What's Warren Spector's secret new project? That was the question GamePro editor Sid Shuman wanted to find out. Read on for our full interview with Warren Spector, creator of legendary games like System Shock and Deus Ex.

Spector is famous for his work on System Shock and Deus Ex

Spector is famous for his work on System Shock and Deus Ex

GP: So Warren, what are you working on these days?

Warren Spector, president of Junction Point Studios: Sadly, I can't talk about most of what I'm up to. We're working on concepts that will see the light of day sometime in the future. The funny thing is, I'm not much of a secrets guy -- I think ideas should be shared openly. Ideas are the easy part of game development; ideas are not hard to come by. Execution is hard...I worked on a concept with John Woo called "Ninja Gold," which was publicized because there's a movie deal and John's directing it. I have nothing to do with Ninja Gold anymore.
A hasty business card Spector made for GDC

A hasty business card Spector made for GDC

But the reality is, I have to keep a secret. There's stuff we're working on that I really shouldn't talk about [laughs]. When the time is right, I'll talk about it and it'll be really interesting.

GP: Interesting because it's so, dare I say, revolutionary? Or because it's so...out there?

I don't think even think I should say that! Like I said, I don't keep secrets normally...but this is one I need to keep.

GP: Do you feel a strong attachment to this unnamed game?

Oh God yes. I will happily tell you that this game is my dream come true. When we pull this off, creatively I will have accomplished something really remarkable. It's one of those things where I almost don't care what anyone will think about it. It's a very personal project. I've wanted to be a part of Disney for a long time.

GP: So you're working with Disney Interactive now. How does Warren Spector fit into Disney? What's your new role?

When I left Ion Storm to start Junction Point, I was out pitching publishers on game concepts and design docs. What I discovered is that I am so typecast that it's terrifying -- I guess having a reputation is both a good thing and a bad thing. Every publisher said, "just make one of those games where you're a guy wearing a trench coat, and sunglasses at night, holding two 9 millimeters." I'm at a point in my career where I want to try some different stuff, break out of that mold. Not that I won't go after that [Deus Ex-style] material again, but I just want to stretch a little bit. What I've discovered is that Disney is less about making products for kids, and more about making products for families...look at [the movies] Pirates of the Caribbean and Enchanted. So after 25 years of making games, I want to try something different -- I want to make entertainment for families.

At last year's GDC keynote, Shigeru Miyamoto said something that hit me like a dagger through my heart. He said, "I want to make games that make people smile." I started thinking about the work I've done: in 1982, I did Toon the cartoon role-playing game, which made people laugh; I wrote my master's thesis on cartoons, which made my committee laugh. But somehow, in the video game business, I've become the serious games guy. I just want a little room to try something different. Maybe I'll come back to the [cyberpunk / Deus Ex-style] material, but Disney offers me the opportunity to do a wider range of projects than any other publisher.

GP: You're known for story-driven games like System Shock and Deus Ex. For your new project, are you planning to make it more accessible in the sense of story or gameplay mechanics?

It's a little of both [mechanics and story]. I love stories, and it's hard for me to imagine doing a game without some kind of story. But game stories are just window dressing. It's context. You're JC Denton in Deus Ex, you're trying to save your brother...that fiction is there to make your game choices more important and meaningful.
Most gamers will know Warren Spector's work from Deus Ex

Most gamers will know Warren Spector's work from Deus Ex

The core of my game design philosophy is to empower players to make their own choices, and to experience the consequences of those choices. That's not going to change [with my new project]. I told Disney before they acquired Junction Point Studios, "this core isn't going to change. If this isn't what you want, let's not do this. Don't worry about me, I'll find people who want to do it." The cool thing is, Disney got it. I could make a game about anything, and as long as that core experience is there, players will be happy and I'll be happy.

Graphics, for me, are frankly secondary. And outside that, there's fiction. The part that is unchangeable for me is that gameplay core. That core is not going to change. It's untouchable.

GP: What game consoles are you considering for your new game?

I really can't say.

GP: Are you interested, in a broader sense, with working on the Wii or DS? They seem to be a good fit for your "games for families" idea.

This is purely personal preference, nothing about my new project. Holy cow, do I love the Wii and DS. I am a Nintendo freak right now! It's partly because where I am in my life; games for families, trying to make people smile. Who's doing that? Nintendo. The tone of the games, the audience they attract...I'm loving it. But look at games on the PS3 and Xbox 360! They look gorgeous. So there are attractions to every platform. But in a sense, I don't care what platform we end up on. That's a business decision. Every platform can support that core gameplay. That core is what's important to me, so I'm happy to let the Disney execs decide the best platform. If that's every platform, that's what we'll do. If it's one platform, that's what we'll do.

GP: What are your thoughts on the PC game market? Is PC gaming in trouble?

Clearly it's in trouble. Well...maybe we need to be a little more nuanced than that -- I don't think the Blizzard guys are seeing any problems in the PC market! From the perspective of developers making single-player games, in whatever genre, the PC probably isn't the place anymore. Personally, I feel some regret because I have such a long history with the PC, and I love its open-endedness. In my heart, there's still a little PC in me.

But the reality is, games aren't just an art form, they're a business. If the consoles are where the audience is, then that's where you have to go. It's not good, it's not bad, it just...is.

GP: What are your thoughts on the PC Game Alliance that was just established? Will it help save PC gaming?

I've spoken with those guys. I think the PCGA is a worthy effort, and there are ways to make the PC more attractive from a business standpoint. The problem with the PC as a game platform is also what makes it so attractive: there are so many different configurations. It's hard to tell if a game will run on your PC. On an Xbox 360 or a PS3 or a Wii, you know it'll work; I buy PC games all the time that don't work. The PCGA has a big job to do. If they can pull it off, it'll absolutely help PC gamers.

GP: You're obviously a big gamer. What was the best game of 2007?

Rock Band. I don't have to think about that. I'm in a real band, and I feel as much like I'm playing real music in Rock Band as I do when I play in the band.
What's Warren got in his DS? Is that...CHESSMASTER?

What's Warren got in his DS? Is that...CHESSMASTER?
We asked Warren for a rare peek into his DS game collection (well, part of it).

We asked Warren for a rare peek into his DS game collection (well, part of it).
hopw its something for wii. linkage