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JackFarmer

Hidden Hands: Initiation (27/12/2018)

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IMO the biggest problem here is scale. Even while running, the distances feel very, very long. There's a good test you can do: set up a few corridors of different height and width, put a couple of objects and lights, and see how much time you need before running or walking in a straight line starts to feel boring.

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imho This is a really great mission, it has it all!! I had a great time exploring all the different areas. Have the fire elemental's been used before??

I can't recall seeing them. Great touch, though I did not dare get too close to see if they were completely functional lol !

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Hello pwl,

 

Yes, I can confirm grayman's statement above. These creatures are fully functional...and they shoot on sight! :)

 

In the meantime, the Master Builder provided me with a script to work around the problem with the combination locks for both gameplay settings ("open on unlock_yes/no")..

 

I have asked my beta testers to check as well. Then we will do an update.

 

P.S. I am very delighted that you liked it! :)

Edited by JackFarmer
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Regarding the fire elementals, something interesting happened during my playthrough...

 

I was waiting for them to pass so that I could pick up the orb at the altar without being seen, when two elementals collided. They then started fighting! They kept rising up toward the top of the cavern while taking turns to hurl fireballs at each other.

 

I don't know if that was intended or if it was a happy little accident, but it kept them out of my hair and made me chuckle. I remember thinking, "that's right, f*** each other up... while I sneak off with the loot!"

Edited by Kerry000

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Hello Kerry000,

 

You are right, this was a happy little accident, however, I myself noticed the following:

 

 

 

On the highest difficulty setting there is a fire elemental and a "living" zombie (what a contradiction! :)) in the vault area in front of the stairs. During my own playthroughs, I occassionally saw the zombie lying killed there. I assume other players saw this as well, but thought this was part of the arrangement (it is not).

 

Thus I assume that for reasons unknown the fire elemental killed the zombie, although they are both on the same team.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion: they decided that it's too boring to fly around in circles and took the initiative for some action! :)

Edited by JackFarmer
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Hi Jack,

 

 

 

Yup, that zombie was dead in my playthrough too (I only play on the highest difficulty). The thing is... it works. That dead zombie is actually far more ominous than if he were alive. It gives the player a sense of foreboding, like even the zombies find it hard to stay upright down here in this pit of darkness.

 

It never crossed my mind that the zombie should have been "alive". Seeing the "dead" zombie was far more intimidating (in terms of the environment you're about to enter) than if he'd been stumbling about. I actually thought to myself that the dead zombie was a good design decision when I first saw him.

 

 

 

Thank you for all of the work that you put into creating a new mission for us fans. Seeing that a new FM has been released always feels like Christmas morning for me!

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Hello Kerry000,

 

Well, I have to admit that I never considered it this way. :)

 

Thank you very much! :)

Edited by JackFarmer

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OK this was a fun mission. It was big and required some thinking to figure out areas and some sneaking around tough lit areas and guards. Mods being a bit sparse lately I've come to really appreciate a nice big varied series of level missions that include tons of great elements. Oh and those metal music riffs at certain sections were spot on cool!

 

As people have said there was a lot of space between the actively playable sections, aka church, sewers, cabin, etc. I don't mind that as it can add to the ambiance of the game, adding lots of countryside can make a game seem more real life. However far reaching space should have some filler items in it, aka more benches, an abandoned campfire, some notes, loot, etc. For example:

 

 



in the church labyrinth there were way too many hallways that led nowhere to emptiness and should have at least had something aka gems, notes, gold, in each nook and cranny. Players need some small rewards for their search efforts.

 

 

Also:

 

 

 

 

In the Orb level where you have the raisable/lowerable rocks and straw huts on either side from the entrance, I found that if you climbed up onto one of the straw huts and try to walk into the straw areas, you clip out like crazy and then fall through it. It doesn't seem like this should have been an option to do so maybe put some gates around it or at least make the straw floor solid. Just a thought.

 

 

 

 

Also one other issue I had:

 

 

 

 

is the large gate just outside and to the left of the entryway to the Harrington Mansion. I tried for about 30 minutes to find a way into this area, either by frobbing for a latch or secret switch somewhere to trying to climb the rocks. Until I clipped into this area I never realized it was not a playable area. I know the sign said something about 12-6 time frame but there is no clock in the game, and I'm sure there are places in the old world that get dark well between these time frames as well.

 

 

All said I loved playing this. Awesome mod!

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Hello Shadow,

 

Great that you liked it and thank you for your comments.

 

I will check the roofs you mentioned and fix this when doing the vital update for the combination lock.

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Version 2 has been uploaded a few minutes ago. Check the spoiler for more information.

 

 

 

 

- combination locks work now also when game setting "Open on unlock" has the value "no" (thanks to grayman)

- surrounded the roof sections below the graveyard with PCs in order to prevent players from falling through the roofs (do not know what's wrong there, the roofs are solid brushes, adding PCs directly to these brushes makes things even worse, so I had to cover the roof sections, players can still walk along the stones, but they can no longer enter the roofs).

- removed two defective textures.

 

 

 

Edited by JackFarmer

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Wow! I am blown away and thoroughly impressed with Hidden Hands Initiation. This is perhaps my all time favorite fan mission for the Dark Mod. The size of the map is astounding and the quality is absolutely superb! Let me extend my personal thank you to JackFarmer, the creator of this amazingly well done fm! I created a walkthrough for this mission on my website.

 

https://darkmodfanwalks.weebly.com/hidden-hands-initiation.html

Edited by cavador_8
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Hello cavador_8,

 

Thank you very much for your praise, this is really very kind!

 

And you have created a walkthrough as well, I have to admit that I am speechless. :)

 

Cheers!

JF

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Version 2 is somehow not recognised as an update - you'll have to manually delete the old version from your fms directory, to see the new one on the server...

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... I created a walkthrough for this mission on my website.

Had a short look at the walktrough. You do realise, that knocking out everybody and their little sister will fail the mission on medium and hard difficulty? ;)

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Yeah, I usually play on the lowest or medium difficulty. Those who like to play on the higher difficulties can just ignore my comments about knocking the guards out and ghost the missions if they like. I personally cannot stand to play without my blackjack. Knocking out guards is so enjoyable to me. :D

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OK, finally finished the mission this evening. Overall an interesting concept, and an engaging storyline. I did like the varied environments, but I do have to agree with Judith here. The scale of things are just off the charts. The mansion should have probably been 1/4 of its size, and the bank and church 1/2. The cabin was realistic and challenging though. To be fair I might be slightly biased, generally preferring (and mapping) compact designs. It was a little tedious having to return to the bank in order to hit the vaults of people elsewhere on the island, but the idea is really cool! I think the take away here is to not overreach by trying to put too much into one FM. It's hard, I routinely have to catch myself while mapping. Basically ask myself: I like this idea, but am I ready to put another 100 hours into the mission to fully flesh it out? All in all a great little huge first mission, and it will be fun to see where the Hidden Hands will take us next! ^_^

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The scale of things are just off the charts. The mansion should have probably been 1/4 of its size, and the bank and church 1/2.

I have to disagree. I thought the scale was perfect. I have played much larger mansions, churches, and banks in Thief 2. In fact, this mission reminded me quite a bit of Thief 2. I found the variety of places to visit also highly unique when compared to many other Dark Mod missions that seem to use the same types of houses or buildings and tend to get a little cramped. For me, this mission should not be changed in any way. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Edited by cavador_8

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I have to disagree. I thought the scale was perfect. I have played much larger mansions, churches, and banks in Thief 2. In fact, this mission reminded me quite a bit of Thief 2. I found the variety of places to visit also highly unique when compared to many other Dark Mod missions that seem to use the same types of houses or buildings and tend to get a little cramped. For me, this mission should not be changed in any way. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

 

Fair enough, to each their own. Like I said I think I am slightly biased, and I do remember feeling similarly about Thief II in contrast with The Dark Project. I also enjoyed the varied locations, though I think JackFarmer bit off a little more than he could chew for his first mission, which is a common and understandable mistake.

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Problem with bigger scale is that you both have to fill bigger spaces with more stuff, and that you actually make movement speed feel slower. Running feels like walking, walking is like sneaking etc. Before you start making a mission, it's good to study relationship between player movement speed, FOV, and environment scale, to make most out of it.

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Problem with bigger scale is that you both have to fill bigger spaces with more stuff, and that you actually make movement speed feel slower. Running feels like walking, walking is like sneaking etc.

I personally never once thought any of this while playing this mission. It never even crossed my mind that the movement speed felt slower. I guess this is just a personal preference, but I am used to playing expansive massive sized missions in Thief 2.

Edited by cavador_8

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Enjoying this one and personally I love the wide open spaces. But I would have liked to see more furniture in the mansion.

I have a problem in the sewer:

 

 

When I switch the Emergency Stop in the Service Room, nothing happens except for the bit of concrete labelled "Emergency Stop" moving in and out on a gateway that's already open. The closed gateway remains shut. Is there something else I'm supposed to do?

 

 

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OK, I've looked up cavador_8's walkthrough, and solved the problem. What confused me was:




...the fact that the first gate wheel wasn't frobbable, so I assumed the second one wasn't either, and didn't even try it. :rolleyes:



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OK, I've looked up cavador_8's walkthrough, and solved the problem. What confused me was:

...the fact that the first gate wheel wasn't frobbable, so I assumed the second one wasn't either, and didn't even try it. :rolleyes:

 

 

Jep, you are right,

 

 

 

 

had to lift this one up because it caused problems with the AI. Should maybe have removed the wheel from the first panel

 

 

 

Anyways, thanks for playing and glad you liked it!

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Hi, I seldom comment on here but wanted to this time, because I thought some of the criticisms were slightly too harsh.

I'm no mapmaker but I've played pretty much every mission. Here's my thoughts:

 

I can't think of any mapper having this good results on their first attempt. This mission is strikingly original. You've got your own style, which is different from the crowded city streets darkmod is renowned for (those are fun too) but it's a breath of fresh air. The wider spaces gave me an overlook on areas and I could plan my route through guards like chess moves, so I somewhat disagree with Judith. The mansion was particularly good for this. You also contrasted it with some tighter spaces later, which was nice. The sewer area, especially the

 

 

mechanic with the crouching/swimming/lighting

 

 

Was really cool. The crypt was great too - finally a mission where you can

 

 

kill the undead without it triggering every zombie in the map to come and search for you (Glenham Tower anyone?) The labyrinth had me completely lost in seconds, and I was genuinely scared. It was also great to hear some music with a beat to it, it really relaxed the high tension of that situation and made me feel like I'd just finished a horror film where the good guys win and the credits roll. Nice touch.

 

 

 

I don't think you bit off more than you can chew as someone suggested - the mission is not perfect but no one's first is, and this is very playable, I had lots of fun. The concept was ambitious, but you pulled it off. Having said that, I'll also give my constructive criticism:

 

The format is slightly clunky, with little saving the player if they go off course. In theory the level order doesn't matter, but in practice ... I missed the

 

 

Vault II Key in the Bank (Silver on grey, hard to see and unlike other keys), and as a result, concluded it must be in a later level. It was tedious to search for it and though you might consider that a silly oversight I don't think I should have been so heavily punished for it. I ended up needing cavador_8's walkthrough for that one

 

 

This could have been helped if there were more readables giving tips and linking levels together, or at the very least you should definitely include the intro text in a 'Journal' readable, as most campaigns do (and this is essentially a campaign forced into 1 mission). I reloaded the mission just to read the text because I forgot what was even meant to be happening. And on that note, you did well to place the player in so many intriguing situations, but it's a shame you never gave us some side stories to make some characters feel more real; like their lives were more than a training mission test dummy For example,

 

what were the other thieves planning?

 

 

I think this lack of plot and overview could drive a beginner away.

 

Although I said I had no problems with the large spaces, they did become tedious when you had to traverse them numerous times (sewer, caves), and I just shift-noclipped through after the 2nd journey. Even on a perfect playthrough the player must retrace some steps, with mistakes added it can become a nightmare. I think you could fix this by adding more sections like

 

 

at the church crypt, where upon stealing the axe we get a shortcut out.

 

 

Also, ending the mission at the actual end would save some time (maybe the thief queen rows around to meet you the other side?).

 

Shadow raised some good points in his critique regarding

 

 

loot in the dead ends of the crypt. This was especially true since the player wasn't rewarded for solving the shield problem properly. There were 4^3 = 64 combinations for the shields which meant if a player just systematically tried all permutations it would take him on average 32 clicks - which isn't that bad. If he visits 1 shrine this reduces to just 8 on average. Given we miss no loot, I propose that visiting 1 shrine is therefore the quickest way to solve the puzzle, which I doubt is intended. Yet if as a result I can't get my loot objective - that's a game changer.

 

 

He also mentioned the

 

 

confusing gate to next to the mansion - I did the same! It's totally odd that it's marked on the map yet it's the only place that isn't playable on the map. Kind of linked to this, the placement of the sewer makes no sense, since we have to actually climb from ground level! Surely the city we see through the gates should be on top of the mountain so then it's at least plausible someone would bother carving such an intricate system into the mountain - as it stands, water flowing there somewhat defies physics.

 

 

 

Lastly, about my gameplay, I experienced lots of loadcrashes near the end - which meant 2-3 minutes to reload in - so I stopped quicksaving. My laptop has no trouble with other demanding missions and my darkmod is up to date, not sure if this is a known bug. Although I must add, the loadscreen had me laughing every time because it looks like a cheeky selfie.

I also got the

 

 

fire elementals fighting each other, but I mostly just rofled at that :D

 

 

 

Once again thank you, missions have been sparse of late and this is a nice long one :) I hope this review isn't too long to read.

Edited by LordRutherford

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