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Thread: Best mission release practices

  1. #26
    Member
    Registered: Oct 1999
    Location: Stuck in some sticky mud, nope quicksand
    Its a good idea to use beta testers from usa, europe, and the rest of the world, due to the fact there are two versions of thief 2, a european version and an usa/canada version, so if you've used all european beta testers, and you release it and find out that it doesn't work properly on the usa version, then you're screwed.
    Note. the usa version will always run on the european version.

    Also for released zips, you don't need thumbs.db or the paintshop pro browser dumpfiles in the directories with any graphic files in them. It will make your zips smaller, and take less time to download.

  2. #27
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    This is a recommendation to epithumia of an issue you may want to add to your list in the first post.

    In a nutshell, it is to be sure a possible contributor to your FM is on-board with his/her material being publically released along with the FM BEFORE it is uploaded to thiefmissions, when there's a good reason that author might not expect it to be released -- in most cases basically getting their informed consent and ensuring proper credit. Even if you think their contribution was very small or their consent was implied ... if there's a reason they might not expect it to be made public, be sure to err on the side of explicitly asking, because this is a person's work going out into the public.

    NB, I'm thinking about a person that actually puts *work* into the FM -- from brushwork, to scripting and internal work, to making custom material for just that FM -- not a person that simply makes custom obj's generally available, where the general courtesy of giving credit should be enough.

    Just as a reference point, this is a reaction to the recent incident involving the release of The City Square (here for future reference), where one author built some things into another author's FM just as an example of what to do, only to see it publically released, which he didn't expect. Another example was an FM where someone used another person's skybox before that person wanted it released, because he wanted to use it in his own FM first. But I don't want to spend any time dwelling on specific incidents -- enough has been said. It's the general issue I'm concerned about. Situations like these are the ones where you want to get consent before you release their stuff, because they don't expect it.
    Last edited by demagogue; 11th Jul 2007 at 14:38. Reason: Added the "NB" paragraph, cut the fluff

  3. #28
    Thiefmissions.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Houston, Tx., USA
    I added a bit. I'm still not sure where the line is drawn, because some FM authors would get pissed if someone stole their content but they happily sample music for use in their FMs. Still, you're right that this is a good place to mention giving proper credit.

  4. #29
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2004
    Location: UK
    I have just about got my second mission ready for release, and thought I would share some of my experinences about what to do prior to release. This presumes you have already played the mission through to the end.

    Before beta-testing

    These are the things I should have done before beta-testing, but no one had told me to... It might be tempting to leave this to the beta-testers to find, but you will end up doing the work anyway as you make the corrections, and it will save the beta-testing for the less obvious issues.

    Get a second installation of Thief, which includes DarkLoader or GarrettLoader, but no custom stuff. Through DarkLoader or GarrettLoader, open the mission up in DromEd, turn on Light Bright, Light Objects, View Physics Models and optionally turn off AI Aware. Then go in game and:

    Check each window, door, etc. has the texture aligned correctly
    Check no plain blue textures (indicates forgotten to include a custom texture)
    Check no white wedges (indicates forgotten to include a custom object or mesh) (sometimes if a custom object is missing the original model is used instead)
    Check all objects have an appropriate physics model (if "View Physics Models" is on, this is the blue box or circle; for example, flatcars should not use the default, and custom objects often keep the physics model of the original; does the size make sense?)
    Check all crates and barrels have a physics model (they do not if they overlap with terrain; there will be no blue circle, and you can walk through them)
    Open every door to check none disappear when opened
    Kill all AIs and try to pick up the corpse (have you included custom flinders and alt bitmaps; no alt bitmap will cause a crash)
    Try to mess up the objectives; are final objectives really final, can you reverse objectives you should not be able to, can you do objectives in a nonsense order?
    Generally look around and see if everything looks as it should (eg, I found distant art was missing).

    Beta-testing

    Some beta-testers are better than others. Have several, a mixture of players (who will spot game play problems) and DromEders (who will spot technical problems). Accept that some will drop out.

    Beta-testing takes time; if you are in a competition, allow three weeks. Otherwise, allow three months...

  5. #30
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2000
    Location: The Maw Of Chaos
    As an aside, given the prices for hosting with dreamhost -- particularly their 7th-year anniversary coupon, which gives you the first year for some ungodly amount like $7 -- I can't understand why hosting for FM's would be a problem. I mean, long-term, a well-maintained archive is important, but if people were so concerned with pushing it out the door that they'd get pissy at you for a day or two of lag time, there are plenty of other file hosting options available.

  6. #31
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2005
    Location: In The DK Dungeons.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Pixie
    Some beta-testers are better than others. Have several, a mixture of players (who will spot game play problems) and DromEders (who will spot technical problems). Accept that some will drop out.
    Iīm just wondering why someone offer to betatest and then "drop out" and/or not report back at all , taffers like this obviously donīt know of the time, effort and anxiety that got a mission this fare, like i sade iīm just wondering

  7. #32
    Desperately dodgy geezer
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: The Wailing Keep
    Not always. Sometimes someone volunteers to test with the best of intentions and then something comes up in real life that makes it impossible - they get sick, have a death in the family, suddenly have a lot of stress at their job - although I'm sure sometimes people also just decide they don't want to bother. I have a small circle of testers whom I use regularly and don't plan ever to use any others since I trust them all implicitly now after several years.

  8. #33
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2004
    Location: Ryleth
    Quote Originally Posted by epithumia
    Not sure why you'd think there's any problem with helping him. If he chooses to release another version of his mission, I do hope he gets a couple of people to run through it first.
    And he shall.

  9. #34
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2004
    Location: Pennsylvania
    In regards to zip file naming and duplicate downloads, ie not knowing its the same file. I had suggested a while ago when I was still planning to write a darkloader replacement. I suggested we do a crc/md5 or something similar on mission's and you could then just compare them to see if it is the same. I had gone through my missions directory a couple of times and I still have dupes in there due to different naming conventions, versions etc.
    I still end up downloading missions I already have sometimes.

    I am willing to write such a (OS Agnostic with source)program or we could just use md5sum as I believe it is available for just about every platform. If linux runs on it then md5sum should be available and it is also available for windoze of course.
    I haven't lost my mind,
    I have it backed up on disk.
    Oops bad sectors! Damn floppys!
    ICQ#1747197

  10. #35
    Summer Vacation Contest Winner 2010
    Registered: Sep 2003
    Location: PacificNorthWest...Near Forks

    Excellent Post!!

    I wish I had been more careful and had both of My FM's beta tested before submitting them. I've learned more patience, and allow more time in the making
    than I used to. I'd rather play an FM without alot of difficulty with the fuctionability of the objects, objectives, ect.

    Very Excellent Post!!

  11. #36
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    I'd like to suggest that after the mission is zipped, authors should open the zip and remove any Thumbs.db files, Paint Sho Pro browser files and so on. They can add a fair bit onto the file size. For some dial-up users just 1MB can be significant.

  12. #37
    Thiefmissions.com
    Moderator

    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Houston, Tx., USA
    What are the PSP browser files named? I agree that needless cruft should always be eliminated from mission files.

  13. #38
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    pspbrwse.jbf

  14. #39
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    This thread has lots of good advice for people making and submitting FMs, but now I have a request to make of those hosting FMs:

    When you extract the readme files and link to them directly, please remove the email address.

    I hardly ever got spam until I released my FM.

  15. #40
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2001
    Location: 210x200x64
    I would like to add a request. When you use notepad to create the read-me file, please use the return key. It's very frustrating trying to read and having to scroll and scroll. Maybe your screen is 5 feet wide but most are not.

  16. #41
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    Yeah I second that. I wonder why browsers don't have a word wrap option for text files?

  17. #42
    Good text editors like UltraEdit allow you to convert text files so they have hard returns at a certain line length.

  18. #43
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    That sounds useful. I use Notepad++ and I just noticed that has a similar function - lines can be split when they reach the edge of the window.

  19. #44
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2006
    Location: France (Saint-Gobain)

    letīs see if i get this...

    iīve read all rules, i got disapointed because if you go to lvlworld.com itīs the site most updated of quake 3 arenas you will find the most variety of arenas were the authors take the liberty to add music at their own choice to their arenas without forgeting to mention the artist name on the credits, and alot of arenas are being always updated and most of them have been built a few years ago, even the weakest author has the oportunity to share his weak arena to the world, i think thatīs important because authors will feel motivated to build more and more arenas and to improve their skill on level editing, i īm not saying that i donīt agree with all rules what iīm saying is that some rules may limit the quality of a mission. and that there is some lack of support concernig the sites for thief fms, about 3 or 4 years ago there was at least 5 sites that were always updated with fms by that time i didnīt know that there was fms but i already was playing thief, only last year on march i decided to try to search for expations for thief and then i found some sites with fms Keeperofmetalandgold thiefcircle and another site with fms, but when i found them i noticed that they stoped being updated , so i made i deep search for other sites of fms and it then i found thiefmissions.com i got very happy because i found new fms that the other sites didnīt have, i īve played so many fms that i also had the wish to make fms and share my skills, luckly Jason submited my fms, and i want to thank him for that beacuse i was able to share my great taste for thief and its fms, Thief is defently my favourite game . i hope my new mission"Citadel of Douro" wasnīt ignored just because iīve broke a few rules that i didnīt know, iīll make sure that in future i wonīt break those rules , in order to keep sharing my missions. iīm counting with your support Jason, donīt worry iīll see that my next mission will follow all your rules despite of some limitations

  20. #45
    Member
    Registered: May 2002
    Location: Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by Thelvyn View Post
    I suggested we do a crc/md5 or something similar on mission's and you could then just compare them to see if it is the same.
    There is a program supplied with windows called fc.exe in the windows\command folder. Type fc /? to get the usage, but it will compare two files and list the differences.

  21. #46
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2004
    Location: Pennsylvania
    Quote Originally Posted by john9818a View Post
    There is a program supplied with windows called fc.exe in the windows\command folder. Type fc /? to get the usage, but it will compare two files and list the differences.
    Your telling me we should use file compare instead of an md5 to verify if a zip is different ?

    Your kidding me right ?? Sorry but that is ridiculous.

    That was a DOS program for christ sake and if you rely on that to verify your files are not corrupted I feel sorry for you.
    20 years ago I used to use that but there are so many better tools not to mention cross platform.

  22. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by R Soul View Post
    This thread has lots of good advice for people making and submitting FMs, but now I have a request to make of those hosting FMs:

    When you extract the readme files and link to them directly, please remove the email address.

    I hardly ever got spam until I released my FM.
    I agree.


    It's too late for me, but it would be nice if something could be done about new FMs being released.
    The Honest Thief - FMs, screenshots, DromED, links

    Zaccheus' hospital blog

  23. #48
    Member
    Registered: May 2002
    Location: Texas
    Sorry, but I didn't see this post until tonight.

    I think you are reading into my post too much. I never said to do this instead of anything... I just gave another option that actually does work, and no, I don't use fc.exe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thelvyn View Post
    Your telling me we should use file compare instead of an md5 to verify if a zip is different ?

    Your kidding me right ?? Sorry but that is ridiculous.

    That was a DOS program for christ sake and if you rely on that to verify your files are not corrupted I feel sorry for you.
    20 years ago I used to use that but there are so many better tools not to mention cross platform.

  24. #49
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    What's wrong with FC?
    It's a simple program that comes with every version of Windows and performs a binary compare of two files. It serves its purpose perfectly, and compares the full file against the full file, rather than just against a checksum.
    It may have problems with very large files, but FMs are hardly that big.

    Obviously enough, it's more useful for comparing one set of files rather than repeatedly comparing all the files in a folder - you'd need a special program for that - but the idea that it doesn't work for modern files is preposterous.

  25. #50
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2004
    Location: Pennsylvania
    Two years later...
    But I digress really use whatever you want but if your making suggestions for other people I believe MD5 is better since for one thing people on linux do not have fc.exe
    There are viruses that masquerade as fc.exe.
    Using MD5 also makes it easier for the people running Linux download servers to verify files against.
    And what is wrong with recommending an open source/cross platform solution anyway ?

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