Junction Point Studios head and Epic Mickey designer, Warren Spector, is best known for his work on the Deus Ex games, whose primary design goal was to enable players to make choices and face the consequences of their actions.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Spector discusses how Epic Mickey — and most of his recent games, for that matter — may not be so different from Deus Ex in that regard.
In response to a question concerning the Wii hardware, Spector stated: “You know, the graphics may be different, the hero may be different, the fiction may be different, but there’s some real Deus Ex-y gameplay in this, if people will give Mickey a chance. I think we’ve made it work, and the Wii is a terrific piece of hardware, and Nintendo’s a great company. It’s been great working with them.”
Further into the interview, Spector mentions that his goals for Epic Mickey arose primarily from wanting to bring a change about in the action-adventure genre.
“Clearly the game has been pretty up front about the fact that this game is — my goal anyway — is that it be a combination of the best of platform games, the best of action-adventure games, and the best of Deus Ex-style role playing,” Spector explained.
“In terms of frustration, it wasn’t any one game that frustrated me; it was kind of a general sense that in the platform space and the action-adventure space in particular, the design side hasn’t changed all that much in the last 10 or 20 years. And so I thought there was room to innovate on the design side in those categories.”
But Epic Mickey isn’t the only game he’s created that Spector feels has elements of Deus Ex. Rather, all of his games are designed around the idea of providing players with a balance of choices and consequences.
“Well, if you go look at the first two blog posts I did years ago, it’s the long version of the studio mission, which is my personal mission, really, in life,” Spector revealed. “I just don’t intend to ever to make a game that isn’t about player choice and consequence. I mean, I just don’t have any interest.”
A few lines later, he elaborates: “I’m not saying you even have to see this — it’s almost like I don’t care if people see it, but every single game I’ve worked on since Ultima VI, which is where I kind of hit on this idea. I noticed the power — saw the power — of players actually expressing themselves through play. Ultima VI was the first time I saw that.
“It was an accident, in Ultima VI, when I saw it happen, but ever since I’ve been making games where I try to do that better and better, or aligning myself with developers who are trying to do that better and better, or supporting other designers who are making games that do that better and better. So every game I’ve done has been what I see as an evolutionary step along the same path, and this is just the next step in the path,” he concluded.
I’d recommend reading the interview in its entirety, as Spector’s next thoughts are on what he defines as “consequence,” which is extremely interesting.