The Darkness : Interview with Jerk Gustafsson
- Developper from Starbreeze Studios -
(Xbox Community Network), with which Xbox Gazette is affiliated, has been able
to ask some questions to Jerk Gustafsson, developper from Starbreeze Studios,
about The Darkness.
Will there be an Xbox Live demo on Marketplace?
Jerk Gustafsson : Yes,
there will be a demo released both on Xbox Live Marketplace and on Playstation
Network. We are currently finishing up all different SKUs of the full game, but
as soon as that is done we will have a release date for the demos. The demo will
contain three different levels that should get your appetite up for the game.
: Was it hard for you to put the world and concepts of The Darkness in a videogame
and did you need the power of the Xbox 360 to realise the game?
: Making video games is probably the hardest creative endeavour there is.
This is especially true for the kind of games we are making. The 360 has enabled
us to do things we could only dream about on earlier projects, but at the same
time the difficulty in developing has grown exponentially as well. The ambitions
and quality level we've been aiming for with this project would be unthinkable
without the kind of power the 360 offers.
Can you tell us a little more about the TV's people have seen dotted around
Jerk Gustafsson : We use the TV sets as fun diversions
where the player can stop for a while and watch a show or two, but also as a means
of telling story to the player in an interesting way. We will have about 20-30
hours of content with a couple of different channels running stuff like series
like Flash Gordon and movies like Nosferatu. We are also using TV's in the game
for special news-reports that relates to the game-story. Those have proven to
be a great narrative tool for us.
XCN : Did
you always plan The Darkness to be a first person shooter?
: Definitely. At starbreeze there is a strong opinion that the first person
experience gives the player a stronger immersion and a better relation to the
character he/she is playing. We try to create a game experience where the player
is Jackie as opposed to have the player play Jackie. If that makes any sense...
Also, doing a first person game is a choice to do a game where the player is supposed
to feel that he is within the game. This is what we usually mean with immersion;
to make the player feel that he is the person that is running around within the
game-world. For us, it's only natural to continue on that path and try to the
experience as realistic for the player as possible. In Riddick that meant making
sure you saw your own body and the shadow of it and in Darkness we've taken that
further in where you for example have your own body interact with the environment.
XCN : Was there any elements brought into
The Darkness from your previous Chronicles of Riddick title?
: Yes, but most screenshots are outdated and The Darkness will look even better
when released, especially in motion. The engine we use for The Darkness is an
evolved version of the Riddick engine and one of the great strengths of the lighting
technology we used there was that could destroy each individual light source.
This was a feature we needed to keep for The Darkness since it was crucial for
the game-play. Still, we weren't really happy with the way Riddick handled more
ambient and natural light so for The Darkness we have implemented a new hybrid
lighting technology. This combines the dynamic lights with their real-time shadows
with a something called light-field mapping which has been critical to create
the type of outdoor areas we needed for the game.
: How true to the comic series is the game and will it feature a new story
or borrow elements from the comics?
Jerk Gustafsson : The Darkness
story is loosely based on the "Resurrection" storyline and have been
adapted to fit the game in collaboration with writer, Paul Jenkins. When we started
working on The Darkness, we decided early on that we wanted to retell the story
of when Jackie Estacado was possessed by the Darkness on his 21st birthday, but
they way it was written in the comic didn't really work for a video-game, so we
had to change that. Luckily, with the help of Jenkins, we could do that while
still staying true to the comic.
XCN : Will
Jackie gain new abilities as the game progresses and can the power he has obtained
consume him completely?
Jerk Gustafsson : When Jackie gets possessed
by the Darkness on the eve on his 21st birthday, Jackie has little control over
the Darkness. Throughout the game, Jackie will to get back in control from the
Darkness which also will increase the control of the darkness powers. This is
done by devouring the hearts of evil characters, and the more he collects, the
stronger he will get. Also, when doing this on some specially evil characters,
Jackie will also learn new ways to use his demonic powers.
XCN : Will the game feature exploration elements
and if so what can we expect to gain from being thorough?
Gustafsson : The Darkness is as much an adventure game as it is a shooter
so exploration is very much encouraged. Most of the game takes place in New York,
where different areas are connected through a subway system, so the player can
easily go back to previously visited areas. Apart from the main story-line, there
are also side-missions as well as hidden collectibles and other things that the
player can find.
XCN : How will the game involve
players who do not know the comic?
: The design have always been to provide more depth to the comic but also
as a stand alone experience. The game is a closed piece with a beginning, middle
and end for maximum dramatic impact. Unfamiliar players might even have an advantage
as they've been kept completely spoiler free. Still, for the people that have
read the comic, there are also some new revelations about the nature of the Darkness
and how it got into Jackie's family.
XCN : Can
you tell us more about the multiplayer aspect of this game? Will there be a multiplayer
mode where you can use the Darkness powers?
Gustafsson : We have based a lot of the multiplayer design around darklings,
and players will be able to play as darklings in various modes. The Darkness powers
from the single player experience will not be available in multiplayer. They are
very different experiences.
XCN : What was
the biggest challenge in making The Darkness considering you got huge critical
acclaim for Riddick and thereby raised the bar for future products?
Gustafsson : The Darkness is a much larger production than Riddick and the
biggest challenge has probably been managing the extended team required. Also
there's countless new problems that's appears as we increase the fidelity of the
XCN : Why did you pick The Darkness
as the setting for your next game? Did a publisher approach you or were you intrigued
by the possibilities of the license?
: The Darkness concept was presented to us by Union entertainment and our
first publisher Majesco. From the very beginning we felt that The Darkness and
Starbreeze was the perfect match. It is very dark, which we like, and pretty brutal,
which we like, but the thing that that made us pick The Darkness was the story
and the supernatural elements. Most of the game and the comic take place in New
York, but in the New York of The Darkness is a world most people don't see. Then
you have Jackie Estacado, who is the perfect lead for a videogame, especially
the kind of videogame we want to do.
XCN : Riddick
and Splinter Cell revolutionised the use of light and darkness in videogames.
What do you think will be this generation's revolutionary feature?
Gustafsson : For me personally I think Co-operative play via live will be
a big thing in the future, but there are even more areas where I think we will
see some leaps this generation. Animation hasn't really evolved that much during
the previous generation, but in games like Assassins Creed I think we will se
the start of something truly interesting where the player character will start
to interact with the world in new way, giving us great new possibilities. Also,
I hope that story-telling will be one of the areas where we see great improvement
and while we may only see evolutionary steps we may get to the point where players
will really start to care about what happens to the characters on screen. Hopefully
we will have helped that evolution a bit with The Darkness.
Related links :
Darkness official site
Xbox 360 interviews
Gadget, Xbox Gazette,
june 25th 2007
Thanks to : Jerk Gustafsson, XCN