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Director’s Cut Developer Bio: Émile Pedneault

Posted by Adam Badke

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s cut is coming, and not just to the Wii U! The game is also slated for a full PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Mac release. If you’ve been following the coverage of the Director’s Cut so far, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Eidos-Montréal Game Designer Émile Pedneault speaking about the game.

Émile was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and tell me a bit more about his work on the Director’s Cut.

Hey Émile! Before we get into Deus Ex, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Hey! I come from a small town called Les Cèdres (it’s French!), a lovely rural area not too far from here in Montreal, Quebec.

What platform did you play your first ever game on, and how old you were at the time?

When I was very young, I was in a daycare with my older cousins (Raphael, Pascal and Tommy; cheers guys!) who were very much into fantasy, roleplaying, sci-fi and video games - who dragged me pretty quickly into the wonderful world of geekdom. I think my first video game experience was with Final Fantasy III (American) on SNES and I must have been like 5 or 6 years old. It ended up being my favorite game of all time, and I think at this point I count around 31 or 32 playthroughs or something... So, yeah...

Haha ok, so tell us about your first experience with Deus Ex, ever?

It was actually with Human Revolution, as I did not become a PC gamer until way past the original Deus Ex. To be honest, when I saw the announcement, I freaked out. I’m a fan of RPG, sci-fi and stealth games so this was the best of three worlds for me. When the game was finally released, I loved the design approach so much that Jean-Francois Dugas (the Deus Ex: Human Revolution Game Director) became one of my personal career role models (he probably isn’t aware of this – yet). Needless to say, I was pretty thrilled to work on the Director’s Cut.

What’s your favorite weapon/upgrade in DXHR?

I mostly play stealth, so I don’t use the weapons much, but it must be the combat rifle with the curving bullets! “You think you’re safe in cover, punk? Well I have news for you! Eat this! Pew pew pew!”

If you could have one augmentation, what would it be? Why?

Cloaking!! Who wouldn’t want to be invisible sometimes!?

What play style is your favorite?

Stealth! I was a fan of stealth games before I knew Deus Ex. Splinter Cell was one of my first console game on Xbox, then Hitman, Metal Gear, Assassin’s Creed, etc... I am the kind of gamer who reloads saves if I get detected – all to get the perfect infiltration! My first playthrough of Human Revolution took me way too long because of that, hehe...

What’s your favorite NEW feature that you were able to bring to Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director’s Cut?

I’m honestly torn between the director’s commentaries or the new augmentation.

With the commentaries, you can learn A LOT of interesting stuff on the making of the game. I actually learned a bunch of new stuff I never knew about the game and universe from listening to the commentaries!

The new augmentation (Smart Vision) is also really cool. Feels very much like a virtual reality when you use it and you can move the gamepad around and see extra information of your enemies. It’s honestly one thing that can change your whole experience and play style.

Cool! What did you learn about Human Revolution from the developers' commentaries?

Something I thought was really cool (please, don’t call me a n00b if you already knew this!) was that I never understood why multiple times in the game during a cutscene/cinematic you see a surveillance camera observing Jensen. I learned that this is actually Eliza Cassan watching Adam Jensen’s evolution!

What do you think is the coolest/best improvement the new second screen experience brings to the Director’s Cut?

I particularly love the ability to play only on the GamePad, I am sure this will come in handy for Wii U owners.

The freedom to write on your map and have your notes reflected on your radar is really sweet as well. I personally really like to explore every single area when I play a game, but I always tend to forget where I’ve been/not been, especially in DXHR, with so much to explore.

The improved boss fights are something fans are really excited about for the Director’s Cut. Can you give us some insight into your process as you worked to improve the design of the new boss fights?

This one, my friends, was a challenge! I’d guess that half my time on the project was devoted solely to the boss fights. It went a bit like this:

First, I took feedback on the original boss fights that the core DXHR design team had gathered and deeply analysed.

Then, I created brand new mock-ups of each map in 3D for each boss fight area to help me test my work. I wanted to take particular care to give more space for players in the boss fight areas to provide opportunities to flee, or give secret areas, cover etc. I also had to give special thought to the AI of each individual boss and consider how their behaviour and my designs could work together. This was a pretty huge task on its own.

Once I’d nailed down a good feel for each map, I moved on to exploring different original ways to deal with each boss for players who wanted to avoid all-out gunfights. This is much easier said than done when you start to take into consideration all the different possibilities of augmentation builds a player might have. Every time a boss fight occurs in the game, it was imperative that players of every play style have options to suit them.

Once I’d found cool new ways to handle the boss fights, it was time to tweak the AI. This was needed before we could move on to the playtesting, feedback and iteration phase of the game, something that was especially fun as we found some really sweet ideas that work really well!

Looking back, it’s hard to imagine the amount of time spent researching, thinking, trying, failing and then analysing every idea... Balance is so important, you don’t want to overlook an augmentation build that could make the fight super easy or impossibly hard. But it was also a really rewarding experience and I’m really proud of the new boss fights.

I’ll bet! Now that the boss fights have been improved, which one is your personal favorite?

Personally, I think it would be Namir. I don’t want to spoil it, but in this fight specifically, if you are a hacker – it’s priceless!

Thanks for sharing Émile, do you have anything you’d like to say to the Deus Ex community at home?

Thank you! Absolutely. If you liked Human Revolution, you’re going to love the Director’s Cut. The whole team worked really hard on this project, but we really couldn’t have done it without the help of the Deus Ex community. We took your feedback to heart, and the great majority of changes and new features were inspired by feedback left on the Deus Ex forums and Facebook page. You guys rock! Come and say hi if you see me at an event – I can’t wait to talk Deus Ex with you all!

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