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Postmortem: Thief: The Dark Project

July 9, 1999 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

Stepping Back from the Project

Thief was constructed as a set of appropriately abstract reusable game components designed for creating object-rich, data-driven games. Although increasing the cost of development, this approach allowed Looking Glass to leverage various technologies across disparate types of games, from the first-person action game System Shock 2 to our combat flight-simulator Flight Combat. In our next-generation technology, some of the systems, such as the AI and the Object System, will merely be revised, not rewritten. We intend to continue with this development philosophy in our future games.

The next time around, our approach to constructing the engine will differ. The engine will be scheduled, staffed, and budgeted as a project in its own right. The editor will be treated as more of a first-class citizen than was the case in Thief. Finally, a content development team will not be geared up until the technology is sufficiently mature to allow for an informed game design process.

Oh, and we'll get our schedules right — really.

Info Box:

Thief: The Dark Project
L ooking Glass Studios Inc.
Cambridge, Mass.
(617) 441-6333

Team size: 19 full-time developers. Some contractors.

Release date: December 1998
Intended platform: Windows 95/98
Project budget: Aproximately $3 million
Project length: 2.5 years

Critical development software: Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0, Watcom C++ 10.6, Opus Make, PowerAnimator, 3D Studio Max, Adobe Photoshop, AntimatorPro, Debabilizer, After Effects, and Adaptive Optics motion-capture processing.

Tom Leonard was the lead programmer for Thief: The Dark Project, writing the AI and core architecture of the game. He lives in the Boston area. Tom has been at Looking Glass for three-and-a-half years, prior to which he spent seven years working on C++ development tools at Zortech and Symantec. He is currently working on next-generation technologies, and can be reached at [email protected].

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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