You will find here the news posts that contain our exclusive information. Most of there were taked from our own Thief forum.

October 29th, 1998

Dark Engine AI - 1:30pm EST - the spy
The AI is a signficant step up from Shock 1. We are using an enhanced version of Thief's AI. I've been playing the beta, and it does things I've never seen before. An example:

A guard was walking down a corridor. I closed a door so he couldn't see me. He said "Hey, what was that?". I heard him approach the door from the other side and he said "Hey, you, come out of there..."

I almost had a stroke. Thief is a pretty amazing game. And we get to use their goodies plus all the stuff we're developing on top of it. Ah, life can be good.

-Ken

I can't wait to play this game.. 8-D


What is a Burrick? - 1:30pm EST - the spy

What is a Burrik? - talon54

Well, we're spelling it What is a "Burrick," though I don't know if that word actually gets used in the game.

A Burrick is something like a Wumpus. Of course.

Oh, that doesn't explain it? A Burrick is something like a dinosaur, and something like a frog, and something like a mole, and something like a dragon with stinking, noxious breath. They're easily fascinated by certain sounds. Err... and they're sorta like...

Ah, heck. Play the game. Wait and see.

-Tim

Thanx for clearin that up Tim. I have a sneaky feeling you guys made it up after a frenzied weekend of pizza and cherry cola binging.You tell everybody it came to all of you in a group vision. No more anchovie pizzas for you guys. -talon 54

Well I know what a wumpus is. I used to hunt them in the moutains. Anyone else know?


October 27th, 1998

More and More Detials - 9:40pm EST - the spy
Stellmach again, this time answering the questions of Tristan

:Some of the things I want to know are:
:1)Where did the idea of this game come from – I play some RPG’s,
:not all computer based, and would like to know where the
:designers got the idea.

It evolved over the course of many months. Originally, we were thinking of concentrating mainly on swordfighting as our core gameplay. We toyed with a "Dark Camelot" idea where Arthur was the bad guy and you played Modred. And Modred was this kinda sneaky little guy. Interest in the Camelot theme didn't take off, but by the time we bagged it the Modred concept had evolved into such a rogue that we went straight from there into the Thief game. A lot of this, of course, came from System Shock, where it's all pretty hairy, and you aren't really a killing machine, so you have to do a lot of ducking around and playing it tactically kind of commando-style.

:2)Do they have poison

No poison. It was on our long list but didn't make our short list. We have an idea or two that might make it into Thief 2, if there is one.

:and can you buy stuff

Yes, you can buy stuff. It's sort of a hybrid between the RPG approach (where there's this whole big economy) and the more traditional mission-based action or strategy game (where everything is generally very self-contained within a mission). Call it a "spendthrift economy," I guess.

You get a standardized mission loadout, but there's also in-mission loot which is basically credit towards powerups in your next mission's loadout. So in your loadout screen, you can spend the loot from your previous mission. But your money and your loadout aren't persistent beyond that.

It's a bit abstract, and (admittedly) not anything we attempt to fictionally support, but it's simpler than the whole-hog RPG thing, and your decisions in each mission become more straightforward: buy as many toys as you can, and don't be afraid to use them.

So, it's an unusual approach, really, but in practice it's pretty fun. We expect that some people will bristle at not being able to hoard stuff like you do in an RPG, but we're going for a more mission-based action thing than that, and hopefully people will like the overall gameplay that spendthrift economy gets us.

:is the environment
:interactive, can you pick stuff up and push stuff around, can
:you climb, crawl, and jump.

All of the above.

And then on the question of framerates:

Still optimizing, so it's too early to say. The current big performance suspect on our optimization list is our memory footprint: machines over the minimum 32 meg will currently get much better performance, and we're working to close that gap.


October 26th, 1998

Thief Music - 9:00pm EST - the spy
Here's a cool ingame music clip sent to me by ROBOTKID

thiefbe0.wav


Yet More Details - 9:0pm EST - the spy
Stellmach on Difficulty Settings....

Also more/fewer items in your loadout, certain powerups to be found in the mission area, location of some pieces of loot, opening or closing certain routes through the area... several of the missions are really pretty different experiences on different difficulty levels due to the presence or absence of some critical thing.

October 25th, 1998

More Details - 11:15pm EST - the spy
Check out these tasty tid-bits of info...

From Tim:

For the most part, we're trying to keep ammo to places where it makes sense to be found, e.g. armories and such. Arrows will be destroyed if they hit a creature. If they hit the terrain, they'll stick into wood or earth, but be destroyed if they hit other materials (like stone or tile). Arrows that stick can be recovered for later re-use.

The terrain distinction becomes especially important with rope arrows, which unreel a rope downwards if they stick in the terrain. So, that determines where you can and cannot place ropes.

From ROBOTKID, answering the questions of Talon54:

:Will the magazines coming
:out at the beginning of November have different avis or the
:same.?

There is a short version and a long version (5min) I'm glad you liked that movie! It took a LONG TIME TO MAKE!!!

:I thought you mentioned something about a rope arrow in
:one of the movies but I did not see that in this one.

The long version has 2 shots where the player shoots a rope arrow. The 1st he uses it to climb up to a balcony, the 2nd to get down from the rafters...

:Also how
:many levels of difficulty are there, and what makes them more
:difficult besides not killing any servants? Do the levels really
:test your skill as a thief in order to survive?

3 levels of difficulty. Each difficulty level has its own set of objectives, plus harder guards, etc. This way, if you only play THIEF on it's first difficulty setting, you will actually be missing a whole bunch of different stuff in each level.

And yes,the levels really test your skill as a thief in order to survive. If you ain't stealthy, you ain't breathin'!

It's almost done!!!!!



October 21, 1998

In Depth Details - 9:30pm EST - the spy
Tim Stellmach has gone more in-depth on the details of certain features, at the request of Talon54

:I am going to list several things about Thief that I have heard
:from various sources. Can someone confirm or deny these?

Sure, I'm someone.

:1. No multiplayer but maybe in an expansion pack.

No multiplayer mode. System Shock 2 will have multiplayer.

:2. Arrows will not move in a straight line but curve like real
:arrows. Does this affect aiming at all?

Oh, yes. Not tremendously, but you do have to be aware of range to your target, and correct for it. There's a target range in the training level to help you get the knack.

Actually, a couple of the arrow types are gravity-free, which I find makes them much easier to aim, but many of our playtesters say that makes them _harder_ because now they're so trained on doing the ballistic trajectory correction.

:3.Wood will burn,water freeze, and things will float in
:water. (Any other environmental affects?)

No freezing water, sadly. Only certain things will burn when hit with fire, a plan which we had to cut back on mainly (as it turns out) because of the special-FX problem of showing acceptible fire FX on arbitrary objects.

:4. Bodies will stay where they are, and will leave blood
:stains. (What happens when a body is discovered? Do the guards
:organize a search for you?)

When guards see a body, or bloodstain, they become more alert and start searching around. They remember the experience and never drop to their "unsuspecting" alertness mode again. You can carry bodies around (slowly) and dump them in a shadow somewhere, to avoid this, or use water arrows to wash away bloodstains (which would otherwise soak away after a minute or two).

Generally, when suspicious or alarming things happen, guards will talk about it, and other nearby guards can hear them and get some shared information about what's going on. Sometimes this turns out to be a more organized affair than others.

: (How long are the levels going to be?)

Varies widely. Most of them are pretty big, I guess.

: 6.3dfx support?

Through Direct3D.

: 7. You can pickpocket guards for keys.

Yep. Or healing potions, or gold, or whatever happens to be on their belt. Of course, in the healing potion case, the guard will use the potion if he gets out of combat and needs it, so pickpocketing it becomes an even better idea.

: 8.You can move furniture around to block doors.

Yep. Just been ironing some bugs out of that one lately, in terms of how the AI's react to such a setback.

: Release date? latest I heard was around Thanksgiving.

Yep, around Thanksgiving.


No Multiplay- An End to the Confusion - 9:30pm EST - the spy
Just in case some people were still wondering.. Josh Randall tells how it is.

Yo-

There is no multiplayer in Thief.

The guy who interviewed me asked me about this, and I told him there was no multiplayer. Imagine my susprise when I read his article which quotes me several times...and I never said any of his quotes! He fabricated half the article! People tell me that happens a lot in this industry. Ug! (It's very weird to read yourself saying things that you never said...It makes you feel like you are going crazy or something...)

Anyways, there is no multiplayer in Thief, but the single player experience is awesome. The AI is just nuts.

It's really getting good now...I played a bunch last night.

Ok, back to work for me...sorry for the confusion, everyone. We kindly asked the article(s) to be changed to say that we don't have multiplayer, but they have not updated them yet...boo!

peaceout-

ROBOTKID

----------------------------

Tim Stellmach explanes why the choice to remove multiplay was made....

[Is there multiplayer?] Nope. Sorry. If Deathmatch is what you're looking for, you're kinda barking up the wrong gameplay tree, anyway. Any game which concentrates on run-n'-gun combat is going to do deathmatch a whole lot better than a game which concentrates on sneaking around and stealing stuff. Doing Thief deathmatch just because it was "the thing to do" and not because it would be a fun game would be like showing up to a gunfight with a knife: better to not show up at all.

Look at it this way: Thief is an action/adventure game, not a shoot-em-up. How many people are out there crying out for internet deathmatch Tomb Raider?

Now, that said, we did originally have multiplayer plans for Thief, which is a plan that's still being quoted in the press by people with some outdated information. We made that plan because multiplayer play _was_ such a big selling point. For a while there, if you didn't have a multiplayer mode (whether it really worked or made sense or not) you'd get pilloried by the press, and that's the environment in which we made our initial plans. That no longer seems to be the case, and we didn't want to take development effort away from our single-player game to support multiplayer. We _certainly_ didn't want to risk coming out with a half-baked multiplayer mode just to put a bullet item on the box, the way we had seen in some games out there.

Thief is, in many ways, a big experiment. It plays like no game I know of, and it's been a big challenge to break that new ground. We do think that the ideas we had for multiplayer play were good ideas, but ultimately decided that trying to develop _two_ brand-new styles of gameplay was just too much.

I'm sorry if that means we've lost a customer. I really am. But I figure we'd lose a whole lot of 'em if our core gameplay didn't get the attention it needed because we were dividing our efforts.

October 19th, 1998

Stellmach Speaks! - 1:30pm EST - the spy
Tim Stellmach, Lead Designer, dropped by our Thief forum the other day. This is what he had to say.

On the Demos:

There's a CD cover-mount coming out on magazines right about now with a non-interactive demo including sequences captured from gameplay, with the intention that you can get a better sense of how the thing plays than from our previous, more stylistic promotional material.
The interactive (and downloadable) demo is scheduled to be released at about the same time as the game hits shelves. Basically, cutting the schedule so close to Christmas, we had to decide whether to take time away from the game development for the demo. So, we're starting the demo when we go to press, and counting on the faster distribution channel over the 'net to get it out in a timely fashion for buyers to check it out."

On Violence:

Well, the ratings make the distinction along the "animated blood and gore" vs. "realistic blood and gore" lines, as I recall. Thief's stuff is about par for the course, I'd say. There's blood splashes (mainly to make it clear that you hit the guy), and bloodstains left behind by combat can be seen by AI's, who will become more alert. So, there's some blood, but it's not like a Mortal Kombat kind of thing where that's the point.
Also, for whatever it's worth, on the highest difficulty settings, your mission goals start requiring "clean" jobs, where you either can't kill non-combatants (servants and such) or "ultra-clean" jobs where you're not allowed to kill anyone at all. That's really at odds with a lot of convention, I know, but it sure does make the job harder, and there are still non-lethal "pacification" techniques available (like the blackjack and knockout gas). So, Lord knows if that answers your question, but we're certainly trying not to be _gratuitously_ violent.



The Stash Updated - 1:20pm EST - the spy
Finally getting the idea that it was just too redundant to have two Thief download sites on TTLG, I removed this site's download page, and linked to The Stash on ShockData instead. Less work for me now! Note that all (I think) of the new files are now available for download- new images, voice clips, and the movie, 'Tools of the Trade'.


Tools of the Trade - 12:30am EST - the spy
The new Thief movie, Tools of the Trade, is now available from The Stash

It is recommened downloading from here, rather then from the Lglass Thief site. For one thing, they have a fancy quicktime viewing thing, rather then a straight-forward download. Besides, why download a 6 meg *.mov file, when you can get a 2.6 meg *.zip?

thief_tools.zip

October 6th, 1998

Interview with MAHK - 5:50am EST - the spy
I asked MAHK a few questions on behalf of Dan Paul (and a few for myself), who seemed very curious and very excited! I hope he is pleased with the answers!

1) Is Thief going to be a game where you can scale any part of the level; be it roof-top or ceiling, with no boundries? Will we be able to climb over walls and fences? Will rope use be limited to rope-arrows? What about hopping from roof-top to roof-top?

You'll have a fair degree of mobility, but not total. You won't stick to walls or ceilings like a fly. But you will be able to mantel and climb, much like Lara Croft. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop will vary based on the availability of rooftops in the particular mission. :) There will be ladders and ropes in the world, as well as rope arrows. Sometimes getting where you want to be will be a challenge, and we've carefully chosen our mobility constraints to allow our designers to create interesting spatial puzzles and challenges.

2) Will the enemys die different ways depending on how you kill them or where you hit them; such as a shot to the neck which would result in immediate death, but a shot to the stomach would cause them to squrim in agony?
(are we sadists or what?)

There are a number of different ways that guys can get killed. It won't in general be based on hit location. And yes, you are sadists.

3) When you 'knock out' guards with your black-jack, will they wake up? What happens when the wake up? If then never saw you, will they just be disoriented and think that they dozed off, or if they saw you, will they remember?

Guys won't in general wake up in the scale of time that a mission takes. Basically, we decided that most of the time guys would wake up when you weren't around and it would be confusing. There may be sleeping guys who will wake up if you make too much noise, though.

4) When you kill an enemy, will the body stay there forever?

Yes, and live NPCs that notice the body will react appropriately. Also, blood stains may give you away if you're not careful.

5) If you thow a dead body down a stream, will it float or sink? Can you find the body downstream somewhere later? If you just knocked them out, and threw them in water, would they just drown, or will they wake up and try to swim? Can healthy guards swim, for that matter?

Guards don't swim. They drown. Some objects float, and all objects are affected by river current in a way that you'd expect. Whether bodies float may depend on the body in question.

6) When's the Demo coming?

Pretty much simultaneous with ship, so you can try before you buy.

7) The music- is the stuff on the webpages the game music? How about the Trailer?

I can't say for sure whether it's the same music. It's similar.

8) What about stealing a guard uniform, and walking around casually?

No in general, but yes in specific. :)

9) What kind of inventory system will there be?

Fairly simple. No ultima-style bags within bags or anything. You'll have a wide variety of nifty arrows, and a small inventory of other useful tools (lock picks, healing potions, flash bombs, etc.), that you can cycle through. You can also pick up random junk if you really want. If for example, you wanted to pick up a skull or a piece of debris and throw it at a button, far be it from us to stop you. We do keep you from accumulating piles of random junk in your inventory though.

10) What are those symbols we see on the pages and advertisments?

Secret mystical Keeper stuff from Garrett's dark past.

11) Do you support the PowerVR chipset? (What I happen to be stuck with at the moment.. *grinz*)

All our hardware support is through DirectX 6. In the short term we don't have plans to support any other APIs.

Thanks MAHK!
I'm excited, are you excited? yeah....

September 1st, 1998

No External Camera - 2:30pm EST - the spy
That fact, as well as a few others, are discussed in this little email interview with MAHK

Me- "Say Mahk... in case you haven't noticed, on my Thief page i've raised a ruccus about the exsistence of an external cammera... sparked by screenshot.. "Time for a swim".... Am I right or wrong?

MAHK- "You're wrong.  No external camera.  Sorry...."

Me- "Ah Drat... 8-D So who's that man in black in that screenshot?"

MAHK- "An assassin.  One of the crime lord Ramirez' henchmen. There's more to the story than that, but I won't spoil it..."

Me- "Hmmm.. pretty cool all the same.. Any reason why he's named Garret?"

MAHK- "Garrett isn't a particular reference to anything.  We made a big list of names and liked Garrett best. Apparently Glen Cook as a sort of noir fantasy series with a Garrett in it.  But that's just coincidence."

August 8th, 1998

Musicology - 12:20pm EST - the spy
LGS's games have all had great music, and Thief will be no exception. Here are some words about the music in Thief....

Q: I would really love to hear some facts about the music in Thief. I very much liked the music in Underworlds and, as a classical oriented amateur musician and composer, I am also professionally intrested in this field. I'm sure the music engine won't cause me any major disappointments, but what will the music itself be like? I have seen one of your trailers, and it had, I'm sorry to say, e. guitars and a bit teknoish sounds. In some other environment it would had been ok, but in such a middle-age and fantasy oriented game as Thief it was a bit out of place. So, some questions to the musician(s): How would you define the style of music in Thief? I would also like to know what are your personal favourites in the classical field (composers, works). How about the movie composers? Will the music be in general midi -format or will it come straight form CD? And finaly, what software do you use (sequencers etc). I'm eagerly waiting for Your answer. Thank you. -Ville Komppa
p.s. I couldn't help noticing a minute ago surfing in the Thief homepage, that The Band in fact doesn't HAVE a musician. So who will it be... You know, it's a poor band that ain't got players. Do you perhaps use a free-lancer..? (Here would be one very much interested ;-)

A: You might want to take another look, because the band has a GREAT musician named Eric Brosius. (He also did the music for Terra Nova, so if you liked that game's music [i did] you should be happy. -the spy) Thief is NOT a straight fantasy game but a game where aspects of the medieval world are sometimes uncomfortably melded with those of the industrial age; our goal is not to rehash fantasy cliches, but rather to create an eerily unfamiliar setting. Most of the game will have moody atmospheric music although it will also incorporate a more techno/industrial sound at certain points. -Daniel and Jenn

July 31st, 1998

Thieves Can Swim - 10:40am EST - the spy
I have eavesdropped on a brief interview on swimming in Thief

:How is swimming going to work in Thief?
:Will you have 360 degree freedom, like a real swimmer?
 
Yes.

:Will sound behave diffrently under water?
Yes.  At the very least, it will be muffled.

:Will arrows?  
Yes.  Arrows entering water will be subject to buoyancy and drag.

:What kind of breath meter will there be?
There's currently a bubbly-looking breath meter at the bottom of the display, analogous to the health meter.  I don't know if it's going to be the shipping breath meter, but I personally like it.

:How much will it be like Underworld's swimming?
It's *much* more realistic than Underworld's swimming.  Without going back and looking at Underworld's swimming, I can't do a more accurate comparison than that. :)

:Am i asking too many questions?
No. ;)

- Chris

July 27th, 1998

Dark Engine and Lighting - 11:00pm EST - the spy
Although this does not clearly explane any features of Thief, it does shed some light (pun intended) on the working of the dark engine, and how it deals with light... (am I sensing a paradox here?)

::Tim, what are the main features of the Dark Engine?  Will it
::allow for HUGE enviroments, like the Jedi Knight Engine? (Don't
::worry, I'm not even comparing SS2 or Dark to Jedi Knight) :)
:
:"HUGE" environments are definitely possible in the Dark Engine,
:depending on what you mean by "HUGE."
:There's some cost for sizeable areas based on the maximum
:size of a light map, but you can change ...[the] scale
:in the editor so you can trade off size for lighting and texture
:resolution.

Gee, I hope I don't give away any company secrets here.

The "dark renderer" was originally being written before Quake came out, using the traditional computer graphics way of doing lighting, called "vertex lighting". Jedi Knight uses "vertex lighting", and it seems like the big advantage to vertex lighting as opposed to what Quake does is that you can make really big spaces.

Quake came out, and had these incredible shadows. While it might be possible to do shadows somewhat in a vertex-lighting game (heck, you can even see fake ones in Duke3d), it's nothing like the quality that "light mapping" (what Quake does) can give you.

So, we looked at the engine and said, "would we rather beable to do big spaces but no shadows, or not be as effectivefor big spaces but do really good shadows"? Well, we were doing a stealthy thieving game. So shadows it was. Out went the vertex-lighting code, and in went Quake-style light mapping.

System Shock 2 is inheriting this same engine, with that decision already having been made for Thief. However, one of the changes that I made to the renderer for Shock 2 is to allow for larger lightmaps, which means larger polygons, which means larger spaces. So... we'll see.

- Sean

July 25th, 1998

New info from Forum - 3:55pm EST - the spy
Dan Todd has been asking some really good questions in our forum, another one was answered today.

:But what about stone, or rock surfaces?  Will you be able to
:climb shear stone if the surface is rough enough?  What about
:brick walls, utilizing the cracks between bricks.  What about
:other rope climbing devices? such as a hook for grabbing onto
:ledges...

There are a number of attributes that can be specified on a per-texture basis.  "Climbability" is among them.

- Chris

July 23th, 1998

More Exclusive Info - 10:41pm EST - the spy
I have more exclusive info for all you anxious gamers, this time from our own Thief Discussion Page, directly from Chris Carollo

"You will be able to lean, crawl, jump, and pull yourself up onto ledges, just off the top of my head.  And any other things we decide to add. :)
Separate head movement is kind of a control nightmare...I wouldn't bet on it."

- Chris


Exclusive Thief Info - 12:00pm EST - the spy
I have spotted some exclusive thief info on the System Shock 2 wishlist, which I have been "observing". Here it is, in it's entirety.

:Tim, what are the main features of the Dark Engine?  Will it
:allow for HUGE enviroments, like the Jedi Knight Engine? (Don't
:worry, I'm not even comparing SS2 or Dark to Jedi Knight) :)

Wow.  That's a big question.  I'll anser your specific question first.

"HUGE" environments are definitely possible in the Dark Engine, depending on what you mean by "HUGE."  The two measures you might apply are sheer physical size and actual complexity of the space (in terms of poly count, number of portals, and such).  There's some cost for sizeable areas based on the maximum size of a light map, but you can change texture map (and hence, light map) scale in the editor so you can trade off size for lighting and texture resolution.  One prototype level (which, sadly, we're not doing in the final game for reasons not relating to the size of the space) included a canyon about 200' deep and 500' long.

I'd have to say, though, that the main features of the Dark Engine are not in the renderer, but in the AI and object behavior system (act/react, physics, our scripting infrastructure, and our property system... usually in our marketing materials we just use the term "act/react" to refer to the whole shebang).  We want our renderer to be competetive with other products on the market, obviously, but object behaviors are where the gameplay is.

Like the example that started this thread, where sound travels from room to room (instead of in straight lines) and sounds can carry information content with them that the AI's know how to interpret.  That gets us AI's hearing footsteps, plus alarm bells, distracting noisemaker arrows, etc.

Or take the rope arrow, for example: when you shoot it into wood, it sticks and deploys a rope from the nock of the arrow.  It won't stick into other materials.  Given the scripting and property systems, once we'd implemented ropes in the first place, it was literally only about half an hour's work for me to do rope arrows.  It was all basically about a dozen lines of script code.

It took us a lot of work to get the system up to the point where the designer has this kind of expressive power, but now that we've got it we can implement all sorts of behaviors really easily.  It's lots of fun to work with, which in this business is the way you get really good work done.

Tim Stellmach


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