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GDC Radio:  Thief 's Randy Smith on Stealth Gameplay Design

GDC Radio: Thief's Randy Smith on Stealth Gameplay Design

June 6, 2006 | By Frank Cifaldi

In this week's edition of GDC Radio, we take a trip back to 2002, with Ion Storm's then-Project Director Randy Smith discussing stealth gameplay fundamentals in the Thief series, in a talk titled 'GDC Radio: Design Fundamentals of Stealth Gameplay in the Thief Series.' The lecture provided what was then an early glimpse at the mechanics of the third entry in the series, Thief: Deadly Shadows, which premiered on store shelves over two years later.

Although Ion Storm closed its doors in early 2005, and Smith is now doing contract work on games such as the upcoming film adaptation Open Season and franchise continuation Dark Messiah of Might & Magic (both for publisher Ubisoft), the design theory presented in this lecture remains as solid and relevant today as it was four years ago.

The following extract is from the lecture's official description:

"This presentation deconstructs the stealth gameplay in the Thief series of games by using the design concept of analog interaction structures. Analog interaction structures (roughly, a collection of player-influenced, interacting game systems) contrast with discrete interaction structures by creating environments where open-ended player expression is possible. Analog interaction structures empower players with meaningful choices in the game world and enable players to make plans and take actions that do not require explicit designer support. These qualities are essential not only to stealth in Thief but to other types of core gameplay in any number of products that enjoy both critical and financial success.

This presentation lists and describes the elements of analog interaction structures, discusses the boundaries between analog interaction structures and discrete interaction structures, and illustrates how analog interaction structures enable meaningful, open-ended player expression. In order to illustrate concepts, examples are drawn from Thief and many other games."

You can now read more on this podcast, and click through to download this week's installment (no registration required).

You can subscribe to podcasts using iTunes and searching the directory for GDC Radio or by clicking this link. You can manually subscribe to our feed in your favorite RSS reader that supports enclosures by using this URL:

[Additionally, until June 30, 2006, all individual GDC radio downloads have been reduced to only $2.99. You can purchase individual sessions at]

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