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Scenario Design and Modding
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Age of Empires Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design and Modding » Fixing Jimmy's Battle for the Ark Scenario
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Topic Subject:Fixing Jimmy's Battle for the Ark Scenario
rakovsky
Clubman
posted 09-17-20 01:03 PM ET (US)         
Fisk,
You wrote:
One thing which I've always wanted to fix is Jimmy2's Battle for the ark, but I think getting the AI on that map to operate the way the author intended may be an impossible task.


The Battle for the Ark Scenario is here:
http://aoe.heavengames.com/dl-php/showfile.php?fileid=2071&ci=645fad66f9b09c8b240c47248cdf00e1YToxOntpOjA7YToyOntpOjA7czoxNDoiU2VhcmNoIFJlc3VsdHMiO2k6MTtzOjQ4OiJsaXN0ZXIucGhwP3N0YXJ0PTAmYW1wO3NlYXJjaD1CYXR0bGUgZm9yIHRoZSBhcmsiO319

The problem is that the author wanted the Philistines to bring your ark to their camp, but they don't. I downloaded the Scenario, and on loading it up, the most obvious reason looks like the "Z" canyon valley route that the Designer made to get from the ark to the enemy base. The AI in AOE and ROR has a tough time navigating "Z" patterns of valleys and cliffs. For instance, in another Scenario, my archers shot at cavalry across cliffs and the cavalry did not charge at me because the cliff edge was too long for them to figure out that they could go around the cliff edge to attack me - and something like that is far simpler than the "Z" path in "Battle for the Ark."

The second obvious reason is that IIRC, the AI has the command of bringing arks to its Town Centers. But in this case although the Red Player captured the ark, there is no Red Town Center, just Brown ones surrounded by Red buildings.

There are several alternative ways to address these issues.
1. URBACKYARD wrote: " i know for sure there are some command lines you can put in the per. script to make the computer bring back the artifact. make sure you download 'Per Edit' from the granary". So one way is to study Per file editing to see how you can add that in. It would be a line saying something like "Bring chest to Town Center" (to use the vernacular), although in Command language. However, it might have to be more detailed than even that- you would need a command that would guide it through the little maze that the Designer made. This is because the most obvious problem is getting the Ark through the S maze to the base.

2. Maybe the Definitive Edition addresses this issue and allows you to command the AI to bring the ark to their base.

3. Simplify the path from the ark to the enemy base and look at the ROR official 3rd Campaign's Scenario "Ctesiphon", where an enemy raiding party takes your war chest at the beginning of the mission and brings it to their base. Also look at the Ctesiphon Scenario to see if there is anything particular that the raiding AI player has in their AI, Civilization or PER settings that could help. The problem with straightening out the path is that the Designer wants you to be able to recapture the ark before it gets to the enemy base, which you might not practically be able to do in that case. This is because on a straight path the AI enemy might take it right back to their base, whereas the instructions say that the artifact will wait a bit in the valley before getting to the enemy base, which would give you a chance to send forces to get it first.

4. Start with the Israelite war chest at the enemy base so that you have to attack their base. The only practical difference this would make is that there is no part of the gameplay where you actually see the chest getting stolen. I think that this is legitimate, because the Designer's main intent was to have you get the ark from the enemy base. The part where you watch it get stolen at the beginning is more "thematic" or Story-ish and less a practical issue. The practical task for the Player is to get the Ark back.

5. Just consider the Scenario okay as it is. Consider the storyline to be that the enemy has just stolen the war chest and you have to get it back, so that you get it before the enemy would bring it to the base, even though it never actually does that.

What you would have to do ideally is make some commands for the AI to have the ark wait for a while in the canyon (like a few minutes) and then to guide it through the "Z" valley. This is because you really have two tasks as a Designer: 1. make sure that the ark waits a while in the middle valley area and 2. make sure that it can navigate the Z maze of cliffs.

I agree with your guess that in AOE and ROR it is normally not possible to make these kinds of detailed AI Commands, like "Capture Item X, Wait for Time Y, follow path Z to Building TC."

I believe that Game designing is well advanced to the point where designers could mod a game to make an object do that. But on the other hand, one of the advantages (and disadvantages) of ROR is its simplicity. The complexity of AOK's and AOEIII's Scenario Design is daunting for me in a way that AOE's is not.

If it was up to me, I would go with Option 3 above,
simplifying the path to the Philistine base and putting in a Town Center so that the AI would take it there (IIRC, the AI takes arks to Town Centers). Then I would take out any VC rules that give victory to the enemy Player for getting the ark to their base and would change the storyline so that you have to recapture the ark whether it goes to the enemy player's base or not.

In other words, since there is no "wait until Time X" command in ROR, you are stuck with either making the mission so that
(1) you capture the ark while it just stays stopped in the valley, like it currently does. For this, you can add in an Artifact VC timer so that you have only like 4 minutes ("2000 years") to get the Ark, which would resemble the author's intent where the ark stays for a while in the Valley, or make it a timed mission that would make the Red team win after X amount of time. OR:
(2) you design the Scenario better so that the AI immediately takes the ark to its base AND you start with a cavalry and horsebacked attack party at your base so that you can reach the ark before it plods all the way back to the Red base. For this you would probably have to add in a Red Town Center (right now it looks like a Brown TC overlapping a Red house) and straighten the Z cliff maze; OR
(3) The ark starts at the Red Base, and you have to build up a force to get it back. For this, you would have to get rid of the Instructions and any VCs saying that you can't let it get back to Red's base.
AuthorReplies:
rakovsky
Clubman
posted 09-17-20 01:46 PM ET (US)     1 / 3       
In many ways, AOE is an art and you have Creative License. If it's beatable, as it probably is (whether the ark moves or not doesn't stop you from meeting the Objective), the Scenario doesn't need to be fixed to make it presentable IMO. I gave that for Option 5 above. You can just say that the enemy is PLANNING to take it to their base, so that you have to get it back. In contrast, the 5 glitched scenarios that I worked on were not even beatable- even if you met the Objectives, there was no Victory screen.

[This message has been edited by rakovsky (edited 09-17-2020 @ 01:47 PM).]

Fisk
Champion of AoEH
(id: Fruktfisk)
posted 09-19-20 04:05 PM ET (US)     2 / 3       
Well, the core idea of the designer is pretty evident, as the objectives describe, there's supposed to be an overhanging risk of the phillistines bringing the artifact back to their TC. However due to the layout of the map and possibly limitations of the AI, this doesn't happen. While straigthening the path (possibly complemented by some modifications to the PER file) should get the AI to start pulling the artifact into their base, this would also shorten the path, meaning that the time might be too short to offer much gameplay. More interesting then I might acutally consider the option of having an external timer, starting with the artifact already in the enemy base, and then having enemies spawn from the sidelines as the player has to dive in to retake it. That however would be a pretty radical revision of the scenario.

Of course you're right that the scenario might be considered "complete" as it is. It's a functional map and it isn't completely boring, but personally I would've liked to have some additional pressure put on the player. As is evident by Jimmy's comments, he would've liked the same thing as well.

Also are you serious that red doesn't even actually have a TC? That's a pretty major oversight. Someone should at the very least open up the map and put one in to see how it behaves. Even if it doesn't completely resolve the pathing issues, it should hopefully at least make the AI tug a little bit on the artifact.

//The warrior of Isola

"I lack quotes that demonstrate Humor Intelligence or anything about me."

Pineapplefish
Cleidopus gloriamaris
rakovsky
Clubman
posted 10-09-20 05:09 PM ET (US)     3 / 3       
Fisk, you ask:
Also are you serious that red doesn't even actually have a TC? That's a pretty major oversight. Someone should at the very least open up the map and put one in to see how it behaves. Even if it doesn't completely resolve the pathing issues, it should hopefully at least make the AI tug a little bit on the artifact.


Right, Red does not have a TC. The Designer combined a Brown TC with a Red house so that there is a Brown TC next to a red house, with most of the red house being on the edge of the Brown TC. In other words, the two buildings are not right on top of each other, but they are overlapping, making it look kind of like a red town center. But if you click each one or look carefully at their individual colors, you can see that there is no Red TC in fact.

The Designer made two of these Brown TC + Red House combos, one on the west and one on the east. If you still have it in your system you can look at it yourself. I can't directly take a screenshot because for some reason Screenshots just show up as black screens, and anyway there is not really a way to get the whole map to fit in a screenshot.

The Designer's intent as he expressed it, was to get the ark to wait in the valley for a while, like several minutes, and then go to the enemy base, so that you have to intercept it before it gets there.

There is no way I think in AOE1 to do what he wanted. You would have to do major modding to the AOE1 game engine. AOE2 would allow for this because it has timer and targeted movement triggers. AOE1 does have some triggers that you can create for things like having the AI demand tribute and allying with you if you give the right tribute. But I don't think that AOE1 such the timer and movement triggers.

But suppose, as you suggested, that you added in a Red Town Center and that this addition made the Red player bring the ark to it. In that case, the AOE1 engine would make the ark move right away. In my play testing the Designer did not give you enough horse-riding forces to run right away to the ark and detain it enough. The enemy in the valley intercepts your forces and overwhelms you, so that you either can't get to the ark at all, or else having gotten to it, your horses are defeated and the ark starts moving back again.

Clearly the author intended for you to build up forces to get the ark back. But by the time that you would have built up enough forces and started attacking the valley's enemies, the ark would already be too far for you to get it before it reached the enemy base.

I guess that you could add a set of victory conditions whereby if the enemy owns the ark after an external timer (like you mentioned) runs out, then the enemy wins. And you can guess that if the enemy has the ark, then it's probably spent time at the enemy base because you didn't start with strong enough forces. I have seen such external timers in some of S_Bishop's Age of Man scenarios. He set up a domino arrangement around the edge of the map ending with one Player getting an object when the dominoes run out. So the dominoes could end with Player 2 getting a hidden ark and the VC could be that Player 2 owns 2 arks.
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