Deus-Ex Pitch Final Thoughts (Post-Mortem Post)

By Heather Posted Wednesday Nov 2, 2022

Filed under: Projects 22 comments

Obviously this outline is missing a ton of detail. Miami is the most developed location in the game, and even that one needs more characters, more points of interest, and more potential routes and interactions. The other missions are positively threadbare, and a couple are missing entirely. A lot of the ending missions boil down to “the player goes to an industrial location and kills someone important”, which feels more like Hitman than Deus Ex. Again, you’d fix this by adding more stuff to do and giving the player interesting reasons to spare various conspirators.

Alex needs more development. She’s a composite of three different characters from the first game: Alex your tech guy, Jock your pilot, and Paul your brother. She’s your guide, your transport, and your conscience. Which means she really ought to have a strong personality, a backstory, and even a bit of a character arc that points her towards ending #5. 

I think the idea of “The Illuminati are the reason people are mean to each other on social media” is cute and just the right kind of stupid. Having said that, the entire idea needs a lot more meat on its bones.  

So that’s my 16k word pitch for a new Deus Ex game. I hope you enjoyed reading it, or found some of its ideas amusing. I had fun writing this, although I’d feel better if I knew there was another immersive sim on the horizon.

As always, if you’d like to support my efforts, please consider joining my Patreon. You can also make a one-time donation if you’re not into the whole commitment thing. 


Thanks for reading.



I think that there are probably a ton of gains that could be made in the area of reducing load times. The problem is that reviewers and consumers rarely make a big deal about bad load times. And even on the rare occasions when they do, the fanboys usually respond with “lol get an SSD”. It doesn’t impact sales in a way that’s easy to measure, so publishers have very little incentive to allocate dev time to make loading times shorter.

I’m hoping that we’ve just settled into a nice long console generation. Or perhaps, the console generation that’s about to start once you can actually buy a PS5. And maybe if technology holds still for a few years then people will start thinking about load times. 

I don’t know about modern engines, but I know a decade ago many games would just purge everything from memory and start over when loading a new level. But of course, the previous level and the next level are going to share a ton of data. Both levels are going to need the protagonist model, his weapons, the standard mooks, the cameras, and all of the animations and sound effects for that stuff. Not to mention the texture maps that appear in both levels. You end up purging hundreds of megabytes of data, only to turn around and load some of those same assets back into memory again. From magnetic media. Savage!

The advantage is that this “clean slate” approach to loading is very clean, simple, and easy to debug. But doing things the Right Waytm means holding onto assets across level transitions and managing an ever-shifting library of active models and textures. It’s a lot more work, and it’s easy to muck it up and have slow-burn problems like memory leaks that slow the game down over a long play session. I can understand why the ease and predictability of clean slate loading is the go-to strategy for game development.

Note how quickly Bethesda games can transition in and out of buildings, because they don’t use clean slate loading. Note also how those same area transitions are a madhouse of weird bugs, glitches, and crashes. This is mostly due to Bethesda having terrible QA, but the point is that area transitions are the most buggy part of the game. Smart loading is hard.



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22 thoughts on “Deus-Ex Pitch Final Thoughts (Post-Mortem Post)

  1. Anon says:

    I think you accidentally included some other notes at the end that weren’t supposed to be in this article. Maybe I’m mistaken, but they seem mostly unrelated.

    There’s something nice about one of Shamus’ final works boiling down to “how to fix politics (using simplified computer game logic) by mending the large crack between the two sides”. I’m sure that wasn’t his intention, but it’s a good fit for him, based on the impression I got of him from reading his articles. I’d have liked to play a Deus Ex like this.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I dunno, a discussion about improving load times in a series about pitching a new AAA game (which is likely to have load times long enough to think about optimizing) seems pretty related to me. Probably that section would’ve come elsewhere in a final draft (somewhere in one of the previous posts, perhaps), but other than that it seems pretty relevant to the topic.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Being the last part of this series it was probably just a draft, with those notes at the end added when they came to mind, surely with the intention to later be properly arranged and integrated into the post.

      1. Lino says:

        I do that all the time when I work on a big project. While I’m writing some later chapter, I suddenly get an idea for something at the start. Instead of trying to track down the proper place in the respective chapter, I quickly scribble down what I’m thinking of so that I don’t forget it. Then I colour the font in a different colour so that I know that passage needs to be moved.

    3. Chris says:

      Seeing how he mentioned loading times a few times in the series I think it was something he wanted to weave into the text at some point. It is at the end because he didnt know how and where to put it and its basically a note to self. Especially since he would usually put the patreon pitch at the very end of a series final post.

  2. Joshua says:

    Thanks for posting these.

    1. Mattias42 says:


      It was… a hard read at times, given the context, but cool stuff. I’m glad it didn’t just collect dust on a hard-drive.

      1. Zagzag says:

        Agreed. It’s been pretty tough to get through the remainder of this series (and I’ll definitely have to go back through it again now that it’s all here), but I’m very grateful that we got the chance to.

    2. Laserhawk says:

      Thanks from me too, I appreciate it Heather. I find myself coming back to this site an re-reading old articles like Star on Chest just ’cause there aren’t many writers like Shamus.

  3. M says:

    There are two problems in computer science: naming and cache invalidation.

    “Smart loading” comes under cache invalidation. Not surprising it’s hard.

  4. BlueHorus says:

    Oh Shamus, for some people the bugs are the best bit of a Bethesda game! I felt more emotion for that dragon corpse that stalked me for a few days in Skyrim than my wife Ysolda and all those kids I adopted combined…

    (That said, I haven’t bothered to play Fallout 4 yet. Maybe when it’s on sale?)

    Once again, thanks to Heather for posting these.

  5. Th3Vangu4rd says:

    Thanks to Heather for posting the rest of the series. It was interesting, in a tragic way, seeing what one of these series looks like before all the comments and revisions.

    Assuming there are no more hidden rough drafts that will be published posthumously, there’s something comforting knowing that the last thing I’ll read from Shamus will be (depending on what you consider the ending): 1) a great Deux Ex reboot pitch or 2) complaining about Bethesda.

    1. Octal says:

      Yeah, it does seem very appropriate.

  6. Lino says:

    Thank you for posting these, Heather!

  7. Lachlan the Sane says:

    Alright, people who were inspired by this series: Who wants to take a crack at making it (without the Deus Ex IP, just calling it Pandora’s Gun or something else that we think of). I have basically no video game making skills other than writing and a bit of musical knowledge but I have been sufficiently inspired to fill out some character fanfiction.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I’m down to try. I’ll e-mail you.

      1. Lino says:

        If you ever get to working on it, I’d be happy to help with the marketing (my day job involves a lot of cold outreach via email, so I’d be down with sending lots of emails to YouTubers and journos).

        1. Alex says:

          I’m a C++ programmer who has dabbled in Unreal over the years. I’d be more than willing to help out if I could.

    2. AllWalker says:

      I’m a writer and I’m keen to help out.

      1. AllWalker says:

        I’ve put together a sample conversation and a character profile, to show what I can do. I could probably commit 2-10 hours a week to this.

        Let me know if you’re keen to see it.

    3. Vertette says:

      I’ve been kicking an idea around my head that would fit perfectly with a lot of the ideas in this pitch and wouldn’t be too hard to make. I was thinking of making it a tribute to Shamus of sorts, if that’s not considered disrespectful.

      Something like an actual DX like game would be really hard to do though, even on an actual budget. There’s a reason why big publishers don’t fund more of these kinds of games.

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    This whole series has been an interesting read from beginning to end for a variety of factors. There’s an oddness in going from the first few entries from a living author (being able to interact with him and provide him with our personal ideas) to the middle ones after he tragically passed away where we can only see his initial thoughts (without any potential modifications brought by feedback) to the later ones, clearly unfinished and unedited.

    This has also provided a bit of a backstage look into Shamus’ writing style. I’m sure this is normal for anyone who does any sort of writing, but I can’t help but relate to writing a few bits out of order whenever I come up with something I want to mention and keeping them there for later properly editing into the post, as it was clearly done in this entry.

    There is, of course, the meat of the series, which is the story and ideas for the game, which are all very interesting on their own regardless of the context. I truly hope someone manages to at least mod this into a game someday. I wish I could help, but I have no skill whatsoever regarding game creation or modding. The only thing I could possibly see myself doing at some point is writing a fanfiction novel based on it. Maybe some day.

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