Jump to content
Fey

[WIP] Smugglers Campaign 2!

Recommended Posts

38 minutes ago, Fey said:

Do a Harkonnen campaign and have the final map or two on the Atreides homeworld or something. I still remember the Atreides homeworld map from Emperor, you start on like the bottom corner and then there's a lot of water, and then the Atreides base is on this peninsula or something. Right? Maybe could re-create that now. Just need an icy tileset for Draconis IV and an industrial tileset for Giedi Prime... or, perhaps, for a Heighliner map...

Yes, could be done. Also since I already made maps with no spice and instead increasing credits, so that could be done in this specific case, although with the "increasing credits", at least if we want to do a "you got +10.000" credits takes plenty of events already (unless you set the money to 10.000 withouth looking if the player had 0 or 8.000 at that moment).

For the Ice maybe works turning up the original down-rifts, I don't know.

40 minutes ago, Fey said:

You're talking about the Gom Jabbar map, right? I remember that!

Yeah; That map. And yes, 1 ref very near of the spice plus an extra harv works fine, but when you build a new harvs and forget to move it into another spot, you can see clearly that 3 harvesters going into the single tile just keep pushing each other, slowing them down plus sometimes they go iddle for a while.

42 minutes ago, Fey said:

Oh, alright. I'm very eager to hear back from you on that, at your earliest convenience! S15 played very well for me on my testing runs, so I'm excited to hear about what other folks get out of the map. S14V1 / V2 went nicely too, but they're very standard maps. As fun as massive tank battles are on S14V1, S15 takes the cake out of this update simply for the new concept and stuff.

Since infantry in general have a higher range in the mod now, I'd love to hear how your use of infantry and infantry rock plays out, too. Troopers on infantry rock are nice and effective against any light vehicles now, and Grenadiers will always sit behind Quads. Even Light Infantry are more effective against vehicles and especially structures since all the building armor is normalized now.

 I will try that soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/3/2018 at 10:22 AM, Cm_blast said:

Yes, could be done. Also since I already made maps with no spice and instead increasing credits, so that could be done in this specific case, although with the "increasing credits", at least if we want to do a "you got +10.000" credits takes plenty of events already (unless you set the money to 10.000 withouth looking if the player had 0 or 8.000 at that moment).

For the Ice maybe works turning up the original down-rifts, I don't know.

That's probably the easiest. Giedi Prime has, like, this reddish terrain in addition to the industrial platforming, so... hmm. I guess I could see how that might work...

If I do make any progress on one such tileset, I'll be sure to let you know how it's going!

On 11/3/2018 at 10:22 AM, Cm_blast said:

Yeah; That map. And yes, 1 ref very near of the spice plus an extra harv works fine, but when you build a new harvs and forget to move it into another spot, you can see clearly that 3 harvesters going into the single tile just keep pushing each other, slowing them down plus sometimes they go iddle for a while.

The idling is something I wasn't aware of. Well, hopefully the system is functional enough. :P

On 11/3/2018 at 10:22 AM, Cm_blast said:

I will try that soon.

Yay. :D

Edit: Here ya go, Cm!
Dune2000Config.exe

Edited by Fey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to do something a little weird here. S18 and SBON3 are done, so I'm releasing them even though S16 and S17 aren't done.

This is a WIP thread. If you care to avoid spoilers or whatever, just wait around until I get the other stuff done. I took a detour to build the Heighliner tileset and I'm still busy of late, so I dunno when that'll be, so... if you don't care to avoid spoilers, here ya go.

Details:

Spoiler

SBON3: Industrial Accident - Moriaen is salvaging resources in the one place she thought she was safe - the Guild Heighliner. While Summers fights to block Moriaen's ability to send troops to the surface, you, as Sabre Durant, must destroy the army she intends to send.

Spoiler

Full map image: https://i.imgur.com/RuNssbq.jpg

Strategy:

Spoiler

Throw what you know about building the economy out the fuckin' window, mate. This is a totally different kind of map.

First things first, capture the three Harkonnen-style Wind Traps near where you start and destroy the Harkonnen-style Outpost. It's a Control Node! There's one in each corner of the map, and by destroying them, you'll turn the automated Heavy Factories friendly to you. You could also destroy the Heavy Factories, but that isn't helpful to you.

Here's how I recommend setting up your starting units:
https://prnt.sc/m7sii3

Green = Start
Blue = Reinforcements
Red = Enemy attacks

Note, you could rush the base to the right with your starting units, but let's keep it traditional on this crazy new map.

Get your first two or three Harvesters on the Mass Deposit, the big Refinery part-looking building past all the crates. Your Harvesters can mine infinitely from that location; the crates will run out, so save them for when you need a burst of income. The Heavy Factory and its attached defenses will not attack other automated Combat Tanks! They'll only be useful for fighting the central Guild base and its forces. Since you'll need to keep your own defenses vigilant, get your long range artillery on the white platform, get your Troopers covering them, and position your Grenadiers beside the friendly turrets. Your remaining Combat Tanks and Shock Raiders from the Guild Freighters should be ready to assist as needed. If you're not sure what to shoot, hit G and watch your units go. You may be colorblind, but IFF transponders are a thing for your army.

When you're ready to attack, try to make for the top-right or bottom-left Heavy Factories. The Guild's central base is self-sufficient and will not yield easily! You should compromise the four automated Heavy Factories first.

The top right is easier to attack, and you can capture two Refineries and even more Silos on the way. Keep defenses you're happy with covering your main while you push with a mobile force into other territory, and set up defensible positions as you move. There is plenty of infantry-only terrain around to position Troopers at, and there aren't very many enemy defenses outside their central base. As you continue to spread out, you'll need to cover more areas of the map from enemy attacks, so de-centralize your mobile forces over time. Aside from placing new turrets at conquered locations, keep your heavy Combat Tanks grouped up at focal points with Missile Tank support, and keep a squad of LAVs on standby. Remember, Quads are buffed up in this mod! They're still delicate, but they hit much harder. They are your main damage dealers aside from Troopers; the heavy Combat Tanks are best used to soak fire for units like these.

Top right:
https://prnt.sc/m7szh2
https://prnt.sc/m7ssk1

Bot left:
https://prnt.sc/m7syzr
https://prnt.sc/m7t328

Red = Enemy attacks
Green = Control Node
Blue = Reinforcements

Take the top right or bottom left Control Nodes down and you'll have one less Heavy Factory to worry about... and one more turned on the enemy, provided you can protect it. Then you can take the other, or the one in the bottom right. Like I said, the top right Control Node is easier to take out first, but attacking the bot left one first will give you better access to the bot right one sooner. The choice is yours.

There is a Harkonnen Freighter stocked with units very close to the bot right Control Node. It's conveniently closer to the bot left angle of attack.
https://prnt.sc/m7t6hl

Green = Control Node
Blue = Reinforcements

When you've got all four captured, or destroyed, you should have plenty of map control. If you've protected all the automated Heavy Factories, the Spacing Guild's central base will have about twenty Combat Tanks hitting it every three minutes, and you should have a lot of funds thanks to capturing Mass Deposits, Refineries, and Silos. No matter how obstinate it's been throughout the rest of the mission, it will fall now. Funnel your own forces into the attack and raze the base to end the mission.

https://prnt.sc/m7t5wu

Blue = Angles of attack
Green = Storm Lashers

Their power is easily crippled with a focused attack on their Wind Traps. You'll need to attack from the left and right simultaneously to get the best angle on their power. Striking from the bottom will give you the best angle on their Refineries, and you can distract or slaughter their infantry from the top angle. Good luck!

Technical analysis:

Spoiler

If you've been following the Heighliner tileset WIP thread then surely you know that this has been a work in progress for a while now. Now that it's been fleshed out some, I've made a campaign map with it! To add some more chaos to the mix, this is a max-size non-linear map with elements encouraging exploration, new ways to use terrain to your advantage, and a gimmick similar to S13V2, except with Combat Tanks.

Heighliners are massive. On the previous test maps for the tileset, things felt really cramped and it didn't really present a sense of scale. This map spreads factories all over the map among many red herrings such as the Harkonnen-style Refineries and Wind Traps. Aside from being potentially useful via capturing, or just fun to blow up, these things add to the sense that the platform you're fighting on is massive. You've got bases all over, huge structures... inside a huge structure. Long, wide pathways, Launch Pads and Supply Depots all over, and Guild units everywhere.

Functionally speaking, the resources system seems to work. Harvesters may act a little funny here or there, but Mass Deposits are excellent income and Supply Depots give even more once you capture a location. There are eight Supply Depots in the mission, and there's a Mass Deposit at each one, allowing for good economic growth at any location you expand to. However, this economic system does play differently and may require a little Harvester micro to optimize.

I'm confident the system will make for some good gameplay in future maps as locations need to be captured and held for the war machine to keep rolling. Losing territory means losing Mass Deposits, and that will make the economy stagnate for sure.

Unit pathing seems to be better in this map too. It isn't perfect, but it's better than the last two testing maps in the Heighliner WIP thread.

I think adding many Freighters, but giving only a few of them unit spawn events, was a good idea. This and the Control Nodes and Mass Deposits the player needs to hunt for encourages exploration, adding another layer of depth to the map. Goodies are out there in the shroud - go look for them!

Regarding the structure of the enemy base and how the map itself encourages the player to fulfill the map's gimmick before tackling it: Take note of how the easiest Control Node to attack brings the player's units over to the top angle of attack. The most well-defended angle, that is. Even if the Barracks are destroyed, two more activate at the bottom of the base, keeping the pressure on the player with infantry still coming, only behind the vehicles this time. The player's other choice is going to the left angle of attack first, but even if he manages to push through the Wind Traps on that side, the other half of the base has an active Storm Lasher and several Rocket Turrets. The base structures are arranged in such a way that enemy units can filter out through the many one-tile paths into a concentrated attack on the player on the wide bridges, but the player will need to blow through the base structures or his forces will be split up and picked off by the excellent turret coverage across the entire base.

Due to the way Storm Lashers work, the map structure and base layout are both conducive to encouraging the use of the map's gimmick. And when that's done, the player's forces should already be in a good position to strike from all angles thanks to the Mass Deposits and various capturable goodies encouraging expansion, and thanks to the Heavy Factories encouraging spread forces to begin with for the sake of protection. And, also due to the way Storm Lashers work, a concentrated attack from one angle will most likely fail against this base... while an attack from all angles will confuse them too much for them to effectively hold off the player's forces. It's all connected!

One more thing: I used LRA platforms in the last two testing maps. I like the concept of LRA platforms where you can drop some Missile / Siege Tanks and watch them outrange everything crossing the bridge, but they caused weird pathing errors. This time, I tried some infantry-only side passages crossed with LRA platforms. Infantry can rush the artillery, and they'll kill Missile Tanks very quickly if given the chance, but tanks will stop there. So, it offers some mobility to infantry, and maybe gives Grenadiers a good place to camp too. If you try that, try using Grenadiers on the new paths, lemme know how it turns out.

 

S18V1: Summers' Solstice - Time is running out. With the Fremen, Sardaukar, Ix, and Sabre Durant supporting your assault, fight through all the standing Guild and Tleilaxu forces, kill Achen Moriaen, and then slay the sleeping God.

Spoiler

Full map image: https://i.imgur.com/bgS9h1E.jpg

Strategy:

Spoiler

Don't panic. The first attack is nasty, but hardly impossible to survive.
https://prnt.sc/m7rlrq

Your goal should be to hold off the enemy armor for as long as possible. Those Storm Lashers will do a hell of a job killing everything if you can stall the enemy long enough within their range. Use your Duelist Tanks for this purpose, sell your turrets when they're in the red to save some cash, and move your LRA behind the merc ConYard. Support them with your infantry until the Storm Lashers overload, explode, and kill Durant in the process. You should end up with a few remaining units and hopefully an intact ConYard if you did it right, but if you are low on units, some Duelist Tanks will be delivered to you at this time.

You will see Saboteurs on the field... or not. They are sneaky. Just in case, get a Barracks up and spread Light Infantry around where you expect Saboteurs to try and pass by. Don't let them infiltrate your ConYard, especially. Regarding Storm Lashers, remember S15: Move one unit ahead of the rest, always, if it's online and you're on approach to destroy it. Otherwise, cut the power and don't let it come back up.

The enemy has multiple bases you will need to fight your way through. All of them have a Storm Lasher or two. The first has several weak points. See below:
https://prnt.sc/m7ts45

Red = Player's start position
Green = Infantry-only passages
Blue = Death Hand targets
Pink = Place LRA here

Hold enemies at the choke point while you build up a force to attack. Use your Fremen Fedaykin or Stealth Raiders to scout where possible while you build up. The more you can see, the better prepared you'll be. Moriaen will not let up in her attacks on your base, so you'd better know what's coming.

You may wish to use your infantry to invade the main base here - you can completely power down the turrets and prevent them from being rebuilt, but the factories will still present a problem. If you attack the main, I suggest using your Death Hand on the Sonic Tank, which will make it much easier to completely level that base. Note that your Death Hand will never miss in this mod. With the turrets powered down, you can use artillery to take out the Heavy Factories without fear of being lightning bolted to death on the west factory. Your infantry, once they've finished the job up north, can head across the bridge and attack the Light Factories. If you only manage to destroy one, pop another Death Hand on the second.

Alternatively, leave the power on and pop a Death Hand on the west Heavy Factory. Artillery can safely take out the east one, it's well out of range of the Storm Lasher's attack, and then you can push into the base needing to deal with only infantry and LAVs. You can brute force the Storm Lasher once the perimeter is breached, but the enemy will send reinforcements from the east.

However you manage to do it, raze the entire base to receive an MCV. Future Fremen and Sardaukar reinforcements will arrive at this location, and now you can focus your attacks on the new targets to the east.
https://prnt.sc/lmemub

Red = Angle of attack
Blue = Death Hand targets

The ridge where you get your MCV is very defensible. Set up some Rocket Turrets and, just like before, spread infantry around if you want that ConYard intact. You should set up new Refineries and more factories here to progress the battle forward. Keep building up and move east when you're ready.
https://prnt.sc/m7txzy

Attack from the north and try to go for the power in this second base. It's quite vulnerable, though there's a lot of it. If you screw it up and destroy too many turrets to keep the power offline, and you don't want to brute force the Storm Lasher, take some Stealth Raiders down the right side and sabotage their power in the back:
https://prnt.sc/lmep53

Red = Angle of attack
Green = Infantry-only passages
Blue = Death Hand targets
Pink = Place LRA here

You can expect to see more Sonic Tanks and gholas on the field by now, so take care while you push into this position. The enemy has the upper hand until you get to the next choke point. Once you raze the entire base, another MCV will arrive and future reinforcements will show up at this new location. Place some new factories here, get a Barracks up, and prepare an Engineer for the next part.
https://prnt.sc/lmeu0p

Red = Angle of attack
Green = STAY AWAY!!
Blue = Death Hand targets
Pink = Place LRA here

Ignore the Rocket Turrets for now; just stay away from them. Your goal for the moment is destroying this next base except for the ConYard, which must be captured to finally gain Storm Lasher tech. Summers will order all units to hold their fire once the shroud around the ConYard is uncovered.

I recommend hitting the Storm Lasher closest to the choke point with a Death Hand. You can brute force the second fairly easily because there's more room to move units over there, and you may be able to take the base's power down. To handle enemy defense forces, set up some artillery on the ridge and go to town, and when you're confident it's clear enough, push in. Remember, don't destroy the ConYard.

Capture the ConYard when you feel ready to defend it.
https://prnt.sc/lmf8kt

Red = Angle of attack
Green = Enemy defenders
Blue = Critical structure
Pink = Place Storm Lashers here

Make sure you have infantry spread around the ConYard to keep Saboteurs out and enough of a mobile force to cover your construction efforts. Losing the ConYard before all the Rocket Turrets are down means mission failure! Going anywhere near those Rocket Turrets is suicide, even with hundreds of tanks, but your new Storm Lashers can completely outrange the Rocket Turrets. Keep building units while you mass Storm Lashers at those locations, and keep your existing army around the Storm Lashers to block the final defenders that'll come your way. Once you have enough Storm Lashers up on a certain peninsula, they should have no problem killing both the enemy defenders and the Storm Lashers on their own.

The Storm Lashers will finish the Rocket Turrets in minutes.
https://prnt.sc/lmfeq6

Red = Angle of attack
Green = Leftover Wind Traps
Blue = Critical structure
Pink = Storm Lashers

At last, the mission is complete! Almost. Ignore the Wind Traps if you want, or blow through them. Whatever you do, get to that ConYard where the enemy commander is holed up and blow it up. And, mind the Storm Lashers on the way there. Good luck!

Technical analysis:

Spoiler

I don't believe it's possible to create a map more technically complex than this. Surely, this is my magnum opus!

And yeah, I'm going with a Worm God plot. After S15, Summers will have found some data exposing Moriaen's plot and the rest of S16 / S17 will be spent prepping to kill the Worm God.

This map is the big epic finale I wanted to design for this campaign. It has two dramatic deaths of main characters, a desperate situation all the way through, plot twists, massive large-scale battles, sabotage operations with infantry or light vehicles, super units... it has everything! It's climactic! And, it's the culmination of everything I know about D2k editing. Hopefully it's a good example for new mappers looking for how far they can take a map!

First, let me point out that this map has hit the limit for entities. Place one more unit in the map editor and save it, and it will crash the game on startup.

Secondly, there are three AIs in the first base, three in the second, two in the third, and two in the fourth. Apart from that, one AI was needed for Durant at the beginning, another was needed for the Storm Lasher / King of the Hill part, one side was needed for the player, and yet another side was needed for the Rocket Turrets. And, using the eighth AI breaks the sandworms. So how the hell did I fit so many AIs in this one map?

Part of getting this to work right was understanding how the AI changes its primary buildings. The default primary is whatever's closest to the top left corner, pretty much, so I had the player start in that corner. The two main AIs, the Guild and Tleilaxu, have factories in each base and they're arranged so that one is destroyed, the factory in the next base activates. This ensures the player is only dealing with the forward-most defense line at any given time, but there are other reasons this is important.

Doing it this way means the AI will have massive defense areas. The AI draws its defense area in a box, so if you put one building in the top right and another in the bottom left, the AI will consider the entire map to be its base and will respond to any hostile units in that box as being attackers in its base. Pretty silly, right? Anyway, the map's layout works around that too, like so:
https://prnt.sc/lfao7t

Although imperfect, I tried to put buildings the player will want to destroy in every base. Extra buildings like Repair Pads and Research Centres belonged to the incidental AIs only there to repair and rebuild turrets on-site. Wind Traps, Refineries, and factories were the only buildings belonging to the main AIs. While a player may choose to leave a Wind Trap or Refinery intact, it seemed the enemy still put up plenty of resistance regardless. If the player does destroy the buildings as intended, the defense area will constantly shrink from blue to green to red to yellow, making the AI act normally again as the map progresses. It's important that they're buildings the player will most likely want to destroy, for the sake of lining up my intentions with the player's probable strategies.

Additionally, having the factories belong to two main AIs and having the battle move along as the player makes progress keeps it fair for the player. Making three or four AIs fight the player would be overkill.

Finally, between the various points the player gets an MCV and the next enemy base awaits, the path is quite straight! This reduces the likelihood of encountering one of those terrible fatal errors we think is most likely caused by AI units wanting to take paths that are too complex. Of course, we can't expect a player to expand on his own, so not only does giving him an MCV or two, or having him capture a ConYard, serve to refocus the battle to new terrain and keep things interesting... but, it's also important for helping to avoiding that glitch.

Despite the linear paths between the bases, the map is quite expansive. There is a lot of room to move around, there are lots of places to expand, lots of Spice fields and empty rock islands, which hopefully adds to the feeling of the size and scale of the battle.

If we're keeping count, that's four AIs total - one uniquely the first base, one uniquely in the second base, and two main AIs giving the player a hard time. I knew I wanted this level to kick off with a bang, so I used the fifth AI slot for the berserk AI that would do Moriaen's first attack. Rather than use an event to make it go berserk a minute in, I gave it a little more than enough credits to not want to berserk, and then I gave it a Barracks. It trains one Trooper, then sells the Barracks and goes berserk because it's a practice AI with very little cash.

The sixth AI slot was for Durant, an absolutely necessary part of this map. For much of this second half of the smugglers campaign, Durant has been there with you in the thick of it, pushing you on and making each battle that much more bearable for Summers. On the undone levels, S16V1 / V2 and S17V1 / V2, he'll play an integral role, too; I think on S17V2, they'll get the first pieces of the Storm Lasher prototypes seen in the beginning of S18. Anyway, I want the player to feel pissed at the enemy by this point. Moriaen has been a giant pain in Summers' rear and now she's killed her closest ally. What's more, he sacrificed himself to give Summers a fighting chance. With only hours left before the Worm God awakens, and the situation looking more bleak than ever before, Summers must push on alone against Moriaen. I want the player to feel the desperation of the situation, but this first plot twist is only part of that.

The way Moriaen fights Summers back at every opportunity is another facet of the desperation on this map. Her goal is to stall until the Worm God awakens, and as I've always said, the more human an AI is, the better. Not just giving it a name and character, but she fights fiercer than ever before on this map. There should be the sense that you're throwing everything you've got at her, and she's throwing everything she's got at you. You both have goals, but only one may survive. And for the past several missions, including SBON3, you'll have been preparing for this one. Moriaen has been doing the same by being so secretive, by playing you and the Ordos against each-other, and now by openly opposing you with all her might. Moriaen isn't playing around anymore; she wants you dead, so she throws her strongest attack at you immediately.

This mission reaches a peak at the Rocket Turret line, where the unstoppable force meets the immovable object, tanks and gholas pouring out from behind the enemy perimeter, and the player finally gets to deploy Storm Lashers for himself. Just for that big, epic finish I was going for.

Speaking of which, the seventh slot has to be taken by the player... but, I didn't use an AI in the eighth slot. Rather, the Rocket Turrets are placed for a side without any AI at all so the sandworms can still work, and they remain dangerous because Rocket Turrets have ridiculous range and firepower even though there's no AI to repair them or rebuild them. The player simply can't pass without Storm Lashers because any tanks rolling up get one-shot right away. And sure, it causes the occasional weird glitch where enemy units will keep attacking the sand where a sandworm was, but that was considered a minor issue.

For the King of the Hill segment with the Storm Lashers, I simply re-used the berserk AI from the beginning for the enemy defenders coming out from behind the dense line of Rocket Turrets. It's still berserk, it just didn't have any units to send at the player, so spawning some in for this part killed two birds with one stone. Something I had to do a lot of to get this thing to work right...

So, that's how this map was designed. What do you think, reader? Did I pull off a fantastic finale, or were there some things about S18 that ruin it somehow? Whatever your point of view, I cannot emphasize enough that I appreciate any feedback I get! And if you've read this much, I hope you'll consider posting a reply as well. Remember, this is the WIP thread - whatever criticism you may have could go towards improving it for the final release. Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Download: SBON3 & S18V1.zip

Both maps were tested extensively and beaten on hard mode. Certain screenshots may have an expanded view, but I tested them in the default resolution at 640x400 without a build queue patch or anything of the sort. Expect them to be difficult - they are end-campaign maps.

As with previous uploads, installation and uninstallation should be a simple copy + paste. So go ahead, give it a try! If you're having trouble, a strategy section for each map can be found under the spoilers along with a technical analysis. Good luck and have fun, and please do provide feedback here if you get the opportunity. Criticism is always helpful! Thank you.

Edited by Fey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Fey 

On 1/16/2019 at 10:22 AM, Fey said:

I'm going to do something a little weird here. S18 and SBON3 are done, so I'm releasing them even though S16 and S17 aren't done.

This is a WIP thread. If you care to avoid spoilers or whatever, just wait around until I get the other stuff done. I took a detour to build the Heighliner tileset and I'm still busy of late, so I dunno when that'll be, so... if you don't care to avoid spoilers, here ya go.

Details:

  Reveal hidden contents

SBON3: Industrial Accident - Moriaen is salvaging resources in the one place she thought she was safe - the Guild Heighliner. While Summers fights to block Moriaen's ability to send troops to the surface, you, as Sabre Durant, must destroy the army she intends to send.

  Reveal hidden contents

Full map image: https://i.imgur.com/RuNssbq.jpg

Strategy:

  Reveal hidden contents

Throw what you know about building the economy out the fuckin' window, mate. This is a totally different kind of map.

First things first, capture the three Harkonnen-style Wind Traps near where you start and destroy the Harkonnen-style Outpost. It's a Control Node! There's one in each corner of the map, and by destroying them, you'll turn the automated Heavy Factories friendly to you. You could also destroy the Heavy Factories, but that isn't helpful to you.

Here's how I recommend setting up your starting units:
https://prnt.sc/m7sii3

Green = Start
Blue = Reinforcements
Red = Enemy attacks

Note, you could rush the base to the right with your starting units, but let's keep it traditional on this crazy new map.

Get your first two or three Harvesters on the Mass Deposit, the big Refinery part-looking building past all the crates. Your Harvesters can mine infinitely from that location; the crates will run out, so save them for when you need a burst of income. The Heavy Factory and its attached defenses will not attack other automated Combat Tanks! They'll only be useful for fighting the central Guild base and its forces. Since you'll need to keep your own defenses vigilant, get your long range artillery on the white platform, get your Troopers covering them, and position your Grenadiers beside the friendly turrets. Your remaining Combat Tanks and Shock Raiders from the Guild Freighters should be ready to assist as needed. If you're not sure what to shoot, hit G and watch your units go. You may be colorblind, but IFF transponders are a thing for your army.

When you're ready to attack, try to make for the top-right or bottom-left Heavy Factories. The Guild's central base is self-sufficient and will not yield easily! You should compromise the four automated Heavy Factories first.

The top right is easier to attack, and you can capture two Refineries and even more Silos on the way. Keep defenses you're happy with covering your main while you push with a mobile force into other territory, and set up defensible positions as you move. There is plenty of infantry-only terrain around to position Troopers at, and there aren't very many enemy defenses outside their central base. As you continue to spread out, you'll need to cover more areas of the map from enemy attacks, so de-centralize your mobile forces over time. Aside from placing new turrets at conquered locations, keep your heavy Combat Tanks grouped up at focal points with Missile Tank support, and keep a squad of LAVs on standby. Remember, Quads are buffed up in this mod! They're still delicate, but they hit much harder. They are your main damage dealers aside from Troopers; the heavy Combat Tanks are best used to soak fire for units like these.

Top right:
https://prnt.sc/m7szh2
https://prnt.sc/m7ssk1

Bot left:
https://prnt.sc/m7syzr
https://prnt.sc/m7t328

Red = Enemy attacks
Green = Control Node
Blue = Reinforcements

Take the top right or bottom left Control Nodes down and you'll have one less Heavy Factory to worry about... and one more turned on the enemy, provided you can protect it. Then you can take the other, or the one in the bottom right. Like I said, the top right Control Node is easier to take out first, but attacking the bot left one first will give you better access to the bot right one sooner. The choice is yours.

There is a Harkonnen Freighter stocked with units very close to the bot right Control Node. It's conveniently closer to the bot left angle of attack.
https://prnt.sc/m7t6hl

Green = Control Node
Blue = Reinforcements

When you've got all four captured, or destroyed, you should have plenty of map control. If you've protected all the automated Heavy Factories, the Spacing Guild's central base will have about twenty Combat Tanks hitting it every three minutes, and you should have a lot of funds thanks to capturing Mass Deposits, Refineries, and Silos. No matter how obstinate it's been throughout the rest of the mission, it will fall now. Funnel your own forces into the attack and raze the base to end the mission.

https://prnt.sc/m7t5wu

Blue = Angles of attack
Green = Storm Lashers

Their power is easily crippled with a focused attack on their Wind Traps. You'll need to attack from the left and right simultaneously to get the best angle on their power. Striking from the bottom will give you the best angle on their Refineries, and you can distract or slaughter their infantry from the top angle. Good luck!

Technical analysis:

  Reveal hidden contents

If you've been following the Heighliner tileset WIP thread then surely you know that this has been a work in progress for a while now. Now that it's been fleshed out some, I've made a campaign map with it! To add some more chaos to the mix, this is a max-size non-linear map with elements encouraging exploration, new ways to use terrain to your advantage, and a gimmick similar to S13V2, except with Combat Tanks.

Heighliners are massive. On the previous test maps for the tileset, things felt really cramped and it didn't really present a sense of scale. This map spreads factories all over the map among many red herrings such as the Harkonnen-style Refineries and Wind Traps. Aside from being potentially useful via capturing, or just fun to blow up, these things add to the sense that the platform you're fighting on is massive. You've got bases all over, huge structures... inside a huge structure. Long, wide pathways, Launch Pads and Supply Depots all over, and Guild units everywhere.

Functionally speaking, the resources system seems to work. Harvesters may act a little funny here or there, but Mass Deposits are excellent income and Supply Depots give even more once you capture a location. There are eight Supply Depots in the mission, and there's a Mass Deposit at each one, allowing for good economic growth at any location you expand to. However, this economic system does play differently and may require a little Harvester micro to optimize.

I'm confident the system will make for some good gameplay in future maps as locations need to be captured and held for the war machine to keep rolling. Losing territory means losing Mass Deposits, and that will make the economy stagnate for sure.

Unit pathing seems to be better in this map too. It isn't perfect, but it's better than the last two testing maps in the Heighliner WIP thread.

I think adding many Freighters, but giving only a few of them unit spawn events, was a good idea. This and the Control Nodes and Mass Deposits the player needs to hunt for encourages exploration, adding another layer of depth to the map. Goodies are out there in the shroud - go look for them!

Regarding the structure of the enemy base and how the map itself encourages the player to fulfill the map's gimmick before tackling it: Take note of how the easiest Control Node to attack brings the player's units over to the top angle of attack. The most well-defended angle, that is. Even if the Barracks are destroyed, two more activate at the bottom of the base, keeping the pressure on the player with infantry still coming, only behind the vehicles this time. The player's other choice is going to the left angle of attack first, but even if he manages to push through the Wind Traps on that side, the other half of the base has an active Storm Lasher and several Rocket Turrets. The base structures are arranged in such a way that enemy units can filter out through the many one-tile paths into a concentrated attack on the player on the wide bridges, but the player will need to blow through the base structures or his forces will be split up and picked off by the excellent turret coverage across the entire base.

Due to the way Storm Lashers work, the map structure and base layout are both conducive to encouraging the use of the map's gimmick. And when that's done, the player's forces should already be in a good position to strike from all angles thanks to the Mass Deposits and various capturable goodies encouraging expansion, and thanks to the Heavy Factories encouraging spread forces to begin with for the sake of protection. And, also due to the way Storm Lashers work, a concentrated attack from one angle will most likely fail against this base... while an attack from all angles will confuse them too much for them to effectively hold off the player's forces. It's all connected!

One more thing: I used LRA platforms in the last two testing maps. I like the concept of LRA platforms where you can drop some Missile / Siege Tanks and watch them outrange everything crossing the bridge, but they caused weird pathing errors. This time, I tried some infantry-only side passages crossed with LRA platforms. Infantry can rush the artillery, and they'll kill Missile Tanks very quickly if given the chance, but tanks will stop there. So, it offers some mobility to infantry, and maybe gives Grenadiers a good place to camp too. If you try that, try using Grenadiers on the new paths, lemme know how it turns out.

 

S18V1: Summers' Solstice - Time is running out. With the Fremen, Sardaukar, Ix, and Sabre Durant supporting your assault, fight through all the standing Guild and Tleilaxu forces, kill Achen Moriaen, and then slay the sleeping God.

  Reveal hidden contents

Full map image: https://i.imgur.com/bgS9h1E.jpg

Strategy:

  Reveal hidden contents

Don't panic. The first attack is nasty, but hardly impossible to survive.
https://prnt.sc/m7rlrq

Your goal should be to hold off the enemy armor for as long as possible. Those Storm Lashers will do a hell of a job killing everything if you can stall the enemy long enough within their range. Use your Duelist Tanks for this purpose, sell your turrets when they're in the red to save some cash, and move your LRA behind the merc ConYard. Support them with your infantry until the Storm Lashers overload, explode, and kill Durant in the process. You should end up with a few remaining units and hopefully an intact ConYard if you did it right, but if you are low on units, some Duelist Tanks will be delivered to you at this time.

You will see Saboteurs on the field... or not. They are sneaky. Just in case, get a Barracks up and spread Light Infantry around where you expect Saboteurs to try and pass by. Don't let them infiltrate your ConYard, especially. Regarding Storm Lashers, remember S15: Move one unit ahead of the rest, always, if it's online and you're on approach to destroy it. Otherwise, cut the power and don't let it come back up.

The enemy has multiple bases you will need to fight your way through. All of them have a Storm Lasher or two. The first has several weak points. See below:
https://prnt.sc/m7ts45

Red = Player's start position
Green = Infantry-only passages
Blue = Death Hand targets
Pink = Place LRA here

Hold enemies at the choke point while you build up a force to attack. Use your Fremen Fedaykin or Stealth Raiders to scout where possible while you build up. The more you can see, the better prepared you'll be. Moriaen will not let up in her attacks on your base, so you'd better know what's coming.

You may wish to use your infantry to invade the main base here - you can completely power down the turrets and prevent them from being rebuilt, but the factories will still present a problem. If you attack the main, I suggest using your Death Hand on the Sonic Tank, which will make it much easier to completely level that base. Note that your Death Hand will never miss in this mod. With the turrets powered down, you can use artillery to take out the Heavy Factories without fear of being lightning bolted to death on the west factory. Your infantry, once they've finished the job up north, can head across the bridge and attack the Light Factories. If you only manage to destroy one, pop another Death Hand on the second.

Alternatively, leave the power on and pop a Death Hand on the west Heavy Factory. Artillery can safely take out the east one, it's well out of range of the Storm Lasher's attack, and then you can push into the base needing to deal with only infantry and LAVs. You can brute force the Storm Lasher once the perimeter is breached, but the enemy will send reinforcements from the east.

However you manage to do it, raze the entire base to receive an MCV. Future Fremen and Sardaukar reinforcements will arrive at this location, and now you can focus your attacks on the new targets to the east.
https://prnt.sc/lmemub

Red = Angle of attack
Blue = Death Hand targets

The ridge where you get your MCV is very defensible. Set up some Rocket Turrets and, just like before, spread infantry around if you want that ConYard intact. You should set up new Refineries and more factories here to progress the battle forward. Keep building up and move east when you're ready.
https://prnt.sc/m7txzy

Attack from the north and try to go for the power in this second base. It's quite vulnerable, though there's a lot of it. If you screw it up and destroy too many turrets to keep the power offline, and you don't want to brute force the Storm Lasher, take some Stealth Raiders down the right side and sabotage their power in the back:
https://prnt.sc/lmep53

Red = Angle of attack
Green = Infantry-only passages
Blue = Death Hand targets
Pink = Place LRA here

You can expect to see more Sonic Tanks and gholas on the field by now, so take care while you push into this position. The enemy has the upper hand until you get to the next choke point. Once you raze the entire base, another MCV will arrive and future reinforcements will show up at this new location. Place some new factories here, get a Barracks up, and prepare an Engineer for the next part.
https://prnt.sc/lmeu0p

Red = Angle of attack
Green = STAY AWAY!!
Blue = Death Hand targets
Pink = Place LRA here

Ignore the Rocket Turrets for now; just stay away from them. Your goal for the moment is destroying this next base except for the ConYard, which must be captured to finally gain Storm Lasher tech. Summers will order all units to hold their fire once the shroud around the ConYard is uncovered.

I recommend hitting the Storm Lasher closest to the choke point with a Death Hand. You can brute force the second fairly easily because there's more room to move units over there, and you may be able to take the base's power down. To handle enemy defense forces, set up some artillery on the ridge and go to town, and when you're confident it's clear enough, push in. Remember, don't destroy the ConYard.

Capture the ConYard when you feel ready to defend it.
https://prnt.sc/lmf8kt

Red = Angle of attack
Green = Enemy defenders
Blue = Critical structure
Pink = Place Storm Lashers here

Make sure you have infantry spread around the ConYard to keep Saboteurs out and enough of a mobile force to cover your construction efforts. Losing the ConYard before all the Rocket Turrets are down means mission failure! Going anywhere near those Rocket Turrets is suicide, even with hundreds of tanks, but your new Storm Lashers can completely outrange the Rocket Turrets. Keep building units while you mass Storm Lashers at those locations, and keep your existing army around the Storm Lashers to block the final defenders that'll come your way. Once you have enough Storm Lashers up on a certain peninsula, they should have no problem killing both the enemy defenders and the Storm Lashers on their own.

The Storm Lashers will finish the Rocket Turrets in minutes.
https://prnt.sc/lmfeq6

Red = Angle of attack
Green = Leftover Wind Traps
Blue = Critical structure
Pink = Storm Lashers

At last, the mission is complete! Almost. Ignore the Wind Traps if you want, or blow through them. Whatever you do, get to that ConYard where the enemy commander is holed up and blow it up. And, mind the Storm Lashers on the way there. Good luck!

Technical analysis:

  Reveal hidden contents

I don't believe it's possible to create a map more technically complex than this. Surely, this is my magnum opus!

And yeah, I'm going with a Worm God plot. After S15, Summers will have found some data exposing Moriaen's plot and the rest of S16 / S17 will be spent prepping to kill the Worm God.

This map is the big epic finale I wanted to design for this campaign. It has two dramatic deaths of main characters, a desperate situation all the way through, plot twists, massive large-scale battles, sabotage operations with infantry or light vehicles, super units... it has everything! It's climactic! And, it's the culmination of everything I know about D2k editing. Hopefully it's a good example for new mappers looking for how far they can take a map!

First, let me point out that this map has hit the limit for entities. Place one more unit in the map editor and save it, and it will crash the game on startup.

Secondly, there are three AIs in the first base, three in the second, two in the third, and two in the fourth. Apart from that, one AI was needed for Durant at the beginning, another was needed for the Storm Lasher / King of the Hill part, one side was needed for the player, and yet another side was needed for the Rocket Turrets. And, using the eighth AI breaks the sandworms. So how the hell did I fit so many AIs in this one map?

Part of getting this to work right was understanding how the AI changes its primary buildings. The default primary is whatever's closest to the top left corner, pretty much, so I had the player start in that corner. The two main AIs, the Guild and Tleilaxu, have factories in each base and they're arranged so that one is destroyed, the factory in the next base activates. This ensures the player is only dealing with the forward-most defense line at any given time, but there are other reasons this is important.

Doing it this way means the AI will have massive defense areas. The AI draws its defense area in a box, so if you put one building in the top right and another in the bottom left, the AI will consider the entire map to be its base and will respond to any hostile units in that box as being attackers in its base. Pretty silly, right? Anyway, the map's layout works around that too, like so:
https://prnt.sc/lfao7t

Although imperfect, I tried to put buildings the player will want to destroy in every base. Extra buildings like Repair Pads and Research Centres belonged to the incidental AIs only there to repair and rebuild turrets on-site. Wind Traps, Refineries, and factories were the only buildings belonging to the main AIs. While a player may choose to leave a Wind Trap or Refinery intact, it seemed the enemy still put up plenty of resistance regardless. If the player does destroy the buildings as intended, the defense area will constantly shrink from blue to green to red to yellow, making the AI act normally again as the map progresses. It's important that they're buildings the player will most likely want to destroy, for the sake of lining up my intentions with the player's probable strategies.

Additionally, having the factories belong to two main AIs and having the battle move along as the player makes progress keeps it fair for the player. Making three or four AIs fight the player would be overkill.

Finally, between the various points the player gets an MCV and the next enemy base awaits, the path is quite straight! This reduces the likelihood of encountering one of those terrible fatal errors we think is most likely caused by AI units wanting to take paths that are too complex. Of course, we can't expect a player to expand on his own, so not only does giving him an MCV or two, or having him capture a ConYard, serve to refocus the battle to new terrain and keep things interesting... but, it's also important for helping to avoiding that glitch.

Despite the linear paths between the bases, the map is quite expansive. There is a lot of room to move around, there are lots of places to expand, lots of Spice fields and empty rock islands, which hopefully adds to the feeling of the size and scale of the battle.

If we're keeping count, that's four AIs total - one uniquely the first base, one uniquely in the second base, and two main AIs giving the player a hard time. I knew I wanted this level to kick off with a bang, so I used the fifth AI slot for the berserk AI that would do Moriaen's first attack. Rather than use an event to make it go berserk a minute in, I gave it a little more than enough credits to not want to berserk, and then I gave it a Barracks. It trains one Trooper, then sells the Barracks and goes berserk because it's a practice AI with very little cash.

The sixth AI slot was for Durant, an absolutely necessary part of this map. For much of this second half of the smugglers campaign, Durant has been there with you in the thick of it, pushing you on and making each battle that much more bearable for Summers. On the undone levels, S16V1 / V2 and S17V1 / V2, he'll play an integral role, too; I think on S17V2, they'll get the first pieces of the Storm Lasher prototypes seen in the beginning of S18. Anyway, I want the player to feel pissed at the enemy by this point. Moriaen has been a giant pain in Summers' rear and now she's killed her closest ally. What's more, he sacrificed himself to give Summers a fighting chance. With only hours left before the Worm God awakens, and the situation looking more bleak than ever before, Summers must push on alone against Moriaen. I want the player to feel the desperation of the situation, but this first plot twist is only part of that.

The way Moriaen fights Summers back at every opportunity is another facet of the desperation on this map. Her goal is to stall until the Worm God awakens, and as I've always said, the more human an AI is, the better. Not just giving it a name and character, but she fights fiercer than ever before on this map. There should be the sense that you're throwing everything you've got at her, and she's throwing everything she's got at you. You both have goals, but only one may survive. And for the past several missions, including SBON3, you'll have been preparing for this one. Moriaen has been doing the same by being so secretive, by playing you and the Ordos against each-other, and now by openly opposing you with all her might. Moriaen isn't playing around anymore; she wants you dead, so she throws her strongest attack at you immediately.

This mission reaches a peak at the Rocket Turret line, where the unstoppable force meets the immovable object, tanks and gholas pouring out from behind the enemy perimeter, and the player finally gets to deploy Storm Lashers for himself. Just for that big, epic finish I was going for.

Speaking of which, the seventh slot has to be taken by the player... but, I didn't use an AI in the eighth slot. Rather, the Rocket Turrets are placed for a side without any AI at all so the sandworms can still work, and they remain dangerous because Rocket Turrets have ridiculous range and firepower even though there's no AI to repair them or rebuild them. The player simply can't pass without Storm Lashers because any tanks rolling up get one-shot right away. And sure, it causes the occasional weird glitch where enemy units will keep attacking the sand where a sandworm was, but that was considered a minor issue.

For the King of the Hill segment with the Storm Lashers, I simply re-used the berserk AI from the beginning for the enemy defenders coming out from behind the dense line of Rocket Turrets. It's still berserk, it just didn't have any units to send at the player, so spawning some in for this part killed two birds with one stone. Something I had to do a lot of to get this thing to work right...

So, that's how this map was designed. What do you think, reader? Did I pull off a fantastic finale, or were there some things about S18 that ruin it somehow? Whatever your point of view, I cannot emphasize enough that I appreciate any feedback I get! And if you've read this much, I hope you'll consider posting a reply as well. Remember, this is the WIP thread - whatever criticism you may have could go towards improving it for the final release. Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Download: SBON3 & S18V1.zip

Both maps were tested extensively and beaten on hard mode. Certain screenshots may have an expanded view, but I tested them in the default resolution at 640x400 without a build queue patch or anything of the sort. Expect them to be difficult - they are end-campaign maps.

As with previous uploads, installation and uninstallation should be a simple copy + paste. So go ahead, give it a try! If you're having trouble, a strategy section for each map can be found under the spoilers along with a technical analysis. Good luck and have fun, and please do provide feedback here if you get the opportunity. Criticism is always helpful! Thank you.

S18v1 seems to be working fine on mine however SBON3 keeps coming up "File not found BLOXHILN.R8" i cant seem to find where to put it in the dictionary, proberly being dum lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JasperRowan said:

S18v1 seems to be working fine on mine however SBON3 keeps coming up "File not found BLOXHILN.R8" i cant seem to find where to put it in the dictionary, proberly being dum lol

I guess you have the game with 8 bit graphics, Fey only uploaded the file for the 16 graphics. You can set the game to 16 by entering the main menu executing dune2000 (not the launcher or mid game), in the options appears the 8 or 16 graphics.

Or that or you can wait until Fey upload the file to 8 bits too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, JasperRowan said:

Hey Fey 

S18v1 seems to be working fine on mine however SBON3 keeps coming up "File not found BLOXHILN.R8" i cant seem to find where to put it in the dictionary, proberly being dum lol

Hey mate! Thanks for trying out the maps. Please do let me know how they go!

That's weird, the BLOXHILN.r8 file was included in the download and I just confirmed myself that it's there. Well, here it is again, just in case:
BLOXHILN.R8

This goes in your D2k directory under the "data" folder. The file contains the tileset image used to paint the map in-game; without it, there's no terrain, so the map doesn't load and wouldn't be playable anyway.

Hope that helps!

Edited by Fey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Hey fellas. Uhh... the third bonus mission in the last download recycled the scale test from the Heighliner test maps, but since that map has been released in an official mini-campaign, I re-did the bonus mission. I'll more than likely keep the concept of the original SBON3 for S16V2, except I'll build a different map for it. Probably. I dunno yet, still considering it.

Anyway, I made this map, whether it'll be used or not. Bonus missions are meant for weird stuff. You play as a different faction, get to see a story detail in-between the main missions, and there's usually some strange concept at play, like how the first bonus mission was an escort quest in its entirety. To that end, I tried to create a tower defense map. Yep, tower defense in D2k. So, uhh... here ya go. Details below, download link, good luck and have fun. And if you get that annoying new error that popped up during the Heighliner test maps, just reload the game - it shouldn't happen twice, and I'm pretty sure I fixed it. We'll see, I guess. 😅

SBON3: Against the Storm - Defend stolen Storm Lasher data against an onslaught of Guild forces!

Spoiler

FullMap: https://i.imgur.com/1ELBKKV.png
TactMap: https://i.imgur.com/pjRsbq3.png

Red = Main enemy path
Blue = Potential spawns
Green = Mission-critical!
Pink = Capture these
Yellow = Good coverage

In-game screenshots:
https://i.imgur.com/SnaFqhr.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/6pYF3qN.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/k4N4rMF.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/bq1pBEV.jpg

Waves:

Spoiler

Wave 01: Normal 15 Light Infantry, 15 Engineers, 30 Grenadiers
Wave 02: Normal 100 Troopers
Wave 03: Normal 150 Light Infantry + tech-up (Light II)
Wave 04: Normal 30 Shock Raiders
Wave 05: Normal 30 Troopers, 15 Quads
Wave 06: Bottom 10 Raiders, 5 Devastators + time-up (2 mins)
Wave 07: Bottom 25 Trikes, 50 Quads + Carryall drop (Main, 5 Grenadiers) + tech-up (Utility)
Wave 08: Normal 30 Combat Tanks (Heavy)
Wave 09: Left 30 Sardaukar Gholas, 20 Combat Tanks (Medium)
Wave 10: Normal 60 Troopers, 15 Engineers, 45 Combat Tanks (Light) + intermission (4.5 mins)
Wave 11: Normal 50 Shock Raiders, 50 Combat Tanks (Light)
Wave 12: Normal 100 Quads, 25 Combat Tanks (Heavy)
Wave 13: Normal 20 Stealth Raiders + Carryall drop (Mid, 5 Grenadiers) + tech-up (Advanced II)
Wave 14: Normal 60 Fremen Gholas, 30 Fedaykin Gholas, 60 Raiders, 30 Stealth Raiders
Wave 15: Right 50 Missile Tanks + time-up (2.5 mins)
Wave 16: Left 240 Fremen Gholas, 180 Fedaykin Gholas + Carryall drop (Main, 5 Grenadiers)
Wave 17: Normal 150 Raiders, 50 Shock Raiders, 50 Stealth Raiders
Wave 18: Bottom 120 Combat Tanks (Assorted)
Wave 19: Left 50 Fedaykin Gholas, 150 Combat Tanks (Assorted)
Wave 20: Right 50 Devastators
Wave 21: Normal 60 Fedaykin Gholas, 180 Combat Tanks (Assorted)

PAR TIME, Hard+ difficulty: 75000 (~21m)
HARD+ Qualifier: No leaks. Don't allow the ConYard to take any damage.

Strategy:

Spoiler

This is a tower defense map. Tower defense games are all about optimization and placement, so consider where you move your infantry and how you place your turrets carefully. You'll need good DPS to effectively fight all the forces the Guild will throw at you.

For starts, build a Barracks at your main and start producing Light Infantry. While this is going on, move your starting Troopers on each platform into a good position to strike at passing enemy forces. You have a couple of Raiders in your main too, so bring those all the way over to the infantry-only on the right. You should have 2-3 stacks of Light Infantry for the first wave, maybe 5 for the second, but hold your funds on the third. You should get the Barracks upgrade as soon as it's available and put some Troopers out along the main path, since as Summers says, LAVs are next. You should move your Light Infantry there too, but don't forget to replace them along the infantry-only with some Grenadiers.

Move your starting Harvester to the Mass Deposit when the crates nearby are gone. Also, when the Carryall drops behind your ConYard, take your Grenadiers guarding the infantry-only to deal with them or use your Raiders. They shouldn't be a problem. You don't need to invest the cash in a second Refinery, by the way; one should be fine until intermission.

When Summers announces that a second MCV has arrived at mid, you have access to Gun Turrets. However, I recommend putting a Barracks down at midfield for starts! Get Troopers and Grenadiers out, put the Troopers along the vehicles' path, and move at least five Grenadiers over to the left. If you're quick enough, you should manage wave 9 fairly well.

There is an intermission between waves 10 and 11, so THEN is the time to build a Refinery at midfield, upgrade your ConYard, start dropping Gun Turrets wherever you think is best, and get more infantry out at midfield. I recommend spreading Grenadiers around https://prnt.sc/mtaxog so they can force-fire on the path in lines. This is your ideal defense against Stealth Raiders, which can ruin a hard+ attempt. A few can get by and only damage the Concrete Wall, which doesn't count towards leaks.

When the Missile Tanks show up, you need to mass Light Infantry at the top-left expansion. Get your MCV deployed there if it isn't already, get a Barracks up, and spam the heck out of Light Infantry to handle those Missile Tanks. Throw in some Grenadiers too - you can place them in the bottom left corner of that platform to deal with the next wave, which has several hundred Fremen Gholas. Gun Turrets deal the best damage against Missile Tanks and infantry, so consider placing those along the path instead of Rocket Turrets.

By the way, you can sell the Research Centre after you unlock Rocket Turrets. You only need it to unlock the turrets; after that, it's simply a power drain.

After that, the only wave you really need to worry about is the 50 Devastators coming from the right. Just mass Troopers and Rocket Turrets where you can and enjoy the show. And, yeah, I always test hard+ before releasing a map - it's possible. :P Good luck and have fun!

Technical analysis:

Spoiler

This is kind of a novel concept. D2k has some pathing-related issues and bugs that normally make this concept kind of impossible to pull off well, but my mod has some important changes compared to the original game that really come into play on this map:
 - Unit range is rounded out. Light Infantry are able to fire in three tiles, not just one, when put on the edge. Troopers and Grenadiers, even more-so.
 - Grenadiers are available. The use of infantry on this map allows for greater "tower" variety, and moving them around is an important mechanic.
 - Turret range is greatly improved. It makes them valuable when your infantry can only fire on passing stuff a bit, and then turrets can do much more.
 - Refineries are expensive as hell. Because of this, it's unfeasible to build a second Refinery earlier than intermission because you need the defense forces.
 - Quad rockets hit walls. They deal excellent damage to walls and were the units I chose to clear the starting walls out quickly. Hopefully they're not a bother.
 - A third tower, the Storm Lasher, was added. However, the tower is so powerful, I couldn't allow even one on this map. It utterly shattered the difficulty.

So, hypothetically these changes should make for some good TD mechanics, but there were more problems. A few more:
 - Too many units in play for one side will cause even a berserk AI to become inactive. This might not be a problem if it weren't for unit spawns crashing the game if too many happen in one place. Luckily, I never ran into much of a problem... the AI did stop at one point, but only for a few seconds. Not long enough to cause a crash. Part of balancing this map was figuring out a good pace to spawn units in and keep the player on his toes without breaking the AI.
 - D2k's unit pathing is really silly. You might see units derp out during this map in a few places, but I did make the path wide enough to reduce the likelihood of this happening. It'd be potentially exploitable as a player could position Troopers at such a location to deal heavy damage to derped-up enemy units, but in doing so they clear the path a bit and make the units un-derp. At least, that's what happened when I tried to break it, so hopefully it doesn't break completely for anyone else.
 - An error can occur if AI units take too many turns while attempting to reach a destination. This glitch was never encountered during any of my many tests on this map, but a second, new error first sighted on level 2 of the HTTMC did occur twice for me, and only on wave 2. The map needs to be structured in such a way to make the likelihood of encountering such an error practically non-existent. I believe I've fully eliminated said error, but if it does happen, my apologies. Save your game often if you're worried about it. :)
 - Due to unit pathing, units will cling to one side of a path. This isn't really a problem, but it's worth mentioning since it can make mapping a TD kinda difficult. I built the map around this, ensuring the player will always have the opportunity to get infantry on whatever side the enemy will cling to. The only exception to this is the white infantry-only near the ConYard, but that path is small enough where Grenadiers on the edge will always be able to strike infantry passing through.


I found during initial testing that having enemy units spawn from a single location was way too easy to handle. You don't want the map to drag on, either - D2k only has so many units! So to make sure the map didn't overstay its welcome, I made it 21 waves total and threw some curveballs at the player. Stealth units, countered by Grenadiers force-firing on the path. Carryall drops in nasty positions which the player needs to react to. Moving the enemy spawn points up so the player needs to move his infantry out there. And I filled the rest of the events with timers and call-outs from Summers to make sure the player would remain informed about what was coming. I also color-coded the map for easier visuals. Blue = enemy path, white = infantry-only, black = space for your defense forces.

I hope this map works as a one-time thing, at least. It might be a little clunky in D2k, but I had to try it. What do y'all think? Did it work, for the most part?

 

Download link:
TD D2k.zip

Good luck and have fun. :D

Edited by Fey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ayy lmao

Since I recently lost a bunch of data due to HDD corruption, I kinda also lost some updates to the earlier maps in this campaign which I hadn't uploaded yet. Basically expanding maps, reducing the absolutely stupid difficulty of some of the AIs, but improving the difficulty overall. Fairness and all that. It'll be a while before I re-map the junk I'd already gotten done, but this has given me the opportunity to go back and do more stuff. And I still remember what I changed, and even have some screenshots laying around. Like this full map image of the S12 rework:

Spoiler

1385816714_S12Rework.thumb.png.1844fb943809871918861799c4454b08.png

(Note that this is a raw screenshot, not a typical full map image I usually include in map details. Many of the randomly-placed walls actually blow up as soon as the map starts just to leave concrete on the ground and give the illusion that a battle was recently fought in this region.)

While I proceed with the tedious task of redoing all the stuff I already fixed, I've been working on adjusting the editor for use with the mod.
MEQaM4N.png
Pictured above, you can see the Storm Lasher, Shock Raider, Duelist Tank, and RPG Quad sprites fully implemented in Klofkac's editor. I'm also streamlining AI production for quicker Skynet smart D2k AI deployment, including neat presets based on the sorts of AIs I used in my campaign. Complementary AIs, for instance, which alternate attacks and focus on different unit combinations each potent in their own right. Or, AIs that will complement each-other in a hot drop, such as one that goes for heavy vehicles first and another that rushes light tech to cover its friend while it builds up. And, everything from your typical Light II AI to "boss" AIs that deploy Storm Lashers.

The default AI already in place begins with optimized repairs, responsiveness, a focus on aggression, a respectable build rate, fixed morale at a hundred percent, and blank UnitBuildPriorities and BuildRatios so that's the only thing a mapper would need to adjust.

It's my hope that working on the editor could facilitate mapping with my mod not necessarily for my sake, but for others looking to use it. With three new units, the awesome Storm Lasher, and the heavy re-balancing, there are tons of opportunities for innovative and fun gameplay using my mod! When I've got the preset AIs all finished up, and implement the Imperial Barracks, I can zip up the modified editor and pass it along.

Regarding this campaign...

My changes to the previous campaign smoothed the difficulty curve, streamlined combat, and maps play out much more fairly. There is plenty of space to navigate with units, attacks are precisely timed so the player can work around them, and the various special tricks I use from time to time are meant to add variety and unpredictability to the foes the player will face. Changes to the second half of the campaign will continue along with these designs, as you can see from the S12 full map image! Centralized enemy power, multiple paths through the map besides through the enemy bases, better and more varied strategic options, and the gimmick of the map is strengthened - so if you want to rush for the Devastators and wreck the other two bases with them, it's perfectly viable. And very fun, as I found when I tested the map prior to its loss.

That'll be all for now, I guess. Back to fixing stuff up, or whatever else I gotta do. <.>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Herro.

While the old data was lost recently, I was able to rebuild it fairly quickly. Just so I don't lose it again, Imma post it here.
S10-S12.zip

Installation is an easy copy-paste. Same with uninstallation. A README is included with more info.

As with the latest post in the other thread, these are final draft versions of the maps. Specifically S10V1, S11V1, and S12V1. As with other final drafts, I will NOT touch them again unless a game-breaking bug is found, Swearzies! And, please note that these maps are tuned to curve up in difficulty from S09V1 / V2, so if you're unfamiliar with the original campaign, please visit this post:
https://forum.dune2k.com/topic/27508-release-smugglers-campaign/?do=findComment&comment=396536

Attempting these maps without already being familiar with the mod (that is, playing through the original campaign linked above) would make them extra difficult. :)

Also included in the above zip is Against the Storm, which will be included in the final release as a scrapped map. That would be the tower defense map I designed as an experiment for D2k. All I changed was one of the waves now sends RPG Quads instead of regular Quads, and the player does not receive Troopers or Grenadiers via reinforcements. Rather, the player begins with a single RPG Quad at midfield from the very start. The intent with these changes was to reduce the difficulty of the wave where Quads first appear, since RPG Quads move a bit slower and are no tougher, and the player is unlikely to have many Troopers at the ready by then. And, the single RPG Quad at midfield is in a much better position to tackle leaks than the original reinforcements. Plus, it helps with the eventual enemy Grenadier drop.

Here's the changelog for the main three maps:
S10V1: Screaming in Silence - In a treacherous twist, invade Chin Rock and quietly terminate all Ordos and smuggler forces in the region.

Spoiler

 - Terrain expanded.
 - Enemy AIs reduced.
 - Enemy AIs improved.
 - Additional worm added.
 - Enemy Saboteur behavior adjusted.
 - Both enemies will use Duelist Tanks.
 - Enemy starting strength is drastically reduced.
 - Enemy RPG Quads can be seen at the beginning of the battle.
 - Fixed a glitch causing Summers to ask about Sonic Tanks if she has none.
 - Fixed a glitch causing Moriaen to warn Summers about Saboteurs too late.
 - Fixed a glitch causing Ordos infantry to converse with Summers while dead.
 - Unlike other missions, all enemy forces must be annihilated, not defeated.
 - Enemy Harvester replacements only occur if they have an intact Refinery.
 - Enemy production speed has been increased very slightly.
 - Enemy threat priority behavior dramatically changed.
 - The Ordos and smugglers are likely to focus Summers.

PAR TIME, Hard difficulty: 99000 (~27m)

Additional comments:
Originally, this map had the player use Allocation Index 5, but the second half of the smugglers campaign now uses the merc tech tree. Drawing up the final draft for this map afforded me the opportunity to include some critical changes from the mod - enemy Duelist Tanks and Stealth Raiders, unique Saboteur behavior, and proper AI threat handling. And a few RPG Quads rolling around, too.

If you examine the old / new map comparison, you'll see the original version of this map was seriously cramped. There's even a hidden base that's appears in-game, but not in the old map image. As I learned, space to navigate and attack is very important for the map to be fun! And so, the new version is quite appropriately spaced out, but in the spirit of the original - which I try to stick to for the sake of authenticity, loyalty to the original intent and design - there are some threats around the map anyway. Stealth Raiders, for one, but they aren't freakin' turrets and walls. LAVs have a well-defined role in my mod, so it's very important that their liberal use proves a viable strategy. The extra space all around means more room to rove with some Quads and maybe pick off an enemy Harvester or two.

Do more with less. I stripped two of the enemy AIs away, but the existing AIs were bolstered in their own ways and the map plays much more smoothly. This also enabled me to give enemy Saboteurs on Screaming in Silence some unique behavior! Which is important for the sake of map variety and identity.

The original S10 threw enemy units at the player without any ability to influence them. The new S10 allows for the player to goad the Ordos into attacking the smugglers, or vice versa, using the new threat handling. https://i.imgur.com/OT328qn.png Keeping some mobile forces, like LAVs, around midfield will prompt one side to attack them... and then who's the next closest target? The other enemy AI. This naturally promotes aggression, something I really want to promote in my designs!

S11V1: Phantom Penance - Stranded in Qanat Pass, you are accosted by vengeful apparitions.

Spoiler

 - Main enemy waves are now properly timed and will never occur simultaneously.
 - Summers' command interface now contains even more freaky messages. Have fun!
 - Summers no longer receives an extra Harvester when her first Refinery is up.
 - The initial Atreides wave has had its Combat Tanks replaced with RPG Quads.
 - Summers now begins with two RPG Quads in place of formerly normal Quads.
 - Enemy attackers are smarter and will engage more appropriate targets.
 - Enemy mid-game attacks ramp up slightly later than before.
 - Enemy late-game attacks ramp up a bit sooner than before.
 - Fixed a glitch causing the sandworm to cling to a corner.
 - Spice blooms have been appropriately re-arranged.
 - Summers' initial units have been greatly reduced.
 - More Atreides concrete is left over to build on.
 - Most of the Atreides walls begin destroyed.
 - Summers begins with 1,000 less Solaris.

PAR TIME, Hard+ difficulty: 40500 (~11m)
HARD+ Qualifier: Do not destroy the local Sietch.

Additional comments:
The previous drafts of this map were horrendous. No sense of timing, way too many Voracious Delusions, and ending the map instantly at 10k? That encourages the player to cheese the map, if anything! It had to be fixed.

The addition of RPG Quads to the game has allowed for some really awesome survival sections. S02V2 comes to mind, but here on S11V1, they fit perfectly fine too. The play between Concrete Walls and artillery units justifies spamming Concrete Walls while ticking up your Solaris to 10k; without them, that Sonic Tank or those RPG Quads might go down much more quickly. Building Concrete Walls is something I wanted to encourage on the map itself too, which is why many of the Atreides Concrete Walls begin destroyed. The player should get the idea right away that he needs to bunker up the Gun Turrets as soon as possible!

Another problem was the enemy attacking behavior. Berserk AI, or an AI without ABPs, resulted in new spawns going after the nearest target. That simply wouldn't do because the player needs to explore Qanat Pass in peace and keep a mobile force at the ready, and how the heck was the player supposed to do that if the enemy forces would attack said mobile force while it's outside the base? The player would need to keep them in the base until the enemy attacks, then go intercept, making things needlessly convoluted. In this new draft, the enemy attackers will roll out towards your base instead! At least until one of your interceptors shoots at them or something. That should prove to streamline the gameplay and make it very strongly different from S02V2.

The biggest elephant in the room was the obnoxious timing in all the previous drafts. https://i.imgur.com/UUIZt0p.png How the hell was the player meant to work with such seemingly random timing? Well, it's no longer the case. Enemy attacks are timed to have AT LEAST 30 seconds between each wave, they're consistently every 30 seconds only when you're close to your goal, and the only exceptions are the very first wave and the wave at two thirds of the way there.

This change has also allowed me to justify demanding the deaths of all enemy units from the player since the player will never be dealing with too many. Can't just sell everything like on S02V1 or let the Imperials roll over the Sietch like on S02V2! Fatal mistakes can still happen at the very end of the map, and they would decidedly be the player's fault. Not some BS RNG with five waves spawning at once or something.

S12V1: False Pretenses - False Wall is under attack! Rescue the OSO hostages and slaughter the mysterious new enemies.

Spoiler

 - Terrain expanded.
 - Additional worm added.
 - The center of the map is now open.
 - The sides of the map are more open.
 - Spice blooms added and re-arranged.
 - Extra detailing added; more ruins around.
 - The unknowns' bases are now much smaller.
 - The unknowns begin with less Solaris. Have fun.
 - The unknowns AIs' production speeds have been reduced.
 - The unknowns no longer sortie Ornithopters over False Wall.
 - Enemy Harvester replacements only occur if they still have a Refinery.
 - The real lore for Deviators and Saboteurs can be read in the briefing.
 - Fixed an error stopping one of the AIs from properly using Deviators.
 - Fixed a glitch causing the friendly Devastators to escape early.
 - Friendly Devastators' colors now differ from Summers' colors.
 - There are now fifteen friendly Devastators, up from ten. Yay!
 - Summers doesn't get Carryalls from her Shield Wall delivery.
 - Summers' deliveries are now timed, and she gets more stuff.
 - Summers' deliveries arrive over a longer period of time.
 - Two enemy Deviators were added to the northwest base.
 - Two enemy AIs will now berserk past a certain point.
 - Summers washed her mouth out with a bar of soap.
 - Summers may build at the rear entrance sooner.
 - The unknown enemies will now use Saboteurs.
 - Enemy Saboteurs show up around 20 mins in.
 - Saboteur AI will be superior to S10V1.
 - The enemy only has one Starport now.
 - All enemies' starting units increased.
 - First enemy attack happens MUCH sooner.
 - The enemy has a few special infantry.
 - The midfield AIs focus on defense.
 - The final AI focuses on offense.

PAR TIME, Hard difficulty: 111000 (~30m)

Additional comments:
This map was previously quite linear. Linearity can be a good thing in certain situations. I regard S02V2's first part on rails as being interesting enough, and then the player can use LAVs or infantry to surgically strike the Imperial base and delay them, or to fortify the Sietch and hold out. SBON1 was entirely on rails, but the unique execution and short duration of the map prevented it from overstaying its welcome, and it wound up being an enjoyable little run-and-gun. Even S18 is pretty linear, but the sheer size and scale of the battle, the sense of progression, and the major events that take place help to make it fun throughout - not counting how the enemy bases have multiple exploitable weak points, allowing them to be approached in a multitude of different ways.

In the original S12, the linearity was not a good sort. The only ways forward were through some heavily fortified enemy positions, and while there were multiple ways to approach the unknowns' bases, there weren't enough ways. The original design heavily encouraged one specific approach, armored assault, and it wasn't even the last enemy base. Not good at all. Makes the map drag on. Never want that, no.

Opening up the center of the map hasn't necessarily made it easier. Trying to attack that way can get the player surrounded by enemy forces on three sides, and the far AI can send attacks in unison with the two at midfield. However, it has made the map significantly less linear! And the sides of the map too, those allow for more approaches to the southwest and northeast enemy bases.

The changes to the map's linearity were fine and dandy, I might have been content leaving it at that, but there was more to do to make this map fun and engaging. Expanding on Summers' reinforcements was one thing, adjusting the enemy unit composition was another. Ornithopters, no. Saboteurs, yes. And they come in after you get an extra MCV, and Moriaen even warns you about them since they do actually use their cloaking this time. So you get more stuff temporarily and you're fighting less stuff all around, that's good. There's enough to get the player out onto the field rather than turtle up the base. Especially the Stealth Raiders, there's lots of room to use them now. https://i.imgur.com/AI72jY5.jpg Now that the enemy bases are properly centralized, and much of the detailing was done in the ruins of the OSO base formerly in the region...

This map's gimmick of freeing the Devastators and using them to clean-sweep the enemy is now available much, much sooner. Not only are there more Devastators to work with, but the map was modified in some very specific ways to enable a rush strategy. If you hit the last base first, you're behind the enemy Wind Traps. https://i.imgur.com/9MY8e71.png On my hard mode test run, the first thing I did was free the Devastators, and this became one giant escort mission. Really added some flavor to the map, and was fun! Not to mention that by destroying the last base first, you take out the biggest threat to the Devastators - Deviators - and only need to deal with Sonic Tanks and stuff from then on. All I did was reinforce the Devastators with fresh Quads and Combat Tanks whenever I could, and I wound up finishing the map without even losing ten of the things.

I'm positive I can get a better par time if I play a bit less sloppy. :D

Here are the old / new map screenshots:
S10V1: Screaming in Silence
Old -
https://i.imgur.com/TIT51tO.jpg
New - https://i.imgur.com/srM6TjV.jpg

S11V1: Phantom Penance
Old -
https://i.imgur.com/S8fyRB4.jpg
New - https://i.imgur.com/01BZMfM.jpg

S12V1: False Pretenses
Old -
https://i.imgur.com/ere5dfx.jpg
New - https://i.imgur.com/Kpgz7l4.jpg

Much better designs. Aesthetically, and gameplay-wise. I'm very confident in my improvement; the old stuff is leagues behind the new, even though the old isn't that old at all. Despite having done this for quite a while, I'm still learning new things! I hope my designs also teach others a thing or two. I elaborate on some of the design decisions under the changelog spoilers. Both here and for the first 9 levels / 15 maps, in the link to the other thread.

I'll be continuing to develop template AIs so my tweaked editor can eventually be released. I'm already done with the default, Basic, Light, Light II, Armor, Utility, and Advanced AIs, and I've got six of the easier Advanced II AIs worked up. I just need to finish those, and the Ultimate and Boss AIs. I'll also get SBON2, S13V1, S13V2, S14V1, S14V2, S15V1, SBON3, and S18V1 updated when I can. And then I just need to whip up S16V1 / V2 and S17V1 / V2, and that'll be a wrap for this campaign.

My template AIs will be optimized, with preset BuildRatios or AttackBuildingPriorities depending on the type of AI. For instance, the "Snowball" preset is designed to build up its economy first. It's weak in the early game, but very powerful in the late game. Thus, a second type of AI, "Reactive," is another preset that can be given to a Snowball's ally so said Snowball can receive its early-game protection and get to its late-game stage more reliably. Snowball AIs are pretty sweet. S09V1's Ordos AI is a good example of an optimized Snowball AI, and... well, this is what it looks like eventually: https://prnt.sc/nn7uxq

Rough draft versions of the maps mentioned above that still need work, except S16V1 / V2 and S17V1 / V2, can be found earlier in this thread. However, I must emphasize that since this is a WIP thread, they are rough drafts. S01V1 through S12V1 are in their final draft states, and are thus the most polished and balanced. Still, if you decide to check out the rough drafts of those maps, please don't hesitate to drop by and leave a comment if you haven't already. Any more feedback would help me polish them up for their final draft states!

I know I've got a bunch of campaigns to play myself, I've just felt in a really hardcore creative mood lately. And, I'm able to map while doing certain other things I need to do a lot of these days, whereas playing through, not so much. So, uhh, please do pardon the delays. I'm trying to squeeze out as much as I can before I inevitably get mapper's block again. :P

Anyway, good luck and have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

haidar

I got three more maps to their final draft states! If you haven't seen the previous maps, see the post directly above this one. As for the new maps, here's a link to download 'em:
SBON2, S13V1, S13V2.zip

Installation is an easy copy-paste. Same with uninstallation. A README is included with more info.

In keeping with the design decisions in previous final drafts, things are more open, better tuned, more viable strategic options are available, and better detailing has been done. Notably, S13V1 and S13V2 were expanded massively - by 20x20 tiles - and the full implementation of units intended to appear on these levels for the first time has been completed. I'm talking about Shock Raiders, and RPG Quads being built out of a Light Factory for the first time in the campaign.

Below these spoilers, you can see the changelog for each of the three maps in the zip:
SBON2: The Ghola Gambit - Revisit the ruins of the Golden Lion Throne to discover a plot by the Tleilaxu.

Spoiler

 - Enemy Harvester replacements only occur if they have an intact Refinery.
 - Adjusted placed Concete Foundation in accordance with changes to S09V2.
 - Durant no longer needs to possess an Axlotl Tank after capturing one.
 - Durant will state that the Axlotl Tank doesn't need protection.
 - Fixed an error causing the mercs to not have Ultimate tech.
 - Fixed a glitch causing the Tleilaxu to retreat from battle.
 - Summers' Repair Pad isn't revealed from the start anymore.
 - Funneling into the Tleilaxu base is now much, much easier.
 - Durant now remarks on the strength of Sardaukar Gholas.
 - New smuggler structures have been added. Capture them!
 - Durant now begins with an extra 2500 Solaris. Huzzah!
 - Durant's reinforcements are now indicated by a timer.
 - Tleilaxu now use both medium and heavy Combat Tanks.
 - Tleilaxu receive a Starport delivery as you attack.
 - Tleilaxu starting units significantly increased.
 - Tleilaxu starting funds increased slightly.
 - The Tleilaxu now keep a spare MCV around.
 - Tleilaxu response forces are more common.
 - Tleilaxu defenses are rebuilt more often.
 - Tleilaxu attacks are better synchronized.
 - Tleilaxu production speed reduced plenty.
 - One Tleilaxu Axlotl Tank was removed.
 - Tleilaxu Harvesters are more exposed.
 - Spice blooms added and re-arranged.
 - New infantry-only pathways added.

PAR TIME, Hard difficulty: 111000 (~30m)

Additional comments:
This felt not quite like a bonus map. Next to Hunted, an escort mission through and through, and Against the Storm, a freakin' tower defense... this one was kinda lackluster. Especially considering how maps in the second second half of the campaign have a ton of gimmicks even on non-bonus maps! S11 is a trip, S12 has the Devastator stampede, S13V2's air bases count, and then there's the introduction of the Storm Lasher megaturret on S15...

What it did have going for it was the massive amount of reinforcements the player gets, and that it takes place somewhere you've been before - the ruins of the Golden Lion Throne atop Shield Wall. And bonus missions aren't just for throwing some crazy stuff at the player! They're also about seeing a part of the story you might have missed between levels, such as how Summers escaped the Imperials between S02 and S03, or how Summers and Durant plan to deal with Moriaen's massive stockpile of units on the Heighliner. In this case, Durant discovers a plot by the Tleilaxu totally separate from Summers, which sets in motion the events of the next few levels.

I wanted to keep this map in the campaign, so I pretty much gave it a lot of polish. Now the player knows when he gets reinforcements, the enemy base is more accessible... and the Tleilaxu attacks are synced so they'll ramp up over time. This is a unique AI behavior so far. I feel these simple changes help improve the map drastically.

S13V1: Lightning Round - Catch up with Sabre Durant in Almiraz Graben and strike back against the Ordos.

Spoiler

 - Additional worm added.
 - Terrain majorly expanded.
 - Terrain also majorly opened up.
 - Spice blooms added and re-arranged.
 - Summers may take multiple paths to Durant.
 - All factions on this map begin with some RPG Quads.
 - Durant suggests the Ordos will receive reinforcements.
 - Some clarification is given in the briefing for the tech drop.
 - Enemy Harvester replacements occur only if they have a Refinery.
 - The unknowns now use Shock Raiders and RPG Quads, and infantry.
 - All non-players' starting units have been drastically reduced.
 - All non-players no longer use any Combat Tanks whatsoever.
 - ...Except for at the very beginning, but they die quickly.
 - House Ordos' Starport no longer receives any deliveries.
 - Durant uses more Light Infantry, Grenadiers, and Quads.
 - Durant begins with one additional Barracks.
 - The unknowns keep a spare MCV at the ready.
 - All enemy turrets are spread further out.
 - The unknowns' turret nest is less dense.
 - Fixed an error in Ordos defense zones.
 - AI threat priority behavior modified.
 - Ordos reinforcements are now timed.
 - Razing their Outpost cuts off aid.
 - The Ordos primarily use infantry.
 - All enemy AIs reduced.
 - Remaining AIs buffed.

PAR TIME, Hard difficulty: 75000 (~20m)

Additional comments:
Like with other final drafts, my goal is to technically improve the gameplay while remaining faithful to the original intent. In the case of S13V1, I wanted a fast-paced battle between three factions using mostly LAVs. Much like S03V1 / V2, except harder because it's S13.

The old version of S13V1 had some good ideas, but poor execution. It achieved this higher difficulty level through Combat Tank reinforcements for the Ordos, greater use of turrets, and a generally higher build rate than previous maps in the campaign. However, even having Combat Tanks as a scarce unit still slowed the game down, and the turrets might have been a good idea if they were better spread or more exposed. As they were, they made it ridiculously hard to penetrate the enemy base perimeter, and that was boring. Especially with all the enemy units around to stop your attackers!

When I first implemented the Shock Raider, I planned to have it be introduced as a commonplace unit on S13. Having done so, and added RPG Quads to the unknowns' factories, it gives them a much better defined identity rather than just using more Quads than the Ordos. It eliminates the need for enemy Combat Tanks while keeping the field dangerous!

Another downside of having Combat Tanks in the old version was how tough they made the enemy's defenses. Now that everyone has only LAVs, except the player's starting armor, it partially eliminates the problem of the enemy base being way too tough to crack.

The other half of the problem was the fortification placement. Gun Turrets were too tightly bunched, Concrete Walls were everywhere, the player's movement was extremely restricted. Which might be okay if he had more armor to work with, but this isn't that kind of map. With bunched-up turrets, you need armor to break the line. LAVs get popped in no time, and they need more space to surround and swarm Gun Turrets, or they're just not effective.

This is why S13V1 / V2 had to be expanded by a whole 20x20 tiles. In the new version, there's a lot more room to move around due to changes to the terrain and to the Ordos turrets' area coverage. This is absolutely essential for LAV-focused combat. Now that they can move around the Ordos base more, it's easier to get shots at their Wind Traps, Harvesters, or that Outpost that keeps summoning more Quads from Bidriyah Sink. And the addition of RPG Quads for the player allows for more mobile defense strategies, such as setting them up on the cliff wall neighboring the Ordos base and protecting them with your armor. As lovely as Grenadiers are, they don't compare to RPG Quads.

The unknowns' base in the previous version was really awful too. It was crammed into the top-left corner and densely packed. It's still in the top-left corner, but now there are ways around it, the turret nest is easier to take out, and vulnerable and important targets are scattered around the base while the good stuff is packed in the center. This allows the player to pick apart the base by removing the enemy Shock Raider or RPG Quad production capability first, maybe get behind them and hit their Wind Traps, maybe bait the Ordos over so they get into a fight...

Opening up the map has also reduced the effectiveness of certain strategies, like deploying an MCV where your starting island is. That's still quite effective, but now the Ordos can head straight to you instead of around by the mercs, where they'll handle 'em for ya.

One more notable error that was made was the Ordos' Starport being operational. I wasn't quite sure about all the details at the time of the original version, but now we know that Moriaen cut access to the Heighliner for Summers, Durant, and the Ordos forces. For the sake of consistency, the Starport on S13V1 is totally inactive, and the Ordos get their reinforcements through Carryalls from Bidriyah Sink.

The result of all these changes is a better map. Technically superior, gameplay greatly improved, hopefully the aesthetics are preserved and it's fun, too. :)

S13V2: Shrouded Skies - Embark to Bidriyah Sink alone in a daring attempt to rout the Ordos and secure old Air Towers.

Spoiler

 - Additional worm added.
 - Terrain majorly expanded.
 - Lots more infantry rock added.
 - Spice blooms added and re-arranged.
 - Several new infantry-only paths were added.
 - Existing paths were opened a bit for better non-linearity.
 - Summers begins with a small base with essential structures.
 - Summers also begins with four RPG Quads, and no Sonic tanks.
 - Summers will receive five Sonic Tanks over the first 30 mins.
 - Some clarification is given in the briefing for the tech drop.
 - Enemy Harvester replacements occur only if they have a Refinery.
 - The unknowns now use Shock Raiders and RPG Quads, and infantry.
 - All non-players' starting units have been drastically reduced.
 - House Ordos' Starport is no longer functional, like on S13V1.
 - The unknowns now have an actual base in the top right.
 - The unknowns keep a spare MCV at the ready.
 - No enemy factions will use Combat Tanks.
 - Enemy defense zones reduced all around.
 - AI threat priority behavior modified.
 - Sonic Tank deliveries are now timed.
 - Ordos AIs have a lower build rate.
 - The unknowns build units faster.

PAR TIME, Hard difficulty: 90000 (~24m)

Additional comments:
I liked the old version of S13V2 better than the old version of S13V1, but now that things are improved I'm happy to say I like 'em both now. Those Shock Raiders and RPG Quads really add something to these maps.

A major complaint I got about the old version of S13V2 was that it was hard to move around the map, things were really cramped and, like with S13V1, the presence of turrets and the lack of armor makes for tough enemy bases to crack. Originally, I intended that the player should capture Air Towers and let them airstrike the Ordos Wind Traps, which they never failed to do for me on any of my testing runs. Unfortunately, despite precautions, this didn't end up working out. The Air Towers could be lost, and then what?

Like S13V1, this map was also expanded by 20x20 tiles. Enough space to give more potential approaches to the Ordos bases, and to expand the unknowns' base. That solved a few problems. Now that the Ordos' main is more open, it's plausible to pick it apart without any help from airstrikes.

Bidriyah Sink needed to remain a winding region with lots of cliffs and dunes impeding movement. The original version was designed with that terrain in mind so that the Ordos base would be extremely difficult to take out before capturing some Ornithopters to assist. It remains tricky to pick apart, but it also remains a desirable final target due to its relative isolation from the Air Towers. The Ordos' expansion and the unknowns remain in close proximity to one, each.

Just like on S13V1, the Ordos' Starport was disabled because according to how the story is going, the Ordos also don't have access to all their tech, and their Heighliner access has been cut by Moriaen.

The unknowns are meant to be a major and mysterious threat. At this point in the campaign, we have no idea who they are or what their skin in this game is, but they somehow have a ton of unique technology - including never-before-seen units, like the Shock Raider (excluding their minor appearance on S06V2 or the player's ability to build them with the right prerequisites on S09V1 / V2 or SBON2). Their utterly puny base on the old version of S13V2 didn't do them justice. The expanded base in the new version rectifies that. And it also allows for a greater spread of turrets, of course...

One of the biggest problems in the original map was the player's MCVs. With a starting ConYard, two Gun Turrets, two Sonic Tanks, and three MCVs to start off, it would have been stupid not to deploy two of them at the starting position to max building production. You would still have one more to expand with, and your initial position would be incredibly protected!

This discourages expansion and although aggression is still a good idea since you'll want to be rid of those Ornithopters dropping bombs on you, it's weird to be aggressive while turtled up in your base.

This is no longer the case. Because the player begins with two MCVs now, he can still max his production at the start, but then he won't be able to expand anywhere. The player's base now has no starting Gun Turrets, only some Concrete Walls and Grenadiers. And rather than a couple of Sonic Tanks, he begins with four RPG Quads. The Sonic Tanks are still considered important since they can be put near friendly turrets or behind Concrete Walls to effectively defend a location, but they're delivered every 5 minutes after the first at 10 minutes into the game. And the player only gets five of them.

Because the player has no special defenses at the starting location, this encourages both expansion and aggression. Expansion because you lose nothing by setting up at a new location, in fact you gain more map control and access to new Spice fields and stuff... and aggression because the only turrets you can get must be earned by destroying Control Nodes. The turrets that survive your attack and turn friendly are ideal for your Sonic Tanks or RPG Quads to support, and can give you a solid area to retreat to.

These changes are meant to naturally boost the scale of the battle, get movement going all over the map, and generally make attacking the enemy bases at a disadvantage more fair.

Here are the map comparisons:
SBON2: The Ghola Gambit
Old - https://i.imgur.com/tiJjSko.jpg
New - https://i.imgur.com/JWGEsAG.jpg

S13V1: Lightning Round
Old - https://i.imgur.com/gUQXfos.png
New - https://i.imgur.com/5JKg7D1.jpg

S13V2: Shrouded Skies
Old - https://i.imgur.com/HBzeB4F.jpg
New - https://i.imgur.com/YsFHeSM.jpg

Pretty satisfied with the way the final drafts are turning out. I can safely say my designs have improved quite a lot since I started! No more cruddy lack of detailing, super extreme difficulty scaling, and missing features. Now timers indicate important stuff happening, properly synchronized attacks guarantee some breathing room, and the differences between levels with an ally and levels without are evened out further with things like player reinforcements versus enemy reinforcements and carefully considered enemy unit build rates.

But hey, you tell me. :) Enjoy.

Edited by Fey
typo lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

henlo frens

I did another heckn final drafts, so here ya go:
S14-S18.zip

As usual, installation is an easy copy+paste. Simply merge the 'data' folder in the zip with the one in your main D2k directory. To restore the game to normal, merge the 'data' folder under the 'backup' folder in the above zip with the data folder in your main D2k directory.

This zip is a landmark. EVERY MAP in the campaign thus far is in its final draft state! Yay. Now all I need to do is finish S16V1 / V2 and S17V1 / V2, and the whole 30-map campaign is complete.

Also, I changed up SBON2 again. I had a better idea. More detail under ADDITIONAL COMMENTS.

Here are the changelogs:
SBON2: The Ghola Gambit - Revisit the ruins of the Golden Lion Throne to discover a plot by the Tleilaxu.

Spoiler

 - You're now playing as Kailea Aurelianus, the Ixian commander.
 - Aurelianus' tech is adaptive. She'll begin the game at Light II.
 - The Ix are capable of building RPG Quads from their Light Factory.
 - RPG Quads and Troopers replace the starting Missile Tanks and Light Infantry.
 - The Ix may safely sell their Axlotl Tank once some Gholas have been trained.
 - Sabre Durant will remain involved and send the Ix reinforcements.
 - The player now has access to Fremen and Fedaykin Gholas as well.
 - The Tleilaxu no longer use RPG Quads since the player uses them.
 - The Tleilaxu will have more Fremen Gholas to start with.
 - Quite a bit of incidental dialogue has been removed.
 - Additional reinforcements arrive with the Engineers.
 - Some Tleilaxu forces are more spread out.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
So, I had an idea...

It turns out there was an unknown bug with the engine itself on this level because of the player's allocation index. In order to preserve immersion, increase mission variety, and completely eliminate that bothersome glitch, this map has been changed drastically.

For you mappers wondering what it is: Allocation index 3 has a weird bug with the Repair Pad. If you use the repair wrench (default hotkey T) to send units back to the Repair Pad, the game will play a strange sound. This was apparently a bug in the game ever since we figured out how to get the player to play as indexes other than 0 through 2 without crashing the game, and was left in because tweaking the code any more would probably result in twenty other things breaking. Because, you know, that's usually how coding stuff works.

While the player is quite unlikely to have a Repair Pad on Against the Storm, and therefore quite unlikely to encounter this glitch... the player is VERY likely to have and use a Repair Pad on The Ghola Gambit. But of course, that wasn't the only reason I wanted to change this up...

Compared to Hunted, which is an escort quest, and Against the Storm, a tower defense, this bonus map stuck out like a sore thumb. It didn't do something unique! And because Summers uses the merc tech tree in this second half of the campaign, it felt like another campaign map. Finally, it also falls in an awkward position between the Light II map, Phantom Penance, and the Ultimate tech map, False Pretenses.

Although it did tell a hidden bit of the story, that simply wasn't enough for me.

I was working on new sidebar icons for the Shock Raider, RPG Quad, and Storm Lasher, and had this idea: How about the Ix on SBON2? Aurelianus appears on S05 and is intended to appear again on S17V1. Only twice, but she does help the player out. We don't really know that much about her.

This change not only completely eliminates the glitch we can't fix yet, but it also adds that critical variety I was talking about. This is the only time in the campaign the player gets to build RPG Quads and medium Combat Tanks. And, it further establishes a relationship between the smugglers and mercenaries, and the Ix. Who hate the Tleilaxu and produce formerly illegal tech when the Emperor was still in power. It follows that they might set up a few bases on Arrakis where they couldn't before, like at the peak of Shield Wall. It fits, and I just didn't realize it before.

Here's the new sidebar art, by the way. It's a little rough around the edges, but y'all know I ain't a professional. I just do what I can.
https://i.imgur.com/DMZLt6o.jpg

The adaptive tech serves multiple purposes. First, it restricts the player to the starting Gun Turrets for a while, reducing the likelihood he'd sell them where he doesn't want them. Any ground lost is now a much bigger deal. Second, it prevents him from capturing midfield very early in the game and successfully holding it! Without the ability to build more Gun Turrets, there's no way he'd hold it. Third, it gives the player much more incentive to hold onto his Engineers in pursuit of a riskier, but more valuable derelict structure. And, it makes those structures more valuable. Summers has a Repair Pad near Durant's old base and the only Light Factory on the map that can produce Raiders and Stealth Raiders is up by the Starport. Fourth, it helps to bridge the gap between S11 and S12 by bumping the player up in tech rapidly over one level. When he gets to S12 with Ultimate tech, it'll feel more natural once again.

This doesn't fix the tech-downs from S10 to S11, or from S12 to S13, but it does even out the maps just a bit in that regard.

Finally, it actually helps to hide another error that the player isn't meant to see. You see, because of the way D2k's unit behavior works, RPG Quads can only be in the game if they overwrite some other unit on someone's tech tree. The Ix are the ones that can build RPG Quads, but that means they can't build or order Carryalls. And more importantly, this means that they have the same exact prerequisites as Carryalls - an Outpost and a High Tech Factory. Even if you don't have a Light Factory up, even if it's not upgraded, the RPG Quad still shows up in the sidebar and can't actually be built. It's just like the player's potential access to Shock Raiders on S09V1 / V2. Shock Raiders and Devastators share unit behavior.

Anyway, what I mean to say is that by restricting tech advancement until the player has built normal Quads, it reduces the likelihood that the player will be able to access RPG Quads before he's upgraded his Light Factory. Pretty sneaky, huh?

Although the AI can be allowed to build RPG Quads without any shenanigans since the player doesn't get to see that he can build them without a Light Factory upgrade, it would kind of ruin immersion for the player since it's a Quad variant. So... that would've bugged me. It's all about the smoke and mirrors, preserving the way things look and act, keeping things consistent...

There's one more thing the change to Ix affects. In previous drafts, the player was able to capture a Tleilaxu Repair Pad or build one of his own somehow in Tleilaxu territory. Then, he could use massed Carryalls to fly vehicles up the cliff and bypass the only entrance vehicles can traverse normally, which is covered by Rocket Turrets. That strategy is no longer possible, necessitating the use of infantry to clear out Wind Traps if the player wants less turrets to deal with. This further justifies a change made in the previous draft which opened up the center of the map from a bridge to broken rock.

S14V1: Baklawa Brawl - Fight the Tleilaxu in a massive tank battle over the open terrain of the Baklawa Flats.

Spoiler

 - Map expanded by 10x10 tiles.
 - Spice blooms added and re-arranged.
 - The Executrix is revealed to be the one speaking.
 - Fixed an error causing Durant to never train Grenadiers.
 - Summers and Durant no longer get their two bonus Harvesters.
 - Durant will build up from his MCV at the very start of the map.
 - The Tleilaxu Outpost no longer influences enemy reinforcements.
 - Summers and Durant no longer receive incidental reinforcements.
 - Summers and Durant receive infinite units from Almiraz Graben.
 - Said reinforcements arrive on a timer, as with previous maps.
 - Allied and enemy attacks are now properly synchronized.
 - Tleilaxu build rate was reduced somewhat, all-around.
 - The tertiary Tleilaxu AI's defensiveness is greater.
 - Northwest Tleilaxu base arranged a bit differently.
 - Tleilaxu Sardaukar Ghola reinforcements reduced.
 - The Tleilaxu get a few more units to start with.
 - The Tleilaxu will receive a few Shock Raiders.
 - Ordos base was also slightly re-arranged.
 - Ordos now have some defensive units.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
This map was fairly difficult to expand. Being limited in decor is never felt so harshly in other maps. However, it certainly does make good practice for maps where I do allow myself to place cliff walls! It was absolutely essential that they remained completely out of this map. It must be true to the original design intent.

As fun as the massive tank battles on this map are, things felt a little too tipped in the favor of the Tleilaxu in the previous draft. I decided the best way to handle it was to give the player and his closest ally some infinite reinforcements instead of incidental deliveries. With repeated reinforcements, he can build up a fighting force faster and skirmish with the Tleilaxu. More importantly, it allows me to remove the extra Harvester that Summers and Durant get really early on without putting the player in mortal danger - I needed some ways to slow this map down naturally so it could be on par with S14V2.

I also reduced the Tleilaxu build rate compared to the player's allies. They start with a LOT of units and it makes them really imposing at the beginning, but the Ordos and mercs are designed to outscale them in the late game so the player feels more like he has competent allies. And, so it's more satisfying to turn the tide on them.

Something else I wanted to do was hint about the Tleilaxu and unknowns, later proven to be the Guild, working together. I'm glad about adding a few Shock Raiders to this map, and its counterpart. It's the little things...

S14V2: Cliffhanger - Lead a convoy into Galbana Depression, where you must confront the Ordos.

Spoiler

 - Map expanded by 10x10 tiles.
 - Spice blooms added and re-arranged.
 - Region re-identified as Galbana Depression.
 - The Executrix is revealed to be the one speaking.
 - Fixed an error causing the sandworms to cling to a corner.
 - If Summers hits Durant after his MCV lands, he will comment.
 - Incidental reinforcements for Summers and Durant were removed.
 - Instead, Summers and Durant receive infinite reinforcements.
 - The Tleilaxu will receive some Shock Raiders and RPG Quads.
 - Initial Tleilaxu reinforcements are much more dangerous.
 - Condensed and centralized enemy defense areas.
 - The Ordos and mercs have improved economies.
 - Summers begins with two Harvesters.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
S14V1 and S14V2 are quite different in gameplay, but they are balanced very similarly. There's a counterbalance to each trait of one of the two. S14V1 is characterized by prolonged and massive tank battles over open terrain while S14V2 is full of quick skirmishes around a winding region. The starting situations the player is in on each map are quite different, but thanks to differing unit spawns, reinforcements, and so on, they can be completed in very similar times.

On that subject, the two Harvesters the player begins with on this map are necessary to help to kickstart the economy. On S14V1, the player starts with an MCV, but this one's opening escort sequence delays the player by a few minutes. The player unfortunately gets less reinforcements than on S14V1 simply due to limitations, but in practice the enemy attacks that come more rapidly here are fended off more easily by the Sonic Tank and what reinforcements the player does get. I believe this is simply because there are less units per attack, the enemy doesn't have as much firepower and we can finish them off fairly easily.

Where Summers and Durant would be pretty toe-to-toe with the Ordos on S14V1, in S14V2 the Ordos are notably ahead. Therefore, it was critical to make the Ordos defend the player and Durant, and make them assist with enemy attacks. And perhaps the most important trait this map has that allows is to be completed in about the same time as S14V1 is the frequency of allied attacks...

Between S14V1 and S14V2, the enemy attack frequency changes. It's halved. They attack twice as often on S14V2, but with fewer units, and their Fremen Ghola spawns reflect this rapid-attacking playstyle. Where on S14V1, the Tleilaxu receive deliveries of several Sardaukar Gholas every few minutes, here only one Fremen Ghola spawns from each intact Sietch every minute. Now, despite the enemy AI's changes, the allied AIs actually remain much the same and will attack in larger waves. And because that behavior remains unchanged, it makes it much easier to push through the enemy bases sooner rather than later!

S15V1: Arsenal Immune - Assault a Guild spaceport to prepare a counterattack on the Heighliner itself!

Spoiler

 - Spice blooms re-arranged.
 - Map expanded by 10x10 tiles.
 - Map renamed to Arsenal Immune.
 - Guild Starport moved to Summers' LZ.
 - Durant optimizes his economy right away.
 - Durant comments if Summers dents his MCV.
 - Friendly Guild Rocket Turrets downgraded.
 - An enemy RPG Quad protects the Storm Lasher.
 - Friendly reinforcements removed for Summers.
 - The Guild can order RPG Quads at the Starport.
 - The Guild will use the Starport much less often.
 - Summers begins with several additional infantry.
 - Summers and Durant begin with 2500 extra Solaris.
 - Fixed a glitch causing weird messages to appear.
 - Minimized the chances of another bug occurring.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
Expanding this map had to be done carefully. Remember that this map was designed around the range of the Storm Lashers! I couldn't really expand it around those structures, but anywhere else, sure. More Spice here, more rock there. Maybe a bit more decor too.

One of the biggest faults this map had was, and this may sound silly, but the lack of a reminder to capture a Starport. There's so much new stuff on this map and it's easy to forget that objective. And, any experienced mapper will tell you that you should never add Carryalls for the player to start out with unless there's an explicit reason, like lorewise (defend a mining base on S03V2) or if you need to, say, use them to ferry a bunch of vehicles over to a Repair Pad in some weird spot... but, the player's starting area is surrounded by cliffs. To afford a quicker start to a player who wants to use one of the safer Spice fields, and to get the objective done right away for completing the intro, To kill two birds with one stone, I opted to relocate a Starport Durant will not attack to the player's LZ. The player can order an MCV, more Carryalls or Harvesters, or he could just get some LRA to help defend a cliff wall somewhere.

As cruel as it may have seemed to make the player go up against Storm Lashers for the first time with less than a full arsenal, it was for the purpose of acclimating him to the new megaturret. Still, I trust at this point that the player will know how to use LRA properly and won't go feeding all of his most expensive units to the Guild Storm Lashers.

Another big problem this map had was the Starports. One Starport infinitely ordering stuff at random can be okay, even if the player gets cruddy RNG it's not like one Starport would overwhelm him. Two of them though, and with their units set to defend around the Storm Lashers? Too unfair. So in this final draft, the Guild Starports have limited reinforcements that don't include the most nasty stuff on the market. The player will still have a lot of units to deal with, but they won't be super tough units.

One other thing that really screwed up the pacing on this map was the mercs' build order. There was a time when going three Gun Turrets right away was ideal because the Guild could send sooo many units at once, and they would quickly overwhelm the Storm Lasher by itself, but it has walls and extra supporting Gun Turrets now. So, Durant instead goes ConYard > Wind Trap > Ref > Heavy Factory > Ref. Maybe he's later to the party, rolling on up to the Guild base after a bit longer of in-game time, but he's MUCH more reliable and does so with more units. Provided, of course, the player is able to protect his Harvesters...

This is the introduction to the Storm Lasher, so it needs to be well-tuned. Fair. And it can't overstay its welcome! I'm happy to say this new version is much more, uhh... appropriate, even with fairly subtle changes all across the board. The original gameplay is quite intact, but it's much better balanced.

S18V1: Summers' Solstice - Secure passage for the Ixian Godslayer through what remains of the Guild / Tleilaxu cabal.

Spoiler

 - Enemy Ornithopters removed.
 - Enemy threat priority behavior changed.
 - One Guild base produces a few more Quads.
 - Two Guild bases now produce Duelist Tanks.
 - A spare MCV will be ready at two Guild bases.
 - The Tleilaxu now have a Starport of their own.
 - Some Guild bases have had their buildrates swapped.
 - The Guild base closest to the player has no Barracks.
 - Several enemy Saboteurs are scattered around on guard mode.
 - Summers begins with four more Duelist Tanks and no Shock Raiders or Sonic Tanks.
 - Summers will receive Sonic Tanks and Deviators with the Duelist Tank reinforcements.
 - The Tleilaxu attack as soon as the Guild ConYard is captured, not after a Storm Lasher is built.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
This map is never going to be easy.

The changes to the Saboteur previously allowed me to use some more here on guard mode. And, there are some other optimizations I gave the AIs here. This may have resulted in some real monster AIs though...
https://prnt.sc/oe4vc7

This level spikes up hard in difficulty from S15, but I expect to have the difficulty curve smoothed out over S16V1 / V2 and S17V1 / V2. The enemy Ornithopters being removed does wonders for this map given how much else the player needs to pay attention to, but the Saboteurs actively trying to sneak into your base, and the default enemy attacks, remain quite difficult.

Having the threat priority behavior changed has helped discourage super aggression from the player, I believe. He will want even more to clean out the enemy bases as he goes along, something I must encourage on this map. However, what optimizations I've been able to implement make it more difficult to do so. The player used to be able to run up with infantry and take out all the power, but now the Tleilaxu keep a spare MCV on the other side of the base. Then what? They deploy that ConYard, rebuild power wherever they want, and the player then needs to push into the enemy base within that window or risk losing the advantage. Very intense.

Despite the difficulty, I'm confident it remains fair. The weak points are still weak points, they remain heavily exploitable, it's just that the player needs to be smarter about how he exploits them. That's how it played out in testing. Strategize or get rekt! Just a little bit more strategizing than usual...

The four Duelist Tanks are a fitting replacement for all the Shock Raiders the player previously started with. Lower unit variety means the player can comprehend all the tools at his disposal more quickly, which is critically important when such a nasty attack comes so early into the game. The Sonic Tanks, on the other hand, made defending against the initial attack just a bit too easy. Now, the player can't cheese the attack; he gets his Sonic Tanks after the attack is wiped out.

The enemy Duelist Tanks are appropriate. The two bases where they're used are supposed to be defensible for the enemy, so the enemy will prefer to use those tough vehicles over light Combat Tanks to defend them. Also, Duelist Tanks are rarely seen on the enemy factions in the entire campaign... they only appear as enemies on S07 and S10 other than the final draft of S18, so having them around on S18 is good. They don't add too much unit variety that it gives the player that hard a time; they're basically more armor for the enemy, just like Combat Tanks, and that's about it.

The King of the Hill section suffered because it waited for the player to build his first Storm Lasher before sending Tleilaxu attacks. This is no longer the case. The player must defend the ConYard as soon as it's taken, and this should result in the more hectic and climactic battle I was hoping to achieve with the section.

This map is THE most technically complex map ever designed for this game, period, so there wasn't very much I could change, technically speaking. What changes I did have in mind are improving on the already very detailed and meticulous, but not entirely successful original first draft.

That's all for now. I hope I get enough time to finish up the other four maps. I already know what I want to do with them, but drawing them up and tuning them is another story. And there's only so much time in the day...

Edited by Fey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ALright, seems that you are not too far for ending this thing (besides the testing part); I Keep reading the overall text on your post but ignoring more the spoilers; I already remember a few maps I tried before but I prefer to wait until everything it's done to finally be able to play the whole thing in one run.

2 hours ago, Fey said:

Also, I changed up SBON2 again. I had a better idea. More detail under ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

"Changed" and "again" are like your two favourite words xD.

I also am working hard on my campaign, so we'll see who finish it before :P.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Cm_blast said:

ALright, seems that you are not too far for ending this thing (besides the testing part); I Keep reading the overall text on your post but ignoring more the spoilers; I already remember a few maps I tried before but I prefer to wait until everything it's done to finally be able to play the whole thing in one run.

I'm very excited. :D

4 hours ago, Cm_blast said:

"Changed" and "again" are like your two favourite words xD.

It WAS in its final draft state, but I really needed to change it again because the new one is much more distinct and feels more like a bonus mission. XD Aside from the changelogs under the spoilers, there are also additional comments about my design decisions. What did I think really sucked about the previous version, what did I do to fix it, what potential gameplay ramifications does this change have, or that. You know, that kinda thing.

4 hours ago, Cm_blast said:

I also am working hard on my campaign, so we'll see who finish it before :P

You will almost certainly finish yours first on account of me still being painfully busy. I will be trying to work on the new maps, but it's no longer "just expand this" or "fix this bug." They're new maps, drawn up from scratch. x_x

I do, however, know exactly what I want to do with them. So, I guess I have a place to start. For anyone following this thread, I'll post the ideas down here just because S18 is already out.

Spoiler

S15 had its name changed to Arsenal Immune in reference both to the awesome and long-range power of the Storm Lasher, which is introduced on the level, and the realized state of things if the Guild is allowed to continue to mass its army on the Heighliner in space without player interference - they can attack with impunity. This map was originally called Power Play, but a future map will fit the name better.

S16V1 I was thinking I'd call Those Who Remain. The player will need to seek out remnants of the Fremen and Sardaukar and attempt to ally with them. Both factions don't like you very much because you fought them in the previous war, but they are the toughest infantry units in the game and survived until now... and, their assistance is sorely needed.

Durant would carry out S16V2 in your stead if you choose S16V1.

S16V2, Fatal Indemnity, would instead send you up to a Heighliner for only the second time in the campaign. There, you'll be tasked with wrecking the enemy Combat Tank production and other operations in space. The use of the word 'fatal' refers not necessarily to how the battle will be deadly, but more-so to how this is a decisive move by the player to terminate the most significant advantage held by the enemy. That is, space reinforcements.

Durant would carry out S16V1 in your stead if you choose S16V2.

SBON3, Against the Storm, falls here.

S17V1, The Ixian Godslayer, has the player rescuing Kailea Aurelianus from danger once again. She is developing an awesome special weapon capable of killing the Emperor Worm, something conventional weapons can't do even while it's asleep. While it's not seen in-game because I've maxed out the game's limits on new units / structures, it is referenced.

Durant would carry out S17V2 in your stead if you choose S17V1.

S17V2, Power Play for Keeps, has the player attempting to destroy a stockpile of Guild / Tleilaxu superweapons. Lots of Death Hand Missiles, lots of Ornithopters, lots of Storm Lashers, and a whole lot of pain. I have some ideas about how I want to start the map, like with using Stealth Raiders and Storm Lasher blasts to raze a Guild base, but I'll see what I can do to make it fair as well. The AI doesn't seem to like the Death Hand being accurate for some reason, so I should probably experiment with that a little bit. Maybe see if I can help them not be idiots.

Durant would carry out S17V1 in your stead if you choose S17V2.

S18V1, Summers' Solstice, falls here.

All of these levels have the player without your strongest ally, Sabre Durant, to prepare him for S18. However, on ANY map where the player must fight alone, he will get reinforcements of some sort. That counterbalance is always important. The Fremen and Sardaukar on S16V1 will be the player's allies, on S16V2 I expect that the player can find some Combat Tanks or something in Guild Freighters... uhh, on S17V1 the Ix can give Summers more units, and on S17V2 I'm thinking early access to superweapons and the occasional reinforcements from Durant or the Ix might work out. They'd probably be having an easier time than you will, so they can spare the help. Or, maybe the Fremen and Sardaukar send aid, I dunno. I'll see when I get there.

So, uhh... yep.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Fey said:

It WAS in its final draft state, but I really needed to change it again

Is always the final draft state and always need a change again xD.

41 minutes ago, Fey said:

You will almost certainly finish yours first on account of me still being painfully busy. I will be trying to work on the new maps, but it's no longer "just expand this" or "fix this bug." They're new maps, drawn up from scratch. x_x

Still will take time to finish mine, after multiple plays, the AI is not going the force I was expecting, so now I need to reconsider (and/or make weaker the initial units, or the money, or...) so yeah; so far I am having trouble just because my first two maps are not traditional maps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

Is always the final draft state and always need a change again xD.

I haven't called it the final draft until the most recent drafts 😮 But I've promised not to touch 'em again after they're done unless I find a gamebreaking bug, so yep!

Except SBON2. That was just because I had a different idea I wanted to put in. >.>

Plus, I can't optimize the AIs any more. So, there's nowhere to go but down. XD

27 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

Still will take time to finish mine, after multiple plays, the AI is not going the force I was expecting, so now I need to reconsider (and/or make weaker the initial units, or the money, or...) so yeah; so far I am having trouble just because my first two maps are not traditional maps.

As slow as my progress is, I've found I can make a new map up to par with the rest on its first draft just through experience. Do you feel the same way? Like, no more big empty sandy area like on the original S07, no more super duper unbalanced crap... I mean, sure, weird concepts may involve some tinkering but you feel like you know exactly what to change, where and how, right?

I'd have to see to be sure, but I'm inclined to suggest higher initial units and lower starting funds / Harvesters / Carryalls. The initial units being there will allow the AI to attack strong from the start, but the lower starting funds and stuff will make sure they settle into their economy and production over a longer period of time. I think of it as the equivalent to giving the enemy some starting reinforcements set to hunt like in the original D2k campaigns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Fey said:

As slow as my progress is, I've found I can make a new map up to par with the rest on its first draft just through experience. Do you feel the same way? Like, no more big empty sandy area like on the original S07, no more super duper unbalanced crap... I mean, sure, weird concepts may involve some tinkering but you feel like you know exactly what to change, where and how, right?

Yeah, more or less I can get an aproximate idea on how strong or weak the AI it's going to be even before pressing the testing button (at least on regular maps); usually later I need to reduce the initial units (because 20 are too much) and/or increase the money (because 5000 credits runs out of money too fast), things like that.

Some times I keep changing things until the AI do something really really weird and I need to rever like plenty of changes because the thing it's out of control. I wish some day we learn how to measure the Guard Group size; it's really hard to know if I set 500 on this base or 800 on that base which one will have the biggest amount of units wandering around.

24 minutes ago, Fey said:

I'd have to see to be sure, but I'm inclined to suggest higher initial units and lower starting funds / Harvesters / Carryalls. The initial units being there will allow the AI to attack strong from the start, but the lower starting funds and stuff will make sure they settle into their economy and production over a longer period of time. I think of it as the equivalent to giving the enemy some starting reinforcements set to hunt like in the original D2k campaigns.

I was refering to the player, now I was controling "the units defend too well, you don't need to produce then" so I reduce a bit the initial units; next you totally need the Barracks, so that's fine, but the initial money it's too low, you cannot build the Barracks and some upgrades needed and still building the ref, so I increase that. And now I am on that point, how many starting units and money the player have and maybe delaying a bit the AI attacksto let him group his attack just a bit more (it's a first map, so you know it's a low tech battle); but since it's not exactly a "normal" battle I need to heavy control that the player must build the barrack and use part of the money (while not spending all) to protect instead rushing the objetive.

And yes; the oriiginal D2k campaigns do that all the time; it also gives some creativity to send 2-3 missile tanks early as an attack, instead the 1:1 traditional proportion that will come later (and even if you use different proportions, the enemy attacks will always be the same size/value overall; with reinforcements you can send 2 devastators out of nowhere) <-- this is something I miss a bit on my old campaigns, my first Imperial campaign has a %10.000 ticks or something like that on loop to drop 2 sonic tanks for no reason, just that, a 2 sonic tank attack that could decimate your sardaukar if you don't paid attention, but nothing more.

Which, by the way; there are so many westwood made dune maps with mistakes... like a few maps with less that 100% of energy (and not only the final maps from the Atreides, but there is another with the same problem) and an Imperial base that buy stuff with the Starport, I guess because the starport delivery it's set to a side with no Starport; I guess Westwood were "ok; we are trying to give stuff to the Imperials but the code doesn't work for some reason... we don't have time for this, I'll simply turn out the AI to just buy his own stuff. Save map. release game".

Or the second map tutorial "do upgrades this and that"; I think on 1 map it's missing tha part of the tutorial while on the other version of the same House it's there.

Edited by Cm_blast

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 7/12/2019 at 7:52 PM, Cm_blast said:

Yeah, more or less I can get an aproximate idea on how strong or weak the AI it's going to be even before pressing the testing button (at least on regular maps); usually later I need to reduce the initial units (because 20 are too much) and/or increase the money (because 5000 credits runs out of money too fast), things like that.

Some times I keep changing things until the AI do something really really weird and I need to rever like plenty of changes because the thing it's out of control. I wish some day we learn how to measure the Guard Group size; it's really hard to know if I set 500 on this base or 800 on that base which one will have the biggest amount of units wandering around.

1. Change things.
2. Repeat step 1 until the game breaks.
3. Re-install.
4. Repeat all steps ad infinitum.

On 7/12/2019 at 7:52 PM, Cm_blast said:

I was refering to the player, now I was controling "the units defend too well, you don't need to produce then" so I reduce a bit the initial units; next you totally need the Barracks, so that's fine, but the initial money it's too low, you cannot build the Barracks and some upgrades needed and still building the ref, so I increase that. And now I am on that point, how many starting units and money the player have and maybe delaying a bit the AI attacksto let him group his attack just a bit more (it's a first map, so you know it's a low tech battle); but since it's not exactly a "normal" battle I need to heavy control that the player must build the barrack and use part of the money (while not spending all) to protect instead rushing the objetive.

And yes; the oriiginal D2k campaigns do that all the time; it also gives some creativity to send 2-3 missile tanks early as an attack, instead the 1:1 traditional proportion that will come later (and even if you use different proportions, the enemy attacks will always be the same size/value overall; with reinforcements you can send 2 devastators out of nowhere) <-- this is something I miss a bit on my old campaigns, my first Imperial campaign has a %10.000 ticks or something like that on loop to drop 2 sonic tanks for no reason, just that, a 2 sonic tank attack that could decimate your sardaukar if you don't paid attention, but nothing more.

Which, by the way; there are so many westwood made dune maps with mistakes... like a few maps with less that 100% of energy (and not only the final maps from the Atreides, but there is another with the same problem) and an Imperial base that buy stuff with the Starport, I guess because the starport delivery it's set to a side with no Starport; I guess Westwood were "ok; we are trying to give stuff to the Imperials but the code doesn't work for some reason... we don't have time for this, I'll simply turn out the AI to just buy his own stuff. Save map. release game".

Or the second map tutorial "do upgrades this and that"; I think on 1 map it's missing tha part of the tutorial while on the other version of the same House it's there.

Oh yeah. XD Balancing things just right is really freakin' hard. Getting it right or almost right on the first try comes with a tremendous amount of practice. Which... you have!

The reinforcements being used to get around or mess with enemy unit ratios is good. There's also the more passive method of placing units on the map on guard mode, which stay on guard mode until killed or freed somehow and then the enemy will go ahead and use them later. S18 is a good example, the Tleilaxu and Guild have Sardaukar Gholas, Fremen Gholas, and Sonic Tanks spread around so they build less to meet their quota in the initial attacks, and more later when they really need more of 'em.

Of course you know this, but I mention that little technicality for others following the thread.

About the actual topic of this thread, I do have a minor update too. I've been able to get a bit of work done on S16V1 / V2 and have one and a half template maps drawn up. Here are some screenshots of the WIP maps:
https://prnt.sc/oghj1g
https://prnt.sc/oghjas
https://prnt.sc/oghjr3
https://prnt.sc/oghl0k

S16V1 is coming along with some winding cliffs and stuff. These are finally new levels with Storm Lashers, which I'm excited to start using again, and of course I'm measuring their attack radii for fair placement. As with S15 and S18, I'll do what I can to mark the attack radii in-game somehow and build the enemy bases around their Storm Lashers.

The Heighliner multiplayer test map had a few designs I really enjoyed, so I plan to replicate those designs for some portions of S16V2. Obviously, there will be some new designs as well, particularly around the enemy base. As with Industrial Accident, the player will need to secure Combat Tanks to use against Moriaen, and the enemy base will need to be similarly impenetrable without them.

The maps ain't done yet, but the physical layouts of them are coming together.

Also, I packed up all 26 final drafts so far into a single zip. There is nothing new in the following zip, but if whoever is following my smugglers campaign threads want to pick up ALL the maps at once, here ya go:
<Redacted; update in later post w/ 16v2>

I'll come back with a serious update once S16V1 & V2 are done.

Edited by Fey
new map ready, yay

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Fey said:

1. Change things.
2. Repeat step 1 until the game breaks.
3. Re-install.
4. Repeat all steps ad infinitum.

This happens not too long ago, except for the step 4. but yes; I changed things; then I repeat until the game was in a weird state that the AI and the player gets becoming stronger to the point the map totally loose the point. Good thing I like to create a zip with the maps every few days, so I still have the options to recover a more stable state.

5 minutes ago, Fey said:

Oh yeah. XD Balancing things just right is really freakin' hard. Getting it right or almost right on the first try comes with a tremendous amount of practice. Which... you have!

This heavily depens on the difficulty you are trying to get on a campaign If you are targeting for an easy campaign even if the campaign it's too easy you can just continue (you can even wasted money or kill your own units to compensate) but finishing the map; even if the map wasn't as easy as expected it's not probable that you will make the map hard at all.

If you are targeting for a hard map, well, if you don't survive the first 10 minutes you need to try again until you get what you want. Testing too many times a map it's also bad (repetitions will give you the wrong idea of the difficulty of a map, since  knowing what/where/who it is coming to your base are values that you don't have if you play it blindy (or replayed it after 1-2 months when you don't remember all that stuff that good).

14 minutes ago, Fey said:

The reinforcements being used to get around or mess with enemy unit ratios is good. There's also the more passive method of placing units on the map on guard mode, which stay on guard mode until killed or freed somehow and then the enemy will go ahead and use them later. S18 is a good example, the Tleilaxu and Guild have Sardaukar Gholas, Fremen Gholas, and Sonic Tanks spread around so they build less to meet their quota in the initial attacks, and more later when they really need more of 'em.

From time to time I like to drop an enemy reinforcement of troopers/siege tanks (other vehicles may work) in a spot that they need to do plenty of walkaround, during that time you have your precious AI produing combat tanks instead the siege tanks.

15 minutes ago, Fey said:

V2 and have one and a half template maps drawn up. Here are some screenshots of the WIP maps:
https://prnt.sc/oghj1g
https://prnt.sc/oghjas
https://prnt.sc/oghjr3
https://prnt.sc/oghl0k

I like that part of the first screen. There is a point that I feel I keep doing the same layout over and over; this is why I want other people to create new maps too.

17 minutes ago, Fey said:

I'll come back with a serious update once S16V1 & V2 are done.

By the way; I know you added new stuff like that Tesla Coil, but also those other units (apart for the modified quad and etc; I mean the electric raider, whatever name you give to him xD); my question it's. Those units will be present on the previous smuggler campaign? Even if they are just to enemies to use, but I wonder if they will appear or you will try to maintain the new units as new stuff for the "expansion".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

This happens not too long ago, except for the step 4. but yes; I changed things; then I repeat until the game was in a weird state that the AI and the player gets becoming stronger to the point the map totally loose the point. Good thing I like to create a zip with the maps every few days, so I still have the options to recover a more stable state.

I admire how organized you are. 😅

It's important to keep in mind the original goal / intent of a map. That's why even after all this time and all these updates for the same old maps, the original objectives and gameplay are by and large intact. The idea is usually fine, but the execution must be perfected. I think that by looking at it that way, it's very hard to lose the point. Do you agree?

6 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

This heavily depens on the difficulty you are trying to get on a campaign If you are targeting for an easy campaign even if the campaign it's too easy you can just continue (you can even wasted money or kill your own units to compensate) but finishing the map; even if the map wasn't as easy as expected it's not probable that you will make the map hard at all.

If you are targeting for a hard map, well, if you don't survive the first 10 minutes you need to try again until you get what you want. Testing too many times a map it's also bad (repetitions will give you the wrong idea of the difficulty of a map, since  knowing what/where/who it is coming to your base are values that you don't have if you play it blindy (or replayed it after 1-2 months when you don't remember all that stuff that good).

Yeah, waiting before testing a map is good. One good night's sleep is enough time if you don't even touch it beyond the editor the night before, or at least it is for me. Still, there are things you can estimate, things you get better at estimating as you design more maps. Like enemy unit build and attack rates, for instance.

8 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

From time to time I like to drop an enemy reinforcement of troopers/siege tanks (other vehicles may work) in a spot that they need to do plenty of walkaround, during that time you have your precious AI produing combat tanks instead the siege tanks.

That's a good one. Usually I just make the AIs build a dis-proportionally small amount of Siege Tanks compared to others. Not that Siege Tanks are bad anymore, but like Grenadiers they seem to perform best in smaller numbers until you need some serious demolition done.

10 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

I like that part of the first screen. There is a point that I feel I keep doing the same layout over and over; this is why I want other people to create new maps too.

Thanks. Yeah, it's hard figuring out the layouts for sure... you've got the base layouts, the terrain, aesthetics, pathing, and lots more. I like to design maps little bit by little bit, and eventually the whole thing comes together. If I try to lay out on the map from the start "okay, the enemy bases should be here and here," things will end up looking funny. That's how I wound up with stuff like the original S07 with the massive and incredibly dull stretch of sand between two enemy bases.

With S16V1, I actually started by building the player's rock island in the top right corner, but then I decided the Sardaukar and Fremen should be opposite from each-other, so I put the player in-between them. But wait, there's a lot of empty space behind the Sardaukar and Fremen bases... and I don't want to use reinforcements because I need all the events I can use, so I'm gonna draw up rock big enough to put some enemy bases there, and I'll make it a map where the player is good and surrounded. Will need to balance the Fremen and Sardaukar so the player can fairly deal with the situation I've decided to put him in. There's a big stretch of sand between the Sardaukar and the Fremen though... so how about I put a bunch of winding cliffs and infantry-only passages there? Needs more work. Add a few rock islands... two of them are in good spots to be enemy bases, I'll just expand them a bit... but wait, the enemy infantry will take too long to reach the player's base, so I need more infantry-only paths here and then I need to place the enemy factories far back compared to their Barracks.

It's little bit by little bit. That, I think, is how I've done my best aesthetic work, so I need to keep doing it that way.

And I think doing it the old way has resulted in a LOT of maps where the player isn't attacked from enough angles. I think the pathing in general is very good; the player has a lot of different paths to navigate, the AI's forces will be arranged in a certain way, expansion options are plentiful, but at the end of the day you've got one contestant in one corner and another in the other. There are exceptions, like if the player expands on most maps, new angles of attack will be opened up, like on S18... or on maps like S03V1 or S04, where the player has a choice in allies, the battle will change significantly enough. S03V2 in-game hard mode, S05's AI tends to change its preferred attacking location sometimes, S06V1 at midfield, S06V2 as the battle evolves, S08 after the mercs show up, S09V2 as the player's allies arrive, S11, S12, I guess SBON3 is an exception, S18 has Saboteurs and an evolving battle... and the maps that are yet incomplete may have tougher starting locations for the player too. S16V1 and V2 are already shaping up to have the player attacked from multiple angles, but my current ideas for S17V1 / V2 are less conducive to that setup.

I guess I mostly achieve variation through objectives, player choice and consequence, and general non-linearity, but the player's initial locations are usually quite defensible. Is that good design, or bad design? I haven't really thought about this until now. It could be called good because all players benefit from a steadfast starting position, especially less skilled players, which makes the campaigns more fair. Expanding rewards more resources and space to build, and more map control, but expansion usually comes with different angles of attack, which is risky. But, I guess it could also be called bad because it makes enemy attacks predictable on certain maps. Ah, perfection is always just a step away, and even if it is achieved, it is debatable. Funny, isn't it?

Pardon my rambling; I'm tired as you know, Cm, but this is an interesting conversation and I simply must engage in a bit more of it before I turn in. :P Otherwise I might forget the ideas! Even if they are just... policy ideas, they do contribute something to design philosophy. I would rather not forget.

Anyway, I guess there's no such thing as originality anymore; everything's been done once already, so the idea now is to take what we've got and use it well. If the design philosophy is good, the game will continue to be enjoyable.

31 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

By the way; I know you added new stuff like that Tesla Coil, but also those other units (apart for the modified quad and etc; I mean the electric raider, whatever name you give to him xD); my question it's. Those units will be present on the previous smuggler campaign? Even if they are just to enemies to use, but I wonder if they will appear or you will try to maintain the new units as new stuff for the "expansion".

Actually, yes! They do indeed appear in the first half of the campaign.

RPG Quads are commonplace tech and will potentially be seen belonging to any faction. The player gets to use them on S02V2, S03V1, S04V1, S11V1, SBON2, S13V1, S13V2, and SBON3, but they will be seen on enemy factions on even more levels than those. Notably, the ONLY time the player may build or order RPG Quads is on SBON2.

Shock Raiders are Guild-exclusive tech and so they're much more rare. They're first seen on S06V2, where they can be stolen from Guild Freighters docked at certain Launch Pads and are regarded as something of a mystery by Summers and Durant. They can also be built by the player on S09V1 / V2 and SBON2 if the player captures a Harkonnen Heavy Factory, has upgraded his Heavy Factory, has built a Research Centre, and also has a Light Factory in his possession, but this is considerably unlikely. The player may build them from his own Light Factory at the end of S18. Shock Raiders appear as commonplace enemy units on S13V1 / V2 for the first time and continue to be commonplace enemy units on all maps where the Guild is involved until the very end of the campaign.

Duelist Tanks are a new type of armor seen first on S05 as reinforcements for the player. They can be built by the player on S06V1 through S09V2, but they're retired on S10V1 and are mostly seen as enemy units from then on, although they can be built if the player captures an Ordos Heavy Factory. Still, they aren't common enemy units. They're seen on S07 for the first time as enemies, and then they appear on S10 and S18. And... that's about it.

A Storm Lasher is also seen for the first time on S06V2. It's inoperable though, only there for foreshadowing. Summers remarks that the structure she discovers appears to be some sort of defense turret, but it's like nothing she's seen before and so she doesn't know what to make of it. Storm Lashers are introduced as an actual threat for the first time on S15... and S15 uniquely only has one AI explicitly for the purpose of acclimating the player to the new megaturret. It then continues to appear on every mission until the end of the campaign, with the exception of SBON3. The player may only build Storm Lashers at the very end of S18, following the capture of a Guild ConYard which will promptly come under attack from Tleilaxu forces who don't want you to have access to their cool megaturret.

All the new stuff was first developed when S14V1 / V2 and S15 had their first drafts released, but these things had to retroactively be added to the final drafts of every map one by one. The Heighliner tileset was also new around the same time and replaced the comparatively bland old version of S06V2. After all, why stop an aerial blockade on Arrakis when you could go up to space instead? That also afforded me the opportunity to put Shock Raiders and a Storm Lasher very early on in the campaign, just to show the player there's new stuff I'm saving mostly for later. It's a tease. And, like I said, foreshadowing too since they're Guild Freighters! And where else would they be developing awesome new secret tech? Certainly not on Arrakis with the war going on, that's for sure!

Anyway, I'm finally good to crash, so Imma do that. I hope that answers all your questions and stuff. See ya later! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Fey said:

I admire how organized you are. 😅

It's important to keep in mind the original goal / intent of a map. That's why even after all this time and all these updates for the same old maps, the original objectives and gameplay are by and large intact. The idea is usually fine, but the execution must be perfected. I think that by looking at it that way, it's very hard to lose the point. Do you agree?

it's more "the order into the chaos"; I have so many zips and folders that my "mission" main folder it's a mess.

13 hours ago, Fey said:

Yeah, waiting before testing a map is good. One good night's sleep is enough time if you don't even touch it beyond the editor the night before, or at least it is for me. Still, there are things you can estimate, things you get better at estimating as you design more maps. Like enemy unit build and attack rates, for instance

1 night it's not enough for the long term.

On the RPG Maker I made 1 part of the game more harder (and a bit unfair) due this reason. Let's say that the game progress from the 1/10 difficulty, increasing 1 by 1 through the story (probably not, but for simplicity let's say that I manage to get a perfect balanced); then, where a 5/10 should be, suddenly it's a 9/10; after this scene, games drop to 5/10 again and continue for there.

And this happens for a single reason: too many tests.
Test you map and see if happens; then test if you step here and there, and the other there, and on there... The scenario has 50 swirls <-- (well, more) so I tested a good amount of them (steping into them and you get a game over); So I was forced to play the same scenario 20-30 times to at least try a good amount to be sure.

What happens is, my mechanics on this scenario were so trained that the scene looks too easy, so I make the enemies go faster and faster... 3 month laters; I no longer can be the scene on the first try because you need to be almost perfect (moving non-stop) to not be caught, and all was because of that: tons of testing. May happens the same here on dune (or any game that you play the same thing over and over); In fact you tell me at some point that you are "rusty" and you loose a map that you beated before with no problem, same point.

But of course, I talk about lots of repetitions; if you test 2-3 times and wait 1 day after another try that's aceptable.

13 hours ago, Fey said:

That's a good one. Usually I just make the AIs build a dis-proportionally small amount of Siege Tanks compared to others. Not that Siege Tanks are bad anymore, but like Grenadiers they seem to perform best in smaller numbers until you need some serious demolition done.

May depend on the map, from time to time I keep doing a slighy modification on the proportions, with 3 for foot units, 3 for light vehicles, 1 for the siege and 2 for the others.
Another way it's too generate an initial spaw with 4 siege tanks (and 1 missile, 2 quads, etc...) so you know the AI won't produce the siege until he don't have at least 6 of the other tanks first. Or simply placing them on the map.

13 hours ago, Fey said:

Thanks. Yeah, it's hard figuring out the layouts for sure... you've got the base layouts, the terrain, aesthetics, pathing, and lots more. I like to design maps little bit by little bit, and eventually the whole thing comes together. If I try to lay out on the map from the start "okay, the enemy bases should be here and here," things will end up looking funny. That's how I wound up with stuff like the original S07 with the massive and incredibly dull stretch of sand between two enemy bases.

Yeah; I place the rock areas of the main bases and then I do the details, but sometimes when I try to try a different layout I try to do some details first just to measure how will look together.

For example, on this last campaign I are creating there is a rift that goes from the bottom of the map around an enemy base, cross the middle-left part of the map and reach the player's base. So there is 70% of the vertical map covered with a very large rift.

Westwood have something like that if I remember well; I just wanted to try something similar, at least it's slighy different; also I tend to let the main path (AI and player) clear, even if I add a small rift or other details here and there; it's hard to me to deliberately block the path (from time to time I do; like a big rift that forces both player and AI to do walkaround; if you remember that hard map of mine with the sietchs behind you, the enemy base to the right and a big mountain in the middle, things like that.

13 hours ago, Fey said:

Anyway, I guess there's no such thing as originality anymore; everything's been done once already, so the idea now is to take what we've got and use it well. If the design philosophy is good, the game will continue to be enjoyable.

I don't think so, there is always room for something new or unique. The Ordos glory campaign implemented the "mower", a totally new and unique "weapon" in a very clever way; in just 1 map he though on something that I didn't ever imagine to achieve. <-- and I don't remember if any other RTS has something like this; maybe similar or maybe more subtle, but not exactly like this, I think.

Also this map, with the lauout of the buildings present of the map (the map itself it's an skirmish map, if you know which it is, the one that it's 80% rock where players can conect each other using concretes); all those buildings separated in a big rock area reminds me of the Age of Empires type of games, you know, games that taking a building (withouth siege vehicles) takes an eternity and the map it's filled with 200 buildings or something like that (simulating that you are in a big city).

Also, I didn't knew that the deviators had a bug that can make deviated enemies stay forever in an specific situation; with that he achieve something I wanted to do long time ago, a "colecting" enemy vehicles by deviate them, on the map you need to colect like different 10 vehicle units or so; I couldn't beat the map because I didn't understood the part where he explaine it; but it totally works, you can have units deviater forever in a specific situation.

And with that, a new door for new ideas opened. The reason I want to play from time to time even the most classic campaign.

13 hours ago, Fey said:

Actually, yes! They do indeed appear in the first half of the campaign.

Alright; I guess I will play the whole stuff again once again xD, when it is done, and since your maps usually takes me a while to beat, you will have plenty of days to redo whatever you found on map 15 or 18 or whatever xD.

When the time comes I will ask you which maps changes the most; I mean, if the mission 2 version 1 it's the same as before (or just a slighy change) but the version 2 now use that shock master vehicles then I will prefer to play the version 2 this time just for variety (the new campaign I will play all the levels).

Edited by Cm_blast

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

it's more "the order into the chaos"; I have so many zips and folders that my "mission" main folder it's a mess.

It was that way for me before my last HDD broke became a very expensive paperweight.

4 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

1 night it's not enough for the long term.

On the RPG Maker I made 1 part of the game more harder (and a bit unfair) due this reason. Let's say that the game progress from the 1/10 difficulty, increasing 1 by 1 through the story (probably not, but for simplicity let's say that I manage to get a perfect balanced); then, where a 5/10 should be, suddenly it's a 9/10; after this scene, games drop to 5/10 again and continue for there.

And this happens for a single reason: too many tests.
Test you map and see if happens; then test if you step here and there, and the other there, and on there... The scenario has 50 swirls <-- (well, more) so I tested a good amount of them (steping into them and you get a game over); So I was forced to play the same scenario 20-30 times to at least try a good amount to be sure.

What happens is, my mechanics on this scenario were so trained that the scene looks too easy, so I make the enemies go faster and faster... 3 month laters; I no longer can be the scene on the first try because you need to be almost perfect (moving non-stop) to not be caught, and all was because of that: tons of testing. May happens the same here on dune (or any game that you place the same thing over and over); In fact you tell me at some point that you are "rusty" and you loose a map that you beated before with no problem, same point.

But of course, I talk about lots of repetitions; if you test 2-3 times and wait 1 day after another try that's aceptable.

Oh yeah, testing mechanics and testing gameplay... both make it difficult to gauge tuning. I try not to test mechanics, but sometimes new stuff comes around and I gotta. Then it's gotta be like... I dunno, a week? At minimum before testing the map is fair lol

5 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

May depend on the map, from time to time I keep doing a slighy modification on the proportions, with 3 for foot units, 3 for light vehicles, 1 for the siege and 2 for the others.
Another way it's too generate an initial spaw with 4 siege tanks (and 1 missile, 2 quads, etc...) so you know the AI won't produce the siege until he don't have at least 6 of the other tanks first. Or simply placing them on the map.

Yeah. :P

6 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

Yeah; I place the rock areas of the main bases and then I do the details, but sometimes when I try to try a different layout I try to do some details first just to measure how will look together.

For example, on this last campaign I are creating there is a rift that goes from the bottom of the map around an enemy base, cross the middle-left part of the map and reach the player's base. So there is 70% of the vertical map covered with a very large rift.

Westwood have something like that if I remember well; I just wanted to try something similar, at least it's slighy different; also I tend to let the main path (AI and player) clear, even if I add a small rift or other details here and there; it's hard to me to deliberately block the path (from time to time I do; like a big rift that forces both player and AI to do walkaround; if you remember that hard map of mine with the sietchs behind you, the enemy base to the right and a big mountain in the middle, things like that. 

I distinctly recall that particular map.

But, why would you want to deliberately block the path? :P Wouldn't it make more sense to design it around vehicle versus infantry movement, so infantry can go straight through and vehicles will need to roll around here or there? I guess the reason could be that it would split the vehicles in two, partially at the top and partially at the bottom, but in that case there ought to be an infantry-only in the middle. Ya know?

I don't recall if that was the case, it probably was and I'm not remembering that detail lol

Doing something that spans an entire map is very... risky. It causes the perspective of the map to be skewed a lot. That's why the original S06V2 was so... disproportionate. I wanted a reeeally big cliff wall covering an island on the north end of the map, but then everything else kinda looked funny by comparison. And despite that, the map paradoxically felt smaller than it should have.

15 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

I don't think so, there is always room for something new or unique. The Ordos glory campaign implemented the "mower", a totally new and unique "weapon" in a very clever way; in just 1 map he though on something that I didn't ever imagine to achieve. <-- and I don't remember if any other RTS has something like this; maybe similar or maybe more subtle, but not exactly like this, I think.

Also this map, with the lauout of the buildings present of the map (the map itself it's an skirmish map, if you know which it is, the one that it's 80% rock where players can conect each other using concretes); all those buildings separated in a big rock area reminds me of the Age of Empires type of games, you know, games that taking a building (withouth siege vehicles) takes an eternity and the map it's filled with 200 buildings or something like that (simulating that you are in a big city).

Also, I didn't knew that the deviators had a bug that can make deviated enemies stay forever in an specific situation; with that he achieve something I wanted to do long time ago, a "colecting" enemy vehicles by deviate them, on the map you need to colect like different 10 vehicle units or so; I couldn't beat the map because I didn't understood the part where he explaine it; but it totally works, you can have units deviater forever in a specific situation.

And with that, a new door for new ideas opened. The reason I want to play from time to time even the most classic campaign.

Ooh, I haven't checked out the Glory Awaits Ordos campaign yet so I was totally unaware of that.

And yeah, I mean... there are always variations that can be done, but boiling things down to base elements, it'd be difficult to come up with a totally new basic idea. You know what I mean? Not necessarily impossible, but it would take a lot of effort and creativity.

I was aware of the Deviator thing, and I think it was creative and interesting to use it in a mission like that. :)

18 minutes ago, Cm_blast said:

Alright; I guess I will play the whole stuff again once again xD, when it is done, and since your maps usually takes me a while to beat, you will have plenty of days to redo whatever you found on map 15 or 18 or whatever xD.

When the time comes I will ask you which maps changes the most; I mean, if the mission 2 version 1 it's the same as before (or just a slighy change) but the version 2 now use that shock master vehicles then I will prefer to play the version 2 this time just for variety (the new campaign I will play all the levels).

Right. 😅 Well, I'm doing my best to get rid of ALL the bugs I can, so hopefully I won't need to change anything more lol

The final drafts of every map are all significantly improved in terms of gameplay, presentation, aesthetics, and tuning. So, really any of the early levels are fair game. :P I'd say the most dramatic difference is between S06V1 and S06V2, and that's because S06V2 was straight-up redrawn to be on a Heighliner rather than Arrakis. Even with that considered, S06V1 has its own improvements worth giving a peek.

Speaking of changing stuff up though, I've been asked to convert the entire campaign into a coop campaign and so I've been doing a bit of research into how that might work out. Custom text files can't be referenced, only ONE text file can be shared across the entire campaign, tech level / starting cash will be the same for every faction and you can't force certain allocation indexes to be in-game, but it IS possible to play with a mod, you can force the tech level and starting cash to be a certain way through in-game events, player starts can be made to not spawn starting units or MCVs, the briefing can be referenced before the map, enemy AIs can vary... there are workarounds. So it would be possible, theoretically, to make a really detailed coop campaign too.

If I get around to working up a prototype coop map, would you be interested in analyzing or playing it? I will absolutely pass it along. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Fey said:

It was that way for me before my last HDD broke became a very expensive paperweight.

And because that (that happened to me not so long ago) when I progress on 3-4 maps or I do a really really overcomplicated script (hard to replicate withouth tons of try and error) I do the zip with the map or all the maps and sending to myself to my email.

32 minutes ago, Fey said:

But, why would you want to deliberately block the path? :P Wouldn't it make more sense to design it around vehicle versus infantry movement, so infantry can go straight through and vehicles will need to roll around here or there? I guess the reason could be that it would split the vehicles in two, partially at the top and partially at the bottom, but in that case there ought to be an infantry-only in the middle. Ya know?

For variety; if all the maps had a direct path will be boring, and on this map you are being assaulted from behind, so I give that much wallkaround so the AI spread his units a bit more. And this map it's already hard enough, you don't want me to do a "only infantry path" to help the AI to merge units better (they don't send as many anyway; it's a heavy vehicles strengh the ones that do the damage.

32 minutes ago, Fey said:

And yeah, I mean... there are always variations that can be done, but boiling things down to base elements, it'd be difficult to come up with a totally new basic idea. You know what I mean? Not necessarily impossible, but it would take a lot of effort and creativity.

I keep trying. Random drops, enemy harvesters that go into your mining spice areas (un purpose) so if you don't hunt them down you will have tons of trouble, Ais that focus another AIs naturally, even ignoring the player, etc... or just the puzzle maps from the Glory trio campaigns, some barely can be considered "dune 2000" at all. Literally a point and click adventure XD. (but as Sierra games, you can die).

32 minutes ago, Fey said:

The final drafts of every map are all significantly improved in terms of gameplay, presentation, aesthetics, and tuning. So, really any of the early levels are fair game. :P I'd say the most dramatic difference is between S06V1 and S06V2, and that's because S06V2 was straight-up redrawn to be on a Heighliner rather than Arrakis. Even with that considered, S06V1 has its own improvements worth giving a peek.

well, when the time comes I will ask you which more of them you change it and you will tell me "alright, on mission 1 play version 2, on mission 2 play version 1" and so on.

Not now, I will ask when you are finished with your current thing (and I finish mine campaign as well).

32 minutes ago, Fey said:

Speaking of changing stuff up though, I've been asked to convert the entire campaign into a coop campaign and so I've been doing a bit of research into how that might work out. Custom text files can't be referenced, only ONE text file can be shared across the entire campaign, tech level / starting cash will be the same for every faction and you can't force certain allocation indexes to be in-game, but it IS possible to play with a mod, you can force the tech level and starting cash to be a certain way through in-game events, player starts can be made to not spawn starting units or MCVs, the briefing can be referenced before the map, enemy AIs can vary... there are workarounds. So it would be possible, theoretically, to make a really detailed coop campaign too.

Making the players starting with no units or VCMs it's easy; forcing then to start with whatever tech/money and use the script to give to them the amount you want at =1 ticks it's also not complex to do; the more trouble you may get it is if playing coop they use the handicaps or not, and if I recall correctly, Ais always make use of the handicap advantage for those type of maps, so you need to also workaround the enemies that are going to overharvest and produce an insane amount of units thanks to your 40 unit build rate or whatever quick number you have.

Another problem it's if you place an Imperial side with a few combat tanks, even if later on the lobby you said "that AI should be Ordos" (index Ordos) even if the player add an AI to be Ordos and green, he still will use The Harkonnen combat tank (or at least I remember that happening back in time), affecting your proportions.

So yeah; can be done, but it will require lots of thinking.

32 minutes ago, Fey said:

If I get around to working up a prototype coop map, would you be interested in analyzing or playing it? I will absolutely pass it along. :)

Since executing C&Cnet update my config file that makes my game looks blurry or with two black bands at top and bottom... I totally out from skirmish games (I think there is a way to try skirmish maps withouth going for the forced update, but I don't want to risk my game anymore).

Ps: this another reason I wanted to include your skirmish map on the main index, because myself I am not going to click on C&Cnet ever again, so if I ever want to try manually that map, I won't ever know where to find it anymore.

Edited by Cm_blast

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

henlo frens

S16V2 is done. S16V1 is still being worked on, but I figure I could drop S16V2 here. Here's a link to the map by itself:
S16V2.zip

Same copy+paste installation as all previous posts. You know how it goes. This map is a step up in difficulty from S15, but definitely not as harsh as S18. Also, it's one of the three Heighliner maps in this campaign. Details below this spoiler, including a full map image of S16V2 and some strategic tips:

Spoiler

ATU13TI.jpg
^^^ FULL MAP IMAGE ^^^

I'd estimate the par time to be around 111,000 tics.

S16V2 uses the gimmick from the original idea for SBON3. That is, it was where you had to capture automatic factories pumping out light Combat Tanks nonstop. There are only three autofactories on this mission and the enemy base is up top rather than in the middle, but make no mistake, this mission is harder than Industrial Accident.

Like S06V2, the player benefits massively from gaining and keeping map control. The three autofactories produce five stupid robot tanks, each, between attacks while hostile, and as much as possible while friendly. The human-controlled enemy base, on the other hand, produces plenty more units for you to deal with. So, good luck with that.

To turn them friendly, just destroy the Harkonnen-style Outposts nearby them. Those are the Control Nodes, the AIs the Guild commander is using to automate much of the production and stuff going on. When they're out of the way, the autofactories will go into overdrive and all the robot tanks they produce will fight for you instead.

And, by stupid, I mean they don't purposefully crush infantry and tend to be very limited in what orders they receive. They'll be on guard mode in front of the factories where they're produced, then they'll go attack things. That's about it. Still, in enough numbers, they can help you greatly with overwhelming the extremely fortified Guild base. Only one intact autofactory is required to complete the mission, but I recommend keeping all of them alive. The Guild base is very solid and you'll find it tough to break through without as much help as you can get.

If you are unfortunate enough to wind up with only one autofactory, try massing units on all three sides of the main Guild base before sending all your forces in at once. The Storm Lashers in the middle of the enemy base are a great deterrent against any attack from a single direction, but even they can't hold off a three-pronged assault.

Since this level takes place after S15, you can expect to see enemy Storm Lashers. Two are in the main enemy base, one guards each autofactory, there's another at the end of a bridge, and you begin with a friendly one in your base. Sell it if you'd rather defend with precision attacks, keep it if you'd rather the firepower. They can deal massive collateral damage, as you should know after S15, so if not handled well they could do more harm than good.

There are five docked Freighters around this deck of the Heighliner that each have six light Combat Tanks stashed inside. Simply discover them to steal the Combat Tanks.

This is a Heighliner, so the entire area is dense with enemy units and structures. Map and objective control are key to victory.

If you want an autofactory on your side ASAP, set off to the left of your starting location and take out the Control Node in the bottom left corner of the map. Don't forget to bring an MCV so you can harvest from and set up turrets around the new location. If you'd rather have easy access to a second Mass Deposit, and Fremen Gholas, destroy the much weaker defenses around the small base to the right of your starting location instead and bring some Engineers to capture the stuff you want. Taking that location will get you closer to a couple of docked Freighters too, which can really help with assaulting the autofactory base in the bottom left.

If you're running low on funds at any point, look for Guild Silos to capture. There are tons of them around and they'll most likely be filled to the brim with Spice. If not, wait a bit longer. They get more valuable the longer the game goes on, and the robot tanks won't touch them, so there's no rush.

Umm... that's about it, I guess. Good luck and have fun.

If you're new here and want a link to all twenty-seven maps that are currently finished, or if you just want to be up to date, here's a link to the entire campaign in a zip:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=11BnUcuabJ4YQDufz-YoYv_lZZwzaE_Ym

Since things ARE still in the process of being fleshed out, any feedback is appreciated. Aarmaageedon recently tested the campaign and was very helpful in figuring out where the difficulty level was at - harder than the original campaign, but definitely not crazy hard so that even a pro would have trouble. Thus, I've made a few more adjustments based on arma's games to further tune the difficulty a bit, either making some missions harder or others easier. Also, a recent discovery in AI defensiveness which Cm was able to help me with has enabled me to improve the AIs across the board yet again. Hurrah!

I do have some commentary about the difficulty and tuning it:

Spoiler

As much as I would love to make it so that hard is actually hard, even for pros... normal is for the average player... and easy is for the newbies or casuals... that's kind of practically impossible to do. This is what difficulty affects:
 - Easy mode reduces default build rates and costs by 25%. This includes upgrades, although the game doesn't actually show the upgrade cost as being reduced.
 - On easy mode, hostile and neutral factions receive only the first and every other unit in scripted Carryall or Starport deliveries. So, they're halved.
 - Hard mode increases the default build rates and costs by 25%. Like easy mode, upgrades are also affected, but the game doesn't show the upgrade cost being increased.

That's all. The AI is unaffected aside from reinforcement drops on easy mode, which I hardly use. The AI doesn't change, it still uses normal mode values for all its units and structures, so the only thing that really changes between difficulties is the player's ability to more quickly and easily mass units and resources.

On some missions, like S02V2 (where the player gets limited resources), the dramatically different difficulties are easier to achieve. On easy mode, I can make it so that one of the enemy MCVs straight-up doesn't show up. The Imperials only get two, although their reinforcement drops are optimized so the best ones show up. Still halved.

On normal, the player deals with the full might of the enemy, but has plenty of resources to work with until the timer runs out and he survives the mission.

On hard, the player's resources are drastically limited and he may need to decide between the Barracks upgrade or the Light Factory upgrade. He still needs to deal with the full might of the enemy, but he has less stuff to work with.

While not perfect, there is a great contrast between the difficulties that's helped by the type of map it is - survival, with limited resources. However, in most maps, the player has a base and is able to amass resources. And the differences between difficulties there are minimal because the player can build to the same maximums... a player on easy and a player on hard will still eventually build up to infinite resources, 3 of each factory, a Starport if it's available, and the only difference is that the player on hard will not be able to mass units as quickly due to buildrate limitations.

Now, I could send so many units at the player that the player on hard will need to have good micro and exploit the AI to succeed while the player on easy can brute force it, but this is still assuming that the player on easy has an equally good macro game to the player on hard. A good enough macro game to keep producing units nonstop even with the faster build speed, and arrange his units well enough for brute force to work. So, like I said, it's practically impossible to achieve.

And besides, banging your head against a brick wall is not fun. It's tedious and annoying and boring. The fact of the matter is, the AI will never be as good as the player. You can do some tricks with it to make it better - like give it a unit spawn of Stealth Raiders behind the player's base, use a combination of AIs with different behaviors, or arrange the terrain so the AIs' infantry will show up at the player's base at around the same time as its vehicles - but making it cheat is artificial difficulty.

The way I see it, the best AIs are the ones that can impede the player, but not obstruct him. It can harass the player while he builds up, it can defend itself, it can appear to be strong, but the AI is really built to be destroyed. That keeps the player in the action, keeps him blowing stuff up, and keeps things fast-paced and fun. That's the combat loop in the campaign.

So I give the AI exploitable weak points, like a preference for a combination of units that can be countered by something. Or some Wind Traps on a cliff, or maybe it's reliant on a sub-AI to defend itself while it dedicates most of its units to an attack. And I try to curve the difficulty up from the easy S01V1 to the utterly brutal S18. Over 30 maps and taking into account new units and structures, this isn't too hard to do well. But, even the mightiest enemy on S18 needs to be defeated at some point. Within two hours, to be exact.

I tend to put more trust in the time it takes to complete a map than other factors on the map itself. If S06V1 takes a bit longer than S05V1, but not too much longer, that's good. Sometimes this doesn't work, like on S11, but there are other ways to determine if it's fair or not. S11 is meant to remind the player of some important low-tech mechanics before things amp up in difficulty, like the use of walls and tackling high-tech units with low-tech ones, so as long as good use of those mechanics can win the map, it's fair.

All of that said, I DID increase the difficulty on S18 in anticipation of S16V1 and S17V1 / V2 being about as tough as S16V2. Also, because arma broke the heck out of it. Congratulations on that, by the way. XD I did not expect anyone would realize the SLashers are meant not only to hold off the attack, but also to destroy the player's own fortifications and clear out a lot of space to build fresh.

I intended to simply make it so that the mercs wouldn't explode spontaneously if the player took out the SLashers, cheesed the choke point, and held off the entire enemy attack. However, there's a glitch with D2k where long paths an AI sends its units on tend to crash the game. Also, the player's island is really small and the mercs aren't meant to stay there anyway, so I opted to instead screw the player over with hundreds of tanks have Moriaen capitalize on the advantage she gains if he destroys both merc SLashers during the first attack. The mercs NEED to die, that's an absolute must. I took the opportunity to make things more interesting though - the attack comes from multiple directions and the player gets more armor to hold them off with, which is necessary to buy the SLashers the time they need to AoE down all the enemy units. And your fortifications. Furthermore, opening up the map reduces the linearity of the mission and allows faster access to additional resources. The player could bypass the first enemy base anyway in previous drafts, but now that he can do it more easily, the enemy is much more vicious and has more appropriate attack behavior. They bother the player's units while he rolls his around. Anyway, I hope it feels a lot more like how difficult a final level should be... it seems tougher to me than it was before, but also fairer. That's how I like to do things. And, hell, S18 was tough as it was, wasn't it? What're y'all, a buncha masochists or something?

Anyway, I got way off topic there, so I guess I'll get back to the crux of the matter and wrap this up.

That's about all for now. I'll see what I can do to get S16V1 finished up, but as always if you have any feedback to provide or whatever, it'd help me out a lot with tuning things to perfection before the official release.

Thanks. Good luck and have fun.

Edited by Fey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, only 12 maps to go... or not, how many you joke me about? XD

This is near the end, I want to give a try to all, dunno if I will play both version even on the early campaign or just 1 version since I know your maps takes tons of clicking; but since I won't do any more campaigns during that time maybe I just play all at once and see the new units and the new designs once for all.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Cm_blast said:

Alright, only 12 maps to go... or not, how many you joke me about? XD

3 more maps. One of them, S16V1, already has pretty much all of its terrain done. :) If I can think straight for a few hours, I might be able to finish it. Kinda super out of it recently, Iunno why.

It's too bad C&Cnet screws with your machine so much. :P At least we've got Discord up, there are a lot of C&Cnet folks around on there.

7 hours ago, Cm_blast said:

This is near the end, I want to give a try to all, dunno if I will play both version even on the early campaign or just 1 version since I know your maps takes tons of clicking; but since I won't do any more campaigns during that time maybe I just play all at once and see the new units and the new designs once for all.

I'd say that if you want a normal route through the campaign, like with the least involved maps and stuff, all the "v1" maps tend to be more simple. The "v2" maps are where the Heighliner maps are, where the more complex objectives tend to be, that kinda thing.

You can always skip the v2 and bonus missions and come back to 'em later!

By the way, for anyone following this thread: I mentioned that arma gave the campaign (thus far) a run, but I forgot to link to it in my last post. 😅 So, here's a link to the playlist. This will still be largely relevant even after the official release and I don't touch it anymore since many of the maps are in final draft states and I ain't touching them except for game-breaking bugs or significant AI improvements. So... here's a link to the run:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUG-JW5l2ys&list=PLg9coKBGGTxrkgXzX_0JrJ1jsL5ewQTmy

Notably, I improved the AI a bit on S03V2, S06V1, and massively on S18. Also S18 got some restructuring on account of arma breaking it, which I comment on at length in my last post. MOST of S18 went as intended in arma's run, but the beginning was intolerably broken so I had to do something about it. Again, details in the previous post about what I tried and how it actually turned out.

In arma's words, he plays "sub-optimally." His macro is still very good and each level is completed successfully (except SBON2, RIP Axlotl Tanks). He uses a very popular and common Ordos build for many missions - Combat Tanks, Raiders, and Troopers. However, as good as Raiders are, Quads have received an amazing buff to their damage and game mechanics are somewhat changed around! And Grenadiers can prove pretty useful too, especially in small numbers. Most projectiles, including those of Raiders, are blocked by walls. So, if you're following the guides, you might have more success in one area or another by trying a different unit combination.

Edit: I almost forgot - I posted my own run of S03V2 on hard+ mode. Maybe you'll get a different idea from how I go about playing through. I also comment on some ways the mod has changed things.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT5YNo_qHlA

Hope that helps. :)

Edited by Fey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...