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Historical accuracy in Thief/TDM

history of art architecture thief the dark mod interior design art

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#1 wycha



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Posted 21 October 2017 - 10:39 AM

When I passed first mission in Thief Gold I have both ave to how team recreate middle age in video game, but also some pet peeves. Mostly with paintings being mix and match of different styles and technology, which I do not blame TTLG for that, sometimes stuff should be made not how they look like, but how we want to see them. 
For The Dark Mod, I cant tell 'problems' like that in general, since every mission is individual and made with passion from fans to fans.

Of course The Dark Mod and Thief series took place in own universe and its mix of eras and technology, but why not daydreaming about make the setting for arts and crafts part of universe more clear? Discovering great ideas and switch lack of knowing subject with something more accurate.

Architecture and interiors. What I remember from classes, and exhibitions 'how ppl live before' etc. 'Old' mansions and villas were built differently than how we see big house today. And Im curious if its possible to make historically accurate mansion/or replica of existing one and still from map design eye it will be okay for player to navigate through and keeping the standard of letting player walk the route how they want.

I don't have bigger problems with churches. In general churches looks great in all games, probably because the form of christian church is recognizable enough and its hard to not make it bad for first sight. The cathedral and hammerite complex from ruined district from TDP/TG was made very reliable.
I wish to see a church with painted walls, and decoration on rooftop, like a lot of gothic churches had, or strict middle age church by construction.
The Angel Watch building is another story, what I love is fact Karras not also is a engineering genius, and sick man who made his own cult, but also he hired great interior designer who made Angel Watch art deco futuristic(according how mostly The City looks like) interiors, probably intimidating for anyone who isn't open for new aesthetic. Very brave choice.

The streets and city plan, I have actually a very little idea how it should look good. I mean we are all imagine streets as small dirty with back alleys and buildings grew one on another to keep a lot of ppl in small space.

Textures/colors/patterns Thief did GREAT job with it for me, colorful mansions, starry sky on ceiling, reds greens yellows and blue going together. I feel like TDM is more XIX century than middle age in here, but I'm not sure about it.

Furnitures, I have very little knowledge on this field probably there are things off...
But box-beds are pretty cute, they existed since late middle age and still existed in XIX century interiors.

Arts and crafts.
The eras are pretty wide and wild with painting topics, in Thief we can spot some paintings did for this game(like The Order of Hammer God vs Trickster) but also paintings from middle age to not sure if not XVII-XVIII century art. While I will ignore about the technology of painting changed in that time, it pet peeves me from subject of paintings. Different fashion subjects were popular in those times, heck even perception of artist changed. The Dark Mod its more close and clear with paintings, even artworks are from different eras. The choose of portraits, landscapes and some historical/storytelling scenes makes more sense at first sight.

The technology for stained glass in Thief its more XIX century, a lot of detail but also work which goes with payment, seems Order of Hammer is pretty generous with commissioning. I had class from stained glass and even making wobbly middle age rip off needs a lot of effort to make a drawing and not making big mess of color blobs. I don't remember/payed attention to look at stained glass in TDM.

Tapestry, oh boy oh boy, its clear the one who choose them in Thief did not see one in museum or gallery. These are huuuge, 3-4 meters, and each one had a lot of details. The game did not bring the size of them. I do not talk about the tapestry made for game, but the one from existing one, like The Lady and The Unicorn series


Sculpture I remember is weakly exposed in Thief series. Due to game engine in first two games the sculptures are very boxy and simple with composition, and middle age like when it comes to amount of drapery to character features. TDM have bust portraits and some small sculptures If I remember?
About tombstones and grave sculptures, its complicated(because it touches more about how society sees the death and funeral) but lets say its alright, though could be more detail about making floor and walls in churches fulfilled with tombstones with sleeping man.


I didn't count Thief Deadly Shadows because I remember it very poorly to talk about it.
Probably there are more but I forgot, sounds like opportunity to go through some missions.
As last note, I am after years of history of art class in high school, and some in college, I don't remember probably a lot but why not start the topic. And as its more or less clear English isn't my first language, and I want to apologize for grammar errors in this textwall.

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#2 Anderson


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Posted 22 October 2017 - 09:59 AM

TDM is a steampunk world when you mention XIX'th century.


There is no distinguishable desire to clearly separate buildings or aesthetics into certain historical time periods because it is not inherent to gothic style or gothic inspired worlds. The morbid atmosphere relies on the element of surprise clearly attributed to the unknown. A mix of anticipation and fear. Narratives going from Lovecraft to Poe or even Dickens the latter especially in regards to Steampunk, to Thief 2 influences and such.


The Builders in TDM and the Hammerites in Thief are heavily inspired by the Spanish Inquisition but who knows, possibly also Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" revolving around the aforementioned.

Edited by Anderson, 22 October 2017 - 09:59 AM.

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 "I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...



- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.


#3 wycha



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Posted 14 November 2017 - 05:24 PM

I stick to XIX century because that's when industrial revolution begins and steam machines started to be main resource of power in industry. Steampunk is just 'modern' technology in aesthetic of pipelines and clockwork machinery, following pretty often with XIX century art, craft and fashion. TDM is own universe and fiction, I just used the 'XIX century' because I go with expectation steampunk doesn't need to follow XIX century #aesthetic (I'm not big fan of this word, but I don't know anything better) - example Thief with being more into middle ages when still use steam/clockwork machinery.


It kinda matches, Damn eclectism was a big thing(tldr; the statement of architecture eclectism was: lets mix together the prettiest elements of previous styles), and neo-gothic architecture also matches well with gothic, horror literature descriptions(never read Dickens). And architecture from different period can match together making twisted city, for corny example Paris - it exist as city(by law) since X century If Im not mistaken, and a lot of buildings from different periods are still kickin(even ordinary house!).

Of course the world of TDM, and terrific gothic is about mystery but also a world need to make "sense", to make a whole picture puzzle elements need to match each other, and when there's inconsistency in world building, the world seems to be uninteresting and frustrating. Doesn't mean the universe of TDM makes no sense, its solid. I wanted to make a topic where users can talk about possibilities, and unify world more in details no one need to care. Because honestly, who cares about art in video games besides those who are into it. 


About Inquisition and Builders/Hammerites I can't disagree. Actually I have very little idea about Christian orders and institutions, but I don't recognize anything that will be active in society by law, and respect it!
(I remember there is at least one mission in TDM with corrupted priest theme, but in general TDM and Thief show the religion as something alright), didn't read the story you mentioned, I cant tell if it can be also nice reference, when thinking about the fanclub of hammer god.

#4 CarltonTroisi



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Posted 15 November 2017 - 03:04 PM

Personally I would like to see some levels with more of a Persian or perhaps Ottoman-like aesthetic.  Excessively intricate tile patterns, bright colors with jarring contrasts, loads of geometric tessellations, etc.

Edited by CarltonTroisi, 15 November 2017 - 03:04 PM.

#5 wycha



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Posted 13 January 2018 - 10:22 AM

Personally I would like to see some levels with more of a Persian or perhaps Ottoman-like aesthetic.  Excessively intricate tile patterns, bright colors with jarring contrasts, loads of geometric tessellations, etc.

I remember that was my main reason to play first asscreed years ago.

Would love to see it too, as challenge to make rich colors, glossy textures(mosaics and tiles) and allow to player character sneak at night. Their outfit also must be some dark but rich colors to blend well in shadows*.



*example, at full moon nights black stand out too much, and for better coverage dark blue/green are better option. Also our eyes can get used to do darkness with some amount of light, and we can see something pop out from rich dark area - but not pure black.

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