Thief’s Loading Tips Offer Sage Advice For Us All

As I played Thief non-stop for three days, as well as only dreaming Thief-based dreams, and perhaps losing my mind somewhere along the way, I began to notice that the loading screen tips were providing me the sort of advice I could take away from the game. Thief may not directly cause me to turn to a life of crime, but there’s wisdom in those briefly appearing words that will stay with me forever.

As a human being who operates his body without the use of a mouse and keyboard, there’s a good deal of advice in there that perhaps doesn’t pertain to us all. While I think we can all accept the concept that hiding unconscious bodies is a smart move for a mugger, “holding E” is unlikely to aid them in such circumstances. And despite my firm belief that “swooping” is a movement style we should all add to our repertoires, few of us can achieve this by pressing a spacebar. But Thief’s loading tips go beyond which key is for what, and I think the smart mind would be open to listening about now.

There’s common sense you might overlook:

Then there’s useful advice for those navigating the streets, or perhaps taking part in an activity:

Some advice is just plain strange:

And I’m fairly sure this one is telling me to take heroin:

There’s some top tips for getting work:

And for avoiding work:

This is the best guide to becoming more cultured I’ve ever encountered:

But most of all, I hope what we can all learn from Thief is this:


  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I like to mentally replace “Tip” with “LIFEHACK”.

  2. Conehead The Barbarian says:

    I read these as if they were rules of Acquisition…

    (If anyone doesn’t know what im on about link to )

  3. FauxBen says:

    This kind of reminds me of the hints on the ground in Demon’s/Dark Souls that implored me to search within my own heart for the answer to virtually every situation.

  4. LevelHeaded says:

    Nice “article.”

  5. Mollusc Infestation says:

    The best advice i ever got from a loading screen was from Oblivion. “People don’t like it if you talk to them with your weapon drawn.”

    • puzzlepiece87 says:

      My favorite was Warcraft II’s first, “Don’t spit into the wind.”

      • Universal Quitter says:

        Never pet a burning dog

        Also, I love you. Yes homo. If you’re a girl, we’ll make it work.

  6. Blackcompany says:

    After playing modded Skyrim, I cannot help but wonder what Sheogorath would say on any game’s particular loading screens. I have to imagine that, for a game like Thief, it would be something along the lines of:

    “I caught Nocturnal sneaking about once. Probably looking for her Skeleton Key. Daedric Lords are always losing their things. Like my mind for instance. Probably left it in a chest somewhere.”

    Its difficult going back to the same old ‘game tip’ loading screens after the Sheogorath ones from Skyrim. Always feels…off…somehow. And far less entertaining.

  7. HermitUK says:

    “Want to prevent an enemy from fleeing? Cripple the legs.”
    And now I know. Thanks, Fallout 3!

  8. Werthead says:

    To be fair, this sort of thing’s been around for years. I recall me and friends chortling over some of the more inane ones on the original BALDUR’S GATE. Lots of, “If people kill you, you will die,” speaking-the-bloody-obvious stuff.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Funny how LP’ers these days can’t wrap their heads around that concept until it actually happens! They are almost universally surprised when their dead characters don’t spring back to life after the encounter. Guess the tip writers were ahead of their time!

  9. Awesumo says:

    Uggh, US release 3 days before the EU… time to remember how to do that whole IP proxy thing again :(

  10. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Tip – Jumping is the most fun you can have in a 1st person game, jump everywhere and you will be happy. Bunnies jump everywhere, have you ever seen an unhappy bunny?

    • Kefren says:

      Watership Down.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The moral of that story is that they should have done more jumping… Actually I think the moral of that story is that it’s shit to be a bunny.

        And thanks a lot, now my childhood nightmares will return.

        • TWChristine says:

          I never read that, but it reminds me of the some story I heard as a kid about a rabbit trying to get away from something and getting its tail ripped off. On the one hand I liked it because aww, bunny..and on the other hand I wondered what the hell was wrong with people coming up with kid stories like that.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I was on the train on New Year’s Eve a while ago and it was delayed for a while. Eventually the driver announced “Sorry for the delay, we just ran over 20 dogs.” I mean, you can’t fault the honesty.

          • Koozer says:

            Gap Gen: I just spat tea all over my keyboard. Thanks a lot. Reminds me of the Mel Brooks quote: “If I got a paper cut, that’s a tragedy. If you fell down an open manhole and died, that’s comedy.”

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I approve of any conversation involving bunnies.

          • TWChristine says:

            Tail. RIPPED OFF. The place where I would keep such an appendage cringes at the thought..

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Except this one >_>
            Oh hang on. Damn reply system. Replies coming out in the wrong place.

            Seriously though, who hurts a bunny?

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Not about animal cruetly, and well known. However – necessary:
          link to

          • SominiTheCommenter says:

            Not opening that link with a 10ft pole.

          • Unclepauly says:

            I just poked it with a ten foot pole and and it opened. Although I couldn’t see it from that far away so I guess this post is moot. sorry for wasting everyone’s time. :(

          • Atrocious says:

            It’ totally save to open from less than 10ft. (Trust a random Internet guy.)

    • The Random One says:

      Pro tip: Any FPS protagonist can jump further than the world long jump record from a standing start. Try it and be amazed.

  11. satan says:

    Hey let me try and remember my favourite…
    Baldur’s Gate 2:
    Your character might not need to eat or drink, but you do! We don’t want to lose any dedicated players.

  12. db1331 says:

    Ever since I got an SSD, it’s been difficult to finish reading loading screen tips before the game loads. I sometimes miss them.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I think there’s a meme for this…

    • Werthead says:

      The game that suffers the most from this is HOMEWORLD. There’s a nice informative map showing how far you’ve travelled across the galaxy and how far you have to go which updates on every loading screen. Play it today and the loading screen appears for about 0.5 seconds at best.

  13. Casimir's Blake says:

    Yes, thanks for that John. As if it wasn’t insulting enough that many games nowadays throw these “tips” in our faces during the loading screens, it’s “reassuring” to see Thief likes to treat the player with little regard to their intelligence.

    Edit: Allow me to also highlight some of the aspects of the game play Sneaky Bastards found particularly galling:

    – The hub is savaged by constant load screens
    – At no point do you feel like you are infiltrating a whole and complete locale
    – Geometry that implies it should be climbable simply isn’t
    – The AI seems incapable of tracking players over short distances
    – Cutscenes result in Garrett being outwitted, or in a forced detection state (This is unforgivable!!)
    – Thief is a disaster the likes of which we could not fathom

    You may have had fun John, but that doesn’t mean your gaming standards match up to others.

    • Frypan Jack says:

      Grumpy much? Loading screen tips have been around for ages, others in the comments remember seeing them in Baldur’s Gate etc.

      Also, it’s called “Wot I Think” not “Wot You Should Think” so maybe calm down a bit? If anything John’s thoughts are more in line with the rest of the internets today, and Sneaky Bastards is a bit of an outlier for being so very negative. “Thief is a disaster the likes of which we could not fathom” seems a tad hyperbolic to me, but if that’s how they felt than so be it.

      • hotmaildidntwork says:

        Maybe they’re just really bad at fathoming disasters? I mean I can think of tons of stuff that’s worse than a predictably phone in thief remake.

    • Nate says:

      Wow. I thought that loading screen tips were the one thing we could all agree were a wonderful innovation. Guess we can’t all agree on anything then.

  14. DiTH says:

    Im pretty sure Poppies is not cocaine but modafinil pills :P

    • Gap Gen says:

      Heroin and yeah, opiates are in a lot of legal drugs, as well as illegal ones.

  15. Wulfram says:

    I’m not sure eating food to heal is actually common sense

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Quite right, on Mars we inject the living blood of our screaming enemies directly into our own veins. It’s much more efficient than getting your raw materials delivered through a messy digestive system.

    • Gap Gen says:

      It’s also well known that food weighs nothing when it’s inside you.

  16. trevoracious says:

    I created an account just to say this:

    RPS is a hilarious site, but this had me crying on my keyboard.

  17. Jad says:

    All this talk about loading screens just reminds me of the brilliant deconstruction job done in Spec Ops: The Line, where the screens start out just as banally hand-holdy as most modern action games’ but then grow progressively more dark and vicious as the game goes on.

  18. LennyLeonardo says:

    Crusader Kings 2 has some good ones. One is along the lines of “always check a potential spouse’s stats before marrying them.” So true.

  19. mouton says:

    Best loading tips were in Spec Ops: The Line. Period.

    • sirdavies says:

      I really don’t understand how other developers haven’t started using them in the same way. It was extremely effective and the ones shown here are just so terrible -.-

  20. Eddy9000 says:

    It reminds me if Brian Eno’s ‘oblique strategies’ cards, which had obscure tips meant to stimulate creativity rather than give direct advice. I’d love to see a programme developed which compiled all the different tool tips from games and displayed a random one to meditate on.

  21. obvioustroll says:

    Tip – Remember to look through keyholes for people shagging, you are Garrett, the master perv!

  22. waaaaaaaals says:

    Try to get your combat multiplier even higher?

  23. Sharlie Shaplin says:

    I like the ones in Farcry Blood Dragon, basically poking fun at the whole idea.
    “Use grenades to blow stuff up”

  24. Marblecake says:

    Strange that no one has mentioned Magicka yet. As loading screen tips go, they sure do contain a lot of funny. “Hint – Did you know that the loading screens will display hints for you?”

  25. Harlander says:

    I wonder what the first game to start doing loading screen hints like this was.

    And if we go back in time and stop it from being made, will it keep loading screen hints from getting everywhere?

    • Zekiel says:

      First time I remember seeing it was Baldur’s Gate 2. I liked them. It gave you something to read.

      Shamus Young did a post about loading screen tips a while ago which I can’t find now. He pointed out that it can’t be that difficult to program them so that the tip “press space to jump” does not still keep appearing even once you’re 75% of the way through the game.

  26. Chaz says:

    Women. Take note of that last tip.

  27. Stevostin says:

    I just played Blood Dragon. Turns out it’s Far Cry 3 with most of what sucked (pretentious, unfunny, pretending to be realistic) fixed and excellent comedy writing. Anyway, the loading tooltips are the best:

    link to

    “When you catch on fire, scream along with your character. It’ll be like Karaoke.”

    “C400 is like C4, but with two zeroes.”

    “Enemies in range can be shot.”

    “Liberated garrisons are liberated.”


  28. SuicideKing says:

    Not fond of this game, are we? :D

  29. Baf says:

    A friend of mine used to collect good advice for life from the instructions in classic coin-op games. Like “Avoid spikes”. And “Don’t shoot food”.