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Thread: How Deus Ex was almost too complex for its own good (Warren Spector interview on Ars)

  1. #1

    How Deus Ex was almost too complex for its own good (Warren Spector interview on Ars)

    Ars Technica just published a cool interview of Warren Spector about the development of Deus Ex and its groundbreaking openness in gameplay.

  2. #2
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    At this point I almost feel bad for Warren that the only thing anyone ever wants to interview him about is a game he worked on over 20 years ago.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Deus Ex is "open-world"? Huh.

  4. #4
    By today's standards probably not, but for the time, yeah I'd call it that.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I wouldn't. The Ultimas were open-world. Daggerfall was open-world. Deus Ex was linear as heck with the occasional small hub.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Dark Souls is quite a bit more open world than Deus Ex and I wouldn't call even Dark Souls an open world RPG, because despite you being able to sequence-break and do things out of order and go back to where you started, there still is a definite sequence that you have to follow most of the time if you want to progress. And same goes for the old Bioware formula of "visit three worlds in any sequence".

  7. #7
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    Having to follow a sequence to progress is a characteristic of lots of open world games. I consider any game where you can freely revisit any part of that world that you've previously visited to be open world. So Anachronox, VtM: Bloodlines, both System Shocks: open world. Deus Ex: Not open world.

    Most western RPGs are open world by default, so Deus Ex is a weird anomaly in that regard.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    To be clear, I don't mean sequence in that you have a set of objectives to follow in a particular order, I mean sequence in the sense that you have an otherwise very linear path that you can sometimes deviate from, a la Super Metroid.

    And to me, there's a difference between games with the metroidvania style level design where you follow a much more linear and heavily gated path (Dark Souls) and an open world where you can head practically in any direction right from the start (Fallout, Morrowind, Witcher 3). Of course, it's not a black and white distinction and a lot of games fall somewhere in between.

  9. #9
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    You're conflating two related but distinct things-- a persistent, openly navigable world, and nonlinear quest structure. You can have the former without the latter.

    Even in the Fallouts, there are many locations that are inaccessible until you've reached a certain point in the plot. Yet most people wouldn't call any Fallout a Metroidvania.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I'm not conflating them, I'm listing them as examples of things that are characteristics of an open world game in my book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    being able to sequence-break and do things out of order and go back to where you started
    1. Being able to sequence break -- in context of level design, this means that instead of having to go from A to B to C to D, in that order, you can go from A to C to D or even directly from A to D.
    2. Being able to do things out of order -- this includes quests, but also other things you can do in the world, such as collecting items, recruiting party members etc.
    3. Being able to backtrack and revisit parts of the world.

    Sure, 1 and 2 are closely related as you are generally also able to do things in the locations you visit. And 2 is not strictly necessary for open world, but it would make for a very heavily railroaded RPG otherwise and at the very least I'd consider it a waste of an open world.

    1 and 3 I would count as absolutely necessary for a game to be considered open world, though. If you had a game that satisfied 3, but not 1, I don't think I'd consider it an open world, because it would be excessively linear.

    Also, yet another aspect is how world travel is done. If you can't freely travel between locations and have to transport from area to area via portals or some other form of fast travel, then I'd call it a hub world game instead. A prime example of that would be Demon's Souls and I'd even put VTMB under that label, as you essentially travel from hub to hub.

    Oh, and I'm not calling Dark Souls a metroidvania game either. It's just that I consider its level design to be more like that of a metroidvania game than an open world game.
    Last edited by Starker; 20th Dec 2021 at 01:50.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    We can debate details, degrees and semantics all day, as long as we agree that whatever open-world means, Deus Ex isn't it.

  12. #12
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    But is The Nameless Mod open world?

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    I wouldn't consider a game like, say, System Shock 2 open world just because you can revisit earlier levels. It's still a game comprised entirely of discrete levels.

    Mass Effect 1/2/3 and Dragon Age 1/2 let you mostly visit and revisit levels at any time and in any order you want, but they aren't open world games. Andromeda and Inquisition, on the other hand, are.

    I also wouldn't consider being able to access the entire open world at any time as a prerequisite. GTA3 is clearly an open world game, but you spend significant chunks of it with access to a very small part of that world.

    I'd also make a distinction between open world and hub-based. In a sense both Morrowind and Hexen feature maps that you traverse in order to gain access to many discrete levels, but the former takes place in an open map and the latter consists of a series of hubs.
    Last edited by Jason Moyer; 27th Dec 2021 at 18:18.

  14. #14
    ZylonBane
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: ZylonBane
    So you're saying a game is only open world if it streams the map loading.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    I'm saying it's open world if it's set in an open world. SS2 is a nice, sprawling, non-linear game, but it also takes place entirely in corridors. I don't think the categorization of a game as open world is 100% cut and dry, i.e. TDS/T4, DXHR/DXMD, Prey, etc. I find Prey to be a weird case, because it has the same non-linear level-oriented design as SS1/2 but there's also a layer above that because you can (and have to at various points) move around outside the station and access the levels that way.

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