Thief (series)

Thief (series)
Thief
Genres Stealth
Developers Looking Glass Studios
Ion Storm
Eidos-Montréal
Publishers Eidos Interactive
Square Enix

Thief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed.[1] The series consists of Thief: The Dark Project (1998), Thief II: The Metal Age (2000), Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004) and Thief 4 (TBA). An expanded version of Thief: The Dark Project, titled Thief Gold, was released in 1999 and features three extra maps and several bug fixes.

Looking Glass Studios developed both The Dark Project and The Metal Age. After the studio had gone out of business in 2000, many former employees moved to Ion Storm Austin and began developing the third part of the series, Deadly Shadows, long anticipated by fans of the series. Eidos Montreal was subsequently given the reins for Thief 4.

Contents

Gameplay

The protagonist Garrett, as he appears from a third-person view, in the 3rd installment, Thief: Deadly Shadows

The main tactic of Thief is to avoid fights and instead sneak around the enemies. Thief is sometimes described as either a "first-person sneaker", "sneak-em-up" or a "first-person looter" to emphasize this difference. Classification of the game has been slow coming[says who?], as three-dimensional stealth games, such as Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (released in 2002) and Assassin's Creed (2008), only became more common years after the first Thief.

Another innovation introduced by Thief is the careful use of sound effects as an integral part of gameplay. Sound cues not only tell the player of other characters in the vicinity, but also indicate how much noise Garrett makes when moving about an area. Too much noise can alert nearby guards, who will grow suspicious and come looking for intruders. There are a variety of tactics to avoid being heard, however, such as walking gently, steering clear of noisy pavement, or using moss arrows to create a carpet that muffles the sound of footsteps.

In a similar vein, using light and dark became one of the most important strategies. A gauge at the bottom of the screen (called the 'Light Gem') indicates how visible the protagonist is. Entering deeper shadows or ducking makes the character less likely to be noticed. Walking about increases the risk of being spotted, and having a sword or bow drawn makes him very conspicuous in the game. The astute player is constantly keeping an eye on areas of light or shadow, guard patrol routes, and the type of terrain they are walking on, in case a hiding place is needed in a hurry. A light source, such as a torch or gas lamp, can be doused with a Water Arrow, creating an area of darkness in which the player may hide. Electrically powered lights, in all games, may simply be shut off by using a nearby switch or button; however, if no light switch is available, the electrical light will not turn off by simply shooting a Water Arrow at it. In Thief: Deadly Shadows, the player can simply 'pinch out' a lit candle by pressing the use button on it. A guard or any civilian may notice if a light source has been put out, likewise if something valuable has been stolen.

The games

Thief: The Dark Project

Released by Looking Glass Studios in 1998, and powered by their own in-house developed Dark Engine, Thief: The Dark Project was in many ways a revolutionary title. Although it utilized a first person perspective, it was not an action-oriented shooter like almost all other first person games. Instead, the emphasis was on stealth: The character was not particularly agile nor a skilled fighter, and much of the gameplay involved using shadows to avoid enemies. However, for those who desire action, there are weapons available that allow direct confrontation. A skilled player can often break cover and go head-to-head with the enemies. An even more skilled player can stay in cover and never let the enemies know that he was there.

The game's original gameplay quickly developed a cult following.

Thief Gold

Thief Gold is a re-release of Looking Glass Studios' Thief: The Dark Project computer game.

In addition to various bug fixes, Thief Gold added three new levels (mostly derived from, but not identical to, content which was planned for the original game but cut for budget or time constraints) which contributed significantly to the existing plot. The package also contained the DromEd Thief editor as well as a behind-the-scenes "making of" video.

Looking Glass was working on a similar re-release of Thief II: The Metal Age, provisionally entitled "Thief II Gold", at the time they went out of business in 2000.

Thief II: The Metal Age

Looking Glass Studios released the sequel to Thief in 2000. Utilizing the same Dark engine that powered the original Thief, Thief II had an almost identical look and feel, with only minor graphic and programming improvements, such as colored lighting. The basic gameplay was also fundamentally similar to the original Thief, but many new elements had been added, including technological gadgets such as a remote eye camera. Other changes include an increase in the number of AI behaviors.

Responding to criticism of the original Thief that more time was spent on combat than actually living up to the title of the game, the missions in Thief II were designed much more around typical thief-like behavior, and much of the game is spent robbing the rich denizens of the City rather than battling monsters. In fact, the player encounters almost none of the monsters from the original Thief except for burrick (dinosaur-like creatures) heads mounted as trophies in some of the mansions, a few zombies, undead and ghostly apparitions. The designers stated that, unlike the original Thief, where levels were developed to suit the plot, in Thief II levels were designed first and making the plot work with them was somewhat of a retrofit.

Thief: Deadly Shadows

A major departure from the first two games in the series, Thief: Deadly Shadows was developed by Ion Storm rather than Looking Glass Studios (albeit with many of the same people). The game was powered by the Unreal-based Deus Ex: Invisible War engine. Unlike the original two titles, the third Thief game was developed simultaneously for Windows and the Xbox.

Because of all these factors, Thief: Deadly Shadows (Ion Storm decided not to name the game Thief III for fear that it would alienate console gamers who had never played the previous two titles) was different (and vastly updated) from the first two games in the series in both appearance and gameplay.

One of the game's major new features was the ability to explore the City. While previous games sent Garrett straight from mission to mission, Thief: Deadly Shadows allows him to walk the City streets between missions where he can steal from passersby, spy on the townspeople's daily lives, and search for sidequests in addition to major story missions. Unlike sandbox games such as Grand Theft Auto III, the city is not one large continuous map, but rather several small neighborhood maps connected by load zones (similar to Postal²). The game also introduced an ability to switch between first and third person views, and to flatten against walls.

Thief 4

Thief 4 (stylized as Thi4f) is the upcoming fourth title in the Thief series, currently in development at Eidos-Montréal and to be published by Square Enix. The game was confirmed on May 11, 2009, and no further information is known save a listing on Eidos' home page.[2] Since early 2008, several rumors had been circulating regarding a fourth Thief game, which was allegedly under development. Eidos-Montréal's General Manager Stéphane D'Astous commented in an interview for Deus Ex: Human Revolution that confirmation of the company's second "AAA title," which its website states "begins with the letter 'T'," would occur "over the next year" or so.[3]

On May 11, 2009, the game was officially unveiled, and D'Astous was quoted on the main page as stating Thief 4 was currently in early development: "We're in the early development stages for Thief 4, but this is an incredibly ambitious project and a very exciting one. It's too early for us to offer any specific game details, right now we are focused on recruiting the very best talent to join the core team at the studio and help us make, what we believe will be one of the most exciting games on the market."[4]

Game editing

With the release of DromEd, a map editor for the first two games, an active community of fans began providing a wealth of home-grown missions for the first two games, known as Fan Missions. Thousands of fan missions for these games have been created, some equally or more complex than the original game missions. These fan missions can be played by other fans using a loader.

T3Ed, a map editor for the third game Deadly Shadows, was released in February 2005 after a letter-writing campaign by fans. This allows fans to design their level with all the interactive objects seen in original missions, as well as place stealable loot and lighting, factors which drastically affect gameplay. Human NPCs and creatures from all the various factions can be added into missions, and their behaviors (such as patrol routes) configured. Missions may be packaged and distributed to other players, who need a loader to play them.

Factions

The Thief series follows the exploits of Garrett, a master thief living and working in a steampunk metropolis constantly being fought over by a corrupt aristocracy, an order of religious fanatics and a horde of vengeful woodland beings, all under the eye of a secret organization.

The Keepers

"Propaganda is written by the Victor. History is written by the Observer."

—A note in an in-game Keeper diary in Thief: Deadly Shadows

The Keepers are an ancient sect of expert observers, dedicated to preserving balance in the world. Garrett once belonged to the organization and still makes use of the skills learned as a Keeper for his own clandestine purposes. Even though Garrett refuses further involvement with the Keepers, they frequently manipulate him into acting out their prophecies and obscure designs in all three games; though Garrett insists on personal independence, they are the faction that he is closest to being aligned with.

The Keepers are revealed in greater detail in Thief: Deadly Shadows as the player explores their organization and what it guards.

The Order of the Hammer

"If you have eyes, but see not the glory of the Builder's work, then plucketh them out."

—A passage from the Hammerite scriptures.

The Order of the Hammer is a technocratic religious group, also known as the Hammerites. They seek to carry out the vision of the Master Builder, their architect god, (who created and cultivated the earth with his hammer) and are the burning force of progress in the Thief world. They represent order and orthodox religion and zealously enforce the tenets of their faith, striving ceaselessly against criminals and other law-breakers but most especially against their long-time enemies, the Trickster-worshipping Pagans, who promote chaos and distortion.

The Mechanists

The Mechanists were an off-shoot from the Hammerite religion. Preaching "The New Scripture of the Master Builder", the Mechanists were led by a former Hammerite priest named Karras, who was not only a genius but also a psychopath. Unlike the Hammerites whose worship of law and order extended primarily to the construction of buildings and utilities within The City, the Mechanists more fully embraced the notion of technological progress and disregarded morality; throughout the entirety of Thief II: The Metal Age, Garrett encounters numerous steam-based creations of theirs, including mechanical spiders and clockwork sentinels. The unraveling of Karras' plots plays a dominant role in that game. The Mechanists, like the Hammerites, despise the Pagans.

The Pagans

The Pagans represent the forces of nature and chaos in the Thief world. As nature worshippers who live in the deep forests away from the City, the Pagans shun technology and live in harmony with wild, supernatural creatures and are usually depicted as barefoot. They despise the ordinary people of the City, and are completely inimical to Hammerites and the offshoot Mechanists. The Pagans speak in a peculiar English dialect, often adding a "-sie" or a plural to the end of several words (i.e. "good" becomes "goodsie", "get" becomes "gets").

The Pagan deity, the Trickster, and the facts surrounding their resurgence are central to the plot of Thief: The Dark Project.

Recurring characters

Information on non-recurring characters may be found in Thief: The Dark Project, Thief II: The Metal Age and Thief: Deadly Shadows
Garrett
The protagonist of the series. A cynical, highly disciplined master thief who only wishes to be left alone to steal in peace, but who unwittingly becomes embroiled in a series of epic events. As a child, Garrett was recruited into the Keepers but later rebelled against their secretive, hierarchical ways. He left the mysterious organization, went into business for himself as a thief, and now uses his Keeper skills to steal from the rich and give to himself. Garrett comes across as cold and ruthless, but also seems to have a professional pride and will only kill when absolutely necessary. He is even a caring and warm person to those whom he regards as friends, like Viktoria (during the Metal Age) and Artemus, although not overtly. In Thief: Deadly Shadows a large scar runs down one side of his face, the result of Viktoria plucking out one of his eyes in Thief: The Dark Project. During the second and third games Garrett sees with a mechanical eye, a piece of Mechanist technology given to him by the Hammerites at the end of The Dark Project. The mechanical eye incorporates a zoom lens. At the end of Thief: Deadly Shadows, Garrett catches hold of a small child trying to pick his pocket, and their conversation is almost identical to that between Artemus and child Garrett.
Keeper Artemus
The Keeper and mentor who took Young Garrett in and taught him in Thief: The Dark Project. Artemus is the main point of contact between Garrett and the Keepers throughout the series and attempts to enlist his help with the various Keeper prophecies, much to Garrett's reluctance. He holds genuine affection for Garrett, in spite of Garrett's rejection of the Keeper ways, and carries a strong independent and rebellious streak of his own. Artemus also appears to be the only Keeper whose stealth skills rival Garrett's and occasionally manages to sneak up on him. Artemus is believed to have been killed towards the end of Thief: Deadly Shadows.
Keeper Orland
A member of the Keeper organization with a strong dislike of Garrett. Orland eventually becomes the leader of the Keepers in Thief: Deadly Shadows. His leadership quickly proves officious, bureaucratic, and secretive, and Garrett quickly learns to dislike him. He first appeared in Thief II: The Metal Age, albeit voiced by a different actor. Orland is killed by The Hag towards the end of Thief: Deadly Shadows.
Viktoria
Apparently a wood sprite ("wood nymph" in Deadly Shadows, where she is only mentioned) or similar magical creature in human form, she was a primary antagonist during the events of the Dark Project, being the one to remove Garrett's eye. However, she and her followers become allies for Garrett's war on the Mechanists in the Metal Age. At the start there is little trust on Garrett's part, but over time It becomes clear that she was able to gain Garrett's respect, loyalty and, uncharacteristically of the cynical thief, care. Even to the point of Garrett being willing to defend her directly, immediately rushing to her aid upon hearing of her assault on Soulforge. It seems that this degree of respect and general sentiment on Garrett's part is only seen in his relationship's with Viktoria and the Keeper Artemus.
Interpreter Caduca
An old woman in the Keeper organization in charge of reading and interpreting the Glyph Prophecies. Prophecies are central to the Keepers' work, so Caduca plays a very important role in the organization, and even the Keeper leader listens to her advice. In reality, Caduca is relatively young. Prolonged exposure to the Glyphs causes accelerated aging, an effect which limits the amount of knowledge and power any single Keeper can obtain from studying the Glyphs. The word caduca is Portuguese for "old". She is murdered by The Hag in Thief: Deadly Shadows.
Translator Gamall
Caduca's assistant, an eerie pale and emotionless girl who translates Caduca's interpretations into English. As the Translator, Gamall will succeed Caduca as interpreter when Caduca is no longer able to fulfill her duties. The word Gamall is close to "gammal", a word meaning "old" or "someone who can not do battle anymore" in the North Germanic languages, which was reused by J.R.R. Tolkien. Gamall turns out to be a guise of The Hag.
"Benny"
A recurring drunkard guard whose mood swings and amusing ramblings endeared him to many fans of the series. The name is informal, but comes from a specific drunken guard in the Sheriff's mansion during the Metal Age. The character's voice is used for a number of different guards throughout the series. In Thief: Deadly Shadows he is at one point called "Sinclair". Several "episodes" of a series of conversations called "Benny's Ailment" can also be listened to in Deadly Shadows.
Basso the Boxman
An acquaintance of Garrett's whom he rescued from a Hammerite prison, although this uncharacteristic act of kindness was merely performed because Garrett had his eye on Basso's sister, who he hoped would be "grateful". Garrett also helps to rescue Basso's betrothed Jeneviere from indentured servitude in the first mission of Thief II: The Metal Age.

The world of Thief

Part of The City

The universe of Thief is centered mostly on a dense, sprawling metropolitan complex known only as "The City." Garrett works with the underground economy of the City, making a lucrative living for himself. Occasionally Garrett would leave the confines of the City and rob mansions, prisons, or graveyards.

Equipment

Throughout the series, Garrett employs melee weapons, a wide array of trick arrows, potions, and tools to augment his abilities. These tend to serve one of three purposes:

  • Altering the environment to allow Garrett to be more stealthy (Water arrows, moss arrows, noisemakers)
  • Allowing Garrett into otherwise inaccessible locations (lockpicks, rope arrows, vine arrows, wall-climbing gloves)
  • Direct confrontation. Sometimes hostile (the sword, fire arrows, etc.), sometimes pacifying (the blackjack, gas mines, etc.).

The most notable melee weapon is the blackjack, a small club that Garrett uses to strike foes on the head and cause unconsciousness. It's the quietest and "cleanest" weapon in the game (since it does not kill the victim), and as such is the most useful weapon in Garrett's arsenal. On the other hand, it is next to useless if the target has already been alerted to Garrett's presence.

Notes

[5]

  1. ^ "City Timeline – A Revisionist Perspective". Btinternet.com. http://www.btinternet.com/~sneaksiethiefsie/doc11.htm. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  2. ^ "Eidos Confirms Thief 4". May 11, 2009. http://www.next-gen.biz/news/eidos-confirms-thief-4. 
  3. ^ "Thief 4 stepping out of shadows May 11?". May 4, 2009. http://www.gamespot.com/news/blogs/rumor-control/909119209/26870198/thief-4-stepping-out-of-shadows-may-11.html. 
  4. ^ "Eidos-Montréal – Games". May 11, 2009. http://eidosmontreal.com/en/games.html. 
  5. ^ "Eidos post image of Thief 4, playtest shot shows third-person". http://www.strategyinformer.com/news/11177/eidos-post-image-of-thief-4-playtest-shot-shows-third-person. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 

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