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Maintaining the Vigil

David Adams and Joe Madureira on building a studio, Darksiders, THQ and Warhammer 40K

Vigil Games was founded in 2005 by David Adams and Joe Madureira, and acquired by THQ in 2006. Earlier this year the team released the critically-acclaimed Darksiders as their first full internal project - a game in the works on and off for five years.

Additionally, the studio is working on an MMO based around the Warhammer 40,000 universe, while also going into production on a Darksiders sequel. At the recent DICE Summit we caught up with David, general manager, and Joe, creative director, to look back on the studio's history, talk about the reinvention of THQ, ponder the Darksiders development process and look ahead to Warhammer 40K. What made you want to get involved with the DICE Summit?
David Adams

It's a good opportunity to come down and meet some fellow industry members - we don't get together enough and talk about stuff.

Joe Madureira

It turns out making games is hard work, so we're usually nose-down. We get kinda reclusive, in our caves, tinkering away... it's good to occasionally step back, meet other people who are doing the same thing and facing the same challenges. There are a lot of good stories and knowledge to share, and I wish it happened more often... but after this we'll probably all go back to our caves, and get on with it. So Darksiders was released at the beginning of this year - how pleased were you with the way that turned out?
David Adams

Yeah, definitely. We worked a long time on the game, and there's always that fear when you finish is and put it out there, that no one will like it. But most people did, which is a nice validation of all the hard work you put into it.

Joe Madureira

It's also cool too having people know who we are for a change... guys that we respect, like Ted Price, and people from BioWare, or others we really admire - for them to tell us they checked out our game and liked it, it's a really good feeling. There's acceptance from your fans, but then from your peers - they're both really cool in their own way, so it's very nice.

David Adams

Yeah, there was definitely a long spell there that was like: "Where you from? Vigil Games? What's that?" So how long was the development process for Darksiders?
David Adams

Well, it's got a weird sort of history, because we started the company about five years ago - and technically we started on Darksiders then. It was our initial reason for the company. We made a demo and showed it to THQ - but then we had to take a step back from it for a while, because just getting a game through a publisher, to the point where they're approving it, takes a while.

So we did a lot of contract work, and then picked it back up - we weren't really in true, true development... it was about three and a half years or so, but even then that was starting with eight guys, and building a new studio, building the project.

Joe Madureira

It's a lot different when an established developer makes a game in 24 months, because they've already got a team and they hit the ground running. 24 months, when for half of that you only had nine people - it just doesn't count as a full year of development.

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Phil Elliott