Vigil Games co-founders, David Adams and Joe Madureira, say that the studio incorporated about 1% of the ideas it had for the original Darksiders into the final game. In the case of Darksiders II, that number has jumped to 80%.
Speaking with Gamasutra, the two say that developing the first game provided the devteam with a clearer idea of what they could and couldn’t achieve, and that with Darksiders II, they planned for certain features right from the start, instead of bringing them up late in development.
“We actually had a wall run in the first game; War was able to do it,” Madureira reveals. “And then just the levels we were building just weren’t really supporting that mechanic, and it was just a mess, and we took it out. But in this game, we knew we were going to start with it and the designers just built the levels from the ground up to support that stuff a lot more.”
Having a better idea of what kinds of features you’d like to include doesn’t mean your workload decreases, however. You still need to prototype all of your ideas and test them within the game to see if they function the way you expected, or if they’re even fun in the first place. For instance, in the case of the first Darksiders, an entire dungeon was redone twice, and then scrapped from the game entirely.
“Even the gear items in Darksiders II, like the different equipment you get, I think we prototype two or three times as many as we actually used in the game,” Adams says. “Sometimes you’ve just got to try something that sounds cool in your head, and then you play it, and it’s stupid. [laughs] Not everything you come up with is a gem; you’ve just got to try it out, and if it sucks, you move on.”
“I think people that just are fresh out of school, and super excited, sometimes get crushed by how hard it actually is,” Madureira shares. “And once you’ve been doing it for a while, you just expect that stuff’s going to change at any given moment, even after we’ve worked on it for a long, long time.”
That having been said, Madureira says that prototyping is one area in particular where having prior experience with the first Darksiders helped. “In the first one, we threw out stuff that we spent like a year on. There was a dungeon we redid twice and still threw it all away. We don’t do stuff like that anymore.”