Game Rant recently had the fortune to trap the very engaging and humorous, but not fleet of foot, Jonathan Jacques-Belletête of Eidos Montreal in an elevator so that we could grill him about the studio’s upcoming RPG, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
With a well-timed pull of a fire alarm lever and the maintenance crew in our back pocket, we were able to question Jacques-Belletête for the next 30 minutes without interruption, and to our surprise, he politely responded to our inquiries.
For those who may not know, Jacques-Belletête is the Art Director of this highly anticipated prequel to the original Deus Ex, which was developed by the now defunct Ion Storm, Inc. During our discussion, Jacques-Belletête spoke about how the delay of the release of Deux Ex: Human Revolution will help the final product, how cutscenes are utilized to enhance the story, what kind of DLC can be expected in the future, whether a Deus Ex sequel is already in the works, and why the city of Detroit was chosen as the future home of the cybernetic industry.
Game Rant: Now that the official release date has been announced for August 23, 2011, for North America, will you be able to make any changes to the final game?
Jonathan Jacques-Belletête: It’s really all about the fine-tuning, the balancing, and mostly debugging and stabilization. It’s such a huge game where there is a bunch of content you may not even see in one play through. We’ve playtested it quite extensively. We give five days for the playtesters and they finish it in a week. Some don’t even finish it in a week. Because they know they have five days, they mostly cater to the main quest and main story line and they finish it in 25 hours.
So if you add to that [time] all the snooping around, if you’re a completionist and you do all the side quests, acquiring all the stuff that you can acquire, the time…I don’t want to say a number because for that we don’t have hard data as to how long. Is it 30 or 35 hours, 40? I have no idea. But it is 20-25 hours for the main quest.
My point is when a game is that big, you realize to stabilize properly and debug it properly and balance it properly – all the economies of the game such as the experience points economy or the money economy or how you upgrade [Adam Jensen] throughout the game – it is quite a bit of work. That kind of experience did not exist in the Montreal game industry even though it’s known to be a city where great games come [from]. An RPG had never been done in Montreal ever.
JJB: Yeah, yeah, we’re great for a whole bunch of games and a whole lot of game styles…what EA does, what Ubisoft does, what we do. With all that being said, all these great people from those big companies who came over to start Eidos Montreal and do this DX title – making an RPG was not our thing so we really needed to get into it. We’re not Bethesda, we’re not BioWare, you know what I mean? Those people who really knows what it means. We had to learn. We had to make a lot of mistakes. One of the main things we realized was how much effort, time, and energy it takes to debug [and] stabilize.
GR: Seems like Square Enix is heavily invested and wants to make sure Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a triple AAA title.
JJB: Yeah, absolutely.
GR: When news of a Deus Ex sequel was announced, a lot of fans of the original were certainly curious about the title. But then the pre-E3 video trailer released and both fans and those without any familiarity with Deus Ex came away impressed. Do you feel any additional pressure now that newcomers to the franchise may have such high expectations?
JJB: This was one of our main goals. That is, to get these people onboard as well.
GR: But now they’re expecting almost perfection at this point.
JJB: Well, the [original] fans are. That’s for sure (laughter). That we’ve known since the beginning that they are expecting perfection. That we knew. Now if all the new ones are expecting perfection as well, which they should – when you want something, you want it to be great – yeah, there’s pressure definitely.