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Thread: Thief: The Dark Project 20th Anniversary Contest: RESULTS! Mar 1 2019

  1. #76
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Lord G

    I have a simple job planned for this evening. Break into a guarded mansion, steal another fat nobleman's priceless trinket, and leave quietly. Well, almost. This is a surprisingly high-concept mission which evokes the tasteless, gaudy atmosphere of Lord Bafford’s... with a surreal tone and a dark undercurrent. While simple in architecture, quite a lot of creativity has gone into the look and feel of the mission, and the detail-work is rather nice.

    There is also a story which is delivered expertly – at least until an unnecessary, on-the-nose cutscene which spells things out a bit too much (“show, don’t tell” comes to mind). There are some gameplay issues. Stealth bottlenecks are unreasonably challenging, and the loot goals are extra-steep. There is something odd about the mansion layout, too, which necessitates way too much backtracking through an enormous outside garden. For all that, it is entertaining, and has some really tasteless interiors in the best sense.

    ********

    This mission felt vast in size but was unfortunately rather empty. Much of the gameplay consisted of traversing across the entire map in order to find a key in order to progress. It seems as if only half of the mansion was actually accessible, and what was explorable was surprisingly devoid of challenge. Originally, the expert difficulty loot requirement was quite high but was later patched. However, this "patch" consisted of simply putting an item at the end of the level that was worth more by itself than the loot requirement, meaning this requirement does not add any additional difficulty and is completely irrelevant. Most of the AIs were places in a single room with no intended way to effectively sneak past them, which is a strange design choice. These things having been said, there were parts of the mission which I found enjoyable. The conversation witnessed in the cave and the plot twist it reveals is interesting. Much of the loot was fun to seek due to its interesting placement. While I did not find this particularly enjoyable, I believe that it could have been better if the above criticism had been addressed.

    ********

    Lord G had much potential. First impressions are promising, with a vast and beautiful mansion and strong ambiance. Unfortunately, it becomes evident that large areas of the mission are unfinished, with extremely low levels of architectural detail and no interesting guard patrols. Progression through the mission is more or less linear and depends on finding an obscure switch and following somewhat ambiguous instructions. Perhaps the most glaring flaw is that it is very easy to put the mission into an unwinnable state (the author provided patches to fix this, which is commendable but I played the original version).
    Despite all this, Lord G has some strong points. There are some good looking areas with clever details (the ball room and the top floor living areas stand out). and the mission maintains a mysterious atmosphere throughout. The plot twist that occurs later in the levels was actually surprising and felt sort of like the Thief FM equivalent of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
    I hope that Lord G receives an overhaul by its author. With more work, this could be a great FM.

    ********

    The interior of the mansion was very underdeveloped, and the plot was essentially incomprehensible. However, the exterior was impressive, especially the east-side, and the translucent doors were interesting from an aesthetic and gameplay standpoint. Neither the worst nor most disappointing FM I have ever played, and obviously made with good intentions.

  2. #77
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Lost Among The Forsaken

    Lost Among the Forsaken is quite clearly the best Old Quarter mission I've ever played. If you love getting lost in ruined cityscapes with zombies as company, this mission is 100% for you. The Old Quarter has never looked this good and sounded this spooky, with some very awesome sound manipulation that makes it sound like the mission is using custom sounds when it's not. The work on stock-derived ruined textures is also quite amazing here. This very much feels like a mission that uses a ton of custom assets.

    The layout is very interesting, with many ways to reach the main objectives. The readables are all great and I never had any trouble finding my way around or finding little secrets referenced in journals or letters. The mission features a human-populated area with incredible atmosphere that makes you want to stay there for hours. There is a lot of subtle scripting as well in this area, making the whole situation feel that much more realistic and tense. You can also buy a contract to find items scattered around the quarter, encouraging exploration even more.

    ********

    This is a masterpiece of atmosphere that can be felt only minutes into play. This is one of my personal faves of the missions I've played, and I typically don't even like undead-style missions, which is quite a testimony to how well-crafted this world was built. Not only is it visually stunning, you took great care to work out the AI motions, conversations, and speech which added to the immersion. Also, your use of "new" AI was unexpected and often funny.. or scary. The way you built the suspense leading up to the end were wonderful.. the lighting, sound, readables.. all of them working together to create a truly immersive and tense experience. Your mission has a high replayability value, at least for me, because I missed a lot of nooks and crannies I suspect because I was often so scared I had to run away!. Fantastic work on this, thank you!

    ********
    Jesus christ that was terrifying at times.

    Atmosphere was SOLID, fantastic detail, sound-design, and most importantly, enemy-design; someone has definitely been taking notes from old Half-Life horror mods. The main objective treasure room was horrifying. Wouldn't want to get entombed in there...

    Gameplay was...disorienting. I think this added to the experience, but was at least slightly frustrating at times. The enemy design is the saving-grace here.

    Story was very well executed. The atmosphere really just amplified it here.

    ********
    This is an exceptional mission in every respect, even the title immediately captured my interest and made me want to play it. The atmosphere here is top notch, and I can't say enough good things about it. The architecture, textures, sounds, as well as the debris scattered around the map, all serve to create a fine sense of emptiness and foreboding. I felt that atmosphere right from the start, but especially.when I reached the edge of the drop and looked out over the city.. there, it was thick and palpable. I got a delicious shiver down my spine, part tension and part excitement, and I couldn't wait to explore this beautiful map. At the same time I felt a sense of dread of what might lie in wait for me.. a perfect combination! I wasn't disappointed. The layout of the town, the tight, narrow streets, the twists and turns, the numerous paths and hidden passageways, all served to create a maze-like experience that was surprisingly never frustrating. Instead I was excited by each new discovery, uncovering yet another hidden route, building, or room, each of which was filled with ambience and often with pertinent and well-made readables.

    The mission has a good story which is well told, and the readables are very well written and often quite humorous. Many of them offer wonderful little glimpses into the life of the denizens of the sealed quarter, while others add to the general feeling of foreboding and dread. For example, who are these tall men that are spoken of with such fear? You don't know, at the start, but you know you should be afraid.

    The gameplay is top notch, keeping me engaged and on my toes the entire time. The AI are just numerous enough, and so well placed, that it is a constant challenge to proceed, while always feeling the desire to look over your shoulder, but I found this to be just right to create tension and excitement. I loved the flaming zombies, and the guy up on the heights. The altered speech of the AI was both chilling and eerie, and added greatly to the atmosphere of doom and dread. I was scared most of the time, and that's the way I like it. One of the best missions of the contest, and hands down one of the best missions I've ever played!

  3. #78
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Madness Of Wolfgang Handspiegel

    Very short mission that tried to survive with hidden switch and key hunt. And this is a pity! The story is a bit cliche but still not boring but above all, the atmosphere rocks as hell! I recommend the author to keep his visual style since it worked perfectly but in matter of gameplay, this is a thing to improve (trying visual effects, triggers for puzzles or just sticking to classic navigation).

    ********

    Well, I played this sometime after your other mission - The Lost City of Gazing Glass - and was pleasantly surprised. As said previously, you obviously have a knack for detail and this mission proves it. I loved the telltale signs of the Trickster's influence throughout the mansion - from the cracks in the walls to... gaps in reality in the bathroom.

    Reading through the diaries and piecing together what happened also helped to sell the uncomfortable atmosphere of the level, although the end was rather an anti-climax after the buildup. I also wish the level was a smidgen bigger, just to further realize this mission's title.

    Still, this is easily the better of your two submissions and - as a huge fan of Constantine's Mansion and its surrealist styling - I hope it gets the recognition it deserves!

    ********
    A short, grotesque speed-build. This twisted mansion mission – a few rooms, really – manages to cram in more gameplay and discovery than its physical size might suggest. The theme is well realized, with a visual imagination – although some misaligned textures and other minor annoyances crop up. I am conflicted about the gameplay. Sneaking is tricky for ghosting, and offers a reasonably hard challenge for skilled players, but has just a little too much tile abuse for comfort (which slows down play substantially). Structurally, it is a key hunt. However, the mission is full of inventive little details, and has a brief but bizarre story that’s quite fun.

    ********

    This is a fun little mission with a unique feel to it. The textures were simple but in keeping with the OMs. It's a small mission, and there aren't many AI, but the choices in AI and their patrol routes made for a fun experience. I like that the AI were principally creatures from the maw, always one of my favorite parts of the original mission, so I felt right at home here. It was not always clear how to proceed and I needed to hunt around quite a bit to figure out what to do next. That detracted a bit from gameplay, but on the other hand there were a few clever bits that made finding them worthwhile. The story is simple but classic, and the resolution was satisfying. This was a nicely done entry, especially for a first time author. I applaud you for making two missions for the contest, and for choosing to submit your first ever missions for a contest, especially one as large as this. Looking forward to seeing many more missions from you in the future.

  4. #79
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Making a Profit

    Very well made. It is not the best city of this contest, but then the competition there is essentially insurmountable. Personally, I prefer a narrative that is less expository, and city gameplay that is less scripted and linear. Aside from these features, it is fantastic. I imagine those who have the opposite preference will have close to a perfect experience.

    ********
    Making a Profit may very well be the most ambitious first mission since Pukey's Morbid Curiosity. Not only are Making a Profit's scale and scope very high, but all the scripting behind the scenes is just mind-boggling.

    This mission presents you with a massive cityscape dominated by a mountain with a manor on top. The lady's presence looms over you the entire time since you can see the mountain from most areas in town, which makes for a perfect landmark. The cityscape is quite interesting and open, with many streets that can take you wherever you want. They're overall fairly basic but feel good to traverse. There is also some Roman architecture sprinkled here and there, most notably near the lady's manor. The sheer amount of locations you'll visit is also staggering: a cathedral, a manor, a cemetery and other nice places such as caves, and they're all interesting and well designed.

    This mission is overall packed with stuff to do and the scripting is absolutely stellar. The mission has a few light puzzles that are interesting to solve and never overstay their welcome. The cemetery puzzle in particular has no less than four solutions to it, with one of them being very funny and very clever. The story is a bit generic but the way it's conveyed is very good and I had a few good laughs, most notably with the nature of that Anax item you need to steal. One issue I had with the mission is that the loot goal is quite steep, I had a hard time reaching the objective on Expert.

    Overall I think Making a Profit is a stellar debut and definitely an incredible mission that everyone needs to play.

    ********

    Perhaps the best game-play of the contest. Logical map. Conversations were spot on. Good puzzles. Never lost or at a loss. Just felt empowered and sneaky! Architecture was on the weak side and it did suffer a tad from just being bigger than it needed to be but didn't diminish the fun factor

    ********
    What a fitting mission this was for my last-played of the contest. Firstly, the story of this mission managed to be both original and captivating, taking turns and venturing into unexpected territory. This was aided by the variety of custom voices and conversations, which is a mark of quality. The chase after taking the hand was excellent! Later, the ritual was fun to play through and required both thought and planning to sabotage with stealth in mind. Through these examples and many others, the time and care put into this mission was certainly made evident. Very well done.

  5. #80
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Mother Redcap's Last Request

    This is a simple beginner mission that does nothing really wrong overall. Classic manor with a surrounding garden and some guards to keep watch over the Lord's property. I liked the fact that there is a short sewer with thieves under the house. Roombrushing is quite sloppy but this is arguably one of the hardest aspects of DromEd.
    The mission flows pretty well and offers a few different ways to get to your objective, which is how it should be done. The story itself was also quite nice if classic, the readables were well written overall. Hopefully Swiz sticks around and makes more missions!

    ********

    Uniform texturing on large open areas, especially interior section like the entry staircase, make it hard to hide boxy and symmetrical brushwork. By OM standards, the architecture and interior design are about as dull and spartan as Ramirez's Mansion -- many rooms contain only a couple of objects.
    However, the gazebo was quite nice, the guard patrols were balanced and well-connected, the story actually made sense and progressed with appropriate pacing. If the post plot-twist section had been extended a bit, and the brushwork and object placement embellished somewhat, this would be fine competition for an OM.

    ********

    Very simple mission obviously made by a beginner. Blocky architecture and basic gameplay, but it doesn't make any major design mistakes and is decent enough. Average mission overall.

    ********

    Fun, solid FM. Boxy, gives the "First FM feel" but no problems with execution. Not a hard mission by any stretch. Good number of readables, and there was a bit more to the plot than I expected of it. Good work for a first outing, author should keep up the hobby!

  6. #81
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Order of the Dew

    Bite-sized thieving - even if small, the level is nicely detailed and populated. Honestly the small scale is about the only real criticism I can direct towards this mission. Seeing the tight streets and guard patrols got me excited, which then led to me wanting more once I realized how small the level was.

    Regardless, doesn't change the fact that what is here is quality.

    ********

    The world is too bright... starting right in front of an hostile AI is certainly not a good idea and we learn nothing about the story. There is nothing to understand, to know, to learn. Just an easy job and nothing more. This is too bad since the city was a good base.

    ********

    This mission was pretty short but still fun. The urban architecture was pleasant and I'd have liked to see more of the mission downtown, with more reachable roofs. Nevertheless, I'll point out a big gameplay mistake I didn't see in other missions : putting your starting point just in front of an enemy guard. Even if it's possible to avoid him quickly, it's not something you should do in a mission, for the first seconds of the game are used to check your inventory, weapons, tips, objectives, map and look around you. Having a guard just right now is not very fair IMO. But let's continue...

    I quite liked the ambience of the mission, at least, I'd say I enjoyed its classical T1 feeling. Stealing a scepter is quite common but the place to rob was rather challenging, and it's probably the mission who forced me the most to use my elemental arrows (water above all). It makes it rather hard to sneak, and I think there were too many AIs sometimes in some places (the tavern off the top of my head). I was also frustrated by the chimney grate in the dining room with the 2 mages, for they went in Alert 3 just when I opened it. I wish the author could find a way to prevent that T1 game flaw to happen, it would have made the robbery of the room fairer.

    As for the story, I found it quite minimalist and simple, but the mission is as short, so I guess the author didn't have much time, so I cannot blame him/her for that. It was typically T1, and it was quite the style of missions I enjoy playing.

    So it's a nice little mission, which would still deserve a little more polishing, so that it becomes longer and bigger, with more depth in its story and more roofs again ! A little less people in that pub and longer guard patrols would also be nice. For sure I'll replay the mission then !

    ********

    It's got great architecture, lightning and sound. The gameplay is fine, but the whole FM is very short, to the point of being a bit unsatisfactory. The few notes there were have very nice writing, but most of them (lying all over the map) were unreadable. This is unfortunate, because they are interesting and I would like to learn more about the secret society. This is an awesome FM nonetheless, just feels too short compared to some others in the contest.

  7. #82
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Rose Garden

    This is, hands down, the best FM I've ever played. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this flawless city mission, it does everything incredibly right.

    Melan's depiction of Hightowne is dark and tall, with several gothic and industrial-looking buildings. Castles, courts, greenhouses, gaudy palaces, oriental/Calendra's Cistern-looking spires, pubs, overlook restaurants and plazas... this mission has it all. The winding streets and tall structures create a very oppressive atmosphere, which is reinforced by the choice of textures and especially the use of sound. The titular Rose Garden is a moody and sinister location that sees very little human activity, and is quite unsettling in its own right.

    As usual with Melan, you will climb everywhere in this mission. While relatively linear and funneling until you reach your contact in Rose Garden, the mission drastically opens up later and you can go pretty much everywhere you like. The mission loops around quite a lot and it is easy to get disorientated until you get your bearings. The player starting in the middle of town also contributes to this. The main objective with the hired muscle is quite fun and interesting, and works relatively well overall (though making a hard save before ringing the bells is a good idea).

    Story-wise, this is also quite flawless with a dark, pulpy noir story and excellent reading material. Every stone in Hightowne has a story to tell. Often dark, sometimes mysterious but always interesting. As you can imagine, I had an absolute blast playing this mission and I cannot not give it the best score. A masterpiece.

    ********

    Finished, almost 3 hours of gameplay, What an amazing experience i had with this one, The map is giant and so beautiful, an insane level design that made the scenarios stand out in a very dynamic way, warm atmospheres everywhere, sweet enjoyable gameplay, interesting readables, ambient sounds well chosen and well placed, beautiful constructions that creates a magical scenario. Gabor thank you so much for making this gemstone, i hope you´ll do more beauties like this one for thief 1/G or thief 2
    THANK YOU !!!

    ********

    Too mazelike, too obscure. Very atmospheric, but man does this mission make me feel stupid.

    ********

    Personally, I think Disorientation edges out Rose Garden as Melan's best, it being both slightly more elegant and somewhat more clearly laid out than this one -- the forums indicate that many people are struggling to find the 'correct' way into the titular garden, and I have my own doubts about whether I did it correctly! In addition, after playing for >3 hours I felt as if the narrative payoff was somewhat underwhelming.

    However, these criticisms are all in the context of Melan's own portfolio, which is one of immense quality. Rose Garden is easily his second best and a solid contender for first, and it still towers above the large majority of all FMs ever made. In many ways it exceeds Disorientation; one really only needs to play it to realize that its scope and architecture are basically unparalleled in the Thief canon.

    Relative to how massive it was, I have very few complaints. It is also a technical marvel. The frame rate never dropped below 120 fps for me, even from the highest points on the map (out-of-bounds included). DromEd reveals a super efficient approach to managing brushes/objects/backface counts etc., just like Disorientation -- a sign that an author cut their teeth in the 1.18 days. It is amazing to see Melan make full use of NewDark.

    Overall, the abundant mantling opportunities in a realistic and multifaceted city were glorious good fun, and the architecture is beyond reproach... but it is not quite perfect, and I can think of two others in this competition that were.

  8. #83
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Shadow Play

    Great little FM, small and nice. Shadows are extremely dark and the atmosphere is thick as hell, level design is great. Didn't really notice the story much, just a basic "go there and steal stuff", but that doesn't matter much in a mission like this. Pure gameplay, pure level design, great mission.

    ********

    Apart from the high loot requirement, this mission is held back only by its complete lack of story, as it is architecturally superb.

    ********

    Shadow Play is exactly the kind of mission that could be found in the original game and that could easily replace Lord Bafford's Manor as the first mission. It is a very straightforward mansion heist but it's done so brilliantly it's a near flawless experience.

    The atmosphere with this one is through the roof, with excellent shadows, perfect architecture/setdressing and great use of sound. Some areas, such as the baths in the basement or the small music room with the electric wind ambient are just out of this world. Most of the mansion interior has this ominous aura of anguish that can only be found in the original game, and Schlock pulled it off quite amazingly indeed.

    Gameplay-wise, the mission is quite straightforward and offers multiple paths into and in the manor. Moving around rooms is never frustrating and the layout is far more interesting than your average mansion mission, with rooms with strange shapes and several overlooks/balconies you can climb to or drop from.

    The biggest issue, which prevents this mission from reaching the perfect score, is that the story is basically non-existent. Indeed, there are no readables and the plot itself is as simple as it gets. Still, this mission shows that you do not need readables or even a story to convey strong gameplay and atmosphere. I believe some authors should take a lesson or two from Schlock who, while being a newcomer and this being their first release, showed everyone how a mansion mission should be done.

    ********

    Beautiful mission with good ghosting game play and nice ambients. The textures were outstanding. Some nice vertical elements. The loot was very difficult. I got only 2311 of 2910 in a lot of hunting. One window with pipes below that I could not enter. Unfortunately, the mission had no story to speak of, and story must be a scoring element.

  9. #84
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The Burning Bedlam

    A very classic feeling FM, bringing feelings similar to The Inverted Manse. I'm a fan of factory areas and this one feels spacious and laid out in a way that felt like a real place. It had spookiness that wasn't overtly in your face, distracting from the thief tdp feeling. I really liked the posed and placed dead guys that you just don't you see in OMs. The story was fair with a good twist. The readable were fun.
    I felt like it paced well and backtracking didn't slog my enjoyment. I enjoyed how each new area was unveiled. I do wish there was more reward for exploration but it is said it will be reworked sometime later. Solid and very thiefy mission.

    ********

    Bit rough around the edges, story isn't explained super well. Keyhunty, but overall not bad.

    ********

    God, you know what you're doing when it comes to making a level creepy. I was already on tenterhooks before the ghost of the matron started to crop up - that and many other little details ensured the tension wasn't gone until that familiar, comforting 'Mission Complete' screen showed up.

    The environmental storytelling was top notch; not only did it help to keep me in the right direction, it also really added life to the asylum. A particular highlight of this was the observation room, reading the logs on the prisoners and then seeing their ghosts (or otherwise) in said cells, behaving as described in the book. (Not to mention the Brother who somehow managed to get out of his cell... was frozen for a minute solid when I saw him)

    I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, mind. Going into the 'treatment room' for the first time, I anticipated some sort of climatic showdown with the matron's ghost (since after all she had been stalking us throughout the level), only to end up in the actual treatment room moments later.

    I think it doesn't sit that well with me because the transition felt rather jarring and abrupt - the latter feeling was exacerbated when all the undead sprung out the woodwork and I had to get the drain key off one of the haunts.

    Still, this is about the only mark I can hold against the mission. Excellent use of ambient sound, lighting and scripting to create a gripping atmosphere. I'm delighted to see that it'll be continued. Good luck in the contest!

    ********

    Good story idea and I really liked the antagonist, The Matron, who reminded me a bit of Nurse Ratchett : ) I enjoyed the fun and unexpected quick-moving current portions, which is also a novel idea for a game ending. I would say to break up the metal textures a bit more, giving the player a bit more variety in both appearance and speed of play. I was surprised at how large the map turned out to be, which was fun and easy to navigate. Solid and fun mission.. good work!

  10. #85
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The Hunt, Part 1: Search

    Better than Lord Bafford's Manor in some aspects, not really worse in others. By OM standards, above average architecture, slightly above average interior design, on par pacing and gameplay. The worst I can say is that it is uninspiring compared to ludicrous bar set by half a dozen submissions, but it would not be out of place at all in Thief Gold. Lots of fun, but not life changing.

    ********

    I found the atmosphere in "The Hunt" quite mediocre. There was nothing specific in the mission to ruin the atmosphere, but sounds and visuals were rather ordinary all the way. Designs were much better inside the castle and rather plain in the streets.

    “The Hunt” provides classic mansion gameplay with a lively castle and lots of goods to be stolen. Maneuvering safely around the guards and servants is challenging, but the player is given a lot of tools if need be. The mission is very non-linear - most locations can be approached in many different ways. The puzzles are few and not too difficult for a seasoned taffer.

    The strongest aspect of the mission. The story of the family residing in the mansion was developed in numerous readables as well as a few conversations. I felt it was presented really thoroughly and convincingly. Some side stories were introduced with conversations and notes and they were neat as well. I liked the care with which those materials were obviously prepared.

    ********

    Infiltrating a mansion in order to relieve it of its valuables will perhaps never get old. It takes hints from Assassins, having a rather large city section before entering the main locale. The atmosphere is what I found the most appealing, and the story told through the environment and parchment hidden throughout was extremely well-done. I certainly hope to see the second part before too long.

    ********

    An enjoyable and approachable mission, with a very nice tribute to Lord Bafford.
    Indeed, it's the impression the mission gave me : a slightly larger Bafford's mansion, with many doors everywhere. About that, I'd say it's a middling point : many doors mean many rooms to explore and the rooms were nicely designed, but in the same way, the corridors with so many doors were also a bit redundant, and I felt lost at several moments while playing. More originality in the architecture would have made a better impression again.

    The gameplay is classical Thief 1 : stealing from a nobleman. But the story wasn't bad at all, even if a bit short. There was something about this family that made me want to see more, so I'm looking forward to see the sequel of this mission. The streets were also well designed and pleasant to explore.

    As for the vault puzzle, I was unfortunately unable to find myself to clue to open it (actually, I didn't get the connection when I read it early in the mission) and had to use the alarm-and-retry system, which is too bad. I think the clue was too remote and unconnected from the vault itself to expect a player to guess it. It would have been better to put the clue inside the manor. I wouldn't have pointed it out if it was just an optional objective, but since it was a mandatory one (thus mandatory to win the game), I did.

    Apart from that, a nice mission, with a medium duration, not too short and which lasts the first time you play it (it took me long to guess about the balcony to continue the mission), with a good atmosphere and a classical style. Definitely deserves a sequel !

  11. #86
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The Lost City of Gazing Glass

    Better than The Lost City in some aspects, worse in others. I find it difficult to quantify what exactly it is that makes this mission feel the way it does. It feels very much like an OM: boxy and unintuitive in places, but with an atmosphere and style that just feels right. This is perhaps the closest any author got to achieving that 1998 feel, warts and all. Overall, about as much fun as The Lost City.

    ********

    I think the premise was cute with all the references to Looking Glass and their legacy but that's about it. The level design was pretty basic. I liked having the maps reference the different mazes in the level, but the fire maze was a wee bit obnoxious with how dark it was. I can only assume that's what you were going for, but I honestly could not see where I was going until I cranked up the gamma.

    There were some touches I did enjoy though, like the meteor that had crashed into the water temple area - that looked really cool. The archaeologist's site was also nicely detailed. I was amused by the commotion from the Hammerites at the start, and how it connected with the briefing in the FM's readme.

    Its a shame - its obvious you have a knack for detail but a lot of the level just felt very samey - a bunch of square corridors with the same texture, with the occasional set piece whose scale dwarfed the corridors before and after it.

    ********

    A great concept with a fairly bland and tame execution. I think that with some work, this could be a really great mission.

    ********

    This mission is longer than it may appear at first sight. The Lost City ambience inside was rather pleasant and the different key puzzles throughout the elemental zones were entertaining.

    Now the mission is not that long but above all, it proves to be repetitive at different moments (even tedious underwater). The mission was a bit too silent and it was not always easy to find his/her way since many roads were too uniform. The placements of some enemies, at the end above all, were also unfair in my opinion.

    Actually, this mission, the second one submitted by the author in this contest, is also, I think, his/her second one submitted anyway, so it's normal that it needs to be improved again, with more storyline (the story was a bit too simple), more variation with the textures and shape of places, more fun...

    Still, I had some pleasure playing it, despite all these things to polish again. So I'll just encourage the author to keep up his efforts, for this second mission is definitely better than the first one.

  12. #87
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The Scarlet Cascabel

    The second mission is where things go a bit pear-shaped: the goals were often unintuitive or unclear, and there were very noticeable technical flaws including unresponsive AI, bad to non-existent pathfinding (for example: one noblewoman would jump backwards upon seeing me, then stayed at Moderate Alert searching for Garrett while walking straight into him), low quality lighting, and some of the worst instances of sound propagation I've ever encountered in an FM -- and I've played sloppy FMs from 1999 that nobody remembers like 'The Assassination'. Visually, while the hotel exterior is uniquely beautiful, the dull blue-grey hallways very quickly start to blend into one another.

    If the issues were limited to a single minor issue like AI not waking up, I could give it a pass. However, the multiplicity of issues detracted from my enjoyment of this submission more so than most of the simpler ones by total novices. In some ways this mission was far better than those submissions, but in others surprisingly worse. Nothing else I have played that Tannar (Waterfront Racket, Cell 6, Drymian Codex etc.) and PukeyBrunster (Morbid Curiosity) worked on had these glaring faults, so it is a letdown from their excellent track record.

    These are not totally disqualifying flaws, however, and much of the core material remains unique and satisfying. It is mainly in need of severe bugfixes. A diamond in the rough, maybe.

    ********

    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.

    ********

    The proportion of exploration and thieving to riddle solving has been generally well maintained and I was fully motivated to progress most of the time. I wish the second mission hadn’t become a secret hunt towards the end though. I liked the multiplicity of loots and locations around the hotel. On the other hand, both missions seemed to me somewhat overcrowded, and the number of rope climbs in the second part of the hotel was quite disgusting. I’ve also come across some imperfections which didn’t make the gameplay worse in any way, but could have easily been avoided nevertheless. The first mission especially seemed unpolished with some readables not appearing as they should, multiple unfrobbable items highlighting and the conversation with the client not starting as expected.

    ********

    Fantastic atmosphere. Skilled and creative use of assets made for a completely unique Thief FM experience. Not only was the player graced with one open world to explore, but a second, entirely different location as well. My only major complaint was that the later parts of the campaign became a little monotonous in atmospheric tone. Some of the horror elements are a bit...dated / cheesy - but this is somewhat forgivable given the engine's capabilities.

    Did you not notice the carefully crafted length of the in-game literature as well? One of my favorite parts of this FM is that the literature was almost the perfect length consistently throughout. No document was far too long yet they were all perpetually revealing enough. Huge applause here, this is very easy to mess up.

    Gameplay was paramount here. The author CLEARLY took the time to optimize the gameplay experience. Look at these details: Doors open in a way that doesn't intrude on the players field of movement, lockpicking locks have appropriate speeds depending on what is being broken into (this is HUGE in bringing down gaming fatigue), sidequests are very well done and incredibly challenging (but, most importantly, optional). Corridors are marked appropriately. Finally - I believe it's worth mentioning again here - the in-game literature is near perfect length all the way through. My only major complaint in this department is the length. The end of the campaign felt rather monotonous after having done everything up until that point. I can't bring myself to rate it lower than a 9 though.

    Story was slightly unique and generally polished, albeit a bit cheesy IMO. I'll leave it at that. Apologies for the lack of elaboration here; I really didn't get much of anything out of the storyline. I think the main problem I found was its overambitious-nature. I don't think it lives up to what it attempts to set up.

  13. #88
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The Sound of a Burrick in a Room

    Oldschool TG/T1. This FM has my vote to win overall - very much like FM's by the authers "Melan" and "Skacky" Always fun to play, with lots of nooks'n'crannies, and the player gets rewarded for being "adventurous"

    Only thing I could have wished were different, is the way into the vault in the warehouse. A bit too easy once you get the gear that is.

    I searched for over an hour for the code to the vault, but wasn't able to find it , but found the gear in stead. I had set my mind up for some code cracking...

    Please make more FM's like this. :-)

    ********

    This was one of the best missions in the contest but I still have some nitpicks. I think there should have been a basement key or something that forces you to visit the upper levels of the Blexham manor. Also the underground areas were kind of lacking in detail compared to the city (although given the map size I'm sure this a technical/time limitation and not a creative one).

    ********

    I loved every second of it. Some absolutely stunning city design here. Many individual places around the city were given a nice, distinctive character. Each location as well as the city streets felt very lively and authentic. The use of sound and some visual effects contributed to the superb feel of the whole.

    The mission offered a broad range of classic Thief activities, with lots of climbing and pathfinding in addition to the usual thieving. The city proved extraordinarily accessible with countless windows, rooftops, ledges, and balconies to reach. This also made the area feel very open with various ways of penetrating most buildings and allowed the player to complete the objectives without any enforced order. Moreover, the mission felt as rewarding as it gets, with practically every location offering a new gain or experience. The map was prepared thoroughly and was of great help. I got outside the foreseen area just once, and it didn’t happen to provide any shortcuts. Perhaps the number of tools lying around could have been somewhat reduced so as to make the mission more challenging. Also, with loot distributed evenly around the level, I felt the requirement of just about 45% collected was way too low for expert difficulty (I got around 90% without any trouble on the first run). Obviously, that didn’t negatively influence the gameplay in any way.

    The main story and the rationale for the endeavour were quite convincing and I liked the intro video, but the multiple little subplots inserted here and there I found even more impressing. They certainly gave the mission a lot of depth. I felt that perhaps the “tunnels” section of the mission should have been developed a bit more – with all that hype I expected something bigger down there, while the mission ended rather rapidly.

    ********

    I love the size of this level. I spent close to three hours scouring the city, trying to find every little piece of loot and still came up 500 short. Whether I was on the rooftops or the streets, there was always something new to keep my interest - or shortcuts to traverse.

    I'm almost disappointed that the crypt played such a minor role in the end, but then again I had a whole city to explore and enjoy.

    I'm rating the story as highly as I am simply because of all the little stories you could find in people's houses - that really brought the city to life.

  14. #89
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The Tomb of Saint Tennor

    This is another stellar mission in a contest that has nothing but stellar missions. Divided into two missions, The Tomb of St. Tennor has Garrett in search of a hammer buried in a catacomb complex under a countryside cathedral that fell prey to the undead. The first mission takes place in the cathedral and has a very Sepulchre of the Sinistral vibe right off the bat. It's an overall pretty good mission with a whole lot of Haunts. It's dark and gloomy. You can even walk on the cathedral's roof, how great is that?

    The second mission is where the meat of this submission is and it is hands down the best Bonehoard-type mission I've ever played. vegetables manages to make every main tomb interesting and every puzzle/riddle easy to understand. There is no hour-long guesswork or frustrating trial and error here. I especially liked Midas' tomb, which I thought had an excellent vibe and some pretty interesting designs, and the statues area was very very clever. This is a mission that will have you explore every area for loot and it just keeps going on and on and on.

    I have nothing to criticize, really. Bottom line is: go play it now. This gets the highest score from me. The first mission somewhat pales in comparison to the second, but the overall package is close to being a masterpiece.

    ********

    Since this is two mission, the overall rating will be the medium of the two mission rating.
    Mission 1: Beautiful, very classic, impressive, creepy at some points and interesting story telling. Brillant layout so it deserves
    Mission 2 : It breaks my heart to tell it, but what was made in the first mission has been destroyed in the second. The story was Garrett raiding tombs and who needs to find a way out. Sticking to this would have made a perfect campaign, plus the puzzles were perfect un very creative, (especialy the one with magic missiles) but it happens that the author did forget about story telling and has gone too far, doing too much like a cake with too much sugar. The LC and Maw parts were not necessary, the burrick tunnel would have been enough to find an exit such like sewers or even a thieves lair ; since the church above is haunted and there are a couple of dead thieves in the catacombs. But instead, this is an endless exploration and not even a single word about why does the undead invaded the surface, erasing what was setup since the beginning.

    ********

    It's hard to rate this one. Both missions suffer from having too much big open space especially Pt.1. Pt.2 however is a brilliant mission with great exploration, and I really enjoyed the platforming challenges and the puzzles in the Brennan tomb.

    ********

    Gameplay was challenging without being frustrating. Ingenious puzzles. Midas was the most memorable and created the most suspense.

    Atmosphere was good. Nothing jarred me out of the believably of the environment, until I went looking for the Easter Eggs, which I viewed as somewhat separate. Great use of original ambients and some new ones. However, there was an overuse of symmetry in the terrain.

    The levels carried the story well enough, and the readables were short, which I appreciate. However, there wasn't much story beyond that.

    Overall, great mission design with plenty of replay value.

  15. #90
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The Whistling of the Gears

    This mission met an hard work on its atmosphere. The author spent all his guts on it. The gameplay is not the best and could have been clearly better. But the story itself is tell in a decent way, the feeling of the arrival of Thief2 is present as the fact the quarter is decaying. A mission to be proud of.

    ********

    On the one hand, there is some incredible open-ended level design going on here. On the other, the central objective can be rather unforgiving unless you reload multiple times, and it penalizes any in-depth exploration and savoring of this amazingly fleshed out environment before triggering it. These two features do not mesh well, and their conjunction here seriously compromises an otherwise top-tier FM.

    Along with 'Rose Garden', 'Sound of A Burrick In A Room' and 'Lost Among The Forsaken', the architecture, layout and interior design are so far beyond the baseline for Thief Gold it is almost unfair to consider them in the same category as the rest of this contest. But none of these three, and almost none of the other submissions, had so frustrating a central objective. It made me wish I hadn't already spent an hour exploring this unbelievably well-detailed mission, because it transformed novel exploration into backtracking. Considering my suspicions about the author/team behind this FM, it is an unusually poor choice in light of his/their portfolio.

    ********

    This is an incredible city mission that uses the outro cutscene's aesthetic to the maximum of the Dark Engine's ability. This part of town is decrepit and swallowed by the looming Metal Age, with machinery and smoke everywhere. I have never seen anything quite like it and it works incredibly well. The lighting is appropriately very dark which, coupled with the nightmarish visuals and crushing sound design, gives this mission an incredibly creepy vibe.

    The mission itself flows well enough. The mission isn't big but uses and re-uses space extremely well. The layout is very open which gives players a lot ways to bypass certain areas or reach specific areas. The factory is a really interesting place that is well thought out overall. Each floor feels different, with the lower work stations being very dark and noisy while the offices upstairs are a lot quieter and better lit. The church is also a very nice place that feels pretty rundown. Difficulty is on point and the mission was never too hard nor difficult. It was a bit hard for me to figure out how to properly sabotage Tudor's machine, but other than that I didn't encounter anything too tough.

    I don't have much criticism to add except that roombrushing is sometimes a bit rough which causes sound to leak through certain walls (especially in the factory), and that visual clutter can make navigation a tad obscure at times. Overall this is a really awesome mission that gets my highest recommendation.

    ********

    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 industrialization 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 industrialization; 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.

  16. #91
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Ultimate Burglary

    Some people love the supernatural and mystical parts of TDP most; I prefer the hybrid medieval/steampunk environments. This FM is a glorious pastiche of the latter as depicted in the original game, one that clearly prioritizes delivering a pure and satisfying package of core Thief gameplay: dispatching guards, and exploring every nook and cranny for loot. It is amazing that -Terra- was able to make stock TDP look like one of his missions, which are usually crammed with custom assets and colours, without looking unlike the original game in the way that Scarlet Cascabel does. While Ramirez's Mansion is rather small in this FM, it is at least less repetitive and boxy than the one in 'Assassins'.

    My only real annoyance comes in the form of an awful timed switch puzzle, but since this was imported directly from the mission 'Undercover', I guess LGS is responsible for some of the blame there. -Terra- is only guilty of thinking it was a good idea to copy it!

    ********

    Nice map with excellent external architecture. Internal architecture is a bit rectilinear and boring. A couple of areas prevented me from ghosting it. I had to nudge AI in a few places - not against the ghosting rules. I KO'ed a burrick at the entrance to the the Quintus building. Out of frustration with difficult lighting, I KO'ed a priest in the cathedral who was looking at a necessary switch. The timed puzzle to flip the switches is tedious. The ending of the mission as soon as the last objective is done prevents going back to find more loot, or else you have to find your way back to a saved location.

    ********

    The designs were quite okay – all places were obviously inspired by original missions, but built from scratch on a new plan. Music only appeared in key locations and has been chosen correctly, but I wish it was more varied.

    I liked that the map had immediately shown what was coming and it was also really useful throughout. The player was free to move around the town and choose the order in which all the independent sections are visited. The mission offered some climbing opportunities. Loot locations were often unpredictable to say the least, so a player needs to look where they normally wouldn’t and keep their eyes open at all times, especially on expert. Overall, there was plenty of classic Thief gameplay with lots of guards and valuables which I found satisfying, if not very original.

    I totally buy the “ultimate burglary” idea featuring (re)claiming many precious artifacts in one outing, but it needs to be rooted in a believable story. The mission did not provide any rationale for such a development at all. The readables were plentiful, but very short. They felt as if they had been messages to the player rather than authentic texts and thus did not feel at all convincing.

    ********

    This is my favorite mission.

  17. #92
    Member
    Registered: May 2005
    I went through the threads of previous contests: Sometimes results were only published as an image. When imagehosts remove it, information on the contest results is gone. Therefore I thought it might be a good idea to preserve the results of this contest in text form.

    1. The Scarlet Cascabel, Tannar & PukeyBrunster, 26.532
    2. Lost Among The Forsaken, DrK (King Mirdas), 26.436
    3. The Sound of a Burrick in a Room, skacky (son_of_a_dude), 26.341
    4. Catacombs of Knoss, nicked, 25.667
    5. Making a Profit, vfig, 24.859
    6. The Burning Bedlam, Phantom, 24.500
    7. Rose Garden, Melan, 24.416
    8. The Whistling of the Gears, Firemage (Deception), 24.203
    9. The Tomb of Saint Tennor, vegetables, 24.014
    10. Heart and Soul, StinkyKitty & McTaffer, 23.487
    11. Darkness Walk With Us!, Haplo, 23.256
    12. Downtowne Funk, Yandros, 22.634
    13. In & Out, FrenchDecay, JarlFrank & marbleman, 22.551
    14. Shadow Play, Schlock, 21.795
    15. The Hunt, Part 1: Search, Grandmauden, 20.217
    16. An Enigmatic Treasure with a Recondite Discovery, GORT, 19.015
    17. Order of the Dew, Jayrude, 18.593
    18. Madness Of Wolfgang Handspiegel, mtk, 17.818
    19. Ultimate Burglary, -Terra-, 17.786
    20. The Lost City of Gazing Glass, mtk, 16.286
    21. Dewinder Manor, psych0sis, 15.580
    22. Mother Redcap's Last Request, Swiz, 14.896
    23. Lord G, Marzec, 13.585
    Last edited by <Username>; 8th Apr 2019 at 14:00. Reason: Minor spelling

  18. #93
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Fields of bluegrass
    Excellent point, thanks! I've linked to your post from the original post. However in this case, the results image is an attachment and so it should be around as long as the forum is up, but it never hurts to be doubly sure.
    Last edited by Yandros; 8th Apr 2019 at 08:18.

  19. #94
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2018
    Location: Poland
    Quote Originally Posted by Username
    I thought it might be a good idea to preserve the results of this contest in text form.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yandros
    Excellent point, thanks! I've linked to your post from the original post. However in this case, the results image is an attachment [...]
    ...and secondly, the picture is unclickable for none/not logged people or lurkers without TTLGF accounts, so text version is much appreciate for them :) Good move :) Ofcourse they can read small font from the image, but... yeah ;)

    Yandros: any chance to see how many of "30s medals" each of the 20th mission received? :)
    Last edited by Mat99; 8th Apr 2019 at 10:47.
    ____________________________
    sorry for my very bad english :(

  20. #95
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Fields of bluegrass
    I assume you mean how many perfect 30 scores each mission received? There were not very many. I can look at the data and put something together.

  21. #96
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2018
    Location: Poland
    Quote Originally Posted by Yandros View Post
    I assume you mean how many perfect 30 scores each mission received?
    Yes :) that's what I meant :)


    I can look at the data and put something together.
    Great :) I'm just curious. Also it will be nice to see who is the (after-party) winner in such category :)
    ____________________________
    sorry for my very bad english :(

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