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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2951
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU


    Making a Profit by vfig
    One of the most “complete” missions from the contest – from a video briefing to changing objectives and a dynamic story, it is all there. The architecture is wonky in the same way many older FMs tend to be, but it is consistently interesting, and has a style of its own. The audio is accomplished, contributing much to the mood. Where this mission shines, however, is the combination of gameplay and story. Multiple styles of stealth objectives found in Thief are integrated into a seamless whole, with multiple solution possibilities (some more standard, some ingenious and technically impressive), and changing objectives. It feels like you are visiting a distinct place with a culture distinctly at odds with the City as we know it, yet nevertheless connected to its mythology; and it feels like a ride of a story from the first twist to the finale. It is technically accomplished and just a lot of fun. This is a FM by a builder who has an understanding of what makes Thief tick – and the skills to recapture its peculiar magic.

    Atmosphere: 7 // Gameplay: 7 // Story: 8



    Mother Redcap’s Last Request by Swiz
    Oversized, boxy architecture with the occasional neat touch, like that one moody spiral staircase. However, the spaces are “flat”; too wide and not high enough, which tends to be the worst-looking combination. The place is fairly empty of guards, and there is very little challenge – you can just run circles around them in the conveniently unlit environment. The plot twist is good, and the mission almost becomes exciting again… but it moves to a sewer section entirely devoid of ambient sounds (the main building had some, just very monotonous). Sadly, not even being a newbie effort saves this one.

    Atmosphere: 2 // Gameplay: 3 // Story: 4



    Order of the Dew by Jayrude
    A return to the look and feel of the better early FMs: limited texture palette, angular architecture with bold contours, and a simple mission into the hideout of a secret society. Everything is suitably low-rent – even the more wealthy corners are on the cheap and uncomfortable side. It has a style you don’t see often anymore.

    There is some good and hard sneaking here, and using your equipment wisely is a life-saver. Some of the AI seem too twitchy for their own good, or they are placed on unforgiving patrol routes/positions. Unfortunate, because otherwise, this is excellent as a nostalgic experience.

    Atmosphere: 8 // Gameplay: 6 // Story: 7



    Shadow Play by Schlock
    A mansion mission that evokes the mystery and wonder of The Dark Project. The architecture is accomplished and varied. Great lighting with strong shadow-and-light contrasts establishes a moody atmosphere. This is helped by an expert use of sound: the author gets what made the original missions work, and the resulting soundscape feels like a creepier, weirder and more chaotic Bafford Manor (there is even a specific location of inexplicable dread which has affected everyone I know – that takes skill).

    The gameplay is also very good here. You have recon and infiltration, with multiple ways inside (and a few side areas, including a really cool easter egg!), followed by a lot of tense sneaking. There are always abundant shadows nearby, but crossing well-lit tile areas with interlocking patrols covering the territory makes it a challenge. Observation of AI patrols is a must for success. The mission is surprisingly strong on verticality, a rarity in indoors FMs – but it pulls it off, and how! It feels like an irregular, ramshackle old manor. Likewise, loot placement is thoughtful and a good challenge – observation, or scouting and nabbing risky pieces is well rewarded.

    Shadow Play has close to no formal story (no readables except for the odd plaque), although the environmental storytelling is strong – it has a superb contrast between a rich lord’s opulent quarters, the dark holes his staff lives in, and the shadows of the surrounding city. Show, don’t tell: here, we learn how it is done.

    Atmosphere: 8 // Gameplay: 8 // Story: 8

    (???)

    Station to Station by Anonymous
    When to trust your own creativity? Wellll… There is a cool beginning idea there, and that turbine room looks pretty neat. Otherwise, it is like one of those big, empty Wolfenstein 3d levels I used to play because I was bored, only to make the boredom even worse.

    Atmosphere: 2 // Gameplay: 1 // Story: 3



    The Burning Bedlam by Phantom
    Apparently, there were people who thought building an insane asylum on top of an ominous Hammerite factory on top of a creepy mine on top of a sinister sewer system was a brilliant idea. Apparently, they were fairly surprised when it all went to hell. Imagine that! Well, this mission is successful entry in the “dark as crap” subgenre. You can usually barely make out your surroundings in the almost complete darkness, making for an even feeling of dread and helplessness. This suspense cannot be maintained all the way through the mission, and it is hard not to become jaded (you could just omit the Black Mesa-style factory and not lose much), but it works most of the time, and looks and sounds good, too.

    There is a lot of very ambitious architecture here, coupled with good gameplay, and a backstory which integrates in interesting ways with Thief canon. The puzzles are a mixed bag: some are well designed, but some seem arbitrary (like gaining access to the asylum area). However, the mission is overall imaginative and very-very impressive in the way it looks and feels. No regrets.

    Atmosphere: 8 // Gameplay: 7 // Story: 7



    The Hunt by Grandmauden
    A proper Lord Bafford homage with welcome complexity. It is the same idea – yellow manor, haughty lord, priceless object – but a different mission. There are many ways it may play out, since it has a mostly open-ended structure (barring a few bottlenecks). There is a city district around the manor, with multiple ways to gather information and find your way inside; the main location has three floors to explore. It reminds me of Geller’s Pride, a classic fan mission that does something quite similar.

    The graphics are relatively simple but effective, and the place has a nice, consistent look. Ambients are also used well, and you can eavesdrop on a handful of custom conversations. There are multiple side-plots which add to the lived-in character of the place; you get the idea you are intruding on the lives of real people. The highlight is the gameplay: it is never particularly difficult, but it is varied, and has well-designed puzzles, sensibly hidden loot, a functional alarm system, and an increasing difficulty curve – going from streets where the guards don’t bother you to more and more challenging game spaces. This is a well-balanced mission that should be fun to play – and replay again with a different approach.

    Atmosphere: 6 // Gameplay: 7 // Story: 7



    The Lost City of Gazing Glass by mtk
    As someone who has disliked Lost City missions since the original level, I approached this one with some trepidation. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised, although I didn’t end up completing it. The architecture is simplistic; more correctly, there are setpiece areas which are quite imaginative and non-standard (without relying on too much detail), and there is connecting tissue which mainly consists of bland, featureless corridors. There are things like a great half-sunken pyramid with surreal water placement, something looking like a fallen meteorite, and an archaeological dig – like many early TDP missions, it is an excuse to place random, odd things which are fun to build and explore. I loved these, and they really did more for me than a standard LC level would have.

    However, it is largely a key and loot hunt, and the second aspect quite punishing at that – you have a high loot goal and piddly little treasures for the taking (treasure objects with decreased values). Not much sneaking is involved after a tense, well-realised initial section. There could have been more ambient sounds as well. A lot of the time, the mission feels empty – nondescript mazes with little content and a flat atmosphere. Then you get to something original and fun, but you wonder if you could just cut out the rest All in all, I wouldn’t mind seeing further missions from the author, with “more killer, less filler”.

    Atmosphere: 6 // Gameplay: 4 // Story: 5


    Added - nickie

  2. #2952
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU


    The Scarlet Cascabel by PukeyBrunster and Tannar
    Two missions, both overwhelmingly ambitious, and both heavy on heavily customised stock resources (obeying the contest rules to the letter, while playing fast and loose with the spirit). These maps are both around the limits you can push the Dark Engine; things you had previously seen in the Beauty Contest are now the building blocks of full, sprawling, playable missions. The first, taking place in the woods and a mountain town, has a dynamic story with good objectives, and a comfy atmosphere – perhaps a bit like a very advanced take on Autumn in Lampfire Hills. Here are simple pleasures, very well realised (save the occasional, minor aesthetic mistakes which got lost in the last days of building).

    The second mission is grander, but also has a few gameplay-related problems. This is the “enormous posh location with a dark backstory and a huge interconnected puzzle” kind of FM, and in that field, it can stand its own against the likes of Rowena’s Curse and Ominous Bequest. The grandiose hotel/mansion is impeccably detailed (and customised – the rooms are varied and the small backstories you run across have a lot of character), the atmosphere thick.

    But as these missions tend to, the stealth gameplay suffers a bit: lots of long, unpredictable patrol routes, whiny servant AI everywhere (in lots of places where they can be stuck, too), and an objective which fails the mission if the alarm is triggered – this is a hazardous combination, particularly when you scour the territory for the umpteenth time. Or when the AI see you through the several windows, corridors and other conduits which allow them a treacherous vision, and a short route to the nearest gong. Then there’s the other one. While the puzzles are good and well designed, it is still finding (well designed) needles in a (well designed) haystack. Miss one, and the whole machinery comes to a creaking halt. It only happened to me once (missed an obvious lever due to the darkness), but there were some near misses in there.

    The criticism of extraordinary things does not take away from their excellence. This is an excellent two-mission pack, and a lot of fun. It is an instant classic. Nevertheless, I found the prelude more likeable than the main event.

    Atmosphere: 9 // Gameplay: 8 // Story: 10



    The Sound of a Burrick in a Room by skacky
    This mission takes you through the houses, rooftops and hidden underground locations of Sootchime District, a city district designed on a massive scale. Mere size is not a recipe for great gameplay, and some of the largest missions tend to feel fairly empty – but here, a good balance was struck between creating enormous structures, and giving the different places their own colour. Two large manor houses, a Hammerite monastery towering above multiple waterfalls and water channels, and other locations offer plenty to explore. The waterways allow fast progress through the level, but like Calendra’s Legacy, they also “reset” a lot of progress you will need to make to reach some of your destinations. There are also rooftop routes which feel natural, and do not restrict the player to a few paths of the thieves highway. And there are many “side events” to the main show. This mission makes for a well-balanced experience, and is a lot of fun to play... multiple times.

    Atmosphere: 8 // Gameplay: 9 // Story: 9



    The Tomb of Saint Tennor by vegetables
    Two missions in one, from a haunted monastery to an underground tomb-complex… and more. Both FMs feature good visuals, somewhere on the detail level slightly above OMs, just more of it. It is like taking the scale of a mission and blowing it up by 50%: the haunted cathedral is towering, the cloister is enormous, and the underground tombs are vast, inky black pits. This means there is more to do, but also that there is a lot of empty space. You spend a lot of time moving around, and in most cases, AI are fairly easy to avoid in the large spaces.

    Of the two missions, the first is more linear, but uses its locales effectively to let you get into places in interesting ways (even if, typically, there are not many ways forward). It is essentially a keyhunt, but masks this with some fairly good sub-objectives. The second FM, in comparison, is very much like the Bonehoard, with alternate routes and hidden spaces galore. It does not have the sheer variety of the Bonehoard map, but it has a series of self-contained tombs, each with its own peculiarity of design and challenge. The mission also has content beyond the scope of tomb-raiding; three distinct environments, one of which is quite excellent, and two which are kinda empty. All in all, an adventure.

    Atmosphere: 7 // Gameplay: 8 // Story: 6



    The Whistling of the Gears by Firemage
    Way back, in times that now seem primordial, there was a game called The Dark Project, and after an exhausting finale, it ended on a wonderfully bleak note. The Trickster was dead, and we were told to beware the dawn of the Metal Age – a nightmare of unchecked industrialisation gone horribly wrong. We were never really given that specific Metal Age (although we got a good game by that name, and many wonderful fan missions in the bargain). Until now: this is the experience some of us have been patiently waiting for all these years.

    The Whistling of the Gears is a mission which brings you the rampant industrialisation; the smoke; the towering metal structures; the dirt and grey misery. It is something that had previously only existed in a cutscene and our imaginations. The resulting mission is a super-complex city mission with a small footprint but remarkable height and density. It is filled with primitive machines and metal structures whose only seeming purpose is pollution, noise, and being eyesores. It has human environments which look cramped, uncomfortable, and miserable. It also has a visionary style which builds on dull grey and other muted colours to establish its feel. Item textures are looted for terrain in fun ways. Stock objects are repurposed with ingenuity to build mad things like a hanging string of sausages or cheap, gaudy ceramics, or sparkling wires above a street, or weird antennae, or whatever.

    There is much to do here. The central objectives are complex and multi-stage. The mission has to be traversed multiple times, and this can be a bit exhausting… it needs a certain dedication, but it pays off. There is great infiltration in an industrialist’s demesne, sabotage, dodging stationary and moving AI with tricky routes, and some non-standard technical wizardry that’s kinda mindblowing in a “how did this madman do it” way.

    In my mind, this mission is the best of the contest. There are landmarks in mission design which show us there are things previously thought impossible – and this FM has done just that.

    Atmosphere: 10 // Gameplay: 9 // Story: 9



    Ultimate Burglary by terra
    First things first: this mission doesn’t look half bad. Although it lacks the interesting height variations which give Thief missions their character, its visuals range from decent to outright good (particularly the main locations you have to visit – the Hammerite church is beautiful, and Bafford and Ramirez both have some good-looking rooms).

    Here is where the problems start. A disturbing amount of terrain is copy-pasted without introducing variation; rooms and balconies are exact copies of each other, down to the exact location and orientation of their interiors. During the course of the mission, you even meet Raoul the mad opera owner – thrice: once as a beggar, once as an innkeeper, and once as a homeowner (who curiously cohabitates with a small spider). Much of the mission is also designed without rhyme or reason. Apartments are senseless. One house is a single room with an armoire, a bucket of water arrows, an astrology chart and a coin stack on the floor; another one’s master bedroom consists of a badly textured cubbyhole with a dog flap leading to a much larger, completely dark space with two random treasure chests. Yet another seems to be built for dwarves who don’t mind the super-low ceiling. Bizarre features like that abound. There are windows in places where no windows could exist, or they are placed without respect for spatial logic (i.e. close to the floor, or in dubious positions). In some builds, weird architecture is a sign of originality and organic construction (as one would find in many old cities, or in Thief’s surreal level design), but here, it feels haphazard and thoughtless, and it is often unpleasant to look at.

    Gameplay is not much to speak about. AI stand in place mostly with their backs to you, or walk simple point-to-point patrol routes. You are forced into obvious paths by the way the locations are lit, but the guards are either very easy to avoid, or downright impossible – no middle ground involved. The loot goal is fairly steep (you have to steal a ludicrous 8000 out of 9216), and you pretty much have to trawl through most of the map to meet your requirements – all difficulties are identical. I was frustrated, but never properly challenged. At no point during this mission did I feel rewarded for doing something creative or out-of-the-box. This is not something I require from fan missions, but it felt odd that there were essentially no secrets, interesting hiding spaces, or alternate routes into different locations. The architecture is complex enough to look like it might lead to interesting things, but it never does. There is a repetition of the five levers puzzle from Undercover, but all levers are in plain sight in their respective rooms. Actually, most loot pieces are also just lying around. And sometimes, you open the door to a mansion room, and come face to face with two fire elementals. What are they doing there? Are they guests from the Fire Dimension? Why is there a burrick guarding an archway in the graveyard? Visual storytelling could help here, but it looks entirely random. There is no story, no focus to the thing, and the readables are bad jokes or devoid of character (“Recently, there have been several creepy events in our town. I presume a magician is behind it …”). You don’t really need them to make a good mission. Shadow Play doesn’t have any, and it pulls off a great experience through tight gameplay and masterful ambience. But this mission has neither of those.

    This mission is a mystery. It is large, fairly detailed, and obviously took a lot of effort to make. But it is senseless, flat, a chore to play (and sometimes downright unpleasant), and has no cohesion or discernible identity. It feels like those machine learning experiments where you feed an AI 1000 romantic comedies and make it generate something new, except with Thief FMs.

    Atmosphere: 5 // Gameplay: 2 // Story: 2



    The Upward Spiral by spoonman
    This mission was not entered into the competition, but it makes sense to discuss it as another anniversary mission. What begins as a search for the magical book of an ex-Hammerite soon turns into a mixture of eerie surrealism and dumb jokes. It is a peculiar mixture. Like previous spoonman missions (especially The Ravine and King of the Mountain), it is heavy on architecture and mood, and very light on plot. Even the start is non-standard: a stroll through an empty city at twilight which serves little purpose except to set the stage and pull you in. The building you are infiltrating is a labyrinthine affair of interconnected stairwells, rooms, balconies and overlooks. Things are off, and it is left to the player how to interpret the situation while sneaking through the place and looting it of its valuables.

    One gets the impression that the mission is unfinished, or it has been repurposed from a different project. The minuscule loot goal is entirely at odds with the obscene riches of the place. On some occasions, new objectives seem to trigger, but they don’t actually get added to your list. And the few readables have been filled with obscene jokes and gibberish… well, except where it suddenly looks like pointed satire. Was there something else there originally? Who knows. Likewise, stealth has its challenges and rewards, but it is hard to tell if this is careful design or a slapdash affair that sometimes clicks. Again, it is weird as hell. Worth playing for the good parts (and if you are a mission author, for inspiration). Perhaps it should not be taken as seriously as I have done here.

    Atmosphere: 8 // Gameplay: 6 // Story: 2


    Added - nickie

  3. #2953
    Melan, what a treat to read your thoughts here! I have to say, though, that I think you were far too kind to us.. especially on ratings of gameplay, LOL. Something we hope to remedy.

    Hope you will continue to post your thoughts like these on forthcoming missions. Off topic, but had a blast reading your readables in Rose Garden. Just sayin.

  4. #2954
    DromEd Archmage
    Registered: Nov 2010
    Location: Returned to the eternal labor
    Wow... great reviews Melan and... wow... I wasn't expecting my mission to be your favorite!
    Thank you very much! I really feel honnored and I must say that words are missing... Thank you!

  5. #2955
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2014
    Death’s Turbid Veil by nicked


    Garrett’s old friend asks him to find any information about his missing daughter, Marianne, used to work in a posh noble house. Of course, Garrett’s own interests are much more prosaic: some trinkets and gold from family vault at least.

    First hour in a mansion is rather routine mansion-raiding experience: carefully walking on tile floors, uncovering small dirty secrets of local m’lord, searching for secret levers, solving riddles - sometimes easy (like one with pictures), sometimes frustrating (piano)… Things getting worse after visiting vault and finally discovering what really happened to Marianne. Zombies, haunts, tombs, black magic, and, of course, riddles attached.

    The mission looks great: in matters of texturing and visual design, it is a pure technical achievement. However, technical advance has its cost: somewhere (in open environments) framerate is low – it doesn’t significantly affects gameplay (at least on my PC), but still is a bit annoying. I like the music choice – sometimes sad, sometimes tense, sometimes grandiose – that seriously contributes to atmosphere of the entire thing.

    Gameplay-wise, it is a well-masked keyhunt, as many other similar missions: in order to pass to other items or locations, you should find a way in, which is usually one. It is not bad: solutions usually are intuitive and relatively easy (with some small exceptions like piano). Loot goal is rather steep especially on expert.

    Death’s Turbid Veil is rather typical good modern mansion mission: it is a keyhunt – but very well designed and looks very intuitive; the mansion itself isn’t something special – but visually it is among the most stunning in FMs history; it’s predictable (knowing many similar missions) – but, again, it is polished and without any serious bugs.

    Added - nickie

  6. #2956
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2004
    Location: Sweden & Florida
    Quote Originally Posted by The Dark One View Post
    Mman : Good job!

    ---

    No halls, I promise

    King of the Mountain (by Spoonman) is a sorta-prequel of sorts to The Ravine. This time, you assume the role of a prisoner in the Bluerock Prison on the brink of everything falling apart. Winter is coming, food is low, and word on the street is that even the Church has given up on supplying the place. Our hero has been tossed in isolation, but managed to swipe the key. Now, he has to escape.

    This is essentially The Ravine: Mini Edition, but less overtly confusing. Youíre still maneuvering through a mazelike area thatís more focused on an overlapping vertically, with plenty of shadows to hide yourself in but very few places to safely dispose of any bodies. The main differences is that this place relies less on confusing sound to constantly make you feel unsafe, and itís smaller.

    Those of you who are worried that The Ravine and its oddess will be forever ruined can be rest assured that you get no explanation for that mess, but there is something going on at the prison. Itís not hard to figure out, but whatís interesting is that itís mainly told through the environment. Details like a makeshift boxing ring help add to the desolate atmosphere of the place, and the few readable makes sense and help to clear things for those who didnít grasp the environmental side of things. Thereís even a fair bit of black comedy, especially with the ending.

    My main issue with this mission is that the objective is both obscure and easy to short-circuit. Getting out is based on finding a single key, held by a single guard who has a wide patrol route and little to distinguish him from the rest. As a result, itís easy for a player to explore the whole prison, deal with every guard, and have no idea what to do, and also easy for another to stumble on the key in the first fifteen minutes. Itís a petty thing, but it can easily throw the mission off. For all The Ravineís confusion, at least you knew what you were looking for.

    In the end, a solid mission. Recommended, especially if you enjoyed The Ravine.

    Added - nickie
    Zombie door key ??
    Can someone please tell me where the key is to the door to the catacombs or where ever that door leads? I hear Zombies on the other sideÖ It's the room where the holy water is stashed in a box...

    BTW, thedarkmod.com site is down. I just checked. Got a 404...

  7. #2957
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Can't help you I'm afraid, Acolyte6. I also can't immediately find a mission thread but don't have time at the moment to search.

    I'm so sorry everyone who's posted reviews. It's been a difficult year but I will try and catch up with adding the reviews to the OP in the next few days.

  8. #2958
    Quote Originally Posted by Acolyte6 View Post
    Zombie door key ??

    BTW, thedarkmod.com site is down. I just checked. Got a 404...

    It's up at the moment:

    http://forums.thedarkmod.com/index.p...nman-18092017/

  9. #2959
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    And done. Hopefully I've not missed adding a review to the OP but please let me know if I have.

    My thanks for all the reviews.

  10. #2960
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Mine too. And my thanks to nickie for taking on this job!

  11. #2961

    In The Black (TDM)

    Get it? It’s a money joke.

    In the Black (by VanishedOne) is a mission that places you in the role of the best of the best, the spymaster’s spymaster. This time, our hero isn’t after riches, but taxes, namely the finances of Lord Jaskin for reasons never explained, other than that Very Nice People want them. Not that that is of any concern, since you’ll be too busy gawking at this guy’s house.

    This mission is similar to that rich relative you invites you over once a year in theory for a vacation but also so he can show off the new Picasso that he got this year. This house is one of the largest and finest in The Dark Mod, with modern lights and the sheer sense of richness filling the place. The author admitted that the mansion was in part a set of test rooms that he linked together, which almost makes one think of stumpy's "Lord Dufford’s," which also began life as a test. While this mission somewhat suffers from the sheer size issue of its predecessor, it’s far better connected and populated, with quite a few guards lurking the hallways. The new technology, sadly, also comes with spherical lights that make this deafening buzzing noise, which even lasts into menus.

    Difficulty-wise, it’s fairly tricky, less so due to hard guard patrols or lights, and more to the fact that much of the loot is hidden or concealed. Hints are sparse, and while the loot goal is optional, if you want to break it you’re going to have to find them. The problem is that some of the hints are vague or nonexistent. Getting access to a large chunk of your loot goal requires you to take note of one random readable among a group of readables with no use. There’s another brief horror sequence that’s very well done, but can also be skipped entirely by semi-creative means...not that you get any hints that this is possible. A shame, since I’ve never seen this idea used in a mission before.

    There is a story to be told here, but interestingly it’s more indirect. If you find the hints and piece them together, congrats, but it’s not required for the mission, which I liked. Nothing major compared to some dark secrets in The Dark Mod, but it’s nice not to have everything spelled out. The mission also has one of the best interpretations of a Builder chapel I’ve seen.

    All in all, a nice, fancy mission. Could have been tightened up a bit, but good. Recommended, just be aware of the quirks.

    And I apologize for the long review gaps, I'm busy and my backlog isn't as full as I'd like it to be. Hopefully I can be a bit more consistent for a bit.

    Added - nickie

  12. #2962

    Sir Talbot's Collateral (TDM)

    Blackmail is such an ugly word.

    Sir Talbot’s Collateral (by the combo of Baal and Bikerdude) is an excellent little mansion mission that sets our cautious hero against the titular Talbot. On the surface, he’s clean, but he’s trolling about for a professional thief, and a demonstration of our hero’s skills is called for. And hey, if a little bit of “collateral” is found, all the better…

    This mission is quite well-made, and very non-linear for a mansion mission. Once you get access to the wine cellar (which can happen very early), you essentially have access to most of the mansion, via vents and secret passages. On my replay I was worried that you could break the mission this way, but there's enough separation to ensure that even experienced players will have to duck through the halls.

    Difficulty-wise, it can be tricky, as knockouts are limited (although only Expert will fail you if you exceed it) and guards are plentiful. You have plenty of places to duck into, but expect some close calls. One oddly placed light in the kitchen gives you a little too much darkness right in the center, even though guards should be able to see you crouching right there! But that was the only odd light I found.

    The loot goal is fair, if tight, but higher difficulties will require digging in nooks and crannies to find what’s needed. I also sometimes had an issue with guards being alerted seemingly at random. I would put out a light or swipe something, and they would walk past it four times before noticing that something was amiss on the fifth. It didn’t seem to increase my stealth score, so I assume it was either a bug or a misunderstanding on my part about the alert system.

    This mission is quite fun. The blue ambient light makes it look different, and there is much to be found for the curious thief, including optional objectives. The readables are done well and provide useful hints on how to proceed. What I mainly liked was that the mission rewards, but does not demand, exploration. It’s certainly needed on higher difficulties, but if you’re playing it casually, you don’t need to dig everywhere...but you’ll miss out on secrets and equipment. I think this is actually a good intro mission for new players, since it hits a lot of high points but doesn’t crush if you miss things.

    Highly Recommended (was just Recommended but I decided to bump it up like a year and a half after writing it)

    Added - nickie

  13. #2963

    The Gatehouse (TDM)

    I have nothing witty to say here.

    The Gatehouse (by Bikerdude and GoldChocobo), is an atypical mission. For one, it’s technical a conversion of a Doom 3 map. For another, this time you aren’t playing as a thief, but as Matthias, a Builder acolyte who’s reaching the climax of a year-long pilgrimage to track down a sword touched by the Master Builder himself. Obviously it’s not just sitting in some guy’s attic, but deep in an abandoned castle dubbed “The Gatehouse,” forcing our actual hero to track it down.

    This mission stands out from the norm in a third way: It’s mainly a puzzle mission. The higher difficulties do toss a few revenants at you to slip by, but for the most part you’re solving puzzles and dodging death traps. It’s all done quite well, and while you don't have many brain-teasers (barring a mirror puzzle which can be somewhat brute forced with a little observation), you’ll have to search and think a bit, as well as quickly react to the latest challenge. Some are fairly creative too, such as one of the final hallways. And the final challenge is one of the most entertaining (if at times tricky) challenges in The Dark Mod.

    The mission also has excellent atmosphere, conveying a crumbling, haunted ruin, with dark crawl spaces that you’ll be watching in case something nasty climbs out. It’s genuinely creepy, with hints of what happened to transform it into the mess it is today waiting for you if you’re willing to look. It’s a minor element, but executed well. There are a couple of issues that can kill the immersion a bit, such as spiked balls not always hurting you but instead landing on your head so perfectly you’d think that your head was a flat metal plate, but these are few and far between.

    All in all, an excellent tomb crawler. Perhaps I’m biased, since I’ve been wanting one of these ever since I played Samhain Night, but Recommended.

    Added - nickie

  14. #2964
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2014

    Thief's Den 3: The Heart of Lone Salvation

    It might be because i am very new to the Fan Mission scene in both Thief and The Dark Mod, but this was the first mission to open my eyes on how much you can tell a story just with Map making.

    Normal Thief and even the other FMs i had played up until this point had elaborated briefings, dialogues and other "higher production" values that people use to convey a story on whats going on in the map.

    TD3: Heart of Lone Salvation had almost none of these besides the introductory slideshow + text, which were pretty much unrelated to the main mission. I just loved how a seemly mundane mansion mission turned into a depressing story of a man that was blind to his surroundings and his actions. I also really enjoyed how Farrell (the protagonist) reacts to these revelations and acts accordingly (all through the aquisition of new objectives), thus hes not just being a blind thief.

    The way the map is layed out, with long and narrow corridors, blocked off parts of the house and the spiral staircase that leads to *you know who* all transmit the sense of decadence and despair that reflects the story found in the letters and books surrounding the titular gemstone. The foggy exterior is just a icing on top.

    I am sure there are many missions that follow the similar formula and there might be even ones that do this exact style better, but Fidcal's map is the first one that did it for me and really peaked my already increasing will to test Fan Missions!

    Fidcal doesnt seems to be active anymore, but i am giving him thanks for those awesome moments anyway!

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by BR4ZIL; 1st Apr 2020 at 00:20.

  15. #2965
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Up to date again, I think. Thanks guys.

  16. #2966

    A Matter of Hours (TDM)

    Quote Originally Posted by nickie View Post
    Up to date again, I think. Thanks guys.
    Nono, thank you. I'm glad to see that this thread still gets attention.

    -------------------

    In honor of the speedbuild origins, I present a speed build review. Go.

    A Matter of Hours is Springheel’s latest mission, meant to show that you too, can make a mission quickly. The Bowley Boys have got their hands on a valuable crown, making them a prime target for Corbin, our hero. Unfortunately, a raid is planned, meaning he only has a matter of hours to sneak in swipe it. This does not mean a time limit, but the mission is hard enough.

    Springheel’s other missions tend to be more story-based affairs focusing more on unconventional objectives, like tax records or humiliating gang leaders. This time it’s much simpler: No readables, no plot, just swoop in and grab it. The mission is well done, with good lighting and enough junk lying around to make it seem like the player is in an industrial warehouse clumsily converted into a hideout. It’s not a major part of the mission, but for something made it six hours it looks good.

    The mission is also quite hard. Part of this is due to a blind spot or two, such as the one separating the warehouse proper from the hideout, forcing you to duck into the light and pray that no one is there. Some of the loot is also beneath bright lights, and getting at it will all but force you to either have excellent timing, or use your two knockouts (on the highest difficulty), on two particular guards. You will still need to have excellent timing if you do this. A challenge is fine, but the mission came off to me as very tight, and giving little room for misused equipment and knockouts. This is probably due to how quickly it was made, but nonetheless I found it a little vexing.

    Exploration is rewarded well, with tools scattered about for the careful thief willing to look in the piles of junk. There were also some reports of performance issues, but I’m pleased to say that my four-year-old piece of junk that sounded like it has a chainsaw embedded in it and was probably clogged with so much dust that there were new forms of life growing in it could run it fine with almost no noticeable slowdown, nothing more than I’ve gotten in far larger missions.

    All in all, a fun little challenge, especially for those who want a bit more careful stealth, and for those who want to know how simple it is to make a solid mission. Recommended.

    Final time for writing: About thirteen minutes (and last minute edits that I didn't notice until I posted it on the TDM forums and now on here, a little over a year after I first posted it. I guess I'm not that fast after all.)

    Added - nickie

  17. #2967
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2014
    TDM FM: Requiem by Gelo "Moonbo" Fleisher

    I returned to Dark Mod after a years long hiatus. The last TDM FM I played was Penny Dreadful 3 (and I hope there would be released PD 4 - at least, in distant future) when it was released, and after that remarkable mission I abandoned this game entirely until now. So I decided to pay some of my old TDM debts including Volta missions (next to play) and, of course, two Moonbo missions. I decided to split my thoughts of those two into two posts each devoted to different mission. So I would speak about A House of Locked Secrets afterwards, and now concentrate my attention solely on Requiem.

    Requiem begins in the city section, where the protagonist seeks to steal an important document from the Church of the Builders during the funeral of and requiem for a local priest. The urban part is not very large, but it has its own caches, hideouts and side quests, and, as it turns out later, those quests are intertwined with the main storyline. Subsequently, after the plot twist, the locations change, and we find ourselves deep underground, revealing the secrets of the Builders (Darkmod faction which is seemingly analogous to the Hammerites, but it is quite different) and their mysterious opponents who lived here until the founding of the City. I would not retell all these twists and turns of the "archaeological action", I would say that the mission begins to resemble the Lost City and Bonehoard missions from TDP.

    Saying about the plot, I more liked the first half of Requiem, where the plot is presented in hints and equivocations, while the closer mission is to the end, the more “head-on” the flow of important information becomes. In addition, the thief who decided to save the world is not very convincing to me - it looked for me a bit artificial and forced. But from the gameplay point of view, the second half of the mission is just more interesting - it has interesting puzzles, for example with those crowns, almost invisible opponents (barely visible in bright lights and totally non-visible in the dark, which puts player into interesting choice - in order to see them he or she should keep the lights on, and at the same time avoid enemy to notice him or her), and also interesting spatial acrobatic puzzles. At the same time, the author constantly changes the conditions in which the hero finds himself, due to which the freshness of perception is preserved.

    The puzzles here are mostly logical and make sense. There are a lot of environmental puzzles in this mission when and where you should "read" the terrain - in both city and underground sections. Some tasks requiring the object manipulation are intuitive and simple - may be, even too simple, especially near the end. In any case, it was joyful and highly memorable experience, full of interesting puzzles and challenges, that immediately hooked me to The Dark Mod again and also to Requiem's sequel. But it is a different story.

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by michael a; 9th May 2020 at 16:57.

  18. #2968
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2014
    TDM FM: A House of Locked Secrets by Gelo "Moonbo" Fleisher

    I liked Requiem and so decided to give a shot to its indirect sequel featured the same hero named Bolen after some time. It is not single mission but small campaign with the introductory mission and main event. After the events of Requiem Bolen decided to completely change his profession and became devoted in Builders' Church. His abilities to communicate with the spirit realm earned him a position of someone like paranormal investigator who can contact ghosts, speaking directly with them. The first mission is some kind of introduction and delicately teaches player how to do so by travelling between "real" and "spirit" worlds and how to use objects in these different worlds. Those skills are very useful in the second mission which is the heart of the game.

    This mechanics of walking between worlds somehow remind me of Shalebridge Cradle from Thief: Deadly Shadows but here it is the integral part of gameplay: by frobbing the specific object with Holy Symbol we teleport to a different version of reality and by doing so we can interact with people already died and can change it by performing specific actions. It feels refreshing and changes the "usual" Thief gameplay experience.

    The second mission where and when Bolen puts these abilities into practice is one of the best (within last 5-6 years) missions in the subgenre of "haunted house with dark secrets" - along with Scarlet Cascabel (for Thief Gold). It features big and detailed manor where happened and is now happening terrible things and all of it is connected to misty and mysterious past. Comparing to classics (Ominous Bequest and Rowena's Curse), it is (as well as Cascabel) more open and wide and less constrained by keyhunt. You can complete the four main tasks in whatever order as well as some side quests. At the same time plot doesn't stand still, but constantly thickens and develops in accordance with the completing of main tasks.

    Compared to Cascabel, by the way, this mission is somewhat smaller, plus subjectively, I’m a little more comfortable in the world of Garrett than in reality of Dark Mod. But here are more interesting and fresh ideas for gameplay, while puzzles are slightly more intuitive. The point of view of a “Builder” investigator (and a former thief who has not abandoned some of his habits - for example, to steal another people's property) is also somewhat refreshing. I played it for 5-6 hours and still miss 1,3 thousand of loot and almost half of 15 secrets. It is one of the best TDM missions (and one of the best Thief missions) I have played and I'm sure I'll return.

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by michael a; 9th May 2020 at 17:00.

  19. #2969

    A Score to Settle (TDM)

    I don’t have anything to settle, really.

    A Score to Settle is probably Springheel’s best mission. This time, Corbin isn’t after something as prosaic as money (although there’s plenty of that), but vengeance. In the time he’s been gone (see The Builder’s Influence), the Bowley Boys have gained a new leader, Sykes, who’s running a vicious ship that has left his gang in charge and one of Corbin’s fences dead. Just killing him would make the gang situation worse, so instead a fair bit of humiliation is called for…

    A Score to Settle is a very urban mission. Instead of fancy mansions, you’re slipping through the mean streets and slums and breaking into a gang hideout. Everything feels grimy and dim, with uneven, stained roads and small tunnels giving the impression that you're creeping down back alleys. It all fits the sordid (and somewhat funny, honestly) nature of what you’re trying to do here. It’s more story-based than most missions, and while actually breaking the scenario is hard, it is a little too easy to, just via natural curiosity, to complete most of the mission before ever meeting your contact.

    Difficulty-wise, it’s quite fair. Streets are wide open and made for sneaking, and even the closer confines of Sykes’ hideout give you room to maneuver. The loot goal is high, but optional, and most of it is found in one place. I do wish that there were a few more places around the city to slip into for loot, since that's my favorite part of city missions, but that’s a mild gripe. The difficulty only really shoots up with the final sequence, which is bound to send ghosters into fits of rage. That being said, it’s done well, and creates some good chaos and confusion.

    There are also a few other little elements of this mission that I like, such as a trap in Sykes’ hideout, as well as how the mission uses the environment to allow you to progress. I admit one needed jump is a little too high, resulting in some (like me) seeing it, trying it, and then assuming that you need to do something else. Some of these elements make it a little hard to recommend to someone new to the mod, since it requires a little familiarity with The Dark Mod.

    But all in all, an excellent mission. Recommended.

    Added - nickie

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