RPGamer Feature - Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Interview
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date:

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After the Deus Ex: Human Revolution panel and Q&A Session at PAX East, our intrepid PAX team of Becky Cunningham and Michael Apps were able to interview the game's director, Jean-François Dugas. For the uninitiated, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the third entry in the cyberpunk action RPG Deus Ex series. It stars Adam Jensen, a security specialist who has had no choice but to become mechanically augmented after sustaining serious injuries in an attack against his employer's company. We followed up on the information we learned from the panel, as well as asking some pre-prepared questions of our own. Here is the transcript of our recorded interview.

Becky Cunningham: I saw Deus Ex a few months ago in Montreal, and I noticed that in this new trailer, Adam Jensen seems angrier than he was the last time I saw him. Is that a character choice the player makes?
Jean-François Dugas: I think it has to do with where you are in the story; the level of tension at the time. He's not mad or really angry. [At the beginning of the game] he's not happy that a choice has been removed from his life, and he works hard to make sure that doesn't happen again, but he's not a grumpy old man.

Michael Apps: So we know there's not going to be a sword in the game, but are there going to be any kinds of melee weapons?
JFD: In this game they're going to be relegated to the takedowns. We really wanted to have a closer focus on the augmentations, as opposed to something that steals the show. When you think about it, with Deus Ex 1 with the sword, the moment that you got it, you didn't need anything else, and it imbalanced the game. It's really fun, it's cool and classic, but at the same time, we felt that turned Deus Ex into something else. It wasn't Deus Ex anymore.

BC: Following up on the question about weapons, we didn't hear a lot about the weapon modification system today. Is that still in?
JFD: It's still in, it's just that we only had twenty minutes and wanted to make it fast and show as much as possible. We didn't get into all the details, like there were computers in there that we could have hacked and read e-mails and things, but we had to choose what to do with our twenty minutes. We still have the four basic upgrades: ammo count, reload speed, rate of fire, and damage, and we also have some specific upgrades that we haven't really talked much about yet. They modify the control of certain weapons like the heat-sensing targeting system, a silencer, and a laser pointer type of thing.

MA: How much time did the development team take looking at the first two Deux Ex games?
JFD: When we started the project, there were just three of us- the producer, the art director, and myself. The first thing I said to the guys before writing anything down was that we need to go back to the original games and play the heck out of them. It's like anything, when you're young, you play or watch something, then when you're older, you think, "Oh, that was great," but when you look at it again several years later, you have a different perspective. Not that it's not great, but you can think, "Oh, I didn't remember that that part was not that good, and that part was really awesome." So it helped us to get back into the mood, but also to get rid of our fanboy type of attitude. Because we were fans, you know, and if you work on something and want to be professional, you have to remove that fanboy perspective so that you can really analyze what's important, what's maybe not as important, and what we can improve on. So we spent a few weeks to play those games.

BC: We were sitting with one of those hard-core Deus Ex 1 fanboys during the presentation, and he had an interesting question. He said that Deus Ex 1 was really something different, but now there have been quite a few multiple path/branching path RPGs, or action games that allow you to opt to shoot or use stealth. What really makes Deus Ex: Human Revolution different from those games?
JFD: I think it's the combination of all those things, because when you say "a lot of games have multiple paths," that's true, but there are not many games that allow you to be fully stealthy, fully combat-oriented, plus we have strong social aspects that really expands your possibilities as well. So I think it's the combination of those things. Plus, we put in a really big effort on the story, plus we have tried to build something that is very rich with the universe, and the sum of all these things will make for a unique experience. For example, with our "social boss fights," I don't think you've experienced something like that before. I'm really confident that when you play it, you'll know that you've seen some of the mechanics before, but you haven't seen the way you'll play this game before. That's what the people who have played it tell us, too.

MA: From a technology perspective, was the engine for this game built internally, or is it based on the Unreal Engine or something like that?
JFD: It's the Crystal Dynamics Engine that built the Tomb Raider games, but it was a starting point for us. We took the engine and put in a lot of effort to improve a lot of things and support the kind of game we're making. For instance, the engine didn't originally support the first person view, and we needed to add some lighting systems and things like that. We really beefed up the engine to maximize the possibilities for what we want to explore.

BC: And now we actually have a release date, which is not "Early 2011" anymore. What happened there?
JFD: It's like anything, we could have tried to rush it out the door. The game is done; I'm able to play it from start to finish, but there would be too many bugs. It's a big game, and there are so many things to do in it that it's still buggy at this point, and releasing it now would only harm the product. So we chose as a team with the publisher to make you guys wait a little bit longer to make sure it's clean when it comes out.

MA: Speaking of the publisher, did the purchase of Eidos [by Square Enix] affect the development at all, or was it pretty painless?
JFD: Totally painless, because when we were bought by Square Enix, the game was fairly far into development. When they came to visit us and see where we were at, they were really impressed and excited. They've been very supportive and gave us everything we needed, whether it's resources, time, or whatnot, like allowing us to ship in August instead of the first quarter. They were super supportive of that and are committed to making sure that we deliver a great game. The biggest contribution that we made together was for the CGI trailers you've seen, which was a collaboration between Goldtooth in Vancouver, us in Montreal, and Visual Works in Japan – those guys are making the Final Fantasy cutscenes.

BC: I know we've had some Western RPG fans who were wondering if Adam Jensen would have teenage angst because Eidos got bought by Square Enix.
JFD: It's all because of my mom! Laughter. Emphatically: No.

BC (Referring to the panel): So where do you find an expert on transhumanism, anyway?
JFD: Actually, the funny thing is that this guy contacted us. He said he was a huge fan of Deus Ex and was the president of this one company, and it was great, because we really wanted to work with specialists. He flew into Montreal and we spent a lot of time together. He helped us with all the technobabble for the augmentations because we're not scientists ourselves. It's important to have people like that around so your work can be more credible.

MA: Have there been any recent RPGs that have come out that have influenced you in developing this game?
JFD: Well, the thing is that when we first started this project, the first Bioshock wasn't even out yet, and obviously we looked at other games when they came out... I love Fallout, I love Bioshock and Mass Effect, but we had already set where we wanted to go, so their influence has been minimal. We maybe looked at how they did their tutorials or a few other things. Globally speaking, I'd say our main influence has been the first Deus Ex.

RPGamer would like to thank Jean-François Dugas, Eidos Montreal, and Maverick PR for setting up and participating in this interview. Keep an eye on RPGamer for more Deus Ex: Human Revolution coverage in the months ahead.

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