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Huang3721's Story Arcs


huang3721
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User Unreachable by bengis Arc. ID 44217

 

Short description

Someone cut off a researcher from the outside world while she was in the middle of a lengthy experiment inside virtual reality. Subsequent attempts to pull her out have failed. Can you help her?

 

The story arc is my attempt at a custom ambush. I create an enemy group made up solely of boss type. The player's goal is to complete all required mission objectives without triggering this type of ambush. Triggering the trap usually causes a mission failure because it locks a group of bosses on you (and your poor escort). The limitation, however,  may not apply to min-maxed toons. They most likely can safely trigger every single ambush on their way. To compensate for this problem, they can run the story on a higher difficulty setting. 

 

Enemy

Your enemies are a bunch of training dummies that seems to go rogue. The group consists of four AT:

  • Sapper, electric/electric scrapper
  • Melee, battle-ax/shield tank
  • Ranged, beam rifle/temporal manipulation blaster
  • Controller, illusion/force field controller

Since the custom enemy has different damage types, you may need a well-rounded build. You can also set the difficulty to -1. 

 

Difficulty

There are only two elite bosses in this arc. I aim to create a playable story arc for most of everyone, where even characters with no build can complete the story without suffering too much defeat. Some AT probably need to run on -1 difficulty, and the EBs will defeat them a few times. However, they should be able to fight through the minions and non-special ambushes without dying.

Missions

  1. Mission 1 is straightforward. It consists of two missions, a collection mission, and defeats a boss with a single ambush. However, there are also optional objectives on this map. Completing them will allow you to access Rikti computers. Those things give you additional clues to finish the story.  If you are playing the story for the first time, I highly recommend you to finish them. Mission 1 is a small to medium map; it won't take long. Crank up your speakers if you have to. 
  2. Mission 2 has an elite boss (with a single ambush) in it. Depending on your build, you may need lots of inspiration here. As usual, check for optional objectives.
  3. Mission 3 is a puzzle mission. It could be challenging if you didn't check for optional objectives. However, you can still brute force this puzzle.
    Spoiler

    You need at least four characters equipped with stealth and probably a few inspirations.

     

  4. The last mission is the most challenging part (duh). You have an escort mission and a defendable object. Not to mention an EB to fight. However, you don't have to take all of them simultaneously (or please take them all if you feel adventurous or suicidal).

 

Special ambush
There are several special ambushes from mission two onwards. These guys have different colors (purple) and are more challenging than the regular ambushes. If you follow the clues closely, you will trigger none of them throughout the story.

 

 

edit 2021-10-09

I noticed that some people are having difficulty completing this story arc. I have added a few tips if you decide to run this AE. 

Edited by huang3721
ID Number Typo; difficulty;title change
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Thanks to @Darmian for Praetorian Clockwork speech patterns suggestion. Now bots will be more talkative while fighting, performing ambushes and patrolling.

 

For example, after rescuing a friendly robot escort, you will hear DEF(X); (defend X). X refers to your character.

 

You will also hear this after triggering a special ambush (avoid them whenever possible. They are tough):

 

?(OBJ.TRP.TRG()) MOV(X.LOC()); ?(SEE(X) + X.ALIVE()) ATK(X);

 

(If a trap is being triggered, move to X's position. If a clockwork see X and X is still alive, attack them.)

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I played through the arc on my fully tricked out Invul/Energy Melee Tanker.  My difficulty was initially set to +0/x4.  (For comparison's sake, I typically solo non-Incarnate content on this toon at +2/x8 or +3/x8.)

 

First mission:

 - love the Praetorian Clockwork dialogue, very cool

 - the 'rescuable' robots all died pretty quickly at this difficulty, but I was able to escort one of them to the entrance as an experiment.  Nothing happened when I did, except the robot when 'neutral' and stopped following me.  Not sure if that was intentional.

 - I was only able to activate one of the three Rikti computers in the final room.  I got 'Journal Entry #1' off of it.  The other two gave the 'you cannot interact with this objective yet' message.

 - these bots are HARD.  The final ambush that triggered when I activated the computer happened to have two Boss-level Sappers and a number of minion-level Controllers, by sheer bad luck, and I was END drained and nearly killed.  I had to activate my T9 defensive ability, which I almost never have to do, and eat a whole mess of Blue inspirations to stay up.  I appreciate that you want this to be hard, but unavoidable fights against things that nasty (and made nastier by the support bots stacking shields, so even with my seriously buffed stats I was only hitting about 10% of the time) should probably have a warning in the arc description

 

Second Mission:

 - I'll reiterate, stacking Shield buffs from multiple mobs drops my hit rate to about 12% in large fights.  At level 40, none of my powers have an ACC rating of less than 1.66, plus I have a base accuracy bonus of 1.40.  That's tough to get around.

 - the assistant bot was basically just there for decoration - he went down in about half a second in the first fight after he was activated

 - your mission description talks about 'avoiding' the elite ambushes (the elites look really cool, by the way, nice use of color) - but there are two identical computers, one of which triggers the ambush and one which doesn't, and there is no way to tell except via trial and error.  Not really much choice in avoiding it.

 

Third Mission:

 - I dropped the difficulty to +0/x1, something I almost never do.  The stacking shield buffs were just too much of a pain.

 - I'm not thrilled about the timer starting when I accepted the mission, instead of when I entered it, but I don't think there is anything you can do about that

 - clearly, the 60 second 'boot' is a trap... maybe some warning in the mission description?

 - between the long activation times, the fact that a bad activation summons an elite team... you need to put in mission description that this requires a team.

 

Fourth Mission:

 - having dropped the difficulty to +0/x1, I didn't have a problem with the mobs - but when, as an experiment, I clicked on the 'wrong' computer, it summoned the elite ambushers directly on top of the mainframe that needed to be protected, which they killed within seconds without me even getting a chance to get back there.  Bam, mission failure after I'd already protected that objective.  That left a bad taste in my mouth at the end of the arc.

 

 

In summary:

You've really pushed AE to the limit with what it can do, and I admire it from a technical standpoint.  I love the robot dialogue, and the implications behind some of the character interactions are interesting and make me want to know more.  But the ludicrously steep difficulty scaling, the fact that most of the interesting lore is hidden behind super-finicky optional objectives which are never adequately explained to the player, and the fact that it is clearly designed to require both stealth and a team but that is not included in the description had me give it a 2/5.

 

I'll note these are all fixable issues.  Clearly, a ton of work has gone in to this, and the custom characters look fantastic, and even the super-high difficulty isn't a problem in and of itself - but it's a too opaque.  More information would make this arc more accessible to people who don't go in knowing how it is 'supposed' to go.

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Thanks for the insight, @TalynDerre

 

I sense a design flaw here. Maybe the first three escorts in M1 are better as allies than escorts.

 

I want people to figure out that:

  1. Ranged and Controller bots give buffs, so people should target them first. I use ambushes to drive this point further. 
  2. Completing an escort mission allow access to Rikti computer
  3. Each Rikti computer gives additional clues.

Playing in higher a difficulty setting undermines these points because doing so often makes the escorts die prematurely. In turn, players can't access the computers and don't get the clues. Further down the line, they don't see this pattern when they spot the helper bot in M2. The result is people enter M3 clueless.


I don't want to make the puzzle in M3 easier because there is a hidden but better way to solve it. Sadly, since nobody ever sees the connection, they think the mission is brutal or unwinnable. 


They want a change in M3, either by reducing the timer below 10 seconds or increasing the time limit. However, to keep the time attack aspect intact, they will have to search through dozens of items. I'm not sure which one is worse: spending 90 seconds on an object or spending the same amount of time looking for a needle in a haystack.


Finally, unfamiliarity in M4 makes the experience worse since Defendable Object is uncommon in AE. One abandoned a vital objective, while the other

tested an ambush near it. Both brought catastrophic ends to their missions.

 

A question for @Darmianand @cranebump: Is it safe to replace several (read: numerous) objectives in a published AE? I think I'm going to do an overhaul.

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57 minutes ago, huang3721 said:

Thanks for the insight, @TalynDerre

 

I sense a design flaw here. Maybe the first three escorts in M1 are better as allies than escorts.

 

I want people to figure out that:

  1. Ranged and Controller bots give buffs, so people should target them first. I use ambushes to drive this point further. 
  2. Completing an escort mission allow access to Rikti computer
  3. Each Rikti computer gives additional clues.

Playing in higher a difficulty setting undermines these points because doing so often makes the escorts die prematurely. In turn, players can't access the computers and don't get the clues. Further down the line, they don't see this pattern when they spot the helper bot in M2. The result is people enter M3 clueless.


I don't want to make the puzzle in M3 easier because there is a hidden but better way to solve it. Sadly, since nobody ever sees the connection, they think the mission is brutal or unwinnable. 


They want a change in M3, either by reducing the timer below 10 seconds or increasing the time limit. However, to keep the time attack aspect intact, they will have to search through dozens of items. I'm not sure which one is worse: spending 90 seconds on an object or spending the same amount of time looking for a needle in a haystack.


Finally, unfamiliarity in M4 makes the experience worse since Defendable Object is uncommon in AE. One abandoned a vital objective, while the other

tested an ambush near it. Both brought catastrophic ends to their missions.

 

A question for @Darmianand @cranebump: Is it safe to replace several (read: numerous) objectives in a published AE? I think I'm going to do an overhaul.

 

I would so a "Save As" first, then bring it down to work on it locally. 

 

Other stuff:

*USING ALLIES INSTEAD OF ESCORTS: I sort of like the Escort function, since it gives me the orange nav point. When I played it, I didn't really depend on the adds for support, outside named NPCs. 

*FIGURING OUT WHAT TO TARGET: When you're being mobbed, you may not have time to be selective about whom you target. My AR blaster was spraying AoE's everywhere so that I wouldn't be killed. I did start to target those force KB guys later on. Of course, while I did - END drain. Lady or the tiger (or rather, tiger or the tiger).

*STORY VERSUS CHALLENGE: You're trying to combine a clue-driven mystery, while at the same time presenting a challenge arc. It might be that these two goals are mutually exclusive. The challenge aspects in the combat (esp. ambush waves) do not allow me to concentrate much on the clue-driven mystery. As a result, both goals suffer (well, at the moment).

 

Finally, I want to specifically comment on this: I don't want to make the puzzle in M3 easier because there is a hidden but better way to solve it. Sadly, since nobody ever sees the connection, they think the mission is brutal or unwinnable. 

 

Easy to spot the fixes here: 

*If multiple players aren't seeing the connection, then make it easier/clearer to see.

*If multiple players think my mission is "X," then it's "X," regardless of what I think about it.

 

I imagine you can tinker with this to find the right balance between Challenge and Story. But, given my druthers, I'd rather your AE treat me to a story first. If all I want is a challenge, I'll try to find one of those farm mission thingies, or run an in-game TF at higher settings. If it's a Choose the right glowie challenge, that's fine. But it needs to be easier to figure out. Further, if you can fool the player, even as clues are in plain sight? Even better. Right now, this part is akin to the tabletop GM who keeps waiting for the players to ask the right question, rather than adjusting the campaign to make acquisition of what they need a tad easier (so that the campaign can move ahead, and everyone can have fun).

 

My 3 and a half cents again. Good luck with the changes. Hope the refit isn't too excruciating. I do know how the editing process is, believe me. I applaud you for sticking with it.

Edited by cranebump
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Looking for SFMA content over multiple arcs? Search for the following arcs under "cranebump."

Ordinary People [3 parts] Investigation of a series of thefts leads you deep into a vengeful plot that threatens all of Paragon City. Will you and Kings Row's "ordinary" heroes be able to stop it? Leviathan [5 parts] The  assassination of a local politician with national aspirations sets off a media frenzy among everyone's favorite reactionary network, NewsAnon. Among their targets? You. The Cage Series [3 parts]: The Iron Widow is back! Or...is she? Your vigilante philosophy is put to the test in this tale of shifting loyalties and outright deceit. The Port Oakes TF [2 parts] Enos Childs is calling on Villains like you to join his glorious quest to drive Arachnos out of the Rogue Isles. One Shots:  Of Guns and Asa Ronan; The Tenuous State of Grace; Garden of the Will; Gravity; The Book of Bond's

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  • 3 weeks later

Working With the Enemy  by MaraAt1 Arc ID. 44554

 

Short Description
There are impossibilities in this world. For example, PPD and Powers Division work together to achieve a common goal without killing each other. As absurd as it seems, you find yourself partaking in such absurdities right now.

 

Missions
All missions consist of captives and collectibles, with a few boss fights in the third mission. The second mission in this arc is an alternate version of User Unreachable third mission. Rather than a few items with ninety seconds of interaction time, you have dozens (45 collectibles, to be exact) with five seconds interaction time. All hints are in plain sight. Time limit: 5 minutes.
For a challenge, try to rescue an enemy captive in Mission 2. Do it after completing the main objective.

 

Enemies
Your enemies are PPD officers posing as The Resistance. One custom enemy serves as the final boss. 

 

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  • huang3721 changed the title to Huang3721's Story Arcs

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