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Proper Campaigns/Missionpacks


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When looking through the mission downloader there’s one prominent thing I notice. Many creators try to string together multiple missions into a “campaign“ by labeling them “part 1”, “part 2”, etc. Considering the number of people who do this, I think the feature I’m about to suggest would be very helpful. First of all, one should be able to package multiple missions into one download. There should be a little indicator in the mission browser whether its a standalone mission or a campaign containing multiple missions. Secondly, the creator should be able to specify an order for missions, so that ending one mission and hitting “continue” will immediately start the next mission, including the briefing and objectives screens, like how it is done in the proper thief games. Thirdly, this will allow the implementation of the buy screen! The gold collected in the previous mission will allow the player to purchase items for the next mission from a pool the mission creator sets for each mission. This will add the items to the player’s starting equipment for that mission. Finally, a reason to steal everything that isn’t nailed down! I think these three things in aggregate would allow creators to make proper campaigns instead of levels connected by story only.

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Another problem in releasing campaigns is that the missions have to be released at the same time and for many (if not all) campaigns released step by step, it took several years until the missions were released, so it was preferable to have missions at the point that they were ready. I am not sure how difficult it would be to bundle the missions into a campaign afterwards, but in most cases the authors prefer to concentrate on new projects rather than working on old ones, if they are still active at all.

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47 minutes ago, stgatilov said:

It is already possible, check out e.g. No Honor Among Thieves FM.

However, there are many small technical issues with campaign support, so it's probably wise for mappers to avoid using this feature without need.

Hmm, well these issues would need to be resolved then

38 minutes ago, Destined said:

Another problem in releasing campaigns is that the missions have to be released at the same time and for many (if not all) campaigns released step by step, it took several years until the missions were released, so it was preferable to have missions at the point that they were ready. I am not sure how difficult it would be to bundle the missions into a campaign afterwards, but in most cases the authors prefer to concentrate on new projects rather than working on old ones, if they are still active at all.

Well I know that, that’s why making the campaign easily editable to add more levels is important, like someone could release a campaign with only one level in it, and when they make more levels later it would ideally be stupid simple to add more levels to the campaign and set version numbers and whatnot and people with the old version could be warned that they have an old version of the campaign.

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24 minutes ago, Darkpixel said:

Well I know that, that’s why making the campaign easily editable to add more levels is important, like someone could release a campaign with only one level in it, and when they make more levels later it would ideally be stupid simple to add more levels to the campaign and set version numbers and whatnot and people with the old version could be warned that they have an old version of the campaign.

There is one issue with that proposal: People may already have played the older missions, so they would directly want to skip to the new mission, which comes with various new problems., e.g., for the inter-mission buy-screen. Old savegames are likely broken at this point in time, as there very likely has been an update to TDM, so relying on savegames for this issue is no option.

That being said, something that could be implemented rather easily would be a popup at the end of the mission, asking the player whether the next mission in the series should directly be installed. This would make it at least just a little bit more comfortable for the user.

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1 hour ago, stgatilov said:

It is already possible, check out e.g. No Honor Among Thieves FM.

However, there are many small technical issues with campaign support, so it's probably wise for mappers to avoid using this feature without need.

Oh my, is there a list of these I can read somewhere? I'm currently working on a 3-mission campaign, so hopefully there's nothing major.

My Fan Missions:

   Series:                                                                           Standalone:

Chronicles of Skulduggery 1: Pearls and Swine                     The Night of Reluctant Benefaction

Chronicles of Skulduggery 2: A Precarious Position              Langhorne Lodge

Chronicles of Skulduggery 3: Sacricide

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, STiFU said:

There is one issue with that proposal: People may already have played the older missions, so they would directly want to skip to the new mission, which comes with various new problems., e.g., for the inter-mission buy-screen. Old savegames are likely broken at this point in time, as there very likely has been an update to TDM, so relying on savegames for this issue is no option.

That being said, something that could be implemented rather easily would be a popup at the end of the mission, asking the player whether the next mission in the series should directly be installed. This would make it at least just a little bit more comfortable for the user.

Completing missions is a lot shorter than developing them, and the version numbers would probably let someone know that they are playing an in-progress campaign, so they know they're not getting the full experience if they play it now, and even then, for people who can't wait, a "skip mission" button on the objectives screen could alleviate that if someone wants to play the missions as they come out without replaying them.

As for your alternative suggestion, for that to work, the game would need to store the gold collected upon completing a mission and when loading the next one, the next one would have to look for that value for the buy screen to work

1 minute ago, peter_spy said:

If all campaign missions were packed in one .pk4 file, even a tiniest bugfix for one mission would force players to re-download the whole thing. I bet most people don't want that.

I said one download, not one pk4, it could be multiple files if that's possible, and mappers don't update their missions that fast, playing these missions is relatively quick compared to the process of developing them, and even if someone took forever to play through a mission/campaign, they could always choose to complete their playthrough on the old version.

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These are quite a few assumptions there. There are actually quite a few mappers out there who do a kind of post-launch support, and provide some quick fixes for bugs that weren't caught by testers.

And, none of this stuff is easy, even with the current setup: https://wiki.thedarkmod.com/index.php?title=Setting_up_Campaigns

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42 minutes ago, Darkpixel said:

As for your alternative suggestion, for that to work, the game would need to store the gold collected upon completing a mission and when loading the next one, the next one would have to look for that value for the buy screen to work

Gold was not intended to carry over in my suggestion. We have actual campaign support for that, if a mapper wishes to go down that route. My suggestion is merely a convenience feature allowing you to install the next individual FM without searching the mission browser.

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1 hour ago, STiFU said:

Old savegames are likely broken at this point in time, as there very likely has been an update to TDM, so relying on savegames for this issue is no option.

I believe "mission finished" savegames are not broken between versions. Not sure though.

45 minutes ago, Bienie said:

Oh my, is there a list of these I can read somewhere? I'm currently working on a 3-mission campaign, so hopefully there's nothing major.

Completely separate code for main menu results in various inconsistencies there. A lot of menu stuff is not customizable on per mission basis. I don't remember anything serious about the gameplay itself.

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1 hour ago, peter_spy said:

These are quite a few assumptions there. There are actually quite a few mappers out there who do a kind of post-launch support, and provide some quick fixes for bugs that weren't caught by testers.

And, none of this stuff is easy, even with the current setup: https://wiki.thedarkmod.com/index.php?title=Setting_up_Campaigns

And people who started playing before a small bugfix should have no problem not updating for the bugfix and finishing it in their current version

I initially assumed the campaign feature didn't exist because people weren't using it, but now I see that people aren't using it because it's not in a good state and it's hard to work with, so my new suggestion is to make it functional, easy, and intuitive, and flexible enough so that mappers start using it. So if its hard to do right now, then change it (at some point), it's what I made the thread for.

1 hour ago, wesp5 said:

In my opinion it would be enough if campaign missions are at least named in a way that players can see that they belong together. I always do this in my Unofficial Patch, but I think this should be a core mod feature already!

wdym? in the mission browser they're already named so that players can understand them, I'm advocating for the campaign feature because without it (or without a version that's good enough for people to use), there's no reason to collect gold, the main collectible in the game (besides gold requirements in the objectives but that is the least immersive thing ever and has no place in an immersive sim).

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A while back, I suggested that we add a "playlist" option to TDM. That way players can string missions together themselves rather than requiring mappers to pack them together.

This would also allow players to share playlists of (for example) favorite horror missions, etc. At the time the suggestion was met with some push-back about how few missions existed.

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I said quick fixes, not low-priority fixes. Sometimes there are showstopper bugs that never happened during testing, and mappers fix them fairly quickly after release.

8 minutes ago, Darkpixel said:

I'm advocating for the campaign feature because without it (or without a version that's good enough for people to use), there's no reason to collect gold, the main collectible in the game (besides gold requirements in the objectives but that is the least immersive thing ever and has no place in an immersive sim).

Missions are made during a several year span, mappers would have to prepare loadouts for at least one mission ahead, and place loot in the current mission accordingly. That's awfully limiting in creative terms.

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Not necessarily. You could adjust the available money according to your needs afterwards. Of course, this means that not all the loot you gathered is visible in the next mission, but if it is simply multiplied by a factor X (maybe even flexible according to difficulty), this still means that you would have the most options, if you collected 100% loot. The loot requrements would also still give a hint on how much money is available. That way, even without knowing the exact amount, the map author still has an estimate, which items can be afforded in the worst and best cases.

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1 hour ago, peter_spy said:

I said quick fixes, not low-priority fixes. Sometimes there are showstopper bugs that never happened during testing, and mappers fix them fairly quickly after release.

Missions are made during a several year span, mappers would have to prepare loadouts for at least one mission ahead, and place loot in the current mission accordingly. That's awfully limiting in creative terms.

If the bug was gamebreaking then it's a good thing they released the update, otherwise the mission would not work, I don't see how campaigns affects any of this.

That's not how thief works. They give you the minimum (and maybe a bit more) of what is needed to complete the mission by default and extras are available for purchase with gold from the previous mission. The buy system is tied to the level that the items will get added to. You could completely randomize the order of levels in thief 2 for example, (except for the first level as it does not have a buy screen) and it would still play completely fine.

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1 hour ago, Darkpixel said:

in the mission browser they're already named so that players can understand them...

No, many campaign or at least series missions are not recognizable as such in the ingame list, only in the web list. This needs to be fixed first!

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39 minutes ago, wesp5 said:

No, many campaign or at least series missions are not recognizable as such in the ingame list, only in the web list. This needs to be fixed first!

I haven't seen this issue but I'll take your word for it, my point is that there's no use for or motivation to get gold atm

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23 minutes ago, Darkpixel said:

I haven't seen this issue but I'll take your word for it, my point is that there's no use for or motivation to get gold atm

If you need a motivation to look for loot, is Thief even your type of game? 😛

Anyway, of course anyone is allowed to contribute their time and skills to TDM. So if you want to add better campaign support, by all means, go ahead. We can always use a helping hand. If not, then I doubt anyone will look into it, as it involves a lot of work for very little improvement compared to our existing campaign support. Most members of our community are also perfectly happy with a series of missions being split into individual FMs, and it has been the same with most classic thief FM series as well.

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1 hour ago, STiFU said:

If you need a motivation to look for loot, is Thief even your type of game? 😛

Anyway, of course anyone is allowed to contribute their time and skills to TDM. So if you want to add better campaign support, by all means, go ahead. We can always use a helping hand. If not, then I doubt anyone will look into it, as it involves a lot of work for very little improvement compared to our existing campaign support. Most members of our community are also perfectly happy with a series of missions being split into individual FMs, and it has been the same with most classic thief FM series as well.

You can use that argument for the removal of any element that guides the player. The buy screen is important because it psychologically implants the idea that gold is valuable, and thus makes the player's thoughts sync up with the character's more, leading to better immersion. It could be left as a scoring element but let's just say there's a reason why high-scores as a mechanic fell out of favor.

I'm not too great at programming yet, I'm still learning, I'd likely make things worse. And I wouldn't consider it "very little improvement" if the issues with the system are bad enough that almost nobody is using it.

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Actually, both difficulty selection and initial loadout screens aren't that important when you play a mission for the first time. You have no idea what you'll be up against, so your choices are moslty arbitrary. Making difficulty part of level design (easy, medium and hard areas to choose from) an making equipment POC (procured on-site) is much more interesting for the player, although much harder for mapper.

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9 hours ago, Darkpixel said:

If the bug was gamebreaking then it's a good thing they released the update, otherwise the mission would not work, I don't see how campaigns affects any of this.

The problem would be that, if this is not the first mission of the campaign, you would have to start the campaign from zero again. This becomes annoying after some time. Imagine you have a four mission campaign that is released over four years. You would have to play the first mission four times, the second three times and the third twice just if you want to finish it. If there are (crutial) bugfix updates to the campaign or an update to TDM, while you are playing it, these numbers would further increase and earlier missions are more likely to be affected in this case. So, after the third or fourth time the first mission might just get a bit boring.

In general, I agree to your sentiment: it would be nice to have a better campaign support. I could imagine something like in Dishonored, where you can choose Missions you already finished (or the next one, you have not finished, yet) from a screen. Mission stats (and variables that are transferred from mission to mission) could be printed in a dedicated txt-file and read out for each mission. That way you could replay missions that you liked without having to replay all and it might make it easier to add missions afterwards. However, this requires a new GUI for campaigns, which adds whole lot of work to this suggestion.

6 hours ago, Darkpixel said:

I'm not too great at programming yet, I'm still learning, I'd likely make things worse. And I wouldn't consider it "very little improvement" if the issues with the system are bad enough that almost nobody is using it.

I also know this problem. I have no experience with programming whatsoever. On this board you are usually told to just pick a project and start with it. The rest will come eventually. Unfortunately, I would not know where to even start. I have no idea how to read the source code, so I would also have no idea how to change what or even where to start looking for a project like this.

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I guess people have already stated the main punchline. This is really the job of the mapper. So it's good to inform mappers that packaging campaigns when they're finished would be appreciated.

The issue about the lag in releasing individual missions just means that it's probably good for mappers to release the FMs individually over time, and then at the very end have an independent release of all of them packaged together as a campaign, while the individual levels are still available individually. It's a little more work for the mapper (e.g., they might want to change the loadout screen for the campaign version so it makes sense either way, like we've been talking about), but it'd be worth it.

And there's a risk a player downloads the same missions twice, but that should be rare because the title and relative file sizes should cue them, and other things like the relevant thread on the FM (which people often visit for hints) or the fact that the first mission is identical, etc, will all cue them as well.

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8 hours ago, Destined said:

The problem would be that, if this is not the first mission of the campaign, you would have to start the campaign from zero again. This becomes annoying after some time. Imagine you have a four mission campaign that is released over four years. You would have to play the first mission four times, the second three times and the third twice just if you want to finish it. If there are (crutial) bugfix updates to the campaign or an update to TDM, while you are playing it, these numbers would further increase and earlier missions are more likely to be affected in this case. So, after the third or fourth time the first mission might just get a bit boring.

I know, that's why earlier I also suggested a "skip mission" button on the objectives screen after the briefing so that if players absolutely must have the newest version then they can skip to the mission they were on.

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