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"I can't believe I'm about to say this -- I'll never work in this industry again -- but 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.
- Warren Spector
He doesn't want to spend too long away from active development -- "because the game industry changes so quickly" -- but he also wants to face new challenges in using AI and game design.
"What I want to do, is I see a variety of places where we could make some strides that would help take games to the next level. The biggest one, for me, is more robust characters and character AI. We've gotten very good at combat AI, we've made great strides there, but I don't think we've done much in the world of non-combat AI and interacting with people -- human or otherwise. We haven't done a lot with conversation, and establishing emotional relationships with characters in games. So I'd very much like to play with that," Spector told Gamasutra in a new, long-form interview published earlier this week.
But he hopes to do so while still maintaining a small team; his last studio, Junction Point, had 80 people internally and collaborated with 200 outside the company.
"So I've done the big-budget, huge team thing, and at this point what I'd like to do is smaller, lower-budget, almost like "games as a service" model games that require somewhere between 10-20 people to make. I don't want to get much bigger than that," Spector said. "I don't want to get so far away from the game that I have to spend all my time running an enormous studio and dealing with publishers. I want to be in the thick of it, so smaller teams is part of the deal."
The full interview has his thoughts on working with students at the University of Texas, and how he hopes to push things forward with his work on the upcoming System Shock sequel. You can also read Spector's Gamasutra blog, which contains his thoughts on game design.