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vozka

First impressions and overall polish

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Thanks for the in-depth review!

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Task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen but to think what nobody has yet thought about that which everybody see. - E.S.

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One more thing regarding included missions:

"A better solution would be to do the above and also select and include say top 5 missions (could be done by community voting) that are great in both the concept and execution, technically up to date and with varying themes. If better missions come out, there can always be another vote and a different set of missions integrated in the next release."

There is another reason why this would be helpful: people modernizing assets (and I may be able to help here a little) could search which older or less detailed assets are used in the included levels and focus on improving those first, again to bring the overall polish higher. It would be great to have this as an automated tool that would show most often used assets in a set of levels, but I assume that's too much work with not enough benefit (and I haven't checked DarkRadiant yet to see if something like that exists already).

Edited by vozka
hagabadla
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There are some valid points there and most issues are already known, feel free to browse our bugtracker.

1. I think the Training Mission and the two Missions Saint Lucia and New Job are fairly easy and perfectly fine as a start. Plus, Saint Lucia has a lot of history, so it is a very important FM.

2. Yes, a more comfortable mission browser is severely needed, now that we have so many FMs of varying themes and quality.
2.3. Having bugged missions almost never happens. If we see that a mission got broken by the lastest release, we usually release a Hotfix for that.

4. Never heard it! :D And I doubt the average player would care much. It's an open source community project after all. Nobody expects AAA-polish.

5. Known issue, see bugtracker.

6.1. That's actually a good suggestion. Please add it to the bugtracker.
6.2. As far as I know, that's not supposed to happen. Can you give and example? Maybe a video or a location info (GetViewPos in console)

7.1. Yes, that's exactly why I added the frobhelper. Other than that, it is up to the mapper to scale the frob-boxes accordingly.
7.2. Yes, the frobhighlight is not optimal like this. We have plans to offer other types of frob highlight, like an outline etc. which will soon be possible, now that we have the appropriate shader support.

 

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46 minutes ago, STiFU said:

1. I think the Training Mission and the two Missions Saint Lucia and New Job are fairly easy and perfectly fine as a start. Plus, Saint Lucia has a lot of history, so it is a very important FM.

They're good missions and their difficulty is right. But Saint Lucia especially has problems. There's a wall you can walk through with a bit of effort, in place where it happened to me accidentaly. And right opposite of that is a wall that you cannot get closer to than about 0.5 m for some reason. There are also stairs in the courtyard that seem to have broken lighting (looks like they're fullbright). I can play it again and give you the positions if you want. The voiced tip about tipping over the hammer played in the wrong room, before I even managed to get to the room with St Lucia. And lastly there are two annoying things lacking polish. Firstly all the readables can be grabbed into the inventory, wich with the current inventory system creates lots of clutter or a need to drop everything back after reading. It would be much more sensible to have most of them readable in place. Secondly chests have frobbable bottoms, which makes grabbing items from them annoying. I see these things as outdated design which should be fixed.

The training mission has similar problems, plus some missing words in books.There's also the problem of the archery range, where you get a couple vine arrows without any explanation of how they work, and it's easy to use them to get into places you were not supposed to go and get stuck there. In the object manipulation training there's a tip about looking under a hat to find a ring, so you manage to find a hat, see that there really is a ring under it, but realize it's so tiny it's currently impossible to be frobbed. That's bad design for a tutorial mission. There are other details, like there's a chain in the barn behind the archery range hanging from the ceiling, which for some reason cannot be climbed although there are climbable chains in other missions. It may seem like a pointless detail, but you're teaching new players wrong things about the game.

1 hour ago, STiFU said:

2.3. Having bugged missions almost never happens. If we see that a mission got broken by the lastest release, we usually release a Hotfix for that.

I was just playing A Score to Settle and the main objective (

Spoiler

throwing Sykes into the privy

) did not work even though I checked in a youtube playthrough that I did everything right. Considering this mission already had some problems once after an update, I assumed that it broke again. I don't know though, may have been a one time bug, somebody else should probably check.

 

1 hour ago, STiFU said:

4. Never heard it! :D And I doubt the average player would care much. It's an open source community project after all. Nobody expects AAA-polish.

I admit I'm a musician and na audiophile so I may be biased in this regard. But I sincerely believe that in places where achieving AAA polish is relatively easy, it's absolutely worth doing so and it will help the game in the long run.

1 hour ago, STiFU said:

5. Known issue, see bugtracker.

Right, I only noticed the flashing issue and not the two other things in the bugtracker, but I'll look again.

1 hour ago, STiFU said:

6.2. As far as I know, that's not supposed to happen. Can you give and example? Maybe a video or a location info (GetViewPos in console)

Happened in the training mission in the first climbing training areas, trying to mantle up on the construction in the courtyard. I can go back and get the position later.

 

1 hour ago, STiFU said:

7.1. Yes, that's exactly why I added the frobhelper. Other than that, it is up to the mapper to scale the frob-boxes accordingly.

Right, thanks, I didn't know if that was an engine problem or a mapping problem.

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Mh, the Object manipulation issue is very interesting.

Could this be a broken prop? I never experienced this, nor tried.

And this issue with the crouch footsteps, i also never tested that but i am gonna try that too!


Can we have more scary Zombie Horror maps?

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1 hour ago, vozka said:

Secondly chests have frobbable bottoms, which makes grabbing items from them annoying. I see these things as outdated design which should be fixed.

I have already fixed that in my Unofficial Patch so this should be easy to implement into the main game!

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I promoted The Dark Mod Forums and the game yesterday to a stream by Deadwing Dork. Even sent a super chat telling him to check out the forums. He said Thief 2 was better than Thief 1, never got to play Thief 3 but wanted to, and disliked Thief 2014.

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1 hour ago, freyk said:

And what are your opinions about installation procedure of tdm, vozka?
when using "Freyk’s Unofficial Installer" and the  tdm updater?

I used the official installer and while I didn't have problems with using it, I thought the process was a bit weird and confusing and it surprised me how long it took. I thought something like "oh, okay, it's probably downloading some missions from the library so that everything is up to date" and was disappointed when I realized that was not the case. I have not tried your installer yet, but from the screenshots it seems to look and work like a common installer most people are used to - I would definitely prefer that. 

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22 hours ago, vozka said:

Why isn't this more popular??

Why aren't they recommending The Dark Mod just as much? What's different here?

The Thief games weren't that popular in the first place, and, this is a community mod, based on a pretty old game engine, which makes it a 100 times less popular even.

I also don't think stealth games have really taken off much in terms of popularity. Rather the opposite case. Most of the peeps these days prefer fast action, with not much to think. That's why stealth franchises like Thief, Splinter Cell, or Dishonored are dead, or have changed the whole gameplay direction. I think it's safe to say that this is very niche. But, like many niche genres, it has a strong fanbase, in the sense of a few people who are really into this stuff. 

TBH, I'm not even sure if promoting this more would make sense in terms of gaining popularity. I used to be pro for releasing the mod on Steam, but, frankly, I wonder how many people you really would reach that way. The people who are into such games probably already heard of TDM, and the people who don't won't be convinced by releasing the game on Steam or another platform. Leaving aside the problems which have been pointed out more than once why it will be very difficult to release this on Steam or another platform anyway.

Edited by chakkman

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Maybe the Epic store conditions are not as restrictive as those from Steam? They are giving away free games every week, if TDM could be among these, surely a lot of people would just grab it because it's Epic exclusive and free and maybe discover an overlooked jewel...

Edited by wesp5
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52 minutes ago, chakkman said:

The Thief games weren't that popular in the first place, and, this is a community mod, based on a pretty old game engine, which makes it a 100 times less popular even.

I also don't think stealth games have really taken off much in terms of popularity. Rather the opposite case. Most of the peeps these days prefer fast action, with not much to think. That's why stealth franchises like Thief, Splinter Cell, or Dishonored are dead, or have changed the whole gameplay direction. I think it's safe to say that this is very niche. But, like many niche genres, it has a strong fanbase, in the sense of a few people who are really into this stuff. 

TBH, I'm not even sure if promoting this more would make sense in terms of gaining popularity. I used to be pro for releasing the mod on Steam, but, frankly, I wonder how many people you really would reach that way. The people who are into such games probably already heard of TDM, and the people who don't won't be convinced by releasing the game on Steam or another platform. Leaving aside the problems which have been pointed out more than once why it will be very difficult to release this on Steam or another platform anyway.

Stealth games are probably less popular relatively, but not in absolute numbers I believe. Styx: Master of Shadows, which according to reviews is a decent but flawed game, sold between 500k and 1M copies until now, according to Steam Spy. This is in the same ballpark as Thief 2 a few years after release. 

The engine is not bad, imo the biggest problems it has are its not great performance and slow loading times - it does look dated next to modern fully pbr engines, but it works quite well with the dark, contrasting aesthetics of TDM and fully dynamic lights. Many popular commercial indie games look worse.

What I want to say from the beginning is that as soon as you play a high quality level, have controls and graphics set up etc., this does not look like an old community mod, it feels like a fully fledged game. That's why I think it is very important to bridge the gap between downloading the game and playing a high quality mission, because in this gap it sometimes does feel more like a game engine than a finished game. And it does not have to be that way.

And I believe that for any promotion to be successful, this polishing work has to be done first. You say that everyone who would want to play TDM already knows about it, I disagree - I think that catering only to players who are already desperate to play something like Thief and actively search on their own for something like TDM is precisely the reason why it is not more popular. If TDM as a whole looks more like a finished game and is promoted as such, I see no reason why players who bought Styx, or even some of the people that play more action oriented immersive sims like new Hitman games, wouldn't want to try it.

As for Steam, after looking through the forum I have not found the reasons why it couldn't be done - I know there was some problem with greenlight, but right now there are open-source games on Steam and the need to pay a one-time 100 USD fee and probably create some official entity representing the game seem like small problems. It is entirely possible that I missed something though.

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3 minutes ago, vozka said:

Stealth games are probably less popular relatively, but not in absolute numbers I believe. Styx: Master of Shadows, which according to reviews is a decent but flawed game, sold between 500k and 1M copies until now, according to Steam Spy. This is in the same ballpark as Thief 2 a few years after release. 

Remember that the game industry grew exponentially since then...

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5 minutes ago, vozka said:

What I want to say from the beginning is that as soon as you play a high quality level, have controls and graphics set up etc., this does not look like an old community mod, it feels like a fully fledged game.

TDM is amazing, no doubt. What it lacks compared to a fully fledged game is a high quality, consistent feeling campaign.

But then, that isn't something TDM ever was created for. So.

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7 minutes ago, chakkman said:

Remember that the game industry grew exponentially since then...

Right, but why does it matter if a small fraction of gamers play stealth games, when that fraction actually bigger in absolute numbers than it was 20 years ago? 

 

5 minutes ago, chakkman said:

What it lacks compared to a fully fledged game is a high quality, consistent feeling campaign.

While this would no doubt be the best solution, I'd argue that making a small selection of "best of" levels that would be included in the base game and fixing all the small stuff that I mention above would be a good substitute that is actually doable.

Edited by vozka
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7 minutes ago, vozka said:

Right, but why does it matter if a small fraction of gamers play stealth games, when that fraction actually bigger in absolute numbers than it was 20 years ago? 

Well... you have my vote on that. :) I'd love to see more stealth games. The question is whether or not you can derive something from such figures. Master of Shadows is on the market for a couple of years now, there's been Steam sales for it, it was sold below 10 €, and, a lot of people will have bought it on sale. Also, it has a different setting, and is a fantasy game with orcs, elves, and goblins, while Thief/TDM are rather classic middle age, with fantasy elements, of course.

Again, the Thief's weren't really popular, back in the days. Thief 2014 wasn't really popular either. Splinter Cell went action, because the stealthy gameplay wasn't popular. Almost any modern "stealth" franchise lets you play full action as well. Stealth is just... niche.

Edited by chakkman

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tdm doesnt have an "official" installer,  you described the TDM updater.
the updater downloads (and updates) TDM gamefiles from other locations, including the training mission amd some other missions.
Yes, is normal that its takes long and can crash. (especially when it  comes from a slow mirror)

Our "unofficial" installer, create a folder on a user specified location, sets folder permissions, places the tdm updater inside the folder and starts the updater.
i recommend new users to run the installer, to avoid several beginner problems. 
Maybe i should build a feature inside to download also the gamefiles. (it already download the newest tdm updater)

@kurshok,
have you still not installed TDM on your system? (and does it actually run and played it) 😱😱
And you need your uncle to do this??  You can do this yourself! without steam.
I hope we dont have to repeat the steps in details you need to take, that we told you.
(in very short: for my installer and tdm updater download it, unpack it, start it and just click the only on all buttons that labeled "next", "continue" or "ok".
or download the standalone pack for moddb, unpack it, use the tdm updater and you are done.
if you are able to login on this forum, installing tdm will be tooo easy for you) 

 

Edited by freyk

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17 minutes ago, vozka said:

As for Steam, after looking through the forum I have not found the reasons why it couldn't be done - I know there was some problem with greenlight, but right now there are open-source games on Steam and the need to pay a one-time 100 USD fee and probably create some official entity representing the game seem like small problems. It is entirely possible that I missed something though.

If I remember correctly, the main problems were issues with licences and the responsibility the legal entity would have. I think the legal entity would be liable for any copyright infirngements that could arise and with an increased number of people the chance of black sheep would also rise. I believe this was the last thread, where it was discussed more extensively (although it pops up from time to time).

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11 hours ago, vozka said:

And I believe that for any promotion to be successful, this polishing work has to be done first. You say that everyone who would want to play TDM already knows about it, I disagree - I think that catering only to players who are already desperate to play something like Thief and actively search on their own for something like TDM is precisely the reason why it is not more popular.

TDM has been in the news numerous times and has won numerous awards. It's initial release dates back soooooo long ago! Anyone interested in stealth knows about us and if not, they live in a remote cabin without internet. The only thing we can improve is availability, e.g., through Steam, Epic etc., see below.

Quote

As for Steam, after looking through the forum I have not found the reasons why it couldn't be done - I know there was some problem with greenlight, but right now there are open-source games on Steam and the need to pay a one-time 100 USD fee and probably create some official entity representing the game seem like small problems. It is entirely possible that I missed something though.

Destined is right. We were green-lit in record speed and once that happened, Steam started waving around licensing / legal contracts that nobody had ever seen before. In a project like this, it is not easy to guarantee that there a no copyright infringements, hence, nobody wanted to step up and be the legal entity for these contracts. After all, you will be held liable for any legal concerns and for what? Just to get it onto Steam? We decided it was not worth it. We don't know the Details about Epic, but it is very likely the same issue.

11 hours ago, vozka said:

fixing all the small stuff that I mention above would be a good substitute that is actually doable.

The bugtracker is full with tons of small stuff to be fixed. As I already said, there were some good suggestions by you and I indicated which should go into the bugtracker, and maybe someone eventually will get around to it.

By the way, we currently have like 3 active coders + 2 who occasionally help out and they all do that in their free time, so they obviously pick projects they are interrested in. And gaining more publicity is usuallynot the primary interest of a coder. ;) 

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I think with epic the main issue would be hosting the FMs.
Epic doesnt have a workshop system yet, even tho they have the tech for it.

It would take very long.

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Can we have more scary Zombie Horror maps?

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Re: Steam. I don't know if it was even that it wasn't felt worth it. It's a lot of work and it's a beleaguered team, the copyright clearance brings back bad memories of what we went through to get 2.0 standalone out, and the entity doesn't really mesh with what we are. It's interesting that people sometimes comment, like making demands or complaints or even compliments, thinking the "team" owns Dark Mod. But if it belongs to anyone, it belongs to the community, and at best the team is more like trustees of it, taking care of its development for the benefit of everyone. If it did become an entity, I actually thought the best thing would be a trusteeship or a non-profit public interest organization for that reason. There are some open source projects that do that even. But we're not really all that formal. People come and go, and it's something people do as a hobby, not a vocation.

Oh, all that aside, probably the main problem was GPL though. We can't mingle Steam code with our code because the GPL license means its source would have to be released. Their first contact with us was a disclaimer that they rarely accept games under GPL unless they're protected. Ostensibly they can do it, but they weren't encouraging about it.

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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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On 3/23/2020 at 9:29 PM, vozka said:
    1. The fact that the game has to restarted to play a new mission is annoying. But the bigger problem is that the game doesn't tell me that or why that is anywhere. How do I play a new map? Oh, I'm supposed to install it? But it's already installed, I just downloaded and installed the game and it says that the map is already included...? A tooltip explaining this shown after first launch would help, perhaps also using a different word than "install". 

Agreed. The need to restart the game is a legacy issue from when the mod was based on closed source Doom 3, but now everything is open source there is really no need for this weird behaviour other than of course the (presumably considerable) amount of developer time needed to get rid of it.

On 3/23/2020 at 9:29 PM, vozka said:
  1. The loading is glacially slow. I realize this is probably a multifaceted issue complicated to solve, but couldn't the loading start in the background during the intro video/text, difficulty selection and shopping? That would be a huge improvement.

Agreed. I haven't complained about it much because I assume it is heavily system dependent, but I can actually load and start playing entire other games in the same time it takes just to load a single mission.

On 3/23/2020 at 9:29 PM, vozka said:
    1. Item highlighting is sometimes nearly invisible - this happens with well-lit objects like candles or items right next to them. 

Agreed. I have no idea why the design decision for frobbing was to have a highlight that was just about visible in complete darkness and almost completely invisible in well-lit scenes, particularly when some of the most important frobbables are light sources like candles. I suppose it was a reaction to Thief 3's garish blue frob highlight, but even in Thief 1 and 2 the frob highlight was easily visible.

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19 hours ago, chakkman said:

Master of Shadows is on the market for a couple of years now, there's been Steam sales for it, it was sold below 10 €, and, a lot of people will have bought it on sale. Also, it has a different setting, and is a fantasy game with orcs, elves, and goblins, while Thief/TDM are rather classic middle age, with fantasy elements, of course.

At this point I think we're going even more into speculation, but I don't believe that fantasy vs. dark and more realistic setting is a clear cut issue, after all Kingdom Come Deliverance is a pretty successful game. You may be right of course, but I don't think it can be said this easily. 

In any case I believe that while TDM probably won't be as popular as commercial stealth games, there is a definite unfulfilled potential. 

 

18 hours ago, freyk said:

tdm doesnt have an "official" installer,  you described the TDM updater.
the updater downloads (and updates) TDM gamefiles from other locations, including the training mission amd some other missions.
Yes, is normal that its takes long and can crash. (especially when it  comes from a slow mirror)

Our "unofficial" installer, create a folder on a user specified location, sets folder permissions, places the tdm updater inside the folder and starts the updater.
i recommend new users to run the installer, to avoid several beginner problems. 

That isn't useful for me personally then. I'd appreciate a full release installer, where I download one big file, install it (with possible update check at the end) and I'm done. 

 

7 hours ago, STiFU said:

TDM has been in the news numerous times and has won numerous awards. It's initial release dates back soooooo long ago! Anyone interested in stealth knows about us and if not, they live in a remote cabin without internet. The only thing we can improve is availability, e.g., through Steam, Epic etc., see below.

Lots of those mentions happened in earlier stages of development, I think that this plays a role. Again, I believe (and I know you probably disagree, just explaining my point of view) that publicity only works well if the product is polished and feels like a finished game. Also I for example did not know about TDM until I decided to play Thief Gold for the first time a few months ago. I remember reading about it in previous years, but people mostly said that it's not super stable and playable and only worth trying if you're a huge fan of Thief, which I wasn't. In retrospect I'm sure I would have enjoyed it.

7 hours ago, STiFU said:

In a project like this, it is not easy to guarantee that there a no copyright infringements, hence, nobody wanted to step up and be the legal entity for these contracts.

Absolutely understand. I believe it's solvable, but I get that a thing like this is way too much trouble. Too bad.

 

7 hours ago, STiFU said:

By the way, we currently have like 3 active coders + 2 who occasionally help out and they all do that in their free time, so they obviously pick projects they are interrested in. And gaining more publicity is usuallynot the primary interest of a coder. ;) 

Oh believe me, I know. I've been using open source software for a long time and I studied computer science so I do know a lot of coders and I respect that their interest in a hobby project is often elsewhere. But I don't have to like it :).

Edited by vozka
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