Warren Spector: Our Problems Are Creative, Not Technical

Warren Spector: Our Problems Are Creative, Not Technical

As excitement builds over the next generation of consoles, one developer is not so enthused. Warren Spector, the man who has led the development of Deus Ex, Thief, Epic Mickey, and the upcoming Epic Mickey 2 says that a new round of consoles won’t solve the most common video game problems.

In an interview with EDGE Online, Spector says the areas needing improvement are on the software side of gaming, not the hardware.

“If [new hardware] comes, it comes; when it comes, it comes,” he says.

“I’m not a tech guy, particularly. I’m a design, story, character guy. I think most of the problems we have to solve are creative ones, not technical ones.”

Spector continues: “Obviously we make software, so there’s always a technical element to what we do, but I will make games that do whatever I want them to do at the end of the day, and I will use whatever technology [is] available.”

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will be Spector’s first foray into development for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.

Do you agree with Warren Spector? Are most of the problems with games on the design side or hardware side? What are some of the common problems about games that really irk you? Let us know!



  • I wouldn’t mind a standard where every game can run in 60fps, all the shaders, anti-aliasing and motion-blur to be perfectly honest. A new generation of consoles would be great for that, but it’s a bit early since it’ll all have to use current gen visuals. Maybe when that technology will be cheap enough with next gen-graphics.

  • The problems with creative are because the technical solutions are a pain in the ass or computationally very difficult. Also, designing those technical solutions to creative problems, even when possible, is usually absurdly difficult and expensive.

    • For example, there are issues regarding AI in games – we can’t have interaction with realistic characters because the best we can do is have a couple of lines for each specific input, not analogue input and analogue response.

      That, and low-res textures. I’m sick of them. Skyrim looked awful.

      • I think there’s a bit of disparity between your and Spector’s working definition of “creative problem”

  • 100% Correct

    Formal design theory for video, and even pen-and-paper games is sorely lacking when compared with other artistic fields.
    The industry itself is also a mess, lacking in best practices and formalised production workflow.

    It is an immature medium forced into being a big industry, and there are times when that really shows.

  • Yep, I absolutely agree. While there are games out there that are creative and bring in new concepts (Katamari, Flower, most things by Suda51), a lot of games today seem to be focused on the tech arms race, and how cool we can make everything look. I think an even bigger challenge is how to get Joe Consumer to actually WANT innovation and good game design.

    • …so as to make developers and their publishers comfortable with taking the necessary risk involved with experimentation.

  • I know this is sort of missing the point, but I think if anything we have probelms with both. There’s still plenty of stuff that’s off the table in terms of tech. Look at Dead Rising. It’s got a million zombies on the screen at once and that’s great, but they’re all dumb as bricks. If you want to make a game with thousands of people interacting with each other in complex and meaningful ways it’s off the table.
    You can’t make a grand ballroom full of party guests that think for themselves and interact with not just each other but every aspect of their environment. You can’t make a game with a fully functional, full scale planet. It doesn’t sound necessary but in order to reach games full potential it is. When we’re talking about tradtional creativity and storytelling that’s fine, but sooner or later we’re going to realise there’s a lot more to games than interactive movies.
    Take the sandbox genre. Right now games like GTAIV can only create the illusion of a living, breathing city. They do it well but as the tech grows there’s going to be the pontial to create actual worlds and that’s going to open up so many new avenues that make us realise just how far we were held back by the current level of technology.

  • I like the cut of this man’s jib. Games are starting to take the cinematic route these days and go for style over substance. Back in the day of 8-bit and 16-bit machines, developers did some incredibly impressive things to produce fun and wonderful looking games while working within the confines of otherwise restrictive hardware. If necessity is the mother of all invention and you always have everything you need, what inspiration are you going to have?

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