Deus Ex creator challenges colleagues to focus on rendering minds instead of guns
Warren spector is "actively trying to shame" fellow heavy hitters John Carmack and Tim Sweeney into focusing on AI and characters instead of rendering realistic weapons.
Speaking to Eurogamer at Gamescom, Epic Mickey and Deus Ex designer pointed to the limitations of modern gaming, and enthused about the possibilities if the industry's greatest minds focused on solving more human problems.
"I've been actively trying to shame some of my fellow developers, specifically John Carmack and Tim Sweeney," said Spector.
"Can you imagine what games would look like if those two guys spent as much time working on non-combat AI as they do on rendering? Can you imagine what games we would have if John Carmack decided he wanted to create a believable character as opposed to a believable gun?
"I mean, oh my god! Those guys are way smarter than I am. I don't know how to solve the problem, but they could figure it out."
The limitations are as much found in the origins of gaming as they are in the medium itself, which Spector points out evolved to focus on Dungeons and Dragons style gameplay and storytelling.
It only makes since that these action based games produced increasingly action based control schemes.
"Think about our controls," he explained.
"We have a controller that has a bunch of buttons on it. That maps really well to, I'm going to press this button at this millisecond which will cause a pixel to move on the screen and create another pixel.
"We do that really well, and that maps really well to pulling a virtual trigger on a virtual gun. It's easy for us to do that."
Games are less adept at handling things like simple conversation or sex, he said.
"Trying it on a conversation is very hard in the extreme," said Spector. "It doesn't map very well to pushing buttons. It's not what we're doing right now."
"I find it annoying where people don't try to solve that problem. But I understand why. It's a very hard problem to solve. One of the reasons I find games like this so appealing as a developer is, at Disney it's hard to make a game like most other companies force you to make. They don't even want you to do a game like that."
Spector, who currently works at Disney, feels he has reached an ideal moment in his career to take the risks involved in cracking these problems.
"So where I am in my life and my career, I want to explore things like, what does it mean to have a brother? How do you form a family? Disney is a great company to work for if you want to talk about the possibility of redemption, and how important family and friends are to you. Most companies are not interested in that."
"We focus a little bit too much on violence, but we all know how to do it," he added."It's easy. And a lot of players seem to like it. It isn't all we can do and it certainly isn't all we should do."