The Right Dark Stuff: The Dark Mod 1.0

By Kieron Gillen on October 19th, 2009 at 2:13 pm.

I disliked his girl-like hair-cut.

Hurrah! Over the weekend, the previously discussed The Dark Mod released. It’s called 1.0 but they’re also calling it Beta, so what’s a guy to think? Well, a guy’s to think this is splendid. It’s basically for playing Thief-esque levels entirely in the Doom 3 engine (As created with DarkRadiant). You can download the full thing from the site -which includes a training mission, and get any of the three already completed missions from here. And I’ve been playing them all, so some thoughts on the Dark Project and the levels are hidden in the shadows nearby…

Yeah, it’s basically impressive. It’s not perfect but it’s basically Thief… but in Doom 3. For those of you who were disappointed in the less faithful direction Deadly Shadows headed in will be delighted in – well – rope arrows and all of Garrett’s missing chums. It’s not a simple re-creation however, and it’s been tweaked in quite a few meaningful ways. Take Lockpicking, which manages to find its own approach to the picking-locks mini-game problem which has haunted games since Thief. Rather than the original Thief slowly alternating between two lockpicks and waiting or later Stealth games looking-for-hot-points-to-jiggle-free, it instead plays its own sound-sample which loops. There’s a gap at the end. By pressing at that exact moment, you take out that tumbler. In other words, they’ve inserted a skill element but kept (or even extended) the tension as you try and get a lock open before you’re found. Neatly, since it’s sound based, there’s also room for puzzles based around noisy areas. As part of the tutorial level, there’s a section where you’re trying to pick a safe near some heavy machinery – an impossible task until you’ve turned that nasty steam-punk off.

(There’s also an option to make three-repeats automatically take out the tumbler if you’re weak).

180! Garrett's appearance on Bullseye won him a Bendy Bully. It was top loot.

In other words, an intelligent development which adds to Thief’s core experience. They’ve tried something similar with the fighting, but it’s less successful – not least because who the hell fights in a Thief game? You’re able to choose different sword-attacks by moving the mouse while attacking. The system can be expanded for those looking for more challenge by you having to manually select the block direction in a similar way. I admit, the system has taught me something about games. I’ve always objected having to select special moves by selecting a move-key – which is the way most people who do sword-fighting tend to go. After all, why should I move that direction for a half-second doing a move? In actual practice, it’s far worse having that fraction-of-a-second on the mouse, because it means it becomes awkward to even look at the person you’re fighting. I’m sure that it gets better with practice, but it’s so initially awkward and the pay-off so tangential to the core of the game, I find it difficult to preserve.

The missions available are really the early ones, being mostly small set-pieces you’ll be playing through on 20 minutes or half an hour or so. The Tutorial actually has far more worth than you’d expect – there’s a lot of the skills you’ll want a place to practice, and it provides a system to do exactly that (For example, the sword-fighting allows you to go through seven increasingly difficult fights). And having a game where you can mantle up onto anything is highly welcome. And the glorious leaning. And…

Back to the missions. The Outpost is probably the simplest, and what I recommend you try first, based around a single small area and a fine place to get back into your Thief groove. Crown of Penitence is probably the best out of the three – it’s got the best compromise between size, complexity and quality – if a little buggy in a few places. Chalice of Kings seems a similar size, but is a more awkward, punishing beast. At least the most obvious route, even with finding a hidden button – I’ve seen discussion that there’s a second – throws you in a position where you have to take single path through an (electric) lighted area past a guard standing with his back to the wall. The best solution I have is try a noise-arrow to take him elsewhere, but there’s about six other guards within its radius, meaning the whole place becomes chaos for a bit. I’m sure I’ll work something else, but for anyone returning to Thief after a gap, it’s a punishing problem.

(The biggest thing being that you have to act without any knowledge of what the rest of the building looks like. There’s no chance to plan or scope out the place – for me, some of the key joys of Thief.)

Yeah, I'm shit.

More general problems… well, it’s tricky to say whether they’re problems with the Dark Mod or problems with the actual levels have been constructed. I seem to be missing with my Water Arrows more often than I feel I should be – especially tricky with the tiny lantern lights, presumably due to a smaller hit area. Manouvering corpses is surprisingly tricky, normally involving me grabbing each limb individually to make sure it goes through the door – some limitations on the ragdolling to streamline this core functionality (i.e. Hiding the body) would be welcome (EDIT: As people in the comments thread have noted, there’s other options to play with – press E to shoulder the body). Oh – and there’s some AI twitchiness, which when married to the voice-responses, is often a recipe for fine comedy. For example, I unloaded my entire quiver of arrows into a group of guards who seemed i) pretty much entirely resistant to ‘em due to their armour and shitty marksmanship and ii) pretty much incapable of walking down the corridor in the direction the arrows were coming from. The best responses were between the can’t-see-the-wood-for-the-trees of a guard looking at the arrow that just hit him and saying something along the lines of “There shouldn’t be weapons here” and the servant in perfect deadpan “there may be a thief about” when his comrades are looking like bequilled porcupines. So, in other words, it really is a lot like Thief.

Despite that nitpicking, this is a strong start. There’s talk of more longer missions imminently. Even now, there’s a good couple of hours of classic immersive sim action here, and I recommend it strongly. You can get it from here and require a fully patched version of Doom 3 to play. And if the site’s still down, you can use the torrent here.

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69 Comments »

  1. CMaster says:

    With stuff like The Nameless Mod and The ark Mod making it out this year, does this mean 2009 is also a good year for Black Mesa to actually make it out?

  2. Hmm says:

    Awesome, downloading. I’ll check it out later today.
    By the way, Thief 4 – PLEASE don’t suck.

  3. The Colonel says:

    Maybe they should hire these guys to help make Thiaf. Nothing has come close to the two Thief games in so many areas. In fact, this article has inspired me to dust off Dark Project and start it again, with all the issues that the Dark Engine has in anything post-windows 98 included…….

  4. Kunal says:

    Slightly offtopic, but does anyone know if Doom 3 (and consequently, the Dark Mod) runs on a 64 bit Win7 system ? I remember having issues with the demo on my vista system. Would hate to spend 20$ and not be able to try this out.

    • NukeLord says:

      I’ve been able to run them both fine on Win 7 64bit through Steam.

    • Cooper says:

      I installed Doom 3 & this mod and could play the training mission fine over the weekend. That was on Vista x64. I don’t think there are major issues with Doom3 on x64 or Win7 systems.

      There’s a Doom3 demo still hanging around – if you’re worried you could always download that to see if it runs before buying a copy.

  5. Taillefer says:

    They’ve been doing an incredible job with this. The level of quality exceeds all expectations. I have little doubt the community will be creating some of the greatest fan missions to ever grace our computer screens. Good job, guys!

  6. GJLARP says:

    Mod of the Year 2009 has just been released.

  7. ZIGS says:

    Yes, and It’s called The Nameless Mod :)

  8. mcnubbins says:

    So, is it worth buying Doom 3 just to play this?

  9. PHeMoX says:

    Quote: “So, in other words, it really is a lot like Thief.”

    Either you’re being way to nice to this mod and their makers or you haven’t (recently) played the Thief games since Thief 2 then, as the AI was usually relatively intelligent.

    Thief 3: Deadly Shadows even has a surprisingly challenging AI when playing on the highest difficulty level and the AI’s reaction never becomes as extremely odd as in this mod here.

    In other news, I certainly hope both Deus Ex 3 and Thief 4 won’t suck. :D

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Phemox: So you’re saying Thief I and II weren’t Thief?

      KG

    • PHeMoX says:

      Nope, but perhaps I was reading to much into it and it wasn’t meant they way I thought it was.

      I thought the author here meant the AI of Dark Mod was bad, very much equally as bad as in the Thief games, which is clearly not the case if you know the original games.

      Guards will notice when a guard nearby drops dead, this has been the case since the first Thief if I recall correctly. Just an example.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Kieron was pointing out that your post is confusingly phrased to the point of ridiculousness, in case you didn’t realise. There’s only been one Thief game since Thief 2, after all.

  10. Cooper says:

    It seems the website is constantly unavailable due to the demand over the weekend.

    Also: Developers, please put obvious links to missions on the front page of the website.

    I installed this on the weekend and was disappointed to find only the training mission. I looked on the website and couldn;t find any links to missions. Even though they’re probably fairly clear, thick headed dunces like me could do with big, flashy “get more content here” links on websites…

    Still, I desperately hope this takes off. I have no idea how easy the Doom3 SDK/editing tools are, but fingers crossed we see some more missions soon. I’m getting a little too excited about this – it’s like Thief! But with more polygons!

    • PHeMoX says:

      I’m not done downloading yet as I had to start over, but are you saying the 1.4gb only includes the training missions? That’s fairly odd when it’s supposed to include the ‘first campaign’.

  11. Springheel says:

    Just wanted to mention that you can shoulder bodies (like in Thief) if you hit “Use” once you’ve grabbed them. Dragging is more for quick and easy movement.

    “throws you in a position where you have to take single path through an (electric) lighted area past a guard standing with his back to the wall.”

    You have to do a bit of scouting (check the walls), but there is a much stealthier way to get past that guard.

    • Subjective Effect says:

      Arrgh, Springheel in with the info 1st!

      I have no idea how easy the Doom3 SDK/editing tools are, but fingers crossed we see some more missions soon.
      Not too bad at all.

  12. Subjective Effect says:

    Manouvering corpses is surprisingly tricky, normally involving me grabbing each limb individually to make sure it goes through the door – some limitations on the ragdolling to streamline this core functionality (i.e. Hiding the body) would be welcome.

    You have 2 options:

    1. Drag the body (not necessarily a corpse, you weren’t playing on Expert :mad:)

    2. Shoulder the body – if you press USE you can carry bodies and then dump them elsewhere. This also has the benefit of always flipping the body over in case you didn’t pick-pocket the keys/purses and the body fell on it’s back (and you can flip it back again, ad nauseum) :)

  13. New Horizon says:

    I notice that the article mentioned moving bodies was a pain because of the dragging. You can pick up bodies just as you did in Thief, but it’s a two step process. You have to frob the body, at this point you can continue dragging it…or you can shoulder it by hitting the use key while you have control of the body. Hit the use key again to drop the body.

    Thanks for the great write up.

  14. Subjective Effect says:

    Simulpostacaust!

  15. bill says:

    So, is The Nameless Mod any good? What’s the general opinion now the excitement has died down?

    Also, it’s kinda annoying that all the mods are getting released SO FAR after the original games that I no longer have access to either the Doom3 dvd or the Deus Ex cd. sigh.

    • Dominic White says:

      The Nameless Mod has some pacing issues (it could use a fast-travel system for sure), but aside from that the gameplay is pure classic Deus Ex. Multiple approaches to everything, easter eggs all over the place, secrets and even a major plot branch so that you effectively have full-length good and evil campaigns.

      Most people just freak out when they hear that it’s not a straight-faced Deus Ex reproduction, and is in fact a self-referential internet parody that just happens to play just like Deus Ex.

  16. diebroken says:

    Well TDM site is down again (for me at least). Does anyone know of a reliable source to get the full installer without having to use the updater or torrent? All i’ve been able to find is this: http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-dark-mod/downloads/the-darkmod-100-corrected-zip-file but i don’t know if that file hasn’t been ‘altered’ in some way…

  17. starclaws says:

    What I loved about thief 1-2 was the loading screen poetry, story and such. Cant seem to find a place that wrote it all down though :(

  18. Turin Turambar says:

    Some people already corrected you about the “using” the bodies to take them (but hey, i also didn’t know it until i read in ttlg forums!) .
    I will add a hint about the water arrows: they don’t work like in old Thief games. Don’t shoot them at the fire of the torch, as the water arrows themselves doen’t douse any fires. It’s the water particles that fall when the arrow “explodes” the thing that douses the fire, so shoot the arrows in a angle to the wall or even the ceiling point above the torch to extinguish it.

    Also, perhaps you should clarify what it is (at least, right now) The Dark Mod. It’s more a toolset to create content, not a “full” mod. As you said, right now there is only a tutorial and three smallish maps.

    And yeah, the new lockpicking system is genius. In the lock with the noisy machinery you have to only use the visual cues, and in the safe it’s the other way around, you only can use your hear to hear the clicks, like in the movies :P.

  19. Turin Turambar says:

    And, as the main page is mostly dead, here is the official torrent
    http://www.strangebedfellows.de/torrents/torrents/darkmod.torrent

  20. Pemptus says:

    Ooh, another thread for me to mention this:
    Thief 1 and 2 are still amazing games blessed by an amazing and constantly active community. Fan missions and campaigns are still getting made. Nothing has aged except for graphics, and that is also not all that apparent in some fanmissions (Rocksbourg series for example, look it up). Hundreds of hours of atmospheric, dark, sneaky fun. Get on the ttlg forums now. Ok, back on topic.

    I’ve just finished the training mission in The Dark Mod and I’m pretty damn impressed. Some things still need work though, like the sometimes fiddly and unreliable mantling and guard AI.

    And yeah, it should be mentioned again and again that TDM’s not a campaign of any sort – it’s a toolset for creative people. And for leeches like me to download levels others have made, of course.

  21. stormbringer951 says:

    The Nameless Mod is awesome. It’s latest patch (on the forum) is somewhat broken but the one on the download page is good. It plays like classic Deus Ex (take note: Eidos Montreal) and if you can stomach / like the premise, you’ll enjoy it.

  22. Lawrence "Trestkon" Laxdal says:

    1.0.3 does indeed have a bit of a major glitch in it, although it still improves things massively as the glitch is only at a single location. There’s a workaround, but you basically have to ask on the forums to know what it is (which is why we haven’t posted the patch on the website). We’re hoping to have 1.0.4 out shortly, which will repair the glitch and polish up a few other tidbits.

  23. MacD says:

    @ Lawrence “Trestkon” Laxdal:

    So why don’t you link to the workround in the post? It’s really silly to have to search the forums for a known error/bug workround when you could just link to the fix or copy/paste it directly where you acknowledge the problem.

    I just came across TNM yesterday and downloaded it +1.02 patch, and have yet to install it (maybe tomorrow), so I can’t comment on it, but it looks like great fun. That and this mod really make me impressed, yet again and even moreso, by the mod community.

    • Lawrence "Trestkon" Laxdal says:

      Well, only people on the forums are actually going to download the 1.0.3 patch, so they also have access to the fix info. We don’t want to do a large scale release of a patch that introduces a critical bug, which is why we’ve just left it on the forums. When 1.0.4 is done in a few weeks we’ll be updating the main .exe download as well as the DVD, and throwing it at the various regular download locations.

    • MacD says:

      Fair enough :)

      Still, I was interested enough to check the forums, found the sticky for the 1.03 patch and am just surprised that there wasn’t a link to the workaround in the first page.

      Congrats on releasing, btw (I know I’m a bit late :P) and on incorporating. You guys still form a virtual team?

  24. Chris R says:

    Hmmmm, mighty interesting… now where the hell am I going to get Doom 3 from? I don’t need the Doom 3 expansion pack as well, do I?

  25. BigJonno says:

    Would this be a bad time to admit that I’ve never played a Thief game beyond the demo? I know, I know, I suck.

    • Pemptus says:

      Very, very bad. Get going, chop chop!

    • blah says:

      Next you’ll be saying you’ve never played a System Shock game… ;)

    • Vinraith says:

      Yup, me neither. Sadly I’ve heard 3 is not particularly representative, and the older entries suffer from a debilitating case of old 3d graphics syndrome.

    • edwardoka says:

      @Vinraith : the graphics were pretty awful even when the game was released but it doesn’t matter a single jot because you don’t usually see them.

    • Vinraith says:

      @edwardoka

      I’ll take another look. I tend to assume that anything I missed in that era is simply a lost cause to play now, because old 3d graphics tend to bother me. I can go earlier than that, because 2d ages much better IMO, but there’s a middle stratum age-wise that usually doesn’t work for me.

  26. zooooz says:

    where the f**k is my copy of Doom 3? What rat has borrowed it this time?
    I always love to see a serious mod released. Maybe even http://www.blackmesasource.com will be released in my life time…

  27. Jonas says:

    I hear from reliable sources that this mod is awesome. I don’t have Doom 3 so I won’t be playing it until I stumble across a good offer somewhere, but when that time comes, I will very much enjoy the irony in buying cliché-FPS Doom 3 in order to play a Thief game :D

  28. TheSombreroKid says:

    mm sounds delicious can’t wait to get into this.

  29. Springheel says:

    Here’s a gameplay vid of one of the missions:

    Warning, spoilers

  30. Tels says:

    That’s the correct file, we uploaded a broken copy for the first try. It should create the same files after unpacking as when you run tdm_update.exe.

    Cheers,

    Tels

  31. PHeMoX says:

    I’m done downloading. It’s indeed only the Training Missions, but I think they did a great job. The Thief vibe is there alright.

    The lock picking could have been a little bit more user friendly, I like the Deadly Shadows approach of turning your mouse and such a lot better. But I understand that’s also a tenfold more complicated to script / make.

    So far I was impressed. I haven’t gotten into combat just yet (no weapons yet).

    • PHeMoX says:

      I forgot to mention that the normal ‘walk’ speed is a bit too slow for my taste. The original Thief game definitely feels a bit faster.

    • Springheel says:

      There are 3 missions other than the training mission; you just have to download them separately from the website.

      You can adjust the difficulty of lockpicking from the Settings menu.

      Walk speed is actually exactly the same as Thief, but without the ‘faster diagonal’ exploit.

  32. Lilliput King says:

    Sounds wonderful. I must have bought Doom 3 at some point, but I havent a clue where it’s gone, which is a problem.

  33. Lawrence "Trestkon" Laxdal says:

    Excellent point, I’ll see to that :)

  34. redrain85 says:

    I’ve been looking forward to The Dark Mod for a long time. I’ll be grabbing it shortly. But I’ll need to find my Doom 3 disc first. Heaven knows where I put that . . . I haven’t played it in years. Doom 3 was the anithesis of what this mod represents, and the fact that its engine is being used to power this mod represents a kind of weird turnabout. :)

    P.S. Off-topic, but I wanted to mention that some of the ads here on RPS are getting rather irritating. I already feel somewhat chagrined at seeing Xbox ads on a PC gaming site. But the fact that if you accidentally mouse over it means a larger ad will suddenly pop up in your face? :p

    I’d like to keep the ads displayed, to help support RPS. But if these types of pop up ads are going to keep appearing, then I’ll be using an ad blocker. Please reconsider what advertising partners you use, and what type of ads you allow.

  35. Railick says:

    I can generally handle old 3d on the PC but old 3d on consoles like the Play Station and N64 make me sick. I can't believe I saw those games when I was younger and saw a car made out of like 10 polygons and was like "WOW THIS IS AWESOME!" :P

    The last thief game actaully looks really good since like stated above you almost never see anything very well any how :)

  36. TeeJay says:

    “There shouldn’t be weapons here” … “there may be a thief about”

    How many times do they say “taffer”?

  37. Spd from Russia says:

    huge respect to the guys for pulling this
    its really hard to get a largescale mod done

  38. Malagate says:

    Spent some time playing this, must say I am most glee-ful. I am very glad I got the budget re-print version of both Doom 3 together with expansion for negligable pounds.
    If you ain’t got Doom 3, check out those brick and mortar places, there should still be a few copies banging around. Oh and I suspect there’s no DRM on the DVDs, many budget prints don’t bother, so if you want the Dark Mod on every PC in the house it should be easy to do. I did that with Call of Cthulhu: DCotE, just because I could!

    I love the frobbing, getting that candlestick out of the cage on the tutorial was fun for me, also finding ways to break the tutorials are great! I’ve managed to cheese the Combat arena for example, just pick up a tonne of Broadheads and a Rope arrow. You’ll notice wooden beams in the ceiling and a balcony that the combatants cannot reach…they will thrown bottles at you, but it’s great practice for headshots and a much more thiefy solution to actual sword play!

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      With the newest patch (or perhaps earlier), ID removed the CD check. You still need the serial number though.

      This is the mod I bought Doom 3 for, essentially. Shame that I’m stuck with a Radeon 3450 for the moment… roll on some passive 5750s!

  39. The Colonel says:

    Hmmm… Must’ve been rats

  40. Apocalypso says:

    I’ve got to try this game some time soon.

  41. Malagate says:

    Springheelsaid:
    “throws you in a position where you have to take single path through an (electric) lighted area past a guard standing with his back to the wall.”

    You have to do a bit of scouting (check the walls), but there is a much stealthier way to get past that guard.

    Yeah, I had a go at that the other night. My initial response was that it did seem a bit too dastardly, but then there are still shadows to creep in to get closer (but not past), and anyone who's played a MGS game knows there are other ways to make distracting sounds rather than relying on Noise Maker arrows…

    [My solution, if you want to figure it out yourself, DO NOT READ]

    …Simply put, I snuck up next to the grandfather clock on the other side of the corridor, then I hit it a couple of times with the ol' Blackjack to attract the attention of the guard. He walks up to the place where the noise came from, I k.o. him when he walks into the shadows, then I dump him outside and continue ever onwards…

    [END OF do not read bit if you don't want a solution, not necessarily the correct one]

    Managed to get quite a few guards off their paths by doing that, although it can get incredibly frustrating trying to blackjack one guard which won't stand still in the dark and I continuously glance off his stupid helmet. Of course, there could be an even more sneaky option that I didn't figure out, and I've just brokened the game somehow :3

    • Springheel says:

      You may already know this, but if a guard has a helmet, then you can only knock him out while he’s unalert. Once he becomes alert he becomes immune to the blackjack. This is not true for guards without helmets.

  42. ANON says:

    *spoiler alert*

    I think the proper solution is to nab the key hanging on the wall to the left of the clock (which can be done without the guard spotting you) and then go back out to the yard and unlock the door to the kitchen ;)