft-used premise, but so is, "the rightful heir must claim the throne," "a group of slaves must fight for their freedom," "unlikely allies band together to resist an invasion," etc.; it's all in the execution.) Before the summoners can send him back, they are attacked by Outlaw faction-types, and while everyone is busy fighting, the McGuffin... er, I mean the artifact is stolen.

The combat scenarios would be essential, not peripheral; it's just that I wanted to emphasize the interplay between the combat and RP aspects. The combat scenarios would involve a wide range of opponent types, and in some cases the type(s) and strength of enemies would be influenced by character actions both in and out of combat. Early combat scenarios would involve mostly Outlaw faction classes, and undead will likely figure prominently in the final battle.

In response to zookeeper's comments, I'm getting rid of the new character classes I mentioned. They were pretty much window-dressing, anyway, intended in some cases to parody overdone fantasy tropes (for instance, the new Elvish class would have been one of the most powerful, depite its goofy name), and in others (like the Assassin variation) to be used a couple of times, and only for comic effect. I can see how they'd be off-putting, though. The only non-core classes I'd be likely to use would be a zero-level thief type, possibly a specialized mage class usable only by one of the initial supporters, and a unique leader type--which is a pretty common thing, as I see it in both core and UMC.

As in many campaigns, the ability to recruit certain troop types must be earned. Unlike most campaigns, that ability can be easily lost, depending on character choices. I like the idea of choices both in and out of combat having far-reaching effects. I'd like to limit the availability of certain kinds of troops. ANO, for example, gives you two opportunities to add Elves to your army, but combining both of those opportunities, you can only gain a maximum of ten Elves.

In any campaign one expects to lose troops, but I'd like to make excessive losses have more far-reaching consequences. Not sure exactly how the mechanics would work, but just as an example, say the first time you recruit Elves, not one elf survives the battle even though you didn't lose a single human troop. You might lose the ability to recruit Elves, or maybe they cost more gold for while, or maybe you have to perform some task in order to regain the ability to recruit Elves. (One idea: Perhaps one Elf still believes in you. He might even have some negative traits normally reserved for Goblins, like weak, dim, etc., but if you can level him up to Elvish Marshall he will convince other Elves to come to your aid again.)

On the other end of the spectrum, suppose that even though it has nothing to do with the victory conditions, you send a couple of units to the edge of the map to save some peasants who are being attacked by orcs. Maybe in a future scenario you gain a loyal Royal Guard who happens to be related to one of the peasants and is grateful, or maybe peasants from that area form a band of spearmen and bowmen who come to your aid later. Maybe they just have some useful--not essential, but useful--information that you can't get otherwise, like knowledge of a shortcut.

On non-linearity, I'd like to do something like the scouting scenario in ANO (again), where you can choose what order and in what season to play some (but not all) scenarios.

Also, I was wondering about whether anyone thought it might be good to implement a weather condition of rain and/or a terrain type of mud?

While I would love to know if there is anything in particular that you find appealing here, I would also like to hear what you object to and why. This will better enable me to create an enjoyable and challenging campaign.

/end Edit

(And here is the bulk of my initial post.)
Campaign one--Working title, "Bill the Ridiculous Hero" (I'll come up with a better one.)
Summary: Meet Bill. Bill is from Earth. He is bright, charismatic, athletic, talented, good-looking... and has all the ambition and attention span of a ferret on crack, thereby ensuring himself a lifetime of asking the eternal question, "Would you like fries with that?"

On Rydia, Mortimer the self-taught mage (and amateur anthropologist) has acquired a powerful artifact, and along with his friend Sasha the Elvish Babe (counterpart to Elvish Hunks), has been using it to scry on and study Earth. With Bill as their focal point, the pair have been learning our language and customs and developing a fascination with our technology and entertainment.

When Mortimer and Sasha attempt to transport technology from our world to theirs via the artifact--something they're not even sure is possible--they accidentally summon freshly-showered (and freshly naked) Bill, instead. After a brief misunderstanding, the trio hatch a plan to explore each other's worlds together. This all seems to be working out well, until they are attacked and the artifact stolen.

Given the way Bill's life on Earth had been going--or more to the point, not going--one might think he'd be happy about a new start in a fantasy world, but his luck recently changed. In the span of three days, Bill won the lottery, got asked out by a supermodel he met by chance, and as an indirect result of being seen with her, was offered an important role in an upcoming major motion picture. So while he loves the idea of visiting Rydia, he's not happy about being stuck there.

Getting Bill home is not the only problem. If whomever is responsible for stealing the artifact figures out how to use it the way Mortimer did, who knows what havoc they'll wreak on Earth, which is pretty much defenseless against magic? The harder Our Heroes try to recover the artifact, the more hopeless the cause seems to be.

The one good thing about all of this is that Bill, for once in his life, has a clear goal and some serious motivation to achieve it. If he's ever going to make it home, he knows exactly what he has to do; become a ridiculously overpowered Action Hero. He is going to kick bad-guy bootie, recover the artifact, save two worlds, and get the girl, no matter what it takes.

That is, if he can find his pants.

Some basics notes of intent
Tone-wise, I want to keep this a good mix of light-hearted and serious. Characters may occasionally break the 4th wall ("Story foul, Bill. You're suppposed to act like you can't hear the narrator.") Imagine if Douglas Adams and Jhonen Vasquez collaborated with Terry Pratchett, with maybe just a tiiiiiny dash of Deadpool thrown in for spice.

I'd like to make this somewhat RPG-ish, with conversation branches that will affect the goings-on in later scenarios. I'd also like most recruiting to be done "in-character." The UM Campaign, "A New Order" is a good example of what I'm talking about in those respects. For that matter, I want to incorporate something similar to the "scouting" scenario there, to allow for more non-linearity of play and the ability to revisit maps, etc.

Other things I want to include are a few magic items and perhaps a couple of shops, bars, inns, etc., where the player can, among other things, pick up information and maybe gain the occasional new recruit.

New character classes--NOT suitable for most campaigns--would include things like "Experimental Mage," "Elvish Babe," "Wannabe Ninja," and so on. Characters may gain new abilities and attack types by picking up items, some of which might allow simulated multi-classing. I'd also like characters to be able to switch certain items with one another on occasion (doesn't look too hard, based on some of the code for grabbing items in UtBS and other campaigns).
Last edited by ImaginaryFriend on July 3rd, 2010, 1:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
-Rob
Warning: This is an experimental life. If it ever reaches beta, run and hide.
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zookeeper
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Re: Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by zookeeper »

ImaginaryFriend wrote:Detailed feedback/advice/code snippets/offers of help would be best, but even something like, "sweet, go for it," or "No, step away from the code editor and keep your hands where I can see them," would be nice.
Ok, since you asked...

Why Wesnoth? Frankly, the last genre I'd think would suit a story like that is TBS. A point-and-click adventure? Fine. Interactive fiction? Sure. A platformer? Why not. A CRPG? Certainly. But a TBS? Neither turn-basedness or wargame-like strategy seems to fit what you want to do at all.

As for the story idea itself, I think it's not good. I wouldn't play anything which featured "elvish babes" and "wannabe ninjas" since it very much sounds like the kind of immature and thoroughly worn-out been-done-a-1000-times unimaginative teenage meme humour I can't stand. There's been a few humour campaigns I've actually liked (somewhat; I'm not a huge fan): the Ooze Mini-Campaign and Elvish Dynasty. Still, they're campaigns I don't think I'll ever play a second time, since there's really not much to the gameplay itself. If a campaign effectively only has a story and some forced gameplay to carry it, then I might play it once, but only if the story is actually good.

And again, I wouldn't have said anything had you not asked; since you did, I'm presuming it's ok to be perfectly honest. No flames intended, and it's just my opinion.

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Re: Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by ImaginaryFriend »

zookeeper wrote: I'm presuming it's ok to be perfectly honest. No flames intended, and it's just my opinion.
Thanks for the feedback, man. And yeah--If I didn't want the bad along with the good, I wouldn't have asked for it. IMHO, a single honest, thoughtful critic is more valuable than all the yes-men in existence.

I'm not permanently abandoning the idea, but as a beginning campaign-creator, perhaps it would better serve both my needs and the needs of the community if for my first public project I focus on a short, well-balanced, beginner-level campaign and get the basics down before going off the deep end. Once I've a bit of experience under my belt maybe I'll be better able to judge what will and won't be well-recieved.

The humor/parody idea basically grew out of needing a break from writing serious, angsty stuff, and wanting a project that would help me learn to create Wesnoth campaigns. I thought it might be fun to parody all the worst and most over-used adventure tropes and mine them for laughs, yet use them to tell a story that has layers beyond the humor--sort of the way I did with the comics I used to write--and combine that with challenging tactical scenarios, all while pushing myself to learn how to do the things I love in campaigns like HttT, UtBS, ANO, NR, etc.

As for why Wesnoth, it's mostly because I enjoy the game so much, I want to give something back to the community, I like the combat system, it's fairly easy (so far) to figure out the underpinnings, and I've already seen in other campaigns most of the RPG factors I was talking about incorporating. I also wanted to explore what the game is capable of. I may still do some of this just as my own private learning project--if for no other reason that what I've done so far made my wife laugh--maybe I should keep the results of that little experiment to myself.

Again, thanks, zookeeper, and I look forward to your input when I come up with other campaign ideas.
-Rob
Warning: This is an experimental life. If it ever reaches beta, run and hide.
http://www.robhamm.com

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doofus-01
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Re: Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by doofus-01 »

There is a humor campaign here:http://forum.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27608. I haven't tried it, but it seems some people found it amusing, so maybe it could help as a reference.
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Re: Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by ImaginaryFriend »

doofus-01 wrote:There is a humor campaign here:http://forum.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27608. I haven't tried it, but it seems some people found it amusing, so maybe it could help as a reference.
Thanks, doofus. I'll play that at some point over the weekend.

I revised my initial post here, too, both to clarify that things aren't quite what I now realize they initially sounded like, and to incorporate changes based on zookeeper's input, so if you could give it a quick look, I'd appreciate it. With the revisions and clarification, I think the biggest sticking point for many would be the inclusion of a character from a modern world.
-Rob
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http://www.robhamm.com

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Dixie
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Re: Revised--Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by Dixie »

While I kinda agree with Zookeeper about frowning upon the "Elvish Babe" and "Wannabe Ninja", I think the rest of the story could be rather enjoyable. It's somewhat previsible reverse-clichés, perhaps, but it ain't that bad.

Luckily for you, most of what you plan on doing is most probably possible with WML, although through sometimes tortuous processes. Still, even though I've not really tried my hand extensively at scenarios and campaigns (designing an era atm), maybe it's not what I'd have started with. RPGs with shops and stuff are most certainly possible, but I think it involves some degree of variable management and stuff I wouldn't have tried out (or maybe even wouldn't have thought of trying out) for my first code. Maybe you could indeed start with something smoother and more simple to get the hang of it, and then start working on that big project. Luckily for you, you seem like an intelligent fellow and WML ain't exactly hard to learn.

Appart from that: maybe you should consider making your campaign more of an RPG than a strategy game. Maybe drop the whole "large-scale armies war" for most scenarios, etc. and focus on a few characters improving a lot, on small skirmishes, etc.? I think there's a reasonable public for RPGs in the wesnoth community, so it should be generally well received, I think.

You might want to look at/play some campaigns and scenarios to get ideas, such as: doofus01's Bad Moon Rising, Ooze Mini-Campaign, possibly Elvish Empire (or was it Dynasty? Zookeeper mentionned it, anyway), perhaps Wesband and Bob's RPG Era (and assorted scenarios). Maybe try a shot or two of Collosseum, too, if you never have. If I get around to finishing Paintball Era someday, you might lie to pick up stuff from it. In any event, you can still look at the thread in "Faction and Era Development".

Random advices/ideas:
- Non-core classes aren't necessarily bad; Look at Bad Moon Rising, for instance. The ideas you had were just... I dunno.
- If you want to pull it off, you will probably have to make a good plan of your campaign, note variables used for various event's etc. Dunno how variables carry over through a campaign, though...
- Maybe you could drop recruitment altogether. Like, just give units for free/let the player earn them through various deeds, and just allow recall. Deaths won't be -fatal- but loosing too many will sure hinder one's progress. Maybe you could even drop the keep thing and have units be recalled next to your hero through usage of a costum right-clic menu item (with a variation on a code seen in Era of Magic). You could justify it through usage of that rare artifact (although you wanted them to lose it, so...).
- If you ever have problems with a bit of code, feel free to post in "WML Workshop", you should find help and assistance there.

Good luck with your project :)
Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny - Frank Zappa
Current projects: Internet meme Era, The Settlers of Wesnoth

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markm
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Re: Revised--Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by markm »

Including a - maybe even "the" - modern world can be very useful because it can expand enormously the range of allusion and so on available to you. In my paper and pencil RPG many years ago a high school student who came to my basement to play suddenly found himself in the fantasy world and eventually grew up to be Royal Wizard. He was never really sure whether he had vanished from our world or was still there playing the character that he now found himself to be. He became a great expert on teleportation type spells in an attempt to find a way back to our world.

The fantasy world side is probably not as difficult as our side really. Having people from a fantasy world enter our world can be harder. That is the angle I have not yet accomplished. I am working toward it in my "Between the Worlds" and related campaigns but have not yet quite accomplished the introduction of the fantasy elements into the more science-fictional background history that is leading up toward contact with our Earth just in time for the Battle of Britain by British and possibly Canadian forces from out in the galaxy somewhere. Sketches toward how the fantasy elements fit into the more science-fictional background can already be seen though in the technology tree, such as the Chimerae and Flying Steeds tech, the genetically keyed devices tech and the mentally keyed devices tech. Most of the rest is probably well within the capabilities of force fields, holoprojectors and transporters.

This McGuffin you mention sounds like a very useful item, I look forward to hearing more about it. Although whatever was used to transport my high school friend to a fantasy world actually duplicated him instead of removing him from our world it does seem likely the ability to make contact with our world from a fantasy world to remove someone from our world could be a related technology.

-MarkM-
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Dixie
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Re: Revised--Input requested for new UMC humor campaign

Post by Dixie »

@ MarkM (Totally off-topic):
Spoiler:
Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny - Frank Zappa
Current projects: Internet meme Era, The Settlers of Wesnoth

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