Pre-Thief: Dark Camelot Footage

By Craig Pearson on May 17th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

THIEF KEY ART, APPARANTLY!
“Hello, can you sssshchch – No turn the knob to the right… Hello? RPS? Yes, I think they’ve got me. Thanks, Kieron! Miss you! Hello, RPS. This is Craig. I accidentally fell into another universe when I left a spoon in the bowl of soup I was microwaving. Cara’s chilli-laden recipe, combined with the destabilised positronic matrix caused by the spoon, dumped me in another universe. It’s much like our own, only Kieron is now Prime Minister, running the country on a platform of Partying Hard, and the Thief series was never made. Instead the game it was before it became Thief, Dark Camelot, carried on development. Do you want to see it? Good. I’m transmitting the footage I have for you sssshchssscht- in the hope sssshchssscht better sssshchsssch understand sssshchssscht…”

I’m not really elsewhere. It was all an illusion. These videos actually come from former Looking Glass Video Director Josh Randall, who unearthed a VHS of his unseen work and kindly uploaded it Youtube. Thief was previously an RPG set in Camelot, built in the Stargate Engine. You would’ve played as Mordred, fighting a despotic Arthur. Merlin was a psychopath and the knights hired muscle. Not ridiculous enough? Your goal was to unearth the truth about the Holy Grail.

Behold, as the fogs of time part, see into what once was but now will never be.

It was a game that would eventually become Thief. It had one more step on the road, being title The Dark Project. This old, old, trailer for The Dark Project has much more of what we remember of the game that stole our hearts.

I think my dream job would be to go through stuff like this, to talk to developers about games that formed the basis for famous games, and to pinpoint where they took off in another direction. Like when Half-Life starred Ivan the space biker.

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25 Comments »

  1. abandonhope says:

    Dark Camelot and Stargate sound like the terrible names I’d (purposefully) give to a game and engine in Game Dev Tycoon.

  2. tarasis says:

    Quite the change from Dark Camelot to Dark Project, yet similar at the same time. Craig if you can find out more about why they shifted I’d love to know.

  3. brulleks says:

    I quite like the idea of Dark Camelot – reminds me a little of Mists of Avalon. While not the most brilliant piece of writing, it was an interesting feminist take on the grail myth.

  4. fish99 says:

    Interesting that the environments look like they’re straight out of Thief – same textures and I’m sure some of those rooms made it into the game.

    TBH I’m glad they didn’t go with the Camelot setting since they ended up making a very cool world.

  5. DrScuttles says:

    That seems quite interesting. I wonder if they threw together a few scenarios to play through before realising that the combat is a bit naff while the stealth elements really worked. And then designed the game around that. The name Dark Camelot is a bit crap, but hey, 90′s.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Well the was the name for the project at the time, but it never got far enough into production for anyone to find out if it would have been the final name. Remember that Thief went solely by its eventual sub-title for a large part of its development, after the switch from the Camelot concept.

    • belgand says:

      Eh… when you pause for a few seconds to forget how good the game is “Thief” is a rather crappy name as well. Not much better than “War Fighter” when you get down to it.

  6. Ninja Dodo says:

    For those that haven’t seen these… related and also good:

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC4AF467F9391D767 (Spector interviews LGS alums + others)

    http://gambit.mit.edu/updates/audio/looking_glass_studios_podcast/

  7. yhancik says:

    @craig, there’s a whole subreddit dedicated to early builds / unreleased prototypes and stuff http://www.reddit.com/r/UnreleasedGames. As well as a website: http://www.unseen64.net/

  8. diebroken says:

    “The Dark Project” (Pre-Thief) trailer reminds me just how great the Dark Engine (DE) still is. Next to the DOOM engine and the original Unreal Engine 1, the DE still holds as one of the best game engines.

    *goes back to reliving memories playing System Shock 2 on Steam*

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Indeed. Also, no engine has ever nailed that “immersive” feel like the Dark Engine. Ignoring things like the great sound and visuals, I think it’s because they actually simulated the player walking (via a rolling cube attached to the camera) rather than just having a floating camera.

      It seems like a stupid little thing, but it made a huge difference in the feel of inhabiting your character.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Also, no engine has ever nailed that “immersive” feel like the Dark Engine…

        It’s so obvious that you’re wrong that I don’t want to give you examples that prove you’re wrong.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Yes because immersion is not subjective and everyone shares your opinions.

          • KenTWOu says:

            ResonanceCascade clearly implies that immersion isn’t subjective. He said that engine nailed that feeling! Therefore, engine used certain tricks to convey that feeling. There are engines that used more tricks than DarkEngine. Even the earlier example the first System Shock and its engine did a lot more for the sensation of movement in the game. I’m not saying about more obvious examples like Crysis, Crysis 2, Dishonored or Mirror’s Edge. Some of these games even have full body awareness.

  9. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    They like ‘Arching Cathedrals’ in their game engines¬

  10. Ironclad says:

    There are many adjectives that can be used to describe the Dark Engine, easy and userfriendly are not quite what I’d use.

  11. Text_Fish says:

    Ooh, I can feel a mod coming on.

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