- Jul 29, 2008
Based on Magic: the Gathering's coloured mana system, contestants were to design a faction that represented the philosophies associated with 2 colours
The Sentinels of Evolution
This presents more as two distinct themes that intersect occasionally rather than being a single design. The idea of being able to dynamically adjust my army composition certainly fits into the prompt and in practice is compelling. Even removing consideration for art direction from the conversation this doesn't feel polished though. You shined through with the general idea of dynamic transformation but nothing else felt that cohesive in practice.
Combat units are overwhelmed with complicated abilities - they just do too much. Among the six combat units you have nine unique abilities which ends up becoming a bit much to manage. I did enjoy Cluster Rockets but it feels too limited being restricted to building targets. I don't get a particular sense of tactical synergy in how units are designed beyond their ability to adapt to my enemies' unit composition. It didn't feel bad but there wasn't a well defined sense of roles. Lumber gathering seems needlessly complex as well. If we think about balance for a moment being able to instantly swap unit types at no charge is also quite overpowered.
There's not much here I have not seen before. Upgrades are entirely standard, abilities are better but do not stand out, and the overall tech tree is unremarkable other than Lumber Synthesis. The core transformation concept is fairly standard albeit an appropriate way to accomplish your goal. I was surprised buildings weren't mobile or capable of transformation in some way. The core transformation implementation is also a bit boring which is not to say it needs to be a carnival of activity but it should have flair.
- Upgrade icons at the Armory Den have duplicate coordinate locations
Anorar Dictat of High Deeds
Holy abilities batman! The Mind Node is a daunting unit at first sight. The music is fitting but way too loud in terms of pace - I'm not in a dance club here. You'ver definitely captured a cohesive theme in the overall tech tree but also in how you created unique abilities such as Focused. This trait is quite interesting and you've implemented it in a way where I have meaningful control via the Concentrator and my enemy has a way to counter. Later the Siegver builds on that trait more with Severe Attention Deficit.
Only being to accomplish one task concurrently with the Mind Node feels bad. Gating tech with Mind Nodes was not a great move for flow. They are huge expensive structures. Beyond that creating a new one requires splitting which disables any other activities and leaves the original at half health. This affects the synergy of the race quite a lot as so much of what I can do relies on this building. I think you took tactical synergy literally when you created the Concentrator - such a simple unit but such a drastic impact. From a player perspective they are mandatory as I'm not sure the base damage of units makes up for their efficiency loss when retargeting constantly. Your race is interaction heavy for sure but you've managed to make it not feel overwhelming.
Emergency Plasma Potato is all I need to say here. The thought placed into innovative ideas, clever implementations, or creative concepts is outstanding. While the idea of an area building radius and central unit is not new the tech tree you've created around it certainly is. The risk/reward system you've designed gives me a sense of the value of units and draws me into exploring each unit. You expanded this creativity into your heroes with a few favorites being Tax Evasion and Spontaneous Arrival. I was also pleased to see this carried into the item shop particularly with the Magic Grenade.
- Accessing the build menu while in process of building breaks the system.
- Canceling a structure in progress leaves behind the Mine Node Builder dummy and the VFX
- Flying units seem to gain permanent Focused from being in range of a Concentrator
- Focused in general seems to have numerous edge cases where units can end up with permanent focus
- Split isn't checking for HP correctly. It appears I need to have full HP at the point I start training or it fails.
- You can end up using more food than you have via the Silver Plate transformations.
- Automated Hydra Silver Turret doesn't have a passive icon on the Elder
- You Only Live Once is unit target?
- Hop in Aura icon is missing
The Phoenix Flames
There's a clear aesthetic here but I think there is some lack in cohesiveness. Spells are either explicitly red or not for the most part. The Elemental Node would have been an appropriate place to demonstrate a fusing of these two colors. For example the Fire Meteor could have resurrected units on impact. Where you fall flat is demonstrating the two distinct colors and how they interact.
Having to build many food production buildings is rarely a good idea from a base building and player attention perspective. On a similar note having to build three separate halls is annoying due to space requirements. Maintenance is visually blinding. I would not say there's tactical synergy for the most part particularly among the core combat units where it should be present. On that note there's 14 unique abilities between the four Hall of Fury units - this is way too complicated to track during combat for either side.
I love the invulnerable summoned workers despite the simplicity of the idea - it's not something I've seen before. There's quite a few spells that are minimally changed from vanilla here. Most of the kit for Hall of Fury units are vanilla, as are most hero abilities. I would prefer you make a single unique hero rather than three in this state. Units from the Phoenix Forge all feel the same and have little to differentiate in function. One of the more unique aspects are the building abilities but again that's not a new idea. Other than Convergence Point they are standard abilities. Upgrades are also standard. Something that came to me would be having the Elemental Node be a unit that draws mana from a structure so the more of those structures the more mana. This way I could take the combat potential with me.
- Altar of Phoenix is missing clickable volume
- I think Gold Expedition is meant to have the summoning VFX as well?
- Fiery Tower is floating
Burnings Frost Souls Clan
I'm afraid this theme is confused. From an art perspective it's all over the board and the Despotist just don't fit at all. There's one unit with an evolution track. Units are for the most part either Red or not - there's not a connection.
You did much better here because there are a few abilities that work together. I found great utility in mixing Ice Pulse, Frost Grave, and Flame Splash. Later the Despotist was a fantastic unit to push with for the death bonus. There aren't any systems or methods units are tied together though overall. Looking at balance there are some issues with units being overtuned as well.
There are hardly any abilities that aren't slightly altered from vanilla. There's nothing innovative here but I can see there was a creative direction that fell flat in implementation. I encourage you to take a step back and think about what the core pillars of your race are. You were onto something with the Despotist.
- Tentacle does not have a placement preview
- Flame of Acheron is missing a clickable volume
- Despotist wolves are created at the rally point which allows me to make them appear in the enemy base =p
- Flame Slash tooltip is incorrect
- Blue Dragon from the P.F.G. counter does not have a lifespan
MyPad - Sentinels of Evolution (Blue/Green)
In true MyPad style, this faction seems to be some sort of blend between tech and magic - not in an MCU's Asgard kind of way but more in a 'these dragons learned toolmaking and reverse-engineered an abandoned Terran settlement... and they're trying their best'. It's rather haphazard and with more time I could see how this faction could come together aesthetically, but as it stands it's lacking visual cohesion in places. Despite this faction being an alternate-universe Night Elf Sentinels from the future, bears and dragons working together still feels completely random. Nevertheless, as far as the Blue/Green philosophy goes, this faction places mutation as its chief mechanic where your units change from one type to the other. Your green dragons can switch roles and supplement their flying abilities with weapons, and the bears will chameleon their way into various roles like assassins or fighter pilots. The only caveat is that the regular bear unit that is a tank and will bring the fight to your face is somewhat lacking in the concept of elevating nature with technology.
The Sentinels are masters at switching roles on the fly. Their two base units - the Dragon Infantry and the Bearkin Assassin, are your staple melee and ranged fighters, but as soon as you get access to tier 2 and 3, you unlock more specialised cannon fodders and anti-air, siege, etc. The first thing I noticed is how any opposition seems to melt the moment you have access to tier 2 units. Unfortunately getting to that tier 2 (and 3) is a bit of an exercise in patience because the Starcraft addon-style extensions to the Verdant Center will most often fail to build unless you spend some time trying to build them, endlessly clicking around the town hall for the addon structure to maybe start constructing.
Your units can rapidly change their roles - free of charge - which doesn't sound like good news for any of your enemies. One of your Primal Bearkin getting attacked by a Gryphon Rider? Switch back to a Berakin Assassin and you will be able to fight back. Anyone with good micro skills can abuse this system (I'm not one of those people), especially considering that the units themselves are pretty darn strong.
The single hero of the faction has a cool kit of abilities, with a boomerang heal ability that can synergise with a teleportation skill so that you may change its return path. Unfortunately, the game doesn't recognise that you have an altar constructed so you're stuck with just that one guy. However, given how powerful your troops are, the lack of additional champions isn't felt much at all.
While the Starcraft-style addons don't work all the time, the concept is an interesting one. I would have prefered something more developed for the role-change system of the units - maybe something that takes time like the way the Zerg Mutalisk morphs into a Guardian in Starcraft 1. The speed and ease with which units can switch roles is a bit 'featureless', in that I would have expected some sort of interaction in the middle of going from assassin to big bear tank. Nothing complicated, but perhaps a Bio Lab structure that passively produces Mutagens which allows the frail assassin to hulk out. Run out of Mutagens and you'll need to pay and wait twenty seconds for a transformation to complete. More Bio Labs means faster Mutagens - and an increased cap for storing Mutagens. Something a bit in that frame of mind.
Total: 20 + 20 + 30 = 70 / 100
FlameOfChange - Anorar Dictat of High Deeds (Blue/Red)
A bit of a more fun entry, the ADHD (heh) plays at a frenetic pace. You're constantly bouncing between Mind Nodes (your town hall) and your army, upgrading things here and there, training new units. You're knee-deep in Blue-Red frenzy, teching up the faction as your attention moves from one thing to the next, then coming back to resume gold-mining while a second Mind Node is repairing your mechanical units. If you enjoy microing like a madman, this might be right up your alley. Visually, it's a mishmash of medieval fantasy and Playstation 1 era platformer dieselpunk and maybe a bit of sci-fi? I won't judge assets too harshly since those types of 3D models can be hard to find, but it's serviceable.
As far as music goes, I typically prefer something that's more in the background but given how this faction plays, it's never felt out of place for me. Custom voice lines were a fun addition.
There are debug messages that are still present. Some of them are fine, but merging Silver Plates creates quite a bit of text.
Things take a rather panicked pace the second a match starts. It seems more efficient to simply start by splitting a Mind Embryo from your Mind Node so that you can get a second town hall as quickly as you can since they do so much - and then things can be a bit smoother sailing from thereon. However, your Mind Node can only do one thing at a time - and boy does it do a lot of things. It can mine gold, harvest trees, build structures (human-style), heal/repair units, buff them, and split into an Embryo - which halves its current hit points so that you obtain a unit that can transform into a new Mind Node. I can't even say this sounds good on paper, but it could have worked if there was enough information for the player's awareness. For instance: Mind Nodes are not tagged as workers, so when one idles you won't know unless you check them out yourself. Resource collection is a lot more powerful than normal to make up for this flaw, but I oftentimes found myself running out of gold in spite of this because my Mind Nodes had to do everything and I forgot to re-assign them. This could have been mitigated somewhat by having a more reliable building system, which would always pause the moment I opened the build menu to read some tooltips. If I had to guess, the Mind Node's build menu ability creates a dummy builder every time it's clicked, so the old one gets overwritten and the construction is interrupted, requiring me to right-click the building under construction to resume it.
As far as units go, they all have Attention Deficit (some buildings as well) and you need to place a Concentrator next to them otherwise they will just switch targets mid-fight. It's an interesting synergy but it's yet something else to keep in mind as you're micro-managing your Mind Nodes. You'll do quite a bit of juggling until you unlock the Hype Train and then all bets are off. It heals so fast that anything can become a tank, so any one of your heroes will soak up all that damage because they are very high priority targets. Meanwhile, your army is free to administer a beating to the enemy. That's pretty hype. There are all sorts of interesting interactions there, from the Silver Plate's ability to heal a unit by destroying itself, to the Experimenter's attack speed buff that makes himself faster.
Interpreting the Blue/Red combine as ADHD was a fun idea, but I'm not sure it works as a concept with Warcraft 3's control scheme. Perhaps if there was a UI dedicated to informing you of idling units and structures so that you may cycle through it all with ease, that may have worked better, but as it stands I find that ADHD (the faction) strains under its own weight. The base concept is interesting, but the implementation is lacking. Nevertheless, in terms of concept, this is inspired. It's very different from what we're used to but needs more work on the mechanics side of things to smooth out the wrinkles in the gameplay.
Total Score: 22 + 15 + 38 = 75/100
Daffa - The Phoenix Flames (Red/White)
A rather straightforward interpretation of Red/White, the Phoenix Flames faction finds itself with a roster of expensive, powerful units (you might say too powerful) and a red and white colour scheme. The Blood Elf aesthetic works well here. It's easy on the eyes and cohesive. The units are strong and you can purchase upgrades for them that make them ridiculously powerful. If you want quality over quantity, this is it. Unfortunately, when looking at the abilities, it's all very aggressive, direct-damage stuff. "Red and White represent the passionate desire to protect something you hold dear. It is the enforcement of justice, as a mixture of Red's readiness to take action and White's insistence on honour." The Fire Keeper does exhibit some aspects of this with her abilities, but the rest is mostly all Red. The Phoenix Guardian is just a more powerful Spell Breaker, which in itself is a Blue unit with its magic-subversion abilities.
This faction is meant to be strong, but somewhere the hand of the Professor slipped and Chemical Whoopass was poured into the mixture and, by Elune, those Tier 1 units will make the Culling of Stratholme look like Afghan soldiers attempting jumping jacks. While your Phoenix Blade will cost you 240 gold and 25 lumber, imagine a Grunt with Permanent Immolation - then give that Grunt Critical Strike. Finally, give it a stackable armour aura. Its ranged counterpart has a 10% stun chance with extra murder, and multishot. I had 3 of each of those units and nothing was able to survive. Let's also not forget Bloodlust as the first ability of a Tier 2 caster, and the ability to casually summon a Phoenix as their master ability. However, I found myself ignoring quite a number of abilities because there was a lot of them.
While this is happening, you have to remind yourself to check every town hall you have and make sure you have workers gathering gold and harvesting lumber since those are done via abilities that summon a crew of Tree Cutters and Gold Diggers for two and half minutes and five minutes respectively. You can top-up your lumber production with Supply Nodes (which also provide a small amount of food so you're going to need a lot of them) that have a weaker version of the lumber-harvesting ability. If you're consistent with summoning Tree Cutters you will have quite a large amount of lumber. Your gold production will not be able to keep up unless you expand quickly and don't forget to restart it all the time. While it works, for the most part, having to manually manage your resource harvesting is not something that works very well, especially considering how expensive everything is in that faction.
However, if you find yourself lacking in lumber, do not upgrade your Supply Nodes as this new structure cannot summon a Tree Cutter.
While the Blood Elf theme has been a tad overdone, there are some interesting things in there that supplement the vanilla gameplay - notably the Elemental Node as some sort of summoning hub, and the Base of Operations for more global effects. The idea of the Convergence Marker is an interesting one although with a somewhat clumsy implementation. Overall, those concepts should have been more central to the faction, having the various units gain their strength through caster-structures that create Champion-grade units that exemplify the Red/White philosophy. This way you can have your powerful units without having too many of them to steamroll the enemy with - and all of it done in a way that is fresh to the game.
That said, there were quite a few abilities and upgrades that were reused from vanilla or had mere aesthetic changes.
Total Score: 15 + 18 + 18 = 51/100
Xelos - Burning Frost Souls Clan (Red/Blue)
I can't really tell what's going on visually - it seems to have some Asian elements with the Warmed Soul, the Ancient Monarch, the Monument of Tyranny and the Forbidden Armory, but otherwise, the rest look somewhat disjointed. The Despotist is in a separate category altogether, doing its own thing, unconcerned for petty matters of cohesion. This happy-go-lucky cube-man waves its rainbow popsicle around the battlefield. If he dies, everybody around him becomes debuffed with sadness for a while.
In terms of Red/Blue, I see some aspect of the impulsiveness in the Shido Vanguard's on-death effect, but nothing else. There isn't a sense of obsession, brilliance or frenzy as described by the chosen Theme. The only relation I can see is the red and blue colour scheme present in the assets. It's something, but not enough.
The Burning Frost Souls Clan is a fairly standard affair; you train your workers, build a training structure, get some melee units, then some ranged units, etc. You lack a long-ranged siege unit, and your only siege-damage creature is only available in Tier 3, so attacking bases is a case of face-tanking the hits while your Burning Archers and Blue Dragon Flies destroy the towers. With enough Burning Archers, you can do quite a bit of damage, and in a confrontation with a rather large human army with knights, I was able to route them without doing much. Stats are a bit north of balanced, especially considering a fully upgraded Blue Dragon Fly has a frost attack that will for sure allow you to effortlessly hunt down enemy heroes.
As far as Creativity goes, there's a clever repurposing of the Rain of Chaos ability to create a field of fire, but otherwise, I can't find anything else to praise. The Despotist appearing with a pair of wolves is an interesting concept, but when those wolves die, they're gone for good. It's especially unfortunate considering you can only train two Despotists, and they place a debuff on your units when they die. If you want the bonus damage those wolves provide you need to keep them alive. A respawning mechanic would have fixed this. The worker and the supply structure do nothing beyond harvesting gold and lumber and providing food. This faction lacks innovation.
Total Score: 5 + 20 + 8 = 33/100
Theme – Unfortunately, the theme appears to have been interpreted a little literally here. Rather than exploring the Blue/Red philosophy, the Burning Frost Souls Clan is a fire and ice thematic faction. The aesthetics are… interestingly chosen, although they do more or less fit within their own style. The faction certainly is the epitome of “Burning Frost” - however, I would have personally liked to see something more connected with the theme of the contest itself. 8/25
Gameplay – Solid gameplay, very traditional tried and true methods without anything outlandish. The tier 1 melee unit is easily transitioned in favour of better units as early as tier 1.5, which is very on brand for a Warcraft 3 style faction. I had fun with this one, although it could certainly serve to do more in terms of concept. Conservative, yet serviceable. 24/30
Creativity – With a very conservative approach to the faction's overall design, it did come a bit at the cost of creativity. More could have certainly been done, although what has been done presents an enjoyable enough dynamic that, while it doesn't present anything overly new, it does put pre-existing ideas together in a way that presents a unique flavour for the faction. Would like to see more unique concepts here in future. 20/45
Theme – I would be hard pressed to find a more accurate representation of the Blue/Red philosophy than a group of young geniuses with ADHD. The faction design is self aware and doesn't take itself too seriously in a style that is very on brand for the chosen theme. Not much more to say here, great job. 25/25
Gameplay – Micro nightmare. Fiddling around with the early game is tedious at best – oddly enough, further reinforcing the faction's theme as you desperately try to get some degree of focus on managing your base. Does this present decent and compelling gameplay? Personally, I feel it can get in the way of that a bit, but I also can't help but look at this as a bit of a performance piece. It's difficult to play, but it feels deliberate, so I can't be too harsh on the entry for that. 12/30
Creativity – This is one of the more creative concepts I've seen for an entry in a techtree contest. The representation that delved in deep with the core philosophy presented some phenomenally wacky and innovative concepts. Perhaps given more time, there would have been opportunity to polish the entry off with some further innovations to assist gameplay. As it is, very nice job. 44/45
Theme – Quite a good take on the Red/White philosophy. You do get away with having lower numbers of more powerful defenders with what appears to be a goal towards Justice. The aesthetic ties in well for this, although perhaps numbers could have been reduced a little further for the faction. Still, a very on brand entry. 24/25
Gameplay – Very solid. I had a lot of fun with this, my only complaint being that this faction is severely overpowered, which can at times make gameplay a little brain dead. That being said, the techtree layout somewhat makes up for this and it is a lot of fun exploring all the different units you have created in this particular faction. 26/30
Creativity – With a bit more of a traditional approach, the creativity shines through a bit with the way unit upgrades are handled in combination with a very stylistic approach to how the overall techtree is laid out. While nothing super innovative is presented, the faction does present its own unique flair that helps it stand out with an approach to more traditional gameplay which I can only attribute to Daffa's style. While there could have been more innovation, I do like what I see quite a lot here. 34/45
Theme – A hilarious yet effective approach to tackling the Blue/Green philosophy. While I'm fairly certain jet fighters are not quite “natural sciences” achieved through “selective breeding”, I do appreciate the cander of how this is represented and feel it is still on brand. My only gripe is there isn't more, making the theme feel relatively unexplored. Still, I could not ask for a clearer interpretation of the selected theme here. 23/25
Gameplay – Actually quite tame given the contestant's style. There were certainly enjoyable shenanigans that I really look forward to from a MyPad entry, but I think there could have been more boundaries pushed here. Only training two units that interchange between roles is a very interesting approach – I'm not sure how effective it was in presenting a gameplay style that wasn't ultimately a-move to win, but it does still present some consideration to what roles you want your units to fulfill at any given time. For as little content as there was, I did have fun with what was presented. 25/30
Creativity – I do find myself somewhat hoping for more from this. What was presented was quite unique, but not entirely so. Still, there was enough creativity to explore some new gameplay concepts within the faction and it does present its own style. I do wish there was a bit more explored here, though. 30/45
(see attached Spreadsheet if desired)
1st Place: FlameofChange's "Anorar Dictat of High Deeds"
2nd Place: Daffa's "The Phoenix Flames"
3rd Place: MyPad's "The Sentinels of Evolution"
and an Honorable Mention to Xelos' "Burnings Frost Souls Clan"!
Thanks to you all for participating.
Assigned Staff: @Riki (with help from @Kyrbi0)
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