Here’s an extract from the wide ranging interview:
Player choice is important in Deus Ex, but from your point of view it must be difficult to accommodate that. How do you achieve it with writing?
From a broad picture of just story, and all the different branchings on that, overall our story from a very high level is linear. You go from A to B to C. But we identify early on moments of choice and consequence where you can make a decision that will change and affect the lives of the people around you and the world around you.
Before we started writing the story we knew what the story, basically, was, but then we worked to say, ‘How do we manifest that story in the game through the level design, and where are those key moments where their lives would be changed? And then, if so, how can they be changed, and where do we see the repercussions of those changes?’
So from that standpoint, it wasn’t just me alone. It was working with a bunch of people to spur those ideas and to get it all down on paper before so we had something we could always refer to that we wouldn’t forget three years later.
But what about the dialogue? How do you write dialogue for all these permutations?
“First of all, when you’re writing a dialogue, it’s often moments in the writing process where you’re debating, should the character say this or should he say that? When you’re trying to write a dialogue in a film or a book, you make that choice right away and then you follow that dialogue to its natural conclusion. But in a game like this you actually get to go, well, I don’t know. Let’s try them both. The challenge becomes, how do you link them back in together?
So in one way it gives you a lot of freedom to explore things you normally wouldn’t, which is fun. But the challenge becomes not so much about what the character says, because you take it from the character himself and his personality, but identifying all the possibilities of things the players could do.
For instance, I might have a very solid opinion of who Adam Jensen is, and I will play him non-lethal and nice. And I have a hard time thinking, well, he could be an asshole at this moment. So the challenge comes from breaking that convention to think of those possibilities, rather than actually dealing with the possibilities when they come through.
But luckily I’ve got a lot of different personalities on the team who don’t want to play Jensen as the nice and non-lethal person, and they point them out for me. Sometimes.”
It’s certainly interesting stuff and will give the Train2Game Game Designers something to think about. You can also see more information about Dues Ex: Human Revolution both here on the Train2Game blog and on the Thoughts of Train2Game blog.
What are your thoughts on what Mary de Marle has to say? Would you like to write a game with many different dialogue options? And are you looking forward to Deus Ex: Human Revolution?
Train2Game, in association with DR Studios and the University of Bedfordshire, will be holding a Game Jam at the end of March. For more information, see this Train2Game blog post or the Train2Game Game Jam Facebook page. Alternatively, keep an eye on the Train2Game Game Jam Twitter account.