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Thread: What is the worst mission I've ever made....

  1. #1
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic

    What is the worst mission I've ever made....

    ....and why.

    Just the title won't do me any good on a new mission. Explain where and how I was weak or outright screwed the pooch.

    I want to take the input and apply it to the current salvage operation I'm in the middle of right now. I need to decide to quit wasting time on it and start over, or stick it out and make something releasable from it.

    I'll take all the criticisms, see if I can find them in this mission, and decide if I can make adaptations or not.

    I have a gut feeling that this mission is a whole new level of ugly and boring. You can't see that, but you can help me make up my mind with your critiques of past missions.

    Thanks ahead of time.

    P.S. I don't always pick up on subtleties, so you don't necessarily have to be cruel, but it would probably be quicker if you were blunt.

  2. #2
    Registered: May 2011
    Bluntly, I've thoroughly enjoyed every mission you've ever made and have replayed them all numerous times through the years. Whatever mission you release, I will enjoy and appreciate. Truthfully.

  3. #3
    Registered: May 2000
    Location: Thunder Bay, On., Canada
    I know it's not useful but I feel the same way. I've enjoyed them all!

  4. #4
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    The worst mission you ever made was... better than the majority of other missions out there. That's not idle praise, that's how I remember your missions. I was looking over the names of your past missions, and there are two I don't remember at all, and it's possible I haven't played them yet. Those are Flip a Coin and Just Take a Look. Other than those, I'm afraid I don't remember the details of the others well enough to give you any honest critiques, but I can't recall any in which you "screwed the pooch".

    I know this isn't very helpful, but the thing is, what I tend to remember most about missions is not so much the details, but how much I enjoyed them. What I remember most about your missions is that they had great Thiefy gameplay, good stories (a must for me) and were filled with nice little touches of interest and humor. Your missions have always been among my favorites.

    With that in mind, we've had numerous discussion on this forum of what matters most to players in an FM, and the overwhelmingly prevailing view has always been that the cosmetics (such as fancy architecture, textures, etc.) while nice to have, are nothing compared to story and gameplay. I've played some missions that were stunning to look at, but not as memorable to me as those that focused more on gameplay and story. Thought that might be worth mentioning.

  5. #5
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Kent, UK
    Do not think i would say there is any BAD missions. Always good to see anything from people who love this game TBH.

  6. #6
    Registered: May 2002
    Location: Washington
    I too cannot give you any relevant feedback. It's been too long since I played one of your missions (8 years ago). I don't remember them specifically, however, I do recall you being a mission author with some seriously outstanding mission content submitted for our pleasure.
    What I wanted to say is that I greatly respect you boldly putting forth this question to this community in this way. I truly hope you can find the answers you need.

  7. #7
    Registered: Nov 2018
    Of your missions I've played Thieves' Highway, Flip A Coin, Power of Suggestion, and Chain of Events. Flip a Coin was my favorite, while Chain of Events was my least favorite.
    Regarding the latter, here are some things I didn't like:
    - The objectives are lopsided: the main objective is very easy and quick to complete while the loot goal (on expert) is strict.
    - Weak ambient sound. This criticism extends to your other missions as well. There are incidental sounds like transformers ticking and wind blowing but none of the musical ambient loops that most missions use. It could be that these were excluded deliberately for realism but I think they'd liven the missions up.
    - The main city area is fairly flat with independent, free-standing buildings which leads to a repetitive pattern of 1. Enter a building at street level, 2. Scan every floor for loot, 3. Return to the street level and repeat at the next building. Your other missions have more in the way of jumping between rooftops or windows or ledges, or rope arrow spots. There were at least some sewer entrances, but sewers are mostly long corridors with no interesting visuals or gameplay.
    - Technical issues. Nothing major but I noticed multiple places where sounds cut off or leak through walls which occasionally made it hard to keep track of patrols.

    And some things I liked:
    - The mission is pure gameplay. The story gets the job done while being entirely unintrusive.
    - Guards were well placed as to provide a balanced challenge.
    - Creative use of stock T2 assets - practically every room has unique details.
    - Every building can be entered.
    - Intricate brushwork details like furniture or filing cabinets or pyramidal railings. As I understand you cut a lot of this out of your WIP to save cells but I hope there's room for some of this in the end. It's an unmistakable signature of your style.

    Still a good mission overall but I didn't find it up to the high standard set by the other three.

  8. #8
    Registered: Oct 2017
    Exactly one half of the replies are people just ignoring the question of the thread instead of answering what he wants you to answer. It's ok to give criticism guys.

    Now, as far as answering the thread topic goes, Schlock's post summed it up for me, as I too share the opinion of that one being the weakest, and for many of the same reasons.

    I'd go so far to say that the flatness of the city streets extends to all of your missions, which is still a problem. You can also try to create more interesting shapes with your buildings, as a lot of them tend to be Giant Solid Cubes with windows, which does have an OM charm to them but visually leaves much to be desired.

    That's the only nitpicks I can add from Schlock's post off the top of my head right now. Personally I value gameplay and level design more than ambients and story, so I do tend to enjoy every one of your missions when I've played them.
    Last edited by Psych0sis; 13th Oct 2019 at 22:17.

  9. #9
    Master Builder 2018
    Registered: Jul 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Psych0sis View Post
    Everyone is just ignoring the question of the thread instead of answering what he wants you to answer. It's ok to give criticism guys.
    No, everyone is NOT ignoring the question. Saying a thing doesn't make it so. Half of those that answered have acknowledged the question, but said they simply can't remember the missions well enough to offer helpful criticism now. That isn't ignoring the question, and it's not about any lack of desire to criticize. I'd be more than happy to offer helpful critiques if I had played the mission recently enough to do so, and I'm certain many of the others would as well.

  10. #10
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic
    The two things Schlock and Psych0sis mentioned are bothering the hell out of me right now too.

    Every mission, I know darn well I should have added some music. I like the quiet, the lack of distraction from other sounds, but some music should have been in my missions.

    The other thing they mention, flatness, is also true. I added some ups and downs in The Time That Has Passed, and in this one, but it's not enough. I think of Disorientation as a beautiful example of the opposite of flatness.

    Now, the last point is the one that is bothering me the most in this mission right now. Giant solid cubes with windows. I run through this mission, and I think: "Geez, this is nothing but a bunch of walls with windows" This is the part bothering me the absolute most right now. Really, really, bothering me. I'm just thinking if it's irritating the hell out of me, it will irritate a lot of players.

    Retrofitting this 2007 mission into NewDark is only half working. Carve air spaces with "playing units" inside them aren't necessary anymore. I can see where the whole look of the mission would be better re-built from scratch. I am standing in an area thinking to myself: " If I hadn't started this mission 12 years ago in OldDark, instead of looking at a distant facade wall, the player could see the actual distant buildings over there, the engine can handle the view now." The mission as a whole would benefit.

    Music I can do, and I have tweaked so far from a Dromed crash because the mission exceeded maximum of 32,760 cells. I've tweaked it down to 15,597 cells. This leaves me room for some more building and finishing the mission.

    My debate right now is punch through and finish, or scrap it and start clean with new Dromed rather than release this OldDark/NewDark hybrid.

    It's like this thing is walking with a cane compared to what can be accomplished these days. It's know, scrap all those hours and hours of work? Big debate for me right now.

    Ok, please keep the criticisms coming folks. I appreciate it.

  11. #11
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic
    P.S. Hey Psych0sis, want to look at the unfinished mission and offer up some critiques? Tannar PM'd me offering to look at it and offer suggestions too.

    A couple of new eyes might be a good idea.

    Just keep all the files and folders away from public view though, okay?

  12. #12
    Registered: Oct 2017
    Of course I wasn't being literal, I was just exaggerating to prove a point (and hopefully stopping future people from continuing to post more "all fms are amazing" type messages and not answering his genuine call for critique and help). Though I think if you can't remember anything bad due to time washing away the memories, you should either play it and do answer his question or move on and let the man get what he's asking for. I want more damn unca missions, and if they can be EVEN BETTER than his last, I will do whatever it takes, even being a little...

    @Unca, sure, feel free to send me a PM. Please note I am no dromed expert, but I can try my best to tell you how it comes off to me as a player.

    .. Also, hope I didn't ruin your mission in your eyes, it was just a trend i noticed and figured it can be EASILY fixable and had to note down.

  13. #13
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic
    Psy, it will be a couple of weeks, as I told Tannar, and I will send you a download link. It will be the folder structure and a .cow file, not a zipped playable mission, but I know that's no problem for you and Tannar.

    Keep the input coming people.

    Unna, not specifically trying to call you out, but I guess that's what's happening right now.

    You mentioned you recently played all my missions on the other thread.

    I would appreciate it if you could criticize them while they are still in your memory.

    Sorry for the triple post, but I had another thought while doing the dishes.

    When I played Behind Closed Doors, I thought to myself that I don't build big enough. Do you feel like the walls are closing in on you in my missions? The hallways too narrow? The rooms too small, having to navigate around furniture to get out the door? The outdoor streets to narrow and claustrophobic?

    [Don't apologize for triple posting... just edit the previous one each time! - Ed.]
    Last edited by Yandros; 14th Oct 2019 at 00:43.

  14. #14
    Registered: Oct 2018
    Location: Ukraine
    1) Why not include a list of your missions? I've played almost all FMs we have but I don't remember your nickname.
    2) I'm sure that corresponding threads to your previous FMs have some critique (best critique is critique made right after playing with FM)
    3) Just give us a peek to your new unfinished mission and we might let you know if there is something we don't like.

  15. #15

  16. #16
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Germany
    Hi Don,

    I try to answer your question but of course I can't possibly replay all your nine missions right now to be able to truly explain why

    However, I did in fact replay many/most T1 and T2 FMs in the last few years and especially city missions which are generally my favorite type of mission.
    So did replay all your stuff.

    While I can't remember specifics by reading a mission title (except some very special missions/campaigns) I do have a rating system.
    This scheme uses the common A, B, C etc. scheme including +/- but with numbers (similar to German school ratings).
    As many Thief FMs are quite good the differences between "1" and "2" are not very large, though, and my system accomodates for this a bit.

    A FM that is rated "1+" is truly special FM or an extremely well-made campaign like Calendra's Legacy, Rocksbourg or Seven Sisters.
    "1"-rated is slightly lower than this: A very competent and creative FM/campaign where only a slightly little magic is present.
    A "2"-rated FM is not simply "good" but still very good.
    A "3"-rated FM is still slightly better than "good enough".
    Mediocre stuff is beyond that and I usually don't feel like replaying them.

    A "short FM" in my book is a FM that can be played under one hour during the first(!) playthrough.
    These are often competitions FMs and they get a "relaxed" rating where no +/- is allowed.
    So there are only "1"/"2"/"3"-rated short missions.

    Many things factor into the rating like build quality, creativity, atmosphere etc. - and as I do have a bias towards city missions they will undoubtedly get slightly better ratings than a comparably well made swamp mission, for example.

    The ratings for your missions look like this:

    Thieves' Highway: 1
    A Thief Nonetheless: 2 short
    The Power of Suggestion: 1
    The Time That Has Passed: 2+
    Two Fathers: 2+
    Flip A Coin: 3 short
    Mixed Messages: 2
    Just Take a Look: 2 short
    Chain of Events: 2

    So practically all missions are either very good/great or even fantastic (although no 1+).
    But the "worst" FM you have out of those nine (and I mean nine! friggin! FMs! - I couldn't even make one!) is "Flip A Coin".
    This is also a short FM - and I remember replaying it vaguely.
    When I fired it up again I was greeted by a very distinctive 90-degrees-look which doesn't look very Thiefy but more like a NYC street layout.
    Matter of taste, of course, but I felt a lack in atmosphere and the plot was very run-of-the-mill.
    I also do remember some difficult loot in this one and a few corners that were really interesting.
    It is a mission with a unique look/character but perhaps not my favorite one.

    So there you have it.
    I don't really know if this answers the question you posted but perhaps it did answer which of your missions I liked most...

  17. #17
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic
    Thanks Calibrator,

    This one also has to a great extent that "90-degrees-look" you mentioned, which is one of those feelings I was getting about it as well. Separated fill air cubes so OldDark won't crash under the view, then filled in with cubic buildings and straight facade walls.

    I agree with you about the plot in Flip A Coin, there wasn't one. Steal something. That's not a plot. That creation was a quick 28 day throwaway job. Flip A Coin, Thieves' Highway, and A Thief Nonetheless, don't get any points at all for plot.

    This one won't have that problem, but I'm concerned that the whole thing, "Garrett learns new things about himself and what the Keepers haven't told him", might be missing some adrenaline.

    Thanks again for your input Calibrator, your post was a lot of effort. I appreciate it.

  18. #18
    Registered: Oct 2017
    Unca, it says your inbox is full! Delete some messages so I can reply to you

  19. #19
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic
    Sorry, did so. Space available now.

  20. #20
    Registered: May 2002
    Location: Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by A.Stahl View Post
    1) Why not include a list of your missions? I've played almost all FMs we have but I don't remember your nickname.
    2) I'm sure that corresponding threads to your previous FMs have some critique (best critique is critique made right after playing with FM)
    3) Just give us a peek to your new unfinished mission and we might let you know if there is something we don't like.
    There are at least 800 FMs & uncadonego started back in the earliest years of Thief.

    I'm going to reply all of your FMs uncadonego to refresh my memory.

  21. #21
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic
    Thanks john9818a, looking forward to your input.

  22. #22
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Dragonsreach
    I want to chime in here and say that, even if your WIP mission is "old school" or "looks like it was made in the 00's" etc., that's no reason to shelve it and start over now that you're getting a hold on more modern techniques. In fact, I would wager that many people here would welcome a "throwback" mission as much or more than one built in the more modern style, especially from someone like you who has a very distinctive style to begin with.

  23. #23
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic
    Thanks for your input Yandros. I'm still really on the fence. This is bigger than, but just as ugly as, Chain of Events and Mixed Messages. I can hear what you're saying, and I'm punching through, seeing if it can become something salvageable.

    It's like the Let It Be recordings. So much unfinished, unpolished stuff, and abandoned. On to the last album before breaking up, Abbey Road, where they tried their hardest to get along and kick ass, because they sort of knew this was the last.

    These are the Let It Be recordings, not Abbey Road. What I'm trying to do is Phil Spector the crap so it ends up not sickening. Like John Lennon said about thinking Phil at least managed to make something out of it that didn't make John sick to his stomach.

  24. #24
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Germany
    Quote Originally Posted by uncadonego View Post
    What I'm trying to do is Phil Spector the crap so it ends up not sickening.
    But please don't do a full Phil Spector on it:

    "Sorry guv, but the mission shot itself. Couldn't help it!"

  25. #25
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Location: OldDark Detox Clinic

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