Praise The Builder: The Dark Mod Is Standalone

By Craig Pearson on October 9th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

Oh boy. I am so playing this on the weekend.
If you have the fear over the upcoming Thief, then I have a soothing salve to help alleviate the symptoms. The Dark Mod, a fairly well-known Doom 3 modification, has been freed from the sci-fi prison of Doom 3 ownership: the modders fulfilled the promise they made years ago and used the source code of the engine to turn their wonderful Thief restoration into a free download. Now all you need is a capable PC, an internet connection, and a cowl. That last one is non-negotiable.

It’s been too long since I tried the Dark Mod, so I have it downloading right now. The video below made my fingers move without engaging my brain, and made me realise (again) how much I want to return to that world. Aside from the spot-on atmosphere (that throbbing music is perfect), and the neat tweaks to AI and lock-picking, I’m most excited about the in-built mission downloader. I’m so glad they’ve addressed that, because I’m now so used to just clicking things in the Steam Workshop that I’ve lost all patience for any other method. I’m swollen with download privilege.

Draw the curtains, fiddle with your gamma, and download it. If you have any recommendations of missions, let me know. I’ll be picking this up over the weekend.

, , .

52 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola

Top comments

  1. Twist says:

    In the North was released after that community vote. If the vote were held now, there's a good chance it would win. My recommendations:

    The Training Mission. Yes, the training mission. It's fantastic, especially the climbing and rope arrow training area. This is not a throw-away ho-hum training area. You'll find gorgeous architecture, detailed and atmospheric areas and some worthwhile gameplay beyond just learning the basics. Also, this game isn't easy for newcomers. You'll enjoy all the recommended missions more if you take the time to learn everything taught in the training mission.

    If you love jumping, climbing and verticality, try the most recent version of Return to the City (it's been updated several times and it's now much improved compared to its original release). This mission was originally authored by community favorite Melan (and since optimized and improved by Bikerdude). Melan created the well-loved Thief 2 fan mission Disorientation. If you're a Thief fan and you haven't played Disorientation yet, gosh, you have no idea what you're missing.

    If you want to exercise the cool physics and object manipulation, play Heart of Lone Salvation. Great bit of storytelling and puzzle-solving and possibly the most polished and effective use of the cool new ability to handle and manipulate objects.

    If you want arguably the best all-around mission released so far, go for In the North. It's a classic manor heist with some nice twists and turns in the story. It's also the beginning of what appears will be an interesting and ambitious campaign spanning several missions.

    Alberic's Curse might be the best-looking mission, depending on your taste. If you don't like haunts and cathedrals, it might not be your cup o' tea, but if you do, you might love it. It's based on a classic Thief 2 fan mission (Cathedral of the Damned... which is still an awesome mission worth your time).

    Tears of St. Lucia is good (and in places very good looking), though it has some gameplay quirks that might annoy some people. Still, it wouldn't be bad place to start. It's very polished now, compared to its original release.

    A new one called Requiem was just released and from what I've read and seen it looks really, really good, but I haven't played it yet.

    If you loved Thief and you haven't played The Dark Mod, you really should give it a try. This really feels like the present and future of Thief.

    If you tried The Dark Mod a couple of years ago and just thought it was so-so... seriously, try it again! They have done an incredible job of evolving and refining this mod over the last 18 months. Unlike Eidos Montreal, they've listened carefully to community feedback and made a great effort to please even the most hardcore Thief fans (though some will never be pleased).

    You'll find more varied and more nuanced gameplay in The Dark Mod than you'll find in many excellent indie games. But it's free! And it's already in a complete and polished state -- No Kickstarting, no Greenlighting, no early access pay-for-unfinished-alpha... it's just plain done and it's just plain free. So go to it!
  1. mikmanner says:

    I wish this game sounded better. But it is great.

    • facebook14 says:

      my neighbor’s ex-wife makes $78 an hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for seven months but last month her pay check was $14029 just working on the computer for a few hours. weblink http://www.max47.com

  2. Premium User Badge

    Fitzmogwai says:

    Yes yes yes! Time to hammer my broadband connection.

    • Premium User Badge

      Fitzmogwai says:

      Or not. The site seems – perhaps unsurprisingly – to be rather unresponsive right now.

      • Quinnbeast says:

        Buh! RPS coverage done broke the site!

        Still, I am a patient man… and thanks for the heads-up Craig.

    • mikmanner says:

      Art thou the hammer, or art thou the nail? From the view of the beam, ’tis all the same. But for the nail, ’tis very different.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Bugamn says:

    As someone that has not played Thief before, is this a good starting point?

    Also, where can I find good cowls with reasonable prices?

    • mikmanner says:

      I still think playing Thief 1 or 2 is probably a good starting point because those games give a sense of place and character better than 3 or the dark mod – but go in with a pinch of salt, those games are pretty dated. I still love playing them but I’ve no idea what it’s like for a first timer. Deadly Shadows looks nicer and I like the game but, I dunno – it’s not up there with Thief 2.

      • Premium User Badge

        Craig Pearson says:

        Yeah. This is for people who want more of that. Play the first two and get the modded.

      • derbefrier says:

        i actually played through Thief 1 for the first time only a few months ago. The gameplay is still unrivaled for the genre but the graphics are dated. I grew up with those kinds of graphics so it didn’t really bother me(plus there are some nice mods to pretty it up a bit) but younger gamers may have a hard time getting past the dated look. everything else though is still superb. I still haven’t started thief 2 for some reason..

    • Ansob says:

      You’re much better off just buying Thief 2 off GOG, as it’s by far the best of the series and the GOG version requires zero faffing about as it contains the compatibility patches. Just install and play.

      • Claidheamh says:

        That’s just the thing, though. Starting with the best thing right away might not be the best course of action. If you end up wanting more of it (like you most definitely will), then all you have left is something that’s not as perfect. That’s why I think it’s a lot better to progress in chronological order of release.

    • Grover says:

      This cowl looks better than the rest of the lot knocking about on Amazon that I saw – http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Pullover-Headscarf-Neckwarmer-Hat/dp/B005OJZXKE/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1381366067&sr=8-4&keywords=cowl+hood

      Time to cosplay.

    • Odoshi says:

      Start with the first game and continue in order trough the trilogy. It’s the best way to experience the story and IMHO the atmosphere is strongest in the first game. This doesn’t have a campaign yet IIRC, only single missions (which are great for veterans).

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Play both of the first two, it doesn’t really matter which order. The first one is wonderfully bizarre and sword-swingy, while the second stealthily paints a titillating portrait of the main character (The City, not Garrett, obviously). If you don’t like one, you may like the other one better.

      Thief: DS lacks in both bizarreness, main character and atmosphere, so I wouldn’t really bother with that. It does have one completely brilliant level though (The Cradle).

  4. Eddard_Stark says:

    *Thumbs up*

  5. Premium User Badge

    slerbal says:

    I was really happy to hear this news! The Dark Mod is an outstanding piece of work but it’s one main limitation was the requirement for Doom 3. Now that it is standalone hopefully it will find the wider popularity it deserves.

    There is some lovely attention to detail and a real understanding of what made the first two Thief games so great. TDM really feels like the genuine successor to Thief and there are many, many crackingly good missions.

    I highly recommend it.

  6. xf11 says:

    Short Thief4 is bad rant:
    thief 4 is bad.

  7. Cooper says:

    The servers are getting hammered. The TDM community has setup a torrent here

  8. karthink says:

    This trailer does a better job of showing off the game. Stick around to the end for some parkour action(!)

    I tried this out today, and two things leapt out at me:

    1. New mechanics! The lighting system is fully dynamic now, which adds a new dimension to hiding in the shadows. For example, you can move crates to set up safe shadow & no-LOS zones in a room. Manipulating and rotating objects is surprisingly satisfying, especially when they hide secrets. You can light objects from other lit ones, so you’re not overly reliant on fire arrows. The jumping/mantling system is very tactile now, letting you climb up on rafters and beams. Every change they’ve made to the Thief formula (even minor ones, such as the new lockpicking system) is for the better.

    2. It’s pretty! I wasn’t expecting much, considering the Doom 3 engine, but with everything cranked up to high it looks amazing. The texture work is far beyond most AAA console ports these days (like Dishonored), and the lighting is appropriately atmospheric.

    • luukdeman111 says:

      Dishonoreds bad textures were actually part of the artstyle, one could say.

      Though that might bring him at risk of being called pretentious…

      • Meusli says:

        Dishonoured textures were hand painted like a artists picture, I think it looks quite beautiful.

      • Odoshi says:

        Blurry low resolution textures isn’t an artstyle. Dishonoured had an excellent art direction, but don’t confuse that with the technical aspect. Just as the original Thief looked good in spite of it’s technical flaws and not because of them.

  9. karthink says:

    Craig, The Top Missions, by community vote, are:

    1. Tears of St. Lucia
    2. A Score to Settle
    3. No Honour Among Thieves, Glenham Tower, Knighton Manor, Heart of Lone Salvation, Return to the City

    Honourable Mentions:

    4. Alberic’s Curse, Flakebridge Monastary, The Caduceus of St. Alban
    5. Mandrasola, The Transaction, St. Alban’s Cathedral, Fiasco on Fauchard St.
    6. The Builder’s Influence
    7. WS: In the North, Requiem

    • Twist says:

      In the North was released after that community vote. If the vote were held now, there’s a good chance it would win. My recommendations:

      The Training Mission. Yes, the training mission. It’s fantastic, especially the climbing and rope arrow training area. This is not a throw-away ho-hum training area. You’ll find gorgeous architecture, detailed and atmospheric areas and some worthwhile gameplay beyond just learning the basics. Also, this game isn’t easy for newcomers. You’ll enjoy all the recommended missions more if you take the time to learn everything taught in the training mission.

      If you love jumping, climbing and verticality, try the most recent version of Return to the City (it’s been updated several times and it’s now much improved compared to its original release). This mission was originally authored by community favorite Melan (and since optimized and improved by Bikerdude). Melan created the well-loved Thief 2 fan mission Disorientation. If you’re a Thief fan and you haven’t played Disorientation yet, gosh, you have no idea what you’re missing.

      If you want to exercise the cool physics and object manipulation, play Heart of Lone Salvation. Great bit of storytelling and puzzle-solving and possibly the most polished and effective use of the cool new ability to handle and manipulate objects.

      If you want arguably the best all-around mission released so far, go for In the North. It’s a classic manor heist with some nice twists and turns in the story. It’s also the beginning of what appears will be an interesting and ambitious campaign spanning several missions.

      Alberic’s Curse might be the best-looking mission, depending on your taste. If you don’t like haunts and cathedrals, it might not be your cup o’ tea, but if you do, you might love it. It’s based on a classic Thief 2 fan mission (Cathedral of the Damned… which is still an awesome mission worth your time).

      Tears of St. Lucia is good (and in places very good looking), though it has some gameplay quirks that might annoy some people. Still, it wouldn’t be bad place to start. It’s very polished now, compared to its original release.

      A new one called Requiem was just released and from what I’ve read and seen it looks really, really good, but I haven’t played it yet.

      If you loved Thief and you haven’t played The Dark Mod, you really should give it a try. This really feels like the present and future of Thief.

      If you tried The Dark Mod a couple of years ago and just thought it was so-so… seriously, try it again! They have done an incredible job of evolving and refining this mod over the last 18 months. Unlike Eidos Montreal, they’ve listened carefully to community feedback and made a great effort to please even the most hardcore Thief fans (though some will never be pleased).

      You’ll find more varied and more nuanced gameplay in The Dark Mod than you’ll find in many excellent indie games. But it’s free! And it’s already in a complete and polished state — No Kickstarting, no Greenlighting, no early access pay-for-unfinished-alpha… it’s just plain done and it’s just plain free. So go to it!

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Crikey, I love Thief and didn’t know this existed. DOOM 3 is currently reinstalling on Steam.

        It seems they have taken the gloss off the DOOM 3 engine, quite literally, this is good!!

        • Twist says:

          You don’t need to install Doom 3 to play The Dark Mod anymore. This 2.0 release is completely standalone. =)

  10. The Random One says:

    Despite the new Thief trailer, one could say this mod…. stole the show.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      A true prince amongst thieves.

    • SillyWizard says:

      There’s definitely something about Thi4f that’s robbing me the wrong way…but the Dark Mod looks to be pretty awesome.

    • Odoshi says:

      :puts on shades:
      YEAAAAHHHHH

  11. luukdeman111 says:

    How long will it take for someone to fully recreate Thief 1+2 in this…. I’m guessing 5 months

    • Twist says:

      That won’t happen because they’re being very careful to steer clear of anything that could get them in trouble with Eidos.

      • luukdeman111 says:

        Well, yeah obviously… But since there’s a level editor someone is gonna have to do it… And I don’t think one can actually get sewed for copying levels from another game…. Maybe they’d have to change the names of some things but it must be possible…

        • Twist says:

          This topic has been discussed ad nauseum in the Dark Mod community. It’s just not gonna happen… at least not in the foreseeable future.

      • Richard Burton says:

        But if it’s free with nobody making any money from it (financial gain) whatsoever, then what’s the difference with this (legally) and any other mod out there in the history of modding? What financial damages could Eidos claim if nobody has made any money? If anything, it’s free advertising for them, isn’t it? Or not? Wait.. I thought Eidos were no longer in business… Square Enix then. What damages would Square Enix be able to claim?

        • New Horizon says:

          The Thief levels are their intellectual property. The EULA that came with the original games prohibits the recreation of Thief 1 levels in the Thief 2 engine, or Thief 2 levels in Thief 1. So that in turn would cover recreations of levels made in any competitors engine. We’ll never recreate them, and if anyone else did we would never be able to host them on our servers. Now if they were ‘inspired’ by the originals and not direct copies…that would be different.

        • Rusty says:

          There are tiresome legal reasons why Square would want to object to somebody actually copying their level design; in very broad strokes, if a copyright holder allows somebody else to infringe its copyright without opposition, the copyright can be treated as abandoned – not just to the original infringer, but to the entire world. So rights-holders have a strong incentive to object to even comparatively harmless infringements on their IP.

          That said, if I were in Square’s shoes, I think I’d give the Dark Mod team a limited license to recreate the levels from T1/T2. As you say, it’s free advertising, and if it’s authorized by the rights-holder, the copyright isn’t compromised. But, that means letting somebody else use your property for free (or nearly so), and that’s just Not Done.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            AFAIK, defend-it-or-lose it only applies to trademarks. Copyright law pretty much guarantees protection short of explicitly releasing a work into the public domain for anything that’s not too old.

            No idea what type of IP law, if any, level design would be protected by, though. I’d imagine that the script would be covered under copyright, as would any assets, but beyond that? Dunno.

  12. foda500 says:

    Stood the Master Builder upon the mod, and he saw that the standalone version
    was good, and clean. No context-sensitive jumps marred his path, nay, not a whisp of focus mode
    did spoil his view.

  13. Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

    I’ve drawn the curtains and I’m excited because my fingers are moving the soothing salve. Afterwards, I’ll try this mod out.

  14. hitraj47 says:

    There is a torrent on Mod DB: http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-dark-mod/downloads/dark-mod-20-standalone-torrent

    For the standalone. Hope this helps your anxiety whilst you not play all the games you bought in the Steam sales, and instead wait for the site to become available.

  15. ziusudra says:

    Praise the Builder indeed brothers!!!!

  16. captain nemo says:

    This has made an grumpy old taffer very happy indeed. There’s some good times in the dark months ahead

  17. Contrafibularity says:

    The Dark Mod is so excellent. I can’t wait to return to it and play the new missions.

  18. rsf says:

    Just came across this article.
    So, given the dark mod is a thief inspired game set in a different universe with much expanded mechanics and AI , is there any chance of a review?
    I don’t think the article made it sufficiently clear that the Dark mod isn’t a mod of the original thief with higher res graphics.

    Because it’s called the Dark mod people generally will assume it isn’t free, and legitimately free at that – they’ll likely assume you need to own original thief because it uses art and is set in the thief universe etc.