When we met Eidos Montreal, armed with reader questions, we asked Mary DeMarle, Narrative Game Designer, to flesh out Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s story. Connections to Deus Ex and if the prequel will have conspiracy theories were topics you wanted to hear about, so we started with those topics.
Deus Ex, the original game, had conspiracies connected to the real world with the Illuminati, Trilateral Commission, and so forth. Can you tell us about Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s conspiracy elements and what events they’re inspired from?
Mary DeMarle, Narrative Game Designer: Well, I don’t want to give away too much… but, yes, the foundation of the whole license is the whole conspiracy theory element. When you play Deus Ex 1 it seems like every conspiracy theory in the world was somehow thrown into there. So, we do have a few. We do hint at a few conspiracy theories people might recognize if they’re really into it. But, I don’t want to go into details about what they are.
In terms of researching, when we starting on this project it was kind of fun because we had a narrative team that consists of myself, one of the level designers, and J.F. (Jean-François Dugas, Lead Game Designer). The level designer involved is one of the biggest conspiracy buffs I ever met. He’s into the Masons, the Illuminati, he’s into everything from who shot JFK on down. It was really funny to sit in the meetings and these theories and say "well, that’s interesting."
Even now, my family looks at me differently because they’re always talking things out like "unless its one big massive conspiracy, like Wikileaks could just be a conspiracy."
Are you going to have new conspiracy threads or are they based off Deus Ex 1?
Story-wise, we’ve started building into the Deus Ex universe. Our story is different. It involves new characters and a new plot that sets up for the future. But, it does pull into it, I guess, not too much because you’re following a very specific plot so a lot of focus needs to be on that main plot.
Through side quests and locations you find yourself in there are hints at the other conspiracies that exist out there. I don’t know how to answer more than that without spoiling it!
Can you shine some light on Adam’s past? What makes his history "checkered?"
Well, I’ll give you some of it, but I don’t want to give you a lot because that’s part of the interesting to follow in the game to see if you can uncover. Up until about two years ago he was working for the Detroit police. He was one of their SWAT team people. There was an incident that occurs during his watch that ends up with him eventually getting kicked off the force. There’s a little bit of that checkeredness that plays into it.
After getting kicked off the force he ends up getting a job at Sariff Industries, which is where his ex-girlfriend works. There is a little bit of a question as to how he got his job that he may not be aware of. I mean, obviously he know his ex-girlfriend is there and she recommended him for the job, but he doesn’t necessarily know the full extent of the corporation, if they know things about him that he is unaware of. So, there’s a bit of that.
And then there’s a little bit of, not everybody is going to be able get this, because there are some side quests that occur in the game only if you do things correctly, not correctly I shouldn’t say that. If you take certain choices they open the possibility to explore even more about your past. Doing that you discover things Adam himself doesn’t even know about his past.
Speaking of the past… we saw Tong again today is he related to Tracer Tong.
[Laughs.] I don’t know if I can give it away…
Maybe I’ll ask a broader question. Are there any links to the Deus Ex family tree in Deus Ex: Human Revolution?
Yes. I’ll say there are, there is, I don’t want to say there are, there is. [Laughs.]
Like I said we created a new story with new characters, but we do give mention, largely for the hardcore fans, they’ll be able to find references to the characters they know in Deus Ex. Those characters are present, but very much in the background. There is a particular character, and maybe you’ve already found him, that is more directly tied to someone’s prodigy who may be important later.
Human Revolution has multiple endings, but Deus Ex starts in a specific way. How do you make a game with player picked conclusions with a universe that has a specific future, if that makes any sense?
That does make sense and I get that question a lot. People generally come with the assumption that how can you create the ending when you know what is going to happen. My response is you know what is going to happen 25 years after our game ends and a lot of things can happen in 25 years. The World Trade Center happened overnight, no one foresaw that, and no one foresaw how life changed within a heartbeat because of that.
We’ve got things we can definitely portray various endings that could eventually lead because we have 25 more years. If you know the Deus Ex canon you know that we’re still three years before the fall with the AIDS virus and California falling into the ocean and all of that. We’re still three years before that so we have time to have these multiple endings.
One of the things that we set out to do when creating these endings is we talked about different ways to do that. Should one ending – you can look at Deus Ex 1 and you can say it has this component, it has this component, it has this component, and this component. Maybe each future we choose will throw more light on those components all of which that come into play later. We considered those kinds of directions for endings.
I don’t want to tell you what we ended up with, but all of this just to say just because we’re creating a story prior to Deus Ex doesn’t mean you can’t have multiple futures that exist before you get Deus Ex.
This is the first in a series of Deus Ex: Human Revolution interviews we’re running on Siliconera. Check back next week to hear what the team had to say about game design.