How much input did Vin Diesel have on Assault on Dark Athena? Can you talk about how much room you had to work with in terms of the canon of the Riddick universe? Do you see more adventures of Riddick being told on the consoles?
Vin is deeply tied to the Riddick universe and the Riddick character and through Tigon (his game production company) he has a pretty heavy role in producing these games. Starbreeze, though, is an extremely talented group of creatives and as much as possible we give them room to use their talent and invent large portions of this world. Where we go from here isn’t clear just yet, but there’s certainly tons of room to play
What improvements have been made to the game's engine now that you are putting it on more powerful hardware? Was there something that you wish you could have done with Butcher Bay but had the opportunity to do in Dark Athena? What kinds of limitations are you running into with current generation hardware?
The best way to answer that question is to look at the jump we made between Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness. Similarly, we’ve made another big leap in our engine technology and rendering features with Assault on Dark Athena, particularly with our lighting and certain post effects. In terms of hardware bottlenecks and where we get frustrated, the simple truth is that you’re always going to have a wall to deal with – there will always be some kind of limit to what you can do – so our job is more about managing our resources and opportunities in a creative way that helps us make the most out of what we’ve got. Even when there’s an Xbox 9000, you’ll still have limitation – better to focus on what you can do than what you can’t.
Melee combat is hard to do in any game but especially in first person games, can you talked about what worked from the first game and if you've made any changes for the new game? Have you made any tweaks to the core gameplay at all?
The core system for our First-Person Fighting remains the same and what we’ve done with Assault on Dark Athena is simply enhance it. So now you’re able to do many more stealth kills, counter-moves, and weapon-grabs, and the sheer number of weapons available to you exceeds what we offered originally. We’ve also made some enhancements to the AI which makes the fights much more challenging in certain areas.
Can you walk us through the two multiplayer modes? What kinds of things do you like in your multiplayer gaming and how are you incorporating them in Assault on Dark Athena?
We approached the Multiplayer for Assault on Dark Athena with a real interest in supporting the classic feel and tone of FPS multiplayer gaming, and then of course we add our spin to that.
We include Death Match, Team Deathmatch, CTF, and so on. But two modes that have us really excited are Pitch Black and Butcher Bay Riot. Pitch Black places Riddick against six other players (Mercs) in an environment that’s completely dark – properly pitch black. The Riddick character is faster with more health and carries only melee weapons (Ulaks – the curved blades) – he can also use his eyeshine to see in the dark. The Mercs have big guns and flashlights. It’s kill or be killed and if you kill Riddick, you get to play as Riddick in the next round. Audio plays a big part in this mode.
With Butcher Bay Riot mode, there are three teams of four players – Prisoners, Mercs, and Guards. Each faction plays against another: Prisoners hate Guards, Guards hate Mercs, and Mercs hate Prisoners. As a team you fight for a central power cell to plant in your enemy’s base. It’s best of three or five rounds, and you have the chance to score UD money (Riddick currency). You can then use that money to buy better gear. This mode is surprisingly flexible; it can be very strategic or simply run and gun – all depends on you and the people you’re playing with.
We'd like to thank Ian for taking the time to answer our questions and to Stephanie for helping to coordinate the interview.
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