People are “trying interesting things” in the indie space, says Deus Ex designer

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Spector

It seems that video games are starting to become eerily familiar, reeking of certain machinations that overlap ideas and themes. Most games these days either have you shooting someone in the face or punching a spine into a chiropractic Spanish Fly. But what about those indie games? They seem to be doing alright. And that’s in genres that we don’t even have proper words for yet.

And according to this one person who has probably made a game that went over well, the indie market is where the innovation is at.

“I can’t believe I’m about to say this–I’ll never work in this industry again–but in the mainstream space I really haven’t seen a whole lot of progress,” Deus Ex Designer Warren Spector said in a Gamasutra interview.

It seems like we’re getting more finely tuned, prettier versions of games we’ve been playing for years.

That’s in stark contrast to the indie game space according to Spector, a division of development where ideas are more varied and yield more “interesting” results. “Thank god for the indie space; there are people trying interesting things there,” Spector said. Right now, Spector is himself working on something that will most likely be finely-tuned and quite pretty: System Shock 3. It’s a sequel being developed with several other legends over at the OtherSide studio, one which Spector has several ideas for.

“I see a variety of places where we could make some strides that would help take games to the next level,” Spector said.

The biggest one, for me, is more robust characters and character AI. We’ve gotten very good at combat AI, we’ve made great strides there, but I don’t think we’ve done much in the world of non-combat AI and interacting with people –human or otherwise. We haven’t done a lot with conversation, and establishing emotional relationships with characters in games.

So I’d very much like to play with that.

There’s one other thing that Spector would like to play with: Giving players the freedom and ability to create their own stories, in the same manner that Dishonored developer Arkane did with their cult favourite stealth-slasher.

“Also, while I’ve seen some efforts, especially from the guys at Arkane, to sort of extend the design philosophy of Origin and Looking Glass–that whole ‘immersive simulation’ and its philosophy of empowering players to tell their own stories. I’d like to go further with that,” Spector explained.

It’s nice to see more people trying, but I think there’s a ways we could go as well, in terms of empowering players to tell their own stories. Those are the directions I’m going to try to go in. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

That’s a  fair enough argument. Mainstream is however, where the money is, and it’s a part of the industry that has to cater to more people than what indie games do or aim for. That, and I really like shooting stuff.

Last Updated: February 23, 2016

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