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View Poll Results: For the Thief 2 20th Anniversary Contest (TMA20), which would you prefer?

126. You may not vote on this poll
  • Authors are limited to only stock and stock-derived resources (like with the TDP20 Contest)

    90 71.43%
  • Authors are allowed to use any resources they wish

    36 28.57%
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Results 151 to 157 of 157

Thread: Thief 2 20th Anniversary Contest format - we need your vote!

  1. #151
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2015
    Quote Originally Posted by Judith View Post
    Not really, it's a mental exercise and being honest with yourself. That's what writers do: they trim out the excess, until all that's left is the stuff necessary. Same thing happens in video games when you're narrowing down the scope.
    Of course, but that's not the same as assuming a Thief FM or a custom map for some other game was made to be 8 hours long because of filler content made purposely just to prolong the playthrough. Maybe there are authors who do that, in which case I'm speaking just for myself and those who don't.

    That wasn't meant to be the focus point of my message anyway. My point was to show you the a bit too egocentric part about your approach to improving Thief FMs design. There is probably not a small amount of players who enjoy long missions or convoluted level design, and that's still not even considering what the authors actually like to build. There is a place for constructive criticism, which if you're being honest will be biased as well, but you're basically expecting most authors to change their whole design philosophies.

  2. #152
    What people like to build is kind of secondary issue, a set dressing. The layout always starts as rather abstract blockout anyway. So, getting from convoluted time-sinks to good design is offensive, because you'd have to change/learn something?

  3. #153
    Registered: Mar 2017
    I voted for stock resources. The latest contest has proven that the best way to honour the Thief games is to keep the missions as close to the original as possible. I don't see any reason why we should change that.

  4. #154
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2015
    Just because you see something as good design doesn't mean the author will or should see it the same way. It's not offensive to think otherwise but it is a bit narrow-minded. There may be some valuable substance in your critique, but you've done a poor job so far in conveying it. And if you really think what author prefers to make is of secondary importance then you shouldn't be surprised about your opinions not being received well.

  5. #155
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    I get the feeling that that Judith is not too concerned with how his opinion is received.

  6. #156
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by czyys View Post
    There may be some valuable substance in your critique, but you've done a poor job so far in conveying it.
    Yeah, that's pretty much it. Let me give it a shot. Judith, feel free to correct me if I'm way off.

    Let's imagine a really simple scenario that would isolate and illustrate one of Judith's main points.

    Imagine a simple, uniform, circular room with ten identical doors evenly spread around the perimeter of the room, each one identically lit with plain white light. Each door has an identical ambient hum when you walk near it. Only one door leads out of the room. How do you get out of the room?

    In this base case, it's a tedious exercise of trial and error. You just randomly open doors until you find the right one.

    Now let's introduce some subtle variables. (Important point: I am NOT talking floating objective markers or quest arrows or big green signs pointing at the right door. We're talking subtle variables.)

    • We'll light 3 of the doors with a slightly brighter, slightly more yellowish hue.
    • We'll give 3 of the doors slightly different shaped door knobs.
    • We'll give 3 of the doors a slightly different, maybe slightly louder, ambient hum.

    Now assign these variables to the doors like a ven diagram, where some -- but not all -- of these new variables overlap. Only one door has a different shaped knob and a different light and a different ambient hum when you walk near it.

    (Again, it's important that each of these individual variables provide only subtle differences from the other doors.)

    Now when a player is placed at the center of the room, he will, with just a little observation and consideration, naturally be drawn towards the right door to exit the room. His eyes and ears will naturally find the door or doors that are in subtle contrast to the others.

    You might need to playtest to get the right variables or contrast of variables, but eventually you can get it so most players will pick the right door either on their first try or at least their second or third tries. Because not ALL players will intuit the right door, despite the clues, you can put more overt clues behind wrong doors. Clues that suggest ideas like, "Notice the different light" or "Notice the different door knobs". (Yet again, subtlety is important. I wouldn't outright say these things, but I'd give clues that are highly suggestive of them.)

    The point is that through subtle environment clues, the player is naturally guided in the right direction. In this way, players experience less confusion, less trial and error tedium, and feel less like their time has been wasted.

    The subtlety is important because in an ideal scenario, most players may not even realize they've been guided towards the right door. If anything, they get a tiny dopamine buzz for believing that on their own they've intuited the correct door to exit the room.

    In Thief, of course, you might have 3 possible exits. And these doors are figurative; in thief maybe one "door" is a window you can mantle into, and another "door" is a wooden beam ripe for a rope arrow.

    Anybody still reading? *sigh*

    Anyways... I think it's an interesting pedagogical exercise because some of the most talented mission authors may do this sort of thing without realizing it. So I imagine for them it might be challenging to articulate to others what's going on in their heads as they construct certain scenarios.

  7. #157
    Even before that example, there are more general things to consider. Mostly that you can use the same tricks painters and photographers use to guide your eyes. And that is by leading lines or shapes, light, and contrast. Typically, we scan images from left to right, and downwards. Light, strong colors, contrast, and patterns we see (waves, pointy shapes, etc.) attract our attention, while the opposite things make us move our look away. You can use that in modeling, textures and materials, and level lighting to make the player "intuitively" look at things that are important.

    Second thing is what you described above. The example seems a bit complicated, since players should be able to identify right away which doors are interactive and which aren't, but yeah, establishing a visual language is one of the most important things. There's either a convention used already, or you have to teach it and use consistently in your map. Doors are good example, as there's a sort of convention in games already: doors which are flat, or don't have handles or doorknobs, are not interactive / are dead ends. Thief uses different flat textures, games like Dishonored go even further, as they use the same set of steel curtains in all doorways throughout the game. Quite a few FM makers, and some long-time veterans among them, either don't recognize this as a rule, or ignore it for the sake of being "realistic".

    Quite some time ago, I played a mission, where there was this narrow street or canal section, very well-lit and overlooked by a guard above, with a door at the end. The door had a handle/doorknob. Guard behavior was pretty tight, but I finally managed to get to the door while he was looking away, only to discover that this is a dead end, and the door is unfrobable. In this slightly larger context, the author wasn't aware of concept of affordance, namely that we make assumptions about what objects and environment can offer us (how they're used and what for) just by looking at it. This situation looked like a challenge for the player to overcome (very short window of opportunity to get there undetected, door with handle, so it leads somewhere), possibly with some reward behind the door.

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