Picturesque Dunes

By the looks of it, we have a nice desert style map, inhabited by the restless, souless, and merciless necrons. Tis a 8 player, DC only map....


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By the looks of it, we have a nice desert style map, inhabited by the restless, souless, and merciless necrons. Tis a 8 player, DC only map. It looks to be pretty laid out, but cant really be shown as much as you would like it to be in the screenie. It has a long readme which describes much of what you may or may not want to know / read ;) So if you like how this looks go give it a download :D


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8P Picturesque Dunes Map:

For DARK CRUSADE ONLY, as I used lots of the new features in the new Dark Crusade Mission Editor.

The title pretty much says it all. However, there's an underground hidden base that runs through the middle of the map -- why else would the sands pile up there?  And, you have to destroy the enemy gateway that is protecting the entryway to the underground base in order to win the game.  There are two entryways to the underground base -- north and south.  And no, after you win, you don't go on into the underground base.  It's not a campaign collection, just a standalone map.  But, the ideas or the hints are there of there being something more underground.


The Copyright:

For Dark Crusade only, and designed mostly for 4 vs 4 Annihilation Team play in Skirmish Mode.

Copyright Christmas 2006, and Year 2007


Not to be sold for money or included in anything without prior written permission from the creator and owner.


For Dark Crusade only, unzip the files into:

C:\Program Files\THQ\Dawn of War - Dark Crusade\W40k\Data\scenarios\MP

Please don't use as the core or the source of your own map.  That's what the copyright is for.  But, feel free to distribute it 'as is' for gameplaying purposes, just as long as you include all the files including this readme in the same zip file or zip folder for distribution.  I made it to be played.

Special thanks to Aralez for the critique, suggestions, playtesting, and support.  He got me to go back in and redo a bunch of stuff and make it better -- got me to go the extra mile.  It now has it where it needs it, I do believe.  Much thanks!

In this one, I'm as proud of the bases as I am the scenery around the periphery.



This last month while playing this map and testing this map, I have experienced some of the very best Dawn of War gameplay that I have ever experienced.  Of course, all of the credit really can't go to this map alone.  ;)

Instead, much of the thanks must go to Aralez and his UC Rebalance Mod for Dark Crusade, or his UC Mod for short.  And of course, if you know anything about the UC Mod, the UC Mod requires the wonderful AI Skirmish Mod to install and run.  So again, thanks to Thud, Arkhan, LarkinVB, Corsix, and all the people who gave us the AI Skirmish Mod.  To them and to Aralez go most of the thanks for the wonderful gameplay that I have experience on this map over the past month or so.

A link to the UC Mod which, of course, also sends you to the AI Skirmish Mod:



I put the shadows for this map in manually to make it look better, and I always play Dark Crusade and DoW with Shadows Off -- as the shadows are the buggiest part of Dawn of War and have been from the very beginning, and shadows cause lag, so I keep them off.

I tried to make the built-in Relic DC game shadows work somewhat tolerably on this map, in case you have them on, just after noon, with this map.

But, alas, I made this map so that when starting in position #1, you are working your way into sunset -- riding into the sunset.  And, Relic made their shadows for the game with the sun to your back, or like sunrise, even around noon time.  So, Relic's game shadows don't really fit in logically with the shadows on this map, so that's another good reason to turn shadows off while playing this map.  And, Dark Crusade lags a lot in comparison with WA or DoW, and turning off shadows reduces lag, another good reason to turn off Relic's shadows for this map or any map for that matter.  And, the Steel Legion mod always crashes with shadows on, which is yet another good reason to play with Relic's shadows off on any map.

Did you get the subtle hint?  :)



Dark Crusade lags a lot more than the previous versions of the game, and there's usually a freeze up on large maps on my system while all the textures and decals are being loaded into memory.  The first pan around the horizon can freeze things up until everything is loaded from the hard drive, and then it's all real time and good stuff thereafter.

If you still have lag after turning shadows to NONE in the Graphics Options part of the start menu, then change your resolution from 1280X1024 down to something like 1024X768, and change your refresh rate from 100hz down to 75hz.  If that still doesn't do it, then go into the DC Graphics Options and make sure persistent bodies is LOW, and the same with persistent scarring.  I didn't put many decals into the middle of the map, so it's only inside the bases and at the chokepoints where you will probably experience most of the lag.  Some people also gain a lot of mileage by turning Texture Detail, Terrain Detail, Model Detail, and FX from HIGH down to MED or LOW in the DC Graphics options.  You can usually go with what the DoW Graphics Configuration tool gives you for a start, but you will have to select the 1024X768 yourself, and you will have to turn the ingame shadows to NONE, in order to kill a lot of the lags and bugs.  Experiment around with the other stuff and see for yourself what works to give you the least amount of lag with this and the other maps you try in Dark Crusade.

I have also been told by the betatester for this map that special skins or models for the units can also create a lot of lag, and by removing or unloading those, you can also reduce the lag significantly.



You don't need to read any of this unless you want to.  I think I have covered most of the important stuff already.

I originally set out to get balanced gameplay out of an imbalanced layout, but as I tested things, the AI Skirmish Mod AI allies just always united and went and destroyed the faction in position #5 early and easily.  So, over time, I really beefed up postion #5's defenses and made the base layout to contradict or confound the AI's natural flow.  Now, the AI tends to unite and go after base #6 instead, a major change actually in the gameplay of this map.

Meanwhile, I discovered that base #1 is rather hard to defend if you do your fighting inside the base, and once again, the AI enemies tend to unite and converge on base #1 first and wipe it out.  If the human is there, part of the fun of the map is trying to find ways of defending and holding the base, which can be done if you are creative.  And of course, you hope that your nextdoor AI ally comes and helps, which sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.  Anyway, the map as it currently stands tends to favor the factions in positions #5,#6,#7, and #8.  One through four have bases that are a bit harder to defend, or at least that's the way it seems to me.  It was just a natural evolution, which of course makes me now say that the map was 'optimized' to give the most challenging game when played in FIXED positions with the human in position #1.  That was not the original intention, but over the weeks, it just worked out that way.  If the AI plays position #1, they tend to get overrun first and overrun easily.  The AI doesn't handle position #1 as well as a human can.  You need to prepare to defend them, but don't be too surprised if you get there too late.  The map was best played as FIXED positions Annihilation play HARD setting with the AI Skirmish Mod, in my opinion.  In the end, I did adapt things so that the AI can more easily defend positions #1, #3, and #4.  I can still eliminate them rather fast if you know what you are doing and know how to use the heavy cover.  But, the AI in those positions seem to last three times as long as they once did, after I got done making some changes.  After a lot of time, I got closer and closer to being satisfied with it.



This map requires Dark Crusade, since I used a bunch of stuff that is only available in the Dark Crusade Mission Editor or mapmaker.

Meant for 4X4 teamplay in skirmish mode with and against the AI, and meant mostly for Annihilation play in Fixed positions.  But Take and Hold should work too (although it really doesn't favor take and hold as you will see), as well as 2v2v2v2 or Free For All would be possible.  But again, some factions will have a bit of an advantage in FFA or 2v2v2v2.  But, I designed it and tested it for and around 4 vs 4 Annihilation Team Play in offline skirmish mode.  And I used Fixed Positions and always started in position # 1, until the last week of testing.



Oh, and one warning.  If I use random positions instead of fixed positions and the game randomly assigns me to position #7, I quit, and choose a different position.  The Dark Castle provides some pretty cool effects with the contrast between light and dark and the shadows of the nearby hills and mountains, but I prefer that the AI play there and just spend my efforts attacking it rather than building in the dark.  The AI has no problems building in the dark, but a human might find it annoying, but then again, some humans might not find it annoying.  Each person is different.

Actually, long after writing this warning, the computer randomly assigned me to position #7, and I built there and played there, and it was nowhere near as difficult as some of us had predicted.  You can see the strategic points and slag deposit and relic just fine, and the buildings and troops seem to light up just fine as well.  There was no problem seeing where anything was.



I wanted a map that had nice scenery on the horizon for screenshots, so that was the primary goal of this map, and I succeeded here and there in that goal.

In the past, I created up a bunch of symmetrical maps, so that I would be guaranteed a balanced map or a fair map for all contestants for some great gameplay.

This time, I took an imbalanced layout and busted my brains and kept changing the whole map over and over again for a week or more in search of the perfect balanced Dark Crusade gameplay for this map.  I believe I succeeded in creating a relatively balanced map for Dark Crusade out of imbalanced base layouts.  But, as time went on, the need for perfect balance receded as I found that I preferred instead to redesign the map so that it worked contrary to the natural flow of the AI allies yet still proved to be a handicap or of difficulty to the human player in position #1.

Read on if you want to know more, or load it up and play it now.



Most of what follows regards the original dream or the original intent, some of which actually never made it to fruition.  So, just skip this unless you want to know more.

I wanted from the start a map with brutal gameplay or unique gameplay or great gameplay.  However, right from the start, I didn't go the route of huge amounts of resources and thus 6 hour long games, though.  The games are usually decided within an hour or less on this map.  Instead, I went with 8 distinctly different castles or fortresses, each with a completely different layout, a balancing nightmare.

In the process, I discovered that I had created a map layout and gameplay that is particularly brutal against the Necrons.  Four Necrons versus the Forces of Good were losing every time on the original versions of this map, even with Aralez's Ultimate Compstomp Rebalance Mod.  And no matter what my friend Aralez did in terms of rebalancing the Necrons or improving them, it made no difference whatsoever on this map.  The Necrons still lost just as fast and just as badly.  It's definitely got a unique gameplay there, a map that hates the Necrons, or so I thought.

But, once I understood that the Necrons need energy, lots of energy in order to stand up to the remaining seven races, that's when I had found the missing key.  I eventually went in and put in two slag deposits in each base, and suddenly the Necrons came alive.  In the hands of a human, four Necrons were finally able to beat everything.  And, then when I turned it around, and went in as the Forces of Good against four Necrons, the Necrons actually put up a fight or made a showing!  I had succeed in achieving my original goal!!

So, in the end, what I finally went with after weeks of experimentation was five strategic points per base, one Relic per base, and Two Slag Deposits per base, on average.  Then the Necron problems were all solved.  The UC Mod is extremely well balanced, and balanced gameplay is really the best gameplay in Dark Crusade, so all I needed to do is balance the resourcing so that the Necrons would have a chance, and it worked.  It only took me forever to discover the missing ingredient.

So, now it's great gameplay on either side of the fence or as any faction as long as the Skirmish Mod is balanced with the UC Mod and as long as the map is balanced and takes the Necrons special needs into consideration, which this final version of this map now does.

Mission accomplished!

I spent about four weeks on this map, half of which was redesigning bases and trying to get the resourcing right and balanced so that not only would the horizon scenery look good for screenshots but also so that the gameplay would be good as well.  I believe I succeeded.



Regarding the anti-Necron nature of this map, here's what I wrote in an email:

By the way, I know what the problem is with my new Picturesque Map, and why the Necrons always lose on that map.

My new map has barriers or distinct impassible lines between all the bases, all 8 bases, which means that the AI is forced to pick a target.

So, you have Tau AI and IG AI uniting to pick a target, the human base.  And, you have the Eldar and SM uniting and picking a base, my AI ally next to me, and we are both outnumbered 2 to 1, while the other Necron bases just sit there and do nothing or go and kill a SM building or a Tau building or two and then die.  The slow Necrons often die making the crossing.

Meanwhile, the Forces of Good all head to the human base, but for the Tau and IG, straight across from me, they get there to my base first, for example.  But for the SM and Eldar on the far right, they head towards the human player's base, but end up attacking and destroying the base to my right instead, easy line of supply.

It's a unique layout that I have never seen before, and it really works against the Necrons, badly.  And, since the SM can fly and deep strike, they are in your base instantly and they get to heavy cover faster than you do, I know, because I used the same tactics on this map when attacking the Necrons.  I beat the Necrons in record time on this map as well.  I lose as the Necrons in record time, and wipe out the Necrons in record time, as the Forces of Good, Tau, Eldar, IG, and SM.

And, with the impassible dividing lines between bases, the SM can fly and teleport and Landspeed to their AI ally's aide, and the IG can rush tanks and troops to their AI ally's aide, and Eldar can Fleet of foot to the aide of their ally.  Only the Tau don't come -- they are waiting for Tier 4, and then they leisurely come and mop up.  In our current Rebalance Mod, the Tau are the only ones who hold back right now, and it's because the Necrons are more powerful in Tier 1 and Tier 2 than the Tau, but once the Tau get to Tier 4, which they always do on this map, the Tau are unbeatable and just mow down the Necrons.

So, in conclusion, with those distinct dividing lines between bases, if your Necron AI ally tries to come to your aide, he is dead long before he gets there or he just never bothers coming because it is too far to come.  The AI always unites on this map, and the Necrons have the worst base defenses of all seven races, and you can expect little to no help from your AI allies either, especially if they are all Necrons.

See why the Necrons always lose on this new map?  And, no matter what you do for the Necrons, they are always going to lose on this map.  They are just too slow and can't help each other out like the rest of the races can.  Meanwhile, the other races seem to thrive on this map.  They are fast enough to get where they are going and fast enough to retreat when they need to as well.  It's really all about speed and distance and flexibility on this map, and the Necrons have none of it.

The weakness of the Necrons is their base and the fact that their monolith makes everything for them.  The Monolith is their only source of production.  Just drive in, destroy the Necron Monolith by throwing everything you have it right from the start, and the Necrons are done for.  It's really that easy, and the factions who can drive the fastest to the Necron's base are the factions that are going to beat the Necrons the fastest on this map.  Once I discovered that little secret, it kind of ruined the Necrons for me.

I thought that all my changes to my map were going to make a real big difference, but they made no difference at all, or only made things worse for the Necrons.

And, I sincerely thought that all of Aralez's changes to the Necrons in his rebalance mod were going to make things much better, but they made no difference at all on this Picturesque Dunes Map.

What irony!  It's gonna take me awhile to adjust to this discovery.  The Necrons have an inherent built-in set of weaknesses on a Large Map that you are never going to get rid of, just like the deep striking Space Marines have inherent built-in advantages on a large map that you are never going to get rid of, no matter how much you twiddle with it or try to rebalance it.

The bigger the map and the more the resource points, the worse the Necrons do, because the Necron's resources don't scale up as the other factions' resources scale up, as you add more resource points.

A perfect balance for all maps is impossible to achieve with DC and DoW.  That's what I now believe.  And, I'm going to go back to that Pictureque Dunes map and take off some of the resource points I had on there, hoping that the Necrons might last a bit longer before they go down.  Another idea, only one Necron faction on the map, instead of four?  Lots of ideas with this new discovery.

Due to compelling necessity, I had to reduce the number of strategic points so that the Necrons would have a slight chance of winning on this map.  Too many strategic points on a map, and the Necrons have no chance of winning unless they have non-Necron AI allies to cover for them.



You need a rebalance Mod like the Ultimate Compstomp Mod, and you need the AI Skirmish Mod, that's for sure.  But, put those together, and you have balanced and brainy Dark Crusade.  Then all you need is a balanced map.  I didn't think it would be possible to get map, AI, and inherent balance to all work together and play nice for the Necrons, but after a week of grief I finally found the solution.  By putting two slag deposits in each base instead of one, the Necrons woke up, and the gameplay was finally great and balanced and working right -- as long as you have the UC Mod and the AI Skirmish Mod there working for you as well.
It's a lot of work to get great gameplay out of Dark Crusade, but the Dark Crusade that Relic released had some of the worst AI and worst balance of anything they had released, and it really needed attention to be right.  But, I finally think it's all there now, as long as you mod DC up heavily and have a balanced map, the gameplay is actually some of the best gameplay I have ever experienced from a computer game.



I just kept playing it and tweaking it for a month until I ended up with AI Skirmish Mod and UC Rebalance Mod gameplay that I really liked.  I lose as often as I win, and I made the map.  The map tends to encourage the AI to unite and hit a single base at once, so you just never know when your own base will become the target of a united attack.  It really keeps you on your toes.  I got lucky, as this map seems to produce unique enjoyable gameplay unlike anything I have really ever experienced before.  It's different, or at least for me it was.  Lots of empty space in the middle of the map with base building and base defense and base attack thus becoming your primary objectives, instead of lots of chokepoints and lots of objectives in the middle of the map.  It just plays out differently.  I hope you enjoy.

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