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Old 01-02-2007, 01:51 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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Spector interview on pc gaming


23 Dec 2006

First up, is there anything you can tell us at all about your new game, what we can expect from it and what experience you're offering gamers?

Warren Spector: I can't talk much, but it's safe to say it'll be a logical, evolutionary step from the games I've been involved with for the last twenty years or so. (Maybe it's just me, but I think there's kind of a coherence to the stuff I work on...) Anyway, the next game will give players tools to craft a unique experience, participate in the telling of a cool story and so on.

I expect and hope it'll confound people who insist on plugging games into neat genres - I want people wondering if it's an action and combat game, a stealth game or a role-playing game! If I say any more, there's a publisher and, erm, well, someone else on the creative side who'll be really mad at me. Better stop...

What for you has been the highlight of the videogame world in 2006, and which title that's released this year would you say has most pushed videogame boundaries?

Warren Spector: I guess I see a bunch of semi-highlights: The number of cool, interesting games for the Nintendo DS is kind of astounding. And the Xbox 360 kind of came into its own. But the big story, for me, is the Wii. Man, I love my Wii. And Zelda: Twilight Princess is the most fun I've had playing a game in a very long time.

What do you look on as the strengths of the PC platform, and what's your opinion of the PC gaming scene as it stands currently?

Warren Spector: Clearly, the PC is the platform of choice for some types of games - RTS's... persistent multiplayer games. I expect that'll change, as the consoles get more powerful and more connected, but, for now, the PC's big advantages - the fine control allowed by the mouse/keyboard combination, the connectivity and data storage capabilities - make it ideal for some game types. For other game types, not so much, anymore. There's still a substantial audience out there for PC games, but it's not like the
publishers are shifting focus to consoles out of spite - they're just going where the audience is...

Do you think PC gaming is suffering, or is going to suffer, at the hands of consoles in your opinion?

Warren Spector:
Well, it's clear that the PC isn't the only game in town, the way it once was. And for the PC to make a huge comeback as the dominant gaming platform I think there'll have to be some kind of standardization or, at least predictability in hardware configuration.

I mean, on the one hand, the strength of the PC is its flexibility but, on the other, the incredible variety of configurations is a compatibility nightmare for developers and players. We need to get to the point where playing a PC game is as much an instant-gratification, plug-and-play experience as playing a console game. Until that happens, the rise of the consoles will probably continue.

What's your take on Microsoft's Games for Windows initiative? Do you think this is a driving force that PC gaming needs?

Warren Spector: I think it's a step in the right direction. But I think the hardware guys - the Dells, the HPs, the graphics guys and the rest - need to get involved, too. There are all sorts of things they can do to make gamers' lives easier. I think they get that.

Windows Vista of course heralds the arrival of DirectX 10. What excites you about Microsoft's new version of DirectX and how do you see it being employed to change the face of PC gaming as we currently know it?

Warren Spector: The biggest thing may be the graphics requirements of the new operating system. If we can move the low-end graphics bar up, that alone will ensure more systems out there are capable of running modern games. Low end graphics solutions are a nightmare for games. Bringing up the bottom end, which Vista will force, is all good for us.

In what areas do you think the PC gaming scene needs to develop, and as a
developer what efforts are you making to move it in that direction?

Warren Spector: Well, I'm kind of a Johnny-one-note when it comes to game design - I'm all about giving players control over the experience. The sooner we get rid of games that are movie-inspired instead of pushing the unique qualities of OUR medium... the sooner we move from puzzle-oriented design to problem-oriented/open-ended-solution design... the sooner we stop making linear rollercoaster rides and start making games that give players freedom to act and to experience the consequences of their choices... the more we move in those directions, the better, as far as I'm concerned. The nice thing is, it seems like the market's agreeing with me. Finally!

If you asked Santa Claus for your dream videogame, what would that videogame be and why choose it?

Warren Spector:
The answer depends on my mood. Honestly, there are times when Zelda (pick one of 'em - ANY of 'em) is as close to perfection as I need to get. I swear my blood pressure drops when I hear the Zelda soundtrack. And I never feel as heroic, as much a part of something epic and important, as I do when I'm pretending to be Link. There are other times when I want a game that frees me to be whoever--and to behave however - I want. I love it when I get to be the hero (or villain) of my own, unique story.

In my dreams, I don't want something as freeform as a lot of the "sandbox" games out there - I need more structure, more story, than that. But something somewhere between a GTA or The Sims and a Half Life 2 there's a sweet spot, a game that lets me fight or talk or sneak or find some other way past problems, that immerses me in a world and a story, but still leaves me in control of my destiny. I'm still waiting for that game! Heck, I hope I MAKE that game someday. I'm sure going to keep trying!

Finally, what are you most looking forward to in the world of videogames in 2007?

Warren Spector: Spore. End of discussion. Does this really require explanation? Come on, Will, do us all proud!
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