Secrets of the Foundry Heist

Welcome to the FM Author Spotlight, a series of interviews that provides an exclusive peek into the world of fan mission creators. In this episode, we are talking to StandAndDeliver, the author of a recently released mission Coveted Formulae.

Aemanyl: Please introduce yourself and tell us how you discovered the Thief games.

StandAndDeliver: Highway robber by day, boxman by night. About four years ago, a friend I was screwing around with was showing me Dishonored, and when I asked him for recommendations on stealth games he mentioned Thief wasn’t great. I took that in and moved on (in retrospect, I think he was unaware that Thief 1-3 existed). About two years ago, I had 100%ed MGSV and Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, and I was out of stealth games. I was trying to mod Fallout 4 to be another Splinter Cell, to not-so-great results. The whole Thief franchise was on sale on Steam for ~5 dollars, so I decided why not, even with the bad things I’ve heard. Been hooked ever since.

Aemanyl: Congratulations for releasing your first fan mission, Coveted Formulae! Although compactly built and short, your FM was well-received by the community and I have personally found it to be very relaxing and enjoyable. What inspired you to create your own Thief level?

StandAndDeliver: I wanted to make a mission that would entertain me and wouldn’t annoy me, simple as that. I use CAD software frequently, and managed to re-use some of my skills for Dromed. That, and there’s a lot of freedom in Dromed once you learn it. I also have plenty of pet peeves, which I will detail in the related section below. I had some large-scale ideas, but decided to figure out how to do things correctly before I dive straight in.

Aemanyl: Numerous FM authors depict Garrett embarking on grand heists, during which he steals priceless artefacts and relics, often accompanied by vast sums of gold. Yet, as I played through your mission, I couldn't help but feel it could have seamlessly fit into Garrett's early career, perhaps preceding his burglary at Lord Bafford`s Manor, serving as one of his simpler jobs taken to meet basic expenses. How do you feel about the concept of building more modestly-sized missions, akin to Coveted Formulae, that delve into the mundane facets of Garrett's life?

StandAndDeliver: The grounded feel pairs well with the gameplay of Thief - they tend to be the most immersive. It’s also an unexplored part of Garrett’s life: in terms of 70s music, you hear a lot more Perfect Strangers than you do Down Payment Blues. What I’d say is most important is that a mundane backdrop makes things feel more impactful. An alarm system like mine is just some old thing in a huge mansion, but in a mundane mission where it’s mostly an ordinary job it’s a punch in the gut if you didn’t do thorough scouting. In a big 3000 loot mission, a 100 gold vase just feels like a thing - in a 600 loot mission where loot is scarce, you’ll do almost anything for that gold vase. In more elaborate missions, a mundane start is good as well, as the transition from normal to grand and/or supernatural enhances the feeling of outside the fortress -> inside the fortress.

Aemanyl: One of my personal favourite highlights from your mission was the pressure plate connection with the alarm. What would be your proudest technical achievement in DromEd so far?

StandAndDeliver: It’s that one, but since you already mentioned it my second favorite is a very sneaky rope arrow spot in the first street of the mission, southwest. It’s a very narrow gap to climb through and is hard to spot, but it’s very rewarding in the form of some gold and a pipe that allows the player into the sewers without dealing with the Hammerites. A third favorite is a very narrow hiding spot that makes your skin crawl as shown in THIS video. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.

Aemanyl: Do you have a favourite genre, style, or theme of fan missions?

StandAndDeliver: Most of my favorite categories are displayed in this mission. Old buildings, factories, and a modest side dish of cat-burgling. I’m also partial to TG/TDP missions with mostly stock textures, I love the missions from the TDP 20th Anniversary Contest. I also like horror missions that tend to stick to the classic Thief atmosphere like Lost Among the Forsaken, Alcazar, or The Black Parade mission Brand, though I also like Jaws of Darkness from the same campaign.

Aemanyl: What are your most irritating pet peeves in fan missions? Are there any elements of design or gameplay solutions that reduce your enjoyment of playing Thief?

StandAndDeliver: The #1 is guards that instantly turn 180, or flick 180 right as they start walking. There is a method that stops this: Use an AIWatchObj, first step is goto the TrolPt. Then, do normal stuff. Lastly, do your 180 or 90 or whatever turn. The degrees units are in radians, please learn your radians. Although the flick might still happen, its chance is much lower. #2 is bad rooming, admittedly I’m sort of guilty because the density of my mission caused missing sound glitches in small spots, but in a normal, not-super-dense hallway I should always hear the footsteps around the corner. #3 is bad EAX, either do it right or don’t do it at all. A distant #4 includes highly verbose objective descriptions with too many dry jokes, and useful information that is present in the starting description but not in the during-mission objectives tab. There’s also key/pixel hunts and overuse of tile floor, but enough people have already said that.

Aemanyl: Any specific plans for creating more levels in the near future?

StandAndDeliver: There’s a few ideas - I’ve got some seriously cool and detailed “snapshots” of parts of levels, but I’ve got a nasty Dromeder’s block as far as level creation goes. I’ve been thinking for a while, and I believe that making a more linear (not entirely linear though) map next would be a good next experiment. I struggled with Dromeder’s block a lot during Coveted Formulae, since I wanted to make it a streamlined, no-fat level but didn’t know how. The mission was very successful as far as learning the room-to-room gameplay & design of a Thief level, but big picture design is still a big struggle for me. I believe that it’ll be easier for me to figure out the big picture of a level in a linear setting, but I can still get more ambitious in the fields of gameplay and visuals. Lastly, I will use some form of translation for my next one, since I underestimated the foreign player-base of Thief as shown by Garrett TMT video of my mission.

Aemanyl: What are some of your other interests, pastimes, or hobbies that you enjoy in your free time?

StandAndDeliver: I’m quite good with guitar and I have perfect pitch identification. I used this skill to make certain sounds fit together in the mission. I also do a lot of mathematics, so I wonder how much of it has been discovered in the Thief universe - I’d say a good rule of thumb is to exclude any math discovered after 1600, and assume some inferior approximations are used for electricity. Despite these two things, I don’t like math rock. Although it’s not part of my job, I recently started looking into nuclear physics, it’s very interesting.


Thank you for reading! We hope that you've enjoyed this insightful interview with StandAndDeliver. This marks the last interview in the current season of the FM Author Spotlight series.

Stay tuned and look forward to Season 2 in the future, where we'll continue to feature both rising stars and seasoned veterans of our beloved community.

See you in the next season of FM Author Spotlight!