Deus Ex is a highly popular sci-fi first person action RPG set in a dystopian future on Earth. There are currently four games in the series: the first two were developed by Ion Storm, while the third and fourth games were developed by Eidos Montreal. However, it was Ion Storm who worked on two ultimately scrapped, alternative versions of the third installment, which were called Deus Ex: Insurrection and Deus Ex 3 respectively.
Art Min was a programmer on the second game in the series Deus Ex: Invisible War, as soon as development was finished on this he became project lead on Insurrection. There were at least four different story lines set out for this iteration of the game and many of the core concepts, were thought out.
In a initial design document submitted in February 2004 many of these concepts can be seen with the team vision for the game being to create an accessible and believable Deus Ex game with emotional depth and epic choices. It was slated to be released on both the Xbox and PC platform but what is interesting is, it is noted that a PS2 version would be made if an external team could be found to make it, and the “Xbox 2” for launch if green lighting was approved as soon as possible.
At the time of writing this document the team were in pre-production and were ready to go to full production by July 1st, 2004, it was written that they would have the game finished by January 2005. There is a very high concept for the game that is described, the game was to be based in 2027 and that there were five superpowers in the world who would either rise or fall depending on the intelligence that you would give to them.
The game setting was that America was falling into bankcruptcy and the other rising superpowers like China and Russia were trying to utilise this and bankrolling insurgents on U.S. soil. The EU was also trying to bring the U.S. under the jurisdiction of international bodies like the UN. The U.S. is also split in two with patriots who want to keep the U.S. as is and the globalists who want the EU control.
Insurrection was to take place twenty years before the events of the original Deus Ex and you would play Blake Denton the father of JC Denton who was the protagonist of the first Deus Ex game. It seemed that there would be many avenues that you could take during the game, and that the fate of the world would be made by your choices, the game would be open-ended and may have multiple outcomes depending on what you decide in-game.
Blake Denton the protagonist you would play was described to be “The six million dollar man meets 2020’s Tom Clancy” a biomodified secret agent who was ahead of his time. Blake was to have a superhuman set of abilities such as enhanced speed, nightvision, invisibility and tissue regeneration.
As a player you would be able to decide on where your alliance would lie either the U.S. patriots or the EU globalists and this would dictate what would happen and the fate of the five superpowers ruling the world, these were China, the EU, Russia, Africa and America.
The developers also wanted to bring the hard science of nanotechnology and its social implications, having the game set in a near-future so that it would be more relatable to the player. By bringing the game closer to modern times and having large conspiracies in the game they were hoping to appeal to a broader market than just science fiction fans.
Gameplay dynamics are of huge importance to games and the developers wanted to make use of improved technologies to make this a new but recognizable experience for players, there were small tweaks that they wanted to make such as better AI, new combat tools and improved pacing of the combat. This would also be the first time that enemies would be able to use biomods which would increase the challenge of combat.
There were also larger concepts that they wanted to implement into the game and make huge improvements on the previous series. Factions were used in the previous game and they would allow you to ally yourself with a specific one, in Invisible War it was easy for the player to change factions and the developers wanted to change this. Once the player had joined a particular faction in Insurrection it would become extremely hard to convince other factions to let you work with them and was described as a significant decision.
There was also going to be a home base for the player this would be a hub world where the player would go in between missions and could store extra gear, equip new gear and heal. There would also be support characters that could be recruited throughout the game that would allow you to get special upgrades.
They also wanted to vastly improve the dynamic lighting used in the previous game and better physics simulation, there is not much information on how they were going to do this but they obviously wanted to make their game more beautiful than the previous, an obvious choice.
The concept document also goes into what the Insurrection team thought were the failings of the previous title Invisible War and why Insurrection would surpass it.
They stated that they had analysed why the Invisible War would not meet its projected sales these were as following:-
- The action shooter elements of the game did not live up to the mainstream shooter games.
- There was too much dialogue interrupting the game and resulting in slower pace gameplay.
- The story was not clear enough for players to get a clear direction.
- The game wasn’t accessible enough to the mass market player. The user interface weapon/biomod inventory selection was too cluttered.
This allowed the team to pitch what improvements they were going to make and why Insurrection would be a much larger success than Invisible war. They wanted to alter the gameplay so that the combat would be more like Halo 1+2 and Splinter Cell, the roleplaying elements would be similar to Knights of the Old Republic, stealth more like Metal Gear Solid 3 and the AI from Farcry. Streamlining the interface was also of importance to them so that it would be more accessible and simpler for players to use.
Epic choices and emotional depth were a large part of what they wanted to concentrate on with less dialogue that was more concise and gave players clear objectives and an emotional connection, and creating binding factional alliances that would clarify the player position in the game.
Insurrection was not only to be target at previous Deus Ex players but to the GTA3, Halo, Knights of the old republic, Metal Gear Solid and the Splinter Cell audience. Min has said that Insurrection came to an end when Warren Spector left Ion Storm in 2004. Art Min left shortly after and they founded Junction Point Studios together in 2005.
This was the end of the development of Deus Ex: Insurrection but it was not the end of development on a Deus Ex game. Jordan Thomas (Lead Designer at Ion Storm for such games as Thief: Deadly Shadows) was already working on Deus Ex 3 while Insurrection was being developed and this is the game that they carried on developing after the departure of Warren Spector.
Thomas’s vision for Deus Ex 3 was a different one to any of the previous games and was to be an open world game set in New Orleans. It was still set to be a sequel but the player would be a failed biotech experiment and were forced to becoming a mercenary. The player would then perform missions for companies to become the mercenary of choice.
Unfortunately most of this game was only ever conceptualised on paper and very little to none was ever put in to an actual playable product. Eidos then closed the studio in 2005 due to financial difficulties and more staff leaving the company.
If you would like to ask any questions please send them to me and for a more in-depth look, interviews with Art Min and Jordan Thomas, also the design documents and outlined storylines, please head over to Joe Martins article. I would also like to thank Joe Martin for all of his help on this article.
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Wow, i think that insurrection has some concepts that were taken to Human Revolution, such as the game taking place in the year 2027.
It still sounds like shit. Sorry but I’m imagining a game with nothing but Invisible Wars’ shooting mechanics and I just want to hurl.
That is actually the first point made in the document about how Invisible War could have been better. They said that the shooter elements of Invisible War were not good enough and this needed to be improved, who knows how they would’ve done it though.
So basically, they wanted to simplify Deus Ex even more… Well, reading through this article, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am actually glad that day had cancelled it. It sounds like “Insurrection” was going to be yet another mainstream shooter that would try to cater to the masses with simple mechanics and unoriginal, cliched and predictable story, with less dialog and more action – a COMPLETE opposite of the first Deus Ex.
By the way, I remember watching a “Deus Ex post-mortem” video on YouTube in which Harvey Smith and Warren Spector analyzed both the original Deus Ex and the sequel “Invisible War” and they came to conclusion that the main problem with “Invisible War” was the all-around oversimplification that was a direct consequence of the fact that they had to develop the game for the console (XBOX).
Just search “deus ex post mortem” on YouTube and you’ll see. :)