Darknet's Dream Team
I tend to talk about Darknet as if it were a one-man project, but that’s not really the truth. I do the design and programming myself, but I’ve gotten a ton of help from a small group of extraordinarily talented contractors and collaborators. Every one of them has made the game substantially better, and it’s high time that I introduced them all:
Also known by the awesome moniker of Dormilón, Alfredo is the man behind Darknet’s music. I was first pointed toward him by the acclaimed game composer Disasterpeace, and we immediately started collaborating to figure out the sound of Darknet. (Alfredo eventually gave a label to this musical style: “post-trance cyberpunk”). The end result is a soundtrack that features over two hours of incredible original music. In my humblest opinion, it’s a masterpiece. This was Alfredo’s first game soundtrack, and he nailed it.
I can't wait to share the whole thing, but for now I'll settle for showing off a single track.
Clemens is a graphic artist with the Austrian game studio Broken Rules. He did the art for Chasing Aurora and Secrets of Rætikon, which I consider to be two of the most gorgeous games ever made. When I heard that he was available to do external work, I leapt at the chance. Clemens is responsible for all of Darknet’s UI art, as well as most of the non-trivial textures and 3D models throughout the game, and he has done an incredible job from the start. Without his help, Darknet would feature a lot of ugly programmer art, rather than Clemens’s sharp and polished work.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I needed to get any outside help for Darknet’s sound effects. After all, I had done all the sound for the earlier versions of the game. But when I saw that Jordan Fehr was available, and when I saw what games he had worked on (Hotline Miami, Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, and more), I decided to reach out to him. As soon as I got the first batch of sound effects, I emailed him to say “I already can't believe that I was ever going to try to handle it myself.” Jordan is working on a completely different level, and his sounds have drastically improved the feel of the game.
Darknet’s story was added pretty late in development, and it called for a pretty substantial amount of text. When I sat down to write, it quickly became clear that the quality of my prose just wasn’t good enough, and there was no way I could finish it on my own. Enter Alex. He was recommended to me by another local indie dev, who pointed to Alex’s writing on Dust: An Elysian Tale as well as Space Miner: Space Ore Bust and Ninjatown. Alex worked with me to figure out the final story, and he produced the bulk of Darknet’s narrative. Without his help, the game would still have a big hole in it.
Michael, better known under the tag Fully Illustrated, is a graphic designer and illustrator who has consistently done amazing work for a bunch of game industry clients. Way back in February, when I needed to find someone with a love of sci-fi and a keen eye for graphic design, he immediately stood out as an excellent choice. Even though he was swamped by other work (including his own upcoming game Wulverblade), Michael found time to create Darknet’s logo and define its overall look. I’m helpless when it comes to this sort of thing, so you have Michael to thank for Darknet’s visual style. A sample of his concept art:
Yes, that’s right: Darknet’s “computer voice” is none other than Jon St. John, the voice of Duke Nukem. (He also does a bunch of other awesome video game characters, including several Dota 2 heroes, which I think is even cooler.) Jon narrated Darknet’s old demo, and he reprised his role more recently, recording dozens of new lines in a booming, reverberating, digitized voice. I’ve always been acutely aware that voice acting is one of the easiest things to screw up in a game, but getting Jon on board put my mind at ease. He’s a professional, and it shows.
I used to exclusively work alone, but I could never have made Darknet by myself. It’s thrilling to work with such talented people, and they’ve helped push the game to a whole new level.