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A lot of first-person games have become more directed and scripted, more about spectacle, in the last several years. Games in the Deus Ex style are not very common these days. What kind of experience have your designers had? Did it seem like they had to readjust their level design mentality for this?
JFD: A little bit. A lot of games we worked on in the past, and for a lot of other developers too, you're used to thinking that every single bit that you build, players need to see, because it's so expensive to be making a game. I will spend three months on something, but if a player doesn't see it -- "Oh my God, we cannot do that. We can't afford this."
But Deus Ex is all about the things you might miss. At first, to be honest, it was hard to convince the team and say, "Yeah, you're building this," because they'd say, "Yeah, but the player might not see it." It's not about that.
What it's about is the consequence of choice, letting them play the fantasy the way they want, letting them explore the maps and find creative ways to achieve their objectives.
This is the heart of the experience. At some point, everybody got on board with it, but at first it was tough to get all the people on properly, because they are not used to making that kind of game.
As for the more, like you said, spectacular aspects, I think by making great systems, like cool augmentations to use and having great enemies, it's going to give you those "wow" moments that make you think, "Oh my God -- this just worked into that, and it was really awesome," while keeping the spirit of multiple pathways and solutions alive. We're trying to balance it out -- keeping what Deus Ex is and bringing in a new generation of gamers.
There are different various to player choice. Games do it differently. One way is branching, like the scene you showed in the demo -- you guys have decided on a number of different discretely authored options, like convincing the guy to let you through the bar, or finding a particular keycode. Then you have the approach of just populating the world with a bunch of systems and saying, "Whatever happens, happens." Are you falling more in the former category?
JFD: In that sense, since we're going with a very detailed art direction, and we push the envelope in terms of the world art, there are not as many physics objects as in the first game. In the first game, basically everything was a physics object. But we do still have those, and you still can play with them, and figure out ways to use them as weapons or whatever you want.
There are some funny things we found. We have sticky mine bombs, and during a play test back in March, one player was struggling with an enemy, and at some point, he threw a sticky mine, but then he moved forward with his gun and the sticky mine got stuck to the gun, and then he was pinned. He was moving around and going, "Ahh!" and then, boom! It exploded. [laughs] We never thought about those things; it was not part of our plan. The day that happened was the first time I knew it was possible.
So, we still have that kind of spirit, but we put a lot of effort into the maps themselves in terms of how you can express yourself through the themes and possibilities. It's not just, "Hey, you have to choose to do this or that." It's more subtle than that. You just play, and you have certain situations to deal with. Maybe if you tried something else, it would have been a different experience. We're trying to keep that alive in all aspects. Even though the physics system aspect is a little bit toned down compared to the old games, it's not to the point that it's non-existent.