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Thief 2 fan missions and campaigns

Curratum

Arcane
Joined
May 14, 2018
Messages
4,012
I will never stop crusading about the merits of warehouse / mansion heist misssions.

It's like Thief comfort food and I love them all.
 

Psych0sis

Educated
Joined
Dec 21, 2018
Messages
53
I had quite a lot of fun creating "My Favorite Year", I personally think it turned out a lot better than "Troubling Transitions" which makes its placing below it odd to me. A lot of TT felt unnecessary (ie like the whole city bit) or looked god ugly in retrospect, the ground level was mostly useless and the guard placements were too spread out to offer any challenge. I had a year's worth of dromed experience going into MFY so I'm not surprised things were a lot cleaner and well constructed when I look back at them, though I'm disappointed the outdoors area with all the crates is entirely useless, or that the thieves area kinda feels too flat. Of course throwing the story together at the last second hurt my chances with the "muh story and readables" people, but that can't be helped.

With regards to Christine's latest "Raven Creek" update, it adds in two new missions and revamps the original missions, so if you enjoyed it the first time, it might be worth replaying. I didn't enjoy it at all, the last time I tried playing "Raven Creek" I almost fell asleep from the intense boredom I was feeling, and her missions usually dont run very well because of objects placed everywhere in addition to sightlines the lengths of tens of football fields. No thank you, I'll pass on this one.
 
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Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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With regards to Christine's latest "Raven Creek" update, it adds in two new missions and revamps the original missions, so if you enjoyed it the first time, it might be worth replaying. I didn't enjoy it at all, the last time I tried playing "Raven Creek" I almost fell asleep from the intense boredom I was feeling, and her missions usually dont run very well because of objects places everywhere in addition to sightlines the lengths of tens of football fields. No thank you, I'll pass on this one.

I am currently replaying Raven Creek, being in the opening stages of Mission 3. Sure looks pretty, but plays like a snorefest. Except for ~200 extra loot in mission 2, I've yet to see a single new improvement... but I see a lot of squandered opportunities.
 

Unkillable Cat

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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
And finished "Raven Creek" v2. Three years ago I played v1 and found Mission 1 to be pointless (it could easily be replaced by a short intro cinematic and an in-game map!), Mission 2 to be a little below average and Mission 3 to be a snorefest. Now Raven Creek v2 is out, and the first three missions are identical and not improved in the slightest. But now there are two more missions. Mission 4 is another snorefest, but Mission 5 fortunately manages to be something better... though it still felt like it could do more.

The upside is that all five Raven Creek-missions are beautiful to look at, I was actually surprised to find a stock object in the first mission, instead of a hi-res replacement. Each location is also well decorated, giving homes that 'lived-in' feeling, and there are plenty of light switches to turn off the lights with. The final mission also has a large museum with plenty of hi-res paintings and statues to gawk at. Finally there are some good attempts at humor, the best one being 'King TP' in the final mission, but Lady Lotti at the bar (good voice acting there) and the 'observer' in Lord Wilson's office are also worth a laugh.

The downsides? To start with the 'theme' of the FMs are ravens, as in the bird. We all know them, but it seems that Christine doesn't. Every birdcall I heard in the FM comes from crows, and every stationary model I saw was of blackbirds. The flying models seemed to be of swallows or something, but it sure was no raven. The only raven I ever saw was the rock-like statue that makes a couple of appearances throughout the campaign. I'm not that much of an ornithologist, but to me this is an Epic Fail.

The single biggest problem with "Raven Creek" though is the (lack of) gameplay, and in-game consistency. Missions 1-4 all take place on the same night (the last mission either does the same, or takes place the night after), yet no loot or gear is ever carried over between missions, with no explanation as to why. 85% of the campaign involves walking around, finding the loot and knocking out all the guards that are in your way. The last mission even mandates this, you must knock out almost all the guards. There's nearly nothing else going on. Mission 3 has a small crypt with a small Undead-problem that's dealt with quicker than it is found, Mission 4 has some wildlife that might prove hazardous to your health if you mess with it, and Mission 5 has the vault puzzle. Despite the fact that it looks extremely convoluted, the solution is actually rather simple, which was a bit of a disappointment for me.

As a result playing "Raven Creek" is one of the blandest gaming experiences I've had in recent times. There's no point in doing more than just meeting the mandated loot requirement, as the money isn't put to any use. And grabbing gear leads to the same thing, and this combined will make many taffers stop and ask "What's the point of playing this then?" Well, that's where we get to a point I'm not sure what to make of. Christine is one of the most prolific FM authors out there, and has made several campaigns pitting Garrett against several noble families. "Lord Ashton" deals with the Ashtons (and the Hrothgars to a lesser extent), "Lady Lotti" deals with the Lottis, "Night of the Falcon" had their nobles, and so on. "Raven Creek" brings all of them together, so concerned parties can catch up with these characters and see how they're doing. On one hand it's admirable that Christine has kept them alive for so long, but on the other hand I can't shake the feeling of this being like those weekly soap operas on TV - you know, the ones where you can skip watching them for weeks, and still catch up to the lost story in moments once you catch the next show. But for the people who long and clamor for these characters and setting, there's an extra bonus just for you - one of the secrets in Mission 2 is a homage-shrine to the many missions Christine has made through the years, and even I felt a little in awe for finding it.

Final score? If you like mansion heists more for the scenery and architecture rather than the thrill of the hunt and expecting the unexpected, then RC is absolutely for you. If you want something meatier from a Thief FM (especially on the gameplay front) then you might as well pass on this one.
 
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JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
To be honest I can't even remember the objectives of My Favorite Year, I just wrote in my notes that you need to explore a warehouse very large but not interesting

"My Favorite Year" is a bit janky in places, but that should be taken with the grain of salt that it was a competition entry put together in three weeks.

I've seen FMs that are put together in a longer time than that with a lower production quality. For example, I recently played through Christine's "Lord Ashton"-series, which unlike her other series has no redeeming features whatsoever, like an interesting premise or antagonist. It's eight missions churned out at an alarming rate of speed, and while some of the maps show promise they never take off to get anywhere. The amount of copy/pasted scenery and item placement is quite noticeable, and there can arise some strange situations in them. I had to stop and admire the six-guard conga line that was patrolling a long hallway in the last mission, because their spread-out patrols were based on hardware limitations 20 years ago, but with NewDark they all move constantly, leading to interesting pile-ups.

If my words regarding "Lord Ashton" seem harsh, keep in mind that the campaign was made almost 20 years ago. It hasn't aged well at all. Now look at "My Favorite Year" and realize that it's a small miracle that it works as well as it does.

What I like about Lord Ashton is how it shows Christine's development as a designer.

The first mission is incredibly rough, as is the second, and the third, but with each mission you notice her getting better and finding her style. The proportions of the levels become more and more reasonable, the visual design becomes more distinct and charming, etc etc. It never becomes great, but it's a great illustration of a designer's journey from complete clueless noob to competent amateur.
 

Mechs Delight

Educated
Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Messages
80
Location
Sioux Falls, SD USA
Pretty much in agreement with Cat about "Raven Creek"; it looks terrific, but the gameplay is okay at best (and if I ever see another snake in a mission, it will be too soon).
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
Pretty much in agreement with Cat about "Raven Creek"; it looks terrific, but the gameplay is okay at best (and if I ever see another snake in a mission, it will be too soon).

To be fair, the snakes were the only real 'addition' to the campaign, they were something different and required new tactics.

Still doesn't justify that the Big Snake in Mission 3 needed three fire arrows to the face to die, nor that its unmoving corpse was a health hazard.
facepalm.png
 

Psych0sis

Educated
Joined
Dec 21, 2018
Messages
53
Right, I've finished all of the contest missions, though I gave up on Sinister Night out of sheer boredom. As it stands I have them listed as follows:

Alcazar - 30/30
A Midsummer Night's Heist - 24/30
Turning of the Leaves - 24/30
Recipe for Turmoil - 24/30
The Perdurance - 23/30
The Cinder Notes - 20/30
Sabotage in Eastport - 18/30
Nightwalk - 15/30
Sinister Night - Did not finish but up until I quit it was 9/30

I wish "Gameplay" was an actual category here because some of these would score higher (A Midsummer Night's Heist, Turning of the Leaves) and some of these would be lower (Perdurance, Eastport). As it is, extremely solid batch of missions and none of them beside's Sinister Night is a waste of time playing.
 

Maggot

Arcane
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Mar 31, 2016
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1,188
Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
Anyone else find Catacombs of Knoss part 2 to be unreasonably dark? I can't see shit 90% of the mission and it just makes me wish I had T2 flares.
 

nicked

Educated
Joined
Feb 7, 2017
Messages
79
Location
Lincoln, UK
It was a pretty common complaint at the time of release. The darkness was a deliberate choice, but I gather a lot of people had trouble navigating because of it.
 

Andronovo

Learned
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Messages
329
Dirkbogan is a master of interesting three dimensional architecture. Ascend the Dim Valley is a lot of fun, if you're like me and you get bored by predictable, square shaped buildings.
 

Scrounger

Educated
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
55
I like to try them at least...
Kinda liked one or two missions from him. I have that hunch for various authors and their styles and weaknesses
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
Meanwhile, a 'proper' new T2 FM was released recently, "Second Bank and Trust". Due to reasons I haven't given it a proper playthrough, but it appears to be a good mix of the "First Bank and Trust" and "Life of the Party" OMs from Thief 2.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
And going back to an earlier post here, I'm going through "Catacombs of Knoss" again... both versions. I've completed the first half, and am currently stumbling about in the dark in the second half... and remembering some of the more dreary aspects of it.

The immediate first change brought about by the Remastered version is that even though both are dark, the Remastered is a... 'managable' kind of dark. Two other notable changes at the start involve the objective that had Garrett place two coins at the base of a statue of Lady Luck. In the original version there's a gigantic female statue towering over the marketplace, so obviously many players will come to the conclusion that this is the statue in question. Except it isn't, the real statue of Lady Luck is high above the west gate, and well shrouded in darkness. nicked fixed this by swapping out the giant statue with that of a man, and then putting illumination around the Lady Luck-statue above the west gate - meaning she's much easier to spot. (It's still a botheration to get all the way up to her, though. ;) )

Even without the Remastered-additions "Knoss" is a solid FM, but with these changes - I'm looking forward to going through the whole thing twice.

EDIT: Taffed about a little more. This is turning out to be a massive upgrade for the first half. The doctor now has a 'patient' in his 'other office', and I'm wondering whether the skin is purposefully put wrong on her or not...
 
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Unkillable Cat

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Why aren't you all playing Whispers Below the Cobblestone yet? +M

Had a quick look at this. Nice cityscape with plenty of pathways, something about three feuding lords and a painting. Oh, and there's some underground place where the low-lifes hang out.

*finds underground place*

...

What do you mean, the undercity is bigger than the cityscape?
 

cowking

Scholar
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
114
Finished Whispers Below the Cobblestone in about 3-4 hours (felt more like 5 due to multiple sittings, playing this in one go will probably be exhausting)

It feels like a mixture of The Sound of a Burrick in a Room (good cityscape but awful letdown of a finale) and The Feast of Pilgrims (too big, forgot what the goal was by the time it became relevant). Whereas this one has a good payout finale but it's placed in the wrong spot making this mission feel too long.

Starts off somewhat mediocre and z-level movement is basically two levels despite appearing very vertical. Was also bugged by how sound propagates through some open windows. In ideal city missions this would never happen and windows would be closed & frobbable. Visually a very good looking mission with some nice touches and stuff, the manors also looked real nice. Too bad the gameplay isn't really top notch, manors were mostly thin corridors with guards everywhere with very limited pathways of movement once inside. Would have preferred a smaller city with larger indoor mansions.

By far my biggest pet peeve with this mission was the psychological error in making the plot crescendo and highlight of this mission the middle section. Once you emerge from the dank underdark fueled by adrenaline and thrill and are faced with another massive city section, it's hard not to feel underwhelmed by the prospect of another 1h+ city romp. Plus the way the city map is cutoff in two is very artificial and doesn't even make sense in terms of readables (you should be able to find the mage tower readable before the underdark).

On the subject of readables, it does suffer from the plague of city missions in that it lacks a cohesive mysterious plot that propels the player's curiosity forward. Everything was very straightforward and predictable.

Probably not the type of mission you will enjoy if you like to avoid blackjack and save scumming. I ended up giving BJ to about 90% of all living entities, compounded by the fact that it's a very long fm. Many of the patrol routes are such that you will pull hairs otherwise, even more so if you have to backtrack miles like I did before realizing the city was split.

Still, the underdark was very cool and memorable, definitely the highlight of this mission (despite having some minor annoyances like the pitch black metal steps that are close to impossible to spot given the circumstance of being on a guard timer unless you blackjacked). Kinda makes me wanna play some other pitchy black oppressive missions.

Beginning - 2/5
Middle - 5/5
End - 3/5 (psychologically 2/5)
Gameplay - 2.5/5
Visuals - 4/5 (sometimes 5/5)
Plot - 2/5
 
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Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
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Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
I just wrapped up the Cobblestones as well. It felt so familiar that I dug up the author's first FM, "A Night in the Old Quarter"... and except for the undercity section it's really hard to tell the two of them apart (though Cobblestones is overall more vertical).

Both FMs have the same problem with the soundscape though - it's really hard to tell where critters are moving about.

It's still overall enjoyable, it drips and oozes that T1-vibe that I love so much, and now I'm left wondering what a full-fledged undercity FM (which uses 'dark-as-crap' darkness wisely) would play like. It would be like "Alcazar" or "Into the Odd" on steroids.
 

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