Forum Identity: eepcat
Location: Pennsylvania, USA

What first attracted you to Thief and when was that?
I believe it was sometime in 1999. I had not heard anything of the game and found myself browsing an EIDOS demo CD during some "break time" at work. Having played Dungeons and Dragons as a youngster and enjoying the Thief character class more than any other, I was drawn to the Thief demo. After completing the training mission, I realized that this could be the most exciting gaming experience since the famed "Gold Box Series" D&D games of the late 1980's. I found the game in the bargain bin of my local game store and immediately laid down a meager $10 for it. This was clearly the greatest gaming bargain of my life. I've been a computer gaming fan since the Atari 2600 back in 1978 and have played some great games and some lousy games. Thief is far and above my most treasured game series. The sequel defied the notion that sequels never live up to their predecessors. TTLG is/was a collection of some of the most talented and creative gaming artists in the history of the industry. At times I have been in awe of their creation.

Why did you start designing missions, and when was that?
I became aware of the FM community shortly after completing Thief II - The Metal Age. I was searching for any information on a possible third installment of the series and stumbled upon the TTLG forums. This led me to Thief - the Circle where I could choose from a few pages (yes, just a few pages) of fan-designed missions. I downloaded Darkloader and a couple of missions. Unfortunately, the missions I downloaded (I filtered my search by file size since I still had a 14,400 modem!) were very poor quality. I deleted Darkloader and the missions from my hard drive, making the foolish assumption that FMs were nothing to be excited about. About a year later, I went back (with a super-turbo 56K modem) and downloaded missions based on rating. It was like finding a diamond in the rough. Lord Edmund Entertains was the first FM that made me want to design on my own. It was a very exciting time in my life - a creative outlet involving pc gaming.

Best Defense

Sheriff Winters' Family Room

Iron Man

Entrance to the Mansion

Mylokh's Tower

Heading down to find the Sword of Elemental Flame.

Debt To Nate

See that horn down there?...try to get it!

The Hole

Moving through an old Hammer library, trying to find a way out.

Give us a brief summary of all your currently released missions. Tell us the idea behind them, what you are proud of, and what you regret about them:

Best Defense: this was my first released fan mission. In this mission you are alerted of the local sheriff's plan to have you arrested. You need to find some blackmail material before dawn in order to avoid rotting in jail. I was proud of how the story unfolds. I felt it was a new idea and it left room for one or more sequel missions. Unfortunately, I was a DromEd noob and struggled through the entire development. There were ideas that were cut out because I became too frustrated. This mission took a very long time to create.

Iron Man: this mission was a continuation of the story which was begun in Best Defense. This was a mansion-looting mission which introduced some characters for further sequel missions. I was proud of the size of the mission and the detail I was able to accomplish. One thing I learned in Best Defense is that I do not have the patience for detail that the great FM authors do, but I thought the mansion looked pretty good. I regret that I ran out of steam on this mission and eliminated another layer of detail that I had planned.

Mylokh's Tower: This mission was an entry in Komag's Small FM Contest #4. I really enjoyed the Thief 1 monster types and wanted to showcase them in this mission. I decided to do a tower where each floor holds a different monster type. I was proud of the atmosphere of this mission. I felt it was spooky and suspenseful...something I really enjoy in Thief missions. My only regret on this mission is that I miscalculated the overall height of the mission and had to shrink the top level in order to meet the mission size requirement.

Debt To Nate: This mission was also an entry in Komag's Small FM Contest #4. If you enjoy blowing up zombies like I do, this will be a quick, fun mission. There was nothing really to be proud of - the mission only took a couple of hours to create and is very small. I regret that most people took this mission seriously and had some interesting comments about it. And no one got the secret to the mission name (sounds like "detonate" - which is what you'll be doing to zombies if you find the explosive devices)!

The Hole: This mission was my best effort (in my humble opinion). This mission added a mystery element to the story along with the mission objectives. I spent a lot of time finding custom ambients for this mission and many players pointed this out as the misson's strong point. In this mission you learn that the Crimson Limits Prison has suffered some sort of attack. You are interested in a certain prisoner's diary, but finding him will not be easy. This mission also brought the Thief 1 monster types back, along with T2 mechanists! I was proud of this effort and the mission's atmosphere and story. I regret that this mission was not a popular as I thought it would be, but I did get some nice feedback which is always good to hear.

What inspiration outside of Thief1/Gold, Thief 2, and Deadly Shadows influenced the content of your fan missions?
It's hard to say. I think the vast majority of inspiration comes from the Thief games themselves. I suppose my prior gaming experiences such as Daggerfall may contribute a small portion, but I think that most inspiration comes from the official missions and from a lot of the creations from FM authors.

What do you feel is your strongest suit in mission design?
I would definitely have to say atmosphere. In my first couple of mission, I was finding my way around DromEd, but soon discovered how to inject the atmosphere I enjoy in missions. This seems to be the aspect of my missions which gets the most reaction from beta testers and players. If a blend of ambients and visuals gets just one person to feel on edge, I feel good about it. I received many comments from players about a moment in The Hole when they literally jumped out of their chairs. There have been several FMs from other authors that did the same to me and let's face it...everybody likes to be scared!

Have you ever worked with other people on an FM project?
Not during the design phase, but I've had many people help beta test my missions and Dinksmallwood provided the German translation for The Hole. It would be an exciting experience to be part of a team of designers, but I would imagine that it would be difficult to manage.

If you could rebuild any OM from Thief 1/Gold or 2 from scratch (as a T2 FM), which one would it be, and why?
This is a difficult question. I pray at the alter of TTLG and to second-guess their design feels like blasphemy. However, I thought that Sabotage at Soulforge was in need of an atmosphere-boost. I never felt very threatened in that mission.

What are your favorite FM(s) from other authors?
I enjoy all of Christine's missions. She is a mission factory who has mastered the multi-brush. I cannot think of anyone else who puts out the quantity and quality that she does. Other favorites would be Lord Edmund Entertains, The Burrick's Head Inn, Circle of Strain. There are so many other missions that I have found to be excellent works, but I tend to forget their titles. One of these days I'll look back through my old notes and compile a list of favorites. There were several missions in Komag's Small FM Contest #4 that I thought were excellent efforts.

Tell us about that first mission you made in dromed, back when you were first learning the editor, which never saw the light of day:
I have a few mission pieces that were abandoned - areas created to learn certain features of DromEd, but no abandoned missions. I knew what I wanted to do for Best Defense from the start and began working on it immediately. One of the most difficult aspects of DromEd was the backwards brushing. In all 3d editors I had used prior to DromEd, you start with an empty world and create solid shapes later to be carved out, but with DromEd you start with a solid world and air brush your shapes. This created a lot of confusion in Best Defense and is one of the reasons that mission never had the quality I had hoped for.

Tell us about the mission you currently have in production:
On the 26th of November, 2003, I officially "retired" from mission building. I had lost my inspiration and decided to move on to something else. Rumor has it, however, that DromEd has recently been reinstalled...and there is a screenshot for a mission called "Relics"...I wonder how that got there;-)

Have you ever done any mods for other games?
No, Thief is the only game I have ever done mods for. I did write two role-playing adventure games while learning the Win32 graphics API. It was a great learning experience and made me appreciate the availability of a free 3d editor and graphics engine.

In Closing:
Thief is not the only game I play and not the only forum I browse, but it is unique in the people who support it. The community at the Thief FM forums is second to none. There is a true spirit of cooperation and creative support - all in the name of our common inspiration. DromEd can sometimes feel like a swift kick in the arse, but the sense of accomplishment and contribution makes all of the crashes, headaches, sleepless nights, coffee binges, partial meltdowns worth every moment. Creating these missions truly is art, not just gameplay. DromEd and the Dark Engine allow us to create very atmospheric and unique scenes which, to me, are no different than a painting in a gallery. To all of those who DromEd, cheers! To all of those who play, enjoy!

- eep!

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