Thief: Deadly Shadows Interview, Part 1
In Thief: Deadly Shadows, the Keepers, a covert organization that trained Garrett in his younger days, calls upon him to assist in sorting out a portentous situation, one involving puzzling prophecies wherein his name appears prominently. Despite his natural reluctance, he agrees to help, a decision that will suck him into a morass of secret information, hidden treasures and more. Ominously, they seem to point squarely at some kind of scheme among the Keepers themselves. We'll have the opportunity to learn for ourselves soon enough since ION Storm's game, which follows two award-winning efforts crafted by the now defunct Looking Glass, is slated to ship in the North American market next week. In advance of that, we were fortunate enough to detain Studio Director Warren Spector long enough to fill us in on a number of vital aspects.
Jonric: To begin with an introductory overview, what kind of game did you intend Thief: Deadly Shadows to be? To what does the latter part of title refer? Who decided not to call it Thief III?
The name Deadly Shadows doesn't have any deep meaning - it just seemed like a cool way to get across the idea that you're a dangerous guy and the master of darkness. Why not call it Thief III? I guess that was mostly because we were trying to bring Thief gameplay to a larger audience than ever before - including console gamers who might never have heard of the series before. We didn't want to do anything that might imply that previous knowledge / experience of the series was necessary. Marketing and Development were both in agreement that a name would serve the game better than a number.
Jonric: What were the key design goals with respect to building on the play experience Thief and Thief II provided? Did you decide to de-emphasize or eliminate anything, and if so, why?
Warren Spector: The key, number one design goal was to preserve the unique, wonderful stealth gameplay of Thief and Thief II. The third game in the series had to remain true to its roots and not devolve into an medieval shooter with some cool shadows to hide in. We DID go into pre-production knowing we wanted to support the action player a bit better than in past Thief games, and we wanted to ensure that the game never devolved into a "wait five minutes for a guard to forget about you" sort of thing. Waiting around isn't much fun...
As far as eliminating things goes, sure, there were some things we wanted to do that didn't make the cut. In some cases, we ran out of time or decided some stuff was too risky to implement. In others, we discovered our tech wouldn't support some things. In still others, we tried things and they didn't work - business as usual, really, development-wise.
Jonric: Aside from the prior Thief titles, are there any other influences reflected in Deadly Shadows, such as but not limited to other stealth-oriented games?
Jonric: What kinds of factors do you consider most significant with respect to Deadly Shadows becoming a successful sequel?
Warren Spector: I'm tempted to say that all Thief requires to be successful is to be placed in the hands of enough potential players. It really is a fun, fun game that doesn't look or feel like anything else out there. Its fiction is great, and its central character is one of the best developed in the business - thanks in large part to some terrific Terri Brosius dialogue and the excellent voice acting of Stephen Russell!