Otherside Entertainment recently announced that Warren Spector has officially joined the studio and is heading up the development of System Shock 3. From a personal perspective, it's probably the most exciting bit of news I've heard since Otherside revealed that it was making System Shock 3 in the first place. But why now, after so many years away? As Spector recently told Gamasutra, “I wanted to make sure I didn't become one of those teachers who used to make games."
Spector, whose past credits include Ultima Underworld, System Shock 1 and 2, Deus Ex, and Thief: Deadly Shadows, became the director of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy at the University of Texas in 2013. But he limited his commitment to just three years to ensure that he wouldn't be rendered irrelevant by the rapidly-changing nature of the industry. “I knew I needed to keep my skills honed, so that was part of it," he explained. "And part of it was just, y'know, I make games. It's kind of what I do. I've been getting the itch to make something. It's been coming on for a while now.”
Happily, System Shock 3 provided Spector with an ideal opportunity to make his return. “The last little piece of the puzzle was Paul Neurath, who I've worked with several times at Origin and Looking Glass, he came to me and asked if I wanted to make System Shock 3,” he said. “Making System Shock is one of the best parts of my professional life, so the opportunity to bring that franchise into the 21st century... I just couldn't say no. Put that all together, and I decided it was time.”
Spector also revealed that while there are interesting things happening in indie game development, “in the mainstream space I really haven't seen a whole lot of progress. It seems like we're getting more finely-tuned, prettier versions of games we've been playing for years.” He credited Arkane with carrying on with the “immersive simulation” design philosophy that anchored long-gone studios like Origin and Looking Glass, but added, “I'd like to go further with that. It's nice to see more people trying, but I think there's a ways we could go as well, in terms of empowering players to tell their own stories. Those are the directions I'm going to try to go in.”
The full interview is a lot of fun, and covers a lot of ground—Spector admits that he currently doesn't even own a PC, although he's now trying to get his hands on one. My favorite bit, though, may be at the very end, where he touched on his future with the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. “I'll be volunteering as long as they want me. I'm happy to come in and give as many lectures as they want me to do. I'm happy to serve as chairman or just a member of the board of advisors for the program. I'm still planning on staying involved, but just not as a full-time gig,” he said. “My full-time gig is going to be making games again.”