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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Map development log: Homm III - Angel Chasers

Log - 8 Dec 2015

This map template I have been pondering on my mind quite a while. I wanted this XL-sized two-sided map's overworld layer to be based on an erupted volcano in middle of the jungle; the underworld region's theme is still on the stage of planning.

I was initially going to make this regular "defeat every enemy to win" type map, with evenly and symmetrically divided areas. The map was going to be 4vs4 or 8vs8 map with starting castles placed on either every overworld-layer's corner, or in addition with 4 extra players on each of the underground's corners, as well. 

(very early sketch of the overworld-layer of the map)

Due the "erupted volcano" theme, which had destroyed the jungle of the area, with only small remaining areas of it on the very edges of the map; the map was going to be called "Volcanic Destruction".

However, I have new plans for the map instead of that regular "defeat all enemy players" victory condition; all maps in my map pack (Tane Northers Homm III SoD XL Map Pack) so far are based upon that most regular victory condition, anyway, so I might do something else this time.

I'm going to use this very early map template of mine for a 4 players all versus all map, and set multiple victory conditions"accumulate x number of Arch Angels" or "defeat all enemy players". The map's going to be called "Angel Chasers" instead "Volcanic Destruction". 

I'm still pondering the ways how player can accumulate x number of Arch Angels in the map, and surely that task will need a lot of map balance testing in the end, but it'll happen along these lines:

  • Firstly, I'm going to disable Castle as a playable town for the map (in the map-menu prior starting the map), but keep the other towns intact.
  • Secondly, I'm going to add certain amount of Griffin Towers to strategic positions; some are more hidden and harder to reach, some easier. All players should have equal chance to reach them, and they may be placed on the spots where there will be competition, who's going to reach one first. They grand x amount of Angels each time the Griffins are defeated, but only one time per location.
  • Thirdly, I'm going to add Castle towns on the deepest end of the map (if everyone starts on the corners of the overworld layer, then Castles will be placed on the ends of the underground layer; with Fort disabled, perhaps, so one cannot score Angels from there quick.
  • Fourthly, each of the Castles "Portal of Glory Upgrade" may be disabled, so one can only gain Angels from there.
  • Fifthly, in case needed, I will add some hand-placed monster stacks of Angels on the world map, that are friendly and may join the army. I will have to strictly set their amount, and set their growth-status so, that their quantity never grows.
  • If the fifth plan is applied, then I will pretty much have to hand-place all level 7 monsters to the map, so that no random-generated level 7 monster stack can come up as Angels with random amount, and the growth-status of quantity on. That would ruin the strict balance of the map.
  • And lastly, while one gains Angels from the only few Castles of the map (without Portal of Glory Upgrade and Fort disabled), as well as from Griffin Towers, and perhaps from a few non-growing hand-placed stacks of Angels; to reach the victory condition of "reaching x number of Arch Angels", the player will have to find a way to upgrade his Angels to Arch Angels.
  • Thus, since there's no any way of getting Arch Angels directly in the map, only Angels; I will carefully plan a few places where to place Upgrade Forts for players to be able to reach the victory condition. Perhaps on center of the underground layer (far enough from everyone's starting castle, so it doesn't make upgrading town dwellings completely useless; yet evenly far from everyone's starting position), and the very ends of the underground layer (furthest reaches of the map for everyone, counting from the starting castles of the players; but not on the same corners as the one or two fort-less Castles on the underground).
  • And if everything else fails, and you lose the Angels in battle before getting them to shelter, and gaining more on the underground layer's Castles is just too slow, then the secondary victory condition of "eliminate all enemy players" is also an option.
  • I will PROBABLY add one static team with restricted way out of their town to the map; to which "eliminate all enemies" rule also applies to. This'll represent the arranger of the main plot's competition, and will have heavily enforced army, led by a high level Demon hero. So, if player chooses the "eliminate all enemy players" -route, then he'll also have to defeat this hero (located in that player's only town).
  • On the end I will have to balance the map so, that both of the victory conditions are quite evenly hard to complete, or gaining x number of Arch Angels may actually be a bit quicker, and more favored option over killing all the enemies, but still hard enough to provide the challenge and exciting game-play moments.

The initial though about the map's story is, that an ancient Demon Lord of the Inferno who owns this realm, has gotten sick on his old days. He has no inheritors; and thus he wants to have his last laugh on his old days before his passing, seeing some blood and bones along with a favor. The Demon Lord arranges a competition, where the winner will find his name on the Demon Lord's testament, inheriting the rights to the lands of his realm. But in order to do this and win the competition,  partaker has to capture and bring the Demon Lord x amount of the realm's last living Arch Angels, to serve as his final sacrifice for The Grand Master of Demons (aka God of The Demons); the ticket granting him higher social status for his afterlife in hell, serving the master. You're about to enter the Demon Lord's competition, and here you'll have the decision to play fair and capture the Arch Angels for the sacrifice (not a good deed to begin with), or play dirty and eliminate all competition; but this'll require you to eliminate every contestant of the competition; and the Demon Lord himself, since he won't be willing to sign the testament in your favor without you returning the Arch Angels to him.

A known issue: if I go by all the above plans, and include the defeat-able Demon Lord in the map, to which "defeat all enemies" -rule also applies to, then it would be against any logic, that following can happen in the scenario:
player kills the Demon Lord with one or more players left after that event, so "defeat all enemies" victory condition isn't still reached, and AFTER that gains the required amount of Arch Angels to reach the victory condition of "accumulate x number of Arch Angels" (for the Demon Lord's competition), and WINS the map. From story point of view that breaks the logic, because how are you going to win the competition by accumulating the Arch Angels for the Demon Lord, if you've already killed the Demon Lord (or some of the computers has). That may shatter the immersion a bit, as logically, after killing the Demon Lord, the competition shouldn't be valid anymore, as it's arranger has been killed. Unfortunately these conditions cannot be applied with Homm III Map Editor; so either I just leave the Demon Lord and his army off from the map, itself (which would be unfortunate, as I'd find that possibility to fight him interesting!), or add him and overlook that little issue in the map story's logic.

We'll see how this comes up. I'm not planning to develop this map with very quick pace at the moment, but hopefully it will be ready at some point in the next year. Stay tuned for more blabber about "Angel Chasers"!

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