Boss Battles

Following the trend set by George and Dustin in the last post, one of our AI programmers, John, wrote this up about his work on the Colossus Boss.


For a moment I am Hayden Tenno, trapped in the heart of Lasria, on a mission to kill a fellow agent infected with the Technocyte virus. It was supposed to be simple, a quick, efficient termination of the target. The cold metal creeping up my arm is a stark reminder that I am now also infected. I feel myself evolving, the virus slowly infusing me with great power. The Glaive growing from my hand is crucial to my survival. I am trapped inside a warehouse. The Hazmat teams sent to help me are laying down heavy fire. I am the enemy. I haven’t switched sides, I am on my own, and everyone is out to kill me.

I take cover in the warehouse and dodge the bullets from the troopers firing through the windows all around me. I pick them off one by one with my superior gunplay and their frequent shouts to surrender are silenced by dispatching my Glaive to slice off their heads. The blood starts to flow; each trooper’s termination achieved with a volley of bullets or the slicing of limbs. The fight is almost over when the ground convulses, shaking terror into all of us. The few remaining troopers scream as a giant ape-like creature crashes to the ground and joins the fight.

For a few seconds there is relief as I watch through the shattered glass. Bodies are thrown around and dust fills the air as the creature destroys everything around him. I feel safe inside the warehouse, the creature far too big to get through the locked doors. A moment later my sense of security is gone along with the wall in front of me. Rocks thrown by the creature smash away at the fortress around me before he charges straight through the remains of the building. Anything in his way is pulverized.

I run from the broken warehouse and grab the weapons dropped by the troopers. A tense fight develops with the colossal monster. His skin looks soft. Each bullet producing a spray of Technocyte blood as it pounds into his grotesque skin. My glaive slices into him spraying even more blood. His attacks continue; there is nowhere for me to hide. Any solid object I attempt to cover behind is soon gone, smashed by the flying rocks or his formidable body.

My ammo begins to run low as I bravely fight on. Then a strange shockwave spreads across Lasria causing the creature to run. He disappears into the distance as he jumps across the buildings. I can finally relax but sense that my fight with the Colossus is not yet over…

As the programmer responsible for bringing the Colossus to life I often go through the above experience. My name is John Newton, an AI programmer working on Dark Sector. With the release of the latest Dark Sector videos it was great for me to see the Colossus boss being shown to the public.

I was initially given the task of making an exciting boss fight inside the church. At this point in the game the Colossus had evolved bulletproof metallic skin and could leap around inside the church, jumping between pillars and throwing rocks at Hayden. Somehow Hayden had to find a way to knock the Colossus from the pillars and eventually kill him. It was an exciting character to work on and was great fun playing the completed fight. At the start I was given the basic level design and the great looking Colossus model. I then worked with the talented animators while developing the AI code. We would have regular reviews of the fight to iron out problems and come up with new ideas to make the fight fun. Once I had the Colossus working well, we put a lot of effort into perfecting it by fixing bugs, adding sounds, effects and polishing the church interior. It was a great team effort.

After the church fight was finished we added the Colossus to an earlier mission in the game because he had become such an exciting character to play against. This took some additional work to customize him to a new scenario but it has turned out amazing.

I’ve worked in the games industry for 8 years now on many top selling titles but the Colossus is certainly one of my favorite things to have worked on. I’m glad people can finally see him in action and will soon get to fight him.

Sound Design

The star's of our Vegetable Abuse video, Dustin and George, wrote up a great piece on some of the ways they went about working on Dark Sector. Enjoy!

Monster Sounds Through Human Performance

Trying to come up with a convincing 'monster' sound is a difficult task. You want it to somehow sound realistic in a way that the player could believe these characters were real, but at the same time you don't want it to mimic like other generic monster sounds out there.

Through much trial and error we found that laying down a human performance as the core of our sound was the best way to get that realistic feel. 'Acting' out the vocalizations of a character is much easier to match to animations, and can get the point across as to what that specific creature is doing, or trying to do. Also, adding an ounce of humanity to a character can make it more terrifying as players can relate to what they're hearing...something that maybe used to be human but is quickly becoming something else.

Once the core elements are in place, then processing and other layers to the sound would be applied (depending on the situation). Hopefully players will be a little on edge when they get further into the game and the 'less-human' characters start to emerge.

Dwight Schultz became the voice of Robert Mezner. We needed someone who could portray a larger than life character and be able to develop a voice that you would remember. Dwight did an amazing job of making Mezner come across as this psychotic half beast half monster enemy. Hayden often hears the voice of Mezner in his head throughout the game. Through the use of various signal processing techniques we were able to shift Dwight’s voice and make it sound like he’s taking over Hayden’s mind. It turned out really cool, so listen for it when you pick up the game!

Voice Acting the Main Characters

A great performance for all the characters in a game will only help draw the player in that much more. When you're not sitting back and making comments on how poorly the voice over is acted out, you're paying more attention to what's happening on screen. Finding the right talent is key.

The cast of characters for Dark Sector come together and work really well. Michael Rosenbaum (of Smallville fame) pretty much nailed the overall vision we all had of Hayden Tenno, while Dwight Schultz (which everyone around my age group remembers from the A-Team as Murdoch) does an amazing job voicing Hayden's rival, Robert Mezner.

When we set out to find character voices for Dark Sector we wanted to find actors who we all admired and thought would make the voices of Dark Sector come alive. We got the amazing opportunity to sit back and listen to Michael Rosenbaum become the voice of Hayden Tenno. Hayden was voiceless for a long time in the development cycle and so it was great to give our main character a voice after being mute for so long.

Working with these talented actors was quite and amazing experience. Though we monitored the recording sessions remotely from our studio here, it was almost like being out in the L.A. Studio. We could communicate back and forth as if the talent were in the next room, helping with direction as necessary.