The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

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Bob_The_Mighty
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by Bob_The_Mighty » February 26th, 2018, 2:33 pm

Hey Mike.
Thanks for the update. Sorry it's been a frustrating ride lately. Some people reported getting stuck on that bit before and I've tried to make it easier with every update. The Athos bit is a bug and you noticed some things I hadn't thought of. I'll definitely overhaul that trigger and implement your first suggestion. I agree that you shouldn't have to hunt so much to prove something to the characters that the players have already figured out. I hope the next part is smoother.

All the continuity tips in the text are useful. They're exactly the sort of thing you can only really spot on a proper playthrough.
one odd thing: player 2 was controlling the ship, and had clicked to sail to an island on the way. we were interrupted by those pirates, and when we came out, on player 1's laptop, player 1 got control of the ship and sailed on, but player 2 went to the original island, and we got an out of sync error. Is that a lower-level Wesnoth error?
Can you explain a bit more clearly what happened?
One final thing to say: we've had a few issues with scroll-locking while playing this campaign (the screen just locks itself scrolling in one direction or another). This has happened now and then on both our laptops. But it's the first time we've installed 1.13.10, so it might be a Wesnoth bug and nothing to do with the campaign itself, not sure. Just thought I'd mention
Was this on the world map? The world map forces the screen to scroll to the ship at the start of the scenario, and in several events, so that might be a clue. However, if it happens on islands then I'd be tempted to think it's a Wesnoth-laptop issue. Let me know if you notice it happening on any standard maps or other mods.
My current projects:
2p Campaign: The Altaz Mariners
3p Survival: Save The Village

mikeanthony
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » February 26th, 2018, 11:41 pm

one odd thing: player 2 was controlling the ship, and had clicked to sail to an island on the way. we were interrupted by those pirates, and when we came out, on player 1's laptop, player 1 got control of the ship and sailed on, but player 2 went to the original island, and we got an out of sync error. Is that a lower-level Wesnoth error?
Can you explain a bit more clearly what happened?
Not really, unfortunately; I wasn't able to recreate it exactly...

We possibly saw a similar issue later on; after we'd done the royal palace once (i.e. it goes green, and becomes a "boot straight out" location) - we entered the world map at fort bastille; I sailed straight to the royal palace, and got kicked out immediately. I think, in the mean-time, James (who has a slower laptop) had only just loaded into the world-map the first time. We got an out of sync error and the game aborted. I wonder if actually something similar happened before, and it was this delay in the second player getting to the world map which caused the problem? Certainly, these issues have only come up when playing on two different machines, so I can only assume it must be a syncing issue between them. I'm guessing revisiting the same map may cause problems, which wouldn't normally show up in a more linear style campaign.
Was this on the world map? The world map forces the screen to scroll to the ship at the start of the scenario, and in several events, so that might be a clue. However, if it happens on islands then I'd be tempted to think it's a Wesnoth-laptop issue. Let me know if you notice it happening on any standard maps or other mods.
We've seen this on island maps too; it may well be a wesnoth bug; I've not played enough games in 13.10 to determine that. Maybe I should do a few non-altaz maps and see if it happens there.

A minor bug which has arisen: for some reason now, if we click Log -> Misc Quests, we get kicked out of the log menu with the message: "<Invalid WML found> [or] not supported". Having a 2-second glance at the save file, I think this has arisen from our getting the library subquest to >= 2; it's the only [or] in there, but it seems to be used for a conditional logic variable check despite being nested inside a [then] clause. Bit unfortunate, as we now can't review our minor sub-quests anymore.

One thing I must mention from our last exploring session - we stumbled upon another of the ghost ship encounters we hadn't seen before - this is *brilliance*!
AM.png
hat tip!
And at the end, the curse - perfect! Another nice bit of literary reference!
(One minor detail, do check the quotes for typos, I'm sure I saw "thorough the fog" instead of "through the fog"; there could have been others, I didn't check carefully enough)

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » March 4th, 2018, 11:00 pm

Finally, we press on through the mighty storm barrier!

Since we were already in the temple of ice, I just quickly hacked the variables to get things back on track, and on we went. Being, by now, very wary of this brotherhood, we played safe, kept friendly, and didn't even try to pinch the magic item we'd found in the cells. The dialog was all nicely done, and, new toy in hand, we raced out to our ship to put it to good use!

Typo on shadowfang: "that is has remained in place" instead of "that it has remained in place"
Typo on player-char response: at one point says "a elder's orb" instead of "an elder's orb"

We worked out what to do next, fairly intuitive, and on we sailed!

I'll be careful about spoilers here....

So Lantos was interesting, nicely done - and good storytelling; nice to start seeing some loose ends being wrapped up with NPCs we've heard mention of. And a nice twist! (Incidentally, our albatross curse suddenly sounds very dangerous indeed!)

Typo: think we saw a "Macro" instead of a "Marco" - I must admit, it was James who spotted that, not me - but given how easily that could slip under the radar, a quick find/replace across all the source-files might be in order... (unless macro is a keyword anywhere?!)

So then the unexpected arrival of foe and friend, and we found ourselves suddenly in a new location, now quite disoriented. But finally, some real movement on the story! This was really well done; the walk along as a literal "pre-amble" was a good narrative device; gave the player a chance to be reminded what this was all about in the first place, and build up a bit of character-development tension rather than just plunge in to the big reveal. But it wasn't too drawn out or overblown; just perfect! the scrap caught us off-guard, as largo had gone on alone; without any ranged defence he actually came unstuck, and we had to save/load to make sure both players went ahead together; then it was a straightforward scrap.

Typo: Glorin says "blood split" instead of "blood spilt"
Typo: Marco says "I got their first" instead of "I got there first"

Now, the narrative moved very quickly, almost two quick maybe? (I'd be tempted to have some more dialog triggered by players taking some action, to keep it a bit more paced; e.g. teleport them when they actively move onto a glowing orb of energy, or something. Just so they have a little bit of control over the tempo.

Again, I don't want to say too much. We chose the merciful option, so can't comment on the other path... but the twists and turns of the return journey to the north were very fast-paced!

One question:
Spoiler:
On the ship:
Spoiler:
The next scenario felt like it would have been incredibly dangerous, if we hadn't had unexpected help
Spoiler:
I guess I can't comment as we didn't have to attempt it, as it happens.
One odd thing, at the end, the killing blow was dealt by our
Spoiler:
who then proceeded to speak the closing dialog "that's the last of them, now to shore!" (which surely should revert to one of the two player-characters, and not a creature I'm pretty sure shouldn't be able to talk!

The tower was interesting, the shapes puzzle was good, not too tricky. One thing, the triangle is ambiguous, as:
Spoiler:
. But that's not too much of a road-block; maybe leave it? We battled through the bats (glad we did those one at a time!) and made our way back downstairs with a new map, a new destination....

and no boat! Oh dear! In all the excitement we'd kind of forgotten about that...

so, there we leave it for now; rub-a-dub-dub, two men in a tub... this has been an interesting run for us, but not so great for our story protagonists!
rub a dub dub.png
we preferred the galleon...
rub a dub dub.png (180.53 KiB) Viewed 584 times
Really good story-telling in this section of the campaign; thoroughly enjoyed it!

We'll continue on to Fire Abbey another day...

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Bob_The_Mighty
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by Bob_The_Mighty » March 19th, 2018, 11:19 pm

Hey Mike, have you made any progress with this? I hope you've not lost momentum after running into those buggy bits. I'm looking forward to your next report as I think you're nearly on the home run. It'd be a shame to leave it hanging.
My current projects:
2p Campaign: The Altaz Mariners
3p Survival: Save The Village

mikeanthony
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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » March 20th, 2018, 11:43 am

Hi bob,

My play buddy has had a rather nasty bug for the last couple of weeks (not to worry, he's fine and recovering now), but it's put this one on hold

as soon as he's fit enough to grab an oar and start paddling, we'll get back to sailing our little tub onwards to solant!

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » April 4th, 2018, 10:10 pm

A longer-than-expected hiatus, but I'm pleased to report we are back on the boards!

We paddled our way south and arrived at fire abbey at last!

We enjoyed the names of the various mages here; 'scorchio' and 'torchwood' in particular!

there's a graphical glitch here; the tiles with larva abbutting against mountain look odd; see below:
screenshot-dodgy fire island graphics.png
quirky graphics between tiles - fire island
screenshot-dodgy fire island graphics.png (388 KiB) Viewed 383 times
A few quirks in the dialog with flameheart about Solane:
- "She was mouthy one" should be "she was *a* mouthy one
- "has her powers" should be "*have* her powers"
- I think hotheaded is hyphenated?
- "and begun again" should be "and began again"

It would be fun if there was a dialog if you step back into the tub you arrived in; just something to the effect of hugo and largo expressing their rather strong sentiments on not getting back in that tub again!

(this map feels like it's begging for a scrap with a fire elemental or two; maybe to prove your worth to have an audience with flameheart... or maybe that's just me...)

anyway, having sniffed around for what news we could glean, we duly set sail with fieltor...

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » April 4th, 2018, 10:23 pm

So, back to Avalon with the elves...

the dialog here is all very good and self-explanatory, making sense of the story plot developments.

One thing though... there's a rather big glitch - when we discover our ship and crew are all ok... who is on the ship...?...
marco.png
it's Marco! he really shouldn't be there...

(!)

Otherwise, a fairly straightforward bit of narrative; it's clear what we need to do. Onwards, and north again...

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » April 4th, 2018, 10:27 pm

we stopped in at greystone port, nice to see Yran's dialog is now updated, to reflect the fact that we've moved the plot along since then - that's a good touch; it just makes everything feel more polished when dialogs are kept up-to-date like that

talked to steven... slight bit of the old pirate 'honesty' coming through there...(!) but ho-hum! another follower is welcome...

incidentally, in that dialog:

"he made quite fortune" should be "he made quite *a* fortune"

finally, marco is with us here when we got off the boat... he's clearly reverted to being one of our standard followers now...

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » April 4th, 2018, 10:46 pm

(we still can't work out why greystone port is still yellow on the map, incidentally...)

sailed over to the temple of ice- well, it's clear we're not supposed to be there, at least!
incidentally, the dialog "very well, we'll another time" is clearly missing a word - "we'll try another time"?

obviously, with the renaldo bug, we can't actually achieve much at farrow, so we've decided to turn to the black blade instead;

we headed to blade point, and talked to deliana - all good on that front; a clear plan, and the map location sorted.

we said towards the end "we shall seek help in other quarters" - which got us thinking that maybe we should be looking to enlist other help; we turned over in our minds who that might mean - rusty at greystone? the saurians at dahazi beach? elixion? ivory tower? Alderot?

we did a bit of sailing around, but it seemed that whatever game-triggers we'd activated with our sailing south hadn't had much effect; no obvious changes at greystone, or port rutt, or dahazi beach - in fact, we couldn't find anyone ho was willng to join our cause - are we missing something? or are we on our own?

at the very least, it seemed odd that we didn't find any dialogs where we asked e.g. alderot or rusty to assist us - at the very least, even if they aren't supposed to, it would be nice to have a dialog where we ask them, and they make their various excuses...

anyway, I think that settles things; it looks like we need to head to fort liberty then...

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by Bob_The_Mighty » April 5th, 2018, 9:39 pm

Hey, glad to hear your buddy is okay and back in action. All great feedback as usual. I think Marco was meant to switch sides when you walked the plank, so it seems he's been erroneously added to your follower/recall list. I'd suggest trying to kill him off to avoid any problems later. Or maybe sell him to the slavers if you want some easy revenge? :)

As far as I recall, the "seek help" bit was meant more as a prompt to prepare yourselves, though I can how it might be misleading. I'll change it and some post-Avalon dialogue for a few important islanders. Good luck!
My current projects:
2p Campaign: The Altaz Mariners
3p Survival: Save The Village

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » April 9th, 2018, 9:36 am

Ok, we'll try to bump marco off ASAP...

In the meantime, we've taken the plunge!

We've arrived at 'The Crossing' - now this is a really, really nice use of the Wesnoth engine;

The play mechanics (delivering boatloads across the strait) are very interesting and novel; the win condition is clear, the plot all flows nicely - but the main thing this is just lots of fun - we finally get to have a really good naval scrap!
naval-battle.png
The system with ships (can't level up but can AMLU) is just right; it would be odd if a frigate could 'upgrade' itself to a galleon; but the healing with AMLU is spot-on; it keeps just enough of the wesnoth engine to feel faithfully like a wesnoth scrap.

That said, we really needed that AMLU healing to beat this one! All those galleons make for a tough scrap - if you get unlucky early on, you're toast! We had to do a couple of attempts to get past it.

Comments on the balance on this one:
- lighthouse +16 healing a good idea, although we found that it all came down to one big scrap with several galleons, and after that healing was less essential
- player 2 getting the pirate ship with the slowing attack means that player 1 can't exploit the 'slows' special - was that intentional? I'd be tempted to swap the order around...
- I was trying to understand the trigger events - do more enemy ships arrive as each troop-load is delivered, or are they just arriving on a turn-based trigger? We certainly found that after the initial wave, the difficulty dropped right down and there was no pressure; it would be nice if the urgency was instead ramping up as the mission went on
in the event, we got all 4 dhows across on the first pass, losing one on the return trip, and then the surviving 3 all got back for a second pass (so we delivered 7 loads, not 6). Was there any bonus for getting more than 6 troop-loads across? We weren't sure so didn't bother trying to make another run, although by that point we were in firm control and so could have. A turn limit, or a large enemy fleet arrival, could put a stop to any cheeky attempt to do too many bonus runs I guess (if there is even any point in doing so)
- I'd be interested to replay this one a few times, and see if there are better tactics; it seemed to us that basically all those galleons will reach you more or less at the same time (no quick traits, so no speed differences), and there are only so many tactical options when you are that outgunned. I wonder if a 3-way scrap with a few neutral naga knocking about might mix things up a bit and allow you to try to engineer skirmishes which would distract the enemy?
- I wonder if being able to drop and pick up one load troops on that middle island (if you know your dhow is almost destroyed and about to buy the farm) might be an interesting extra tactical option for the players - certainly would add interest to the mechanics of the level, not sure how much utility it would be

(I'd name the friendly ships; for one thing, it's useful to be able to differentiate between the dhows when talking tactics with the other player - and for another, it adds a bit of attachment, when they are in peril)

It's nice to see the space on the left side used for two ships this time; I've often felt that there must be something that could be done with all that black void area. A suggestion: I'd be tempted to add the caravel and pirate ship below the player ship and the Eel (I think there is space); put some rum, spices, etc on them. Then, if they get sunk, either the royals claim that loot as a boost to their war coffers in the next map, or else it's taken away from the Deliana's loot; it makes those ships at least a bit more important to use wisely - as it stands they are utterly expendable. Not suggesting much loot on either - just a slim bonus, so you might still choose to sacrifice them to save the troop ships, but now you'd at least think twice about that calculation. Plus if/when they did get sunk, you could watch those ships disappear from the map, in a fiery conflagration, to be replaced by wrecks! (that's quite a lot of work for not much play-benefit, but it would be fun!

this was a great fun map! wish there were a few more set-piece naval runs like this in the campaign now (although, I confess, not sure where or how they might fit in). This has just been a really enjoyable, interesting and fun campaign so far...

p.s. we've just arrived on the next map - all I'll say is - yikes! I understand now why you said not to completely ignore the global turn counter!!!

(one final thing - it seems that now we're away from our ship in the sewers, we can't change the figurehead anymore, but we are still getting the figurehead benefit - it would be nice to warn the player of this at the end of the previous map before we leave the ship behind - or else give some way to change figurehead thereafter - unless this is intentional, to make the players plan ahead a bit...)

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by mikeanthony » April 16th, 2018, 6:56 am

so... into the sewers!

Overall, a satisfying big scrap, which we've been waiting for quite a while! James (playing Hugo) was pleased as he finally got his Elf-maid up to level 4 shyde, and unleashed a whole world of pain on everything that moved!

Now this was an interesting on from a 'global' game balance / campaign mechanics one;
Spoiler:

but saying that, this is loyalists fighting underground in a cave - and many of our squad by this point were chaotic or neutral - so we had a big advantage.
Just in terms of sheer movement points, it took them so many turns to get to us, we were able to dispatch the trolls, shut the hatches, and meet them on our terms quite comfortably. Dare I say it, the battle in the end was slightly easy - we only lost one unit and that due to a risk-take we could have avoided; in fact, when the "scratch scratch" was revealed, we were almost disappointed
Spoiler:
Of course, with any campaign, it can be so very conditional; another set of players might have got there with different units and really struggled.

Things I'd say:
On this map I really like the mechanism where you can only recall, but no recruits. But that could utterly stitch some players; as it was, we'd focused our XP on a smaller squad of veteran units. If a player had taken that to an extreme, and ended up on this map with 300, 400+ gold, but only six units they were able to recall, they'd be screwed. I think it fits the plot mechanics to keep it like that, but either: give some warning early on to diversify and grew your crew (on one of the earlier islands), or if the player has less than 'N' units in their recruit list (12? 16?) give them some of Deliana's units to flesh their team out a bit.
We started with 800+ gold between us, so over 400 each - and we ran out of recalls long before we ran out of gold, which was just as well or this would have been a walkover - I think we had about 14 (hugo) and 15 (largo) units to recall (plus our starting units) - so we ended up with 20 or 21 units apiece after 2 recruitment rounds.

General map/balance stuff:
- The loyalists had a relatively small keep (6 tiles) so took a long time to bring all their units out, which somewhat handicapped them. Given that between us, we had 14 keep tiles (7 each), plus deliana, we got a very early lead. in fact, we were able to send fast skirmishes to trap the trolls in their little enclave, so they were never a threat, just an XP farm.
- I'd be tempted to intersperse a few tiles with illumination; this is a sewer so natural cracks of daylight don't make sense - but torches along the drier walkways (especially in a guarded tunnel), or around the loyalist keeps would make perfect sense. Giving the loyalists a slight boost in those key narrow points would add quite a lot of punch to their team.
- I'd also be tempted to make the sewage tiles have an effect; I like the idea of a battle in a sewer, and your map catches some of that feel quite well, but I'd want the sewer-ways to feel a bit more threatening; maybe they could suck a nominal amount of health off (-2HP per turn or something, nothing too heavy), or perhaps poison an injured unit (< full HP) standing in the sewage - or maybe just any unit that starts its movement on a sewer tile is slowed. It would also make the terrain battle far more tactical
- Is there a turn limit on this one? The counter says 90 turns, we finished in just under 20 but nothing happened to give a sense of urgency in that time - would more loyalists have started arriving if we had dithered?
- the overall level design was very nice, good choke-points, some paths for attempting flanking manoeuvres, and so on. Nice terrain tile mix. The hatches with the critters were a nice idea

one dialog issue: at one point Deliana says "comith" - I think you'd normally shoot for "cometh" to get that archaic english feel
Spoiler:
oh, and one real pain right at the end - as we finished the map, killing off Sir Bollon (the last enemy unit on the map), one of deliana's AI units went and sat on the sewer exit! After that, because there were no more enemies, none of the AI units move... so he just sat there, blocking the tile, and there was, per the wesnoth game mechanics, nothing we could do about it! defeated... by a friendly level-1 thug... the shame!
(you might just want to modify the AI so they never stand on that tile-space, if possible)
we just had to load-save back a few turns to find the point where he moved there - and block it with one of our units instead! still a mild annoyance
sir-bollon-bad-day.png
Sir bollon has a bad day in the sewers!
(This time, we made sure we blocked the exit tile, not the AI...)
I like this map. I guess I was just looking for more of a challenge, but like I say, maybe we got very lucky; so I'm reluctant to say "make it much harder" - but I'd be tempted to gently dial up the challenge factor a bit... I guess I'll just let you take our feedback as it is, and make of it what you will.

It does show that a lot of hard work and care went into this, it plays fluidly, the storyline remains very enjoyable!

We poked our head onto the next map just at the end of the session... just to have a look...

...interesting...

more on that soon!

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Re: The Altaz Mariners (the non-linear pirate campaign)

Post by jb » April 16th, 2018, 5:52 pm

Really glad to hear you made it through!

One note:
Spoiler:
My MP campaigns
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The Altaz Mariners - with Bob the Mighty

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