I officially announce the map contest to be closed and can now announce the winners of the contest after much play testing and deliberation. At the outset I'd like to thank everybody who took part. Really, means a lot to have submissions for such an ambitious project, and I do apologise for the technical difficulties getting set up.
Onto the maps themselves! There were three submissions, and I'll go through each in detail from third to first!
3. JACKO - CIVILIAN COUNTER
Oddly, this map doesn't involve playing as Civilians--this is a map that pits USA forces against a moderate Tomorrow presence. It starts off as a non-production mission, giving the player a limited amount of troops to locate an abandoned USA installation which contains a barracks , a repair bay and a few other minor structures, but notably no Construction Yard. There's also the option to capture an airstrip which will allow reinforcements of Light Tanks to supplement the frequent free Medium Tanks which reinforce the player off the map edge.
I always like maps which give the player a limited amount of buildings to try and hold on, and Civilian Counter promises a cool concept. It is unfortunately let down by a non-functioning AI and being too spacious. The map could have been reduced in size by about 25% and been the better for it. Non-existent AI and constant player reinforcements make the map all too easy to complete. The absence of a win trigger also hurts the gameplay experience, and the airstrip is located in a very difficult to access area (it would also be near impossible to defend if AI was implemented). I reiterate in that I think the concept behind the map is rock solid--with some added AI triggers and a few tweaks here and there, I am quite prepared to have Civilian Counter included in the full package when it is released next month.
2. GOATMESSIAH - TOMORROW NEVER DIES
Tomorrow Never Dies is a fun and dynamic map which pits The Protagonist, shot down behind enemy lines, against a significant Japanese entrenchment. It starts with some highly skilful Commando-style action, having to bait away Flame Tanks with the Sniper Rifle so Engineers can capture a Chinook, as well as using The Protagonist as a shield against enemy rocket fire. Once the Japanese Communications Centre has been captured, a flare is lit on nearby island which has a structure which must be destroyed. After successfully doing so, the mission changes again, revealing a Tomorrow Construction Yard and instructing the player to wipe out the remaining Japanese presence. Japanese in the desert--bet you weren't expecting that! Goatmessiah delivers a strong entry into the contest with Tomorrow Never Dies.
Judging this map was very challenging--it's as good as the ultimate winner in many ways. Both maps have two phases and both maps have interesting things going on. I also have to give Goatmessiah credit for managing to figure almost everything out on his own, whereas the other two submitters had asked for greater assistance. Of course this is counted a bit by being submitted later than the others. The map itself is not without fault--the AI starts to put up some resistance when the production side of the mission kicks off, only to stop a few moments later as one of the Tank Hunters blocks the ford. At the end of the day deciding factor for me is a fine edge, but one I'm happy to make. Put simply, in this map, as good as it is, can have situations occur in which the map is rendered unwinnable through no fault of the player. I find this to be unfun. There's two situations in which I had "Well that wasn't my fault" losses. The first was the Gunboat, not revealed to the player at all by this point of the map, one-shotting the Chinook as it flew to the island. Ow. The second, and a more serious one, is the placement of the Tomorrow Construction Yard. By having it pre-placed where it is, AI units will beeline straight to the Construction Yard and destroy it before the player can react (I did try to repair and build defences, but the AI will kill the Construction Yard too quickly). This particular issue could have been resolved by reinforcing an MCV from off map when the time comes to give the player production capability. It is a shame that one river crossing brings down this map to second place (if the AI consistently launched attacks successfully, then it would have automatically won). At the end of the day, I did really enjoy this map. It's a very close second, and with a few tweaks here and there I think it'll be one of the clear strongest maps in the post campaign missions set.
1. SCIONOX - THE ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
An unknown organisation has stolen technology from all other factions and holed themselves up on this privately owned island. It's up to the fledgling rebel factions to clear out the island for themselves--a combined effort from Russian, American and Japanese forces against this unknown foe. The mission instantly starts out with a large naval assault already underway, with allied Russian and American troops invading the coast and charging inland, leading the Japanese player to follow suit with his own Tank Hunter group. As the combined arms forces head north, smashing containment lines, they enter a run down Japanese installation which the player can capture before taking on the rest of the stolen technological fortress.
As mentioned in the previous map entry, judging between these two maps was hard. Why? They both are pretty awesome in their own ways and both of them have AI implemented that gets stuck pretty quickly. But this map is a little more robust in that it doesn't just break if the player attacks the wrong thing and it's a little more ambitious. The start is just fun and the mixed tech is handled decently. While it's a shame the AI breaks so easily, it's a great map and one that I'm happy to include (with fixed AI) into the map set proper for the final release. Not a fan of the name though, haha!
So there you all have it! The winner, Scionox, a friend of mine narrowly escaping with victory after Goatmessiah's well played submission! And Jacko put in a solid concept too, just needs a little bit more refinement and it'll be in with the best of them. Thanks again so much guys, and I'll be in touch if there's any changes I want to make to your maps so you can be satisfied.