In 2013 I spent several weeks researching the origins of the first Thief game, Thief: The Dark Project, for an article for RockPaperShotgun. This turned out to be the first in a series of investigative pieces I wrote for RPS and Eurogamer, focusing mainly on cancelled games in the Thief and Deus Ex series’.
This first article, Stealing History: Dark Camelot and Thief, investigates the two cancelled projects that preceded Thief: The Dark Project and which heavily shaped its final form. These are Better Red Than Undead, a cancelled Ken Levine game about Russians and zombies, and Dark Camelot, a steampunk reinterpretation of the Arthurian myth.
With help from Thief developer Randy Smith I exclusively uncovered unused levels, early trailers, concept art and plot information.
“The world was more modern than the traditional Arthurian elements. Steampunkish, but with no gunpowder,” says Marc. “I remember seeing sketches of Merlin with a top hat, and there was talk of Knights covered in corporate logos like NASCAR drivers… We didn’t want to be straight up orcs and elves; we wanted to build something unique and memorable. Something we could own.”
I spoke to a whole bunch of the original Looking Glass Studios team for this article and owe a lot of thanks to Randy Smith and Marc LeBlanc for their help.