It's been over 6 years since I've made a peep about Ghost in the Machine. I did a Google search recently and saw that there's a fair amount of interest in wanting to know the story. So I'd like to share with the community that gave us so much some support an insight into how the whole project fell apart.
With over 10 people working on our team it seemed like we were on track of being THE Deus Ex mod to play, but sadly that did not happen. Lofty dreams and bad timing got in the way of something that could have been…something.
Before Deus Ex I had been involved in the Doom 2 molding community, mostly via BBS. Back then there wasn't really much of support and you had to figure out how to make maps and create new sprites on your own. It was hard, but fun. After dabbling with Quake and Half Life I found Deus Ex. Not only was it a game I truly loved, it also had an somewhat active molding community and some die hard fans. I spent a year learning and coming up with ideas and concepts for what was to become Ghost in the Machine.
After making a few weapons, instead of just releasing that as a pack or making a simple deathwatch mode, I decided to make a full on TC and recruit a team to help me build it. Needless to say this was my first mistake. Before I had a design document in place, I already had level designers churning out maps faster than I knew what to do with. The buzz around the mod was pretty big and I was in over my head.
Rushing to keep up with the amount of work coming in, I wrote a design doc and distributed it, kept constant tabs on the team, and things were running smoothly. The problem was, my goal was to make a sort of sci-fi GTA game and was not prepared for the amount of logistics that would be required for that level of scripting. So we had a lot of maps but no way to connect them together.
On the other hand, I was focused on developing all of the new features we promised for the mod. A major problem was the hover cars. They just never worked properly. We couldn't get the physics down and it was essentially fly mode but in a third person view. Another was the real-time shadows we wanted in the game.
Mind you, while all this was happening, we were making some headway. For example, we had some great looking characters ready to go and the Neromancer (one of the main factions/villains) was working perfectly with their powers. In fact, I had set up a test level where I would take on two of them (and die). I was also deep into coding the new skill and augmentation system which was semi done.
When it came down to brass tacks though, a lot of the things I wanted to do weren't even technically possible using the Deus Ex engine. Those limitations forced me to make some hard choices on what to cut and what to keep trying to achieve. In the end neither really happened. Around this time our lead programmer had to go back to school and didn't have time to work on his parts (namely the car). This might not seem like that big of a feature, but it was integral to the gameplay and story.
We were still progressing at this point. The gameplay feature list was in place and we all new what needed to be done. What was left was putting together the story and pulling together what we had. I had written around 25 pages when I got offered a job working for a cruise line. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn't pass up. I figured while I was gone I would still be able to work with the team and keep going but I didn't realize how little time I would have- not to mention my limited internet access. It just wasn't a reality.
So while on the ship, I told Vavrek that it would be easier to make GITM a machine a machina film to at least give something to the community. I already had 25 or so pages that could easily be turned into a script and our Cut Scene creator was all for the idea. That was essentially the last time anyone on the team touched GITM except for me. While I did get through close to 50 pages of a film script, time limitations never allowed me to finish it.
By the time I got back from the ships 2 years later, PDX was dead. The forums were a ghost town and DX2 had already been shipped. People had moved on. I wasn't the same person as when I had left either. Priorities change. GITM was dead.
Luckily, parts of the GITM repository was given to OTP so the project didn't die in vain. You can actually see some of it in TNM (but I'll let you do some sleuthing to find out which parts).
I think that OTP will agree with me that if you're going to do a mod, start small, release often, and build upon your releases. Even with single player you can do this. Just one level at a time, nice and easy. Got a new feature? Throw it in. You're not a big studio and you can't do what they can. Trust me, I learned it the hard way.
While I've lost all of that code, I do have the script kicking around on an old hard drive and I've been thinking of resurrecting it. Who knows. Maybe one day it'll be done and you'll see it on the big screen. I work in advertising now, so anything's possible..
Post here if you would like to the mod brought back