Warren Spector

Warren Evan Spector (born October 2, 1955[1]) is an American role-playing and video game designer, director, writer, producer and production designer. He is known for creating immersive sim games, which give players a wide variety of choices in how to progress.[2] Consequences of those choices are then shown in the simulated game world in subsequent levels or missions. He is best known for the critically acclaimed video game Deus Ex that embodies the choice and consequence philosophy while combining elements of the first-person shooter, role-playing, and adventure game genres.[3] In addition to Deus Ex, Spector is known for his work while employed by Looking Glass Studios, where he was involved in the creation of several acclaimed titles including Ultima Underworld, Ultima Underworld II, System Shock, and Thief: The Dark Project. He is employed by OtherSide Entertainment, where he is part of the development team for the upcoming game System Shock 3.[4]

Warren Spector
Spector in 2010
Warren Evan Spector

(1955-10-02) October 2, 1955
ResidenceAustin, Texas
Alma materNorthwestern University (B.S.)
University of Texas at Austin (M.A.)
OccupationRole-playing and video game designer, director, writer, producer, production designer

Early life

Spector grew up in Manhattan, which he described as a sometimes hostile environment where "short, pudgy, Jewish kids didn't fare well".[1] He showed an intense devotion to whatever topic became his focus at any given time, from dinosaurs and airplanes as a small boy, to an interest in law by the sixth grade.[1] At age 13, Spector had decided he wanted to be a film critic, and by high school, his interests expanded to include cars and basketball.[1]

Spector and game designer Greg Costikyan were friends since high school.

Spector attended Northwestern University in Illinois, still intending to become a film critic, stating that he "knew more about movies than a lot of my teachers".[1] Spector earned his BS in Communications at Northwestern, and went on to earn his MA in Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin in 1980.[1] His thesis was a critical history of Warner Bros. cartoons.[5]

All through college, Spector enjoyed gaming, and recalls that he "played Avalon Hill games mainly, and a lot of OGRE and G.E.V. games, and Rivets from Metagaming. It was all boardgames until I became friends with science-fiction writers who were into D&D games, so I gave the game a try. I was hooked."[1] Spector taught several undergraduate classes at the University of Texas at Austin, on the history, theory, and criticism of film.[1]


Tabletop role-playing games

In 1983, after a job at the Harry Ransom Center as an archivist in charge of the David O. Selznick collection ended after a few months, Spector recalls that he "was sitting around, wondering how I was going to pay the next month's rent, when I got a call from Chris Frink. He was a writer for a weekly entertainment magazine I used to edit in college. Anyway, he said that he was now editor of Space Gamer magazine and asked if I wanted a job. So, in the fall of 1983, I started as an editor."[1] Within a short time, Spector became the editor-in-chief for all Steve Jackson Games products, the company that owned and published Space Gamer magazine. Spector began producing role-playing games for the company, stating, "I supervised game development, typesetting, and the art and graphic departments."[1] Greg Costikyan developed Steve Jackson Games' first complete role-playing system, Toon (1984), based on an idea by Jeff Dee; Costikyan intended the game to be an article in Fantasy Gamer magazine, but Spector liked it enough that he expanded it into a full game.[6]:104 Spector wrote the Paranoia game supplement Send in the Clones (1985) with Allen Varney.[6]:189 Spector also worked on the GURPS role-playing game.[7] In March 1987 he was hired by TSR, initially working on games such as Top Secret/S.I. and the Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game.[1] He also worked on The Bullwinkle and Rocky Party Roleplaying Game, and the second edition AD&D rules set, as well as board games, choose-your-own-adventure books, and novels.[7] Spector spent some time in TSR's R&D department, helping launch, among other things, Spelljammer.

Origin and Looking Glass

In 1989, Spector entered the video game industry and joined Origin, where he co-produced Ultima VI and Wing Commander and produced Ultima Underworld and Ultima Underworld II, Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle, System Shock, Wings of Glory, Bad Blood, Martian Dreams, and others.[7][8] He later became general manager of Looking Glass Austin.[7] He worked briefly on Dark Camelot, which later became Thief: The Dark Project. However, Spector left Looking Glass soon afterward, just before Thief shipped, to pursue other interests.[9]

Ion Storm

In 1996, Spector was about to sign a contract with EA to do an unannounced project (which was revealed to be a "Command & Conquer Role-Playing Game") when he got a call from John Romero to join him at Ion Storm; Romero persuaded Spector by offering him the chance to make the game of his dreams with no creative interference and a big marketing budget. Spector later agreed.[10] In 1997 he founded Ion Storm's Austin development studio, and his "dream project" later became the award-winning action/RPG called Deus Ex.[7][8] As Ion Storm studio director, he oversaw development of Deus Ex: Invisible War (2003) and Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004).[7] In 2004, Spector left Ion Storm to "pursue personal interests outside the company".[11] Ion Storm was closed by owners Eidos Interactive in February 2005.[12]


In 2005, it was announced that he had established a new studio Junction Point Studios.[13] Somewhere between the end of 2005 and mid-2007, Junction Point Studios and Warren worked on an additional Episode for Half-Life 2 that was ultimately cancelled by Valve.[14] A job advertisement for the studio called for artists for a game that has "classic Hollywood cartoons" featuring "cartoon mice, cats and wabbits". On July 13, 2007, it was announced that Disney Interactive had acquired Junction Point Studios.[15] His first project with Disney Interactive was a project involving Disney characters, titled Epic Mickey. The game is a steampunk-themed and designed exclusively for the Wii;[16] the game was released in 2010.[17]

In January 2013, it was announced that Warren Spector had left Disney Interactive following the closure of Junction Point Studios.[18]

University of Texas

After leaving Disney Interactive, Spector worked with the University of Texas at Austin to build a new post-baccalaureate game development program – the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. He worked with UT staff to create a curriculum and plan out courses and labs.[19]

OtherSide Entertainment

In February 2016, Spector announced he had joined OtherSide Entertainment, a studio formed by Paul Neurath in 2014 and includes several previous Looking Glass developers, as their Studio Director, after having been in an advisory role from its inception. He will be helping the studio with their current development of System Shock 3 and Underworld Ascendant, the spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld which both Spector and Neurath worked on in the early 1990s.[4] Though Spector had completed two-and-a-half years of a three-year tenure at the University of Texas, he jumped at the chance to work on a System Shock when Neurath approached him with the offer. He also believed the opportunity would help garner good favor from players that had been disappointed by his choice to work on Epic Mickey, even though he states that game had still been based on his past design philosophy used in the development of System Shock and Deus Ex.[20]

Personal life

Warren met Caroline Chase in 1984 at a comic book store in Austin, Texas, where she was employed. After Chase got a job at Steve Jackson Games, the two began a relationship. They were married on April 11, 1987. The couple sometimes worked together, such as on game supplements for the Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game.[1] The two reside in Austin, Texas. Caroline is a fantasy writer.


Video games

Spector is usually credited as a producer, except for Deus Ex on which he is also credited as project director.

Role-playing games


  • Double Agent: Royal Pain/The Hollow Earth Affair by Richard Merwin/Warren Spector ISBN 0-88038-551-0




On 2016, Spector won the Honorific Award at the Fun & Serious Game Festival.[24]


  1. "TSR Profiles". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR, Inc. (#123): 88. July 1987.
  2. Specrot, Warren. "Choice and consequence talk". gamasutra.com.
  3. Spector, Warren. "Deus Ex postmortem". gamasutra.com.
  4. Smith, Adam (February 17, 2016). "Warren Spector Working On System Shock 3". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  5. "AGDC: The Warren Spector Interview". September 6, 2007. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  7. Spector, Warren (2007). "Tikal". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 322–326. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.
  8. Spector 2000, p. 50.
  9. G4Icons. "G4 Icons Episode #30: Warren Spector". YouTube. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  10. Game Informer. "Replay - Deus Ex". YouTube. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  11. Tor Thorsen. "Warren Spector exits Eidos". GameSpot. GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-05-04.
  12. Tor Thorsen. "Ion Storm closes its doors". GameSpot. GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  13. Curt Feldman & Tor Thorsen. "Warren Spector resurfaces at Junction Point". GameSpot. GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  14. Rick Lane. "Warren Spector discusses his cancelled Half-Life 2 Ravenholm Episode". PC Gamer. PC Gamer. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  15. Martin, Matt (2007-07-13). "Disney swoops for Spector's Junction Point Studios". GamesIndustry.biz. GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  16. Thomas M. "'Epic Mickey' Spector's first Disney effort?". GameSpot. GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  17. "Nintendo - Disney Epic Mickey". Nintendo. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  18. Michael McWhertor. "Warren Spector no longer with Disney after Junction Point closure". Polygon. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  19. Spector, Warren. "About 2". Gaming The System. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  20. Kohler, Chris (February 18, 2016). "How System Shock Lured Warren Spector Back To Making Games". Wired. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  21. Warren Spector's Master Class Interview No. 8 with Tim Willits (University of Texas, October 29, 2007)
  22. Jose Zagal [@JoseZagal] (22 December 2015). "Time to get back to the classics... :-) Thanks @Warren_Spector !" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  23. Warren Spector [@Warren_Spector] (23 December 2015). "@JoseZagal Here's a picture of Stan Lee autographing a copy of One Thing After Another. A big, big moment for me!" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  24. "Fun&Serious: las múltiples caras del videojuego". Retrieved 8 July 2019.
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