Do you like solving puzzles? Then you might like this map. Considering you can survive for long enough to solve it, of course.
|Number of Scenarios:
-Readme that explains to the starter where to put the files.
-Huge map with 10 objectives.
-A bunch of optional objectives.
Note: I've only fully playtested this map a couple of times. I don't have much time to spend unfortunately :(, so I might have not noticed some bug or issue (including spelling, I'm not a native speaker of English), please do tell me about it and I will see what I can do!
Another note: I have no idea what the difficulty really is. The problem is that I suck at age of empires, can't win a random map on hardest, so I'm not sure what to pick, although it seemed moderate to me.
History of the map:
I think this is the map that took most time to complete in the whole history of Age of Empires mapmaking. I started it in January 2006 and finished in November 2009 :). I'm the kind of person who starts projects but never finishes them, in Dec 2005 I started some making aoe maps, I had some 5 projects unfinished and the only thing I uploaded was a scenario that took a couple of hours to make. I didn't know what to do so I made an island, and thought it looked nice so I started making a scenario out of it, but soon I gave up aoe. In January 2007 I started again, I was working on a huge campaign for 4 months when a lightning fried my computer and I lost it all, including the second version of the profecy.
Later in december I started making it again, and when it was good enough I asked for some people to playtest it. Out of the 4 people to whom I sent the map, only GeorgeROR gave some feedback, he said that he only took a look over the map in the editor, and that the rivers sucked.
Angry at the lack of feedback, I gave up again. It was only in November 2009 that I decided to upload it, after some minor changes. Being inspired by Fruktfisk's unbelievably awesome "Age of Ice: Dawn of war".
I didn't have time to change much the map, because college just drains most of my time. But I changed some balance elements, and rewrote part of the message to make it seem less childish (not that it isn't anymore :P).
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Crossbowman's "The Prophecy" describes itself as a mix of B&D and Puzzle, and I would agree, with the addition that it is an exploration scenario. This formula is in itself very interesting, and offers some exciting gameplay. However, the B&D setup is not that interesting, primarily due to the rather modest challenge posed by the computer players. Therefore the scenario depends quite heavily on the exploration and puzzle elements, which of course reduces the enjoyment of replaying it quite a lot, but since that is always the case with these playstyles, the scenario shouldn't be blamed for that.
The scenario can be said to deal with pretty basic economical conditions. While gold is scarce, the scenario is very much oriented around naval combat and exploration, so wood, which is plenty, becomes the most important resource.
The hints section makes a big deal about how protecting your 3 heroes is a concern, as they can easily die if you're not vigilant, which can be quite frustrating. While this may be true, it is not nearly as frustrating as the fact that the scenario includes the bugged "Laser Tower" unit, which can CRASH THE GAME when it is selected, and the instructions don't even mention a word about it. This is the absolutely greatest sin of this scenario, and deducts a lot from the playability score. It is likely that Crossbowman is unaware of this bug, but that doesn't really excuse it.
Oh, and finding the second beast of the sea was pretty damn hard too.
Crossbowman mentions that he has no idea what the difficulty level really is, and in my opinion it is a tad too easy. I especially feel like the players on the starting island could've been stronger. To me, the heroes pack enough power to hold off most attacks once you find a priest to heal them. While you find gaia buildings around the map, and can't hold them all this way, you don't lose to much from simply letting go of them. Personally I found the southern side of the island to be the easily most attractive region anyways. I'm not sure if it is the trees blocking their movement or if I'm too far away, but the AI players never really seem to find me there, so I don't really feel threatened when I'm inlands, even if I'm playing on hardest difficulty.
The naval opponents prove to be more interesting, especially Laumia, who start out by unloading some single land units with rafts, something which I can't recall to have seen before. However, the high starting resources mean I can still deal with these quite easily, and once again, Perseus + Priest is good enough to take on a couple of Laumia's war galleys.
Taking to the offense, the scenario is not quite as easy though, and the computer players really put up a fight once you threaten their bases, the main problem for me is that I feel a little too safe. If I lose the scenario, it is more often due to carelessness than actually not having a strong strategy.
Yep, I'm giving a five for this. The combination of playstyles is interesting in itself, and it is employed pretty much to perfection in this scenario. While the wide array of objectives makes the scenario creative by themselves (I believe it uses all 12 individual victory slots), the way they are put forward in the form of riddles are really the defining feature of "The Prophecy". I'm not sure if this has been done before, but it definitely hasn't happened in the extent of a full prophecy. The phrasings of the objectives may seem strange, but make sense in a jokeful way for any AoE lover.
Other than that, the heavy reliance on exploration makes it an interesting experience, to complete the objectives you must pretty much explore the whole map, and you're bound to complete some of the bonus objectives (located in the hints section) without even trying.
The map design, which displays one of the earliest scenarios to make good use of Zappy's improved editor, includes some nice creative elements as well, some neat building placements, such as the ballista tower with adjacent wall tiles near Laumia, really impressed me.
Map Design: 4.4
However, other than that, the map design doesn't impress that much. It is cleat that Crossbowman has evolved a lot to become the person to beat me to the first place in the 2013 Pretty Town Contest.
While the form of the island is extremely nice, the actual content feels bland at some points. The jungles the main island are good, but I really wish more attention had been paid to the underlying terrain, which is oftentimes only bland grass or desert terrain. Terrain cracks and rocks for the beaches, desert and grass patches inland, a little terrain rendering would've done a lot. I also do agree that the rivers made out of shallow tiles do look quite ugly. There are really many interesting spots and eyecandy, but the lack of work on the basics, which I know can be the most tedious part of map designing, really makes the map suffer. Also, the fact that AI players often destroy the most attractive objects in their own bases when gathering resources is tragic, but of course unavoidable in scenarios like this.
Overall, the map design is still good, but it doesn't add up to great. Still, it is definitely worth checking out for some of the good tricks, and to see the early work of somebody who would later become a star designer.
Once again I'm giving you a high five Crossy. The scenario has a decent fantasy storyline, nothing in particular, but definitely not bad. The short one sentence backstories in the history section actually do something to flesh out the characters as well. Add to this a very nice bitmap and you already have a good score.
Then of course, there's the actual prophecy, which is really what earns the excellent score. The prophecy is not just an interesting way to phrase the objectives, but it is also pulled off perfectly. The clues are not very hard, but still I felt a little clever every time I figured them out. The scenario shouldn't require a walkthrough for most players, which means it's not too hard, but not too easy either.
The word prophecy is misspelled as "Profecy" in every occuring instance, but it doesn't really matter.
The Prophecy might count among the most interesting campaigns of all time, particularly due to its defining feature, objectives delivered in a slightly cryptic prophecy. It's going to require some wits and basic proficiency in the English language (but what doesn't?). However this great premise suffers slightly due to the passiveness of the computer players. Still I would recommend it to any experienced AoE player looking for an interesting scenario.
Crossbowman claims to have been inspired by my "Age of Ice: Dawn of War", but to be honest this reminds me more about my other campaign (you know which, the cat one), but this has better writing and is more serious. It is the first (released) work of a designer in development. At some points one can spot a little childishness (writing "hidden messages" in shore fish), and sometimes more attention could've been paid to the less interesting, but necessary, parts of map design. However, there's still a lot of energy that has gone into development, even if the designer at this point was an unpolished diamond.