Posted on 09/18/21 @ 02:48 PM (updated 09/25/21
|Number of Scenarios:
||Rise of Rome
46 years have passed since Tageshu was victorious over the Xiao Yang clan and escorted Zhe Yu safely to the Heavens. During these years however, a new threat began to grow, unseen and hidden from Tageshu. Will you be able to prevent Tsung from taking over the Temple complex, the guardian dragon, and Shengato from falling under his command?
Game version: Rise of Rome 1.0a, RocknRoR 22.214.171.124
Scenario type: Fantasy, battle & puzzle
Important notes before playing:
You must have installed RockNRoR in order to successfully play this campaign as it relies on Triggers. If you do not get a "RockNRoR plugin is active" message when the scenario starts, please restart the scenario or install the latest version of Chab's RockNRoR mod for free at http://aoe.heavengames.com/dl-php/showfile.php?fileid=2464 .You *can* play without and wander about, but you won't be able to finish the scenario and play like it is intended.
Please set the difficulty setting to Hard.
Due to the Lengthen Combat Mode (3xHP) being enabled, tripling each unit's HP again each time you save, you must reload your initial saved game again in order to continue like normal.
Extract and copy "Night of the Dragon.cpx" to your Campaign directory, default path:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Age of Empires\Campaign
The making of 'Night of the Dragon'
Download The Heavenly Escort: part I here.
Credits and thanks to:
Chab, Trisolo, Zapdotep, Crossbowman, Tapsa
Created by PhatFish/LvB.
|Author||Comments & Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
So... Night of the Dragon. I started writing this review in the month this was released but then I got sidetracked. I thought it would be a good time to finish it up for the anniversary of this ingenious little map.
"The impossible is one thing when considered as a purely intellectual conceit. After all, it is not so large a problem when one can puzzle over an Escher print and then close the book. It is quite another thing when one faces a physical reality the mind and body cannot accept."
This map is definitely unique in the way it plays, and I would be lying if I said it wasn't just a bit frustrating at points. I guess part of the explanation for my frustration is that I'm a bit afraid of reloading the game with the 3xHP mode, so I'd always restart the whole map whenever I lost. Even so there definitely is a bit of irritation when a unit spawns in a certain location, and you have no indication or way of knowing it unless you have played that section at least once before.
The closest comparison which comes to my mind in terms of gameplay is SuperFrizzio's "Strategy Defense 1 - REMAKE", which also utilized the microscopic map template and and focused on unit control (I guess any type of macro gameplay wouldn't really be realistic on a 10x10 map). While that consisted of a series of maps where the playtime could sometimes be measured in seconds, Night of the Dragon is only a single map which gets an impressive amount of playtime out of the microscopic map. Outside of AoE, I come to think of arcade games, as the map basically requires the player to learn the patterns of enemy spawns and movements through trial and error, meaning most will require a few restarts before figuring it out.
I'm not quite sure how a more casual player would react to all this. As a fellow designer and AoE nerd, my brain starts to think about all the things that must be going on beneath the surface. I know that Eschers infinite stairway is just an optical illusion, and as I start figuring out how it's done I can also exploit the illusion, but to others everything about this marvelous map might remain shrouded in mystery, even if the hints section offers a great deal of handholding as to what the player actually needs to know. In addition to this the map features in some diplomacy and puzzle gameplay, and while the first can actually be avoided entirely if you figure the map out and the latter isn't anything overly complex, they both add to the scenario and coming up with new puzzles in the age-old game is a feat in itself.
What else is there? Well, the map manages to stay interesting despite really just controlling a single unit on a single screen for 13 minutes, with the environment around you constantly changing thanks to the effective use of RockNRor triggers. Oh yeah, that's probably one of the main things here, this map makes use of Chab's excellent update to RockNRor introducing triggers to AoE1. Still, quite interestingly, just as much of the gameplay hinges on the use of well known quirks and dynamics of the original game, including that 3xLengthen Combat mode.
The balance is really fine tuned, which I'm sure must've required a great deal of testing from the designer. Even as I feel I'm playing close to perfect I'm left with about 20 % of the starting HP when my BLP buddy spawns. There's room for a few slipups, which the player is also almost bound to make. While I find the engagements with the temple guards mattered the most by far, it feels like every fight matters, even if the enemy only drains a few points extra out of your massive HP pool if you're fighting "up the stairs". Considering it primarily as a fixed force map, I don't think balance could be much better than this.
There is really nothing I can offer for criticism here. Phatfish always sets out to push the boundaries of what can be done in AoE. Like, the map is unique in it's use of triggers, features multiple unseen map design tricks and the whole backdrop is this impressive optical illusion brought into AoE. Most creative both in game and map design. Finally there's of course the brilliant use of triggers, and the introducion of an alternative "true ending" by having multiple ways to complete the map. There's so many things going on here, yet I have so little to say. This map is simply unique in almost every way!
Map Design: 5
Another point where I can only offer my compliments to the author. Of course, working with a microscopic map, there is no challenge in paying attention to every part of the map. Yet what Phatfish has done here is truly remarkable. The map is a technical marvel and features numerous revolutionary designs tricks to paint an image otherwise unseen in this game of Agepires. My single favorite thing most likely has to be the brilliant use of fishing ships, only diplaying their sails to create a strange illusion which to me looks a lot like distant maountain peaks. Of course the escherian staircase is the main setipiece of the map and most lovely about it is probably the illusion it creates of units walking into the temple doors on one side of the wonder and popping out on the other. I have no idea what kind of planning and trial and error it takes to align the tiles to create such an effect. Painstakingly but beautifully done, I doubt there is anyone but our Phatfish who has both the knowledge and patience to create a piece like this.
Hm... Phatfish has a somewhat unique style of writing, often leading with the speaking character and intonation as though writing a screenplay. The story has quite a set of characters and sometimes their parts are very limited, leaving you without a clear connection to some characters. At the same time this creates the impression of a world more detailed and lively than may be depicted using the rather limited 4000 characters of our introduction screens. I believe there are some grammatical errors (I think it gets build/built wrong but I can't remember for sure) but I think anything I write is worse than this so I can't complain too much. It's perfectly readable and that's what counts at the end of the day.
One of my favorite things is how if you fail (which you probably will at least once) the defeat screen goes into great length about how the villain's life turned out and how he had a kid years later. It feels a little disconnected from the story as a whole, but I myself always struggled with how to write proper defeat screens, and I like Phatfish's approach to it.
The thing which bothered me the most about the instruction screen was probably the vagueness of the objectives. I get that this is a puzzle scenario and writing the player on the nose what to do would be counterproductive to the experience, but as the same time, when the game tells you to tribute "enough resources to yourself for the people to follow" and the only restriction to your tribute amount is literally how many times you can be bothered to click the button? God that stuff almost gives me anxiety. Even so it never really prevented me from figuring out what I needed to accomplish.
This level is definitely a worthy successor to THE, similar yet very different. Download it to be impressed by one of the technical marvels of AoE1, or if you don't care about that just because you want to have a good time with an awesome micro map.
[Edited on 09/18/22 @ 01:12 PM]