The following is an entry from Airtight Games Lead Gameplay Engineer Mike Bowman discussing how the Dark Void team makes the gameplay so engaging. Thanks to DarkVoid.com for the information. Enjoy the read.
Hey everyone! Mike Bowman here from Airtight Games. I’m the Lead Gameplay Engineer on Dark Void and I’m blogging today from the gameplay programming perspective to let you all in on our secret formula that makes Dark Void so super fun. Spoiler Alert! It does not contain any herbs or spices.
First off, the gameplay team Rocks! Well, of course I’m gonna say that, otherwise I’ll end up with a bunch of cat pictures in my inbox. Seriously though, each of these guys did a truly remarkable job and their dedication really paid off.
Fun Factor. Early on in the project the gameplay team started bi-weekly “Fun Factor” meetings to “analyze” the fun of the game. Everyone was asked to speak openly about anything they liked and wanted to see more of, or disliked, or absolutely hated in some cases. Some of these meetings got pretty heated but helped tremendously. This helped us focus our efforts very early on in the areas we deemed important. What was the number one issue we concentrated on, you might ask? Player control. We tried many different methods to make the player control feel just right. Some methods were implemented, tested, and completely thrown away just to go back to the drawing board. All of us believed strongly that we needed to solidify good player control early on before continuing to make the rest of the gameplay.
Actual In-Game Camera!!!
Another area we spent a lot of time on is the camera system. This system is totally content driven by the artists and seamlessly blends between multiple camera views simultaneously using a blend tree. This means that the artists have complete control over the camera at every moment. And when our lead designer came in one day and said we were turning all gameplay 90 degrees, all we had to do was change one variable on the camera and it worked. Just kidding! Greg please don’t kill me.
As Jason showed you in an earlier blog, our AI characters are using the super cool behavior tree system that allows the baddies to do some pretty intelligent things when fighting against you. This system allowed us to rapidly iterate on the enemy AI and let the designers tweak it to their heart’s desire.
For the dogfighting, (no puppies were harmed in the making of DV by the way) I spent most of my waking and sleeping hours devoted to making this experience as fun as can be. We went for a Crimson Skies feel to the dogfighting and I believe we nailed that and more. Our dogfights are more intense, with more enemies at once, and just more plain craziness. Add sky jacking to the mix and it gets even wilder. Also, the air vehicles are driving with real physics so they look cool doing it too. The dogfighting went through a lot of play test/feedback loops. Iteration was the key here.
Looks wild … Flies like a dream
I can also promise you that flying around in the jet pack is the coolest feeling ever. Does the player look out of control? Absolutely. Does controlling the jet pack feel natural? Absolutely. This was another thing that we tweaked until it felt really, really good, and since nobody at Airtight Games had actual flight experience with a real jet pack at 500 MPH we will trust our instincts on this one.
We can’t wait to let you guys finally play it!