Enlarge / Warren Spector, speaking at GDC 2017, talked about rebuking game industry expectations during the creation of Deus Ex. (credit: Sam Machkovech)
SAN FRANCISCO—Cyberpunk RPG Deus Ex celebrates its 17th anniversary this year, and original game director Warren Spector took the opportunity to describe the classic game’s development process at this year’s Game Developers Conference.

The rapid-fire talk was light on nitty-gritty details, but in addition to offering a unique version of the game’s origin story, Spector explained how the game was nearly disrupted by work on a branded project for another “successful” game series.
Spector had just finished his work on Thief: The Dark Project at Looking Glass Studios Austin, and his goodbye from there was unceremonious: “Looking Glass ran outta money, let’s be frank.” Describing his financial situation as “panhandling” at that point, Spector returned to a game idea he’d pitched to Origin and Electronic Arts years earlier, called Trouble(Shooter).

That action-RPG concept would have starred a ’90s-era operative, ex-CIA, named Jake Shooter, who was now working as a “hard-boiled private eye.” It likely would have shared elements of Deus Ex—particularly stealth and “play how you want” elements—that Spector had dreamed of creating post-Thief.
“I blew the dust off that Trouble(shooter) proposal and convinced a company I won’t name to let me make a RPG in a successful RTS line that I won’t name,” Spector told the crowd. “I was about to sign the contract.”
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