Sharper Shadows: Thief Gold HD Mod Released

Here at the RPS retirement home for weary writers, our memories are often akin to a swirling sea of confusion. Just yesterday, I was watching the trailer for Peggle 2 and thought it looked terrible. I realised that Peggle the first has come to resemble a Jackson Pollock gallery retrospective in my mind’s eye. How strange then that our collective memories of Thief were lucid and strong. Looking Glass’ masterpiece is more than a memory though. Astonishingly, fifteen years after its release, the fan community has continued to work on the game and a modder going by the handle Bentraxx has released a Thief Gold HD Mod. It looks gorgeous and there’s a full changelist and video below.

There are some issues with the water in this video, which shows an internet person by the name of AluminumHaste completing the training mission. Work has continued since release earlier this week though and fixes seem to be occurring at a steady rate.

You will need NewDark v1.2 to play and, as pointed out on the ModDB page, don’t worry that NewDark claims to be for Thief 2. It works just fine.

Here’s the changelist:

– added HD textures for all original missions
– added new vegetation
– added new water and lava textures
– added new torch and fire flames
– added Fog FX (Applies only to following missions: Escape!, Strange Bedfellows, Into The Maw of Chaos)
– added new Bugbeast HD skin
– added new Burrick HD skin
– added new Zombie HD skin (A big Zombie skin-pack update with a setup tool coming soon!!!)

Bravo. If you’ve never experienced Thief, or have been dawdling and dallying while deciding whether to replay, now is the time to string up your bow.


  1. thaquoth says:

    Looks pretty sharp, though that mixture of super blocky geometry and super detailed textures will always look kinda weird to me.

    • Synesthesia says:

      this. 1024p textures for a single minecraft block look sugly, in a path of exile sort of way. It looks a lot like those “more is better” designs.

      • cylentstorm says:

        Sugly? I think that you mean “fugly”–something Minecraft will always be–it’s part of the charm, I think. But–I’m not sure what you mean about PoE being ugly–It looks very nice on my rig–even with a weak video card.

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah, Thief doesn’t have the best graphics, but I don’t think the main problem is that the textures aren’t sufficiently high-res. It’s more the primitive geometry and the janky character models/animations.

      • Ross Angus says:

        But the sound design is without equal. It has not aged a day. What I particularly like is that the actors who did the zombie sounds managed to make the perfect sound of a zombie suspecting that it’s heard something. That is talent.

        • fish99 says:

          Yup, the atmosphere of Thief comes much more form the sound design than the visuals. Honestly next time I replay Thief I don’t think I will use this texture pack, for me it doesn’t really add anything.

    • dolgion1 says:

      Funny. I really enjoy this kind of look. I actually always liked who Thief had such sparse graphics. The level architecture was easy to read and make sense of, because of the low level of detail. On the other hand, I enjoy hi-res textures. They add a lot of detail and atmosphere without taxing the system like adding more polygons would. I guess in some way, I appreciate the efficiency of that approach.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Hmm I never considered Thief to be super blocky, though it’s obviously polygonally challenged by today’s standards. I think it looks great, but then that’s because when I think of Thief I think of how it plays and how it looks is just a part of that experience. Comparing its geometry to Minecraft is a bit odd though.

  2. Ansob says:

    Well, I guess I have an excuse to replay Thief 1, now. I hope someone does the same for Thief 2.

  3. InternetBatman says:

    I hate to be a whiner, but this seems a little superfluous now that the Dark Mod is out. Just convert Thief Gold into the Dark Mod.

    • karthink says:

      If we get a few more good mini-campaigns for The Dark Mod, I’d say it makes even the new Thief superfluous. Well, at being a Thief game, anyway.

    • Javier says:

      Not so easy. It would probably give raise to copyright claims, it would entail a huge amount of work just to get the game looking better, and then the Dark Mod is, gameplay wise, not an exact copy of Thief. Plus, AFAIK there is still work to get done in the Dark Mod itself until it can be said that it is a fully finished and polished mod (or game).

      The original Thief is awesome as it is, and giving it this kind of facelift is way easier and more simple than porting it to the Doom 3 engine. Having said this, it also remains to be seen whether this texture mod is really faithful to the original Thief. The intention is laudable, but atmosphere in Thief is key to the enjoyment of the game, and the wrong textures could easily beak immersion.

    • AluminumHaste says:

      Making the original thief games in The Dark Mod engine will never happen, if someone decides to do it, it will be disowned by the Dark Mod Team, and any mention of it on the forums will be removed and user banned. It does nothing but invite litigation and cease and desist from Eidos. They’ve done it before so we don’t want to provoke them.

      While the originals were amazing, just playing them again on a new engine seems a lot of wasted work, when that effort could be spent on new content instead.

  4. karthink says:

    Wow, that’s some facelift.

    Pity I can never get past the mission that comes after The Sword.

  5. TychoCelchuuu says:

    I can’t be the only one in the world who thinks this sort of looks worse in some ways. Some HD texture packs seem more worried about making each individual texture really detailed than they are about making everything fit into a coherent whole. This is kind of the point that Robert Yang makes in this blog post.

    • Shrekeh says:

      While I totally agree with you about forgoing overall aesthetic accomplishment for the sake of up rezzing everything, there can be a middle ground. I think in this video (and I doubt I’ll ever get to experience it for myself), some of the textures look good (wood carving in the sound test room for example), but everything just looks disjointed. Outside is another story, but again, fat black shadows on flat surfaces doesn’t equal perception of depth because the illusion is so easily ruined.

      I read that blog post you linked to, and as a side note, that bit about the fire engine in TLoU was a bit weak…smoothing is a dead simple job that puts no burden on performance and just comes off as lazy. I understand his argument that the average player would barely notice it but I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse for half finished work. Relying on shaders to cover up mistakes, even at AAA levels, will always seem a poor method of execution. When I was involved in the CS/CSS weapon community, some of those guys could speed model assets with incredible detail and using an absolute minimum of shortcuts, only using shaders to enhance and add extra detail in order to bring polycounts down. That requires a tight workflow, smart optimisation and the end results were brilliant. Some may say that’s just unnecessary, and I’d call those people easily satisfied with mediocre art.

    • Oklahoma Jones says:

      Also, to be fair to this particular mod author, the original Thief textures appear quite mismatched, especially in the training level. Clearly, Looking Glass Studios intended us to understand that Keepers are actually blind. The Metal Age has a more unified aesthetic.

      I’m currently using this mod and I don’t find them to be vastly different from the original textures except in quality.

    • Muzman says:

      Yes, this sort of thing is a bit of a mixed bag. Partly because tastes and styles vary. But also because the original texture use was always a little impressionistic, kind of relying to some extent on the grit and low res quality (and that not always working that well).
      Remaking highly detailed versions of many of them, even with minimal interpretation and a great respect to the spirit of the originals, often reveals they no longer make any sort of sense in how they were actually used in the game. (and sometimes they never really did and doing this just makes it more obvious).

      There are some fan missions that use full custom high res sets that are pretty amazing.
      Also I don’t think this mod uses the full res lighting that’s available. That’ requires re compiling the maps, which I believe is still underway somewheres.

  6. Casimir's Blake says:

    Having not played Thief: Gold in many years (I remember the maps, to this day, rather well and that somewhat ruins the experience), this is a perfect reason to go back to the game.

    The “NewDark” engine has done wonders for Thief 1 / 2 and System Shock 2. I just wish more people would make missions for System Shock 2 now, there aren’t nearly enough!

    Edit: Holy crap look at the size of the download… Any torrents out there yet?

  7. stele says:

    Bummer – I just finished re-playing Thief Gold last week!

    • Ross Angus says:

      Don’t worry – your memories will retrospectively fill in the detail.

  8. airtekh says:


    I was waiting for this mod to be released so I could replay Thief. Now I shall do just that over the Christmas period. :)

    • stele says:

      You were smart and I was dumb.

      I wonder if there is a mod like this for Deadly Shadows? I’d especially like one that removes the console-required level splits.

      • Urthman says:

        I’d settle for a mod so that everything you look at in Deadly Shadows doesn’t glow bright neon teal.

        • AluminumHaste says:

          That was like the second or third mod to come out for Thief 3………You can make it any colour you want or turn it off. Though if you turn it off I think things kinda get broken.

  9. d3vilsadvocate says:

    Pity it’s too hard to actually install. First you need this mod, then you need that mod and in the end all it does is crash. I hate all this modding crap, it’s too unreliable.
    I got Thief Gold GOG Edition, extracted the “Thief II: The Metal Age v1.20 update” and to the main game folder, then extracted the files from the HD mod to the same directory. When I try to start a mission (I actually get into the menu), the thing just crashes.

    Anything else I would have to do? Is there a *short* installation instruction *somewhere* that won’t require hours of .txt and forum reading?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Don’t quote me on this, but I believe the GOG edition is already patched to 1.21. It says 1.21 when you check the .exe, anyway. All I did was unzip the mod to my Gog Games/Thief folder, pick the .cfg I wanted, and the mod fired right up. It is missing the sword and blackjack textures though.

      • AluminumHaste says:

        To fix some problems with bush and skin textures you have to add the following two lines to the dark.cfg file:


    • AluminumHaste says:

      You are making it too complicated, download TFix from the TTLG forums. Run it and point to the installed game directory. Then extract the mod to the base directory of Thief Gold/1. Done.

  10. Unclepauly says:

    If anybody here still owns a soundcard with hardware EAX support you’re in for a treat. The sound in Thief games is really done well. Here’s my short guide to get headphone surround with eax.

    1. In windows control panel go to sound > speakers > enable 5.1 surround
    2. All programs > creative > alchemy > enable eax for thief
    3. Go in your creative sound control panel > set speakers to headphone > enable cmss-3d (crystalizer is preference)
    4. Open Thief > sound options > enable eax > set speakers to 5.1
    5. Enjoy the best sound pc games ever had :(

    AMD is bringing back hardware HRTF (Amd Truaudio) with the new Thief game :D maybe we can actually have good audio again? We’ll see.

  11. TWChristine says:

    I actually don’t find it looks that bad. In some parts it does look a bit off having much nicer textures on blocky architecture, but I guess it just doesn’t seem as different as something like say R6: Rogue Spear. Granted it’s been maaany years since I’ve played them, but I thought I recalled a decent boost in graphics compared to the first game.

  12. Jackablade says:

    Ah the hidden basketball court and bedroll of developer quotes. I was so very excited when I discovered that back in the day. Spent a good hour tossing the ball through the hoop to see whether anything else of interest would happen.