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Thread: Upcoming Chat With Randy Smith

  1. #1
    Registered: Dec 2017

    Upcoming Chat With Randy Smith

    Hey guys. A few months ago, I contacted Randy Smith (developer on all three Thief games) to see if he'd be interested in coming on a stream and chatting about Thief 1. I was inspired by another similar interview, but the focus was mostly on the conditions of the game's development, and they didn't talk much about the game itself. So I'd like to talk more about the game itself, the mechanics, level design, etc. Especially of the levels he worked on, which are (according to my research), Keeper's Training, The Haunted Cathedral, Return to the Haunted Cathedral, and Escape.

    I've already got some notes on stuff I want to talk about, but I'd appreciate any suggestions as well. What would you like answered?

    The stream will be here. The tentative date and time is April 24th, at 8PM CST. These could be subject to change, but that's what we're working with at the moment.

    The interview that inspired this is here, with a second part here.

  2. #2
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    I'll definitely tune in. Any reason you're limiting it to just Thief 1? We're kind of in between the anniversaries of the first two games, so might be interesting to talk about both and compare.

  3. #3
    Registered: Oct 2001
    Location: 0x0x0
    Very cool.

    ...and what Brethren said.

  4. #4
    Registered: Oct 2017
    I assume its to keep the discussion more focused, though I do agree the timing would be more beneficial to try and fit in some thief 2 stuff (and even dropping the info about the anni contest).

    Obvious super fantasy that will never ever happen but it would be funny if you tried to get him to participate in the contest

  5. #5
    Registered: Dec 2017
    The simple answer is that I've only played Thief 2 once, casually. I've played Thief 1 hundreds of times, in a speedrun context, and know far more about the game. I'd probably look like a fool trying to talk about Thief 2.

  6. #6
    Registered: Sep 2008
    Location: Slovakia - Zemplín region
    Useful idea, Amorphous. Will you be recording and uploading the stream after it finishes its live broadcast ?

  7. #7
    Registered: Oct 2017
    The only thing I want to see given an answer is whether or not the wall on Haunted Cathedral was intended to have "mantling over" be a viable and one of the intended solutions from the very creation of the mission.

    The one I'm talking about is at the end with the crushing wall trap plate trigger in front of it. The one a certain someone felt was best to close off for... reasons.

  8. #8
    Registered: Mar 2015
    Location: Wisconsin
    Going over the door was apparently the only solution for the trap at one point. In DromEd, there's a Design Note on the door object (#46):
    This door is unlocked with the key in the nearby library BUT the players won't be able to get past the door the first time with the key (they have to use a rope arrow instead).
    Though why Randy eventually made the door pickable as well, and whether he wanted players to be able to mantle over in addition to roping over, I couldn't say for sure.

  9. #9
    Registered: Jan 2011
    Location: Wild and Wooly West of Ireland
    I suppose you could ask Randy if he's a fan of Speedrunning?

  10. #10
    Registered: Dec 2017
    Yeah, I'm assuming I'll be uploading the stream's archive to my YouTube channel. I'll ask him for permission before I do, but I don't see any reason he'd say no.

    The mantle was something I was planning to ask him, though I'm not sure if he'll remember. We'll have to find out just how much he remembers about the game. If it's not much, we'll probably exhaust most of what there is to talk about, and maybe check out some fanmissions. Any recommendations on that end?

  11. #11
    A level or two of Thief 2X, maybe St. Lucia's from The Dark Mod, and The Kill Factory as a silly closer? I think that should cover some high points (and one GLORIOUS point) of the Thief modding community and impress him with what the community has made over the years.

    Those are my recommendations. I've barely tapped into the more "vanilla" fan missions outside of Thief 2X because let's face it, that's already a lot of content I've just mentioned.

  12. #12
    Registered: Oct 2016
    Location: The Mystic's Keep
    Why not pick a few from the 20AC? That would probably be most topical, especially if you're focusing on TDP primarily.

  13. #13
    Registered: Dec 2017
    Yeah, I was thinking that would be best. I haven't played them all, though.

  14. #14
    I haven't seen those videos yet, but will watch someday hopefully soon. I've tried to come up with some questions I'd be curious about, if you haven't already done the interview?

    Since you're much more familiar with the videos you posted and probably other interviews he's done, my questions may be repeats or not desirable to ask; so please feel free to use or not use any or all of the questions however you see fit.

    Obviously, for each of my main questions, some of my follow-up/sub-questions could become irrelevant depending on how he answers; as I tried to ask fairly open-ended questions for most. If you prepare yourself well and know my questions beforehand decently well, you can help avoid awkwardly asking questions that he's already answered ... or be able to tweak the follow-ups in a way that won't generate confusion.

    I'm also sorry I haven't watched in-game credits or read Internet articles recently about Randy Smith, to learn more about his Thief contributions I was more in-the-know when TDS and Thief 2014 were in development. (I say this mainly because of my Question #10.) If you feel my questions are not well-suited for who he is and his role in the games... or if they don't address things you want addressed... then please don't ask them. I don't want to waste his time with questions he would find boring or non-applicable to his roles. I just learned about your post an hour ago, so I've scrambled to make some questions before I go to sleep. Good luck with your interview and have fun! It's nice you are doing this, as I think it's important to hear about Thief-related perspectives and moments like this that mean so much to the Thief community.

    My proposed questions...

    1) When you look back at your days at Looking Glass Studios (LGS) during Thief development, what are some of your fondest memories?

    2) What were some of your favorite levels, map areas, or environments that you worked on; or do you even have any that stand out in your mind?

    3) What were some interesting developmental challenges you and/or your team had to overcome?

    4) Do you ever find yourself playing Thief 1, 2, or 3 to this day? If so, what is it like? What do you think? Do you use HD mods?

    5) What was your average work day like while working on Thief games at LGS?

    6) Do you remember the very first time you went into the Thief 1 game world (i.e., the first dev build) and looked around? What was that like? What did you see? What did you do in there? Do you remember if there was any audio?

    7) If a new Thief game was being made, would you want it to be set in the existing Thief 1/2/3 universe and time, or a different time/place/setting?

    8) Have you seen The Dark Mod and Thief2x? Have you played them? What are your impressions? Your work 20 years ago helped inspire so many fans over the years to make things like this and many other Thief-inspired creations; how does that make you feel?

    9) While at Looking Glass, did you get to talk with Eric Brosius much, or work with him directly? Any meetings or audio-related things that stand out in your mind? Did you realize during development just how iconic he and his team's audio creations would be?

    10) Did you voice any of the characters in Thief 1, 2, or 3? If so, do you remember which ones, or remember any of your lines to this day?

    11) While in the LGS days, do you remember having any thoughts about Stephen Russell's performances as Garrett and other characters he voiced (like, "Wow! This guy's good!" or similar)? Do you still keep in touch with him? Do you remember if any other people auditioned to voice Garrett?

    12) Did you play Thief 2014, and what did you think of it?

    13) Has stealth in gaming evolved over these 20 years to where you thought it would? How do you see stealth evolving in the next 10 or 20 years?

  15. #15
    Registered: Dec 2017
    The chat has ended, and I did cover some of the questions here. I appreciate the suggestions. I had a ton of fun, Randy is such a cool dude. If anyone missed it and still wants to watch, it's up on YouTube now.

  16. #16
    Registered: Mar 2003
    Location: Still hoarding rope arrows
    Thanks for posting that on youtube. It was interesting hearing about Thief from one of the builder's perspective.

  17. #17
    Thanks for posting, Amorphous. I look forward to taking a full listen soon.

    I did listen to the first 20-30 mins a couple weeks back already. At first, I felt a little sad for Randy that you dove so quickly into bugs and issues with the game so quickly, rather than taking at least a bit of time to appreciate the final product and his contributions more. He seemed to take it quite well, though, and rolled with it, no problem... so who am I to say? Maybe you guys had talked quite a bit about your adoration of the game and his work before the recording began. It just seemed odd to me that right off the bat he was, essentially, getting a bug report list and being asked to comment on them 20 years after the game was developed, when bugs often need to be tested, replicated, analyzed, hardware configs considered, etc. He just rolled with the punches, though, like it was no big deal and seemed to enjoy the dialogue; so maybe you were speaking his developer language and you guys were entirely on the same wavelength.

    Either way, thanks again for doing this. As I said before, it's always nice to hear from the creators of Thief!

  18. #18
    Registered: May 2002
    Location: Texas
    I watched the first hour or so and I found the interview to be very insightful. I'll watch the rest when I have more time.

    The bug where the player can go through thin walls can be done without jumping. In one of my past missions I had a elevator with shaft walls that were too thin. If I tried to walk backwards against one of the thin walls while I was going up I would end up outside behind the wall.

    Since the player hits and player camera dropping are motions, I was under the impression that the leanings were motions as well.

  19. #19
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by john9818a View Post
    Since the player hits and player camera dropping are motions, I was under the impression that the leanings were motions as well.
    Not sure what you mean by “player camera dropping”—you mean the camera falling to the floor when Garrett dies? Or do you mean the headbob as he walks? I’ve never looked into the former, but headbob and leaning are both driven by code, not motions.

    Something that caught my ear during that chat is that Randy inherited the geometry of Escape and The Haunted Cathedral (not Return, which he did build) from other designer(s). This makes sense to me, because the style of their construction is dramatically different from RTTC. But the only per-level design credits I’ve seen are those on the wiki and some of the old threads here that were a source—but no mention of who started those missions. Anyone know who might have been the original builders of these levels? I’m thinking it’s probably either Jeff Yaus (July 1997: “we're giving a few interested parties tryouts on level editing to help fill the gap left by Jeff's recent departure from the team”) or Steve Canniff (September 1997: “we got in … a good part of a new level (thanks to the brilliant work of Steve Canniff)”, which is the last mention of Steve in the dev diary, shortly before Randy’s joining is mentioned in the October 31 update). Not that it matters particularly. I’m just curious because Haunted Cathedral is my second-favourite mission (after Lost City) in terms of geometry and layout.

  20. #20
    Registered: Dec 2017
    Sorry, haven't really been paying attention here. About Darkness_Falls post, yeah I get how it might seem a lil weird. But we went into it with the understanding that I'm a speedrunner and break the game regularly for fun, and it was kind of an unofficial focus of the chat. He had plenty of time to mentally prepare for a "bug report" and seemed excited to see some of the sillier stuff the game does.

    And yeah, I was surprised to hear that Haunted Cathedral wasn't entirely "his." I thought it was funny he still remembered specific bits of geometry that he disliked but didn't want to change because it was someone else's work.

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