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Troubleshooter was a game concept by Warren Spector. It is considered to be the earliest conceptual predecessor to Deus Ex. The original Troubleshooter proposal, dated 1994, was first released in 2000 as part of Spector's postmortem article on Deus Ex published by Gamasutra.[1]

Development history[]

Warren Spector started developing early concepts for the game that would become Deus Ex at around the time that Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds shipped in 1993. Spector submitted the original "Troubleshooter Proposal" to Origin Systems. The project did not reach production, and Spector later left Origin to work for Looking Glass. However, according to Spector, the proposal remained in his mind.[2] After the Troubleshooter proposal, Warren later developed the designs for Shooter and Shooter: Majestic Revelations in 1997.

In regards to how Troubleshooter influenced Deus Ex, Spector wrote: "The details of Deus Ex—plot, character lists, game system designs and so on—changed radically in the years following the original Troubleshooter proposal... Conceptually, however, the game still plays much the way I hoped Troubleshooter would play."[2] Spector has also revealed that the protagonist would have been named "Jake Shooter."[3][4]

Troubleshooter Proposal[]


1.0 High Concept:

It's Underworld-style, first-person action. But this is no fantasy. It's today. The real world.

No monsters. No magic. All action.

Everyone knows the movies: Die Hard, Passenger 57, The Last Action Hero, Under Siege, Dirty Harry...

Everyone knows the stars: Arnold Schwarzenneger, Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, Clint Eastwood...

Everyone knows the weapons: .44 Magnum, Ingram Mac-10, Atchisson assault shotgun, Browning High-Power, mini-Uzi...

Everyone knows the situations: It's you against the world, you against terrorists, psychos, the dregs of society. They're armed with high tech weapons and they've taken hostages.

You know what to do....

The question is, are you good enough?

2.0 Why this is an ORIGIN product:

It's Hollywood-inspired, big-budget, non-stop action. It's significant new technology. It's a logical extension of our existing first-person line -- we have fantasy covered with Underworld, we WILL have science fiction covered with Bounty Hunter, we have the real world covered with... well, we don't. Troubleshooter is bigger than life, but it's clearly rooted in the real world. I can't believe no one's done this before -- we have to jump on it before someone else does!

3.0 Product Overview:

You're an ex-cop turned "security specialist." That just means you get all the dirty jobs no one else has the guts to do. When the government or the police or business can't handle a problem, they call on you. Bomb threats? You get to check 'em out. Hijackers threaten to take over a plane? You end up on board. Some radical group takes a millionaire's daughter hostage? You get the call to go in and get her out.

You scope out the situation, checking maps and photos, walking around the site, probing for the best way in, the way that will put the fewest innocent people at risk. You try to talk a madman into surrendering before he blows himself and his hostages to kingdom come. You crawl through air ducts and sewers hoping you don't attract the attention of the bad guys with all the guns. You shoot it out with terrorists wielding enough firepower to take on a third world army.

Troubleshooter is a mission-oriented action simulation with no huge plot -- just get in and get out of each mission. Maybe 10-30 minutes of action per scenario. None of this 100 hours to finish the game and get your reward stuff. Like a flight sim, but it's just you, on the ground, with a gun.

I originally envisioned this as all new technology, but I could probably leach off of Bounty Hunter, once that project gets going. In game play, I see it being like Underworld in the richness of its world simulation, but like Wolfenstein in its emphasis on action over roleplaying and inventory manipulation. Ideally, I'd like to incorporate a head-to-head modem/network option, allowing one player to be the bad guy and the other to be the troubleshooter.

4.0 Technical Overview:

IBM PC 486, 4 Megs RAM, 320 x 200 VGA, full sound board support. Mouse, joystick and keyboard supported.

5.0 Audience:

Traditional ORIGIN buyers. I also hope the basis in reality and the short duration mission structure make Troubleshooter appeal to overworked older folks (the ones who have the money to buy machines capable of playing our games...) who just want to work off some frustration and then get back to their real lives.

6.0 Deal:

$500,000 Budget.

Planned ship in Q4 (March '95).

7.0 Risks:

High. There are all sorts of technological unknowns, things I want to do that haven't been done before. All in all, this is probably the toughest project on my wish list, but it might be the most satisfying... We might be able to minimize the risk by leaching off of Bounty Hunter.

8.0 Status:

Looking for concept approval so we can Go For Script.



  1. Warren Spector, "Postmortem: Ion Storm's Deus Ex". Gamastura. December 6, 2000.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Austin Grossman, Postmortems From Game Developers, p. 196 (2003).
  3. W. Spector (Feb-Mar 2017), "Classic Game Postmortem: 'Deus Ex'". GDCVault (video recording). 2017 Game Developers Conference, Feb 27, 2017 – Mar 3, 2017.
  4. W. Spector (Sep 26, 2023). "40 years and I'm still here." Game Developer;