It seems that not all is well with the developers behind the new Thief reboot.
Polygon are reporting that development of the new Thief game has had to deal with several hurdles over the past five years.
After beginning as a series of concept meetings in 2008, a “vertical slice” – basically a short and concentrated demonstration of the game’s potential design and gameplay made by a small team – began development. Due to Deus Ex: Human Revolution going into production at Eidos Montreal at around the same time, the production of Thief’s vertical slice took nine months to create. That vertical slice got Thief greenlit by Square Enix.
The troubles allegedly began when the Thief team expanded. According to Polygon’s sources, the lead and senior design positions suffered from departures, some after less than two years, and that each new new designer would bring their own vision for the game, which sometimes lead to the complete removal or rebuild of completed work. In the same month as the game was revealed by GameInformer, lead designer Dominic Fleury left the team.
Due to the need to meet promotional deadlines, late 2012 and early 2013 have both been focused on creating press demos, which apparently took nearly 10 months to create, and required nearly the entire content creation team for six months.
Square Enix themselves have also reportedly become concerned about the status of Thief. A source has told Polygon that Eidos Montreal sought additional funds from a German investment firm – a move which, according to studio higher-ups is a common thing to do and nothing to be concerned about.
Which brings us to what is currently being shown to the media. According to a source, the current version of Thief is significantly different from the initial vertical slice, which does not even load inside the current build of the engine. Apparently, the current demonstration requires NPC AI to be turned off, since the engine struggles when too many characters are shown.
Favouritism and high level employee turnaround aren’t doing Thief’s development any favours. It’s important, however, to reiterate that sources on the inside have “emphasized the high level of talent and enthusiasm of team members, many of whom came to work on Thief because of their love of the franchise. Those same sources cited team politics and conflicting visions as cause for many departures and setbacks.”
Hopefully we will all be reassured when the game is shown at this year’s E3.