View Full Version : What I LOVED about Thief (positive comments)

23rd May 2009, 18:34
I keep seeing a lot of people on this forum *****ing about Thief: Deadly Shadows. While I agree that the game was pretty terrible, I feel like focusing on the negatives is not the best way to get the sort of game we want. Speaking as a former programmer myself, I can tell you that it is a lot easier to create something when people talk about what they WANT to see instead of what they don't want to see.

So in this thread, I feel that we should keep things positive. Discuss the things that we LIKED about each Thief games, and most importantly, why. Despite being an awful game, even Deadly Shadows had things that I liked (for example, the fact that you could pause the game when selecting an item - how many of us remember using the wrong hotkey in the original Thief games and wasting a valuable item). And we should also include Thief 2X - which may not have been a "official" game, but definitely stands out as one of the best Thief experiences.

Speaking for myself, one of the things I liked most about the first two Thief games were the thrill of "casing the joint" - looking around the place I was going to get in, and figuring out how I was going to do it. Would I pickpocket a guard to get the key? Slip in through the servants quarters? Make my way in through the sewers? Use a rope arrow to get to an open window? Or perhaps I would even break into the neighbors house and jump from the neighboring rooftops into the place I wanted to be. This initial process - where you are trying to figure out how to get access into the structure you want to rob - is to me, one of the most fun parts of the series. I disagree that we should have city hubs. They're much too small, and even with a HUGE hub, you would eventually run out of things to do, making each hub just an annoyingly repetitive area that you would constantly have to travel through to get to your next mission. However, I feel that each mission should include a certain part of the city that is outside your primary target, so that people can get the feelings of exploration. And this will also open up more options in terms of that "casing the joint" feeling, where you're circling around your targets mansion trying to figure out a way in.

The second thing I loved about Thief was that it was punishing and made you sweat. In order to succeed, you couldn't rush in hacking - you actually had to THINK. We all know that Thief fans are slightly masochistic. That's why we have those "ghosting" challenges, where you have to get through without even being seen. Thief is a game about finesse - we want missions that are difficult and challenging, scenarios where we have to find cool ways think outside the box. For example, a Zoo mission where there are too many guards to get past - BUT if you find a way to release the animals so they create a distraction, you can slip by. (At least, that would be ONE way - there should always be multiple options.) Where Deadly Shadows went wrong is that it made Garrett tougher. We don't want to be tougher, we want the ENEMIES to be tougher, forcing US to be smarter.

My suggestion is to ramp up the AI. Thief's AI was groundbreaking for its time, but with modern technology, we have the processing power to do better. Force the players to sweat. For example, when a body is found, the AI briefly goes into a sense of heightened wariness, then eventuallyforgets about it. Let's make things more realistic and keep the players on their toes. How about if a guard who found a body would be permanently on heightened wariness? And if he finds another guards, he verbally warns him about a murderer, and then THAT guard is more alert? And if enough bodies get found, then the City Watch gets called in, and you have even MORE to deal with. I think that would be awesome.

Also, instead of making different enemy types where the only real variation is in how tough they are, the focus of the developers should be on making enemies that are more UNIQUE - especially in regards to search patterns. For example, suppose that you are breaking into a pagan temple. One thing that might be really cool would be if they had harpies flying overhead, so you would have to not only be watching the ground, but also the air. Darting from tree to tree as the harpies passed overhead, and then hearing a shriek as it descends upon you - THAT is what the next-gen Thief experience should feel like. Or how about guards using guard dogs, that can slowly track you by scent even if they can't see you? That would add an element of time pressure. You can't just wait in a nearby shadow for the guard to stop searching - since the dog can smell you, it's just a matter of time until they turn you up. Of course, Garrett could take countermeasures - he could go into water to briefly eliminate his scent, or throw a bottle of pungent perfume that cause any dog following his trail to run away whimpering. In a haunted area, there could be ghosts that phase through walls, so that it is impossible to figure out their search patterns.

There are many other things that people have said already that I agree with - more immersion, take out the third person perspective, we absolutely NEED rope arrows - but on the whole, I think that as long as the developers remember the two principles that I've mentioned above, we can have an amazing game experience. Thief was never supposed about the graphics, it was about challenging you and forcing you to be clever and think in non-linear ways. Give us big levels, clever enemies, and difficult challenges.

And yes - maybe a few burricks, just for nostalgia. ;-)

23rd May 2009, 20:10
I just don't know how people can outright say it's an awful game objectively, without comparing it to the rest of the series.

23rd May 2009, 22:47
I liked the simple HUD of the first two games. None of those silly gears and blue backgrounds from T3 (which, ridiculously, would say "Nothing" if you had no selection).
In T3 I liked the compass being integrated into the light gem. In T1/T2 if you were carrying a body, or needed a flashbomb to be kept ready, navigation would be rather more difficult.

I also like the feeling that if a guard sees me, things are going to become very difficult indeed. Of course as time goes on we become familiar with the AI and the challenge is lessened.

I like being able to plan my next move. Fixed patrol routes may seem boring at times, and too easy to work out, but it gives us control of the situation. That's why I like playing thief (I'd like the plot regardless of gameplay) - I only confront the AI on my terms, when I have what I need - usually nothing more than a blackjack, and sometimes a flashbomb.

The sounds need a mention, even though it's probably superfluous. T1 & T2 have had a few texture/object update packs released in order to provide improvements. Nobody's ever asked for a sound update because even after more than a decade, they're fine. The T3 sounds were also very good.

The mystery surrounding the Thief world is also a good thing. E.g. we don't know too much about the Keepers (I think T3 went too far in showing us all the important parts of their compound, e.g. the special library). The same goes for the wardens and other figures of power. We know there's a Baron, but we don't know much about him or his hierarchy. If we, as Garrett, don't know much about them, I get the impression nobody outside the ruling elite knows much about those who govern them.

24th May 2009, 07:00
I loved (and still love) Thief because it is slow and articulate. It proves that it is very possible to make a great game without resorting to constant action or selling out to the fads of the market.

24th May 2009, 07:32
What I loved about "Thief"?

T3 wasn't *that* bad. The overall ambiance of the game --a city constantly at night, Garrett helping, and being hunted by, Keepers, weird bits of technology and fantasy that melded together well, missions like the Shalebridge Cradle, The House Of The Widow Moira, and the Wieldstrom Museum, and let's not forget Eric Brosius' music :) -- made for a pretty good game.

In no particular order, I loved:

--The soundtracks, specifically T3's!
--The inhabitants of the various "Thief" cities in all three games: Hammerites, Pagans, guards, the fences where you went to sell loot and the shops where you went to buy gear, and townsfolk.
--Missions that weren't just "see it, steal it." Sometimes you met with people to get info, sometimes you planted things, and some missions went haywire and you had to just *survive* and get out.

Over all, the fact that the games required stealth. Most games today require you to fight your way out; Thief required stealth in order to make it.

I could go on, but this list has the basic gist of it :).


24th May 2009, 10:48
The first Thief game I played was Deadly Shadows, and from that perspective I loved it. It was dodgy, yes, and T2 was a lot smoother (I haven't played T1, heretic that I am), but it had some great features. The general atmosphere was great, the story was fantastic and the missions were mostly quite good, especially breaking into the Keeper Compound.

There was one other level, though, thats by far and away the best single level I've ever played in any game. Robbing the Cradle was just insane. Don't get me wrong, Thief 2 had some great levels, like Life of the Party, but for sheer atmosphere the Shalebridge Cradle was amazing. Its probably the scariest level ever as well as the best.

If EM manage to make a level as good as that and combine it with the playability of T2 then they'll be on to a serious winner.

24th May 2009, 11:41
I always loved the world in Thief. I remember when I first played T1 on 4th grade it was like: Wow! A medieval setting without knights on a battlefield fighting knights on a battlefield. Then came the strange and out-of-place things. The elemental crystals, the undead, the weird futuristic machinery, strange creatures, secret societies, mafia bosses, organised crime and illegal gambling, a house that defies the laws of physics, a talking rock, tomb raiding and aliens. Next, in T2, victorian era architecture in the mix with medieval, police with bobby hats, pirates and smugglers, steampunk robots, political corruption, medieval highrise apartments, biological warfare, you name it. The Thief world is so beautifully FUBAR, a mysterious mix of everything that somehow seems to work together even though it shouldn't. Actually all they have left to add to the world would be airships and mass media and we'd have a ridiculous but excellent mess of imagination, like putting fantasy and science fiction novels in addition to history books, all into a blender at the same time.

24th May 2009, 15:10
To me, the key, KEY dimension which made Thief ! and II as successful as they were, and which many people seem to ignore, is purely, the level design. The incredible large, open, and well thought out maps were EVERYTHING for thief. Many of the things we say we love - we just say so because that's the ones we grew up experiencing in the first time. If the first game did not introduce rope arrows for us to get used to, but some other climbing device which we got used to instead, would it have ruined the game? If it did not introduce pagans and hammers but some other factions, would we not have gotten used to them instead? If it had introduced some other character than Garrett, we'd have gotten used to that one instead and considered him the centre of the series.

But if the maps were tiny, linear and crap, we'd have hated the game whatever the other dimensions. So to me, the most important thing they have to do, is get the missions right, and the rest is not as important.

24th May 2009, 16:42
The Metal Age levels were indeed very good, with plenty of openness but also a good "gameplay density". Also not so much getting lost. In Dark Project it was a bit too easy to get lost for my liking on some levels, and also things were a bit sparse, so you often had a large level, but not all that much in it to play with.

Something I like about Deadly Shadows is that most of the guards are "connected", whereas in the previous games they were often isolated or at best clumped in isolated "guard islands". Indeed, if they had made Deadly Shadows more advanced and more difficult, there was a lot of potential in those levels for alarm to spread naturally through the level... a pity this was against their philosophy.