Eleven years after it was released and Deus Ex still sounds like a game from the future. It doesn't look or feel like a game from the future, but that's where Human Revolution comes in.
Eidos Montreal's interpretation of Warren Spector's 2000 original is what games were supposed to be in the post Deus Ex world, before everyone realised just how hard it must have been to make so much so original and so right.
Human Revolution lifts every classic feature and adds a few of its own for a massive 25 hours' worth. It's the most ambitious game of this console generation...
Which protagonists, plots, and concepts from science fiction have most inspired Human Revolution's world and characters?
Mary Demarle (lead writer): In a way, all the science fiction I've ever read or watched has had an influence on the story, as has every story-based drama I've ever watched, attended, or read. I'm a drama junkie and am specifically drawn to how stories explore the human experience through their focus on characters and conflicts.
I drew less on established science fiction than I did on real world technological research and philosophical writings that question where new technologies are taking us. Characters and conspiracy groups in the game were inspired by the life stories of real world people - like Howard Hughes, Richard Branson, Bill Gates - and real world organizations like Walmart, Greenpeace, The Right to Life Coalition, and so on.
Deus Ex's original vision was a very nineties Matrix/Snow Crash trenchcoats 'n' sunglasses vision of the future but your styles are more contemporary...
The vision of the future Deus Ex predicted was very much grounded in the knowledge and attitudes of the nineties. Ten years later, the world we live in is a vastly different place. Technologies are faster, slicker, and more pervasive.
Many have become fully integrated into everyday life. In general, we're a lot more knowledgeable about things. As a result, our attitudes about the world have changed. Human Revolution is inevitably going to present a vision of the future that feels more contemporary and reflective of modern aesthetics and attitudes.
We grounded it in the world that exists today, rather than in the one that existed ten years ago, so it had to!
Aside from the style of the original game, was there much else you could improve about Deus Ex from a writing standpoint?
I felt that some of the dialogue was a little too heavy-handed and expository. Characters tended to explain huge concepts and motivations in a "tell, don't show" fashion, instead of enabling you to experience, discover, and understand those concepts and motivations yourself. Plus, the voice acting wasn't that great.
Is there a sense among the writers that this is a chance to make a truly iconic and long-lasting science fiction vision, on a par with the likes of Blade Runner, and also a pressure to deliver some Rutger Hauer-style "tears in rain" moments of your own?
I can't speak for all the writers, but I don't think anyone consciously had such a sense. We knew we wanted to tell a great story and in doing so, would help create a very compelling and enjoyable game experience.
We also wanted to explore some pretty deep real-world issues and themes in ways that might actually get people thinking about them in their everyday lives. If we succeeded, then those "tears in rain" moments you're referring to will come out of certain character interactions, gameplay moments, and - of course - the endgame sequences.