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The Making of
THE METAL AGE
Behind the Scenes at
Looking Glass Studios
I think you can think about the new things we're doing in Thief 2, along sorta two,
major areas. One is I think we're gonna end up with a lot tighter design based on our
experiences with Thief 1.
Um, the second thing that is gonna be new about Thief 2 is we're gonna improve the
technology of the engine some.
Hopefully we'll be able to expand a little bit, although we don't want to change the nature
of sound in thief, we don't want to have like disco tracks in the back ground.
We put together a really great team for Thief 2, we've got some of the original team back,
the lead designer Tim Stellmach was the lead designer on Thief, uh, Randy Smith was also who
was a senior designer on thief 2 was also one of the designers on Thief. We've also got Sara
Verrilli who's a long time looking glass person who's a designer on Thief. We've added a bunch
of new folks too, um, we've got Emil Pagliarulo who was the editor and chief at Adrenaline Vault,
um, a person we've worked with a whole lot, um, who's done a lot of voice acting for us, in fact
she's a really talented designer too, Terri Brosius. Another new designer is Mike Chrzanowski
who's a long time game player and he's come up with some really fresh exciting new ideas. Um, Rich
Carlson, Zdim to the Quake community out there. Um, another really talented designer Rich brought
along with him from Ion Storm is Iikka, um Iikka's working on some really exciting levels and his
work's really turning out terrific. We've also got a designer away from Reality Bites who um he'd
worked on Dark Vengeance in the past Rafael Brown. And we've got a little bit of extra assistance
from Mike Ryan who worked on the original Thief and was also a designer on System Shock 2.
One big difference between Thief and a lot of action games is that it's got a lot of story to it.
An experience that tells the story but doesn't take away from the action. At no given time are we
pulling you out of the game, you get some information in your briefing and some information in
cutscenes, you hear some of it, like overheard in conversations that we stage, all told I think I
counted up, one day like, 7 or 8 like individual little ways that we send out little tiny packets of
story at you.
The game concept in Thief was developed in stages, we actually started off with a completely different
game, Dark Camelot, where it was this sort of Arthurian setting but Mordred was hero, King Arthur was
this, ya know, corrupt despot, and there was sort of swash buckling, like, fight of the underdog against
Um, one of the biggest challenges in working with Thief 2's fiction is trying to get all the mission
designs well integrated in to the plot, uh, when we worked on the Thief plot, um, it was plot first
and then missions came outta that, in this case we tried to think of really good missions first and
then there's a little bit retrofitting work in terms of getting the plot to work well around the missions.
All the time that you're finding out the story in thief you're also playing the game, it's integrated.
I'm working on a level called Song of the Caverns, and I really can't say too much more about it
because it's secret.
I guess one of the things that I enjoy most about designing Thief levels and working on Thief is
trying to find multiple ways for a player to solve any given problem.
There are 3 main artists, there is me who's lead artist...
Steve Pearsall: Mark's such a fanatic when he took his vacation he went to Europe this year an took a
camera along with him and took thousands of pictures.
...Then there's Daniel Thron who is working on the cutscenes doing recurring role footage in Thief 1
and he's having Jen Hrabota to help him.
Steve Pearsall: She's doing both 3D modeling and some artwork in support of Dan's work on the cutscenes.
It's a lot more interesting to do artwork for cutscenes, where you really have a felling for the character.
Matt Gilpin right now is working on, he's the only artist on Thief Gold.
Probably the best thing for Thief is it really gives a mood, like a feeling, you have very good
sense of environment.
Mark Lizotte: Karen Wolff is helping on the briefings.
Steve Pearsall: Karen is very talented and she worked on Flight 3.
For our programming team on Thief 2, um, we've got Pat McElhatton who's been a long time Looking Glass
person and he's worked on a lot of our sort of sound technology. We've also got Bill Farquhar who's
actually done a lot of the special effects for our flight simulator line. A new hire Alex Duran he's
doing a lot of the sorta basic technology with the installer and the build system.
A game engine is a lot more then just a renderer it's the real sum of all the components in the engine,
the AI system, the object system, the renderer, the sound, and that's one of the things that makes the
thief engine so outstanding is the sum total of all of those parts really takes the engine beyond what
most other engines can do.
Most people think that playtesting in fun and they get to play video games all day, and in that they're
right, and it's really fun and you get to play video games all day, but a playtester really also has to
be really meticulous and uh just do tedious work that gets to be no fun at all.
I can read the wheel of fate, um, will thief gold ship on Monday?
Unknown: please no, please no!
Jesse King: It's a heart so, things are looking good I must say.
Playtesting allows people that don't have any idea how the game works, to give their feedback and, ya
know, say "I don't understand this, you guys have been working on this way too long, you know plot and
the story and it makes sense to you cause you make it up but it doesn't make sense to us.
The audio department is three people, it's myself, a guy named Kemal, and a guy named Ramin, it's nice to
have them onboard, they, we pretty much everyone splits duties and does everything.
Thief is very interesting sound wise because it's one of the first games that really uses sound as a
central part of the gameplay. You work hard on the sound and it's nice to have a game that really shows
In Thief 2 hopefully we'll be able to expand a little bit, although we don't change the nature of sound
in Thief, we don't want to have like disco tracks in the background, um, because it's not appropriate but
hopefully we'll be able to do some more involved things.
So after Thief 2 obviously there's talk about Thief 3, there's talk about other sorts of games, Looking
Glass is also famous aside from action/adventure games for fantasy role-playing games and Thief would
be a really natural fit for that. You know, some games have the kind of, like, really hit potential where
you start seeing the action figure, the comic book. At Looking Glass we have some tremendous art talent,
ya know, some great sculptors, great artists, guys who've done comics books before, um ,and I'd like Thief
to be the kind of game where you can go down to your local comic book store and pick up the Garrett and
Victoria action figures, that'd be great.
Someone asks me what I do, well, we make little explosion sounds and we write little stupid songs for
computer games and we get paid for it, well people go, "geez how do I get that job?"
Working at Looking Glass is like working at a college dorm.
You can work any hours you want as long as it's 18 a day, so ,you know.
Working at Looking Glass is a little bit like being stuck on a long bus ride with 50 of your brothers.
I haven't actually worked anywhere else in corporate America except when I was temping as a secretary,
It's very different.
camera operator/executive transvestite
(in order of appearance)
rob $ caminos as garrett
steve pearsall project leader
tim stellmach lead designer
eric brosius audio designer
randy smith level designer
sara verrilli level designer
emil pagliarulo level designer
terri brosius level designer
mike chrzanowski level designer
rich carlson level designer
iikka keranen level designer
rafael brown level designer
mike ryan level designer
mark lizotte lead artist
daniel thron cutscene artist/fiction consultant
matt gilpin artist/agent 7
karen wolff briefings artist
pat mcelhatton programmer
bill farquhar programmer
alex duran programmer
lulu lamer lead playtester
jesse king wheel of fate guru
kemal amarasingham audio designer/dirty_wh***
ramin djawadi audio designer/the Q
special thanks to the management,
marketing department and finance department
of looking glass studios.
thanks to the flight III, flight combat,
system shock 2 development teams,
irrational games and eidos.