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Empires Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design Discussions » A Voice from the Past...
Topic Subject:A Voice from the Past...
Phantom Designer
posted 02-06-09 09:17 PM EDT (US)         
Hello. I am Phantom Designer. A long time ago I started a topic called "Some Design Tricks" that was featured in The Scenario Design Resource Library, for which I was deeply honored. I say deeply honored but really I was flattered beyond belief.

That was five years ago. I had to remember where I was five years ago. It's insane to me how my life has changed since then.

At the time I was very big into designing scenario and campaigns for RTS games. I started with Age of Empires II, the Conquerors, when I first discovered triggers. After toying with them for a long time I began to really understand them.

After that I moved on to other games, such as Age of Mythology and eventually Empire Earth, which was a lot of fun.

The problem was that, by the time I really got the hang of designing for that particular game, the scenario design community would be in its decline. I couldn't catch up and by the time I was ready to make something worthwhile people had moved on.

Empires: Dawn of the Modern World was different for me. I bought the game when it first came out and immediately looked into design. I discovered that I was very familiar with the editor because it had the same framework as Empire Earth.

I cannot tell you how many countless hours, days, weeks of my life I spent designing scenarios. I was sure this time I could create something and had enough experience to make a great scenario/campaign.

I worked on a few, such as one about Sekigahara, two battles from Napoleon's Egypt campaign, and a few others, but never finished them.

My pride and joy was going to be an RPG called "Heretic". In it, a crusader, condemned for being a heretic, escapes his confinement and returns to his homeland of Flanders. Finding that the kingdom is perfectly happy, in fact utopian, he decides to ignite a coup, simply for the hell of it. I created a very large map, and wrote pages of dialogue. It was going to have everything, side-quests, battles, equipment, music, and it was going to be fully voiced.

I was very proud of the story and took pride in the map design work. There were going to be countless locations, a lot of tricks from my design tricks were going to be employed, and I spend a good deal of time on the writing.

It was never finished. In fact, it was never close to being finished. But I still love it and am proud of it. I even considered converting it to other venues, such as the games I do work for now.

I kept a close eye on the community until I heard the news that the site was being archived. It's always a very sad thing when a community you felt a part of drifts into obscurity. It's just a game, it's just scenario designing, but both of those things were very much so a part of my life.

The game had a lot of great designers, Gordon Farrell, _o0XxX0o_, and Talon Karrde to name a few. There were some great scenarios released and ones I simply couldn't wait to play. I think unfortunately this community was not around long enough to work up a magnum opus - a scenario or campaign that raised the standards as other design communities had eventually achieved.

I watched quietly as the site became archived and felt sad, and eventually moved on. The real shame of it was that the game had so much potential to be great, but for any number of reasons remained a small community, though dedicated.

Every so often I would "dust off" my Empires game and look at my old scenarios.

I was very encouraged to see another small website pop up dedicated to this game and hoped eventually this site would come back.

Just today, I randomly looked at an article about this game and clicked a link and saw Empires Heaven was back up. I was amazed and quite amused. I used to check the website every day, stopping when it was not updated as often, and didn't visit for years eventually. Finding it today was like running into an old friend.

I had to look through computer backup disks that were years old to find my password and log into the forums to write this.

I guess really I just wanted to say how much fun I really had designing for this game and being a member of this community, though a typically quiet one.

I don't know how active the site is. I don't know who is still designing, if any of the great designers are still around, or any of that. But, whoever is still designing, whoever is still out there, I really want to say best of luck to you.

Good luck to all of you and cheers,

Phantom Designer
Stainless Steel Studios
posted 02-06-09 10:43 PM EDT (US)     1 / 3       
Hi PD, and welcome back. I think you said it best that this community, and game, simply didn't last long enough for the real scenario gems to see the light of day. I still think the Titan engine provides the best editor, and resources, for designers to create scenarios and even entirely new game experiences.

I know without a doubt, and I'm sure you do too, that if this game and community had thrived longer we would have completed the unfinished work that still sits on our hard drives.

For me personally the entire EE/Empires era was a fun and literally life-changing time period for me, simply because of the editor that was provided in EE. I live on the east coast instead of the west coast, I'm married to the person I'm married to and have a baby all because I chose to buy EE instead of Civ 3 one day, setting off a chain of unlikely events.

I suppose the question many people would have to be interested (or at least, download and play) these unfinished works in order to bring people back to finish them? 10? 100? 1000? It's sad to say but, when your time is as precious as mine is these days you need a good reason (and motivation) to spend the time to complete them.

At any rate, I don't think I knew you very well back in the hay day but it's good to see old faces around here nonetheless!
EEH Seraph
posted 02-06-09 11:43 PM EDT (US)     2 / 3       
Hey PD. Nice to see people returning, even if only for a bit of history.

And I know the feelings you guys have voiced. Empires: DMW was my first game that I ever played on PC and friends from there told me to look into Rise and Fall. From the Rise and Fall site, I found Heavengames and from there all these games that I could play (and Empires Heaven, which I hadn't known about) and am now a fairly hardcore gamer. To think how different I'd be without Empires starting my gaming is absolutely mind boggling. Its a great game, and its truly a pity it didn't get the fanbase it deserved.

"It seems to me the humour of Sails is so dry you could strike a match on it and it would be the humour that caught fire." - Friend of Old
posted 02-07-09 03:23 PM EDT (US)     3 / 3       
Phantom, even though I am a new member of this community, I am aware of your contributions to Empires and your work has been very impressive to say the least. I think that we're beginning to see a rise in the number of members (both returning and new members such as myself) and in site activity, so I definitely think that your return would be warranted.

I personally consider you to be a legend of Scenario Design, and I'm just about ready to begin publishing some of my work, so your criticism would be very much wanted. Basically, I think that I speak for everyone that we want you too come back.

Empires Heaven could use more designers like you.... :-)

[This message has been edited by CptIronMike (edited 02-07-2009 @ 03:24 PM).]

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