Please tell us what unique functions of the Marmoset engine set it apart from other existing game engines. Were there any special considerations you had to make when adapting the game for the Xbox 360? Why did you decide to build your own engine instead of licensing one?
The short answer is we developed our own engine because that's what we're good at. Having our own technology base for building games puts us in a more flexible position to do whatever we want, however we want. Marmoset engine excels at large battlefields with large character counts, which was an important design point for DoD. The AI, Rendering, Scripting, Tools, and Game systems are all designed with this in mind, rather than being repurposed tech from a 3rd party.
The Xbox 360 version has gone well - that platform actually affords us quite a bit of speed. The real technical hurdle there, as many developers will tell you, is memory. On consoles you get only a fraction of the memory you can expect in a PC and so fitting everything can be difficult. Our guys have risen to the challenge though and the console version is looking good.
Collectibles are starting to creep into every type of game, from puzzle to first person shooters. Are we going to find scraps of actual historical documents during our journey through the Darkest of Days?
BW: There are no collectible items per say however you do meet and interact with some significant historical figures.
What was the hardest part of developing the game? Can you talk about a feature or two that didn’t make it into the final game?
BW: Making any game there is always a balance between time, features and product. As with any game there were some features that were adjusted to better fit the evolution of the game.
One area where major modifications were made was the “aura” system. At one point there were to be several different “auras” each having it's own meaning but this became too complex and was simplified to be the means for showing forces that are meant to survive the battle.
Is there any message about war that you’re trying to convey with settings in Darkest of Days or are you hoping that the wars as you portray them will speak for themselves?
AS: War is Hell. Everyone knows that. Many games can make battle seem less fierce than what it is, or even glorify it. We set out to make it gritty, and horrifying. Our Civil War levels best portrait that, especially in levels where your entire army smashes into the enemies. The scream’s of men is something that will put goose bumps on the most hardened veteran’s arms. When you have a Confederate firing line tossing a wall of lead towards your marching formation, there is plenty of horror. There is no message meant in the game, other than the simple message that war is terrible, and we should all thank the Lord we did not have to fight the way these men did.
I've got to know. How am I going to find ammo for my automatic machine gun while I'm stuck in the past? How do you handle the balance of future weapons in these historical eras?
AS: We handle automatic weapons in various ways. The game is balanced between authentic weapons, weapons you take back into history that are augmented to be stronger while looking authentic, and sometimes you have the all-out weapon that does not belong at that time in history. Ammo conservation is important in some missions using futuristic weapons, and in other cases, you run across another time agent helping you that has some extra ‘gifts’ for you.
Speaking of weapons, what weapons are your favorite and why? Are we going to see any melee combat or is it all going to be guns and ranged weapons?
AS: Our BFG weapon is pretty awesome I have to say. Lighting anything up . . . . wait, I am not supposed to talk about that one :) Its for the players to see. Lets just say its unique, and POWERFUL!
BW: Melee battles have an important role in the game. If your trying to sneak in somewhere it's best to use the melee attacks or your challenge will become very difficult. At other times melee can be effective during battles where there are longer reload times and large number of forces.
In Antietam for example, players will find melee is a good alternate attack when engaged with lots of close in opponents due to the reload time of the Springfield rifle. Lastly melee was very popular with the development team and there was a sense of pride with finally making it though some situations using melee alone.
Any chance we'll see some multiplayer action in the game or is Darkest of Days strictly a solo experience?
BW: The first iteration of the game is single player, but I would not say it's a solo experience.
While not a multiplayer game there are cooperative NPC’s that work with you to help you accomplish your goals.
What was your approach to coming up with achievements? Any chance we’ll see a demo ahead of time?
AS: We have a whole host of movies set to release that will be landing on the Darkest of Days from now over the next few months. They are all made with actual in-game footage. I don’t think there will be the need for a demo after those movies :) Seriously, this game is so unique feeling, I really don’t want to ruin player’s ‘first experience’. This will be the first time a game has made you feel that way, and I want you to experience it in the full game.
We'd like to thank Aaron, Bill, and Jeff for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Jerry who helped coordinate the interview.
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