Warren Spector Joins Otherside!



OtherSide Entertainment is thrilled to announce that Warren Spector, one of the leading creative minds in the game industry, will soon be joining the company.

Warren has been a producer, designer, and director behind some of the industry’s most beloved games, including System Shock, Deus Ex, and the Ultima series. He led Junction Point Studios in creating the best-selling Disney Epic Mickey and recently oversaw the Denuis-Sam Gaming Academy post-baccalaureate program at UT Austin.

Warren has acted as a Creative Advisor to OtherSide since the studio’s inception. Following the end of this semester’s classes at UT Austin, he will transition into a full-time position as one of OtherSide’s Studio Directors. Warren will continue to help in a creative capacity on Underworld Ascendant and, later this year, ramp up and lead the team developing System Shock 3.

Warren has a long history working with members of the OtherSide team, having collaborated with founder Paul Neurath on the original Ultima Underworld games, Thief: The Dark Project, and System Shock.

“I’m delighted to have Warren stepping up into a director role at OtherSide and helping lead the charge with our innovative approach to gaming,” says Paul. “I can think of no one better suited to take on this creative challenge. Warren has changed the industry before and will do so again.”

“I’ve loved working with students as Director of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy in the University of Texas’ Moody College of Communication,” says Warren. “But when the opportunity to have a bigger role in bringing Underworld Ascendant to life, as well as playing in the System Shock universe once again, helping to bring these games to a 21st century audience, I just couldn’t say no. Working on System Shock was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my career and it’s hard to describe how much I’m looking forward to sharing with players what SHODAN has been up to since the last game was released.”

Efforts on System Shock 3 will accelerate this year under Warren’s direction, while OtherSide continues working on Underworld Ascendant, the successor to the Ultima Underworld series.

Everyone at OtherSide is excited to add Warren to the team and System Shock 3 as the second title in the company’s growing stable of games.



You have no idea how happy I am to see the original team coalescing once again after all these years. I really hope you guys can gather up all of your old memories, creative flare and nostalgia for System shock from way back in the 90s and funnel that into this game.


We live in great times.


Exciting news!


And welcome he is.


takes a knee

i’d turn for you Warren Spector


And a new studio, too: https://www.facebook.com/warren.spector/posts/10208609662021880

Word's out - I'm joining Paul Neurath's Otherside Entertainment to make System Shock 3. I'm going to work part-time on my own until the end of the school year but come June I'll be building a studio in Austin. Start updating those resumes, System Shock fans!



Took the words right out of my mouth. :slight_smile:



Spector said during a conversation at the DICE Summit game event in Las Vegas that he plans to finish up his game design teaching work at the University of Texas at Austin and start a new studio in Austin with OtherSide Entertainment, which is headed by Paul Neurath, the founder of Looking Glass, the now-defunct company that made the original System Shock.

Neurath is doing a “spiritual successor” to the Ultima Underworld dungeon-crawl games, dubbed Underworld Ascendant. That PC game is being made without the Ultima franchise name, which Electronic Arts owns. But the game is a reimagining of the Ultima series in a new fantasy universe. He recruited Spector to come back into gaming by asking him if he would make a new version of System Shock.

Spector was the creator of the very first System Shock, which debuted in 1994. Neurath has been able to secure the rights to System Shock.

Spector also was a key creator of the Deus Ex and the Ultima series. Spector has been advising OtherSide on Underworld Ascendant since its start. Spector is looking for funding for the new studio, which will need to hire a considerable number of people to make System Shock 3 as a PC game. The title could be made for other platforms too.

“Paul was the devil sitting me on my shoulder tempting me to come back and make games,” Spector said.

Spector said that the studio will be a reasonably big effort for an indie game company, with a relatively large budget. But he said it won’t be on the order of $40 million to $50 million, as he has done in past games.

“I’ve been there, done that,” he said.


Some worry that SS3 will fall prey to the pitfalls of AAA production, and frankly I never thought that might be the case until I heard of this new studio. That can’t be cheap. He may promise to not make it quite that big, but it sure sounds like a mid-budget title, complete with all the usual strings one hopes to avoid in an indie game.


Yup. Even though i’m delighted to hear Warren is joining the team, i find it odd that he feels the needs to start his own studio simply over a game, when this was not required at all. The acceleration of SS3’s production also worries me. Westwood did the same thing. A new company with great developers exploded, got too ambitious and split their workforce to work on 2 games at once. Both games were a financial failure and they were forced to shut down.

I think Warren should drop his current plans and simply focus on UA first, even though he must be very excited to work on a new Shock title.


It’s a kickstarter. What did you expect? Bioware.


[SIZE=3]How System Shock Lured Warren Spector Back to Making Games[/SIZE]

[QUOTE]WARREN SPECTOR ALWAYS knew he’d get back to making games. His return was just a little earlier than he had planned.

After the release of Spector’s last game, Disney’s Epic Mickey 2, and the subsequent shuttering of Spector’s Disney-owned studio Junction Point, the designer left games for academia, leading a game development program at the University of Texas.

Two and a half years into a three-year commitment, though, Spector cut class. An old friend had made a job offer Spector couldn’t refuse. “Paul Neurath came along and said, ‘would you like to make a System Shock game?’” Spector says. “And it took me about two seconds to say yes—unfortunately for the university.”

System Shock, of course, was the groundbreaking 1994 first-person game that Spector produced. Blending action and role-playing with an emphasis on letting players solve problems in different, emergent ways, it was a smash hit that inspired later games like Spector’s Deus Ex and theBioShock series. Last year, Neurath’s new studio Otherside Entertainment announced plans to produce System Shock 3, and—as we know now—asked Spector to join him in reviving the series they had originated together decades ago.

“When you wave System Shock—one of the most satisfying game development experiences of my life—and offer the opportunity to introduce it to a 21st-century audience and take advantage of everything that I and we have learned in that time, I could not say no,” Spector says. “I think I disappointed a lot of people at the University of Texas, but I had to do this.”

Neurath and Spector first collaborated on Ultima Underworld, another early first-person RPG that was highly influential on subsequent PC game development. A year ago, Otherside launched a Kickstarter for Underworld Ascendant, a sequel to the 1992 classic in everything but (half a) name.

A Kickstarter for System Shock 3 may be in the offing as well, although Neurath says at this early stage Otherside is only “looking at” the possibility of crowdfunding.

Although System Shock has been dormant for quite a long time, its DNA continued on; Irrational Games had great success years later with BioShock, a spiritual successor to the series (creator Ken Levine actually worked as a designer on System Shock 2).

The success of BioShock, Neurath says, “has been keeping the System Shock name alive, and keeping people interested. When we were making games back then, we never would have conceived that anyone would still be aware of the games today. Games in that era were more like cotton candy; you digest it and move on to the next one. There was no thought that these things would have life beyond a few years.”

“Ken’s done an amazing job with his version,” says Spector, “but I think you’ll see us doing very different things… I think he went in a different direction than [System Shock studio] Looking Glass would have, had that series continued.”

What sort of very different things? “We’re too early in the process. We’re figuring it out on our own,” Neurath says.

Spector, though, has a slightly different take. “I want to talk about it,” he says, “but [Neurath] won’t let me.”

For Spector, heading to Otherside also offers a chance to get back into the good graces of the fans of games like Deus Ex, after a prolonged period of time working with Mickey Mouse.

“I got more and more heartfelt fan mail about Epic Mickeygames than anything I’ve ever worked on, by far,” Spector says. “But core gamers hated me… [they] thought I was a sellout. ‘You made a Mickey Mouse game!’ They never gave the game a chance, to show that it was expressing the exact same things that System Shock and Deus Ex were expressing, the underlying philosophy.”

Spector’s excited, he says, about creating a game that allows players to solve problems in creative ways in the era of Twitch streaming and Let’s Play videos. “Back then, it was hard to communicate that you could play through the games differently,” he says. “Now you can actually have people show off their unique playthroughs.”

As opposed to, I say, a linear first-person shooter experience that plays the same every time.

“If I ever make a game like that,” Spector says, “shoot me.”[/QUOTE]


This team has worked together before and, like an old car collecting dust in a garage for 20 years, all the components (the engine, the transmission, the suspension, the body, the 8-track tape deck) are all dusty, creaking and complaining, but with a bit of care, maintenance and time, they can be restored and when you finally fire that big block up you will realize that every piece was made to work in harmony with the other and that no other machine with swapped or updated parts could give you that same feeling you knew and loved as a driver.

The message to take home is that, we know these guys have what it takes to make the system shock we’ve dreamed of all these years. We know the game is there under the stone. They just have to sweep away the unnecessary pieces :wink:

To the developers. We’re trusting you so you have to know yourselves too. You knew what worked and what didn’t. Whatever you do with your studio or your team or your timeline or your budget, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Do what you know works and everything will fall into place. Lessons learned guys… lessons learned.


Kudos to RocketMan - I think you’ve got it right…

While (belatedly) watching Mahk & co.'s 2014 SS1 playthrough vids on YT, there was a story about Warren which really stuck out - namely that Origin were on the verge of pulling the plug on SS1 after they received the first tech demo, which had quite a few of the hooks that would make the game special already under the hood, but it didn’t look very appealing visually (Origin’s usual process involved building and refining the intro and early levels of the game to near-release quality before moving on to the rest, whereas Shock’s process was more ‘from the ground up’ tech-wise). According to the guys, it was Warren who went above and beyond in terms of going to bat for the team and the game, and he eventually persuaded Origin to keep the project going.

I’d wager a fair amount that when Warren talks about a new OtherSide studio based in Austin, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he means a large new operation under one roof - it’s pretty clear that while Shock 3 is in a pre-embryonic stage at best, at least some of the current folk in Boston intend to be involved too - after all, telecommuting has evolved considerably since the days of either original Shock game!

This development is new, but he’s already stated outright in the article Infinitron posted that he isn’t doing this for the result to be “a linear first-person shooter experience that plays the same every time”, and let’s face it - his name on the project brings a degree of clout that should give even the most hard-nosed of backers confidence that the guy knows what he’s doing.

Speaking for myself, this news has altered my thought process viz. a possible Shock 3 from “Dang, it’d be really cool if it happened” to “Holy $&%*, this might actually be happening!”… :wink:


I had hoped, given what was said about SS3 so far, that Warren would be joining to work primarily on Underworld, and then SS3 after. It seems that the priority was on the existing the, and a possible Kickstarter for SS3 would be much later, once UA nears completion. Most of the sources seem to only note that he will be working on SS3, and only mention UA due to his work on UW in the past. Will Warren be working on UA?


Even UA has separate backing from elsewhere. Shock has more name recognition to draw in such, and that new studio suggests deals are being made capitalizing on that. Unless you think OS are begging for more stretch goal money while they have enough lying around for that.

I also gotta imagine due to the expectations following that name recognition, and having to compare to the gorgeous SS1 remake, 3 will be a bigger and more expensive game than UA. All which indicates the Kickstarter -which they don’t even seem sure about according to those statements- is only an afterthought.

The more money comes from traditional funding, the bigger the risk of OS having to make compromises of the kind a publisher would demand, or otherwise fall short of the indie ideal. Seems like a valid concern.


What if Night Dive are the ones who are backing the game (it’s not unreasonable to think so as they still own the rights to the game)? The guy (or maybe guys, there may be more than one now) appears to have tons of money and seems to be willing to take risks. I’m sure that [otherside] will be given full reins of the project regardless.


If Night Dive were to funnel all the profit they’ve been making off of SS1 and SS2 since they acquired and started re-selling them, into SS3 development, it would represent a means to an end for me and I would discard all the hostility I’ve harbored towards them thus far. It wouldn’t erase history or anything but I could let it go if they redeemed themselves in this way.