Thief: The Fan Made Project  


I reply here to what Mark Stevens wrote on the taffers mailing list (; you can join by subscribing at

Those interested in the fictional elements have *NOT* decided to leave the new engine coders.
And if it were the case, I think this would not be permanently. If engine coding would take several months, there would be no use in everybody else waiting until it got done.
It just so happened that the people interested in creating the fiction were also the same people who voted against a new engine, probably on the understanding that the coders who were interested in contributing to the project would help hack the Dark Engine about and tie everything -- new missions, cutscenes, music, etc. -- together.
Helping using the Dark Engine within its limits, sure. But hacking? No. Modifying the Dark Engine binaries for a substantial effect without its source code would take even longer than writing a new one. Of course, an extended mission loader/frame program is possible. But this will not help in the "long run" (>8 months or so), as I pointed out on several occasions before the voting, and on Lythas website.
We're all working towards the same goal here -- to continue the Thief universe in Looking Glass's absence.
I think the call for a vote for/against a new engine was incorrectly addressed.
I am in a conflict of principles here. On the one hand, this is a volunteer project, so it won't work without democratic structures, everybody agreeing etc. On the other hand, if you are right, who belongs in the group that makes the decisions, and who doesn't?
I think only those who were interested in contributing their coding skills to the project should have voted.
I chose the first principle and let everybody (present at the meeting) participate in the decision by voting . My thought was that those without a clear concept of what the vote was about would abstain, and many did.
Regardless of whether or not a new engine or an existing engine was chosen, the "t3missions gang" would have contributed.
I hope the "t3missions gang" still will, when we got a new engine ready. :-)
Please don't assume that us t3mission types don't want anything to do with your new engine -- that's simply not true.
I don't see it as a bad split-up with opposing groups or even animosities.
If the decision had been "we _all_ want a new engine", then the next steps would have been predominantly technical. I try to outline the concept I had for that:
  • First, a core story team would have to outline a rough story arc.
  • Then, we'd have a general vote on what makes Thief games so special - a organized one with three different perspectives and many options. From this, we would see the priorities for the features.
  • The technical group would have then chosen the technical platform accordingly, and this might have taken some time. Maybe it would take some more time to adapt editors etc, or even write anew.
  • Some activities could have run in parallel with that, like story writing, general texture making, art sketches, music, voice acting.
  • But the mission and map building, model making etc would have to wait until the tools were ready. Only after that, the two efforts could be joined again. All the mapmakers would have had to wait until that. (the concept goes on, but that is not of importance here).
The vote went for the existing engine. Thus, the mission- and mappakers can go to work soon, without long delay. That was the essential result of the vote, from my perspective. This will not keep the rather small group with coding experience from trying to acquire or build a new technical platform, but enables everybody else to go ahead with their ideas within the existing limits on the current engine, with the available and well-known tools.
The plan I anticipate for the t3missions group is this:
  1. form a core story group (or two, depends - not more than 3 in extreme!)
  2. this group agrees on a general story within a few days
  3. the missions abstracts are written -- with the mission abstracts belong tables on characters and creatures in the mission, as well as objects
  4. parallelized work
    • from the mission abstracts, the sound and music creatives can start to create music, sound and acoustic fragments matching the mood and settings
    • also, the texture and skin artists can start now drawing faces, items; those experienced with appropriate tools can create the objects needed etc.
    • each mission should be assigned one or a close working small group of mission designers, who can make small protypes and things like room templates. They mustnt be afraid of throwing things away at this stage
  5. the story group(s) write more about the missions; details, subplots, character background stories and the like. This helps everybody on a common picture of what the missions will be like.
  6. the mission maps get made; other material is put together in a common place. In this phase, down- and uploads occur often, administrative work becomes important. We need somebody keeping track of the versions here.
  7. fine-tuning and modifications until the missions are done.
  8. integration with cutscenes etc. to a complete game.
I the current situation, I recommend not working on too many missions at the same time. Better just on one with much workpower, than too little progress on too many ends. On the other hand, the more people need to sync, the slower and unnerving it gets.
So, t3mission folks, work out your story arcs. Coordinate a bit, maybe form groups or whatever. Write a story abstract from beginning to end, with sections on each mission. See above list.
There is a large need for coordination. The lists of what object, creature, texture, skin, compound object, voice, sound, music etc is needed in each missions should be added to a large one (still referencing where each thing gets used). From there, the artists can see what jobs are left to do and volunteer. I have more detailed thoughs on that, but I already have written too much here.
So, I'll put the ball in the t3coders court. Let us know if you want us to create the fiction for your game. We'd love to. Yes, it would be easier for us to simply create a mission pack a la CoSaS, but an all-new engine project sounds like fun.
Um, we are /really/ few with enough coding experience to get something moving. We have enthusiastic and clever programming starters, who will certainly do a lot of work, but game programming ain't easy, and not just code grinding either - if his machine were still available, I'd recommend reading Tim Stellmachs little essay on that. Anybody got a copy ("budding.htm")? I'd appreciate much if anybody could send me the file.
No, we can't do a all new engine, as much as we would like to and as it would be appropriate for such a special game as Thief. We will have to do with an existing one. We are currently in the process of evaluating engines, and found some promising candidates. The only thing that is almost sure is that Dromed will probably be of little with a new engine. But everything is still possible...
Don't worry. The t3coders will pop their heads up and call for t3missions help as soon as they got something they consider worth of becoming the Thief3 technical platform.