Ion Storm (2003-2004)

Thief 3 box
Working at Ion Storm was pretty weird at first - lots of people, Warren Spector included, were familiar to me from my days back at Origin Systems. But everyone had grown up some, me included. The weirdness soon faded away and I felt like I'd come home.

I was hired to plan, and then create the 3rd person camera system for Thief: Deadly Shadows. This, of course, was complete madness. The environments had already been built. There was no extra memory for all the extra player animations needed for a 3rd person view. And, of course, the Thief fans were livid - how could we add a 3rd person camera to a 1st person sneaker ?

It was nightmarish, of course. I was back to working crunch mode like I was 23, and I was quite a bit older than that. The problems were very complex, and the Unreal-ish technology that had organically evolved from Warfare was extremely difficult and time-consuming to work with.

But - it was also my first experience with strike teams - which I now believe in completely. How else was anything going to get done on a team with 85+ people ? Breaking the classic art, design, and programming groups into smaller, more agile and autonomous teams was exactly what Thief needed to get to the finish line.

After Thief shipped, Eidos cut Ion Storm from a two-project studio to a single project studio, and I was way too much of a Johny-come-lately to survive the bloodletting. That's when I found out about BreakAway Games.