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Harvey Smith on growing as a developer from Deus Ex to Dishonored

In a Noclip Sessions interview, director at Arkane Austin Harvey Smith sat down to discuss game design, world building, and the growth he experienced as a developer over the years.

Game Developer

January 5, 2018

2 Min Read

"I had a lot of perspective to gain on creative work and team chemistry and interpersonal relations."

- Director at Arkane Austin Harvey Smith on his early days of game development. 

In a Noclip Sessions interview, director at Arkane Austin Harvey Smith sat down to discuss game design, world building, and the growth he experienced as a developer over the years. 

Smith is best known for the Deus Ex and Dishonored series and when asked if he still encounters questions about Deus Ex, he admits to receiving many. With the passing of time however, the most memorable aspect of his time working on the game ends up being personal and reflective. "I'm a very different person today than I was then."

While Smith enjoyed working on Deus Ex, he acknowledges that being hard to work with in the beginning caused some regret. "In terms of interpersonal relationships and how much I grew and how much I learned about myself...creatively I got to stretch some muscles, built some muscles I had been working on, the second one [Invisible Wars] was very satisfying but turbulent in a different way," Smith said, referencing the differences between his early years working on Deus Ex and its sequel, Invisible War.

"It's interesting to look at Deus Ex one and two and say you know, why is the second one not as popular as the first one?" Smith provides a few possible explanations before mentioning the overwhelming expectations that come with creating a sequel. "You could talk about us feeling this weird pressure not to repeat ourselves."

he recognizes that tried-and-true game design isn't inherently bad if received well by its players, but he remembers feeling driven to try and make something fresh without alienating series fans. "Every time you make a game it's a big undertaking by a team of people, it's incredibly complicated. You can't predict how it's going to turn out," explains Smith.

"If you just took Invisible War as a standalone game like it wasn't associated with the Deus Ex series, I think it would have been perceived differently because expectation is a big thing." 

Devs curious about Smith's design philosophies and growth as a developer should watch the interview on Noclip's YouTube channel.  

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