Warren Spector, the legendary designer behind games like Deus Ex (and Epic Mickey), is known for his involvement with all manner of immersive sims, games that ask the player to come up with creative solutions to problems. Games like Thief and Deus Ex defied common wisdom at the time by not holding players’ hands, and today more and more mainstream games are doing the same.
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That even includes Nintendo, who last year transformed one of their most iconic franchises into an open world adventure driven by emergent gameplay systems with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Spector sees a sort of throughline from his team’s work to this modern success. “The most exciting thing to me about Zelda,” Spector tells us, “other than the fact that it’s a ton of fun, is that it’s a validation of things that we’ve been saying and trying to do in our own work for many years.
“In games like Deus Ex and Epic Mickey, I remember thinking ‘why isn’t everybody making games like this?’ Now we’re starting to see more games like this coming out. I think the success in gameplay of games like the Zelda game validates what we’ve been saying for a long time. It proves that there’s a much larger audience than we’ve seen before. And the success of the Zelda game might even attract people to Underworld Ascendant as a similar kind of gameplay experience.”
Spector is now working on some more direct follow-ups to classic immersive sims, working with other former Looking Glass developers at Otherside Entertainment on both Underworld Ascendant and System Shock 3.