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Buried Secrets

Author File Description
File Details
Version: AoM:EE

Draw your weapon and be ready to face off the forces of dark! This is a short RPG scenario that takes place in a forgotten desert. It features custom music, quality gameplay, amazing eyecandy.
~Does not require Tale of the Dragon expansion!
~Difficulty settings!
~You can keep your spell hotkeys throughout saves!

Put the scx file in your scenarios folder in the steam aom folder.
Put the Nickonhawk folder in your sound folder in the steam aom folder.

Repaired the balance!
Added some enemy abilities!

Corrected some typos!
Hotkeys in savegames will now work right away!
Start with more stats and level up faster in higher difficulty!
Regeneration speed has increased dramatically!
Learning a spell will now write an objective, so you can look up the key if you forget it!
The Heal Spell will now restore a percentage of your hitpoints instead of a preset number!

I'd like to thank the community for helping me make this map better. You are the best!

Showcase: http://aom.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forums/display.cgi?action=ct&f=13,29829,,20
Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=846385356
AuthorReviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
Map Design5.0
Playability: 5
Nothing wrong with movement besides the occasional clustering of allies. Unit changing and hotkeys are smooth and without delay. Chatting with NPC's is also easy to follow. Having the Space command appear really helps tell what can and cannot be interacted with.

Balance: 3
Bruh. It's too hard at the beginning and too easy at the end. Literally anything will kill you at start but you get stronger relatively quickly and then literally anything will die in one hit.

Creativity: 4
Mini RPG's like these are great. Use of special effects and custom music generate a wonderful atmosphere for players.

Map Design: 5
As always, gorgeous map design from Nickonhawk. Terrain mixing and blending of rocks and other embellishments make the desert come to life.

Story/Instructions: 3
Storyline was solid, but this section is weighed down by the lack of instructions, which only appear once and are never seen again. The ability hotkeys were sometimes hard to remember, so I just mashed my keyboard during fights. The only reason I could play this scenario from start to finish was because I had magical fairy Nickonhawk talking to me in chat and explaining things.

Additional Comments:
I loved it. Although gameplay is pretty standard for RPG's, I can tell you worked really hard on this scenario. Moar plz :)
Map Design4.0
Since I promised you some feedback on your latest creation, I may as well provide it in the form of an in-depth review. So here you go, a second review. You deserve it. :)

This review is largely based on my playthrough on Easy difficulty, with a total playing time just shy off 2 hours. I played as the randomly chosen character Kamilah.

I've shaken things up a bit in this review and introduced a few extra subcategories that also determine the scores of the corresponding main categories.


RPG scenarios are by far my favourite type of scenarios because only they can potentially draw me into the world and story created by the author. It's always an exciting adventure to play a RPG and explore the marvels the author has created, be it ingenious trigger mechanics, compelling stories, or wondrous map design. So now that I've set the tone for this review, let's get started.

[Enjoyment: 3] (60%)
Like I said previously, I highly enjoy exploring the universe of a RPG scenario because the author has so much opportunity to include a wide variety of awesome things for the player to experience. I think you've done a fine job of capturing a mysterious mood at the start of the scenario that leaves you wondering what's going on and urges you to find answers. This leads precisely to the exploration aspect I mentioned before that I highly enjoy. There're a couple of quests to complete, dungeons to explore, hidden items to collect, and many secrets to uncover. So overall, you've really nailed the exploration aspect.

The gameplay is enhanced with a wide variety of enjoyable mechanics, some of which work perfectly in this free-roaming RPG, but some others don't feel as polished and actually end up hurting the gameplay experience and thus my enjoyment (more on that later).

[Level of polishment: 3] (40%)
First of all, this RPG is one of great quality. I experienced no lag at all, the hotkeys worked smoothly, the cinematics were created with care, and the objectives were clear and concise. But I'd a few issues which I'll address now.

1) I'd the biggest issue with the way health regeneration was handled. I liked the fact you could only regenerate a limited amount of health based on your food resource, but seriously the regeneration rate itself was way too slow. I would've liked to see a way to consume the food more quickly, for example by pressing a hotkey when you're out of combat (and if enemies get near again, cancel the faster regeneration rate). I spent a large portion of my early gameplay time (where my only option was to engage the enemy at melee range) waiting for my hero to slowly regain his health. And I even had the hero Kamilah who excels at regeneration. I'd insufficient gold funds for repeated inn stays that would regain all my health - but to be honest, it doesn't feel right to spend gold just to regenerate more quickly when you've more than enough food to regenerate all your health twice.

2) Direct damage and heal spells seemed to be too weak. This might be because I never found any spell power items, so those spells might become much more powerful than I've experienced. I never found a reason to use the high mana-cost and high cooldown healing and damaging spells over summoning allies which are more powerful and flexible because they can act as meatshields and damage dealers and stay around for quite a long time. I only used the heal spell in moments of distress, and I could abuse its flat healing amount by quickly switching to my mount to restore ~10% health because the mount has much less health than the other "hero modes" (is this intended?).

And the minor issues:

1) It's sometimes unclear when I could use the 'interact' action with spacebar. This only happened with some of the graves where I got a text notification to press spacebar to dig up the grave with the shovel, but after I pressed it nothing happened (usually a sound plays even when you dig up nothing, but nothing happened).

2) Your allies can easily get you stuck in a somewhat tight spot and then you're forced to wait until they despawn. It would be nice to have a way of forcing them to move away from your hero.

3) Some enemy units like the terrors are a prime example of the overrated "tank and spank" type of fight. I literally engaged them, summoned my allies, alt-tabbed to do something else for 2-3 minutes, and returned to the game to proceed to the next enemy. Monsters with huge health pools and no interesting fight mechanics aren't fun to fight!

Also, to improve the replayability of this RPG, I would add an option for the player to select their starting hero instead of having it chosen randomly at the start of the game. Otherwise you would've to restart the RPG multiple times to get the hero you want to play next.


I found that anything above the Easy difficulty is too unforgiving for the player. Well, actually, the enemies at Hard and especially Titan difficulty will absolutely destroy you. At the start, you're forced to engage the enemies at melee range. The first enemies you encounter have about the same stats (or more) as your own hero. So yeah... you basically would have to:

1) Kite the enemies to the moon and poke at them at cheeky opportunities,
2) Carry a huge bag of food with you to regain your health as you run in terror while hoping you don't encounter additional enemies,
3) Realize this plan will fail because you've insufficient funds to obtain that amount of food,
4) Give up on life, lie down on the ground, cry, and meet your fate of being pummeled to death.

No, I can't think of any other plausible scenario.

I would currently advise every player to play this on the Easy difficulty. It very much feels like the whole RPG has been designed around and playtested on this difficulty and the tougher difficulties were just added later on. On Easy difficulty it's still very challenging at the start, but it's much more fair for the player. You'll die if you aren't careful about how you're engaging the enemy. I think this level of difficulty is spot on for a Hard difficulty setting, but not so much for the Easy difficulty.

The RPG becomes much easier when you unlock the ranged mode for your hero. I only say this because I ended up getting lucky and play as the hero Kamilah who moves faster at full health. I suddenly could kite and damage the enemy at range without receiving any hits myself (only 1 type of enemy could catch up with me). From then on I never needed to go to the inn to heal myself and could stockpile my gold and use it for combat upgrades. I reached a point where I could one-hit the enemies and progression became a breeze.

To improve the balance, I suggest to do the following:

- Use the current Easy difficulty setting for Hard and balance the other difficulties accordingly.
- Either lower the movement speed of the ranged mode or better yet, remove the speed bonus for Kamilah.
- Limit the amount of upgrades you can purchase from the vendors and balance the end-game enemies (such as the terror enemies) accordingly.
- Perhaps allow the player to enter a command to lower or increase the difficulty on the fly (so they don't have to restart the scenario if the difficulty ended up being too high or too low).


[Originality: 5] (10%)
I think the creativity and originality that went into the creation of this RPG is by far the strongest point. I really liked the high variety of mechanics that were used in this RPG as well as the occasional dynamic events that changed the world. Also the choices you make have an direct impact on the world, be it through conversation, combat, or other interaction. Simply great!

[Objectives: 3] (25%)
Unfortunetaly, the side-objectives weren't all that creative and exciting apart from the one offered by Kemsyt (forgot his actual name). The main objectives were few in number, but they all lead towards the more interesting parts of the scenario.

[Trigger mechanics: 5] (50%)
Like I said, there's an incredible amount of high quality mechanics in this RPG. We have:

- Interact options with characters (to enter a conversation) and objects (to pick up / use);
- Health regeneration with food;
- Mana regeneration with favor;
- Hotkey-triggered spells to cast;
- Hotkey-triggered combat modes to swap to;
- Loot to collect from fallen foes;
- Thievery;
- World-altering events;
- Traps & ambushes;
- Secrets;
- Special abilities for powerful enemies;
- And there's still more!

I would only've liked to see a few more (small) combat mechanics for more enemies to spice things up (such as the terrors or the regular "small fry" enemies). But I can't really complain; there's already so much in this small RPG!

[Sound: 5] (15%)
As expected from you, you did a superb job on the sounds. Every possible small interaction you can think of has an appropriate sound file assigned to. And let's not forget the great background music that sets the ambience just perfectly.


And again, the map design is well done as expected from you. The main desert area looks great. Nothing is over- or under-designed. The only thing I would've improved are the edges of the dungeons, like covering up the black/empty areas with rocks and other embellishments. Extra kudos for the last dungeon you've designed: it really captures a spooky, daunting atmosphere. Well done!



[Storyline: 2] (50%)
The story started out interesting and I was curious how the plot would unfold. I've to be honest here that I felt a little disappointed at the story's lack of depth. I would've liked a longer questline for the main objective, explaining more background story on the main hero, the factions, Abel, and the greater evil. But to be fair, you were going for a short RPG scenario with interesting mechanics and then it's understandable to cut back on the story.

[Characters: 2] (20%)
Again, I would've liked to see some more background story for at least the key characters in the RPG: Abel, the protagonist and the adversary. I didn't really know who I was playing as, and who the adversary is that I'm trying to stop and why, and why exactly Abel needed the protagonist to stop the adversary. The answers that I was given through my playthrough were either vague or came too sudden without any further explanation. For instance, the protagonist is ultimately revealed as a trueborn of the sands. But what does this mean? Why can only a trueborn enter the dungeon and oppose the evil?

I really liked that I could also talk with other side-characters. It however was a shame that most of them only had one or two lines they responded with when I wanted to know a bit more. For instance, a few characters respond with a very brief, abstract line about their land of origin. This left the background story of those characters and thus the characters themselves less fleshed out as I'd hoped. But again, the RPG is small and you probably decided to focus on other areas.

[Instructions: 3] (20%)
The only problem I'd with the instructions is that some of them needed to be memorized. Although I'd no problems memorizing them, it would be a VERY important addition to have a way for the player to retrieve what hotkeys does what. Update this information depending on what the player has and hasn't unlocked yet.

The instructions on the objectives were very concise, but clear.

[Grammar & spelling: 3] (10%)
There're a couple of grammar and spelling mistakes here and there (e.g. there're a few in the objectives and spotlight), but most of the grammar and spelling is fine. Proofreading your text should be part of your design cycle which is a fast and easy way to find and correct the errors.


This rating is based on the quality of the RPG elements that're supported in your RPG. Each element has a weighting value that indicates by what degree the element's score will be used for the final rating [1]. I've just added this rating for fun as a little extra to see what rating your RPG would get. The rating reflects the quality and completeness of the RPG. And coincidentally enough this rating ended up being the same as this review's final rating.

Storyline and Plot (11.41%): -
Enjoyable Battle System (9.11%): o
Map Design (9.06%): ++
Secrets, Dynamic Events and Sidequests (8.79%): ++
Character Development (8.65%): o
Replay Value (7.45%): o
Leveling and Loot (7.31%): ++
Character Creation (6.85%): x
Boss Battles (6.30%): o
Music (5.66%): ++
Different number of endings (5.47%): --
Puzzles (5.34%): -
Shops (5.06%): +
Crafting (3.54%): -

x : not supported in the RPG
-- : very low quality (bad)
- : low quality (mediocre)
o : average quality (fine)
+ : high quality (good)
++ : very high quality (excellent)

Additional Comments:
This has been a fun little RPG with some great creative elements. I wanted to see how much you've improved since your Valaron scenario and I can definitely tell you've improved a lot, especially triggering-wise. I truly believe if you go all out on all fronts (especially the story department) in a large-scale RPG, you could end up creating a true piece of art, or dare I say, masterpiece that surpasses the great RPGs such as Bravesword and The Hobbit.

~ Lewonas.

[1] These weightings are taken from the RPG survey results: http://aom.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forums/display.cgi?action=ct&f=13,29108,,all

[Edited on 01/27/17 @ 02:09 PM]

Map Design5.0
Balance: 4
I totally liked this being hard at the beginning, and getting easier later on. The guy that teaches you the medium lock picking skill, should be anyhow marked as an important npc. I couldn't go on because i talked to anybody except him, and ran around didn't know what to do. The endboss $%&§# me hard, still don't know why. At fist i couldn't do anything against it that was annoying. Later it worked somehow.

Creativity: 5
Extremely advanced knowledge with trigger stuff.

Map Design: 5
Nice environment.

Story/Instructions: 5
Mostly it was self explaining. I repeat: the lock picking guy is important.

Additional Comments:
Good work.

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