A feature built into Deus Ex: Human Revolution tracks how people play the game. This data is sent back to Eidos Montreal so they can analyze it for future Deus Ex titles. This topic came up during the second half of our interview with David Anfossi, the game’s producer.
In part one, Anfossi discussed the regenerative health system, moveable cover, and difficulty scaling. Missed it? Catch up by clicking on this link.
Another controversial topic among Deus Ex fans is how the camera zooms out of first person view to focus on Adam.
David Anfossi, Producer: Again, we wanted to make sure we could support the experience. In this game you can upgrade your character. You can buy new augmentations so your character, Adam Jensen, is able to do some extraordinary things. If you stay in first person view it is difficult to convey that to the player. If you can jump very high it is difficult to experience that, but for the jump we decided to stay like that because it was a question of gameplay.
When you trigger a takedown, for example, if you stay in first person its less impressive than if you go out of your character to look at the entire the scene. It’s just to give you the player a real look at what he’s able to do. A good thing is it’s consistent with the cover system too.
It’s been mentioned before Square Enix considers Deus Ex a 10 year franchise. What do you envision the future to be beyond Human Revolution? Can you talk a little about that?
Not today. I cannot speak about that, sorry. I’m working on that to be honest, but it’s really too soon now to see because we need to do a lot of marketing analysis to look at what the player wants. We implemented a matrix system in the game to see how the player would play the game.
So you can see the results after the game has been released?
Yeah, where the player has been killed, maybe this map is too difficult. Maybe we’ll see this hall is not well done because people pass through the same path every time. After we receive this kind of data we can decide what to do in the future, in case we choose to do a sequel. We still have a lot of work to do besides thinking of the content of the next one.
Can you elaborate about the matrix system and how it works? Is it on automatically if your console is plugged into the Internet?
We have to work with Microsoft and Sony to integrate the matrix system. Everything is very confidential. We just get feedback about the maps, how people played it, how they experimented during social conversations and so forth.
That will help us build a new game. We have a mandate to build a new game.
Because Square Enix loves remakes… have you ever thought about remaking Deus Ex 1?
[Laughs] No, it’s not in the plan. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was for us a reboot of the franchise with all of the respect to the universe. But, it was a reboot so if we have a goal to do something else we’ll build on that for sure.
Have you thought about releasing a collector’s edition?
We’ll see. It is not my decision, to be honest. It’s a question of business. We have a lot of stuff we could do for a collector’s edition, but this is a business decision.
How do you feel about the series launching in Japan?
It’s amazing. I’ve been in Japan one month ago to do a press tour over there. So, I met a lot of journalists over there and everyone is amazed by the game and they are eager to play it. I’m very happy with that. It’s very difficult for a Western company to launch a game over there, but the reception is very good.
You started working working on this project before Square Enix bought Eidos.
I was employee number two!
So, how has Eidos Montreal and Human Revolution changed?
On a daily basis, there is no change. We have control on our baby. This is our baby and there is no change about that.
The only thing is we get a lot of visits from Square Enix Japan to share. In fact, sharing is the trend word at this moment between Square Enix Japan and Eidos Montreal. We are sharing our technology, our process, how to produce a game, how to manage a team, and so on.
At some point we decided Visual Works, do you know Visual Works? [I nod.] They are very good at doing pre-rendered cinematics. For the trailers, we decided to work together and you’ve seen the results. By making these kinds of small steps, because these are two different cultures, we understand each other a little better.
We are not ready, in fact, to develop a game [together] at this moment, but by doing these trailers we started to understand how they work and they understand also how we work. Maybe for the future we will be able to work together on a game and not just trailers.
Is there any particular Square Enix Japan franchise you’d like to work with?
You know we are fans, JF (level designer) and Jonathan (art director) especially are fans of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. These are established franchises with all of the background and story so it would be a big, big challenge for us. It would be very difficult to work on that kind of franchise and they [Square Enix Japan] are very good at doing that. So, there is no reason to do a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest at Montreal. We have Deus Ex and a lot of work with that.
How are you going to balance the game between new fans who are just learning about Deus Ex and diehard fans concerned about seeing another Deus Ex 2?
That’s a very good question and yes you’re right now we have to reach a larger audience than just the Deus Ex fans. I mentioned during the meeting this morning, its very expensive to do a Deus Ex. A triple-AAA title is now close to $30 million. It’s a lot of money. If you want a sequel you need to have good sales so we have to reach a lot of people.
We thought about that since the conception. As JF mentioned the two pillars of the game are combat and stealth. If you are not a hardcore gamer and you just run through the critical path it’s about 25 hours, just for the critical path. If you want to explore and go deeper into the experience with the hacking and social exploration it’s more than 40 hours. By doing that during the conception we could satisfy different kind of players.
What would you say to fans who were disappointed about Deus Ex 2?
We did our homework at the beginning. Just at the beginning, we spent four months just replaying the two games to understand the universe, to understand what is behind this huge franchise. We decided to keep the four pillars of the first Deus Ex and bring our touch on that with the third person camera, a new artistic direction. So, the experience, I would say, is the same as the first Deus Ex. Because this was the main reference, to be honest. We respected everything from the first Deus Ex and upgraded a few things because we are in 2010.
We did a lot of playtests with hardcore gamers, Deus Ex fans, shooter gamers, stealth gamers, everything. To date, we’ve done more than 15 playtests of the game with a lot of different kind of players. I’m pretty happy with the result we obtained. The feedback we received from the Deus Ex fans who were lucky enough to play the game is very, very good. So, I’m very confident.