Thief dev wants the challenge to be in-game, not in the controls

Thursday, 4th April 2013 23:07 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Bless the early Thief games, but they did require you to have octopus arms to get the most out of them. Eidos Montreal wants the new game to be hard without requiring you to make a keyboard overlay showing off all Garrett’s moves.

Speaking to CVG, Eidos Montreal’s Daniel Windfeld Schmidt said that old school fans probably want to play the same game again with new content, but the broader audience isn’t patient enough to learn Thief’s fiddly control scheme.

“Today’s gamers are a lot less patient. They expect a lot more from the developers in terms of features and so on. Even for menus that are easy to use. For a lot of things that weren’t as extensively developed back in the day. For example: control inputs,” he said.

“It took a while to learn the complex controls. Numbers 1,2,3,4 – There were different types of peeking: peeking forward, peeking sideways, peeking upside down. They had all these things that were very complex and it worked for the hardcore gamers, but a lot of people backed off early on because it was very difficult.

“So our focus has been to say, ‘we want the same amount of challenge, but within the game and not within the inputs.’ I don’t personally have the patience to learn the super, super old games and all their fidelities and hard-learned lessons. I want it to be more streamlined.”

It’s a little sad to say goodbye to Thief’s cumbersome controls, because mastering them made you feel like a hero, but it’ll be nice if the damn thing sells some copies and pulls Square Enix’s western track record out of the mud. Thief is due on PC and next-gen consoles sometime in 2014. Square Enix released a new Thief trailer this week, and there’s a lovely pile of art and screenshots, too.



  1. Jerykk

    If you can streamline the controls without sacrificing functionality, that’s great. However, when you start removing useful functionality in favor of accessibility, that = dumbing down.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Nath_gamer

    @1, yes it can lead to dumbing down, and in this case it seems like they are trying to make the controls a bit too simple when the original game was designed for a more complex control scheme.

    That being said the quote ‘we want the same amount of challenge, but within the game and not within the inputs.’ is heading in the right direction but I wouldn’t sacrifice the extra functionality in the controls but rather make it make more sense to the average gamer. With a game-pad in particular you have to be smart about how you set up the controls because a lot of people will hate a game if they just can’t get used to the controls, and even if the game allows you to customize the layout (which should be a standard option in all games) not all players can be bothered fiddling around with different layouts to see what suits them, they just want it to suit them from the get go.

    Hopefully they nail it first go but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll end up being a bit too simple in the controls department.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. YoungZer0

    Okay, so what exactly was complex about the controls of the old games? I replayed the second and third game recently and there was nothing complex there. They could’ve handled them better, shrinked some of the options down to one button instead of 2, but nothing Garrett did was complicated.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. apollyonbob

    I don’t really remember the Thief games having complex controls. Wasn’t there a button that let you smooth lean, so you could just press it and move the mouse or something?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. ojinnvoltz

    Well hell, it’s not like the old games’ controls were completely customizable and you can adjust them to however works for you… what I’m going to assume out of this (I’m a worst-case-scenario kinda person) is a lot of context sensitive stuff and an emphasis on nice animations over meaningful player input and a wheel-based item menu that freezes time while you’re looking through it.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. TheWulf

    This is the most WTF thing they’ve said thus far. The Thief controls were intuitive and way ahead of their time. They were incredibly fitting for the game and easily learned. I think Mass Effect has more buttons and things to learn than Thief does.

    I just… don’t know. Can they call it something else? Not Thief? Please?

    #6 2 years ago
  7. YoungZer0

    “Can they call it something else? Not Thief? Please?”

    Don’t be one of those guys.

    To me, it actually sounds like they had players test some early build that had much more complicated controls.

    #7 2 years ago

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