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Subterfuge v1.1

Submitted by Perfeks
This bundle is marked as approved. It works and satisfies the submission rules.
Subterfuge

-Introduction (2019 update)-
I introduce you an update of an old map of mine (it was originally called "Investigation"). It was very popular among its very small community (actually only my friends and some random people joining our games and begging to re-host it), but some flaws remained in the game for years: there were some bugs, it had some balancing issues, the number of players (2v2) wasn't very appealing and one team was actually less fun to play for most people. This is why, years later, I decided to completely remake this map, trying to get rid of all these negative aspects while also introducing a complete reskin (the original theme was about police officers against serial killers).



-Short description-
Demons must kill innocent civilians in a small town without getting caught by Demon Hunters. The Demons have all kinds of tricks to escape and mislead the Demon Hunters, but those have superior power and a whole army to keep the town safe.
  • Asymmetrical game
  • 2 teams
  • 2-8 players (auto-balanced)
  • games of 20 minutes max.



-Description-
Subterfuge is a short asymmetrical game in which two teams compete for different objectives by using all kinds of tricks and stratagems. Here, it is not about clashing amounts of damage against amounts of HP and whoever has more wins, but it relies mostly on subtle things like using tricky abilities, taking advantage of the line of sight, outmaneuvering your opponents and all the mind game around this (deceiving, bluffing and countering).

The game takes place in a small town filled with innocent people wandering around. The first team, the Demons, must kill a certain number of these poor souls before dawn to win the game. Each player controls a Demon and whenever it attacks a civilian, he will call for help (which translates into a ping on the mini-map). The other team, the Demon Hunters, who have superior means (a whole army in addition to their hero, actually), must stop the Demons by reacting to these pings. They win if they slay all the Demons or if dawn comes (which takes 20 minutes from the beginning) before the kill count is reached.

The Demons get gold and experience by killing humans. They can place Demonic Portals, the only place where they can spend their gold to buy items or units. They must be placed carefully, because they must be at the same time accessible and hidden from the Demon Hunters. The main deceiving ability Demons can use is Shape shifting, which turns them into a regular civilian, so they can wander around in plain sight and try not to look suspicious. Other tricks include the Mirror Image ability (which can be used to lure or escape) and different manners to turn invisible and escape dangerous situations. Also, a very important point is that the map is always fully visible for Demons. This gives them a huge advantage at escaping the Demon Hunters, but those also have some invisibility alternatives, so it does not mean they can see everything.

The Demon Hunters get gold and experience by collecting Lost Souls, which are dropped by civilians upon death, which means that tracking Demons (without catching them) is sufficient to become stronger. The basic strategy used by Demon Hunters is to use all their units to do all kind of maneuvers (walling, circling, patrolling) in order to corner the Demons. As the map is tile-based, it is rather easy to accomplish theses by placing units on nodes (road intersections). All units are important, but the hero (the Demon Hunter) is by far the most important piece on the chessboard, because he is the only one able to get rid of the Demons' tricks (revealing a shape shifted Demon, banishing a mirror image, revealing invisible units...). He also has his own tricks like teleporting anywhere on the map, revealing an area of the map or burning the target's mana. Noticing patterns in your opponents' moves can help you discover their build or locate their Demonic Portal (if you find it, you can set a trap there for example).

Generally, the success to this game is to try to read your opponent, discover his build and counter it. Demon builds can be sorted in 3 categories: fighting, evading and hiding. These builds can respectively be countered by 3 Demon Hunter build categories: fighting, chasing and scouting. To achieve this, all kinds of situational items and units are available for sale and the 3 hero attributes will serve that purpose as well.



-General feeling-
Playing as a Demon usually implies experiencing high stress (trust me on this one, this is really what people enjoyed about it) and feeling superior (repeatedly fooling the Demon Hunters is infinitely satisfying), whereas playing as a Demon Hunter implies experiencing high frustration (repeatedly arriving too late, seeing your target escape low HP, realizing you were chasing a mirror image etc...), but prevailing eventually (because good guys always win) feels really rewarding, especially if your plan was smart.

This map is really not "noob-friendly", so expect heavy whining if you host it and there's a skill gap between players. Balancing such an "unstable" game is really hard and people from both teams will often complain of it being "unfair". I'm still working hard on making it as balanced as possible.



-Miscellaneous-
  • All abilities and items are usually described in a brief and clear manner while also specifying exact data (e.g. range) for experts in Warcraft3 that are often lacking. There is also usually a little tip that explains how it can/should be used.
  • The game always balances its difficulty according to the number of players in each team (or at least tries to). This means that playing with any kind of players combination should be fine (1v1, 1v2, 2v1, 4v1 etc...).
  • If you start the game alone, an other fictive player in the opposing team will be created and you will have control over him in order to be able to see what this game is about ("testing mode").
  • The map features some kind of "editor protection" (sorry about that). However, I'll be glad to answer any question about its implementation and I'll probably release it as unprotected whenever I don't intend to keep it up to date anymore.
  • As all of my maps, no external resources have been used (except for the map preview made by myself).



-Conclusion-
I hope you'll enjoy this game and keep in mind that any feedback is welcome (as long as it is constructive). I'd also love to read your funny experiences and your ideas to improve the game.



-Keywords-
#demons #demon-hunters #trick #lure #stealth #hide #murder #disguise #shape-shifting #scout



-Changelog-
---v1.0 (09.07.2019)---
complete remake of the old map "Investigation"

---v1.1 (21.07.2019)---
  • Demons must now be next to a Demonic Portal to summon a Ghoul. It was too easy to overwhelm the Demon Hunters by spawning Ghouls everywhere (assuming you have multiple Demonic Portals) without taking any risk (you could just hide anywhere). I still want to keep a macro alternative to play this game, but having to stay at buy range of a Demonic Portal seems more reasonable.
  • The Remove ability of the Demon Hunters' units has been reworked. It is now called Recall and will order your unit to go back to the town center where they will be removed from the game. One could abuse the old ability by just removing your units just before they died (assuming Demons chose to fight), leaving no gold/experience. The ability also has new less confusing icon (thanks Deepstrasz).
  • Far Sight: mana cost reduced from 30 to 25, duration reduced from 5 seconds to 4 seconds
  • Sleep: mana cost reduced from 30 to 25
  • Various changes in tooltips
  • The townsfolk is no longer an "official team", so the map is now correctly labelled as an 8-player map.
  • Bug fix: All units are now invulnerable during the preparation time (recruited units weren't).
  • Bug fix: When a Demon uses Shape Shifting, all players who had it selected now have the new unit selected (Demon -> Civilian or Civilian -> Demon) and not only the player owning the Demon. This makes it more comfortable in particular when testing the game in solo mode (because you may not be the owner of the Demon).
Previews
Contents

Subterfuge v1.1 (Map)

Reviews
Moderator
17:39, 13th Aug 2010 ap0calypse: Approved
  1. Vongola20th

    Vongola20th

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    lols. i love this map but i realised that the police can simply abuse and go around killing civilians. the most they had their money reduced. so i would like to know if the police kills a civilian randomly, will the killer gain 1 extra kill? i hope so, so that the police would not abuse and go around killing civilians to uncover the disguised killer...
     
  2. Perfeks

    Perfeks

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    Of course, a dead civilian is a dead civilian (killed by the police or not). So yes, killing civilians as police will help the killer^^. In addition, killing civilians won't help finding the killer, because new ones will spawn. And keep in mind that the killer can easily operate in stealth mode (even during the whole game).
     
  3. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

    Map Reviewer

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    Just copying my comments from the other deprecated thread:

    The demon should be automatically selected after transitioning from demon mode to civilian mode and the other way around. You also lose the control group. Maybe, create a sort of Bear Form spell instead?
    Funny how you've used a plus icon for removing units :D

    Definitely a fun map. Just want to check the first question before I decide what to do.

    Well done!
     
  4. Perfeks

    Perfeks

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    Hi deepstrasz, thank you for testing my map! You made a good point when you mentioned that I could've simply updated this map instead of making a new one.

    Actually it is done through a trigger. If you play as a demon and use shape shifting, your new character is automatically selected. The thing is, if you played in testing mode (solo), it is possible that the demon you're playing is actually not yours, but some other player's (e.g. you're playing as Player 1 (Red) and the demon is Player 2's (Blue) with shared control). That means the demon/civilian gets re-selected for the owner of that unit and not you. If you want to experience what really happens, you should play the map as Player 2 (Blue) and the control of the demon hunters will be through shared Player 1 (Red). There are other inconsistent behaviors when playing in testing mode: for example if you summon ghouls with the shared demon unit, they will be owned by you (demon hunter) instead, which is awkward, because killing with them will say that demon hunters killed an innocent civilian. I didn't bother fixing that, because it doesn't impact the game in real conditions, but as it can be quite confusing (and may result in a bad experience) for a player testing the map, I will see what I can do.

    However, you're right about losing the control group. I also don't like the fact that you can use shape shifting to make enemies untarget you (that's why I implemented the "revealed" buff preventing you from using it). I'll try with the Bear Form spell and see if it's better.

    Good point :D I don't want to import any resource (like a button icon) and somehow had no inspiration among the available icons. I'll try to find a less confusing one. If you have any suggestion...
     
  5. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

    Map Reviewer

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    From the top of my head, the Unload icon?
     
  6. purparisien

    purparisien

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    Dude your map is no unbalanced. The fact that the demons can see the whole map is so unbalanced.
     
  7. Perfeks

    Perfeks

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    I guess you mean it is not balanced? I think it is way more interesting for the demons to have full map vision. Otherwise it would rely mostly on luck: you take a path and hope that the Demon Hunters didn't take it.

    I'd like to know your experience. Did you play as a demon hunter and had trouble to catch a demon, because you had the feeling that he could avoid you too easily by reading all your moves? That's kind of the idea of the game. You must catch him by surrounding him with your superior forces and leaving him no choice. If you'd like to play more "undercover", consider recruiting spies and buying the cloak of invisibility.
     
  8. leso

    leso

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    Played several matches recently. The game is neat and runs smoothly. 5 games was enough to understand what should both teams be focused on. I was fortunate having seasoned, knowing players on both sides.
    At the first blush, the map itself looks pretty simple. But, the more you're getting into the more the beauty of the game is unfolding. Invisible but tangible toe-to-toe interaction of competing teams called mind games is the real meat of the game. The player is offered with a toolset that has a fair amount of spells and units made for sole and specific purposes and ones that usable at anytime.
    While playing in demons team, the underlying thought process is like you making your opponent to spend more resources than you do by deceiving, faking and, in general, playing tricks at opponents' gaze. Demon hunters, in turn, have to keep their mind clear, don't fell for the tricks and don't waste their precious abilities in vain. Through these small victories, through constant outwitting your opponent you move toward your team's goal and ensuring the further victory.

    No doubt there's more than meets the eye.
    Three ways of demons' leveling caught me by surprise. They work. They offer different gamestyles which, in turn, adds well to replayability. Demon hunters have three pathways too, but due their mostly reactionary gameplay these ways pale in comparison of power of their numerous units. Fortunately, the units aren't mere cannon fodder, they're versatile and foster a flexible approach. Be it a squishy ranged damager – archer, a robust knight, a weaker footman with slow poison or always invisible and food-wise pricey one — all of them have their use. I love that.
    There was no situation where one of the teams was winning rampantly and carelessly. Nobody was winning by a landslide. There remained intrigue and tension until the end all the time and this is just great :infl_thumbs_up:
    It's easy to get tanked by misusing your skills and the opponent will punish you sooner or later for that. So, this is the first thing that you learn and start to mastering. With that said, a typical match is that where your attention is drawn by small things. This is what makes the map to stand out.

    Indeed, devil in the detail. Untouched ability to kill citizens for demon hunters, particularly for me, appears as a sign of an open-minded map developer.
    I find it amusing to have an option dealing with a great risk of being punished by pushing through toward opponents' goal in hefty situations while at the same time saving mana for a better moment in return.
    Concerning the items, I've tried only the one that allows demons to resurrect and I deem it's too cheap. Only 10 kills to bring an ally to life? Probably I'm wrong since I hadn't time to play with all the items to understand their power or necessity. So lets save the best for last :grin:
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  9. Perfeks

    Perfeks

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    Thank you for comment leso! It looks like you already know the game pretty well and you describe it even better than I could (I should even consider quoting you in a map description update if you allow me). Feedbacks like yours are really what empower developers like me, because most of us spend a lot of time in the process, so we're always happy to know it entertained some players (which is why we make maps in the first place).

    This one goes right to my heart! I originally built this map (something like 10 years ago) thinking "Let's just give players as many things/abilities/opportunities as possible and see what happens!" (having no idea myself how they would be used). I noticed very quickly that players can get very creative and find their own play style.
    • Demon Hunters (originally policemen) would leave a kind of obvious gap on the map by scattering their units everywhere else and would set a kind of invisible trap at that very place.
    • Demons (originally killers) would find a way to become strong enough by stacking damage items (usually designed to only have one and then being able to one-shot civilians) and used them to fight my hero (you can imagine my reaction when this happened :D ). I didn't even consider this, but it did happen because I left the possibility to do so open. I loved it so much that I had to include it more to the gameplay.
    • More recently, a friend of mine (really skilled in the RTS genre) decided that he would use his macro management skills by spending every gold he had to summon ghouls (he noticed it costed only 1g). It became a complete overwhelming apocalypse in a matter of seconds and I was defeated. I originally designed the ghouls to be more like something that could get you a kill or two and draw the attention somewhere else, but I still remember editing the unit and read "stock limit?" and I thought "nah, maybe someone will love them so much and will need more!". I had to patch it a bit after the obvious flaw, but it is still a decent powerful strategy now!
    Anyway, as a generic side note in game development, I've always thought that "blacklisting" abuses is way better than "whitelisting" intended behaviors. In doubt, leave the possibility open and see the players make the game fun for you. Their creativity might even accidentally make the core gameplay of your game. And indeed, killing civilians as demon hunter is an interesting feature. It is also hilarious (as demon) to see the demon hunters lose their temper and think they see you everywhere!

    It is quite cheap indeed. I really wanted to encourage players to revive, because games are very frustrating when dying means you have to stop and watch the others have fun indefinitely. And considering how the game is played, dying could happen really quickly for a beginner (and bringing new players to like the game would be really hard). I still have to find the right balance between making the game competitive/balanced vs casual/noob-friendly. As a demon hunter, when someone revives I just think "well, at least it's 10g that won't be spent in painful items" (because yes, some of them can really make a difference).
     
  10. leso

    leso

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    I really think it's my obligation to encourage creators that willfully choose to embody new ideas by any means instead of going on a path of lesser resistance and contributing to some already established and populated map genres. Not to belittle the latter way, I admit it's not easy to compete with other devs for players, but we would all agree that having no playerbase at the project's launch is way more severe and off-the-charts situation.
    Also, it's painful to see how players blatantly ignore new maps nowadays. Seems like they lost sound curiosity and their pioneering spirit has vanished off as well as attention span got diminished.
    But, hey, there's always a silver lining. This kind of maps are like fine wine, they get only better with age. With regular hosting they slowly but surely gather their playerbases. In which the players are willing and more invested into the game, at times to that degree that they become a vital part of a project.


    Back to the gameplay. There's a worth mentioning Halt ability. Along with Holy Light and regular attacks, it's made yet pretty simple but in the unique way for blowing Demon's cover as he tries to mimic civilian behavior. Particularly, it is turning opponents' literal missteps into tactical ones.
    I noticed, you can fake teleportation casting and cancel it without losing mana. It creates tension. That's neat. Maybe it's even too much, since it costs nothing for Demon Hunters.

    I've checked the items. Some of them provide unique effects like, for instance, immunity to slow effects (and, hey, what a luxury to have a separate mode solely made for testing. How many other maps could brag about having it?:peasant-cool:).
    Scepter of healing seems pretty useless for its price. Especially when the tooltip says "prevent civilians from dying". With 800 AoE? – Not really. Would you mind making it global, thus it could negate ghoul impact in killing at least. Or consider adding tangible bonus armor that would make it harder to kill civilians, resulting as an additional Demon's hit to finish them?
    More technical note. If you missclicked and placed Demonic Portal wrongly, canceling won't give the item back.


    Your map has similar lines of thought with our one plus we spent some time learning what the players feel about the game and how they describe it. That's why.

    You're more than welcome.:peasant-wink:

    The gap between fresh new and seasoned players is striking. Mostly, it's because of counter-intuitive basis of the gameplay. For example, in our project we intentionally chose a path of not-appealing to masses at all. No wonder, that heavily steamrolled popularity of our map so the price was paid. But on the other side of a coin, you won't see intentionally unbalanced stuff that knowing players would like to legally use. We stick to our guns and keep balancing around strong and knowing playerbase no matter what.


    I like your approach on making noob-friendly elements. They're rather subtle yet they work.
    • Items' sell value is 90% of the original price makes spacious room for mistakes.
    • Tooltips have short and pithy instructions highlighting expected usage. Unexpected usage the players will learn later, while immersing.
    • The fact that there's limit of 8 players per lobby makes the latter look more appealing, let alone that a halfway filled lobby is already enough to get the game started.

    Darn, dev memoirs of yours are hilarious. I think all of the map devs from small to big had experienced it either way before.


    Finally, I'm glad my message warmed the heart of like-minded one.
    What are your further goals in regards of the project? Would you congregate and gather more people. Or maybe you're busy for now and have put it on hold.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  11. Perfeks

    Perfeks

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    That's pretty cool! I didn't even know that :D Yeah, maybe I should add a cooldown to it, I don't know if faking the spell will trigger it, though.

    Thanks for the feedback. I kind of added a lot of stuff with approximated cost without truly testing everything deeply. I'll see what I can do to make it worth buying. If it becomes global, it might a bit too strong, but I could try a huge range and/or a significant armor bonus.

    I didn't know about that. Maybe I can consider a way of taking it back. It might be interesting even as a gameplay feature if you think your portal has been exposed.

    What project is that? I'd love to try it someday!

    I intend to keep it up to date, balance it and add features by collecting feedbacks such as yours ;) I am indeed kind of busy for now, so I won't be able to host it a lot and gather people, but working on the map itself is not that time consuming considering the current state of the project! Maybe I'll be more active when Reforged is released :)
     
  12. Jackdaw

    Jackdaw

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    Great map! Investigation was one of my favorites, and while this one feels and plays really different, it has the same soul in it. Any plans of re-releasing Investigation for the last patch though? While we had a blast with this map, lots of people actually prefer the Investigation, if only to rob the bank. :xxd: Anyway, I hope you keep working on this, it has some solid skeleton, that's for sure.
     
  13. Perfeks

    Perfeks

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    I don't think I will go back to killer/police theme, but I might actually introduce some equivalents to the old fun gameplay mechanics (like robbing the bank) :)