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Guide to Mission Architect: Tips and Tricks 2.0

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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)...

X allowed any detail type. (X Front, X Middle, X Back) 

X allowed ambush, boss, patrol or destroy object details. (X Middle, X Back)

Make a note of ALL these numbers once you select your map! They will be very important later.

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.

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PART 3: THE IMPORTANCE OF MISSION GOALS AND DETAILS

After you’ve filled out all your text and chosen a map, click the #2 on the storybook icon to add details. Remember when I told you to make a note of how many details your map allows? Here’s where that comes in handy, as instead of using the generic “Enemy Group” to spawn enemies, we’re gonna use mission details to do it.

 

Basic Mission Goals

Bosses

  In my opinion, bosses are the most versatile objectives in the game. They can be set to allies or rogue (rogue means they attack both you and enemies), and they can also be given cool animations to do. Most of all though, they’re mobs that you can control. Here’s what I mean:

 

  Say your map allows 9 boss, patrol, or destroy object details (3 front, 3 middle, 3 back). Create a boss detail and click the button that says “Required for Completion” to make it an optional objective. Make any enemy the boss (on lower difficulties, he’ll even spawn as an LT OR if he’s a custom character, you can just CHOOSE an LT or Minion to be the boss). After that, set his name. He could be Guard, or something to that effect, if it fits. Set his quantity to 9 and now you have the same number of mobs that would’ve appeared in the mission before, only now... you can make them talk, you can make them do animations, you can make them have names that could hint at your story. (I.e. Crystal Holder, means he’s got the crystal) It adds flavor to the mission and makes it more unique. Rather than taking down random, wandering mobs, your bad guys will talk, or they’ll be doing some cool animations in preparation for the fight!

 

  Let’s take it one step further though. Create a boss objective, set it to optional, and make its quantity three. Set its placement to Front and make it’s alignment Ally. The front of your mission will now have mobs conning as allies, which is a great way to set up the mission’s story. For instance, you could make ally Police bosses in the front, who are waiting for you to head in and take on the big bad who is still causing trouble in the back of the mission with his cronies. It is touches like this that make a mission unique, as suddenly “just another boss fight” has become much, much cooler. As long as allies and enemies remain confined to different spaces (I.e. Allies in front, enemies in Middle and Back) the two groups won’t fight as they won’t spawn close enough to each other. Though if you want them to fight, you can spawn them close anyway and create your own battles.

 

  If you put this stuff to the test, you can make some truly unique missions. Think of it like this: You enter a run down lab, cops are at the front, waiting for you to head in and take out the bad guys. In the middle of the map, you encounter Freakshow, who are being hired as bodyguards by the true villain. Way in the back you find the true boss (i.e. the one set to required and needed to complete the mission). He’s Lord Recluse surrounded by Crey! You can do it if you want! It doesn’t end there, these tactics can be applied to pretty much every mission detail.

 

Collectibles

  Collectibles are better known as glowies. Things you have to click. Glowies/collectibles are great because they can act as great triggers or even as set dressing. Say you want to make your mission take place in a military surplus warehouse, but no maps seem to match that setting. Take the “Military Weapon Rack” glowie, make it optional, set it to the maximum quantity the map will allow, and then make the collection become active off an objective that is impossible to complete (i.e. an ally boss). The glowies will never glow, and instead, they’ll just spawn in the map and make your bland warehouse look filled with guns! Apply this to any of the collectibles and you can come up with something really cool.

 

Defeat All Enemies

  Remember the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Would you like to do a defeat all? Probably not. Also, this objective tends to glitch out when filling the map with details and canceling normal spawns, resulting in the mission never completing. But if you make the mission exciting enough, through varied enemies, cool animations, and interesting dialogue, chances are people will want to defeat all enemies anyway!

 

Free A Captive

  Captive frees run off a separate spawn number than bosses do, meaning their max quantity will be different and unaffected by the number of bosses in a mission. Captives can also be set as allies, meaning the enemies surrounding the captives will con as allies. The captive will con as an enemy, but be unattackable. This is a cool way to create atmosphere in a mission, you can have a criminal being arrested by cops, or you could have reporters interviewing someone. It all depends on what you want to do.

 

Advanced Mission Goals

Ally

  Allies are captives that follow you and can be set to attack. Be sure to check under ally settings that their combat behavior is “Aggressive or Defensive” if you want them to fight alongside you. Otherwise they’ll just follow you (Non Combat) or take blows until they die (Pacifist). Allies default to “Non Combat” for some reason, so make sure that is changed.

 

  Allies have the unique mechanic of betraying, which is very cool. You can set an ally to betray after an objective is completed, meaning they will attack the player. (They can even shout some dialogue as they do it). However, beating the ally will not count as a required objective so if you plan to make them attack at the end of the mission, be sure to make players only able to exit through the mission’s front door, as that will make them unable to just click the button in the Nav and port out, negating the betrayal.

 

Ambush

  Ambushes are mobs that spawn and “ambush” the player. Perhaps the glitchiest detail in the game, they can sometimes spawn in crazy places. The thing that makes them most troublesome though is that they negate triggers. Triggers are the option below the required/unrequired button on most objectives that say “This Mission goal created when...” (For glowies, it reads “Collection becomes active when...”)They allow you to spawn objectives AFTER completing a different objective. You could make an entire mission map empty and then go to the very back and touch a glowie which spawns bosses all over the map. You can set as many different things to spawn off a trigger as you want UNLESS you want to add an ambush. Ambushes immediately become the only spawn available on a trigger (this was done to combat ambush farms back in the day which were massive resource hogs).

 

Escort

  Escorts are like allies, they can even be set to combat. The only difference is an Escort needs to be lead back to a certain location to complete the objective. That doesn’t just have to be the mission door though, you can make an escort be taken to a collectible. It’s pretty cool way to vary up a mission, you could make the escort a hacker who needs to be taken to a terminal instead of just some dork who can’t find the exit. Adding a required escort means you will need to write Return Fail Dialogue, even if you set the escort to Non Combat.

 

Patrol

  Patrols are enemy mobs that walk around the map. They’re best used on outdoor maps, as they have plenty of room to walk around without doing stupid stuff like getting stuck on walls. If you have ally objectives in your map, refrain from using patrols as they may walk in range of those allies, even if they spawned in a different placement area.

 

Battle

  A battle is two sides fighting. These can be replicated by spawning opposing alignments next to each other, and in some ways the replication proves to be better as battles can sometimes spawn before the player is near them, meaning by the time the player reaches the action...there is just half an enemy mob left with less health. Kind of underwhelming. I find them best used on outdoor maps or in the front of indoor maps.

 

Destructible Object

  Destructible objects are very cool. They’re basically everything taken straight out of mayhem missions being used as objectives. They can’t be set as allies, but they are definitely more interesting than just a mob. They’re a mob crowded around something! When I’m making arcs, I will usually add mostly boss details with a few destroys peppered in for variety.

 

Defendable Object

  Did I say ambushes were the glitchiest detail in the game? Scratch that, these are. Know why? Because everything about them works off ambushes. They’re destructible objects that you have to defend from ambushes. The objects are pretty brittle too so they can be easily destroyed by AoEs. Bottom line, they’re frustrating and a surefire way to get a team to fail a mission, meaning someone will actually read that oh-so juicy Return Fail Dialogue. My advice for this objective is to never make it mandatory, always keep it optional. It can make some cool scenery as thugs smash computers and stuff, but defending a low HP computer against Malta is not very fun. These can be spawned as allies too, and they’ll behave like ally captives. The object in the middle will con enemy instead and be unattackable, while the surrounding group will be allies.

 

Giant Monster

  Pretty self-explanatory. It’s a GM in your mission. Only spawned on certain outdoor maps. If you plan on making your arc really tough, putting a GM in wouldn’t hurt.

 

That was A LOT, so let’s put it all into perspective. How would all of these details congeal to make a mission that is fresh and exciting? I’ll tell you how with an example:

 

For this mission, I’ll choose the SUPERADINE LAB map. It allows for 5 details of any type (1 Middle, 4 Back), 3 ambush, boss, patrol, or destroy details (1 Front, 2 Middle, 1 Back), 19 wall collection items. (2 Front, 6 Middle, 11 Back), and 28 floor collection items. (2 Front, 6 Middle, 20 Back).

  I’m going to set 1 boss to the front and make it an ally Detective surrounded by police. He’ll have a walkie talkie and when the player walks in he’ll say, “We’ve got all the exits covered, get in there $name!”

  Past that, the player will encounter 3 troll bosses surrounded by Skulls in the middle of the map. After beating all those bad guys and reaping the rewards, the player finds 4 destructible trucks in the back of the lab, surrounded by skulls holding boxes. They’re packing up the stashes and trying to flee the scene! Not only that, but there are inactive small lab glowies everywhere (the stations for where they’re cooking their dyne). And behind all this stands one boss, a custom character I created who is a Skull Troll. He cracks his knuckles and he and the player fight.

 

Now, doesn’t that sound much more exciting than just fighting a bunch of skulls and then facing off with the boss? I think so, and that’s just one example. Doing away with the generic enemy group spawns and taking them all into your own hands means more customization, which in turn means a more fun/unique mission to play.

 

PART 4: MAPS!

Choosing the perfect map for your mission is very easy, just always be sure to check what the max details allowed are and take a good look at the layout of the map (provided its not bugged) for a general idea of where the spawns will be. Always remember you can test in AE too (and turn on invisibility and invincibility via Architect Options in your nav) -- that will make taking a look at maps and how/where your spawns are so much easier.

 

There are a couple more things to keep in mind, though.

1. Outdoor Maps have no front/middle/back, which means their mission details can spawn anywhere. This makes them work better as war zones or battle zones, meaning if you add any allies to them, it’s alright if they are attacked and die.

2. Outdoor Maps that include an interior somewhere (SERAPH Lab, Warburg Malta Base) DO follow the front/middle/back placement rules, so you can pick and choose what spawns where.

3. The map “President Marchand’s Office” is the bane of my existence, and here’s why. The map, despite being HUGE, has an extremely low number of detail spawns. The only way to get enemies all over it is to set an enemy group for the mission. Also, the few details there are can only be spawned in the middle, and before the cool office/rooftop parts that makes the map unique! I highly recommend you steer clear of this map.

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PART 5: CUSTOM CHARACTERS & THE ENEMY GROUP CREATOR!

Alright, so we’ve gone over mission details and maps, it is time to cover enemies. The AE window has several tabs (Local Story Arc Files, Published Story Arcs, and then... Custom Characters and Enemy Groups). First, we’re gonna talk about custom characters.

 

Custom Characters:

  Custom enemies are great, and because of their innate 1-54 level, they can easily be fit into any existing group. Want to make a unique Luddite boss? Go ahead! Just be sure to balance your characters accordingly. Let’s talk about that.

 

  Balancing custom minions and lieutenants is simple, as they innately are given less health and are much easier to kill. Giving LTs and Minions a defense secondary can improve their hardiness somewhat, but it honestly doesn’t make that drastic of a difference. I recommend giving LTs and Minions a few ranged powers and a few melee powers. That allows them to attack from afar or up close (and you can choose their preference in the first menu). If you give an LT or a Minion a powerful Debuffing move, be sure to put the character in a group with a lot of other enemies that DON’T have debuffs. Debuffs will stack MAJORLY from a group of the same enemy and absolutely destroy almost every team. This is an especially easy trap to fall into if you use only Rad Blast or Plant Control enemies. Once in a while, they're fine, but together they will absolutely floor defense.

 

  Balancing custom bosses, elite bosses, and archvillains can be more tricky, as those characters have heavy resistances that can be exacerbated by giving them defense powers. For instance, an EB or AV with Invuln can be very hard to kill because their natural resistance is amplified by the defense. A general rule of thumb is this: the lower your boss/EB/AV’s desired level, the less powers you should give him. You don’t have to go by the Normal/Extreme/Blah/Blah power selection, you can pick and choose every power you want your boss to have. Think it’s dumb just giving a boss jab and punch from super strength? Well, that’s the only powers Golden Palm has in the new Mercy arcs. Look at some of the powers given to in-game AVs and EBs. It actually isn’t that much, usually a few melee attacks and a couple ranged ones. Long story short, it can be tantalizing to build a boss like a character, giving it attacks and defense, but really, a boss will work much better using just attacks, and even then, less is more.

 

  Giving any custom enemy a ton of powers in the same set doesn’t even guarantee they’ll use those powers. For instance, I once made an arch-villain with all Fire Blast powers and all Super Reflexes powers. He didn’t even use practiced brawler or elude the entire fight. I went back and left him with just practiced brawler and elude. He used both in the next fight and actually wound up being a much harder enemy to fight because of it. Giving an enemy EVERYTHING doesn’t automatically make them amazing, because their puny AI brains might not know what to do with all the powers you give them. So think hard about what powers you really want your enemy to use, and which ones you were just throwing in “just because.”

 

  Before we move on and talk about enemy groups in general, I’m going to mention a few tricks to making custom enemies...

 

Trick #1: One annoying thing about creating custom characters is that you can’t add tons of different character models for the same enemy. Make a bad guy named “Thug” that’s him, and that’s it. If you make another “Thug” it’ll save over your original. There’s a way to stop that though. At the bottom of the ID screen where you input a custom enemy’s bio, there’s a button that says edit save path. If you change that to Thug2, you will be left with two characters sharing the same name of Thug, and just have different files for them on your computer. You can have tons of different thugs now, all with different models and even different powers.

 

Trick #2: If you make a custom character and give it the Dark Armor power “Cloak of Darkness,” they’ll become invisible, making their aura the only thing that is able to be seen. So, for example, if you were to give them the gaseous aura and do this, you could make an enemy called “Poisonous Gas” for players to fight. It’s a pretty cool way to vary enemies and create stuff that isn’t normally achievable through the costume creator. I've done this tons of times, and I think my favorite was making a Simulation-style mission with enemies like this that had the Pixels Aura. They were 'broken code' and it really sold the Matrix atmosphere.

 

Enemy Group Creator:

  Just because you have a custom character doesn’t mean you can’t blend them in with standard enemies. Maybe you want to make a unique Arachnos LT and add it to existing Arachnos enemies. The enemy group creator allows you to do that and it can be GREAT for making your missions unique. Even without custom characters in the mix, you can add whatever standard characters you want. You could make an enemy group that ONLY has Arachnos Tarantulas or Mu enemies (though that’d be super-annoying). You could make a high-level Circle of Thorns arc that never employs their endless supply of stupid demons that they for some reason seem to have on speed-dial. Really take a look at some of the stuff that is available through enemy groups and bear in mind you can add whatever, you don't always need to build a full cohesive Minions, LT, Boss spread (especially if it's for a thing where most players are IO'd). Freakshow mob with JUST Sonic Freaks? Awesome! Mob of JUST Thorn Tree Vines? Do it!

 

  This can even be taken a step further and some enemies can even be altered. For instance, if you click the Circle of Thorns Archer in your new enemy group window and select the big “Edit Standard Character” on the bottom of the window you can change the color of his entire costume, write a new bio for him, and change his name. Lots of people are unaware this is even possible. Even for enemies you can’t alter (Like Storm Elementals), you can change their name to something that implies something totally different (such as Electrical Anomaly). If you want to make a really cool arc, you should definitely take advantage of this feature and mix and match enemy groups to best fit your story.

 

  If you create a custom enemy group and then add a detail and can’t seem to find that group in the selection window when working on your story arc, save and exit the architect window and then re-enter. Sometimes your new group won’t show up at first, but it will appear if you just exit and go back in. That problem should go away permanently if you log fully out of the game and back in, too.

 

PART 6: COOL USES/SCENARIOS/HIGH-LEVEL STRATS BRO

So to recap. We talked about story, we talked about the Architect’s UI and what information to put where, we talked about mission details and goals and how they should be used in favor of mobs, and we talked about custom enemies and enemy groups. It is time to show you just what types of cool things can be employed by blending all this knowledge together into a sweet smoothie.

 

The Crime Scene Investigation Mission

  Pick a small map like one of the Pawn Shops. Make a custom enemy named Murder Victim and give him the oil aura colored red (it’ll look like a blood pool). Make a custom enemy group named Police and fill it with the lowest level PPD guys (Cops). In the mission, you can set two boss details. One will be the murder victim surrounded by your Police enemy group and the other will be a PPD captain surrounded by even more police. Give the Police the Donut animation, and the murder victim the “unconscious” animation and whalaa! You have created a crime scene! Now let’s make it a mission.

 

  Fill the map with the maximum amount of collectibles and attach clues to each. Perhaps the collectible holds a clue as to what happened to the victim, or perhaps it doesn’t. The mission won’t have any combat and it will boil down to glowie grabbing, but it’ll be damn cool to play and it’ll make people feel like a detective as they do it. Also people will be more likely to read your clues if they don't need to stop fighting to do it!

 

The Celebration Mission

  Remember when I said you could make a falling action/resolution mission if you wanted? Well here we go. Say you’ve completed your arc in less than five missions and want to add one more to celebrate the hero or villain’s victory. Maybe try this.

 

  Get a map like the Atlas Park Fashion show and fill it with allies. Possibly dancing or celebrating in some way. Maybe add in a bunch of characters you saved during the arc and place them around congratulating the hero. It’ll be a cool little reward for completing your arc. Like the final SSA 1 mission where you go to the Vanguard base, except without the lame Animal House “where are they now” cutscene.

 

The Boss Mob

  What if I told you that you could make enemy groups with all bosses? Because you can. Simply add only bosses to your group and bam, you can make a mob of bosses! Definitely a challenge for higher-level players. Your arc will scale down in rewards, but at a high level like 50, you’re probably only after incarnate rewards anyway.

 

The Elite Boss Mob

  The boss mob not enough for you? Make an enemy group with only Elite Bosses and you’ll ramp up the difficulty even more. It’s a lot of fun to actually go toe to toe with a villain’s henchmen.

 

The Arch Villain Mob

  You know how you fight the whole Freedom Phalanx at once at the end of the LRSF? Let's do that all the time.

 

The Civilian “Mob”

  You know what the Loyalist enemy group is? It’s from an Ouro arc and they’re basically all generic-looking civilians. If you add them all to an enemy group and change their names to “Citizen” or something to that effect, you can have civilians hanging out in your missions. Great for outdoor maps or missions that take place in public areas. Can also be done with the 'Crazed' enemy group.

 

The Depowered Mission

  Here’s an interesting idea. Fill your mission with high-level enemies then set the Mission Parameters to 1-1. The player will be level one and therefore be unable to fight the enemies in the mission. Perhaps you can have glowies within the mission spawn allied bosses, so the objective of the mission isn’t to fight everyone, but instead to survive and stealth around, trying to get allies to fight FOR you.

 

The Overpowered Mission

  Fill your mission with low-level enemies then set the Mission Parameters to 50-54. Your player will skyrocket to level 50 and crush anything in his way. Much like in the final mission of the Vincent Ross arc where you take down an army of Legacy Chain, you can have the player feel the same level of power here.

 

The Unbeatable Boss Mission

  Rise to the Challenge of the Willpower set is bugged on AVs when on a team of 8. It makes the boss unkillable. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing though. Make the team face a Rise to the Challenge boss, but instead of beating the boss, the objective is to click glowies in the room he’s in. A member of the team will have to scramble and click glowies while the others fend off an unstoppable boss who can’t die!

 

The Trap Mission

  Add a glowie to the back of a mission and make it trigger the spawn of enemies throughout the map. Require the mission to be exited via the front door and the player will have to fight his way back out through whatever you set up. In some ways, you can treat the Front as the back in this mission and add a big bad boss there waiting for the player as he attempts to make his exit. Just be sure all your enemies are set to spawn off the same glowie!

 

The Teamwiping Trap Mission

  Here’s a doozy. Go into the enemy group creator and get the Arachnos Cruise Missile enemy from Arachnos. Make that the only enemy in the group and save it as Trap. The Arachnos Cruise Missile is a floating mine that follows players around and explodes on them doing serious damage. Perhaps a villain has traps set up in his lair so that when nosy heroes come clicking his glowies, they trigger an ambush of these bad boys that try to wipe their entire team! Makes things tense, especially if you make one glowie actually required to complete the mission! Just be wary, adding ambushes allows nothing else to be triggered, remember?

 

The Event Ambush Mission

  Take the celebration mission I mentioned above, only leave some room for more details. Add a glowie that needs to be clicked and have it spawn a bunch of enemies. The glorious event will be ruined and ransacked and it’ll be up to the player to stop it! If your event is taking place in an outdoor map, maybe even spawn a giant monster... Just because a Giant Monster is present doesn’t mean it needs to be required to be defeated either. The Kronos Titan can be blasting away civilians as the team instead accomplishes other objectives entirely.

 

Make Your Own Incarnate Content

  Setting a Mission Parameters to 54-54 will make all enemies spawn at level 54, while the heroes stay at level 50. Like in Dark Astoria or Trials, players will be fighting enemies that are +4 their level.

 

The All Adamastor, All The Time Mission

  Make an enemy group filled with Adamastor and make them surrounding an Adamastor. Why? Because why not.

 

----

 

Trust me, there’s many, many more things to do. You just have to be creative. These touches can really make an arc memorable, fun, and turn it into a welcome addition to game content!

 

I hope this guide was helpful and provided some cool information about the Mission Architect. Thanks everybody!

 

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This is the best guide for anyone interested in making fun AE missions. Highly recommend this.

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I've heard some hype that you're working on this really cool AE story called JWTF? When can we expect to see that?

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This great stuff, I read stuff in here that I didn't even know back when I used to write missions before the shut down.

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_____________________________

50s (Indom and Excel):  Bluefox (Rad/Beam Rifle Corr), King Pumpkin Spice 🎃 (Mercs/Nature MM), Stupid Like A Fox (Time/DP Def), Poltergeist Prince (Darkness Control/Empathy 'Troller), Capt Sam's Space Zoo (Beast/FF MM), Snake Charming (Mind Control/Poison Troller), The Midnight Bridge (Storm/Rad Blast 'Fender)

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I really dig this guide. There's a lot of useful info in here for anyone who is interested in AE content creation. The AE creator can seem a little daunting, but you break it all down well and even throw in some extra tips & tricks along the way.

 

Thanks for making this!

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Fantastic ideas here - thanks for resharing this guide. I am pretty sure I used this for a host of ideas back in the day.

 

Your ideas here to get creative helped inspire me to try to take advantage of some of the harder to use mechanics.

 

I even had a mission with a Giant Monster that you could solo - you had to gather a bunch of fluffy allies (Dark Swan Group Boss) and all of the their AoE heals and ranged attacks let you “solo” the Eochai. (If I recall you needed about 18 of the, though) Good stuff! :). Otherwise was hard to come up with a good way to use a GM - if I recall you could not use them even as a friendly destination for a delivery.

 

In that same arc I played a lot with triggers - that was fun too.

 

One mechanic that never behaved the way I liked was Betrayal. I had the player collecting several allies that all betrayed at once. Once they betrayed, I had hoped they would all be against the player. Rather than having them allied with one another when they betrayed - they just went rogue and all wiped each other out. Not the effect I was after. :) Lesson learned. :)

 

Once there is a path to get more architect slots, I’ll post those stories.

 

Anyway - thanks for the fantastic and inspiring guide!


Try out my AE Arcs!   Solo friendly, often canon related, & some contest winners

#848 Rularularian - Heroic - 41-54 | #854 The Serpent Beyond the Horizon - Heroic - 46-52 | #855 Save the Diver, Save the World - Vigilante - 25-30 |

|#25869 Condemning Croatoa - Villainous - 25-33 | #25870 Robolution (Red-side) - Villainous - 25-34 #27314 Robolution (Blue-side) - Heroic - 25-34 |

| #26387 The Genesis & Geneticists of The Coming Hamiggedon - Villainous - 41-54 | #27055 The Atlas of the Multiverse - Rogue - 46-54 |

#28330 Wonderland - Neutral - 25-54 |

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Oh man, this was one of my favorite guides. Really glad to see it back up! Really and informative and helpful with crafting some great storytelling missions.

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Thanks so much for the support! I'm glad you guys find this useful and all the tricks have held up over the years. Super happy to be able to provide a resource.

 

I also reposted some remade enemy groups I did so feel free to use those in your missions over here: https://forums.homecomingservers.com/index.php/topic,6381.msg52598.html#msg52598

 

I've heard some hype that you're working on this really cool AE story called JWTF? When can we expect to see that?

 

You're always one for the insider scoop, aren't you, Banana Man? JWTF is about halfway through its intensive development cycle, but I am shooting for a late-July/August release date for Part 1 to cap off Summer Blockbuster season with a bang.

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On 7/2/2019 at 4:17 PM, @Charlie said:

Collectibles

  Collectibles are better known as glowies. Things you have to click. Glowies/collectibles are great because they can act as great triggers or even as set dressing. Say you want to make your mission take place in a military surplus warehouse, but no maps seem to match that setting. Take the “Military Weapon Rack” glowie, make it optional, set it to the maximum quantity the map will allow, and then make the collection become active off an objective that is impossible to complete (i.e. an ally boss). The glowies will never glow, and instead, they’ll just spawn in the map and make your bland warehouse look filled with guns! Apply this to any of the collectibles and you can come up with something really cool.

I like the idea of using collectibles as set dressing, but I'm having trouble finding an objective that is impossible to complete to be their trigger. Apparently you can no longer set them to trigger on the death of an ally boss, and it also seems to prevent circular logic. Any other suggestions on what would be good to use for this purpose?

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On 8/20/2019 at 5:40 PM, Avonlea said:

I like the idea of using collectibles as set dressing, but I'm having trouble finding an objective that is impossible to complete to be their trigger. Apparently you can no longer set them to trigger on the death of an ally boss, and it also seems to prevent circular logic. Any other suggestions on what would be good to use for this purpose?

 

First just make sure you have unchecked the bubble at the top of the detail (on both the Ally boss and collectibles) that says ‘Required for Mission Completion.’ Problems like circular logic are ignored by AE when the details are not required for the mission to be completed. Bear in mind this means that if you are using multiple collectible object models (like weapon racks AND computers) as set dressing, you need to ensure every one has the bubble unchecked. You can tell what’s required and what’s not by the little star on the right side of the detail’s name bar (you want it to be gone).

 

If you’ve already done that, sorry to be redundant! But I just tested this now and everything seems to work as it did before. Only other fix I can offer is to ensure you are not spawning the Ally boss off one of the collectibles. AE wouldn’t allow two things spawning off each other like that. The Ally boss itself HAS to appear on the map somewhere, so if your mission can’t squeeze that in, then I recommend maybe trying to link all your glowies to become active after one non-required glowie is clicked because it’ll be hard to spot and hopefully ignored.

 

Anyway, hope something here helped! Good luck.

Edited by @Charlie
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7 hours ago, @Charlie said:

 

First just make sure you have unchecked the bubble at the top of the detail (on both the Ally boss and collectibles) that says ‘Required for Mission Completion.’ Problems like circular logic are ignored by AE when the details are not required for the mission to be completed. Bear in mind this means that if you are using multiple collectible object models (like weapon racks AND computers) as set dressing, you need to ensure every one has the bubble unchecked. You can tell what’s required and what’s not by the little star on the right side of the detail’s name bar (you want it to be gone).

 

If you’ve already done that, sorry to be redundant! But I just tested this now and everything seems to work as it did before. Only other fix I can offer is to ensure you are not spawning the Ally boss off one of the collectibles. AE wouldn’t allow two things spawning off each other like that. The Ally boss itself HAS to appear on the map somewhere, so if your mission can’t squeeze that in, then I recommend maybe trying to link all your glowies to become active after one non-required glowie is clicked because it’ll be hard to spot and hopefully ignored.

 

Anyway, hope something here helped! Good luck.

Yes, that's very helpful, thanks!  I've used the trick where the glowies trigger off of one non-required glowie, but I worry someone might click it and half the map starts blinking. 🙂  But I was unaware that things like the circular logic gets ignored for non-required objectives...that's great information!

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Any idea how @A Humble Farmer was able to create his missions that spawn single bosses, with no minions, not matter the level and group size of the Group Leader? I'm curious if a  Lvl 2 version of his Bads in Space would be worthwhile, but I'm only able to make groups of ridiculous numbers, with tons of minions or bosses.

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Try out my AE Arcs!   Solo friendly, often canon related, & some contest winners

#848 Rularularian - Heroic - 41-54 | #854 The Serpent Beyond the Horizon - Heroic - 46-52 | #855 Save the Diver, Save the World - Vigilante - 25-30 |

|#25869 Condemning Croatoa - Villainous - 25-33 | #25870 Robolution (Red-side) - Villainous - 25-34 #27314 Robolution (Blue-side) - Heroic - 25-34 |

| #26387 The Genesis & Geneticists of The Coming Hamiggedon - Villainous - 41-54 | #27055 The Atlas of the Multiverse - Rogue - 46-54 |

#28330 Wonderland - Neutral - 25-54 |

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Posted (edited)

I think this is fantastic. I just discovered Homecoming after thinking CoH was gone forever, and I never took advantage of this.

Out of any user-created content for any game this and Tron 2.0 (also kept alive and even furthered upon private servers after ceasing to exist formally) -- these are the user-submitted content platforms on my radar to try out, albeit the late bloomer I am with the whole thing. I can pretend I'm doing it when it was cutting edge, heh.

This guide helps me do it right if I'm going to try it out at all.

 

Edited by Shofar

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So glad this guide continues to be useful for folks! Catching up on answering some questions (far belated, my bad!)

On 12/31/2019 at 3:20 PM, Second Coming said:

Is there any way to have the mission contact change between missions? Or have the next mission "chain" without having to talk to the contact?

Unfortunately this is not possible currently. That's just not the way AE was designed! You only get one character with the traditional dialogue talk tree and it's rather limited.

On 3/8/2020 at 8:44 PM, Idiotfool said:

Any idea how @A Humble Farmer was able to create his missions that spawn single bosses, with no minions, not matter the level and group size of the Group Leader? I'm curious if a  Lvl 2 version of his Bads in Space would be worthwhile, but I'm only able to make groups of ridiculous numbers, with tons of minions or bosses.

When you set a boss detail (or any detail for that matter) there is an option to set the 'Surrounding Group' for the boss. Under standard enemy group selection (aka not custom groups) there is an option for empty, just like when choosing the enemy group for the mission as a whole. With that, you will spawn a singular boss.

Thanks again, enjoy AE everybody, can't wait to play everyone's stuff!

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