Eidos Montreal on designing Deus Ex 3, new trailer debuts

GDC 2010: Art director on how the Icarus myth influenced the cyberpunk prequel, trying to come up with a distinct visual look, and Heavy Rain's scary characters; full trailer and video developer interview inside.

Who was there: Eidos Montreal art director Jonathan Jacques-Belletete, who spoke about his work on the upcoming Deus Ex Human Revolution.

What they talked about: The Deus Ex series has always featured dark and moody visuals, which was a perfect fit for the dystopian future the games presented. Eidos Montreal art director Jonathan Jacques-Belletete--the man in charge of the look of the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution--spoke about the challenges in creating a unique visual style for the prequel during his 2010 Game Developers Conference session, and it seems that while team members are big fans of the original, they doesn't necessarily want to mimic its visual signature.

Ocular bionics are back in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Jacques-Belletete began by highlighting the fact that this was the first public showing of the game and firmly asked for no cameras during the session (the images in this article are from the new trailer). He said that while all of the team members at Montreal were big fans of the original, Deus Ex did not have the most fully realized game aesthetic. Jacques-Belletete wanted the new game to have its own individual voice that was still informed by cyberpunk visual archetypes, such as nighttime environments, fog and smoke, clutter, near-future technology, and transhumanism.

For Human Revolution's high-level visual goal, Jacques-Belletete said the team focused on two points: illustration as opposed to simulation and design distinction that creates desire. When it comes to illustration, Jacques-Belletete wanted to create a world that wasn't necessarily photo-realistic, but one whose individual pieces looked like they all belonged within the same reality. This aesthetic extended to a character's face. Jacques-Belletete said they wanted to avoid any uncanny valley problems and even singled out recent PlayStation 3-exclusive Heavy Rain for some critique. "It (Heavy Rain) is a beautiful game, but those people are so scary! And you look at the teapot in Beauty and the Beast, and that little dude looks alive and he looks like a human being," he said.

On the second goal--design distinction that creates desire--Jacques-Belletete explained that looking unique can be a strong selling point for a game. He cited the example of the Big Daddy and Little Sister designs in BioShock as great examples of a game pushing a distinct look. He then put up a slide showing stills from games like Killzone 2, Gears of War, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Unreal Tournament 3, and Turok saying they were examples of games that all looked similar and therefore weren't doing anything distinctive.

Like the original game's J.C. Denton, the new protagonist will sport futuristic shades.

In Eidos Montreal's quest to be different, Jacques-Belletete said he focused the team to have two design analogies in mind--the Icarus myth and the Renaissance. Jacques-Belletete said Icarus fit the theme of transhumanism perfectly. "Dude, this guy is augmented. That's transhumanism," he said. "He has too much fun with transhumanism, and then he burns and falls to his death--this is my metaphor; this is perfect." With the Renaissance, Jacques-Belletete said he found many links to transhumanism. "If you want to upgrade a system, first, you need to see how it works. And that's what the Renaissance was--they tried to understand how the human machine functions. It's the first step towards the transhumanist era," he said.

But when the design team members tried to directly inject Renaissance themes into the game's art--balloon sleeves and pants, ruff collars, and patterns--Jacques-Belletete said they failed. It wasn't until he started to look at the world of modern fashion and decided Renaissance-flavored clothing must still look like it would be wearable today that they locked on a design aesthetic. Jacques-Belletete then showed several characters from the game, including the main character Adam Jensen. Jensen sports a pointy, Don Quixote-like beard and wears a long black jacket with a high, almost Edwardian collar. Other characters--including enemy soldiers--looked futuristic, but they did feature some classical touches like geometric patterns and ruffles.

The best thing about the transhumanist era? Robot arms!

While Jacques-Belletete's session was heavy with still images and concept art, he did show one brief section of in-game activity. It was a dialogue scene with someone who looked like a police officer that was leaning casually on a desk inside an office. While the dialogue was hard to place out of context, it did highlight what appeared to be the dialogue wheel for the game, which looked like a circle with choices selectable around its hub.

Quote/Takeaway: "A lot of people were saying just do Deus Ex 1 with better graphics. And there's a lot of that in our industry--just do that, but bigger and shinier. We didn't want to make an echo of the first one." -- Eidos Montreal art director Jonathan Jacques-Belletete

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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63 comments
megadupek
megadupek

I loved Deus Ex 1... it was one of the first FPS-RPG games (if not the first).

dyziux
dyziux

I've played a day ago Deus ex,and its fantastic, idk why but it can keep me playing for longer than one sit, as for much games not, and wait its released at 2000, awesome game :)

kholdspark
kholdspark

I think us long time gamers need to look at this whole uncanny valley thing with a little perspective. We've all grown up watching games become more and more realistic and therefore we can admire the technical advancements and ignore some of the problems. However for people on the outside looking in at games like Heavy Rain, the uncanny valley is a problem. Games don't need to look like cartoons either. Take Uncharted 2 for example. The facial features were slightly exaggerated which makes the character easier to show emotions but you would never say Nathan Drake looked like a 'cartoon'. Compare Nathan to someone like Ethan from Heavy Rain and then ask yourself which character was better at conveying human emotion. Nathan Drake. This is because Naughty Dog understand that right now in today's industry, facial features need to be exaggerated slightly because technology is yet to be sophisticated enough to properly replicate human emotion.

kholdspark
kholdspark

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Mizuki88
Mizuki88

Ok everyone who hasn't played the 1st DX go do it now, Still think it's the best game I've ever played.

Elian2530
Elian2530

Never was a fan of Deus Ex, but I also never played a single DE game either. Something about Deux Ex: Human Revolution that has me hyped. I hope they dont incorporate too much of the Square Enix-Japanese flair, and I hope they keep it more of a Western look game like its predecessors. I believe in the interviews, Square Enix were the ones that called the shots when it came to the hair style for the character. They had some say-so when it came to some of the character and game designs, and it shows. Here's to hoping DE:E stays true to it's roots and remains a fun and an engaging game.

Rudorlf
Rudorlf

Played the 1st game, but never finished it.. (I know, punishable to death for not finish one of PC's greatest game.) Will reinstall and finish it. Hope the 3rd game will follow the gameplay of the 1st game, and become the best among the series.

ETPC
ETPC

this is gonna be beyond terrible

Saije
Saije

That uncanny valley stuff is bs. I don't find them scary, most reasonable people don't. You just get paranoid people who find something frightening where there is nothing to be frightened about. It's a tad pathetic to be honest. To me it almost sounds like an excuse for graphical limitations on their part.

ioannisdenton
ioannisdenton

DUDES what are you waiting for!!! play deus ex 1 ASAP!!! don t mind graphics you ll get blown away!!!!!

BLaZe462
BLaZe462

wow, shocking some ppl here haven't played Deus Ex

AnelZukic
AnelZukic

I never played the first one but I support them by not making an "echo" of the first one (although I heard only great things about it and I want to play it). I'm excited about this one and I hope it will be done great ;)

FsLeonhart
FsLeonhart

I'm very excited for this game!!!

kamizuka
kamizuka

the old game had something about the illuminates and now they are talking crap about the human evolution? what kinda kind of propaganda is that?!

Frysco415
Frysco415

where are some screenshots?!

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

Can someone tell me if I'm the only one who is really bugged by his "uncanny valley" Comment? Because I don't want games to look like silly cartoons. By the way, the "uncanny valley" is the reason why Pixar's Up looked so cheap.

internetrush
internetrush

For those that have played the second, play the first. The second was more "Open ended" but the first was actually rewarding. The second left a hole in the Deus Ex title, dragging the title throgh the mud, hopefully this will fill that. If this game is anything like the first, Eidos stands to make a lot of money, if they make it like the second, Eidos stands to rate a lot of insult.

Olde-Fashund
Olde-Fashund

I hope its more like the first than the second.....

kvan33
kvan33

I don't high hopes for this game. Everthing these days has to be "streamlined". Deus Ex was complex and a tad clunky. However that was part of it's charm. Games these days are overrefined to the extreme. Yeah I spent 10 min trying to fit a rocket launcher in my inventory while playing DX1....and loved it!

BloodMist
BloodMist

The second was so flat out horrible, but the first so flat out amazing...I'd like to get my hopes up, but, Deus Ex is a really complicated FPS/RPG hybrid, the likes of which has not been replicated, a REAL FPS/RPG hybrid, unlike Fallout 3 which is basically an RPG with a first person viewpoint, Bioshock is more an FPS with some RPG elements, both wonderful games, but nothing like Deus Ex, far from true hybrids...they don't seem to like to make overly complicated games in genres that aren't RPG anymore, it seems, so, if they just wanna make it have some basic upgrade elements and just stop with that, or whatever, they shouldn't even bother making this game.

tubacw
tubacw

According to wikipedia( not the best video game news source), the game is set 25 years before the 1st game which is why the characters have mechanical augmentations. It also says the story deals with the events that lead up to the creation of UNATCO and it develops more on the background of the first game. As long as they can make this game as customizable and flexible as the first one, this should be an awesome game.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

"" Well maybe they should have at least considered the story of the first, like how mechs were even outdated at the start... Anyway, seems like this will be a Bioshock situation. It will probably sell much better than it's predecessors (as BS did SS1+2), and most will only be familiar with this new entry, and have no clue how much it sucks compared to the original (again, like BS and SS2).

JGoWild
JGoWild

We'll wait and see if it's gonna end my craving for nostalgia or not.

D1zzyCriminal
D1zzyCriminal

2 questions? 1) Will it be on Xbox, or will i have to get a new pc? 2) What about Thief 4!?!?!? (I suppose thats 3...)

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

I could care less about any game but this one. My most anticipated game! Hope its not a letdown!

JOKER677
JOKER677

Hope Eidos brings back Timesplitters after they release this.

ah20s
ah20s

Yea this series is truly epic and it's rare I comment on things here but I will pay tribute to Dues Ex anytime. I just got that combo deal on steam that Eidos was having a week sale on their games... well... got a hell of a deal and those games binded to my steam account; since I lost the first game ages ago. I like how they are taking a complete different approach on the series and it looks to be a little darker and that black as night armor modification hints this to me, as well as the gritty attitude the character sports, all in all I'll gobble it up if it has Dues Ex in the title sadly but I know Eidos won't just re-digest that since they got that out of the way with Invisible war so yea you learn and move on and I'm sure they will present something solid for us fans.

DoctorWeeTodd
DoctorWeeTodd

A lot of people were saying just do Deus Ex 1 with better graphics. And there's a lot of that in our industry--just do that, but bigger and shinier. We didn't want to make an echo of the first one. --- Eidos Montreal art director That's what Ion Storm did with Invisible War and it was a huge failure! Even if he's simply talking about changing the art direction instead of the perfect game mechanics, he is treading on dangerous ground. Harvey Smith and Warren Spector themselves said that they regret making Invisible War too futuristic. One of the biggest complaints they got from players was that unlike the first Deus Ex, it wasn't relatable. In the original you were stacking normal everyday boxes in an normal everyday alley to break into a normal everyday slum. It was indeed in a futuristic setting but modern, mundane, and relatable enough to players to understand.

laplace985
laplace985

My favorite game of all time. I bought it for 3$ at a gamestop because I was bored, and I was blown away by how awesome the first game was. I haven't played a game since that has been as awesome as Deus Ex. Not to mention it is secretly based on a true plot to develop a new world order out of economic chaos. Creepy

raiding_kvatch
raiding_kvatch

Cool to finally hear something about Deus Ex 3; I'm really glad they're trying to build on the franchise, rather than just repeat what's already been done.

Open_Sights
Open_Sights

In the game industry, the way things go, I will be pleased, if the new Deus Ex is only 1-Aimed for pc players, not overly dumbed down for consoles systems; and 2 -Doesn't feature DRM or lots of downloadable content just to fill an swallow game, while you empty your wallet.But even this, I worry that is asking too much, so let alone the good game part...

aphexchris
aphexchris

Umm.. doktron - Ubisoft Montreal has got nothing to do with Deus Ex 3. This is Eidos Montreal whose publisher is Square Enix. DRM is the last thing you should be worried about, though. What you should be worried about is whether they screw up the game or not!

aphexchris
aphexchris

Umm.. doktron - Ubisoft Montreal has got nothing to do with Deus Ex 3. This is Eidos Montreal whose publisher is Square Enix. DRM is the last thing you should be worried about, though. What you should be worried about is whether they screw up the game or not!

doktron
doktron

I really want to play deus ex 3, however if ubisoft,mtl uses the same draconian drm that they used on assassins creed2 I wont be BUYING this game! Shame on u ubisoft!

dakan45
dakan45

Hmm, i am not interested as deus ex, because its not gonna me like the first one. I just want it to be a good game.

Makhdoom82
Makhdoom82

Yeah @Dalius i agree. I have my hopes high on this. Want to see some screenshots of the game though just to be a little bit sure.

Delius
Delius

All I can say is... they better not **** this up.

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

The thing that ruined DE2 was that they stripped and streamlined the game too much to suit the console. The PC better be the lead platform for DE3.

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

And what about Modern Warfare 2? Wasn't that game trying to be photorealistic? Did anybody had an "uncanny valley" problem with it?

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

UNCANNY VALLEY?!?!? YOU GOT TO BE %^%# KIDDING ME!!!! Every time I hear an idiot talk about the "uncanny valley" hypothesis, it always seem to come from someone who is into making cartoon crap (Pixar's Up, DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom). I think it's because they want to be lazy and not try to make good graphics. I mean, if you want to make cartoons for a living, then say so, and leave the "uncanny" crap out. It's funny that he talks about Gears of War, Unreal Tournament 3, and Turok ( Which all uses the *same* Unreal 3 engine), but doesn't say anything about Crysis, Resistance, Halo, Lost Planet, Bad Company 2, or Assassin's Creed--all near-photorealistic games, with near-photorealistic humans and colorful worlds. I hope all this talk of stupid "uncanny valley" isn't going to mean Deus Ex 3 is going for a cartoony, Monsters vs. Aliens look!

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

I hope this game dose not suck...I am so tired of new shiny games that are utterly shallow....

McGuirex3
McGuirex3

I've had both game for years now but never made it past one or two levels in both games, not sure why!

Arach666
Arach666

I just hope they don´t pull an Invisible War on us...

Qiynah
Qiynah

Honestly I think this art direction will turn out well. On the flip side, it's better to throw out some screenshots if delving into the murky idea of 'ruffles' etc. The mind's eye can take that to terrible places.

Qiynah
Qiynah

@searcher007 The whole point of the GDC is equipping developers to identify and address project-specific strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. When a too-literal Renaissance influence failed to meet their expectations in costume design, they took another path, which -- in their eyes at this point in development -- succeeded. Any game is a product of specific successes and failures taking place inside of its own design process long before the game ships to players.

RyuRanVII
RyuRanVII

I can't believe Gamespot cut off the live transmission before Spector presented the Deus Ex 3 trailer!

roosteraxe1
roosteraxe1

I just wonder if they're going to have a visual style that makes sense to the series as a whole. It sounds like these guys want to differentiate their game completely from the original. I understand wanting to give the series your own touch, but if you want to make this game different from the other 2 just make a different game. We'll see though. THis could still turn out to be a great game. These guys wanting to do things so differently on a visual level just makes me think they're gonna ruin the series entirely. Oh well, I'll still have the first 2 to play if this does suck.