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Peter_Smith
7th Aug 2002, 06:54
I am posting this thread so people can make comments about the contest FM's and maybe ask a few questions. I am going to give a mini-review of all of them. I hope others will express their opinions, too.

This entire post is one big sequence of spoilers. I don't do spoiler text. If I did, it would be solid blue. The intended audience is the mission designers and people who have already played the missions and, preferably, those who have already voted. Please do not let these opinions influence your vote! If you have not played the C3 contest missions, what are you waiting for? You should close this window now, download them, and get on with the job.:) You have only five days left to play all the missions and vote. It can still be done.

A common factor in most of the missions is that they are very good for ghosting. I played all of them in ghost mode, and I achieved Perfect Thief on most of them. My comments are slanted by my approach to game play. In BJ mode or other styles, your experiences could be totally different. I will describe some of the ghosting challenges and, for the exceptions, the reason why I failed.

I thank the mission designers for their hard work and dedication and for giving me several evenings of fun. I also thank Komag for hosting the contest and missions, and I hope he does it again. This tradition provides some great fun and is a good training ground for new designers.

The C3 contest missions were very good. I played all of them twice and a few of them more than that. I hope you will find my comments constructive and useful.


After the Party

The setting is inside a small mansion, supposedly after a party. The mansion is well decorated and nicely arranged to promote good game play. The objective is to get all the loot, which can be a challenge. The Expert objectives say that if you are any good you won't BJ any of the guards. That part took a little doing. I was sorely tempted to BJ a couple of guards, but I resisted the temptation and that challenge kept me going.

The mission is designed with sneaking in mind. There were blinking lights due to electrical faults, and you needed good timing to get past them. The lights were mostly electrical, and you had to turn them off in various exposed places to make further progress. There were some noisy marble steps that could be avoided using rope arrows. In one place, at the top of those steps, the lights could not be turned off manually. I had to shoot them - a nice touch.

A couple of sleeping AI woke up at the sound of lock picks and stood bolt upright in bed. I always find that a little unrealistic. One of them even moved a little, but he did not indicate anything other than first level alert.

There is one tricky bit of loot, a diamond ring on the floor, but I won't say where it is.

All in all, this was a good ghoster and a nicely designed mission.


Akhenaten's Tomb

This was a rather simple mission in design and concept, but there were a couple of tricky bits which made it enjoyable to play. It could be the author's first work. If so, it was a good start.:)

The map consists of a series of tunnels leading progressively lower in a square pattern. The texture mostly looks like sandstone. It was kind of bland, in my opinion, but that could be the way a pyramid interior really looks. The AI are zombies converted to look like mummies. They were well done.

When you start the mission, the objectives are invisible. You need to find the switch to a secret room and enter the room before you can see the objectives. The room is obvious - a locked door - but the switch isn't obvious. On my second playing I left that secret room until last and then, even after having all the objectives checked, the mission would not end. So, get into that room straight away.

The tricky bits include a cloud of flies, which was tricky to pass without damage, a couple of sensitive spiders, some coins that can be seen only on edge, and a medallion in a tricky receptacle. I liked the fact that there was enough ambient light that you could see after dowsing torches. On the other hand, I think there was really too much ambient light. I think it would add to the atmosphere to make it a little darker, but not black, and to make some of the textures a little creepier and older looking.



Breaking and Entering

The story in this mission is about a scientist who has created a "God Transporter" that has malfunctioned. The story is brief but well done. The transporter is in the scientist's house. You need to go through the transporter and figure out how to get back.

The house has a foggy atmosphere about it, a good effect, not caused by fog in the video drivers so far as I can tell. The initial architecture is kind of creepy. Your interest increases as you read the books and scrolls. Eventually you find the transporter, and after you go through the transporter, it gets very creepy indeed. The setting seems to be the same building, but now there are rotted holes in the floor, lush vegetation growing in the rooms, and the place is a mess. Maybe there is time travel as well. And the new site is populated by some nice Ape Beasts. The Ape Beasts are bad housekeepers, but they are fun to ghost.:)

Getting back out involves finding a brass gear and using it to activate the lock on the reverse transporter. And then you find a bad ape beast at the other side, too. That was amusing.

There is no loot. Just the gear. That's it. Simple in concept but well done, and very nice atmosphere.


Deceptive Perception

This is a very scary mission.:) The author has introduced many small scripts that, when activated, make strange and surprising noises, cause a window to break, and a ghost to appear. The ghost or some other entity is a poltergeist. The effect is very creepy, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and makes you jump. Then, after you pass that part, you enter a basement storage area that has lots of crates. You pass through several rooms, expecting the worse at each turn, so a lot of tension builds up but nothing much happens. That is excellent psychology and a common cinematic trick. Nothing much happens, that is, until you reach the back room where, after you do a few things, the monster suddenly appears. Arachnophobes beware!

There is a slight problem with the spider. You can walk through him and see his skin from the inside. Also, it is interesting to note that the spider can be killed only by striking close to the center of the object. So, he is a magnified spider, but the real spider is much smaller, inside, kind of like the Wizard of Oz.

Going back out from the basement is uneventful until you find this guy standing in an office doorway. I had better not say exactly what happens at that point. You who have played it know. I will only say (1) that script was really great, and (2) I really wanted it to last longer. We get only a glimpse of the baddies. In my opinion the ending would have been more effective if the hoards had come after Garrett and killed him, possibly after a fruitless dagger fight. Maybe some people would not want to see Garrett die. In this case it was inevitable, so why not make it a little more exciting?

But these are just nit picks. It was artfully created and very well done.


Dedicated to TTLG

This is not a real Thief mission. It is a museum-like room with a lot of books to read. Each book contains cute descriptions of a person at TTLG based on the spelling of his or her name. For example, Komag = Kooky, Outgoing, Mindful, Acute, and Golden. OK, that's fine for those named, but it wears a little thin.

Oh, and Benny's there. And there was a funny jumping fish. And a talking goblet. Nice touches.

Peter_Smith
7th Aug 2002, 06:56
Eastwater Bank

This mission is a really good sneaker. Unfortunately, it exceeded the size limit for the contest, so it was disqualified from winning the architecture or use-of-space awards. Never mind, it was fun to play, and I spent a lot of time in there sneaking around and hunting.

The one thing that immediately hits you about this mission is that the author loves tiny, difficult-to-find secret switches. In fact, I had to consult the oracle at TTLG to get past the entry shaft. It was simply too hard from that standpoint. However, I did have fun with it once I got over my initial hang-up and into the spirit of the switch hunting.

Looking past the secret switch issue, there were some other, more interesting challenges. To make progress you have to find keys, switch off lights, and take some elevators in the right order. The guards are very sensitive, and the floors are loud, and the light switches are a challenge to reach. If you don't do things in the right order (which is bound to happen), then you find yourself riding up and down and retracing your path, past the goosey guards. So, the game play in ghost mode is tense and relentless. If you BJ all the guards, as I did in one go-around, it is much easier and less fun, IMO.

There is a room in the ground floor that was difficult to get into in ghost mode. I ended up shooting a light switch with a moss arrow. The final vault is interesting, too - it takes good timing.


The Fireshadow's Barrow

The setting of this mission is a lost corner of The Bonehoard, where the fireshadow and several of the grave robbers have disappeared. We find out what happened to the grave robbers and how the fireshadow came into being. A nice story, and the setting was also well done. I liked Bonehoard, and I was bound to like this one, too.

The mission has several custom objects such as a "jemmy" bar (that's Brit-speak for jimmy bar), a vase from which you can chip off the gold, custom gates, and a trick door.

The route into the gated burial rooms is fun to explore, involving a visit into a spider cave, finding the jemmy bar, and using that and a key on other rooms. The spider cave was a little too tight in a couple of places. I had to use jumping, squatting, and leaning maneuvers, and I got totally stuck in the wall a few times. The spider itself, on his back and apparently dead, comes to life with a vengeance - a nice surprise.

Having looted the burial area, you find a large barred door with three metal triangles behind the bar. When you open that door, a ghost comes out, merges with the skeleton, and melts away. A very cool effect.

There is a problem with the trick door. Most of the time it did not open correctly for me, preventing passage. A variety of behaviors are possible including (a) the center piece gets stuck, (b) the side pieces spin, and when you stop them they are impassible, and (c) the door opens completely, if you are lucky. At TTLG it was reported that this can be fixed by restarting the mission. Well, sometimes. I restarted the mission from scratch seven times, and the door worked twice. Both times that I got it to work I was standing as far away from the door as possible, completely outside the alcove. This procedure also failed to work one time, so the pattern is not clear. I also was able to get past the spinning pieces with great difficulty by stopping them in just the right positions and climbing over (not under).

If you can get past the doors it is a fun mission with lots of trick stuff. Oh, and the armor falls off a haunt if you kill him.

One final comment. Someone at TTLG remarked that the voice of Garrett sounds like Forrest Gump. It's true, folks. I had to laugh.:)


First City Bank and Trust

This is quite a small bank. There is a vault in one small room with a watcher, and apart from that the building is more like a house. The watcher can be turned off by a switch upstairs, but I could not get up the stairs in ghost mode. There were two stationary guards watching the stairs, facing in opposite directions and on high beam. This did not really matter because the vault can be ghosted with the watcher running, and there is nothing upstairs other than the watcher switch and a window. So, if you are playing in ghost mode, half of the building is both inaccessible and unnecessary. The architecture is very well done, what little of it that I saw.

In the basement there is a combination lock to the vault, operated by pushing three plungers. It sounds simple, but it isn't. It is not just the combination of three positions. It is the order in which you do them, and there is no indication of how many "moves" of the three plungers, in and out, are necessary for it to work. So, I just sat there for about 20 minutes moving the plungers randomly until finally I hit on a good combination without having any idea how I did it. It is not a satisfying puzzle. Someone has published the solution at TTLG.

Inside the vault there is another interesting combinatorial puzzle. The two safes in there can be opened by lock picks, but not in the ordinary way. It took me some time to realize this, but when a pick stops working it is not sufficient to switch picks and continue in the normal manner. You actually have two choices -- continuing with the present pick for another round or switching picks. There are quite a few combinations of pick orders, too, but I got the hang of it, so I enjoyed that puzzle much more than the vault lock, which seemed to have no logic.

All in all, I enjoyed the mission in spite of the minor frustrations I mentioned. The vault room provides plenty of entertainment in a small space.


The Golden Skull of Lord Frobb

This is a very short mission with objectives that do not display. You go downstairs, get a skull (the first blank objective is checked) and go back up (the second blank objective is checked). One or two minutes is par for the course. The mission is very dark initially. You can barely see at the beginning to grope your way down the stairs. Once down, the setting is dark and eerie but visibility is improved. Even though not much is happening in the mission, I really liked the atmosphere and the use of colors downstairs. There are two haunts in that area that are very easy to get by. They make noise but seem glued in position. The mission would be improved by (1) making it a little lighter, (2) having more tasks to do, and (3) making the AI more challenging. There is also a little problem with image shearing that has been mentioned elsewhere.

This may be a first mission, and if so it was a good start. Flesh things out a little, and you'll be ready to go.


The Keepers are Thirsty

The premise here is that you must go into a maze and find a can of beer. Easier said than done! The maze is crawling with AI. There are ample shadows, however, and if you use your water arrows wisely, ghosting it is no problem for the most part. The problem is finding your way through the maze under these adverse conditions and finding all the stuff that you need. That is what made the puzzle interesting for me.

Getting up to the third floor presented a little problem. Three AI were circulating rapidly and the floor was noisy. To get up there I had to use moss and good timing. I merged with the guards in a bright area and kept moving at the right pace, trying to dowse torches at the same time so I could make a hiding place. That is one interesting aspect of this mission - the need to think and sneak while on the move. The first time I played it I had used up most of my water arrows in the lower floors, and I did not have enough water to complete the third floor. I had to restart the mission from scratch and use them more wisely.

So, you eventually find the beer locker after all that, but it is locked tighter than a drum, and you learn that you need to flip all of the switches before it will open. All what switches? How many switches? How many have you already done? Not a clue! So then you must go back down through all the heavy traffic and really hunt for the switches that seemed unimportant when you first passed through there. Some of them are a little difficult to find.

There is a problem with the loot. It seems that everyone can find 350 out of 750, and the rest of it seems to be either very well hidden or unobtainable.

This mission can also be played by BJ'ing the AI. Most of the AI are not very sensitive, so they are sitting ducks. Then it becomes trivial, apart from finding the switches. The game play in ghost mode is very good, if you like mazes (and I do).

Peter_Smith
7th Aug 2002, 06:57
Mind Master

This is another mission that is not a mission. It is a puzzle in Thief disguise. But it is very well done.

The setting is inside a busy pub, with friendly atmosphere and fine architecture. You can look around, but you are fixed in front of a table at which a keeper-like character wants you to play his little game. You ring a bell and he starts the game. You ring again, and he gives you help.

The objective of the puzzle is to find an exact combination of colors in four positions, there being four possible colors for each position, in as few guesses as possible. Nobody is counting, so you can play as long as you like. That is 256 possible combinations with one solution. After each guess, the host tells you how many are correct colors and how many of those are in the correct position. It is fun working out the strategy and solving the puzzle.

Some people have reported instances of the host lying or not being able to complete the puzzle because of some bug. I did not have any of those problems. It worked perfectly for me each time, and I played it around 20 times.

This is a novel approach to an arcade type game that would normally be quite mechanical. It is put it in a pleasant setting and with an AI interacting with you. I hope the author next designs a poker game. You could play it all night.

I can make one suggestion for improvement. Don't anchor the player to his position. Let him wander around, enjoy the scenery, take a drink, and maybe even pick up some loot. But force him to finish the game to complete the mission.


Night's Recourse

This is not your typical Thief mission. The object is to beat up a lot of skeleton types who are robbing your house, using a stick (staff). Your house has a computer, stereo gear, and loud music. Karras is displayed on the computer screen - an odd juxtaposition. As the mission is laid out, fighting the skeletons not too difficult. You stand in a bathroom, the skeletons come into the doorway one by one, and you whack them. When they die they make a burrick noise and release some smoke. Pretty funny. After you finish these guys, you look in the rest of the house and find the boss monster and an axe with which to fight him. He is not too difficult either -- it's just a question of hacking away with the axe.

Although not Thiefly by any standard, and more like Half-life in flavor, I found this mission to be amusing to play, and it provided a definite change of pace. I got so involved in the fighting that I forgot to check the CD collection.


Old Comrades, Old Debts

This mission is really excellent. It has beautiful architecture, many fine scripts and effects, well designed AI, tuned to be challenging but not too difficult, good music and ambience, a reasonable story, challenging goals, and well designed opportunities for sneaking. It has it all.

You begin in a jail cell located in the basement of an abandoned pagan chapel. How to get out? You soon find a weakened wall that crumbles into blocks that can be moved out of the way. Nice custom objects.

There are places to explore in the jail area but not much to find. You must go upstairs. [Edit: this is not quite correct - see below.] That was my first challenge -- to get past one fast and sensitive guard on patrol. You have no weapons, so the entire mission is a forced sneaker. This one situation has the only bug I found. To get up the stairs from the jail corridor, you have to jump to get past the first step. That is a difficult and noisy move. Later in the mission you can travel up the same stairs smoothly with no problem. This is repeatable -- it could be intended, but it is a little annoying.

On the second floor you have the ruined chapel with some ghosts and an good probability of being caught as you admire the scenery. On the third floor is an interesting attic with a luminous spider who lights you up. A guard up there rotates frequently, so you have to do your business in short bursts and go back into hiding.

Eventually you find some keys and can wander outside the chapel. It is a beautiful snow scene, with interesting places to explore but not much to find.

The ending is a spectacular set of explosions. No question about it. The mission starts quietly, but it goes out with a bang.

[Edit: as mentioned by Nightwalker below, there is a better route upstairs than the direct path I took. You can go outside the cellar and then back into the building. The jump step may not be a bug but an attempt by the designer to prevent the inside route. If so, a locked door at the foot of the stairs would have been more effective.:)]

Police Station

The police station is another mission that is probably a first effort. It has a nice layout but some problems with game play and finishing touches. For a start, the ambient lighting is zero. To ghost the mission, it is necessary to extinguish torches to get past the guards on the lower floor, and that puts you in blind thief mode. The guard on the left will detect you even in the total blackness and with very slow creeping. A little strange. So you grope up the right set of stairs and immediately find Calidore (a strangely familiar name), the person you must break out of jail. Further exploring discloses cells upstairs that have nothing in them. There are also some offices, with both of the evidence objectives in one small office and a larger suite of offices quite empty. Then you leave with Calidore, if you can grope your way out. There are no loot, pickpockets, or secrets. Ghosting this mission is dreary.

The most fun way to play this mission is in broad torch-light, with the guards chasing you, and to try achieving zero damage. The upstairs cell area can be used to hide out, because the guard up there is pretty stupid. Another approach is to kill all the guards (you don't have a BJ).

The mission would be greatly improved if there were some ambient light, if more use were made of the empty spaces, and there were more things to do.


Thief 2 CTF

What the heck is a CTF, anyway?

This is a timed mission, with allowed times progressively shorter and allowing progressively less damage at higher skills. In the easiest skill, "Do you like pie?", you must find and eat a pie and exit in 15 minutes. Anything goes. This one is really easy. Next, in "Capture the Bear" you must find a Teddy bear that is randomly placed at the start of the mission in 10 minutes, and no kills are allowed. This is not too difficult to do with 100% loot, but knockouts are required to get it all. In "Capture the Beer" you must find a beer can that moves about during the course of the mission and exit in 5 minutes, with nobody seeing you. It has a fail-on-see like Casing the Joint. The beer mode is quite difficult. I attempted to complete it with all loot and zero damage (using gas on the kitchen people) but was unsuccessful. It could be done, I think. I did complete it in ghost mode with 4/5 pockets and 1268 / 1612 loot in 5:15. The timer did not kill me until 5:34.

With objectives of strongly increasing difficulty, this mission is three totally different games. Very well done in that regard. Great replayability. I also liked the architecture -- nice layout and decorations. An AI sleeping in a chair added a nice touch. And the game play was fun and tense, especially in beer mode which was a white-knuckle experience. Some people do not like timers. Timers tend to make the game much less relaxing, of course, but in this case you can explore in fairly leisurely fashion in Pie mode and then have a go at Speed Thief and Speed Ghost in the higher difficulties.

Well done, and I hope to see more from this designer. Hopefully some missions without timers, just for variety, mind you.


Underground Escape

This mission has a well done story about an engaged man and woman who dare to hunt for treasure in a dangerous place, their failed romance, and a plot of treachery that does them both in. The game play is fairly linear. You progress through a series of chambers going ever lower into some tombs and then into a mechanist area. Some of the AI can be ghosted, but several cannot. I had to kill some spiders and an apparition.

The atmosphere was a little too bright and clean for a supposedly ancient area filled with mystery and dread. The architecture was pretty good on the whole, but it could have been a little more "dreadful" for my taste.

Finding the loot is a challenge. There are some small coins scattered about that are not so obvious. I got 1360 / 1460 loot and hunted a long time without success for the missing 100.

Near the end are some wood chests with some very slow lock picks. Ho hum.

Also at the end is the prized objective, a "painting" entitled "The Builder's Cats." LOL. It was a photo of (apparently) the designer's cats. Very cute cats. Definitely a chuckle, but not very Thiefly.

All in all, this was a fun mission, but not a ghoster.

Nightwalker
7th Aug 2002, 11:59
Very nice, well thought out reviews, Peter!

The only quibble I have is with Old Comrades, Old Debts. The stairs are not the preferred way out of the jail area. I betatested this one, so I was privy to the designer's planned route. The best way up is to grab the key in the first room outside the cell, then go out into the storage area, mantle up on the boxes and climb out of the hatch up into the outer courtyard. I found mantling out of this hatch tricky and a little frustrating, but it does work. Then you have to snag the key from the guard that patrols out into the yard to get back into the building. :)

Peter_Smith
7th Aug 2002, 13:32
Haha, Nightwalker.:) I actually went out from the cellar by that route on one occasion, and I even snagged the door key from the guard. For some reason, like the groundhog, I decided it to pop back in my hole and try the direct route past the guard. I guess I wanted to ghost him just because he was there; forbidden territory, so to speak. Now that you mention the preferred route, maybe that little jump step was a temporary barrier planted by the designer to prevent that move. I still think that jump step was a little strange. Now, if the route had been prevented by a locked door at the foot of the stairs, the key to which was inside the house, that would have definitely forced the outside route. As it was, the inside route was possible but difficult. It won't be the last time I take a wrong turn.:)

I will correct that review to reflect this.

Lytha
7th Aug 2002, 14:10
Hm... I think the jump was needed because of the CamVator scene (the intro with the black screens, then the guard taunting the pagan, then back to the black screen) - it was most probably a choice between the little hop by the player when the guard is relatively distant, or dump the player from a greater height, causing a noise that is more likely to upset the guard... odd things happen when the player is teleported around like that. :)

Speedy[143]
7th Aug 2002, 17:59
Peter Smith asks......

What the heck is a CTF, anyway?

CTF... Capture The Flag:D

I admin a ladder and lead a clan ([143]) for Quake 2 Expert CTF... awesome game play.. the mod's been around for 5 years now :eek: Furious off hand grapple (we call it a "hook") with intense 1 v 1 or team play… if you think you might be interested in reading more about the background and unique game play of this classic online multiplayer experience check out the link below…
http://www.planetquake.com/expert/GameDesign.html

XXXOOO
Speedy

ChangelingJane
7th Aug 2002, 18:23
Originally posted by Peter Smith
First City Bank and Trust

Inside the vault there is another interesting combinatorial puzzle. The two safes in there can be opened by lock picks, but not in the ordinary way. It took me some time to realize this, but when a pick stops working it is not sufficient to switch picks and continue in the normal manner. You actually have two choices -- continuing with the present pick for another round or switching picks. There are quite a few combinations of pick orders, too, but I got the hang of it, so I enjoyed that puzzle much more than the vault lock, which seemed to have no logic.


This puzzle was very cool, especially in that it took awhile to figure out it WAS a puzzle ^_^ I'd like to see more FMs use this trick, especially on a lock in a more dangerous area. I'll definitely be opening this one up in DromEd to see how it's done!

Telliamed_
9th Aug 2002, 06:31
/me waves to all the Eidos forumgoers who are seeing him for the first time.

I'm really enjoying reading all the comments about the C3 missions. Turns out this is the most enjoyable part of making a mission. Especially to get an idea of what I did right (or wrong, as the case may be), and applying that to future projects.

There is one thing I haven't seen mentioned very much, and that's the ambient sounds of the missions. I've always liked just listening to Thief, and try to make my missions just as enjoyable to the ears. But, based on the reviews I've read for the C3 missions, sound is very often overlooked in a mission. So I'm particularly interested to know if the ambient sound in my mission was effective. Of course, I can't tell you which one is mine (one more week!), so you'll just have to cover them all.


As for OCOD, I didn't encounter the step-bug you described. In fact, I've found the stairs to be easier to get up than the hatch, despite what the author claims. I think Lytha may be right about it being related to CamVator; but I have my doubts that it was really intentional.

Peter_Smith
9th Aug 2002, 06:53
When ambient sound is good, I noticed it. When ambient sound is absent, I may not pay much attention. Silence can be golden, too. For sure, I enjoy many of the common Thief sounds when I hear them, and custom ones as well. When sound is annoying, I notice that too and sometimes mention it. But for the most part, I tend to take the sounds for granted and don't usually mention them when commenting on a mission. I guess I will have to be more conscious of that. I noticed that Lytha mentioned sounds quite a bit in her comments at TTLG.

Lytha
9th Aug 2002, 10:34
Hi Telliamed. :)

I think I am correct with my assumption about which mission you designed (although I am most probably wrong, and most people name the markers with the ambient sounds in that specific way... uhm... although it looked like a foolproof fingerprint on the evidence material to me... ;) )

So... I liked the use of ambient sounds in T2:CTF. Though I disliked the time limit, I gave it a try in Expert because Vanguard said that the time limit wasn't enforced for him (looks like the author of T2:CTF used VK's scrips?) I have the user-version of the scripts installed in my Darkloader-Thief, and I think Vanguard hasn't them.

It was then (when I was still busy with the first two guards in the entrance area after 5 minutes of gameplay) quite cool how the background sounds changed just before I was kicked out. But I got to admit that I was so frustrated then because of the time limit, that I will most probably not give it another try in Expert. I would always prefer a teddy bear over beer anyway. *hugs the bear* :)

The change of the sound was subtile, the volume was excellent adjusted. So it was very, very good.


Okay, and now you think most probably "yeah, nice that she liked the ambient sounds in T2:CTF, but what about <i>MY</i> mission?!?" Well... if the fingerprints weren't yours, then I will give your mission another review about the ambient sounds in less than a week. ;)


(and the prize for multiple usage of the words "time limit" goes to me today)

Nightwalker
9th Aug 2002, 12:52
Just to settle the step question in OCOD, here's a quote from the author, who must of course, remain anonymous:


What can I say? This is a BUG. And I can get rid of it. And it's not my fault.
There seems to be some problem with optimization of many brushes in a very small area.
DromEd can't hadle it and some brushes are blocking player's way.
I had a very strange problems while building this mission. For example: my guards (thieves) were noticing
some "hole" in the ground, although there was no "hole" there! Getting rid of this bug made another
bug ("first step") appear! I had to choose: "hole" or "first step"... There was no other option.
It is REALLY strange...

My preferred way up to the second level is by the stairs, as well. I like the challenge of sneaking by the guard patrolling the hallway and snagging his health potion on the way by!
:D

As for ambient sounds, I'm afraid I wouldn't know them if they jumped out and bit me! I'm not a dromeder and the terminology doesn't tell me exactly what I'm looking for. Background sounds add a great deal to the atmosphere of a mission, so if that is what you're referring to, then I probably noticed them in a subliminal sort of way.

As for Thief 2 CTF, I'll keep my bear, too, Lytha! The expert setting was too frustrating for me. :)

Lytha
9th Aug 2002, 13:19
It is true, usually I notice the ambient sounds only subconciously, too. Unless I am on the search for some that I want to use myself. :)

Examples for ambient sounds are:

- wind noises that you can hear when you are outside
- the music inside of the Estates, i.e. in the Gervasius Mansion in Masks and CtJ
- the sad music that plays in the village of ToB
- the loud music that you can hear in some of the secret passages of Assassins, or down there in the Thieves' Guild


Take a look at the contest missions:

- Eastwater Bank used different ambient sounds for each of the floors, you will notice them i.e. when you approach the vault upstairs. It is pleasant to just sit and listen for a while, though I think the music downstairs in the 1st floor could have used a bit variation. ;)

- T2:CTF has a really subtile use of ambient sounds. I noticed it only barely (that's how ambient sounds are used best, IMHO), until there was a change of the sound. Well, and then the mission failed. doh.


I recently played a mission that had none ambient sounds (except the ones that come with the objects), Curiosity. With it being so absolutely silent, it caused a definitely different impression than it could have been with some wind noises or music inside. It felt (for me) flat and empty... silent as it was.


I even already inserted one ambient sound in my mission in production because it felt so horribly "empty" without one, although I am definitely not at that point yet. Just so that I can walk to this area and activate the background music - testing the inside of the mansion became boring without it.

Nightwalker
9th Aug 2002, 14:27
Thanks for the explanation, Lytha. I'm going to replay a few of the contest missions later today. Now I'll know what to listen for. I DO know that those things make a difference, though. If you play Lord Alan's Basement (T2 version) with an older version of Darkloader, you don't get the music from the MP3s and the atmosphere is quite different. :)

ChangelingJane
10th Aug 2002, 02:03
Ambient sounds, if done well, aren't noticed. Like well-done makeup. It's one of those things that you'll never get credit for doing right ^_~ Plus, the contest missions were too small to do any real creative use of ambients, imo. Put in more than a couple things and it gets obnoxious in such a small area!

The main thing that I notice is when a mission is dead silent. I've never liked that. As someone else said in this thread, it makes the level flat. There are some standout exceptions, however, where the ambients/background music add that extra bit that makes you have to change your underwear :D

Peter_Smith
10th Aug 2002, 05:02
I will repeat my contention that sometimes silence is golden. I have played missions where there were few sounds other than Garrett's footsteps, torch noise, and maybe a little dripping water. OK, maybe torches and water count as ambient sound -- I'm not quite sure of the definition. Anyway, you get a feeling of isolation with that minimal sound, and sometimes that is just what is wanted, for example, if you are in a cave or a tomb. Then you get into an area of interest or danger, and some creepy music starts to play, or you hear sounds of some beasts, strange noises, or whatever. That adds to the tension. Continual music and sounds, on the other hand, can be, well.... be overdone, in my opinion. That tends to dull the senses rather than heighten them at the right moment.

Telliamed_
10th Aug 2002, 09:46
But... I don't wear makeup. :D

Yeah, too much sound can distract from gameplay. In Fireshadow's Barrow, the wind was much too loud. It also didn't seem that appropriate; I don't recall there being any wind sounds in Bonehoard.

Since silence only exists as the absence of sound, then if there's no sound to begin with the effect is moot. My favorite effect in Thief2 is the suspenseful sounds that only played occasionally. That greatly increased the enjoyment of playing the game. Particularly when I entered a hallway and saw some guard walking straight towards me, and at that moment an eerie violin chorus starts playing. <!!!> I actually believed that the sounds were being triggered to play at moments like that.

I guess people who look at games as more of a role-playing experience have a different view of ambient music. Real-life doesn't have a soundtrack, after all. But I see gameplaying more like movies, soundtracks and all.

Of course, you always need environmental sound -- torches and water and machines, etc. Torch sounds you get "for free"; the sound is automatically attached to each torch. But you have to add most others yourself.


I just read a somewhat humorous account of what it's like to be a sound guy (http://www.penny-arcade.com/chan2.php3) for a game.