Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Thief (computer game)
Thief is a series of mainly first-person computer games where the player takes the role of Garrett, a thief in a steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with some primitive technology thrown in. The series consists of Thief: The Dark Project (1998), Thief II: The Metal Age (2000) and Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004). An expanded version of Thief: The Dark Project, titled Thief Gold, was released in 1999 and features three extra maps, new enemies and several bug fixes.
Looking Glass Studios developed both Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age. After the studio went out of business in 2000, many former employees moved to Ion Storm Austin and began developing the long-anticipated third part of the series, Thief: Deadly Shadows. The game was released on May 26, 2004 and is believed to be the last in the series. Although there have been comments suggesting a continuation, they have not yet been confirmed. Eidos Interactive published all four releases in the series.
With the release of DromEd , a map editor, an active community of fans began providing a wealth of home-grown missions for the first two games (see External links, below). A few of these were so successful, in fact, that their creators were invited to work with Ion Storm Austin on Thief: Deadly Shadows.
Style of play
The main tactic of Thief is to avoid fights and instead sneak around the enemies. Indeed, killing an innocent will often cause the player to fail a mission; on higher difficulty levels, killing anyone, even an angry guard out for Garrett's blood, will result in mission failure. The main weapon, a club called a "blackjack", cannot render its target unconscious if the target is facing Garrett. Clearly, Thief emphasizes brains over brawn. Thief is sometimes described as either a "first-person sneaker" or a "first-person looter" to emphasize this difference. Classification of the game has been slow coming, as three-dimensional stealth games, such as Splinter Cell (released in 2002) for example, only became more common years after 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, like walking gently, steering clear of noisy pavement, or using magical arrows to create a moss carpet that muffles the sound of footsteps.
In a similar vein, lighting 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 made the character less likely to be noticed. Walking about increased 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 in case a hiding place is needed in a hurry. Arrows with water-filled tips can be fired at torches and braziers, dimming the surrounding light and creating a handy pocket of shadow which can then be used for hiding.
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 of Keepers.
Of particular interest is the success with which Thief creates a living, breathing steampunk world for the player. This, coupled with the attention given to sound design and the games' intricate, engrossing storylines, creates an immersive experience for the player
The games are set in what is always referred to as "The City", with occasional excursions into nearby areas like Markham's Isle.
The technology present in the game seems to be a cross between the Victorian Era and medieval times. The city has the air of a 19th century metropolis, and electricity is somewhat prevalent, yet torches are still used in many homes and businesses. Weapons such as broadswords, bows, and maces are common, and firearms seem to be nonexistent. Many guards wear mail armor and helmets similar to those in the middle ages, and quite a few structures are more like late medieval fortresses and castles than Victorian houses.
There are three primary factions at work in the City. Below is a description of each.
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 inevitably manipulate him into acting out their prophecies and obscure designs in all three games. Much of the Keeper's powers are derived from their special Glyph magic, which spells out their prophecies and allows them to weave extremely powerful magic. The Keepers seem to be highly dependent on the Glyphs for their powers, with Garrett and Artemus seeming to be the only Keepers able to operate effectively without the aid of Glyphs.
The Order of the Hammer is a group of technocratic religious fanatics, also known as the Hammerites. They aim to carry out the vision of the Builder, their architect god, and are the burning force of progress in the Thief world. They represent Order and Orthodox religion (which has many similarities to the medieval Catholic Church). The Hammerites are skilled warriors and routinely carry large metal hammers (like sledge hammers) with them, which appear to be both a religious symbol and a very effective weapon against those who trespass. They despise the nature-worshipping Pagans, and are also mortal enemies of the Undead.
In Thief II, a group of Hammerite schismatics under the leadership of the charismatic (and insane) Karras, gives birth to the Mechanist sect. Even more fervent about technology than their Hammerite cousins, the Mechanists invent steam-powered robots to act as servants, and rumor has it those robots might be intended for more than just subservience... The plotline of Thief II: The Metal Age revolves entirely around this sect; they receive a few brief mentions in the third game in the series.
Finally, the Pagans represent the forces of nature and retrogression in the Thief world. Natural worshippers who live in the deep forests away from the City, the Pagans shun technology and live in harmony with wild, supernatural creatures. Needless to say, they despise the ordinary people of the City, and are completely inimical to Hammerites and Mechanists. Pagans are for the most part unskilled at combat, and rely on stealth and subterfuge in their ongoing campaign to undermine and subvert the City. Their demonic god, the Trickster, and the facts surrounding their resurgence are central to the plot of Thief: The Dark Project. Owing to a twist of fate, they side with Garrett against the Mechanists in Thief II.
The game uses the expletive "taffer" and variations in place of English profanities. This also has a special in-game connotation as a corruption of the name of the evil nature god, the Trickster Spirit. As such, to curse someone as a "taffer" is to insinuate that that person shares some of the spirit's dubious qualities. It is a fairly broad oath that can mean "scoundrel", "joker", "fool", or simply indicate a contemptible person whom the speaker both scorns and derides. Curiously, the Pagans, worshippers of the Trickster, also use the epithet, sometimes in the pidgin form of "Tricksie." "Taffing" (or "taffing around") is also a nebulous term that generally involves an activity that lacks proper forthrightness or diligence, such as lying or exaggerating to someone or shirking important responsibilities in favor of play or frivolous pursuits.
Also, the Hammerite and Pagan factions both have their own dialects. The Hammerites speak a dialect of English that uses many archaic-sounding constructions and words, although grammar and usage do not necessarily correspond to the older dialect it is presumably based on. The Pagans speak in a euphonic pidgin dialect with even more grammatical irregularities, at least when compared to normal English.
The developers have more than once remarked that every made-up word in the game is made up.
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... your 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.
The game's original gameplay quickly developed a cult following. However, many players complained that the game's "Thief" theme was underutilized. Although the first few missions were typical "rob a rich guy's mansion" levels, the latter 2/3s of the game took part largely in monster-infested ruins where you were pitted against various zombies, beasts, and Trickster creatures.
Thief Gold is a 1999 re-release of Looking Glass Studios' Thief: The Dark Project computer game.
In addition to various bug fixes, Thief Gold added three new levels 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 were 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 graphical and programming improvements. 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 A.I. behaviors, and the addition of female guards and soldiers.
Responding to criticisms of the original Thief, 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.
Thief: Deadly Shadows
A major depature from the first two games in the series, Thief: Deadly Shadows was developed by Ion Storm rather than Looking Glass Studios. The game was powered by a modified version of the Unreal II engine, the same engine used to power Ion Storm's previous game, Deus Ex: Invisible War. Unlike the original two titles, the third Thief game was developed simultaneously for the PC 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 2 titles) was different 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 games such as Grand Theft Auto 3, the city is not one large continuous map, but rather several small neighborhood maps connected by load zones (similar to Postal²).
Many long-time PC-owning fans of the series have criticized the new game for having "sold out" to the console market, some of their complaints include the fact that the maps are very small compared to those from the original two games (to compensate for the hardware limitations of the Xbox), and that the gameplay has been "dumbed-down" somewhat for the console market (such as the removal of the swordfighting system, and the use of "wall-crawling gloves" rather than swinging rope arrows to climb to higher areas).
A mission editor, Dromed, was available for Thief 1, Thief Gold and Thief 2. Hundreds of fan missions for these games have been created, some equaling or exceeding the quality of the original game missions. After a letter-writing campaign by fans, an editor was released for Thief: Deadly Shadows in February 2005.
Here is a list of specific characters who either play a major part in one game, or have recurring roles throughout the series.
- 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 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. A large scar runs down one side of his face, the result of his enemy plucking out one of his eyes in Thief: The Dark Project. Garrett now sees with a mechanical eye, a piece of Mechanist technology given to him by the Hammer(ite)s at the end of The Dark Project.
- Keeper Artemus: Garrett's one-time mentor, who took in the young Garrett and taught him all his skills. Artemus frequently contacts Garrett in attempts to enlist his help with the various Keeper Prophecies. He still holds genuine affection for Garrett, in spite of Garrett's rejection of the Keeper ways. Artemus appears to be the only Keeper whose stealth skills rival Garrett's own, and once or twice Artemus has even managed to sneak up on Garrett.
- Viktoria: A cunning and beautiful woman who works for Constantine. Like her employer, she has a hidden nature.
- Constantine: A strange and eccentric wealthy man who hires Garrett to perform a series of jobs for him in Thief: The Dark Project. The consequences of these jobs and Constantine's true nature form the crux of Dark Project's story.
- Sheriff Gorman Truart: A corrupt medieval fascist who becomes the leader of the City Watch and the apparent main antagonist in Thief II. Truart oppresses the people, collects bribes, implements outrageous taxes, brutally suppresses the criminal element, and seems to have a particular personal grudge against Garrett. Truart regards the law not as an end in itself, but rather as a means for those with power (specifically, himself) to control those without.
- Father Karras: A brilliant inventor, genius, and prophet who splits from the Hammerite organization to found his own faction, the Mechanists. He and his organization play a major role in Thief II's story. While still a Hammerite, Karras invented the mechanical eye and gave it to Garrett as a gift. Karras suffers from an extreme speech impediment, yet somehow is highly charismatic and able to command the loyalties of numerous followers.
- Lieutenant Mosely: A member of the City Watch under Sheriff Truart, and one of his two lieutenants. Unlike Truart, Mosely is a solid, honest officer, and her conscience eventually causes her to question Truart's brutal methods. Mosely eventually forms an alliance with the Pagans to bring down Truart.
- 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.
- Interpreter Caduca: An old woman in the Keeper organization in charge of reading and interpreting the Glyph Prophecies. The 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 advise. In reality, Caduca is actually relatively young. Prolonged exposure to the Glyphs causes accelerated aging, a fact which limits the amount of knowledge and power any single Keeper can obtain from studying the Glyphs.
- Translator Gamall: Caduca's assistant, an eerie pale and emotionless child 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 Hag: A mythical serial killer who purportedly stalks the night, slaying victims and stealing their skin. Even the Pagans, who deal regularly with monstrous creatures, regard her as an abomination. The Hag appears to be the Boogeyman of the Thief world, and features in a variety of children's rhymes and night-time tales. Few believe she actually exists, however.
- "Benny": A recurring drunkard guard whose mood swings and amusing ramblings made him endearing to fans of the game. The name is informal, as the character's voice is used for a number of different guards. In Thief: Deadly Shadows he is at one point called "Sinclair".
Memorable quotes from the series:
Thief: The Dark Project
- "Thou Shalt Not Rob From The House I Have Built, Or Commit Any Theft Or Unrighteousness, Lest Ye Be Struck Down And Driven Into The Earth Forthwith, And The Land Of The Heathen Consume You" ---The Book of the Stone
- "Blindness is the manfools theys gathers up treasures and greeders themselves on gold rocks and fetters / The Woodsie One wreaks thems with lilacs and nettles and gathers theys bones for His porridge and feathers." --- Text Unattributed, Sumac on Parchment
- Trickster: I am The Woodsie Lord, The Trickster of legend! If you be thirsty, fleshthing, drink of me. If you be hungry, then feed for I am the honeymaker, and the jacksberry!
- Trickster: My poor Mister Garrett, you will not live to see the sprawling glory of it! Your sacrifice is not yet complete! Mine lilacs and mine thistleaids must feeds, and I? Stands He then in the greens and festered Maw and speeds He out his judgements upon the weeps and writhing manfools!
- "Danced we in joys and triumphs. With us the Woodsie Lord danced the stringsie foolsie man, / Rose the storms in shouty glee, the darkness in feary glooms, the fires in happy greed. / Danced we away, and fed the sad stringsie manfool to their devourings for our thanks." -- Final fragment of the "Notyets" manuscript
- "The stone cannot know why the chisel cleaves it; the iron cannot know why the fire scorches it. When thy life is cleft and scorched, when death and despair leap at thee, beat not thy breast and curse thy evil fate, but thank the Builder for the trials that shape thee." --- The Hammer Book of Tenets
- Garrett: I've never robbed a god before. It'll be a challenge...
- Garrett: If you haven't noticed, I just saved the world. Yourself included.
Keeper: As we knew you would. As it had to be.
Garrett: Now I remember why I left the Keepers.
Keeper: And I remember why we let you go.
Thief II: The Metal Age
- Garrett: This proves it. Going legit is more trouble than it's worth...
- "Strike hot iron and call forth sparks / Strike a man and call forth fury / To shape man or metal to thy will / Thou must strike with force." -- Collected sermons of Karras
- "Bricky roads they trappers grass, / Stoney walls they trappers wind, / Iron stove it trappers fire. / Trappers is we by the works of hands, / And forget us we were ever free..." -- Inked grass scroll
- "When we looked at the relics of the Precursors, / We saw the height civilization can attain. / When we looked at their ruins, / We marked the danger of that height." -- Keeper annals
- "There are those to whom knowledge is a shield, / And those to whom it is a weapon. / Neither view is balanced, but one is less unwise." -- Keeper annals
Thief: Deadly Shadows
- Hammer guard: I shalt not hurt thou... more than thou deservest.
- "Benny", City Watchman: A guard's life, protecting people and places. Somehow I thought it'd be — I dunno — more exciting.
- "Benny", City Watchman (overhearing Garrett): Maybe it was a ghost — whoa, that'd be somethin'!
- City Watchman: If it weren't for me, you couldn't walk these streets!
- City Watchman: I'm gonna write a book. "A Guard's Life. By Me". Boring...
- Cheap Thief Missions
- Dark Loader, a freeware application to quickly and easily play fan missions
- The Keep of Metal and Gold
- Thief: The Circle
- The Circle of Stone and Shadow, an unofficial Thief expansion
- T2X: Shadows of the Metal Age, an unofficial Thief II expansion
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