Indie Maps Review: Issue 1

Ninva

Анна Ахматова
Indie Maps Review: Issue 1

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Today's Titles

  1. Interview with Thyrael: Creator of Darkwind RPG – A Hero's Tale
  2. Review on the Jungle Trolls Reborn
  3. Review on The Kingdom of Kaliron: The Eastern Region
  4. Review on Beyond Light and Darkness



Interview with Thyrael: Creator of Darkwind RPG – A Hero's Tale
by Ninva

What is the official title of your project?
Darkwind RPG - A Hero's Tale

How long has the game been in development?
I started back in spring 2009.

Who's part of the project, and what roles do they play in the game's development?
I'm working all alone on the project. I cover all needed parts like 2d artist, 3d artist, coder, lore writer, terrainer by myself. I'm member of FEG(Fusion Engineering Group) and sometimes they support me with suggestions or help with internal testings.

What other maps or mods have you and/or your team have (are working) worked on?
I'm modding WC3 since its release. I created several TDs and resident evil maps, but they all got lost over the years. FEG has some impressing projects under development: Arcadia - Rise and Fall, Warcraft III Paranoia, Chernobyl - Lost Riddles and Reputation.

What goals do you plan to reach with this project?
I'm planning to create an RPG for WC3 like never been there before. Many times I encountered modders telling: That is not possible! That can't be done! I make it to my personal goal to show that almost everything can be done. Even with such an old engine/editor like WC3/WE. And I'm kinda successful...

What goals have you met?
So far most of the core systems have been set up. A good bunch of needed models and textures have been finished. The lore is almost completed in my head. The terraining process of the first map is also good.

What is your philosophy as a gamer and a game designer?
Don't copy... do something better. To make a good game you must not lead a player a predetermined path... you must describe the path to let as many choices as possible up the player.

Does the game follow a particular plot-line? Could you give a brief teaser?
Yes and no. There is an overall chronological plotline, but the players will be able to play the future independent chapters in any order they want. You to play their favorite ones, without the need of having another walkthrough again and again.

To be honest I'm not willing to give out an detailed teaser right now. But try to imagine. There have almost been good and evil. The one can't be without the other. So it is all about balance. But now try to imagine what have been there BEFORE good or evil...Nothing? The perfect balance? The Void? And now try to imagine if the Void itself became manifasted in a powerful force that tries to bring back the perfect balance...

If not, how do the players advance in the game?
I'm not quite sure how to explain that. The character progress is done by leveling up. With each level you'll be able to customize your hero a little more by spending points in attributes and learning talents. In addition to that the player will have to collect gear to become stronger. The difficulty of the game will be adjusted during runtime. So it would be possible to replay a chapter, but this time it may be way harder, because your hero is stronger than the last time.

What are the objectives of the gameplay?
Give fun to the players. That should always be the main goal for every game. Next to that is the challange to survive the high difficulty of the game. Make the best out of your created hero and compete with yout friends.

What does the interface look like? How have you changed the general interface?
Yes, I changed almost every possible to change part of the standard UI. Further I added many fullscreen menus i.e. inventory, charinfo, talenttrees, quest, profession and options.

What features are available? Briefly list a few essential features.
  • Never been there options to customize your hero(chose faces, haircuts, facial details, hair color and gender)
  • Create your very own hero and play style by chosing your talents out of 10 available skilltrees
  • Plug up to 10 of your learned spells into a special designed actionbar to access them easily during combat.
  • A very smooth isometric gamecam that can be adjusted in many ways to the players needs
  • Fade in/out of objects that would hide your hero
  • Custom made models for everything, not a single blizzard model will be used
  • Almost everything of your equipment will be visible on your hero. Same goes for every npc.
  • Every button, every item and every option is supported with detailed dynamicly created tooltips
  • Interact with every npc in the world. That covers questing, trading or having a simple talk.
  • Master your favorite profession i.e. blacksmith, alchemist or scriptor(more included)
  • Climb up the ranks of your choosen faction
  • Adjust almost every part of DW to your needs via the options.
  • Use the upcoming installer to download the latest map and requires MPQ.
  • So many more that it would blow up the bounds of this interview

What should we expect from the combat system? Will there be unique features that will be significantly different from the built-in combat system for WC3?
Yes, there are. First at all I managed to create a combat system similar to i.e. WoW. That means you can select a target via left click. Than by using the actionbar you can left and right click your spells. Left means casting on target, if possible, right means casting on your self. So no need to switch your target if you want to heal yourself for example. Further there is a threat system and almost every action of a hero influences it.

What should we expect from AI and NPC interaction? Will there be in-game guilds, events, bartering, boss battles, etc.?
I'm working on an AI for mobs and npcs that will give challange to the player. Right now for example hostile npcs are able to switch between ranged and melee combat and support eachother.

Like allready stated you will be able to deeply interact with every npc. That overs questing, trading and talking. Your behavior and rank will effect the way the world reacts to you.

Hell yes, there will be unique boss battles, riddles, traps and many other things.

How many quests and items should we expect?
Even I can't give out detailed numbers. But let me say I set the systems up to work with up to like 8000 itemtypes.

Earlier, you mentioned that the game will be a campaign with multiple maps chained together. Is this still the plan for the single player mode? How would this work for the multiplayer version?
In the beginning DW was designed as a single player rpg. That means the player would be able to travel between different areas by loading a new map etc.

But I decided that making DW playable as multiplayer as well would increase the popularity. So redid every single system to work in mp as well.

Than I stumbeld upon a big problem: How to make the players able to transfer their hero with all its data between maps? The only working solution was via save/load codes. The next problem was: How the hell should I put all the generated data into a code, that can be typed by hand? The solution was: That was not possbile, because the amount of data is simply to high. But I came up with another solution: If the player allows WC3 to use/store local files on his computer, the game itself will create a *.txt file. That textfile stores all data seprated in code chunks i.e. hero data, inventory data and so on. Those data is modul based and each chunk is not longer than 127 degits(the max length that can still be copy&pasted into WC3 ingame chat). That means if a player want to load his hero he can decide what part of data he wants to load. It is enough if he only copy&paste the required hero data to recreate a playable hero that wears everything that was equiped when he was saved. But without the inventory data, the inventory would be empty. Same for the talent trees, skill system and profession progress. But if the player is willing to copy&paste all segments one after another he will fully recreate everything on his saved hero.

When will the game be available?
I can't and won't give out and ETA. There is still so much to do.

How can we beta test it?
There is no public beta. The testing is done FEG internal or only with people I worked together in the past or I deeply trust.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I feel kind of honored that my little project may be worth making an interview about it.

Even if english is not my first language I hope I was able to answer your questions in a proper way. If not please contact me.

Thank you and good luck with your article,
Thy

More information:

DW @ hive: http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/darkwind-rpg-heros-tale-637/
DW @ moddb: http://www.moddb.com/mods/darkwind-rpg-a-heros-tale
DW @ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Darkwind-RPG-A-Heros-Tale/115578728520172

FEG @ moddb: http://www.moddb.com/company/fusion-engineering-group
FEG @ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fusion-Engineering-Group/157825390922924



The Kingdom of Kaliron: The Eastern Region
a review by Ninva

The Kingdom of Kaliron: The Eastern Region by Crimson Creations is an ORPG (online role playing game). It was released to B.net in 12/13/10, and the version I am playing is 3.0.4. You may find its community here, and you can download it here. The author suggests players of 3 to 7 for each game. Map features include: load/save capabilities, custom hero stats, 12 playable heroes, enhanced "threat system," "equipment system," talent tree system, enhanced mob ability system, and scripted boss battles.

I begin my journey with an introduction to the world. The first thing my camera sees once the game completely loads is a very elegant map, displaying all the regions and their names. Vormur, the land furthest northwest is surrounded by blue water and is a green, forested region with a visible city to the northwestern side of the woods. Beside it is Tol' Calm, a small region that is connected to Vormur by a bridge. Tol' Calm is particularly greener with bushy vegetation (not so much visible trees). South of Tol' Calm is Grom Desert, which is just as described. There are cliffs and hills, but most of it seems rather barren grass lands. To the west of Grom Desert is Grom 'Gol, which seems to be inhabited desert. South of that is Ancient Ruins. If you go east from there, you will find what seems to be an oasis, and south of that seems to be a brownish structure. From my first impression, it's a pass into the land of Lugard. But it also seems like you could enter this region through Tol' Calm. Lugard is farmland with a rustic town near the river splitting the west half of "the eastern region" from the east half. Lugard is a peninsula. Southeast of Lugard is Nebu Harbor, a harbor nonetheless. Then directly north of that is the island of Neburean Mountains, which looks like swamp lands.

I am given the option to choose my mode: normal, legendary, and heartcore. Each level is progressing in difficulty, but with each level of difficulty, more exp, gold, and rare items will be rewarded. For my initiation, I'll play on normal.

Once choosing my difficulty, I may choose one hero from the eleven. Here is how they appear: Hydromancer, Phantom Stalker, Chaotic Knight, Shadowblade, Ranger, Barbarian, Paladin, Druid, Arcanist, Warrior, Cleric, and Pyromancer. But before I go into detail about these heroes, I'll have to describe the unique stat system, which will be at the end of the review.

The Kingdom of Kaliron functions like a number game, mostly. The plot is lineal, and each character can be totally unique from the others in stats and equipment. If you find yourself going deep into game theory for Dungeon and Dragons or dwelling on Kurt Godel's proof, you can find yourself enjoying this online role playing game because the real joy is in the numbers, which I actually enjoyed writing about. But for those who do not, fear not! There is still a lot to take in.

I begin my journey with Lorn the Phantom Stalker. She studied the art in cunning, which is actually a big turn off to me. Though I suppose there's technically an art to being cunning, but how does one study it? I thought there could be a little more back-story to that. And this is where we see signs of a lineal, generic story line, which is the weakest point in this game. But to forget the simplicity of the plot, we just need to listen to the swamp sounds of the ambiance, hear the nostalgic Warcraft III theme play, and experience a game that keeps true to the aesthetics of the Warcraft series with the ethos of Dungeon and Dragons.

By clicking an actions tab, located where my hero's spell box should be, I can select a spell in my inventory to talk to NPCs. This is the primary function to interact with NPCs, and it'll be used often. There's even a "Game Masta" in the beginning that will give you a list of options. Beyond him, I walk past a garrison and into a town (later to revealed to me as Tol'Calm) where a footman with an exclamation point on his head is. Using my "Talk" spell, I begin the dialogue.

The story begins with Lorn, my hero, being inducted into the "people's militia." Obviously, I will have to protect the town of Tol'Calm and go on some missions for the good of the people who live there. Once I've read the dialogue, I can select two options in my inventory: either I inquire about the orders or cancel. I inquire, and the footman then sends me to my first errand. I need to talk to the Elder. Once traveling to him, which isn't a long walk, I earn experience points, and I'm already half way to level two!

The Elder is retiring from his adventures. He needs someone to help fight against the Gnolls. Your first mission is to go to a Portal Master in Tol'Calm (the town I'm in) to talk about how to link the portal in Tol'Calm to the Vormur temple. This quest must be completed before going to any other regions of the world, which restricts you to only that region until you progress in the main quest line.

However, after collecting all the quests and talking to countless villagers about the dangers of the forest in Tol'Calm, I headed into the Vormur Forest to progress in the game and see rest of the map. The screen's saturation damped as I entered the woods, and a purple mist appeared. My character stood at the end of the bridge peering into the wildness alone. A party of gnolls marched by. Here, I battled, returned back to Tol'Calm to heal, went back outside, and repeat.

For those who wish to play this game, note that this game is meant for a party of at least three people. The game play otherwise is slow. Mobs travel in a party of three, and defeating three of them takes 2/3 of your hit points. Grinding is slow and daunting, and the spells are not rewarding unless you're with a group of people.

Into the wildness I went, and it was as lineal as I would've expected. The path allowed very little room to stray; however, the forest was expansive enough to feel like one. The dangers of being surrounded by gnolls were real. Several times I've died while grinding, and as frustrating as it was, I thought it was a nice touch and made the game more exciting. After what seemed like endless grinding and getting lost, I found the gate to Vormur Temple, I opened it and the lightening changed: I was in a bright room with scattered vegetation and dramatic Ironforge music playing, nice effect.

While exploring, I decided to talk to the guards to find a particular guard for a sub-quest I received in town. The dialogue from the villagers of Tol'Calm weren't as morose as the Temple guards. This a more dramatic region of the map, a nice refresh from the Tol'Calm guards melodramatic babble about how the gnolls were just outside the walls, about to kill everyone inside the Tol'Calm when it was obvious that there was no immediate danger. I guess the long and frustrating combat in the woods changed my attitude about gnolls.

As I reached the Tol'Calm caves, I realized something. This is the same concept as before: the monster spawn in random places and fight me. The difference this time was that every mob shot out poison, and I died ten times faster. What's worse is that the Broodmother died, and the quest didn't complete. Whatever the reason, I think my version has a few glitches, and after checking the very active community, I found out that glitches in the map aren't rare.

There are many benefits here. This game is an excellent game to play with friends as a lineal online role playing game. It can be beaten in just a few sittings without any endgame gimmicks. It has an advanced armor inventory that you can go into as a separate menu, making armor easy to equip and remove. Also, the advance stat system may be interesting to those who like game theory.

The "hero stats," which in actually are the affecting stats, are the stats located near the portrait of your avatar (or playable character). You have the basics: Health, Mana, Damage, Armor, "Power" (or Strength), Agility, and "Energy" (or Intellect). These last three (Power, Agility, and Energy) influence Damage, Armor, Health, and Mana. But when a hero levels up, he/she is given "sub-stat" increases. These stats are Strength, Constitution (or Will), Endurance, Dexterity, Reflexes, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Spirit. These eight unique stats increases your "hero stats," which then affect your Damage, Armor, Health, and Mana. So as you level up, your "sub-stats" are directly increased by a certain amount, and as a result, your "hero stats" increase as well (note: your hero stats also increase little by little, doing some long statistical work, you can figure it all out yourself). Along with the default increase, you are given "sub-stat points," which you may use to increase certain "sub-stats." But what affects how your "hero stats" affect your Damage, Armor, Health, and Mana is your Dependence. Dependence has three variables: Power, Agility, or Energy. For example, a hero with an Energy Dependence will be granted three additional Health Points for every Power Point they have. Therefore if a hero with an Energy Dependence increases their Constitution by 7, they will receive an additional 24 Health Points since Constitution raises Health Points by 3 for each and raises Power by 0.15 causing an one point increase in Power and a 24 increase in Health.

This is a challenging game, with many numbers to keep in mind. The plot itself is not very impressive, and there isn't a lot of wiggle room. But considering the plague of glitches, it's hard to accept this game more than a traditional ORPG.

My rating: 3/5



Jungle Trolls Reborn
a review by Ninva

Jungle Trolls Reborn by Gadina_Prokleta is an survival game. It was released to B.Net on 1/05/11, and the version I am playing is 4.3. You may find its website here, and you can download it here. The author suggests that players come into the game with the idea that they'd be role playing. Map features include: freedom to govern the game as the players choose, weather that affects the gameplay, breeding animals, a food and body heat and fatigue system, diseases, environment influence, crafting system, and an unique death system. Together, these features make this the ultimate WC3 survival game.

The game is well-built, working well in its system that is broad enough to allow expansive gaming styles. You could play the map as a red team versus blue team game or a role playing sandbox theme with your own villages. There is a variety of different classes to choose from and unique features that make this game fun no matter how you play it.

Your playable characters are single hero units: warrior, hunter, shaman, inventor. Just because of this aspect, solo mode is not as fun and quick as a group of friends playing. Therefore, I suggest you play with at least 2 or more friends.

I'm a huge fan of Dark Deeds, so when I heard of this game, I knew I had to write a review about it. At first, I was confused by the complex systems and general mode of operations. And by that, I mean the game is vaguely explained unless you take the time to watch the tutorial, but the game begins so quickly that my character ends up on the ground starving with a body temperature of 0 before I realized that I had an option to watch a tutorial, which would've told me to kill animals to get raw meat and then cook the meat under a fire, which you must build with all sorts of wood and stones, etc. But by the second round, I was able to survive much longer despite having a few close calls. What is essential is that you eat food and make a fire each night. There are bushes that you can pick for food and animals you can kill for food. You can collect materials to fuel your fire while you collect food. It's easier to camp in one region of a map and manage it. But if you over-poach your animals, they'll all die out. To prolong survival, the player must make sure to not over hunt, and also, watch the borders. Other tribes would love to just gobble up animals instead of their own. But if all tribes were equally nomads, I could see that you wouldn't have much of a problem.

From piranhas to quicksand, this map is huge. There are so many things to discover and see! The landscape is dynamic, and moving to these different landscapes takes a some time since your troll's demanding belly makes you stop for food constantly, and the night slows your character down because it's colder and you need heat, so usually, I spent my virtual nights at camp. And this is what makes the game so great: since you have to do the similar job over and over again to get the essentials, you're forced to talk to your team merely because you're bored and are waiting for the other team to attack, or you need their help in completing a particular task.

The graphics are classic WCIII textures with custom icons that mimic the same sort of style. The special effects such as the occasional lightening during a rain storm (which is simply a white flash that goes throughout the screen and a thunder sound effect), the resting ability ("z"s float upward from your characters head as little green circles flash above), combat leap (glorified blink ability), make the map feel like an old Warcraft III game.

But on the a final note, I liked the death system a lot. Since you don't die a lot, it's easy enough for your character to revive at the nearest totem building, but if that building is destroyed, you must make a pact with the devil if you want to come back to life. For exchange for your life, he gets your soul the next time you die. So don't expect coming back as a troll if you die once more, expect playing the game differently from that point on.

The game has many goals that can all be reached. There are enough restrictions to the game to allow competition to thrive while also giving a sense of an universal threat: hunger, cold, and war can all lead to an unique end game. However, there tends to be small spurts of lag, gritty graphics, and the randomly placed resources lacks luster -- but not a headache.

My rating: 4/5



Beyond Light and Darkness
a review by Ninva

Beyond Light and Darkness by Envy is an AoS (Aeon of Strife) game. It was released to B.Net on The Hive on 9/15/10, and the version I am playing is 1.2. You can download it here. The author suggests 6 players. Map features include: unique abilities, auto-learned abilities, and alternate computer controlled units.

This map's gameplay focuses on simplicity. The gameplay is fast, but that's mostly on the amount of heroes, how well the team cooperates, and how each hero interacts with the opponent. Despite its small size and restricted content and style of play, this is actually a decent AoS map.

Each user must choose one hero. There are ten heroes total; each team has five heroes available. If the user is on the Children of Light team, he must choose either Tank, Peacekeeper, Phoenix Ranger, Scared Blade, or Arcanist. If the user is on the Servants of Darkness team, he must choose either Legionaire, Shadowbound Construct, Hound, Necromancer, or Banshee. Heroes have four unique spells, which they learn after consistently leveling up. Once they reach the forth level, they can no longer level up. For this reason, the teams must be even if real competition can exist. Along with heroes are a small group of melee units and one range unit who are controlled by a computer player. These units are ordered to attack the enemies' base, and they respawn periodically. If you allow them to fight for a long time, a winner should emerge eventually. I did not do the math, but from the amounts of time I played this game and allowed the units to do whatever, I have observed that both sides have a 50% chance of winning on their own -- without any help from heroes.

The island has a Shrunken Ruins theme with ancient, sea worn tiles covering most of the middle, neutral area where the players meet to fight. The landscape in this case is rather beautiful and well constructed to look like a small island where the ultimate, controlled Armageddon takes place. What is rather annoying is that some of the ranged units, especially the non-hero units, do not shoot a visible missile. Instead, you see the initial explosion followed by a spontaneous effect, no missile.

Though the game can be interpreted as a good v.s. bad conflict, there is a different interpretation. For that reason, I'll give out only the facts. All the units on the Children of Light team are human, besides the Tank. They have many different aspirations, not all want to establish peace. The Peacekeeper is probably the only one on that team with such a huge ego. Other heroes, like the Arcanist, want to take on difficult challenges. The Tank wants vengeance, which seems to be a very evil intent for a good cause. On the flip side, the units on the Servants of Darkness team were either once human or creation of humans. They themselves are no longer human, but they are a result of corruption in humans. And some, like the Banshee, wish to serve "darkness" to receive something. So in this case, I'm not so sure if good v.s. evil is an appropriate outlook, and for this reason, I reviewed the map.

Despite the subtle touches that really make this game shine, the game is not extremely exciting. The combat is repetitive and often passive other than advancing and retreating, making it bland.

My rating: 2/5
 

Ninva

Анна Ахматова
Thyrael wishes for the complete, unedited interview to be published rather than a summary of it. To fulfill the wishes and the integrity of the game designer, I obliged. Please read the complete version above.
 

Thyrael

New Member
Thanks for the interview and for the final edit.

I feel kind of honored that my little project may be worth making an interview about it.

If you want more screenshots to illustrate the interview, just give me a call.

Thy
 
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