We talk with Warren Spector about collectibles, how the game compares with the original concept art, and someday making a game based on another Disney character.
Warren Spector has worked on a number of PC classics, including Deus EX, System Shock, and Ultima Underworld. His latest project, Epic Mickey, may be very different in some ways from the shooters and RPGs of his past, yet players will still encounter a great deal of familiarity. As in his past games, players will be empowered to find their own unique way to complete objectives. At the New York Comic Con, we had the chance to chat with Mr. Spector about his upcoming game.
Nintendo World Report (NWR): The original concept art for the game seemed to be a little bit darker in tone. How would you compare the concept art to how the game is now?
Warren Spector (WS): You know a lot of people got the idea that we changed the style dramatically and really, we didn’t. A lot of stuff leaked early and unfortunately it was part of our exploration of what we wanted to do. When you are making a game you try a thousand different things and only three of them end up in the game so a lot of stuff got out there that really never had a place in the game, but some of that stuff you might be surprised. You’ll see some of it at some point.
NWR: I’ve seen what you have shown of the game so far and it seems it’s from early on in the adventure. Without giving too much away, how does the game open up as you progress through it?
WS: You know it’s like Disneyland, you start out in the town square, and as you get to the hub, the center of Disneyland where the Walt and Mickey statue is, you start realizing that there are all these spokes, you know, you’re at the hub of a wheel, and there are all these spokes that lead out to different places so it’s a pretty epic experience. I mean, my first playthrough took about 25 hours and I knew a lot about what was going on in the game so I think players are going to find plenty to explore and do.
NWR: And now as far as the story goes, there’s branching paths correct?
WS: No actually, there are no branching paths. I don’t believe in branching storylines. It’s a linear storyline pretty much, but what changes, where the sort of interactive part of thing comes in is that you get to decide how you solve the problems in each place, it’s non linear in the way you get to approach the problems in the game, but everybody’s going to go to Main Street, we’ve shown some pirate adventures, everybody’s going to visit the same lands and the story, Mickey’s going to save the world, he’s going to redeem his brother, but how you do that is where the interactivity comes in. I think that’s way more interesting than a branching storyline.
NWR: Now, you’ve said a lot about how play style matters with Epic Mickey. Your past work includes the Deus Ex series and others. How has your view of play style changed during your many years in the industry to Epic Mickey today?
WS: Well you know you always hope to grow with every game, and every game I’ve done at least since Ultima VI has been about letting players express themselves through play. This one was a different kind of challenge, you know we’re not working in the role-playing, shooter, stealth world, which is kind of where I’ve lived and where my teams have lived for a while. This is a combination of platforming and Zelda-style action adventure so the kinds of choices you make and the kinds of consequences you experience are a little different, but that core idea of players getting to decide how they interact with the world and then showing them the consequences of those choices, that’s still very much there. I think Deus Ex fans are going to find plenty to like about this.
NWR: As far as replay value in the game, there’s the different choices that you can make that affect the world, not necessarily change the story at all. Outside of that, are there any kind of unlockables or collectibles, and what kind of rewards would you get from that?
WS: Oh heck there are collectibles. I mean, come on yeah. In fact, it takes three playthroughs to get every collectible in the game. You cannot do and see everything in one playthrough by design. We wanted players to have a unique experience so your playthrough, you’re going to get different collectibles, and you’re going to have different friends, and you’re going to find different things, and maybe even go on different missions than I do so it really does take three playthroughs to get everything.
NWR: That’s awesome.
NWR: I know you've talked about the inclusion of weird Disney secrets like how Mickey’s ears always have to face the screen. Is there any kind of tidbit that you could share with us right now that is also cool and not many people know?
WS: Well, there are hidden Mickey’s. See if you can find them. I mean it wouldn’t be a Disney game, it wouldn’t be a Disney theme park inspired game if we didn’t have hidden Mickey’s so keep your eyes open for those.
NWR: And any final words for the readers of Nintendoworldreport.com?
WS: Well I just hope you all enjoy finding out what kind of hero Mickey can be, determining what kind of hero he is and I hope you all end up loving Oswald. That’s a real honor to be able to bring a character back after 82 years of not having been a part of the Disney family so I’m real excited about Oswald and I hope everybody loves him.
NWR: Well I’m really excited about the game and thank you very much for letting us interview you. Disney Epic Mickey is coming out on November 30 right?
WS: November 30!
NWR: Yes, and it’s coming out for Wii, and maybe any other platforms?
WS: If it’s coming out on any other platforms, nobodys talked to me about it so, I think we’re Wii exclusive and happy to be that.
NWR: Do you want to go back to any other Disney characters outside of Mickey after this game?
WS: You know I’m going to start singing the Duck Tales theme song if we don’t get this off right now so yeah, there are plenty of Disney properties to have fun with.
NWR: Alright, well thank you very much.
Embedded below is the majority of the interview in video form.
Thanks to Warren Spector, Disney, and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.