Jump to content

ChronA

Member
  • Posts

    55
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Reputation

42 Good

1 Follower

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Northern Virginia, USA
  • Interests
    Narrative Craft, Science Fiction, Game Modding

Recent Profile Visitors

427 profile views
  1. I think I would prefer this compared to the current rules of having to crouch all the time to maintain max concealment. It would better reflect the central optimization puzzle of this kind of game: how do you move from point A to point B with the least risk of detection? To my mind the key determinant of success should be the absolute question of where and when you decide to move, not how dedicated you are to holding the creep key. Of course that change could have some nasty follow on effects. It might make this already very slow paced game even more so. And yes, there is some risk of breaking the difficulty curve of older FMs. But, TDM already supports a wide variety of difficulty adjustments for players to tinker with. As an option, I don't think a change like this would be any more game breaking than bumping up guard acuity by the normal method.
  2. I think you could upscale that handle by another 50% without it looking disproportionate. Maybe get 2 in 10 players to notice . It is definitely a fun and distinctive design, very stylish. I can see why it was popular in the Victorian times.
  3. I heartily agree. Really makes it hard to play other first person games.
  4. But you weren't playing a thief. You were playing a miner... A starving miner in the middle of a zombie apocalypses whose only tools were a bow and arrows. A miner crouching in a shadow at the end of a hall with no cover and an angry undead breaking down the only door between it and him. It's pretty clear what you are supposed to do, or at the very least consider doing, in that moment. (It's only later in the level that you actually become a Thief, subclass Tomb Raider.) The mission gave you the tools to deal with your situation, but you thought you knew better than the map maker, and as a result by your own admission you let the level beat you. Others of us overcame our preconceptions of how missions in the TDM engine are supposed to play, and consequently conquered it, save restrictions and all, and had a great time doing so. (And in fact, when I recall my total time played, it was pretty typical of a mid-large size TDM level, despite my suffering multiple catastrophic resets that set me back half-an-hour to an hour each time.) Maybe you don't want to play a bad-ass ninja miner who goes Rambo on a hoard of zombies with fire arrows and holy water to steal their treasure. That's fine, laudable even to be so attuned to your own preferences. But other people loved it; warts and all. That's what's so perverse about actively trying to suppress experiments like this. This engine is capable of telling so many more stories than just "discount Garret #26 breaks into mansion #267 to steal MacGuffin #532", but some of those stories require a bit of innovation or a bit of novelty. Why fight so hard to shut that down? Why presume that it won't work or will end distastefully to you before you can even try it? (That's rhetorical by the way. I know why. I've done it myself in other contexts... frequently... good way to alienate folks.) Ok bad word choice. I meant that TDM's platforming has tremendous versatility and a very high potential skill ceiling. Consequently the outcomes of a platforming puzzle have the potential to vary widely between different players. Some people will be zipping around maps like Mirror's Edge, and others will have trouble with timing or over/undercooking simple jumps. Inconsistent in that sense. (Same applies to blackjacking too.)
  5. For the record I actually agree that any restrictions on play-style should be optional, if that is at all possible. That includes loot objectives, no-kill objectives, knockout limits, and save restrictions. Generally speaking, none of them should be required at any difficulty. BUT if someone wants to build an entire level around one of these restrictions, and wants to make it a hard requirement so that people understand how to play their mission properly, I think they should be both free and encouraged to do so. At the worst we find out there is no audience for that kind of mission and nobody else has to waste their time thinking about how to make one in the future. At best people click with the new concept and future missions in the same mold can make the restrictions optional, because everyone now understands how they should be played. (And incidentally, Aluminum's unlucky misread of Hazard Pay shows precisely why aggressive limitations are sometimes needed to snap a player out of their customary playstyle [as Wellingtoncrab so perfectly explained ]. Maybe it would have worked better if Hazard Pay had an [optional??] objective requiring you to kill 10 zombies? ) I was going to argue with this, but actually you are right. Due to the interaction with TDMs inconsistent knockout and platforming it is true that restricting saves requires some adjustments to typical level design (beyond just plopping down save point at regular intervals). I don't think it is an intractable problem though, and luckily we have some very bright minds who will be the first in line to try out concepts like this if they ever gain any traction. It's true that Hazard Pay didn't quite nail some of these aspects as well as we might have wanted. I think its save points, and especially the gears for them, were too sparse. It would have helped to add some extra music boxes before the major difficulty spikes (like at the bottom of the silo where you get the sword, and maybe in a dark corner by the quarry security station). But it was only a first attempt at something like this. The concept's been demonstrated, and, if there is an audience for it, it will get better in future iterations, which hopefully will find a better balance between different playstyle preferences.
  6. Since this thread has deviated irretrievably from marbleman's original inquiry, here's a question for you all: Is there an acceptable middle ground between the hardline pro and anti save restriction philosophies? I have described some specific advantages that could be had from restricted saving, but as some of you have rightly pointed out, these advantages actually come from the diegetic tokens used to meter out the restricted save points, not from having disallowed reloading itself. Is it technically and conceptually possible to have the tokens as a carrot for these desirable behaviors (AND have them be effective carrots) without the stick of actually removing at-will save states? Part of it is probably making the curtailed save system pleasant to use: Providing convenient save points near difficulty spikes so players need never suffer a reset time longer than 1-2 minutes at most, and doling out a few item-based save tokens that give players an option for when they need to save/load somewhere the map maker did not account for. In all but the most extreme circumstances that would address the valid complaints about wasting the player's time and punishing curiosity, right? After that, how do you discourage free saving without actually banning it? For the analogous situation of restricting knockouts, I think an optional objective is the best solution. But for saving I question whether that could work, both technically, and in terms of narratively contextualizing free-saving. Maybe instead make it so the free save ban is over-ridden by purchasing a special item from the pre-level shop? What do you guys think? (And please, we have all already heard the absolutist anti-restriction-take a dozen times over. Let's skip the obligatory round of "it's all in your head; If you want to play without saves you just need to get-good and do it"... It's just needlessly patronizing, flippant, and moreover doesn't address any of the substantive arguments of your opposition--which is why it's much less persuasive to the rest of us than you think it is. There's plenty to talk about concerning why specific ideas would and wouldn't work without resorting to thinly veiled ad-hominins.)
  7. I thought of one more: The placement of restricted saves allows another channel for visual communication and a more reliable safety net between the player and the map maker. E.g. suppose you run across a well that you could jump down (like in Bafford's Manor) and the map maker has placed a save point right next to it. That will tell the player jumping down the well will commit them to one of three things. a. A point of no (easy) return. b. A skill check. (Like a tricky swim, or labyrinth navigation, or a puzzle, or a big old spiders nest awaits under the well.) c. An item check. (Like needing a rope arrow to get out at your destination, or a breath potion to survive the swim.) The save point is a signal to the player that they might want to prioritize finishing up their explorations in the current area before attempting the new location. And it gives them a way to back out if they do go in before they are ready, without negating the narrative weight of having an actual point of no return or difficulty spike. (Plus, conversely, if you come across a similar situation later with out a save point that communicates something too. Either that it's safe to jump down this well, or setting up the ultimate betrayal.) And the real beauty is no one can complain that whatever was put after the save point is unfair, because they were diegetically warned in the most emphatic way what was coming, and also explicitly handed the knife to cut the rope they use to hang themselves. None of this is possible if you leave saves states entirely in the hands of the player. (Short of actually breaking immersion and telling them "Hey, dummy! Save before jumping down this well!")
  8. Making great short-form content is challenging in a way that transcends medium and genre. There are many more full length novels that people would describe as sublime, or life changing than there are short stories which earn the same praise. Likewise for music, movies, and games. The near universality of this phenomenon suggests to me that it is not a lack of skill but a fundamental limitation of information density that biases us in favor of more expansive works... So, yes, the most acclaimed TDM missions also tending to be on the larger side should not be surprising. But with that being said, we should try to recognize shorter experiences of exceptional quality when they occasionally pop up. Case in point, I'd direct any new players to Sir Talbot's Collateral as one of the best stealth experiences I've ever had. This despite being entirely contained to one quite small and mundane townstyle manor-house. The amount of interconnectivity and flow Baal and Biker managed to pack into one 3.5 story building (hardly more than 3 rooms wide and 2 deep) is just astounding. (I should clarify that STC is a small mission, but not necessarily super short, due to high difficulty and some hard-to-access areas, but still a great experience for a very reasonable investment of time.) Something also to keep in mind: It's not impossible to get a great deal of enjoyment, even from a deeply flawed product, if one part of it clicks with the consumer. For instance I really enjoyed no-target and no-clipping around the mission In Remembrance of Him, despite it being nearly unplayable as a Thief/TDM level. The dilapidated Romanesque architecture was super cool, and I was hooked by the unusual story it was trying to tell (despite some questionable twists at the end... and a writing style that screamed for the intervention of a firm-handed editor). I'd actually be as or more interested in having a list of bad levels with some interesting feature--worth checking out--than in another enumeration of the current best-of-the-best. Iris was great. Phenomenal! But it took me the better part of two whole weekends just to get the first ending. I don't have that kind of time right now. Plus I don't expect to see it's like again very soon. A few more mission like In Remembrance of Him that I could buzz around for 30 minutes, seeing some cool sights, would be more my speed. And maybe we could inspire some quick and dirty spiritual successors in the pipeline that would capitalize on the qualities of such missions while dodging their downfalls.
  9. You got my main take: Limiting saves forces map makes to be more conscientious in their level design, and encourages players to be more observant and adaptive. To my mind it is actually an extension of the perfectionist ghost-run mentality. A plan or approach that works perfectly every time is more perfect than one that depends on a favorable role of a die. (That's not meant as reproach to you for using quick loading, of course. I can't see how you or anyone else could complete most of those maps otherwise. But I assert that the spirit of a perfect ghost run on a perfect ghosting map would never need reloading.) There are a few other benefits to restricted saves worth noting. It can enable the level author to amp the tension to much higher highs, with correspondingly magnified moments of catharsis. Think how it feels hitting a new bonfire after a deep dungeon dive in any Souls-like. I think Kingsal experimented with this technique in Hazard Pay, but never fully committed to it (which was prudent, as the mission was already riding the bleeding edge with so many of its features). Another innovative thing Hazard Pay did with its save restrictions was to enforce a much more pressing health and ammo conservation dynamic in service of its survival horror theme. Ammo was generous, but every missed shot hurt because it could not be trivially recovered. Would you have enough left to finish the level without going full pacifist? (Yes, but you didn't know that.) If you got hurt, was it worth replaying the whole section for that extra safety margin? Admittedly this was sometimes annoying. But when it worked, it worked well. One other use of limited saves is that if they are tied to items, it can gives a real reward to the loot hunt part of the game. Treasure is literally just a number that is only meaningful to completionists (or kleptos, or people who are regretting playing on the higher difficulty with that impossible loot objective). Weapons and consumables are only valuable if they are something you plan to use AND are running low on. Readables and dioramas are nice for lore fiends and meaningless for everyone else. And keys and MacGuffin are actually annoying; they clutter your inventory and waste your time. But an extra save... now that is something almost anyone can and will use.
  10. Sarcasm aside, you are absolutely on the money with this in particular. The classic Thief game-design is built around a heavy reliance on save-spam. And it is the reliance that bothers people like me; not the occasionally needing to reload because of hitting an honest loss condition. We could all be very happy and play together in harmony, RPers and save spammers alike, if weapons and detection rules worked more reliably, and map makers were a bit more deliberate with how they designed their stealth and platforming sequences. But making any progress in such matters would require either splitting the community or forcing our one-size-fits-all solution on every single player for their own good. So its a catch 22. To be clear, this is precisely the problem: people who want to play without saves currently do not have that freedom. The game is built around the assumption that every normal player will abuse the hell out of save spam. The difficulty is calibrated to that assumption. People who want to roleplay a normal thief who doesn't depend on unlimited, magic-precognition/time-reversal abilities to survive either need god tier skillz or the patience/masochism of a saint. Just imagine what a mainstream mission balanced around restricted saving should actually look like. It would have to pretty much hold the players hand at all times. No dangerous platforming. No blind or narrow corridors where enemies patrol. No guards with lanterns periodically visiting likely player hiding places just because. Inexhaustible water, moss, and rope arrow dispensers every few rooms. Carpeted chambers along every guard's patrol where they can stop and stare at the wall periodically, wondering what it would feel like to have a concussion. (Maybe give the player detective vision for good measure. And focus testing suggests the game would sell better if we just make this whole non-violent stealth thing kinda optional!) ... Oh! Oh dear! Okay. I admit I could be in the wrong here... But it must be possible to make a immersive RP stealth game without turning it into MGS/Batman:Arkham/Thi4f/Dishonored/Gloomwood. Right??
  11. A more critical take: Quicksaving (at its worst) is a vile panacea that enables complacency and mediocrity from both players and map makers, by promising a lowest-common-denominator solution to every problem. Want to a tough stealth, or platforming, or puzzle sequence in your mission? Well there's no need to worry about things like the consistency or fairness of the challenge, or about providing alternate solutions to accommodate different playstyles. Anyone who is having trouble will just save scum their way through. Having trouble with a particular section? Don't concern yourself with whether there might be a different solution that would suit your abilities better. Don't think about taking some time to polish up your skills somewhere else, and returning to the challenge later. Just keep banging your head against that wall. Eventually chaos theory and the law of large numbers will see you through. Never-mind how that string of failures might sour your experience of the rest of the level. Never-mind how you've deprived yourself of an emergent story arc about using creativity and self-improvement to overcome adversity. At least you didn't have to "waste your time". Of course, I understand there is a pernicious tradeoff baked into the above philosophy. TDM and Thief are often buggy. Their gameplay is also highly emergent, making it impossible for a level designer to anticipate every situation. Quicksaving pretty much guarantees players always have a way to backtrack and scrape a win out of what would otherwise be a labyrinth of unavoidable dead-ends. It makes these games far more accessible, both to the players, and to the map makers trying to create enjoyable experiences for them. Without this panacea, there would be a much less content and a much smaller fan base for this kind of game. But after 20 years of experimentation and practice, I do think there are some level designers and players who are capable of surviving and thriving on that level in TDM and Thief--without the safety net of the quicksave. And being so firmly tethered to it is holding them back. While watching your ghost walkthroughs, @marbleman, I always shake my head when you'll occasionally take half a dozen reloads to nail a particular jump or stealth maneuver. "With your skill, couldn't you find a reliable solution to that section?" I ask myself. And on an intellectual level, I recognize that, no, you using this solution probably means there is no reasonable alternative. But on a visceral level it still bugs me. I feel vicariously let down by the level designers in those moments.
  12. @polygroveCheck out this thread: Also the mission list on the wiki (https://wiki.thedarkmod.com/index.php?title=Fan_Missions_for_The_Dark_Mod) is very helpful for finding things to play; particularly for sorting by author or mission type. Personally, I would suggest Kingsal and Moonbo are the two mission authors you must look into if you are new to TDM. They really raise the bar in terms of consistently crafting artful, innovative missions with a particular penchant for outstanding level design, storytelling, and atmosphere. (Iris is very similar in that respect. So if you liked Iris you may also like work by those two authors.)
  13. I think that actually added to the atmosphere of the mission. The hyper-regularity of the geometry enhanced the surreal, dream-like character of the level; like you were walking around in the platonic ideal of a city rather than an organically evolving community. That's not to say you should rest on your map-making laurels ... but I do think what you arrived at is a legitimate style with real artistic merit. Especially in the context of such a cerebral narrative, it works.
  14. This is a very, very good point. I hope it will get more discussion. Realistically, I don't think the most common human response to being ineffectually surprise bludgeoned or stabbed or shot by an invisible shadow man is going to be turning around and trying beat the crap out of him with your sword--irrespective of how well armed and armored you are. When facing an unknown threat, the safe response is always flight not fight... at least until you get an idea of what you're dealing with. For simulation verisimilitude then, the universal human-actor reaction to being attacked by an undetected player ought to be to run away. This would give the player an opportunity to effect their own escape or enact other contingencies without the automatic resort to save scumming, as you say. For guard actors it would make sense for them to revert to attack mode a few seconds later, although if one wanted to make the response more sophisticated there is a great deal of latitude. For instance when the player shoots an unaware sword guard with a bow it would probably make more sense for the guard to keep running. There is a high chance they will not be able to path back to the player, and will be at a big disadvantage when all they can do is throw rocks. However that calculus might change if they have a bunch of friends nearby... and so on. The point is, this could be a relatively low effort option to significantly deepen TDM's immersive simulation. There is a reason ghosting is the near-universally preferred style of play among expert Thief/TDM players. The reason is not that blackjacking and sword fighting are unreliable or clumsy, because it's actually been well demonstrated that in the hands of an expert they are quite the opposite. (See the meme-worthy video of AluminumHaste Errol Flynn-ing through an entire prison of guards.) Rather it's because violence degrades the engagement of the simulation rather than improving it. TDM's stealth gameplay is like a game of chess: a complex interplay of predicting opponent actions and developing your own hand of contingencies. Combat gameplay is more like tic-tac-toe: once you learn the trick, the outcome is literally determined from the moment the game is played. Making blackjacking more predictable with new animations or simulation logic would help make this handicap mechanic more accessible to newcomers, sure, but it doesn't change the real problem that knockouts are just the absolute dullest way of interacting with other actors that the game supports.
  15. That guy obviously had no prior experience with hobbyist game devving/modding. If that episode was TDM at its most cliquish and acrimonious, then you are all seriously a bunch of saints. This forum put up with a torrent of abuse before getting defensive and eventually threatening the ban hammer, while even then always providing constructive criticism and reasonable off ramps for the offender to return to good graces. He was the one who decided never to de-escalate. I've followed a couple of similar gaming communities and I don't think any of them would have handled that as gracefully. TDM really is exceptionally among FOSS gaming communities I've encountered by being so welcoming to newcomers and open to experimentation and critique. I bet if someone came along and wanted to make a full-on Hexen clone or even an RTS in this engine they would be able to get help achieving their vision. The more common practice I've seen is to stonewall would-be contributors who do not align with the project vision. However, for the sake of maintaining civility and preserving the integrity of the software, lines do need to be drawn. You can't just risk breaking back-compatibility with hundreds of legacy missions, even for the sake of making FM creation more intuitive to newcomers. That is not a winning tradeoff. Nor can you just ignore repeated warnings that your approach and behavior is out of alignment with community practices. IMO, this community deserves to have some fun with these memes. They are very funny and honestly more self effacing to the TDM community itself than they are mean spirited against the originator, who I very much doubt would ever have afforded us similar consideration. Common courtesy is just a quirk of social clubbing after all!
×
×
  • Create New...