|xlmstronghold.j2l||Stronghold||10.89 kB||28 Sep 2013|
|JJ1Deserto.j2t||JJ1 Deserto||76.77 kB||09 Mar 2007|
|xlmstronghold.j2as||0.36 kB||13 Aug 2013|
|StrongHold.mp3||2199.84 kB||28 Mar 1999|
This is my contest entry for the JJNet’s Level Contest. It is also kind of a sequel to one of my previous levels called ‘Conflux’, as in ‘converting’ a theme from a game called Heroes of Might and Magic 3 once again. The level uses a tune which comes from the same game as the music track. Suggested game sizes; 2on2, 3on3.
Angelscript was used for palette edits in this level. In case you would happen to be missing Diam1.j2t(which comes with the game obviously) for some reason, I would recommend obtaining it back for a cooler background.
Special thanks to cooba for assistance with the level’s visual side, as well thanks to all my testers.
UPDATE: Fixed a bug, tweaked a couple of things.
UPDATE 2: Created additional vertical paths for both sides to make the bottom level less punishing. Fixed a couple of tile bugs.
UPDATE 3: Fixed more tile bugs.
UPDATE 4: Fixed more tile bugs and added a missing one way event to the blue base platform.
pillars confused me a bit but otherwise i love it
Stronghold is the latest contribution to the JJ2 scene by veteran JCSer and player Superjazz (also known as Vivando), produced as a result of the recent JJNet Season 8 CTF contest. Such contests have been responsible for some of the finest new levels to date, and Stronghold does not divert from this trend.
Whilst this isn’t a technical marvel in the visual department, it’s still among the best looking levels in recent years. The tileset usage has managed to convey the theme of the level without resorting to the typical eyecandy spam in order to effectively “rape” the tileset. Conceptually, this level features a fortified castle situated in the middle of the desert. I love the clean look that this level has – the tile usage is mostly very similar throughout the level, yet there is enough variety to keep things from getting too homogenous. It definitely has a more polished and professional feel than SJ’s other Deserto level, The Sun Fired Blanks. The .j2as file included provides a visual enhancement by altering the background colour to a “diamondus blue”, which is rather pleasant considering the lack of colour variety in the tileset, giving this level a more vibrant feel without detracting from the theme. It also matches the colour of the aqueducts in the level corners.
Master Sven’s notion that this level is “nothing special” perplexes me, as I found this to be one of the more interesting levels out there. Although it contains no completely original elements per se, the overall build of the level is quite unique. Despite the large size of 160×70, the actual playing area and the style of the layout are more suited to smaller games, although the level can most likely accomodate games up to 4vs4 (or more perhaps). There is essentially a division of the layout into a lower and an upper section, with most of the action centered around the middle section – the “stronghold” as per the namesake, if you will. A lone Full NRG carrot resides here – it’s fairly easy to defend due to the limited number of approach routes (two to be precise), but it’s also more attackable than in other one-carrot levels like Jungle’s Edge, Galactic Warfare and All Your Base CTF, because you can use EB as a counter-camp tactic. Such a carrot concept makes this level unsuitable for dueling in because you can stay at the top and hit anyone coming up from below infinitely, but it is good for team games because it encourages good communication and timing to control effectively. The top part may be a little too easy to DD in though, but it’s not a major issue. At least camping in the carrot platform itself can be dealt with by bouncer spam.
The base areas are one of the more interesting aspects of the level. As they’re very open, they’re easy to defend yet also vulnerable to attack due to the lack of cover. Being RTS can sometimes be quite challenging as dodging bullets is difficult here, and so airhits may occur, but approaching the base can also be difficult, especially from below where a rain of bouncer fire can virtually deny entry to the base. Thankfully, SJ added an extra route in the most recent update, making it more feasible for players to attack the base from the upper level, without having to traverse the potentially risky carrot area. Below each base is an escape route tunnel, which is a useful feature, enabling you to avoid much of the crossfire. There’s also definitely a risk-reward element associated with them however, as you’re left momentarily vulnerable as you exit the escape tunnel, so use them with care.
The weapon placement is well thought through and balanced. As this level is symmetrical, team imbalance is not really an issue, and the power-ups that are present (Bouncer, RF, Toaster) all have their fair share of uses. I find I have just a sight preference for bouncer in this level due to the importance of the y-axis in this level, although RF is still incredibly useful for chasing players along the bottom level, and for performing tricks (such as jumping up to the bases from below, a useful tactic in order to make a surprise score). I’m glad SJ did not place a seeker PU here, because the open nature of the layout would’ve led to a high lag factor. Ammo is rather plentiful here, which helps the level support larger games and reduces the chance of tedious blaster wars breaking out.
All in all, this is a high quality level by one of the top quality JCSers out there. It may take a little time to adjust to the style of the layout, but this has the potential to provide tactical, enjoyable gameplay for competitive and casual matches alike. Don’t be misled by MS’ questionable review – downloading and playing this online is strongly recommended.
Raised the rating after further contemplation.
I played a few games here, so I should have a strong-hold on the gameplay.
Starting with EC:
It’s fairly logical for the stronghold theme, but there are some illogical things: The brown pillars near the bottom sides lack shadows when they support stone ceilings that project away from the pillars. Some bg stone tiles are in front of some brown pillars, but most of the brown pillars are in front of the bg stone tiles. Loose sand doesn’t erode easily in waterfalls here, but is that even sand? – Also, the tileset doesn’t have “mud” tiles anyway. The bg clouds are zipping at a very high speed, indicating a very fierce wind, but the surrounding scenery is calm. The stronghold lives up to its name for being able to withstand such wind-speeds. I realize those issues are minor, and they can probably be explained easily, but they are noticeable enough to consider. Anyway, this is just a 2d cartoon rabbit game, so whatever.
I like the bg hills, because they are well executed with plenty of levels of elevation.
Overall, I’d say the ec was executed well, but some minor things are questionable.
Well, it wouldn’t be much of a stronghold if it wasn’t secure (balanced) and “fool proof”, and this level mostly functions like a stronghold gameplay wise, with fairly balanced teams and item placement. There’re some “secure” control points like the top middle. The escape routes, despite their name, are death traps if your enemy decides to camp their exits, so that’s “secure” too. Contrary to what PurpleJazz stated, I don’t think this level is unsuitable for duels because of the easily controllable top middle, I think it’s preferable for team games because of that. I noticed some places are relatively hard to rf climb up to, but could be easier to reach with wall-jump: Getting up to 92,41 and its opposite side are examples.
That’s all I have to say. A very solid, enjoyable level probably best suited for team games of 3vs3-6vs6.
Gameplay: 2.1 / 3.4
Placement: 0.6 / 0.8
The powerups are placed on the outer parts of the level, which makes players go there more often, that has been done well. I think there are too much ammo pickups though, especially toaster and fireball.
Flow: 1.2 / 2.6
Before your update there were mostly only 2 ways to go, which would result in very monotonous gameplay. The update couldn’t improve everything that much though. There is still nothing special about it and there are many areas where it’s hard to have a decent combat. The only way to get up here is either with springs or going through cramped tunnels, which are also present in the bottom middle of the level. They said they were gonna watch gameplay the most, therefore I can’t believe they made us be stuck with this one in the mappool. The gamplay in Blackjack was way way better.
Eyecandy: 2.3 / 3.3
The eyecandy is the best thing of this level, although it doesn’t really matter while playing it. I still say there is nothing special about it though, the most remarkable things are how the different layers are overlapped by eachother and how the background is structured.
Originality: 0.5 / 3.3
As I said before, there is nothing special about this level and that’s also the only thing I can say about it’s originality. Im sure SJ could’ve done better, but don’t expect his work to be good instantly.
Final Grade: 4.8
EDIT: rating (4.8) removed – do not rate a level based on its creator, but on its own merits, and either way “nothing special” doesn’t quite match the 4.8 rating -Stijn
EDIT: I have not rated based on its creator but just explained that one shouldnt always expect high quality stuff from him.’ Ok, a definitely playable level, which is big and spacy’ doesn’t match a rating of 9.0 either, so either you are gonna check all reviews of all levels or you will give me the right to review the level based on it’s gameplay, eyecandy and originality. -MS