What You Didn't Know About Shadow Complex

by Andrew Reiner on Jan 05, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Game development often lasts for years. In that stretch of time, studios have their fair share of ups and downs. From humorous game bugs to stress-relieving antics, Game Informer peers behind the curtain of game development. In this entry of Tidbits, developer Chair Entertainment shares secrets behind the development of Shadow Complex.

  • At 835mb, Shadow Complex is one of the largest XBLA games to date. The game was fully localized in 9 languages, accounting for 32% of the total download size.
  • Shadow Complex contained 19,485 art assets and 21,284 source code files.
  • There were 22,639 code and art change submissions for the project.
  • The world of Shadow Complex is 70,402 units wide and 25,217 units tall. However, its average depth is only 3,500 units, making it perhaps the thinnest game ever made with Unreal Engine 3!
  • Selling more than 200,000 units in its first week of release, Shadow Complex exceeded sales expectations and set a new record as the fastest-selling, single-player game on XBLA.
  • There used to be an achievement for killing 10,000 enemies and it was suggested by someone at Epic it should be named "Kill Town - Population: You."
  • Each foam glob fired from the Foam Gun is randomly created with 7-10 separate animating and growing meshes.
  • 51 different death animations are used for human enemies (which are also blended with ragdoll).
  • The deer head in the lake house was going to be tied to a secret deer enemy you could shoot in the forest that was never put in the game.
  • The player's Unreal Engine animation tree contains 390 nodes that control hundreds of animations.
  • There used to be a bug where if you were hyperspeed running outside you could jump up forever until you were outside the world.
  • One of the last bugs found and fixed would cause the player's game time to be set to his proving ground level time if he died a certain way. This bug was found when an “external tester” posted an impossible finish time of 4 minutes.
  • The small robot in the game was originally named “O-Bomb-A,” but due to its resemblance to a certain political figure’s name, the name was changed to “Bomba.”
  • Jason's street clothes went through a few iterations before finding the tricky right balance between "interesting in gameplay" and "average guy.”
  • Number of "rooms" in the Shadow Complex base (not including the entire surface!) – 780
  • To gain a full understanding of the genre, members of the team were assigned to play through Super Metroid, Castlevania: SOTN, Metroid Fusion, and Out of this World, before work began on Shadow Complex .
  • The entire game was designed on paper and then created in Adobe Illustrator prior to any levels being created in the Unreal Engine. It even had little stick figures and measurements of jump heights and run distances so team members could play through the game.
  • Prior to recording the actual voiceover, we “roughed-in” the cutscenes and Shadow Complex director Donald Mustard recorded his own voice for each character. His falsetto rendition of Claire always got a good laugh during early demonstrations.
  • The fastest tester speed-run was 19:55. 
  • Utah is known for some of the best skiing in the world and accumulated more than 550 inches of snow during the development of Shadow Complex. After a bad snow storm we’d lose people due to poor road conditions but after a good snow storm we’d lose people due to the ski slopes.
  • During the course of development, several Epic employees visited Chair’s Utah studio to help work on the game…and to ski. 
  • Chair currently has 10 employees - 6 Artists, 3 Programmers, and 1 studio director. They are ramping up and expect the team size will double within the next year.
  • Number of employees at Chair: 10. Number of chairs at Chair: 39. Chairs per person: 3.9
  • Among the 10 Chair employees, they have a total of 25 children – 4 of which were born during the development of Shadow Complex and there will be 1 more by the time this story appears!
  • The event hall located below Chair's studio has salsa dancing on Thursday and Saturday nights. The deafening noise is helped by headphones, but the floor still shakes.
  • The final song in Shadow Complex, “Light of the Day/Dark of the Night” was performed by former American Idol contestant, Shaun Barrowes, who is the brother of Chair team member, Orlando.
  • The entire Epic test team used to sing the ending song (Light of the Day/Dark of the Night) every time someone in the room beat the game. They sang this song 8-10 times a day on average for 2 months. 
  • A total of 4 Mustards contributed to the making of Shadow Complex – Donald (creative director) Geremy (technical director), Laura (publicist), and Chad (his band, Never Stop Failing, provided the song “11 Months” which is featured in the game.)
  • The average time a focus tester took to finish the game on the first time through: 10-12 hours. This was before adding in the blue objective line, which was originally added to help focus testers who were lost.
  • Chair has its own in-house motion capture studio. Shadow Complex mo-cap was performed by members of the development team, including the creative director, texture mapper, and publicist.
  • Number of mo-cap suits used during development of Shadow Complex: 4 and Reflective markers per mo-cap suit: 25
  • Number of times Donald was “accidentally” punched or kicked in the face while motion capturing hand to hand combat with Jared - 5
  • Crunch time meal favorites included: Red Robin, Mountain Dew, Chewy Sweet Tarts and ice cream.
  • Acclaimed voice actor Nolan North provided the voice for Shadow Complex hero Jason Fleming. North can also be heard in more than 60 video games, including Uncharted 2, Prince of Persia, Halo Wars, and Assassin’s Creed.
  • Shadow Complex’s secret ending originated as an off-the-cuff outtake from voice actor Nolan North while recording the dialog for Jason. We laughed so hard that we decided to create an “alternate ending” to support it!
  • To create Shadow Complex’s original story, Chair approached a long-time favorite and renowned comic book writer, Peter David, best-known for his work on such classics as, The Incredible Hulk, Supergirl, Aquaman, Spider-Man, Star Trek, and Wolverine. Peter is currently working on the hit comic series X-Factor and Halo: Helljumper.
  • The first game Chair developed as a studio was the XBLA hit, Undertow, which was made by 7 artists and 1 programmer. The game featured online multiplayer for 16 players, co-op, and cutscenes – all in just 49mb.
  • Chair was founded in 2005 by the core team behind Advent Rising. The studio was acquired by Epic Games in 2008.

For other Tidbits entries, click the desired game name: Borderlands, DJ Hero, Scribblenauts, LEGO Indiana Jones 2, Prototype, Fallout 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Ghostbusters, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes, Overlord II, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Red Faction: Guerrilla