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Lady Vain's Diary
Lord Daniel Todd: CoSaS (Circle of Stone and Shadow) Lead
Sir Avalon: T2X: Shadows of the Metal Age Lead

What inspired you to start this project? How did Thief: The Dark Project and Thief: The Metal Age influence your design?

Lord Daniel Todd: The original inspiration was the novel Correspondence of Thieves. Several characters from that novel (written by myself in collaboration with many others) made cameos in the fan mission "Gathering at the Bar" (GatB). The original intention of CoSaS was to be the sequel to that mission. So I got together with Trimfect, the author of GatB (whom I had already worked with), and started designing this mission which we intended to be a "demo or fun stuff" map, letting players waltz around The Circle of Stone and Shadow, the fictional building for which the website was named.

Well, eventually, we added a story. And soon after that, we added a second mission. And soon after that...well, you get the idea.

From the start, we wanted to make something different from Thief 1. CoSaS was going to include many modern and sci-fi elements and have much more of a "James Bond" meets "Sherlock Holmes" feel and style to it. But then we played Thief 2. We saw all the sci-fi elements and the "James Bond" style missions, and how they replaced the "Indiana Jones" and survival horror type missions, rather then complimenting them. I liked Thief 2 a great deal. I don't think it was done poorly at all. But after playing it, I wanted to do something else. I wanted something with more soul.

Sir Avalon: Back in May, last year, Looking Glass surprised us all by suddenly and abruptly closing shop and shutting their doors. Hundreds of the members in the community were muttering "Eh? What's this all about, then?" A few people from the IRC Thief channels had an idea to start a project of enormous size, and so went on recruiting members. Like a number of others, I joined, and things changed dramatically due to a number of decisions and ideas. In the end, the project was under the leadership of myself, with our goal ultimately being to create a 'Thief 3' and bring an appropriate end to the Thief series. Shortly after, Ion Storm Austin announced that EIDOS had given them the thumbs up on producing that title, so we backed off and set our attention entirely on the other project we had been working on: T2x: Shadows of the Metal Age.

How long has your project been in development? Do you find that most of your team members have stuck with you, or have you had a good amount of "turnover"? Why?

Lord Daniel Todd: CoSaS has been in production since a little after Gathering at the Bar was finished. In case you don't know, GatB was one of the very first fan missions released, and the very first Fan Mission to begin production. In fact, the development of GatB was the proving grounds for the release of Dromed for Thief 1.

Even though CoSaS began development so long ago, the CoSaS back then was a very different project from what it is today. The current manifestation of CoSaS wasn't really born until several months before the release of Thief 2. But even then, CoSaS wouldn't achieve the scale it has gained today until the closing of LGS; which prompted us to add many things we were holding back on, doubling the scale of the game practically overnight.

In the year and a half CoSaS has been in production, only one major team member has left the project.

Sir Avalon: Our project has currently been in development for around 9 months. This includes the time of organization and pre-development stages, which were crucial to keeping the team targeted and efficient. With a team of this size (originally 107 individuals if I remember correctly), there's obviously going to be a few who will leave. It's inevitable. The majority of those who left, they left for understandable reasons: a lack of initial organization, a lack of time, or simply a lack of a position for all of them. But now that things have calmed down and everything is in place, we have a wealthy amount of people asking to join up.

What are the basic tenets of your design philosophy and why?

Lord Daniel Todd: There are a few things I always like to keep in mind. Quality comes before quantity. If you're bored building it, then people will be bored playing it. Don't sacrifice your vision because of any preconceived notion about what people you never met will like or dislike. If you don't like it, work on it until you do like it. And if you're not having fun, then you're doing something wrong. Reward yourself for a job well done. Reward your team members for jobs well done. If a team member is not having fun, then find out why and make it better. If there is a disagreement with the design, find a compromise. A designer can't be happy with what he or she is designing if they feel that their director will only accept things that comply perfectly with their vision alone. Give your team equal parts freedom and guidance. Inspire creativity through example rather than instruction. Always make it clear to your team that you know exactly what you're doing - unless you do not, and in that case, don't be afraid to ask for help. When in doubt, ask someone who has more experience than you. Think about what your team needs from you more then what you need from your team. Create an environment encouraging mutual edification. Encourage constructive criticism. Don't let destructive criticism break your stride. Remind your team members where their strengths lie and convince them to use those strengths to their full potential. Encourage team members to learn from each other and to teach each other. Encourage team members to set pride aside and take advantage of each other's skills; not rely on their own skill when someone else who is at their service, can do what needs to be done better, quicker, and faster. Do not allow your own pride to cloud your judgment. Delegate tasks efficiently - don't give any one person too much to do when there are others who are capable of lending a hand, especially when that person is you. Promote a feeling of ownership in each team member for the project in its entirety. Allow each team member to apply their own creative ethic, rather then forcing them to adapt to your own, unless their ethic is harmful to the project or the team. Trust your team. Trust yourself. Be modest, but accept praise graciously. Eat. Sleep. And when you are with your loved ones, that is more important then any silly computer game.

Sir Avalon: Thief 2 made the mistake of designing the story around their missions, rather than vice versa as was done for Thief 1. This resulted in missions that varied far and wide with only a small string of story to make them 'relate' to one another, and a story that wasn't exactly understandable at times. T2x is going back to the original design of T1, to structure missions around the Plot and create each mission as a strong piece in the whole scheme of it all.

Please rate gameplay, graphics, and realism per your project. You have 20 points of effort to distribute among these:

Gameplay: 5
Graphics: 5
Realism: 5
Story/Plot: 5

Please explain how and why you decided to concentrate your efforts on such said features.

Lord Daniel Todd: Yeah, I gave them all 5. Boring, right? I really don't think the question can be answered accurately, because many in-game situations are different and every mission designer has their own style. Oh, what, you want to know what MY style is when dealing with that? My style is to let the mission designers work the way they like to work, so ha! Getting back to the point, one area of one mission may require that the gameplay be more important then the visuals. Another portion may require that the realism be sacrificed for the story (depending also on the player's suspension of disbelief) and of course, realism always, always needs to be sacrificed for gameplay (water arrows anyone?).

Usually what happens is, areas which are very story-critical usually are made to look better then areas which are simply for added gameplay experience. A level of realism is always needed to maintain immersion, but on the same hand is always sacrificed to keep the game fun. Realism and Gameplay are in a constant tug-of war with each other. Regardless of what the level of technology and the sophistication the game uses, those two elements will always clash. (Unless, of course, you're outside playing football, but then, who cares about that nonsense? Kill the guy with the ball!)

Sir Avalon: It's extremely difficult for me to put a rating on those four things, so I can't exactly answer that. T2x is attempting to create a balance between Gameplay and Story, one that was obviously present within Thief 1 but not quite so in Thief 2. Graphics would come very close, due to our exhausting work on cutscenes, all new textures and extensive internal feedback among the Mission Designers, but 'Realism' would not come so near. As it was put to me some time ago, "I've got this game called 'Life' and it's exactly like reality." Looking Glass Studios was of the belief that games are meant for enjoyment and entertainment, things that are difficult when extreme realism is involved, as 'reality' consists of many things that you don't like to do or be a part of. That's life, and that's why we have a gaming environment such as the Thief Universe to distract us from it. This isn't to say that T2x will feature little realism. We are staying to the rules of realism set down by the two original Thief games, and adding a slight twist of our own, but there must be a place where realism ends and fantasy begins so that one can fully explore the depths of action, adventure and, ultimately, entertainment.

What will be some of the assignments players can expect when playing your campaign?

Lord Daniel Todd: If you mean what type of missions, then this is a good time to point out that CoSaS, for the most part, does not use missions (or even the idea of a campaign) in the sense that Thief 1 or 2 did.

In Thief 2 there were two situations where one mission occurred as "part 2" of the mission before it (Courier & Trail of Blood … Precious cargo and Kidnap). In CoSaS, once the player gets past the prologue, the standard Thief style of mission division ends. It becomes a continuous chain of events with very little pause between "missions," some objectives not being completed until several "missions" down the line. This does not really answer your question, but it does tell everyone something which I think is much more important than the answer to your question.

I could tell you that you should expect to see baby burricks with poopy bottoms and pervert cops who sing opera, but I don't think anyone would believe me.

Sir Avalon: I can't give any specifics on this particular issue without spoiling things that I'm sure the Players wouldn't want spoiled. I can, however, tell you that T2x will feature a variety of missions and quests that will no doubt be pleasingly impressive. You can also be sure that the target of a few missions will be to steal things and sneak around.

Back To The Mission
I wasn't expecting to garner this much information from Lady Vain's place, but I'll take all the extras I can get. I still don't know exactly what's going on here, other than Lord Daniel Todd and Sir Avalon are onto something unique. Both their projects so far are sounding rather intriguing, and I can't wait to turn over the next chapter in this journey.

I start to dart for the room to interrupt Ol'Ebie and tear him away from his festivities, but I realize that Lady Vain isn't supposed to know I'm here. Instead, I slowly creep inside the room, and position myself on the side of the bed that's being less used while still lying low and staying out of view. I slowly reach for my blackjack, then rise slowly to my knees, barely looking over the rift of the bed. In one quick lunge, I raise my blackjack over my head, stand up, lean forward, and let go a nasty blow to Lady Vain's head. I hit her so fast, and since the lighting was nicely dimmed (for their special occasion of course), she didn't even know what, or who hit her.

With her body lying there, now unconscious, I grabbed Ol'Ebie and we headed for the rooftops. I didn't immediately get on his case, because I was too busy filling him in on the information I had found in her diary while we were darting back to Camden Street. Once we arrived at Camden, Eberon pulled out a rope arrow and placed it perfectly in the gutter at the top of a nearby apartment building. We climbed the rope to the top of the roof, and this is when I asked him what exactly was going on in there.

BackDoor: Just what exactly were you doing in there with Lady Vain?
Eberon: What did it look like I was doing?

BackDoor: Hey, don't get snippy with me. I'll turn your butt into the the Master Keeper and you'll get rite punishment.
Eberon: Yeah, Yeah. Whatever. I was doing my job. I was doing exactly what you had asked me to do. You asked me to do some scouting at Lady Vain's place, and that's exactly what I was doing.

BackDoor: Then why did I find you in the sack with her? What exactly were you scouting?
Eberon: You know how clumsy I am.

BackDoor: Oh, so you just fell into the bed with her then? By accident, of course?
Eberon: No. I was creeping outside, and tripped over her garbage can. She obviously heard the loud raucous and came running out to see what was the cause of such a loud noise. When she saw me she was so happy. She thought I was returning for her, so I played my role, while keeping note of the mission in the back of my head (way, way back in there somewhere). We went inside, she offered me something to drink, then she said, "I'm going to go put on something a little more comfortable." I followed her back to her room, but she didn't immediately know I was there. Heck man, it's been years since I even laid eyes upon a naked woman, so when I witnessed her changing clothes, I couldn't resist.

BackDoor: Eberon, I am deeply disappointed in you. You know the Thieves Guild makes us swear to never indulge in such activities for the rest of our lives since it can come back to haunt us, in more ways than one.
Eberon: Yeah, I know, but I just knew you'd come looking for me, you always do. And I knew once you saw what was going on, then I'd act like a distraction for you while you got the information. Yeah, that's it, yeah. You see, I was the distraction (more like ACTION) man for you.

BackDoor: O.k., well, lets dive deeper into her diary and find out what exactly is going on out there in the Thief community.

Deeper In The Diary

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