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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #1976
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule
    Drawing maps can be difficult, it's true. Automaps would be great, but setting them up technically is challenging.

    As for the drawing itself people might want to check out some fantasy mapping software such as Profantasy.com - although exactly cheap it isn't unfortunately. Still, with that software one can make big and small maps of landscapes, contours and cities of all sizes and a wide variety of styles - even Thiefy kind

    Just in case someone is interested

  2. #1977
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    There's definitely enough people on these forums who would be willing and able to draw maps for FMs - I've made some before and I'd be happy to again, if it means a mission gets released with a map.

    The main problem with automaps is that you have to plan them from the very start, and set up a new room brush archetype for every seperate map room. If you do that from the start, and you have a well-drawn map, setting up the auto-map stuff is actually quite easy - it's just a case of drawing purple squares all over the map.

  3. #1978
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule
    For the sake of a discussion I was thinking about switches.

    You all know the ones I mean: Sometimes switches (or are they toggles? levers?) open something in the same area/room you are in, other times they open something mysterious on the other side of the mansion/level.

    Perhaps it is too easy to always have a switch that opens something right where you are, but my question is: How far is too far? To the point where you've actually forgotten you've flipped a switch in the first place? Upon finding a location/safe/room/etc. open and wondering "hey, that's nice, but did I do that or was it like that to begin with"?

    Personally, I don't mind if the switch (which can be extraordinarily hard to find sometimes, but that's another topic ) opens something far away IF it is explained why this is so. There has to be some kind of logic there, right? Like in the OM Undercover: Lots of switches together open up a barrier far away. It makes sense, it's a combination lock. But sometimes switches open something so far away that it makes no sense for the systems to be connected (other than the use of magic). Am I the only one thinking this...?

    Just for the sake of (a fun) argument this topic

  4. #1979
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Switches should never confuse a player, or have no visible effect when pulled. I'd say there are maybe three or four acceptable situations to use a switch:

    1. The switch controls something in the same room, or close enough to be immediately visible.
    2. The switch controls something physically close, but that isn't immediately accessible (e.g. the locking bar on the vault in First City Bank and Trust, or the lever for the gate near the start of Ambush).
    3. The switch controls something far away and out of sight, but is labelled clearly and maybe even has a notification alarm light that goes on or off when it is pulled (e.g. switching the water supply from normal to holy water in Ominous Bequest).
    4. The switch controls a hard-to-find secret that is not required for progression. Should be used cautiously.

  5. #1980
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    I don't mind a switch controlling something far away as long as there are 'opening' sounds or some other indicator that something has changed. Really not a fan of switches where you see something like a found secret notification but no sound of a wall or anything moving. This happens alot when switches move things like furniture or rugs.

    I like looking for secrets as much as the next Thief player but I'm also not a fan of super tiny switches hidden so well that you'd literally have to hop on top of every item of furniture, bed, bookcase and even try to exploit the physics engine to find them. a normal sized switch hidden slightly behind something does just fine - and causing extra frustration when a player spends a half hour in a room because a ttlg hint thread mentioned the switch being in that room but still can't find it is just silly. I've seen this happen to people a ton while reading through hint threads and the people helping them had to be insanely specific in their posts just to accurately describe where the switch was in the room. This should not happen. I remember in one of Cardia's missions there were a metric shit-ton of these hidden switches, one of which you had practically had to lean through a dresser at a very specific angle just to frob. Who would know to do that?

    The last type of switch you have to be careful with is hidden ones. It always amazes me when people will put switches behind a non-frobbable painting with no indication that you need to frob through it, shoot it with an arrow or anything else. If a painting is special and triggers something, give some indication somewhere be it written or visually.

    On the other side of the coin I love when people get inventive with switches. Switches disguised as loot are always fun - you're bound to pick up loot anyway and make sure it is frobbed, so grabbing it only to discover that it triggers a secret door is always nice. I remember recently that Wicked Relics did this with a candlestick. Its not too bad if you do it with regular items as long as its more obvious that it opens something - if there is a secret door looking texture in a room and nothing frobbable but a vase or a plant it's always fun if one of those end up being the switch. What isn't fun is frobbing two dozen worthless bottles in someones basement cellar looking for the one that may or may not open something, however.

  6. #1981
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: Great. Now I can't get back in
    I've always disliked seeing large distances between switches & what they operate in an FM - what mechanism could possibly do that? (Particularly when a tiny switch moves a big section of stone wall.) But worse is the idea of operating something by lighting torches or candles or reading a book - for me, a real immersion-breaker.

    There were some switches (weighted pedestals, e.g.) in Dance With The Dead which opened doors that were out of sight, but Yandros showed you what opened with a mini cut-scene, as in TR - one way to get around the "dislocation" aspect, even if it's still a mystery how the machinery worked.

  7. #1982
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2007
    Location: Germany
    I have no problems with the "light the torch"-type of switch; I always imagine that there is a fuse inside the torch triggering a mechanism in the wall etc. So this is perfectly fine with me.

    Concering the distance: I have no problems with switches / buttons that operate electrical devices, e.g. antennas, since they could be connected using ordinary wires.

    Where I have to agree are those "switch-secret-door"-combinations without a sound. I remember this from a few FMs: I found a switch and nothing seemed to happen

  8. #1983
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule
    nicked, I agree with you on all four points. If these rules where adhered to, at least the use of switches would make sense - and won't end up frustrating people to the point of not playing/replaying a mission again.


    Quote Originally Posted by intruder View Post
    I have no problems with the "light the torch"-type of switch; I always imagine that there is a fuse inside the torch triggering a mechanism in the wall etc. So this is perfectly fine with me.
    I never thought of that , but it actually makes more sense to me than something opening with the magical effect of fire, like in the Keeper Grotto in the OM Haunted Cathedral. Imaginative idea, I like it!

  9. #1984
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids

    My first attempt at Iron-Man way

    ... Failed miserably.

    Edit: Okay, I also forgot (oh snap, I spoiled thee most cruelly, dear reader) to define what Iron-Manning is. You know, just in case.
    Basically... It's playing the mission without saving or reloading. The less you save/reload, the awesomer you are. Ofcourse, I had to go all-out and not save once.

    My subject was Insurrection by HipBreaker. (Note, that this might bore those unfamiliar with the mission... well, might bore everyone, but I hope not). Now, know that I'm psychologically not as strong, so maybe this is nothing for others, but it tickled some nerves for me though. Oh, and I've never even touched this mission before.

    Did I mention yet it may contain spoilers almost as noteworthy as the very first words of this post?

    The fearful process

    The mission started out nicely, right? I think so. I explored some streets, got to a dead end (after having alerted a guard twice cause of failed mantling), went the other direction. At least I had some loot collected. Wouldn't want to die now, as it took me a couple of minutes, right? Okay,taking it further.

    Okay! Explored the entire city, wanted to get up somewhere and ended up failing quite miserably (talking about getting up the city watch). A fwiend told me there's a window for that, but ofcourse I forgot about that until now when I'm writing the post. ><

    So I kept using rope arrows till I realised I can't mantle it up (yay!) in result I caused noise and got an archer to shoot at me. Twice. Luckily I was pretty dodgy. Oh, but it doesn't mean I win, no no. Save it up for later.



    Right, next I 'ought to enter the sewers, cause I've more or less exhausted other ways. Undead. Sweet! So they seemed pretty oblivious to the fact that I'm there, even the apparition, which was not the case from my previous experiences with those guys. Then it happened. 1 zombie turned out to be a complete and utter asshole (sorry) and made my nerves go up to places I didn't think possible in a video game. Here, just so you have an idea what I'm talking about.


    (every horror movie starts out innocent, right?)




    (luckily he went away right after I screened it, otherwise I would've been toast right there)

    At last, barely surviving (if zombie hits take off 3 hp, then I needed 1 more hit) I got to the mansion. Fun doesn't stop there. The first guard almost got to me, as he was hyperactive. Oh well, slowly malking my way to the manor, it's a calmer period now. Oh really? Standing in a room perfectly still, in the dark - suddenly at least 2 people get into search mode for no apparent reason. Idiots. Oh well, don't think I missed much anywy, apart from the hyperactive archer (what is it with the archers in this mission) that almost shot me down but missed. There he goes, searching for me. Heh, heh, he's never gonna find me here!


    (oh and I've actually started to use the mighty power of The Eye (also known as fov settings) and in this screen I greatly zoomed in to the archer)

    I am (or should say we are, since you've had enough faith to make it through this post so far?) nearing the end. Explored the rest of the mansion till a turret suddenly shot for no aparent reason and killed me. Yay! Love getting killed by unpredictable events. The same fwiend told me afterwards, that there was a book by the servant girl, but I honestly didn't see anything close to her, so you can't blame me for this. YOU CAN'T!

    Rambling, thinking out loud on paper... screen? forum? whatever...

    I don't know, should I replay this mission with some sense of sanity this time? Should I replay it only to die again somewhere else? Or should I say gooo...ooorn till I run out of "o"s and never touch it again?

    Did I learn... anything?

    Yes:
    - That I am a stubborn bastard. And that this was so fun to play, that I just know I will repeat this mistake more often! (point proven)
    - That the game engine is a bigger pain in the arse when there's no reloads to cover your arse with.
    - That surviving failures is a whole new way of playing Thief. I'm loving it so far, dunno how long it'll stay exciting.

    Other things I'd like to note

    Luckily the AI had a short attention span. They went into the search mode more than once for me. I don't know if it was the nerves, lack of experience with failures or real (god forbid), but they seemed to give up on searching pretty fast. It saved me from certain (okay, pretty certain, Dark Engine has surprising acrobatics when it comes to survival) death more than once.

    Did I mention I also dealt 0 damage in total?
    Didn't evene use holy water, even though I was quite tempted.

    Whoops! Forgot the stats (not gonna spoiler mark every little thing, so careful, in case you care):
    Difficulty: Expert
    Time: 56mins 59 secs
    Found 802 loot out of 2740
    Pockets picked: 5/20, Locks picked: 4
    KOs: 0, Dmg dealt: 0
    Dmg taken: 18, healing: 4
    Nobody killed or anything
    0 Secrets out of several found


    P.S. This kind of ranting is experimental for me, I'm interested if any of this amused you, like, at all.
    Last edited by Thor; 7th Jul 2010 at 12:14. Reason: comment attached to the wrong image. Whoops

  10. #1985
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Thor, just got around to reading your post. It was pretty damn hilarious! And it's funny, because I just did almost the exact same thing for this next article I'm posting (iron-manning I mean, I totally forgot it was called that).

    Anyway, this is kinda/sorta my review for the contest mission "Captain of the Guard", only it's not quite like anything I've done at this point.

    Most of this was written on the spot, so you will have to forgive more grammar mistakes than usual. This is pretty much just thoughts streaming out of my head unfiltered, hope you enjoy it (I know at least Random Taffer will).

    Captain of the Guard
    Review/War story


    Recently I've been playing through the Summer Vacation Contest missions, and now I have a problem. I'm at the halfway point, having played two of the four missions, and my progress has hit a wall. You see, I played "Captain of the Guard" by Random Taffer and was unprepared for how much ass-kickery was in store for me. I played it once on the lowest difficulty setting, and managed to barely survive the 20 minute onslaught; at one point I was down to a single health shield and beating back zombies while all my troops lay dead, and it made me feel like a bad motha shut yo mouth of Shaft-like proportions. I was on such an adrenaline high afterwards all I could think about as I played the next mission in the contest was new strategies I would use if I played again: how I would deploy my troops, where I should have placed landmines...basically, I'm a man obsessed, and I need to get this FM out of my system.

    Of course, there's only one way to do that: I'm going straight to the "Nightmare" difficulty level, and for your entertainment, I'm going to be periodically pausing the game to give updates on how the war effort is going. Also I'm not saving at any point in the game, because beating it on "normal" without saving has made me mad with power. There will be no do-overs. Whether I survive the entire 40 minutes or I fail miserably, I'm writing my experience down either way. In other words, this is going to be either a really long article full of acts of heroism and quick thinking, or an extremely short article full of shame and awkward man-tears. Or I could just lie and say I won, you will be able to spot this if the description of what happened suddenly starts to involve unexplained superpowers and flying hotrods.

    Before we start, just for some context: This isn't a traditional Thief mission. This is a tower defense game translated into Thief. For those who have no clue what that means, it plays like an action/strategy game in which you buy troops and set them up along a castle wall with the intent of driving back an invading army (of zombies, no less) before they reach their goal at the other end of the level. Depending on the difficulty, you have to hold them back for either 20, 30, or 40 minutes. Every time you kill an enemy they drop gold which can be used to buy supplies (such as healing potions or a sword, if you want to get your hands dirty) or, more importantly, troops. Okay, away we go:

    Time 20:31: My starting setup is pretty sweet. 3 swordsman and 2 archers on the walls, 3 hammerites on ground level. 1 mine guarding the zombie's goal line. Yep, just call me General Patton. Unfortunately I forgot to leave myself enough money to buy a sword. I'm fairly certain this will not immediately come back to bite me in the ass.

    Time 20:32: It immediately came back to bite me in the ass. My three hammerites died instantly due to their ingenious strategy of running outside the city gates and letting the zombies surround and gang-violate them. NICE GOING GUYS, YOU'RE REALLY HELPING THE WAR EFFORT. They came back as haunts and my single swordsman on the lower level (I swear to God I don't remember putting him there...) fought them and all of their friends off single handedly. I'm naming him Sir Badass McZombiekill.


    Fun fact: McZombiekill has a pet fire arrow and they often go on adventures.

    Time 20:43: I should have named him Sir Dumbass McDiesalot. He fell in battle almost immediately after I started playing again. I, having now bought a sword, was left to defend the lower level myself. An archer decided to jump off the wall and help me (?). Dude, I think you're missing one of the key points of being an archer- namely, distance. He was killed after a heroic (read: dumb) attempt to fight off 5 zombies singlehandedly with arrows from 2 inches distance. And still missing. THANKS, ROBIN HOOD. I bought a fire archer with the dead-zombie fund. Hopefully this guy can show the others how it's done. For 150 gold, he better. Everyone on the walls is still alive, by the way...minus one overzealous archer.

    Time 20:48: Holy crap the fire archer is straight GANGSTA.

    Time 20:49: ....I failed? I FAILED?! How?!? I had a mine by the exit, and a guard! GAAAAH! I'm playing again...next update will be when I feel things are going well.

    I was lying when I said no do-overs.

    (a few more failed attempts to hold the breach later)

    Time 21:10: Okay....okay...whew.......okay. Everything before now was practice. This time, I PLAY FO' KEEPS. LET'S DO THIS THING!

    Time 21:13: Going all hammerites this time on the lowest level. You crazy religious zealots better pull your weight!

    Time 21:15: AAaaaaand the hammerites are dead. All of them. I thought these guys were like zombie-killing gurus!? C'mon hammers, BRING YOUR A-GAME! Bah, screw it. I'm just buying a fire archer. Fire archers fix everything.

    Time 21:17: Everything I've said about fire archers is true. I have ONE fire archer down below and the dude is holding back the invasion single handedly!

    Time 21:18: OH SH*T one of those shadow guys that runs straight for the goal- get him fire archer! OH HELL YEAH. Let this be a lesson: you mess with fire archer, you get BURNED. Also shot.


    LegoLAAAAAS, take him DOWN!!

    Time 21:20: Fire archer went down swingin'. I gave him a traditional zombie burial- first repeatedly stabbing his reanimated corpse until it exploded then scattering his giblets across the land. This man could fight a zombie, I hope everyone took notes! I spent my last funds on healing potions, my plan is to fight off zombies on the lower levels myself with the help of the upper level archers until I can afford a new fire archer.

    Time 21:22: GAAAAAH!!! Lousy zombie got me with my back turned. When did my health get that low?
    .....
    One more try.


    BEHOLD! A horrible war strategy, in aaaall its glory!

    21: 37: Went over and bought a sword, a mine, 2 swordsman and a fire archer while the mechanist engineer was briefing me. I hope it hurt his feelings, because I hate him. Just like I hate everyone right now because I'm FILLED WITH RAGE. I put everything on the lower level. I've got a good feeling about this one- that line looks pretty damn impenetrable. I'm now saving up for more archers.

    21:42: In a disappointing but predictable turn of events, everyone on ground level who wasn't a fire archer died. Ah well, the fire archer continued to kick ass and take names as I purchased 2 more archers for the wall and a swordsman or two to guard them. Now I've got about 4 archers...unfortunately while setting them up, my fire archer died. The funny thing is...I'm pretty sure I saw an arrow hit his head and kill him while he was still alive and he instantly turned into a pile of gold. How thoughtful of him to skip the whole zombie phase and go straight to supporting the war-fund. I'm now guarding the lower levels myself with a whole swarm of archers protecting me from above. I'm thinking I might invest in some hammerites next. YOU GET ONE MORE CHANCE YA SHMUCKS.

    21:45: What the hell happened? Half of the guards on my wall are zombies! Nice job protecting them swordsmen! You're real Class A bodyguards! Hey, you accidentally left a few survivors, shove cyanide pills in their mouths, quick! My shoulders sure hurt CARRYING AROUND EVERYONE'S DEAD WEIGHT.

    21:46: Because my army is useless, I had to stop a running shadow guy myself. Go me. Maybe I'll use the gem he dropped to buy some archers and then kill them myself to save my negligent swordsmen the trouble.


    Two swordsmen running away from the archer they're suppose to protect. Not pictured: my intense hatred.

    21:50: Oh boy...this was my worst failure ever. So I'm standing right by the zombie's goal line right- all alone on the lower levels watching a whole swarm slowly approaching (led by two haunts). I think to myself "Wait, I have two mines behind me guarding the goal line, I'll just take a couple steps backward and lead them right over them!". Then the mines go off in my face. Both of them. Then the haunts pound me into the ground, which was at that point, a mercy killing. How is it possible I'm actually getting worse with each attempt?

    21: 53: Dammit.

    21:57: GODDAMMIT.

    22:01: Okay. I'm good, seriously. I'm cool headed and I'm good. And best of all, I have a strategy! Obviously the whole ground warfare thing isn't working, so I'm putting all my money behind archers this time. That's right, no one on ground level whatsoever, just sh*tloads of archers turning zombies into swiss cheese. You see that glimmering thing out on the horizon? That's victory, AND I'M COMIN' FOR IT BABY!

    22:05: Oh My God...this is actually working! None of the zombies can even pass the main gate, this place is a murder factory! I have one fire archer mixed in with all of them on the wall and he's just mopping up the left overs.


    I want 6 tough guys, and I want 6 soft guys to make the tough guys look tougher! And I want them arranged: Tough, tough, soft, tough, soft, soft, tough...

    22:09: What's going on is sweet justice, sweet gooey JUSTICE. These undead bastards have put me through so much grief tonight, I hope they enjoy their dinner of arrows and explosions. I put one more fire archer and a mage on ground level just to further add insult to injury. I also have a mine blocking the zombies goal line, they ain't gettin' through this time. What is this I'm feeling? Is it...hope? No...ignore it...it will only cloud your judgment.

    22:13: I've run into a snag. With all this archery-death flying through the air, going to ground level to collect coins has put me in grave danger of dying by friendly fire. Don't mind me guys, I'm just your general without whom you have no chance of victory, feel free to shoot your arrows through the soft meat of my body so you can hit the zombie I'm fighting when there are 10 of his friends standing behind him perfectly in the open. OH YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARDS, YOU. I invested in some healing potions to be safe. Wouldn't want anyone around here to actually have to FRIGGING AIM.

    22:17: Things are getting tense. What's with all these damn running shadow assholes?! I'm replacing used-up mines left and right!

    22:23: GAAAAAAH! Fu...Guh...CRAAAAAAAP! WHAT THE HELL?! Why did I fail suddenly!? What got through?!? I had 6 archers and a fire archer watching the entrance while I went to buy mines and then BOOM mission failed "Thanks for playing, exit's that way! Be sure to buy a 'I'm Clearly Not Good Enough' hat from our gift shop on your way out!" GAH! I'm choking on my own rage! UUURRRGH. I don't know...if I don't win next time I'm done. For good. *sigh* God I was doing good though. Let's check those end mission stats, I bet I was RIGHT THERE.
    ....
    14 minutes in? FOURTEEN MINUTES IN?

    23:26: Phew, well it was a tough battle, but I finally persevered- fighting off all the zombies simultaneously with my heat vision. Everyone cheered as I flew over them in my rocket powered camaro, thanking them for their efforts in fighting off the zombie invasion but telling them I must now return to my mansion in the mountains and finish writing my symphony. A couple zombies asked me if I could teach them how to be as awesome as I am, I said no and threw something from my flying car's glove compartment at them- in retrospect I think it was my registration, but I still consider this a victory.


    You can't prove it didn't happen!


    Wrapping things up:

    Well, I think I can safely say I finally have this mission out of my system. If you're in to the whole addictive arcade style game thing, it's definitely worth the medium-sized download. And as you can see, when I say "addicting", I mean that in a way normally reserved solely for nicotine or Mountain Dew. This thing is impossible to put down until either A: you conquer it (me) or B: it beats you so horribly you finally put it down for a while out of shame (this guy I know). It's one of the most interesting, fun, and adrenaline rush-inducing small FMs I've ever played. If you're into this sort of thing, I can't recommend it enough. Now if you will excuse me, I'm in dire need of a couple handfuls of aspirin and a new anti-stress ball as I seemed to have squeezed the s**t out of this one.

  11. #1986
    Next time, just stock up on fire mages! Seriously, they just cut through the hordes of undead like butter and at a safe distance! Man, every time I go into the shop I don't even look at the regular archers or swordsmen. Nothin but fire archers and mages for me!
    As always, Mike, I love your reviews!


    P.S. I believe in your flying camaro.

  12. #1987
    Member
    Registered: May 2005
    Location: Full on Kevel's mom
    Nice review, Mike. Definitely gave me a mighty chuckle!

    Listen to Lady Taffer though, man! Mages!

  13. #1988
    Member
    Registered: May 2003
    Location: Normally I'm in the batcave.
    Thanks for reading you two, and for the survival tips! I did try using fire mages during this whole attempt, but one of my (undocumented) failures involved a fire mage on ground level turning into a zombie and instantly running for the goal line, making me fail. After that happened I was extremely bitter and decided to not use them anymore- dirty traitors.

    As it turns out, I've still yet to get this FM out of my system. Every night I try at least once more to beat it on nightmare level without saving, and each time I fail at about the 15 minute mark. The farthest I've managed to get is roughly 19 minutes in. I'm sticking to mostly archers and, yes, fire mages. It seems like I always fail right after I drop some troops on ground level, so I think I'm just going to stay up top and turn the bottom area into a mine field.

    GAH, this thing is going to haunt me until I finally beat it.

  14. #1989
    Hey, I've beaten this thing dozens of times (though not on Nightmare) and I still haven't gotten it out of my system!

  15. #1990
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    I've had the desire to replay a mission from a while back - I'm hoping someone knows which one I'm talking about. The mission begins with the player character being a detective and a woman requests your services (providing the objectives for the mission) - I know one of your weapons is a gun and there are alot of weird magical things going on (and if I remember correctly you are given projectile weapons at some point) I think the mission opens with a camvator sequence that leads into the detectives office.

    Anyone remember which one this is?

  16. #1991
    Clearinghouse
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Siberia, Russia
    Resurgence: The Ancient Crown.

  17. #1992
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by clearing View Post
    Resurgence: The Ancient Crown.
    Great, thank you

  18. #1993
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule
    I only last weekend got The Dark Mod version 1.02 to work (old net connection too bloody slow), so I've been checking out some of the newer FMs.

    The first campaign on TDM seems to be No Honor Among Thieves by Goldchocobo released late April this year. Due to not being on summer vacation anymore and actually having to work (*sigh*...) I've only had time to play the first mission, Politics, and a little bit of the second, A Night Out On The Town. And I have to say that if this is the kind of missions we can expect for TDM I say "Hooray!" with a big grin on my face.

    I'm going to give you some of the story from the first mission and some pics - so a BIG SCREENSHOT AND MISSION SPOILER WARNING here ahead of time: If you don't want to see some of the surprises this mission has to offer, such as
    spoiler:
    the dreaded zombie pit
    , than avert your gaze now - or alternatively just jump over the pics and basically the whole review.

    The story: It seems a less than honourable arrangement has sprung up between the local Builder Archbishop, Lavonte Duchane, and the local Governor, Archibald Cloist. The governor has been having secret assignations in the local brothel and the Builders have found out about them. But... Instead of all that coming out, the governor's indiscretions have remained hidden from the light of day - thanks to the Archbishop. Nothing strenghtens a so-called friendship than a little blackmail, right? This is the point where I, thief extraordinaire, come into play. The mission is to steal incriminating evidence of this conspiracy from the Cathedral of St. Matthias.

    The gameplay: This mission has pretty much everything you could want in a Thief mission. You climb, swim, sneak and jump. You face guards, builders, spiders and undead. You go through a variety of places, such as a town section, a water station, tunnels and caves, a prison and a huge cathedral. There just isn't and end to all the amazing things to see and exprience. In short, this mission is packed full with Thiefy goodness.

    With the updates the Dark Mod has certainly addressed most of the problem areas it had and these mission are proof positive to that effect. Gameplay mechanics such as jumping and mantling were already way better than in Thief games originally. This campaign allowes the player to explore every area to ones hearts content. It's missions like this that definitely are near-perfect recommendations for every Thief fan to get into the Dark Mod. Having only played through the first mission and being in the second I can honestly say I can't wait to play more, to see more, to explore every nook and cranny in good ol' Thief fashion.

    The sounds: Man, there's some creepy stuff going on here! The undead are truly scary with the way they move, but the sounds add to that giving them a kind of new dimension that made me want to turn off the sound for good. Alas, I didn't and got through it all somehow. As for the music, every new section has a distinctly different musical score and they all work damn well. Good show, I say! As a side note, and I don't know if this is a TDM or a mission related issue, everytime I reloaded to a save the music disappeared until I reached another "music junction" in the game at which point it started up again. It didn't hinder gameplay, so just a small mention, this one. Other sounds, like hum of machines, flickering of lights, and so on, everything sounds authentic and cool.

    Favorite moment: I'd like to say getting past the zombie pit since that was something of a chore - not because of gameplay mechanics, but because the undead were really scary. And after falling in like the tenth time and reaching for the Escape-button so fast that it must be some kind of a record, I have to say that as an intro to the undead it was a good one: If you play well and don't fall in, you can observe them and their new moves and sounds without having to actually confront them. Good mission design choice, I think

    Still, my favorite moment, I think, was getting up the elevator shaft and finally seeing a builder guard in the basement. Woah, I thought, human enemies at last... It was a moment of relief and pause to collect yourself - a kind of a mid-point in the mission. This is really where the mission begins and you get to start completing objectives instead of just finding a way into St. Matthias. Psychologically a very fulfilling moment, I thought, but that could just be me. After having faced a long swim and lots of climbing, not to mention new and improved spiders and undead, it really felt like an achievement to get that far. I was only playing on Normal! Can't even imagine this on Expert... Yikes!

    I highly recommend this mission for all those who think the Dark Mod isn't Thief. It certainly felt like Thief to me. So, for all those who enjoy Builder missions with a wide variety of challenges, this is definitely for you. The next mission is a city mission, and having only just entered into town, gawking like a tourist, I can't wait to see what the rest of this campaign has to offer. Superb job, Goldchocobo Both thumbs up from me!

    Ok, here are some pics. And as I warned at the beginning, even the very first pic can be considered spoilerific, so... move on if that's not something you wish to see or know.




    Ahh, the zombie pit... Good times... Falling in, getting ripped apart or beaten to a pulp and reaching for Esc again... Yep, good times...




    The prison elevator shaft. Ahh, the long climb... long, long, long climb. More good times...




    Without wanting to sound like a cliche... Inside at last.




    Cemetery Garden with some impressive architecture, arches and stained-glass windows, lighting of candles and stars - a little green in the grey...




    Fog covered the inner courtyard, but the colors of the window still held their own. Not to mention the archer right in front of me...




    And here's a preview pic of the second mission: The ship swayed in the gush of wind. Nice touch, I thought. Too bad we can't get in there... Maybe next time.

    And today, after work, moving forward with the next mission in the campaign. Excellent!

  19. #1994
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU
    Quote Originally Posted by Summer View Post
    Still, my favorite moment, I think, was getting up the elevator shaft and finally seeing a builder guard in the basement. Woah, I thought, human enemies at last... It was a moment of relief and pause to collect yourself - a kind of a mid-point in the mission. This is really where the mission begins and you get to start completing objectives instead of just finding a way into St. Matthias. Psychologically a very fulfilling moment, I thought, but that could just be me.
    No, I had the same reaction - after a long, desolated stretch with only the dead and the emptiness to keep you company (and the feeling that the place was really left to decay - people have tried to forget it and sort of succeeded), getting in the basement by getting out of that place was a great moment.

  20. #1995
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Malmö, Sweden
    Quote Originally Posted by Thor View Post
    ... Failed miserably.

    Edit: Okay, I also forgot (oh snap, I spoiled thee most cruelly, dear reader) to define what Iron-Manning is. You know, just in case.
    Basically... It's playing the mission without saving or reloading. The less you save/reload, the awesomer you are. Ofcourse, I had to go all-out and not save once.

    My subject was Insurrection by HipBreaker. (Note, that this might bore those unfamiliar with the mission... well, might bore everyone, but I hope not). Now, know that I'm psychologically not as strong, so maybe this is nothing for others, but it tickled some nerves for me though. Oh, and I've never even touched this mission before.





    Thanks for a good read! I can sooo relate to some of the situations you describe.


    Nowadays, Iron Man is my preferred playstyle, and for me, nothing in Thief beats the feeling of tension etc. when I am making good progress Iron Manning a mission I haven´t played before. I only get one 'first time' per mission, so I try to enjoy it as best as I can.



    (For the record, I do save quite often, so I can avoid frustration if I get SHAS, get stuck on the terrain somewhere, the game crashes or the computer freezes.) I am allowed a reload (that doesn´t count) in those cases.


    Iron Man has changed several things about how I play the game:

    * For difficult rope arrow shots, I nearly always test with a broadhead first that my aim is right and the surface is indeed soft enough to sink an arrow into.

    * When I play a mansion mission and take some early damage, I always try to find the kitchen so I can get some food to heal myself with.

    * For all the places where I think: "Hmm, I wonder if it´s possible to jump/rope/mantle over there without falling down to my death?", I make a note (mental or actual written note) to come back here after my initial Iron Man attempt has failed.

    * I tend to use Scouting Orbs far more often.

    * I tend to use far more equipment than what I used to when I wasn´t Iron Manning. Stuff like shooting a moss arrow on the ground in case I would fail to mantle, taking out all the torches in a strategic early room (so I can use it as a 'beach head'), etc.

    * I HATE 'gotcha!' traps.

    * I HATE timed objectives, especially if I only get vague clues about where I need to go. In 'A Living Nightmare', I failed four times because I couldn´t find my way into the tower. On the 5th try, I found it, and went on the solve the whole mission without needing any more reloads.


    Once you make this playstyle a habit, it´s hard to go back. Although some missions are so interesting and complex that solving them with reloads is indeed challenging anough.
    Last edited by jiansonz; 30th Jul 2010 at 04:26.

  21. #1996
    Member
    Registered: May 2005
    Location: Full on Kevel's mom
    Quote Originally Posted by jiansonz View Post

    * For difficult rope arrow shots, I nearly always test with a broadhead.
    Wow, what a great idea!
    I can't believe I haven't thought of this before...

  22. #1997
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2009
    Location: Ultima Thule
    I’m looking into intruder’s warehouse and dock mission A Night’s Profit made for the Summer Vacation Contest 2010. Although the contest had other missions too, I’ve thus far only had time to play this one. I swore to myself that this time I would make the time to play them all before the contest voting deadline – but what can you do? When RL gets in the way, c’est la vie. So, what is this mission like you ask? I can sum that up in two words: Nostalgia galore.

    The story: The Rampone brothers from the T2 OM Shipping… and Receiving have split up business-wise and the younger brother, Jason Rampone, has opened up his own smaller warehouse and shipping company by the docks near Eastport. My contact, Marcus, has provided me with an apartment near the warehouse and some instructions for the mission.

    The mission: For future lucrative opportunities into J. Rampone’s warehouses one of the main tasks is to find a detailed map of the place as well as a shipping schedule and make copies of both so that no-one notices the originals missing. Depending on the difficulty level the stakes get higher, tasks more varied and a limit is placed on guard knock-outs – and a bonus is given if no-one at all is blackjacked, so quite a challenge there for those who love using their BJs, but definitely a coveted prize for those who love ghosting. Also, your contact Marcus instructs you to direct some shipments to alternate destinations with falsified shipping labels, but there’s a catch to this objective, which requires some planning ahead.

    The gameplay: The first part of nostalgia is here in the gameplay which is fluent and familiar, just like a T2 FM should be – especially since this was a kind of continuation of the T2 OM Shipping… and Receiving. In short, this is a classic Thief-style mission. The basic feeling you get here is coming home, like you’ve been here before – and yet it’s new and surprising and challenging. No hick-up’s here, just straight-forward Thiefy gameplay. Still, there’s more to this mission than just collecting loot, so be forewarned. There’s a bunch of secrets (I couldn’t find them all myself) and a multitude of objectives that keep you occupied for a couple of hours at least.

    The music: Again, like nostalgia… Ahh… The scores from the OM’s was fun to hear, as it always places you in the right Thiefy mindset: “Oh, it’s this music… I’m so going to enjoy this…”. I do like original custom music, sound and scores in FM’s, too, but there’s something to the original musical setting that just puts you there, in the shoes of the master thief we all know and love. The places become alive with the same familiarity that the original series did for us when we played them for the very first time (Man, I wish I could have the first time play-through experience again… I hope T4 doesn’t ruin that…). No custom sounds or conversations, I think - unless the seagulls were that, I can't remember them from other FMs. There were some flying birds in T2X, if I remember correctly, but can't be sure now, it's been awhile. Anyway, good old fashioned Thiefy music and sounds are a-Okay in my book.

    The setting: Warehouses and docks with civilians, guards and smugglers. That’s the location for this evening’s mission – and, even though I’m repetitive as hell, it’s nostalgia with a capital N. Everywhere you look you see the familiar and know how this place works. It’s an advantage, to be sure, but so are a lot of FM’s anyway. That’s their “edge”. And this mission does a great job at bringing us a place that is old and new at the same time. In fact, the very first entry scene of J. Rampone’s warehouse gives us a look and feel of the OMs. I was right at home. There was the nervous feeling, as always when starting a new mission, but the elation of the comfortable setting made the whole thing a joy to play. Don’t get me wrong: This mission is hard if you don’t think about the tasks enough or if you rush past the multitude of secrets. I wonder btw has anyone completed all the objectives on Expert? I always seem to fail at least one – namely the bonus objective of no knock-outs. Have to try harder, I guess. On the detail side of things, there were no special weather effects here, just a lovely moon-lit sky. Every texture and surface was reliable Thief quality, no complaints here.

    The look / favorite moment: Though the mission was a bit light on story, I kept noticing details like steam coming from vents, the crooked catwalks, boarded-up doors, the whole section of broken stonework wall, etc. And my mind began to wonder things like "Did Rampone Junior get this place cheap because of its broken-down state?" or "Is Rampone Junior trying to rebuild this place, but hired substandard contractors?" or "Was there an earthquake or something that brought part of the wall down, just like the infamous Cataclysm of the past, only in smaller scale?" – all that instead of thinking "Hey, interesting design choice by the author". And that, my friends, is immersion with a capital "I". So, I guess I have no specific favorite moment – the atmosphere alone did it for me.

    I guess it comes as no surprise to anyone, but I loved this mission. Just the right balance between what you know and what strikes as new has been reached here. Anyone looking for challenges with secrets and brain-teasers as objectives will like this. Everyone looking for warehouse and docks missions will love this. The tie to the original games works here to a tee. Basically, for atmosphere alone I recommend this – varied difficulty settings and optional objectives are a bonus. Though this mission wasn't the winner of SVC, all FMs out there are worth a playthrough – and intruder does an absolutely bang-up job here with his ship/docks theme.

    And here’s some screenies.




    How convenient is it to have a pub right outside your apartment? Considering how often this turns out to be the case with Garrett’s choices for lodgings, perhaps it’s not a coincidence after all: Maybe he secretly harbors an alcoholism problem… You never know.




    When starting this mission I thought, probably quite naievely, that I would Iron Man this mission on Expert with all the objectives done perfectly. Well, here I was at the beginning, on the first platform by the green bay doors. Everything looking fine, so far so good. I took an arrow from the archer and thought "Better not lower onto the street, I'll make noise". So, I sneaked my way to the box and slowly landed on it. BANG! Loud landing-on-hard-wooden-surface -noise! Great... Archer coming towards me, swordmen patrol coming towards me... Had two choices: To fail an objective and blackjack the lone archer and hide – or abandon Iron Man tactic and reload and try again. Curses... Choices... Well, I guess I'm just not butch enough for Iron Man'ing. Reloaded and tried again. Well, maybe I'll try again when the third Iron Man movie hits theaters and I remember this strategy all over again. Ah, good times...




    A long way up… (I made that up myself – being the master thief that I am.)




    Does this corridor of the warehouse not look familiar? (I’m betting you’re all pretty sick of that word by now – or is it nostalgia? Hmm… I guess I’ll have to get a synonym dictionary for my next review.)




    Ok, this time I’m going to avoid using the F word (no, not the curse word) and instead say: “Doesn’t this office look comfortable and cozy, like you’ve been here before…?”


    Doesn’t this look… Oh, never mind – by now you all get the drill, so I’ll show couple of pics without further comment.






    And below here we have a classic Thieves’ Highway scene. Doesn’t get much better than that.




    Step right up! Step right up! We offer you the amazing new invention by intruder:
    spoiler:
    The first ever copy machine in Thiefverse!
    Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Get your own NOW!




    From the warehouse to the docks – here’s the arch leading to the docks. And in the distance the captain of the ship approaching. Is he a friend? Is he a foe? Is he a merchant? Is he a pirate? Find out… when you check it out for yourself. (I just noticed that unlike other reviewers I don’t have pics of people in my screenies. No guards, no civilians, nobody. Perhaps I should take more of those. Well, next time.)




    What would the docks be without a ship to explore? Sure, it’s illegal – but you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.




    And one last look at a scene that is so… so… so… cinematic. Yes, that will do.




    So, that’s the latest review. Not having played the other contest missions yet I didn’t vote, I didn’t want to cheat by voting without seeing them all – and I rarely feel comfortable voting on FMs anyway, makes me feel too judgmental without cause or justification, I guess. This review is in no way a reflection on the quality or gameplay of the other SVC missions. Just one view – or review, which ever word tickles your fancy.

    BTW, SneakyJack, when can we expect another review from you?

  23. #1998
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Great in-depth review, Summer! Intruder is one of my favorite fan missions authors - his missions are extremely fun to play.

    BTW, SneakyJack, when can we expect another review from you?
    It's safe to assume that the next one will be very soon!

    Shadows In Our Blood
    By Haplo
    Released: August 2010

    Please be warned - if you are the type that likes to spit and curse and kick up dust about spoilery things, you should probably play the mission before reading this review or looking at the screenshots. Again, you've been warned.

    Once in a great while a mission will come along that will make you think things like "I wonder what state of mind the author was in when they made their vision a reality in dromed?" And then there are missions that make you think things like "If I turn this corner without using a scouting orb am I likely to experience something that will cause me to shit my pants?" This mission is of the second variety.

    Much like DrK's mission "Night In Rocksbourg Part 3: Ink And Dust" - this mission seeks to thrust you into a particular atmosphere full of dread, worry and uneasiness, and it definitely delivers on all three.

    Taking place around the same time frame as the original mission "Eavesdropping", "Shadows In Our Blood" finds you trying to figure out why a popular politician has suddenly turned around on his previously anti-mechanist views - going so far as to denounce his previous claims and has become one of them. His followers have abandoned him and he has vanished without a trace - and trusty ol' Garrett is the only one with the skills needed to infiltrate the nearby city watch station to find out what events have taken place.

    "Shadows In Our Blood" is the sort of mission that has alot of great things going for it - but is much more satisfying for most a second time through. The objectives are vague, the hints within the mission are sometimes outright missing and unless you are a seasoned veteran of old school adventure games you'll probably find yourself stuck at least once throughout the mission. Part keyhunt and part a "use item one on item two, then item two to be able to get item three" style mission - the key hunting and item searching can sometimes take away from the overall enjoyment of the excellent atmosphere. Your brain will be spending more time looking for tiny hidden (and in one spot ridiculously so) switches than it will be soaking in the incredible ambiance around you.

    The missions atmosphere is fairly light in the first half - but the second half tosses you into a pit of despair of which the likes we rarely ever see in fan missions. Think one part Saw, one part Hostel and a whole lot of hopelessness.

    The dungeon areas of the mission are probably the most horrifically realized torture chambers yet seen in a mission to this point - you'll see victims crushed under rocks while lying on beds of spikes, placed in an electrified pool of water (allowing you to choose their fate, oddly enough), hung from the ceiling with chains and more. The use of black and white was definitely an inspired choice that somehow made the depressing surroundings even more bleak - but a splash of blood red here and there probably would have made for an even more grisly scene. If ever there was a mission that played on your emotions and made you absolutely hate the people responsible for this kind of carnage - this mission is it. The only thing missing was the classic Garrett quip "I could really learn to hate these guys." Hate these guys indeed.

    Sound plays a particularly stunning part in the overall atmosphere - nearing certain areas will bombard you with the screams of the helpless victims and one area in particular has a relentless soundtrack of metal mixed with the audible results of torture.

    The item usage was clever - one item in particular has a visual result similar to the mirror in the recently released "The Mirror Of Return" in that it puts an overlay on the screen resulting in a very immersive effect. The clever item portions of the mission are far more fun than the keyhunt portions - though the use of one particular puzzle has the player using an item (and to great effect) that 90% of Thief players likely never use during normal play. Being completely stumped with the answer right there in your inventory was funny to say the least.

    Though a bit aimless at times and definitely not for the faint of heart - "Shadows In Our Blood" is filled to the brim with vibrant and horrific atmosphere that is sure to please. Play it a second time with a sense of purpose - you wont be disappointed.

    Screens:


    The sewer portion in the beginning was full of nice little details (Pickaxe embedded in rock for example) that made the area feel much more alive.



    Strolling through these halls you'd never know what horrors are housed below them.



    Best to let sleeping watchdogs remain that way.



    Getting the distinct feeling someone doesn't want me in this area.



    This looks ominous.



    An entire room devoted to the storage of nude one armed females. That's pretty convenient for the torturous house hunter currently in the market.



    I decided to add some color in this room to try to cut through the despair with a little shrubbery.



    By far the craziest room in the dungeon - the body in the background reaching up as if begging for help is just intense.

  24. #1999
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU
    Now that doesn't look like a happy place.

  25. #2000
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: Great. Now I can't get back in
    By far the craziest room in the dungeon - the body in the background reaching up as if begging for help is just intense.
    Yeah, that part really got to me too (would've liked a sword to put him out of his misery, or at least have been able to pick him up & toss him into the now-poisonous chamber along with most of the mechs).
    Last edited by Sticky Fingers; 2nd Aug 2010 at 16:10.

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