Happy Taffers' Day!: Thief: The Dark Project 20th Anniversary Fan Mission Contest

Published: December 1, 2018 7:22 PM /


thief anniversary contest (2018) - featured image (screenshot from ttlg user mctaffer)

By the Builder, it's a good day to be a taffer.

There's a buggy-of-burricks' worth of Thief fan missions hitting Through the Looking Glass (TTLG) today. Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of Thief: The Dark Project’s release and the Thief fans at TTLG have quite the festivities planned.

Fan-mission authors of the Thief community have launched 24 Thief fan missions today as part of a twentieth-anniversary fan mission contest. They are designed to capture the spirit of the original Thief’s world. TTLG heavyweights and newcomers to the game’s editing program, Dromed, entered in the contest alike.

Thief fan mission author and TTLG user “skacky” announced the contest last year on November 29. Contest rules required the missions to be built for The Dark Project or its Thief Gold re-release and to use stock resources from those games, with some leeway for custom resources. As most fan missions are built for Thief II, this contest will end up giving the original title some much-needed fan mission love. Voting on the contest missions will continue through March 1. This gives plenty of time for those playing them to form their thoughts.

Screenshots have been shared for some of the entries. If you know your Thief: The Dark Project / Gold vibes, these are immediately appealing:

[gallery size="square" ids="264959,264960,264961,264962,264963,264964"]

Contests are nothing new at TTLG. The Thief fans there have held them since 2000. User Komag, who also wrote a tutorial for the Dromed editor, hosted the first six contests. These ran under the name “Komag Contest.” In 2005, the contests began to have themes. Ones like Water Contest or Masters of Horror Contest required FM authors to build missions based on those themes. In 2008, there was also an Anniversary contest for Thief’s tenth year.

Others, like the 10 Rooms Contest or the 72 Hour Contest, placed restrictions on how large authors could build their map or on how long authors could work on it. Komag’s Contest 3, held in 2002, had mission makers to no more than 64,000 cubic “dromed” units. Some of the most memorable missions come from these contests. The latter included one of my favorites, Deceptive Perception.

You can see a list of all the contests held at TTLG here.

Contest rules and themes initially restrict authors, but often players will discover that these restrictions inspire new kinds of creativity. How do you squeeze the most out of a small space? What all can you with the theme of “Beauty?” Rules force authors to figure out how they can make something of their own on somebody else’s guidelines. The results are usually brilliant.

This anniversary contest comes after 19 years of FM-making. Like the Doom community and its “WADs,” the Thief community won’t give up the ghost – a very good thing. FM authors received a huge new spur of life in 2012 when the unofficial “NewDark” patch was shared to the Internet. The patch made Thief compatible with just about every PC setup you could configure, and increased what authors could accomplish within Dromed. Five years later, the community is still alive, and this anniversary contest is a new wave of Thief-y goodness.

For taffers, Thief fan missions are the gifts that keep on giving, even twenty years after the original game’s release. If you haven’t purchased either of the original two Thief games, you may do so on Steam or GOG. When you pay for them, you won’t just be unlocking the door to those game’s experiences, but also to hundreds of some of the best experiences you’ll find in media: Thief FMs. Several of them have spoiled me so that I can’t enjoy other games as much – I’ve seen Thief FMs do it better (this is especially true for narrative design). The twentieth anniversary contest is a testament to that, and another reminder to those of you to whom it applies: buy Thief, and join us. Join us now.

You can read more about Thief in my Dark Narrative series.

Note that the featured image is from TTLG user McTaffer's contest entry.

Disclosure: GOG works with TechRaptor for affiliate partnership, and TechRaptor earns a small commission off purchases made from some links in this article. In addition, GOG provides a monthly giveaway to our Pack Hunter members.

Never played Thief and don't know what all this fan-mission talk is about? Love Thief and are already burying yourself in these contest FMs? Whatever the case may be, sound off in the comments below! 

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at tips@techraptor.net

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| Writer

I am a lifelong, enthusiastic gamer, freelance writer and editor, blogger, and Thief FM aficionado. I think that exploration-heavy, open-ended first-person… More about Trevor