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Wednesday, February 21, 2001

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Design Q&A with Harvey Smith
5:50 PM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Tolstiy's Place has recently chatted with Harvey "Witchboy" Smith, lead designer of the very popular FPS/RPG Deus Ex. The interview is different from most in that it deals with the design phases of making a game (which in Smith's case was Deus Ex for Ion Storm). If you're planning on pitching your latest game idea to id Software or Epic, you might consider giving this a read to learn how it's done in the biz. Here's an excerpt:

Tolstiy: Sometimes in games we come across such trivial ideas, that we can be struck dumb by the questions: "Why nobody thought of implementing such a feature long ago??!!". We may suppose that the implementation of such ideas is very important - the feature itself may be out of interest in its primeval form. It's the way developers embody those ideas. Could you name some DX features, which are primitive from one hand, but helped to rise the level of gameplay seriously?

Harvey "Witchboy" Smith:: Everyone in RPG's and similar games allows players to gain new character powers as they advance. For DX, we decided to do this, of course, allowing the player to build a character that would be stronger and weaker at various approaches to the game (like combat, stealth, electronics/computers). While this approach has been taken before by a number of games, I liked the way we organized the augmentation powers specifically. Each time the player acquired a new one, he had to choose between two. When he chose one, he could never have the other one (in general). For instance, for the player to chose "cloak," he had to give up on the possibility of ever having "radar transparency." This was a simple idea that really made players stop and think.

Have a read through the rest of the interview if you're interested in hearing more from Smith. Ion Storm is currently planning on a sequel to the popular Deus Ex, though no Mac version has yet been promised. Once the game's base engine is announced, we'll have a much better idea of the likelihood of it being ported.

Tolstiy Q&A with Harvey Smith
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

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