The lights are on
David Adams, general manager at Vigil Games, and creative director Joe Madureira took the stage at DICE and talked about developing Darksiders, taking it from concept to retail release.Starting out, they had little in the way of concrete ideas, aside from a vague concept of wanting to make an action adventure game in the spirit of a Ratchet & Clank. Original character art showed off a lighthearted young elf, a character who could channel energy and tame beasts. The next revision, tentatively named “robot arm kid,” had a bulkier character with a mechanical arm that could be deployed similarly to the one in the Bionic Commando games. At that point, the team realized that they were skewing their designs too young.Stepping back from the kid-friendly space, the next character sketches took on a more mature appearance. One version had a huge sickle, another wielded a tribladed weapon and yet another character had four arms—two held firearms and another carried a skull-emblazoned sword.
Internal discussions led to the concept of incorporating the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse into the fledgling project, which made it easier to discuss with people unfamiliar with the project. Pitching the idea to various people made Adams and Madureira realize that they might be onto something. Originally, the game was going to be focused on Death, but War won out. Early versions included miniguns and a variety of equally huge swords.Even though the game had taken a mature turn, Vigil didn’t abandon some of the original ideas. While the team of four tweaked gameplay, they turned to Ratchet & Clank as an inspiration for effective controls. A special focus was placed on playability from an early stage, so potential publishers would be able to get a sense for how the game felt and played. As Adams said, art could be added later, but if the game wasn’t fun to play no amount of graphical polish would make it better.Publishers looked at the small team and dismissed the possibility that Vigil would be able to deliver a console game. Madureira says they were told several times to think about cell phone games. They were skeptical when they approached THQ, because they only thought of the publisher as a company that worked on wrestling games. Fortunately, they were wrong.After getting a deal with THQ, they doubled their staff to eight. Adams joked that everything they did seemed to make their lives harder, from developing their own tech to staying so small. By the third year of development, Madureira says the team was finally expanded to a point to where they were able to actually work full steam ahead. THQ’s support was instrumental in those early days, he added.
If you'd like to see more on the history and development of Darksiders, check out our Afterwords and Creating Darksiders' Protagonist features.
Interesting to see how a project morphs and changes over the course of development. I've seen the same thing happen with songs. I'll write lyrics, have a tune in mind, figure out the tune on keyboard, and then when I start playing chords on the mandolin, it'll change entirely.
Definitely going to have to check out that 90 minute demo.
I. Loved. Darksiders. It blew me away. I was not expecting it to be so amazingly awesome. I was expecting some God of War knockoff, and what I got was so much more. It had everything a gamer could possibly want in a game, and it never got repetitive. That is what I loved most about it. It was always introducing you to a new toy or a new gameplay mechanic to play with.
Truly one of the best Action/Adventure games I have played in a long, long time and I am pooping my pants this very moment thinking about the sequel.
Haven't played Darksiders yet, but I was a huge Joe Mad! fan back in the 90s.
What a fascinating look behind the scenes on all counts.
The first incarnation sounds like Link.
That's kinda funny how the game turned out nothing like the original concept. a Ratchet and Clank type of adventure game became Darksiders. I wonder what other games started out completely different? My Little Pony Adventures became Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?
Darksiders is going to be one of the best sleepers of 2010. Not that many people thought much about it before it released but solid reviews and decent marketing has pushed it up.
So glad too. It was a pretty fun game. And I'm a huge Joe Mad fan!
glad they used the charcter design they had instaed of the kid stuff
Interesting how a kid game inspired a very popular mature game.
yeah i read they wanted to make him a kiddie style etc..im happy they changed to the more mature, dark and more convoluted religous subject that we can find in the books of enoch, the legends of the jews, apocalypse of adam, john etc...pretty much apocryphal works and books that the church took oout of the original bible...
wow it started out as a four person team. and i'm so glad they scrapped the elf kid for War.
Darksiders is an epic grand masterpiece of art & style. I can't wait for the sequel. That concept with the elven boy does sound really cool. I hope they make that into a game some day.... I had no idea Vigil was such a small team. They have already proven to be masters of their craft. Thank you for making fantasy art games & not just another 'Call of Duty'.....
Wow. Their early ideas were no where near the idea of the Four Horsemen. I guess this is a great example of throwing around ideas.
this still reminds me of the call of duty and halo legion of 5 year olds
Darksiders is by far the best game I've played this year so far. I can't wait for a sequel.
Couldn't agree more with the majority of posts. I loved Darksiders and I hope it keeps getting more and more attention. I'll take a game that was inspired by other games but continues to be fun and original in it's own way over continuous, yearly sequel drivel. Go Vigil and Thank you THQ for the free copy of Red Faction: Guerilla...I'll keep buying your games if you continue to back solid games like Darksiders and give away free stuff. Way better than "exclusive" content for pre-ordering!!!
Never played the game, but it's always interesting to hear about these things. It's like the "Behind the Scenes" feature on a DVD movie, which I always watch.
Huh, you'd never imagine a game like Darksiders spawned from kids stuff. Interesting
people shouldnt hate on darksiders its a great game and the graphics and storyline blow me away i havent beaten it yet but i will soon