Dark Shadows

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Richard Burian has created a fantastic medieval action game. Read on to learn all there is to know about it.


Q: Dark Shadows - Army of Evil looks very good. Who are the people behind it and what are their roles?

A: We are only a small team; the most parts are done by Third-party developers. Especially the most models, music and sound effects are under license. I have done the most of the programming job in Gamestudio; of course I had also other help.


A real shader expert has done a lot of really good effects like SSAO, Bloom, Per Pixel Lightning, Texture projection, Motion Blur, Shadows, Ambient from Top-Map, and much more. He is the second big head. Things like translation and more are again done by Third-party companies.


Q: What type of game is DS-AoE?

A: Dark Shadows - Army of Evil is a Fantasy Medieval First Person Slasher game. But it does not mean that you have only to fight. You have to do also other things. The player has to fight his way through 19 levels, and 18 weapons will be available. From time to time the player must find some keys or has to solve small problems. But of course, it is a classic combat game with a kind of old school look. And it is an Indie game.


Q: What are the game’s unique selling points?

A: I don't know if the game has really unique selling points. Most games are very similar today; first person shooters are very similar to other first person shooters. As far as I know, no other medieval first person slasher has slow motion 3d blood splatter scenes.

Our game does have it. Another selling point could be that first person slasher games are rare and from a neglected genre.


Q: What shaders are you using in the game?

A: Most shaders are our own implementations and not the default shaders from gamestudio or from the community. For example: Screen Space Ambient Occlusion - SSAO, Bloom, Per-Pixel-Lighting Shader, Texture projection. But we are also using shaders like the ones from Loopix's Mystymood. For example a modified version of the Terrain Shader; it is supporting textures with alpha channel. The game is using precalculated shadowmaps mixed with a ambient from top map. For SSAO we are using also a kind of volumetric effect. SSAO can not be volumetric, but with that effect the objects looking more volumetric.


Q: How did you create those great weather effects?

A: We are using a modified version of Loopix's Mystymood and added other effects, also produced by the community, for example a modified version of Emre's Fog contribution. The sky is consisting of transparent, blended together sky cubes. So you never really see a single sky cube. The cloud layers are again from Loopix's Mystymood.


But the main focus we had on the atmosphere with the colored fog, which is different from level to level. That was really a lot of work; you have to try million of values to get the right atmosphere, because you have to adapt it to other effects, for example: Shadows, Bloom and SSAO.


Q: How did you manage to get so much press coverage?

A: The most important point is to have a interesting project and a ready press release with all necessary information. The press will not write about a game if they have not enough information about it. They wanna see screenshots, trailer, information about the gameplay, release date and more. We had luck, because Medieval + First Person Games without guns are rare. Such titles are a neglected genre. And that is interesting for the press.


It would be very difficult for an indie developer to get attention for a standard First Person Shooter game, because the market is flooded with such games by big studios. We also got good and bad comments from the press. Most of them respect it as indie game.

We have no problem with bad comments, because bad publicity is also publicity. It is always better if people are talking about a game, no matter if it's good or bad. But if nobody is talking about it, then the game will be forgotten very fast. The most important aspect is to contact the press; otherwise they will not find out about your game.


Q: How can we, as fellow game developers, support your game?

A: It would be great if you could support our Steam-Greenlight campaign and it would also be fine if you can share the link in other communities.




Q: What is the best piece of game development advice you’ve ever heard?

A: Maybe that is the wrong kind of question for me. I heard only critical pieces of advice. You have no time for other things. If you have time for other things, then you will never finish a big game. Only 10% of all games will make a profit; 90% not. This means that Indie Developers will have a hard time if they don't have a budget for living, also because you have to pay other people and licenses. The press will not search for the indie developers' projects; the indies must contact the press, and most of the time the press will not reply. About 95% of all PC Games are illegal copies; this means that only 5% are sold copies.


You should also know your limits. Most programmers are dreaming of impossible Triple A games. Only a small amount of games will ever be finished, so you will need to have endurance and self-confidence.


Thank you a lot, Richard!