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Darksiders 2 developers uncredited, says ex-Vigil staffer

Thursday, 16th August 2012 06:11 GMT By Brenna Hillier

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.

Twitter links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

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8 Comments

  1. Hirmetrium

    This story has already been refuted here: http://t.co/yASSgg0j

    I don’t think its fair to leave it like this. The guy was obviously trying to get something out of nothing, and it backfired. Nothing is ever as simple as people claim.

    I’m interested in the “others” who also claim to have been left out.

    The Dark Millennium stuff really hit Vigil and Relic hard – harder than I think most of us will ever know.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Timurse

    Xander is a really good guy. Have him on Twitter and chat sometimes. Share lots of thoughts with him eventually.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Strawb

    @1
    That’s not a refute. That’s just Vigil giving their side of the story.

    To verify whether Davis is right or lying, other employees would have to be used as witnesses.

    As far as I can tell, Vigil is basically saying Davis was let go for “poor performance”, which is why he isn’t credited. Depending on whether you believe Davis or not, that could sound like BS, since Davis asserts that he revamped 27 screens in 30 days and worked until 2AM pretty much every day.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. viralshag

    @1, I think #3 is correct. That emails looks like standard corporate reply to this sort of issue.

    This is something where you would need to hear from other employees but I doubt any of them would be willing to put their own job on the line.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Hirmetrium

    It’s not “corporate” because its from Vigil’s GM instead of THQ. He has every right to defend his studio from such accusations.

    And it is a refute, because it proves at least some of his story to be untrue. I guess it depends on whom you believe as to if its a refute or not.

    The fact of the matter is that you can’t trust either of them, and legally we will never find out due to confidentiality. Obviously, the two stories are polar opposites as well – which makes things even worse.

    It’s likely that he did do a lot of work, but was destabilizing things at the last minute by going “NO WE CAN’T SHIP”. Management doesn’t like that, kicks him out.

    I do, however, have sympathy for the guy. Pretty much everyone I had ever had contact with from Relic got the chop when DMO was “changed” (shelved). Lots of heads rolled. He didn’t deserve to end up in such a bad situation, but I feel he handled this situation poorly just taking to twitter to vent. Social media is killing confidentially/trust.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Phoenixblight

    3 of the the jr level designers that had graduated from the same program were credited in the game and they worked on the game for 4-8 months. This guy must of just rubbed a person wrong or was just simply bad. If a few jr level designers who didn’t really do anything except populate the game got credited but a guy that did a large amount of the UI in a short period of time doesn’t usually means someone was not performing as well as he thought.

    All of my friends have been let go but they were contracted so then knew it wasn’t forever but now they are working for smaller indie studios or doing another project to bolster their portfolio. They have nothing but kind words about working there.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. ManuOtaku

    I think this case is like mobbing in any working place, i mean it could only happen to one worker alone, it doesnt need to be the whole or majority of workers, but like mobbing it can be perceived by all the workers, therefore they are afraid of saying something because they can also be part of the mobbing in the future, so who knows in reality what really happen, like mobbing is a really tricky situation here IMHO, not like this case is mobbing, just saying it shares a lot of similarities.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Strawb

    @5

    I can’t see why you think the statement from Vigil’s General Manager proves that Davis is lying, or exaggerating. The General Manager might as well be the one lying, to calm down a possible PR disaster.

    You are correct in saying that you can’t completely trust either side. Davis might be carrying a grudge for no reason, and Adams might be lying to cool the situation.

    #8 2 years ago

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