Posted on 01/05/08 @ 08:08 PM (updated 01/08/08
Team Archipelago TAD
A random map script version for The Asian Dynasties
Team Archipelago TAD is an updated version of a RMS created with the goal of making a 'team island' map with great variability, and with new options and strategies for gameplay. It does not represent any 'known' region, but while the location is imaginary, the gameplay is different and exciting. It is similar to my previous Gandalf's Isles maps, with the major change of having players start on team islands rather than separate islands. There are other minor changes as well. The map is slightly smaller than Gandalf's Isles and the map can be either slightly rectangular or circular for slight variation in how the islands are placed, giving differences in spacing between various islands and between islands and the edge of the map - in otherwords, a little larger pockets of water for fishing.
What has changed since the original and the War Chiefs versions? Several changes:
- new map types or patterns using terrains found in the Asian Dynasties expansion are added (from the Honshu, Borneo,
Yellow River, Mongolia, Himalayas, Deccan, Ceylon and Siberia new maps and a made up 'green Siberia').
- new native minor tribes used on the new maps.
- addition of a few new types of 'caches' of resource crates - found on the extra islands scattered about the map; see below.
- addition of 'water treasures' as a possible finding on all maps.
- King of the Hill gameplay enabled.
The map is characterized by each player starting on team islands completely surrounded by water, with variable starting positions, variable terrains, and great variation in the position of other islands in the sea. There is some variation in team player starting positions and distances apart as well. The enemy team will not always be directly opposite on the map. The 38 different terrain patterns are not meant to be a representation of any specific island area, just variety for the sake of enjoyment. These terrain patterns have appropriate forests, fauna, native types and treasures to match.
Each team island contains one native village per team member, all of one type, with a few other villages of a different or same type scattered among the other islands (the number is variable but is also related to player number). On the starting island are 2-3 herds of some type, 2 mines, and 2-3 treasures per team member, and a few possible sheep, cows or llamas. Each player also starts with a couple extra wood crates to help get a dock and initial fishing ships built. Due to the anticipated naval warfare a large amount of forest is present as well. The seas are rich in fish and whales, risky to harvest due to the possiblility of enemy warships, but a valuable economic boost if you can collect them.
In addition to the player's large starting islands, there are other islands scattered randomly about the map. This random map will always contain a large island with a short trade route and 2 trade posts (or 3 if over 4 players) - this trade route island can be centered or off to one side, depending on player starting locations. The other islands will vary greatly in size and location, and will contain various needed resources. Most important is the coin - there are always a few silver, copper or tin mines and usually a few gold mines (value 5000 coin) scattered about, as well as additional forests, occasional treasures and a few animals. Forest will normall vary a little in amount, and the more 'desert' areas often will have noticeably less forest than other patterns (but never expect a wood shortage except in prolonged games with serious naval warfare unless you are bottled up on your own island). Other resources also vary a little randomly in amount or number.
There are a few small caches of extra resources and possibly a few wrecked treasure ships scattered about on the extra islands - these caches were inspired by features on the map Dogleg Islands by Jugit - I have adapted his idea to this map and changed it a little. There are stacks of firewood, possible gold caches, and stores of food put away by the native inhabitants - steal them for your own use! These vary in appearance and number by the map's terrain pattern and with randomization.
Well, aside from the above details, how does the map play? There is a need for aggressive control of the seas to control resources - the resources on the distant islands as well as the fishing and whaling that will boost your economy. You need to thoroughly explore the seas and islands to see what is available since there is great variation in how and where players and the extra islands are placed, and of course scout to keep track of the enemy. You need to venture off your island to establish bases elsewhere - economic centers as well as military. This map is truly great for teamwork. Coordinated team play for defense and to control straits and islands is very useful. Coordinated team landings are better at eliminating an enemy.
Of course to play this map having a deck built for a water map is helpful - I recommend considering the Admiralty card, free warships, Rendering Plant, Schooners, Improved War Ships, Advanced Dock, and any specific cards for your civ such as Water Dance. Cards giving free wood are also a great boost to get on the water quickly. I also like having cards to give Forts, Outposts or War Huts - sending these with your landing force is a great way to quickly establish a base on the enemy's island and subsequently send HC shipments there.
This map is much larger than any of the ES-created maps and may give some lag problems for players with slower computers and with greater player numbers. Because of the map size and script complexity, the script will take longer than usual to load. Also note that games on this map take somewhat longer to play due to the size and the need to spread out before launching an assult. There is full support for FFA games in this script, and of course the 'teams' in FFA result in one player per island.
To play this map, the two files (Team Archipelago TAD.xs and Team Archipelago TAD.xml) must be placed in the folder: My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\RM3. Please do not place them in the game's install folder - that will not work. When you start up a skirmish game in Single-player or Multiplayer, use the small blue 'Custom Map' button, which allows you to then select one the random maps in that My Games folder from the drop-down window. This script will not work in the original AOE3 or TWC due to the new content.
IMPORTANT NOTE - The original AI is inadequate for playing on this map. It will never make a navy or even fish. This is not a deficiency of the random map but of the way the original AI was designed. The map is chiefly intended for use in multiplayer games - by LAN or on ESO. I am not an AI scriptor, but have edited the original AI in a way that does let the computer players fish and make a navy (note that it still does not colonize other islands like a human will, but sometimes attacks your base island with troops). The change I have made just lists this map in the AI script as one where the AI should make a navy and fish. I find this is at least a little more enjoyable for single-player. If you wish to try this edited AI I have included it in the zipped file. This same AI improvement will work also for both Gandalf's Isles maps and the new Team Archipelago Asian map I have designed for TAD as well. To install the edited AI file for use in singleplayer games, first backup your file Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age of Empires 3\AI3\AIMain.xs. Then copy my new AIMain.xs to that same folder, overwriting the original. I have not tested to see if having different AIMain files affects online compatability, so if you get OOS or incompatability errors in multiplayer you may wish to reinstall the original AIMain or play with others using the same edited file.
I have enjoyed making this unique random map script. Thank you to ES for giving us the tools to do this! Hope you enjoy the map.
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Note file updated 1/08/08 to fix a problem that occurred with the trade route on the 'big island' at times. The new file also corrects a minor bug that caused the map debugger to note an error but made no actual problem in gameplay.
Thanks to Jugit for pointing out these errors!