Designer on the lookout, or Give carpets and a torch!
In professional gamers, and even "sharpened" on role-playing games, Looking Glass has always enjoyed great respect. These guys have a sense of style. And they are always true to yourself, your inner rhythm — which can not but reflect on their games. Take Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Thief — are projects that can restore your interest in computer games.
To ask questions "beside the point" It would be a crime. Thief is so unique, so different from "Standard game products 98"That talking about anything other just do not feel like it. And so, we went to Tim Stelmach-HA (Tim Stellmach), lead designer of the project (that’s him in the photo above). Tim called our questions "deeply related to the design philosophy". We were pleased.
Game.EXE: Hello, Tim. "Ekze" in full chopped in Thief. — And it’s your fault. Even our more-than-serious Glavred (aka BB) took the habit of sneaking up from behind and prrbovat whack you with something heavy. As vy’smogli create this ?! How it all began, how the idea to do just "simulator thief"?
Tim Stelmach: Hi, "Ekze"! Just give advice: remove the carpet from the floor and change the torches on the lights. Then sneak up unnoticed much more difficult.
Many ideas were discussed Thief us long before the start of the project. Something about three years ago. The Looking Glass has a warm bunch of guys who have a wealth of experience both in the establishment of action, and role-playing games. If you remember, except for Ultima Underworld and System Shock, our soldiers are working on Terra Nova. After strategically oriented Terra Nova, we would like to go back to basics. On the other hand, dwell on games "Run and Shoot" the same is not the case — and because too many have decided that the System Shock was an excess of action.
Ideas were several. First, we wanted to come to grips with fencing (in this way the authors went Die by the Sword), which led us straight into the maelstrom of medieval romance. Somewhere in the middle of the road we were at "intermediate trough" under the proud name "King Arthur against Robin Hood". During fierce verbal battles, we found that thieving knight of Sherwood Forest we enjoy much more than any King Arthur. Him and left. You know, System Shock has taught us. For example, we realized that the idea of making a character is very fragile, vulnerable — is absolutely winning. Due to weaknesses Garrett, we were able to introduce a completely new tactical ideas in the usual arcade "first-person". We gave the player the ability to improvise. The user has to stop and think carefully about where, when and under what circumstances it is best to take the fight. Thief makes you deal with completely uncharacteristic for our genre things. And it’s great.
.EXE: Brrr! Are you joking? To fight these zombies ?! Never. You see what you did to us? We do not want to fight — that we quite unusual. So to what the genre would you assign your game? In general, do you consider it appropriate division games in the genre?
TC: Yes, I think that was a matter to enter the category required. The market is too many games, and the buyer should understand yourself and acquire what he needs. Of course, the division into genres has its drawbacks. For example, it is very difficult to put on the same shelf DOOM and System Shock. It is unclear who and who flattered.
As for Dark Project, this action-adventure. But I would prefer not to compare Thief with games of this genre, and with movies. Really! Viewed Mission Impossible? This is the Thief. In our time, to be divided by genres subgenres. We opened our own — "spy shooter".
.EXE: Do not say that we liked Tom Cruise … Garrett falls excessively difficult. After all, the game is very realistic — is its trump card. Tell me, Does your plans to maximize the realism as it sought developers Trespasser. Or you had to sacrifice certain "realistic" moments for the sake of gameplay?
TS .: In our game realism is really crucial. The only way we were able to force the player to think he knew the categories to try to go through the game, to solve the problems of the game, using his own life experience, knowledge of the real world. So you just play, relying on their intuition and instincts rather than cramming rules. Agree to cram boring!
On the other hand, we have never tried to achieve "limit" realism in the game. Who needs a simulation, if the window there is a whole world full play that will never be able to no program? So we strive for realism and try to avoid too fabulous things, but … If we are faced with a choice between realism and fun of the game, gameplay’eM, we choose the latter.
.EXE: Yeah. Let’s see: even in the most difficult level Thief has neko torye "misprints". For example, the guard did not notice a decrease in coverage, pays no attention to the creak of the door opening, and does not raise an alarm if one of the guards suddenly disappears from his post. Is not this an example of the very concessions that are made for the sake of "pleasure"? Or are you just afraid to overload the AI too many features?
TS .: Truly good examples. Let’s analyze them. In fact, the guards noticed that you put out the torch. But if it happens insolently, right under their noses. But even in this case they are not very "upset". Why is that? The fact that you can vary the level of coverage, and how much it affects the game is fairly new to the game of our genre. Besides, it’s just fun. We wanted players to enjoy our vengeance find — and they are not afraid of the possible consequences of firing the torch. It turned out that the idea has been met "Hurrah"And if we wanted to use the idea to light once again … Let’s say that the guards would be required to pay more attention to the play of light and shadow.
As for the other examples cited by you, they are also relevant to an important issue. The game must be fair. The user has to make decisions based on certain information. After all, you do not know in advance whether someone at the door, right? If the guards responded to the opening of the door, you would fall into sereznyetere-Delco more often. Life is not fair thing — the game must be fair. Here you have another conflict between realism and gameplay’eM. We made concessions and that is why open the door to the Thief — thing absolutely secure.
The next problem. Neglect guards to his comrades in the service. First, we wanted to introduce some rules by which patrols the guards would monitor the disappearance of their colleagues. But this function could easily lead to a number of quite obscure to the player alarms and searches. You have to see where stumbled and why you started to look for. Therefore, we restricted ourselves to a narrow range of possible reactions of the guards: they can find bad hoarded corpses or no notice at the site of the most valuable artifacts. But nothing more. Actions of security guards be readily apparent to the player!
.EXE: Okay. But why did you choose the medieval world for the Thief? The work of modern bugbears can be as exciting and dangerous.
TS .: Let me say — only partly medieval — and in fact, psevdosrednevekovy world. We took inspiration from things like "Robin Hood" and "Gray Mouser" Fritz Laybera (I think it is popular everywhere! See. Another our interview. — AB). We just want to give the game an authentic atmosphere — like the one that got the project System Shock. In addition, variations on the theme of the Middle Ages took a liking to our artists and designers.
.EXE: Did you discuss the options Thief approach to the genre RPG? It seems that the system of personal characteristics of the hero (agility, perception), as well "skills" (picklock, stealth) could perfectly fit into the idea of the game …
Ie .: The majority of people in the Looking Glass actively playing role-playing games — whether desktop or computer RPGs counterparts. But because such proposals have been very, very-f of the set. What’s to stop us? With this step, we are very close to Thief to the RPG-genre. But we desperately wanted to do something new!
The problem of role-playing games is just that they do not want too much to move away from their desktop inverse images. As a result, in the role-playing genre hardly seen progress — in terms of design. They refuse to break the rules established and verified.
.EXE: So you tend to stick action-genre? Then why such a limited selection of weapons? This should prompt the player to solve the problems "without violence" or again dictated by the requirements "gaming realism"?
TS .: We stopped only unnecessary complexity of the interface. After all players have to learn to use the instrument. Thief actually can not think about the fact, which button to press to use a particular tool. His and take over the gills — pensive.
In Thief and so a lot of unusual ideas for the player. We have to follow the light, do not forget to look out of the first corner, and only then go to think of the most silent way through the room. Thief in any case is not a game where you have to fight a lot — and the choice of thieves tools reflect this mood. Of course, the game has a mission where you have to kill someone. But it is by no means a man. All the casualties in the game are exclusively on the conscience of the user. Sword is needed most for your own peace of mind, saying that armed, so protected.
.EXE: Can there be such a game as multiplayer Thief?
TS .: I think so. As you well know, the traditional deathmatch-mode to Thief absolutely impossible. Some of the other existing network versions of the game are more acceptable. Network Thief should be something entirely new, although it will be very different from "single". That’s why we decided not to try to make the network mode of the game in the first draft. Works related to the embodiment of life in single-player Thief, was enough to keep us busy for a long time. But we really have considered option multiplayer.
.EXE: Thief brought to the genre so much that it instantly became the nominee for the title (at least in Russia) "Games of the year". The second candidate, of course, Half-Life. What do you think about this project?
TS .: My opinion will seem unusual. Half-Life in some way helps our "Thief" break into the market. Many FPS are now trying to get rid of the cliches of the genre, looking for something new. Half-Life was one of the first such projects. HL away from Quake-standard just a little, but enough to make the players feel the desire to play into something fresh. And then there Thief. We are not alone. Authors Commandos and Rainbow Six, too, tried to go their own way. And we succeeded. I think that the new ideological project easier to get through if he will be one of several, similar. It is much easier to be on the leading edge than to remain in the opposition and try to get alone. We were in opposition before — it is a test of strength.
Ultimately it comes down to the very problem of genres, which we have already addressed in our conversation. If you want to force the consumer to estimate the true worth of your product, it is better to give him a few more names — for comparison. So the market will be a place for Half-Life, and Thief, and many other games that will want to go to the front.
.EXE: Since we are talking about games in general, and the leading edge in particular, let me ask you, what kind of projects this year, you find most interesting?
TS .: Let Thief and Half-Life away, okay? The next course will be Unreal. Personally, I was interested in playing in the Commandos — there is the same idea "Quiet War"We have tried to bring to Thief. Trespasser, despite all the shortcomings, attracts attention with its desperate attempt to achieve maximum realism in the game. Among the quests, I would pick Grim Fandango and Sanitarium — worthy representatives undying classic quest. I can not say about the consoles. I "addicted" on Zelda 64, and it seemed pretty Final Fantasy Tactics.
.EXE: Thank you for your comprehensive answer, interesting conversation and, of course, the great Thief. And, of course, waiting for System Shock 2!