Deus Ex is not a basic game by no means. This role-playing
game taking the first-person perspective has an uncanny amount of
realism while still taking place in the future. PC Paradox caught
up with Harvey Smith, Lead Designer of Deus Ex, and asked for some
answers of one of the best games at E3. Here some basic background
information about Deus Ex that one should know about this spectacular-looking
Your character is J.C. Denton, a person working for
an espionage and anti-terrorist group called UNATCO. J.C., and his
brother Paul, are the first humans to have nano-augmentations, which
improve speed/strength, etc. In the game world of Deus Ex, nano-augmented
humans are subject to racial discrimination, which looks to be a
sub-plot of the game. The player will be able to choose the race
and appearance, if ION has the time, of the main character.
Several references have been made to an X-files type
conspiracy theory outlook (without the aliens). The plan appears
to be to merge real-world settings with a conspiracy-theory paradigm
to provide both immersion and entertainment.
Not much is know about the environments planned for
the final game, but Warren has used the phrase 'real world spaces'
continually to refer to them. Apparently he wants to create places
where the player can perform extraordinary feats in a recognizeable
location. Interviews with designers have shown that the team is
creating realistic locations. However, they stress that they will
make these world spaces fun to play, and not just create them as
a demonstration of detail.
The Unreal engine is touted as being superior to the
Quake 2 Engine in it's ability to render outdoor scenes. Also, Unreal
scripting should allow for complex scripting of in-game events.
The flexibility in skymap, 'actor', and NPC options will most likely
offer nicely immersive levels reminiscent of locales seen in everyday
life. Some Deus Ex maps will contain randomly placed and invisible
'generators' of smoke and trash. These trash generators create bits
of paper that either blow along in random directions, or they can
be set for predefined patterns.
The team hopes to avoid standard linear play, and
instead offer several ways to advance past obstacles.
More information can be seen at the Deus
PC Paradox: Deus Ex is a role-playing game,
can the gamer control more than one character at a time?
Harvey Smith: No--you
have a single character that you construct and modify through the
game. However, we do, in a weird way, have a party-like system.
we have two pools of allies (at two different points in the game).You
have complete control, through your actions in the game, over which
allies join your pool. You can benefit from their specialized skills.
PC Paradox: Will the game be revolving around
only one character? If so, who is this character? Describe his
Harvey Smith: Well,
hopefully, at some level the character is YOU--the player. But just
before the game starts the character finishes his UNATCO agency
training and undergoes a new, unproven nanotechnology human enhancement
program. At this point, he is given a cover identity. He is called
(currently, at least) JC Denton. His personality is somewhat hard
to define, since his conversations often let him act in some significantly
different ways--is he sympathetic or hostile? Depends on which option
the player chooses on a second by second basis.
PC Paradox: Can the character be modified?
Harvey Smith: Heavily. it's
one of the tennants of the game. We use a skill system--you buy
and upgrade skills with point you have earned through the game.
Also, your nanotechnology powers change as you progress. And of
course, you have total control of your inventory--do you want to
favor heavy weapons or stealth related stuff?
PC Paradox: Who created this story?
Harvey Smith: Warren,
plus the team initially. Then each individual designer has been
working on his own domain. For instance, initially there was the
concept: 'the player is part of a counter-terrorism agency founded
on Liberty Island after an incident in which french terrorists blew
up the statue of liberty.' So i accepted this mission/location (along
with some others, including all of the Paris locations). At that
point, the specifics had to be worked out. The devil is in the details.
Months and months of adding characters, buildings and other map
details. Of course, some of it exists in the real world, like the
front and back docks and the Statue of Liberty. But the specifics
of making the Statue of Liberty into an explorable ruin site have
been fun. Also, UNATCO, the player's agency, is spread over 3 different
maps, has a bunch of characters whose conversations are detailed
and updated between missions. There are items strewn about, unnecessary
side areas to explore, back doors, etc. and that's *one mission*!
So overall, all game development efforts are basically collaborative.
PC Paradox: How is Deus Ex broken up story-wise?
Are there certain "Acts" like Diablo II, or just one continuous
Harvey Smith: Well,
Warren is very much into the 3 act structure (being a master of
films and television *before* becoming a game industry geek). So
early on, when he was working out the rough story outline, he broken
it up into 3 acts. Then, we all got together and pounded on it,
modified it, and filled in the specifics of our individual missions.
(Yes, we are mission based, though the player may never see the
mission transitions.) Even after this long (and, until recently,
continuing process) Deus Ex has maintained something of its 3 act
structure--there are definitely different feels to the different
phases of the game.
PC Paradox: The world has been created through
real-life locations, have these locations been mapped out correctly
on Deus Ex? For example, will you see the Empire State Building?
Harvey Smith: We've
built some places from blueprints. The White House, the Statue of
Liberty, an oil tanker. Other places, like small sections of Paris
or Hong Kong, have been built according to our perceptions of the
"spirit" of the place.
3D sound supported.
Quarter 4 of 1999