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Fan Mission: Blackgrove Manor by ddaazzaa (2021/03/14)


ddaazzaa
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Congrats on the release, will be playing this one soon!

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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Just finished this, after about 90 minutes.

Spoiler

Loved the mansion, wish it had people in it. :awesome:

But yeah, while it's definitely not my preferred style of mission, I do appreciate that it was more concerned with atmosphere, rather than having to avoid the always annoying undead. I did go full yolo, though, just running around swinging my sword at nothing, to make myself feel better. I did read your list of influences, and having Cradle in there, I figured that there would, most likely, be nothing to actually worry about. Other than the occasional jumpscare, which thankfully weren't too bad. Cradle did scare you with nothing for the first part, after all. Considering how much equipment you had, I was expecting the place to be overrun after going in the basement, but can't say I'm opposed to how it ended.

Despite being basically being all loot/keyhunt, I didn't really mind. It was basically running through a haunted house (no shit right);  just the tension of seeing what would be around the next corner, or behind the next door.

It's hard to write anything without giving something away, but I really enjoyed the environment, the mansion itself clearly had a lot of effort put into it. The atmosphere was quite palpable, even though my preferences lie elsewhere. Still, for what it is, I would consider it a strong showing, and for a first mission nonetheless.

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Just finished it as well. Very tense overall, and dripping with atmosphere, and a compelling if slightly sparse storyline. TDM can always use more creppy / spooky missions!

Spoiler

I think you found a good balance between tension and jumpscares, though it did feel slightly repetetive towards the end. The ghostly voices and slamming noises were creepy the first few times but after a while it lost it's fear factor imo. You still managed to get me a couple of times with flashy red thingies coming towards me, and the "look behind you" thing written on the wall lol.

Similar to roygato I found myself thinking "man I wish this mansion was populated!" It was a really nice place you built, but I feel it was almost wasted by it being abandoned. Once I turned the lights on it was at least prettier and the tension lightened slightly.

As for bugs I didn't run into much, only getting stuck on geometry a couple of times, once in the attic and once on the edge of a bed somewhere where I had to noclip to get out which was kind of bizarre.

An impressive mission for a first release! Will look forward to playing any future missions you make!

  • Like 1

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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9 minutes ago, Bienie said:

 

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Similar to roygato I found myself thinking "man I wish this mansion was populated!" It was a really nice place you built, but I feel it was almost wasted by it being abandoned. Once I turned the lights on it was at least prettier and the tension lightened slightly.

 

Definitely.

As for bugs, I didn't come across any at all, which is rather impressive.

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Great mission loved the atmosphere!!  I had trouble hearing the voices and had to start over and raise the volume because without that you miss a lot.

Thank you for this gem!!!!

pwl

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5 minutes ago, pwl said:

I had trouble hearing the voices and had to start over and raise the volume because without that you miss a lot.

Oh yeah, this is one thing I forgot to mention. The player voice did seem really low, even though I have that slider all the way up.

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Thanks to everyone who has played the FM.

9 hours ago, Bienie said:

Just finished it as well. Very tense overall, and dripping with atmosphere, and a compelling if slightly sparse storyline. TDM can always use more creppy / spooky missions!

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I think you found a good balance between tension and jumpscares, though it did feel slightly repetetive towards the end. The ghostly voices and slamming noises were creepy the first few times but after a while it lost it's fear factor imo.

Similar to roygato I found myself thinking "man I wish this mansion was populated!" It was a really nice place you built, but I feel it was almost wasted by it being abandoned. Once I turned the lights on it was at least prettier and the tension lightened slightly.

 

 

Spoiler

Yeah, the sounds can get a little repetitive, it depends on how long the player takes. That's the issue when the mission is non linear like this, it's very hard to control the pacing. The player can access most of the manor at any time, so you can't account for what order they will visit rooms and how often they double back. I tried to control what scares occurred in order by gating the progress with keys and locked doors, I also had a few noises on trigger timers so they would re-occur otherwise the player might be running in circles with no noises or tension. A linear mission would have been easier to make a more concise hand crafted experience.

The lack of the mansion being populated was something I thought of before I began mapping. I go into a little more detail in the beta thread. I wanted to create a more atmospheric mission and having NPCs would have gone against that goal. The lone zombie was a last minute addition. If someone did want to experiment with repurposing the mansion into a more traditional thief style mission they have my blessing.

 

7 hours ago, pwl said:

Great mission loved the atmosphere!!  I had trouble hearing the voices and had to start over and raise the volume because without that you miss a lot.

 

8 hours ago, roygato said:

Oh yeah, this is one thing I forgot to mention. The player voice did seem really low, even though I have that slider all the way up.

 

Spoiler

Was it all the voices that were lower? There are 3 types of voices: potagonist, whispers and demonic.

The whispers are supposed to be rather quiet. I did try and tweak the volume of the ambient music and the different voices. Everyone has different headphones and speakers so it can be difficult to get it right for everyone.

All the speakers are setup with no spawn args or entities to differentiate between the types of sounds, so that's probably why adjusting those sliders doesn't do anything. If there's an easy way to add a spawn arg to certain voices I could maybe change it. I know there is a spawn arg for ambient music (s_music). The voice seems like you have to use a atdm and a few voice triggers. I haven't researched it further to see what's possible.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ddaazzaa said:

 

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Yeah, the sounds can get a little repetitive, it depends on how long the player takes. That's the issue when the mission is non linear like this, it's very hard to control the pacing. The player can access most of the manor at any time, so you can't account for what order they will visit rooms and how often they double back. I tried to control what scares occurred in order by gating the progress with keys and locked doors, I also had a few noises on trigger timers so they would re-occur otherwise the player might be running in circles with no noises or tension. A linear mission would have been easier to make a more concise hand crafted experience.

The lack of the mansion being populated was something I thought of before I began mapping. I go into a little more detail in the beta thread. I wanted to create a more atmospheric mission and having NPCs would have gone against that goal. The lone zombie was a last minute addition. If someone did want to experiment with repurposing the mansion into a more traditional thief style mission they have my blessing.

 

 

Spoiler

I think you're right, it's mainly a pacing issue. I ran into this while making Langhorne Lodge, which is thematically similar to Blackgrove Manor. Ultimately I did as you said, gated everything into quite a linear mission. I was afraid players would find it uninspired, but nobody commented on the linearity really. It was quite a lot smaller/shorter though, so maybe that made it easier to abide some linearity. This mission feels like a mix between Langhorne Lodge and Marsh of Rahena, and I think you did well balancing the pacing overall!

 

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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I played it again yesterday and I think the atmosphere is quite successful, the only thing I don't like so much is that after picking up the artifact, the game is over, although the way to the exit is quite long through the tunnels and the Sewer , without further incidents or ghosts (well, the little scare apart) and without the possibility of returning to the mansion. I think maybe it would have been better to finish when he gets back in the boat, just like he puts on the to-do list.
Otherwise a very good mission

Edited by Zerg Rush

Sys Specs Laptop Lenovo V145 15AST, AMD A9- 9425 Radeon R5 - 5 cores 3,1 GHz  RAM 8Gb, GPU 1+2 Gb -Win10 64 v21H1

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I love how the mission keeps tension using only the story and some cleverly placed audio without the ecxessive use of enemy A.I.

I always considered this as a big skill to have in editing and a core element of the original thief games

A very skilled author for me that I will be watching closely for future fan missions.

Edited by kin
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10 hours ago, ddaazzaa said:

 

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Was it all the voices that were lower? There are 3 types of voices: potagonist, whispers and demonic.

The whispers are supposed to be rather quiet. I did try and tweak the volume of the ambient music and the different voices. Everyone has different headphones and speakers so it can be difficult to get it right for everyone.

All the speakers are setup with no spawn args or entities to differentiate between the types of sounds, so that's probably why adjusting those sliders doesn't do anything. If there's an easy way to add a spawn arg to certain voices I could maybe change it. I know there is a spawn arg for ambient music (s_music). The voice seems like you have to use a atdm and a few voice triggers. I haven't researched it further to see what's possible.

 

Spoiler

It was just the protagonist that was rather quiet for me. The other stuff was fine.

Also

10 hours ago, ddaazzaa said:

 

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If someone did want to experiment with repurposing the mansion into a more traditional thief style mission they have my blessing.

 

Spoiler

Oh nice, a free map, don't have to make my own. :awesome:

But yeah, a very generous offer, kinda hoping someone takes you up on it. It really is such a well put together environment.

 

Edited by roygato
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Very nice mission!

Spoiler

 

I actually liked the minimal population; a nice change of pace. The sounds/voices were nicely done, and just about the right frequency for me. The red thing coming down when you're looking up the ladder near the end, that was excellent! Good story (sad though). Key hunting isn't my favorite thing to do, but this one was reasonable.

I did see a couple minor bugs. On the outside of the building I saw moonlight particles that had leaked from the inside. Can't remember exactly where. And the lamps in the mansion don't look right when "off" (too black):

blackgrove_2021-03-15_15_43_12a.jpg.540f99c20b157bef7f947f39cb4d759f.jpg

I had the same problem with Now and Then, and I ended up fixing it by making a new unlit skin for the lamp. Let me know if you want the details.

I don't know if it matters to you, but the canonical "current" year for DM missions is approximately 1630. Your readables put the date of the mission in the 1860s.

At the end, it doesn't seem to matter if you keep the artifact or not. One of the voices told me not to take it, so I thought that maybe if I left it behind, things would turn out differently. But the ending seems the same whether you take it or not?

 

 

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1 hour ago, joebarnin said:

Very nice mission!

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I did see a couple minor bugs. On the outside of the building I saw moonlight particles that had leaked from the inside. Can't remember exactly where. And the lamps in the mansion don't look right when "off" (too black):

blackgrove_2021-03-15_15_43_12a.jpg.540f99c20b157bef7f947f39cb4d759f.jpg

I had the same problem with Now and Then, and I ended up fixing it by making a new unlit skin for the lamp. Let me know if you want the details.

I don't know if it matters to you, but the canonical "current" year for DM missions is approximately 1630. Your readables put the date of the mission in the 1860s.

At the end, it doesn't seem to matter if you keep the artifact or not. One of the voices told me not to take it, so I thought that maybe if I left it behind, things would turn out differently. But the ending seems the same whether you take it or not?

 

 

 

Spoiler

I might check into those particles if I find enough bugs to fix to warrant a new version. They are relatively hard to see in a low lit environment.

I noticed the lamps being a little too black, since it's the default skin, I imagine it's the same in lots of other FMs that use that model. Until now nobody else has mentioned it so I'll probably just leave it.

I wanted to try and keep this separate from the dark mod canonical universe, although it was difficult given some of the stock model have logos on banners, beds etc

I thought about having something happen to the player as they come out of the sewer, but I ended up deciding to leave the player guessing as to what would happen next. After all, the stone might want to be taken back to the town.

 

13 hours ago, roygato said:
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It was just the protagonist that was rather quiet for me. The other stuff was fine.

Also

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Oh nice, a free map, don't have to make my own. :awesome:

But yeah, a very generous offer, kinda hoping someone takes you up on it. It really is such a well put together environment.

 

 

Spoiler

Surprisingly when I was tweaking the sound, the whispers tended to be the most quiet for me. That's odd.

I monster clipped the majority of the map. So dropping 1 to 2 dozen guards around the map, a bit of AI pathing and it's almost there :).

 

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Man, I love the atmosphere, still have not found a way to

Spoiler

switch on the lights

but have already 1,300 in loot and experienced several almost heart attacks due to the..."events" ! :)

Spoiler

The child's crying made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I ran out of the room asap!

 

Maybe gonna proceed this evening, great job so far!

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11 hours ago, ddaazzaa said:

 

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Surprisingly when I was tweaking the sound, the whispers tended to be the most quiet for me. That's odd.

I monster clipped the majority of the map. So dropping 1 to 2 dozen guards around the map, a bit of AI pathing and it's almost there :).

 

Spoiler

It may just be my setup too, it's not the first mission where I have sound mixing issues. Have to check some older missions with the protagonist talking, to compare.

 

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20 hours ago, JackFarmer said:

Man, I love the atmosphere, still have not found a way to

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switch on the lights

 

Spoiler

The breaker is in the basement. You will find the basement key in the master bedroom en suite. Another way is to head to the wine cellar, behind some boxes there is a grate which gives access to the duct system, one path leads to the basement.

 

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