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Caesar IV Heaven » Forums » Emperor: Game Help » "A Xia's Diary III" - Gweilo's design blog and commentary
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Topic Subject:"A Xia's Diary III" - Gweilo's design blog and commentary
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Gweilo
Angel
posted 05-12-17 06:00 ET (US)         
With the release of Emperor at GOG.com, I'm seeing both new and renewed interest in this game. I think that helped bring back my muse, because I now have ideas and motivation to jump back in to custom campaign design.

I released a couple of small campaigns last year but now is the time to return to one of grand scale. Since the first of this month (May 2017) I've been working on "A Xia's Diary III".

It's been a LONG time (over 14 years!) since I used the Three Kingdoms period as the time period for a custom campaign, but I have been drawn back to it. I believe it's mostly due to finally seeing John Woo's excellent movie "Red Cliff" (2009), which tells the story of the famous Battle of Red Cliffs. (In my opinion you should RUN, not walk, to see this film!)

My research for the storyline was a bit overwhelming because there is SO much good plot material available for the 3K period, and there is (sadly) so little we designers can put on the splash screens of a custom campaign (due to constraints with the Campaign Creator software). Nevertheless, here are the events I am focusing on to include in this new campaign.

184 CE - Yellow Turban Rebellion begins
185 CE - Oath of the Peach Garden between Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhange Fei.
189 CE - Emperor Ling dies.
190 CE - Dong Zhuo captures Luoyang and sacks it. He takes Emperor Xian to Chang-an and establishes it as the new capital.
192 CE - Dong Zhuo is killed by his subordinate Lu Bu.
192 CE - The main Yellow Turban army surrenders to Cao Cao.
192 CE - Liu Bei becomes Prefect on Pingyuan County and assists Gongsun Zan in fighting Yuan Shao.
196 CE - Cao Cao takes control of Emperor Xian and moves the captial to Xuchang.
200 CE - The Battle of Guandu. Cao Cao defeats Yuan Shao.
200 CE - Yuan Shao dies of illness.
208 CE - The Battle of Red Cliffs. Cao Cao is defeated by a coalition of Liu Bei and Sun Quan.
210 CE - General Zhou Yu of Wu dies of illness.
213 CE - Cao Cao's forces capture Liang province (Liangzhou).
214 CE - Liu Bei captures Chengdu.
219 CE - Liu Bei's forces capture Liang province (Liangzhou). (This is known as the Hanzhong Campaign)
220 CE - Cao Cao dies of illness in Luoyang.
220 CE - Cao Pi succeeds Cao Cao and forces Emperor Xian to abdicate, proclaiming himself Emperor of Wei.
220 CE - Guan Yu is killed by Sun Quan's forces.
221 CE - Zhange Fei is assassinated by his subordinates.
221 CE - Liu Bei declares himself Emperor of Shu.
222 CE - Sun Quan declares himself Emperor of Wu.
224 CE - Liu Bei dies of illness.
252 CE - Sun Quan dies of illness.

As with my other Xia Diary campaigns, the third installment will also have the maximum scope of 10 missions. I have 8 new custom maps planned for it. Here is a draft of the mission teasers and time limits:

Mission 1 - Oath of the Garden - 4 years, from 181 CE to 185 CE.

Mission 2 - The Yellow Turban Rebellion - 5 years, from 185 CE to 190 CE.

Mission 3 - Descent into Chaos - 6 years, from 190 CE to 196 CE.

Mission 4 - The Battle of Guandu - 5 years, from 196 CE to 201 CE.

Mission 5 - Sun Quan's Challenge - 3 years, from 201 CE to 204 CE

Mission 6 - Rider of the Water Dragon - 4 years, from 204 CE to 208 CE

Mission 7 - The Battle of Red Cliffs - 3 years, from 208 CE to 211 CE.

Mission 8 - The Relentless Ambition of Cao Cao - 6 years, from 211 CE to 217 CE.

Mission 9 - The Fist of Liu Bei - 6 years, from 217 CE to 223 CE

Mission 10 - Grand Xia of the Three Kingdoms - no time limit, starts in 223 CE.

So you can see this is an ambitious project. At this point, I have the skeleton of the storyline, the mission flow, and have built the first map. There is still a long way to go, so if I had to guess on a completion time right now I'd say that I hope to deliver this by Christmas 2017.

Please feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have about this project.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
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[This message has been edited by Gweilo (edited 05-30-2017 @ 01:41 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-04-17 16:17 ET (US)     26 / 55       
I completed a first playtest of mission 8 and am very happy with the Luoyang map. The scripting only needed a couple of tweaks too. Suffice it to say, this may be the toughest mission, because even with Xi Wang Mu available it is tough to complete the large palace monument in only 6 years. There was only 2 months left in the time limit when I completed it. I posted a screenshot of the minimap of my winning strategy to the teaser album.

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Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-06-17 05:35 ET (US)     27 / 55       
Moving on to mission 9... I have the mission introduction text written and also wrote out the planned scripting. I also have a notepad sketch of the map I want to create. It's going to be a non-historical representation of Mount Qingcheng near Chengdu. I'm going to make it 'enormous' size, so it may take a few days to build.

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Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-06-17 19:49 ET (US)     28 / 55       
Tonight I got a great start on creating the Chengdu map (mission 9). I'm really liking what I'm seeing take shape; this could be the best mountain map I've made since "The Wayward Sun Wu Kong" campaign.

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Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-07-17 05:52 ET (US)     29 / 55       
Did some further historical digging into the early 3 Kingdoms period and found out that the Wu Kingdom fought some warlords in northern Annam (Vietnam) in 226 CE. I wanted so badly to put that into the last mission of the campaign, but the Empire Map just won't support it because it doesn't extend that far south. It would look stupid to place Chiao-Chih too far north, so I had to drop this idea.

Right now I'm thinking the last mission may be more of a traditional city-building experience instead of a wild RTS ride (which most of the earlier missions are). Still considering options for it. This last mission deviates from actual history to a large extent, but I do want to script some of the early conflicts between the 3 kingdoms. I do know the map will be 'enormous' size and temperate climate.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
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[This message has been edited by Gweilo (edited 06-08-2017 @ 04:17 PM).]

Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-08-17 16:15 ET (US)     30 / 55       
I finished the Chengdu map. Can't wait to playtest mission 9 on it. I uploaded a minimap of it into the campaign teaser album, you can see it here: http://emperor.heavengames.com/gallery/album21/abb

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Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-10-17 11:49 ET (US)     31 / 55       
I had a couple of successful playtests of mission 9 on the Chengdu map. I like the map and the tricky scripting I'm using to simulate a rebellion seems to be working. Here is a screenshot of the minimap of my playtest for it:

http://emperor.heavengames.com/gallery/album21/abc

I have made more progress on the mission 10 map, and I really like the way it's coming together. I also completed a draft of the scripted events for the mission. I'm still planning for this final mission to be more of a traditional city building experience instead of fast-paced RTS action.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.

[This message has been edited by Gweilo (edited 03-13-2018 @ 08:33 AM).]

Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-12-17 05:16 ET (US)     32 / 55       
I spent the last two days working on the mission 10 map. It's coming along well. I should finish it in the next few days.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo2
Angel
posted 06-12-17 20:34 ET (US)     33 / 55       
I finished the last map and uploaded a minimap of it into the campaign teaser album, here: http://emperor.heavengames.com/gallery/album21

It will challenge your skills at predator management.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-13-17 09:58 ET (US)     34 / 55       
So I've started working on the "Readme" text file that I will include in the campaign download. Those of you familiar with my custom campaigns will know I always do this. The Readme includes design notes, hints, and spoilers. This time I am taking time to include details of how to micromanage the first game year. So consider if your skill level allows you to do the follow tasks (and if the answer is 'no', you have time to practice).

a. PAUSE THE GAME in the first month and place a common housing block as close to the map's entry point as possible. This allows new immigrants to reach their housing plots quickly for immediate allocation into your workforce. (Note that EVERY map in this campaign has been designed to allow a common housing block to be placed within a few tiles of the map's entry point.). Begin placing the housing plots as close to the map's entry point as possible, because arriving immigrants will target the housing plots in the order you place them. This placement tactic minimizes the time required for the first immigrants to settle into the housing plots, thus boosting your available workforce faster.

b. PAUSE THE GAME in the first month and place at least one food farm and one hemp farm (but preferably, place 2 of each). Turn off workers to these farms until the first month the crop begins to grow, then turn on the workers to each farm. You may also place irrigation, but do not immediately turn on workers to it. Check the harvest months of the crops and only turn on the irrigation workers 1 month prior to the crops' harvest month. (The game only checks for field irrigation in the harvest month to receive the irrigation yield bonus; the
fields do not have to be irrigated during the entire growing season.)

c. Set wages to 'Very High' to generate the maximum amount of workers in your workforce.

d. Set taxes to 'None' to generate the maximum number of arriving immigrants with the best sentiment.

e. Set industrial priorities for Safety and Agriculture to 'Very High', so these building types receive their workers first.

f. In the first game year, watch your arriving immigrants reach their housing plots; they will then immediately begin to raise your available workforce. Pause the game as the workforce grows and turn on/off buildings as necessary to keep the farms fully-staffed. By doing this you will obtain full (or nearly full) harvests of food and hemp in the first game year.

g. In the first game year, watch your support buildings (like shrines and water carriers), and as soon as their walker spawns turn off that building's workers, so their workers go
back into the available labor pool for redistribution. Then watch until that building's walker returns to the building, and at that time turn on its workers again. Rinse and repeat this tactic as you see the walkers spawn from the various support buildings.


Doing those steps will allow you to pull in harvests in the first game year and hyper-evolve your housing, which will be a huge boost to achieve victory in the short time frames of every mission.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-14-17 05:47 ET (US)     35 / 55       
I had a great first playtest of mission 10 last night, and I'm half-way finished playing the mission. The Jiangling map seems to be all I hoped it would be. The pace really shifts in this last mission, it is much more of the slower, traditional city-building experience. That's what I was shooting for. The stresses in this mission come from the tight initial treasury. Money will be tight (especially if you play at 'Very Hard' difficulty) and you will need to use trade to keep your head above water until taxation of elite housing can begin.
I only found a little bit of scripting to tweak.

This project is coming to conclusion much faster than I originally anticipated. It still seems to be on track for an early July 2017 release.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
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Gweilo2
Angel
posted 06-14-17 18:52 ET (US)     36 / 55       
I finished mission 10 and have uploaded 5 new screenshots into the campaign teaser album, viewable here:

http://emperor.heavengames.com/gallery/album21

Now I will make another careful playthrough of the entire campaign, and finish up my notes for the Readme file. Unless I find something surprising, this campaign is on schedule for a release in early July.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-16-17 05:34 ET (US)     37 / 55       
I finished replays of missions 1 and 2 again. No issues found, but I did tweak the wording of the storyline a little bit.

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Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-16-17 20:59 ET (US)     38 / 55       
Finished a replay of mission 3. I only made minor tweaks to the map and storyline text. I also rewrote a portion of the mission 4 introduction text, it didn't set the stage for the Battle of Guandu as well as I wanted.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-18-17 00:57 ET (US)     39 / 55       
Mission 4 played well; I won the Battle of Guandu and moved on to mission 5. I wanted to try an alternate strategy in it and I'm glad I did; I was able to discover problems with the Wu map ("Red Cliffs"). So I reworked the map to my satisfaction and then mission 5 played better. However, when I moved on to mission 6 (which is a continuation of m5), I found real problems with the scripting. I may have uncovered a bug with scripted invasions but I need to test a little more before I am convinced it is a bug. I plan to retest mission 6 soon.

I did upload a couple of new screenshots to the campaign teaser album.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-20-17 05:43 ET (US)     40 / 55       
I'm still tinkering with missions 5 and 6 (including tweaks to the map).

I'm also continuing to work on the Readme file, it is over 50% completed.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-20-17 20:44 ET (US)     41 / 55       
I just finished complete playtests of missions 5 and 6 (both on the Wu map). It's finally balanced where I want it to be. I uploaded 5 new screenshots to the playtest album, but I warn you they contain major spoilers to winning these two missions. If you don't mind, view them here:

http://emperor.heavengames.com/gallery/album21

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-23-17 05:26 ET (US)     42 / 55       
I'm currently still playtesting mission 7. Trying to figure out why 'military request' events are not firing. On the bright side, this extra testing is also fine-tuning the mission in other aspects.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-23-17 20:00 ET (US)     43 / 55       
After a lot of research and testing, I finally finished the playtest of mission 7. I did finally get the 'military request - city attacks rival' event to fire at least once in the mission, so I'm happy.

On to mission 8 now....

On a side note, I have finally made a decision about whether to allow a non-military strategy (i.e., bribing) to be used by a player in the missions that are heavily slanted towards combat (m2, m3, m4, m6, m7). I have been going back and forth in my mind about this, and finally decided it just doesn't fit the storyline to allow it. Therefore, I have modified the campaign to prohibit the buddhist hero Guan Yin from being summoned until mission 8 (after which she is available in all the remaining missions). You see, if I allow Guan Yin to be summoned then bribing the enemy invasions becomes a really viable strategy because she provides a 50% reduction in the cost of bribing an enemy army. So, you can still bribe the enemy, but not at a discount!

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-24-17 08:35 ET (US)     44 / 55       
I just finished another playtest of mission 8 and found nothing to adjust. It plays well but is probably the hardest mission in the campaign due to so much multi-tasking required by the player in only 6 years. It's all about money, so overbuilding elites for tax revenue is the key to succeeding at everything else. And once again I needed to summon Xi Wang Mu to complete the monument within 6 years so I'm glad I mentioned that in the mission introduction text.

On to mission 9...

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-24-17 22:09 ET (US)     45 / 55       
I finished a successful playtest of mission 9 on the Chengdu map. I played this one at 'normal' difficulty level to see if the scripting would hold up. It did; the captured city revolted just as I wanted it to do. I found nothing else to tweak in this mission.

I'll playtest mission 10 next and then finish writing the readme file. This project is rapidly drawing to a close!

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-26-17 05:44 ET (US)     46 / 55       
I am more than half way done playtesting mission 10 and have found no issues with it. The map is alot more challenging than it looks, especially if you want to overbuild your elite housing. I like that aspect of the map.

I am putting the final touches on the Readme file to include in the download. Unless something unforseen pops up, I should be able to release this campaign in a few days!

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-27-17 05:52 ET (US)     47 / 55       
I finished playing mission 10 and found no issues. I anticipate releasing this campaign later today .

I will also be releasing the four new 'enormous' maps that I built for this campaign as Open Play maps. I will tweak them a little bit to add resources to them. Releasing these four maps will happen in the days/weeks after the campaign is released.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 06-27-17 16:00 ET (US)     48 / 55       
The campaign has been released, you can download it here: http://emperor.heavengames.com/downloads/showfile.php?fileid=492

I am curious if it will draw back some of the old veteran players, such as Senseisan. Time will tell.

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
jaroslav80
Pleb
posted 06-28-17 23:47 ET (US)     49 / 55       
Admirable presistence and effort Gweilo. Congratulation to finished campaign.

What's a pity I have time only to play Caesar3 time to time. I cannot afford now to study all the rules and mechanics of Emperor.
Gweilo
Angel
posted 07-14-17 06:54 ET (US)     50 / 55       
I have now released Open Play versions of the four 'enormous' maps included in this campaign. They are slightly modified from the maps included in the campaign download zip file. You can find them each as separate downloads at this link: http://emperor.heavengames.com/downloads/lister.php?category=maps

Expand your fun by downloading free custom campaigns for Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom.
Visit Zeus Heaven to expand your knowledge of Zeus and Poseidon.
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