I'm pushing out a review ahead of schedule because I can.
Letter Scores: Grades can be F, E, D, C, B, A, and S in order from worst to best. + and - modifiers indicate slightly better or slightly worse. An A is essentially a 5/5 while an F is similar to a 0/5, but the letter grades are purposefully meant to be ambiguous. I am aware that Europeans may be unfamiliar with letter-based grade systems, and I apologize for any confusion this may cause.
Replayability: Score ranges from 0 to 5 with + and - modifiers. It follows a logarithmic scale; the difference between 4 and 3 is much more than the difference between 2 and 1.
Awkward Camera - [- -]
Bad Text Placement - [-]
Insufficient Sound Cues - [-]
No Intro/Outro - [-]
Some of the Minigames - [+ +]
Partycraft was recently featured on the North American Battle.net server, so I decided to check it out. I was expecting a more-or-less unknown gem of a map, or at least something higher than the quality of Nexus Wars and Income Wars. I joined up, got comfy, and waited for the 23-second countdown timer to tick to 0. Wait, what? 23 seconds, not 30? I don’t know. Anyway, the loading screen outlined the map: like Uther Party of WarCraft III, the group plays eight random minigames from a pool of available games and the winner of the game is decided by each player’s performance in the various minigames. It’s a setup that got the excellent Uther Party map a great deal of fame back in the day, so I looked forward to what this new iteration would offer.
The map finished loading, and I was suddenly greeted by the first minigame. So much for an intro sequence... This map throws you directly into the first minigame, throws some text up at the top of the screen with the basic instructions on how to get through the challenge, and gives the players around 8 seconds to wait before starting. In this case, I got the hellion race challenge. Like the instructions said, it’s a good idea to avoid the stunning eggs and hit the speed boosts. However, the instructions didn’t say that the pathing system will kill you! After hitting the speed boost, my Hellion swerved around in a circle and went nowhere because I didn’t give it a move order fast or well enough, or something. Also, when multiple racers are in the same part of the track, the pathing system will cause you to go pretty much exactly where you don’t want to. Often, this means that you will grind to a halt or ram into a stun egg. The hellion race is more about luck than anything else, I’m afraid.
I’m on a highway to hell.
The hellion race (in-game it’s called “Drummer Derby” for a reason that I can’t fathom) is basically a good example for most of the minigames in Partycraft. Most of them are interesting the first time around, mainly because it’s something new. However, the execution is really lacking. While I was doing my second run of the map, I noticed that most of the minigames got old very quickly. Some of them are just uninspired and boring after the first time, like the Ghost Wars minigame. It’s just not handled well; the fact that the ghost’s only abilities are EMP and Snipe simply causes it to grind into a matter of luck and hotkey-spamming unless you get hit by an EMP, in which case you basically can’t do anything fun. The micro battle with the omegalisk, ghost, and archon was also snore-worthy. Actually, looking back, most of the minigames were flawed in some kind of painful way that really drained the map of its sense of quality. The lack of polish is a serious problem with Partycraft since it not only affects the feel of the map, but it also degrades the gameplay value.
Hiding behind trees is just about the most interesting thing you can do in this minigame.
While I’m on the topic of the game’s faults, I would like to make a special mention to the lack of any kind of triggered camera control for some of the minigames. While the micro battle and ghost wars minigames don’t need anything for the camera, many of the other minigames would benefit from camera control. In fact, I expected camera control on the hellion race, but instead was forced to madly scroll the screen around the track so I wouldn’t fly off into some unknown object that I can’t see. It would be a large improvement to have the camera clamped to the hellion, and for the camera to be clamped to your unit in the mothership-following challenge, or the moving siege tank maze challenge, etc. Related to the camera is the fact that the minimap is always zoomed entirely out. It’s standard convention for a minigame to restrict the camera bounds to the borders of the minigame’s space. Immersion is greatly improved this way and it actually makes the minimap be a valuable tool rather than a useless, wasted space on the interface where everything going on is too small to see.
The micro battle (pictured) is probably the only minigame where the minimap is worth anything.
There are some other polish issues, such as the Infestation Dodge minigame where the unit you’re trying to dodge is not very visible or contrasting. Why not change the terrain texture to dirt and have banelings spawn/unburrow instead? The players are more likely to run from a baneling out of instinct, plus the players will be able to see them a lot better. Also, thematically, infested terrans popping out of glowing red lights is not exactly logical. It’s truly something that will throw new players for a loop and cause them to die on their first try without really being given a chance to win, simply because nothing about the minigame makes any sense. Similar to this is the fact that almost all of the terrain in Partycraft is grass, trees, and rocky cliffs. That’s just about it for all but three minigames: grass, trees, and rocky cliffs. There’s no variation, no thematic shifts, no interesting terrain layouts or good use of doodads, and absolutely nothing memorable about it. Simplistic terrain is tolerable if it at least makes sense, but a solid patch of green across the whole map is not desirable in the least. The terrain isn’t strictly bad, per se, but it’s a significant issue that hurts the flavor score considerably.
This green grass and tree-filled ring of granite cliffs really gives me the impression of a cancerous, disfiguring zerg infestation.
A few other gripes I have with Partycraft include the fact that there are either no audio cues for a change of minigame, the start of a challenge, the beginning of the game, or the end of the game/victory announcement, or some of them are there but faded and forgotten pretty much immediately. Also, the message that a player has finished the challenge, being an important message that can incite adrenaline in a player trying to finish 2nd or 3rd instead of 5th or 6th, should be posted toward the bottom of the screen, roughly at the same level as the chat, so that it can be easily visible. Instead, it is posted way at the top left of the screen, with no other visual or auditory cue. In other words, unless you want to keep your eyes away from the action at all times by starting at some forgotten corner of the screen to keep up with the winners, you’ll be left in the dark with regards to the winners of each challenge. For a minigame map, this is a huge problem because it gives the players a detachment from the leaderboard and progression of the score, since it might as well be a random pick of winners if you don’t see the successes or failures of each player in real-time.
I’ve been hammering on this map pretty hard, so I’ll take the time to give it the credit it deserves. Partycraft is actually pretty fun, at least the first few times you play it. While many of the minigames are of questionable quality and value, a few of them are really fun. An example of this is the moving maze of siege tanks; it gets your adrenaline pumping, it’s unique, it requires skill, and can be spun-off any number of times with different styles and challenges – a perfect addition to a party game. Really, why can’t more of the minigames be fun and interesting like the moving maze minigame?
Despite the quality of most of the minigames, it’s actually pretty fun the first time through. It would be more fun if it actually had some more interesting challenges and was generally a better map. Also, Partycraft could use some more minigames, since you’ll essentially play all of them after 3 games, at the most. In general, this map has a lot of potential, but I think that potential is being badly drained by the map’s faults. It’s fun, at least for a while, but it is generally not a quality map. Fun isn’t everything, as far as a map goes. For this reason, the overall score of Partycraft is...
Copper: This map is faulty, mediocre in quality, or just unremarkable.
If it ever becomes like Uther Party, which I'm sure it will eventually as its essentially the same, there will be a much larger variety of minigames and it probably won't get sickening so quickly.
Being original would make it better than Uther Party, so I don't suggest that the same minigames get remade although there are a few that I enjoyed like the mannoroth typing game. If I really want to play it I can always open up WC3, and I hate seeing people make things over and over from WC3.
Still, I think that the game will improve over time so long as it's worked on.
That was beautiful. I expect these "featured" maps to be like 4th page games that are actually supposed to be first page because of how brilliant and inspiring they are to the mapping community. This map had absolutely no appeal to me and I had to leave after telling myself three times that "The next minigame will be better." End.
I would have to agree with the above, a # / # rating system is easily recognizable by everyone and just 'clicks' better in my opinion. And i agree with most of what you said, but not everything, sadly the part I don't agree with, is that the mini games were boring the first time around, not the second. I love the idea though, and I think the author has alot of potential.
Losing some recognizance is a price I'm willing to pay for various reasons:
1. The overall score does not follow a #/# formula, so having #/# for the sub-scores would be misleading.
2. It fits my style more, in my opinion, to have a B- or C+ instead of a 3.5/5 or whatever. In my scoring method, + and - makes not very much of a difference, while the letter grade itself has much more of an impact. I don't get that kind of distinction with a #/# method.
3. I feel that ideas describe the quality of the game a lot more effectively than mere numbers. Letter grades are more ambiguous in general, so I put them there for the reader to have a general idea of what the game's strong and weak areas are, but the actual opinion and review is the large written portion. I try to divert attention away from the technical scores so that my text will be more meaningful.
4. Some of you are European so I can understand why letter grades might be less recognizable (Germany, for instance, uses a 0-5 system (or does it go down to 6?) in school rather than an A-F system). However, many countries use A-F grades in their school and university systems. Generally, C is considered average while F is a complete failure. B is good, D is bad, and A is great. I add in E and S for good measure; E is a partial failure and S is truly exemplary.
I hope you don't expect every map to have an intro/outro, as most gametypes it's more irritating if you play it frequently then anything. Although in the case of this map I'll agree that something would of been in order.
I would have to agree with his decision in his ranking. I am not usually one to judge another or judge anything for that matter. The time put into this map was im sure extensive but it really does lack. If it were to be redone carefully with more wow effects, Better explanations of games. Better control and all that matters This would have been a great map... I will have to say on another note. DarkRevenantX has some harsh impels on a map rofl. Maybe not the best guy to go with your psychological problems.
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