Dark Void Developer Blog: Environments

Oct 28, 2009
2009 Oct 28

Over at the Dark Void community blog, Senior Environment Artist Doug Van Horne sat down to blog about the unique environments in the upcoming 3rd person sci fi epic. His blog is reposted below, and it provides some cool little insights into the creation of Dark Void’s world. You can check out the original post here .

Guidelines are Meant to be Broken

Hey there! Doug Van Horne, Senior Environment Artist checking in from The Void (well, okay, it’s really my desk, but I think they want us to say “from The Void”).

Anyway, our environments are amazing! The game is even better! You get to shoot stuff. And fly. And shoot stuff while you’re flying. And then you can leap out of your hijacked UFO and rocketpack down and shoot a bad dude with your rocketpack guns, then throw a grenade into a crowd of Watcher grunts and they say “Oh crap!” in Watcher (which sounds like a bunch of creepy alien grunts) then they all dive away from the grenade but it’s no use and they all are blown apart and their robot parts bounce off stuff and rain down like metal confetti ricocheting off everything. And then you flip around and land (BAM!) behind a Watcher Sergeant and say “Didn’t see that comin’, did ya, fool!” then face-punch him because you’re just THAT tough and … uh … okay, kinda lost control for a second there.

Well … while you’re preordering Dark Void let me talk about some of the process that went into conceiving and constructing our environments.

Guidelines. Guidelines are what we live and work by in the game industry. Every discipline (design, tech, A.I., art, etc.) has a different set of guidelines governing how to create their chunk of the final game pie. Every game genre (foot combat, fighting, flying, racing, etc.) have their own guidelines governing resource allocation. Adhering to these guidelines is what allows for us to ship a game that runs.

But here’s the most important part: the different guidelines for the different genres don’t get along. Actually, they really hate each other. A small cover-based warzone environment is constructed completely different than an open world fly-anywhere-you-want-at-any-time environment. Trying to mix the two is about as easy as pushing two rocks together intending to make one bigger, more awesome rock.