Spector: Make "believeable characters" not "believable guns"

Disney's creative director challenges developers to do more with technology

Disney Interactive Studios creative director Warren Spector has challenged game developers to use their considerable expertise and technology to tell better stories and create more realistic characters. Speaking to Eurogamer at Gamescom, Spector named id Software founder John Carmack and Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney as two gentlemen he's tried to push further.

"I've been actively trying to shame some of my fellow developers, specifically John Carmack and Tim Sweeney. Can you imagine what games would look like if those two guys spent as much time working on non-combat AI as they do on rendering? Can you imagine what games we would have if John Carmack decided he wanted to create a believable character as opposed to a believable gun?" Spector asked.

Spector notes that games currently pull off violence very well, but subtle things like natural conversation and emotion tend to elude the industry.

"We focus a little bit too much on violence, but we all know how to do it. It's easy. And a lot of players seem to like it. It isn't all we can do and it certainly isn't all we should do," he said.

"We have a controller that has a bunch of buttons on it. That maps really well to, I'm going to press this button at this millisecond which will cause a pixel to move on the screen and create another pixel. We do that really well, and that maps really well to pulling a virtual trigger on a virtual gun," Spector explained. "Trying it on a conversation is very hard in the extreme. It doesn't map very well to pushing buttons. It's not what we're doing right now."

"I find it annoying where people don't try to solve that problem. But I understand why. It's a very hard problem to solve. One of the reasons I find games like this so appealing as a developer is, at Disney it's hard to make a game like most other companies force you to make. They don't even want you to do a game like that."

Spector previously expressed his displeasure with violence in video games in an interview with GamesIndustry International two months ago.

More stories

Disney, Marvel, and a decade of missed opportunity

10 Years Ago This Month: Media giant planned to make super hero games internally, then spent years dismantling its own studios

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (5)

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
I totally agree. While I like games with shooting in, I'm incredibly bored of games where that's ALL you can do.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Sam Brown Lead Audio Programmer, TT Games9 years ago
I can't help feeling that asking even a godlike renderer programmer to write AI is like asking Einstein to star as Hamlet. Beyond searches and state machines they're completely different disciplines.
4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
This is more difficult to do.
As an IP, gaming is still in its infancy, and the immaturity shows.
We still don't engender the full range of emotions in the way that movies and books do.
And we steer away from many difficult areas which the older media take in their stride.
But violence is easy. So that is what we do.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (5)
Hugo Trepanier Senior Game Designer, Ludia9 years ago
Sam, by taking it so literally I think you're missing the point in part. These two individuals (Carmack and Sweeney) are prominent figures in the industry but these guys also have teams, they don't do all the work by themselves. It seems true to me that neither id nor Epic are very focused on creating titles or tools that emphasize human emotion very much.

Anyhow, I think this job will be more in the hands of game designers and writers. Emotion on a level people are comfortable with does not stem from code :)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent9 years ago
This is why I love you, Mr Spector. Now go kick bottom and make a difference.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.