To take my mind of IT, here's why Thief (and on a smaller scale, Hitman) is a successful stealth games vs other stealth wanna-be-s:
- The levels are open ended. Players are free to do what they want. Hitman is also open ended and that is why Hitman is a success too.
- The AI is not scripted. They react based on the player's actions. Unlike Splinter Cell, no matter where you throw the Coke can/bottle, the AI will move a pre-determined (read scripted path)
- Replayability. Most of the AIs are simulation based. That means, if you replayed the same levels again, it may be a different game because of the unpredictable nature of the AI. Also, open ended levels will enable players to try out new tactics and new ways to achieve the mission objectives.
- Engrossing story.
- Undeads - not many people like the undeads/Haunts in Thief. After thinking about this for some time, I am convinced that Thief success is due to the undeads. The undeads don't die. They resurrect after you kill them. You probably can't even touh the Haunts. This makes for a totally different gameplay style vs the knockout-all-guards-and-clear-the-level-so-that-I-can-freely-explore-the-level.
- Variety of tools that are actually useful in the games.


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