What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Discussion and development of scenarios and campaigns for the game.

Moderator: Forum Moderators

Post Reply
User avatar
SFault
Posts: 482
Joined: November 10th, 2009, 2:21 pm
Location: Esbo, Finland

What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by SFault »

I've started to build a new campaign. I have written a plan of all the notable characters and outline of the scenarios. For each scenario I have the main idea and maybe few additional ideas, like plot twists, type of terrain or some major thing to affect the strategy. I have built all the needed special units and tested them. Now I'm gonna do one scenario at the time. Plan it a little, build a map and make the basis (sides and end-scenario) for the scenario. Last time I did one scenario at the time. I did most of the details before moving on the next one.

What I'm wondering is how others design and implement their campaigns. Do you write outline? Do you make all the scenarios one by one? etc. I would be interested in best practices in campaign building. One thing I can highly recommend is to write the outline. I have made some campaigns without any plan just one scenario at the time and having the story built on go. The story became interesting but the campaign never got finished (at least not yet).
segmentation fault
EBfW, GtR, Art, Old art
User avatar
Heindal
Posts: 1071
Joined: August 11th, 2011, 9:25 pm
Location: Germany, Karlsruhe
Contact:

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Heindal »

Depends on your style. But working one by one and in small steps is a good way to make a good campaign.

I usually work scenario by scenario, too. But I tend to leave away details and bring the story and the campaign to an end. So usually don't design the scenarios perfectly in the first step. I have the opinion you can implent some details lateron and advance the campaign over the time. This is what I would call a workinprogress, but this way to work has its drawbacks, such as campaigns that never will get truly finished (Trapped e.g. - however trapped has 6 endings, but I always wanted to implent more). Therefor you speed up the development and come to quick results.

The first step of scenario design is for me to design a map and develop a story based on that map. Usually one would work the other way around, creating a story and fit the map to the story, but I think both ways are possible. Than I take a sheet of paper and plan the scenario, enemies, macros needed and so on. Step three would be to finish the code and step 4 is testing and correction. Step 5 would be to play the entire campaign and behave like a normal player.
The future belongs to those, who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Developer of: Trapped, Five Fates, Strange Legacy, Epical
Dungeonmasters of Wesnoth, Wild Peasants vs Devouring Corpses
User avatar
SkyOne
Posts: 1310
Joined: January 3rd, 2009, 7:23 pm

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by SkyOne »

I build campaigns for stories. I don't start coding and making maps until the story completes (usually I write story-outline on papers or a notebook first).
After that, the first thing I imagine is how the game ends, instead of how it starts. Then each scenario is built toward the ending.
Maybe, my style is different from the most of creator's ones, though.
Fate of a Princess/feedback thread: "What is in own heart that is the most important, not who you are."
Drake Campaign: Brave Wings/feedback thread, Naga Campaign: Return of the Monster, Saurian Campaign: Across the Ocean
Northern Forces - now on 1.12 server
User avatar
Paulomat4
Moderator Emeritus
Posts: 721
Joined: October 16th, 2012, 3:32 pm
Location: Wesmere library, probably summoning Zhangor

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Paulomat4 »

For my first campaign I simply started coding. I didn't really develop the story until scenario 5 or so, but I'm currently on scenario 10 and do still have about 5 possible endings in mind. I guess I'll just have to see where the story leads me. Also I work on scenarios one by one and move on to the next scenario only when i'm pleased about the current scenario. That means I work on every little detail. That tends to make the coding part even longer. But I want to release a quality product and not something mediocre that i'll work on later.

In retrospective that's probably the wrong way of coding, but I created my campaign to get into wml and at least that succeeded (more or less). I probably won't ever finish my campaign, but it's fun to work on it.
Creator of Dawn of Thunder and Global Unitmarkers

"I thought Naga's used semi-automatic crossbows with incendiary thermite arrows . . . my beliefs that this race is awesome are now shattered." - Evil Earl
User avatar
Iris
Site Administrator
Posts: 6723
Joined: November 14th, 2006, 5:54 pm
Location: Chile
Contact:

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Iris »

Generally, for me, the process has always been Story + Characters → Maps → Prose + WML.

Speaking as someone who used to adhere to a certain campaign design how-to, I believe different people work differently and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If writing down notes detailing the design plan for your campaign helps you be productive, then go for it; but if you feel it’s hindering you or limiting your creativity then you really should reconsider it and maybe even adopt a more flexible workflow. What ultimately matters is whether you are having fun, more than whether you are being productive.
Now if you want to read a long story...:
Author of the unofficial UtBS sequels Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm (now available for Wesnoth 1.14.x and 1.15.4+).
User avatar
Simons Mith
Posts: 784
Joined: January 27th, 2005, 10:46 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Simons Mith »

That wasn't too long! That was pretty interesting.

For a more formal set of guidelines, do look at esr's
BfW Campaign Design How-to:

http://www.catb.org/~esr/wesnoth/campai ... howto.html
 
User avatar
Dugi
Posts: 4960
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 10:29 am
Location: Carpathian Mountains
Contact:

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Dugi »

For me, the workflow I have refined over time is like this:
1. Idea.
You want something to happen. It may be something mentioned by another campaign or just a cool event you'd like to describe. Asheviere's rise to power. King Haldric being raised as a Death Knight bound to destroy all impurities in the kingdom he finds (that means everything, as he's risen by an evil necromancer scheming behind it). A story of Konrad's evil twin secretly replacing the real Konrad (locking up the real one in the style of Man in the Iron Mask). An orc being so awesome that he becomes a king of Wesnoth. A man falling in love with an Elvish Sorceress and eventually becoming a necromancer with her so that their love could persist forever.

For this, I often get inspired by a song. For example this one would inspire a campaign about an ancient sorcerous tyrant reviving long after being improperly assassinated and challenging the actual king for the throne.

Of course, more ideas can be combined as long the second step can be applied.

2. Making the idea feasible.
The idea is never impossible. It just may require a very peculiar set of events so that it could take place. The events are usually a necessity and are parts of the storyline that are obtained for free. Finding a credible set of events may not be easy, but it's just a question whose answer exists, not looking into darkness. Asheviere rose to power, but the details weren't told anywhere, so making up the plot is up to anyone who chooses to write a campaign about that.

For example the idea of Konrad's evil twin. He wants to usurp the throne from a man who looks just like him. That's quite easy, he just ambushes Konrad in a back alley, swap clothes with him, puts a mask on him, pretends he is drunk when he returns to the castle and knows little about what the king is supposed to do (he might have done some surveillance before by dressing up as a servant, using a few fake scars to hide his similarity), goes on a long campaign to fight some orcs living far away, returns to Li'sar 'changed by war' and is considered a king. If he was recognised, it would ruin the story, so he won't be. Now, the interesting part is how can Konrad retake his stolen throne. A torturer strips his mask so that he could have some fun on his face. The torturer realises that it's the king. The impostor sends guards against them, but some guards already know the truth and help their king escape. Then he escapes to see Delfador to get some advice and gets ambushed a few times on the way there. Delfador gives him advice: he cannot muster a larger army because not many people outside Weldyn know his face, so he has to see the elves he knew before to get supporters. After sneaking his small group through the land again, he meets the elves, saves them from some generic trouble and gets their support. They use the forest to get close to Weldyn without being checked. They use a decoy to get Konrad into the town, where people recognise him and he retakes the throne again. Then he deals with the impostor and his army that returns from chasing the decoy.

3. Putting there some characters
In the case of Konrad, the hero's pretty much a well-defined character with any virtues a man can have (like Rhaegar Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire). But a hero like this is too generic. A much more interesting hero is somebody who helps because he hates the enemy, who is a bad guy whose plans don't fit when the bigger enemy comes, who does it to get a lovely princess as a wife, does it just because he likes the violence it brings, etc. Or that he has a funny dialogue-only flaw, like being a drunkard, being stupid, being in love with somebody in a comical way or just speaking funnily.

The enemy might have a personality too, especially if he meets the heroes more than once. If he's meant to be a badass, he should be awesome in everything besides not being on the player's side. If he's meant to be a Joffrey, he should be a capricious crybaby hated by every player.

Other characters can be somebody that complains a lot, somebody who always gives weird suggestions, a grammar nazi, a love interest of the main hero (should be of opposite gender), somebody with a doubtful loyality, a betrayer, a gay, etc. Picking some characters from films and books leads to nice results.

This all so far can be done before. Meditating about it is a very good way to spend time in my opinion.

4. Scenarios
Since this is not multiplayer, the map should not be symmetrical. It should have no regular shapes, but not like a random mix of hexes. Roughly it should fit the story and visually should not look too bad. The scenario objective should vary, not always defeat all enemy leaders, but also some getting to a certain point, killing a certain number of enemies, sneaking somewhere, discovering more enemies on the way, defending a certain point etc. More interesting scenarios usually result of trying to make the scenarios follow the story.

5. Bonus
There should be some easter eggs and other funny things to amuse the player. Let's say that you are fighting against an evil nobleman family. Following the typical historical names of such families, they should be named House Something. Now what. Something funny. House Boat. House Doctor. House Villa. House Mansion. Let's assume that House Mansion was picked. Now, how to name its members? There is quite an infamous rock'n'roll singer and guitarist whose name is Charles Manson. He's currently sitting in prison for several murders. How about naming the bad guys' family's leader Charlie Mansion? And his son could be named Marilyn. And for laughs everyone would first assume that he is a woman after hearing his name.
User avatar
Iris
Site Administrator
Posts: 6723
Joined: November 14th, 2006, 5:54 pm
Location: Chile
Contact:

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Iris »

Dugi wrote:a love interest of the main hero (should be of opposite gender)
:lol:

No.

They should be whatever you feel comfortable writing in a believable, non-forced fashion. This requires arranging things so that a given pair of characters that are or end up in a relationship (regardless of gender or background) can be taken seriously by the audience. It’s very easy to do this wrong, especially when romance isn’t a key plot aspect from the get-go and instead gets tacked on to an otherwise well-polished product later down the road.

And by ‘whatever’, I mean that gender and romantic and sexual orientation should take a backseat to character and narrative dynamics (which means that people in a given pairing need not actually be sexually attracted to each other, but I’m not going to go into detail here). If you are concerned about writing a non-heterosexual couple due to perceived historical context issues, consider making it part of the challenges your characters need to face in the narrative. If you don’t care about issues like that, go wild. If you feel you can’t write such a couple without falling into stereotypes, then don’t do it. If you’d rather write only heterosexual couples because it feels more natural to you (or wouldn’t even consider alternatives for the same reason), then that’s perfectly fine too.

Finally, if people don’t want to play your otherwise “perfect” campaign* because their religion or political beliefs mandate that they take offense at anything that violates their sacred heteronormativity, then it’s their loss, not yours.

* Perfection does not exist, but you get the idea.
Author of the unofficial UtBS sequels Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm (now available for Wesnoth 1.14.x and 1.15.4+).
User avatar
Dugi
Posts: 4960
Joined: July 22nd, 2010, 10:29 am
Location: Carpathian Mountains
Contact:

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Dugi »

shadowm wrote:They should be whatever you feel comfortable writing in a believable, non-forced fashion.
I wrote that should be of opposite gender part mainly because most authors are straight and thus don't know how do the gay people live (they are probably not depicted realistically in films, they depict so many things wrongly) and might create something the gay could find insulting. Players are mostly straight too and would not genuinely understand the gay. If the author is really awesome at writing, he can try, but I see this as an excellent way to fail miserably (I don't think that a campaign is a good way to express how tolerating the author is).

When it comes to people with religious objections, I don't mind violating their principles neither (or actually I rather like it), but I mind doing something wrong just in order to violate them.
User avatar
Iris
Site Administrator
Posts: 6723
Joined: November 14th, 2006, 5:54 pm
Location: Chile
Contact:

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Iris »

Dugi wrote:[...]
If you take the time to re-read my post you’ll notice you essentially repeated the same arguments I posted before, just with different (clunkier) wording. It still doesn’t justify the original phrasing in parentheses from your post. Basically, just because you don’t understand something, it doesn’t mean your post’s audience doesn’t; it’s much better to leave details like this unspecified. To put it in simpler terms, “most” ≠ “all”.

(Also, to elaborate on the clunkiness, nobody ever says “the humans”.)
Author of the unofficial UtBS sequels Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm (now available for Wesnoth 1.14.x and 1.15.4+).
User avatar
Aldarisvet
Translator
Posts: 804
Joined: February 23rd, 2015, 2:39 pm
Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Aldarisvet »

For myself the first thing must be is tactical idea of the each scenario. The way - first I make storyline about someone coming from point A to point B and during that passage meets these enemies than that enemies is overused.
Best thing is not to create combination of your units and enemy units that is largely overused in campaigns.
For example, you play elves or humans versus 2-3 encampment of undead/orc. I fed up with this combination.
Make something original, not commonly used. For example, if you have Nagas+thieves and you fighting versus khalifate - I never meet such combination.
Of course you will have to get plotline under this.

So do not use commonplace plotline like this - that some enemies burned village of poor main hero and so he forced to begin hard life fighting for survival or some invaders attacked your village/elvish grove at first scenario.
Why not make, for example, Naga to be main hero, or Ogre - for example some evil Mage turned him into this and you have to find that mage so he will return you to normal appearence.
facebook.com/wesnothian/ - everyday something new about Wesnoth
My campaign:A Whim of Fate, also see it's prequel Zombies:Introduction
Art thread:Mostly frankenstains
User avatar
SFault
Posts: 482
Joined: November 10th, 2009, 2:21 pm
Location: Esbo, Finland

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by SFault »

Lots of good replies, thanks. Too bad I'm currently too busy to read them with thought.
Aldarisvet wrote:For myself the first thing must be is tactical idea of the each scenario.
I think this is one feature that is downplayed in many - even mainline - campaigns. Personally I play the game more for the tactics, not so much for the story. Of course good story and especially good dialogue makes the campaign memorable. But the scenarios where good tactics are needed and victory is gained by planning/reacting well, those are the scenarios I really like to play. Bit OT, but I think too many are really going for epic story rather than addicting battles.
segmentation fault
EBfW, GtR, Art, Old art
User avatar
Aldarisvet
Translator
Posts: 804
Joined: February 23rd, 2015, 2:39 pm
Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: What kind of campaign building style are you using?

Post by Aldarisvet »

SFault wrote:Lots of good replies, thanks. Too bad I'm currently too busy to read them with thought.
Aldarisvet wrote:For myself the first thing must be is tactical idea of the each scenario.
I think this is one feature that is downplayed in many - even mainline - campaigns. Personally I play the game more for the tactics, not so much for the story. Of course good story and especially good dialogue makes the campaign memorable. But the scenarios where good tactics are needed and victory is gained by planning/reacting well, those are the scenarios I really like to play. Bit OT, but I think too many are really going for epic story rather than addicting battles.
Thank you for appreciation. I myself trying to be as much tactically original as it possbile in my scenarios, but same time to create not to much custom units with not to much new features.
There are space for original ideas even in mainline units. For example (just get it) main hero of scenario is werewolf (direwolf with poisonous attack) and his wolf pack attacking some ogres mixed with dark adepts. So tactically it is important to poison enemies fast and then retreat and wait while enemies are losing health. Need not so much fantasy, really, just need to combinate things commonly not seems laying together. And only after you get that original combination of units, you starting to think - why would ogres could be with dark adepts together? Why werewolf should attack them? So plotline is secondary. Not in importance, but in order of creation.
facebook.com/wesnothian/ - everyday something new about Wesnoth
My campaign:A Whim of Fate, also see it's prequel Zombies:Introduction
Art thread:Mostly frankenstains
Post Reply