The ambience of Looking Glass Studios’ Thief games was without compare. Eric Brosius and everyone else who contributed to their soundscapes knocked it out of the park. The echoing tunnels, the religious chants, the distant buzz of industry, the whine of electric coils, the inexplicable all-permeating hum in the darkness, and that one banging DJ Shadow-esque tune that blares when you enter the Downwind Guild. It’s all perfect.
And now I’ve discovered it’s all on YouTube, and has been looped. Some of the videos are shorter, like one that takes the cutscene music from the intro to the Assassins level (opens in new tab) of Thief: The Dark Project, which Garrett normally narrates over, and loops it before that part so we can hear it separate from the voiceover. That only goes for two-and-a-half minutes. If you prefer the ambience of Thief 2, here’s two of its atmospheric audio files, s01mel1.wav and s01mel2.wav, looped for an hour (opens in new tab).
YouTubers have gone further than that, of course. Which is why I’ve spent a significant chunk of today listening to a somber 10-hour loop of the Horn of Quintus (opens in new tab) from Down in the Bonehoard.
If you’re not familiar with the 10-hour trend, back in 2011 when YouTube first expanded its video-duration limit the internet briefly went wild for a 10-hour loop of Nyan Cat. Now you can listen to hours and hours of anything, including the tinny Portal radio version of Still Alive (opens in new tab), and the Tristram theme from Diablo (opens in new tab).
Because I’m easily distracted and have tinnitus, I often play instrumental music while I work. Today, my copy of Mogwai’s score for Les Revenants has gone unheard. Instead, I’ve been listening to an hour-long loop of loloop2.wav (opens in new tab), which I believe is the noise of those Tesla-coil electrical generator things in the haunted mines under Cragscleft Prison, and a 10-hour loop of the ambient sounds and muttering guard (opens in new tab) from Thief 2’s Running Interference mission.
I’m a little concerned about the potential long-term side effects of this. What if I start reciting cynical monologues to myself or crouch-walking everywhere I go?
If you’d like to know something more practical about Thief’s audio, YouTube can help there as well. The Python Blue channel has been excavating some of its sources, finding the origin of various noises sampled in Thief: The Dark Project among the presets of the Korg M1 synthesizer’s Virtual Studio Technology software (opens in new tab), as well as the Earshot SFX sound effect library and other sources (opens in new tab), including Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki’s Stabat Mater (opens in new tab), which provided some of the choral chanting, and a haunting track from 2001: A Space Odyssey called Lux Aeterna. Which, naturally enough, you can find an hour-long loop of on YouTube.