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Warren Spector Starts His Own Shop

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the back-in-action dept.

Businesses 41

Gamespot has the word that designer Warrren Spector has gone ahead and formed his own development shop. The company, Junction Point, is titled after a MMOG that Warren designed but never got off the ground. From the article: "The company has started preliminary development on a "fantasy" title created by Spector, who worked at Dungeons and Dragons creator TSR in the 1980s. Although Spector said the title was rapidly evolving, he did not give any indication about what specific subgenre the game would fall under or what platforms it would be released for."

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41 comments

I know what his first title will be (3, Funny)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 9 years ago | (#11892217)

"Daikatana 2: Electric Boogaloo"

Re:I know what his first title will be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11892640)

Yeah, wrong studio genius. Daikatana was from Ion Dallas, Spector was the head of Ion Storm Austin. But thanks for coming out!

Re:I know what his first title will be (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11892676)

Yes; then John Romero can go on to make Ultima Underworld 3.

warren spector? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11892228)

I thought he was some financial official in the bush administration...

Hear him in person (1, Redundant)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 9 years ago | (#11892234)

This guy is taking part in two GDC sessions this week. The first one, "Why Isn't the Game Industry Making Interactive Stories," is scheduled for Thursday at 2:30pm PST, while the second one, "Burning Down the House: Game Developers Rant" is slated for Friday, also at 2:30pm PST. GDC is currently under way at the Moscone Convention Center in central San Francisco.

Re:Hear him in person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11893096)

Congratulations! You quoted directly from the article and got karma! Way to go moderators!

Yay for him (3, Interesting)

ShamusYoung (528944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11892642)

Warren Spector is a real innovator (or at least seems to always have his name on the most innovative projects) so when I heard he left ION I was pretty sad. But if he's starting his own game house then I hope this is just the start of better days for him.

System Shock, the 1994 classic in which he was involved, affected me so much I wrote an entire novel based on the game [shamusyoung.com].

Amazing guy.

My idol... (1)

Destoo (530123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11892658)

One of my favorite guys on the scene.

Very impressive list [mobygames.com] of what he has worked on so far.

Ultima VI was my first real PC game, and System Shock has, so far, always been my #1 game.

I haven't even tried Deus Ex yet.. I'm more in a "24" type of mood these days than I was 5 years ago. I guess I'll give it a try.

Re:My idol... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11893026)

Bah.. nobody here bothers to click links. Here's the info for the lazy:

Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004), Eidos Inc.
Backyard Wrestling: Don't try this at Home (2003), Eidos Inc.
Deus Ex: Invisible War (2003), Eidos Inc.
Whiplash (2003), Eidos Inc.
Cel Damage (2002), Electronic Arts Inc.
Deus Ex (Game of the Year Edition) (2001), Eidos Inc.
Frequency (2001), SCEA
Deus Ex (2000), Eidos Inc.
Thief: The Dark Project (1998), Eidos Inc.
Crusader: No Remorse (1995), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
CyberMage: Darklight Awakening (1995), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Dragonsphere (1994), MicroProse Software, Inc.
System Shock (1994), Electronic Arts Inc., ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Wings of Glory (1994), Electronic Arts Inc.
Ultima VII, Part Two: Serpent Isle (1993), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Ultima VII, Part Two: The Silver Seed (1993), Electronic Arts Inc.
Wing Commander: Privateer - Righteous Fire (1993), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Ultima Underworld 2: Labyrinth of Worlds (1992), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams (1991), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi (1991), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Wing Commander: The Secret Missions 2: Crusade (1991), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Bad Blood (1990), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Wing Commander (1990), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Wing Commander: The Secret Missions (1990), ORIGIN Systems Inc.
Space Rogue (1989), ORIGIN Systems Inc.

Possibly the most distinguishing trait of this list of games is how many of them are *fun*.

Re:My idol... (1)

PylonHead (61401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11893061)

Ultima Underworld was my favorite game of all time when it came out.

System Shock became my favorite game of all time when it came out.

Deus Ex became my favorite game of all time when it game out.

Give Deus Ex a try. It's Warren all the way.

Re:My idol... (2, Informative)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11894628)

I'm more in a "24" type of mood these days than I was 5 years ago.

I'm assuming "24" refers to the current length of your attention span, in minutes, hence your lack of experience with one of the best games of all time. It's a common theme nowadays, just check out any PC game translated to console.

(Now for the irony, the ps2 version of Deus Ex 1 is one of the few pc->console game conversions that hasn't ripped out the guts of the game and turned it into something completely different. But then, that was before they realised that the people that like deep games like that will play them on a PC instead ... I patiently await my first ever troll mod points, even though you know it's true)

Re:My idol... (1)

Destoo (530123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11898631)

I'm assuming "24" refers to the current length of your attention span, in minutes

Ha ha.
No.
Of course, I'm referring to 24 [imdb.com], a tv show created by Joel Surnow, about a Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) battling off threats to the United States. It is very similar to the "Nikita" show that used to star Peta Wilson, based on the french movie of the same name.
5 years ago, I would ignore anything modern, concentrating both on High Fantasy and Sci Fi. And I blame most of the games Warren Spector worked on in the past for that.

If you get flagged as troll, it's for the unnecessary personal attack, not your opinion on the matter. I think the fact that comments on the PC->Console conversion of Deus Ex were so good is exactly what kept me off that game. Same thing for Thief 2. I was very active in the Thief community at the time, and eagerly anticipating System Shock 2. A year after, when both Thief 2 and Deus Ex came out, I think I was busy with a brief return to UO and after that trying to tweak my machine to play Ultima 9.
Looking back, I should have skipped that game entirely. The horrors..

Re:My idol... (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11905685)

if i get flagged for a troll, it's because people are unfamiliar with the concept of sarcasm, and don't really that it was actually an 'unnecessary personal attack' it was a (hopefully obvious) joke.

either that or there are console fanboys that don't like me bagging their precious machines (i own about 10 consoles, including all three current gen ones, so again, i'm just being silly ... sheesh, plain text makes people take things so seriously).

You've come a long way kid. (3, Informative)

xMonkey (154829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11892659)

You can look up Warren [imdb.com] on the IMDB [imdb.com].

I guess it was about two years ago when IMDB started listing video games.

Oh happy day! (1)

Jakeypants (860350) | more than 9 years ago | (#11892713)

Man, I couldn't be happier about this. Warren Spector has made or been heavily involved in my favorite games.

Deus Ex and DX:IW were awesome (I still don't get why everyone acts like Invisible War ran over their dog), and the incredible atmosphere of the Thief series is unparalleled. Thief 2 still manages to scare the shit out of me.

I hope that the game his studio is doing comes out soon, I'm waiting to throw more money his way.

Re:Oh happy day! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11892842)

Invisible War is hated because it is worse in every way than its predecessor. What's _not_ to hate?

Re:Oh happy day! (1)

oskillator (670034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11894286)

I still don't get why everyone acts like Invisible War ran over their dog.

I'm guessing it mostly stems from the interface. They built DX:IW for the PC and the Xbox concurrently, so PC users were saddled with an interface that was simplified enough to work with a console controller and a TV. The result was not happy. Add to that a 1.0 that was only barely playable, and the result is a lot of people quitting in disgust and spreading the bad news before a 1.1 patch is released.

The graphics were also bizarrely insipid. I'm really not sure why, but every surface had a lifeless look to it. I think it was the lighting.

(Note that I enjoyed DX:IW. I thought it was a significant improvement over Deus Ex in a lot of ways.)

Re:Oh happy day! (4, Informative)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11894615)

I still don't get why everyone acts like Invisible War ran over their dog

It wasn't a horrible game, and was certainly worth playing. But it certainly wasn't the great game everyone was expecting. My laundry list of problems with Deus Ex: Invisible War:
1) The shadows were a gimmick: Dynamic shadows had massive potential for inventiveness in stealth gameplay (shooting out the lights a-la Riddick for example), and they were squandered. Essentially they hugely raised the system requirements for nothing except a bit of eye candy.
2) The textures: You could tell that DX:IW was a console port by the textures. No matter what resolution you ran at, they just looked awful on a PC. This was fixed by a group of fans who made their own (excellent) high-res texture pack, but it shouldn't have been an issue in the first place. The later European and DVD versions of the game came with official high-res textures, but they didn't offer them to anyone who had previously bought the game.
3) The great ballooning UI monster: Without tweaking, the game's HUDs and menus were huge and clunky. This is obviously yet another concession to the Xbox port, as a nice compact HUD would've been hard to read on a TV. Once again fixable on the user's side, but not something you should have to deal with.
4) Chairs on Ice!: The physics of the game were sorta entertaining, but way unrealistic. It really breaks the immersion of the game when you bump into a chair and it slides like it's on greased ice.
5) No more skill points: Half of the joy of the original was gaining skill points, and using them to tailor your character to your approach to the game. It just added an extra element of freedom that was missing from the sequel.
6) No exploration bonuses: This goes along with the previous complaint, but I thought it deserved its own heading. The original game provided a real incentive for you to poke around every nook and cranny of the level if possible. In the sequel you can still explore as thoroughly as you like, but you're not gonna get much for it except maybe some ammo or money.
7) Stupid AI tricks: Let's face it, the AI in DX:IW is dumb as paint. And while I admit that the original AI that was just as stupid, wasn't that one of the things they promised to fix in the sequel?
8) Choices? We don't need no steenking choices!: Despite the promise of a branching storyline and tough choices to make, DX:IW does not give you much of anything in the way of choice. Yeah you can choose to do or not do a mission, but that doesn't really matter. I was able to complete every single mission thrown my way with no consequences whatsoever to the plot. In fact, no matter what path you take, it's still possible to get all of the possible endings when you reach the last level.
9) Universal ammo: The one that pissed people off the most. Not only does it make no sense (carbon doesnn't make particularly good projectiles, it's too brittle), but it rips tons of strategy from the game, and has other obnoxious gameplay repurcussions (see #10 for what I mean). Ammo management was one of the most important parts of the first game. If you ran around sniping everyone with the rifle, you were going to run out. So you needed to pick and choose when to use what. It also allowed for cool stuff like multiple ammo types for the same weapon (mmmm... white phospherous rockets...). This was sorely missed in IW.
10) Retarded damage modeling: Walk up to a guy point blank, place a pistol straight to his head, and fire. Is he dead? Nope, he's running around barking the in-game equivalent to "Ow! Quit it!" To balance out the universal ammo, the developers made different weapons cost more based on their power (which, once again, doesn't make much sense - does a pistol round take all that much more to make than a sniper round?). Unfortunately, there's a wrench thrown in this when people keep picking enemies off with cheap pistol ammo. The solution? Make the pistol weaker than a Darringer. This means you can say goodbye to the efficient stealth approach in most engagements.
11) Broken biomod system: The original Deus Ex made you make difficult choices about how you were going to develop your character. This is gone in the sequel. You can swap mods at any point in the game, rather than their permanent nature in the original. Not only that, but mod canisters are all over the damn place. I had so many of them by the end of the game that I was able to completely re-tool my mod choices, and max out every single one. This certainly makes the ending a lot easier, but it doesn't add to the roleplaying experience.

Believe it or not, given the time I could probably think of even more issues. That being said, I think I've said enough on the issue.

Re:Oh happy day! (2, Interesting)

Jakeypants (860350) | more than 9 years ago | (#11894839)

OK, you win.

Despite how much I enjoyed the game, all of those things did piss me off (particularly the damage modeling and how fast the sniper rifle burns through ammo).

In terms of choices, though, I did feel like it was a nice, streamlined, lighweight version of the first one. I think it offered a nice middle ground between DX and Snowblind (which I haven't actually played yet, but it looks like just another FPS with just a few DX touches). I liked that it had the side missions that you didn't have to do, but were fun (such as fixing the Greasel fights). I always loved setting a turret to attack the bad guys and then having them chase me into the trap. And as far as the physics are concerned, I liked that you could just walk through a room and you'd have made it look like a warzone with all of the tables and chairs and stuff kicked over. Unrealistic, but fun.

Re:Oh happy day! (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11895385)

My biggest complaint/fun thing was the damage system. Anything you throw, no matter how large, does no damage unless you have the strength biomod. I was flinging trashcans at people and laughing at the "Excuse me." responses since the game counted them as you bumping into them.

Re:Oh happy day! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11896889)

Just reduce all of that to one overarching problem:

The game was too compressed and felt trivial, from the scripting all the way down to the engine. It was still a good game but all these "little" things screwed with the fantastic atmosphere of the original.

For example, the first game had BIG, magnificent, significant places to explore. But when you finally reach Liberty Island in the second game, it's split into two pieces, shrunk down to mini-size, and you stay at ground level the whole time. It wasn't THAT bad, but there is an anti-climax in having to acknowledge that they sacrificed something key to the original's feel.

Similar with the interface and character streamlining - I liked the choices of mods and weapon upgrades that were there, but there should have been more of them because by the end I had already tinkered and tweaked enough to be satisfied. The first game was overly stingy about giving you stuff, and that made it a bit too hard but when all was said and done it was satisfying; the second game, OTOH, hands out multitools and canisters and ammo in every single nook and cranny. I only ever ran into an area where I died over and over during the final parts of the game when the rocket soldiers became common, which was more a mod-choice issue than a real challenge.

I'm covering the same ground as you now so I'll leave it at that; the micro-size of IW is what really hurts it. You don't even get areas in the game where you can just navigate silently past random challenges - it's all plot and subplot in every single room.

Re:Oh happy day! (1)

Formula420 (836234) | more than 9 years ago | (#11898968)

I think all of us are basically griping about the same thing, with different ways of saying it. Microsoft ruined the Deus Ex franchise by making it Xbox exclusive and making sure that it worked best on Xbox, killing anything that made the original game fun and unique.

He's probably not working on Junction Point per se (3, Informative)

Allen Varney (449382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11893203)

It startled me to see a Gamespot story linking to my own bibliography [allenvarney.com]. This was part of the reporter's detective work in trying to deduce the nature of Warren's current project. I worked for Warren at the Austin, TX office of Looking Glass Studios (then Looking Glass Technologies) in the mid-'90s on a game with the working title "Junction Point." I don't know what Warren's current plans are, but I'm willing to bet he isn't trying to resurrect that game. I expect he chose the name purely for sentimental reasons.

By the way, in case anyone cares, the Gamespot story gets one detail wrong: I didn't work with Warren at TSR. Rather, we worked together at Steve Jackson Games [sjgames.com] in the mid-'80s, where he was Editor-in-Chief and I was the lowly assistant editor. Warren worked for TSR after leaving SJG, and was involved in AD&D 2nd edition there. I never worked at TSR myself, though I did a lot of freelance work for them.

Re:He's probably not working on Junction Point per (1)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11893924)

Good to see you around, Allen. Great job on Paranoia XP!

Tangled Tales! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11894120)

I could never finish that game. Always got my ass kicked in combat, never had enough money to rest at the Inn. Clearly I missed something very very basic in the game.

Gotta dig out those 5.25" floppies and sigh nostalgically at the repeated "Origin Systems ... We Create Worlds!" in gradually lighter text on the floppy sleeve.

Not a problem! (4, Funny)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 9 years ago | (#11893860)

"...He did not give any indication about what specific subgenre the game would fall under or what platforms it would be released for."


That's ok. That's what the millions of uninformed "experts" spouting vague conjecture on internet forums are for.

I personally know for a fact* that the new game will "employ massive scalability, breathtaking 3D environments taking place in a rich story-based realm, immersive best-of-breed interactive e-benchmarks, and breasts."

Why yes, I did just concieve that using eBizWeb's Game Press Release Maker Gold v1.5! Why do you ask?

* fact n. Reasoning based on inconclusive evidence; speculation or supposition

Note to self: try to care (2, Interesting)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11894009)

Sorry guys, but after the heartbreaks that were DX:IW and T:DS, I simply can't jump back on the bandwagon so easily.

I *really* need to see some proof that the man hasn't lost his touch before coming back to the Chapel of Spector. Proof as in a playable demo to something truly innovative, and doesn't show any compromises in either Art Design or Play Dynamics.

Show me what you promised the world when you made the greatest games on the crappiest hardware, and I'll be there along with the rest of those who still think LGS are the holiest letters in the alphabet.

Show me you're not washed up, as your latest work seems to indicate. I've been fooled twice in a row. Only Peter Molyneux has gotten me worse. And that won't happen again, ever.

Re:Note to self: try to care (2, Interesting)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11894756)

I think Eidos had a lot to do with Deus Ex: Invisible War's problems. If I recall correctly, he wasn't even the project head. He was given a co-leader (probably a plant from corporate headquarters) to work with. Warren wasn't given the free reign he wanted/needed, and the product suffered. Considering the low percentage of bad titles under his belt (and I wouldn't even necessarily say IW was bad, just not what it should've been), I'd still be willing to give him another chance.

Re:Note to self: try to care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11894785)

Sorry guys, but after the heartbreaks that were DX:IW and T:DS, I simply can't jump back on the bandwagon so easily.

DX:IW sucked precisely because it WASN'T a Spector game. He handed the design over to a bunch of rookies. Big mistake, but we can't really blame him directly.

T:DS I actually thought rather good. The levels were too small, but with that one thing aside, the gameplay was better than either of the previous games. DX:IW sucked by dumbing things down; T:DS dumbed things UP, like the City as an explorable area and the new more interactive lockpicking system.

And, frankly, any game that contains a universally-admired masterpiece of design like the Cradle as well as classic Thief levels like the Widow's house and the Museum can only be a good thing.

Re:Note to self: try to care (1)

Malor (3658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11895175)

Personally, I disliked DE2, but I thought Thief 3 was excellent. The cramped level design was all wrong for DE, but it really worked in Thief. When it may take you several minutes to cross one room, small levels aren't that big a deal. The atmosphere and tension were excellent. Yes, it would have been cool if the game supported the PC way of thinking more than the console way, but T3 worked well in that context anyway. It was a worthy conclusion to Garrett's story.

I agree with you, though, that DE2 was a disaster. What a horrid mess that was.

Re:Note to self: try to care (1)

collar (34531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11906836)

Thief 3 was great (on PC, I can't comment on the XBOX version). Having played through all the thief games, it was my favourite. It didn't revolutionise the thief formula or anything, but when you have perfection why mess with it too much?

Thief - The Dark Shadows was decent.... (2, Interesting)

Sparky9292 (320114) | more than 9 years ago | (#11895553)

T:DS I actually thought rather good. The levels were too small, but with that one thing aside, the gameplay was better than either of the previous games. DX:IW sucked by dumbing things down; T:DS dumbed things UP, like the City as an explorable area and the new more interactive lockpicking system.

And, frankly, any game that contains a universally-admired masterpiece of design like the Cradle as well as classic Thief levels like the Widow's house and the Museum can only be a good thing.

I agree.

I've played all three games. While I understand some grumblings (loading times, smaller town) about the 3rd Thief game, it was pretty faithful to the first two.

The most nerve-shattering level is the infamous Shalebridge Cradle area. Try playing level alone at night in your house with the lights off and the volume turned up abit. You can read how people felt when they played this level. [eidosgames.com] Very immersive and well done.

Re:Thief - The Dark Shadows was decent.... (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | more than 9 years ago | (#11898669)

Whereas I disagree in a lot of places. Just as examples pulled from your message...

the gameplay was better than either of the previous games.
Yes, whoever decided that the effect of flashbombs would be magically cancelled as soon as you try to blackjack or stab a guard deserves a medal. Not to mention the removal of rope arrows (please, those climbing gloves are not a substitute, they're a joke) and swimmable water that cut down gameplay options. The only addition to the gameplay was the real dynamic shadowing - the other additions were either dumb (oil flasks? Give me a break..), badly implemented (see below) or a poor substitute for things they'd removed.

like the City as an explorable area
Which was so badly implemented as to be laughable: guards unable to cross between zones and time freezing in the zones you exit; respawning actors carrying loot that makes a mockery of the price balance int he game; the fact that the economy of the city now appears to be almost entirely based around thief supply shops, fences and pubs and the simple and incredibly annoying fact that city areas that, from the previous Thief games, were actually supposed to be very large ended up as so small you can cross all the mapped areas in six minutes (even allowing for the half-dozen load zones you need to go through to cover less ground than the Ambush or Tracing the courier missions from T2.) The City hub was a nice idea that simply couldn't be handled by the engine but was cobbled in anyway because they needed a method to string missions together after chucking out the characteristic cutscenes.

new more interactive lockpicking system.
Which would have been okay were it not for the fact that whoever designed the interface system decided "oh, single frob, forced position, modal lockpicking, what a great way to get the player killed!". Yes, the picking in T1 and T2 was unrealistic (but then, it is in 3, but I digress) but when you frobbed a locked object you weren't immediately pulled into the picking routine - several places in T3 it is quite easy to get yourself pulled out into a lit area or stuck picking a door with a guard running at you. I liked the concept of the picking in 3, but the execution of it sucked like a black hole.

I rate T3 below the previous games except on graphics because of the monumentally bad UI decisions, poor implementation of (I freely admit) good ideas and the important gameplay elements from the previous games that were removed.
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