== Thief 3 Update, 7/18/01 ==
- Text and pictures lovingly crafted by Randy Smith
- Captions inattentively butchered by James Sterrett

Hello Thief fans,

This is Randy, Project Director on Thief 3, at (what is currently known as) ION Storm Austin. Holy cow, its been a long time since I posted to the fan sites. The team has made a whole lot of progress in the 7 months since the last update, so let's jump in and tell you all about it.

First of all, here's a roster update:

Sergio Rosas - Lead Artist - Serge has been making video games for many years, and most recently was an Art Director at Digital Anvil. Serge is a strong art director, a great manager, and a very talented artist who really gets the Thief vibe.

Alex Chrisman - Programmer - Alex comes from Konami where he worked on secret projects he can never reveal. He's been on point for interface and player movement programming, which for Thief 3 involves some cool, innovative stuff which I will not expound upon yet.

Jeremy Graves - Designer - The guy who hit Warren's car and a master of UnrealEd. His level work will make you weep with envy.

Raby Hampton - Artist - Raby comes to us from Retro Studios, where he worked on environments, characters, and animations. We think he is the subject of a graffiti sticker found around Austin entitled "Who is Raby?", the origins of which are a mystery.

Frank Teran - Artist - Frank is our on-staff concept artist. He's originally from the comics industry, and he's the one that made those spiffy illustrations you may have seen in PC Gamer's August '01 edition. Having Frank's concept art for all the spaces and characters is a wonderful blessing.

David Riegel - Designer - Known to TTLG as "Sledge," David is the only person from the fan community hired to work on Thief 3 (so far, anyway). Congratulations to him and to us, since he's ours now, bwa ha ha ha!

John Harries - Programmer - John is a game programming veteran from way back who has worked at Kinesoft and Digital Anvil. Right now he's hacking at complicated engine revisions, after which he's going to recreate the engine's lighting model from the ground up.

Brian Sharp - Programmer - Brian comes to us fresh from college, during which he worked for CogniToy and 3dfx and wrote for Game Developer Magazine. He just started a couple of weeks ago, but he's already working hard on engine revisions, after which he'll be building us a Thief-caliber sound engine.

William Wallace - Audio - At 16, William is the youngest developer in the games industry (maybe). He's a summer intern doing some great work helping out in the audio department and fighting for freedom.

..we also hired a couple of Mikes to help out with the PS2 version of Deus Ex 1. The long term plan is for these guys to join the Thief 3 team after that ships. They are artists, and their names are Mike Dean and Mike Washburn. I'll tell you more about them when they join the team officially.

..and here's a quick review of the team members you already knew about:

  • Nate Blaisdell - Designer
  • Alex Brandon - Audio
  • Terri Brosius - Designer
  • Kevin Daugherty - Artist
  • Ian Dunlop - Lead Programmer
  • Rob Kovach - Artist
  • Lulu Lamer - Producer
  • Terry Manderfeld - Artist
  • Emil Pagliarulo - Designer
  • Randy Smith - Project Director
  • Warren Spector - Studio Director
  • Paul Tozour - Programmer

    So, let's see. What have we been up to?

    Well, the programming effort has long since switched from planning to implementing. In addition to the usual engine enhancements and tool modifications, we've made a ton of progress on interface, player movement, and AI. That's right, Thief 3 already features guards who patrol, see and hear, search for you when they detect you, and say "must have been rats" afterwards. Paul, the AI guy, is clearly wasting no time. Furthermore, you can be Garrett in the game already; you can sneak him around, hide in shadows, and even shoot arrows. It's not quite right yet, of course, but since we have so much of a headstart, we'll be able to tune it to within an inch of its life before ship, which is great.

    Three missions are currently close to the end of their first development pass. These missions are a testament to the value of our R&D efforts, since they look spectacular. They have just the right Thief vibe, but rendering-technology-wise, they look many years ahead. This is due in part to our level-building workflow, which pairs artists and designers together to handle aesthetics and gameplay, respectively. Once these three missions wrap up, we're starting the next four.

    Story writing and mission planning have come a long way. We know the game's story, and we have a list of missions to go along with it. We won't reveal any of this stuff just yet, but some later releases may contain low-key spoilers, the kind you'd find on the back of the box. I know there are some hardcore types out there who prefer to go into a game knowing nothing about the story, so be warned.

    You may have seen our press release about the Unreal engine. We're very psyched to be working with it, since Unreal's renderer is a crucial ingredient to the polished quality of the mission development we've done so far. Starting with Unreal has saved us countless programmer-months which we get to spend implementing Thief gameplay instead. The Dark Engine, which was used to create Thief and Thief 2, was also a wonderful piece of technology, but its renderer was far too dated to be used again. Unreal isn't perfect for us right out of the box, but we're making all the changes it takes to make Thief 3 a great game. One thing to keep in mind is that engines are all tools, and they can often be used fairly interchangeably, especially when you have the luxury of making lots of modifications, which we do. The real value of a game engine is in how efficient of a tool it is, and Unreal is a superb tool, especially for creating missions.

    To wrap it up, Thief 3 is going really well. The team is full of very talented developers and is still growing. Pre-production went great, development is on-track, code is being written, missions are being built. It's still very early in the process, but you can see the new Thief game starting to emerge, which is totally cool. This office is a great place to be, and collaborating with and watching the Deus Ex 2 guys in action is pretty exciting, too. Stay tuned, and we'll give you more updates in the future!

  • This cathedral was used as a testbed; the final game is expected to meet this level of detail

    The first one is in Unreal. The second is DromEd.

    A Bedroom, in Unreal, Yesterday.

    This is yet more in-Unreal footage…..

    … and now some concept art….

    Garrett concept art

    A Keeper - with his hood down!

    Secret camera footage of a secret Keeper meeting

    And, last but not least, those loveable but grubby Pagans.

    Go back to T-TC.com