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Thief Community Q&A Wrapup!

Posted by Adam Badke

What question did you ask our E3 community attendees about Thief? With hundreds of comments and thousands of views, the “We played Thief at E3 – Ask us anything!” thread on the official Thief forums was a huge hit with the Thief community. New and old users alike have been flocking to the boards to watch our E3 attendees tirelessly share their thoughts and experience with the game with the rest of the world.

In addition to getting an exclusive, hands on session with Thief, the guys also got to interview the Thief development team. You can hear the community interview recording here!

Haven’t had a chance to stop by the forums lately? We’ve got you covered - catch 15 key community questions and answers below!


1. How was the immersion in regards to the shadow on the outer edge of the screen? during the gameplay demos it was very intrusive but how was it actually playing the game? (Posted by garryengly)

Nate: Honestly, I often forgot it was there while I was actually playing the game. In the demos prior to going it was far more intrusive, but hands-on time it kinda faded away from my attention really quickly. I don't know if it's an effect of how close I was to the screen I was playing or what, but I was using the light gem far more often. That being said, the version of the shroud scene in the demo is not the final version.

John: The shroud is a quick-reference visual element for understanding whether or not you are in darkness or light, and at what point you enter from one into the other. However it is an approximation, a simplification, a shortcut. Stealth is not binary; the light gem operates as a more comprehensive detection meter and fades through various levels of brightness and darkness, like a gradient. So the light gem is more comprehensive, the shroud is faster. You wouldn't want to disable the light gem in favor of the shroud, but you might want to disable the shroud in favor of the light gem.


2. Also, what's the ambient dialogue like? Is the banter between the guards well-written? Was there any use of modern profanity? Most importantly, did anyone use the word "taffer" at any point? (Posted by InDIGnation)

John: The dialogue was good. There was a bit of modern profanity, but it was used for emotional emphasis and shocking not in an immersion-breaking way, but in a "good grief that fellow is pissed off" kind of way. The word "taffer" is still in the game. In the previous games it was a catch-all expletive, here it is just one of many (which makes more sense, IMO).

Nate: Ambient dialogue felt pretty organic. Guards would gripe about being called in late to guard the Baron's mansion and talk to each other. Real world cursing is in the game. The Baron's captain of the guard was particularly angry with a guard and dropped an "F Bomb" in his angry rant and it felt pretty shocking… I found the voice acting to be good. Guards would gripe and moan realistically, have nervous conversations about the incoming mob, and higher ranked guards would bark orders around like someone of their station. The Guard Captain is also a major league and uptight jerk. There was one moment where he started screaming at a subordinate who actually brought up a good point about sending a guard into a possible entrance in the sewers.


3. Can the guards look up? i.e. spot you if you're on higher ground but in the light. (Posted by KalashnikovAli)

Nate: Guards absolutely can look up. Their vision cone is actually really realistic and linked to their eyes. For example, if two guards are facing each other talking they cannot see what is behind the other because they are blocking each other's views.


4. And most importantly, how does Focus work? I don't want a noob crutch and that's really what it looks like. I know I don't HAVE to use it, but I'm wondering if it's obligatory and the game will be asking me to use it all the time like how Assassin's Creed prompts me to use eagle vision all the time. I want to play the game without focus (Posted by GrumpyPanda)

John: Focus is far from obligatory, and can be turned off from the menu. It's not like a cover system or anything of that sort; it is simply there to make the game easier for those who want it. There might be a moment where it becomes very difficult to proceed without it, but everything indicated that simply being careful, observant and quick-witted (if you choose to enter combat) will take care of things just fine. The description "optional" in this case does genuinely appear optional.

Nate: Focus is not obligatory. You can flat out turn it off in the menus and I never once had to use it during the mission. I did a few times just to see what it was like, but I largely ignored the mechanic while playing in earnest. It’s there to help players if they choose to, but you never have to and can turn it off for those of you that fear the temptation of using it.


5. I'm new to Thief but not new to DXHR or Dishonored. What does Thief do differently than these two games and what should I expect once the game is finished? (Posted by HERESY)

Nate: There’s a lot of fundamental differences between this game and Dishonored. They have different objectives, environment builds, worlds, themes, mechanics, and fundamental ways in which they are played. In all honesty, Dishonored has more in common with Deus Ex: Human Revolution than Thief in that both of those games are based around manipulating the player’s avatar to traverse the environment and narrative. Corvo’s powers from the Outsider’s mark are like the augmentations that Adam Jensen uses. You manipulate the character himself in unique ways to solve the problems in the world.

Thief, on the other hand, is about manipulating the environment to traverse the world and solve problems. Create a path here by putting out a torch with a water arrow; create a distraction by shattering this bottle; disarm this trap to open this pathway; etcetera. Likewise, Garrett’s objectives are so much different from Corvo’s. Whereas Dishonored’s objective is to eliminate a target, Thief’s is a collection run. You’re objective is to steal things of value, and that incentivizes exploration far more than the side missions in Dishonored. It taps into that obsessive greed you see in game players to get every last trinket, almost as if they are playing Banjo Kazooie.

And just on a gameplay mechanical level, this iteration of Thief is different as well. Garrett’s not actually zipping around the level in high speeds. The pacing is still very slow and methodical. It requires patience and thought; Garrett’s movements actually feel pretty heavy in a lot of ways despite how delicate his actions can be. It feels very deliberate, and to zip through the world without thinking is a recipe for failure with most players. Even those who can bolt through an environment successfully are missing out on the loot and secrets in the world. I didn’t get to play the bridge sequence during our time with the game because I spent so much to digging through the Baron’s manor looking for so much loot. I was the only one who didn’t complete the full experience during that play session, though I did get to come back and play the bridge sequence the next day, and once again found more loot there than the other four guys who played.

Meanwhile Dishonored’s gameplay often rewards this sort of intuitive creativity and tends to be far faster, requiring players to think rapidly on their feet. How you deal with any situation is how creatively you can use your powers. Sure, you could just slow time and run down the stairs protected by a tesla coil. Or, you could slow time, jump over the balcony, fall six stories, then at the last second possess a rat on the bottom floor. Dishonored can be a very mundane game for those who just take the easiest route. But those who dare to experiment find it to be a really awesome example of limited tools being combined into great combinations. Human Revolution is much the same way. Sure, you can just shoot your way through everything but you’re missing out on a potentially broader experience if you do take the simple route.

Honestly, while Dishonored has Thief in its DNA it’s not a rip off of Thief. It is its own game with its own aspirations and goals. Likewise, this new Thief game is not a rip off of Dishonored. It stays very true to the soul of the original series and its goals of greed, exploration, and methodical stealth. I think anyone who plays that demo and has played Dishonored wouldn’t make the mistake of directly comparing the two, and if they did they are not looking at the two critically but rather superficially.

Which I would say even superficially they are very different… Now I know I didn’t explain the differences this game has with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but much of the same differences with Dishonored can be applied to the comparison between Thief and DX:HR. Different themes, gameplay, aesthetics, mechanics, and fundamental goals entirely. All three games do share that late 90s, early 2000s design philosophy that was born out of the amazing and borderline reckless developers at Looking Glass and Ion Storm, but that does not make them similar games.


6. How does the physics engine feel so far? How interactive is the world, beyond loot and guards? (Posted by FrankCSIS)

Nate: It feels solid. During the bridge escape sequence there was a particular moment where the support structures for the building Garrett just entered collapsed and the building fell entirely on its side. Everything, including the tables, chairs, plates, food, etcetera all flew into the new floor of the room in real time. I saw this moment twice, once during the demonstration and another during my own play through, and the resulting chaos was different each time.

The world feels really interactive. I found myself opening drawers and cupboards, picking up bottles to toss as distractions, putting out fires with water arrows, and then there was the mysterious “Painting Moment” as well as obtaining the Heart of the Lion itself. There’s plenty to interact with.


7. Did they go back to the "activate container to obtain item" system of the old Thief, or does the game use the Deadly Shadows "open container to see contents" system? (Posted by Platinumoxicity)

Andrew: When searching desks, closets etc, Garret actually opens them and you can view the items inside, it's not done via a menu screen. It's certainly not done like DXHR.


8. I have a question about the QTEs in the game. Can you give us a specific example of one? I was originally under the impression that the burning bridge sequence was all QTEs, but it sounds now like that's not the case. (Posted by brethren)

Andrew: The only QTE in the game is a single button press one when you fall during the third person climbing sequence. That's it: just a single button press in the entirety of the hour long demo we played. Other than that, the bridge sequence is all free movement… the problem is being blown out of proportion. I don't like QTEs either, but they're really infrequent in Thief.

Nate: There was one QTE, and it was minor at most.

John: QTEs (few and far between though they are) appear built into the game. Not avoidable, but also a tiny fraction of play time. This is not Tomb Raider.


9. Is there a lock picking skill or difficulty per different locks/doors or u can unlock whatever is locked if u do the right sequence? (Posted by horseoffire1)

Sergey: Well yeah. There were couple of different locks. I remember a door at the beginning was easy to unlock, but had some troubles with chests (and lack of focus). So I believe there are different levels of difficulty for those things.

Lucy: The first locks I picked seemed to be easier than the later ones, but I didn't end up using focus for any of the locks, and I found them relatively straightforward to open to be completely honest. Keep in mind that our gameplay time was limited to an hour (relatively long, but perhaps difficult to assess something like the variety of locks) and as I said before, I think I moved through the level at E3 at a faster pace than I would had I been quiet at home. The gaming room was very pleasant, and nicely cut off from the action of the showroom floor because it was on the nice backstage bit of Square Enix where there were lots of refreshments, but I was still quite excited and wired up because of the general excitement of E3.

I didn't go ahead and lock any doors in the end, but I believe I noticed that the option was there. I really liked that. There might be a lot of potential creativity to explore here, with locking guards in rooms and the such.


10. How reactive are guards to changes in the environment? e.g. if they see an open door, will they simple acknowledge it or will they actually stop to investigate? (Posted by Buccura)

Nate: There was one moment while I was playing where I picked a locked door and opened it without checking through the keyhole (yes, you can do that). I wasn't exposed in the door, but a guard saw it and I heard him coming to investigate the mysterious opening door. I quickly ducked into a cabinet as the guard investigated the door and the immediate hallway before going back on his patrol. When I came into this hallway again later, the guard had altered his patrol route to include the spot he found this disturbance in earlier. Guards also react to torches going out and will relight torches too.


11. Will you be able to open doors from multiple angles, or did you always have to go right to the front of it to open it? I know it has to play an animation but could I be facing a door from a 45 degree angle and still open it without automatically moving in front? (Posted by Buccura)

Lucy: Yes. I liked to close doors behind me at an awkward angle, and I'm fairly confident that the view or position was not rigidly repositioned. As I remember it, you continue to have the freedom to look around.


12. So if I understand correctly, the level kind of leads the player to the objective, with no chance to get lost or no need to actively search for the objective? If it is how I imagine it to be, it will be a slight let down. I mean, I don't want to aimlessly wander around the level in search for the objective, but I'm hoping for some sense of discovery for locating the objective. How do you feel the level design supports this kind of sense of discovery? (Posted by Nightwynd)

Nate: The level doesn't really guide you to objectives anymore than the missions in the original Thief games did. The level tends to converge at these objective points like points of entry as well as the primary swag you're looking for, but the original games worked largely the same way.

We actually asked questions about level design in the forthcoming Q&A, and it's their general philosophy that they like the idea of there being stuff some players miss. They want there to be that sense of discovery in the previous games that make you come back and dig for more stuff you may have missed that's off the beaten path.


13. I saw that there's a small time delay when pickpocketing someone, compared to the previous games' instant theft. How much does this add to the risk/reward of pickpocketing? Does it "feel" any different? (Posted by Scriber_of_Glyphs)

Nate: By adding a delay to the pickpocket as well as requiring Garrett to be in arm’s reach, I feel it has significantly added to the tension of picking pockets. You now have to be closer and plan the pickpocket ahead of time rather than be able to accomplish this so easily. If a guard is on patrol you have to follow them; if there are multiple guards you have to plan your window; if the target has multiple items you may have to plan multiple approaches to the target over time. This simple addition makes pick pocketing tenser and ultimate more rewarding for me.

I will say this much: you’ll have to adjust to Garrett’s reach and the fact he physically grabs things instead of having this five foot long non-corporeal arm. The one time I was caught in the demo was because I reached for something ahead of a guard still thinking like I was playing the classic games and Garrett shouldered the guard out of the way to get to it. This guard also happened to be around three archers and another sword guard, so I was promptly turned into a pin cushion. It was embarrassing for me, but said event made me more aware of Garrett’s physical body. It wasn’t a problem, just an adjustment.

You can back out of pickpocketing simply by letting go of the button, no worries.


14. How much difference the ground type made when you played the demo? Did you have to pay constant attention to what ground you're walking on, or you totally forgot about that? (Posted by Vazgen)

Nate: You have to pay attention to what surfaces you're walking on just like the old games. Grass is quiet, stone and wood are loud if run on, and places like running water are particularly loud unless you're move very slowly.


15. Did readables repeat themselves ad-nauseum like TDS did so you're sure to not miss any objective clues or story/plot elements that the devs don't want you to miss? You know, a subtle reminder that you're playing the game and the game is holding your hand vs. it feeling like you're in a living, breathing world where you can miss clues or story pieces? (Posted by DarknessFalls)

Andrew: The only "readable" I found in the demo was the map that I pickpocketed from the guard captain, so no, it wasn't overly repetitive. :P Can't speak for the full game though, obviously. I imagine the flavour text pieces will mostly be added later.

John: There were definitely multiple, readable letters around the levels. I nabbed them whenever I spotted one. I don't remember what it was I read though.


Hope you’ve been enjoying the thread so far, everybody! Did reading this raise any more questions for you about Thief? Head on over to the official Thief forums and ask one of the guys who played the game at E3! For more on Thief, make sure you also like the official Facebook fan page and follow @Thief on Twitter!


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