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2011/07/21

The Dark Mod Experience: Part I

TDM screenI finally played The Dark Mod the other night.

I first spied The Dark Mod as an interesting project back in 2007, after visiting Thief-The-Circle, which is part of the TTLG network of sites. But the project started way back in 2004, after the somewhat disappointing Thief: Deadly Shadows was released the same year.

I immediately began downloading all of the screenshots and videos that were made available, and viewed them continually for months.

Years passed, and in 2009 the first beta release was out, after approximately five years of work. I wanted it - but at the time, here in the third world, I still had a dial-up connection, which meant it would take at least a full month of downloading to get this mod – and the only way you could get this mod was by running one of those online updaters, which have to run while you’re online, obviously. It would have taken days.

So I had to put it on the backburner for a while.

At about the same time however, I started using data bundles with my Smartphone. I thought about how much it would cost to buy a 2GB data bundle to get the mod. I could easily afford it, but the only thing is that data bundles, with the network I was on at the time, had to last 60 days (it used to be 30). So after downloading the mod (which I think was about 1.2 – 1.5 GB at the time), I’d have to be very frugal with the rest of the data. I could have done it - barely - in hindsight, but chose not to.

Instead, I tried petitioning (or nagging) to get the mod on the Cover DVD of NAG – a local gaming magazine. The DVD is usually full of rubbish including mainly trailers and videos and the like. I thought they’d be thrilled to put something on the DVD. But no – it was the same excuse: “It’s in the queue”. I even tried to get NAG to do a preview of TDM before that, but there was absolutely no interest whatsoever.

If you were to dig around on this blog, you would see that I’ve written about all my frustrations in trying to nab it several times in the past. I do know for a fact that the TDM community stops by here every now and again. Even a TDM developer of sorts caught on and went over to the NAG forums, promising to get a proper direct download package up and running – even with some FMs. That still hasn’t happened.

TDM in-game (Return to the City)briefing screen (Alchemist)TDM in-game (The Siege Shop)

                    Would you care for some screenshots, young thief?

Fast forward to 2011, and I was using 1 Day uncapped broadband bundles with my 3G provider. I found that not only do you have an option to run the updater to download everything, but you can also download the torrent. I gave that a try. Hell, it was slow – it was barely any  faster than my dial-up connection – partly because the network I was on throttles you after using only 150 MB of bandwidth. It said it would take 20+ hours to download. I had 24 hours until the data bundle expired. I gave it a try, but barely got half-way before calling it quits. I wasn’t going to get it done. When I bought another 1 Day uncapped data bundle and tried to resume that download, I couldn’t because version 1.5 was out, and the torrent I tried to download was v 1.4. The torrent was taken down or something, by the look of it.

It was this year that my dial-up deal was coming to an end, and I had to look elsewhere for options. I spotted a Wi-Fi deal that gives you a modem and 5GB of data per month. I thought that would be ideal seeing as I would be able to use up half through the month, and then have enough to download The Dark Mod as well as all the FMs available, which stood at about 40+ at that time.

I tried the torrent, but once again it said that I would have to wait about 20 hours or more to get the thing. There were barely any people seeding it, and no peers. It initially ran at about 100 KB/s, but dropped to half that, and less, in no time.

“Why can’t they put a direct download up somewhere for Chr*st’s sake?” I thought. Then I actually checked, just out of curiosity, to see if there really is such a thing. I saw that some people had uploaded versions of the mod to Rapidshare and MegaUpload and so on. But I spotted something even better: there was a download available at Gamefront through the Dark Mod’s ModDB page.

I downloaded that instead. It wasn’t the full version 1.5 (at the time), but it was v 1.3, which was close enough. I figured I’d just run the updater later and get it up to v 1.5. Anyway, the download took 4 hours instead of 20, which made me happy. The modem held up under a storm outside which lasted the entire time. I was on edge that afternoon because I wasn’t sure if the server supported download resume. If the connection was dropped, then I might have to start over. Luckily that didn’t happen by some miracle. That modem usually drops under even a hint of bad weather.

I downloaded about 30 of the FMs, until my data reset – it was the end of the month. I left it until the last bloody minute to do all this. I immediately set about backing up all the files, in case something happened to them. I was damned if I was ever going to do all that again.

I ended up making two or three discs with the mod on it. One or two of those discs had some sort of write failure, because there was an internet security program interfering with Nero. I uninstalled the interfering program, and then I managed to get one successful write out of three.

After that I reformatted my HDD, which I’d been planning for some time, after just getting fed up with all the issues I’d been plagued with.

___

End of Part I – look out for Part II soon.


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