Developer Diary: “Spanking Death!” by Darren Evenson – Lead Designer

Darren (on the right) shares a laugh with Mark, Hothead’s QA Lead

Ah yes, DeathSpank’s production.  It was like a crazy ride at an amusement park that goes up and down with dips and twists, and was full of stops, drops, and rolls.  Hmm.  Wait a minute.  Come to think of it, there were no stops OR rolls.  No wait, I’ve got it.  It was more like a woman.  Yeah, that’s it.  A woman with sexy curves and an attitude that was all like “Hey, stop bothering me or I’m calling the cops again” at that summer camp back in ’87.  Umm… you know what?  I’m just going to start over.

<Clears throat, drinks water, and high five’s co-worker in the cool Top Gun beach volleyball way.>

Working on DeathSpank has been an unbelievable experience for me.  Literally.  I still have a hard time believing we’re actually finished working on it, because it has been such a huge part of our lives at Hothead for so long.  Well okay, maybe not THAT long… but in dog years it’s a pretty good chunk of time.  My part in DeathSpank’s production was as Lead Designer. What I got to do was pretty incredible, as I worked alongside Ron Gilbert and our incredible development team at Hothead to create a truly unique and entertaining experience.

<Sips glass of brandy and looks contemplatively out the window.>

Some of my earliest memories of DeathSpank are just bouncing ideas back and forth as we discussed the characters, the story, the adventure gameplay, and the combat.  And the one thing that happened at EVERY meeting was laughing uncontrollably over an idea or comment.  So needless to say, humor was ingrained into the very core of this game from the start, and it really shows.

Darren (on the left) chatting with Ron

As we moved through production, we definitely had our share of challenges. One of the most significant being the balancing of the “Adventure” and “RPG” gameplay, and how far do we push each of those to get the perfect game formula?  This question caused designs, re-designs, and re-designing the re-design of the systems we had in the game. Fortunately, we got closer to the mark with each iteration, and collaboratively we came up with something that we all take pride in.  How we got there was by “letting the intended experience dictate our decisions”.  That is to say, we considered precisely what we wanted the player to feel at every point in the game, and we let that simple premise determine what we designed and how we designed it.  I think that basic idea really helped us strike a sweet spot with DeathSpank.

A few years ago, DeathSpank was a great idea.  Now, after years of hard work, tuning game play, writing and recording thousands of lines of dialog and with the devotion of our team, we developed that great idea into an incredible game that I know you’re going to love.

<Stands up, raises wineglass, clinks side with a spoon.>

And with that I raise my glass to DeathSpank and everyone who helped make it.  It’s been one hell of a journey.  We’ve shared some laughs, shed a few tears, learned a little something about ourselves, and probably some other clichés that are also applicable.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I really owe our sound department a few drinks (I’m looking at you, Adam).

[Darren Evenson was the Lead Designer on DeathSpank, and worked as Ron Gilbert’s right hand . . . man.  Darren has been in the game industry for a decade and was an original member of Hothead when it was founded in 2006.]

5 Responses to “Developer Diary: “Spanking Death!” by Darren Evenson – Lead Designer”

  1. admin says:

    Canucks like to party, what can we say? :) At least those are only the pictures that we post publicly!

    Thanks for your support Tenochtitlan, so stoked to see you create a German fan site for us! http://www.death-spank.de.

    Let me know if you need anything…

  2. tenochtitlan says:

    Apparently you guys party a lot – where are the cliché “guy sits in front of screen working on mysterious IDE” developer diary pictures? ;)

  3. We love you Eves! *squeeeel!*

  4. admin says:

    Hey Marcel, thanks for the good wishes man!

  5. Marcel Rowe says:

    Eves!! Glad to hear you guys finished it and everything turned out well! I’m looking forward to playing it.