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Deus Ex Scriptwriter Sheldon Pacotti

"Sheldon Pacotti was the scriptwriter for the Warren Spector masterpeice, Deus Ex."

Sheldon Pacotti was the scriptwriter for the Warren Spector masterpeice, Deus Ex.

Speedy 3D: For those of us who may not know, what exactly was your job while working on Deus Ex?

SP: Mostly, I wrote dialogue and implemented game logic. Al Yarusso built a great conversation system with an editor that let me set and check flags, set goals, define camera angles, add notes, transfer inventory items, and script other events. I spent about eight months building out all of the details of the conversations in the game -- and then debugging the whole tangled mess.

Speedy 3D: Did you enjoy working on Deus Ex's script and character dialogue? How is it different from writing a book, or magazine article?

SP: Well, the most striking difference about writing for a game is that you're very much a part of a team, and the work you're doing has to mesh with everything else going on. You have to be ready to revise and delete dialogue when the mission-flow changes, or the game engine, or the art. At one point, the decision was made to add subtle blue markings to the models of nano-augmented agents, to reinforce certain plot connections, so I had to revise parts of the script that treated nano-augmented agents as indistinguishable from normal people. That sort of thing comes up every day. Everybody, not just the writer, is going through drafts of the final product and making changes, so there's constant negotiation and compromising. You never wholly own your work like you do with a book or article.

I definitely had fun. The hectic pace made me push myself as a writer. I used to think that I could only be creative about three hours a day. Now I know that the limit is more like 20 hours. I can't wait to dig into one of my own fiction projects again! No more excuses...

Speedy 3D: Exactly how many lines of dialogue did you write?

SP: The game contains just over 10,000 lines of dialogue. Of that, I wrote maybe 8,500. Austin Grossman, who worked on the original System Shock, wrote almost all of the AI barks (over 1,000 lines) and then spent a month revising and embellishing a few of the missions. It was definitely a big chunk of writing. The printout is over a foot tall. We had to bring in a third writer, Chris Todd (www.7crows.com), to do most of the in-game text.

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