The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Mission: Look at Neat Stuff

Jim Munroe
Posted July 31, 2003

The security cameras frown on infiltration in Thief II.Ninjalicious is the founder of Infiltration, a zine documenting his urban exploration hobby in hilarious and diagram-enhanced travelogues. He’s recently been playing Thief II (Eidos, 2000), a videogame with a focus on stealth, and I asked him about how the first-person sneaker measured up to his real-life experience.


What made you start playing it?

I thought it would be cool to see if it could be used as practice, or at least to check out if it was realistic. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it can be used as practice, but it’s pretty realistic.

Yeah, a lot of the game is about listening — you can hear people’s footfalls in the game. How close is that experience to what you do?

Obviously it lacks some subtlety — in real life, if you concentrate on your footfalls you won’t make any noise on any surface, but in the game it’s impossible to walk across a metal catwalk silently. But the game does teach you to favour grass and carpet over tile and wood. Some of the other sounds they’ve chosen to ignore are kind of weird. It doesn’t make any noise to open and close a door — it makes a sound, but the guard doesn’t “hear” it.

What else would you like to see?

More dead ends. In real life there are lots. I guess it’s kind of frustrating in a videogame, but…

I’ve noticed that. Everything’s there for a reason. When I come across a flippable switch in any game, I flip it.

See, in real life I would never pull a switch like that. It’d be trouble. I like to be careful. I get a kick out of being really careful. They’ve put a lot of time into this game but I’d admire them if they were willing to have a few useless things, a few dead ends.

Videogames never try to teach you how to know when to give up. While everything is there for a purpose, what I noticed with one of the levels was that I was able to achieve the objective without going through a third of the rooms.

To me that’s admirable, because they know that some people are going to push right through it. I did do everything on that level, just for the sake of seeing everything.

Shouldn’t they force you to get to know every level well?

No! The game is best when you’re in unfamiliar territory. The best game of Thief II I had was my first — exploring the building without realizing that I was able to do anything other than sneak and hide, and not having any clue what the various threats were. As you play the game you realize, oh, the AI is not that smart — the guards just walk back and forth in a pattern.

The artificial intelligence is patchy.

Yeah. One of the major innovations that Ms Pac-Man (Midway, 1981) made over Pac-Man (Midway, 1980) was that the ghosts stopped simply predictably chasing your character and threw in some random stuff as well. There needs to be more of that with these guards.

Given the choice, a human opponent is more satisfying?

Yeah. The game and real life are similar in that you’re trying to figure out a puzzle and people are pieces in that puzzle, but in Thief II I would say the most interesting pieces are architectural or mechanical while in real life the most interesting pieces are people.

Puzzle? Give me a real-life example.

Well, like getting in the pool in the Crown Plaza Hotel. The door was locked, and it was a glass door, and there was always an attendant at the desk. You couldn’t wait at the door, because they’d see you waiting there. What you had to do was go down the hallway, wait until you heard the elevator ding, then you’d have to walk down the hallway, getting your pace just right so you’d arrive at the same time as the person who had a key. You had to make small talk with the person as you went through so it looked like you were buddies.

That is such a videogame moment.

I was well aware of that at the time. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is better than Impossible Mission or Elevator Action.’

I noticed that the infiltration.org site used to have an Elevator Action theme — how much of your hobby comes from videogames?

About half. Half comes from 2600, the magazine about hacking, and half comes from videogame cheat books. Playing the game was fun, but reading the cheat books was really fun. I wanted to write cheat books for exploring real places.

Final comments?

I get a real kick out of there not only being rooftops to explore, but drains and boiler rooms. But if it was up to me, the only goal would be to take pictures of these things and leave.

Comments

Leave a Reply





  • Support Gutterthon 2015!

  • The Book!

  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Friend of the Gutter Less Lee Moore interviews friend of the Gutter Colin Geddes about his work on the new horror streaming service, Shudder.

    ~

    The Bowery Boys Podcast dedicates an episode to New York City in the history of comic books. “In the 1890s a newspaper rivalry between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer helped bring about the birth of the comic strip and, a few decades later, the comic book.  Today, comic book superheroes are bigger than ever — in blockbuster summer movies and television shows — and most of them still have an inseparable bond with New York City.”

    ~

    Pornokitsch’s One Comic Podcast looks at Red Sonja #10: “To everyone’s surprise, despite some of the covers and the character’s reputation, this isn’t the exploitative boobs’n’swordplay production it could have been. How did it achieve that? Listen and find out.”

    ~

    Los Angeles Magazine has a gallery of self-portraits of Bunny Yeager and a bit about the career of a model and photographer most famous for her pin-up photographs of Bettie Page. “Having dedicated her life to photography and modeling, not to mention publishing 30 books on the subject (one of which shares a name with the Gavlak exhibition), Yeager had an influence on a generation of artist-photographers including Diane Arbus and Cindy Sherman. Arbus even went as far to call her ‘The world’s greatest pin-up photographer.'” (Thanks, Stephanie!)

    ~

    Arch Daily has a gallery of images of remarkable sandcastles built by Calvin Seibert. Smithsonian Magazine has more, including a 2012 interview with Seibert about his work. (via @lordwoolamaloo)

    ~

    While playing Batman: Arkham Knight, Austin Walker wants to walk the streets of Gotham. “There are lots of different kinds of Batman fantasies–and I’m not looking to invalidate any of them–but throughout this four game series, the developers have largely given me the same one over and over. For once, I want a Batman game where I’m compelled to save the day not because of abstract threats, damsels in distress, or a desire for personal vengeance, but because the beauty of Gotham City compels me to protect it. Instead, I’m left for the fourth time with Batman and his playground.”

    ~

  • Spilling into Twitter

  • Obsessive?

    Then you might be interested in knowing you can subscribe to our RSS feed, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or Tumblr.

    -------

  • Weekly Notifications

  • What We’re Talking About

  • Thanks To

    No Media Kings hosts this site, and Wordpress autoconstructs it.

  • %d bloggers like this: