I came onto Darksiders near the second half of development. The title is best described as a cross between Zelda and God of War, with a dash of Devil May Cry thrown in once you unlocked the pistol. My responsibilities were to drive several of the main character’s systems to completion, including his puzzle solving gear, itemization, and abilities.
- Developer: Vigil Games
- Release Date(s): 2010
- Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
While my primary role was on systems, I also helped in supporting the level team by providing feedback to them based on my playthroughs of content. I was given the opportunity by the lead designer to help with two levels that needed additional design and implementation support.
Gryphon Flight Sequence
Much of the layout for this level was established when I was assigned to it. I was responsible for developing a spline based system with one of the programmers, hooking up the behavior of the Gryphon, establishing and hooking up the attacks that would be used, and finally, scripting and spawning the entire sequence and movement path.
The Hollows level was split between myself and one other designer. I helped finish the scripting and cleaned up some of the bugs that were present. I also provided additional design and further developed some of the areas adding in additional cinematics, puzzle mechanics, and integrating itemization that was required in the level.
With the help of the art and tech departments, I led the implementation and design on War’s (main character) puzzle equipment, guns, weapon enhancements and itemization. I also helped provide support for additional areas that needed design including the feel of currency acquirement (souls), physics, and camera/controls for underwater traversal.
War had several abilities that could be fired off. These abilities were able to be powered up to four times, providing more striking visuals, sound effects, and combat effects. Some of the basic ideas were established on abilities when I arrived, however, I altered these to feel more coherent with the combat system and worked to get these completed. I was responsible for art and tech coordination, hooking up assets, iterating on their feel, balance and finally polish.
When War used Affliction two serpents would be summoned doing damage to all nearby enemies. After a one was defeated, the serpents would continue travelling to other nearby enemies.
War had a Wrath meter that would fill up based on how many enemies were killed. Once filled, he could take the form of a demonic creature that had an alternate set of moves and abilities. This form only lasted for a brief period of time before War would revert to his original form.
When War used Immolation, he would surround himself with a barrier of Hellfire. Any enemy that War touched or that attacked him would also be set afire by the Immolation’s flames. In upgraded versions of this ability, War’s movement would also leave behind a trail of fire that would catch enemies ablaze.
Stoneskin was a defensive ability that when used, would cause War’s skin to turn into stone, making him capable of withstanding enormous amounts of damage for a short time. Initially, I had wanted this form to increase the player’s weight for water traversal, but development was too far along to permit this.
War’s equipment could be used both in combat to help defeat certain enemy types, as well as to overcome some of the puzzles in the environment. I was responsible for art and tech coordination, hooking up assets, iterating on feel, balance and final polish.
The Abyssal Chain was a hook that when launched, would bring War over to it’s target. Used on both items in the distance as well as certain areas of the landscape (such as climbable surfaces), the chain proved to be an invaluable tool. While not able to defeat enemies directly, it could be used to latch onto certain ones and draw War closer to them. For some flying creatures and smaller enemies, the chain could pull them closer as well. Some larger enemies required the chain to be used on them to open up an opportunity for War to deal damage to them.
The Crossblade could be used to hit switches and bombs in the distance, allowing doors and other puzzles to advance. This item also allowed War to transfer elements such as fire from one source to another. As a weapon, it could be used against large groups of weak enemies to take them out in bulk.
The Earthcaller’s primary function was narrative, awakening one of the giants that guarded a gate in the game. It could be used in combat to knock back certain weak enemies, even pushing them off ledges in some instances.
Mask of Shadows
The Mask permitted War to see hidden objects in the world allowing additional traversal options that were not originally apparent. These included ledges, points for his Abyssal Chain, and bridges.
The Voidwalker could be used to set two portals in the world, one orange and the other blue. Once placed, War could travel through them to reach distant places. Additionally, War would solve some puzzles by having certain things travel through the portals, such as beams of reflected light.
War had three guns available to him in the game. The first, a pistol called Mercy, could be used as part of his arsenal in combat. The other two were cannons that were situational and only used in certain portions of levels, allowing them to be picked up and dropped at will. I was responsible for art and tech coordination, hooking up assets, iterating on feel, balance and finally polish.
Mercy was a pistol that once acquired could be used both on land and while riding War’s mount, Ruin. This pistol was effective at dealing shots in excess depending on how quickly you pulled the trigger. With skill, players could jump and keep afloat while shooting at nearby enemies helping War perform additional combos.
Fracture was one of the cannons War came across during his travels. When used, War walked considerably slower than normal. It was loaded with four shots at a time that would automatically replenish after use. Additionally, it could launch a bolt that would explode when triggered by the player or after a set amount of time, whichever occurred first.
Similar to the Fracture Cannon, Redemption was another large gun that War would come across. Players could rapid fire the weapon by tapping the trigger button or hold it down for charged attacks.
Weapon Enhancements were a general idea in the game at the time I joined, however, they required additional design to be completed. These passive enhancements could be slotted into particular weapons to improve their overall effect. I was responsible for fleshing out their behavior and names as well as determining the locations that they would need to be sourced for War to pick up.
There were a base set of normal weapon enhancements that War could obtain. These included the following:
Bane Generated Wrath over time (to help the player assume the Chaos Form more easily). Bloodthirst Healed War by stealing the life of adversaries during combat. Carnage Filled War with hatred and generated Chaos at an accelerated rate. Combat Lore Increased the rate of weapon experience gathered, and boosted War's armor level. Hellfire Instilled a melee weapon with the element of fire. Ravager Increased War's damage with environmental weapon attacks. Reaper Boosted the harvest of souls from slain enemies. Weapon Master Bestowed an increased knowledge of weaponry by boosting weapon damage.
In addition to the normal enhancements, there were four legendary enhancements that were themed around the four horseman the game’s story was built upon. The enhancements included:
Death's Blessing Dramatically boosted Wrath generation and revealed the location of all items on the current map. Fury's Embrace Leached weapon damage and converted it to Health. Increased the amount of souls reaped. Strife's Offering Greatly increased War's effectiveness in ranged combat. War's Glory Increased Chaos gained and the duration of War's Chaos Form.
Additional work I provided on the game included support for overall “feel” and “usability” in certain areas:
- Soul Acquirement – I helped tweak this to appear more ethereal and get “sucked” into the character.
- Physics – I tweaked physic values for several objects that could either be destroyed directly or thrown by War.
- Underwater Traversal – One of the gameplay programmers and I worked together to refine the overall control, navigation and feel of underwater movement while also improving the camera’s behavior in this mode.