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Vertical Contest Mission: Somewhere Above the City by Grayman (Aug 20, 2010)

Somewhere Above the City by Grayman (2010/8/20) Summer FM Vertical Contest Entry  

69 members have voted

  1. 1. 1. Gameplay: Enjoyment. Fun duration. Smooth flow, ect. Versus Bugs. Frustration, Boredom, framelag

  2. 2. 2. Appearance: Vertical use, Visual pleasure, lighting, visual style, deduct bad texturing etc.

  3. 3. 3. Story & Text: Story. Text. Briefing. Graphic storytelling

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Alright, the slowdowns are still there, but this time not as annoying as the last time, because they occurred in longer intervals. It is a slowdown for a millisecond there the FPS drops from 60 to sth between 20 and 39, I can´t tell because the FPS-counter was constantly moving. Again it began after reaching the Tower, where the machine-room is located. Strange thing: I made a savegame in Penshawks room and after I finished with the blackjack-ending I loaded this save to kill him and also I got back into the second tower-level to search for the rest of the loot and I had not even one slowdown. It can´t be the reload because I reloaded before to get rid of the slowdowns and they would come back after 2 or 3 minutes. Tis really strange, brother.

But as I said, it was not very annoying this time. I had only to reload 3 or 4 times.


I´m missing exactly three coins. I must´ve kicked some in the ancient temple area away. I took the coins from Harry´s friend. And his voice-over was much better in every aspect in this version! The quality was better too, almost perfect! Only once I heard a microphone-bumb, or however that is called. ;)


I have a question about the following line; what exactly does he mean with 'slowmatch'?

Tonight I went out in search of slowmatch for my experiments, ...
sth like 'guinea pig'?


Also what´s the relation between the dead guy by the ancient temple and the drunk guard?

I know the drunk killed Harry for his 'cheating' in the foregoing card-play. So, that message by the drunk guard about the chest was originally written by the dead temple-guy and the drunk found out and blackmailed the dead guy and finally killed him? If I 'read' that note by the dead guy correct with my Sherlock Holmes-senses. :)


Hey, I liked the note from the inventors: "We provide no support because we are too busy inventing new stuff." I´m really all on edge to see some FM´s with the Inventor´s Guild...


And what about this guy: post-3744-128468591827_thumb.jpg Is he un-blackjackable because of his helmet? I never got metal-sound when hitting him, and I tried very often, believe me, finally I killed him. :blush:


Overall you made there a very neat mission, not because of the voice-overs and the Epilogue, but of the gameplay and the setting of the mission. Also very good use of Ambiance. Did you decreased the volume for the music-tracks? They were very subtle and so even better for the atmosphere! Oh, I wrote a review before. So how do I end this post, ah, I know:


Thumps up, Grayman! :)

-> Crisis of Capitalism

-> 9/11 Truth


(hard stuff), more
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What an awesome mission! I really enjoyed this one. It had strong Thief 1 and 2 vibes to it with the grimy yet spacious interior of the tower. I finished with a mediocre stealth score (got into a fig

Woo-hoo! Done!   A new version is now available, v1.1. Thanks to all who commented on the first version.         Thanks to my beta testers:   Bikerdude HappyCheeze Xarg     The Story:   The Builders h

@thebigh   Glad you enjoyed it. My first mission, so so long ago!    

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I have a question about the following line; what exactly does he mean with 'slowmatch'?

A slowmatch is a slow-burning fuse, typically a cord soaked in potassium nitrate. Burned about a foot an hour. They were used on ships of the line to fire cannon when in battle because they were safer than having an open flame around, and could be dropped and picked up without going out. As fraten mentioned, Fidcal created some for TDM and used it in Heart.




So, in Penshawk's case, he was using it to safely set off his mushroom potion. Though not explicitly stated, he used it in the mine explosion.




Also what´s the relation between the dead guy by the ancient temple and the drunk guard?




The dead guard in the temple knew what Penshawk was up to, and wanted to be paid off. The drunk didn't know about Penshawk's plans, but he did know about the chest, which he thought contained a treasure. He wanted extra pay to keep quiet about it. So the two guards weren't working together. The drunk's letter is actually a failsafe that gives you the "chest" objective in case you knocked out or killed the drunk before he could finish his monologue.



And what about this guy? Is he un-blackjackable because of his helmet? I never got metal-sound when hitting him, and I tried very often, believe me, finally I killed him.


Yes, the helmeted guards can't be blackjacked.


Did you decrease the volume for the music-tracks? They were very subtle and so even better for the atmosphere!


I set the music volumes so they could be heard, but not be intrusive. Especially the cutscene music.


Glad you enjoyed it!

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You might want to play 'The Heart of Lone Salvation'. Slow Matches are introduced there.


...Guinea Pig??


Yes, but in this case I had the idea that Penshawk wanted to test his explosives on some alive scum to see how it 'affects' them. :D That´s what I meant with 'guinea pig', my translator gave me that.

edit: Also I thought that because he came back wounded. Instead of simple robbery I thought he tried to kidnap some poor fellow and the fellow fought back. Well, my fantasy. :rolleyes:


And the 'Slow Matches' in Heart I remembered only as simple matches. It´s embarrassing because I played Heart only one night before. :blush: So, fuse and slow match are the same? Can one say that?


And thanks for answering my other questions, Grayman! :)

Edited by LEGION

-> Crisis of Capitalism

-> 9/11 Truth


(hard stuff), more
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I had fun with this one, and share all the compliments give in this thread. One thing I'll say, more FMs need to use cutscenes. They're relatively easy to make and they just work so well, and it was used to awesome effect in this FM. I think that's the part that will be most memorable and influential for me about this FM.

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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  • 1 month later...

A comment regarding the white flasks ...




You can take or leave the flask in the chest. I placed 4 similar flasks on the table under the roof, and their little sign says "Fire", in case the player didn't take the one in the chest. I'm surprised they didn't work for you, because they all worked in my testing. I just checked the script and if one works then all should work.





What I've found with those ones is that they tend to get blown off of the table in to the corner of the room. This leaves the player in danger of thinking after the explosion, "the table is empty, the other fire flasks must have blown up as well".



Regardless of that, the loot list is all ready to go.

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What I've found with those ones is that they tend to get blown off of the table in to the corner of the room. This leaves the player in danger of thinking after the explosion, "the table is empty, the other fire flasks must have blown up as well".





What causes them to be blown off the table? Btw, in version 1.1, I changed the flasks to bottles so I could label them.



Thanks for doing the loot list.



It looks like it's from v1.1. I added a few loot items in v1.1. The TDM FM Wiki page points to v1.1 now.



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  • 10 months later...

I played this mission last night. From first to last it is a wonderful mission, very well done, and I enjoyed it a great deal.



When it began to go down into the mines, with hints of a temple area, I was a bit concerned I would be facing non-human foes, which did not greatly excite my interest. Initially, I thought the dead guy at the beginning was Penshawk, the renegade priest, and it was only after finding the chest and reading some about the plot that I realized he was still alive somewhere. (Incidentally, what does the button outside at the very beginning control? This is near the freshly stabbed guy, before going down into the mind. I pressed it and didn't notice any change, so I reloaded and left it alone.)


When I got to the part where he explodes the cavern, I tried everything I could to stop him at that point. I shot a broadhead at him prior to the explosion which did put him into search-mode after the smoke cleared, but I was unable to kill him from that distance. I also tried gassing him and shooting him with fire arrows, but I either wasn't hitting him or he proved quite resilient! :D I wasn't disappointed by this, as it was a good indication of how much thought you put into the mission to make sure the storyline wasn't spoiled. Players can do unexpected things, and some of those things can ruin a story. I was glad to see that I was unlikely to break the plot inadvertently, and it gave me more confidence to go forward.


The mines as a whole made me feel quite vulnerable, as there were few places to hide, and at that point I wasn't sure if I would meet anything down there aside from Penshawk.


I loved roping up the elevator shaft. It was a great relief to me to begin going back up. I didn't even go near the spiders I'd seen down there, intending to return after a bit, but once I went up the elevators, I never went back, so next time I play I'll see what I missed there.


The lightening strikes were perfect in the middle portion of the map. I'm someone who was a bit dismayed to see so many elevator buttons (oh wow...I'll be at this mission for days!), but then I realized you very cleverly set it so that only buttons associated with playable floors were able to be activated.


I enjoyed the timing-game on the floor with three patrolling AI. I left the helmeted one alone.


I knocked Penshawk out, figuring the Builders would do a better job with him than I ever could, heh. I loved the puzzle to destroy the amplifier machine. Of course I benefitted from your final version, but I'd figured since the chest at the beginning that I would have a use for that flask. I didn't notice one could unelectrify the water and the ladder, but I had at that point picked up three health potions, so I used those to keep alive. I carried two potions up to the machine, not really sure if that would be enough, and was glad when the objective ticked off.


When I first saw the objective to "collect payment and pay the rent" I thought.....ooh boy, I have to go all the way back to the beginning for that, I bet.... So I was also glad when I picked up the Builder relic that the mission ended. And what a surprise to have that superb cutscene. Very often the end of missions feels flat, emotionally disappointing, but the addition of a cutscene adds so much! I vaguely remember seeing a how-to on this subject, so I definitely will have to learn to do what you have done so well.


Overall, this is one of the very best missions I've played, even though the emphasis is much less about AI avoidance than about exploration and the tension of the story. You did some interesting things with this mission, and your work is inspiring.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Finally got some time to play this. Wow, what a marvellous mission, grayman!


Those mines looked so great and at the same time felt very immersive in play. Did you write you planted EACH mushroom manually(?). Don't want to even imagine the amount of time that must have consumed... but it was definitily worth it! Best mines EVER! Period.


As for scripted events... not much I can add to what's already posted.

Loved the exploding cart and the elevator sabotage.

Both really got me jumping way out of my comfort zone while I was slowly exploring.


The bottom levels of the tower (after back up from the mines) felt a bit bland - the lightning & thunder effects were very nicely done (liked the realistic delay), but the rooms felt a bit empty. And AI wasn't really a challenge. Really liked the elevator floor indicator though.


I played the latest release, so I wasn't so puzzled on what to do on the top floor as previous posters (thanks for that additional readable or maybe I would have been!). Still first I tried

to cut the cables (both inside and upside the top floor) with my sword, but of course that was of no avail. I recently played a T2 mission ("A Sorrowful Farewell" by Haplo) which punished such blunt behaviour by immediate self-electrocution. Unexpected, but I liked that for realism.



End-game-clip... I already was spoiled there, since I knew it from your excellent Cutscenes tutorial... but still - great! Feels so much more rewarding than the plain mission accomplished screen!


Overall a very enjoyable mission. A little bit more AI challenge couldn't have hurt, but even without that I really liked it a lot.

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Indeed, storytelling wise, this mission is one of the best for sure, the overall story line is unusual, creative and well paced. It sets up a very intriguing cat and mouse tension between us and the missions' antagonist, his repeated and brutal attempts to kill you are a very effective way to make one feel personally attached, pumping you to get some revenge and stop this maniac once and for all. The outro scene was very rewarding and felt just right, it was funny to see how casually the clergy decides the hero's fate - appearently killing one of their own and thus defying the church is BARELY outweighted by the fact that you did it in order to save a whole city. In this department, the one thing I would point out is that the final encounter with the antagonist was a bit... Silent, could have used some unique dialogue perhaps (but then again, I decided to face him in fair duel, if one decides to get him from afar, it would make any scripted scene redundant I guess).


Visually the mission alternates between brilliant moments (like the whole mine section, extremely well done; or the amazing engineering structures such as the clock or the top metal tower) with some moments of noticeable bareness (a fair share of empty rooms, mostly, but also forgivable due to the massive scale of the map). I found the search to reach the top, meandering through many different levels and atmospheres, to be very interesting and well done - the only issue being that apart from a few well guarded areas, you could find quite a bit of lone guards in isolated rooms, which is something that makes sense in the map, but also makes it easy to take them out without any risks (but that is valid for any mission).


I found the convincing story, scripted scenes, special items, the new gadgets, the search for your way and the physical puzzles to be really awesome features here, thanks a lot for all the work, and a great mission!


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  • 1 month later...

Briefing: Excellent, polished, professional

Story: Best ever of any Dark Mod FM I think so far. Probably. wink.gif The book was a bit lengthy. It could be reduced in length and still give the same info.

Visuals: Near perfect in the mines. Best ever mines. Lighting superb. 'Organic' in its curves. Wonderful. Top tower also excellent. Floors in between were OK but by comparison, lacking in interest and several empty flat lit rooms. Given the time this is understandable. Ideally it would be nice if something could be done with these floors to perfect the FM. Maybe a dozen AI on each floor and add interest to those rooms and light them better. I know its abandoned but it needs some way to make those sections interesting.

Verticality. Excellent in many places, mainly in the mines. A lot of the later verticality was elevators. Might benefit from villain deliberately smashing those so you have to climb through debris.

Interest: Lots. Even in the middle weak areas I didn't actually know that until I'd done them so constantly absorbed wondering what was around the corner. I had a couple of girly squeal moments when unexpected things happened.

Gameplay: Excellent, near perfect in the best sections. Only the one thing I mentioned in my spoiler above should somehow be forced on the player, maybe a new objective 'take the flask blah blah' since it is so important. But considering the size and and many things in it, it all went very smoothly apart from that. I guess it is fairly linear.

Debriefing/End 'video': Staggeringly good. Best ever (well I don't think we've had an end one yet but best anyway.) And TWO versions of it depending on the player! I can't believe you went to that trouble!


I actually thought the FM was light on exposition (the lack of readables, apart from 1 probably contributed to that), but its has a good premise. The FM's strengths are some good scripted sequences.. like the bad guy trying to prevent your progress and the drunk guard ranting to himself, and the end briefing is something I love eventhough it didn't give us anything we could have easily guessed.

Oh and the briefing was good but I always expect every FM to have that.

And I always love diaries that actually look like diaries in games by having a fair bit of writing...

The mission although looks great doesn't give much in terms of gameplay either apart from exploring which you get in every FM, the lack of looting is understandable it being a mine and all (still found myself missing some loot) and the lack of guards is also understable. My only real criticism apart from the lack of readables is that the 2 floors before getting to the main elevator are sort of bland filler, with just 1 or 2 rooms with one loot item. It could have been something a tad more difficult.

The only real gameplay element that adds something is using the fire flask but it was obvious.

Edited by TheUnbeholden
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  • 2 years later...

I know I'm doing quite some necroposting here... but I got to this mission today, and just had to post my thoughts on it.


This was one of the most fun and complex and unique FM's I have played recently! The map had several unique and diverse environments (the mines, followed by the rooms, then the tower). Map detail wasn't quite the best, but the areas and environments themselves were great. Accent on the story was also well placed, and relevant elements are everywhere throughout the map.



I also salute the special scripted events, which let you see or hear the crazy priest a few times before you actually encounter him. First when he blows up the mine as you see him at the other end, then when he yells at you from the top of the lift and throws something down.




But the most awesome thing which puts this on top of my love list is the outro. This FM uses a scripted camera to play a cutscene after you finish the mission, which greatly contributes to the impression that you finished a good game. Not only that, but the dialogue is also different depending on the choices the player takes! If you knock out the evil priest, the priests in the outro mention that... I haven't tried killing him but that would obviously yield in a different dialogue. I wish more missions did this, the ending is so boring for most :o



I hope you're still into mission making, and plan to make more using unique environments and advanced storytelling like this. A part 2 might be fun, now after 5 years since this was posted :)

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Glad you liked it. Several people used a savegame prior to encountering the priest in the clock tower to play both versions of the outro.


As for further mission-making, try my William Steele series. You'll find it labeled as "WS1, WS2, and WS3" in the in-game downloader. I have plans to continue the series with WS4->WS8.

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  • 6 months later...

Fantastic mission. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the mines, going through the tower, the lightning, the thunder... anticipation of an end.

The build up of the tension as you go up is incredible.


The more neutral parts of the mission was probably the intro story, very reminiscent of most Thief intro's. However, I loved the storytelling throught the mission itself to the end! You've made very clever usage of scripts in the game. This made my day! Not mentioning already the ending. First mission where I see an in-game outro sequence!

I will certainly play your other missions grayman. You're extremely talented.

"I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

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Seeing some minor visual glitches using the latest version

- always lit brick walls in the dark rooms / panels in the clock room

- blinking glass in the clock room

Also, when on the very top the skybox looks like the tower is in the middle of the ocean or in the clouds.

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