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Safe, but Not Secure
Lord Todd: CoSaS (Circle of Stone and Shadow) Lead
Sir Avalon: T2X: Shadows of the Metal Age Lead

When the maids were safely out of distance, we darted towards the study. Not knowing exactly where the safe was located, we started scouring the room for any secret levers and such. Ebie found a book that didn't look quite right. He tampered with it, and presto, the book case opened up like a door, revealing the location of the safe. Now it was time to open this baby, and wrap up this journey.

BackDoor: Go ahead Ebie, open it up.
Eberon: You open it.

BackDoor: Nah, you go ahead.
Eberon: Nope. You go ahead.

BackDoor: I want you to do the honors.
Eberon: No thanks. You do the honors.

BackDoor: Ebie. My buddy, my pal. I want you to be the one who opens this last road block in our journey to bring the community the information they've longed for.
Eberon: BackDoor. You deserve the honors, you've been with the Thieves Guild longer than I.

BackDoor: O.k., we're getting nowhere with this. You know as well as I do that the reason we want each other to open it up, is because of the possibility of it being booby trapped.
Eberon: Your buddy, your pal huh? I can't believe you were willing to sacrifice me for some measely information about two Thief 2 projects. Were you really willing to sacrifice me?

BackDoor: Well...yeah.
Eberon: You no good taffer!

BackDoor: Yeah, well, it wasn't like you weren't willing to do the same.
Eberon: True.

BackDoor: Look, I'll open it.
Eberon: You won't get any protest out of me.

BackDoor: Gee, thanks.

I open up the safe, thankfully it wasn't booby trapped, and I pull out a scroll that had a red ribbon tied around it. I open it up, and was amazed at the information within it. This was it. This was the final chapter in our long journey to gather all the information on the two projects. I hand it over to Ebie, and he starts to read:

We all know that the hardest game play issue to tackle is 'Immersion'. Looking Glass Studios did an outstanding job immersing the player with the Thief series, Irrational Games in conjunction with LGS gave us System Shock 2, and Ion Storm Austin has proven that they too can immerse the player with their award winning Deus Ex. Both teams have an incredible reputation to live up to when it comes to immersing the player. How did your team tackle the issue of 'Immersion'?

Sir Avalon: Our project consists of four teams: Plot, Missions, Graphics and Sound. For the initial three months of the project, the Plot team was setting down the core concepts of the Plot, with input from the future mission designers on what could be done on a mission-to-mission basis. From that time, to even now, Plot has been filling in details alongside Missions, creating extensive sub-plots and backgrounds so that one can truly feel the story flowing around them as they play through the campaign. Immersion has been the focus of many Plot/Mission discussions within the team, so much so that we have come to the belief that if they can't create an immersive environment, nobody can.

Lord Daniel Todd: Thief 1 and System Shock 2 created a sense of immersion using the very powerful tool of fear. Fear is probably the easiest emotion to evoke in a player, and emotions are a primary vehicle for immersion. CoSaS uses fear to a much greater extent then Thief 2 did, and will hopefully attain the same level of spookiness as Thief 1 and Shock 2, but we are also going to try to use an immersion tool which is much more trickier to pull off, but also very effective. We're working with a large cast of major characters who take an important role in the way the story unfolds and the content of the missions. If we can develop these characters realistically enough to evoke an emotional response from the player, then I think we will have done something extraordinary.

Thief 3 is being developed at Ion Storm Austin with a very talented and professional core team. Some of them are newcomers to the Thief universe, while others are veterans to this classical world. What would you like to tell them to inspire them and motivate them to release a Thief 3 editor that would keep the Thief community thriving for years to come? Would you do another project based off said editor? Would that project encompass the same capacity that your present project has?

Sir Avalon: There is very little doubt that the Thief series would not have lasted this long had it not been for the release of DromEd, the Thief editor. The System Shock II fan base has recently been revitalized due to the release of its version of the Dark Engine editor. Game editors available to the public allow for the fans to design and create their own additions to the game that tide their fellow fans over until a sequel or other work of art is released. This ensures that the fans will be there, waiting to buy the developers' next hit. It's good for the fans and it's good for the wallet. What more could you ask for, eh? As for the other two questions… Well, I would obviously do a 'mod' of my own using that editor. But it would really depend whether the rest of the team is willing before we'd look into developing another project of this enormity with it. But the answer would most likely be "no," for numerous reasons.

Lord Daniel Todd: We're after your jobs. Oooooo!!

Oh, you said -inspire- them, eh?

I think that if there is a Thief 3 editor then they can definitely count on another major project from Daniel Todd. It may not be CoSaS2, but I am sure I won't be able to keep my hands off of it. unless of course, they use the Unreal Engine. Ewww… Unreal stinky-poo.

I'm kidding! (Though I am after your jobs… ;)

I'm not in the habit of preaching to the chorus or trying to tell people with more experience than me how to go about their business. If it is at all possible for the Thief 3 editor to be released, then I rest confidently that it will happen. If it never is released, then I will rest confidently knowing that there wasn't a chance it could have been released. My point is: Don't worry about it. The Thief 1 editor was released against all odds. The Deus Ex editor was released as a natural progression of ISA's continued support for their product (just like the multiplayer patch was). I see a strong reason to believe that a Thief 3 editor will be released as part of the natural progression of the developer's support for a very popular franchise. People shouldn't worry about it!

DO worry about the engine though! (Please don't make Unreal scummy-futz! ;)

Hey, ISA, you know I love you guys. :D

What was the projected release date of your project when it first began? Has the release date changed? If so, when is it currently slated for release? Last but definitely not least, how will your final product be distributed to the community?

Sir Avalon: When the project first began we were looking at a Summer/Fall 2001 release date. As things have advanced, we have taken a decided "It'll be done when it's done" tone, but rest assured, we have not been delayed, though we cannot give an exact date when we'll be done. As for method of distribution, T2x currently has plans for shipping out CDs (free of all charge minus Shipping fees), as well as downloads. We strongly advise that people take the CD, unless you're confident that your connection can take 500 megs (or more!).

Lord Daniel Todd: I like the way you cram four questions all under the one. That's very clever. Does that come naturally to you, or did you learn it someplace? Oh, by the way: a while ago, yes, some time from now, and by camel. Do you have any gum?

Actually, distribution is something we've talked about often. Freeware download will, of course, be offered. But of course downloading a 400+ meg file, even in 5 meg chunks, is not realistic for many people (including myself). Including CoSaS on a magazine cover-disk is also not very realistic, because major companies pay a good wad to the magazine publishers to have their 70 meg demo force-fed to the subscribers of the magazine. Are the publishers going to be interested in giving away more then half of their expensive CD space to a band of amateurs with a freeware game? I doubt that very much. Are they going to include a second CD with the magazine and raise production costs by a good margin? I doubt that even more. Are we going to try to convince them to in spite of that? You better believe we will.

However, what is realistic, and what we do plan to do, is to distribute CoSaS ourselves on Compact Disc. We will both, have people send us a blank write able disc along with money for shipping and have us ship the disc back to them with CoSaS freshly burnt, and set up an online order form so that credit card wielding folks will be able to pay all the shipping and material expenses simply and effectively and have us send out the already burnt CDs with equal efficiency. But all of that is a long, long way away.

Some people may be startled and even annoyed to hear that I want to charge people to send them a freeware product, but remember, shipping charges are not cheap, and neither are write able CDs once you get into the 500s (though I am aware that you can buy these in bulk for a very good price). Please trust me on this: We will not be charging for, or making a profit on the distribution of CoSaS. Doing so would be in violation of the DromEd user license agreement. The charges will only be for shipping & materials.

All of this is in discussion, but if I didn't think that the reality of the situation was strong enough, I would not have mentioned it. Don't consider any of the above a promise, it's just our view of the situation at the moment. The moment, when it will actually come into play, is a long way away.

Celebration Time
Ebie and I get out of Lord Eversotites' estate with the information, and without any problems. We head back to the Thieves Guild to show the Master Keeper all the information we had gathered so that he could disseminate it througout the community.


The Master Keeper, pleased with the information we had gatherd, gives each of us a glass of ale and a cigar for a job well done. Ol'Ebie and I are living the high-life, at least for now.

We, the staff of DeusEx-Machina, thank both Leads for answering all the questions and appreciate them having a great sense of humor. We also thank the community for their continued support, and truely hope you all have enjoyed this column.













     
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