Warren Spector is one of the greats. He had a hand in the Wing Commander series, created cyberpunk role-playing shooters Deus Ex and System Shock, and lent his talents to Thief. That's quite the CV.
After 2004's Thief: Deadly Shadows, however, Spector went dark. Rumours circulated: What's Warren up to? Last year, we found out.
In 2007 Disney bought Spector's studio Junction Point and in 2009 officially announced Epic Mickey, a Wii-exclusive action-adventure game. Now, amid the chaos of Comic-Con in San Diego, Eurogamer grabs the ever-enthusiastic Spector on the phone to get the skinny on all things Mickey.
Eurogamer: Why are you famous, Warren?
Warren Spector: Well, I don't think of myself as particularly famous. I think of myself as a survivor. I've been making games for 27 years. If you do it that long it's either going to kill you or make you semi-famous, I don't know.
I've worked on 19 games. This is my twentieth. A lot of them have been pretty high-profile. I like to think they've been influential. I mean, Deus Ex and System Shock. I got the chance to work on Wing Commander, which was one of the first cinematic games, with Chris Roberts.
I've tried to work on stuff that got me excited and I guess got a lot of gamers excited, too.
Eurogamer: It says here that you made the greatest game of all time. Is that true?
Warren Spector: Some people have said that Deus Ex is the greatest game of all time. I do not think of it that way. I'm basically one of those guys who hates everything he ever does. So you always have to try to do better on the next one.
Eurogamer: Surely there must be some part of you that likes Deus Ex. It was pretty good.
Warren Spector: I love Deus Ex. But you have to focus on the stuff you can do better, that's all. If you rest on your laurels, where do you go? Maybe it was a great game for its time, but that doesn't mean we can't do more and better now.
Eurogamer: You're revealing a new Epic Mickey level at Comic-Con. Tell us about it.
Warren Spector: We're revealing Lonesome Manor... It's one of our action zones, like Skull Island, which we showed at E3. It's a pretty large place. We're just going to show the exterior of it and how Mickey gets inside. There are a lot of cool things about it, for me. We were able to take elements of all the Haunted Mansions from all of the parks and jam them together.
Players will see elements from the Orlando Haunted Mansion and the Disneyland Paris Haunted Mansion and the Asian Haunted Mansions. We're trying to build everything on a foundation of real Disney stuff.
Eurogamer: What's the gameplay in the level?
Warren Spector: We're revealing one of our new sketches - I don't want to get into too much detail. I want players to see it and experience it for themselves. You're also going to get the first look at the Mad Doctor, which we haven't shown yet. He's one of the game's major villains. That's pretty exciting.
There are some new enemies we're going to be revealing here. There's definitely some combat. Remember, in this game you can turn enemies into friends, you can erase them, or you can avoid them entirely. How you interact with those - air quotes - combat situations is up to you.
The game is a combination of platforming, action adventure and role-playing, so there will be a little bit of all of that to do out there in Lonesome Manor, just like there is in the entire game.
Eurogamer: Did you have to do some luxurious research for this level?
Warren Spector: Absolutely terrible! You wouldn't believe the hardships we go through researching this game! Oh dear God! No. Almost everybody on the team has made a trip to the theme parks since we became part of Disney. All of those vacations are actually research trips. You can take it to the bank.