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26 years after Thief's release, one of its programmers is streaming the game's most ambitious mod

 Garett climbing a building in Thief: The Dark Project.
Garett climbing a building in Thief: The Dark Project.

After powering through Nightdive's superb System Shock Remake, former Looking Glass developer Marc Leblanc has returned to Twitch and YouTube to stream The Black Parade, a lauded mod that presents an interquel between the classic Looking Glass stealth games, Thief: The Dark Project and Thief 2: The Metal Age.

Thief modding is one of those little universes all its own, comparable to other retro treasure troves like the Doom and Quake scenes. Even still, the recent 10-level campaign The Black Parade is in a league of its own, boasting utterly huge levels, new voice acting and gadgets, as well as fresh systemic interactions like house servants who will clean up your sound-dampening moss arrow surfaces or relight torches you've extinguished. YouTube reviewer MandaloreGaming argues it might even represent a new peak for the series all these years later.

LeBlanc is an industry veteran who worked on Looking Glass' essential games like Thief and System Shock. His streamed longplay of the System Shock Remake features his thoughts on Nightdive's changes (he mostly dug them) as well as some '90s development war stories.

From the jump in his first, abortive attempt at The Black Parade's massive first level, LeBlanc was impressed by the mod's custom UI, noting that it would require some concerted digging and work: "As the author of the original user interface code, I apologize for how hard that is."

Otherwise, I gotta say I found it comforting that LeBlanc plays Thief like I do, which is to say he got caught a few times, saved his game before experimenting with knocking a civilian unconscious (I've never felt more represented by someone streaming a game), and flubbed a few tricky jumping maneuvers while trying to avoid loud surfaces.

In one amusing sequence, a viewer pointed out to LeBlanc that he was keeping his weapons drawn, making it easier for enemies to spot him in the dark, when this was a feature he'd helped implement himself all the way back in 1998: "'Putting away arrows makes you less visible'⁠—I wrote that code, I should know that!

"I don't remember the specific code I wrote for that, but I do remember creating that feature…that having your weapon out increased your visibility."

At the time of writing, LeBlanc's YouTube VODs of his playthrough are well into mission 3 of The Black Parade, and you can follow along yourself via his Twitch and YouTube channels. If you want to play the mod, it's available on ModDB, while a copy of Thief's definitive Gold edition is only a buck on GOG right now.