Full interviews from my Thief II Anniversary story at TechRaptor

For Thief II’s 20th Anniversary this year, I wrote a special feature at TechRaptor that featured words from the some of the most talented and important FM authors in the Thief community. The final, published story included several select quotes, but below I have posted the full text from my interviews. They were each conducted either by email or chat. This is mostly the raw text – only a few, minor alterations were made for spelling or grammar.

I’ve posted the material by the authors’ names, in this order:

Saturnine, Purah, Random_Taffer, skacky, Yandros, and Melan

I hope you enjoy!

And you can read the feature at TechRaptor here – hope you enjoy it as well!: https://techraptor.net/gaming/features/20-years-of-thief-ii-fan-missions

Saturnine’s answer to my questions:

“Twenty years! My daughter, who was the baby ‘gaga’ voice in the attic of T7C, is just about to turn 20. So yes, I found the Thief community a long time ago!

This sounds like hyperbole but I can honestly say that Thief has shaped my life from the time I discovered it.

I can still remember perfectly how it happened: I was in a PC game shop, saw the word ‘Thief’ on the side of a box on the shelf, it was all spiky and cool, so I took the box off the shelf and turned it to the front cover art and just stared at it for a long time. Then when I turned it over it had in game screen shots of the outside of Bafford’s manor, I think, and then one image that was the beginning of everything: it was Garret’s hand raised with a blackjack, sneaking behind an unsuspecting guard, at night, in what appeared to be a medieval mansion, and I was hooked right away.

I actually bought my very first PC specifically to play Thief! I can’t remember what year that was exactly but it wasn’t long before Dromed arrived and I started playing around with that. I’m sure anyone that did that first Dromed tutorial had the same awestruck feeling as I did when they made their first single box room with sky on the top and went into game mode, and looked up at the stars; it was magical honestly and gave me a lifelong urge to create worlds, which I am now doing professionally to this day.

So, Thank you LGS and Thief, I have no idea what direction my life would have gone if I hadn’t picked up that game box on the shelf.

TTLG in the early days was like a close family, I have such good memories of those times, I was lucky enough to get to know some of the original members quite early on, simply from asking questions while developing The Seventh Crystal which was at that time a small mission in Dromed for Thief Gold, (before converting to Thief 2 later). I got to know Digital Nightfall, Gingerbread Man, Msledd and Silent Sleep very early on and they were all welcoming and very helpful to a newbie.

However the TTLG member that had the most influence on what The Seventh Crystal ultimately became was Wynne. I have to give huge thanks and credit to Wynne and I must say that T7C would not have turned out as it did without her, from her voice acting to her help with character development, she took what were bare bones of story elements and crafted them into a living breathing world and I am so grateful to her. Some of the side plots and characters were entirely her own; in fact, the servant girl hiding and giggling from the guard was one of Wynnes and just added so much. Her amazing input was sorely missed in the development of Rose Cottage and I still wonder what that might have become with Wynne involved.

Without going too deeply into it, the 7th Crystal was inspired by real events in my life at that time, I had a story to tell and I think thats why it resonated as a realistic experience.

After the Seventh Crystal was finished I didn’t exactly go into hiding but I was definitely burned out, after literally years of work to complete. So a sequel never happened unfortunately, and in fact I began to second guess myself thinking that I couldn’t possibly please everyone with the sequel, there were a lot of different ideas from people about where the story would go, one person in fact got it exactly right! 🙂

So eventually, Dromed called to me again. I made a few small demo areas to try and get started on something new, met CaffeinatedZombeh on TTLG and then in real life and became friends. We always meant to make a mission together but never did, he was however very helpful in the early development of Rose Cottage, I got burned out completely twice during that time and Zombeh and Digi kept me going, so thanks Guys.

I also worked alongside Zombeh on our small corner of T2X, which I think is one of the most amazing things that came from TTLG and I was proud to be a small part of it. I met some great people on TTLG: Yandros and nickie were/are good friends to me over the years, in fact all of team RC!

Rose Cottage was a different mission entirely from T7C. I think it feels like it was made by a different person, but with so many years in between of real life issues, I guess I would be different, see things differently. Also again I think not having the influence of Wynne was a huge blow to Rose Cottage, I would have loved to work with Wynne again, but too many years had gone by and we lost contact. I have a feeling that we fell out too but I can’t be sure, or even why. It’s amazing how close you can bond with other TTLG members, and miss them when they are gone.

By the time Rose Cottage was completed I was working in the industry professionally and no longer had the energy to make missions, I think if I had any other job I would definitely have continued making missions because of the creative urge I have always felt, but to do that all day then go home on evenings and weekends to do the exact same thing was not working. So although I might not have been the most prolific of FM authors, I am glad to have been a part of TTLG.

TTLG and Thief were a massive part of my life for many years, I am so grateful for the direction it gave my life exactly when I needed it.

Thief was inspirational, TTLG was a supportive family and Dromed was catharsis. Thank you all.”

Purah’s answers to my questions:

-You were active in the Thief fan community all the way back in 1999. What was it like back in those early days? Had a sense of community developed, or was it more like a wild frontier?

There was certainly a community, but it was small. You knew all the names and who to talk to.  And of course, sometimes there were direct responses to questions from the devs.

-You created what are considered some of the greatest fan missions: Calendra’s CisternAutumn in Lampfire Hills, and Calendra’s Legacy. All these years later, what does it feel like having been so influential in a game’s fan community?

I’ve never really reveled in it.  It was great to get emails back in the day from people playing them, discovering the details.  But you know, if you are constantly creating, you leave a trail of things behind you.  For me it’s been everything from illustrations, paintings, thief missions, novels, role-playing game supplements, wood-working projects, hundreds of painted miniatures and so on.  As my interests change, I do different things, learn from and love each project and then sort of move on. If those missions serve as inspiration for anyone, of course I’m very happy about that. Most of all, if they are accepted as part of the Thief universe (even a parallel universe) that feels really great.

-Your two Calendra missions had a unique energy driving them, made up of things like the character of Garrett in them (voiced by the brilliant Loanstar), other characters and their lively voice acting, and the gritty feel of the atmosphere. What inspired your take on the world of Thief?

The cut scenes in the original Dark Project were just insanely good.  Leaving so much unsaid. That world was so confident (in its presentation) that you just accepted the weird tech and social structures at face value. It was just a brutal, brutal world. That resonated with me. The final cutscene in particular with garrett and the keeper walking in the snow. So lonely, defiant, memorable.  Works of art really in delivering so much information about the world and the story. They deeply inspired me, far beyond the radius of Thief.

-You worked with a team on the Calendra missions. What was it like working with a team versus working on your own?

It was frustrating and it was wonderful.  Wonderful because those guys knew things I didn’t and got things done that I couldn’t.  Frustrating, of course, when they dropped off the face of the earth.  But I have no hard feelings toward any of them.  All super talented guys.  So grateful they took part in Calendra’s Legacy.  It would NOT have come together without them.

Calendra’s Legacy was a technically advanced and large FM, especially for its time. How did you figure out such technical accomplishments in Dromed, especially in a time when there were less tutorials for it and FMs were relatively young?

For Legacy I had a ton of hours logged in editor and had communed early on with folks like Totality, unearthing the tremendous power of stims and receptrons.  I mean, that was the key.  Once you understood stims and receptrons you could do almost anything.  There were scant screen shots of data fields filled out and some scraps to start with.  Then you just iterated and tested and took notes, jotting down the settings you’d used along with descriptions of the results.  You compiled reams of notebooks filled with settings, ideas, plans.  It was like a wizard’s table, cluttered with junk and treasure. That was half the fun.

-What has it been like watching the Thief community continue to make great creations and stay alive all these years, especially knowing that you played a huge part in its early days?

There are people that occasionally send me links to Thief fan efforts even today.  So, although I’m not actively keeping tabs, I do hear about things. First off, it’s utterly loony.  Completely crazy that this game has captivated and continues to captivate.  Yet, of course, I completely understand why.  I lost endless hours to Dromed and most of them were wonderful.  So at the same time I think it’s crazy, I also think its special and awesome.  And if my efforts can be pulled apart, if the blue rooms with hopping frogs sending out stims can be dissected and instructional for new designers, then that’s really cool.  But I’d say, even more importantly, if the collective efforts of all Thief FM authors serve as a testament to this game’s greatness and inspire future game developers to make games with a broader range of verbs than “shoot” and “run”, then it’s a tremendous win.

-What would you say is the most important achievement of the Thief fan community? It can be a single piece, like one mission or one fan patch, or it can be something general, like great storytelling.

Oh it’s definitely the mind-set.  The thief fan community took Dromed and destroyed its limitations. That’s what comes out of the community.  They found ways to break every rule I can think of and that’s what creatives do.  You find a way.  Period.  And all the great FM authors did exactly that.

Thanks for the interview.  If you want to see what I’m keeping busy with these days, visit me at thebluebard.com.  Stay nimble, Taffers.

Random_Taffer’s answers to my questions

-You’ve made FMs for quite a while: from 2005 to the present day. What’s it been like making them over such a wide timespan while the Thief community has been evolving?

Ever since I discovered it as a child, Thief has been a constant part of my imagination. I love the world. The dark city, the eerie magic and mystery in its twisted streets, the balance between civilization and nature. All of it. It just really captured me right away and I’ve not looked back since. Sometimes I’m a little sad that the community has shrunk over the years, but it seems like we’ve had a recent uptick in activity ever since Skacky and Yandros put on last year’s contest and now the upcoming contest for Thief 2’s anniversary. Even if we eventually have to move on to a new medium or engine, I just don’t want to the world of Thief to end! Which is why I am trying to continue it in my own way!

Even if I go a few years without actually releasing anything, you can rest assured I’m always working on some thief project. For everything I release, there’s at least a dozen unfinished things on the back burner.

-You have a wide range of FM styles: simple ones like Evendale, contest FMs like the throwback Ashes and Dust, and off-the-wall premises like with Captain of the Guard. You also had a couple under the “Memento Mori” theme. What’s inspired these different directions?

I’ve always loved telling stories. In the early days I wanted to put my stories into the world of Thief, but I was still trying to find my niche. Evendale was never really finished all the way. Memento Mori was initially envisioned to be themed around being bound to a cruel fate, but after mission 2, I never quite new where to go with it and the more I worked the more I realized that maybe that story wasn’t right for the Thief world. I may still do something around that theme sometime as I enjoy it, but it will be with different characters probably. Ashes & Dust was my first truly classic release, I’d say. Captain of the Guard was actually supposed to be part of Memento Mori, but ended up becoming a sort of mini game. I’ve actually always wanted to somehow setup a thief map that was very randomized and is about base building and spawning units. Like a first person RTS, haha. I don’t know if it would work very well, but it would sure be interesting.

With my later releases like DCE and Godbreaker, I’ve really gotten into world building. Trying to add to the mythology and background of the dark world of thief, but without giving too much away and it reminaing largely a mystery.

-Godbreaker was like your magnum opus. It was not only a humongous FM but also one of the best. What was it like making such a contribution to the community? Compared to your earlier works, what was it like making a campaign mission-set?

The big picture is always where my mind is at. Even from the beginning before I knew how to do anything I was already trying to make long, sprawling campaigns. But back then I was very young and immature and didn’t really know how to even begin such a project, so what we got was usually a half finished little teaser of what was in my mind. Godbreaker was quite something to build. I had to overcome many techincal limitations even with newdark to do the swamp and it still didn’t quite turn out as I imagined it would, but what did end up being created I do like very much and am proud to have my name attached to it. Not to mention I was going through a very painful time in my personal life while I was building it, so I really used the project as a sort of productive escapism in a way. I know a lot of poeple question some of the decisions I made, but I made many of them for story reasons over gameplay. I know that might sound frustrating, but story is most important to me, so I always try to serve that. Even if a mission is really well built and pretty to look at, it’s got to have some story substance to pull me into it or else it can be a challenge for me. This is why I always loved Lady Rowena’s missions. I am overall pleased with the way it was received by the community. I will probably make some adjustments for the re-release which I plan to push out shortly before the next campaign comes out.

-You worked on Godbreaker for several years. Can you share some on the experience of seeing a personal project evolve? How did the Thief community’s growth alongside your project(s) affect your own development? Especially for your current projects, how have they grown in tandem with TTLG?

I usually begin with an overall concept and then start building and hacking away at it with no real detailed plan. Sometimes it stays pretty close to what I initially had in mind, but sometimes it ends up turning into something else entirely and I usually just roll with it. Godbreaker is the latter. Initially it started out as an entry for FireMage’s words contest. I still have the words I drew, in fact! Mission theme :Lantern Primary goal :Swordsman Plot related :Hand Present in mission :Frog Forbidden :Keeper So, if you think about these words, you can probably tell which mission was my main focus. Initially it was supposed to be a Garrett mission in a swamp, but eventually it changed into another character entirely due to some voice acting scripting issues. And I’m pretty glad it did! I didn’t make the contest deadline because the idea kept growing and growing. Truth be told, most of this took place away from TTLG. I had developed relationships with several authors and most of our chatting was done elsewhere, but always about Thief. Forums just don’t have the immediacy desired these days! To a newcomer, TTLG can actually look quite dead, but rest assured- the thief development community is alive and well! Most discussion takes place on chat services like discord and I’m really glad of it. I’ve really developed close relationships with other authors that I consider to be my dear, dear friends.

That said, TTLG will probably always be the Thief modding hub and I am so very thankful for its existance! I credit it with so much of what we’ve accomplished together to continue this wonderful world!

-You’ve collaborated on some projects with other TTLG members like Yandros, Tannar, and Drysils Chosen. What’s it like working with them versus working on your own?

I’ve lost touch with Drysil over the years, which is a shame. He moved away and we grew apart. But he’ll always be my friend. You have to give up a little creative license sometimes working with a team, but honestly it’s probably for the better. Pet projects can get out of hand with feature creep. And sometimes (ok, actually very often!) I get a crazy, hair brained idea that seems like such a good idea at the time, but ends up being ridiculous or infeasible. Luckily, Yandros and Tannar are usually there to talk me back from the ledge and get me to think about things in a different way. I can stomp my feet a bit and complain, but they’re usually right. Conversely, Yandros may have an idea that will work, but I’ll find very boring, so I’ll make suggestions on how to spice it up. Usually we come to a compromise and I think we’re the better off for it. Imagine playing DCE with no Delilah and no Mathien! (I hear you backrow baptists thinking it would have been better. Well, hush it! It wouldn’t have!)

-What would you say is the crowning achievement of the Thief fan community? It can be a single piece, like one mission or one fan patch, or it can be something general, like great storytelling.

Without hesitation, T2X. Absolutely T2X. What an achievement! And on old dark limitations too! I wish those guys were still around to see how far we’ve come with newdark. I think maybe they’d really like some of the new stuff we’ve come up with. But it goes without saying- we are certainly standing on the shoulders of giants.

skacky’s answers to my questions:

-You’ve been a longtime Thief fan and member of the TTLG community. What is it about Thief  you think has kept it alive for over 20 years? Likewise, what is it unique about Thief fans that keeps them going?

I think it’s a combination of a really great game as well as a powerful editor that isn’t too hard to learn, with which you can modify a whole lot of aspects of the game without having to learn how to code — which is why there are many fan-missions that don’t strictly adhere to the core mechanics of Thief. Thief fans are also very dedicated and you can feel the passion when you talk to them. They also all love the game but not always for the same reasons, and some have different visions as well which transpire in their works.

-I believe your first fan mission was released in 2012. What was it like contributing missions to this community after several years of making maps for other games?

I believe my first mission was made during that time, yeah. Well, as usual when I discover that a game I like has modding tools, I start working on levels for them really quickly. After having played through the original games a few times as well as a few FMs, it was natural for me to start building my own. I noticed there was a lack of missions for Thief 1 so I felt inclined to make a mission for it to test the waters. It was conceived with the original Thief 1 look in mind so next to behemoths such as Mission X or Rocksbourg it’s not that remarkable, but it was very well received so I carried on and the rest is history. Also, mapping for Thief made me improve quite significantly as well; my professional work pre and post-Thief (and Quake) is completely different in terms of quality.

-What has it been like watching the Thief community continue to push its limits in the past few years?

I always keep a very close eye on what is being made for Thief. NewDark not only pushed the limits but it also introduced nice things such as Squirrel, which is a scripting language authors can use to program even more complex scripts. NewDark also gave the community quite a few new authors who will never know how annoying it can be to battle with OldDark’s sometimes pathetic limits — such as 1,024 polygons in view maximum or the game crashes — but it is for our collective benefit. The upcoming contest is shaping up to be another success, even though it has about half of the amount of missions than the previous one, mostly due to contest fatigue I imagine. I had the chance to beta-test a few of them and they look like they’re going to be modern classics.

-You were one of the organizers of the Thief: The Dark Project 20th anniversary contest, which saw several great fan missions released. What was it like seeing the fan community become so active and produce so much for the original’s 20th?

It was incredible. I had no idea so many people would be on board with this, especially considering it was for Thief 1 which historically has seen far less missions than Thief 2 and the restrictions could put off a few veteran authors who relied on custom assets. These restrictions were put in place so that newbies could also enter and have a fighting chance because the use of stock-derived assets only meant that authors could focus on crafting really good levels instead of relying purely on aesthetics. The turnout was crazy, with 26 or 27 missions total. That’s nuts!

-You had your own contribution to that contest – The Sound of a Burrick in a Room. What was it like making such a retrospective contribution – that is, representing the original game’s style 20 years out specifically to commemorate it?

I was very happy to once again have Garrett meander through the twisted streets and treacherous rooftops of The City for sure, and with NewDark it was the perfect occasion to showcase The City as I imagine LGS would’ve if they had these new limits that allow for far more things to get rendered. There was always an interesting dichotomy between the way The City is shown in-game (like in Assassins) versus how it appears in the cutscenes where it’s far taller, so with The Sound of a Burrick in a Room it felt fairly logical for me to go with my trademark vertical design and go wild. The addition of a video briefing in the style of the originals for Thief 1 also helped immersion quite a lot.

-What would you say is the crowning achievement of the Thief fan community? It can be a single piece, like one mission or one fan patch, or it can be something general, like great storytelling.

That’s a tough one… I would say Thief 2X: Shadows of the Metal Age is most likely the crowning achievement, not necessarily in terms of overall quality (it is VERY good, though!), but in terms of impact. This fan-made expansion is a behemoth and is a great introduction to Thief FMs. I think it has changed the face of Thief forever and is usually among the first things I recommend when people want to check the community out.

Yandros’ answers to my questions

-You’ve been around TTLG since the early days, at least 2001. From the get-go you started making FMs. Did you ever see Thief FM creation as holding such longevity in your life?

Back then, not at all. I was at that time creating areas for a MUD, and this gave me a creative outlet in a new medium that actually included graphics.

-What was TTLG like back in those early days?

It seemed like a smaller community, but it’s important to note that I pretty much stayed only in the Thief forums and didn’t venture outside of it so that’s probably why. To some degree it is still like that, except most of the names have changed.

-How often do you visit your earliest FMs, like Easterwater Bank or Burrick’s Head Inn? In comparison to your FMs since, how do they demonstrate the growth of the fan community since those early days?

I don’t usually ever look at my released missions, except oddly enough ones designed purely as diversions for blowing off steam such as Hammerite Deathmatch or Snowball Fight. I think that it’s clear to anyone who has played both old and new FMs that newer ones tend to have higher quality standards, larger scope and greater ambition from a design standpoint. However the older missions have their charms, and sometimes a simple romp through a stock resource city or mansion mission is just what the doctor ordered. It all boils down to execution of solid gameplay design principles, and when done well I can enjoy the mission regardless of whether or not it looks flashy or has a grand story or production values.

-Many of your FMs are off-beat or centered on unique technical features, like The Summit, A Thief’s Holiday, The Mask of Agamemnon, Off the Record, or Snowball Fight!. What attracts you to building these non-normal FMs and why the focus on technical features?

As I said before, these are the ones I tend to return to myself because they are simpler and aren’t meant to be serious, and are even designed specifically to blow off steam the way FPS games are. Some of them were also learning experiences for me from a technical point, I had something I wanted to see if I could do. At the time, Hammerite Deathmatch was a very challenging mission to script and as I often do, I turned to my friends (Nameless_Voice in that case) to guide me in reaching the goal.  I guess I see these kinds of missions as a challenge of sorts, just to see if I can produce something playable that realizes the idea I started with.

-For making some of your missions, like The Drymian Codex or Cell 6, you’ve worked alongside other authors. What’s the creation process like working on a team rather than on your own?

I’ve started working collaboratively on all my recent missions, actually. Everything since DryCo has been at least me and one other person, usually Random_Taffer and/or Tannar.  I find they both complement my own style and strengths and weaknesses well, and we are able to share ideas but also criticize each other and reach consensus on how to proceed, which is vital when working with others. The large campaign we have in the works currently has a team of 13 people in various roles, so it is a new challenge trying to coordinate work and communication but we are finding ways to do so successfully.

-You spent around 14 years developing the Thief II campaign Death’ Cold Embrace. What was it like experiencing the growth of the Thief community in that time and how did that affect your development?

In many ways the evolution of the community played a role in DCE. As a few examples, the release of NewDark certainly had a huge impact, but also the general changes in production values and attention to detail as seen in FMs throughout the 2000’s influenced my desire to release something with some cinematic elements and a grand albeit traditionally tragic story. However, one thing I tried to maintain over the years was the visual style which was predominantly created by Polygon. Many of the original textures he used to build the base missions in 2004-2006 remained in the final release even though I could have substituted higher resolution replacements when NewDark hit the scene. I thought it was an important part of maintaining some degree of the original vision we had.

-You’re now a moderator at TTLG, and this after years of amazing contributions to the community. As an FM author and moderator, what would you say sets the Thief community apart?

Certainly the steadfast and long-lived dedication of our fans is rare among gaming communities, but also ours is one which has traditionally prided itself on being more courteous and helpful than typical gaming communities, including to newcomers. I’ve seen this not only among players but also (and perhaps moreso) among authors. To demonstrate the point, The Editor’s Guild basically went years without even having an active moderator because moderation was rarely ever needed.

-Similarly, what would you say is the crowning achievement of the Thief fan community? It can be a single piece, like one mission or one fan patch, or it can be something general, like great storytelling.

Unquestionably, although the author(s) are not personally known, NewDark has had a bigger impact on the community than any other single thing. Not only did it rejuvenate authors and the community in general, it greatly increased the tools available to authors to tell stories and create environments. Some argue that this has lead us down a path away from the core elements that made the games so great, and I understand that, but in recent years I think a lot of authors are learning to temper their work to keep that in mind and not just go wild creating lovely but empty shells of missions. I think the results of the TDP20 Anniversary Contest clearly show this trend back towards making missions which utilize the benefits of NewDark without compromising on the story or gameplay elements that made the Thief series so wonderful.

Melan’s answers to my questions

Thief 2 fan missions have been alive for near 20 years and the Thief fan community for longer than that. What do you think is special about Thief fans?

Thief on its own is a revolutionary game; incrementally improved on here and there, but never equalled as a comprehensive experience. It came together wonderfully… and it had a map editor (released after a fan petition, BTW). There are several games with active modding communities, but I think Thief is one of the very few viable ones for creating story-centric projects. In the end, it may have been this circumstance which has kept the community going – there are no realistic, accessible alternatives for the kind of experience Thief fans like.

What do you love about Thief and what has you kept you a fan of it all these years?

Thief offers a simple premise and a fairly firm canon (Garrett is a strongly established character – you don’t mess with him), but one that offers endless possibilities for expansion, interpretation, and odd side-experiments. Thief missions have lasting appeal. Personally, I have also been playing thief characters in tabletop games since the early 1990s, which may have had a hand in attracting and retaining my interest.

-You won the Classic Content in 2008 with Unbidden Guest. What was it like being recognized by the Thief fan community for this?

It felt great, but luck also played a role there – many established designers didn’t enter that contest because it didn’t allow for custom resources. I spent a lot of time mining the game’s resource base to find unused or obscure assets, and trying to use them in creative ways, to push against the limits. That paid off handsomely.

-What was it like building your first mission, especially in regards to the TTLG community? How has TTLG’s development and the Thief fans there influenced your design process over the years?

My work is rooted in the community – my first mission was a homage not just to the original games, but many of the fan missions I had also liked, and later studied to see how they had done it. But I was also making something to fill a void – in the mid-2000s, there was a strong design trend that emphasised Thief’s more realistic elements, and didn’t do much with the labyrinthine, weird aspect, which I preferred. These days, there is more variety.

-Your missions are typically sprawling, surreal cityscapes. What has inspired your style in Thief FMs?

Odd city architecture, the kind you find in places which have developed organically over history, has always interested me. Cities have all sorts of buried secrets: abandoned metro lines, cellars with peculiar legends around them, or stairs that had once gone somewhere, but now they end in a bare wall – this is where my missions come from. Fritz Lang’s paranoid crime thrillers, Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories, Carol Reed’s Third Man (and other film noir classics), and particularly Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language, a book championing a more organic, “irregular” urban design paradigm, have also influenced my thinking. However, they mostly came after I had already been a Thief fan for a long time.

-You built a mission in The Dark Mod as well as ones for Thief 1 and 2. What was it like working in The Dark Mod community in addition to TTLG?

Several ones actually, including two unreleased ones for a campaign that never happened. TDM is the TTLG community’s most ambitious and most successful project – a fully supported, free fan-made game that stays true to the spirit of the original games, and makes for a much more successful sequel than the official efforts. I hope people will continue to take interest in it, because the editing tools are among the friendliest out there, and over the years, it has become a very polished game. You can learn using the tools and have a nice, polished, medium-sized mission ready for play in about a month.

-What has it been like watching the Thief community continue to push its limits in the past few years?

Every few years, we get a few missions which accomplish things no one before had thought possible; then, a few years pass and it happens again. I don’t know how people keep doing it, but they do. I have recently tested two missions for the Thief 2 20th anniversary contest, and they have both been way beyond my expectations.

-What would you say is the crowning achievement of the Thief fan community? It can be a single piece, like one mission or one fan patch, or it can be something general, like great storytelling.

Beyond any single thing, the wealth of absolutely great stuff from over many more than 1000 fan-made missions should count for one. More broadly, we can perhaps also look at how Thief missions have cultivated a certain idea of gaming based on exploration, complexity, and freedom of choice. This idea was developed in studios like Looking Glass, Origin and Arkane, but it has mostly fallen by the wayside in the modern game industry. All that by amateurs – in the best sense of the word.

Thank you for reading! – twhalen2600 / Trevor

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