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The Slave Pits

Author File Description
TailSpray Enjoy a variety of maps and challenges as you guide Raska and his fellow slaves in a revolt against their masters, brave perilous jungles and steal a powerful artifact while keeping safe from your enemies. This campaign covers the events that lead up to the opening scenario in the Fate of Inraya campaign.

This entry was the winner of the Microscopic Map Contest. Only contest reviews will be allowed and any other reviews made will be changed to comments by the Granary moderators. This will be moved to a permanent section when it is created.
AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
RCM7525 Review of The Slave Pits

Playability: 4.7
Good campaign here, it gives a nice taste of what AoE has to offer. B&D, FF, and a bit of other stuff. Sometimes it can get a little old, like in the second scenario(Gather 5000 wood and 2000 food), but for the most part it's all fun. There are some nice puzzles that you have to solve, but if you're stuck there are good hints and the occasional walkthrough. Overall, good job here.

Balance: 4.3
Balance was fairly good, although it was very hard in a few places. The first scenario will probably only take one or two restarts, the second none, the third you probably won't have to restart much, but you have to save very very often! The fourth, however, is very hard, and you probably won't get it on your first try. But it is beatable, so don't lose heart if you're stuck! General advice: Save often!

Creativity: 4.8
Nicely done here, uniqueness abounds. Original story, plot, and a few new tricks. I especially like how he ties it in to his other campaign, The Fate of Inraya.

Map Design: 5
I was very impressed here. Great forests, ground was rendered, cities were well made, overall very good. The only problem was that all the trees could sometimes get in the way and block some of your units, but it's managable.

Story/Instructions: 5
The story was well done, it didn't have any plot holes or unfinished thoughts. It follows the story of a band of slaves escaped from captivity, their journey through perilous deserts, jungles, and mountains. And like I said before, it's well tied in with TailSpray's other campaign.
File Author
I will update this sometime, it seems that each judge beat the fourth scenario a different way (which is good), I will add some more hints as well. I will try to make the second one more interesting.

About the story, as far as I can tell all of my projects (except one, coming to the granary very soon Edit: Okay, maybe not so soon) will fit into events that lead up to the events in the full FoI campaign.

[Edited on 02/14/09 @ 01:40 PM]

BBalazs Official Review and Scoring
TailSpray's "The Slave Pits"
First Thoughts: A four-scenario campaign? I am short on time, damnit! Someone must have been busy... The Slave Pits - what an unusual name, I first thought. Well in the end, I did not mind the time I spent playing and reviewing this, at all. As you will notice, 'The Slave Pits' is a brand new mircorscopic campaign, which deserves every single minute of gameplay.
Well, in short, I believe we have a campaign that is brand new, but is already a classic. It resembles the campaigns of what I call the golden era of map design in several aspects; but gameplay is not neglected either.

1: Playability (4.8)
The campaign boasts an extremely high replay rate, I will have to give it that. The scenarios are built in such a manner that just keeps you going and going, and even if you forgot to save you will just start over, and next time, start saving as well. The scenarios are built to be doable - but usually not for the first run.
You have to do proper scouting if you are to finish any of the four maps, with possibly the notable exception of the 2nd scenario, which is like a "sandbox" scenario. I wouldn't mind if that one was somewhat tougher - notably, the natives could do better than just standing there for decorative purposes. Also, there are minor pathfinding issues on some of the maps as well, most notably in the last one, when you have to babysit your units out of the base camp - not pretty.

2: Balance (5.0)
Hard it is, definately hard, but never impossible. All the scenarios can be finished, they just force you to use your brains. For example, in the last scenario I first had to bait the police out to the field, so that I wouldn't end up hurting them. You have to be on your toes, as you never know the size of the opposing force - keep your micromanaging skills ready and you will be fine.

3: Creativity (4.6)
The campaign doesn't necessarily include things that are unique, but on the other hand, it doesn't let us down, either. The clever use of the built-in tributing system creates some nice gameplay twists, something not seen too often these days. The theme of the maps catches the storyline very much in detail - and even though I am not a fan of author signatures on minimaps, at least it was not visible during gameplay. Do not get me wrong - I do like minimap painting, though. That is the art when you design the map in a way that the minimap is actually an image. I've rarely ever seen something like that in AoE - not in this campaign either - this was just a hint to the designer.
There is a language and languagex dll included, which allow us to see proper hero names - but then again, I am sure that the dlls could have been altered a tad bit more. Take the tribute messages into consideration - or perhaps even the soldier names.
Asking for a more dynamic opponent might be a crime in the case of this campaign, but usually you find that your enemy just sits on its throne letting you win - even though he has train buildings. I missed this kind of computer player interactivity, but then again, I won't let this pull the score down too much.

4: Map Design (4.8)
Map design is nice, complete with magnificent detail, -almost- down to the last tile on the microscopic map. The third scenario, however - at least in my opinion - could use some revision, as it is not much more than cliffs piled on top of each other at the moment - don't get me wrong, it is not cliffs only; and as they form an important part of the map, they have to be there; but there is need for a little bit of 'extra' there - it gets a very bit monotonous after some time.
Also, I should mention the city layout in scenario number four. The city could still use a bit of fixing up, as at the moment it appears almost as if we had some empty space there, and the author put buildings down there to take up space, almost randomly. I'd say, go for refining that bit somewhat as well.
I should mention, that even though I described two minor flaws, the overall map design can still be described in two words: plain magnificent.

5: Story/Instructions (5.0)
The instructions are anything but boring. You have to be extremely careful whilst playing, as in most cases you have to care for every last one of your units. Even though the instructions are widespread and complex, they are clearly given and I had no trouble remembering them - with the notable exception of the last scenario, where the instructions were somewhat complex, and I had to check back a number of times why on earth did I get randomly defeated.
The story is very well told, allowing you to imagine the two empires as they reside side-by-side, with the slaves working in the mines, the expeditionary forces, and so on. Even though the campaign obviously has a fantasy (non-historical) storyline, it is easy to follow, and even easier to imagine. A story worth reading and playing.
Oh, and not to mention the downright magnificent scenario instruction bitmaps. I have not seen bitmaps of such quality for some time now; with rivers finally not being blue, but simply a colour that fits the paper. Excellent.

-- Overall (4.84)
This campaign is not just a contest entry - it is a complete campaign that does justice to all the reviewing criteria. 'The Slave Pits' should be the favourite of many a micromanagers who want to get their hands on a five-star microscopic campaign. Much like many others, this campaign does have its own faults, but all-in-all it is an excellent combination of gameplay, micromanagement, and quality map design.
The Slave Pits (TS)

Playability: 5 This is an incredible campaign by TailSpray, The player takes place as Slaves in a mine in a land South of Inraya, following them on their Journey towards freedom. Many parts of the campaign are extremely tricky, and moving through jungles and mountains is not very easy¡K I got Surprised as I got a second scenario, many campaigns end as the slaves have escaped, but not this one. I completed the Last scenario, I don¡¦t know if I did it right, but I completed it¡K

Balance: 4.7 It seems very hard, but it isn¡¦t. It just requires some serious thinking to defeat Tiberius and the others without loosing 10 units! Always save when you¡¦re going to attack! The second scenario is mostly about gathering resources, which might get a little bit boring, especially when you find you¡¦re going to move! ƒ¼ But the balance is fine, not perfect, but fine.

Creativity: 5 Brilliant use of the Neutral stance, the slave revolt is a common theme, but it has never been this good! None of the scenarios are like the others, fleeing, gathering resources, enter the guarded city¡K enter another guarded city¡K well, it is still very different! Many victory conditions are used uniquely, such as having to kill the police officer before killing the police! 3 of the scenarios use the tribute but even that is used in different ways.

Map design: 5 A perfect mining camp, most terrain is desert, but there are some grass patches too. The way the gold is mixed with stone and rocks is also very good. The dense but passable jungle is also very nice, TailSpray has captured the mountains and the city perfectly too! Everything has been placed with thought and it simply looks fantastic. If there would be anything bad it would be that the stumps in the ponds been placed too dense but that is all I could think of.

Story/Instructions: 4.9 A nice story and good instructions. The Bitmaps have grey water, not very common but it looks very good. At some points the story might feel a little bit long, especially after the scenarios.

Overall: 4.92
File Author
I will take all your wonderful criticisms into account for any future designing I do after I'm unbanned from AoE. Thank you very much, judges.

Fruktfisk: I thought of stopping with the slaves escaping in the first scenario, but I saw how much extra time I had and went and made three more and barely finished in time.

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