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The Designer of 'Deus Ex' Explains How It Was Born Out of ' Dungeons & Dragons'

GDC hosts full 'Deus Ex' postmortem from last month on YouTube.

by Leif Johnson
Apr 22 2017, 1:00pm

It's a little hard to believe, but almost two decades have passed since the influential cyberpunk video game Deus Ex first hit shelves in 2000. Game designer Warren Spector revealed some new details about the project in a postmortem at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last month, and now the full hour-long presentation is up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

It's crammed with all kinds of fascinating trivia associated with the development process. Barely five minutes go by before Spector reveals that Deux Ex grew out of a Dungeons & Dragons game he started in 1978 with "cyberpunk guru" Bruce Sterling, and how he's made an entire career trying to recreate the feeling he had while he, Sterling, and their friends crafted their story.

Spector also explains that he was "sick to death of making games about guys in plate armor swinging swords." Instead, he wanted to make a roleplaying game about the "real world," and one in which the choices players reflect their own beliefs rather than those of the characters they play.

Deus Ex, he says, also grew out of the rampant worries about conspiracies and the unforeseen consequences of emerging technology in the late 1990s.

"The world of Deus Ex was being created all around us," he says in the video. "We didn't have to make anything up. It was great!"

And that's just the tip of the surface. You'll find much more, such as developer Ion Storm Austin's "commandments" for great roleplaying games.