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Warren Spector goes back to the drawing board

Deus Ex creator on how he hopes to change everything in Epic Mickey 2...

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Deus Ex Human Revolution I really liked. If you had asked my wife, she would tell you, "Warren was screaming at the screen the entire time he played," which I do when I play any game. They made three or four design decisions that I just thought, "Why would you do that? I would never do that."

But when I got to the end of the game, I sat back and reflected and said, "Holy cow, that felt like Deus Ex, and it sounded like Deus Ex, and it made me stop and think about my life, myself, and the world the way a Deus Ex game should." So what I want to do is go to the Games Developers' Conference and do a panel, and really figure out how you can make different design decisions and achieve the same goals.

I love the guys who worked on that game. I know those guys and I've talked to them a bunch. They made three or four decisions that... I don't want to talk about it... I want to think about it and I want to do some writing or talking about it at some point.

What were your tactics when you played through Human Revolution? Stealthy? Aggressive?

Zoom

When I was making the first game I had to test all sort of approaches. It's very hard for me to play the violent way. I have a lot of trouble being the guy who shoots a lot of stuff and fights all the time.

There was a point on the first Deus Ex when we were at alpha and tuning the game, trying to make it perfect. I remember putting my head on my desk going, "Why don't I just make a shooter? Oh my God. If people judge our combat against something like Half-Life - which was state of the art at the time - then we're dead. If people compare our stealth to Thief, we're dead.

If people compare our role-playing elements to Neverwinter Nights, we're dead. There are games that are razor sharp in their focus, but if people get that in our game they can decide how to play or shift back and forth - that if a combat situation is too hard for them they can try something else - then we're going to rule the world." Luckily people got that, knock on wood, they got it.

You have to show a lot of faith in players to make that approach work.
Exactly, and that's true of Disney Epic Mickey 2 as well. I describe the games that I make as Swiss Army knives. If you want to operate on someone you get a scalpel, not a Swiss Army knife. If you want to saw a log, get a saw, not a Swiss Army knife. But if you want to be able to do both of those things, you better have a Swiss Army knife.

The Epic Mickey games, you can decide if we succeed or not, but in terms of their goals they're all about letting you decide what kind of experience you have. Is it an action-adventure game like Zelda? Yeah. Is it a Mario style platformer? Yeah. Is it an RPG? Yeah. It's a Swiss Army knife.

Everyone knows who Mickey is and how he sounds, but Oswald is as much a new character as he is an old one. How did you approach him?

Nobody knows of him, but he's been around forever. Go on YouTube, all 13 of his cartoons are on there now. We wanted to capture some of that chaotic energy that he has. He's really a very cartoony character. He can be set on fire, and you put the fire out and he's fine. He detaches his arm and throws it like a boomerang, he removes his ears constantly and uses them as oars or bats. I think he's without question the most cartoony character that Disney, the man or the company, ever came up with.

We wanted him to be a little bit of Mickey because they're brothers, and a little bit of a cartoon rabbit from another company that I shouldn't name - a little bit of that cockiness. The thing about Oswald, if you watch his cartoons, he's overly sure of himself. He's a cocky little rabbit, and he's a randy little rabbit. He falls in love with a different girl every cartoon. There's something going on there. I don't know, whether Walt was in a weird place in his life? I don't know what the deal was. I long ago gave up psychoanalysing Walt Disney.

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