Watch Meer Lose His Thief Cherry, 15 Years Too Late

By Alec Meer on November 28th, 2013 at 2:30 pm.

Update: done, and suitably shamed. Videos below.

I have never played Thief: The Dark Project.

Please stop hitting me.

(I have played Thief 3, at least).

In about half an hour, I’m going to play it at last. Would you like to watch? Join me, live-ish.

I also haven’t ever used Twitch before, so this is going to be doubly interesting/embarrassing. Experiments are fun, though.

Basically, watch the below or go here at around 3pm GMT today to see how I do. Hopefully I can stick the full video back up after the event too.

Edit: all done. It was a disaster! But an enjoyable one, with moments of hilarity including: hiding in a bath tub, and discovering that my mic toggle was bound to the same key as flash bombs, failing to configure sneak controls correctly. Here’s how it went down. You are allowed to laugh at me.


Watch live video from bonzrat on TwitchTV

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80 Comments »

  1. Ansob says:

    Everyone remembers Thief fondly, but it’s kind of nuts how much better Thief 2 is. Thief sort of goes downhill after the first level; the zombie/ghost stuff is rubbish.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Yeah, except that’s actually nonsense and The Dark Project was better.

      Both games are “the best one” to different people.

    • UmmonTL says:

      I agree, I had so much fun thieving around the somewhat realistic mansions while stealthing around a crypt or whatever quickly lost it’s appeal. But we should keep spoilers to a minimum so he can enjoy it and we get something good to watch. We’ll see how far he even gets and what he thinks about it (if he even talks).

    • Opiniomania says:

      I used to share that sentiment, but after some time realized that by removing the supernatural and going strictly with the technology robbed the Thief world of much of its originality and flavour. The robots and cameras of Metal Age just kept telling me that Looking Glass would have perhaps preferred to stage Thief 2 in a cyberpunk, and not steampunk world.

      This being said, I would have still preferred some missions of Thief 1 (escape!, strange bedfellows, into the maw of chaos) to be less outlandish.

      Oh and Alec: enjoy :)

      • Muzman says:

        Of course, the outlandishness is the point since you are delving into bizarre and supernatural mysteries.

      • Greg Wild says:

        Disagreed! I loved those levels. Such awesome atmospherics.

        Thief was terrifying at times, but not the rubbish monster-closet kind so prevalent.

        • Opiniomania says:

          The atmosphere was great, that’s true, but gameplay-wise there was a bit of a problem: the bugbears and whatnot didn’t have such clearly discernible AI states as the human opponents and didn’t provide good enough feedback for my taste. I’m getting sentimental nonetheless …

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      ” Thief sort of goes downhill after the first level; the zombie/ghost stuff is rubbish.”
      Lies, all lies!

      • MrEvilGuy says:

        My second favourite level in Thief 1 is I think the 3rd or 4th mission where you have to explore the giant tomb. I’ve never seen anything like it. And running away from that fire man demon is scary as hell.

        I’ve been playing Thief 1 for the past few months, just about beat it! Such amazing creativity in some of the levels. Can’t wait to play Thief 2!

    • povu says:

      It really depends on what you were looking for in a Thief game. When I first heard of it, I imagined it being all about stealing from people in the city, while avoiding guards and other security. I did not expect the heavy focus on dungeons filled with undead and traps in the first game, and I wasn’t a fan of that. Thief 2 was much closer to what I initially imagined Thief to be.

      Worth mentioning that I didn’t play the games until a few years ago.

      But I know there are plenty of people who love the undead levels, so those people probably like the first game more.

    • bill says:

      Rubbish.
      The zombie level wasn’t as good, but other than that thief 1 had some awesome levels.
      The upside down house. Etc…

      Return to the cathedral was one of the best levels ever.

      Plus the story was excellent. Thief 2 lost some of the uniqueness with it’s generic open city.

    • Multidirectional says:

      Bunch of nonsense, both games are great but Thief 1 is more replayable exactly because of bigger variety in levels. Thief 2 tends to become somewhat tedious at some point, for me it’s last levels. I grow tired of these robots and hearing voice of their creator constantly.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Personally, I think Thief 2 is the weakest of the series, but YMMV.

    • Greg Wild says:

      I thoroughly disagree. Sneaking through the haunted mines, balancing between finding the easiest ingress to the prison and getting the fuck away from zombies (who are still some of the creepiest in gaming in my opinion) was superb. The Bonehoard was a bit of a mis-step, as it was so damned confusing, but the undead/supernatural foes of later levels were fantastic; whether they be fire-elementals, Pagan beastmen or those darn elemental mages you get in Thief Gold. It gave the game a huge amount of colour and atmosphere.

      And despite your first reaction to try to kill them, or run the fuck away, you could sneak past them all just like any of the guards.

      Thief 2 was excellent too, and probably had better levels, but Thief was more consistent with its plot and the associated atmospherics. Which is interesting, given it was generally more varied in terms of location and enemy design.

      • HyenaGrin says:

        This is one of those polite arguments that has been going on since Thief 2 came out.

        There will never be agreement.

        Personally I am thoroughly on the side of Metal Age being the pivotal Thief game. While it had some weak final levels, it had fewer weak levels than the first game and its strong levels were by far the best in the series. But that said, preferences really come down to style. Some people dig the dungeon-crawling and supernatural stuff, other people dig the.. well, the thievery. Both are perfectly fine.

        I would just like to gently point out that the game is titled ‘thief,’ not ‘spooky haunted shopping spree.’

        • Greg Wild says:

          Yep, I think agreement is probably impossible.

          But it’s at least a cordial affair :D

    • fish99 says:

      While I agree with you that Thief 2 is the superior game, I strongly disagree that Thief TDP has lots of bad levels. They are both awesome games IMO.

      TBH it sounds like you got frustrated at not being able to kill zombies and gave up fairly early in the game.

    • Ansob says:

      It’s incredible how many of you are so very wrong.

      • fish99 says:

        You’re saying Return to the Cathedral isn’t one of the best Thief levels ever made? It absolutely is. Also you shouldn’t use words like right and wrong when you’re just talking about opinions.

        … but for the record I do agree with you that Thief 2 is the superior game.

        • Greg Wild says:

          Upvote. Upvote. UPVOTE.

          Yes.

          Return to the Cathedral is the best level ever. It was the Cradle, before the Cradle. Including the Gillen piece on the Cradle.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      I don’t understand how you can say this. Thief’s first level is essentially a playable tutorial (there’s an actual tutorial too, iirc, but you know what I mean) and while it adequately sets the tone and gets the player accustomed with the mechanics the game only really starts after that. And it keeps getting better, for the most part. I get that, retrospectively, some might find the undead/haunts levels and stuff conflicting with their expectations of what a medieval burglary simulator would look like in their mind, but really they’re almost all exceptional pieces of design and superb examples of videogames in general.

      Putting a player character who is every bit as vulnerable to combat as you would expect of a cat burglar in absolutely terrifying places where even a fully loaded stock of fire arrows would only deal with, perhaps one tenth of the zombies actually forces the player to adopt, even if only for these levels (but more likely for the rest of the game) a very evasive and stealthy playstyle is probably one of the reasons we remember and regard Thief so fondly, rather than as just a fun medieval fantasy-themed FPS with arrows. Keep in mind that virtually every player at the time was accustomed to and expected power fantasies where combat was usually the primary (or mandatory) means of progression and of exploring the game world, so Looking Glass faced the challenge of having to explain “new words” in the “language of videogames”. And as someone who doesn’t always particularly enjoy many fantasy-based settings (especially where it’s generic or samey or gratuitous) I totally can not fault how absolutely mind-blowingly terrifying those levels were (and are now, still) and how effectively they nudge the player to learning the videogame language of Thief.

  2. Shadowcat says:

    *stops hitting Alec*

    Be warned, I’ll start again if you give up because it’s “hard”.

    *starts hitting John*

  3. DiamondDog says:

    “I have never played Thief: The Dark Project.

    Please stop hitting me.

    (I have played Thief 3, at least).”

    *looks for bigger stick*

  4. zachforrest says:

    One of the owners of The UK’s Liveliest Thief Forum…hasn’t even played?!!

    do these at non-work times too!

    • Gap Gen says:

      In other news, Jim has never played Quake 1, John has never played Monkey Island 1, and Tim Stone has never played IL-1 Sturmovik.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Alec part owns TTLG? Or is there some other lively Thief forum?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, for those of us with jobs that aren’t slacking off playing games all day, 3PM viewing is not really possible.

      Which is a bit annoying, since I never Thiefed either and would really quite like to have this going in the background. But I think the quality of my code review would suffer…

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Just get it from GOG and give it a go! It takes a bit of faffing to get everything to work (like the mission intro movies, which are excellent), but it’s well worth it. And not just in a retro navel gazing kind of way.

  5. Runic says:

    Better late than never I guess… I’m amazed by the amount of cult hits the RPS crew has never apparently played, beginning with Half Life.

    • Muzman says:

      Wasn’t that only Cara though? And she was probably like 6 when it came out or something.

      • lurkalisk says:

        So… She’s not even old enough to rent a car in the States?

        I’m tired, I can’t tell if you tried to happen or joke or some such.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Get any five PC gamers in one room and you’ll probably find that every combination of four of them agrees that some particular game is an essential classic that the fifth has never played. So many games, so little time (and getting less!)

  6. Hodge says:

    Ooh, this will be an interesting watch – I’ve never played it, either.

  7. N'Al says:

    Staring eyes.

    • Shadowcat says:

      That picture needs a good Hammerite battle cry caption, too. Perhaps: “Feel the spike of thy sin!”

  8. bill says:

    I’m not sure Thief is the best game to be playing while multitasking and chatting…. it’ll spoil the atmosphere!

    • Shadowcat says:

      It’s a good point. You really want to be alone in the dark to get the very best experience from Thief. Anything which hinders your immersion in the game is going to lessen the experience. I really can’t imagine playing the game for the first time with a “chat window” in the background!

    • fish99 says:

      Agree 100%. Casting a game like Thief is just going to completely ruin the experience. No atmosphere, spoilers and hints from chat etc. Needs to be played at night, in the dark.

      Actually the best way to play is in stereo 3D, but you need a 120Hz monitor and nvidia 3D Vision glasses. It’s worth it though. The stereo 3D helps hide the dated graphics, and the glasses help hide the fact that LCD black depths aren’t good enough for a game like Thief, but the main thing it does is add significantly to the immersion/atmosphere.

    • bill says:

      Plus, Thief is really a game of learning systems and developing player skill… which mean the first level is going to involve a lot of trial and error as you work out visibility, sound levels, distances, etc.. not really the best thing to be doing when you know a thousand people are watching your every mistake. Brave though.

      After 3 levels (and working out the keys!) he’d be able to go back and do bafford’s manor with ease.

  9. Hahaha says:

    LGWI – Thief Gold 001with GrimithR

  10. Bluerps says:

    Huh. Will this be a regular thing now, RPS writers playing classics for the first time? “Join us next week, when Jim Rossignol plays his first game of Quake!”

  11. fish99 says:

    Play on expert, and make sure you have the latest patch. Oh, and play Thief Gold.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      FACT: People who play Thief on not-expert are ugly, smelly and have no friends.

      EDIT: Theif? FFS!

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      No. Expert’s just a bad difficulty when you’re first starting out. Not being allowed to kill any guards even in self-defence is just sucky when you’re still struggling with being stealthy.

      • fish99 says:

        Hmmm… you might have a point. Not sure really, depends how quickly you pick up the core mechanics. It is a better game on expert though, and more of a true stealth game. Shooting everyone from the shadows is too easy, and it doesn’t really make sense to murder all the guards on a robbery.

        Of course one thing I didn’t consider is that expert would be bad for casting, because of the extra 2 hrs after each mission’s objectives are complete searching for the extra loot you need (that’s even if you know the levels)

  12. kud13 says:

    I am still making my way through Thief Gold for the first time (well, first time in 5 or so tries I actually got past the mines in the second mission.)

    I have gotten to the cathedral level, and stopped. After the awesomeness of “The Sword”, going back to the zombies was too much. I will go back, but not before i’m done with my S.T.A.L.K.E.R. re-play.

    Which is a shame, since I want to play the first 2 Thieves at least, before I play Dishonored (that’s been sitting in my Steam library since the month it came out)

    • Muzman says:

      For my money Thief Gold actually buggers the pacing more than helps it.

      • bill says:

        Yeah, it’s not a big problem, but the thief gold levels aren’t particularly great.

        You should definitely go back though… while the later levels include A LOT of supernatural enemies, most act like humans are are also rather spooky/dangerous. Creating a very tense atmosphere. And some of the later levels are amazing. (zombies can usually be pretty much ignored anyway).

  13. bill says:

    Was Thief the first game to do the object highlighting thing that every game does now?

  14. Dave Tosser says:

    We should put heathen like you in prison.

  15. morbiusnl says:

    is this the standard thief or a mod? look pretty good, didnt knew it had widescreen mode.

  16. SominiTheCommenter says:

  17. Recurve says:

    That was a fun watch – especially the hiding in the bath bit. It made me do a lol anyway.

    I wanted you to check the stats at the end though.

  18. Muzman says:

    He was a third of the way into Bafford’s and then I wandered off for a bit and it’s over!

    • Greg Wild says:

      Bafford’s manor can be really short if you’re not going on a completionist run. Though I guess on your first run that’s dependent on you finding That Curtain.

      • Muzman says:

        Yeah, I forgot how it ends on normal.

        Oddly the short start is potentially worse since you don’t get enough practice in for the shock that is the second level.

  19. mont3core says:

    A good start lad, I might recommend replaying that first level and finding a place of finesse with the mechanics before biting off more than you can chew.

    Also you are an affront to PC gamers everywhere for being so late to the party, yet paid to be here.

  20. Kefren says:

    This is timely – I am playing through the Thief games from GOG at the moment. I enjoyed playing Thief TDP again, though it was the gold edition, and the new levels padded the game out a bit more than I liked – the thieves’ guild level particularly started well, then seemed to go on forever. I’m now halfway through Thief 2 and still enjoying it. I find that I use different routes and tactics on each playthrough, the game really does have replayability. This time I am much better at not killing anyone (my first levels of Thief were quite bad for being cornered and having to fight, but then I started to get in the swing of it again). It feels great when a combination of moss arrows, shadows, carpets and ropes lets you move quickly through parts of a level without anyone even knowing you were there. I’ll replay Thief 3 when this is over.

  21. Yosharian says:

    *watching tutorial* Ye gods man, why don’t you listen to the tutor…

    • Pockets says:

      I very nearly shouted out “This is why we can’t have nice things!” in the middle of the night as a result of watching that.
      I think this finally makes me understand why games get focus-tested to the point where everything becomes a power fantasy. It’s painful to watch.

  22. Dave L. says:

    I don’t know if you plan on trying to finish the whole game, Alec, but I am going to make a suggestion that is going to seem more than a bit heretical to some: Use a controller.

    Specifically, if you have enough buttons on your mouse to do so: bind all your inventory and lean keys to your mouse, and then use the controller for movement (so, left hand holding controller, right hand using mouse. Or possibly vice versa depending on your handedness). That way you’ll get analog movement and not have to worry about three different keys for movement speed.

    [edit]You might have to use Xpadder or something to make the triggers into bindable buttons if you’re using an Xbox 360 controller, as Thief doesn’t see the Z axis.

  23. sinister agent says:

    I will have to catch up on this one later… but I’d have recommended starting on Thief 2. I started on it and loved it. When I got hold of Thief I got bored about… maybe 30-40% in?

    • Horg says:

      That would imply you should have started on Thief 1 and avoided disappointment by inevitable comparison.

      • MrEvilGuy says:

        Exactly. That’s why I’m playing Thief 1 right now instead of 2.

  24. Twist says:

    In the user.bind document within your Thief folder, set your main forward key to +walk, then if you have two extra buttons on your mouse, set them to +runon and +creepon (I use thumb buttons on the side of my mouse).

    This way you just hold a secondary button on the mouse when you want to creep or run, which you usually don’t want or need to do for very long. Set the crouch to toggle, because you’ll crouch a lot. Combining the toggled crouch with your +creepon button will give you the quietest movement.

    I really, really encourage you to replay Bafford’s Manor on Expert just for the practice. Make sure you get all your binds in order, in whatever setup is most comfortable for you. You’ll enjoy future missions far more when you’re not fighting against the basic mechanics.

    When you come across zombies, don’t treat them like humans. They’re basically just slow mobile environmental hazards. You can either sneak by them or just plain run around them.

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah the first 30 minutes of any Thief/Thief 2 (or even System Shock 2) playthrough is always setting all the keys up and getting them just right. You shouldn’t actually play the game until you’re 100% happy with them. It’s a shame but the dark engine default bindings are kinda dated now.

      Me personally I used S for walk forward, W for run forwards, and X for back, but someone used to WASD might not get used to this. I also use Z and C for lean left/right, F for lean forwards and Left Shift for creep. And I always have crouch (toggle) on Q and jump on E in all games. Space is for use/interact.

      • Twist says:

        What’s neat about Thief post-NewDark is that you can setup Thief II binds to work with Thief I (which is what I’ve done here, in case nobody noticed). This gives you much greater flexibility. I prefer using one key for movement with the two modifier keys for running and creeping. This frees up more keys around your hand for the wide variety of tools Thief provides you.

        More importantly, by using the modifier keys instead of binding discrete keys, you can have three different speeds in each direction you move (even sideways), whereas if you use different keys for running/walking you can only vary your speed in one direction (forward). Because of the key binding confusion, many people never realize they can have three distinct speeds (and thus three distinct levels of stealthiness) in each direction they move (which makes for six different speeds in each direction if you include crouching).

        I also use an unorthodox setup: I use ESDF instead of WASD. It keeps you in the home position you use when you type, it gives you the little nub all keyboards provide for your index finger to help you feel and find your home position without looking down, and it moves your hand closer to the center of the keyboard so you have more keys around your hand for various weapon/tool binds or shortcuts.

        • fish99 says:

          Fascinating to see you have the controls set up so different to me :) I never even considered using the speed modifiers with other directions.

  25. Faxmachinen says:

    More, please!
    Also, your adversary is not the controls, but the marble floors. When I iron-manned TDP on Expert, I only used the run button.

    Carpet and moss: Silent even when jumping.
    Wood and stone: Can run short distances with minimal risk.
    Marble and iron: DO NOT TOUCH. EVER.

  26. MrEvilGuy says:

    Why is it that every playthrough I see of this game, including Alec’s but also random let’s play videos on Youtube, why is it that everyone plays it so slowly? I usually just leap forward and bludgeon the guards before they can react, and I find it works in most cases. This allows me to run around everywhere in a hurry to save time.

    • Ich Will says:

      Look up Khad Banks’ play through. Also, you can complete mission 1 in under a minute if you know how!

    • Borodin says:

      In a game like this what are you “saving time” to rush forward to? It isn’t a competition and there is no race. If you don’t like the game then no one is forcing you to play it. Would you prefer that the game forced you to play it slowly as it was intended?

  27. Twist says:

    Alec, you should really download and install Tfix from TTLG before you play any further:

    http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=134733

    Download TFix 1.16a, then when you run it check all the boxes to install all the optional fixes and enhancements.

  28. Borodin says:

    *Please* stop putting up Flash video clips. This and several other posts are wasted on me, because the Twitch feed is dead and I can’t run Flash Player. Adobe deprecated their own browser plugin well over a year ago in favour of HTML5. I can view the videos on most of the RPS posts, so why not all of them?

  29. AluminumHaste says:

    Oh god, I can’t watch this anymore. What has happened to people? He’s not listening to instructions, not paying attention to his surroundings, I swear he’s being deliberately moronic.

  30. Dodidly says:

    Will leaving a comment let me see the comments? I’m about to find out

  31. Dodidly says:

    You really miss out on a lot of awesome stuff in this game if you don’t play on expert. Your loss I guess.

  32. bill says:

    Did Alec ever continue with the game and finish it?