Warren Spector: Games Focus Too Much on Combat and Graphics


Famed designer of Deus Ex and Epic Mickey wants more games to rely on non-combat mechanics instead of showing the prettiest picture.

Warren Spector has been around the block. Starting out in the gaming industry as Editor in Chief of Steve Jackson Games in Austin, Texas, he joined the videogame industry at Origin Systems followed by his tenure at Looking Glass Studios where he worked on Ultima Underworld and System Shock. Spector has always had strong opinions of what makes games good, concentrating on heightening player agency in most if not all of his games. He laid out some of his ideas of “Next-Gen Storytelling” in a four part series here at The Escapist in 2007 but Spector continues to wish to change the gaming industry into something greater than it is.

“I’m disappointed by the fact that we still focus solely on combat mechanics and rendering techniques, at the expense of other things we could be devoting energy and effort to,” Spector said in an interview with Develop Magazine. “We could be focusing on non-combat AI and making conversation as compelling as fighting for a change. Wouldn’t that be great? We could be focusing on making storytelling truly interactive. We just focus on prettier pictures and flashier graphics attached to more impressive combat scenarios, and honestly, that just bores me.”

Spector is not all gloom and doom; he is really thankful that he works in the industry. “I am constantly surrounded by people who are more intelligent than me. I really do learn something new every day,” he said. “It’s just incredible to imagine what we get to learn. The other great thing is that every day when I get into the office I see something nobody else has ever seen.”

It’s hard to argue with Spector’s complaints about the industry. I think it would be really compelling if a game made conversation just as fun and engaging as all of the combat that’s in so many titles today.

The graphics comment seems a little dated, however. With the prevalence of HD TVs and high-powered GPUs on most consoles and PCs, realistic graphics really only serve to increase immersion in the game’s story. That said, if your game isn’t fun, it really doesn’t matter how great it looks.

Source: Develop

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