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Thread: Mission types discussion

  1. #1
    Registered: Apr 2016

    Mission types discussion

    These questions have been on my mind recently, and I would like to hear the others' opinions on the matter.

    I have read many times that "mansion missions are overdone." I can see why people would say that, especially since "a mansion with a crypt or a temple below it" has been done many times.

    However, I have also seen that many people love city missions despite there, probably, being even more of them than mansion ones. Yet I have never read that "city missions are overdone." What makes this even more interesting is that the first two Thief games did not have city missions as such (I would not call "Ambush!" a proper city mission).

    So, I would like to hear:
    Do you think mansion missions are overdone? If so, why? What such a mission has to feature for it to be original?
    How did city missions become so popular and why are they so popular now?
    Do you think city missions are overdone? If not, do you think they will be at some point?

    I'd like to point out that I'm not bashing on any mission type here I love both the mansion and city type missions

  2. #2
    Registered: Nov 2006
    Location: Vault 101
    My favorite missions were always the mansion missions with some "terrible secrets". I cannot get enough of them. Ominous Bequest, Rowena's Curse, The Den, etc are the type of missions I enjoy playing the most.

    The popularity of city missions comes from the fact that one of the biggest aspect of Thief gameplay is exploration. What's a better place to explore and feel yourself like a true thief than a city mission, with dozens of accessible buildings and rooftops. It provides the true "thief" experience in my opinion. I believe city missions will always be the most popular around here.

  3. #3
    For me the city missions are more or less a no-no. I'm pretty much up-to-date with modern gaming, and it's over-saturated with open-world hub games now. Wandering around cities in GTAs, AssCreeds, and even T3 or T4 feels empty, it's just a filler. I prefer something more meaningful, a separate location, with distinctive style and interesting take on the theme. That's why I don't care about city sections in Dishonored 2, but I love places like Jindosh and Stilton manors. They have style and something interesting to say.

  4. #4
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Location: Montpellier, France
    I don't think mansion missions are overdone, but very good mansion missions are arguably pretty rare. I love Conspiracies in the Dark because the layout is really confusing the first time through and feels very realistic and organic, and I love Heist Society because it has an incredibly well done Thief 2 aesthetic and just has an absolutely killer layout that is far less confusing than Conspiracies but is complex enough as to not be dull one second. There are more really good mansion missions out there but these two are the best of the best imo.

    To elaborate a bit more, I guess that the mansion mission model is much more static than the city one: a mansion will almost always be more or less the same thing with slight variations here and there, whereas you can really go nuts with city layouts and styles. Narrow streets or big avenues, very tall and twisty buildings or more blocky and imposing architecture, non-linear rooftop exploration or easy pickings on the streets... the mansion mission also usually provides less opportunities for exploration in the broadest sense of the term: the playground is usually smaller, lines of sight are usually shorter and verticality is something that often doesn't come into play at all in these missions (something both Conspires in the Dark and Heist Society do very well, actually). You don't get the same kind of adrenaline rush in a mansion mission where everything is more or less at eye level than in a city mission where you can find yourself on a parapet up high, hopping from rooftop to rooftop with a possibility of falling to your painful death if you are careless. The adrenaline rush in a mansion mission is more about being an intruder and figuring out how to navigate between rooms without getting caught.

    I love mansion missions, but city missions are definitely my favorite mostly because of how incredibly fun they are if pulled off successfully.
    Last edited by skacky; 17th Feb 2017 at 12:12. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    Dóttirin klęšist oft móšur möttli
    Registered: Apr 2015
    A city mission is most often a mansion mission, too.

    A mission that combines many types of missions is Morbid Curiosity. That's why it's so much fun to play (well, it's funny, anyway). It never gets boring.

  6. #6
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: Montreal, Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by marbleman View Post
    Do you think mansion missions are overdone? If so, why? What such a mission has to feature for it to be original?
    How did city missions become so popular and why are they so popular now?
    Do you think city missions are overdone? If not, do you think they will be at some point?
    I love city missions, and like Cavalorn said, the appeal lies in the exploration. A city mission gives the impression of greater size. And for variety, compare for instance Rocksbourg 2, Burglary in Blackbrook, and Midnight in Murkbell. All city missions, all very different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavalorn View Post
    My favorite missions were always the mansion missions with some "terrible secrets". I cannot get enough of them. Ominous Bequest, Rowena's Curse, The Den, etc are the type of missions I enjoy playing the most.

    The bottom line is there is so much potential just within those two categories, that the possibilities are infinite. The chance of overdoing them is small I think, as long as they're not carbon copies of what was done previously. And judging by the calibre of missions that are being released these days, I think we're doing great

  7. #7
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2017
    Location: Overlord's Fancy
    As already said very well by others; big city missions often provide more variety and better opportunities for exploration, features which I believe are loved by many Thief players. Even if I do enjoy a good mansion mission with a twist, I personally prefer city missions over other mission types, because locations are more numerous but small enough to not be overwhelming.

    In a city the player can explore without having to spend that much time in a single location. When forced to focus on a single building for a long time, it can easily result to a perfectionist player (well, those who are not devoted ghosters, at least) creep around with a magnifying glass, inspecting every inch of every room, desperately hunting secrets and loot, maybe even knocking out everything that moves for sheer frustration caused by getting constantly interrupted by guards or residents. It gives more freedom and less pressure when the player can hop from a roof to a balcony, quickly clean out an apartment and move on to ponder their next direction, maybe search some locations more closely for secrets if given a hint.

    So, I wouldn't say that mansion missions are overdone. They're just harder to build so that the gameplay is smooth and not too demanding, and so that the location looks interesting and unique, and rewards exploration.

  8. #8
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU
    "Mansion missions are overdone" would have certainly been true in the mid-2000s. At the same time, missions with a strong focus on supernatural elements (sometimes derided as "woo" missions) were also few and far between. Fortunately, we now see a more even balance. The real question is no longer which is "overdone" or "underrepresented", since there are a lot of both types.

    If there is something we have been lacking in as of late, it is some nice, classic Hammerite missions; creature missions; and especially missions with the strangeness of The Sword, The Maw of Chaos or even Strange Bedfellows (although there were elements in Godbreaker which were pretty good in this respect).

  9. #9
    Registered: Jul 2014
    It's more challenging to surprise in a mansion mission vs a city mission - they're more predictable. Every mansion has a foyer, some master bedrooms on the top floor, a kitchen, some optional rooms like a library, a wine cellar, a grand staircase, etc. What kind of loot and where it's hidden also follows similar patterns. The mansion also has to follow similar theme or else it ends up looking like Constantine's.

    Cities on the other hand are less defined and offer the author more freedom and variety. There's less predictability so exploration can be more interesting.

  10. #10
    About the apparent advantage of city missions vs other types: the theme doesn't really matter much. For very long time videogames were, and still are, corridors and rooms dressed as different things: temples, jungles, cities, houses, factories etc. Levels need to evoke the theme and function of certain location only to a sufficient degree, but this is secondary. Gameplay is king. You don't have to build realistic locations, noone cares about that in games. Only your level design skills determine whether a location will be compelling to traverse, explore, play through.

  11. #11
    Registered: Apr 2016
    Thanks for the responses, some very good points here. True, city missions allow for more variety and exploration.
    What kind of setting do you think could contend with city missions in this regard?

  12. #12
    Registered: Oct 2016
    Location: Blundering through the shadows
    I think that something along the lines of The Sword, as Melan mentioned, could contend with city missions in terms of variety. The issue with trying to recreate something like that or a variation of it would be balancing the level of insanity with design sensibilities. Just crazy enough to catch people off guard, but not crazy enough to make them lost and/or frustrated. I personally like a bit of insanity in a mission, but I don't like it to be too off the rails if it's supposed to be a serious mission.

  13. #13
    Do you think mansion missions are overdone? If so, why?
    I don't think mansion missions are overdone. They're one of my favorite styles, actually.

    What such a mission has to feature for it to be original?
    I'm not necessarily looking for originality. Above all else, I want a mission where the gameplay has been carefully thought out and finely tuned. You can have breathtaking architecture, a skillfully written plot, and top-notch voice acting and custom scripting – but if every guard just walks up and down a hallway or rotates randomly in the corner of a room, it won't be very interesting to play. A good Thief mission, for me, is a puzzle to unlock: how am I going to get through this brightly lit room without being seen? Do I have time to run out, snatch the goblet, flip the switch, and get back to the shadows before that guard turns around? How can I blackjack this guy without his buddies noticing? Can I figure out an alternate route to the second floor (via rope arrows, air ducts, etc.) that bypasses the big dining room full of nobles? Etc.

    How did city missions become so popular and why are they so popular now?
    City missions have a few of things going for them, gameplay-wise.

    First of all, they make it easier to exploit the vertical dimension. Thief is beloved for its non-linear gameplay, and that extra axis of freedom exponentially multiplies the ways in which a player can approach a mission. City missions which don't exploit the vertical dimension well aren't as fun, IMHO.

    Secondly, city missions tend to have interesting topology. One of Thief's designers (as quoted in a recent thread) said that Thief's gameplay is fundamentally about exploring and exploiting space, and I think that's true. City missions just provide a framework that happens to be good for creating spaces that are interesting to explore and which lend themselves to emergent gameplay.

    Think of a mission's layout as a network of nodes: each room, area, etc. is a node, and the available options for traveling between adjacent nodes (hallways, ladders, rope arrow anchors, etc.) are the lines between them. (Connections are sometimes one-way: e.g., dropping off a building into water.) City missions often have one such network on the grand scale (several districts connected by thoroughfares, sewers, etc.), and numerous smaller networks within each of those areas (alleys, individual buildings, etc.). There are non-city missions where this is also true, but the FM author has to make a more deliberate effort at it (because the city-mission genre kind of has it built-in).

    Thirdly, they're a thematically sensible way to provide the player with a variety of different environments to explore.

    Do you think city missions are overdone? If not, do you think they will be at some point?
    I don't think so, no. Again, I'm not very interested in novelty for its own sake. I'm more concerned with the execution of a mission, not how unique it is.

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