Deus Ex Was Originally “Majestic Revelations,” An RPG Adventure
Ever heard of a game called Majestic Revelations? No? You’d know it better as Deus Ex.
Eurogamer published an article detailing a version of Deus Ex that never saw the light of day, an iteration that was a stepping stone to the classic we fondly remember. Its working title: Majestic Revelations.
Summary text on Warren Spector’s personally annotated copy of the first Deus Ex design document describes Revelations as a “near future science fiction with elements of conspiracy theory and X-Files weirdness,” listing it as an RPG Adventure with a Christmas 1998 release date — Deus Ex didn’t end up releasing until mid-2000. Lead writer Sheldon Pacotti said, “Warren once commented that in the beginning he envisioned the game as X-Files but he somehow ended up with James Bond.”
Apart from differences in characters and story, fiscal and technological realities played a big part in the transformation of Majestic Revelations to Deus Ex. For instance, a mid-game level in the White House was a particularly complex task for the level designers to realize back in the day, and the decision was made to focus efforts elsewhere. Designer Harvey Smith explained:
“On a daily basis I was building the rooms. So, I knew how big a room could be before the renderer would choke and how many guys we could have on screen. I had an intimacy with the tools.”
Based on his understanding of the technology, Smith argued for what he considers the two most critical changes to the original direction of Revelations: a new skill system with fewer abilities but more demonstrable effects, and the abandonment of a space station Mexican invasion plot line. Smith said:
“If you think of a game from outside you very often add way too much to it and way too many characters. That’s fine if you’re making a sim game, but very often a story is about just a handful of characters. And I think that was part of the problem; I had this sense that [Majestic Revelations' plot] was too crazy, too much.”
The majority of Majestic Revelations would have been set in war-torn Texas or around Denver airport, but these ideas were never even prototyped. However, the White House and the President’s nuclear bunker levels were made to some playable state, but were ultimately cut — the true “deleted scenes” of Deus Ex.