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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #1626
    Business As Usual By Bikerdude
    Released: Jan. 2010 For The Dark Mod

    Story-wise Business As Usual is exactly that - business as usual. I've read on the Dark Mod forums that the author plans to do an updated version with a more fleshed out story, and I really think it will benefit the mission greatly for some more readables and more explanation as to why we are after what we are after in the mission. After reading the mission summary before loading the mission and the objectives, it felt like the author was bored with his own mission before I've even played it. I look forward to playing the new version with an enhanced story, as it will definitely bring the mission to a higher level in plot and motivation.

    On the subject of objectives, it really pains me to see a few of the authors throwing in the "you are a thief not a murderer" objective on even the lowest difficulties. Granted - this mission has very few AI that are awake and roaming around, but with The Dark Mod's blackjack mechanic being a bit spotty for some of us as it is currently a no kill objective leads to alot of frustrating reloads or unneeded deaths. Hopefully in the future authors will leave that handicap out of the lowest difficulty and use it only on higher settings or if the story absolutely calls for it to further the plot.

    Upon starting the mission and being greeted with a "get your stash back" objective I immediately feared that I'd be left with no gear or blackjack - but I enjoyed the use of the traditional "begin in the player character's apartment and grab your things before you leave" delivery method. It always seems to put me in the mindset of starting out on a large mission, and here it was very welcome to see. Oh, and thankfully I had no reason to pull my hair out from being left without a blackjack once again - so that started things off on the right foot as well.

    The gameplay in the mission is quite excellent. There aren't many guards and AI to avoid and that may make the mission too easy for some, but I found it a great mission to try your hand at a first time ghost. Many AI you will encounter will be asleep in a bed, and with minimal skill will stay that way as you loot and plunder the surroundings. There are a few areas where you'll be mantling your way nearly to the rooftops, and one tower area in particular was alot of fun climbing and sneaking through its various levels to a target at the top. Overall the mission is alot of fun, and the varied areas set it apart from the rest of the pack. If I had to choose one design choice that confused me about the gameplay - it would have to be the self closing doors. Sure I may be sloppy and leave one open once in a while that gets me caught.. but there is something very odd about doors in that time period that just close themselves, and every time I hear one behind me I get the "a guard is following me" scare that gets tiresome after the fifth or sixth false alarm.

    The sound design was also pretty well done - and the sewer area with the water wheel and gears particularly caught my attention. The sound effect used for the sound of the machines had a fantastic 'weight' and rumble to them and really sounded great. I also noticed a bit of dripping water when I got near a sink faucet and little sounds like that add quite a bit to keep you immersed in the surroundings. Overall the sounds for the mission are fitting and atmospheric - and it was good to see that level attention given for a first time mission author.

    Visually the mission is really well built, and for this particular creation the details really set it apart. Some areas feel as if they were multiple rooms created by the same brush, but the areas that feel unique are very well done. Fireplaces crackle, bookshelves line walls accented by statues and most of the interior areas are very detailed and filled with objects that give them a very lived in feel. Exterior areas had a few nice details as well, as you'll find glowing plant life near trees and bugs hovering around lampposts. And of course we can't forget the great looking snowfall - though you wont find it accumulating on the ground, so it must be a light dusting.

    There were a few effect choices that I'd have to question not only for this mission but for The Dark Mod as a whole.. The first one being the body shadow that is not only very 'front and center' every time you look just a bit downward, but can become quite distracting after a while. I can't say that I am a fan of this effect being used - this sort of "body awareness" normally hampers gameplay more than it helps. Accompanying the player character shadows was a at-first-sight nifty reflective effect in mirrors placed at various locations in the mission. Upon first noticing the effect I was quite impressed as I remember Doom 3 had reflections as well, but here it really seemed out of place. Perhaps it was my nostalgia for folks never being able to pull it off quite right in the Thief fan missions - or perhaps it was the lack of stock animations in TDM to pull it off without looking awkward.. but something about it was unsettling and did more to hamper my immersion than help it. Bonus points for trying new things, however.

    Overall the mission is a very detailed and well built city mission that is sure to please, and is definitely a great foot forward for a first time fan mission author. You can tell alot of time and care has gone into the creation of it, and everyone should at least give it a try. Recommended!

    Screens (Disclaimer: Because of the bright orange window and lamp textures in the city that caused the screens to appear crazy-dark, you'll have to play the mission to see the city for yourself)



    I really enjoyed the look and feel of that tavern area.




    Most interiors are very detailed and have a warm lived in atmosphere.




    This guy, like most of the AI in the mission, seems to have stayed out a bit too late at the previously mentioned local tavern.




    More sleeping citizens.




    The dark and ominous hotel.




    Perhaps I'll steal, eat and drink everything from this table before I'm noticed. Or perhaps not. Wait.. is he looking at me? *runs*
    Last edited by SneakyJack; 15th Jan 2010 at 15:26.

  2. #1627
    Quote Originally Posted by quakis View Post
    Just a personal note - judging from a lot of The Dark Mod screens, the general lighting is usually far too dark at times and sometimes a little tacky; I'd personally blame idTech4/Doom3 for that. [1 Top of the screen]

    Though I'm pretty sure something can be done to brighten up the place, with some ambient light/more light entities. It's been a long time since I last messed with Radiant for Doom3, I forgot what's possible.

    I will mention that I think the normal maps / specular maps (are there any speculars?) are probably too sharp/shiney at times. It really makes a lot of the textures and in some cases, the lighting, look really fake. [2 I think the grey stone wall sheen is over done [2b] Infact, even this door. ] Too much information in the texture is very distraction from a visual point of view. [3 It's pretty obvious here, especially due to the darkness.]

    By no means am I trying to discourage or offend, but I'm just looking at this from an honest view point - something that should be looked into. Of course, I've yet to play the fan missions themselves.
    I just wanted to quote this specifically becuase imo it is probably one of the largest complaints I have against people who want to 'not like TDM'.

    1-complaint about lack of ambient lighting. This is NOT a TDM thing, this is a map by map thing. The ambient world light in TDM can be used or not, it can be bright as sunlight, it can be green, orange, whatever.
    But this isn't limited to TDM maps, I know of T2 maps that use NO ambient lighting, it's very dark and hard to find your way around and I don't like it. But that's not an issue with T2, it's an issue with certian maps.

    2-I agree, not all the textures are perfect, some can and will be adjusted. When people make specific complaints it's alot easier for the team to take a look at that specific asset and think 'yeah, they're right, that one does need work' or 'nah, we like that as is'. Alot of people have worked on alot of stuff so not everything was done exactly the same way.
    But as good as T1 and T2 are, they weren't perfect either. Really, play T1 and look at the crappy low res textures for what they are. (low res and crappy). But the game was classic and we all love it and except the textures for what they are. Many people have contributed to the community and have improved on the base content (NV's Upgrade pack for instance).
    The same can be done to TDM, improved, changed, added to...

    3-screenshots are never the best representation of a game. It's always hard for me to pick the best shot to take in any engine, because one static shot loses so much from actually being in said enviroment. I always feel I'm cutting something out. Don't knock it til you try it, I know we've all heard that but it's true, judging the mod on screens alone is a very narrow/shallow way to go about it imo.
    And like said above, screens are generally brightned from all thief games so they are easy to see on a forum.
    ---------------
    As far as other stuff. We sure could use more assets, the more contributers the better. I'm stoked that Otto let me port his buildings, the one's I've got ported so far look great in game and we needed them badly.
    But overall I think we do have about as much content as T2 had really.The spots we are lacking in are getting filled in more all the time.

    It's true also that most of the released missions don't compare to the best of the T2 missions. But the T2 missions that are at the top of everyones list were made by authors with experience and ALOT of community support. How many custom objects and textures are out there now for T2. ALOT.
    Anyway, I've had fun in all the released missions so far and think all the authors have done a great job with the assets and it proves that people with limited time using Dark Radiant can already make fun quality missions in a short period of time (most of them in about a month).
    Wait til we see missions that someone has put 6 months into instead of a month. They WILL be great.

  3. #1628
    Quote Originally Posted by Schwaa2 View Post
    3-screenshots are never the best representation of a game. It's always hard for me to pick the best shot to take in any engine, because one static shot loses so much from actually being in said enviroment. I always feel I'm cutting something out. Don't knock it til you try it, I know we've all heard that but it's true, judging the mod on screens alone is a very narrow/shallow way to go about it imo.
    And like said above, screens are generally brightned from all thief games so they are easy to see on a forum.
    ---------------
    Exactly, and I try to express that though I try to make my screens look enticing for people to try a mission out - you really need to play the mission for yourself and see it in motion before forming a final opinion. There are so many variables.. adjustments I've made to make the image more visible, monitor and graphics card differences and so on.

    I also agree with the rest of what you said. I see the huge potential in TDM if its adopted by those who can take it above and beyond just like they've done with the Dark Engine and dromed. The Dark Mod is only getting started but needs the help of those who enjoy creating missions to really soar to new heights.

  4. #1629
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    Ah, reviewing a mission 68 after the release? Aiming for a record, eh?

    Nice to see you covering every TDM mission so quickly, though.

  5. #1630
    Quote Originally Posted by Thor02 View Post
    Ah, reviewing a mission 68 after the release? Aiming for a record, eh?
    I reviewed one like 40 minutes after its release, and chances are this one was posted on the Dark Mod forums before it was posted here Seems to be a lag time between when its posted there and when its posted here.

  6. #1631
    Nice reviews - keep 'em coming - but just to set the record straight: The Dark Mod does not provide or support player shadow or player model for either reflection or body awareness. Any sight of either is a mapper or player option. In fact the player shadow is strictly a player choice and not even an official setting. The mapper should never set it on (but we can't stop them )

  7. #1632
    Thank you for the kind words Fidcal! I don't fault Bikerdude for trying something different, and for a first mission implementing things like that with it having never really been done before in a fan mission probably takes work and is bound to be a little clunky - I just found it really distracting and not in a good way. The reflection was fun, but the body shadow was a bit much. Body awareness doesn't really cause a positive effect in a Thief style gameplay setting in my opinion.

  8. #1633
    Weird, I was wondering to myself if I just hadn't noticed the body shadows before in other missions. I also found this extremely distracting, especially when the player performs certain actions and the shadow does not reflect the action (i.e. blackjacking).

    Also - wanted to mention that I'm having a really hard time getting into TDM missions, simply because I'm not Garrett. It feels sort of empty playing an anonymous thief - is anyone else getting this? I sort of assumed that the TDM team was taking a hard stance on not using official Thief names and places because they wanted to go "by the book," especially on their web site. But in the end, I thought FM authors would go ahead and do it anyway, and the TDM team almost expected it. After Melan's TDM missions changes though, this appears to not be the case.

    I guess it'll just take getting used to...

  9. #1634
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    Also - wanted to mention that I'm having a really hard time getting into TDM missions, simply because I'm not Garrett.
    How would the existing missions be any different if you were playing Garrett?

  10. #1635
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: The Inverted Manse
    Quote Originally Posted by Brethren View Post
    simply because I'm not Garrett.
    If I ever make a TDM mission, I will call the player Garreth or something similar. I agree, it is just not the same, having to play as some anonymous thief.

  11. #1636
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinqueecclesiensis HU
    Brethren: obviously, there are good legal reasons not to use a player character named "Garrett", and I am respecting the team's work with that now and in the future. But if you will note, my mission shows continuity with the previous work I have done, both thematically and in exact details. Does it make a difference if the protagonist is nameless, or goes under a different name (which may be an alias for all we know)?

  12. #1637
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: Great. Now I can't get back in
    Quote Originally Posted by Springheel View Post
    How would the existing missions be any different if you were playing Garrett?
    Well, sure, the gameplay, architecture, lighting, sound, etc would (obviously) be the same.

    But I'm one of those who feel that immersion is a major part of the Thief experience: the player being able to put him/herself into the character. Slipping into the part of Garrett is a bit like putting on a favourite pair of gloves (even if they do have some rough or spiky edges ).

  13. #1638
    Quote Originally Posted by Sticky Fingers View Post
    But I'm one of those who feel that immersion is a major part of the Thief experience: the player being able to put him/herself into the character. Slipping into the part of Garrett is a bit like putting on a favourite pair of gloves (even if they do have some rough or spiky edges ).
    This has been my main concern with TDM (which I haven't had a chance to try out yet). The familiar Thief characters, factions and setting are a major part of my enjoyment of the game, and I've found that I have a lot more trouble getting immersed in FM's with a different protagonist or even a different setting. For example, I recognize that Rose Cottage is obviously a good mission, but because it's quite definitively NOT Thief (different characters, different setting), it just didn't grab me the same way and I still haven't played it past the very beginning.

  14. #1639
    Well, sure, the gameplay, architecture, lighting, sound, etc would (obviously) be the same.
    They're not immersion, but the name is?

    For example, I recognize that Rose Cottage is obviously a good mission, but because it's quite definitively NOT Thief (different characters, different setting), it just didn't grab me the same way and I still haven't played it past the very beginning.
    So the mission is getting written off before being given a chance,
    which I haven't had a chance to try out yet
    just like TDM was.

    Anyway, that's okay of course, to each their own. I mentioned somewhere around here (maybe the official forums, not sure) that if you want to pretend to be a particular character, feel free. Nothing and no one is stopping you; there are no thought police here. Beyond that, if someone writes off or can't enjoy a (single player, private in your own home) game (in the same theme as a favorite) simply because of the (in no way enforced on a personal level) avatar name, you're really missing the forest for one tree (and I can't feel much pity).
    Last edited by SneaksieDave; 18th Jan 2010 at 11:09.

  15. #1640
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    But I'm one of those who feel that immersion is a major part of the Thief experience: the player being able to put him/herself into the character.
    Then just pretend you're playing Garrett. That should be even easier if the thief is anonymous, shouldn't it?

  16. #1641
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    Quote Originally Posted by Springheel View Post
    Then just pretend you're playing Garrett. That should be even easier if the thief is anonymous, shouldn't it?
    I don't think it's that easy. From my point of view - and I think Sticky likes that too: I always like to feel to be Garrett and not an anonymous thief, but I don't really feel like I'm Garrett when I'm playing a mission where is told I am Garrett, and that nothing else happens with Garrett as a person.

    I'll clarify: For instance, in The Seventh Crystal, you see Garrett in a cutscene, you hear him talk, you think as he does. In the original missions you hear many voice fragments, just to let you know you play Garrett and not just some unnamed thief.

    That's why I always like it when people insert new voice fragments in a mission - it really adds to atmosphere.

    So I don't think, as SneaksieDave says, it's just because of the avatar name. In many missions way more things add to the feeling you play as Garrett himself.

  17. #1642
    Quote Originally Posted by Springheel View Post
    Then just pretend you're playing Garrett. That should be even easier if the thief is anonymous, shouldn't it?
    Gonna have to agree here, and honestly it really should be that easy shouldn't it? The mission briefings are written in the same thief style for the most part, the objectives are written in the same style (You are a master thief, not a murderer! Don't kill anyone.) and everyone assumes you to be Garrett (The world's best thief) in everything but name specifically.

    Do you folks that cant suspend your disbelief a little and put yourself in the mindset also avoid the excellent Thief 1 and 2 fan missions that have you in the role of someone other than Garrett? Take Rose Cottage for example.. did you not enjoy it simply because you weren't addressed as Garrett or did you suspend your disbelief and get immersed for other positive reasons?

    I love immersion too - but ruining the experience for yourself simply because you aren't wearing a name tag saying "Hello, My Name Is Garrett" before beginning a mission seems a little out there

    I understand the examples Potatoguy gave above - seeing Garrett in the mission and hearing the voice clips - but how many incredible fan missions have we had where there were no mentions of his character, no camvator looks at him, and no sound bytes from his voice files? So many that I couldn't even count.

  18. #1643
    I think it goes way beyond just being called Garrett. It's everything contained within The City as we know it. If you play a game, and in addition to not being called Garrett, and there's no mention of Hammerites or Mechanists or Keepers, and there's no mention of any of the history or lore of The City as we know it, you never see a reference to Ramirez or Bafford or Benny or Viktoria, etc etc etc - how do we connect? Sure, each individual author can create their own world. But creating an entire world from scratch is much harder than just adding on to one that already exists, which is the way Thief FMs work now.

    I hate to even be talking about this, because I love what the TDM guys have done. What they've accomplished is truly amazing and should be recognized and appreciated.

    If say, for instance, TDM would have been released with a campaign that had a central character (like Garrett, but not Garrett) and a entire world already created (much of that work has actually been done already, just read the wiki), it might be easier for authors to create within the world. Don't get me wrong, I realize that this is a monumental task, and nothing to be taken lightly. It likely would have delayed the mod another couple of years, which would be a waste if it's ready to go now.

    In the end, I think the answer is that us stubborn taffers just need to come to grips that maybe we're going to be someone besides Garrett and just accept. I guess this just puts a lot more onus on the shoulders of mission authors to come up with their own deep and interesting worlds.

  19. #1644
    Quote Originally Posted by Brethren View Post

    In the end, I think the answer is that us stubborn taffers just need to come to grips that maybe we're going to be someone besides Garrett and just accept. I guess this just puts a lot more onus on the shoulders of mission authors to come up with their own deep and interesting worlds.
    I have to agree. Not only for TDM, but what happens with Th4if? It's almost written in stone that the main character will NOT be Garrett.
    If it his how will that work after T3? Or will they try to squeeze it in before T1 in which case it would be pretty boring I imagine, or in betwwen one of the previous games?

    The funny thing is I never heard these comments towards missions like Cosas which everyone seems to love. Sure, there is some character build-up but not that much.

    I dont know, I was never that hung up on being 'Garrett' or memorizing the storyline to the T. I just like the gameplay and can deal with whatever character story happens on a mission by mission basis and take it for what it is.
    Too bad that people get so hung up on these things, to me it just limits your own enjoyment of games/life.

  20. #1645
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    It's everything contained within The City as we know it. ... there's no mention of Hammerites or Mechanists or Keepers, and there's no mention of any of the history or lore of The City as we know it, you never see a reference to Ramirez or Bafford or Benny or Viktoria, etc etc etc
    Well, that's more understandable. The Thief setting was pretty great and we all bonded with it. While TDM can be pretty close, it can't be the same. Hopefully over time the TDM setting will start to feel more like home.

  21. #1646
    Hopefully folks that embrace The Dark Mod and create missions for it will do their part to flesh out its backstory and its world like alot of authors have with Thief fan missions.

    I know that around here folks get uppity when you mention ANYTHING from a fan mission becoming a part of the thief world - but that is the beauty of everyone being different.. there are things that are from fan missions that I consider a part of the Thief world in my own mind, and I'm not concerned at all with how anyone else feels about that. Why not let people define their own Thief world however they enjoy it the most? Folks get far too anal about canon and details - we all know what was included in the original missions and lore, that's really not the point.

    A good thing about The Dark Mod is that it is completely up to the community to create the world with those tools, and I like that. Sure, a small campaign explaining some backstory of TDM and whatnot probably could have helped - but I think TDM team has done quite enough just providing us with the tools.

  22. #1647
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2004
    Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
    The wiki gives a fair amount of back story on TDM world. If mappers use that as their starting point, I think we'll start to get a good feel for the world.

  23. #1648
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Drinking baby lemonade!
    Agreed, NH. I'm going to try and build TDM missions which are story-centric and focused on the world you guys have begun to define. Of course by the time I get around to it, there will be many more FMs already out which do the same.

  24. #1649
    Quote Originally Posted by SneaksieDave View Post
    So the mission is getting written off before being given a chance,
    Nice job twisting my words there. Perhaps you missed the part where I said Rose Cottage is "obviously a good mission"? Or are you somehow trying to argue that if I'd played Rose Cottage far enough, it would have turned into a traditional Thief mission with Garrett as the protagonist?

    Quote Originally Posted by SneaksieDave View Post
    just like TDM was.
    I said I have a concern about TDM, which I haven't had a chance to try out yet (because I don't own a copy of Doom 3). That hardly means I've "written it off". Please stop putting words into my mouth.

    Quote Originally Posted by SneaksieDave View Post
    Beyond that, if someone writes off or can't enjoy a (single player, private in your own home) game (in the same theme as a favorite) simply because of the (in no way enforced on a personal level) avatar name, you're really missing the forest for one tree (and I can't feel much pity).
    It has been said more than once that this is about more than just the name of the protagonist.

  25. #1650
    If you say so. Looked to me from your words like you're dismissing two projects you've barely or not at all even tried first. Which as I said is fine, but you are likely missing out for what I consider the wrong reasons. I.e., "I don't want that Ferrari because it's red."

    are you somehow trying to argue that if I'd played Rose Cottage far enough, it would have turned into a traditional Thief mission with Garrett as the protagonist?
    I don't think I said anything of the sort... And why should the mission have to do that to grab you? What happens when Thief (the one we know and love) is no more (as it might be now)? Will you not try something else?

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