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Stronghold Warlords Competition- Results!

Posted on 30th Nov 2020

Well, after an intense competition which spanned over many months, we can now FINALLY reveal who has won our contest to win Stronghold Warlords for FREE!

Thanks goes to everyone who participated in our contest this year. I have to say that when checking the entries, @EaglePrince and I were completely blown away by the quality of the submissions. It's clear that substantial effort has been put into every single one of the entries, and we're really grateful for the submissions members have made. It's made judging the entries incredibly difficult because they were all so good. I feel very privileged to have been able to judge these entries, and I know @EaglePrince feels the same way as well.

The Prizes to be awarded are as follows:

  • 1st place: Free copy of Stronghold Warlords upon release and the Stronghold Kingdoms Starter Pack
  • 2nd place: Free copy of Stronghold Crusader 2 Ultimate Edition and the Stronghold kingdoms Starter Pack
  • 3rd place: Free copy of Space Colony

The categories for the competition were as follows;

  • Category A (Easy): A Custom scenario using any Stronghold game;
  • Category B (Medium): A historical structure from the far-east;
  • Category C (Hard): A game modification in some way;

The Judges for this contest were:

For entry to each category, entrants receive 1 bonus point for their submission, on top of the grading of the actual submission. Each Judge grades the submission independently between 1-5 points, then these scores are averaged out and the bonus points added on: (My score + Eagle's score) / Number of Judges + Bonus points.

We received a total of 4 entries before the deadline, all of which were valid. In accordance with the Competition Guidelines, we have awarded the results as follows:

  • 1st place: @Krarilotus for the submission Mongol Invasion 1258: 8 points;
    • (5 by me+5 by Eagle) / 2 = 5 + 3 bonus points for valid entry to Categories A, B & C = 8;
  • 2nd place: @artofmath for the submission The Mamluk Siege of Acre, 1291: 7 points;
    • (5 by me+5 by Eagle) / 2 = 5 + 2 bonus points for valid entry to Categories A & C = 7;
  • 3rd place: @Andreas9541 for the submission Blue Star5 points;
    • (4 by me+4 by Eagle) / 2 = 4 + 1 bonus point for valid entry to Category A = 5;
  • 4th place: @Lord Mordred for the submission A Three Way Skirmish: 4 points;
    • (2 by me+3 by Eagle) / 2 = 2.5 (rounded = 3) + 1 bonus point for valid entry to Category A = 4;

Congratulations to all winners! Your submissions are absolutely superb and we're so pleased and excited to be able to award you the prizes you deserve. Feel free to message me at any point to claim your prizes. Commiserations to @Lord Mordred who missed out on 3rd place by 1 point.

It's worth noting that in the case of @artofmath's submission, we were at first unsure which categories to award bonus points for, given that the map is for the middle-east, and not far-east. However after a conversation with our history expert @Crusader1307, and @EaglePrince, we have both decided to award a bonus point for Category C, which is for a game modification, purely on the basis that the Castle was very difficult to construct and required a lot of effort. We unfortunately couldn't award any more points, because the map wasn't really for the right geographic region.

The official feedback for entries, taken into account for grading, is as follows:

  • Mongol Invasion 1258:
    • My feedback: Excellent landscape. Very finely tuned with incredible attention to detail. The sheer level of depth and complexity is stunning. Great use of troops, with very well constructed natural defences and obstacles. Cleverly placed Oasis and an exceptional background history.
    • Eagle's feedback: Here I like everything! The landscape, the castle, the scenario itself… Everything looks great, and it is fun to play. The story is great too. I like how the author of the map chose Vietnam’s history, which is what Stronghold Warlords is going to be about. At first it seems strange since we don’t have Far Eastern troops, but the scenario is so fun that very soon you forget about those “missing details” (about which nobody could do anything at all, actually). I have to mention that, once the scenario has been started, the player is looking around, to see what’s going on, and the idea about destroying barracks as soon as possible didn’t cross my mind. Simply because pretty fast those lords have plenty of troops in their castles. Maybe something about this could be mentioned in the story. Something like “those lords had lived relaxed lives, and once upon hearing the news that you’re coming, they have started to gather more and fresh troops.” Although something like this has already been told in the story. Maybe it’s just me. :)
  • The Mamluk Siege of Acre, 1291:
    • My feedback: Exceptional landscape. Perfect for the scenario, and very well planned out. Incredible build design and very well replicated in the game. Every detail of the map is perfectly placed and coordinated. Great use of troops, and an overall fantastic scenario.
    • Eagle's feedback: I like how the scenario was made harder for the player (no inns, no churches), but with everything being justified in the story. And the backstory itself is very interesting. Those two Wolves in one custom shared castle work together really great. It’s needless to say that a lot of effort had to be put into making this scenario with this epic castle, but it was totally worth it! Missions like this are pretty great because here a player can build his usual castle, and test it, both its economy and defences, against an extraordinary opponent such as two wolves in a joined castle with plenty of resources on their hands.
  • Blue Star:
    • My feedback: Very photogenic landscape with excellent placement of ambient buildings. Great use of ruins, trees and shrubbery. Nice natural terrain. Sadly as this doesn't work in game it can't be awarded full marks, but nonetheless very well constructed and designed.
    • Eagle's feedback: This game did work for me, I didn’t notice anything strange. Maybe I missed something, or maybe some lag would appear later in the game.
  • A Three Way Skirmish:
    • My feedback: A nice well constructed map. Very compact which makes it difficult to build everything. Nicely detailed without going overboard. Disappointing that it's based off an existing idea in Stronghold Legends, but nevertheless very well replicated in Stronghold 2.
    • Eagle's feedback: I like that it’s about a map from Stronghold Legends. The landscape is really nice, and the only thing which I don’t prefer is stone keeps being too close to the edge of the map. But that’s just my taste. :)

I've tailored my official feedback purely to the criteria and needs of the contest, so you can be sure that my personal preferences didn't play any role in my grading. However, as promised I would like to give each of you my personal opinion as well. So I've written a small piece below for each of you with personalised feedback from me. I will also be posting these comments on the official files a bit later on today, as well. I know @EaglePrince is excited to share his own personal experiences with you guys as well.

I'd like to thank everyone again for their entries, and congratulate all the winners on their well-deserved prizes! @Krarilotus I will be in touch nearer the release of Warlords with a Steam code for you once I receive it off Firefly. You can however message me now if you would like your copy of the Stronghold Kingdoms Starter Pack already. Everyone else, please feel free to message me at any convenient time to claim your prizes.

Thank you to all our wonderful community members and staff who showed their interest in this competition, dedicated their own time to it, and submitted content to our community.

Finally, I'd like to thank Firefly for allowing this competition to be possible. Their generosity has allowed us to hold yet another historic contest and moment in the Stronghold community.

Spoiler

Personalised Feedback

  • Mongol Invasion 1258:
    • This is a great map. Honestly I was in complete awe when I first opened this map as to how detailed the submission was and the amount of effort that had been put into it. I loved the whole theme of the scenario, the difficulty levels were amazing and I thought a really neat addition to the map. The whole idea of having to invade the map with your army and take the castles was incredible and really well thought out. Similarly talking about the build designs, I particularly loved the first Wolf castle the player comes across and the fact you have to rush it right at the start before the troops arrive. It took me so many attempts before I managed to get anywhere with it. Partly, this is because of some weird glitch where I couldn't drag and select my troops at the start because some of them were off-screen. So eventually I had to double click to select all the units and that selected them all. It was only then, once I had a full army, did I manage to get further in the scenario. I loved the way that each castle was unique and had a different challenge you had to overcome before you could defeat it. The gold you got for destroying them, etc was brilliant too. And in terms of the backstory, that too was phenomenal, because it was so detailed and very well written. I really enjoyed this map.
  • The Mamluk Siege of Acre, 1291:
    • This map has to be my personal favourite of all submissions. I don't know why, but I felt very connected to this map while I was playing it. The whole idea behind the scenario was incredible. The detail you spent on creating the castle was just beyond words. And the idea of having two Wolf Castles worked ingeniously, because they fit so well together. It meant you couldn't just rush with Horse Archers at the start and try to take out the Wolf (as I tried at first :classic_biggrin:) because there were additional reinforcements on the other Keep. I have to say that the landscaping on this one was pretty incredible too. It was really nice and open and allowed large space for building. It was a very free playing scenario, and there was no right or wrong way to do it. The choice it gave you was really nice. I also liked the limited oasis, and the fact the stone/iron was so far away from the player which meant you had to work for it in order to get it. Moving onto the actual castle, the defences were well placed as well. The Fire Ballistae worked very well in repelling attacks and did just enough damage so you couldn't run right up to the wall straight away. Honestly the building placement is just superb, and if there was one map I'd describe as perfectly laid out, it's this one without a doubt.
  • Blue Star:
    • Sadly I didn't get to see too much of this map, because I could only view it from the editor, and there was a lot of lag in the editor. But what I saw of it, it was really nice. The only thing is I would say it probably would have been nicer for it to have been a bit smaller, because I think this may have caused a bit of the lag problem with it being so big. But it's a nice unpredictable map, which has a lot of space, and I get that's nice. I really liked the natural building placements on this map and the way the terrain was laid out, particularly some of the hills. It all worked together really nice and just... worked. I am pleased that Eagle managed to load it in the game though, as maybe it was just my machine. Crusader 2 doesn't run that well on my machine for some reason, and is often slow. So maybe this is partly why.
  • A Three Way Skirmish:
    • It's a really nice map that is great for quick and fast-moving skirmishes. The limited space meant you were constantly in attack from other players and it was a struggle to place some buildings, particularly on Stone and Iron, because of this close proximity. However this also works in your favour when you place ranged units on your own hill, because you can target other players as well. The use of bridges was nice, but it makes it a bit easy to defend. I get that you're trying to make narrow passes, but I think it made it a bit too easy because it meant that you could just block them off with gatehouses etc, and prevent enemy troops from entering your estate. It's a really nice map in its own feat, and I think it's a great replication of an existing map in Legends. Given the map size, I think the terrain detailing was just about right, but more work could possibly have been spent on the textures.

 

Site Downloads Renovation

Posted on 16th Nov 2020

I'm pleased to announce that after a small (and complex) renovation, the site downloads section is now back online and running as usual. You can now submit your files to us again.

Not much has visually changed, however there have been massive changes behind the scenes that have taken many hours to complete. I've essentially rewritten the entire downloads section from the ground up and restructured all of the database tables, which is not easy considering it's live data. One of the major changes I've been able to make is the addition of a number of options available for each file your submit.

Prior to the change, each download section had a number of set inputs of: estates, map balance, number of missions, and map difficulty (slightly different for CivCity Rome with Mission Type and Map Size). I'm pleased to announce that after putting considerable thought into design improvements, each download section now has unique field inputs tailored to that game. These are:

Stronghold

  • Difficulty
  • Balanced
  • Number of Missions
  • Number of Players
  • Map Size

Stronghold Crusader

  • Difficulty
  • Balanced
  • Number of Missions
  • Number of Players
  • Map Size

Stronghold 2

  • Number of Estates
  • Difficulty
  • Map Type
  • Balanced
  • Number of Missions
  • Number of Players

CivCity Rome

  • Difficulty
  • Mission Type
  • Map Type
  • Number of Missions

Stronghold Legends

  • Number of Estates
  • Difficulty
  • Map Type
  • Balanced
  • Number of Missions
  • Number of Players

Stronghold 3

  • Number of Estates
  • Difficulty
  • Balanced
  • Number of Missions
  • Map Size
  • Mission Type
  • Random Events
  • Number of Players

Stronghold Crusader 2

  • Number of Estates
  • Difficulty
  • Balanced
  • Number of Missions
  • Map Size
  • Mission Type
  • Random Events
  • Number of Players

The files that have already been submitted to us have data available only for the options which have already been input. However, if you go to update your files, you will now be able to populate the additional data which we have available. I'm hoping this will provide more information for users when they try to download files.

I've also refactored the submission form as well. Tags are obsolete, and the site will now programmatically determine which keywords are relevant to your file and generate them by itself. You also have the option to subscribe to your file upon submission now. You can subscribe afterwards once it has been approved by visiting your file's page, but you can also subscribe right away if you want and get notified when it's approved.

In addition to this, based on feedback submitted by @Krarilotus and other members, I've changed the way downloads are submitted. Once you hit submit, a loading spinner will appear and you will be unable to do anything until the submission is complete. If you switch to another browsing tab during the upload, then the page title will animate informing you that the file is still submitting, so that you don't accidently close the tab.

We also have a malware scanner now. While all files are downloaded and checked for safety reasons, I felt it was important to protect everyone as much as possible from any kind of threat. All files are scanned on upload to the site.

As well as this, I've also added a number of new security measures, including file checks to ensure downloads are legitimate. Many other things have been optimised and improved, but I hope you guys notice a difference in how things are running. I'd like to thank all the members who have provided input into the new downloads system, and everyone for their patience while I've been busy working on this.

I've tested everything thoroughly but as always there may be one or two small outstanding issues, if you can identify the cause or find an error message please shoot me a PM and I'll get anything fixed ASAP.