Eurogamer: Epic Mickey was, for some, the game of the show at E3 2010. How does that make you feel?
Warren Spector: It's phenomenal. Making games is gruellingly hard work. People think it's all fun and games. It's really painful a lot of the time. Really long hours and really high stress and lots of pressure - and then you throw in the fact that you're making a game that stars the most recognisable icon on the planet. The added pressure of working with a character that is as beloved and as well known - even if you don't love Mickey you know him and you have an opinion about him - it's like a pressure cooker.
You get so close to the work. We live with this thing for 10, 12 hours a day, six, seven days a week for years. That's literally what we're doing. When you're head down and grinding away at making fun, you don't know what you have. So, to take it out in public for the first time and get the kind of response we got, it was incredible.
When we were at the show, actually, early on - I brought about 15 people from Junction Point out to do the demos - and everybody was getting really excited. I was going, "Yeah this is really cool. This is reminding me a lot of Deus Ex." People really loved it and you could tell and it was so exciting.
By the end of the show, this had far outstripped Deus Ex. I've never been associated with anything that was as... I don't know. The buzz was so great.
The key thing - and I keep telling the team this - is, eyes on the prize. Keep your eye on the prize, because we have to make it the game of the year, damn it. You can't believe all the great stuff. You got to take it and enjoy it and revel in it, which, believe me, I am. And then go and do even better.
Eurogamer: Does the quality of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and the fact that it's a fellow Wii-exclusive platformer cause you any stress?
Warren Spector: No. Take this as gospel: I literally have never thought about what any other developer is doing, ever. Ever. I just don't care what they do. Let them be scared of me.
I don't mean to be arrogant, I just think you have to do what you want to do, and do the best you can. That's all there is to it. I just don't pay any attention. I play all those games, of course. And I'm sure subconsciously it all filters in and ends up getting expressed in some way in the game.
We're showing two new 2D levels right now, too, one based on a cartoon called Plutopia, another based on Oh, What a Night. Those are clearly paying homage to the classic 2D side-scrolling platformers. The Mario games are the best in breed.
There are times when you say, "Let's do something that reminds people of this," or, "Let's do something that honours these games we love." But the fact that Galaxy came out? No.
What I do is a little different, and what we're doing in Mickey is a little different. We're trying to take the best of games like Galaxy, and the best of games like Zelda, and even the best of games like Deus Ex, and put them all together. That makes us unique, and that's what it's all about: Doing stuff where you can be true to yourself and to what you think is important about games, and not trying to imitate other people. That's a losing game. You're never going to win that game.
Eurogamer: Do you get sick and tired of being asked what you think of the new Deus Ex?
Warren Spector: No, I never get sick of that, actually. It's funny that everybody is so interested in what I think about it. I think people want me to be really upset, like, "Oh! Someone else is going to make a game! It's my baby! Grrr!" I just don't feel that at all.
It's almost cooler that someone else is doing it because it means I was a part, and my team was a part, of creating something that has a life beyond us. It's bigger than us. That's incredible. I can't even describe how that feels. That feels better than making the game. It's like there's something out there that's bigger than you are.
Isn't that why people have kids? I don't have kids myself, but I can only imagine that that's what it's like. I look at what's happening with Deus Ex now with an incredible sense of pride and excitement about the opportunity to play a Deus Ex game where I don't know everything in advance.