Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Join ussss, join usssss NOW!
October 15, 2008 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Remember Thief? When Looking Glass Studios originally released Thief: The Dark Project in 1998, it broke new ground by combining a first-person shooter with stealth-oriented gameplay.

In Thief, the player assumes the role of Garrett, a thief in "The City", a dark, moody steampunk metropolis.
Although Thief was overshadowed at the time by games like Half-Life, it went on to gather a cult following, and after petitioning by fans, Looking Glass released the level editor, DromEd, to the public.

Fans were greeted in 2000 by the release of the Victorian-themed Thief 2: The Metal Age, shortly before Looking Glass shut their doors.
In spite of this, a dedicated community of Thief enthusiasts have kept the series alive on their own by creating their own Thief adventures in the form of fan missions, which range from simple burglaries to multiple-level campaigns equal to or larger than the original game.

Still have your copy of Thief or Thief 2 kicking around and want to get started playing Thief missions? Download the fan mission loader Darkloader and taff away: Users have also created patches to support newer computers and widescreen displays.

Also worth keeping an eye on: The Dark Mod.
posted by dunkadunc (125 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thief: deadly Shadows is available on Steam, worth the $20?
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I ended up buying it but it felt like a letdown.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2008


this is a pretty outstanding post. i hadn't heard of any of this fan stuff before. thief has been a weird game for me. normally, stealth games are bread and butter. i feel like i've obsessed over every stealth type game that's ever come out, except the thief games for some reason never keep my attention. i bought thief 1, and when there was a mission that involved crawling around a mine full of deadly flies and zombies I just got bored stiff and never went back. if there was something better to see after that very early stage i never found out. what drove me crazy was that it seemed like the stealth part of the game was pretty much always crippled by very little actual stealth game mechanic. there was hiding in shadows... and waiting... but otherwise you were essentially helpless. maybe i was wrong to see it that way.

then i got thief 3, which was pretty outstanding when i was playing it. i forget why but eventually i just lost interest.

i wish i could figure out what it is that keeps these games from keeping my attention. according to everyone ever they're just outstanding.
posted by shmegegge at 12:03 PM on October 15, 2008


It's hard to comment on this, because Thief is one of those games that renders me inarticulate with excitement when I think about it. So I guess with some shame I must say OMGPONIES!!!!
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes yes yes oh yes.

Good story, evocative settings, and great mechanics. Those guards—made up of what, fifty polygons each?—felt more real than characters in the latest 360 games. I can't even count the nights I sat in the dark holding my breath over that game.

Thief 2 goes in a bit of a different direction but is still a blast, and the steampunkery is well-done. Thief 3....

Oh wait, Artw, I just realized you were talking about Thief 3 rather than 1 (or The Dark Project). Hmph.

Thief 3 completely breaks the immersion by forcing you to travel to and from missions through a city with loading screens every block. It's clumsier and much less fun than 1. Would not recommend.
posted by sixswitch at 12:08 PM on October 15, 2008


it broke new ground by combining a first-person shooter with stealth-oriented gameplay
Thus the birth of the First-Person Looter. I think it's time I break Thief: Deadly Shadows back out and finish it. Even though it was made by a different studio, it still had a lot of the same people working on it, including the voice actor for the main character, Garrett.

Artw: I'm not sure if I can make that judgement call as to is it worth $20, but it's fun, engrossing, at least 15 hours long, and (if you've never played a FPL) quite an interesting twist on FPS gameplay. Basically, your character is too weak to really stand his ground in a stand-up, head-to-head fight. City guards cut him down in seconds. The gameplay involves being careful, paying attention to lighting and shadows (so you can hide), listening and watching your surroundings for the enemy, reconnoitering gaurds' tours, ducking behind boxes, and stabbing people in the back from the cover of darkness. Fun stuff. Best played at night in a dark room.

On preview: Yeah, sixswitch, the loading screens do kinda suck, but to me it's not a dealbreaker. But then I never played the predecessors.
posted by BeerFilter at 12:13 PM on October 15, 2008


Looks like the earlier ones are not on Steam, Unlike the retro goodness Quake, which at one point was going for $5. I've got my eye on Deus Ex as well, which I never playedthe first time.
posted by Artw at 12:14 PM on October 15, 2008


I was disappointed I couldn't play as James Caan.

I wear $150 slacks, I wear silk shirts, I wear $800 suits, I wear a gold watch, I wear a perfect, D-flawless three carat ring. I change cars like other guys change their fucking shoes. I'm a thief. I've been in prison, all right?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:16 PM on October 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


Taffer!
posted by sixswitch at 12:19 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Weird—I've been replaying Deadly Shadows these last couple of weeks. I just closed the game and pulled up Metafilter, and here's this post.

The Thief games are probably my favorite series ever. (It's a tough fight against Civilization, though...)

Shadows of the Metal Age would be a great game unto itself. As an entirely fan-made total conversion, it's...well, it's fucking amazing. Top-notch production and design throughout. Definitely check it out if you're into Thief. (You need a copy of Thief 2 to play, though.

Of all the games, Thief 2 wins for atmosphere and aesthetics. It's the one that most thoroughly embraces the quasi-Victorian thing.
posted by greenie2600 at 12:21 PM on October 15, 2008


Oh, yeah: the voice actor who plays Garrett is great, and the Shalebridge Cradle mission in Deadly Shadows, set in an abandoned asylum, is the scariest fucking video game level ever.

Like, you read "set in an abandoned asylum" and roll your eyes at the hokiness, but seriously. It's fucking terrifying.
posted by greenie2600 at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


I loved thief and had forgotten about it until now. Thank you!
posted by premo at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2008


Shalebridge Fucking Cradle.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:37 PM on October 15, 2008


Interesting - I wonder how many old games are kept alive by their fans. For instance, No Mutants Allowed is one of the sites that has a LOAD of mods and utilities for Fallout 1 and 2, some other weird things (like a Fallout mod for Civ 3??). I thought a group or two had started working on their own follow-up to Fallout 2, especially with the excitement and disappointment of Van Buren. I found Fan Made Fallout, but it seems they've hit the doldrums.

It'll be interesting to see what comes out for Fallout 3 (not a huckster for FO3, just a fan of post-apocalyptic RPGs =)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:38 PM on October 15, 2008


set in an abandoned asylum

FWIW I actually broke into an abandonned insane asylum one time, this one. I'll have to dog out the photos some time. No treasure, but I did find a dead pigeon.
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


thanks for this; i played Thief obsessively on a PC that was just barely within the system requirements. i had the colors scaled down, and still had insanely frustrating lagging, usually at critical junctures in the game. I'd almost be interested in putting together a pc just to play it again, although i'm not sure it would be as awesome now as I remember it.

hmm. now i'm wondering if I could run Thief and Space:1889 on this mac...
posted by dubold at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2008


The Thief games are easily my favorite FPS-oids. The first game made some serious mistakes (the way the zombies were handled being one of the most annoying) and, godblessem, Looking Glass didn't put together the best looking games but the underlying play mechanics were an epiphany. Simply being unobtrusive and unseen as your whole modus operandi? In a FPS? That totally endeared me to the series. Unreal and Half-Life had also come out the same year as T1 and the differences in temperament could not be more profound.

I'll be skinned alive by Thief purists but when T3 came out, I felt like that was all I really wanted out of gaming. It inspired my husband and I go back and dig up quite a few of these mods just to hold on to the great enjoyment T3 gave. It's been 4 years and my most pleasurable gaming experience is still the Shalebridge Cradle level. Hell, I even named our HOA after it (fortunately, my neighbors aren't gamers).

I heard rumors about a T4 but that's just too good to be true.
posted by cheap paper at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thirding the Shalebridge Cradle goodness. It was the first video game level that gave me that "Oh god, what is THAT around the corner--I DON'T WANT TO SEE WHAT'S MAKING THAT NOISE" feeling since System Shock 2.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Lame alert: I remember going on one particularly long Thief 2 bender in college and having to explain to my understandably creeped-out future wife why I had towels and blankets tacked up over all the windows.

//face red//
"So it's dark. You know."
//face reddens, looks at shoes, points at computer in corner//
"For my video game."
posted by resurrexit at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2008 [34 favorites]


(We were going through my college stuff the other day and she tried to throw out my Thief discs; I just put my hand on her arm and said, 'No, not these.')
posted by resurrexit at 12:54 PM on October 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


Excellent post, I have yet to play the fan-made missions though. I completely agree with greenie2600 that the Thief series is my favourite game series ever.

The thing with the games is that you're playing them, and they don't seem that interesting. But they get under your skin in this very odd way, there's something about the psychology of them that can really affect you. I still have recurring dreams about the games, I think the key is that the worlds they envisage are so different to standard FPS'; they're these surreal places where everything still seems to gel together. It's an astonishing feat.

I can see where people are coming from when they say that Deadly Shadows was a letdown, but for me it just captured the absolute coldness of the medieval city perfectly. And the sound design was astonishing, I can't think of a game before or since that's just so completely enveloped me.

As an aside, I can't be the only one who noticed some rather startling similarities between the Shalebridge Cradle and The Orphanage, can I?
posted by hnnrs at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes Yes YES!

Thief is undoubtedly my favorite game series ever, with Civilization being a very close 2nd.

I find myself playing through all 3 games at least once a year.

To those wondering, yes, they're worth acquiring, especially when the fan community continues to crank out missions all these years later.

However, as some have already stated, they are not your typical 1st-person quickie twitch games, and any who approach them in that way will be quickly disappointed. Depending on difficulty level, you can spend a couple of hours completing a mission. And good bit of that time is spent waiting, watching, listening, and plotting. You are much deadlier with a blackjack or an arrow from the shadows than you are in a swordfight. On higher difficulties, you sometimes can't kill anyone at all.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest gameworlds created to date.

Shalebridge Fucking Cradle

Yep, that was a hair raiser. I'm not sure whether I like that one or The Haunted Cathedral better, though.
posted by spirit72 at 12:56 PM on October 15, 2008


Thief, like most Looking Glass games, is one of the most memorably immersive games I've ever played. Thoroughly fantastic.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:04 PM on October 15, 2008


Yup, Thief was what inspired me to check out System Shock 2 (also by Looking Glass). Another great game.

I really enjoyed Bioshock, but fifteen minutes into it, I realized that I was basically playing System Shock 2 with different (and, yes, much prettier) graphics. The game mechanics are identical in almost every detail.
posted by greenie2600 at 1:12 PM on October 15, 2008


I also forgot to mention that some incredibly clever people over at the TTLG forums are working on enabling unused multiplayer code in Thief 2, video here.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2008


I really enjoyed Bioshock, but fifteen minutes into it, I realized that I was basically playing System Shock 2 with different (and, yes, much prettier) graphics. The game mechanics are identical in almost every detail.

i've heard both of the following things said many many times by fans of System Shock:

1. Oh my god, I loved Bioshock! It was just like System Shock 2!

2. Oh my god, I hated Bioshock! It was just like System Shock 2!
posted by shmegegge at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


I remember playing the first two Thief games better than I remember those parts of my life. Might be time to give them another go.

Can we go back in time and save Looking Glass? I think that would have less of a chance of backfiring than shooting Hitler....
posted by lumpenprole at 1:22 PM on October 15, 2008


I really, really enjoyed the Thief games as well. If I had spare cycles, I would definitely play deadly shadows again.
posted by maxwelton at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2008


PS3 or 360 could use more of these. I hate playing games on a PC. It feels like working.
posted by rokusan at 1:25 PM on October 15, 2008


So, this Shalebridge Cradle.

Scarier than F.E.A.R.? More oppressive than Silent Hill? I never finished F.E.A.R. because I eventually realized it just wasn't fun to play because of the constant unease. It was exactly the same feeling that caused me to pop the Silent Hill 2 disc out of the tray 15 minutes into the game, after feeling "the pall" descend, a sensation I knew too well from the first one.

I get really into my games.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:31 PM on October 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thief, Fallout, Quest for Glory, and Richard Feynman still represent some dark inner lobby for sociopathy, a pirate compass. Peer pressure, nothing; these Four are not through with your teenaged mind until you're shoplifting barmaids.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:42 PM on October 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm goin' to see the beears tonight. Wanna come?
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:46 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


lumpenprole: please do! Fire up the flux capacitor, go back to 1996, buy a whole bunch of copies of Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri, tell the schmucks at Paramount to get their act together, and tell Eidos not to rip Looking Glass off. Much obliged!

(speaking here as the former lead designer of Thief 1, and hence a former LG employee)
posted by foldedfish at 1:48 PM on October 15, 2008 [39 favorites]


former lead designer of Thief 1

Wow! Best drop-in ever!

Thanks for such a mind-melting experience. I felt like it was years before games caught up to what Thief represented.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:51 PM on October 15, 2008


Thief, Fallout, Quest for Glory, and Richard Feynman still represent some dark inner lobby for sociopathy

I like the idea that Richard Feynman is a game unto himself.

I guess I'll go dig out my old copy of Thief 1 and give it another run through. apparently I didn't give it enough of a chance.

(speaking here as the former lead designer of Thief 1, and hence a former LG employee)

aw, now i feel bad saying bad things about the game upthread. don't take it personally. i loved looking glass!
posted by shmegegge at 1:55 PM on October 15, 2008


Sacramento County Shalebridge Cradle?
posted by kid ichorous at 1:58 PM on October 15, 2008


No offense taken, shmegegge. Trust me, when you work in the industry, you learn to get a pretty thick skin, pretty fast. As you yourself noted, stuff that some people love (e.g. System Shock 2) is something that someone else will absolutely despise, and thanks to the Internet, they're all more than happy to tell you about it. :)
posted by foldedfish at 1:59 PM on October 15, 2008


Umm, foldedfish, thanks for making my life measurably better and for being a large part of why I ended up working in the gaming industry.

have my internet-babies!
posted by slimepuppy at 2:03 PM on October 15, 2008


I've got my eye on Deus Ex as well

Having never played any of the Thief games, I can't contribute too much to this thread, but let me say this: run, don't walk, to your game source of choice and pick up Deus Ex. It's such a perfect blend of shooter and RPG. I still pull out my PS2 version every few months.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:03 PM on October 15, 2008


Steam has it. Cheap too. I pretty much can't be arsed with anything other than steam games these days.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on October 15, 2008


slimepuppy: don't fall over me too hard. :) I left LG about halfway through the Thief process (fearful of its declining financial situation), and the true credit should go to Tim Stellmach, who did a much better job with the game than I ever would have.

But thanks nonetheless. It's always nice to hear that stuff I did brought enjoyment to others!
posted by foldedfish at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shalebridge Cradle bitches (>6MB PDF).
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:39 PM on October 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Thief franchise was pretty great, but I've always been a bit irritated at how other games tried to tack on stealth levels once developers realized that some people like that kind of thing. It's particularly galling in games that were never really meant to have a stealth element and it seems totally out of place:

I'm wearing powered armor and packing a railgun, chainsaw, plasma cannon, and rocket launcher and I'm creeping through an enemy base? Uhh, no.

Give it to me as an alternative path to the goal, and I'll love the idea, make it mandatory and I'll probably stop playing before too long.
posted by quin at 2:43 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


*stares at foldedfish*

I'm rarely starstruck, but, can I have your autograph?
Hot damn do I love the Thief series, I used to play on hardest setting so the experience would last longer.
posted by The Power Nap at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2008


A story from 10 years ago:

My wife thought she might like Thief since it was less of a shooting spree and slower pace and decided to give it a try. Shortly into the game, she was hiding in the shadows as a guard walked by. After he passed by, she snuck out behind him, pulled back her arrow, and shott him right in the butt. This, of course, didn't kill him, but it made him pretty angry. He yelled, turned and ran right at her, and she jumped up and ran away. In real life.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2008 [55 favorites]


FoldedFish, whatever your input in Thief &/or System Shock2, thanks for contributing to setting my expectations higher for every game I've played since. I'm not going to say every single thing Looking Glass turned out is perfect, but every game I played from them is in my short list of favorites.

I have a lot of hate and bile reserved EIDOS, and for Romero's indirect part in Looking Glass's demise.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2008


But thanks nonetheless. It's always nice to hear that stuff I did brought enjoyment to others!

More than mere enjoyment, really. I can't think of another series of games that I still play at least yearly, and never tire of. Seriously, thanks to everyone involved with the projects!! Even Deadly Shadows, too: there was plenty wrong with it, but still a good Thief game.

So, this Shalebridge Cradle. Scarier than F.E.A.R.? More oppressive than Silent Hill

Different dynamics with both of those games, really, but in a nutshell, yeah. Both the Cradle in Deadly Shadows, and the Haunted Cathedral/Return to the Cathedral/Down In The Bonehoad missions in Thief 1 had me paranoid for hours afterwards.

I heard rumors about a T4 but that's just too good to be true.

I'd really love to see T4, but only if it's an improvement over Deadly Shadows. The missions in Deadly Shadows were great, the story was great, and even the idea of The City as a game element was a great idea, even if it was an idea before its time. The hardware limitations at the time prevented it from really being what it could have, I think. Today, it seems like they could do it right, without it being an Everquest-ish collection of zones, and it could be much larger as well.

But really, I think I would only want to play it if Stephen Russell decided he could manage to voice Garrett one more time. Because Stephen Russell is Garrett. He really made the character, in my opinion, and took Garrett from being just another tired old video game anti-hero to being a crucial factor in making the game work aesthetically.

We'll see. Eidos Montreal did have a news blurb earlier this year saying that their next major project would 'revive a successful franchise', and that the franchise's title began with a 'T'. Kinda narrows things down.
posted by spirit72 at 2:56 PM on October 15, 2008


If there's one thing I've learned from observing the game development industry, it's that quality has a much less influence on company success than you'd think. There are all kinds of awesome games out there you've never heard of, games that people poured their souls into yet no one played them.

At least the Thief games kept Looking Glass afloat for a while. They are still played and remembered today, which is a lot more than one can say for most games ten years after they're made.
posted by JHarris at 2:58 PM on October 15, 2008


Seriously, if you haven't played Deus Ex by now, hop on Steam and drop the $10 on it right now. It is possibly the finest thing that has been done in the medium.

(And don't let the first level get to you; everyone hates the first level the first time they play. Once you understand the game and what it's doing, though, it's one of the best such levels ever.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2008


I really enjoyed Thief right up until the zombies showed up. That kind of killed it for me. I'd love to see Thief remade in the Source engine, though; that would be amazing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2008


Because Stephen Russell is Garrett.

This is 100% true. In fact, whenever I hear his voice pop up in System Shock 2, I wonder if my avatar is about to be blackjacked. Russell really is jam on toast.
posted by cheap paper at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2008


And don't let the first level get to you; everyone hates the first level the first time they play.

shit. i love that game. it's at the point for me now where i can watch all the youtube videos pointing out the game's many flaws and just chuckle like "yeah. that's what it was like. man, i love that game." the stiff dialogue delivery, the fact that none of the characters could look up, down, or to the sides. the silly things npcs would say. all of it was worth it for stealing implants from my coworkers and then using it to kill them.
posted by shmegegge at 3:33 PM on October 15, 2008


Incidentally, demos for all of the games can be found here.
posted by spirit72 at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


JHarris, can you point to some good lists of underrated/underdog games?
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:09 PM on October 15, 2008


JHarris, can you point to some good lists of underrated/underdog games?

This might be the ticket. It has both good and bad games but all are very well reviewed (so you'll know if the game was relatively unknown for a good reason or not).
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 4:32 PM on October 15, 2008


One of my favorite series. Excellent post.

Also, the Shalebridge Cradle is probably the most memorable game level ever. I went along holding my breath half the time.

Those Puppets scared the crap out of me. I'd been putting them down with fire arrows the whole way, when suddenly I go to pick a lock and one that I thought was dead (I'd shot it twice, just like the others) jumps the hell right up in my face, making that horrible noise they make and pummeling me.

I let out a scream and jumped so badly that my chair rolled all the way back and bumped into the wall.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:40 PM on October 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


Stylus, that is an awesome story. I've given up on playing video games when my wife is in the room for similar reasons.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:19 PM on October 15, 2008


The first time I played the demo for Thief 1, I snuck around a corner into a great room with a table and chairs set up. I hadn't learned how cautious you have to be yet, I just didn't quite realize. A guard was standing opposite in the room, facing away from me on the other side of the table, whistling.

I walked too quickly, I made too much noise. I was standing in the light. The guard bellowed at me, and I followed the standard video game reaction, ready my weapon, stand with the table between him and I in order to protect myself.

He promptly jumped up on the table and cut me to shit.

Wow, I thought. That was awesome.

That. Was. Awesome.
posted by haveanicesummer at 5:20 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for reminding me how sad, sad, sad, I will be when all game are online and you have to play with others.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:20 PM on October 15, 2008


Thanks, Serial Killer Slumber Party. I used to surf the-Underdogs a lot about 4 years ago. I stopped visiting when they made a shift from concentrating on unrecognized but great commercial games to focussing more on recent freeware or shareware games regardless of merit.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:22 PM on October 15, 2008


Thief: deadly Shadows is available on Steam, worth the $20?

Or you could play it for free from Gametap.
posted by EarBucket at 7:47 PM on October 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


I absolutely loved the original Thief, but never had the computer power at the time to run any of the sequels. Now I'm disappointed I can't play it again on my Macbook. Any chance of fan cracks/Abandonware available for us Mac users who still want to get our Thief on? No other stealth game came close in my opinion to matching the difficult, but still logical challenge of Thief. All the other games seemed to be based on cheap AI and the NPCs having some 6th sense of where you were. Thief always made sense in terms of following the shadows and emphasizing silence.
posted by fishmasta at 9:42 PM on October 15, 2008


The original Thief was the only game of that type (first-person perspective) that genuinely gave me the feeling of panic; all the games with guns going off and zombies coming right at me, nothing -- but accidentally making a noise and having to wait to see if I was heard, sometimes I found myself holding my breath. It was a great game.

The sequels not so much.
posted by davejay at 10:03 PM on October 15, 2008


Aw crap. Now I'm going to have to pull out my old discs and give thief another go - thanks MeFi, I really needed that distraction1
posted by wilful at 10:27 PM on October 15, 2008


I played the demo for one of the Thieves, the one where you have to break into the gambling hall, for hours. Going around the back, going through the front, trying every which way. Knocking dudes out with the blackjack and finding new and interesting ways to turn them from unconsious bodies to dead bodies (throwing them from heights worked, as did throwing their bodies in a fireplace). I hit the jump button by accident a lot and all the guards would come running to me.

The hit boxes were pretty messed up in Thief though. I remember shooting unaware guards in square in the head and and they would just stagger and start yelling "taffer!".

I really enjoyed Thief right up until the zombies showed up. That kind of killed it for me.

Dude, totally. Especially in Deadly Shadows where they start jumping up out of the fucking ground. Honestly, where's the stealth in that? As emgrossed as I was during the first missions on theif, I stopped playing each game as soon as I saw zombies.

I recommend Manhunt (haven't played the second one) for people that like Thief. The beginning anyway, it's a great game until guns come into it. Then I stopped playing. But it must be wicked cheap by now.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 11:02 PM on October 15, 2008


$10.
posted by Artw at 11:17 PM on October 15, 2008


Whoa, hold on, somebody involved in Thief is posting here? I have to agree with Power Nap here: I'm never starstruck, but this really floored me.

Thank you. While the Thief series had its flaws, there was really nothing like it and hasn't been anything like it since. The setting was absolutely brilliant, and the gameplay was immersive and engrossing. I remember late nights sitting in a dark room with headphones on and just being in the game.

And those cutscenes. I still show them to people today just so they can get a sense of the game's setting and the incredible amount of talent that went into it.

Brilliant work. Thank you.
posted by deafmute at 11:24 PM on October 15, 2008


Looking Glass is all about the Ultima Underworld series for me. I played Thief, but it never grabbed me as much. Incidentally, Ultima Underworld must have been one of the first ever first person shooters since it was created in 1992.
posted by Onanist at 5:02 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have to agree; LG brought me Underworld, Underworld 2, and System Shock, long before they brought any SS2/Thief goodness to the table. I have fond memories of hours spent in Underworld 2, and it was the first game whose villain made me personally angry at him (The frozen city? You'll pay for that, Guardian!)
posted by ChrisR at 6:56 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed Thief right up until the zombies showed up. That kind of killed it for me.

I really enjoyed Return to Castle Wolfenstein until the zombies showed up. Go figure :P

Seriously, if you haven't played Deus Ex by now, hop on Steam and drop the $10 on it right now. It is possibly the finest thing that has been done in the medium.

Deus Ex was really good for its time but hasn't aged well at all. Regardless I would strongly recommend searching for the Shifter mod, which changes the way you gain experience in the game, adds a few weapons and also fixes a few bugs.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 7:30 AM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Weird, I actually liked it when the zombies showed up. Doesn't mean I haven't had actual nightmares about the Bonehoard, though.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:33 AM on October 16, 2008


Another Shalebridge veteran here, those who haven't been there just don't know, you really don't.

I progressed from the Thief series onto Oblivion and really enjoyed the larger gaming world and sneaking through the dungeons and completing the thieving (and Dark brotherhood) quests but Shalebridge was just this tightly scripted, perfectly set, finely crafted scare-a-thon.
posted by Molesome at 8:19 AM on October 16, 2008


Weird, I actually liked it when the zombies showed up.

I'm actually part of that minority too. The undead missions in Thief 1 are some of my perennial favorites.
posted by spirit72 at 9:25 AM on October 16, 2008


Weird, I actually liked it when the zombies showed up.

I'm actually part of that minority too


I don't actually think it's a minority. The first undead missions had me totally creeped out in a way very few games ever manage. I'll never forget sneaking through that area and hearing the moaning of the undead around the corner and mentally preparing myself to deal with it, darting out of the shadows only to find the ONE RIGHT NEXT TO ME!!!!

I was really glad I was alone in the house so my then-girlfriend didn't hear me shriek like a five year old girl. Good times.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:56 AM on October 16, 2008


Seriously, if you haven't played Deus Ex by now, hop on Steam and drop the $10 on it right now.

Or, once again, hop on Gametap and download it for free.
posted by EarBucket at 10:21 AM on October 16, 2008


That's free if you have a gametap subsciption, ie not really free.
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2008


anyone who doesn't have a gametap subscription doesn't know what they're missing. oh man.
posted by shmegegge at 10:32 AM on October 16, 2008


I think you're vastly overestimating my available gaming time. :)
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on October 16, 2008


Ultima Underworld? System Shock? Thief? Deus Ex? Fallout? [Game]?

Very mainstream, that thread. Don't ever change, mefi.
posted by ersatz at 10:47 AM on October 16, 2008


Gametap has teh fabled Fallout? Hmm. Perhaps I should reinvestigate.
posted by Artw at 10:55 AM on October 16, 2008


That's free if you have a gametap subsciption, ie not really free.

No, Deus Ex is free whether you have a subscription or not. They have a pretty decent library of games you can play for free by watching a 30 second ad before loading the game up.
posted by EarBucket at 10:57 AM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Gametap has teh fabled Fallout? Hmm. Perhaps I should reinvestigate.

yeah, i'm not sure how much of their library you're familiar with, but between silent hill 2, the new prince of persia series, civ 4, metal slug, super street fighter, fallout, planescape: torment, gunstar heroes, castlevania and god knows what else it's difficult to describe how thoroughly gametap fills my retro gaming needs.
posted by shmegegge at 11:11 AM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


And are these standalone versions or a special version that bricks if you unsubscribe?
posted by Artw at 11:52 AM on October 16, 2008


For the premium games, they brick, yeah, but that only seems fair. Otherwise, you could sign up for your first month for 99 cents, download all the games, and unsubscribe. For the retail games that you buy separately from your subscription, I'm not sure.
posted by EarBucket at 12:11 PM on October 16, 2008


yeah, the big problem is that everything you would think would be wrong with a subscription model is wrong with it. they brick if you unsubscribe, you can't hack the executables (or even find them really) in order to install the awesome fan patches, there's drm stuff in there. it's definitely a give-and-take situation. buyer beware and all that.
posted by shmegegge at 12:16 PM on October 16, 2008


on the take side, though, there's the fact that somehow they have built a remarkable platform for old game compatibility. I honestly could not get my old planescape discs working on vista for the life of me. game runs perfectly on vista through gametap somehow.
posted by shmegegge at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


(I haven't signed up for it yet because I've been too busy playing their free content--working my way through Rogue Trooper right now. Planescape: Torment is probably the game that'll sell me on the subscription, though. Been wanting to play that for years.)
posted by EarBucket at 12:20 PM on October 16, 2008


Oh man, Planescape is free on Gametap!? I... have no words to explain the value of this transaction. I can't divide love by zero.

game runs perfectly on vista through gametap somehow.

I wonder if they're running everything through a protected virtual machine?
posted by kid ichorous at 12:27 PM on October 16, 2008


I really enjoyed Thief right up until the zombies showed up. That kind of killed it for me. I'd love to see Thief remade in the Source engine, though; that would be amazing.

If only! They're trying to do something similar to that with the Dark Mod, but using the Doom 3 engine instead of Source. (as a plus, the ID Tech engines are usually released as open-source after a while... if only they would release the Dark Engine code!)

The Dark Mod isn't coming out until next year, though, but once it does we can look forward to no end of fun. They've got a demo out already, but it'll be interesting to see what sort of things they can do with a more flexible game engine.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:33 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


All this old-school gaming talk reminds me that I've always thought it would be pretty cool to recruit a crew of MeFites to play through the old Baldur's Gate games with.
posted by EarBucket at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I vaguely remember a similar project being made with the UT engine back in the day, but maybe that eventually transitioned into the Dark mod. I'm engine agnostic, as long as it isn't being made with the Duke Nukem Forever engine.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:52 PM on October 16, 2008


duke nukem forever engine. ha. that would almost excuse the delay, rather than the pathetic truth that they've been using and scrapping 3rd party engines all this time.
posted by shmegegge at 12:56 PM on October 16, 2008


Thievery UT?
I tried to get into it at one point, but it was multiplayer and felt like someone had just ported the Thief assets over to UT and made a deathmatch game, with blackjacks and broadheads instead of plasma cannons.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:06 PM on October 16, 2008


Yup, dunk, that was it. :)
posted by kid ichorous at 1:31 PM on October 16, 2008


Incidentally, Ultima Underworld must have been one of the first ever first person shooters since it was created in 1992.

Well, it wasn't really a shooter, but yeah, I believe it was the first real-time "real 3D" first-person indoor game (as opposed to a flight simulator or something). Wolfenstein 3D came out around the same time but was fake 3D.

Incidentally, a lot of us old Looking Glass folks are now at Harmonix, where we make Rock Band (and made the first two Guitar Heros), a very different sort of game. I was a programmer/designer/writer on Underworld, did some coding on System Shock, was project leader on the ill-fated Terra Nova, and am now lead gameplay programmer at Harmonix. Greg LoPiccolo, who started as a composer and became the project lead of Thief (when I vacated the spot early on by leaving for Harmonix :), is our VP of Product Development. Eric Brosius, who was the audio lead on Thief, is our audio director. Josh Randall, who was the producer of Thief, is our creative director. There are some other LG folks here but mostly ones who were there after I left in 1996.

Every time I think about the old days, I have one main thought: it's a lot easier making games that don't have plots.

Hi Jeff!
posted by dfan at 1:54 PM on October 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


All this old-school gaming talk reminds me that I've always thought it would be pretty cool to recruit a crew of MeFites to play through the old Baldur's Gate games with.

Hell yes.

Baldur's Gate is a game I didn't play enough of back in the day and would love to get back into it.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:55 PM on October 16, 2008


I was a programmer/designer/writer on Underworld, did some coding on System Shock, was project leader on the ill-fated Terra Nova, and am now lead gameplay programmer at Harmonix.

Good job!
posted by ersatz at 2:44 PM on October 16, 2008


Wow, this has been one cool thread. And *totally* awesome to have ex-Looking Glass folks posting too! Looks like their talent has just gone nowhere but onward and upward since Thief.
posted by spirit72 at 2:50 PM on October 16, 2008


Harmonix -- dude. I've been playing your games since Frequency and Amplitude. Nice.

Never did the Thief thing though this is making me want to give it a try. System Shock was great.

Regarding Deus Ex -- I know people who have picked it up and been disappointed, but I played it maybe 2 years ago for the first time and thought it kicked serious ass. Mind you, I had no expectations going in.

Never done F.E.A.R. though may have to give that a go, now, too, but Silent Hill is definitely my creepfest of choice. If you're talking sound effects freaking people out who aren't even playing the game... Come to think of it, time to fish out my PSone and try it out on the new surround setup.

If I were to give one of the Thief games a try without having done any of them before, where's the best place to start?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:37 PM on October 16, 2008


Oh man. The Thief games are great. #3 not as much since it's more linear, but Thief 2 is a favorite of mine. For me it's the right balance of graphics and explorability. That's what was so cool about Thief 2, there were all these little side things you could explore. Apartments to break into, and all that. Thief 3 kind of forced you into a route. I don't remember too much about Thief 1 even though I played it. I just keep coming back to Thief 2. Thing is, I'm not a gamer by any stretch, but once in awhile it's fun to bring something up to play. Thief 2, and No One Lives Forever 2 are ones that I keep coming back to. The original Deus Ex was great too, but after awhile it was just irritating.

Thinking about my disappointments in Thief III, it wasn't the gameplay that bothered me. The graphics were great. The story was good too. I was just hoping for these huge levels to explore, and it just didn't happen.

As far as creeping me out, in Thief 2 there was a level where there was an underground mausoleum, and when you went in there was this freaking ghost that came out at you. Literally gave me goosebumps. And yah, Shalebridge was freaky.
posted by Eekacat at 3:47 PM on October 16, 2008


Oh, and if anyone is curious about the first 2 games, you can get them as a bundle for 15 bucks plus shipping here.
posted by Eekacat at 4:01 PM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


If I were to give one of the Thief games a try without having done any of them before, where's the best place to start?

If you just want to play one, any of them will do. Each can be played without having played the one before it, although if you start with 2 or 3, you'll miss a lot of plot and have stiff go over your head. Me? I'd start with 1 and end with 3.=)
posted by spirit72 at 6:44 PM on October 16, 2008


"Deus Ex was really good for its time but hasn't aged well at all. "

The only thing that has aged in Deus Ex is the horrid AI. I played it again recently, and it was just as amazing as it was the first time I played it. Best first person shooter ever. Better than Half-Life.
posted by archagon at 1:01 AM on October 17, 2008


Sorry for the redundant "it was". I no speak good when I get excited.
posted by archagon at 1:14 AM on October 17, 2008


Better than Half-Life.

To each their own.
posted by markr at 2:32 AM on October 17, 2008


"Every time I think about the old days, I have one main thought: it's a lot easier making games that don't have plots."

Thanks for the laugh, dfan! And hi back at ya.
posted by foldedfish at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2008


Another Thief fan posting in an epic thread.

I remember how this game spilled over into Real Life, causing me to view my surroundings, trying to figure out whether the shadowed parts were dark enough to sneak through...made a midnight snack run all the more interesting.
posted by catkins at 9:44 AM on October 17, 2008


There's an Oblivion mod that adds tools taken from the Thief arsenal (blackjack, rope arrows, water arrows, holy water, etc.) and a bunch of nifty stealth missions. Oblivion's no Thief, but it has some fun sneaking and stealing and backstabbing which is a lot more Thief-like with this mod.

Also, plenty of zombies.

(Talk about a game with fan support. There are Oblivion mods that completely revamp and overhaul the entire game, rebalancing every monster, item, spell, dungeon, the races, skills, and classes, the leveling system--everything--in an attempt to make it a more fun and challenging RPG. And then there's the amazing graphics overhauls: high-res improvements for every texture in the game, making it so you can look off into the distance and really see the entire world and all the cities and ruins, the Unique Landscapes team that has re-made enormous sections of the outdoor world from generic-beautiful to wow-I'd-love-to-go-there-in-real-life-beautiful.)
posted by straight at 12:03 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


To each their own.

That's got me thinking- is there anything Half-Life does that Deus Ex doesn't do better?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:42 PM on October 17, 2008


That's got me thinking- is there anything Half-Life does that Deus Ex doesn't do better?

Both terrific games, I just preferred Half Life (by a fair margin). I won't try to rate factors of each game, I just know which one I enjoyed playing more. But then, I didn't like Thief either, so I clearly don't belong in this thread.

That said, I reinstalled Deus Ex yesterday to have another look.
posted by markr at 1:50 AM on October 18, 2008


is there anything Half-Life does that Deus Ex doesn't do better?

voice acting and atmosphere. don't get me wrong, deus ex had great atmosphere, but if we're making the comparison i think half-life's was better and more immersive.

also, if it counts, half-life had revolutionary multiplayer and deus ex's was nearly unplayable.

in truth it's an unfair comparison. i could say "is there anything doom did that half-life didn't do better?" and probably be right, but we're talking apples and genetically advanced apples designed to be better than apples.
posted by shmegegge at 6:52 AM on October 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Deus Ex, however, had the most brilliant level design I've ever seen in a video game, bar none. It really felt like I could take any approach to a problem, despite the fact that the paths were built-in.
posted by archagon at 11:45 AM on October 18, 2008


Another T: TDP lover here.

I developed a lifelong terror of zombies playing that damn game. It was that sound they made. That strangled barking moan that, more than the image of the zombie itself, indicated that you were about to encounter something that should not exist.

I was always terrible at the zombie levels because I would careen through them at top speed, my heart in my mouth, freaking out whenever I heard that noise. I was very good at the non-zombie levels, but those zombies destroyed me.

Thank you for that.
posted by winna at 8:39 PM on October 19, 2008


is there anything Half-Life does that Deus Ex doesn't do better?

For me the best aspect of Half-Life was the feeling of being in a vast complex that was being torn apart from the inside. Deus Ex (fabulous game though it was) sure didn't give me that.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:53 AM on October 20, 2008


I've played all of five minutes of Deus Ex so far, and it's very noticable that as soon as you start it you get dumped into ye olde cutscene, complete with portentous waffle and lame attempts to be arty with the camera angle. I’m sure the awesomeness starts later on, but not having any of those is a definite area in which Half Life is better.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on October 20, 2008


Oh man... Terra Nova... one of the disappointments of my adolescence. I got the demo off one of those magazine freebies and played it and loved it loved it loved it. So I conserved my money in anticipation of its release and waited. And waited waited and waited. It never came to the Icelandic gaming stores. It must have done badly enough that they didn't bother to distribute it in Iceland. I should go track down that game.
posted by Kattullus at 4:44 AM on October 21, 2008


That's just setting up the world, Artw. Go back and watch it again after you've been playing awhile and you'll recognize the characters.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:18 PM on October 21, 2008


This was pre-Perfect Dark, right?
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on October 21, 2008


"For me the best aspect of Half-Life was the feeling of being in a vast complex that was being torn apart from the inside."

IMHO, Half-Life didn't bring out the continuity of the complex as well as it could have. Deus Ex has much more consistent environments and level design.
posted by archagon at 11:38 AM on October 27, 2008


I'm assuming this will be more apparent once I get past level1?
posted by Artw at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2008


I, too, gave up on Deus Ex on level 1.
This was over protestations of a co-worker who never, ever, stopped raving about it.

Thief kicked my ass, I never made it to the zombies. At first I thought you guys were kidding about them. My loss. But I'm sure my current computer could run it like butter, unlike what I had at the time...
posted by Busithoth at 8:30 AM on November 8, 2008


I'm a little further into it than that (I'm playing it very slowly in my not spare time, which is a little limited). I still wouldn't say better than Half Life (difficult to compare the two, in fact), and some of it seems almost over-fiddly for it's own sake, but it's still damn good for it's time.

My approach has not so far been all that stealth though, and I'm still lugging around a rocket gun for turret-removal.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on November 8, 2008


The only thing I'd say Half-Life has better than Deus Ex is the fact that it's more polished. The animation, the movement of the AI, it all just seems more natural compared to Deus Ex. Playing Deus Ex as an action game can feel somewhat awkward.
While Half-Life might have the feeling of being in a vast complex being torn apart from the inside, Deus Ex had, for me at least, the feeling of being in a whole society being torn apart from the inside. The complex story is presented to the player through dialogue, written material, and the experiences of the player. I think part of the reason I was able to appreciate it so well is because I was raised on LucasArts adventure games.
posted by Stove at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2008


There's some really neat stuff in Deus Ex, but the voice acting just about kills it for me. It's very difficult for me to immerse myself in a game world where everyone sounds like they're reading their lines from a sheet of paper.
posted by EarBucket at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2008


Hmm, now all the NCPs are pointing out that I'm a violent murderer.
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on November 9, 2008


« Older Stanford Italian literature professor Robert Harri...   |   The Geek ABCs.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments