The Charge Of The Light Brigade
Posted on 04/22/04 @ 11:30 PM (updated 07/24/04
||Empires: Retail Release
(1) Cinematic presenting entire charge, and events leading up to it.
(2) High degree of historic accuracy.
(3) Background info, maps, pictures compiled into an accompanying webpage.
(4) A README file for technical issues.
(5) Installation of the scenario and support files made easy with an installer program.
Version 281: fixed a few things mentioned below-
worked on opening Charge cinematic
fixed Heavy Brigade ownership trigger
improved odds (added some artillery/infantry reserves);
made it a .zip file wiht just the scenario, rather than the self-installing .exe with all the historical background such as units, map, dialog, etc.
for other fixes/improvements since 1.8 rating, see below
|Author||Comments & Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
just a question, but wtf is up with this being an .exe file? I mean, seriously now. Why?! It is completely unnecessary. And, on top of making it even harder than it should be, it says that the file path it wants to install to (C:Program FilesEmpires Dawn of the Modern WorldDataScenarios) doesn't exist. Of course it doesn't, you fool! You completely missed the PARENT folder! You know what the parent folder is, right? Activision, remember it? Once a guy manages to install it, it creates another folder in his scenarios folder full of files, some of which are invalid and won't open at all. And if any of this is, by any chance, going to be in a story.instructions screen, guess what. you won't see it! This is a scenario, not a campaign!
The Charge of the Light Brigade is one of the most famous episodes of the Crimean War, and one that has inspired poets and novelists for 150 years. This scenario does it no justice, presenting a chaotic, bugged, and at times plain laughable version of the most heroic/stupid military action of the 1850s.
The scenario opens with a cinematic sequence depicting the events leading up to the charge. We are treated to wildly swinging camera angles that could induce motion sickness, hilariously ridiculous speeded-up sections, and more - including a noticeably faked sequence where the cannon kill off the charging Light Brigade. The cannonballs' impacts and the dying horses do not coincide, and it's quite funny to see a whole lot of the cavalry die in synchrony. The actual battle is similarly random and confusing. Your men are mingled among the mass of allied cavalry, and it is impossible to tell them apart in the chaos of battle. They are also spread over a large area, and you cannot effectively manage them (if at all). If you let them carry on with their charge, they'll all die within a few minutes, and if you divert them, you only prolong the process. Your objective is to "Recover the cannon", but no more are you told, and it seems very strange as to how you recover cannon. You can only recover some of the cannon at most, and even then there is no victory. Once all my men had died, there was no defeat message or event. I saw that my population counter showed 12, and so I searched the (entirely visible) map for them, finally locating a tiny group of cavalry and a cannon at the very back of the battlefield. I killed them off, and still no defeat. The lack of victory/defeat triggers makes the scenario lack any purpose whatsoever, and the lack of any inherent fun makes this field's score a very poor 1.
The incredible amount of enemy troops makes your fight a futile one - as in reality - but the objective (which, incidentally, is only shown in a chat message and not in an objective box) seems to indicate that you are expected to succeed. The author's purpose is unclear, and either way, the fight is hideously uneven. Another very poor 1.
The Crimean War is not a subject often broached by scenario designers, and is a very interesting subject indeed, being one of the few wars of Britain's Victorian period. However, it is badly implemented here. Some interesting touches like the renaming of all the troop types (Scots Greys for some mysteriously inactive cavalry to the south, for example) and the naming of individual officers and commanders contrasts with the unimaginative battle itself, and the low fun-factor detracts from the interest piqued by the premise of the scenario. The possibility of a high score in this category is nullified by the implementation. A disappointing 3.
Map Design: 2
The map shows improvement over previous designs, with some mixing of terrains
and the like, but still features blank expanses of Grass Base 1. The fact that
the whole map is visible (once again) means that you can see all the blank areas around the main battlefield. Areas like the heights (which are on the battlefield itself) are under-detailed, and the author once again seems to be relying on the units to provide pleasing detail in the map. A below-average 2.
The storyline is the well-told tale of the Charge, and utilises extracts of Tennyson's poem to further the plot. But these extracts, which could have been used to powerful dramatic effect, are not. They are only employed twice, and in place of more of this we get clunky dialogue. The author does not seem to know that units can be specified for the dialogue to originate from, and instead puts "Captain Nolan:" and the like in front of the dialogue. But this is inconsistent, and half the time we're meant to guess who's speaking. The dialogue contains mis-spellings and misuse of titles; the author seems confused about how to employ the aristocratic titles of the various commanders, and uses the wrong forms of them on most occasions. The instructions are almost non-existent and you spend most of the playable section in total and utter confusion. The only reason this category receives a 2 is because of the poem extracts, which are even very slightly misquoted.
A very disappointing scenario from an author that does not seem to learn from his mistakes. Take in the comments, spend time on the scenario, test it out to perfection, and most of all stop arrogantly claiming that because it's an "artist's tool" you don't need to make everything perfect, while using your 'artistic temperament' as an excuse for abstract terrain design and the like.
Thanks for the feedback.
To Do List:
-"Parent File"- missed that one- because my installation has a custom path. Reran Empires installation to find the missing piece. Found it.
-"why .exe file"-- the files are in an installer which will install the .scn, the README, the background webpage, and the webpage support folder and all it's files.
-"use of Installer"- for easy installation of the many background files. (default path was corrected for those who actually use it)
-"Wildly swinging camera angles"- toned down a bit.
-"Speed up section"- keep. It would take too long to follow Capt. Nolan from point A to point B. I've tried to slow him down again a few different ways to no avail. Lucky it adds comic relief.
-"Faked cannon killing of charging Brigade- timing off and quite funny looking"- Addressed. I was thinking units don't die or take damage during cinematics, but was just reminded of the 'allow kill' option. Meanwhile solved both funny and timing problems with nicely timed GE's. I'll turn 'allow kill' also.
-"unimaginative battle"-- true enough. The battle was an after thought to the cinematic. Working on- I've seen a lot on good ideas out there.
-"Actual Battle Random and Confusing"- sounds like reality. But added objective box here to address that problem- in effect, restart scenario and take control BEFORE the fatal charge. I don't think anyone can win AFTER the British were decimated.
-"Impossible to tell men apart in battle"- just like reality. But click and drag or create groups, and problem solved. The design solution would be to use the neon colors for units- this is a realism vs. fun problem. If I could only change unit colors after the cinematics.
-"Units spread over a large area, can't manage them"- Restart scenario and begin BEFORE the fatal charge, when the British and French were mauled, and while they are still concentrated.
-"If you let them carry on with the charge, they'll all die within a few minutes"- of course. Recommended- restart and escape from the cinematics before the fatal charge. The British did not win the fight either, after that fiasco.
-"Objectives Problem"- added objectives box.
-"No Victory condition"- overlooked. added.
-"The incredible amount of enemy troops makes your fight a futile one"- added Florence Nightingale (a contemporary) to heal your troops.
-"Scots Greys Inactive"- and so they were during the engagement. It doesn't mean you can't take control of them. They now do their part in the finished cinematic.
-"Map under-detailed"- have been doing more landscaping.
-"Map visibility on"- necessary during the cinematics, or you can't see the Russians. Also, the battlefield was barely a mile by a half-mile. The better British officers knew where the Russians were. The enemy here would have even MORE of an advantage. But there seems to be a small consensus here as to the detriment of visibility on. So I'll try it off.
-"Clunky dialogue"- taken from actual dialog. No change.
-"The author (me) does not seem to know that units can be specified for the dialogue to originate from, and instead puts "Captain Nolan" etc."- Didn't know it could be done without taking over camera control and showing only horse butt, so I worked around it. Cleaning it up.
-"The dialogue contains mis-spellings and misuse of titles"- spellings and title usage taken from actual dialog. No change here.
-"Poem extracts misquoted"- again extracts from original poem, not adapted versions. ("The Charge of the Light Brigade" poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson included in accompanying background info). No change here.
-"poem extracts fail to add drama"-- did some additional work here.
-"Poem only employed twice"-- Inserted two other good segments in appropriate places.
-"Take in the comments, spend time on the scenario, test it out to perfection"- the first two I can improve on, but I disagree on the third (perfection) on two counts: 1. The scenario would never be released; 2. When you get to a point where it seems pretty much done, and all the major elements are there, and you see yourself either releasing it or sitting on it, it's better to release it and hope there aren't too many overlooked major issues, and even then, maybe get some friendly feedback.
-"author does not learn from his mistakes"- the mistake is yours. Go see the reason why.
-"and most of all stop arrogantly claiming"- Now I see the source of your sourpuss demeanor! though your feedback is appreciated nonetheless.
[Edited on 07/24/04 @ 02:53 AM]
-Faked cannon killing of charging Brigade- necessary- units don't die or take damage during cinematics.
units CAN take damage during cinematics, you just have to enable it.
-Actual Battle Random and Confusing- sounds like reality. But added objective box here to address that problem.
-Impossible to tell men apart in battle- just like reality. But click and drag or create groups, and problem solved.
like all game designers who make historical games, you have to balance realism vs fun for a winning combination.
-Units spread over a large area, can't manage them- Concentrate your forces.
That's the problem, you can't concentrate because they ARE over a large area and by the time you select them, they're dead.
-If you let them carry on with the charge, they'll all die within a few minutes- of course. Recommended- restart and escape from the cinematics before the charge.
The whole point of a cinematic is to introduce the scenario, let set it up so you get completely screwed before you can even begin playing. this goes against all designing principles.
-Map visibility on- debating- the battlefield was barely a square mile. The better British officers knew where the Russians were. The enemy would have MORE of an advantage. Debate over. No change here.
a totally revealed map is complete idiocy. if you want to simulate knowledge of enemy positions, use flares or something. its no fun to see the entire map.
-The author (me) does not seem to know that units can be specified for the dialogue to originate from, and instead puts "Captain Nolan"- the problem here is that if a unit is specified, it takes over camera control, and all that is seen is horse head or horse butt. No change here.
uhmm...wow. why not learn and change? it doesn't HAVE to take over camera control just set the slider one more notch to the left, and it won't change the camera. it'll end up a better product.
[Edited on 04/25/04 @ 12:03 PM]
Thanks again. Good points.
More To Do List:
-"units CAN take damage during cinematics, you just have to enable it."-- finally found the option box. Meantime added graphic effects so it won't look so rediculous.
-"you have to balance realism vs fun for a winning combination."-- In this case I avoided bright unit colors (like neon green, etc.) for the sake of the subdued realism. I'll reconsider for the sake of sanity I mean fun.
_"(your units) ARE over a large area and by the time you select them, they're dead."-- Added new fix in the Objective Box- recommending that the player restart the scenario and exit the cinematic BEFORE the fatal charge.
-"uhmm...wow. why not learn and change?"-- I got comfy using a favorite but limited set of tools from the editor. Now exploring more tools and learning from feedback.
-"it (dialog camera) doesn't HAVE to take over camera control just set the slider one more notch to the left, and it won't change the camera."-- Not fixed yet. didn't find slider, but found drop-down box. Difficult to retrofit. Camera selections go back to default or get scrambled for some reason.
-"The whole point of a cinematic is to introduce the scenario"-- don't be so narrow-minded! The whole point of THIS piece was to make a cinematic of the ENTIRE engagement. That's why gameplay was just an afterthought and so lousy! Will put said in a dialog box to give the player the head's up, and improve gameplay.
[Edited on 05/05/04 @ 10:56 PM]
The background files aren't used at all in the scenario, as they are only used in campaign files. You don't see them at all if played as a scenario.
Your suggestion to restart the scenario and exit the cinematic seems to me like lunacy - and your idea of having in the objectives box to exit the cinematic before the charge is even worse, as the box does not display during cinematic mode.
"spellings and title usage taken from the period. No change here."
Aide was not spelt without the 'e', and when titles such as Earl were used in conjunction with military ranks, other forms such as 'the Honourable' or 'Lord' were used instead.
"again extracts from original poem, not doctored versions."
I said that you misquoted them slightly - 'all in the valley of death' instead of 'into the vallley of death', and so on.
"the mistake is yours. Go see the reason why."
I see no explanation - please, elaborate.
"Now I see the source of your sourpuss demeanor!"
This isn't a 'sourpuss demeanour', it's giving advice on how to stop you seeming so pretentious.
Thanks for more input.
-"background files"-- are all put into an accompanying webpage I created- the material I used for research- to be viewed at leisure with an Internet browser like Internet Explorer or Mozilla.
-"restarting scenario lunacy"-- Not at all here. There are two aspects of this scenario: (1) watching how the British destroyed themselves; (2) taking control BEFORE they destroy themselves. You can't do both in one run, unless you're a tactical genius.
-"Aide (sp)"-- I'll use A.D.C.
-"Title Usage"-- taken from accompanying research material.
-"all in the valley of death"-- taken from accompanying research material.
-"the mistake is yours, go see the reason why"-- ignore it. The mistake was mine (dialog taking control of camera if set to a character)- I didn't see the optional camera drop-down box.
-"Objective Unrealistic, British never recovered the cannon"-- Perfectly realistic. If the British plan hadn't been screwed up, they would have easily achieved their intended objectives- the cannon and redoubts on the near edge of the Causeway Heights. The Russians had already abandoned them, guessing the British intent. But that would make for far too short a scenario, so I made all the cannon surrounding the valley the objective. I'm part East Euro, part West Euro, and live in neither, so I have no favorites here.
[Edited on 05/06/04 @ 06:52 AM]
The actual charge of the Light Brigade was only a small episode in the battle of Balaclava. In the real charge the british never recovered the cannons so the objective you put is unrealisitic.
The funny thing about this war is that the combined forces of the Ottomen Empire(turks), British, and the French could take some cannons from the Russian Army. I am Russian mylself and i still find it pretty sad.
[Edited on 05/03/04 @ 07:52 PM]
I detect some Russian pride there! The British Officer's idea of commanding was command by day, go back to the yacht by night and take a hot bath and have a nice drink! (Cardigan did this).
A few things fixed:
Heavy Brigades- the player couldn't take control of them. They just stood around. Now the player can take ownership.
Added some British cannon and infantry in reserve for less impossible odds.