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The Downfall of the Thief Series

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the where-it-went-wrong dept.

84

Via Kotaku, an interview at Evil Avatar about the bad end of the Thief series. They discuss the game series with designer Randy Smith, who details the fine points of the early games and the ignoble end for the trilogy of games. From the article: "I view Thief 3's more action-inclined gameplay as being more than necessary for a mass-market acceptance. The problems with Thief 3 were the same as the problems that plagued Deus Ex: Invisible War - it was the tech. The team scaled back the freeform design, incorporated loading zones, not to mention the unstable frame rate and other misc. issues derived from the technology. The gameplay was relatively solid by comparison."

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Thief had redefined the FPS (5, Insightful)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543078)

I find the Thief series redefined what a FPS could be. The game had many things that made it unique. For one, you couldn't just attack a whole army of soldier, because you were guaranteed to get killed.

It also rewarded you for just sneaking around, stealing and not getting caught. At the time, it was the only game in the FPS category that you could complete without killing anyone. Even now, I haven't seen a game where you could do that.

The one thing that disappointed me the most was that no one else got into the thief genre. Once the company went belly up, I haven't seen a game that created the same tense, yet immersive environment that Thief 1 and 2 (haven't played 3).

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1, Informative)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543132)

It also rewarded you for just sneaking around, stealing and not getting caught. At the time, it was the only game in the FPS category that you could complete without killing anyone. Even now, I haven't seen a game where you could do that.

Emphasis mine... Strange, as I have Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory at home. The only way to get 100% complete on any level is to not kill anybody while still completing all objectives.

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1, Informative)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543240)

Don't forget the hitman series. Hitman 1 I don't believe was completable without killing anyone (that damn rambo mission), but Hitman 2 & 3 definitely were. It didn't involve the light meter "hiding" spot stuff so much, but I think between that and Splinter Cell you've got tons of Theif like gameplay available. Both of those games are going to have next-gen sequels too, so the genre isn't going anywhere.

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

XenoRyet (824514) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544638)

All of the Metal Gear Solid games can also be done without killing anyone.

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15545408)

How does a game where you assasinate people make it so you don't have to kill /anyone/?

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

meowsqueak (599208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15546563)

What's the point of a hitman if he doesn't kill anyone? Or is he just a really inept hitman?

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550481)

Heh, yeah, I guess I wasn't clear. I meant not killing anyone except the target. (Who's generally a bad bad man and needs to die). In 2 & 3 you can generally complete the missions without killing any henchmen and especially no civilians (you're penalized for doing so because of the expense of cleaning up such a messy job)

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (2, Interesting)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543323)

Emphasis mine... Strange, as I have Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory at home. The only way to get 100% complete on any level is to not kill anybody while still completing all objectives.

All of the Splinter Cell games have been that way. Also, don't forget the Hitman games. While they do allow you the option of running and gunning through the game (nearly impossible in Splinter Cell, impossible in Thief), you can only get Silent Assassin rankings by leaving no trace. That means not killing anybody but your assigned target, nor doing anything suspicious that might alert others, leaving your changes of clothing or guns lieing around, etc. In some cases, this may even extend to as far as closing doors you opened, because finding an open door may alert guards or civilians to your presence

It all boils down to what's "easy", I think. It's not easy to make a fun, compelling game where your entire goal is to accomplish your objectives without ever being seen or heard. It requires exceptional control mechanics, AI, level design, and more. A number of games have tried, and most have failed. It's much easier to do a straight-forward run 'n gun like Doom (though even that is difficult to do well -- Serious Sam is really the best example of fun mindless action).

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

antic (29198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545512)

Tenchu wasn't something you'd complete without killing, but it did encourage the use of stealth. I only ever played it on the Playstation, and then Tenchu II (I think) on the Xbox.

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15544148)

Games infected with Starforce don't count.

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15546033)

i didnt realise that xboxs could be infected with that crap

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1, Interesting)

HunterWare (128177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543169)

The first game I've played that has re-created the fun of Thief 1 is Oblivion (when played strictly "thiefy").

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543458)

You ought to pick up Morrowind and the Tribune addition (don't bother with Bloodmoon, it sucks). I was able to play the same way in those games and had a wonderful time.

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15544122)

Well said ALF's BONER. Seriously, wtf?

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

tjwhaynes (114792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544263)

It also rewarded you for just sneaking around, stealing and not getting caught. At the time, it was the only game in the FPS category that you could complete without killing anyone. Even now, I haven't seen a game where you could do that.

Maybe you would enjoy Cold War [coldwar-game.com] . One of its modes is pacifist where you can't kill anyone ... which adds a certain edge to sneaking around distracting Russian guards with AK47s. Best of all, it's available for Linux [linuxgamepublishing.com] as well as Windows.

Cheers,
Toby Haynes

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (2, Insightful)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545403)

I enjoyed the different era. It seems most FPS are either modern combat, WWII oriented, or set in the future. But Thief was just so different in the time that it put you in. Though some of the missions put you in "OMG WTF were they thinking" mode, like the Spiders in Thief II for instance, wtf was that about? And the robots?

I'm still waiting for that FPS that puts you in a trench in WWI, or charging over the top of a trench into machine gun fire. Why hasn't this been done yet?

WWI FPS? (1)

ArsSineArtificio (150115) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548090)

I'm still waiting for that FPS that puts you in a trench in WWI, or charging over the top of a trench into machine gun fire. Why hasn't this been done yet?

The gameplay is too linear, everybody is a camper, and each level lasts three to five seconds.

Re:Thief had redefined the FPS (1)

Oscaro (153645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15547010)

it was the only game in the FPS category that you could complete without killing anyone

when I played it, I was so used to the "classical" fps approach that I killed every single enemy...

Typical (2, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543097)

This is what you get when you compromise your vision and integrity for the dollar.

It is funny he mentions Deus Ex, as I loved the original game and was left extremely disapointed with it's incarnation. Not only did they lose their extremely strong original fanbase that helped to build them, but they lost the mainstream appeal they were so desperately hoping to cash in on.

Re:Typical (1)

th1ckasabr1ck (752151) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543234)

"This is what you get when you compromise your vision and integrity for the dollar."

Disclaimer: I program games for a living.

The way the games business works these days, there's a very significant chance that compromising their vision and integrity was required for the developer to be able to make the game in the first place.

It's very easy for the developer to end up handcuffed into making compromises they (obviously) would not want to make because when it really comes down to it, the publisher is paying the bills. I'm not saying that this was certainly the case, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if the developer was staring at the choice of "Make the game, but with a few changes that the publisher is convinced will lead to sales" or "Don't make the game at all".

Re:Typical (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543317)

I wouldn't be surprised at all if the developer was staring at the choice of "Make the game, but with a few changes that the publisher is convinced will lead to sales" or "Don't make the game at all".
And that is exactly where the decision between integrity and money come into play. Of course it is all shades of grey, just some greys are darker than others. ;)

Re:Typical (2, Insightful)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543821)

Game programmers deserve to get paid, and game companies deserve to make a profit. It's very easy to sit back from a distance and preach to others about integrity. It's not so easy to be the guy running a game company that's barely breaking even because artistic vision is more important than commercial success.

I very much wish that Thief as originally conceived had sold better. We'd all be seeing more games like it now if it did. LGS managed to put two games out according to their original vision -- before going out of business because, for all their integrity, their games just didn't sell enough copies to carry them through.

Tell me, are you glad that happened? Is it something you'd like to see happen often? Your advice here is almost certain to lead to it.

Re:Typical (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544027)

If companies always follow the same formulaic sytem for game making then the result is a lot of commercial success and a stagnant industry devoid of innovation.

Integrity, vision, and not making games for the lowest common denominator are what push gaming (and any industry) forward.

Re:Typical (1)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544325)

Integrity, vision, and not making games for the lowest common denominator are what push gaming (and any industry) forward.

And ignoring commercial success is a recipe for going out of business. You don't get mch innovation or forward movement that way either.

Look, I'd prefer it if the real world could work in this naive, idealistic way myself. I much prefer something like Thief (or whatever would follow it) to the latest finely-rendered twicthy gorefest. Unfortunately, it doesn't and it doesn't do much good to tell everyone to behave as if it did./P

Re:Typical (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544857)

Complacency for the win.

Practically every great game ever made was done so by people not content with the current industry.

Re:Typical (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544956)

So who are you asking to take on all the risk? Should the developer do it himself? Or do you expect a publisher to altruistically throw money around chasing art?

Re:Typical (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545183)

Risk will always be involved; that's a necessary part of gaining anything. Of course, if people in decision making positions within those companies truly had their "finger on the pulse of the gaming community", and weren't detached, suits who base their bottom line on market trends and focus groups then the risk really isn't as great as you might think.

Re:Typical (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545281)

You generalize in ways that make me chuckle. Obviously someone has their finger on the pulse in a lot of these places - there have been a lot of great games throughout the years. Conversely, there have been a large number of unsuccessful artsy for the sake of being artsy games than never recovered their investment.

Like it or not, it's a numbers game because it costs money to do the development. It's not all focus groups and market trends (and you denigrate these like they don't work.) What it sounds like to me is that you have tastes that don't fit the mainstream. Guess what - you won't be served by the mainstream, then. Ever. Get used to it, or learn to like what other people like. You can continue being unhappy with the state of affairs, of course, but that's just inneffectual whining.

Sorry if I come off rough, I'm not going for that.

To say it another way - if you don't like what a lot of other people like, then you won't be served by those serving that large group. That's just how it works.

Re:Typical (1)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545770)

No, realism.

Investors don't throw their money away to produce something that will only yield them marginal returns that don't reflect the risk. In the case in point, the Thief series had a track record. It had already shown itself to be hugely innovative in terms of gameplay (and sound modeling, but not graphics or physics) and capable of attracting a small devoted following. See thief-thecircle.com [thief-thecircle.com] to see just how devoted -- the fan-made mission community for Thief 1 and 2 is still going strong after all these years. But to an investor -- you know, the guy without whose money development won't happen at all -- the main point of interest would be the "small" part. It tells him that he's not going to get much back for his trouble. Therefore, the game had to change if it was to be made at all. It became more mainstream-oriented, and it was modified to be playable on a console to significantly expand the potential market. Both changed had an unavoidable effect on gameplay.

Would I have preferred a Thief 3 more in the vein of the first two? Absolutely. Do I prefer having the Thief 3 we got rather than no more Thief at all? On balance, yes.

That's not complacency. That's living in the real world.

Deus Ex 2... (3, Interesting)

Omicron32 (646469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543128)

Ugh. Everytime I hear about Invisible War I can't help but cringe.

I really don't know what they were smoking when they decided to make that game and call it a sequel to perhaps one of the best FPS/RPG games ever made (IMO).

I almost cried when I played it, I was that disappointed. :(

At least Thief 3 kinda kept to the theme of the Thief series. Though I still think Thief 2 was the best - The city level when you're heading across rooftops etc was awesome...

Damn, I gotta dig that game out and play it now.

Re:Deus Ex 2... (3, Interesting)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543311)

Ugh. Everytime I hear about Invisible War I can't help but cringe.

I really don't know what they were smoking when they decided to make that game and call it a sequel to perhaps one of the best FPS/RPG games ever made (IMO).

I almost cried when I played it, I was that disappointed. :(

Yeah, I felt the same way. Deus Ex is among my top 3 favorite games of all time. IW was just a horrible, dumb, consoley mess.

I haven't felt so cheated by a game since then, that is until I found out about the new Shadowrun game that Microsoft is putting out. Turns out it's a tragic abuse of the Shadowrun license. It must have been designed by a bunch of retarded monkeys to screw up so badly with a license that has so much potential.

Re:Deus Ex 2... (1)

PaulMorel (962396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543422)

If you can get Thief 2 to run on a modern system, please make a slashdot post about how. I have tried and tried; it just doesn't want to happen.

The Thief series defined immersive gameplay, and the cutscenes were the best in any game ever. Period.

Re:Deus Ex 2... (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543796)

What exactly seems to be the problem? Maybe give this FAQ [ttlg.com] a whirl, it might have the answer. Otherwise you'll have to post some specifics, either here (where it'll probably get lost in the shuffle) or over on the TTLG forums, or their IRC.

Re:Deus Ex 2... (2, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544534)

Check this out:
http://www.thief2x.com/ [thief2x.com]

Re:Deus Ex 2... (1)

chrish (4714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548733)

If you've got a hyperthreaded or multi-core CPU (or just a plain old SMP box) you need to set the executable's affinity (via Task Manager) so it only runs on one CPU. Thief 2 kills itself when migrating between CPUs somehow.

Runs great on my system (P4 2.5GHz, AGP Radeon x1600), which isn't exactly "modern" but isn't ridiculously old either.

Re:Deus Ex 2... (1)

chrish (4714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548758)

It's stupid to reply to myself, but anyway...

I used to play Thief 2 on my dual P3 666MHz system while ripping CDs. I'd set Thief 2 to use one CPU, and CDex to use the other. Worked like a charm, and was a very enjoyable way to get all of my audio CDs online.

This should be the fall of Deus Ex AND Theif. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15545720)

I couldn't agree more. DX:IW and Theif 3 both seem completely compromised. Point the finger at "game god", Warren Spector, as he was running the show for both. Sure, he had different leads for each game, but the buck stopped with him. I refuse to beleive that as he played the betas for either of those games he said, "man, these games are fantastic!"

I wouldn't be so angry if I hadn't spent $100 bucks on both of those POS.

When I finally got my hands on some hardware that could run DX:IW, you know what I did? I loaded up the original Deus Ex. Those games don't even belong in the same sentence together.

Let's hope this Deus Ex restoration project [offtopicproductions.com] gets done. Then I can turn my friends on to one of the greatest games ever.

On the upside (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15543136)

Assassin's Creed coming out soon for the PS3 looks amazing, you can find the video almost anywhere.

On the downside, it's coming out for PS3, and I'm not paying for that frankenstein failure.

The Tech? No. (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543149)

He said what the problem was in the first sentence in the summary here.
"I view Thief 3's more action-inclined gameplay as being more than necessary for a mass-market acceptance."
Exactly. Fans can put up with things like the loading behavior mentioned. Compromises to game play, however, aren't usually accepted. This seems to hold true for the Deus Ex sequel, as well.

Re:The Tech? No. (1)

popeguilty (961923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543348)

I don't know about that- Clive Barker's Undying was high-quality, but sold disappointingly, and the only complaint I've ever heard from anyone about it is that it loads every thirty seconds. Maybe lots of loading is a killer.

Article Summary (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15543173)

"We had to support the lowest common denominator (Xbox), therefore the PC version sucked"

Same goes for Deus Ex : IW

Developers Today: (0, Offtopic)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543241)

It truly astonishes me that many game developers continue to release games that perform so poorly - and that many game players simply roll over and accept it. Back in the early days of 3d gaming, framerate was king - if the average user's system couldn't run every single area of the game without a hitch, effects and poly counts were scaled back until it would run smoothly. I remember playing Doom on my somewhat outdated 386 machine with a high degree of satisfaction.

Nowadays I have a high end PC and graphics card and practically no new game runs smoothly at the default settings. Where oh where did game playability go?

Re:Developers Today: (1)

rehashed (948690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543306)

Are you quite sure that your PC is high end? Even a high end "personal" Dell will play new games smoothly at default settings. I have a 2 year old laptop that will as well

Re:Developers Today: (1)

wiremind (183772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543366)

No kidding.

T3 did have it's issues. (5, Interesting)

urikkiru (801560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543310)

Thief 1 + 2 were great games. Just spectacular.

So when 3 came out and I snagged it, I was a bit disappointed. For starters, the memory limitations of doing a dual pc/console development, meant that the levels felt... cramped. This was in sharp, sharp contrast to the previous two games that were famous for larger, more sprawling/free form level design. Was a big *ouch* to say the least.

Secondly, the first two games had quite a few places where you could swim under water for a variety of reasons. It was fairly important as a gameplay bit. In the 3rd one, I walked into ankle deep water, and the game promptly informed me that I had died/passed out, and put me straight into jail :P Total destruction of any immersion there.

And lastly, the climbing gloves... First two games had you using what were called 'rope arrows'.(Arrow, rope tied to it, you get the idea) Also was a fairly useful/important gameplay feature, for a variety of designed for and not designed for puzzles/situations. Was an awesome feature. In the 3rd? They scrapped it entirely, citing issues getting it to work with the new physics engine. So we got... climbing gloves! Which were only useful in one instance, and pretty much a waste of time for the rest of the game.(The one instance was enforced, you *had* to use them to continue in the game)

The only thing that saved Thief3 from itself, was the Cradle level. If it wasn't for that, I'd say it was a waste of money. But, I still have a copy, just for that level really.

Just my 2cents.

Re:T3 did have it's issues. (1)

unsigned integer (721338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543475)

Re: The Cradle

Scariest. Level. Ever.

Re:T3 did have it's issues. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15544425)

Immersion ruining? I thought Thief 1 ruined my immersion when 90% of the levels were empty rooms. Thief 2 was better in this regard, but still somewhat sparse. At least Thief 3 was more realistic in that manner, you actually FELT like there was a world around you.

I just couldn't get into Thief 1... I also thought Deus Ex: IW got a bad rap. People's memory of Deus Ex must have been clouded to think the first game was THAT much better than the second. Jeez, just play the first level in DX again. Huge open areas with ammo just lying all over the place. WTF?

Climbing gloves/Relative volume/Cradle/Shadows (1)

silverdirk (853406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545028)

I found the climbing gloves to be quite useful, actually. I used them a number of times in the city to avoid patrolls, and get to hidden tunnels or rooftop areas. I also used them in several missions to get up to ledges, etc. I did miss the rope arrows, though. Rope arrows are more challenging, and ultimately more fun. (and I expect that one reason they dropped it was consolification, despite what they say about the physics)

One improvement from Thief 2 was *I think* relative volume levels. In Thief 1&2, you could be in the middle of an incredibly noisy environment and a guard would still hear your footsteps, even though you the player couldn't even hear them. If I remember right, Thief3 actually let noise provide cover for you.

The cradle was awesome. awesome awesome awesome. There was no level in Thief2 that could compare.

One thing I didn't like about Thief2 was the annoying automated messages that the robots would speak. It was ok at first, but got really anoying by the end. I liked Thief3's audio a lot better. The stone golems had something similar, but much less annoying.

Thief3 had the wall-flatten, where you could suddenly need to hide, and rather than running for an alcove you would just dash over to the darkest part of the hall and flatten against the wall, almost eliminating your collision area. The guard then walks on past, and you resume stance behind him and knock him out.

But really... the thing I liked most about Thief3's gameplay? ..... the shadows ;-) It might seem like a cheesy thing to get excited over, being simply a graphic innovation, but there was something truly immersive about sneaking past a window and seeing your own shadow dance accross the far wall. If you had a light behind you, you could see the shadow of your blackjack rising up over the guards head before he went out cold. You could stand in an alcove and watch the shadow of the guard dance up the hallway to know where he was and how close, and which direction he was moving. In the city, you could even tell from the shadow whether it was a guard, an archer-guard, helmeted guard, creature, or a civilian. Thief3 just had some really masterful lighting/shadow algorithms, and I think it added a lot to the gameplay.

And the levels did feel cramped (1)

silverdirk (853406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545051)

As other posters mentioned, I did miss the big sprawling maps. On a PC, that 5-part city map could have been all one map. Each mission could have been all one map as well. The best thing would be to use some warcraftish techniques to make the whole entire thing all one map ;-)

Re:T3 did have it's issues. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15547497)

Cradle, and the the undeads sounds. Best, scariest, sounds in a video game, imo.

I'm real grateful for the first one (i still go back to Bafford's or Cragscleft).

But, maybe because of that, for me too the 3rd one was a disapointment.

yabonn

Great Games, Interview Not So Much (1)

gspeare (470147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543363)

The Thief series is one of the best in gaming -- although Thief 3 does have its drawbacks, it lived up to the franchise reputation far better than I expected, and the inclusion of the between-mission city is IMO an interesting innovation.

This interview, however, seems rather sparse and hurried...I kept waiting for more and better information to no avail. Certainly enough has been written about the fate of Looking Glass and Thief that this writing is unlikely to add much to the mix.

Minor Drawbacks (2, Interesting)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543372)

I wouldn't say that there was really anything wrong with T3. It was a solid game and I really enjoyed playing it. The Shalebridge Cradle level mentioned in the article was a masterful work of Horror.

The only thing that I found lacking was that the city was very one dimensional and lacking in variety. Sure you could do some side exploring, but it was nothing compared the free form experience of the elder scrolls games. You were lucky if there was more than one road to take to get somewhere. The ability to explore and do minor missions in a 'full sized' version of the city would have made the game much better. It seemed like that was what they were going for, but had to abandon that for design reasons.

Re:Minor Drawbacks (1)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548122)

Sweet Jesus. This would have been an awesome feature. This is really what I wanted to do in the Thief series most of all. There could have been so many options.

I can just imagine a huge city built like NYC with the gameplay of TES. Have some plot that you start to uncover as you play through the game. Build connections and fences. Can I get a paper towel?

Consolification (4, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543391)

I view Thief 3's more action-inclined gameplay as being more than necessary for a mass-market acceptance. The problems with Thief 3 were the same as the problems that plagued Deus Ex: Invisible War - it was the tech. The team scaled back the freeform design, incorporated loading zones, not to mention the unstable frame rate and other misc. issues derived from the technology. The gameplay was relative solid by comparison.

I believe the term they're looking for is "consolification." That's when the publisher of a game series that is traditionally for the PC (and for good reason) decides to focus on consoles due to their much larger audience, forcing the developer to dumb down the game both for the LCD of said market and to fit within the limits of the console itself (especially the controls). People complained about this a lot when Thief 3, Deus Ex: Invisible War, and other bastardizations of PC franchises were being released a couple of years ago. Now-a-days that sort of thing has slackened off a lot, but we'll probably start hearing about it again when Halo 3 comes out.

Rob

Re:Consolification (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544055)

I have to agree. While I did enjoy Thief 3, it wasn't as good as the first two. One of the things that really detracted from the fun (for me) was the loading zones. Some of the zones weren't even really that big, and it really spoilt the immersiveness of the experience. Loading when moving from inside a building to outside (or vice versa) I can cope with; when walking down a corridor? No. The loading zone mist looked stupid too. Ok, so at least it marked the boundary of the current zone, but a weird mist in the middle of a corridor in some guy's house did not look right at all.

That said, I *really* like the orphanage mission. That was genuinely creepy, in the best tradition of the creepier moments of the first two, or of another all-time favourite of mine, System Shock 2.

Re:Consolification (1)

Kojiro Ganryu Sasaki (895364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544252)

System Shock 2 is purer horror GOLD. It's the scariest game i've ever played aside from Silent Hill (1)

Argh. You're making me want to play it all over again... And i've already finshed it three times. Too bad the last few levels are a bit boring compared to the first.

Maybe I'm weird, but... (0)

nathan s (719490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543414)

...I actually liked DX2.

At least, I liked the story. The gameplay was inferior to Deus Ex, and the whole thing was shorter and a little more straightforward, but in some ways it had an equivalent atmosphere. I'd still love to see the whole thing (DX1 + DX2) done as a movie, or novelized. It's fantastic escapist entertainment.

In any case, the loading zones in both Thief3 and DX2 never bothered me. The framerate issues were a bit more of a problem, but I was willing to reduce graphic levels to play through the stories as they were compelling enough. The truth is, I think that both games suffered from the fact that they lack multiplayer modes, not so much because of the other factors. Half Life is in the same general story-driven genre and succeeds largely because of its extensive multiplayer community. Take it out, and I think that HL/HL2 would be in the same boat as these other games.

Personally, it doesn't bother me much 'cuz I'm not a multiplayer gamer, but I've heard these from my Quake/Unreal/Doom/HL-playing gamer friends. I think the lack of multiplayer worked the first time around because of the sheer innovativeness, but a lot of people ultimately want the social aspect. If they just want mindless thrill or action, they watch a movie - it's easier.

*deposits $0.02*

Re:Maybe I'm weird, but... (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543532)

The truth is, I think that both games suffered from the fact that they lack multiplayer modes, not so much because of the other factors. Half Life is in the same general story-driven genre and succeeds largely because of its extensive multiplayer community. Take it out, and I think that HL/HL2 would be in the same boat as these other games.

Gotta disagree on this one. Sure, HL benefitted greatly from its online multiplayer community, but that was almost a completely separate thing from the game itself, which was one of the best singleplayer games ever in its day. It set the bar pretty high for future FPS games, and it took a while before any met the challenge. I think Deus Ex was really the first to match (and exceed) it in story and gameplay. So these games stand on their own very well. The multiplayer is just gravy. I'd rather they focus on one or the other, and I'm glad they chose to focus on singleplayer.

Guess I stated my point poorly. (1)

nathan s (719490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544874)

What I'm trying to say is that the "downfall" of these series was not the gameplay so much as the fact that everything that has massively succeeded lately has been multiplayer. Think WoW, Second Life, etc. The first "innovator" game in each DX and Thief series was quite successful, but the sequels didn't maintain interest as well as the original.

I am fairly sure that the sequel games in both of these series, however, did well with fans of the original games. I suspect that their downfall came because they just failed to attract new players who haven't already played the originals. Do a google search for '"thief 3" multiplayer' or '"invisible war" multiplayer' and you'll find out that while Ion Storm DID release a half-ass patch for the original Deus Ex, neither of these sequel games supported multiplayer and people DID seem to be interested in it.

What Half-Life did differently was to add a pretty compelling non-halfass multiplayer option on top of their single-player story games. So fans played the game, then played multiplayer and got their friends to play multiplayer, and the series continued to live long after the initial single-player replay value was worn out. Valve did that part really well. And I think that's where the Thief and DX series fell flat; they're like the adventure games of old - after you play them through once, the fun factor drops sharply for everybody but the most hardcore fans, because you already know the story and there isn't much left to do besides what? Play weird self-imposed challenges a la Nethack?

(Note: I am actually a fan of all three series and am quite happy to go back and replay DX, DX2, any of the Thief games, and both HL games in their single-player formats every now and then. It's exactly like watching a favorite movie, only more time-consuming and more in-depth.)

Quote (1)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543657)

I'm just going to point out that the quote in the summary appears to be the words of the interviewer, not of Randy Smith, which seems to be implied.

Interesting points of view (1)

meregistered (895132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15543709)

This is an interesting discussion.

I liked thief and thief 2, didn't play thief 3.
And actually LIKED Invisible War (reminded me of a good System Shock 2 which generally sucked).

I also particularly liked the Thief mod for UT (the first UT the one that was the tournament mode only... came out about the same time as Quake3 tournament...).

The fact that I liked the Thief mod for UT a bit better than thief tells me the technology side is pretty important to me (it was much better technically than the thief engine tended to be).

And I am a stickler for good game play I just don't see how Invisible War was not good gameplay.

Intersting...

Attention blasphemer (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544046)

And actually LIKED Invisible War (reminded me of a good System Shock 2 which generally sucked).
Good sir,
I must request of you that you immediately tear up your Geek/Gamer identification card(s), turn in your gaming mouse or mice, shut off all entertainment devices within your household, and wait near the front door. Our specialists will be arriving shortly to take you away for evaluation and re-education.

Sincerely, Gamers everywhere

Re:Interesting points of view (2, Interesting)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545362)

You are crazy. System Shock 2 is one of the best games ever. Better than Deus Ex, even (but with not quite as good feel/controls), and certainly better than Invisible War. And I liked Invisible War, since I knew it would disappoint somewhat compared to Deus Ex from before I started playing. Good game, but not a worthy follow-up.

Re:Interesting points of view (1)

antic (29198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545593)

Can you remind me why IW wasn't that great? I played it through on Xbox and didn't mind it. I played the original Deus Ex on a clunky old PC and thought the story was great.

Re:Interesting points of view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15545836)

The story in IW was bad. There was not a slow introduction like Deus Ex, and your actions had no consequeces. You could "betray" a faction, and the mission after, they were still your best friend. With Deus Ex there was doubt about who were who, with IW everything was clear and simple.

The gameplay was also simpler. From having all your bio mods max out pretty soon in the game (impossible to do with Deus Ex), to the universal ammo, everything was simpler and easier.

Deus Ex was for adult and late teens, Invisible War was for early teen with a console and half a brain.

Re:Interesting points of view (1)

antic (29198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15546600)

Ah yes, universal ammo made it a bit basic, I remember now.

Deus Ex was really a top notch game - it should be an essential study piece in game schools. A few other favourites of mine were Doom and Quake, Star Control 2, Halo I/II, used to love Dune II, early Warcraft, one of the Heroes games, etc.

Recently gave Half-Life II a shot on Xbox (PC is crammed with work stuff) and can see why people like that series - great art, world design and sound effects.

Downfall? Tell that to the fan modders. (3, Interesting)

kaizokunami (982824) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544020)

As a fan of the series since the first game, I enjoyed Thief 3 despite the problems with it. The story was fun (the Cradle was easily the highlight of the game), Garrett was still Garrett, and being able to roam the city was fun. I honestly didn't mind the loading zones so much. And without giving away any spoilers, I found the ending to be a perfect "full circle" moment for the series.

But ask any fan of the series and you know that T3 is not 'the end' of the Thief games. Look up the phenomenal T2X fan game based on Thief 2. It has new characters, new movies, great new missions, and feels like a natural addition to the series. There is also an extensive network of fan mission builders and modders out there still creating new content for these games.

We're still sneaking around out here. :)

Please sign this petition to keep Thief alive (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15544026)

The most devoted Thief fans and fan mission creators are hoping to get the original Dark engine that T1 and T2 uses open sourced so that we could improve it and run it on other operating systems. Most fan mission creators still create missions for T2 rather than T3 since it's so much better and we hope to improve it further, so please sign this: http://www.petitiononline.com/TDPT2/petition.html [petitiononline.com]

Worthless weapons (1)

Leo Sasquatch (977162) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544205)

Maybe the bow in Thief fired sucker-tipped arrows like the ones you can buy in toy stores. Maybe it fired marshmallow arrows. Certainly not real ones. Arrows are large, heavy and strike with enough force to penetrate plate armour. Except the ones in Thief, which did nothing but annoy people. Hint - if it doesn't incapacitate or kill, it's not a weapon.

Re:Worthless weapons (3, Informative)

Kojiro Ganryu Sasaki (895364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544278)

In both Thief and Thief 2 and arrow is enough to kill any enemy with a well aimed shot. Exceptions are Burricks and those metal beasts in Thief 2.

Re:Worthless weapons (1)

complexmath (449417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544796)

Only if the guards haven't seen you. Once they do, I believe the headshot kill feature is disabled, similar to how blackjacking a guard on alert doesn't work. I suppose it's worth mentioning that the point of the weapon system in Thief was to reinforce the intended form of gameplay, that being combat avoidance. If you could run & gun through the mission then Thief would just be another FPS.

Re:Worthless weapons (1)

Kojiro Ganryu Sasaki (895364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548180)

Oh. Good point. I didn't think of that, but you're right. Arrows can only insta-kill in stealth mode.

Re:Worthless weapons (1)

Aero (98829) | more than 8 years ago | (#15547734)

In Thief 1, I once took out a burrick with one shot -- it was in the tunnels in Down in the Bonehoard, and I got it in the eye when it wasn't in alert mode. I've never been able to repeat it.

Re:Worthless weapons (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544579)

Arrows are large, heavy and strike with enough force to penetrate plate armour.


Only if the arrow is fired from a longbow. If you use anything less, then the arrow can easily bounce off properly smithed armor. Just remember that good steel plate armor can even protect against an arquebus [wikipedia.org] .

The purpose of the short bow used in Theif is to fire the special-issue ammunition, mainly because using regular arrows is not recommended at the highest difficulty setting. In particular, it is designed to fire:
- Water arrows, which extinguish fire (including fire elementals and robots)
- Holy water arrows, which harm undead (which are resistant to other weapons.)
- Fire arrows, which are loud but are good for taking out armor (and use a flat trajectory).
- Gas arrows, which instantly knock-out an enemy.
- Noisemaker arrows, which are decoys.

Also, being hit with the sword as it happens in the Thief series "should" normally kill guards quickly - instead, you need to do 4 hits before they start panicking and 1 last hit to prevent them from alerting others. (Not that it matters, since you are not supposed to kill people.)

Not really (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15547597)

The Huns' or Mongolians' composite (short) bow, for example, was good enough to conquer half of Europe. And they faced Roman legions in chain armour (lorica hamata) and even banded armour (lorica segmentata.) Now it may be useless against the gothic plate of the late medieval era, but to kill a stupid city guard in a chain vest, they're perfectly good.

Bow? Kill? (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15545563)

Methinks you missed the point of the series. The sole use of normal arrows is to make a "clank" noise that might distract a guard. (And if you're *really* playing, you won't even do that. Guards should never even be alerted- you're a master thief, not some cutpurse.) Kind of like the sole purpose of the sword is to cut tapestries to see what's behind them. Other than that the two serve no purpose.

Thief 1 Demo (1)

sciencecneisc (980820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15544868)

I played the first game's demo when i was using PC's and I liked it a lot. I had trouble staying in the shadows because there was so many cool ways to murder people that I couldn't resist attacking immediately. Awesome game. One complaint I had, funny, was it was too dark (bad gamma). When Thief 2 came out I left the platform but I heard it was good. Too bad.

good concept, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15545109)

The Thief series was an awesome concept, but to all those raving on about how great they were I'll put that the series went downhill in Level 2 of the original Thief.

Here I am playing a game that goes on and on about realism. The first level is fantastic. I start the second level thinking the same until out of the darkness comes ... a fucking zombie. Way to go and completely spoil the mood. Not only did it immediately destroy my ability to suspend disbelief, but here I am in the role of someone who sneaks around avoiding conflict and I have to beat down weapon-resistant monsters that come in waves. Fuck that.

Re:good concept, but ... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550378)

A _lot_ of people complained about zombies. They removed them in Theif 2.

I _highly_ recommend you to play Thief 1 and 2 through the end. You will be well rewarded.

Am I the only one who loved thief3 (2, Interesting)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15546964)

This is a serious question, am I the only one. I constantly had the feeling Thief 3 was the best of the series, despite the loading zones. I always hated the mission and nothing except videos in between approach of T1 and T2. Thief 3 felt like a real world game, just like the underworlds.
Sure you had the loading zones, but the overall feeling of the game was much better.

Re:Am I the only one who loved thief3 (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550413)

The big difference between Thief 3 and the earlier titles (and this is true of many games coming out in the last 2-3 years), is that they removed any degree of freedom that could allow the player to alter the path to the next objective.

This new Thief was made for players that like getting carried through the game like it's a movie with buttons (marketing morons call these people mainstream gamers. It's the 'gamers' part that they have wrong). The first two were made for players that enjoy the possibility that they can screw up or leave the beaten path. It used to be that if you could find some other way to do something in a game, be it easier or harder, you could. This wasn't something coded into the game, it was something they left out of the code. These new types include enforcment requiring you to complete tasks in sequence and using the methods that the developers have decided is best.

Personally, I believe that a game can be made is such a way that satisfies both types of players, but maybe producers have lost the will to attempt that, or we've completed the transition from games being art to games being cookie-cutter creations created by formula by coffee-fueled robots. Or maybe we've gotten to the point where game producers have gotten so egotistical that they *know* what the best way for you to play the game is, and it must be enforced...

For other recent examples of this phenomenon (sometimes refered too as dumbing-down, or consolification), see TES4: Oblivion, HoMM5, etc...

I felt a bit claustrophobic in Thief 3 (1)

Scoldog (875927) | more than 8 years ago | (#15547577)

I'll be the first to admit, they cranked the atmosphere right up in Thief 3, with absolutely gorgous shadows and details in the levels. I know everyone here has been praising the Cradle level as possibly the scariest (and best) levels of any game out there.

The rest I didn't mind (even the loading levels). However, I wished there was a level that could compare to the scale of "Song of the Caverns" in Thief Gold, or "Life of the Party" in Thief 2. None of the levels in T3 felt as grand as the two aformentioned levels.

I even loved those levels in Thief 2 where you have to follow Lt Hagenson(Is that the name?) and the pagan, and the level after that with the ape creatures and the tree monsters (I almost shit myself the first time I walked too close to one of those tree monsters, when it suddenly took a swipe at me knocking half of my health off then chasing me right around that area. You can barely outrun the bastards!)

Wouldn't it be great if the next Thief game (if there is one) could be designed something like GTA with different areas you have to complete to move onto the next one, but with one big area you could walk around and explore if you felt like instead of doing missions. Even have a day and night cycle, where you have to get to a safe house or area during daytime.

That and a multiplayer ability.

BTW, what the heck was up with not being able to swim in T3?

Thief 3, a downfall? (1)

DeeDob (966086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15547768)

The game was a bit less good than it's precursors. I wouldn't call it exactly a "downfall". The only thing i had with thief 3 was the city "hub". Because of seemless transitions between levels, you always had too many equipment/arrows/etc. on you for the mission, you never felt like you were gonna lack anything. You could basically take your time and kill everyone you saw. And as for the record, Thief's legacy lives on in other games. Oblivion features sneaking missions in which the sneaking mechanics looks a lot like those of Thief. Hide in the dark places, don't run to make too much noise, guards coming to check where the noise came from, then the inevitable "it must have been a rat"... Oblivion's few sneaking missions are VERY similar to those of Thief's.

Extraordinary comment from Randy Smith (1)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550428)

From the interview:

Honestly, the stealth gameplay chemistry of Thief 1 didn't truly come together till very close to ship, possibly as close as a few weeks. Although we all had our suspicions, it wasn't until then that it was clear which types of content would be a good match for the game systems

This is an incredible statement. Thief 1 to me has always been an example of a game design done right from the very beginning. For the designer to say that the "stealth gameplay chemistry" only came together right at the end of the process boggles my mind. If so, it was very fortuitous: Thief 1 remains for me an all-time classic, possibly one of the best first-person perspective games ever made.
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