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Downloads Home » Single Player Scenarios » AoMH SD Adventure contest 2020: Zenophobia

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AoMH SD Adventure contest 2020: Zenophobia

Author File Description
Zenophobia
File Details
Version: AoM:EE
Zenophobia's entry to the 2020 contest. The scenario is titled "Star fighter Ace" and is for AoM:EE.

Click here for the full showcase!

AuthorComments & Reviews   ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )
nottud
Rating
4.4
Breakdown
Playability4.0
Balance3.0
Creativity5.0
Map Design5.0
Story/Instructions5.0
Playability: 4
An excellent implementation of a space shooter especially with the control limitations of the game. It took me a bit of a hang to understand things but once I did things were a lot easier.

The gameplay itself uses the arrow keys to move the ship with optionally holding shift to activate laser mode with slower more precise movement. You can blow up enemies using the screen using spacebar or x. The controls themselves are as tight as can be but unfortunately gets somewhat problematic when the framerate gets low getting difficult to dodge.

The gameplay itself is very enjoyable but there were a few minor things:
(1)The laser and bomb keys are far apart on the keyboard for the left hand. It would be nice to have them closer as an option - e.g. Z for laser and X for bomb.
(2)The ship is a lot bigger than your hitbox - this takes a long of getting used to as you instinctively are trying to doge the entire ship through gaps rather than the middle. Maybe consider a smaller ship so it becomes the hitbox.
(3)The music restarts half way through which is a bit jarring - maybe consider using play dialog to play the music instead as that can fire an event on music finish and can be interrupted by playing another dialog.

Balance: 3
The game down have a difficulty setting to customise the game and improve replayability for those who beat it and want an additional challenge which is very nice. However I think there are a few fundamental design issues that I would like to see addressed for a higher score:

(1)There is no means to save. The game is pretty long and you lose a lot of progress if you lose all your lives. The game even on easy is really difficult so expect to start over a lot of times even on easy!
(2)The upgrade system is really punishing for bad players. People who do badly will be forced to get lives and bombs back every time rather than upgrading weapons. This means you get a weaker ship causing you to die even more making it even hard to upgrade weapons. I would probably instead suggest giving lives and bombs back automatically and for the second option maybe have a defence upgrade such as allowing taking a single hit, or extra lives/bombs.

Creativity: 5
The game is full of extremely creative bosses and attacks that you have to dodge. The scrolling backgrounds are nice too giving a good sense of movement. I am impressed with the way that bullets and laser works with a few "how did he do that" moments.

Map Design: 5
The backgrounds are very clever and look convincing and definitely look like outer space. The enemies are actual "ships" only they are in space - clever. The compound objects in order to form the bosses is also very effective. The spread of bullets looks very beautiful - looks like you are playing in a firework display! Shame it can lag a little but perhaps that is from me playing in 4k. :P

Story/Instructions: 5
What can I say here - a series of web comics to give the story! The drawings look really good and show a lot of effort and the showing of them ingame works well. The campaign menu modification is nice too and makes it all feel polished.

Additional Comments:
My only last comments are to those that are installing it. I recommend people create a sub folder in their mods folder called "Start Fighter" and then drop the folders in there. This allows the game to treat the resources for this map as a mod meaning you won't mess up your existing installation for online play as you can just deactivate the mod. Maybe worth renaming the top level folder so people can simply drop it into their mods folder to install.
Zenophobia
File Author
Thanks for the review, nottud! But rest assured there are no issues with online compatibility here. This scenario only comes with additional sound and texture files, as well as a campaign file, which don't break anything online. :)
Lewonas
Rating
4.8
Breakdown
Playability5.0
Balance5.0
Creativity5.0
Map Design4.0
Story/Instructions5.0
This unofficial review was written for the Mini Adventure competition.

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Adventure (9/10)
----------------------

You went for a pretty unusual space theme here that is difficult to pull off inside a traditional RTS game. But let me tell you, you managed to pull it off. The included webcomics helped out a lot to introduce you to the protagonist Ace and the adventure he was about to get himself (and the player) involved into.

What also helped out a lot with the adventurous feel were the absolutely action-packed and hectic space battles. The challenges you faced were no joke, and you had to pull off some great piloting maneuvers and careful aim to survive and continue the adventure. And with Ace being portrayed as an ace pilot, this all made perfect sense.

But I am a bit conflicted about the ending of this adventure. The final battle was by far the most challenging and impressive battle, so in that sense it felt like a nice rewarding climatic ending of the adventure. Except that it actually was not the end, but merely the beginning.

------------------------------------------------------
Immersive storyline and experience (10/10)
------------------------------------------------------

You did a stellar job here. The webcomics just were an amazing addition. Its illustrations could bring far more context and understanding in the setting you as the player are thrown into than what you could have achieved with the limited map space. The webcomics were an excellent solution to workaround that problem.

I had a few gripes with the way the story ended. There was a pretty hefty and sudden jump from the final battle to supposedly the planet earth. I would have liked to see more of what happened after that battle. There was also a very strange remark about selling the one thing you were desperately trying to keep from landing into the wrong hands. Wouldn’t selling it accomplish just the one thing you were trying to avoid this entire time??

I think that just for this contest alone the story could have done without the cliffhanger. The cliffhanger just made me wish I could have fought this newly introduced powerful antagonist as the final battle instead. The enemy captains that you had slain during the adventure did not have any introductions earlier on in the story. So when you encountered them, they just felt like a more challenging obstacle to overcome to progress the storyline, rather than those moments actually feeling as critical accomplishments because you just defeated one of the key characters.

But at the end of the day, these are just minor complaints. And all in all, the story was quite in-depth and all the action-packed fights had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time. This scenario offered a very solid immersive experience. You get 10 points from me.

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Atmosphere (9/10)
-------------------------

The music was on point. You were blasting some adrenaline fueling music during the action-packed gameplay, and had a mix of music playing while you were reading the webcomics that even adjusted in tone when some important event happened. The music was not looped which sometimes did cause some pretty long moments of silence.

You also did a very good job with mixing up the lighting and background embellishments to set a different tone for every new level.

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Balance (10/10)
--------------------

You managed to create some really good varying difficulty levels. The higher you set the difficulty level, the more health and fire power each enemy spaceship has. The player also loses some lives and bomb uses on the higher difficulty levels. I think this gradual difficulty increase you added per difficulty level was pretty spot on.

But I do feel like the hardest difficulty setting could have been more challenging. I was pretty surprised when I managed to beat the scenario at my first attempt on Titan difficulty compared to the 6 attempts I needed in Danmaku. A lot of it has to do with the weapon upgrades you can unlock. Once you get the first weapon upgrade, your firepower just increases immensely. Your positioning also mattered less because your wider shooting arc could now also hit most enemies when you stay near the center. It also added the opportunity to shotgun down the tougher enemies by hitting them with all your guns simultaneously at closer ranges. So although it’s very cool that the weapon upgrade allowed you to utilize more viable tactics, I also feel like you should have reduced the amount of damage that each added side gun could inflict.

But yet again, these are just some minor complaints. The scenario was definitely very challenging and I think you did a really good job at balancing it for both the experienced and less experienced players. A deserved 10 points from me.

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Map design (8/10)
-----------------------

Well, the map design is pretty basic when you purely look at it from a visual standpoint. You have a small black box that serves as the play area and that’s pretty much it. But you made it work by adding in some varying moving background details as you play each level, which makes it seem like there is a scrolling background and that your spaceship and other spaceships are flying. Well done.

Your level design was also very good. I liked how you used a high variety of spaceship formations to challenge the player with. The levels all had a good length and had a nice challenging boss fight to end them with.
The one thing I did not like is that you could move through other ships. I would have expected the enemy ships to be obstacles and that a collision would be fatal.

--------------------
Eyecandy (7/10)
--------------------

Yeah this is a bit of a tricky one. Space is for the most part a pretty big black empty void and so are your space levels. So it would not really make sense to fault you for not adding more map details. But you figured out your own way to make your levels look visually pleasing: adding beautiful SFX effects to all the numerous projectiles.

I also really liked the way you made the spaceships actually look like spaceships with some clever unit combinations and panned down camera settings.

-------------------
Features (9/10)
-------------------

There are many features here to love. One of my favourites are the two different firing modes: you can fire your guns and a laser beam. The laser beam is very powerful and could sometimes even deplete all of a boss’ health so quickly that you could skip an entire phase. I also really liked that the laser beam fire mode allowed you to do some more precise manoeuvring by slowing down the ship’s movement speed. But it was a bit of a shame that the shift hotkey was a bit unresponsive. The triggers did not always detect when the shift hotkey was being pressed. This was a bit annoying when you needed the more precise slow movement to dodge a cluster of missiles coming your way.

I also really liked that every different type of enemy spaceship would shoot different types of missiles at you that follow different trajectories.

All in all, you added many different features in your scenario that all worked great together, adding much enjoyable depth to the gameplay. Well done.

----------------------
Final score: 62/70
----------------------

[Edited on 08/14/20 @ 02:59 PM]

Zenophobia
File Author
Thanks for the reviews everyone!

I've done a small update to the scenario:

- Basic enemies (fishing ships) have their fire rate reduced at easier difficulties.
- On Moderate and Easy mode, you can now reload the scenario at the stage you last died at. This should help players unfamiliar with the genre quite generously.
Nickonhawk
Rating
4.6
Breakdown
Playability5.0
Balance4.0
Creativity5.0
Map Design4.0
Story/Instructions5.0
Playability: 5
Cool and good.

Balance: 4
At times enemy bullets will miss you making you feel like the more random and unfair boss abilities are less unfair then they actually are. Nothing too bothering, it's all soft unfairness, meaning you can mostly plot out the path of bullets and plan ahead to not get into trouble. Sometimes the fishing ships will shoot back at you after they go below the screen, but that's still not a big problem.
The problem is the upgrade or heal system. Even if you balanced all difficulties around zero upgrades (sure doesn't feel like it tho), the player will still feel bad for not playing perfect. This gets worse the higher difficulty. On Titan it feels like the first couple of stages you only have one life because I would restart at the first hit. This was kinda frustrating and I couldn't get myself to keep trying. I understand the "Nickonhawk, more like Weakonhawk!" vibe and I want to learn how to dodge crazy crazy but the price is too high, it's far too risky to choose upgrade without all the lives.
In this kind of game you expect to have your lives refreshed by default between levels. This way you can make the choice be upgrading your laser or your bullets, or whatever you want that's an actual choice and not a punishment. Also make the bosses the same regardless of difficulty, difficulty which would be in the number of lives. This would be a lot less work, you would still get your precious perfect play with one life on Titan, and it would be so much better for the player!
If you want to see players deal with deadly risk management let's go play Catan Lite. I'm serious by the way.

Creativity: 5
Uncontested. Unless...

Map Design: 4
The pics are sexy. Actual map design would be nice however.

Story/Instructions: 5
Standard-ish but good. So far. We'll have to wait until the end to bitch about the story.

Additional Comments:
Pew pew!
Zenophobia
File Author
Thanks for the review, nickonhawk. Maybe I won't kill you off in episode 2 after all :p.

Joking aside, I've updated the scenario again and revamped the upgrade system. Now, enemy ships will occasionally drop powerups on death. Collect enough powerups to upgrade your weapons!

In addition, players now start the game with three lives instead, but gain one life after every stage, up to a maximum of five.

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Rating
4.6
Breakdown
Playability4.7
Balance4.0
Creativity5.0
Map Design4.3
Story/Instructions5.0
Statistics
Downloads:58
Favorites: [Who?]1
Size:61.03 MB
Added:07/30/20
Updated:09/11/20
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