Q&A with Vigil Games on Darksiders Only weeks away from the highly anticipated launch, Darksiders is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure that puts you in the shoes of one of the famed Four Horsemen.  Light and fluffy, I know, but after a couple years since its announcement, Vigil Games has positioned themselves and the game in a very advantageous position in the dawn of the upcoming year.  Also not hurting is the fact that the game looks to be shaping up like it's going to blow your mind.

Haydn Dalton, lead designer of the game at Vigil, took a few moments to answer some of the burning questions surrounding the game.  Then, he answered my questions, too.


Aggrogamer: Darksiders is receiving a lot of comparisons to God of War and Legend of Zelda; do you look at these as compliments or insults to what you are trying to accomplish?

Haydn Dalton:  They’re two great titles, so for people to see us in the same light as they're seen is obviously a very high compliment indeed, especially with our being a new studio. We do need to point out, though, that even though people may see God of War or even Devil May Cry, the game plays very differently, and we can’t stress this enough.  The exploration and role-playing elements in Darksiders give a greater feeling of variety than a pure combat-driven game.


Aggrogamer: What technical achievements are you most proud of in developing Darksiders?

Haydn Dalton:  There are a few technical achievements we’re quite proud of. One is that we seamlessly load the entire world, so the only load screen you’ll see is when you load up your game file. We wanted to make sure that the player experience wasn’t ever broken while moving through the open environments. The second achievement would be Ruin [War's horse -- ed.]:  the fact that you can summon/banish it at will and switching easily between on-foot and riding.  We think players will love this feeling of empowerment and flexibility. The Gear Items, I don’t want to go through all of them, but they all had lots of technical hurdles and gameplay problems we had to solve, and one of the biggest challenges technically, was the VOIDWALKER (portal device)…you’re going to love it.

 

Aggrogamer: Did you find the 360 or the PS3 more difficult to develop for?

Haydn Dalton:  The PS3 was harder to develop for, mainly because we started the development of Darksiders on the PC as that is what our initial tools were developed for, which just inherently shifts over better to the X360, rather than the PS3.

 

Aggrogamer: You’ve recently released the achievement/trophy list.  Was this something you looked forward to putting into the game or was it just an expected requirement?

Haydn Dalton:  They’re expected requirements in games now, and even if they weren’t, we would’ve still wanted to add them anyway. I think the introduction of Achievements & Trophies has been the next-gen step of the old faithful HIGH-SCORE tables, but now it’s a global element instead.

 

Aggrogamer: Your release in January is console-only.  Is a PC-version in the works at all?

Haydn Dalton:  We’ve flip-flopped on the PC version several times, first we were, then we weren’t…currently, there are no plans for a PC version at launch, but who knows after Darksiders‘ release, we may look at producing a PC version if it’s well received.

 

Aggrogamer: Even considering Darksiders hasn’t been released yet, I’m sure you’ve received a lot of questions about sequels.  How does dealing with the consumers’ extremely high expectations affect your work?

Haydn Dalton:  Yes, we have had plenty of questions and ideas about what could happen in a sequel, and more than anything, it just excites us that people are already talking about one. After completing Darksiders, we know where we can excel and where we want to expand the game, plus we have tons of content we had outlined (and functional) for Darksiders 1 that could also bleed into another one.

 

Aggrogamer: How accessible is the combat system to a total n00b?  Could anyone be able to pick this up and play (assuming the person knows how to operate a controller to play the game)?

Haydn Dalton:  The combat is very accessible to players of any level. Our goal in combat was to make it so new players looked cool with very minimal effort, but also create the depth for experienced players to go absolutely crazy at a whole new level with how they could combo attacks and gear items together. Our combat designer pulls off some intensely insane moves that really showcases how deep players can get with it.

 

Aggrogamer: On the flip side, how customized and complex could a master make his/her experience?

Haydn Dalton:  Once a player gathers some of the major gear items, unlocks some new moves and boosts up their wrath powers, they become an unstoppable force and it's awesome to watch. By blending these things together, they can evade, aggressively attack and clear out enemies in a ballet of destruction.  The Tremor Gauntlet, for instance, has a “sweet spot” that, if timed correctly, releases a more powerful and devastating blow, rewarding the more skilled gamer. The Abyssal Chain allows War to drag small enemies to him, or latch onto larger ones to chase them down from the air. There are so many options available to those who wish to master what we’re giving them in Darksiders.

 

Aggrogamer: Approximately how many weapons are at War’s disposal and what kind of variety does he have?  What is your favorite weapon to use?

Haydn Dalton:  War has his Chaoseater Sword, a gauntlet and a scythe as main melee weapons, but he can also wield a pistol and two types of dual-handed cannons. The Crossblade gear item can be used as a weapon, as can objects from the environment, like cars, lampposts, dumpsters and whatever else can move in the scene. War can also use supernatural Wrath attacks to quickly clear enemies around him, like Blade Geyser or take them out at distance with Affliction (demon spirits that track enemies) and he gains the ability to use his Chaos Form, turning War into a huge, fiery demon, in which he can inflict huge amounts of damage and repel most damage from attacks. So he has a few options there.

 

Aggrogamer: What has been your single greatest inspiration in creating Darksiders?

Haydn Dalton:  Probably Zelda, with a little bit of Castlevania and Metroid mixed in for good measure. They’re just great games that excel in level design, item/ability use and character progression. We felt that the action adventure genre of today could benefit greatly from taking a few cues from these great titles.

 

Aggrogamer: What made you want to work in the video games industry?  How did you get to where you are today and what was your “big break?”

Haydn Dalton:  I originally started out in the C64 demo scene back in the early-mid 80’s. After creating graphics on several demos I decided to send some samples to Ocean Software Ltd, and they offered me a job there. It was one of the greatest moments of my life back then. Working in games had always felt like something “other” people worked on, anyone but me.

 

Aggrogamer: If Darksiders were optioned for a movie, whom would you want playing the lead character, War?

Haydn Dalton:  Mmmm, that’s an interesting one. I don’t think his voice fits, but the ROCK in the Rundown was pretty good, he has the right physique and presence…with the voice of a younger Clint Eastwood. I’m sure others on the team may think differently though.

 

Lastly, 3 quick decisions, go:

  • Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man?

Pac-Man

  • Mario or Luigi?

Mario

  • Ginger or Mary Ann?

Mary Ann


Aggrogamer would like to thank Haydn for taking a moment to speak with us.  Look for Darksiders to be released on January 5, 2010, on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.