Warren Spector Interview

A couple months back, during this year's Reboot Develop conference, the folks over at WCCFTech had a chance to chat with Warren Spector who, among many other things, directed the original Deus Ex. The resulting interview mainly covers Spector's work on System Shock and Deus Ex and the intricacies of creating great villains while developing relatable protagonists. It also mentions Spector's work with Disney's properties and even shares a hidden reference behind JC Denton's name.

Here are a few sample questions:

I’m guessing the same answer goes for Deus Ex too?

WS: Deus Ex was a little different, actually. Just to contradict myself completely. When I started thinking about that game, I, planned out is a little too strong, but I had an idea in my head of three games. I wanted to make sure that the world that we’re creating was rich enough and deep enough that they could support many stories. And so I had a trilogy in mind. And we made the first one and it was astonishing because, I’ve said this before, but every detail changed from the time I started thinking about it to the time that the team and I finished it, but it was exactly the game I wanted to make. And then on Deus Ex: Invisible War, the sequel, by the time we got around to working on that, my studio for a variety of reasons, Ion Storm, had grown to the point where we were working on two projects. Deus Ex: Invisible War and Thief: Deadly Shadows. And so my role, I essentially moved up a level, and said to Harvey Smith, ‘you’re the lead designer on Deus Ex, you know this world inside out, you’re a better designer than I will ever be. You’re going to be the game director on the new Deus Ex game’ and to Randy Smith, ‘you know Thief better than I ever will, you’re a great designer, this is your chance, step up to be the game director on Thief: Deadly Shadows. And I’ll look over your shoulders and nothing’s going to go in the game I don’t know about, I’m gonna review and critique but they’re your games, your teams, go.’ And Harvey, in this case, made a game that had nothing to do with the trilogy I had in mind, and probably for the best. And we never got around to doing the third game, which probably wouldn’t have worked given the way the second game played out from a narrative standpoint. But on Deus Ex, I actually did think through multiple games before we got started.

Is there anything you can tell me about your original trilogy plans? I know it’s been a while.

WS: Yeah, in retrospect, thank God we didn’t do it. It’s kind of stupid. But the interesting, kind of stupid, thing was at the time I was intrigued by the Arthur C. Clarke quote about, you know, ‘science that’s sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.’ And so what I wanted to do was get JC Denton basically ascends to God or Godhead, and in one of the endings in Deus Ex, you can kind of see the roots of that. And I wanted to get him off the planet, to a world where magic really exists. And he’s the ultimate, epitome of science and there’s a world where magic actually works, and what happens when those come into conflict? And thank God we didn’t do that because it’s basically a terrible idea. But that was kind of where I was headed with it. Yeah, but would have destroyed the franchise.