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The Splintered Court feedback

Discussion in 'Fall from Heaven Official Scenarios' started by Kael, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. westamastaflash

    westamastaflash Lord Commander

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    Well he was already at war with the elves. So i guess it was pointless. Oh well.
     
  2. MacGyverInSpace

    MacGyverInSpace Monarch

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    a.k.a. a.a.5, toasters. . . .
    Spoiler :
    That story really twisted my mind up. I hate those ones that lie to you without saying 'the perhaps queen' etc. It directly called her Arendel.

    Anyway, I wonder how long an elf can go without food. Or if the winter queen could help amusing herself with her sister. Using illusions of a rescue to trick her to keep eating etc. I've got an unwritten continuation involving an encounter with Varn or a Vicar and perhaps an interwoven story of a madly- grieving Savaltafar (She's got good propaganda, presumably) busting into the tomb to catch a final glimpse of her/his queen and catching her in the act of torturing the summer queen. Combined and Amelanchier's wit (in my play through of the scenario, Faeryl's kingdom is #2 down so he's familiar with her tricks) which eventually ends with saving Arendaels life. And of course, before the arrest, Faeryl slips away. Many elves loyal to her stage a rising, and both civs and leaders are ready for their individual appearance in the epic game...


    P.S. Why can't you mod the CoEsus icon out of the diplo screen. The python's all their isn't it? Is that just a dummy version and the really code got moved the the engine core?
     
  3. Old MacDonald

    Old MacDonald Chieftain

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    Oh, well. Difficult to shut up when I get such thoughtful replies. :)

    Yeah, I agree with this.
    Yes, and you've pointed out something very important here. FFH gives us great characters to play with, with truly interesting stories and personalities. This is probably one of the reasons they're so easy to care about and bond with, as opposed to generic action hero # 3. But in my mind, and this is my subjective opinion, the key difference between theater and an interactive game like this, is the player.

    What I usually like about FFH is that the game gives me all the great lore, and then lets me weave my own stories on top of that. I.e. Kael has set the stage and given me the tools, and when the game starts, I take over. I take his characters and his world, and based on my actions and my imagination, I continue evolving his creations.

    This is especially true because FFH is not really an RPG or adventure where you have your character on screen and control him or her directly. This game hardly ever tells us anything about our characters during the gameplay - it leaves pretty much everything to the imagination. And so, the world and the characters in it becomes mine.

    I guess that's part of why an ending such as this feels so wrong. In a way, I feel Kael should let go of his creation when I take over. I accept this is probably a hard thing to do, and I also accept that a scenario such as this must have a somewhat defined ending. But...

    Spoiler :
    I find that this ending was so at odds with what actually happened in the scenario that it didn't feel comfortable at all. And that's why I call it unfair. It was completely unpredictable for me as the player, and it undermined everything I had achieved during the many hours I had spent on the scenario.

    I think that, and again this is completely subjective, there should be a somewhat predictable connection between what happens in the game and what happens in the ending. If I win, I should win - at least partly. So maybe things didn't turn out as great as expected - I could live with that. But, well, you know what happened.

    I probably wouldn't under any circumstance like an ending which basically kills what has during the course of the game evolved into my character, and turns a victory into a loss. But if there had been better foreshadowing or preferably something that the player did (or could avoid) which caused it all, at least it would have felt less unfair.


    This, I totally agree with.
    I've sort of responded to this above. It's really the "out of the blue"-nature of the ending, coupled with the total lack of connection with the actual events and achievements of the player, that makes it feel unfair.

    ...

    BTW, as an aside, it would be nice if someone (Kael?) could paste the Svartalfar ending (which I didn't see in my game).

    Spoiler :
    I sure hope it doesn't "do a Ljosalfar" and end with Faeryl and her hot friends being struck dead by a magical bolt of lightning, which at the same time manage to free Arendel and let her take control of the Svartalfar... :)
     
  4. nihonjeff

    nihonjeff Chieftain

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    I think what you pointed out right at the end is the key here. In a regular game of FfH, the world develops along its own track, with the player helping to guide its development by participating in that world as a major power. One of the best games I ever played was an evolving story where I was the Luchuirp, on a small continent with the Kurio and some Lanun that Cardith and I subdued. We were happy, progressive, Empyrean-worshipping group, and our rivers flowed with milk and honey. Until we discovered the continent far to the west, across the ocean, with the hugely powerful AV-worshipping Bannor teamed up with Hyborem with a few other allied races on a giant continent completely engulfed in Hell terrain. What followed was an epic war of Good vs. Evil, and it was all my story.

    The scenarios, however, belong to Kael and Co. The developers set the stage for the Elven civil war and then give us the keys to let us fight out this important moment in Erebus history. The story of the scenario -- what happens before and after the battles -- is something separate and apart from our interaction with the game as players.

    Spoiler :
    I think what happened was unpredictable for Arendel as well. :lol: But out of curiosity, what makes you say it was so at odds with what actually happened? Even if the Ljos win a military victory, you as a player did not execute Faeryl Viconia. You as a player did not specifically post guards around Arendel and prepare anti-illusion wards to protect her. I would argue that what happened was contrary to your expectations of what a Ljos victory would look like, but it was in no way out of character for either the people involved or the world that it takes place in.


    I'm in no way saying that you shouldn't be dissatisfied with the ending, but consider it this way: With the scenarios, the developers are telling us a story that already exists. There is some player input of the "choose your own adventure" variety, where they can guide the story in one of two directions -- a Ljos military victory or a Svart military victory. But outside of that, in the scenarios we as players are still being told a story. We may not always like the story that we're being told, but again, it's like complaining to Jim Cameron that
    Spoiler :
    the Terminator shouldn't have died at the end of T2 because it wasn't fair.


    I appreciate the good discussion!
     
  5. Kael

    Kael Chieftain

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    I love this discussion. Honestly my true love is storytelling more than game design and I easily antagonize longer over 6 paragraphs on a scenario desc than a 1000 lines of code (probably why I have so many bugs :mischief: ).

    I thought about this twist before I wrote it. It is, to a certain degree, unfair. But though a character suffers, the empire you won the war with does win. the Ljosalfar do survive, the svartalfar are crushed, despite the specific fate of individuals in the aftermath.

    Spoiler :
    In the end though, I honestly don't feel like I always pick the story. I write the story but these characters drive it forward. In this case Faeryl simply wouldn't die. I had intended to write a celebratory story for a new world under the Ljosalfar banner, but I couldn't find it.

    Arendel was to perfect for Erebus, her fall with Thessa and Amelanchier remaining in a new less idealistic elven nation seemed right. An elven nation fiercely guarded with internal subterfuge and secrects is perfect.

    I also like to think that within that coffin Arendel remains alive, sustaining herself on a piece of fruit and nature magic. Though Cerrunous has no chance of discovering a secret hidden by Esus there may be some future for Arendel. If she is rescued unharmed, returns as an undead queen from the elven catacombs, or is as mad as Perpentach is yet to be discovered.
     
  6. Lade

    Lade Chieftain

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    All this controversy over this? The hippus lovers must not have finished "The cult" yet
     
  7. Avahz Darkwood

    Avahz Darkwood Chieftain

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    Well as not to spam this thread with info on us "Hippus" lovers :p
    Spoiler :
    you live by the sword and you will die by the sword and such an ending such as that one is expected more so than this one... In fact that one has to be my fav. scen thus far due to that ending
     
  8. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    Spoiler :
    I like the Hippus, but I never really liked Tasunke. I like the ending of The Cult. If I'd change anything about it, it would be to make you actually have to act out the events in the closing text. I may try to mod it that way in my version. I'd probably have to change Tasunke and Mahala to vassals, make the human have to play as Auric, and make him have to lead the Auric unit (who must be kept alive or you loose the game) to the Dragon Bones feature to resurrect Drifa. (I'm thinking I may change it so that any Dragon can be resurrected on the appropriate Dragon Bones, destroying the feature and the resource. Whenever a Dragon dies it would leave the Dragon Bones behind, with the mana of that civ's sphere. Stir from Slumber would become a spell instead of a ritual, and would awaken a dragon based on the mana that its skeleton would provide. Resurrection would work for Herne, Wilboman, and whatever hero I'll give the Sheaim instead of the Dragons, as they could be resurrected in other ways.) In the Scenario, resurrecting Drifa would probably trigger an event forcing you to declare war on one of your vassals if you ever want to have Drifa fight for you. I'd probably make this scenario actually be optional like Lord of the Balors, but you'd really want to win it since that is the only way to get Drifa in the other scenarios.


    One thing I really don't like about this scenario is how the Hippus are so much stronger than the other two civs on the side of the pass where they start, and how all allies are useless on the other side of the pass. Also, the portal doesn't really fit the scenery. I'm thinking I may change the portal to instead be a gate that transports units to the other end onMove and make it so that clearing the dungeon removes some peaks to make the two halves of the map directly connected so the AI allies can find their way though.
     
  9. Kael

    Kael Chieftain

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    Spoiler :

    There are 2 other big differences with Tasunke.

    1. He isnt a very sympathedic character. He is a mercenary without any obvious regard for what he does for his money. In that light betrayal isnt only fair, but it isnt surprising. Especially considering his treatment of Beeri.

    2. His death was foreshadowed, even to him and he ignored it. In the world of storytelling that makes him fair game.
     
  10. akots

    akots Poet

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    It is quite unexpected, I read and slowly actually understood what is going on and then the first thought was about how this is unfair. But then, it was so nice because it is not standard. If you want a happy end, go watch a movie or play some RPG. Dark fantasy world has to be dark and strange, the laws that govern it are different. And the ending is perfectly consistent with these laws, so there is no contradiction here.

    Why many people enjoy reading George RR Martin or Steven Erikson? IMO, there is an anticipation of an unexpected. With regards to Civ, it is like playing on a scenario map with WB or discovering something new every turn in the complete unknown. For some people discovery brings joy while other do like more of the repetition and watch the same movie again and again. Some like to travel while others like to surround themselves with family at home and never go out.
     
  11. mervvyn

    mervvyn Chieftain

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    I got a TXT_KEY when I defeated Arendel
     
  12. Old MacDonald

    Old MacDonald Chieftain

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    I do agree that in general there are clear differences between what scenarios are supposed to do, and what the epic game is supposed to be like, and that a well defined ending is part of what you expect from a scenario. But typically, scenarios are far smaller, far more limited affairs, where you're more or less guided by the game designers throughout. So they naturally tend to flow towards the predetermined ending (or endings).

    But this scenario is an epic struggle where the creators stay away from the action for most of the time. It's basically an epic game with advanced start, a couple of special units and less randomization than normal. So the differences between scenario and epic game gets blurred out a bit, and after you've spent 5-10 hours making history, such a forced and unexpected ending does feel wrong to me.

    Spoiler :
    I don't know. If I had been given the chance to actually do any of these things, maybe I would? I certainly wouldn't have any rights to complain about what happened, if I could have prevented it myself. It's a somewhat unfair argument, because the game didn't let me do anything protect Arendel from something like this. There was nothing I could do to save her. I could have stacked a hundred defenders in and around the capital, with tons of magicians casting all sorts of defensive spells, but nothing would have helped.

    In a normal epic game this isn't a problem, because the enemy doesn't "cheat" by striking deals with Esus just when they're supposed to die. So yes, it has to do with expectations - I don't expect my opponents to break/ignore the rules of the game, and though the ending is separate from the actual gameplay, the Faeryl that took the place of my Arendel was certainly the same Faeryl that I fought against, and who showed no signs of being able to break the rules when her butt was being kicked in-game.


    As an aside, this scenario already contains the possibility to decide for yourself what you want to do with your defeated foes (which is pretty cool, and would be neat to have in the epic game as well). So it certainly wouldn't have been inconsistent to give the player more options at the end, and have this ending as only one of maybe several endings, based on the player's choices.

    So as Arendel, you could get the options to, say, execute Faeryl, imprison her, exile her or something entirely different... I don't know about you, but roleplaying Arendel I would probably choose one of the last two options - I mean, choosing to banish/exile Faeryl would probably extremely stupid and naive, but I don't think it would have been entirely out of character for Arendel to do something like that.

    To me, the difference is about the player's participation in the story-creation-process. There is none of that in Terminator 2. The viewer watches, and that's it. Whereas in Fall from Heaven 2, I make the story. The war between the Svartalfar and the Ljosalfar was my war - it was based on Kael's foundation, but other than that it was all mine.

    I know, I repeat myself. But I really do not see a game of Fall from Heaven, even a scenario-based one such as this, as directly comparable to a movie or a book.

    Yeah, me too. Sorry about the delayed response. I had little free time yesterday, and what I had I wanted to spend playing FFH instead of talking about it. :)

    (back in my usenet days, I would often spend hours discussing games each day, and only a fraction of that time actually playing them...)
     
  13. Old MacDonald

    Old MacDonald Chieftain

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    Sorry for the double-post, but I thought it was best to separate these two replies.

    Thanks for responding, I'm glad to hear you like the discussion - it sort of validates it, if you understand what I mean. :)

    Spoiler :
    You are right, of course. I think that the reason it seems like a total loss for me is that in my mind, Faeryl = The Svartalfar. This may not be entirely reasonable, but I do fear that she will do everything in her power (and now she has lots of it) to make sure that she and her Svartalfar allies get what they want in the end.


    Spoiler :
    It's at least a relief to hear that you haven't killed her off completely. I am sad that this is how things had to end (and I still stand by my other comments in this thread), but I understand and respect your reasons for making this ending.

    Btw, from this comment I'm sort of getting the idea that this ending (Ljosalfar victory but with Faeryl in charge) will be considered "canon" in the future of Erebus. Am I right?

    (and what about the Svartalfar victory - is that a total victory for them, or is there something similar happening there?)
     
  14. Kael

    Kael Chieftain

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    If we were to make a 5th age mod then yes, it would probably be with this ending. But we intentionally try to avoid Age of Rebirth canon, we want to run everything up to the age of rebirth with as much flavor and interest as possible, then leave it up to the player to decide what happens next.

    So for now its open.
     
  15. Skitters

    Skitters Chieftain

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    Spoiler :
    The way I see the lore, is that it is not the Svartalfar who have broken off from the Ljosalfar but the Ljos who have rebelled from the Winter court - it's just that the numbers who "rebel" are (slightly) more numerous than those who remain "loyal" to the Winter court.

    To that extent I would say that Faeryl sees herself as Ljosalfar, but she see herself as the best hope for the survival of the combined Ljosalfar-Svartalfar peoples.
     
  16. nihonjeff

    nihonjeff Chieftain

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    I would disagree here. I felt the storytelling hand of the developers to have more influence in this scenario than in some of the others. Each time you conquer an enemy, more story emerges.



    Spoiler :
    I agree with you -- that's the action I would probably take as well. And I would say that's probably the reason Faeryl was able to pull off the stunt that she did.




    I think this is the crux of the discussion right here -- you seem to be arguing that once you start a scenario, you are essentially taking control of it away from the developers and guiding it down a path of your choosing, with the expectation that the end result necessarily follows the actions that you have chosen, and that by interacting with the characters and events of the world that you are taking a sort of moral ownership stake in what happens to them in the context of a given game/scenario.

    I, however, contest that there is no such ownership stake on the part of the player. The stories, crafted by the devteam, already exist. The stories might have multiple branching paths, but they are still a fixed, existing story in the same way as T2, Romeo and Juliet, or other works of fiction, and we are interacting with them in a limited way.

    Spoiler :
    I would agree with you that there is potential for the player to feel cheated if there is a logical disconnect between the way the scenario plays out and what the final resolution is. If I won a military victory with the Ljos and the closing text began, "As Faeryl and her troops march triumphantly through the burnt wreckage of Evermore...", then yeah, I would be puzzled at best. But I don't believe it is reasonable to state, "The Ljos armies defeated the Svart armies, therefore Faeryl Viconia could not have managed to secretly change places with Arendel." One does not logically follow the other. That's why I argue that the ending toys with your expectations (= good storytelling) and not with the "reality" of the scenario (= bad storytelling). Again -- not trying to argue that you have to like the ending, but just that I don't think it's an unreasonable or unfair one.


    Again, I'd like to express my appreciation to you for taking this on with me. I think it's entirely likely that we won't ever see eye-to-eye on this, but it's so rare to get a really good discussion like this on a forum that doesn't devolve into a flamewar. It's a tremendously interesting topic that really gets into the relationship between developers and players, and how both interact with a story.

    If you're ever in Portland, OR, let's grab a beer! :goodjob:
     
  17. tiberion02

    tiberion02 Chieftain

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    Playing as Amel. and popped March of the Trees on turn 10, was able to wipe the floor with Volanna with about 15 treants and now have 6 good forested cities on turn 15.... this will be over quickly. (World Spell should prolly be disabled for this game)
     
  18. Old MacDonald

    Old MacDonald Chieftain

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    Sort of, but these are two fairly simple events that are virtually identical for both sides. They (or one of them, depending on who you kill last) allow for some significant choices, but they don't really interfere much with the player's story. What happens here is completely based on what the player has done, and the player gets to choose the next natural course of action.

    So they feel pretty natural, and don't break the feeling that the player is in control over the war and its outcome.

    An idea for improvement would be to include more scenario-specific events during the gameplay, if Kael & co wants to focus on the story-bit. Also, multiple endings. :)

    Spoiler :
    As far as I am aware, we don't know how Faeryl "died" in the first place. I was assuming that she was executed, but it didn't sit right with me because I can't imagine Arendel ordering her execution.

    This is another slight issue I have with the ending. The fate of the other two leaders were in your hands, but when it comes to Faeryl, it just skips past the (expected) final showdown, until the bit where she's supposedly dead. It's somewhat inconsistent with the rest of the scenario, IMO.

    (there may be some piece of lore that explains all this, but as far as I know it's not in the scenario itself)


    Well, it does give you the entire elven civil war to control. That's a pretty big block of "unfixed" story right there. It's kind of like Tolkien telling the readers that they're on their own after Rivendel, and then popping in from his hiding place behind the scenes to write an ending after they have found a way for the good guys to win the war of the ring. :)

    Spoiler :
    And, for good measure, an ending where Saruman and Gandalf switch souls just before Saruman's final demise... :)


    Spoiler :
    In a way you're right, but at the same time there's the lack of foreshadowing and the feeling that Faeryl is breaking the rules, which I talked about earlier in the discussion. If something like this was a genuine threat, I as the Ljosalfar leader should probably have been able to take some steps to try and prevent it.

    I don't think your principles of good storytelling/bad storytelling are always true, either. An ending stating that Arendel, Thessa and Amelanchier were struck by a random bolt of lightning and killed, leaving Faeryl to talk her way out of prison and be reinstated as queen would have been just as unexpected and no less logical than the current one. But I think even you would have complained a bit if this had been the actual ending. :)


    Thanks - funnily enough I was recently invited to grab a beer with someone in Salem, so I guess Oregon is moving up in the list of states I need to visit next time I'm in the USA. :)

    As for this discussion, I think you're right that we'll probably never quite agree. I've been completely hooked on FFH II for the last couple of days (you know what? it's a fantastic mod. everyone here should try it :) ), and now my Christmas vacation is coming to an end, so I expect I have to wind down my involvement in this thread. Besides I'm sort of satisfied with Kael's response (though I hope I've provided some food for thought for him as well, even if nothing I've said ends up influencing anything).
     
  19. uberfish

    uberfish Immortal

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    On the other hand, Amelanchier really does need something to help him out because he is the prime target for all 3 Svart leaders and his allies don't really do much.
     
  20. Jabie

    Jabie Wanted in Monte Carlo...

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    Ironically I played Arandel (the Lljos. one from the main game) and started very far from the action. To compound matters the Barbarians seemed to have joined forces with the Svaltafar and were happily trying to plunder my lands whilst pretty much ignoring my foes. This wouldn't have been so much of an issue if I could build Settlers and push the fog back, but with No Settlers... Thank Heavens I completed Barbarian Assault first.

    I won, but it took a long time (yawn) as my troops had to cross half the map to get to the action, even with the Mobility promotion(s). Maybe the Arandel should be moved a little closer to the action, which would both amelioriate this issue and that of the previous poster.
     

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