Darksiders 2 user interface designer Xander Davis has denounced Vigil Games and THQ for failing to credit staff who made significant contributions to the action RPG sequel.
“Oh delightful. Just found out I’m not even credited on Darksiders 2 when the UI is 99% from my direction and hard work, done in record time,” Davis said on Twitter today.
“I led the revamp effort, created the pipeline, redesigned and rebuilt every screen, worked till 2AM every night, worked with leads every step.”
David, who left triple-A development to found indie startup Atom Games said that insufficient crediting “happens all the time” and that he’s not really surprised, but hoped that, under the specific circumstances of his employment, that “they’d have some decency”.
“Was whisked to Austin and tasked to fix it, with months to ship. And I did. My team worked as hard as we could. Then, we all lost our jobs. From what I’m hearing now from my former Vigil co-workers, MANY are left out of the credits apparently on Darksiders 2
“In triple-A this happens all the time. A lot, the rule is you have to be employed when the game ships. I was let go a month after [Warhammer 40K: Dark Millennium Online] changed [from an MMORPG to a multiplayer action game], they merged the other UI team, and Herb Ellwood swooped in and stole my job,” he added.
“After all my hard work. Herb Ellwood only had a contract with THQ. He used the team merging (which we needed to make ship) to secure a salary. Mine. Despite revamping 27 screens in 30 days, providing a new art direction, new layout and flow, starting from none.”
A similar scandal broke last year when a group of former Team Bondi staffers protested their lack of accreditation following reports of “sweat shop” conditions at the Sydney developer.
Davis described a project and studio in dire straits, apparently suggesting Darksiders 2’s delay from June to August was about more than a near-finished game requiring a bit of polish.
“Their coordination was a mess. In Beta, you really only want to be bug fixing. If you have to redesign and rebuild your entire UI, you’re in a state of emergency,” he said.
“And even as you and your team are desperate to solve their problems, and you do it, that still doesn’t fix horrible mismanagement to ship. Then mass-layoffs and a delay ‘for quality’. I’ll bet. Or maybe a game isn’t ready to ship period and your house isn’t in order. It’s on fire.”
According to a further series of tweets, Davis informed his superiors that the team simply could not meet goals in time to ship, after which he was fired and a UI designer from the Dark Millennium Online team was brought in. Davis’s replacement immediately threatened to quit, but was allegedly convinced to stay with a pay rise.
The lay-off was made all the more hurtful due to Davis’s relocation.
“I had just gotten my Texas driver’s license in the mail that Sunday. By Monday, I was given the boot after rebuilding all of their UI. I said goodbye to all of my friends, completely transplanted my entire life, lived in Austin for 4 months, did my job, and got screwed. Thanks,” he said.
“Before I got there, I should’ve asked: who was it that let the UI get that bad so close to ship? The one UI Artist there or the management? So I come in, asked to be a messiah to save them from the brink and fix all of their problems there, and I do. Result: fuck that guy.”
Davis warned aspiring developers that they have “no idea yet how shitty it is to work in triple-A” and aaid his life has been a “:nightmare” for the last three years.
“It’s the price game devs pay. They put up with it, because it’s their dream, to make games. Publishers and studios exploit that to the max,” he added.
“Everyone on my team truly wanted Darksiders 2 to be the best under the horrid circumstances. We all did as best we could.
“Darksiders 2 is going in my portfolio. Exactly my roles, expectations, and what was accomplished are going my portfolio. Believe it.”
THQ representatives were not able to respond to requests for comment by publication time.
Darksiders 2 is out now for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Early reviews have been generally favourable.