REPOST – Deus Ex dev emails

A/N: Taken from


Chris Todd:

„RosyCross is, in fact, a reference to the Rosicrucians, who almost always seem to find themselves somehow entangled with the Knights Templar and even Opus Dei in the various conspiracy theories. In this case, though, I didn’t have a deep (or even shallow) motivation for using that as the Oracle’s address, other than the fact that it fit in with the general atmosphere of the game. On the other hand, I did have a backstory for the Oracle that never really made it into the game – more explanation below.

To understand the Oracle, you need to understand that it’s also something of an inside joke: in the early days of the Internet, when it was mostly nothing but Usenet postings, there was something called „the Usenet Oracle.” You’d post a question, and if the Usenet Oracle deigned, you’d get an answer — usually something humorous — after which the Oracle would demand payment in some form. „You owe the Oracle an apple a day,” or „You owe the Oracle eternal happiness.”

So, I decided — in the best William Gibson tradition — that in the universe of DX, the Internet (or whatever its future equivalent is) had reached a critical mass of information that resulted in one or more artificial intelligences being spontaneously generated. Not wishing to draw attention to themselves, they masquerade as real people and only communicate electronically as they go about their subtle and unknowable business. The Oracle is one of these, but it’s taken an interest in humanity, so it acts as an information broker in exchange for odd favors or items that help it understand people. Of course, essentially being an alien, the things it requests and what it considers a „good trade” are a little different from what actual human beings might desire.

This was something purely of my own creation and was never really integrated with the rest of the game — though it doesn’t necessarily contradict anything in the game either — but I thought it would be a fun little thing for people to wonder about it. Unfortunately, since I haven’t really been involved in DX2, it’s unlikely the Oracle will be making a return.

Well, it’s been so long, I’m not sure there’s much else I can think of…the only thing that occurs to me is my tribute to „System Shock 2″ (one of the best RPG/action games ever made). I had three characters who you never actually meet, but only read about in data cubes and e-mails: an older, grizzled vet, and a younger couple who are in love. Originally working for MJ12 as security, they escape the destruction of the airfield at the beginning of the game and realize that they’re former employers probably wouldn’t be happy to see them, so they go on the run.

And, of course, wherever JC goes, they just happen to be in the same city, trying to buy passports or get out of the country. You can follow their story all the way to Paris, where I was going to have them tragically killed (there’s a news item about a security bot going crazy and gunning down a bunch of folks at a cafe that’s a remnant of that idea), but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Of course, I couldn’t figure out how to end their story, either, and since it was near the end of the development cycle…they just kind of vanish in Paris. One assumes they’re probably sunning themselves in Tuscany somewhere under new identities.”

Steve Powers:

It is true that the original scope of DX was MUCH larger, and a great deal of it was removed during development, but very little of it would make sense in relation to what the final game turned out to be. After things like the Russo-Mexican battle in downtown Austin, the Chinese moon base and the White House were cut, the story was amended to work without them and then continued to evolve as a smaller entity. The result is that many of the cut elements make little or no sense related to the context of the final game.

A full-scale battle with many combatants in a rubble-strewn street was impossible to do in our technology, so the scene from Texas was cut. The thing I regret most about that was the loss of two NPCs. They were a buddy duo named Tillson and „The Ghoul”, a pair of underground fighters who did some profiteering on the side. Sort of like Jay and Silent Bob, I guess.

Another character I hated to see cut was Jerry Wildman. A NASA astronaut who was stranded in orbit when the space program fell apart. Years of living alone on a derelict station in zero G made him a unique character, and JC would have a chance to recruit him to help infiltrate a second space station that was to be the „Titanic” of space, a massive luxury station where the most elite could live out of international law’s reach. Jerry Wildman had been in orbit on a tub leaking air and falling apart while MJ12 constructed this super station just out of his reach, ignoring him all the while. Needless to say he was bitter.

Much of the lower areas of Area 51 were actually constructed as a moon base, but when the moon was cut the maps were repurposed as you see them in the final game.

The White House was an easy environment to build, but in the end there was very little to do there other than walk around, and it was decidedly un-fun to play. With that we learned that many realistic and recognizable locations don’t really make for fun gameplay.

Tracer Tong originally hid his lab in the guts of an abandoned cargo freighter in Kowloon bay, and if you look at his underground lab now it still largely conforms to the curved hull of the ship it was once in. To reach him the player had to move along a floating sampan island crewed by guards trying to hold you at bay. There was also a scene where MJ12 helicopters mounted a rocket attack on his ship when you tried to leave.

Early in development Gary Savage and Howard Strong were both leaders of cultish communities in the desert that engineered deadly fighting robots and sent them against each other in an arena. The player was able to take part in designing a bot and sending it to fight.


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