Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Mission for Thief 2 (Part One)

Part One – Setting Up

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Introduction

If you’re here, then presumably you want to learn how to create a Thief 2 mission! This tutorial will cover the process of creating a fan mission for Thief 2, from initial setup, to actually crafting the level in Dromed (the Thief 2 editor) all the way through to packaging the mission in a format that you can release to be played by others.

This tutorial assumes a basic knowledge of using Windows, such as creating, moving and renaming files, but it doesn’t assume much else. This is an absolute beginner’s guide. The mission you end up with won’t be particularly exciting, but it will be “complete” – you will be able to load it into Thief 2 and play it through to completion. Making your own level will simply be a case of expanding what you’ve learned.

If you follow this tutorial from start to finish, you will have a basic understanding of the entire process of making a Thief level. You can of course experiment and deviate from the tutorial at any time, but instructions in later parts may refer to things I tell you to do in previous parts, so to minimise confusion I would advise following the tutorial exactly, and then experimenting after you’ve learned the basics.

There are a lot of things this tutorial doesn’t cover, and you will likely have questions about some parts. Feel free to ask about any aspect of the tutorial in the comments, but if you’re serious about making a Thief level, you’ll want to head over to the “Editor’s Guild” forum, which is filled with Dromed experts who can tell you just about anything to do with Thief mission creation!

Why Thief 2?

Well firstly, even though the game is really old (released in 2000!), it’s been revitalised by a patch that makes it run better on newer PCs, as well as removing a lot of limits such as polygon count and low texture resolution, meaning that with enough time you can make a level that stands up pretty well against modern games (minus a few shaders!).

Secondly, there’s a huge and vibrant community who will eagerly play your mission, as they have the hundreds of other Thief missions out there – check out the Thief Fan Missions forum on TTLG.com for news about the latest mission releases.

Finally, and most importantly, Thief 2 is probably the greatest stealth game ever made, even better than it’s own sequel. Some people prefer Thief 1 to Thief 2, but the editor for Thief 2 is also less prone to bugs than Thief 1, and adds some engine enhancements. Technology-wise, there’s not much in it between Thief 1 and 2 these days, as the NewDark patch basically makes Thief 1 run on the Thief 2 version of the engine. If you want to make a Thief 1 mission, a lot of this tutorial can be applied to it unchanged, you’ll just find that the installation process differs slightly and Thief 1 obviously has a different set of assets to Thief 2. Information about basic installation of all the Thief games and enhancements can be found here: https://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=149919

Getting Started – Installation and Set Up

If you’re reading this, chances are you have an interest in Thief 2, and therefore you probably already have the game installed, along with some fan missions. If you want to make a mission however, it’s a good idea to make a separate Thief 2 install, so that you can happily mess around with any of the files, and not ruin your original installation.

This tutorial is written for the NewDark version of Thief 2 – an unofficial patch that adds a lot of features and fixes a lot of problems.

To install the game we’re going to download a utility called T2Fix. This handy program will install the game and patch it up to work on modern computers. You can find information and download links for the latest version here:

https://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=149669

The latest version at time of writing is 1.27d, but if there is a newer version available, you’re probably best downloading that! Once it’s downloaded (about 200Mb), run the software.

If you have Thief 2 on discs, you can install it using T2Fix. If you have a digital download, you’ll need to make a new Thief 2 install yourself manually, and then apply the patches using T2Fix.

Note: If you don’t have NewDark installed on your existing Play folder, you can follow these instructions for installing TafferPatcher a second time, but this time select your Play install folder. You can uncheck the Dromed box when installing, and don’t need to worry about editing the cfg files.

When you’ve run the T2Fix software, click Next, then agree to the licence agreement and click Next again.

Note: If using a newer version of Windows, T2Fix will be reported as unknown and potentially dangerous software by Windows. You will most likely need Administrator permissions in order to run it.

  T2Fix

On the next screen, select the folder where you want your editor version of Thief 2 to be installed. If you’ve already installed Thief 2, select the folder where it is installed and leave the box unchecked. If you’ve got a disc copy of the game, choose a new folder, and tick the box to do a full install of the game.

T2Fix_dir

Click Next, and if the game needs installing, wait for it to install, and switch to disc two when prompted. Next you’ll be asked to choose an Installation Type.

T2Fix_inst

Select Custom – Selected Components. This will let you see the full list of options for installation.

t2instoptions

Along the required NewDark 1.27, tick Dromed Level Editor. Everything else is optional. You can see what each item is by hovering over it. For editing, it’s generally a good idea to leave your install as clean as possible, without any enhancement mods. This is because if you build something with graphical mods, when you come to release the mission you may find that players without the mods see incorrect textures or slightly-misplaced object models.

When ready, click Next. You can change your Video Preset here and create shortcuts, but these are down to your PC and personal choices.

Click Next, then click Install. Wait while the files are extracted and then installed.

T2FixInstalling

Configuring Settings

Browse to your new Thief install folder. In the root of this folder, you’ll find a number of cfg and ini files. Some of these contain customisable settings. If your versions of these files do not have the lines that I talk about below, you may need to check your installation steps above to make sure everything is installed correctly. In most cases you can simply add the lines to the files yourself, but it may be indicative of New Dark not being installed correctly, so you may run into other problems.

Open dark.cfg using Notepad (it’s basically just a text file with a different extension).

Find the line that says:

obj_max 2400

Change this to:

obj_max 8184

This won’t affect us with our small tutorial mission, but if you’re making a magnum opus, it’s a good figure to boost to the maximum so that you don’t run out of object ids.

You can also change

max_refs 14000

to:

max_refs 47740

By setting these values to their maximums, you’ll avoid running into limits sooner than you would otherwise. Save and close dark.cfg.

Now open DROMED.cfg in Notepad. Find the line that says:

;user UNKNOWN

Edit this to say:

user <My Name>

(where <My Name> is your name!) Removing the semi-colon (;) uncomments the line. Now when you save the mission, it will be stamped to say that you created it. Scroll down within the same file and find the line that reads:

;brush_centers 1

Uncomment this by removing the semicolon. Now you will be able to see a small box at the centre of the brushes that make up your mission terrain when selected, which is useful for selection and placement.

Now find the line that says:

;show_world_limits

and remove the semi-colon if it has one. This will draw a box in the editor defining the absolute level boundaries. This is useful to have on, because you can crash if you build outside these boundaries. If you don’t have this line, simply add a new line:

show_world_limits

There’s one more line to check in this file. Find the line that says:

gfh_coord_decimals <x>

The number <x> controls how many decimal points you have after values in Dromed. If this value is anything other than 3, change it to 3. There’s no need to have it any higher as you will never need to make adjustments that small, and 4 decimal places will flow outside the box in some fields.

gfh_coord_decimals 3

You may also want to change the Dromed Window size. 1024×768 is the default, uncommented line. Add a semicolon to the start of this line, and remove it from one of the other edit_screen_size lines. If you find the Dromed window is too big or small when you load it, you can always try a different resolution. Remember to add a semi-colon to the start of the lines you’re no longer using so that you only have one resolution uncommented at a time.

Save and close DROMED.cfg.

Now open cam_mod.ini in Notepad. Find the line that says:

; always start the FM Selector (if one is present)
;fm

Remove the semi-colon from ;fm so that it reads:

; always start the FM Selector (if one is present)
fm

Now when you boot Dromed or Thief 2, you will be presented with the FM Selector (FMSel). This is useful for keeping your projects organised because you can simply make a new folder for each new mission you want to make, rather than having to reinstall the game to avoid mixing up all the files.

Save cam_mod.ini and close it.

You can also add custom commands to user.cfg, and there are a whole load more commands that you may want (or need depending on your PC hardware). See the NewDark documentation (in the DOC folder in your install) for more information. Many of the settings are labelled within the config files themselves, so if you feel like experimenting, have a play with them! But if you’re not sure what you’re doing, it would be a good idea to back up your config files first so that if you break something you can revert to the older files.

NVDebug

There’s one more thing we should get to help with creating our level – a script module by NamelessVoice called NVDebug. Click here to download NVDebug. This will download a file called NVDebug-T2.zip. Open this and extract NVDebug.osm into your new Thief install folder. This will come into play in a later part of the tutorial, as it is used for testing the three different difficulty levels.

Now we should be all set up and ready to start making our level! It’s been a long process just getting set up, but if you’ve had the patience to get this far, you’ll find the next sections are much more fun, because we’ll actually be making stuff and learning things! 🙂

If you’ve had any technical problems getting set up, you may want to consult the FAQ here:

http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133946


Next: Part Two – Introduction to Dromed

Part One – Setting Up
Part Two – Introduction to Dromed
Part Three – Making it Playable
Part Four – Adding Gameplay
Part Five – Links
Part Six – Objectives
Part Seven – Ingame Text
Part Eight – Water and Ambience
Part Nine – Publishing Your Mission

Full tutorial now available as a PDF, converted by Firehawk (note this will be a slightly outdated version): http://www.file-upload.net/download-8570485/Absolute-Beginner—s-Guide-by-nicked.pdf.html

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