Dark Sector Producer Q&A with Digital Extremes. The release is getting closer and I went deep undercover to dig into one of this year’s highly anticipated titles. It’s been on the minds of many for a while and it even made its way on my Best of PAX feature a few months ago. Have a seat and enjoy the article before the March 25th release of the game.
Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: D3Publisher of America
Dave Kudirka, Associate Producer, Digital Extremes
What was the inspiration behind creating a game like Dark Sector?
The plan for Dark Sector has always been to create a compelling character-driven story, to deliver it in a very cinematic style, and make best use of the available “next gen” technology to generate a AAA game title that people will tell their friends about.
It’s obviously a very dark and mature title. Was there any concern with the rating and content in the game given the history of mature titles being asked to “tone down”?
We’d hate to see Dark Sector held back with concern over its violent content, but we’re the type of studio that likes to push it a little and operate in the danger zone.
We know there is a large audience out there that wants bloody, visceral combat and we want to deliver the kind of grotesque spectacle that gets people talking, but in that over-the-top Kill Bill style.
Talk about Hayden’s glaive and how it came to be the centerpiece for the character.
Comparisons to other game titles that share familiar gameplay elements are inevitible. The challenge therefore was to have something in our game that would differentiate us from other titles at a first glance and provide a fresh spin on the action genre. Our answer came partly in the form of an amusing bug in which a projectile would stick to an enemy and continully spawn blood effects.
The weapon that has come to be known as “the glaive” went through a few iterations before we settled on a final design that reflected the ferocity of our main character: a triple-bladed boomerang that explodes from Hayden’s infected arm.
How many different ways can you increase the glaive’s power and ability?
Beyond its base capabilities, the glaive’s properties change with Hayden’s evolution. Players will gain the ability to steal/retrieve objects and weapons from a distance, execute a powered throw for quadruple damage, steer the glaive in flight, and trap elements such as fire, ice, and electricity to be used in puzzle or combat situations.
There is also an energy pulse power that will explode an elementally charged glaive in flight with the press of a button. It is easily the most versatile weapon in the game, and thats without even mentioning the many different ways Hayden uses the glaive as a melee weapon.
Dark Sector obviously has a unique atmosphere and environment to it. Do these two things play any key part in the game?
Atmosphere is everything when you’re trying to establish the mood or tone of the experience you wish to deliver. We have insane gunfights and dazzling bloodbaths, but there is a need to maintain that tension during periods outside of combat, and for that the environment art, audio, and level design really needs to gel.
I noticed a cover system while playing at the Penny Arcade Expo. What are the other basic gameplay elements (HUD, weapon system etc)?
As intended, a lot of our gameplay mechanics (moving, aiming, shooting, taking cover) should feel familiar to seasoned action gamers. Having said that, we’re also trying a few things that very few other titles have done in the past. My favourite of these was the decision to eliminate traditional HUD elements from cluttering the screen. Instead we try to maintain the immersive quality of the game experience by providing critical information through character animation, audio cues, and screen post effects.
Are there any significant differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game?
We’ve done our best to maintain consistent framerate and texture resolutions between each of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and we are very pleased with how the game turned out on both consoles. Content is the same across the board with slight variations in the way Xbox Live and Playstation Network is handled. And we even have “entitlements” for PS3 owners which are just like the achievements on Xbox 360.
Hayden Tenno was given what are being called evolution powers in the game. Can you tell us about them and how the different levels of powers are achieved?
In addition to Hayden’s evolving glaive techniques, he gains some support powers that change the odds dramatically. Earlier in the game after defeating a boss, Hayden will evolve with the ability to blast a temporary energy barrier in front of him which can deflect bullets, rockets, and other projectiles back at the attacker. There are some other evo-powers on deck as you proceed through the game, but I’d hate to ruin all of our surprises.
Can you talk about the multiplayer component and the different characters or game types players will have to choose from?
Dark Sector has two multiplayer game modes: Infection and Epidemic.
In “Infection” each player takes turns spawning as a fully-evolved Hayden in a one-versus-all battle. Players must use their full range of superpowers and glaive skills against an opposing team of player-controlled Hazmat soldiers equipped with assault rifles, shotguns, and proximity mines. In “Epidemic” its Hayden-versus-Hayden in a team based multiplayer mode.
Players spawn as officers of the Lasrian Military or as Agency Hazmat soldiers and teams go head-to-head with each squad lead by a player-controlled Hayden character. The first team to eliminate the other team’s Hayden wins the round.
I have visions of different glaive types at some point so are there plans to support Dark Sector via downloadable content?
Dark Sector will support downloadable content…and we’re still toying with what new tricks we’d like to bring through that service.
Are there plans for a limited or collector’s edition of Dark Sector?
Not as far as I know. Something with a Nerf glaive would be cool, or a possible Hayden action figure. I’d be down with that.
On release day when fans are in stores, what’s the thing you believe sets Dark Sector apart and makes it a quality purchase?
Dark Sector will help you justify the money you spent on your next-gen system. Arterial blood spray in glorious HD. Horrifying death screams in 5.1 surround sound. Our goal was to deliver both absorbing gameplay and a technological spectacle, and I’d be surprised if Dark Sector isn’t regarded for these characteristics.