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  1. Hi! A long time ago I wrote a guide exploring some hidden parts of everyone's favorite farm (and I guess story content) creator, Mission Architect. I'm reposting it here in case folks find it useful, and I've also added a few new nuggets of information I've found out. At first glance, Mission Architect can seem rather limiting. Enemies can only spawn in certain places, there’s only so many maps, etc. But with some tips and tricks, an arc built with Mission Architect can be incredibly cool and innovative, and become a really awesome piece of content, on par with everything else in the game! About me! To introduce myself, I'm @Charlie! I've loved AE in this game since I started playing and I give it a lot of credit for being an amazing creative outlet for me while I was a teenager. I now work as a TV comedy writer for a bunch of different shows, and I wholeheartedly endorse AE as an awesome system for people to flex their storytelling muscles. This guide is not really about what makes a good or well-written plot or anything like that, because really, this game is about being creative and having fun and that's what Mission Architect should enable you to do. Whether you just want to make fun missions to play (or RP) with your friends or you want to share stuff with everyone across all the servers, AE can be a confusing, befuddling experience, so these tips will hopefully help demystify it so you can crank stuff out quick, easy, and get to the good part (the playing along). PART 1: THE STORY These are the only tidbits I'll go into about story, and the discussion is simply to help people understand where to best focus efforts when working on an AE story: 1. Keep things simple when you can. - The more convoluted your plot gets, the more difficult it will be for anyone to stay invested in the story. Plus the more brief you can be with your introductions and text, the easier it’ll be for players to follow what is going on. 2. Keep raising the stakes! - You don’t want to frontload an arc. There should be a sense of urgency in your story, otherwise it can be easy to become disinterested. At their longest, Mission Architect arcs can only be 5 missions. It may seem a bit short if you compare it to some of the Task Forces’ lengths, but those were designed with leveling in mind. (i.e. giving players mass amounts of defeat alls so that they’ll gain plenty of experience and reach the minimum level for the next TF). Really though, 5 missions is plenty of time to tell a good story. If for whatever reason you cannot fit your story into 5 missions, there’s always the option to make a part two... too! Your first mission sets the stage for everything. From then on, your missions should build on top of that, upping the ante until you finally get to the climactic final mission which usually involves a big boss fight. It’s basic story structure! An inciting incident occurs which starts the story. The action gets greater and greater as the stakes rise until finally we’re at the climax! After that, the action slowly falls until we’re left with a resolution! Though you don’t really have to make a falling action/resolution mission... (But you can! We’ll get to that later!) If you don’t keep your arc ramping up, it’s going to become repetitive and unexciting. You’ll wind up with the old Positron Task Force: a bunch of missions strung together that don’t really lead to anything satisfying. PART 2: WHAT DOES ALL THIS WEIRD STUFF IN THE UI MEAN? We’re gonna take this step by step. The first thing you see when you create a new AE file is a section at the front of the 'timeline' at the top of the UI, denoted by a pen icon... Story Settings - Story Title: I mean, pretty obvious, right? It’s the story title. - Story Description: Basically the log-line of your story. What is it about? What characters appear in it? It’s a good place to add Elite Boss/Arch-Villain warnings too, if you want. Story Contact - Contact Name: Once again, pretty self-explanatory. - Contact Type: You can select a ton of different stuff to act as your story’s contact. Objects, custom characters, even freakin’ Bat’Zul. Be aware certain mobs will have weird hit-boxes though and may be a bit more annoying to click. - Contact Group: This is an interesting one. It’ll show up if the person clicks “ask about this contact” and serves as a way to show their allegiances. I like to use it as an occupation. For example, if the contact is a detective, it would read “Veteran Police Detective” or something to that effect. - About Contact: A short biography for your contact. Some of the normal contacts/enemies will have bios pre-loaded, but you can always alter them. This also appears when someone clicks “Ask about this contact.” It should be noted that I find it incredibly hard to believe anyone would ever click the 'Ask About this Contact' button (I mean, has anyone ever done that even in normal content?) Still though, fill it out for fun if you want. Story Parameters - Story Arc Status: I’d be sure to set this to Final immediately. You most likely won’t be publishing a “Work in Progress” arc and it’s easy to forget to change this setting when you’re done with everything and ready to publish. - Suggested Alignment: This is a cool setting. It determines the prime playerbase of your arc. Did you make one for redside or blueside? Or Praetoria, even. - Keywords: Pretty self-explanatory. How would you describe what you’re making? Souvenir Clue - Souvenir Name: What souvenir do people take away from this arc? Maybe it’s the skull of their fallen enemy, maybe it’s a toaster. - Souvenir Description: A souvenir in-game typically has you reminded of all the events of the arc. Essentially, it sums up the entire story through a fond, nostalgic lens. The Mission (1) This is what appears when you hit the 1 button on your first mission. The 1 and 2 are separated like pages of a book, here's what you see for 1: Choose Mission Settings - Enemy Group: My advice is to MORE OFTEN THAN NOT set this to EMPTY. This is where Mission Architect really loses its mojo for some people. What this essentially does is set every spawnpoint on the map to spawn a certain enemy group mob. Guess what though. You can make every spawn on the map into a mission detail, meaning instead of a bland mob, you can make it into something MUCH, much cooler, and open up tons of possibilities. More on that once we get to Mission Details and Goals. - Map Type: Choose your map. On the right side you will begin to see Mission Map Details (bear in mind the map pictures are often wonky, but the details in text will be there)... Mission Parameters - Minimum/Maximum Level: This defines the level range of your characters, and can be used to do some very cool things. Usually, you will want to set this to be the level of your primary enemy group (i.e. if you’re doing a Crey arc, you’d make it 35-54). Just because you have an arc set to a certain level range, doesn’t mean enemies from other level ranges can’t appear, they’ll just con as grey or purple! We’ll get into some cool uses for this setting later. NOTE: Custom Characters ALWAYS go from 1-54. - Mission Pacing: If you set Enemy Group to empty, (which you often should, like I said), this setting won’t matter. If you ignored me and set a mission enemy group, this setting has options for different level ranges (i.e. people in front are lower level than people in back). - Time to Complete: Is there a time limit to your mission? Adding this will require a Return Fail Dialogue from the contact, even if you give players 3 hours to click a glowie. - Mission Exit: This makes it so that once the mission is complete, people have to leave using the door they entered with. It’s great for trap missions, which we’ll get to later. Mission Begin Clue/Mission Complete Clue: These clues are good for summing up the events of the mission, but the problem is that there’s no guarantee they’ll be read, especially when your arc is played by teams. Sometimes the New Clue pop-up doesn’t show for whatever reason, or the sound effect might not play. For all these reasons, clues shouldn’t be the most reliable way of telling your story. You should stick to some of the text options below. Write Text - Mission Introduction Dialogue: Your contact’s introduction to the mission. These are best kept brief, just explain the situation and ask for help. A good tip (which is often implemented in CoH arcs) is to have the contact sum up the mission in one sentence and color that sentence orange. That way the player knows EXACTLY what he’s doing. (In order to color something, highlight the text and right click. You can also set things to italic, bold, or even add in the $name shortcut to make the contact address players by name). I like to also bold or color the names of the antagonists. Like say if we were fighting someone known as Baron Evil McJones, every time his name showed up, I’d color it red, meaning he’s going to be important to this arc. - Mission Send Off Dialogue: This is what your contact says after the mission is accepted. It can be a good place to drop more information, but the player will most likely be rearing to start the mission, so it’s best just to constrain it to a single paragraph. - Compass Active Task Text: This is VITAL. Teams may play your arc, and you want every team member to know what is going on so they can enjoy the story as well. It is unrealistic to expect everyone on a team to go into their Missions tab and read the contact dialogue. Heck, it's unrealistic to even expect a single player to do that. When people run content, a lot will almost always zoom through the dialogue. But everybody and I mean EVERYBODY reads the Nav Text. You don’t want to this text to be vague (I.e. Defeat all enemies) you want it to almost echo the orange sentence you wrote in Mission Introduction Dialogue (I.e. Stop Baron Evil McJones from Getting the Magic Crystal). That way everyone will know exactly what is going on in your mission. - Still Busy Dialogue: This text will most likely never be read. I mean who is seriously going to talk to the contact again after they get the mission? But it's required. A good place to be funny if you want. - Return Success Dialogue: The mission was a success, but the contact is going to hint at whatever is coming next... - Additional Text (Unrequired Text) - - Mission Title/Mission Subtitle: This is a cosmetic thing. A good place to see this in action is the Rikti War Zone or the new Incarnate Arcs (i.e. the places where you see individual missions labeled Part One: Dream Doctor's Big Day). It’s just a fun way to spice up the mission screen. Don’t be afraid to change text color here, or bold stuff, it can be very cool. - - Mission Accept Text: How the player responds to the contact/how they take the mission. Typically, you shouldn’t put words in the player’s mouth. It’s best to stick with something like, “Let’s do it” and not write something specific that may alienate players who think ‘my character would NEVER say that!’ - - Mission Entry Popup: This is a great way to convey information to the entire team. Keep this pop-up VERY short, as if it is too long, people may just click OK and zoom past them. If used effectively, this pop-up can remind all players of the mission’s objective by saying something like “Baron Evil McJones must be around here somewhere, searching for the crystal that can cure his impotence.” Or it can also just set the scene for the mission by saying something like... “Pure magical energy courses throughout the cavern.” or “The smell of burning oil permeates the air.” - - Mission Success/Fail Popup: The same as the pop-up above, only after the mission is completed. A great way to hint at what comes next. - - Return Fail Dialogue: This is only seen (and required) if you have an objective that can be failed (like an escort or defend or time limit). You’ll have to advance the story even if they couldn’t complete your objectives.
  2. What the title says. Many times I want to make several objectives of the same kind with slight differences. Being able to easily duplicate existing objectives would greatly improve the mission architect UI. We can already do this by editing the mission file but it's a bit of a bother because you have to close the whole game down to do so, as far as I can tell. And of course editing a file directly comes with the added risk of destroying something important.
  3. Please add a function to the 'Fight a Boss' objective which causes the mission to fail if the boss defeats one or all player(s) on the team. Would be great for scenarios where you have to take down the boss or they will escape with whatever mcguffin you are fighting over.
  4. Sometimes when you're playing a story arc someone has made, there might pop up a bug or other issue that makes it impossible to proceed. Instead of wasting GM time to try to figure out what went wrong and fix it - if that's even possible, I heard that GMs can't really work with Mission Achitect missions, but that might just have been misinformation from the days of Paragon Studios. Anyway, I figured that there could be a button in the Mission Architect controls that would let us complete a mission so we can proceed to finish the arc. I spent 4 hours today trying to get a third glowie to spawn in a huge outdoors map, over and over again, and I got really frustrated starting over repeatedly to try to get the glowie to appear. In any case, auto-completing a mission would of course forfeit all the completion rewards and only have the benefit of letting us get past a broken or too difficult mission so we can complete a story arc. This button already exists in test mode, so what I'm asking for is simply to have this same button available during actual play.
  5. In the AE, the Civilians faction contains both "ordinary" nameless NPC civilians, the likes of which we see wandering around the world, and lots of "named" NPCs like Amanda Vines and Tsoo Tattoo artists, Baby New Year and other such creatures. The problem is that there is a "Random" selection which picks from all of these entities and uses it to populate a Rescue objective, for example. It is much more likely to grab a named entity than one of the unnamed generic ones which usually is the ones you actually want. I suggest the creation of a new Civilians group which only contains the unnamed NPCs, and a random selector, so we can have random civilians show up in our missions without having to face the risk of seeing Tsoo tattoo artists or Baby New Year where they don't belong. I don't think changing the current group is a good idea, because that would possibly break existing missions, so the creation of a new "clean" group is probably best.
  6. I'm having a problem with the Mission Architect system - namely, the game stops responding when I try to make profiles for my custom NPCs. Every time I finish such a profile - in the same format as the hero I.D. cards - the game stops responding, and I get the "program has stopped responding" prompt that means I have to close or wait for the program to respond. And no matter how long I wait, I always have to close the game in the end. When I log back in, I find that my work was saved. But I shouldn't have to go through this EVERY SINGLE TIME I make a new AE NPC. I need some help, here. I want to know how this is happening, and how to fix it. It's making me very upset, because I used to be a very prolific AE writer, and it's hard to get back into the groove when things like this prevent me from putting in the details I would like!
  7. Howdy, I made an AE Adventure consisting of 3 Missions for this Halloween... It just needs some Beta Testing and Feedback for improvements... Also be aware there is a lot of text in the form of Clues, Pop ups, and dialogue with the contact (be aware, only the leader can see the Contact text if you test it with friends)... There is a GM in the final mission, but if anyone thinks it's a bit too hard, then I can downgrade it to something else and make the appropriate text changes... Let me know what you think of it... The AE # is 33618... It is meant to be story driven, and uses a unique and fun method with most of the text... If you think the pacing of the text is off, let me know in a PM here and/or in game, so I know where to look, so I can fix it...Thanks... Happy upcoming Halloween All, and can't wait for Trick or Treating in-game... Thanks, Zip
  8. I am looking for maps that could with some imagination depict: - An airport of some kind. I have found the Mercy Island map full of Arachnos flyers. I keep thinking I could do better, if only because the Arachnos theme doesn't really work in a heroic setting. I seem to remember there being an outdoor Cap au Diable map featuring a hangar of some sort, but I can't for the life of me find it. Any other suggestions would work too. - A working hospital. I know about Mother Mayhem's ruined hospital maze, but that doesn't really work here. Currently using the University basement. Any better ideas?
  9. TL;DR: New power sets for custom NPCs in AE, one primary and one secondary. Primary contains every power currently available to them, including toggles and autos. Secondary contains mix-and-match auto powers for partial customization of passive bonuses without worrying about unwanted FX or secondary benefits. I've been playing around with the Architect Entertainment system a lot over the past few months, and though I love the degree of customizability it offers, I can't help but feel frustrated at the areas in which it lacks. Personally, I would love to be able to have a finer degree of control over custom NPCs' powers - and I don't mean recoloring them (though that would be nice too). Let's look at Baron Zoria: if Paragon Wiki is accurate, he uses powers from no fewer than five different sets (Dark Blast, Dark Miasma [or Darkness Affinity], Psychic Blast, Mind Control, and Stone Control). I don't know about you, but to me, it feels unfair that players can't create their own custom enemies that do the same thing. So with that said, here's my idea: add two new power sets exclusively for custom NPCs in AE, one primary and one secondary. No new tabs needed, though the secondary set would likely involve the creation of dozens of new, but simple powers. I'll get to that in a bit; first, I'd like to discuss the primary. The primary set would be a "master list" of all the powers already available to custom NPCs, including toggles, autos, and maybe variants of the same power from different sets (for custom NPCs, Dark Blast's Life Drain does less damage and takes longer to recharge than Dark Assault's Life Drain, for example). I know it would be a pain to scroll through dozens, if not hundreds, of powers just to find the few you're looking for; to that end, I suggest that the powers be organized within the set, first by theme (Fire, Ice, Dark, ...) and second by category (Melee, Ranged, Armor, Support, ...). However, I acknowledge that this could allow players to give enemies conflicting power sets, such as Dual Blades and Shield Defense, or Staff Fighting and Titan Weapons (the latter two of which I believe use the same costume slot). Because of this, some powers may need to be excluded entirely, or relegated to their own separate versions of the "master list" set, e.g. "Master List+Shield Defense", "Master List+Titan Weapons", "Master List+Staff Fighting", et cetera. I don't know if the latter option would be as simple as copy/pasting the code for the "master list" and swapping out a few powers, or if it would be more involved than that. Regardless, let's move on to the secondary set, which I'll call the "passive bonuses" set. As previously stated, it would almost certainly require the creation of many, many new powers. However, every power in the set would be an auto power, have no FX attached, and would only apply a static (de)buff to a single attribute like damage, max HP, recovery, Energy damage resistance, recharge debuff resistance, and so on. Ideally, each attribute would be represented by ten auto powers total - five buff, five debuff - in standardized increments, such as 5%, 10%, 20%, 40%, and 80%. Like any other power set, players could choose several of these powers that affect the same attribute, effectively allowing for semi-custom strengths and weaknesses. Let's say a player wants to create a fire elemental: they could give it the +10% and +40% Fire resistance powers for a total of +50% Fire resistance. Next, they make it vulnerable to Cold by giving it the -5%, -10%, and -20% Cold resistance powers, for a total of -35% Cold resistance (or they could pick -40% and +5% to achieve the same effect!). Perhaps you could make a "pseudo-sniper" with bonuses to range and perception radius, or an Arch-Villain with high resistances and regeneration that would almost certainly require a team to overcome. Maybe you could create an ambush of weak but Untouchable enemies that would follow and pester you throughout a mission, or you could make an entire enemy group meant to challenge well-built Incarnates by giving them moderate-to-high buffs across the board. "But what about status protection?" you might ask. "That doesn't come in percentages!" And you'd be right. For those, the increments would need to be different, and would have no "debuff" equivalents. Here's what I picture: 2 (enough to protect against a single application of weaker control powers, as well as certain IO procs) 3 (enough to protect against most control powers) 4 (enough for two applications of weaker controls, or one application from a Controller that procced Overpower) 8 (enough for two Overpower procs) 100, or some other ridiculously huge number (for effective immunity to that particular status effect) Then you could combine 2 and 4 to protect the NPC against a single application from a Dominator boosted by Domination, or 4 and 8 to protect against two such applications. Now, what about farms? Yes, enemies could be given massive debuffs to make AE farms even more efficient than they already are. To counterbalance this, I suggest making the debuffs decrease enemy rewards if possible. As it is, custom enemy rewards (or at least the XP they give) are calculated based on certain "point" values of each power; why not give certain powers negative point values? I admit, though, that I don't have a thorough understanding of how said point values work despite the explanations provided in-game. Negative values might affect the calculations in unexpected ways, or might not even be possible; I never claimed to be a programmer! If it's possible to implement these in the way I've described, I believe they would go a long way in improving the customizability of NPCs in AE, despite the possible tedium of creating these sets. What do you all think? Does this idea hold water, or is it doomed to sink? Would it be more difficult to implement than I believe?
  10. Even though it's not required anymore, you've decided to undertake the old ritual of undertaking a task in memory of the Omega Team to earn your cape. As usual, you talk to the City Representative, and she sends you to talk to Paco Sanchez, Sgt. Bernhard and Justin Greene, who each tell you about Hero One and how he helped them. When you call the City Representative, she directs you to return to City Hall and pay your respects at the Omega Team memorial. As you do, however, you find that you're not the only ones visiting today...
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