Deus Ex: Looking Back at the Future

The writer of the first Deus Ex games looks forward to Human Revolution.

Sheldon J. Pacotti penned Deus Ex, a title that's often hailed as one of gaming's brightest moments. Set in a downtrodden future noir world, Ion Storm's 2000 game placed its protagonist's destiny in the player's hands to a level that was, at the time, unprecedented.

It's no wonder the game is held so dearly by so many, and it's also no wonder that the sequel, Invisible War, faced such an impossible task in following up the 2000 original.

Having worked with John Woo on an unreleased project, Pactotti joined his Ion Storm co-worker Warren Spector at Junction Point Studios, lending his hand on the Wii's Epic Mickey.

Pacotti has since formed New Life, a fledgling studio working on the intriguing Xbox Indie Cell: emergence.

On the eve of the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Pacotti offers his thoughts on how Deus Ex came together, how its sequel fell apart and how Square's third game can bring it all back together again.

Eurogamer: Looking back, what's the highlight of your career?

Sheldon J. Pacotti: It's hard not to say Deus Ex, because it really was a great game. It's funny, when you end up on a project like that, there's a little bit of luck to it in terms of where you manage to apply and what team happens to be there. So often teams just don't talk and never get on the same page creatively. That was one of the few times where I could tell right from the beginning it was just an incredible game.

I remember looking over Warren's shoulder as he walked around UNATCO throwing a basketball around, and just seeing the care everybody was taking to make a real place, a real world. As a writer, looking at that and realised I could just fill it up with very realistic sounding dialogue and real people and personalities… I just lost myself for a year. I was working all the time writing for the game. I just didn't want to stop. Certainly that was the highlight.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Eurogamer: It must feel odd to know you worked on a game many consider to be the greatest of all time.

Sheldon J. Pacotti: It's nice to see that sometimes, and also a little surprising in a way. Most normal people have forgotten then game. I actually teach an interactive writing class at the University of Texas. A lot of the students, they were 12 years old when the game came out. The ones who've played it are like, oh year, I think I played that. My dad shouldn't have let me play it. It was kind of a weird game. I get these comments, they're just very oblique in terms of what they actually know about the game.

But you could feel the energy there. People were bringing different things to the game. One guy was a weapon specialist. The weapons were very well researched and thought out. Other people had other integrations. Pieces just came together really well, with some luck and some vision from Warren and Harvey [Smith] and some of the guys who were there early on.

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