Warren Spector Thinks Deus Ex Is Too Real For 2021

Illustration for article titled Warren Spector Thinks Deus Ex Is Too Real For 2021
Image: MobyGames

The Game Developers Conference kicked off today as a week of virtual talks. In a live chat alongside a rebroadcast of his 2017 GDC talk, Deus Ex designer Warren Spector talked about why he wouldn’t make the game today.

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“I’m constantly amazed at how accurate our view of the world ended up being. Frankly it freaks me out a bit,” Spector wrote. Later he continued, “Interestingly, I’m not sure I’d make Deus Ex today. The conspiracy theories we wrote about are now part of the real world. I don’t want to support that.”

The Deus Ex games tell the story of a globe-spanning conspiracy of corporate and technological power. While they had some basis in reality when the original Deus Ex came out in 2000, today conspiracy theories feel much more powerful, spilling off the internet into real-world consequences like 5G conspiracies and false theories about the Presidential election that led to the January 6 storming of the US Capitol.

Later, Spector referenced one real-world conspiracy, theories about the Denver airport, writing, “The funny thing about the Denver conspiracy theory—[it was] too silly to include in the game [but] was cited in a New York Times article recently as something people actually believe. Argh!”

Beyond the hellscape that is our current reality, Spector also wrote about his thoughts on the new Deus Ex games, writing that his opinions of the new games “is overall positive. I ended the games (especially Human Revolution) feeling like I’d had a DX experience. There were things that make me scream at the screen, but overall I thought the games work at a high level.”

“I don’t want to get into what I think are the shortcomings of the later Deus Ex games!” he wrote later. “Why don’t you folks speculate and we can leave it at that. Just to be clear, my wife will tell you that I scream at the screen while I’m playing most games. I often describe myself as a frustration-driven designer. Why did they DO that often drives me to make a game or drive specific elements of future games.”

“I’d actually love to make a new Deus Ex game but the property is now the property of Square Enix so that ain’t gonna happen,” he wrote. He did however write, “Spiritual successors to Deus Ex are basically all I’m interested in making.”

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He also wrote about where he sees Deus Ex’s legacy in other games, including those he’s worked on. “I learned a lot from Deus Ex on Epic Mickey. Frankly one of the reason[s] I was so jazzed to make Epic Mickey [was] because I thought I could reach a mainstream audience with a game.”

Later he asked, “Anyone other than me see Deus Ex-like qualities in Breath of the Wild? I’m not saying there’s any direct influence there, but I love the fact that it has some Imm sim [immersive sim] characteristics. Talk about something that kills me (in a good way).”

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You can watch Spector’s 2017 talk below.

DISCUSSION

sinister-portent
Sinister Portent

Back in the mid 80's, I was at a gaming convention with my family. I got to play in a game of Toon run by Warren Spector, creator of said game. I ended up blowing up the moon, which earned a plot point from him. At that point, I wanted a copy of the game, but didn’t think my parents would bite. He told me, jokingly, that he would autograph a copy if they bought it for me. So, being the very cool parents they were, they bought it. That’s how I ended up with the autograph of the man that would later on make one of my favorite games of all time (sorry, not Epic Mickey). Still have it, too.