Past And Future Tension: The Visual Design Of Deus Ex: Human Revolution
April 16, 2010 Page 1 of 3
It's been nearly a decade years since the original Deus Ex was released, and the game has been long-established as a classic of player-driven gaming that has, in the minds of many, yet to be equaled. At this year's Game Developers Choice Awards at GDC, a new teaser trailer for its second sequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, was revealed -- and was warmly introduced by Warren Spector, one of the instrumental creators of the original game.
Real-world technology has changed considerably in the years following Deus Ex, and that has implications both on the design of its sequel (what's possible on current PCs and consoles) and its world (delivering a believable visual look for a game set in the 2030s.)
Here, Gamasutra discusses the challenges and choices of these decisions with Jonathan Jacques Belletete, the game's art director, who also gave a GDC 2010 lecture on the game's art direction.
How did they arrive at the Cyber-Renaissance aesthetic? What meaning does the team mean to impart? And how does this jibe with the original game in the series? Though nobody working on Human Revolution was involved in the original game's production at Ion Storm, it looms large in their decisions.
Was it interesting for you guys to see Warren Spector get up there and introduce your first teaser [at the GDC Choice Awards]? As a person who drove the original Deus Ex, he seemed very gracious and very optimistic.
Jonathan Jacques Belletete: I've been on Deus Ex: Human Revolution for three years. We really started from day zero -- the four of us: the game director, the producer, and one of the lead game designers. Honestly, to see Warren, the way that he was, and the stuff that he said -- in those three years, it's one of the main milestones definitely for me and for a lot of us.
He gave us so much credibility in the way the he looked so genuinely excited and almost emotional about the whole thing. With us having worked so hard in the past six months on that teaser and stuff, it was amazing.
How much do you have to think about a teaser like that? It sounds like it was a major production to get just that going, aside from actually making the game itself.
I imagine at a certain point, you've got to lock in what this teaser is. And then the game's being developed too, but things might be changing.
JJB: Yeah, absolutely. When we started the main story, the main plot was really pretty much locked down. It's an RPG, so there are a lot of side quests and other side stuff to do, but the core of the story and the conspiracies and all the overarching high-level stuff was all down, and then Cody and [creative agency] Goldtooth did an amazing job. They're the ones who took all of our material, and there was a lot of stuff. It's a humongous game.
They went back to their studios and they locked themselves up for a couple weeks trying to dissect everything and seeing what the core elements were, and they came up with this amazing idea for the teaser that we loved. All of our themes are in there. All of our motifs are in there. A lot of important stuff from the story is there -- very quickly and sometimes just suggested, but there's a lot of stuff to be digested in the teaser.
We were really stoked about that. The CGI was done by Visual Works, which is the CGI studio of Square Enix, which we're so grateful for, because it's really the top visuals you can get for those kinds of things.
It's very deeply related [to the game itself]. You can almost have that scene in the game. There's something very, very close to that in real-time in the game. Cody and his gang, and all the folks at Square Enix, really made it happen, and they really got it. They really understood what we were trying to do.
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