Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director On Boss Deaths And The Butterfly Effect

By Spencer . February 11, 2011 . 1:35pm


Speaking with Jean-François Dugas, Director, this Deus Ex: Human Revolution interview dives into how Adam Jensen travels from place to place. In the demos we’ve seen, Adam goes from New Detroit to Shanghai by plane. Dugas elaborates on the travel system and how other characters react to Adam depending on his actions.


From a game design perspective, was there anything you wanted to put in, but you couldn’t due to development time concerns?


A lot of things. [Laughs] In games, when you start, you have a full set of features and a lot of material, and there always comes a point during development where if you want to meet the quality for what you’re trying to achieve and stick to your deadlines, you need to sacrifice some things. So, yes definitely, we cut a lot of things along the way… without going into details.


Could you maybe talk about one particular thing…


Well, like ATMs for instance. You were supposed to discover ATMs and you could hack them for extra money and we were forced to cut that. Of course, we looked at all the things that we had and what was really important, and that was something that we sacrificed to make sure other aspects were good enough.


When you try to do everything, sometimes, you don’t do anything properly. At some points, it’s heartbreaking but you need to forego certain things to focus on other things.



Were there any plot lines that you had to cut out?


Actually, not really because the story has been iterative, like we were going into different revisions and implementing part of the story into the game, and we were figuring out, ‘Oh my God, there’s a plot hole here’ or there’s something that doesn’t work very well. So for us it wasn’t as much cutting as improving the storytelling or fixing some of the problems of the story.


We cut into some of the maps. We had more maps planned than what we have in the end. We still have quite a lot, but we had to cut down at some point to just make sure we would be able to complete the game.


Speaking of maps, the mod community wants to know if there’ll be any kind of mod system, at least for the PC version?


For the PC version, we haven’t really talked about it that much, so I don’t know if I can speak about it, other than that we’re trying to make the best game possible on PC. In terms of modding, right now we don’t have plans on our side, but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.




We’ve seen Adam [Jensen] go from China to Detroit, but we haven’t really seen how Adam gets from China to Detroit. How do you move between these locales? I’m assuming Adam’s going to travel to many countries.


It’s true in the story, you’re told that you’re going somewhere, so you’ll just get into your special aircraft and then we load to the next location. So, it’s going to be as simple as that.


With the aircraft, will you be able to go back to explore different parts?


The game structure is quite linear in the sense that the story tells you that you’re in Detroit, and now you’re in China or you’re wherever you are. As long as you’re where you are, you can explore and do a lot of things, but it’s not like a central hub where I decide “Oh, now I go to Detroit.” It’s linear, it’s told in a linear fashion.


So, if you don’t explore enough, you can miss something.


You can. Definitely, you can miss [events]. There are some places in the story where you’ll return so you’ll have a second chance to revisit what you missed the first time around. But, when you leave for the last time, you won’t be able to go back, and we’ll give a message to the player, “You’re about to leave this place. Are you really, really sure you want to leave?”


What parts of Human Revolution are you most proud of, that you’ve enhanced since the original game?


We enhanced the consistency of the multi-path/multi-solution experience with all the gameplay fillers blending into the different missions you have. We’re really proud of the rich environments, like there’s a lot of show and tell, there’s a lot of things to discover. It’s really an immersive world to discover.


I think we have a very strong story with a lot of characters that have different things to hide, and it’s very compelling to discover all those things, so I’m really proud of those aspects. Why I don’t like comparisons is because ten years ago was different technology than what we have today, and of course today, what you do immediately looks better than what was possible ten years ago.



Can you talk about how Adam’s actions affect the game? In the original game, even small actions had a small butterfly effect. Could you elaborate on that?


Yeah, yeah. Depending on how you play, some of your colleagues will react differently. If you’re butchering through a mission or sensitive to killing, people will reflect on those things. Depending on how you deal with certain situations — like for instance, the police station — depending on how you complete the mission, newspapers will cover the story in a different way.


There are newspapers in the game that you can read. If you go in and kill people, they will cover the killing rampage in the police station, or if you manage to convince Wayne to help you out, there will be an investigation. There will be different repercussions for the player.


So other characters will react, like your allies, but how will enemies or conspirators react?


It depends on the events, because it’s kind of undercover, and you don’t meet some of the conspirators before a certain time, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to react to something you did five hours ago. Feedback for the player needs to be short-term, otherwise you may not remember, since you go on so many missions. It needs to stick to what the player is doing constantly. They will react to recent events or they will react differently depending on how missions are put into context.



Can you talk about why players have to kill the bosses? Most of the game, you can get through without killing, but why do you have to kill the bosses?


We wanted some choke point confrontations. At first, we wanted to go with being able to put the non-lethal stuff in that, too, but at some point, we had to cut down on some ambitions, because as I said, sometimes you have to focus on certain aspects less, as long as it’s good enough.


So, in the original design, how would you have gotten through the bosses?


The way you could have confronted them would have been different.


You mean like talking to them?


I can’t talk too much about that… [laughs]


Is it an idea you’d consider for future games?



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  • WyattEpp

    It’s pretty interesting how they skipped straight from Deus Ex to Deus Ex 3, isn’t it? I suppose we’ll never know why _There Was No Deus Ex 2_….

    • Phlo

      Maybe they’ll make it some day.

    • Aara_Malik_Davoodi

      Is this some joke I’m missing? What about Deus Ex: Invisible War?

      • Many (wrongly) feel that Deus Ex: Invisible War is a crap game. Compared to the original it’s not a patch but on its own its a very good game. Regardless the joke is that some don’t count Deus Ex: Invisible War as the sequel.

  • Phlo

    Potentially the same major flaw as Alpha Protocol here – your nonlethal/stealth build goes out the window as a crack fiend in a ridiculous purple suit bears down on you with a knife, blaring 80s music from his speakers.

  • So he’s admitting it’s a linear run n gun FPS. Great.

    • Shralla

      What the hell are you talking about? He didn’t say anything like that at all. Where are you getting that?

      • failicon

        LOL. So the developer outright admits that the game is linear, none of your choices matter beyond the immediate 1-2 missions, you have to kill bosses, etc. He admits nothing is returning that made Deus Ex special – the open ended nature of the game with variables that affect the entirety of the game. Pretty much the entire interview was the guy saying ‘sorry we had to cut all that stuff out’. Of course the only thing that’s going to be left is a linear shooting game with some wannabe stealth mechanics tacked on that you can’t even use to get through the entirety of the game (shades of Alpha Protocol).

        • Swindleton

          Don’t be daft, the linear system of narrative progression is exactly the same as in the first game: you still explore large areas, but when you move on, you move on; there’s nothing wrong with it, it allows for a focused approach to storytelling.

          The comment on short term consequences for your actions has also been exaggerated, there ARE long term repercussions (read the article on the police station), however there’s an immediate emphasis on reactions to choices made.

          As for the bosses, yeah I would’ve liked an alternative to killing them too, however I’d prefer a good story and this deterministic approach to boss battles means a more cohesive plot without the frills of watered down variables.

        • Shralla

          Too bad that Deus Ex was an entirely linear game based on open hub worlds, exactly like he’s describing in this interview. Let’s see. Did you kill Anna Navarre? How about Gunther? Walton Simons? Last I checked, JC Denton brutally murdered all of them. Killing bosses is nothing new to Deus Ex. The only one you could get out of was Gunther, and that was purely a glitch in the game. There was nothing in Deus Ex that you did that affected “the entirety” of the game. The most significant change you could make was to leave via the window in Paul’s apartment, thus rendering Paul dead, only that didn’t really matter, and all you missed out on was a couple extra lines of dialogue. Major story decisions were all made in the last five minutes of the game, and apart from that, changes were immediate and small, like people reprimanding you for killing too many people, or for going into the women’s bathroom.

          You’re just complaining about absolutely nothing, based on absolutely nothing, with absolutely nothing to back up your arguments. Why are you so goddamn pissy?

  • PrinceHeir

    “Is it an idea you’d consider for future games?


    hell yeah more Deus Ex games FTW :)

    hopefully there’s a full 3rd Person Camera View with the same black and gold palette as well as Adam returnin once again ^^

    • Aara_Malik_Davoodi

      This is what I found: “Human Revolution is primarily a first person game, but will feature a contextual third person viewpoint when using the cover system, certain augmentations, or closeup instant-kill moves.”

      • PrinceHeir

        i know that. i just want a full 3rd person view and not both.

        but i already plan on getting this. let’s just hope this gonna be an awesome game ^^

  • falcomgamefan

    This game seriously sounds like the ultimate gaming experience ever! I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. That’s just awesome that small things like the newspapers change depending on what you do. The newspapers changing have got to be a first for a game as far as I know.

  • Hopefully they will work on a “GOTY” version which will contain the content they had to cut out :D

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