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VanishedOne

Fan Mission: In the Black

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This is the mission I built to learn DR (with some lengthy gaps when Life intervened), and naturally has much in it I'd do differently now. As a starter mission it's fairly simple (manor house; object to steal; locked door; shiny things) and of moderate size, though the evidence from beta testing is that your mileage may vary on that point.

  • Just completing the mission requires one unconcealed key and is mostly about working out where to go. If you want to get all the loot, it's assumed you enjoy hunting high and low for trinkets. And keys. And clues about the first two.
  • The grounds/exterior and the chapel may be somewhat taxing performance-wise.
  • Paintings galore: none of them loot. Don't bother checking.
  • Every mansion needs at least one Dark Secret, but there's no special reward or objective for piecing fragments together, and some strands are left deliberately dangling...
  • If you can't bear even two seconds (precisely) of undead, stay out of

    the well. You'll miss out on 200 in loot. If only there were a way to purify it.

Thanks to all the people whose assets, test reports and/or advice in NDRQs went into this.

Screenshots:


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Download link

 

Construction notes (for those who like reading):

 

When TDP came out my view of Thief was coloured by a review that waxed lyrical about explorable spaces that stretch out so expansively and suggestively that you can miss entire levels of Cragscleft if you just go and complete the mission. (Of course it's actually not that simple once difficulty levels come into it, but anyway.) So I have made a mansion of which a good deal is luxuriantly superfluous to the main objectives.


Other than the placement of objects in the graveyard, the chapel was the first part to be built, and retains some of the roughest edges (note the rather basic window frame): I think my first question on this forum, before I knew what a blend add stage was, concerned why my opaque alabaster walls were glowing in the dark. The alabaster went, and I tinkered with the place until I got something that hopefully at least makes an impression by laying the technological theme on thick.

The chapel also set the scale for the entire map, which is a feature on which testers commented; and I'm aware that first-time mappers are often thought to overdo size. (Though I seem to recall I had to sink the floor of the lower library to get the big bookcase models to fit.) At one point I was thinking of modelling a room on the Marble Hall at Kedleston (Derbyshire, U.K.), so actually my grand, ostentatious mansion is a bit more bijou than that. (There's very little of Kedleston in the map that exists, but it did inspire the observation gallery above the kitchen; hence the comment in the briefing about servants on display.) I do think I made a mistake with the step height on some of the staircases. Also the chaplain's fireplace (one of TDM's stock prefabs) is oversized for its placement: the rooms above the chapel were the next thing I built, and I probably installed the fireplace before I decided to lower the ceiling.

In terms of overall structure I somewhat regret building heavily around corridors, even though it makes sense for the portrait galleries. It creates too many sections with only one connecting doorway to the main arteries. Also, I'm told (by Simon Thurley, no less, in the Q&A after a public lecture he delivered on architectural aesthetics) that buildings are often designed from the inside out; and by trained architects no doubt they are; but in the case of mine that's led to lots of hoping the ungainly aspects of the exterior (particularly heightened when compared to the module set now available) are adequately hidden by darkness.

The garden underwent the largest and latest change, owing to reports of performance problems; on my own machine a variable framerate mainly indicates a day ending in -y (it became increasingly impractical to have the map open in DR at the same time as running the game), which rather dulls sensitivity to lag. An area of open and brightly lit grass was removed, and the graveyard walled off; and LOD is rather heavily used. (Hopefully Vendle's note to the housekeeper didn't send anyone seeking a climbable tree, which no longer exists. The bird's nest is now on the roof at all difficulty levels.) Making the roof accessible hadn't been in my original plans, and visportalling could have been more effective if I'd stuck to them; but while constructing the roof I found it rather enjoyable to hop around the tricky bits. I particularly like the view of the pool below: I ended up editing the cubemap so it reflects the sky (the stock version corresponds to skybox_ocean and doesn't go with the *_NE skies, even though they have the same editor image), and the moon turns out to shimmer in the water under the blendlights.

The cellars presented a difficulty in that they have to be quite expansive in order to connect various parts of the house. They ended up as a sort of joke: when you pass into the remains of the old Hall, you pass into a dungeon from an earlier era of gaming, with cheerfully chunky and repetitive geometry on an obvious grid, colour-coded doors and keys, and a room containing nothing but a treasure chest. And now the place is being used for random storage. (Those little rooms with all the clutter inside look a bit like prison cells with the doors removed, don't they?) As you may have guessed from the readables (especially if you also went swimming), the opulence of the mansion above is an act of atonement from a lineage turned to righteousness (atonement for destruction of architecture, not for patricide). Though it helps to know a little Gilbert & Sullivan...

Thematically you have the basic tension over nature, linking visual/spatial elements (the topiary, the crystals mainly in Nathan's room, the mushroom research, the bathroom with sea and sand represented in cold marble, the chapel with literal 'lightning [...] caged by machine') to the unknowing poetic duel between the would-be pagan (whose outlook I vaguely imagined as the Dark Project distorted through a lens of Romanticism) and the pagan-born under-gardener. For obvious reasons it was tricky to find an idiom for the latter, which is why he's emphatically not fully enculturated as a pagan. I went for a semblance of 'Saxonism': favouring Germanic vocabulary over Romance or Hellenistic elements. (I say semblance because the actual etymologies aren't always supportive.)

With three pairs of AI pointedly talking about nothing profound I didn't seek any new voice work, so I hope the stilted Frankensteining of the stock lines aids a vague sense of drawing-room mannerpunk. Amelia's character was the main victim of scope limits, after I decided the mission had an excess of diaries in it. Vernon, incidentally, isn't meant to be that boring; the three soporific book titles correspond to the three hollow books in the mission, in his attempt to ensure no curious soul would ever open them. (And they're not quite as heavy-handed as they could have been: in an earlier draft the third was 'Small Static Oil Lamps: A Manifesto'.)

 

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I hope so. :smile: Beta testing indicated the actual mission flow may not suit all tastes, but thanks to that input I made it a bit better at suggesting where to go. Though it's still pretty much 'VanishedOne learns how DR works by making a set of individually decorated rooms'.

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Pretty nice mission!

I liked a lot the mix of modern and classic architecture, but I must admit that

I found the lighting a bit off.

Some places with no chance at all to peek into the next corridor or doorway without exposing oneself to full light.

And then other places with pitch-black darkness where even a lantern will not help to properly light them.

 

Anyway, a pretty solid mission nonetheless.

 

Just two questions, before I am willing to make my way to the end of the mission.

 

- where is the key to the blue door in the basement. Should be in the Lord's chamber, but couldn't find it there nor in his office.

- and what about the key to the wardrobe in that 'pagan-inspired' bedroom with lots of red crystals. Couldn't even find the lightswitch - let alone the key for the wardrobe

 

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Cheers. You're not the first to remark on the darkened room: it's a case where, since there are no AI in there, I kept the stylistic/thematic choice anyway. (No light switch; electricity wouldn't go with Nathan's faux-pagan tastes.)

 

You could always light the fire

 

 

and check inside the fireplace while you're there.

 

 

As for the key to the blue door,

 

 

if you found the red key to the red door, you know you're looking for a blue key, and the best place to hide something blue is...

 

on a blue floor. For good measure it's behind the door after entering the privy. Yes, that was tough: it's a sort of consolation prize for people who turn the place absolutely upside down in search of the ledger.

 

 

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I hope so. :smile: Beta testing indicated the actual mission flow may not suit all tastes, but thanks to that input I made it a bit better at suggesting where to go. Though it's still pretty much 'VanishedOne learns how DR works by making a set of individually decorated rooms'.

It suits my tastes :) You're a fantastic interior decorator, and I love the heating system and fireplaces!

 

I'm still searching for the....key (how perverse you are...) of the safe in the office. A little help please!

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Hint: there's a clue in

 

 

the readables in the library. Also, a thorough search of the housekeeper's room (the one where you can use the rafter to reach the table at the far end) gives a clue about whom to follow to the right readable, if he's still conscious.

 

 

Outright answer:

 

 

You're looking for a room with a bed within reaching distance of a lamp, some glasses and a... brick. The only room with the first three is on the ground floor in the North East. There's a false brick in the wall under the bedside table.

 

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Hi,

I'm the guy no-one likes.

I liked the start of this level a lot.
Using a vine arrow to climb onto the balcony, mossing the floor and sneaking in was a decent way to get started.

After that, I think a highlight for me was the well section (very nice) - but I'm not a fan of expansive key hunts.

I managed to get stuck in a few places from which I couldn't return.
Easy fix with a clip.

The first, most obvious, was the rooftop, over the railings (thought maybe could smash the glass to drop in, since there was the opportunity to do so downstairs if not being sneaky).
Guess that was mostly my fault for not throwing over something to climb back over the railings with... However, pressing against the glass would stick me.




The second - accessing the main building using the method described, through the balcony - up to the rafters - grab a bale and take it to the target with three arrows. Can mantle up onto this and over the wall, escaping level. Thought it might be a shortcut back round. Just led to a room full of skeletons, a tour of the outskirts via nodraw and no way back in.




Additionally, I've never seen so much monster-clip in a level, ever.
Perhaps the strange AI behaviour is due to the path leading through these swathes of monster-clip.

Occasionally, one or two would open a door that would require a particular key and get stuck in a loop, allowing me to immediately access through, eg, the kitchen.
The archer above the grass lion takes one arrow and panics with no escape route. Sometimes he will open the door - it is impossible to drop something on his head for KO and enter this way. Mossing the floor to drop and pick - never managed to get it in time.

Putting a noisemaker outside will cause many guards to investigate and open nearly every door, leaving them open and unlocked for as long as they are searching and until they return to patrol.
Some kind of chain-alert that negates the key-hunt.

Found maybe 4-5k loot, half of which was through random clicking - some didn't make sense, no idea why this hairbrush was worth 15 when another was trash. Some was well hidden, in rafters or in plague doctor cap.
One thing that got me - none of the beautiful artwork was loot. Not that I found.
Loot's very scattered, but considering the size of the level...

Sometimes it's difficult to walk down a lighted corridor, unless standing in a shadow and taking a smoke break until it's time to ghost behind the guard (into a brightly lit room, in which he immediately turns or is alerted by a civ.). It was very square, but really did show off a lot of the new assets and things that can be done now - it was impressive.

Got into a lot of swordfights. Was fun. Many arrows to faces - didn't really try the blackjack on teh guards, only rushing the nobs (which in UK is slang for penis) when they caught me trying to figure if that map was Minoan or of France, or figured out from where the fruit was being thrown at them...

A few doors open backwards... which means it is easy to trap patrolling guards inside by placing an object (of which there are many), such as a bale or box, in front of the door.

Really nice use of reflection - especially the puddle and the ceiling.

There were many windows with god-ray-like effect and particle, but that did not appear to cast light onto opposite wall. Some detail like that would really fill the spaces. I couldn't tell if they lit me or not, without a light-gem. Didn't appear to.

Took about 2-3 tries to escape level, got stuck in the roof bit on 1st try.
Playing properly - after around 1:30hrs, after finding red key, decided that didn't quite fancy running around trying to find which door it fit.
Probably the door downstairs that is lit red. Idk.

Got killed by a guy from Hammerfell with a curved sword. Called it a day.

Built up some psychogeography of the map and some nice cut-routes.

The best part had to be finding a way in that wasn't simply picking a lock or finding the guy who has the key, or waltzing in the front entrance - and the well section, which was very nicely done.
Actually had to case the place to find a way in and try to be smart about it (glad I bought a vine arrow and some moss), rather than just open that door... I liked that a lot.

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Any hints

where I should look for the secret accounts ?

 

 

And where's the key

for the armoury cage ?

 

 

Can't help

with the armory cage.

 

 

For

secret accounts:

 

 

 

Near the bar is a long corridor leading to the lord himself and a priest by a fireplace with their backs to you. The lord has a key on him.

 

 

 

Use that key upstairs where there is a door marked "Do not disturb" or similar.

 

 

 

In that room, lift the bust on the desk to find a button underneath, after using that button, look at the ceiling. The ladder that just opened leads to an area with the book you're seeking.

 

 

- prjames

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Beautiful mission. I liked the quirky lightning. But the secrets are quite difficult,

Any hints on

 

  • what to do with the key found in the library
  • and as above, the locked armoury gate

 


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Loved this mission except for the frame rate. There were just too many places inside and outside the mansion where I would face a certain way and get 30fps. This can be helped some by setting ambient rendering to simple and by disabling the post processing. However, I really wish these places where the frame rate drops to 30 could be fixed. It's a shame too because the mansion is so incredibly beautiful. I was going to add this one to my walkthrough website, but I just can't deal with all these places where the frame rate drops. A consistent solid frame rate is very important to me. By the way, my pc has a GTX 1080 with 16GB of ram and I can play pretty much any other mission at 4k resolution and 60fps.

Edited by cavador_8

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Encountered a problem on this one which I've also had with a few other missions. There's an intense "OOOO!" type of hum, sounding like very loud feedback, which kicks in when I enter the entrance hall and then hangs around various rooms, and also remains when you go to Settings etc. I can't believe that the sound as I hear it was ever deliberately chosen, as it's simply unbearable.


Is this a known problem? Presumably it has something to do with how my soundcard (SoundblasterZ) interprets that sound file.


In Thief you can just remove offending sound files from the folder, but this doesn't seem to work with TDM.

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Tried it going through the Steinberg audio interface and Kurzweil speakers - it's still there, but not as intense as with the Soundblaster and Altec Lansing MX5021s. It's coming from the spherical white lights and is presumably intentional.


Maybe I'm just particularly sensitive to that sound, but I find it hard to bear. :blink:


I'll try to avoid the lights.... :smile:

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Nice mission! I especially liked the visuals and some of the soundtrack that I probably heard for the first time.

 

Encountered a problem on this one which I've also had with a few other missions. There's an intense "OOOO!" type of hum, sounding like very loud feedback, which kicks in when I enter the entrance hall and then hangs around various rooms, and also remains when you go to Settings etc. I can't believe that the sound as I hear it was ever deliberately chosen, as it's simply unbearable.

 

Is this a known problem? Presumably it has something to do with how my soundcard (SoundblasterZ) interprets that sound file.

 

In Thief you can just remove offending sound files from the folder, but this doesn't seem to work with TDM.

I noticed the exact same sound effect, even after bringing up the pause menu. (I have a Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit, running TDM 2.06 x64 version for GNU/Linux.)

 

By the way, can anyone tell me

 

 

 

how to get out of the well? I've tried climbing on the beams around the well, but I can't reach them jumping from the rope. I also haven't found any rope arrows I could shoot at them.

 

 

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By the way, can anyone tell me

 

 

 

how to get out of the well? I've tried climbing on the beams around the well, but I can't reach them jumping from the rope. I also haven't found any rope arrows I could shoot at them.

 

 

I had trouble with that as well, you just have to time/angle it right and jump from the rope the bucket's hanging from. Tricky, but possible!

 

Strangely enough I found almost everything except the Red Key, which is one of the more easy things to find according to comments. Regardless, great level! Had a lot of character, I was super invested in Nathan and his connection with his pagan roots (no pun intended).

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I generally enjoyed the size and more importantly the openess of the house, tho there's some silly stuff in how the rooms are organized, like how the servants' rooms are all over the place or that there is no direct corridor between the Lord and Lady's room. The raised pool felt really boxed in, that could have used a bit more distance from the walls.

The open roof is really great touch but the fence is kinda awkward. And also actually ineffective as you can jump over it if you climb on one of the chimneys.

 

The chapel is.... certainly unique. But I don't really like how it's just one open, kinda empty box essentially, a few side chambers could have really helped the space out (with some more elaborate machinery).

 

The light gem's behaviour sometimes felt kinda arbitrary and inconsistent. For example there's a pitch black spot in the middle of the brightly lit portrait gallery. Or the little musician corridor in the bar leading up to Lord Jasken felt brighter than what the gem claimed. Other times spots that were in complete darkness turned out to be actually bright. Unsure how much control a map creator has over this tho tbh.

 

Prop inconsistency is a pet peeve of mine aka the fact that some object sometimes interactable while other times they aren't. Worse part is when it's a lootable object, which did happen on this map; the map is littered with those golden masks, most of them unlootable save for like one in the state room (at least I think that's the only one). Or that one of the hairbrushes is actually loot.

Some further examples are that Nathan's furniture is unusually interactable or that some of Jasken's hat are unmoveable.

Or that many doors are unexplainably pickproof, as in you can't even attempt to use picks on them.

 

And finally the sound design. It's just overwhelming, too many rooms has its own unique noises and atmosphere destroying any coherency the mansion might have. It's neat to have one or two rooms that feel special but I feel you went overboard in this aspect. Tho if I understand correctly this was a room building exercise for you so i guess it makes sense.

 

Little moments I quite liked:

- The golden masks with the nooses above them (in the safe room) were really unsettling. That imagery with the eerie noises really made me want to get out of that room immediately.

- The unnatural darkness in Nathan's room is a good touch, it made me really not want to open his cupboard.

- Same thing for the well, I really wanted to gtfo from that room immediately and the darkness made it somewhat difficult to find the door adding to the unease. The effect was kind of ruined tho by the fact that from the corridor the room looked brightly lit.

Also, what exactly is in that well? I never jumped in without using the holy water first.

 

- The priest was a kind of funny jumpscare, hiding behind his bedroom door.

- The little pagan hidey hole in the hedge was the first thing I found and really set the mood for me

- The actual gold bathtub in the state room was kinda 'wtf,lmao' worthy.

- I love how you bothered to give a name to every person.

 

Also, is there really a ring in that room with the note claiming that someone misplaced one? I don't think I ever managed to find anything.

And also couldn't find any bird's nest on the roof.

 

 

Any hints on

 

  • and as above, the locked armoury gate

 


 

It's on the Captain of the Guard, he is the armed guy who is patrolling the bar.

 

 

Sorry, unless I'm dense. I'm stuck on the bucket in the well. I walk through the rope. Can't climb it. Glitch? I've been having a hard time finding any keys whatsoever.

A few months late, but the trick is that you need to jump while on the bucket. Climbing the bucket puts you inside the rope's collision so you become unable to just walk onto it.

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This was an interesting mission. Sadly I can't say I enjoyed it as much as I do the average FM... I will explain my reasoning for that below.

 

First of all I must congratulate the amazing architecture you have achieved here. You've experimented with multiple themes and environments, all packed together into a single large mansion. Some of the decorations were outstanding, and I also love how you played with the lights and shadows in some places.

 

Unfortunately the FM's strongest point was also its weakest point for me. It barely felt like a mission at all, but more like an architectural showreel. The problem was that the player is given this enormous mansion to explore, with nearly all of the rooms unlocked at once, but only a few places relevant to the mission in total; About 95% of the time is spent wandering around rooms trying to find where you need to go to next (for a first time player). I spent nearly 3 hours in total trying to figure out where I'm supposed to go, and half of that was after reading the hints in this thread... I was almost going to give up because it got so boring, but eventually I stumbled into the correct room and found the next objective.

 

As such I really can't give this a good score in terms of gameplay, nor was the story special at all. But I still salute what you managed to do with the models and interior designs! I'd like to see you make another FM with this type of styling, only smaller and more progressively unlocked and perhaps with more objectives.

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