Darksiders II: An Interview with Jay Fitzloff Part I

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Jay Fitzloff is the man who, in his own words “Gets things done.” Producer at Vigil Games, developer of the upcoming Action Adventure Darksiders II, it’s Fitzloff that keeps his finger in all the pies of the game’s progression. Who better then, to plonk down on a comfy couch and discuss all things Darksiders? Well then, that’s exactly what we did.

Anybody who’s done some research for Darksiders II would know that Death’s plights occur concurrently to his good ol’ pal War. It’s an interesting and bold choice, but it’s certainly one that Fitzloff and his team didn’t decide upon lightly. Quite the opposite in fact.

“Well it’s kind of like you sit down and you think alright what are we gonna do with Darksiders II? What’s next? And you take a look at what’s at your disposal and that means your budget, and your team, and the amount of time. I think every game designer has to make concessions, otherwise if everybody made the game they dreamed of, a game would take 20 years to complete. So that’s kind of the tightrope you have to walk. So we sat down and we said you know, we introduced a lot of mythology in Darksiders I, like the Charred Council, heaven and hell, and these politics that are going on. But because War’s character was so straightforward, he was more the unchangeable character that people are trying to force in a way and he’s like a straight line ‘I’m going this way and you can’t stop me.’ So War didn’t get involved because that’s not his way.”

“So we said, let’s kind of blow this out; we have this universe but we’ve only given you this piece of it. Let’s fill out the holes in the story, so Death is more talkative, there are more NPCs that you talk to and have conversation trees with. But you also, since you’re in the underworld you deal with a lot more characters that weren’t involved in Earth, and that’s kind of Death’s thing. He’s kind of like, I wanna get my way without getting involved in the politics. So you’re going to learn a lot more of what happened in Darksiders I. You don’t have to have played the first game to understand Darksiders II, but if you have, you meet characters, or places, or events that flesh that out.”

No doubt by now you can tell it’s an involved answer. But it’s an answer that didn’t end there, as he continued to explain to us.

“The secondary reason for wanting to do Death is that we knew we wanted to make a single player game, but it felt cheap to use War again because we already did that and we have four horseman at our disposal. So let’s make a different feel in character that’s not slow and lumbering and smash like War. Let’s make him a more spider-like, and agile, and quicker, and just very different.”

It’s a hell of a risk to completely ditch your original game’s protagonist in favour of someone new, and while recent titles like Prototype 2 are attempting it, there is undoubtedly a great concern when undertaking such a dramatic change.

“It’s a pretty rare thing,” Fitzloff admits straight off the bat. “I think normally you make your character and then, that’s it. I think we knew there was risk, but again it was just like if it feels stale and old for us to keep doing it, then don’t do it. Because I think the passion and the fun you have putting into it, that’s what’s going to come across to a fan more than a focus test or market research or anything like that. So that’s what we wanted, and we said that’s what we’re going to have fun doing. That will be the biggest challenge for us, so let’s do it and there we go.”

Now Darksiders II is all well and good, but like most Darksiders fans, we wanted to know what, if anything, is in store for round three. More horsemen? A return to War or Death? A complete curve ball? Surely Mr. Fitzloff, in all his infinite wisdom, could provide some insight. Instead, he simply chuckles at the question before he begins to answer.

“We don’t know to tell you the truth. It’s the same thing. We have a dream and we can talk about the dreams, but the reality is it’ll be the same story as Darksiders I and II. And to tell you the truth, the dream from Darksiders I still hasn’t been achieved. Will it ever be achieved? I don’t know, because you dream big and you have these lofty goals of ‘This is what I wanna do.’ But again, I’d like to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; you know I’ve barely painted anything in my life. So it would take me a while to achieve that, but I’m sure I could. But let’s be realistic; let me focus on what we can do. So it will be the same story, come Darksiders III. Sit down, time for Darksiders III, what’s our budget, what’s our team size? And you know our team is gaining more experience so we’ll be able to do more, and what’s our timeline.

It’s a well thought out and prepared response. A response we very much expected. But we wouldn’t settle for it, so we decided to delve a little deeper. What then, was the Producer’s desired direction?

“You know a lot of people have been bringing this up and I think because The Avengers is coming out. It’s been the four single character movies and then they form into The Avengers. I don’t know if even I, or gamers would have the patience for this, but I think it would be cool if we did one game for each horseman and then the fifth where they’re all together. That’s a great dream, but let’s see what happens.”

Make sure you stay tuned to Dusty Cartridge for Part II of our interview, where we talk comparisons, why you should buy Darksiders II and more!

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