Feature: 8Monkey's Darkest of Days Goes Under Microscope

In today's Gamasutra feature, the team at Iowa based 8Monkey Labs explain what went right and wrong during the creation of Xbox 360/PC time-traveling first person
In today's Gamasutra feature, the team at Iowa based 8Monkey Labs explain what went right and wrong during the creation of Xbox 360/PC time-traveling shooter Darkest Of Days. The article takes time to explain, from an internal perspective, the creation of the ambitious title, which received critically mixed reviews. In the 'What Went Right' section, the author singles out good use of art contractors: "Outside contractors were used for a large portion of the game's art assets, most notably its characters. This process was ideally suited to a small company like 8monkey. There are substantial time and cost overheads involved in acquiring full-time on-site employees, and in our case it can be tricky to get people to move to Iowa. So for a lot of our art, we turned to contractors. Our lead artist (who was on-site) is a polycount moderator, and arranged a lot of solid connections in that community and elsewhere. Freelancers are often regarded as higher risk proposals, widely variable in their work ethic and quality. Having a good cornerstone of connections in the art community, 8monkey was able to go right to not only some of the best people available, but the ones who would best fit our project. We have all been surprised by the quality and consistency of the work that resulted from these "random guys on the internet". Combined with strong on-site art talent, the art pipeline for Darkest of Days ran well." However, the firm's Jeff Russell also discussed honestly some of the things that went wrong in the Darkest Of Days' creation. He comments in particular on the Xbox 360 port, which was handled by a contractor: "The contractor's employees were capable and hardworking, communication between the two companies was smooth, and the port was ultimately successful -- we shipped on the 360 and even passed Microsoft certification on the first try. So what went wrong? First, the decision to port the game to the Xbox was made about a year into full production. By this point the engine had seen nearly two years of PC-centric development: the technical design had not called for console support at the outset. So while the decision to make a console version of the game made sound business sense, it necessitated a major overhaul of the technology base... Obviously, timelines suffered as a result. The amount of work involved in the port was initially underestimated, causing schedule slips. Porting efforts were compounded further by schedule troubles on the PC side, which were amplified into even bigger delays in the console version. 8monkey's engineering team ended up spending more time working on console issues than anticipated, tying up programming resources that could have been put to other use." You can now read the full Gamasutra article on the subject, including plenty more detail on what went right and wrong in the creation of the just-shipped title.

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