Q&A: Starbreeze Studios on The Darkness

Darkness is spreading! Starbreeze Studios' Jens Matthies talks about The Darkness, in-game advertising, censorship, and Rick James.


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Starbreeze's Jens Matthies.
Starbreeze's Jens Matthies.

One of the most anticipated shooters of the year--The Darkness--blends an established comic book franchise storyline, tentacles, and the Mafia to create a macabre mix of first-person action and horror. GameSpot AU had a quick catch up with Jens Matthies--art director of Starbreeze Studios--to discuss their upcoming ultra-violent shooter, in-game advertising, and the technical limitations of developing for two very different next-generation consoles.

GameSpot AU: How closely did you work with comic book publisher Top Cow Productions, and how true to the series is the game storyline?

Jens Matthies: Top Cow was primarily represented by Paul Jenkins, and we worked very closely with him when developing the story and the characters for the game. The story in the game is rather loosely based upon storylines from the comic. The game is very much a self-contained unit and we've picked material from several Darkness comics, but mostly from the Resurrection storyline that Jenkins wrote and our own brains.

GSAU: The Darkness features an all-star audio cast with celebrities such as Mike Patton, Richard Steven Horvitz, Kirk Acevedo, and Lauren Ambrose all lending their voices. How important has it become to attach well-known names to game titles?

JM: The fact that some of our actors are well known had very little to do with our casting decisions on this game. Above all we have picked actors that are right for their parts. The known actors we hired for the game are all people whose work we have followed and loved for many years. Nice to see you mention Richard Steven Horvitz. We are massive Zim fans at Starbreeze.

GSAU: The concept of displaying real television or movies inside the gameworld was brought up early in your development announcements. Do you feel it's a feature other developers may adopt in the future?

JH: Quite likely. There's a lot of potential for this kind of feature.

GSAU: Could this feature be used to provide additional revenue streams (like existing in-game advertising) to offset development costs? And do you think it could be successful enough to potentially reduce the purchase cost of games to consumers?

JM: Who knows, as far as I know there are plenty of games out there already that are "free" to the consumer if they can put up with the ads.

GSAU: What are some of the technical limitations you faced developing the game for two next-generation consoles with very different storage systems?

JM: All of them! The storage systems were not that big of an issue, but this game as a whole has been the single most challenging experience of my life. The fact that we did it for two new platforms that are fundamentally very different is bordering on stupidity. It wasn't easy, let me tell you.

GSAU: The game is obviously quite violent. Were any modifications required to meet the Australian restricted MA15+ rating and pass classification?

JM: Australia has been supercool. As far as I know the Australian version is completely intact. Much unlike the German version, which is severely modified.

GSAU: One last question--Rick James?

JM: One of the baddest mothers of all time, one of the best singers, and one of the best-looking mothers you've ever seen. What did the five fingers say to the face? *SLAP*

GSAU: Jens Matthies, thanks for you time.

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