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By the mid 1990’s Warren Spector had already made a big name for himself from his involvement on the first person role playing games ‘Ultima Underworld’ and ‘System Shock’. Ultima Underworld released in early 1992. It was a technological revolution as it was one of the earliest games to display texture mapping in first person.
Spector had gotten his first taste of working on a science fiction game with 1994’s smash hit: ‘System Shock’ and now wanted to take the simulation experience. For Spector this would become the start of the long and torturous struggle that would be Deus Ex’s development. Spector’s first attempt at Deus Ex was a project called ‘TroubleShooter’. In the game the player would take on the role of a Dirty Harry inspired-ex-cop-turned security specialist. The project fell through so Spector tried again with a new concept called ‘Shooter’. In ‘Shooter’ the player would take on the role of Adam a bio-mechanically enhanced government agent tasked with defending the World against terrorist threats in a dystopian future. This project also fell through. But third time round was a charm for Spector. In the late 1990’s he started pitched a new game titled ‘Majestic Revelations’. Inspired by ‘The X-files’ this new game was set to take the player into a World of conspiracies, government cover-ups and a shadowy group named ‘Majestic 12’. Years had passed since Spector’s first attempt to make a science fiction game. When System Shock launched in 1994 consumer grade computers simply weren’t powerful enough to render graphics in 3D. But this now no longer the case.
To stay relevant Spector leased the powerful ‘Unreal Engine’ and expanded his team from 6 to 20 people. With this expanded team came internal power struggles that pulled the project into different directions. Individual members of the team all had opposing ideas about what the game should be. Some thought the game should be a violent fast-paced first person, others wanted an in-depth simulated role playing experience and some even wanted a strategy game. To make matters worse Spector the game to have massive outdoor levels based on real World locations. But the Unreal Engine simply didn’t have the raw power to deliver his vision. Worse still when the started early play-testing began they found that a realistic looking World was simply too boring. ‘Deus Ex’ needed to be more fantastical. The player had to become immersed in this World of conspiracies and dark cyber punk not bored by realism. The levels where changed to accommodate the limitations of the unreal engine. Also more robots and alien looking creatures including the ‘greazel' where added to make the game more fantastical.
Spector’s struggles where beginning to pay off as Deus Ex neared closer to the finish line but there were still some glaring issues. For one the source code for artificial intelligence in the game was built on top of that used for Unreal Tournament. Deus Ex was supposed to allow the player to approach combat in any way they desired. The game needed to accommodate multiple play-styles from stealth, to all out carnage. But Unreal Tournament was designed to fast-paced shooter. Fixing the AI became a nightmare for the single player campaign. But for multiplayer it didn’t turn out to be much of a problem. As the multiplayer ended up with giving players an experience that echoed Unreal Tournament’s.
In June 2000. 5 years after Spector’s journey began, Deus Ex released. Those years of struggle had been worth it as critics lavished the game with praise and awards, securing Deus Ex a place in video-game history. As time passed it became a classic in the eyes of Pc gamer and in late 2015 two teams of dedicated modders put out their final attempts to breathe new life into the game. Caustic Creative’s ‘Deus Ex Revision’ sought to expand the levels, mechanics and even include a new soundtrack. Whilst Totalitarian’s ‘GMDX’ mod expanded animations, interfaces, and more without changing the core experience. With these mods Deus Ex now became more accessible to an entire new generation of gamers. Making sure it’s place in history remains secure for years to come.