Beyond that, on the more specific level, I looked around before the millennium, and people were thinking the millennium was going to be the end of the world. There were so many conspiracy theories coming in at that point. I thought “lets play with that, challenge their beliefs or reinforce them.” I also saw the coming surge of interest in nano-technology.GDC'07: Warren Spector on storytelling
You put that “we know what's right and wrong,” with every conspiracy theory you ever thought of to be true with a backdrop of artificial intelligence and nano-technology, and you have 4 or 5 things that people already care about. I think in every game you need that grounding.
If you think about science fiction like “look at all the aliens you get to kill” or “look at the bizarre world you get to explore.” Who cares about that? Stories have to be about things that people care about. Finding a way to ground your science fiction, your world and your aliens in things people are already interested in is the key.
I really end up in games all the time and I have no idea why. I can't say “no, don't put me in the game” because it's fun and funny, but the weirder thing to me is something I didn't notice until someone pointed this out to me a couple of years ago. They were absolutely right, and now it's a conscious thing to me. There's a basketball court in almost every game I've done. I love basketball, so maybe that's something I've been doing subconsciously.
There's also an altered state of consciousness in every game I've worked. You can eat the mushrooms, go to sleep and dream, go into cyberspace or something. There's an altered state in every game. If you go back and look at the thematic content of the games that I've worked on, they almost all boil down to a dysfunctional family, and that really disturbed me. An academic pointed that out to me and they're kind of right.
So I've started thinking about that now and it's something that I don't fight. Everybody has stories they like to tell and mine revolve around basketball, altered states of consciousness and family conflict. I don't know why it is, but it's kind of cool.
State of Play: Warren Spector Interview
Interview with Warren Spector
Postmortem: Ion Storm's Deus Ex