The lights are on
Usually when an upstart development house comes forward with an ambitious new IP it's bad news, but Vigil Game’s Darksiders delivered the thrills of a puzzle filled Zelda-syle quest amidst a post apocalyptic Fallout inspired world. Vigil even managed to throw in a little God of War for good measure. While this turned out to be a good combination, Darksiders didn’t quite live up to the titans it tried to emulate. (Where were all the side quests?) Using reader and staff generated questions we explore the highs and lows of Darksiders with Vigil Games general manager David Adams.
We had a lot of fun with the game, but we noticed that a lot of the gameplay elements seemed inspired by other games. Was there ever a fear that Darksiders wasn’t going to seem original enough?
Honestly, we never really thought it would be a huge issue. We focused our time and effort on making something that was fun to play – and if people enjoyed playing the game, then I think we succeeded. The other important thing to note is that, while we were inspired by many different sources (as all game developers are), I feel like we combined those sources together in a unique package. The experience as a whole is hard to find in another game – the combination of combat, exploration, puzzle solving, third-person shooter sequences, character upgrading, collection, etc – sure those elements are individually available in other games, but I think the synthesis of all of them together is where we were truly innovative. On top of that, we did add a reasonable amount of our own unique ideas.
The game pays obvious homage to titles like Zelda and God of War, but were there any games that might not be so obvious that served as inspiration during Darksider’s development?
The funny thing is, when we first set out to make this game I had personally never played God of War. I’ve played it since (and loved every minute of it), but it wasn’t part of our initial inspiration. Zelda however, I won’t deny – I love Zelda! As for other inspiration, we were generally inspired by all the great action/adventure games we played in our youth, which developed and grew with us into adulthood: Metroid, Castlevania (a huge favorite over here) – honestly I could go on and on. One thing those of us who started this project all share in common is a genuine love of video games.
The game’s story has a lot of interesting elements but at times seemed a little confusing; what were the main sources you drew from while shaping the game’s narrative and how did you go about plotting the overall arc?
We started with a very basic premise – play one of the four horsemen – and everything sort of grew organically from there. We had a very “game-centric” philosophy to the story, meaning we figured out how we wanted the game to play out, what kind of experiences we wanted the player to have, and then crafted a story to fit that. Not sure if that’s the best way to tackle it – I’m not even sure there is a best way to tackle it – but that’s what we did. So, in essence, one of our biggest sources of story inspiration was the game itself, and what we wanted the player to experience playing through. Beyond that, because of Joe’s involvement we wanted the story to have the feel of a cool comic book – larger than life characters, big stakes, etc.
In games like this, side missions are often something that the fan community gets really excited about, but Darksiders doesn’t have much to distract the player from the main quest. Was this a deliberate design choice?
Our original plan had much more side-quest related content. More NPCs, more non-story related quests, etc. We really wanted to build a world filled with people to talk to and things to do, on top of the primary story line. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that had to be cut do to time and resources.
When we first started to hear about the game it seemed like the other three horsemen were going to be a bigger part of the story. What happened? Was anything else trimmed down during development?
When we first conceived of the game, we were completely and utterly insane. Our original incarnation consisted of all four horsemen in full four-player co-op. You can even find concepts of the other horsemen floating around the net which were generated during our initial design phase – when we thought all of them would be in the game. At some point we came back down to reality. We were a new studio, with a really small team (four people – who even attempts a game of this scope starting with four people?), and the scope of the game we wanted to build was too big. Eventually we decided that building the first game around one of the horseman – as a sort of introduction to the franchise – made much more sense.
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