WHAT MAKES THE WORLD OF THIEF GAMES UNIQUE?

Must Read

Of course, the gaming industry has long been the source of a huge variety of non-standard, truly original and memorable universes. Standing out against the background of many with an unusual setting, vivid visuals and design, unique ideas and catchy atmosphere. However, few game world can boast that such an effect is achieved with just a few skillful strokes that leave more questions than answers, but nevertheless make you dive into it headlong. And one of such rare examples can be called the universe of the classic trilogy of the Thief series, to the world and content of which many of the gamers return in their thoughts quite often. And your author is no exception. Of course, we have already analyzed all three parts in detail.Thief by Looking Glass and Ion Storm. But traditionally, in order to avoid spoilers for the projects of twenty years ago (which some of the viewers are so much afraid of), they did not dig too deep into the plot of these games, and even less did they focus on the peculiarities of the Thief world. And this topic, in my opinion, deserves a separate discussion, especially against the background of the fact that the series has long since sunk into oblivion, and its restart of the fourteenth year has very little to do with the original games.

Talking about the uniqueness of the world and setting of Thief, one cannot ignore its origins and history of origin, which largely determined the gloomy tones and non-standard appearance of this universe. We have repeatedly touched upon the difficult fate of the “Dark Project” and the complexities of its development in several videos before. However, this time I would like to especially note that the final look of the “Thief” turned out the same as it turned out in many respects not thanks to, but in spite of the circumstances. And it was the result of endless sifting of ideas, adding more and more details and artistic layers over several years by a whole team of talented developers. As you already know (if you watched The Dark Project review and got acquainted with the issue of “Industry Visionaries”dedicated to the main scriptwriter of the game Ken Levin), the final choice as the basis of the story about the thief Garrett from the nameless City was preceded by a whole heap of concepts of varying degrees of readiness and elaboration. It was on the foundation of the more detailed, but rejected previous ideas that the world of the original Thief was based. And naturally, none of the creators of the game was going to get rid of the legacy of the past until the end. Elements of zombie horror and global confrontation of factions from the design document about communists and undead called “Better red than undead”. Dirty court games of the alternative Middle Ages of the era of King Arthur in a fantasy setting with the introduction of modern technologies from the “Dark Camelot” concept. The gloomy one who came from there,

Early concepts for “The Dark Project”.

 

After Ken’s transfer to other projects, the image of the world and its history were settled and constantly supplemented by the head of the studio, Doug Church, with whom Levin often conducted his brainstorming sessions. Of course, artists Robb Waters and Mark Lisott, who are responsible for the art design and visuals of the game, made a huge contribution to the common cause. The same can be said about Daniel Throne, who created atmospheric videos and screensavers that immersed the player in the Thief’s world and its plot. And of course, Tim Stellmack’s role as the lead designer cannot be underestimated, responsible for the uniform style and design of all the game locations of Thief, in the pool of level designers there were a good one and a half dozen employees. Each of them, like many other team members, brought more and more new elements to the setting, environment and history of “Thief”. Rejecting original ideas, rewriting the script and characters’ characters, introducing completely unexpected details and features of the world, in the harmonious combination of which one could easily doubt. From the height of our years and the modern approach to game development, this may seem like a disaster, and now such an uncontrolled process with an unpredictable outcome for large projects claiming a serious status often leads to extremely deplorable results.

However, in those years, there were also plenty of examples of unjustifiably overestimated ambitions, lack of a sense of proportion and attempts to swell the unpuffed. One epic Daikatana by John Romero has become a byword for the town. But there were also exceptions of largely accidental successes. Even the iconic original Deus ExDespite the studio’s high-level vision and all the team’s efforts to moderate the ardor and scale of the plans of his ideological father Warren Spector, it turned out the way we know him and won his icon status not without a share of luck and fortunate coincidences. When, at first glance, seemingly incompatible gameplay elements with a mass of problematic moments, the technical limitations of the engine’s capabilities and a story half-cliché with a bunch of logical holes, as a result (in many respects unexpectedly even for the developers themselves) formed a strange cocktail that blew heads to all thinking gamers of those years. Naturally, with a sober look at the game, two decades after the release, it can be easily smashed to smithereens, but it was thanks to the non-standard approach and contrasts that Deus Ex also won its fame. receiving a lot of rave reviews from the press and players. The same can be said equally and even more about the success of the first part of the Thief series. Whose world appeared as a result of non-stop winding over an already completely non-standard setting of all new elements has turned not into an awkward patchwork of incoherent scraps, but an incredibly original universe of wild contrasts, laid down both at the level of visual style and the story itself.

 

Garrett in the City’s eternal night.

In the case of Thief, we are dealing with an unusual fusion of rather familiar settings. This is exactly what he was originally conceived by the game’s screenwriter Ken Levin. They tried to fit into a single picture the gloomy, dirty, uncomfortable Middle Ages with fantasy elements and the bulky steam-electric technologies of early steampunk. By plunging the resulting mixture into the eternal night of a noir nameless City with a vivid anti-hero in the lead role and strengthening the foundations of the resulting world with an alternative version of Christian mythology with two sides of the conflict, whose confrontation goes deep in every sense of the dark past. As the project developed and added to it, the canvas outlined by Ken became much more rude, unsightly and repulsive. It was supplemented by frightening monsters that came from the abyss of centuries and a kind of local magic, ancient prophecies, spirits, ghosts and undead. The mass of white spots in the history of this world, the chronology of events of the past and gaps in knowledge about the main place of action, referred to simply as “City”, resulting from a lack of resources and skewed attention during the development of the game on the gameplay, Thief only benefited. Not piling up all of his bulk at once, leaving a feeling of innuendo and a sense of mystery, thereby imagining more than he really is “Thief” involuntarily forced the player to gradually plunge into an unusual setting, pay attention to every little thing and all sources of information about the world … Including meager storylines between missions, snatches of information from conversations of passers-by, numerous books and notes, and even the very environment of huge levels of the game. Oppressive stone masses of endless night streets and their most eerie corners, in which Thief can easily give a light to the best representatives of the horror genre. The whimsical architecture of his buildings combines the incongruous. Steam-electric mechanisms working according to laws known only to them, muttering religious mantras in Old English Hammerites. Filled with frightening creatures of nature, forests outside inhabited areas with wild pagans living there, practicing blood rituals. The abode of the Order of the Guardians, secretly observing the balance of global forces for centuries, whose history goes back to the era of darkness. Steam-electric mechanisms working according to laws known only to them, muttering religious mantras in Old English Hammerites. Filled with frightening creatures of nature, forests outside inhabited areas with wild pagans living there, practicing blood rituals. The abode of the Order of the Guardians, secretly observing the balance of global forces for centuries, whose history goes back to the era of darkness. Steam-electric mechanisms working according to laws known only to them, muttering religious mantras in Old English Hammerites. Filled with frightening creatures of nature, forests outside inhabited areas with wild pagans living there, practicing blood rituals. The abode of the Order of the Guardians, secretly observing the balance of global forces for centuries, whose history goes back to the era of darkness.

And in the center of all this crazy tangle rises the bulk of the gigantic City. Vocalizing industrial noises, uncomfortable ambient and night sounds. Himself being one of the main characters in the history of all parts of the series. Divided by the river, a huge metropolis on the seashore, which is a separate state, not subject to anyone from the outside and ruled by the Baron. Guarded by his own army in the form of numerous city guards and waging war with other city-states like him. About the world outside its walls, the player can hear only twisted rumors and rare written evidence, which in no way help to lift the veil of secrecy over what is happening outside. And even this monstrous size, incredibly ancient, divided into many regions, including closed to the public and filled with undead The city is just the tip of the iceberg. After all, the foundation for it is the dilapidated ruins of the previous, no less large-scale settlement going deep underground, and who knows how far these ruins stretch down and how many layers this grandiose structure has. By whom and when the very first City was founded and what caused the collapse of its numerous incarnations, it is not given to know, even the Guardians. Perhaps in those days, the Great Builder, a semi-mythical savior of people tormented by dark pagan gods, who tore them out of the primitive darkness and became the object of religious worship of the Hammerites, still walked the earth. And his wise teachings and technologies, which gave progress and development to all mankind, may have become the basis for on which the very first City was based. After all, it is not for nothing that its frightening underground bowels still conceal dangerous knowledge of the past, capable of causing a lot of troubles to all living townspeople.

Sometimes the City is covered with a blanket of snow.

An excellent demonstration of this was the Age of Metal mentioned in the title of the second part of the series, which was marked by the rise to power, which replaced the revered by all Hammerites of the heretical sect of Mechanists, led by its prophet Karras. In the first game, who was in the ranks of the followers of the Great Builder and helped Garrett in the fight against the pagan god Trixer who returned from oblivion and his Dark Project, after studying the ancient ruins under the City, he discovered there forgotten technologies of bygone times. The study of which simply drove him crazy, and Karras wanted to destroy all living things, turning the population of the City into ideal, perfect machines, bringing the teachings of the religious savior of the Hammerite order to the point of absurdity. By the way, the disclosure of more and more layers of history and information about the world through a sharp change in the state of affairs in the City as a result of radical actions of one of the global centers of power has always been one of the main narrative tools of the Thief trilogy. Torn by the inequality of rich and poor, existing side by side with ancient monsters and otherworldly forces, eternally seething and polyphonic, gloomy and dirty, filled with huge machines pulling humanity towards the progress of the Hammerites. Trickster. His followers in the person of pagans living in the bosom of nature, evil dryads and other dangerous creatures. Long forgotten and mentioned, perhaps in fairy tales. And only to a lone thief Garrett under the control of a player,

The Prophet and Messiah of the Age of Metal – Karras.

The Age of Metal that has come in the second part of The Thief completely sweeps away all the remnants of the Dark Project, ancient monsters and undead. It drives nature into the narrow frames of small greenhouses and raises the innumerable smoky pipes of production workshops above the rooftops, filling the streets and houses of the City with soulless cold machines. Revealing part of the truth about the technologies of ancient times, allowing you to immerse yourself in the history of the Hammerite order, the undercover games of local aristocrats and turning the philosophical content of history almost into a kind of proto-cyberpunk in a non-standard setting. Presenting a new look at the world familiar from the original game, dramatically changing the tone and mood of what is happening. And of course “Death Shadows”, despite the new development studio and engine, continuing the story of Garrett. A sharp rollback of technology after a violent dash to the murderous progress of the Mechanists and a shift in attention to the Guardians forever in the shadows, their predictions and glyphs, internal organization, an ominous past and the great danger lurking in the bowels of the Order of Observers. A closer acquaintance with all the factions that have begun to cooperate directly with the thief. The return of mysticism and fears that have replaced the mechanical monsters of Karras. Echoes of previous large-scale events from the first two parts of the series and the opportunity to calmly visit all areas of the transformed City, tired of the recent turmoil. And only meticulously and thoughtfully studying all the scraps of information in each of the games, exploring all the accessible corners of the world and putting together a mosaic of the plot of the entire trilogy, as a result, you can contemplate the overall picture of the Thief universe.

Changed the key of “Death Shadows”.

Tellingly, even these abrupt changes in the content of each of the games, demonstrating new facets of an already familiar world, were often explained by a plan that was not thought out in advance to skillfully reveal the detailed universe from an unexpected side. Given the development conditions and the state of affairs in the studio, the essence was rather a desire to fix the shortcomings of previous games or keep within the forced technical, financial and personnel restrictions. That is why all enemies, monsters and many out-of-town horror missions have disappeared from the “Age of Metal”, and “Deadly Shadows” have turned into a chamber, story-driven story that relies on game mechanics more familiar to Deus Ex, instead of the huge interactive locations traditional for a series of explorations … By the way, it is the notorious immersiveness and maximum immersion in what is happening with the ability to influence the environment and enemies to a large extent also one of the main factors influencing the perception of the world and history of the Thief series. Forcing to get used to the skin of a vulnerable thief, they turn every discovery, information overheard from the conversation of the guards behind the wall and the evidence of the past found into much more valuable information than a note read in passing or a cutscene in any of the games of the usual genre. Yes, and the insignificance of Garrett on the scale of the gloomy, ancient City, its past and the forces that he is trying to resist, also contributes a lot to the player’s feeling of globality and the importance of the consequences of his actions. Constantly happening behind the scenes of plot twists and changes in the world, stories stretching into the past and a threat hanging over the main character. Far from being a great warrior, magician, or knight. Making their way in the darkness filled with frightening sounds, next to dangerous monsters or deadly mechanisms breathing steam. As a rule, acting as a frightened witness to events fateful for the whole world and only by cunning wriggling out of all the troubles. Such detachment and non-interference of the hero directly into what is happening is somewhat reminiscent of the manner of storytelling in the works of Howard Lovecraft. Who managed to describe the cyclopean scale of the canvas with a minimum of bright epithets and scenes. The only difference is that in “Thief” the protagonist, controlled by the player, is still capable of a skillful and prudent action to influence the outcome of the created horror. Far from being a great warrior, magician or knight. Making their way in the darkness filled with frightening sounds, next to dangerous monsters or deadly mechanisms breathing steam. As a rule, acting as a frightened witness to events fateful for the whole world and only by cunning wriggling out of all the troubles. Such detachment and non-interference of the hero directly into what is happening is somewhat reminiscent of the manner of storytelling in the works of Howard Lovecraft. Who managed to describe the cyclopean scale of the canvas with a minimum of bright epithets and scenes. The only difference is that in “Thief” the protagonist, controlled by the player, is still capable of a skillful and prudent action to influence the outcome of the created horror. Far from being a great warrior, magician or knight. Making their way in the darkness filled with frightening sounds, next to dangerous monsters or deadly mechanisms breathing steam. As a rule, acting as a frightened witness to events fateful for the whole world and only by cunning wriggling out of all the troubles. Such detachment and non-interference of the hero directly into what is happening is somewhat reminiscent of the manner of storytelling in the works of Howard Lovecraft. Who managed to describe the cyclopean scale of the canvas with a minimum of bright epithets and scenes. The only difference is that in “Thief” the protagonist, controlled by the player, is still capable of a skillful and prudent action to influence the outcome of the created horror. near dangerous monsters or deadly mechanisms breathing steam. As a rule, acting as a frightened witness to events fateful for the whole world and only by cunning wriggling out of all the troubles. Such detachment and non-interference of the hero directly into what is happening is somewhat reminiscent of the manner of storytelling in the works of Howard Lovecraft. Who managed to describe the cyclopean scale of the canvas with a minimum of bright epithets and scenes. The only difference is that in “Thief” the protagonist, controlled by the player, is still capable of a skillful and prudent action to influence the outcome of the created horror. near dangerous monsters or deadly mechanisms breathing steam. As a rule, acting as a frightened witness to events fateful for the whole world and only by cunning wriggling out of all the troubles. Such detachment and non-interference of the hero directly into what is happening is somewhat reminiscent of the manner of storytelling in the works of Howard Lovecraft. Who managed to describe the cyclopean scale of the canvas with a minimum of bright epithets and scenes. The only difference is that in “Thief” the protagonist, controlled by the player, is still capable of a skillful and prudent action to influence the outcome of the created horror. Such detachment and non-interference of the hero directly into what is happening is somewhat reminiscent of the manner of storytelling in the works of Howard Lovecraft. Who managed to describe the cyclopean scale of the canvas with a minimum of bright epithets and scenes. The only difference is that in “Thief” the protagonist, controlled by the player, is still capable of a skillful and prudent action to influence the outcome of the created horror. Such detachment and non-interference of the hero directly into what is happening is somewhat reminiscent of the manner of storytelling in the works of Howard Lovecraft. Who managed to describe the cyclopean scale of the canvas with a minimum of bright epithets and scenes. The only difference is that in “Thief” the protagonist, controlled by the player, is still capable of a skillful and prudent action to influence the outcome of the created horror.

Of course, much more could be said. About the size of huge locations, their confusing, but usually chic level design and decoration. In which he perfectly feels the scale and depth of the world. The tremendous work done by the development teams on the goosebumps-inducing music and beautiful sound design of the games in the series. To compare with which, without any exaggeration, very few projects still can. The play of light and shadow, gameplay stealth mechanics and the very sensations of immersion in these gloomy scenery. No less important than all of the above factors that influence the perception of the “Thief”, its world and history. But this once again only confirms that the largely unplanned success in creating one of the most unusual settings in the case of Thief is a completely natural outcome. After all, it was Looking Glass’s unique and largely experimental approach to developing their games throughout the studio’s existence that set them apart from many other development companies. It is unlikely that anyone will succeed in repeating such an experience, especially in the modern conditions of the greatly changed gaming industry. Therefore, it will certainly not be superfluous to note the importance of the legacy of this Cambridge studio and of the “Thief” universe itself (unique, original and addictive).

- Advertisement -spot_img

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -spot_img
Latest News

The playlist of the best new songs of the week

On TIMMUSIC Tommaso Paradiso, Mannarino, Enrique Iglesias, Tony Bennett with Lady Gaga, Blind and The last part of the summer...
- Advertisement -spot_img

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -spot_img