E3 Interview - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

After seeing a particularly impressive 20 minute demonstration of Deus Ex: Human Revolution at this years E3 I was given the opportunity to sit down for about 15 minutes and interview two gentlemen from Eidos-Montreal--the Producer David Anfossi and Lead Game Designer Jean-Francois Dugas. I think it went well and fans of the series will be pleased with most of their answers. First I would like to comment briefly on what I saw in the demonstration.

If Eidos-Monteal continues to head in the direction they're headed right now with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, then I think there is a good chance we're going to get a real sequel/prequel to the original games. It looked and sounded like a Deus Ex game. The only real issue I had with it was that some of the character models looked a bit antiquated, and they were animated poorly. In contrast, some of the others characters looked great--so I don't know if some of the work was perhaps placeholder art, but I've got to speak to what I saw and how it looked. I'll let you decide if you're going to faith in the studio. We were told that the build we saw was pre-alpha, so it's obvious that the game has a ways to go in term of development.

...anyway, let's get on with the interview!

Let's being with the RPG aspects of the game. How deep can we expect the game to go?
So the RPG component is very important to us because this is where you control the flow of the game. It's not only about the features but it's also about making sure that the player has the right tools to play the game one way or another. If he wants to use brute force and be very aggressive then he has the tools to do that, if he wants to be very sneaky and low key then he has the tools to do that too.

But in terms of the component obviously you can talk to people and try to convince them of certain things, and you can try to buy some stuff as well.

In terms of the economy we have two layers. We have the money system that allows you to buy equipment, weapon upgrades or even to modify confrontations. We also have the economy of the experience points that you can earn from stealth, fighting or hacking and stuff like that. Basically with the augmentations that you buy, you can unlock the ability with those augmentations and XP points. So all those elements together help create the character that suits your play style.

Also we have a lot of choices that have consequences as you play through the game.  You will meet characters, and depending on how you deal with them, there might be some consequences later on in the game. Things like that.

I know it's a stretch to ask but can you elaborate a little bit on the plot? There was some discussion in the demo about how Human Revolution is being developed on a more "human level". Also, how effective will these choices be? Can they effect things on a global level?
Well we don't want to spoil anything at this point but I will say that you play as Adam Jensen who works for a Detroit-based biotech company called Sarif Industries. Early on in the game you have no augmentations at all. During a course of events you're badly injured and forced to use augmentations to save your life. As Adam comes back from the grave he begins to investigate those events, who might have been involved and also the reasons behind the attack.
In terms of what we meant by "human level", we're trying to build a game where you meet characters that have--including your own--shade of grey. There are no characters that are super-good or super-evil. It's more about "why do these people do what they do?" We're trying to explore the motivations and the actions of the character as opposed to just saying "oh, we're against this or against that". We want to know where they're coming from and things like that. This is why we say it plays out more on a human level, because it touches on themes that we can relate.

How do some of the moral choices, like killing characters, effect the game?
This is part of the roleplaying aspect of the game. We want the players to question who Adam Jensen is and leave it up to the player to discover those things. We want to give the player freedom of discovery. As you play the game, a lot of things you do will have some kind of effect and will even change the ending.

Are there plans to have a multiplayer component?
Deus Ex Human Revolution is a single player game. That's the tradition of the franchise. When we brought the game back from the dead--and it's not an easy task--we didn't want to split the team up and have them working all over the place. We don't want to make a game with average components. We want to make sure we're recreating the single-player experience the best way that we can. We decided to focus everything we've got on the single-player experience. Now speaking in terms of future plans for online stuff and DLC--we're not talking about that right now. Let me say this: We want to make sure the the Deus Ex name stays alive!

Is the game going to resemble the experience of Deus Ex 1 where you can complete the entire game without killing someone?
Yes...well, mostly. There're exceptions with the boss battles. You must kill those characters for the story to progress. For the rest of the game you can go from the beginning of the levels all the way to the end without killing someone. You might stun some people, sneak around them or you just might pretend you're John Rambo! *big laugh*

...so you have to kill the bosses? There isn't an option to incapacitate them or something along those lines?
You have to kill them.

Can you talk about the characters (NPCs) you will encounter in the game?
In terms of main characters there actually are quit a few. I think we're currently sitting somewhere around 12? I don't want to get too much into those numbers because things of course may change, but
there're quite a lot of characters that you're going to meet.

What's important to us is that they all feel natural, useful and are interesting for the player to interact with. Some of these characters might have a secret that you're interested in, some of them might open an alternate paths for you to go down, or some might even be a
blackmarket dealers--those kinds of people. We want your experience with the NPCs
to be rewarding and meaningful.

Can you talk about the game world? There appears to be product brands that have been created for the game, for instance in the bar there is the number 6. I noticed that there were hexagons in several places too, including on Adams forehead. Can you elaborate on this?
What's so funny to us is that there are some things we do in the game that are done on purpose, and then there are things that are basically just random. The fans, like you, sometimes notice things and go crazy with it all. They come up with all these deep explanations and they honestly have no correlation to our original design and we're just like "Yeah! That's awesome!" 

See, when we started building this game, in terms of the art direction, we really wanted to come up with our own flavor. So when we started our research we discovered a lot of sketches from Leonardo Davinci and it inspired us to jump back to the renaissance era. We started to look at all his work and we realized that it was a really momentous time for human beings. People were discovering these amazing things about the human body. I mean, people were dying from the black death and doing these really strange things to their bodies, and I think it was a time when we really questioned ourselves.

So with the technology of today, we're starting to see computers integrated into our body. So the transformation is already happening and we think it's the next big step in our evolution. It's not happening in 2027, it's happening today in 2010.

So, basically we saw all these geometrical form and patterns so we decided to integrate them into the game. You'll see them in the advertisements, the architecture, floor designs and many other aspects of the game.

Are there going to be different Ammo types in the game?
Yes there will be different ammo types, but it's not going to be different per weapon though.

In terms of Eidos-Montreals design philosophy for the game, I would like to be very clear here for the sake of the fans: In Human Revolution you're going to be put in a gigantic box--the level--and then you're going to be given a start and end point, where there will be several different routes to get to that end point, correct?
Absolutely! In the demo we showed you today there were five different ways to get through that particular level. For all of maps in Human Revolution, the ability to have multiple solutions are at the heart of the experience. Everywhere you go there are at least two ways, and more to progress…always always always.

Now, no one has mention the Playstation Move or other motion control devices yet. Since this is a big theme at the show this year I have to ask--are there plans to incorporate this kind of technology into the game?
We have 130 people working on the game today and we're too far along into production to even consider that kind of technology. This is a really big game when you consider all the side quests, perhaps somewhere around 30 hours of
gameplay, and we just don't have the resources to incorporate those kinds of things at this point.

You have all these paths and multiple endings, and considering Deus Ex Human Revolution is a prequel, I'm curious how you can have multiple endings when the story has already been told?We see Human Revolution as a sort of reboot of the franchise, so we're essentially approaching it as a new IP. It's a series that is appreciated by a very strong but small group of people, but really a lot of people don't even know what Deus Ex is these days. So we're really trying to develop a new protagonist along with a bunch of new characters. You won't have to be familiar with the original games to appreciate Human Revolution, but there are going to be some connections in there for those that are familiar with the lore.

Are there going to be any characters from any of the previous Deus Ex games that will appear in Human Revolutions?
I'm so sorry, I don't speak
english anymore!  

Will Sheldon Pacotti, the writer from Deus Ex 1, be involved with Human Revolution in any capacity?
Yes! We have 4 writers on the team right now and Sheldon has been a consultant. He's there to make sure everything is lining up correctly.

Can you talk a little bit about inspirations for the team in terms of developing the future in Human Revolutions and its aesthetic?
Yes! So, obviously Blade Runner is an inspiration. We're not hiding that or any of the other inspirations because they're just so...awesome. You will see them in there, but we're trying to create our own feel along with it. 
We wanted to make you see things you've ever seen before. There are places in the game that have these old looking buildings, but then they will have some technological device attached to it. We tried to imagine and anticipate what Detroit might look like in the future. So with the double-decker city you can see we went a little crazy with the design, but I think it's a game that's instantly fun because of that. We want it to sit in reality, but also in fantasy too. For us we also wanted to have fun making it all--that's important to the team. 

Are we looking at releases for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3?
That is correct.

Did you have to make any concessions between any of the platforms?


Is the PC version of the game going to be mouse-driven?

Yes. Unless something happens that I cannot predict.

Will there be gamepad support in the PC release?
I'm sure there will be. When we did the initial control layout we planned on including
gamepad support.

There has been some controversy about a particular screenshot that was released which includes a poster in it saying "Wanted For Mass Murder" and it had a picture of George Bush. This was in fun, I'm sure?
That was concept art that was meant to be viewed internally at our studio only, but unfortunately it was released publicly. Sometimes the artists go crazy and have fun with their concept art and it's meant to amuse us--you know, just to have fun. It's hard to manage everything when you're working with such a large group and sometimes things slip through. It was, in no way, meant to be a political statement!

Thanks for your time guys and good luck!




I have this wonderfully talented crony who goes by the name of Kate. Not only does she share my passion for video games, but additionally she is a very gifted photographer. So this year I invited her to attended E3 with me to capture some shots from the showroom floor for my coverage. Once she was turned loose she managing to not only capture the essence of the show, but frankly I think she's done it on an artistic level that no one else has (this includes professional outlets like IGN or 1UP.)

Though her composition is obviously strong, to me it boils down to the way she captured the shows broad use of colors. More than anything it really drives home the feeling of E3. It's interesting because when I was at the show I was in a state of sensory overload, from the larger than life visuals, thunderous sounds (hello EA!) and even the sometimes awful smell. But it wasn't until I was in the comfort of my office looking at her photos that I was struck with how vibrate the showroom floor was.

So head on over to I.Shoot.Games to see the rest of the 79 glorious photos in a larger format.


E3: I Ate Lots'o Games

Yes this is definitive proof that I completely geeked out when Peter Molyneux gave me a demonstration of Fable 3. Can you blame me? Who can deny the guys whimsical charm? Clearly not I. :)

The real reason for this update is to let you know that I've returned from E3 and was fortunate enough to see and play some really great (and awful) games. The list includes Portal 2, Golden Eye 007, Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword, Rage, Fallout: New Vegas, Brink, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, The First Templar, Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar, Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, Dungeon Siege 3, Conduit 2, Vanquish, Fable 3, Gears of War 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Final Fantasy XIV, Rock Band 3, Pixeljunk Shooter 2, XCOM, Mafia 2, a bunch of Kintect games and more.

Since I'm just one dude it's going to take me some time, so I'll be posting my impressions of some of my favorites over the next couple of days so be sure to check back!