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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #1501
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball

    Reviewing "The Seventh Crystal" by Saturnine

    Time for the 1500th post to this thread, time to steal it from anyone else. Sorry, if I stole your post, SJ. As a compensation, I've reviewed a mission that should've been reviewed a long time ago. By anyone. Admittedly, I did slightly rush this review, but I hope it's still readable. Mhh, this review is a bit chaotic.


    Released in late 2001 by Saturnine for Thief II

    The Seventh Crystal (download from one one these sites)


    I'll go ahead and quote Purah's introduction to this wonderful mission.

    Purah here, that's Pur (like a cat) ah! (like a good idea). I'm at the Saturnine Mansion this evening and let me tell you, the circumstances of my inevitable leaving are indeed bittersweet.I'm afraid I've just run through the place and made quite a mess (boots tracking snowmelt and such)—and its probably best if I'm not here when the lord of the house gets home. Hence I'm going to be quick about this here introduction.
    The Seventh Crystal has finally arrived. And yes, I'm a happy beta tester.I won't be giving much away if I say its a cold winter's night in the city. And I'll only be telling the truth if I say you haven't played a dark and forbidding mission until you've played the 7th Crystal.
    "Yeah, yeah," you say. "I've heard that before."
    I smile and recall my time on the Saturnine grounds. The lush reds and purples of the rooms seem a blur now. The gold I stole is inconsequential. And it certainly feels like something more (something I never even saw) still haunts this house of many gables. You see there's a secret left untold and its still here—hanging in the air.
    After my moment of surprise, when my fingers left the keyboard and my heart stood still, I gazed in wonder andswallowed with difficulty. A whispered explicative of disbelief left my lips and then a faint smile replaced it.
    Now I am left to ponder whether anything that really happened tonight will ever come to light. I wonder if Saturnine or the police or anyone else will ever know the truth. I wonder if I will ever know the truth of the whole story.
    Yes I was there, in Lord Saturnine's room. But what I am left with after the fact is nothing but a dark empty pit in my stomach and the knowledge that it would have been better to stay home tonight than creep through the snow and into the warm indigo parlors of Lord Saturnine.
    Good luck taffers. And welcome to the Alfred Hitchcock thriller of all Fan Made Missions: the 7th Crystal.

    -Purah, Nov. 1st 2001
    Now that that's done, I hope I've escaped the need to tell the story myself. I played this FM a while ago, but I'm not much of a replayer, although it does sound tempting. Still, I don't have much time for that just now.


    The Seventh Crystal is a very, very unique mission, that serves multiple purpuses - lets the player live through a most immersive and atmoshperic story, that takes you away to another place, distracts for a few hours and gives a sweet aftertaste.

    The Seventh Crystal gives you an insight of a dramatic story, great twists and overall maps, that is are joy to look at. Yes, maps. This FM is divided into 4 acts - 2 for intro, outro and 2 for playing. It's like a theatrical Thief mission and this is a lovely, original touch.

    Architectually it's actually pretty medium, good for those times, but where the map wins visually is lighting. It offers possibly the most beautiful lightening seen for those times.

    Another thing this mission stood out with was some beautiful artwork for it. The stained glass windows were my favorite. I'm not sure whether they were originals or custom made, but the way they were implemented at some places was amazing.

    There are some imperfections throughout the mission, that I consider were probably so because of engine limits or anticipation for release, but generally I found no real flaws to begin with.

    Like every epic story, there's also some mystical, unclear things going on, which gives you a little bit of fear, cause you're not sure what's going to happen behind the next door. I blame the lighting. I might be alone on this one...

    I called the story epic, but when I look on it, I think it could have been done more to that direction. Maybe the author didn't really intend it to be that way, since I saw more potential to it. I don't know, it may aswell be just me again... Though I did like the story. It's classic! Time to stop blathering and finish it up.

    The gameplay was alright, Act 2 was mansion mission. I could've asked for more secret, hidden areas, but I didn't. This mission was about something else. The catacombs were stunning, a bit lacking in architecture, the atmosphere was pretty strong, but I can't really describe how. I played this a while ago.

    I suppose that's it. The screens will tell more then I could, anyway.



    The catacombs. Notice the lighting?


    The middle of the mansion. Notice the artwork?


    Some porch or something. Notice the sky? Ok, I'll stop this.


    The attic... It's a natural


    Lovely artwork and the place where it's put!


    Dead Man's Chest?


    Possibly my most favorite place in the map.

    Then again...
    Last edited by Thor; 23rd Nov 2009 at 10:12.

  2. #1502
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Great review Thor, it's kinda crazy how Seventh Crystal was released so many years ago and it hasn't aged a friggen day. Awesome screenshots by the way!


    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Taffer View Post
    I had something to say to this, but after I wrote it all down I found out that ttlg logged me out before I hit the "submit reply" button and everything I wrote was lost. So now there's nothing but screams of "YOU *&%$#*@!!!!!" from my end.
    I sympathize, I've had the same crap happen to me so frequently on internet message boards I've made a habit of highlighting my entire post and copying it before submitting. Thanks for commenting though, anyway!


    Part of my former reply, though, expressed in me a wish to make sweet love to your reviews if it were physically possible, Mike.
    Oh it's very possible, you just have to get them drunk first.
    Last edited by Nightwalker; 23rd Nov 2009 at 11:26.

  3. #1503
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball

    Reviewing "The Hand Of Glory" by DarkThief

    ... by Darkthief, in late 2009, for Thief I - The Dark Project!

    The Hand Of Glory

    The name for the mission is quite repetetive and "casual", if I may say, but don't let that overlook this FM. It is quite a fine one.


    Story

    After all that trouble in Cragscleft, the catacombs and at Ramirez', I'm going to take care of business for myself for a while. The Hand of Glory, that magnificent specimen which is said to be a unique artifact, is rumored to be in this town somewhere. A good old buddy of Cutty, a guy named Gynni, helped me to learn of its whereabouts. Lord Gibson, a noble man who lives next to the Hammerite temple in town seems to be its current owner. The temple district is closed off all night and I must not be seen on the streets during that time. Problem is, Lord Gibson has got a well-guarded and locked entrance to his manor. Unfortunately there isn't a side entrance either but this won't stop me. Gynni has kept his ears open and managed to find out that there was recently a cave-in under the Hammerite temple and under Lord Gibsons estate too. I wonder if those holes are connected somehow. Well, seems like I'm going to find out. Tonight, I'm going to sneak into the Hammerite temple and take a look at this hole in the ground. This should be a good opportunity to take some valuables from my old friends, the Hammers, too. Finally I'll take the Hand and escape. Sounds like this is going to be a successful night. I should be going now.

    Sorry for the long intro, I just couldn't do it otherwise, somehow. The story is solid, has something slightly interesting in it, but overall it's nothing special. It's not bad either, generally. I just would've liked some more originality.


    Gameplay

    You start by the estate itself and it's badly guarded. Unfortunately you don't have the key, so you're gonna have to go all the long way around, through the mission. Luckily, it's an adventurous and fun way around. It is, for the most part, a classic hammerite mission, but has it's own nice touches and hints. Actually I found some of the hints driving me into frustration, but then again, I wasn't playing very carefully.

    Generally, this map included a little of nearly everything hammerite related and even some things unrelated. It makes it a great little mission. Nothing deep, but a nicely spent time. The ways to get to various places were often 2, which made the mission less difficult and more entertaining.

    What I liked from this particular mission were the maps and I think they were hand drawn. That was a good idea and it was also nice to navigate through them, once you just got tired of simply wandering around and getting bored with it. Almost forgot - the maps are in german, so you might want to use the almighty google's translator.


    It sounds like...

    This sounded very much like a TDP mission. Would've liked a conversation or two. I was surprised how little tile or metal grounds there were and that was one of the reasons I jumped so freely around the map.


    It looks like...

    Again, it looks very much like a Hammerite TDP mission, with less tile floor and a gigantic garden in the middle, which made this mission quite memorable. Otherwise, it's all normal textures, but quite well placed textures. Architecture was one of the strong points of this mission. I found it feeling like a "realistic" hammerite temple, with pretty much everything in the place, like it belongs. I felt like I was robbing a familiar temple. Indeed, that was the feeling that followed me throughout the mission.

    Well, until I got to the manor. The manor part was short and felt a little more rushed, the architecture wasn't as polished either. It didn't spoil the overall fun and quality, since it wasn't that bad, but I would've wanted more into it.


    Verdict, conclusion, anything???

    Indeed, my friend. It's an instant classic and with a bit of a story fix, it could very well succeed in being one of TDP's missions. It's not the advancements and new stuff this FM was aiming for - it tried to give you another OM. I'll like this mission, as it is.



    3 guesses about what will you see in this mission.


    My favorite area of the map. It has the most open space and it's still not blocky.


    Atmospheric, but it's a bit lacking in logic, when you keep discovering it.


    One of the only apartments in this map, but it was lmost creepy how atmoshperic I found it.


    A Thief Gold element. Any idea which one is it?


    Spiral stairs. Plus with the textures this felt like one of the most atmoshperic places of the map. It was totally contrasted with the environment before and especially after. I was somehow wanting daylight mountains, caves, medieval. Imagination let loose!


    Shhh, keep cooking ye ol' geezer.


    Inside the mansion. It's the darkest place in the mansion, but also the most beautiful. On the first floor anyway.

  4. #1504
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball

    Reviewing "Bane I - Keep Of Deceit"

    Made and released by theImmortalThief, in mid 2007, for Thief II!

    Bane I - Keep Of Deceit (click here for decent, working links)

    Keep of Deceit is one of my favorites. I just like the author and his creations.


    Description

    Two nights ago, I received a letter from Keeper Troy, a friend of mine from my training days as a Keeper acolyte. He had written of some alarming incidents in Daleville's Keeper Compound where he serves. He sounded almost desperate. As much as I hate to get involved in the matters of the Keepers, I decided to look into it for the sake of an old favor I owe him. He set a meeting place at the Daleville docks but once I got there, I found that the City Watch had gotten there first. I fear the worst for Troy. Tonight I must find out what happened to him. If there is to be any hope of me finding out whats going on, I must find him. I somehow feel like this is about to become a lot more complicated. I smell trouble. A lot of it.


    Insight

    This is a very colorful mission. The first part of it is set in the city, but it still varies a lot in environment - mechanist's area, city watch, neutral houes, docks, sewers. And everything was well connected and there were various ways for to get to one place. It was also filled with several secrets, mostly quite easily found, which gets your self esteem as a Thief player a little higher.

    What I particularily loved about this mission was how well everything was connected storywise as well. You read the journals of all main and minor plot characters and they speak about their thoughts of other plot characters, besides some casual or plot stuff. While I'm still talking about story, I'd like to say, that everything added up well and you could see right through what's happening and why. Story is surely the highlight of this mission. There's also one slippery attribute to the whole thing - you have to explore everything yourself, cause there ain't much hints of how to go to that place you're seeking. You can get lost and wander a bit frustrated, so like I said - it's a slippery thing. Despite the various mission areas, it is actually a very Keeper orientated mission. The story turns pretty epic and the idea of a Keeper's betrayal felt quite refreshing and maybe even original. Also, the mechanist involvement with the City Watch envolvement was a brilliant idea.

    The author knows what a mission occasionally needs and what architecture makes it look good. The architecture varies and has some nice touches, that make you go creative, which some missions lack in. Never underestimate the fun of climbing through fun architecture. Without good texturing, architecture wouldn't save the mission. What I found particularily interesting is that the author has a distinct like for orange color. I don't quite like orange metal, but it was nice to have something fresh and, as I said, different. The author uses just the standart textures from what I've noticed, though he used them with high variety and good choices.

    Notes (with 99% of personal assurance):
    - I'm pretty sure this mission can be ghosted.
    - I'm pretty sure this is a remake of author's previously released mission "Aa Keeper's Betrayal"


    Verdict

    Basicly, this mission combines classic thief experience + a little bit of everything principle + great story, that makes you wish for more.

    Fortunately there is Bane II - Cult of the Damned as well, though I haven't heard news of the third part for over a year whatsoever.


    Tried to take a screenshot from each area. I think I've done a decent job at it, surprisingly enough. Nah, just kidding. I just happened to get every area's screens.


    At least this guard has a nice view.


    The sewers.


    Mechanists like to show off.


    The docks.


    See the dirty, yet transpartent windows? These are not the only ones. This author is the individual.


    Keeper's Compound. Maybe a little too wide and fancy for Keepers, but they gotta look all serious and mysterious somehow.


    Don't mess with the trees!


    Magnificent.
    Last edited by Thor; 26th Nov 2009 at 07:50.

  5. #1505
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball

    Reviewing "Bane II - Cult Of The Damned

    Made and released by theImmortalThief, in mid 2007, for Thief II!

    Bane II - Cult Of The Damned (download links)


    Description

    Note: You should really play the sequel before you get on to this one.

    It's been 6 days since the night you escaped the Keeper Compound of the nearby city of Daleville, with the Sea Bane. Your search for a way to destroy the Sea Bane for good has lead you to a certain Lord Hasaan, a wealthy historian with a passion for the Damnation Era, the era of the Necromancer King's tyranny. His estate is located outside the city in a historic region near ancient ruins. Lord Hasaan has recently finished writing a paper regarding the Damnation Era and the Sea bane. The paper is unpublished, so he has the only copy. Acquiring it may be very useful in ending this madness.
    Four nights ago, Salfatora, the antique dealer who sold First Keeper Bouran the ancient scroll regarding the Sea Bane, showed up at the estate and remains there. Last night the gates to the estate were suddenly closed and the whole estate was put under security lock down. Strange things are afoot in Lord Hasaan's estate. Tonight you shall enter and investigate the situation. It seems that food is the only thing allowed through the gates, so you shall hide in a crate and enter with tonight's delivery of goods.



    Insight

    This mission is pretty impressive. The length of the mission is medium, but the environment is very different. It is, for the most part, a mansion mission, but it was much more than that. The environment doesn't vary as much, but the author kept concentrated on 2-3 things in this mission. There were several classic, but quite well hidden secrets, but not really as hard, if you'd look around carefully.

    This mission presented itself quite nicely with various options how to get from one place to another. Although what makes them get overlooked is that it isn't difficult do it the normal way.

    Storywise the mission keeps progressing and reveals more about the Bane series, even though, if the author is skilled enough (and I believe he is), he could make even more "revealed mysteries" in the following missions, if there will be any.
    Readables are still well connected, but same as with the environments, there aren't as much characters in this one and there's not a lot of side stories. In a way, it helps you keep immersed, connected, concentrated to the big plot picture.

    In the beginning of the mission I noticed some pretty retarded guards, that wouldn't care about your presense or one of his comrades sleeping. Makes me think they've been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd on iPods,that they've smuggled in the mansion. I'm pretty sure I sat on, thus broke one of them in my crate.

    ...Did I make a joke? Anyways... Towards the end of this mission it made you go through several challenges of your acrobatic skills. Unfortunately the engine hates this map and I died way too many times through trial and error or whatever they call it nowadays.

    Speaking of that leads me to architecture. Overall it's well done and I can't find any big complaints, except that you can often die because of it.
    The mission was beautiful, though. Great use of texture, lights and dromed itself, obviously.

    Maybe getting repetetive, but I'd like to mention again, that this mission makes good use of ambients and other little touches like some extra detail in walls and some design fixes, that people tend not to notice, yet they keep their spirits on higher grounds.



    Verdict

    A well worthy followup to it's prequel in every aspect - story, visuals, everything! Both parts are highly recommended. Ha, ain't gonna write anything long this time!


    Notes (which I am sure of this time):
    - This map is ghostable
    - I will have (surprise, surprise!) screenshots!
    - ... and YES, I tried colors. I'm a very colorful person after all! *laughing crowd* Thank you, thank you, you are too good.


    Here's where you got shipped...


    The hallways. It doesn't look very fancy yet, but it's made like that on purpuse. You can tll that by the neat walls.


    Just another great view.


    Creepy.


    Maybe I should've took the screenshot from another place. He looks fatter than he really is!


    It's both pathetic and humoring how many times I died in this place.


    Now THIS is the fancy house.


    Just another epic theImmortalThief moment.

  6. #1506
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Great stuff Thor!

    I'm working on a few things of my own as well.. think of this as the calm before the storm

  7. #1507
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    The Thieves By Silencium, Railgun, Fidcal and Springheel
    Released: November 2009 For The Dark Mod

    The Thieves comes to us with help from a number of different authors contributing work in different areas - and though a solid mission overall - The Thieves demonstrates everything that is right with The Dark Mod.. and everything that still needs work.

    In The Thieves you are basically tasked with an assassination with some loot gathering along the way. The target is the leader of a group of thieves in a nearby hideout - and you'll need to steal a prized trophy while getting your hands dirty. (and bloody, for that matter.)

    I've decided to divide this review into more of a mission/mod format - giving my thoughts on the mission itself and then going into the issues still present in The Dark Mod as to not take away from the mission itself.

    The mission is well built for the most part and interesting in both design, sound and visuals. For the most part the mission feels fairly small as very few buildings are enterable and you'll only find yourself needing to explore two or so major locations. Though it would have been nice to see more buildings to poke around in and more to do - as far as smaller missions go this one is pretty solid.

    The sound design in the mission shines brighter than loot glint in The Thieves - you'll enjoy not only tension building ambient music but sound effects sprinkled here and there to give you an extra bit of chill while carrying out your dirty deeds. Visually the mission is strong with stacks of crates and barrels littering the city along with minor details like rats and broken machinery - all adding to an excellent overall atmosphere. TDM's lighting abilities are also on display here with both candles and torches that are carried by the AI, and you'll marvel at the shadows cascading off nearby objects.

    Gameplay can be a bit of a challenge if you have yet to work yourself into TDM's 'sweet spot' for combat or blackjacking - I myself am still trying to find my feet in this area and I do believe that it still needs alot of work. I'll touch on that further later in this very review. Another new 'feature' I noticed in this mission that may be mission specific is that guards will now throw an object at you when you are an a higher level that they cannot reach - essentially turning them into archer/melee combination attackers. This not only adds quite a bit of challenge, but can also feel a bit cheap at times - you'll have to be extra careful around your foes this time around. They can attack you from land and from air.. so to speak.

    The Thieves will not take you more than a half hour or so to complete if you are a seasoned thief, but for a small dose of what the dark mod can do and a little bit of fun, you should definitely give it a try. It's a solid mission that is more than worth your time. Recommended!

    Screens:



    A guard carrying a torch looks brilliant in The Dark Mod.




    Screw the loot, I'm just here for the arrows!




    Lets find out what's inside this chest.




    Though short, this mission has a solid story.




    Time to raid some boxes.




    Normally this is where I make some snarky comment about "this guy will never know what hit him" - but blackjacking is quite a bit more difficult in TDM.




    Ahhhh, the city streets. Feels like home.

    ------

    Now onto my issues with TDM and where they come into play for The Thieves:

    Blackjacking and melee combat in a mission like The Thieves is quite the challenge for me and moreso to the point of frustration than fun. I've determined that forward blackjacking (one of my favorite methods of knocking AI out in the first two games) is impossible in The Dark Mod and I really feel that it takes away from a major part of the player characters defensive abilities. Well, that and blackjacking being a major challenge in general it seems. Even on the lowest difficulty I still find the blackjack distance far too close and the hitbox far too small - I cant count the number of times on two hands that I required a reload for each and every NPC.

    Missions such as this one (where a kill is required) add to the mess in that combat cannot be avoided - and in a close quarters mission where many NPCs are in a very small area, the player character certainly has their work cut out for them and may be in for a hopeless situation at some points.

    Another issue I had is with the player character's "tap shoes" being seemingly worse in The Dark Mod than Thief: Deadly Shadows. Every step I took in the mission felt as if I was walking on a marble floor - so loud that I had to turn my sound down as it was beginning to grate on me. I'm not sure if it was completely mission specific this time - but a thief should not sound as if he's auditioning for riverdance with every step, its quite ridiculous. Overall I think the footstep volume level and AI sensitivity to it both need to be tweaked quite a bit.

    The Dark Mod is definitely showing great promise and I am thankful that it exists - I just hope the creators intend to tweak both Blackjacking/Melee Combat and AI sensitivity to footstep sounds and the sounds themselves. With mechanics such as mantling and object handling being completely incredible its a shame for a few other core gameplay 'musts' to be rather broken. I look forward to future updates!

  8. #1508
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by SneakyJack View Post
    Well, that and blackjacking being a major challenge in general it seems. Even on the lowest difficulty I still find the blackjack distance far too close and the hitbox far too small - I cant count the number of times on two hands that I required a reload for each and every NPC.
    Agreed. I find myself 'button-bashing'. Because you can usually only get away with walking while close to an enemy it turns into a slow-speed chase and I click multiple times until I'm in range.

    One thing though: Check that your monitor isn't lower than eye level. Back when I was playing Counter Strike, if my monitor was too low I found that my aim would 'droop' so that the top portion of the screen was at my character's eye level. If you keep your vision level then the blackjacks aren't too bad, (but the range is definitely too short).

    Quote Originally Posted by SneakyJack View Post
    The Dark Mod is definitely showing great promise and I am thankful that it exists - I just hope the creators intend to tweak both Blackjacking/Melee Combat and AI sensitivity to footstep sounds and the sounds themselves.
    I like the footstep sounds (and their volume) but the AI sensitivity to them needs a tweak, along with a bit of the AI in general. The way that they can instantly react makes it feel like they don't have a normal working nervous system.

  9. #1509
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Thank you for your feedback on my review Neb, and for the tip about being at eye level. Though it didn't help in this case I definitely gave it a shot

    I appreciate you taking the time to post your thoughts as well! I'm not sure if the makers of The Dark Mod are reading reviews before their next release - but blackjacking difficulty, combat difficulty and AI sensitivity seem to be the main issues that myself and many others are experiencing - so I'm hoping it gets tweaked. If that would be the case, The Dark Mod would then be my choice for the Thief engine of the future, for sure.

  10. #1510
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: UK
    I still haven't yet checked out The Dark Mod, but I guess blackjack difficulty should be dependant on the chosen difficulty mode? I can probably see why if this was intended though, especially considering it being aimed at Thief fans who probably find Thief a bit on the easy side nowadays. And you've got to admit that a frontal-blackjack is a rather cheap move.

  11. #1511
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by quakis View Post
    I still haven't yet checked out The Dark Mod, but I guess blackjack difficulty should be dependant on the chosen difficulty mode? I can probably see why if this was intended though, especially considering it being aimed at Thief fans who probably find Thief a bit on the easy side nowadays. And you've got to admit that a frontal-blackjack is a rather cheap move.
    Sure it may be a cheap move, but so is circle strafing a fully alert guard in a dark room and KO'ing him while he's chopping at you. Both of these things I relied on in the first two games to help me get through some of the tougher missions being that ghosting isn't my most preferred playstyle and it being a last resort type move. I found it more being clever than cheap, really Alot of the gameplay fun for me in some levels that are meant to be especially difficult is setting up the situation of a wide open completely dark room to lure foes into should I be caught so that I'm not instantly mashing the reload button. It can add quite a bit of heart racing excitement, trust me.

    If The Dark Mod is going to be aimed soley at those who want 'expert' difficulty all the time I may not be a part of that audience, which would be a shame as I really enjoy it thus far for the most part. I think cutting out an entire part of your audience and only catering to the most hardcore would be a big mistake - and moreso when you spend years and hundreds of hours of work and effort on such a big undertaking.

    So my vote is for at least bringing back lean-forward blackjacking (when in total darkness at least) and to at least decrease AI sensitivity and increase blackjack range in lower difficulties. Otherwise I'm just going to cheat using the console's "notarget" command to keep the AI off my back - combat and blackjacking as it is are far too frustrating for me to enjoy.

  12. #1512
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2004
    Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
    It's quite likely that not everyone has seen all of our statements, forums get rather messy afterall, but when it comes to difficulty levels...they are among the features not finished in our beta 1.0. Still much to do, which is why we labeled the release as a beta.

    When you say the AI needs tweaking in their reaction to footsteps, do you mean they should hear less or more? Personally, I find their level of hearing to be acceptable, but it's their 'instant' reactions that make it seem like they're super human. I think it's more an issue with the AI ramping up quickly, than it is their hearing and sight.

    We're tweaking the 'player heard' footstep volumes a tad, but not too much. As in Thief 1/2, the player heard footstep volume is not the AI heard volume. It's feedback for the player to allow them to hear what surface they are on. In TDS, many complained that the footsteps were too soft. No way to win it seems, but perhaps we'll find a middle ground between classic Thief and TDS in those volumes. I think the whole issue with them is mainly one of interpretation, and that people think the volumes are what the AI hear too. They're meant to sound like 'your own' footsteps, as if you were right there making them. I think T1/2 did this exceptionally well.

    Send me a list of your suggestions by PM and I'll take them to the team for discussion.

  13. #1513
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by New Horizon View Post
    It's quite likely that not everyone has seen all of our statements, forums get rather messy afterall, but when it comes to difficulty levels...they are among the features not finished in our beta 1.0. Still much to do, which is why we labeled the release as a beta.

    When you say the AI needs tweaking in their reaction to footsteps, do you mean they should hear less or more? Personally, I find their level of hearing to be acceptable, but it's their 'instant' reactions that make it seem like they're super human. I think it's more an issue with the AI ramping up quickly, than it is their hearing and sight.

    We're tweaking the 'player heard' footstep volumes a tad, but not too much. As in Thief 1/2, the player heard footstep volume is not the AI heard volume. It's feedback for the player to allow them to hear what surface they are on. In TDS, many complained that the footsteps were too soft. No way to win it seems, but perhaps we'll find a middle ground between classic Thief and TDS in those volumes. I think the whole issue with them is mainly one of interpretation, and that people think the volumes are what the AI hear too. They're meant to sound like 'your own' footsteps, as if you were right there making them. I think T1/2 did this exceptionally well.

    Send me a list of your suggestions by PM and I'll take them to the team for discussion.
    I don't think I can word my suggestions any better than I did here in my initial review of The Dark Mod

    Whether it be AI heard volume, reaction time or what have you - it just seems as if the 'window' to successfully blackjack a guard or even a servant is much too low. Combine that with the superhuman reaction time you speak of and the difficulty of melee combat (that certainly seems to need a tweak) and its a formula made more for frustration than fun. Again, I say these things because I want so badly for The Dark Mod to be as solid as possible so that it will catch on, as I really enjoy the rest of it. Mantling in The Dark Mod is probably the most fun I've ever had playing a thief style game - it really is pretty much perfectly done.

  14. #1514
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: UK
    Quote Originally Posted by SneakyJack View Post
    Sure it may be a cheap move, but so is circle strafing a fully alert guard in a dark room and KO'ing him while he's chopping at you. Both of these things I relied on in the first two games to help me get through some of the tougher missions being that ghosting isn't my most preferred playstyle and it being a last resort type move.
    Oh don't get me wrong, I use those two moves a LOT myself as well. It's so cheap I feel a bit dirty doing it at times. I for the most part, try to ghost a mission, but on an occasion, I get sick of backtracking and ghost past the same guards, I'll just lure them and knock them out one by one. In Rowena's Curse, in the front hall, I lured a bazillion guards into the dark areas and using the frontal-blackjack move. There was a huge pile of bodies by the time I finished.

  15. #1515
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    I'm not sure if the makers of The Dark Mod are reading reviews before their next release - but blackjacking difficulty, combat difficulty and AI sensitivity seem to be the main issues that myself and many others are experiencing - so I'm hoping it gets tweaked.
    We're certainly planning on making difficulty sliders for combat (much like there is currently for lockpicking) but I don't know if that will make it into the next update or not. It's interesting that you complain about the combat in this particular mission though; as a final playtest, I went rambo-style through the entire thief's lair, and was able to massacre all the AI with just my sword in minutes, taking only a single hit in the process (the armoured guards would no doubt be another matter). I guess it's a matter of practice.

    Footstep sounds will definitely be lowered for the next update; that has probably been the single most common complaint, and I also agree they sound much too loud (to the player). I don't feel they are too loud to the AI, however...if anything AI should react more to the sound of running footsteps than they currently do (though again, AI acuity will probably get a difficulty slider at some point).

    As for blackjacking, I definitely don't see what the issue is there. I find blackjacking in TDM fairly easy. Not as easy as Thief, where you could hit someone in the toe and knock them out, but certainly not difficult, as long as the AI isn't already alert. Sometimes it looks like you have to get closer to an AI than you actually do, but the range is actually pretty generous, IMO.

  16. #1516
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinqueecclesiensis HU
    I think the footstep sounds themselves are fine, they could just be toned down a bit in volume.

  17. #1517
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Springheel View Post
    We're certainly planning on making difficulty sliders for combat (much like there is currently for lockpicking) but I don't know if that will make it into the next update or not. It's interesting that you complain about the combat in this particular mission though; as a final playtest, I went rambo-style through the entire thief's lair, and was able to massacre all the AI with just my sword in minutes, taking only a single hit in the process (the armoured guards would no doubt be another matter). I guess it's a matter of practice.

    Footstep sounds will definitely be lowered for the next update; that has probably been the single most common complaint, and I also agree they sound much too loud (to the player). I don't feel they are too loud to the AI, however...if anything AI should react more to the sound of running footsteps than they currently do (though again, AI acuity will probably get a difficulty slider at some point).

    As for blackjacking, I definitely don't see what the issue is there. I find blackjacking in TDM fairly easy. Not as easy as Thief, where you could hit someone in the toe and knock them out, but certainly not difficult, as long as the AI isn't already alert. Sometimes it looks like you have to get closer to an AI than you actually do, but the range is actually pretty generous, IMO.
    I was trying to give you the perspective of a 'casual' player that isn't a fan of hardcore ghosting or a part of TDM team - perhaps you don't see 'an issue' because you are a mission builder and are much more used to the Dark Mod than alot of us are.

    There arent alot of people nowadays that have hours to devote to hitting the reload button over and over again simply because they arent an expert thief - they enjoy the games and The Dark Mod but simply cant waste that time on something that borders on frustration. Hopefully suggestions are taken by the mod team further than just "I don't see a problem with it". Ive had a few folks send me PM's saying my review was right on and that they agree combat and blackjacking are more frustrating than they need to be but they were also hopeful that it would be adjusted. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. When you spend so much time developing the mod its easy to lose touch and forget that you've had intricate experience with it and of course this stuff will be easy for you.

  18. #1518
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2009
    I don't consider myself an expert Thief player (I'm not a ghoster / perfect thiefer, that's for sure) and I don't understand this talk of a blackjack "sweet spot," nor does the range seem shorter than the old games. My feeling is the same as Springheel's, and I'm certainly not on the team!

    I do think that the blackjack animation doesn't have a lot of weight to it (there's no clear "thud" moment like in TDP/TMA, the swing just kinda goes whoosh and the guard gets boffed), but if anything you're able to knock guards out when the animation makes it feel like you should have missed.
    Last edited by Wormrat; 26th Nov 2009 at 20:47.

  19. #1519
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    Hopefully suggestions are taken by the mod team further than just "I don't see a problem with it".
    Well, I agreed with you on two of the three...am I not entitled to disagree with you on something?

    We do listen to all feedback, but there just hasn't been much complaining about blackjacking since it was overhauled (post-St.Lucia). There is one issue with hitting low ceilings or door frames when swinging, which we're looking into fixing, but frankly I'd be surprised if we did anything at this point to make blackjacking easier than it already is (I would like to add that "thud moment" that Wormrat mentioned, however).

  20. #1520
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Springheel View Post
    Well, I agreed with you on two of the three...am I not entitled to disagree with you on something?
    Of course you can. I feel blackjacking and combat are still very rough around the edges, you do not. Obviously your opinion carries more weight with you being on the development team so I'll just say that you know how I feel and I know how you feel and we'll agree to disagree I was just trying to give some feedback for a mod that is still in beta.

    Luckily there is always the god mode cheat should I need it

  21. #1521
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    I agree with SneakyJack that especially melee combat and AI reacting lightning fast are just too damn hard for normal (not novice! Been playing Thief for 10 years now) players at the moment. Blackjacking should be made a bit easier, too (bigger range, possible forward blackjacking with forward-leaning etc). I agree adding "thud moment" animation would be nice. Also, AI reaction to player running behind them should be slower/lower (or made an option), to give us a chance to blackjack.

    @Springheel: I think 2 sides (mod developers and players who just got their hands on TDM) need to understand each other and this thing: as mod developer working on it for ~5 years probably you're bound to know it intimately and got all that numerical "behind-the-scenes" knowledge on various AI/hit etc settings (plus lots of practice) making the game pracically too easy for you. It's normal and natural. But it's also normal and please understand new players who just started dabbling with the mod, that the don't have all this behind-the-scenes knowledge on internal mod workings (how various things are set up) AND practice, making things too HARD/frustrating at the moment. In 5 years time, we'll probably find the mod almost as easy as it is for you now. Anyway, we shouldn't be almost forced to revert to using cheats if we don't need them in any Thief/System Shock/DeusEx games.

    IMO good compromise would be adding as many difficulty sliders as possible (with at least 5 different options - from very easy to very hard - or just linear scaling) for such things like:

    - lockpicking (already there)
    - melee combat difficulty
    - AI reaction times to player's actions/sensitivity to players footsteps sounds
    - blackjacking difficulty/range
    Last edited by Hiatus; 27th Nov 2009 at 08:46.

  22. #1522
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2007
    Last night, I finished replaying Christine's The Night Falcon series (the original one, though Curse of The Falcon will probably be up next), so I thought I'd write up a little summary of my feelings after a second playthrough. Since SneakyJack has already reviewed this campaign once, with screenshots and everything, I'm not going to go into as much detail - think of this more as a "second opinion".


    The Night Falcon by Christine

    This campaign revolves around Garrett's attempts to get hold of a legendary artifact called The Night Falcon. Essentially, the first six missions are all about obtaining information and tools needed to retrieve the artifact, and in the finale, you will finally go after the Falcon itself.

    Based on what I've read about this campaign, it actually started out as a team project, but after the other members gradually dropped out, Christine ended up finishing it by herself. Although it's hard to tell exactly who has done what for the campaign, having had several authors working on it probably explains some of the diversity. Apparently, they also had to cut out some of the originally planned plot.

    The overall plot essentially acts as the glue that holds the individual missions together; other than the fact that the stuff you steal during the first six missions will eventually be useful in the last one, I felt that in terms of plot, the connections between the missions weren't particularly strong. Although there was some continuity between the maps (as SJ mentioned in his review), I still see The Night Falcon ultimately as a set of separate missions linked together rather than as a single story that progresses from the beginning to the end, like T2X (yes, I know the comparison isn't entirely fair, but FM campaigns of this size don't exactly grow on trees); sometimes, you can immerse yourself in an individual mission to the extent that you momentarily forget about the overall plot. But as mentioned above, this slight looseness is probably at least partly due to the development history mentioned above.

    As far as gameplay is concerned, this campaign isn't trying to reinvent Thief or do any flashy gimmicks: Like most of Christine's missions, this is about the good ol' traditional Thief gameplay we all know and love. Most missions are human-themed (city, mansion, cathedral), but there are also nods towards TDP in the form of undead, burricks and mysterious, long-forgotten tunnels and ruins. In other words, The Night Falcon is very much in the spirit of the original Thief games, which I find quite refreshing at a time when it sometimes seems like FM authors are trying to outdo each other by adding all sorts of fancy, new things in an effort to push the limits of DromEd. The same goes for the visuals and audio - some custom textures have been used, but the overall look is still very reminiscent of the original T2, and I mean that as a compliment. In this campaign, gameplay is king and all other elements are subordinate to it.

    Unlike some other campaigns, The Night Falcon lets you do shopping between missions, meaning you actually get to enjoy the benefits of your hard-earned loot, which I really like: It gives me a lot more motivation to go after that one extra coin stack or candlestick. The only problem there is that the loot totals in Christine's missions are way higher than in the OM's - sometimes nearly ten times as high - but the equipment prices haven't been adjusted accordingly. As a result, you can start several missions with five gas arrows, ten flash bombs and 20 water arrows (plus whatever you find during the mission itself), which I thought was overkill, considering that the overall difficulty isn't particularly high, anyway. Of course, nobody's forcing you to use them (in fact, I usually ended up wasting most of my equipment), but the unchanged price level did seem like a bit of an oversight. And now, to the individual missions:

    Shopping Walk: The first mission opens with a very familiar premise: You're out of money and the rent is due, so it's time to hit the streets and make some cash. The Night Falcon doesn't really play any part in this mission yet - the information gathering for that starts in earnest in the next one.

    Shopping Walk is a fun city mission. In terms of plot, it's basically just "grab a couple of special items and rob everyone blind", but the gameplay is so entertaining that the lack of a strong plot doesn't really matter. There are lots of buildings to enter, lots of loot to find, and the mission design supports different styles of gameplay - although I'm not a ghoster myself, I'm pretty sure that this mission - and the whole series, in fact - is ghostable. The only thing really missing from the most varied city mission gameplay is vertical movement, i.e. the action takes place mostly on ground level and there's not a whole lot of rope arrowing involved, but that's a very minor complaint. An entertaining start for the campaign.

    Lord Wellhofer:Lord Wellhofer's mansion is where you really start your search for the Night Falcon. The entrance to the mansion is through an abandoned mine, so there's a little cave exploration part at the beginning.

    Lord Wellhofer is a quintessential mansion mission, with guards, servants and nobles. The readables will flesh out the character of Lord Wellhofer, who is also after the Night Falcon and clearly a guy you don't want to mess with. (As a side note, it might be possible to "break" the plot on Normal difficulty, which, IIRC, doesn't have a killing restriction: There is a nobleman in the mansion who is identified in Christine's own walkthrough as Lord Wellhofer himself, and the campaign plot assumes that he remains alive, even if the player kills him during this mission.)

    The Hammerite Monastery: The search for more clues takes you to a Hammerite monastery. There is a short city section leading up to it, but the majority of the mission takes place indoors. There is also some interesting new wildlife roaming outside the monastery, such as the first modified version of a burrick (there's another type later in the series). One thing I was a little disappointed with is that the creatures and the Hammerites have not been made hostile towards each other, despite some readables expressing the Hammerites' concern about these beasts, so instead of provoking the burricks to attack the Hammerite guards, I only managed to make them team up in an effort to find ME.

    Overall, however, the gameplay is quite fun, especially if you're into Hammerite-themed missions. There is also a small undead section with some pretty nasty new undead enemies that will almost certainly force you to do some ghosting, but fortunately this isn't too difficult and this part of the mission is not very long.

    The Cathedral: This mission also has a Hammerite theme, which is why this mission and the last one tend to get mixed up in my mind. Again, there is a short city section before you enter the cathedral, but most of the action takes place indoors.

    The cathedral looks nice, although there are lots of marble floors here that ghosters may find frustrating. Again, there is also a small section with undead, although this time, it's populated by just plain ol' zombies.

    Perhaps my only complaint about this mission is that it's so similar to Hammerite Monastery; given the looseness of the plot, it might have been a good idea to change the order of the missions and not have these two come right after one another.

    The Mysterious Tower: Though the name of this mission conjures up images of exploration/ruins type of action, The Mysterious Tower is actually a city mission not unlike Shopping Walk, though a Hammerite temple once again plays a pretty important part.

    There's lots of traditional Thiefy action here once again - breaking into houses, splashing about in the sewers and even a little brush with the undead. A very enjoyable mission overall. (Again as a minor note, there was one guard patrolling outside the temple in this mission who must have been a psychic: A couple of times, he spotted me from about 50-100 meters away with his back towards me, and another time, he spotted me through the temple's closed door. He didn't simply become alerted, he actually saw me and came rushing towards me from outside like a homing missile. I'm pretty sure this has to be a bug.)

    Christmas Presents: Christmas Presents is another city - or actually town - mission. It takes place just before Christmas (they celebrate Christmas in the Thiefverse? ), and the setting is appropriately wintery, with falling snowflakes.

    In terms of plot, this mission is again of the "break into houses and steal stuff" variety, but what I really liked about this mission is the atmosphere: The town is fairly loosely designed with broad streets, open areas and small buildings, giving it a much more rustic feel compared to the City with its narrow streets and tall buildings. Together with the snow outside and the delicious-looking cakes and other food inside, it manages to convey a pretty relaxed feel of an approaching Christmas. I suppose you could call that the calm before the storm.

    The Brotherhood of The Falcon: At last, you've gathered everything you need to get the legendary Night Falcon. The mission begins just outside the town seen in Christmas Presents, under the same snowy conditions. First, you need to make your way to the ruins where the Falcon is kept; on the way, you will encounter another new variant of burrick - I suppose you could call it a snow burrick (although I do wonder how reptiles like burricks can survive in the cold).

    As you probably guessed, inside the ruins you will encounter some undead, and for me, this ended up being a ghosting mission: Although you will have some heavy weaponry available to you, taking out the undead seemed like more trouble than it was worth, especially since solitary enemies were almost nonexistent and attacking one AI was almost guaranteed to alert others. Fortunately, the difficulty wasn't too bad, even for a non-ghoster like me.

    As I'm not a huge fan of undead missions, this wasn't my favorite in the campaign, but it is quite atmospheric and has an appropriately eerie feel throughout, both indoors and outdoors. Finally getting your hands on the item you've been hearing about for so long at the end of this mission definitely feels like an achievement!


    So to sum things up, despite some of the minor criticisms I gave earlier, The Night Falcon is a highly enjoyable experience to anyone who likes classic Thief gameplay (and who doesn't?). If you haven't played it yet, you definitely owe it to yourself to remedy this as soon as possible. And what's more, the story doesn't end here: There is a two-mission sequel called Curse of The Falcon, which picks up from where this campaign ended. More about that later, perhaps...
    Last edited by Jah; 28th Nov 2009 at 10:50.

  23. #1523
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    I agree with SneakyJack that especially melee combat and AI reacting lightning fast are just too damn hard
    Yes, I agree with both of those points. I've actually made a suggestion on how we might reduce the reaction time of AI, but we're still discussing it--it's actually trickier than it might seem.

    I was just trying to give some feedback for a mod that is still in beta.
    I appreciate it. Like I said, I agree with most of what you said. And I quite enjoyed your review.

  24. #1524
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Hiatus View Post
    I agree with SneakyJack that especially melee combat and AI reacting lightning fast are just too damn hard for normal (not novice! Been playing Thief for 10 years now) players at the moment. Blackjacking should be made a bit easier, too (bigger range, possible forward blackjacking with forward-leaning etc). I agree adding "thud moment" animation would be nice. Also, AI reaction to player running behind them should be slower/lower (or made an option), to give us a chance to blackjack.

    @Springheel: I think 2 sides (mod developers and players who just got their hands on TDM) need to understand each other and this thing: as mod developer working on it for ~5 years probably you're bound to know it intimately and got all that numerical "behind-the-scenes" knowledge on various AI/hit etc settings (plus lots of practice) making the game pracically too easy for you. It's normal and natural. But it's also normal and please understand new players who just started dabbling with the mod, that the don't have all this behind-the-scenes knowledge on internal mod workings (how various things are set up) AND practice, making things too HARD/frustrating at the moment. In 5 years time, we'll probably find the mod almost as easy as it is for you now. Anyway, we shouldn't be almost forced to revert to using cheats if we don't need them in any Thief/System Shock/DeusEx games.

    IMO good compromise would be adding as many difficulty sliders as possible (with at least 5 different options - from very easy to very hard - or just linear scaling) for such things like:

    - lockpicking (already there)
    - melee combat difficulty
    - AI reaction times to player's actions/sensitivity to players footsteps sounds
    - blackjacking difficulty/range
    I couldn't possibly agree more!

    Quote Originally Posted by Springheel View Post
    I appreciate it. Like I said, I agree with most of what you said. And I quite enjoyed your review.
    I'm glad you enjoyed the review - regardless of it still being in need of a little tweaking I'm completely excited about the possibilities for The Dark Mod and will be eagerly awaiting future versions and missions.

    Thank you for your contribution so far on The Night Falcon series Jah - I look forward to your thoughts on the individual missions!

  25. #1525
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: behind your eyeball
    Nice to see you workin' on some reviews, Jah. Looking forward to the full version, though think I won't read them, as I'd like to experience at least a bit of the campaign myself before.

    It's a little disturbing, but nice to see TDM being reviewed too. And all of them have been reviewed! I'm lookong with doubt, whether that'll ever happen with all T1, T2 and T3 FMs, though... Were only ordinary man. Can we really do this? Plus, let's face it, some FMs just kind of, well, suck. Let's face it. It is still showing love for Thief and all, but some FMs are just very small or lacking. Maybe I'll combine them in 10fold reviews, like Teh Mike did. Time'll tell. I'll probably die before then.

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