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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #651
    Since its been brought up a few times lately and I needed a break from the usual thief missions I decided to take a nice relaxing stroll with:

    A Thief's Holiday 2004 By Yandros
    Released: December 2004

    What is the story?: You have guests coming over for a little get-together and you need to make sure that everything is ready for them. Tidy up a bit, get some atmosphere going, some music and prepare the food and drinks for the evening.

    How does it play?:
    This mission is a fantastic mission to play if you'd just like some stress (and enemy AI) free gameplay with a cheery and festive atmosphere - and I always have a good time when I revisit it. On expert there are around 15 total objectives ranging from cleaning up your home to setting the mood with some holiday music and lighting.. and though there are no enemies this fetch-mission will certainly give you a run for your money on the highest difficulty. The things you need to find are hidden in crazy places, and without looking for hints I wasn't able to complete more than a dozen or so objectives. Its amazing how well hid some of the things were in such a relatively small area!

    That being said, this mission is very relaxed, has great holiday music and as a recent thread pointed out it is fun for all ages without any scary points or frightening enemies. I particularly enjoyed the snowballs that you can pick up and throw around the home - that was a little extra touch that added even more to the immersion factor of feeling like you were a thief just taking a break for once. A fun little mission that I've played at least a half dozen times now when I need a break from traditional thievery.

    How does it look?: Atmosphere is king here, and this mission looks great. From the snowy setting outside to the warm setting inside - everything is decorated and rooms are filled with great attention to detail. Holiday artwork fills the walls, (eventually!) everything feels warm and cozy and I really enjoyed the little trinkets here and there showcasing Garrett's past adventures.

    How does it sound: From the cheery ambient music outside to the excellent choices of christmas songs that you can play indoors - the holiday spirit is strong with this mission's sound and its all the better for it.

    So what is the verdict?:
    You aren't going to find any blackjacking, pickpocketing or anything like that here - but you will find a fun and relaxed mission with many objectives that will distract you from the norm and just give you a chance to wind down before hopping back into regular style missions. Highly recommended!

    Check this one out if you enjoy: Fetch quests, holiday missions, christmas music, snow missions, key hunts, missions with no enemies.

    Screens: (Taken in glorious 1600 X 1200 with 4X AI for Hiatus!)


    Runnin' 'round outside your home.



    Now this is the life.



    Preparing the food and drink.



    The other side of the living room.



    Hopefully the guests bring me gifts!



    I knew those mechanist robot arms would come in handy.



    A view from above.



    It isn't big, but its cozy and its alllll mine.

  2. #652
    Dipping now into the Thief Anniversary Contest as requested - I want to start by saying that I myself am not a huge fan of contest missions on average because of the time limit imposed on fan mission authors. Some of them pull off amazing things given only two months or so to work with - but for the most part when playing contest missions I get the feeling that given much more time the mission could have been so much more than it ended up being.

    That may be an unpopular opinion (and is only my own) but I do know that most of my favorite missions and campaigns have time frames listed in years in their development times.. so take that for what its worth. I do enjoy when an author goes back and fleshes out their missions more after the contest is over, however - as many that I've played in the past were begging to me continued after the time frame was over to give the whole experience that the author intended.

    I myself am more of a fan of large, open and sprawling fan missions and I find most contests have very small spaces to work with and it makes me feel sort of claustrophobic as a player.. I don't know how to explain it really. Anyway, now that my personal disclaimer about contests is out of the way.. On with the show!

  3. #653
    The Thief Anniversary Contest was for Thief 2 FMs, made using Dromed. The build time was from September 23, 2008 through November 30, 2008, about two months. The most important thing about this contest was just basic good Thiefy gameplay. Contest entries had to focus on what made us fall in love with Thief in the first place, good classic Thief sneaking, pillaging, exploring, and escaping! There were 13 missions entered and the rules restricted the building area to a Dromed 64 cube (262,144 cubic Dromed units)

    Ashes And Dust By Random Taffer
    Released: 2008

    What is the story?: Garrett was enjoying a nice drink until summoned by the ol' keeper-knocking-on-the-door-in-need-of-help trick. Seems you need to regain the balance by finding and obtaining the Codex of Ashes and Dust from a Lord Desmond.. You have the distinct feeling that it wont be easy.

    How does it play?:
    I was very surprised by Ashes and Dust as a contest mission due to the overall level of polish on everything. Random Taffer certainly made the most of the two months that everyone was given - the gameplay here is very strong with puzzles, lots of hidden levers and some impressive effects all adding to the overall experience.

    There is a bit of a twist in this mission that I won't ruin for anyone who has not played it, and it did add quite a bit of variety to the mission after you reach a certain point - it was an unexpected surprise for me and one that I didn't see coming. The layout of the estate is well done with good patrol routes and lighting that leaves you many areas to tuck yourself away.. in the second half of the mission you'll need them. The story here is also strong for a contest mission as well - I'm very surprised this one only took two months to build. Well done!

    How does it look?:
    Adding to my previous mention of overall polish - this mission looks fantastic. I really enjoyed the dark and gritty texture work - at first I thought the mission might have been made by DrK, Wille or Ottoj55 - all three are masters of texture work, which of course is a compliment to everyone I've mentioned and moreso Random Taffer. The atmosphere and feel of this mission are top notch, and the visuals work in harmony with the excellent sound work.

    How does it sound?: Nearly front and center in this mission is the fantastic voicework. From the voices you hear in your head guiding you through the mission to the voicework on the AI - I was truly impressed with Ashes and Dust. Very well done to everyone involved, and it added alot to the mission.

    So what is the verdict?:
    If I hadn't known this was a contest mission where the author only had two months to work with I would have guessed the mission took at least three to four times that long due to the level of polish that it had - a truly impressive effort that was my pick for the best in the contest. Highly recommended.

    Check this one out if you enjoy:
    Mansion missions, strong story elements, supernatural enemies, human enemies, puzzles.

    Screens:


    Guardin' ain't easy but it sure is fun.



    Poor guys have to bunk in the drafty basement.



    Inside the main area of the estate.



    Round the back of the stairs.



    The second floor.



    This lady sleeps with her eyes wide open.. its unnerving.



    Stairs and arches - great texture choices in this mission.



    Glowing keys are always safe.. right? Right???

  4. #654
    Moderator
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Location: shalebridgecradle.co.uk
    Another excellent review SneakyJack. Ashes and Dust is certainly one of my favorites.

    I wanted to comment on contest missions in general as well. I completely understand your viewpoint and your preferences in that regard. For myself, I have found that some of my favorite missions are contest missions. Aside from the fact that (as you mentioned) many authors are capable of amazing feats given the limitations of the contest, I find that in many cases having the deadline and restrictions to deal with can keep the mission more focused. This often results in a tighter storyline and more intense gameplay, not to mention spawning some very clever ideas as the author has to come up with innovative ways to realize his/her vision under these restrictions. I find those results fascinating and quite enjoyable in and of themselves.

    And while, like you, I do like exploring large maps and covering lots of ground in more involved missions, I also very much enjoy those tight, cramped missions (within reason of course). Perhaps it has to do with play style to some extent but whatever the reason, I find them particularly challenging and somehow more "alive" if you know what I mean.

    Just wanted to share my thoughts on the matter as well since, as you have said so often, we all have our different likes and dislikes, play styles and preferences and it is interesting to see what others prefer.

  5. #655
    An Old Friend By Lost Soul
    Released: 2008

    What is the story?: Old Bafford has fallen on harder times than he's used to - time to make his times even harder by re-stealing his scepter that he has recently reacquired.

    How does it play?:
    This mission is truly an example of missions that I wish were expanded and given more time for completion. There are quite a few areas that feel rushed (the story being one of them) and there are times here and there that I wish the author would have slowed down or at least got a proofreader (four typos in the first readable you come across for example) - overall the mission just felt rushed from beginning to end.

    The architecture in the city is interesting for the most part but inside the buildings feels a bit cramped with super small rooms. (most likely due to having to fit a small city into the contest limitations) Again, something that more space and time probably would have solved - and its a real shame due to this mission being a great bit of fun for me during the time I spent with it.

    The gameplay itself is good and the small city provides a few interesting bits of exploration (such as the area inside the weapons shop and the small sewer bits) and for the most part the mission does provide some fun. Its just a shame that it seems like it was rushed out the door for a mission that could have been stellar given more area and time to work with. Here is to hoping that Lost Soul either expands or polishes this one for a re-release in the future - I know I'll give it another shot. If you enjoy city missions this one is definitely at least worth a one time playthrough.

    How does it look?: The outside city bits look good with some interesting design as to how the buildings fit together - inside areas don't fare quite as well. As mentioned before most of the rooms feel far too small and very cramped, a scale that makes it feel like Bafford is living in a series of closets. There are also some strange door and texture choices inside some of the buildings but for the most part everything still looks good.

    How does it sound?: I didn't notice custom sounds or voice work but everything sounded exactly like it should. Well done without any blank spots for sound.

    So what is the verdict?:
    I had a good time playing this mission but it begs to be reworked or expanded for a much better experience. I recommend everyone give it a playthrough at least once.

    Check this one out if you enjoy:
    City missions, human enemies, rope arrow shenanigans.

    Screens:


    We built this city on rock and ro... well, rock.



    I could jump on his head from here.



    I really liked this screenshot.



    Searching for turtles trained in ninjitsu that just happened to be teenagers.



    Keeping warm.



    You can't keep me down here!



    Secret hideout.



    Just what I need, another nick-nack for my mantle.

  6. #656
    Quote Originally Posted by Tannar View Post
    Another excellent review SneakyJack. Ashes and Dust is certainly one of my favorites.

    Just wanted to share my thoughts on the matter as well since, as you have said so often, we all have our different likes and dislikes, play styles and preferences and it is interesting to see what others prefer.
    Thank you for your kind words and your post, both are very much appreciated Tannar!

    You make great points with what you said and it does give me the other side of the coin on the situation, so thank you for that. I suppose it would keep things a bit more focused and keep mission authors from meandering off with random ideas and such if they are under a deadline.

    Another thing I thought about was the whole morale factor - I do enjoy that contests seem to bolster the desire of some folks to make a mission that they normally might not have went through with making had it not been for a contest and to show support for the community.. so that is another point in defense of contests. I see both sides and support both, to be honest. Its just a shame when I see a mission that was obviously stifled by contests restrictions that could have been so much more.. but like you said there are many great missions that come out of them too. Double edged sword I suppose

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and hopefully you'll do so many more times in the future. I really enjoy reading what others think and moreso if the opinion differs from my own.

    Edit: More missions from the anniversary contest coming soon!

    Photoshop's auto levels tool can be quite powerful and react quite oddly sometimes when I'm adjusting these screenshots to post. Take a shot from my upcoming "Affairs Of Wizards" entry for example..

    Before auto levels:



    After auto levels:



    You'd think I had the before and after images mixed up - but I assure you they are not. The first shot is how the image appeared directly after taking the screenshot, and how it would be added to the thread to stay the closest to how it appeared in the actual mission. You can see how much of a difference a couple clicks can make!

    On a side note: Would anyone be interested in a tutorial for how I go about doing these screenshots? (with photoshop portions included) I figure if I broke it down into steps with visual aids more folks would be able to contribute their own shots. Im sure there are thief screenshot tutorials somewhere on the forum but I could do a step by step to get everyone up to speed as to how I do it if you don't know how to go about it.. let me know if this is a good idea or not.

    More soon!
    Last edited by SneakyJack; 9th Apr 2009 at 03:07.

  7. #657
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    Please, make a tutorial. I especially like to know how to make things brighter.

  8. #658
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    Quote Originally Posted by SneakyJack View Post
    I get an almost identical result by using Paint Shop Pro's 'One Step Photo Fix' tool. I like the way different programs copy off each other

  9. #659
    Quote Originally Posted by R Soul View Post
    I get an almost identical result by using Paint Shop Pro's 'One Step Photo Fix' tool. I like the way different programs copy off each other
    Thats great news! I'll be sure to include that when I do the tutorial. If you have any other information about how Paint Shop Pro imitates photoshop commands that would be a huge help if you could PM those to me That way I could include those commands as well for those that don't have (or down want to.. erm.. acquire..) Photoshop so that everyone can join in.

  10. #660
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    I don't what what else it copies because I don't have photoshop

    If you post the tutorial I can translate it for PSP.

  11. #661
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    Here's a funny question: What happens when all FMs are reviewed? If you had started this insane amount of reviewing about a year or two back...

    Anyhow, thanks in advance, you help me choose which FM to play.

    Currently I'm slowly (and i mean, slowly, cause i don't have much playtime lately) playing through Mysterious Invitation V2. I gotta say, that's a nice and big mission with an interesting story. I imagine it drawing a line almost parallel to The Sword. I like it's use of advanced textures and the marble floors so far have thankfully proven pretty harmless to me.

    Does spending many hours a day on this forum or the circle (novels, stories...), which is much more than on Thief, make me have no life at all?

  12. #662
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    Does spending many hours a day on this forum or the circle (novels, stories...), which is much more than on Thief, make me have no life at all?
    OF COURSE NOT!

    *answers this because he does almost the same*

  13. #663
    Quote Originally Posted by Thor02 View Post
    Here's a funny question: What happens when all FMs are reviewed? If you had started this insane amount of reviewing about a year or two back...

    Anyhow, thanks in advance, you help me choose which FM to play.
    Then I'd just review the new ones that were released I suppose or start on a different Thief game There are still a ton of missions to go so I don't think I'll run out any time soon.

  14. #664
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    When you have reviewed all missions, you can choose which page of the thread you want to see: 1, 2, 3....or 568.

  15. #665
    Or they can just look at the first post and click on what mission they want to see or what they want to discuss.

    I figure I'll shift my focus from reviewing missions to just coming up with ideas to discuss about them at that point.

  16. #666
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    Oh i dunno, on my count you + few "guests" (other reviewers) have reviewed 121 FMs. That's more than 10% already.

  17. #667
    Bad Intentions By Mirko
    Released: 2008

    What is the story?: Lord Jonstone moved into this town a few months ago. He hasn't got the biggest mansion, but he owns quite a lot of valuable things. His most precious treasure is a gem ring which he's always keeping safe in his rooms. Lord Jonstone has got many connections and influences, so he'd better not even think that I'm going to steal the ring. I'll have to make sure that nobody sees me.

    How does it play?: Not so well, I'm sorry to say. First and foremost we've got the dreaded (for me) forced ghosting objective - but instead of just making it one person you need to avoid or one group of people, you can't be seen by anyone in this mission. The author notes in the objective that "we've been playing 10 years of thief so it shouldn't be a problem". Well, for casual gamers like myself - it is a problem. In fact, it is a fun vacuum that makes the mission a chore for me to complete.

    The easiest thing to do here would be to have the ghosting objective on higher skill levels and instead use a no-kill or even a no-ko objective on the easy level. That would have given every play style the chance to have a good time - but for me this mission was just not any fun.

    The patrol routes were erratic (I don't know if this was done intentionally or just odd AI behavior) but more than once I had a guard suddenly double back his patrol route and get closer and closer to where I was - eventually discovering me (though I was completely covered in shadow.. which there is little of in most places in this mission) almost by magic. I also discovered that putting out a torch in the next room would somehow alert some of the guards or house staff and BOOM - objective failed.

    In one case on a higher level of the estate a woman stopped in the middle of a hallway - and unfortunately it was completely lit, patrolled by a guard and the only way in and out of the area. I ended up trapped, stuck and without the ability to create shadow. How is a player supposed to get around that?

    Without the ghosting objective that left you hung up if the AI patrol routes break the mission would be a great bit of classic thief fun. I just wish I could have enjoyed it.

    How does it look?: The mission looks good for the most part, lots of classic thief touches and atmosphere. The layout of the estate is simple for the most part, and it seems like everything was kept pretty basic.

    How does it sound?: I noticed a scripted conversation or two which are always welcome, and I didn't notice any spots without sound or the wrong sounds. Well done overall.

    So what is the verdict?:
    With the forced ghosting playstyle and many frustrating design choices, this mission just was not for me. If you enjoy a good challenge and ghosting, by all means give it a shot - but I'll have to give it a pass.

    Check this one out if you enjoy: Ghosting, challenging gameplay, quirky AI.

    Screens: (Didn't come out to well, but I think everything about this mission worked against me)


    This guard has to stand in one spot and turn every so often - poor guy must have the worst job on the staff.



    Here Garrett warns about the tile floor - perhaps if he chose a difference choice of footwear he could sneak right by!



    No time to eat - nab the candlestick and vamoose!



    This guy here... holy smokes. Don't even get me started on his inane patrol route. Try hiding int he doorway (the only bit of shadow near you) - I dare you. Watch him find you.



    Comfy and cozy.



    So here is the rub - this woman sometimes stops randomly here in this hallway - and there is a guard patroling that will come around the corner in front of her shortly. You have to get by her unnoticed but you cant put out a torch. Yeah - not for me.



    I dont even know.

  18. #668
    The Affairs Of Wizards By Nameless Voice
    Released: 2008

    What is the story?: I was approached by a man named Havelock, who claimed to represent an eccentric "key collector", who wishes to remain anonymous. Apparently, this unknown noble prides himself in his collection of rare and unusual keys, and there are three in particular that he wishes to add to his collection. I'm generally wary of taking jobs where I don't know the employer or the fence, but the mysterious buyer managed to gain my attention with a generous up-front payment if I accepted. I didn't really have much choice; the rent is due, and I haven't had many opportunities lately. I need the money.

    How does it play?: For a contest mission given only two months - this mission is shockingly well done. Nameless Voice always excels at special effects and bending dromed to do things it was not intended to do - and this mission is no exception. From collapsing ruins to teleportation down to the less noticeable things such as a mage re-lighting torches that you put out with his magic.. there are a ton of impressive things on display in this one.

    You begin in a mansion like setting (which is always welcome to me) and after an interesting development in the rather strong plot you end up traveling to a few different locations - very inventive use of the contest parameters and it really added an epic and varied feeling to the mission. The architecture of all of the areas you visit leads to some fun gameplay aspects and overall everything is very well built. Such a high level of polish can only help the gameplay and it definitely delivers here. This mission is another example of a mission that is great on its own merit but I feel would have been even bigger and better if it was expanded on with larger areas and more to do - the excellent story could have easily lent itself to becoming a fully fleshed out multi-mission campaign. Very well done!

    How does it look?: From the high quality textures and architecture to the special effects and different locations you'll visit - everything looks fantastic. Nameless Voice builds beautiful missions, and this one has all the polish and quality that you'd expect. Definitely easy on the eyes.

    How does it sound?: From the splash of water in one location to the crackling of fire in another, everything sounds great. The voice acting for the mages in this mission was really well done and particularly stood out.

    So what is the verdict?: Another favorite of mine from the contest, I highly recommend you give this one a shot.

    Check this one out if you enjoy:
    Mages, Human enemies, interesting stories, mansion missions, adventure missions.

    A side note - upon reading the readable that came with this mission I noticed this comment from the author:

    Finally, this mission was *very* rushed, so the quality of some things is far below that of others. Plot, readables, architecture, voice acting... all could have done with more work.
    That really is a shame, though the mission still turned out excellent. This is a shining example of why sometimes a contest can be a bad thing.

    Screens:


    Inside the estate.



    Enjoying someone else's book by an open fire.



    What have we here??



    Great little details were scattered here and there like a book hanging over the edge of a desk.



    Things just got a little more interesting!



    Yo ho ho, a pirates life for me.



    So many mages - so little gas arrows.



    I thought it felt warmer in here.

  19. #669
    I thought at this point I'd take a bit of a break for discussion so that I can prepare the next mission for Thief TIS.

    If you notice during my review of Bad Intentions I noted that because of my playstyle not having a difficulty where ghosting is not forced makes a mission a real chore for me personally - I was wondering how others felt about this as well. I know some folks really enjoy the thrill and challenge of a perfectly ghosted mission - and I like that the playstyle is available, just not the only style allowed.

    So what say you? Does your playstyle allow for forced ghosting? Would you rather it only be an option for missions on higher difficulty? Do you not care either way?

    I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on the subject!

  20. #670
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    I actually liked the mission and i like ghosting as well and it was fairly easy in this mission. That wonderful background music boosted the atmosphere nicely and it happened to be one of the most atmospheric TAC missions for me.

    Dunno what upsets you so badly about ghosting, but i have no problems accepting that.

  21. #671
    Quote Originally Posted by Thor02 View Post
    I actually liked the mission and i like ghosting as well and it was fairly easy in this mission. That wonderful background music boosted the atmosphere nicely and it happened to be one of the most atmospheric TAC missions for me.

    Dunno what upsets you so badly about ghosting, but i have no problems accepting that.
    It doesn't upset me - it just isn't my preferred play style.. Which is why I wanted to talk about it to get opinions that were different than mine

    The the same vein some folks would rather play strictly ghost or strictly ironman - I play strictly blackjacking for the most part and would rather ghosting objectives be left to higher difficulties.

  22. #672
    jtr7
    Guest
    I never noticed SneakyJack being upset about ghosting, and certainly not "so badly".

    Since it would be unreasonable to expect one reviewer to review the game with coverage of multiple playstyles, I think it would be interesting to hear from those other Masters of their preferred styles for these missions, once in awhile, if not more regularly.

  23. #673
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2009
    Location: Situation's changed, Tom.
    I only like ghosting if:
    1. you have to ghost just in a part of the game, not the whole level. (Like The Mirror)
    2. you have a mission that is easy to ghost (Like T2x: the Redistribution Game)

    Otherwise, I prefer or an optional ghosting objective or just on higher difficulties.

    In other words, some ghosting can be fun in a while, but I don't want to be pushed too much to do it.

  24. #674
    Quote Originally Posted by jtr7 View Post
    Since it would be unreasonable to expect one reviewer to review the game with coverage of multiple playstyles, I think it would be interesting to hear from those other Masters of their preferred styles for these missions, once in awhile, if not more regularly.
    Absolutely. If someone disagrees with a review of mine or disagrees with a statement I make I would very much enjoy reading a re-review of a mission by someone else from a different playstyle perspective. I say this with all sincerity. It made my day when Intruder reviewed a series of missions recently - I'm usually the one reading my own writing as I'm typing it and its instantly old to me.. I like to read reviews too so please do so!

    It is great fun for me to read "how the other side lives" so to speak due to my ghosting skills being mediocre at best. Some of you that can perfect ghost complicated missions leave me in awe at your skills and patience, and I'd like to hear what you think about missions I've reviewed in the past.

    So in short - if you are a ghoster and would like to re-review any mission I've done that has clashed with my playstyle I would very much encourage and enjoy reading it!

    I only like ghosting if:
    1. you have to ghost just in a part of the game, not the whole level. (Like The Mirror)
    2. you have a mission that is easy to ghost (Like T2x: the Redistribution Game)

    Otherwise, I prefer or an optional ghosting objective or just on higher difficulties.

    In other words, some ghosting can be fun in a while, but I don't want to be pushed too much to do it.
    I'm with you my friend. Thats pretty much my exact view on it as well. I mentioned a few times in my T2X review that the ghosting parts were painless because of how they were handled for the most part, so it sounds like you and I share similar views on it. Thanks for contributing!

    Also: 25k views!

  25. #675
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    Quote Originally Posted by jtr7 View Post
    I never noticed SneakyJack being upset about ghosting, and certainly not "so badly".
    Then i am a bit too paranoid. My bad.

    Where do you see views on a thread & stuff?

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