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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #1926
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule i.e. Finland
    Quote Originally Posted by clearing View Post
    F12. Screenshots will be in doom3/mission_name/screenshots.
    Thanks, clearing

  2. #1927
    Then you'll find a directory in your main darkmod folder with the missions name and the screenshots will be in their own folder there.

    Its really, really convenient in that way. You get a different screenshot folder for each mission and not just all of them tossed into one folder together regardless of mission like the Thief games do. You can play multiple missions and take screenshots and not have to sort them out later.

  3. #1928
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    I'm a bad, bad man.

    I promised Haplo this review in "a couple days" about a month ago. I should have known that whenever I promise to write something I have complete creative burn out. Ah well, it's done now. Hopefully Haplo still gives a damn. I have been keeping up with the thread though! Entertaining reviews all around, I enjoyed reading every one of them.
    Anyway, here it is, hopefully you all enjoy it!

    Insanity's Crescendo

    I was less liberal than usual with the written spoilers, but the screenshots are massive spoiler bombs. By reading this, looking at them and having your life ruined is now officially your fault.

    You know what's great? Expecting something to be excellent, and then that thing actually being excellent. This doesn't happen NEARLY often enough. Imagine watching Indiana Jones 4 if George Lucas hadn't attacked the script and crapped aliens all over it, or a version of Spiderman 3 where Venom was in it for more than three seconds and wasn't played by that guy from "That 70's show" who I always wanted to punch in the mouth. Why can't everything be as non-disappointing as "Insanity's Crescendo", the sequel to the trippy and extremely unnerving mind-bender "Unholy Vivid Innocence"? I'm not sure, but it probably has something to do with the Freemasons...lousy cult, not letting me in on their plans for world domination...I SENT YOU MY APPLICATION THREE TIMES ALREADY- I KNOW YOUR SECRET HAND-SHAKE! Call me dammit, I want in! ...Or at least a better parking space!*
    *You should probably forget everything you just read.

    But where was I? AH YES, "Insanity's Crescendo" by the local mad-genius Haplo. I've been a big fan of every mission this guy has done so far; "The Acid Trip" was an imaginative visual feast and so far the best Thief mission to play while intoxicated (I think I just stumbled upon an awesome idea for my next top ten) and "Unholy Vivid Innocence" is one of my new favorite contest missions thanks to it's terrifying atmosphere and ability to make me feel super-intelligent to an incredibly unjustifiable extent (after beating it I immediately went outside and unsuccessfully tried to kill someone with my brain). IC, as us acronym junkies have come to refer to it, has a storyline that takes place immediately after UVI; Garret's just come back from the OC with his CNS when suddenly some SOB robs him and he's all like WTF and goes off to a mysterious MIM with his BJ to find the MF who stole his CNS, then lots of WS happens*.
    *I'll give you CNS (Cool New Sword, and only because I'm hoping it catches on), the rest dies with me.

    Before I talk about the gameplay, I have to make an additional comment about the storyline. It creates an explanation for the Thief universe and the nature of its "gods" that is seriously compelling! There was a readable near the end which pretty much wraps up the nature of the Thief universe mythology in a way that had me geeking out so hard I swear I woke up the next day with a hangover*. I always appreciate it when an FMs story reaches beyond the mission itself and actually attempts to add something to the source material. I wouldn't even mind if it was decided that it was official canon from this point on. How do we go about "officially deciding" that sort of thing anyway? Do all of us on the nerd-council have to simultaneously raise our tricorders into the air in agreement or something?
    *If you've never had a geek-out hangover, it's a terrifying thing. There's nothing worse than waking up wondering why you smell like nachos and old Star Trek episodes.

    But as much as I enjoyed the clever and surreal fourth-wall breaking storyline, the gameplay is really where it's at here. Once again it's heavily puzzle based, and once again, these puzzles are simply brilliant. Mind you, they don't start out quite as great as the original. The part of this mission that takes place in a mansion environment features puzzles that are definitely interesting and unique, but the solutions tend to be overly obvious or easy to stumble on by just using whatever you have in your inventory on anything that highlights until you seem to trigger an effect. I didn't really feel smart at this point, I just felt like a lucky bastard with the unsettling habit of rubbing things down with sponges. Also, the design of this area leaves something to be desired. Though the individual rooms are detailed nicely, while in big open areas it's hard to shake the feeling that you're essentially in a giant box. The room with the main staircase especially suffers from Big Empty Square syndrome.

    But much like a date with a husky voiced woman who repeatedly makes reference to a "large surprise" she has for you, half-way through, things get weird. Of course in this case they get weird in a good way, and not in a oh-God-why-can't-I-drink-away-the-memories-of-friday-night kinda way. The puzzles suddenly get more devious and clever, the atmosphere becomes oppressive and frightening, the level design starts to show more of the usual Haplo imagination, haunts are in bountiful's just fantastic. The puzzles here are about the most perfect I've ever seen in a Thief mission; they require some serious outside-the-box thinking, but are perfectly fair and logical. If you're pulling your hair out and wandering around in confused circles, you're most likely thinking way too hard about something when the solution is right in front of your face. I don't think I've ever had more forehead-slapping "DOY!" moments than in this mission. One puzzle I was hopelessly stuck on for about an hour even had a hint on the wall near it that practically spelled out the solution with a big capital DO *THIS* DUMBASS. Of course, that's the key to a great puzzle mission: it should make you feel like the dean of Harvard University one minute and the town drunk of Stupidsville the next.

    The centerpiece of the mission's second half is a maze in the style of "Sepulcher of the Sinistral". While figuring out how to navigate it was an ingenious over-arching puzzle, I was a little disappointed by how small it actually was. Of course, that was before I had to run through it backwards, trying to remember the order of each turn in reverse with a invincible pissed off demigod chasing after me with fiery hatred in his eyes like I just drank all his booze and cleared the series finale of "Lost" off his DVR. There were more than a few "I think I lost him OH SHI-" moments here, and the fact that it ends with you jumping over a large gap to safety and turning around to see him shaking his fist at you in a hilarious "OOOoooOO you'll pay for that!" school bully rage is just the icing on the cake*. This is one of my favorite FM moments in a long time, and worth playing the mission just to experience. Of course, this isn't the last great moment of the FM. There's a new gameplay element added later which is not only an impressive bit of technical wizardry, but also so much fun to play around with you will wish it had been introduced much earlier. And then there's the ending- Thief rarely forces me into a burst of uncontrollable air guitaring, but I couldn't help myself here. It was just too much RAWK.
    *The only thing that would have made it better would have been him throwing down his hat and jumping on it repeatedly while shouting "YOU VARMANT!"- the full Yosemite Sam, if you will.

    "As soon as I hire a contractor to build a bridge over that small gap you are SO dead!"

    While the puzzle difficulty in this mission is pretty up there at times, the stealth is absolutely punishing. Hardcore ghosters are going to be grinding their teeth in anguish, but then, that's what they get for liking anything that doesn't involve violence. Personally, I read the line in the readme file which basically said "This wasn't meant to be stealthed, let your blackjack fly" and took that as my cue to be the Earthly vessel of the vengeful god of head-trauma. Despite being extremely difficult, playing the mission like this wasn't so much frustrating as therapeutic. I suggest you take the author's advice and skip the extra-sneaky stuff this time, it makes things considerably more bearable and really, it's how it was meant to be played. I do however have to call shenanigans on a certain room in the mansion where you get gunned down by canons as soon as you enter without so much as a word of warning*. However, stumbling upon this room after a long and malicious knock-out spree, it was hard to not see it as cosmic realignment. Well played Karma...well played.
    *I have a room like this in my house too, but I at least have a note outside of it: "Warning canons AND CANDY MOUNTAINS OF CANDY!"

    When considering whether or not this mission will be one you enjoy, it basically comes down to one thing: how much do you enjoy thinking? Is it something you enjoy doing a lot of in your free time or is it just that annoying thing that happens between 'sleep' and 'more sleep'? Make no mistake, this is an adventure game translated into Thief, and probably better than it's ever been done before. The puzzles are logical, immensely clever, and often result in some extremely satisfying payoff. On the other hand, the stealth element doesn't seem to have received much thought in favor of a "seriously, just knock the bastards out" disclaimer, and the level design often feels like being trapped in a series of cubes of varying size. The best compliment I can give it though is this: some of the puzzles in this mission are the most perfectly designed any Thief FM has ever presented us with, and that is REALLY saying something. Also, there's a giant monster fight set to death metal, because too much thinking is bad for the's science.

    SCREENSHOTS, now in spoiler-vision!

    Little known fact: Garrett doesn't always go on jobs when there's a full moon- the moon is just stalking him.

    Shout "WHERE DAH BEERS AT!" just as you enter this room. It makes the reaction priceless.

    "We represent the lollipop Guild mother f**ker."

    Well yeah it's a good painting, but is it "I won't stab you in the spine" good?

  4. #1929
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule i.e. Finland
    Another excellent review, The Mike LMAO

  5. #1930
    Great review Mike! And as you mentioned - a "Top 10 Thief Missions To Play While Drunk" is a great idea for a list

  6. #1931
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: The Inverted Manse
    Thanks for another great review. I'm really glad you liked the story and the puzzles.

    And I agree with you that the architecture is simple. It is no secret that I really dislike doing architecture-design/decoration, so I take a minimalistic approach in all my levels. Just open any of them in DromEd and you'll see how simple they are. In return, I try to compensate this by smarter use of textures and lights. Also by adding new game play elements, like the unholy guardians, the magic potion or the teleporter.

    I really love doing puzzles, but my dislike for architecture/decoration is why I probably won't be doing any more FMs.

  7. #1932
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Quote Originally Posted by Haplo View Post
    I really love doing puzzles, but my dislike for architecture/decoration is why I probably won't be doing any more FMs.
    This is some of the crappiest news I've heard in a long time. COME ON DUDE! Your missions kick serious ass! If you do quit now though (don't) at least you had a really great run. At least give us an "Acid Trip 2" before you go.

    And thanks to everyone who read/commented! I'll try to write another one soonish. I actually did start reviews for both "Mirror of Return" and "Down with the Mechanists" since the authors requested reviews in this thread, which frankly, is awesome. One of those will probably be next.

  8. #1933
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: Great. Now I can't get back in
    Quote Originally Posted by Haplo View Post
    I really love doing puzzles, but my dislike for architecture/decoration is why I probably won't be doing any more FMs.
    Fully respect this being your decision to make - but I really wish you'd change your mind. Unholy Vivid Innocence & Insanity's Crescendo are top-notch FMs & The Acid Trip was heaps of fun.

    Have you considered any abandoned FMs where the architecture is fully / mostly done? Just a thought.

    Either way, hope you stick around!

  9. #1934
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: The Inverted Manse
    Thanks for the encouraging words guys. Well I said "probably", let me take a break first and we will see.

  10. #1935
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    I'm sure you'll eventually feel like making another Acid Trip.

  11. #1936
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule i.e. Finland
    Could someone recommend me some Lost City type FMs? I was planning on having a theme-oriented gameplay weekend

    Haplo, I understand that stopping FM-making is your choice, but I hope you continue making them. I personally didn't get very far with Acid Trip, but your special brand of originality should not become a lost art.

  12. #1937
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Drinking baby lemonade!
    If you've not played Broken Triad, then you'll want to do so immediately and soak in the amazing second mission.

  13. #1938
    Registered: Jul 2008
    I'll add my voice to the others, Haplo. Take as long a break as you need but I hope you return to dromeding. You have a definite gift for mission making.

  14. #1939
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    Summer - take a pick of From Beneath The Sands missions. Both the original and remake are lost city-ish, tho the 1st one has a gloomier atmosphere than the latter. Probably other nicked missions have that theme, tho I'm not that sure. Probably also Sperry's stuff like Tuttocomb's Tomb or Broadsword of Sheol, but you'll have to have some nerves in order to get through those bugs, plus it has a whole different theme. For me, however, Broadsword of Sheol was an amazing adventure.

  15. #1940
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinqueecclesiensis HU
    The TTGM series has a whole lot of Lost City-type missions, starting with the third mission I believe.

  16. #1941
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule i.e. Finland
    Ok, Lost City type missions dug up so far:

    - The Temple of the Tides (don't know how in the world I've missed this one! I'm so gonna get kicked out this community...)
    - Broken Triad (in the middle of the first miss atm, so this works out well, I think)
    - Brawl in the Tombs (is this a sequel/prequel to something...?)
    -TTGM: Up Shit Creek (3rd miss of TTGM, just finishing Shore Leave coincidentally )
    - Your Last Breath (4th mission in the Blackbrook series, I think, though could be wrong...)

    Anything else? Hmm... Whispers in the Desert? Just how scary is it...?

    Edit: Huge thanks to everyone for their recommendations!
    Last edited by Summer; 8th Jun 2010 at 06:59. Reason: Forgot to be polite - won't happen again.

  17. #1942
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    Quote Originally Posted by Summer View Post
    - Brawl in the Tombs (is this a sequel/prequel to something...?)
    The correct order to play all of John D.'s missions is:

    - Burglary in Blackbrook
    - Shadows of the Past
    - Quick Cash
    (Those three missions are united in the mission pack Dark Beginnings.)
    - Your Last Breath
    - A Brawl in the Tombs
    - Island of Iron pt 1: Fortress of Steel
    - Island of Iron pt 2: Confrontation
    - Deep Trouble: City Under the Sea

    Anything else? Hmm... Whispers in the Desert? Just how scary is it...?
    Didn't consider it really scare, I thought From Beneath the Sands was scarier. Both are a lot of fun to play anyway.

  18. #1943
    Registered: May 2000
    Location: Thunder Bay, On., Canada
    Terrific and entertaining reveiw, The Mike.

    Haplo, PLEASE don't give up building FMs! I have had SO much fun testing and playing UVI and IC! It would be a shame to let so much talent go to waste.

  19. #1944
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: The Inverted Manse
    Again, thanks for all your encouraging words. To be honest I already miss the creative moments of DromeEd...maybe a small and simple mission...a bit later...
    (what am I getting myself into again...)

  20. #1945
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    I knew that with enough prodding we could push the DromEd drug back on you.
    That's some solid 'peer pressure' work people, mission accomplished!

  21. #1946
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: The Inverted Manse
    You taffers.

  22. #1947
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule i.e. Finland
    Is Together in Shadows still going on? Haven't seen much acitivity there lately.

    Haplo, glad that you're rethinking about letting go of creating more weird thiefy bliss

    I hope people aren't going to stop making FMs for at least a couple more years - or, dare I say it, decades. I'd hate to see this community wind down

    One can always replay the ones that already exist but still, new ones are always an anticipated event for everyone here, I'm sure.

  23. #1948
    I'm playing Broken Triad for the first time. How did I let this slip me by?

    I don't know about games as art, but Thief has definitely nailed games as culture.

  24. #1949
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Quote Originally Posted by Summer View Post
    Could someone recommend me some Lost City type FMs? I was planning on having a theme-oriented gameplay weekend
    There's a Lost City-related section in my TAC entry, The Affairs of Wizards. The horror contest entry Island of Madness also felt a bit Lost City-like to me.

  25. #1950
    When Still... By Eternauta
    Released: June 2010

    Once in a while a mission or campaign comes along that touches all the right spots for you personally and becomes a nearly perfect example of what you look for in a mission. Every player is different and tastes always vary, so for some of us this kind of mission may be few and far between. Having followed Eternauta's When Still... campaign for news after the preview thread was posted - I had been really looking forward to this one and was definitely not disappointed. For my style of play this campaign definitely touched all the right places (provocative!) and left me satisfied (alright now you're just being dirty) in a way that few missions ever do.

    Most first time authors work weeks, months or even years on their debut release - and the mission never sees the light of day. As unfortunate as that is - Eternauta decided to say "Screw that!" and go balls out with an expansive and epic-in-scope 4 mission campaign right out of the gate. You'll travel far and wide discovering mansions, sewers, caves, crypts, ruins, castles, warehouses, docks, small towns and more. Nearly every type of location from the Thief universe is represented here - and all of them are absolutely huge.

    Nearly every area is incredibly well textured, decorated and detailed - this campaign is definitely easy on the eyes. Little touches like brilliant use of ominous blue lighting give some rooms a supernatural creepiness that can only be described as "Oh hell did something move over there?!?" Estates are packed with loot and decor, caves are twisty and turny with brilliant use of architecture to make them feel alive, sewers have pipes twisting every witch way and rubble everywhere as if to say "something bad happened here." Warehouses are stocked from floor to ceiling with boxes - most of which have their own custom texture. Ruins twist and turn with overarching pathways and rope arrow shenanigans. Crypts flicker with torches and glowing lights that test your sneaking skill as well as your nerve (due to the always frightening haunts) - and a few surprises here and there could have you pants-shittingly fleeing in another direction. There are so many visual storytelling and atmospheric details going on in these missions that they really do need to be experienced. Screenshots do not do them justice.

    One thing Eternauta does strikingly well is setting up brilliant atmosphere. The sense of tension and gloom run steady through the campaign, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Colored lighting, creepy sound cues, multiple pathways and the feeling that anything could be lurking just around the corner really gives you an edge-of-your-seat style feeling throughout. I loved the little touches (a servant standing in the window of a darkened room lit only by the blue light cascading from the window, for example) that added so much with so little.

    Audibly the missions are very strong and for the most part use sound to great effect to create an even stronger atmosphere that compliments the visual setup of each area. Creaking boards, far off hisses and sounds of skittering about are only a few of the surprises sound-wise that are in store for players here. I can't count the amount of times on two hands that I heard a noise only to swing around and find nothing behind me. After a fresh pair of underwear I was once again on my way.

    The story is pretty strong - and over the course of the four missions you'll find a few twists and turns, lots of answers and a few filled blanks that still need filled in. Again, for a first time effort there really is a good deal of detail that went into fleshing it out. Could there have been a deeper and more involved story? Of course - there always can be. But this campaign will keep you interested in seeing what happens next. Some of the locations you'll visit will have you witnessing events that are.. different.. to say the least.

    Saving the best for last we come to the gameplay portion of the campaign - far and away my favorite part of it. Nearly every light in the campaign can be put out in one way or another. Lamps can be frobbed, tourches doused, lights switched off - this campaign allows you to tailor it to your own gameplay experience.

    Are you a roughneck Thief hardass that enjoys nothing but ghosting? Leave all the lights shining bright and punish yourself until your S&M'ish heart is content. Are you the type that loves leaving the entire area snoozing with some forcefully inflicted knockout naptime? Switch all those suckers off and have a field day. Be it small patches of darkness, the entire area pitch black or somewhere in between - you are responsible for the amount of challenge you give yourself during play.

    Keep ahold of every rope arrow you can get your hands on - you'll definitely be needing them during the course of play. You'll hunt for secrets in the rafters, you'll discover clever ins-and-outs to each area and you'll be kicking yourself for leaving any behind. Nearly every type of great-fun gameplay is represented over the course of the campaign and most of the types that suck out the fun (ridiculous forced diagonal jumping, over-complicated puzzles etc) are left out. You'll jump, swim, climb, sneak, search and steal for hours on end.

    One of the biggest positives of the missions themselves can also become somewhat of a negative if you are not the type with a good internal compass. The size.

    Taking the first mission into account for example - the mansion area is huge and filled to the brim with secret passages in walls and overhead to help you get around. The map is, well.. roughly a representation of the real floor plan at best - so use it as more of an outline than a room-for-room guide. I found myself wandering around looking for locations on the map that were nowhere near where they seemed they should have been - but once I weened myself from relying on a map learning the surroundings was much easier.

    The missions were definitely built for exploration - so those of you who are more hard coded to rely on one main route through a mission may find yourself wandering around hopelessly for a bit. Again, the incredible size and scope of the missions can sometimes work against them if you don't enjoy backtracking or visiting an area multiple times. Clues are rather light as to where to go first and what to do next - though not ball-bustingly frustrating as in missions like King's Story. As a player that is constantly on the move I don't recommend the usual tripe that folks usually post when someone is lost (Slow down and take your time! This will magically solve all of your issues!) and I instead recommend you keep moving and exploring. Alot of areas you'll find yourself stuck in can actually be solved by looking upwards or thinking outside the box. In most cases - if you can see it, you can reach it.

    You may laugh, you may cry, you may shit your pants (Just wait for a few of the moments, you'll see) - but you'll definitely have a great time. Fantastic stuff, and highly recommended. I'm pretty sure that regardless of what kinds of missions you like there will be something perfect for everyone.


    May contain slight visual spoilers for minor twists and turns - play the missions first before scrolling down if you are the type that gets your panties in a wad about those. I tried to leave everything major out.

    Mission 1:

    After switching the lights off it was time for a nap near the fire.

    Loved the signs hanging near the bar area. Such a little thing ads alot of production value and immersion.

    After my drink I decided to eat something to soak up all that mead.

    I loved the use of great looking round rugs and colored windows in some of the areas.

    Just look at the details. Beautiful stuff.

    Great use of textures to add extra detail without extra objects.

    Alot of the rooms told great visual stories on their own.

    How can you not want to rob this place? Fancy!

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