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Under the Radar Reviews-SEP '22 [Arc: 1481: The Tannhauser Gate]


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It’s that time again…



Time for ol’ Josh to hit the slopes! (and such). Today, we-


HEY! STOP TRYING TO HORN IN ON MY ACT-...er, never mind.


So, searching “my level” and SFMA, I happen upon a name I haven’t seen, with an arc meant for an origin not mine:



Wrong origin. Dark energy. Certain death. Yeah. This has Josh written all over it (or maybe partially written on it, like a little scribble on its shoulder or somethin’).




So, there are some considerations:


Hey…I have zero aura, and no magic. Unless I fart. Then I have the aura…sorta.


And no, I’m not intimidated at all by this person:


The eyes…the EYES!


So, big ol’ tower with 300 floors is leaking energy. This makes me the plumber, and…


I’d say this is a clog.


Looks like a custom and some reskinned Vahz, Ghosts and, is that a Coralax I see?


Nice! I like it.




See that? That is a PERFECT Destroy Object(s) spawn. 3 Objectives all lined up. If this was planned, it’s awesome. It’s still great even if it’s luck, but if testing showed this is consistent, then bravo.


One great thing about running arcs if you’re into design is checking out how other folks handle things like clues. This is one I hadn’t thought of:


I number mine by Mish-Clue# (ex: 1-1, 1-2 and so on). This is an economical way of grouping by mish without having to worry about slotting the clues in order on the design screen. Very interesting.


So take out the 3 obelisks in one room, find a clue, then move on to find the 4th obelisk. At this point I’m thinking, Awwwww…it’d been nice if it were 3…(sniff)


M1 wrapped up neatly. A purple light whisks me to my bedroom in 1975. Or back to the contact. Who can say?:-)


Okay, my first suggestion. When indicating action vs. dialogue, as we see here:


I’d go with a different color font (I like to use orange for this, but it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s consistent). Other option: italics (I use that, too). FYI: this thing is clean as a whistle as far as editing goes. Bravo.


Second thing is this, of which I am including just a snippet:


This is a mish end clue that summarizes everything I did in M1. I don’t know if this will be an ongoing feature of this arc. If so, I strongly advise against it. Something like this would be GREAT for the badge summary, which I think has 3000 characters. But this big thing just adds redundant info to the clues screen.



Dat’s a LOTTA clue-age, maestro.




So, We’re TP’ed in via a portal, so:


Well..they wuzn’t lyin’, bro…(translation: nice map choice)


Another situation where 3 of 4 objectives in the same room.


This is nice. But it also makes me wonder if we needed 4 to accomplish the same goal.


After the clickies, I have a boss fight:


Um...no. Josh Jones just doesn’t listen, bro!


Out we go! In the debrief/brief, we get this tidbit:


What YOU find odd…(by the way, is that a bad thing? Josh don’t know. I mean…he doesn’t listen…)



So, off we go:


Okay, this doesn’t sound creepy at all (is that a misplaced Kevin Bacon I see?).


Once in this place of everybody’s memories, we find:


Memory? Pretty sure this is happening now, bruh.


We pick up a friend with some nice togs:



NOTE: In M3, the mish numbering system works a bit clunky. We have some consecutive clues related to the main mish goal that group together on the page, but spawn above a previous clue, making them appear out of order. This is where number or coloration might be helpful. 


NOTE: I love this map. However, it’s definitely one that sends you running back and forth when it’s loaded down with objectives. Not necessarily a bad thing, since the map is rather small. But we do have to hop up and down levels, so it seems farther to go.


After several back and forths to various shades of Mr. Tanny, we get some interesting customs:


Rocks…you’re throwing rocks at me…I hate you… (seriously…Josh and boulders have a bad history).





Time to stop a ritual. Might be dangerous. I mean there are many clues. Like this one:


Sooo red and creepy in here…


And then this:


Free the crew of the Enterprise! NOW! Oh, wait...you're NOT Apollo?


M4 has a couple nice boss battles. Map has it’s issues. My ally dropped into that big pit and I was just too lazy to go back and get her. Thankfully handled the boss by myself thanks to jousting and a couple Insps.


Finale time! 


And I finally find a typo:


There is no escaping the dreaded tyyypo!:-)


Okay, no idea what this map is:


But I LIKE it!


So, grab my paladin buddy, then off to destroy stuff, etc., then this:


Fuuuuuuudge…right in the middle of a pain crystal. And usu you can’t shoot an object until you engage a guard so..yeah…


Speaking of that:


My Pally friend is a masochist…


Okay, so I think I finally recognize this map. Think it’s the one where Manti kills Sister P? Anyway, shades of old stuff:


Got an ally waiting…


Speaking of allies and waiting:


You can hop in ANY time, lady!


NOTE: I think all allies are set to passive. In this case, the melee ally almost has to have enemies led to her. As far as Aisynia, above, I can’t tell if she’s set to passive or has non-combat abilities. She did mention being able to do a spell. Anyway, this is why I tend to set my allies (the ones who can fight) to aggressive. I’d rather see them engage than stare at the player (bear in mind, this behavior may have nothing to do with the design choices. You never know with AE.).


Speaking of allies (again): Reen the Paladin withered away at the red crystal. Her sacrifice is noted (and exceedingly questioned).:-)


So, Boss fight coming up. And we’re in that magic zone:


Super buff a-comin’!


Boss fight requires one big DEF Insp and some jousting. Right after boss goes down, we level, free a hot chick, and: 


It’s a good…feeling. A really good feeling…:-)


So, what about this fine arc?


Good stuff:

*Clean, clean, clean. Care and consideration have been taken with every step. Wish mine would be that clean.

*An interesting mix of enemies. I like seeing how typical enemies synergize outside their usual groups.

*Atmosphere: In map choices and some creepy, archaic sounding names Like Malesh’Kor (which probably means Heart of Evil, or Bad Sandwich Maker)

*Big Bosses were memorable, because they were not overused. I think I had 1 red boss (Orion) and some Oranges. That’s about right for my L12 Sent (not L13, muthas!).

*Reen hit HARD (when she hit).



*It is Clue heavy, and I mean heavy. All of them are well-written, spelling out the details of the deeper story. Whether this is a tweak or not depends on whether the player likes clues. If so, this may not be an issue at all.

*Mission end summaries: These are not needed. They eat up a lot of space in the Clues stream, and tell us what we already know. Put them in the badge (reward) verbiage at mission’s end. 

*Runaround mish: there’s a lot of back and forth in M3. I like that map, but maybe we need a bigger map to keep the player moving forward instead of back and forth.

*Allies: Passive settings make Reen less likely to engage unless the player/she is hit with an atack first. Aisynia did not engage at all, which leads me to believe she’s set to non-combat. If so, I’m not sure why she’s there. I’d set Reen to aggressive, since she’s melee. Aisynia needs to be looked at. If she’s not there to help combat, she needs to be set to no follow and have a reason to remain behind. Or give her a camera to record my stylin’.:-)


OVERALL: 5/5 Giving this a 5 despite the tweaks. It’s just a really well-done, self-contained arc. It’s loaded with lore, uses evocative maps (which look really good on my new system):-) 


Play this if: 

*You’re magic-origin.

*You enjoy a rich, detailed story.

*You want a well-crafted experience, rendered with great detail and love for the subject.


Don’t play if:

*You’re not a clue reader. Because you’ll miss everything, buddy.


That’s it for now. Happy fall, everyone!


Yours in AE story-ishness,



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Looking for SFMA content over multiple arcs? Search for the following under "cranebump." LONG FORM: 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. Mobius [5 Parts]:  Visions of past, present, and possibility collide, as you and the Autumn Wards unravel the mystery of the 7-year time gap. 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 Bleed [3 parts]: Your investigation of arcane fissures in IP leads you to uncover a 100-year old secret shrouded in magic, blood, and betrayal. Noble Mettle [2 parts]: A Sky Raider raid on the Paragon Commodities Commission turns from simple kidnapping to a complicated scheme involving mercenaries, "Communists," economics, and chemistry. Fallout (in progress). One Shots:  Of Guns and Asa Ronan; The Tenuous State of Grace; Garden of the Will; Gravity; The Book of Bond's; The Lost Girls; Injustice Systems; Wednesday’s Wyverns; Of ‘Dine and Men; Dark Legacy; Shadow and Silver, The Re-education of Westin Phipps, Potter's Field

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