Buffing The Bonehoard: Fixing GOG’s Thief

By Craig Pearson on February 1st, 2012 at 4:45 pm.

Thunk.
Now that my initial excitement has waned to a deep, purple coloured throb in the centre of my soul, the stark reality of GOG.com‘s Thief port has settled in. It runs, which is the big step up from my original version, but it’s not widescreen, the resolution is stamp sized, and it’s a bit grimy. Fret not, lovely Taffers, for I’m about to tell you how to make it work. And it’s ridiculously simple.

I’d hoped that these fixes would be complicated, and as a result I might be able to put “1337 haxx0r” on my CV, but the truth is the Thief community has done a remarkable job in updating the game. The main problem with GOG’s version is that it runs at a resolution and aspect ratio that steam-powered PCs used to find acceptable. Nowadays our eyes are 50% further apart and monitors have widened to compensate. These so-called “widescreen monitors” run Thief with borders down each side. The old engine also looks a little bit naff.

To fix I’d first avoid installing the game in Program Files. The mods seemed to take when I redirected the game’s installer to simply nestle on my C drive’s root. Through The Looking Glass user Voodoo47′s brought a group of community’s fixes to the GOG forums. All you need to do is copy all the mods from that zip into your root Thief folder and change the cam.cfg’s “game_screen_size” line to that of your desired resolution. Mines reads: “game_screen_size 1920 1080″. If you have a Radeon card, there’s an extra step involved detailed in the “hdradeon_winxp” folder. The result was 98% satisfying. A few effects are a bit flickery, but it’s remarkably sharp and playable.

Permit me to show you with the least dynamic screenshot of all time.

Clicky for bigness.

There’s also a problem with the mission briefing videos. Windows 7/Vista has pretty much forgotten how to deal with the codec that Looking Glass used. You can remind it by creating a text file with the following:

cd c:\windows\sysWOW64

regsvr32 ir50_32.dll

pause

If you have a 32bit version of W7 or Vista, delete the first line. Rename the document a BAT file (thief.bat is fine), and place it in the root drive of your PC. Run it as a Windows administrator and after you restart your PC and they should be playing for you now.

If this is your first time as a Thief you might not know about the legacy that the game has. Besides casting deep, long shadows, the Thief community kept plugging away creating fan-missions years after the game came out. This is where to find them. With Thief 2 soon to appear on GoG.com, this should keep us all stealing until Thief 4.

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82 Comments »

  1. Jockie says:

    I can tell you that Newton Aycliffe is basically an industrial park, that some house appear to have sprung up around in the North-East of England. The most famous person from Newton Aycliffe was the Romanian entry in the last Eurovision song contest.

    I have now run out of Newton Aycliffe facts, which is quite worrying since I used to work there.

  2. Zyrxil says:

    Ah Indeo 5, the codec that will just not go away.

    • goldfire says:

      It’s Windows. Nothing ever goes away.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “It’s Windows. Nothing ever goes away. ”

      Yes, thats why you have to use an administrator system command to make it work…..

    • BoZo says:

      I CANT USE MY DAMN GAMEPORT CONTROLLERS ANYMORE

  3. Shih Tzu says:

    I was vaguely aware years ago that the diehard Thief community was creating fan missions, but I never actually played any of them. Anyone have any recommendations?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I can’t remember most of their names off the top of my head, but Thief 2x is a must-play. You’ll have to wait a week or so until Thief 2 drops, though.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      I think they even created a full on expansion campaign for T2 -> http://www.thief2x.com/

      Anyone ever play it?

    • db1331 says:

      Oh, thief 2 is coming that soon?

    • diebroken says:

      In my opinion (yes mine, all mine!), Thief 2X is better much than Thief: DS, and well worth playing through…

    • Anguy says:

      I’d also recommend checking out http://www.thiefmissions.com/search.cgi?search=&sort=release&limit=20#m
      for even more missions because afaik thief-thecircle isn’t that up to date.

      Fanmissions get even more impressive with T2 because of the slightly better engine. There are a bunch of really good FMs out there everyone should have played :)

    • Premium User Badge

      ordteapot says:

      It’s possible the world has changed since I was in school, but, from what I remember, Thief: The Circle is the go to site for all things Thief modding. They’ve got a map database searchable by rankings, and a couple-few formerly in progress mods/expansions which may or may not be completed now.

      edit: apparently the world has changed, so check out that there thiefmissions mentioned above

    • Anguy says:

      I guess the instructions on how to play FMs from the circle are still pretty nice, even though Darkloader is mostly self-explanatory anyway…

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      @db1331

      Actually, I don’t really know. Apparently it was confirmed by a mod on GOG, so I just assumed it’s be next or nearly next on the release list.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I seem to remember Jordan Thomas made a really good Thief FM prior to joining the Thief 3 team but I can’t find it right now.

    • speedwaystar says:

      I was vaguely aware years ago that the diehard Thief community was creating fan missions, but I never actually played any of them. Anyone have any recommendations?

      i could search alt.games.thief for my old posts on the subject, but meanwhile, from the depths of my hard drive, here are a bunch of zip files dated 2001 – 2002 featuring the creme de la creme of Thief 1 & 2 fan missions, including their community ratings. 10/10 was reserved for “as good or better than the original content”, so rest assured that these were all unmissably great.

      here you go: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/63477/Top-10-Thief-1%262-Fan-Missions.zip (70mb)

      contents (score – version – name – (author))

      11.0 – Thief 2 – The Inverted Manse v 1.1 (Sledge).zip
      10.0 – Thief 2 – Crom’s Blade (Schwaa).zip
      10.0 – Thief 2 – Benny’s Dead v 1.2 (Gingerbread Man).zip
      09.7 – Thief 2 – Equilibrium (SilentSleep).zip
      09.5 – Thief 2 – Ranstall Keep 2.4 (Dahjianta).zip
      09.5 – Thief 2 – Raid on Washout Central v 1.1 (Steven Hindley).zip
      09.5 – Thief 1 – The Vigil (Banshee).zip
      09.5 – Thief 1 – The Death of Garrett (Trickster).zip
      09.5 – Thief 1 – Bloodstone Prison (Kung Fu Gekko).zip
      09.0 – Thief 1 – Lord Edmund Entertains (Banshee).zip

  4. Lone Gunman says:

    Thief is one of those games that I wished I had played when is graphics would not have seemed dated :(
    Oh well I managed to enjoy playing Dues Ex not long ago so i guess i will be able to enjoy this. :)

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      It should be much less noticeable than Deus Ex, if you’ve got the brightness set correctly.

    • Pidesco says:

      Thief’s graphics were always quite dated, even at release.

      What isn’t dated, however, is the sound. In fact, it’s still ahead of almost every game ever released.

    • Muzman says:

      Ok, here’s where I come in.
      What games had better graphics than Thief when it came out?
      Hmmm?
      Half Life
      aaaand?…
      Unreal if you ignore the character models. (the sky is so purdy you can I guess)
      That is literally it.

      This notion says more about us than where the game actually sits in history. I have pretty much the same sense about it too, for all that, based on nothing at all. Whatever the latest graphics benchmark is taints even the typical and good anywhere nearby in time. Particularly back then. It’s funny how that works.

    • Pidesco says:

      Shogo, Rainbow Six, Sin are three games that looked better than Thief.

    • Muzman says:

      It’s been a while since you’ve really looked at any of them, I dare say. They’re barely scraping Quake 2 generation wise, for one thing. None of them have dynamic lighting. R6 and Sin barely have any lighting at all. Shogo’s suit designs are pretty good for the time and that takes the edge off a bit. Sin’s just an ugly game, except for that one bank level that was passable and kind of shocking in its day for being broad daylight in something resembling reality.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      A better way of putting it would be to say that even when it came out, Thief had fairly low poly count models.

      This a compromise due to a) it’s dynamic lighting system and b) it’s object rich environment.

    • Muzman says:

      I don’t think that’s even true. I know from skinning them that they aren’t the most efficiently made things in the world (LG’s home brew motion capture system made things quite fudgy, if memory serves). Without hard numbers it’s hard to say. But look at Rainbow 6 and Sin and Unreal even. These weren’t highly detailed creations with a lot of facial detail or whatever. It was Half Life that had these things and generally no one else.

      I’m not suggesting anyone has to like the way Thief looks. Its colour schemes and textures aren’t always the best. It’s this idea that it had dated and sub par graphics that’s hung around it pretty much since shortly after it came out. There’s really no reason to think this that I can see, despite sometimes thinking it myself. Thief’s graphics were very much the norm at that time and ahead of the curve in some minor ways.

  5. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    What is the root drive of my pc?

    • Wraithkal says:

      I guess he thinks we’re all unix users. I’ve never heard x:\ referred to as “root” on a Windows PC ^^

    • johnpeat says:

      He means root directory of your main drive – if that doesn’t make any sense to you, please do NOT attempt any of this stuff as you’ll probably erase your PC :)

    • Milos says:

      Perhaps he’ll even release something unspeakable upon the world. There are evil things lurking in the roots of our folders.

    • steviesteveo says:

      @Wraithkal:

      It’s not a UNIX term. Any hierarchical file system will have a “root” to the folder structure “tree”.

      Superusers and admin accounts that are called root is a different sense and they’re totally UNIX things, though.

    • Premium User Badge

      bear912 says:

      I misread “superusers” as “suspenders”. Sentence still made sense.

    • wodin says:

      C:\

      Thats you root drive so to speak..

      If you bought a ready made PC with one HD you will only have a C:\ directory anyway.

  6. Tiax says:

    For someone who never played a Thief in is life, is it better to start with the first or the second opus ?

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      Start with the first, then play all of them obsessively. The second has somewhat tighter level design and drops a few elements that didn’t fit so well, but the first has a better story.

    • Prime says:

      …and a villain who doesn’t sound unfortunately like Droopy Dawg:

      “Hewwo, Gawwet. My name is Kawwas, and I’m going to kiww yew.”

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      I thought his voice acting was perfect, he was supposed to have a speech impediment and it gave him an bizarre, almost ethereal quality, similarity to Droopy Dog notwithstanding.

      Also Stephen Russell voiced acted both Garrett and Karras.

    • Rich says:

      @Prime: Kim Jon Il is the baddie?

  7. Delusibeta says:

    I had a quick look at the TTLG forums, and a few of them seem to be doing their best No Mutants Allowed impersonations over this. Pass!

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      This confuses me? Are you passing on the game because some people are grumpy on the internet?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Their reaction was pretty silly (and predictable), but I wouldn’t let their chilidsh forums put you off from the site in general. TTLG is a really, really great resource that’s been instrumental in keeping games like Thief and the System Shocks alive. I just wouldn’t want to actually post there…

    • Muzman says:

      You’ll never catch me saying the place is all roses and green fields, but in this case I’m at a loss as to what they’re talking about. There’s some people debating the price, but other than that I don’t see anything.

      What you want to do is go in and say how much you love the Third Person view in Deadly Shadows, how Stealth is just naturally better in that viewpoint and makes more sense and that’s why all the better games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear made more money. In fact you think Deadly Shadows is the best in the series and has a really cool name to boot!

    • Premium User Badge

      Hidden_7 says:

      Even saying that you thought Deadly Shadows was a decent entry in the series, or counts as a Thief game is likely to raise some hackles.

    • diebroken says:

      “seem to be doing their best No Mutants Allowed impersonations”

      I know NMA and DAC aren’t happy that Fallout 3 was turned into an FPS (and that it was redone by Bethesda and not Black Isle Studios). Is that what you meant?

      A lot of other communities are annoyed that their beloved game series, such as Syndicate and X-COM, which are now also getting the FPS game treatment (although, now ‘proper’ remakes are being done). So it’s OK for everyone else to bitch and complain about the FPSification of an old game series but not the Fallout community pre-Fallout 3 Bethesda?

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      I think it’s more Fallout fans’ attitude that people make fun of. Certainly, there are legitimate criticisms that can be leveled against the Bethesda Fallouts, but the NMA crowd act as though the only proper way to modernize Fallout would’ve been to make the exact same game (plot, setting, dialogue, gameplay, all of it) as the first one, but higher-res. Which is clearly madness.

      If I may take a detour into Consolevania here, they’re kind of like a much less creepy version of the Sonic the Hedgehog fanboys who freak out and declare the franchise “RUINED FOREVER” every single time a new Sonic game comes out because it doesn’t feel precisely like Sonic 2.

      Also, it’s worth noting that the Bethesda Fallout games, despite their shift in perspective, do provide a very similar experience to the old games in terms of raw features. We can argue about the quality of the implementation of those features, but you can’t argue that the new games don’t, say, assign a numerical hit chance percentage in VATS that’s higher or lower depending on your skill, or that they don’t allow for multiple approaches to problems in a lot of quests, many of which are non-violent. The essential features that define the Fallout series are almost all there in some capacity. It is, at worst, a first-person RPG, not an “FPS”.

      The X-Com FPS, by contrast, seems to have almost none of the elements that made the original game so beloved; it appears to be a Bioshock game with an X-Com skin, more or less. And while it might be a very good game indeed, it isn’t hard to see why X-Com fans would be angry, because the game simply doesn’t appear to possess the basic attributes that make the old games so beloved.

    • diebroken says:

      That was actually a great view you put forward there, thanks. I can understand though about being all that worked up about Van Buren, being in line with the orignal Fallout 1 and 2, and then making such a shift (although not completely different as you pointed out) to Fallout 3 they way Bethesda wanted to make it.

      I think I’d prefer the orignal style of play for the new Syndicate and X-COM games, and I’m hopeful about Thief 4 being just as great as the others!

    • Guvornator says:

      “the NMA crowd act as though the only proper way to modernize Fallout would’ve been to make the exact same game (plot, setting, dialogue, gameplay, all of it) as the first one, but higher-res.”

      Bethesda DID make the exact same game. Think about it – Fallout was a massive game filled with people who looked the same and was riddled with bugs. Fallout 3 was…aha, but you’re ahead of me*

      *I should point out that I loved both

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Well, I wasn’t going to mention it, but there you go.

      (And I love both too!)

  8. eks says:

    Isn’t the entire premise behind GOG that you don’t have to mess about trying to get it to work correctly on our “super computers” with high resolutions and modern OS?

    • Premium User Badge

      Johnny Law says:

      Yes, but they don’t incorporate “fan patches” or anything else that changes the look or behavior of the game, as far as I know.

      I’m a little surprised that they didn’t take care of the video codec issue, but stuff like widescreen resolutions and new texture packs is beyond what they deal with.

    • Premium User Badge

      Johnny Law says:

      …and it looks like GoG just updated it to fix the codec problem.

    • Phantoon says:

      Right. Though I have to load my copy of Populous 2 up by going into the graphics managers THEN launching the game, all my other purchases have worked flawlessly.

      Like Descent! I forgot how insanely hard that game was. But fun!

  9. skorpeyon says:

    I remember this game! I got it back when it came out… when all I’d really played before it in terms of 3D gaming was the Myst series (I know, not truly 3D, but not exactly 2D either since you ENTER the environments and such), Half-Life, Quake, Duke Nukem etc. Possibly a few other games of the shoot-’em-up variety. Hadn’t even really had a computer all that long at this point. So of course I installed it, started it, ran headfirst into the guards, died, tried a few more times with the same result, then RAGEQUIT!

    Really tempted to try it again now that I’m a more mature gamer and I now comprehend the concept of stealth…

  10. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    TTLG Represent! Glad to see we’re still helping folks out :)

  11. GreatGreyBeast says:

    Holy crap! If GOG has Thief running, the chances of seeing System Shock 2 in the near future just got MUCH brighter!

    • Jip says:

      SS2 widescreen that works on W7 even with a half decent texture pack would be sweet. I put my name on the list for a SS2 GOG release ages ago. It feels like years.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but it’s my understanding that the publishing rights to System Shock 2 are tied up between several parties who either aren’t interested in a re-release, or can’t come to an acceptable deal.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Doesn’t ddfix work in Windows 7?

    • GreatGreyBeast says:

      Well, yeah, rights are another thing. But if the dark engine itself is at least less an obstacle, that’s a big step. And maybe it will prod the parties involved into coming to a deal. SS2 is only THE most requested game on the site.

      Plus, it occurs to me that with the announcement of 1999 Mode for Bioshock: Infinite, this year would be awesome timing to get SS2 back into wide availability.

    • BigSmallFeet says:

      I think you’re trying to out bold me

      edit: OK, no you’re not. Something’s wrong with the comment system. AKA it’s busted

    • Stuart Walton says:

      @Jip About 3 years ago in my case.

    • Jip says:

      @Stuart – I only found out about GOG in Sept 2010. I’d never heard of it before then. OFC the first thing I did was register and add my name to the SS2 list.

      Art itself is apparently timeless, but sadly, computer gaming art is subject to OS compatibility =/

    • ZB says:

      GOG didn’t get Thief running. It’s been running fine for years (as have Thief II and System Shock 2). What GOG got was the legal right to sell it.

  12. Zarunil says:

    Damn Taffers!

    I remember attempting map making, and failing. Good times.

  13. Jason Moyer says:

    Gawn dawn t’the bar pits tomaraw

  14. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    Are they any workarounds for the key bindings? Specifically, I found it hard to configure keys so that the default movement (in _all_ directions) was slow, but when you pressed a modifier (say, [Shift]) you then moved faster _in all directions_. Seems obvious but I couldn’t for the life of me figure this out. Even tried writing a AutoHotKey macro with no luck.

    P.

    • dethtoll says:

      I’ve always ended up using, believe it or not, Mouse2 for running.

    • Qazi says:

      I thought the controls were designed so Garrett can only run forward.
      You can’t strafe run, or run backwards.
      You can walk WASD, creep WASD, but only run W.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      One key binding I wish the game had (which The Dark Mod has) is a dedicated key for mantling. The number of times Garret fails to mantle and instead jumps noisily on the ground is infuriating. Also, what the hell does Garret wear on his feet? They sound like clogs!

    • ZB says:

      Unfortunately, there is no true speed toggle in Thief like there is in Thief II. The binding labeled “Speed Toggle” actually just activates the “creep” speed modifier. So it only works as a speed toggle in combination with fast-movement bindings.

      Also, everyone who says Thief has awful graphics can go fellate a Burrick. Thief’s graphics may be low-poly and low-resolution, but the art design is fantastic. Thief’s weird blend of fantasy and steampunk remains visually evocative even today.

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      “The binding labeled “Speed Toggle” actually just activates the “creep” speed modifier. So it only works as a speed toggle in combination with fast-movement bindings.”

      Eek. Ah well, if anyone can point me to a “best practise” for the key bindings, would appreciate it. Just remember it being very frustrating last time I tried.

      P.

    • ZB says:

      This may be sacrilege to some, but I set up my bindings with running as the default. It’s not too bad though– Garrett’s running speed is still pretty slow compared to Gordon Freeman’s run. Then I map the speed toggle to Shift, for when I need to move quietly.

      Also, I map “next inventory item” to Mouse3 (center-click), since Thief doesn’t recognize the mouse wheel, and the compass to F, for a handy way to clear any other selected inventory item. It sucks to accidentally waste a health potion or flashbomb when all you were trying to do was frob something.

      Overall, Thief’s key config screen is a fascinating artifact from the era when FPS control was transitioning from keyboard to mouse. There’s even a lookspring option!

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I use mouse 3 for running — which sounds awkward, but I actually like it so much I find myself accidentally trying to use it in other first person games.

  15. Premium User Badge

    maicus says:

    Alright, this convinced me to pick the game up. So chucked it in and played through the first level, fantastic atmosphere, so nice being forced to use map reading skills and read spacial relationships. Finishing that level, started up the mines.

    NOBODY

    SAID ANYTHING

    ABOUT ZOMBIES

    Its nice fighting the undead and it actually being bewilderingly terrified for a change. I’m not even sure if it was a difficult enemy, I quit that second and started comfort eating. Whens the last time a modern FPS made me do that?

    • MuscleHorse says:

      This is half of what made Thief. It was terrifying.
      The sequel did (mostly) away with the undead but added a truly despicable enemy in the Mechanists. I’m mostly repeating what has already been said here but this is really one of the greats and those of you yet to try it should really get it. Yes, it has awful graphics – they were awful at the time but the gameplay is still unparalleled as is the sound design.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Being fragile is why the Thief games are far and away the best stealth games ever made. Yes, someone who is good with the sword mechanics can hold their own against 1 or 2 enemies but basically direct confrontation = death. Also being a first-person game unlike most contemporary stealth titles means you have limited situational awareness and have to rely on sound as much as visual cues in order to avoid those deadly direct confrontations. I think those two things combined with proper simulation-like mechanics plus large levels that feel more like real spaces than game spaces are why Thief is still king of the stealth genre nearly 15 years on.

  16. codename_bloodfist says:

    I honestly don’t understand why anyone would buy this. Not only is the port shoddy at best, but there have been previous releases that work just as well. Needless to say, not a penny will go to the people who actually poured their blood, sweat and tears into these games.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I don’t see your point. Not a penny would go to the developers no matter how the game was purchased.

  17. Inimitable says:

    What do you mean, least dynamic? That man is goin’ to th’ bear pits tomorrow!

    And I wanna go with.