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Warren Spector: "I Don't Think I Ever Stopped Making Games Like Deus Ex"

Matt Gardner
Cartoons, Deus Ex, Development, Epic Mickey, Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two, Serious games, Warren Spector

Warren Spector: "I Don't Think I Ever Stopped Making Games Like Deus Ex"

Warren Spector has once gain reiterated that although it might look like he's changed development focus in the last decade or so since his masterpiece Deus Ex, that he's really following the same processes and design philosophies that he's always done.

Asked what changed for him in between Deux Ex and Epic Mickey in a behind-closed-doors Q&A session with Dealspwn at Gamescom this year, Spector's response was relatively simple: on the one hand he doesn't see it as a huge change at all.

"You know it's funny," he began. "In one sense I don't see it as a big change at all. The tone and the content changed, but the game design philosophy beneath it all is still exactly the same. All of the games that I've worked on, all of them, are about mashing up different genres and seeing what happens. What happens if you take a shooter and a stealth game and an RPG and mash them all together? And that was Deus Ex. What happens if you take a platformer and an action-adventure game and an RPG and mash them all together? That's Disney's Epic Mickey.

"Deus Ex was all about choice and consequence. I'm not going to throw you a puzzle and tell you to figure out what I was thinking just to see how smart you are; that's not what it's about. It's about “Hey, there's a problem. Get inside the Statue of Liberty and save those people!” I don't care how you do it, but I'll show you the consequences of the way you do it. And it's the same thing with Epic Mickey. Here's a problem: you can erase things or paint things. Solve the problem. Go! It's the same sort of thing, in a weird way. And I think there are a lot of reasons as to why people may have missed that the first time, that's something we're trying to introduce right at the beginning [in Epic Mickey 2]. Choice and consequence come back in a big way, let's just say that. I think we did choice really well in the first game, we maybe lightened up on the consequence side, but it's back from the sequel. Big time!"

He's aware, too, that some might see his work with Disney as being anathema to his earlier works, that some would take him for a previously "serious" creative now indulging in something perhaps a little bit frivolous. But Spector's view is rather that this is what he's been gearing up to ever since he was a child.

"Somewhere along the line in the video game business I got the reputation for being a super-serious guy," he said. "And I love cyberpunk fiction, and I love epic fantasy, I love all of that stuff, no question about it. But I've been a cartoon freak since I was a kid, and I wrote my master thesis on cartoons, and I taught animation history and production at the University of Texas, and the first thing I worked on in this business was Toon: The Cartoon Roleplaying Game. So, for the folks who know me really well, when I said told them that I was working on cartoon game, they were like “Well it's about time”. It was a return to my roots.

So, I like a lot of things, and I was glad for the change of pace. After 25 years of making serious guys-who-wear-sunglasses-at-night-and-trenchcoats-in-the-summer games, I wanted to do something different, and I'm really enjoying working with the Disney characters right now. So it's a return to roots, and the gameplay philosophy is still exactly the same. I don't think I ever stopped making games like Deus Ex."

Well have a huge piece from our Q&A with Warren later on today.

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