Thief producer Stephane Roy says the classic stealth franchise's reboot must win over a new generation of gamers.
"It's been a long time since we made a Thief game," he told Polygon. "So there are people in this generation who say, 'oh yes, Thief, that's like Dishonored'. No, no no. It's the opposite, Dishonored was inspired by Thief and we are saying that it's better to play the original."
He acknowledged that Arkane's moody 2012 hit Dishonored has changed the landscape of stealth gaming. "For people who are fans of Thief, it will be like meeting an old friend. The things you like will still be there, but your friend has lived through new experiences and so there are some changes." He said there is no point in attempting to recreate a game from a different generation. "There are many choices for gamers today, and we have to be very smart in our design decisions, to make the best game possible."
Dishonored sought to punish players who resorted to violence, by creating a darker world around those who skipped the joys of waiting-and-watching in favor of cutting throats and pistol-play. Thief is taking a slightly different approach. "We will reward the player who sits in the shadow by giving them power through information, through the things they hear. Also, if you stand in the middle of a room and wave your arms about and shout 'woo-hoo, here I am', you're going to get yourself killed."
The demo on show at Square Enix's E3 booth is full of allusion to the pleasure of traversing and sneaking. Roy said that the point of the game is to "feel what it is like to be a master-thief."
He added, "We leave it up to the player to decide whether or not to go for the achievements that come with going completely undetected." Thief is due for launch in 2014 for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.