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kohlenklau

SDT (Scenario Design Team) discussion thread

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What are the parts to writing a scenario and can a team approach get more quality scenarios written and posted?

Person A. initial idea and chairman of the board, writes briefing and designers notes.

Person B. Map

Person C. Units

Person D. AI plan if vs AI

Person E, Briefing images (cover image, strat map, op map and tac map)

Person F-Z. playtesters

When one guy has done a scenario then he has obviously been Person A thru E.

Maybe he was even F thru Z if no external playtesting was accomplished.

What are the biggest obstacles to a new scenario designer getting his scenario completed? Could help by someone else get his project finally completed and posted?

Delicate questions: Did we see in CMBO, CMBB and CMAK a lot of crap low quality scenarios make it into the repository? Is there any fear or concern here that crap scenarios might make it into CMX2 repository?

Not to end on a bad note: There could be a great scenario out there in someone's mind just waiting to be written but they currently lack the skill or experience in some certain area and with readily available outside assistance, it could get posted.

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I have attempted to make campaigns with multiple designers outside of the CM Beta team (which is obviously a different experience than what you're talking about for several reasons), and I in fact released one for CMSF that I co-designed with Bulgaroktonos (Rolling Lords of War). Overall, I found making CM scens cooperatively a very difficult experience outside the Beta testing community. There are two big reasons for this:

-The main problem with making scenarios cooperatively is that the mapmaking takes a tremendous proportion of time. I would argue that for most scenarios I've made, mapmaking is 90+% of the effort. Once the map is made, the rest of the stuff is comparatively easy, the one exception to this being the AI plans if they are particularly complicated. So it doesn't really make much sense to divide the effort within the scenario because one person is still doing 90+% of the work.

-Another serious problem is coordination. The more people involved in the process, the more moving parts. The more moving parts, the more that can go wrong. Unless you are part of an official BFC team that's working under deadlines, actually getting things done in a timely manner is often very difficult. People have commitments in real life and they have free time at different times. It's extremely easy to lose momentum on a project when only one team member stops working on it.

The one part of scenario and campaign design that really makes sense for cooperative work is obviously playtesting, which I'd say the community is already pretty good about doing.

My two cents, anyway. I think the best use of cooperative scenario design is the note that you end on, which is when there's a gap in someone's knowledge or skills that another designer could fill. In this case, though, it'd probably be best to just have the other designer teach the newer one how to do the bit that he doesn't understand. The CMx2 editor is actually not very difficult to use, it's just sometimes unintuitive and time-consuming. The difficulty of making scenarios is most often a matter of effort rather than skill. To make truly great scenarios requires good ideas and creativity, but you can create competent scenarios with little skill.

-FMB

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I have to agree with FMB. Although I've never tried to coordinate any scenario or campaign designs, it would be hard for me to let someone else design parts of my scenarios. However, there are certainly areas where talents and resources of others might benefit a typical scenario designer. For example, my Photoshop/GIMP skills are rusty so someone with graphical talents would help me big time. Play testing is another obvious area where others can contribute. The only other area that would be comfortable with someone helping me is with historical research - especially if they can contribute historical materials.

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I think a good concept for a team designed campaign would be the following:

The team meets in mIRC and discusses what could be called the "Commanders Intent" of the project. Goals that all, even if they have a lot of freedom in their own scenarios, agree to follow. Unit X is the core unit, the scneario should depict this specific historical action, the experience for the player should focus on Y and so on. Scenarios designers each design one or two scenarios, following the principles that they agreed on in order to ensure a consitent expirience for the player. This could speed up campaign making a lot, althoug as FMB has mentioned, finding reliable people could be a problem.

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I think a team environment would be a huge bonus to scenario making for several reasons.

First: The map maker(s).

Some members of the community are much better at making maps than others. Having a talented map maker will allow a team to make more maps more quickly, thus increasing productivity, and maintaining high quality. The job of making the map could also be split between multiple people. The first person could lay down all of the terrain, elevations, and contour lines. The second could fill in all of the roads and buildings, and the third could fill in the vegitation.

Second: The writer/idea man.

Having members of the team who are very familiar with WW2 battles and operations, will allow a design team to make more interesting and engaging scenarios. Also, having well written, yet simple briefings will allow players to have a greater sense of immersion.

Third: The A.I. plans.

A good way to make a varied and replayable scenario is to have many AI plans included. To that end, having every member of a design team make an AI plan, will not only increase the number of plans, but will introduce an element of unpredictability to the AI. If you ask 5 different people to plan a battle, you will inevitably be presented with 5 very different plans, reflecting psychological, and doctrinal differences between those people. It goes back to the old joke about how to secure a building.

The creation of a scenario design team is dependent on one big factor: the individual members must be willing to surrender complete control of the design process, and be willing to function as part of a team.

My four cents.

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