Home » INTERVIEWS » Q&A, Airtight Games, developer of Dark Void

Q&A, Airtight Games, developer of Dark Void

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Can you tell us how Dark Void came to fruition, and what role Capcom played in the concept of the game?

Well Capcom agreed to fund us to build a small prototype, so we packed in a bunch of stuff (on-ground combat vehicle combat, air combat, and all this stuff). We got it done, barely, but it wasn’t perfect. A lot of games you look at and you think “there’s nothing wrong with this, but there’s nothing special about it.” So we took it to Capcom and they said the same thing “this isn’t good enough etc”. But they did say that they believed in us and they want to fund the whole project. So we flied back and we had a weird feeling, like we had the funding but we knew that the prototype wasn’t what it needed to be.

We knew we could take what we had and could fix it, and that might give us say an “85%” game. But we didn’t want an “85%” game, we want a 95 game, and I didn’t think we could get a 95 game if we just fix the problems. The Capcom guys said something interesting in the meeting “3D games aren’t really 3D”. If you think about in typical 3D games the camera sits like a cage around the player, and on the vertical plane that works well, but as soon as you look up and then try to look right the camera doesn’t go right, it sorta spins at the top, because the camera is anchored there. So this means all the design of a game is pushed down onto the vertical plane. So that gave us a direction. And then our lead designer Jose came up with the idea of vertical combat, and then when that idea game up it changed the whole game.

Right, can you tell us a bit more about the plot?

You control will he is a pilot who just ran a cargo mission through the Bermuda triangle, which is a dumb thing to do, so his navigation instruments die and he crashes and he has no idea where he is. You meet these strange, ancient, aliens called The Watchers, who live in this interdimensional portal. Will gets stuck in this portal and he run into a bunch of other humans who are also stuck inside. Together they try to get out of this place while under attack from the watchers.

So what the balance like between the dogfighting and the ground combat?

You start off the game without anything, no rocket pack or hover pack, so you have to upgrade. Once you get the rocket pack you can start grabbing UFOs, and from that point it’s down to the player’s choice, if he wants to take stuff out in a UFO or stick to the rocket pack. At a certain points your rocket pack will upgrade to point where you’ll want to stick with it for a bit longer.

What were you inspired by in terms of the art direction?

I like the Rocketeer, and I like Boba Fett, so there’s a lot of different inspirations that have gone into this games, a lot fanboy dreams coming true. But you’re in the Void, so it’s a new world, where we can do a lot of things that haven’t been seen. We’ve brought in Nathan Crowly, who worked on Batman Begins and Dark Knight, and he’s helping with the visual style of the game, he did some great stuff with the Batman films and he’s really helping the team.

How’s the vertical cover system really going to differ from typical cover systems we see in games?

I think there is a lot of things. The big one obviously is the gravity. The idea is “I can fall to my death”, they’re falling past me. If I get hit by somebody I’m going to fall. There’s destructable environments, so blowing up something and watching it fall towards you and jumping out of the way. Then from a vertical down perspective the entire idea is vertigo, you get a butterfly feeling in your stomach looking down the ledge, and feel vulnerable.

Will the weaponry be able to take advantage of this verticality?

We’re definitely going to be making some weapons that take advantage of the verticality too. There will also be many different enemies too, at the moment we’ve only revealed the one kind.

What’s its like working with an iconic games company like Capcom, and how are you making sure Dark Void retains that ‘Capcom essence’?

I grew up playing Capcom games and I still think they are one of the leaders of pushing innovation in games. In terms of “how is this game Capcom?” – well it’s all about ‘playing it up’. It’s about being bigger than life, and not being afraid of being crazy and try some new things.

Capcom let you innovate and try new things, instead of saying “make the game like the other game that came out two months ago, because that sold well. They’re about “what can we do to make things different, what’s going to draw the player into the game” and that from a design perspective is a goldmine. They let us be artists, which is a nice thing, instead of monkeys…..maybe we’re monkey artists (laughs).