Age of Empires II: The Conquerors > Game Mods > Merry-Go-Rounds


by Pyroptere - 78 downloads

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new world where good and bad players can have fun together on AoE II.

Let me introduce you: "MERRY-GO-ROUNDS"

MGoR is an improved King of the hill (KOTH) map, made to be beginner-friendly and highly modular. Its primary goal is to offer a challenging and non-frustrating experience whatever the number of players and their skill difference.

--- Table of Content ---
- Map explanation (Important to read for any players)
- Host explanation (Important to read if you want to host the map)
- General details
- Highly modular map
- The game designer approach and goals

--- Map explanation ---
Let’s start by a good old “scenario introduction” picture:
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The scouts drew a pretty nice description of the surroundings, wanna give it a look:
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Eco areas are safe zones, where you’ll never be raided!
Preparation areas are the places where your army need to stand before the start of the round.
Battlefield area is where you’ll actually fight for the monument during the round.
Option island allows the host to define settings for the game, while players wait by playing a mini-game.
Score island shows mainly the number of rounds won by each team.

For more details about those, take a look at the “General details” section.

Still didn’t get how the preparation area works, here’s an animated picture for you:
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It is like an “airlock” in a spaceship, therefore the battlefield area will never be connected to the eco area, therefore preventing any raids!

--- Host explanation ---
Again, what is better than a nice landscape to communicate:
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Don’t hesitate to show players the “map explanation” section, or pause the game to let them read the ingame instructions.

The Option Island mentioned above:
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You have “per player options”:
Kick, Give advantages or disadvantage, Give extra villagers.
And Global Options:
Number of rounds to win, variants way to play the map.

As a host, try to make the two teams as balanced as possible thanks to those options. I’d even say try to balance inside the same team, for everyone to feel significant.
To balance, use the extra villagers only (keep the “special advantages” for people discovering the game only):
1 extra villager in a “no-boom” game means approximatively +75 HD ELO overall.
-3 min in a “no-boom” game means approximatively -300 HD ELO overall.

--- General details ---

If you wonder how the monument attribution works: (It’s the same as KOTH standard one):
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Pretty close to a standard RM experience, it is simple to understand and good to teach/practice the actual game:
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Here’s how to read the Score Island:
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In general you’ll fight the rounds with the following age:
1) Dark Age (scout + potential militias)
2) Feudal Age (or very early castle)
3) Castle Age
4) Early Imperial Age
5) Post-Imperial Age

Remember that you can still research upgrades while the round is already started.

--- Highly modular map ---

Here we go for what this map really has to offer! Plenty of settings to balance the game, renew the experience or use as a “multiplayer tutorial” for new players.

Balance the game by giving extra villagers to any player:
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Renew the experience
Vary the number of rounds necessary to win: Best-of 3,5,7,9 or infinite.

Avoid skip: Enable this option to avoid useless round when nothing is happening (Recommended!):
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Allow only 1 TC / 1 Market to be built with the “No-boom” option (Recommended!).
Activate 500 pop to discourage the supremacy of very pop effective units in late game.
Activate Death match resources for a “fast and unpredictable” game!
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More ideas to renew the experience? Go for buildable spots near Monument:
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Or remove those pesky obstacles:
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You can also use this scenario as a “Multiplayer tutorial” for new players, after they finish the William Wallace campaign, introduce them to multiplayer with Merry-Go-Rounds with advantages.

Give them all advantages, when they’ll understand how it works, remove one of the advantages and so on, until all are removed.
I suggest the following order:

Remove first “Standard Military Advantage”:
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Then remove “Weird tech Advantage”:
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Finally remove “Eco Advantage”:
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Don’t hesitate to let the extra villagers though.

--- The game designer approach and goals ---

In this section, I’ll explain why I made this map and what principles drove my work. I’m really open to feedback but keep in mind that they will be considered through the lens of the principles described below.

MGoR is built upon 2 major values, beginner-friendliness and modularity and 3 minor ones, fun, competitivity and educative.

I want new players to enjoy multiplayer games, even with higher ranked people. I’ve tried to achieve that through many design choices:
- There is no laming or raiding possible (except with conversion, but highly unlikely, now that I have said that, everyone will try to convert above the border after a won round :P).
- You play in a team and you’ll always fight with them, therefore you don’t need a balanced army. You can specialize into one kind of units and gives full attention to them.
- You know when to fight and where. No need of map awareness and map control.
- For true beginners (just finishing the William Wallace campaign), you can give the “Multiplayer tutorial” advantages mentioned above.
- Those advantages + the extra vils can make a beginner as useful for its team than anyone else.
- This game is recommended to be played with “No-boom” option enabled, therefore only 1 TC. It is way more easier to eco-balance in those conditions, also it drives less attention away from the battle to manage eco.

All of this is really important to feel good and significant in addition for being more fun and challenging for everyone.

High modularity:
I want any group of players to be able to find a way to play together and have fun. It’s also important than teams can be made by affinity (FMT) while still being balanced.
This is done through the (dis)advantages, mainly the “3 min idle time” for good player and “extra villagers” for less good player.
Since the round timings and the map are always the same, we need something to add variety. that’s what I wrote above about “renewing the experience”. There’s also the civ. choices that can add variety aswell.

I want people to come out of the game with the feeling that they had a good time.
It’s why I tried to remove the snowball effect that is painful in rts games. The death of the units at the end of the round and the fact that you cannot raid is two things avoiding the snowball effect.

I want it to be competitive and interesting for high level players aswell, trying to avoid a “closed” meta and add high-skill moves possible. Here’s some of the choices working toward that goal:
- Round durations being short, makes the armies smaller and microable, decrease the following late game problems:
- - Area of effects damage in late game (Siege onagers cannot be massed and can be outmanoeuvred)
- - High pop effective units overpowered (War elephants in small number can be converted)
- Elevation and obstacles on the battlefield, makes micro valued.
- Pushing deer makes early game more interesting.
- Symmetrical map (between players and teams) makes it fair for competition (even more than 1v1 Arabia ;))

I want this map, to help people improves at the actual game (Anvil spirit (that’s my clan on voobly, you can apply if you want ;) #sellout)).
- As mentioned above, micro can be achieved and since battles are bound in a small time frame, even beginner could let their eco to focus on better army management without being too costly in the long run.
- Visual cues help for better resource deposits placements.
- The timings of the round are well designed to have parallel to real game, 11-1(option time) minute is a standard timing for a drush. Second round starts early enough (18-1) to not tempt people to go for castle age units, but bring a real feudal army. Third round too early for imp.
- As mentioned above, when played in “No-boom” mode, it’s way easier to do good eco-balance and take the time for it.

Other “quality of life” decision:

You should play scenario map that have no random generation with the visibility set on “explored” or “all visible”. Otherwise, it is unfair for people not knowing the map.
Explored brings some visual problems with AoE II:
- On Scenario, sheep are not visible while it is set on “explored”.
- Gaïa objects, like bridges and rocks are not “updated” for players when it’s on “explored”.

That’s why I tried to add torches in those situations to see the changes. (I still have to do it for the standard military advantage though).

Lobby Flexibility:
By choosing team through colors, it’s easy to make team in the lobby and not necessary for people to join in the right order. Unfortunately it adds a ton of triggers and complicates everything for the developer. I’m not sure I’ll still use that solution for future scenarios.
It is also a problem for Voobly chat, since it’s based on “lobby’s team”, since everyone had “ - “. Their default chat won’t be “to allies” but “to all”. (Maybe not “to all” but certainly not “to allies”).
You need to change that in trumpet menu if you’re playing it on Voobly.

I would have so much more to say about the design choices (especially the no-skip debate I had with plenty of people^^), but I’ll stop for now. Maybe I’ll write more about it in the future.

Thanks a lot for reading me, and most important: HAVE FUN =)
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