Experience the epic story of Sareth, destined to become the Dark Messiah but this time with the help of your friends. Slay monsters, fight over Leanna or Xana, but most importantly choose to fulfill or reject your destiny. Buckle up for a game experience better than you would've thought alone. Persistent skills, campaign saves, new spells, and new features! Once you've done that, keep the party going with custom levels.

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Happy New Year everybody! It's been awhile since our last update, but we haven't been wasting any time, so rather than continue doing that with this introduction, why don't we jump right in?


Most Anticipated Mod of 2023

Let me just start off by saying how much it means to the team and I to have gotten any form of nomination / award this year, let alone something like most anticipated of 2023. I started this as a small one-man job, and with the Dark Messiah community answering the call when I needed help and generally being around to give insight, the award goes to you all as much as us. Now our goal is to never get this award again. We want to try and upgrade this to a Best Released of 2024 instead, but we'll get more into those plans later.


Ubisoft Update

There's only a certain amount I can share regarding my conversations with Ubisoft but let me start by saying I'm extremely grateful to be speaking with people there and beyond motivated to see how they truly have as much love for the game and franchise within the company as we do on the team. My continued communication with Ubisoft's team has helped us gain a lot of valuable insight on the development journey of Dark Messiah and the considerations that were taken at a design level. With that knowledge, we're forming our own design documents and "bible" such that we can continue to respect the game's gameplay DNA and artistic vision for everything from characters to custom campaigns, which I suspect will be the next deep-dive I write.

Before going onto actually introducing the new team members, I want to take this moment to PUBLICALLY thank them for stepping up to the plate and helping us hit a home run at my recent talks (I already tell them this privately!). Some of these guys were only there for about a month but immediately hit the ground running to create quality content and planning that shows Ubisoft we're not messing around. And with that, lets meet some of the new guys!


The New Recruits

Since I opened up applications to join the team I've been flooded with people that want to help and I'll admit, I'm going through them extremely slowly. Consider this the class of Winter 2023!

SSJGregory

While Greg has not really been part of the Dark Messiah community, he is a very talented modeler who's worked with a bunch of different artstyles. He'll be joining us as a Character Artist / 3D Modeler and will be assisting Riddick with bringing the multiplayer models to Sareth's side. We will all be seeing their Dark Messiah specific work in a later section, so I won't say as much here. For now though, here a cute alien egg they made!


QWERTY

Qwerty on the other hand has been very intertwined with the Dark Messiah community. Actually, it's a name you've probably have heard me talk about before, as he has helped with test maps and layout maps during the Co-op mod's development. Making the famous Dark Messiah Extended Mod he's joining us as a Level Designer and with his knowledge of manipulating Dark Messiah's logic and world through hammer, we'll be able to make some incredible maps and tools.

Granto

Another someone that's been hanging around the Dark Messiah community, they have a real passion for environment building. This comes in part because they're an ACTUAL architect so that's pretty cool! Prior to joining the team he has been messing around with creating a cohesive layout of Stonehelm to get an idea of exactly how this world connects. It only makes sense he join us as a Level Designer and help us expand not just the world, but the way we interact with it in ways that fit into the Might and Magic universe. He's also set up a little treat for everyone, but we'll get to that later too.

Balim

Balim has not just been around the Dark Messiah community, but the co-op source mod community as a whole. As both a scripter and a mapper, he's worked with Synergy, Black Mesa Co-op, even Lambda Fortress! Once again, a no brainer to bring him on as a Level Designer and bring focused knowledge of co-op with the source engine right here. You can actually check out the extensive, exact changes he's put together for the co-op mod from new encounters to logic improvements right here, and even do a quick demo in singleplayer!

LermanCT

Last but not least we have LermanCT, a modeler / texture artist who has taken an interest in our RTX project and specifically what the powerful toolkit by NVIDIA can accomplish. As a person who just loves 3D video game art, being able to create those high quality assets for not only models but environments and sets as well, coupled with my complete inexperience with asset creation, meant it was inevitable he would join us as an RTX Asset Creator ranging from objects to the literal maps. We've got a big update with the RTX mod, so we'll see more of his work later as well. For now here's a beautiful door he put together.

Of course, the hunt is still on! If you'd like to join the family EVEN AS A PLAYTESTER please don't hesitate to apply. Having more character artists or RTX asset creators will help us a long way, but there's plenty of ways you can help!




RTX ReMessiah and Early Access

There is a lot to say about the co-op mod, but before we get into that I want to give an update on our younger RTX project. With LermanCT on the team, I've been able to focus greatly on the programmatic implementation of the assets within the engine. As you'll remember, I had to basically reintegrate DX7 mode into the game, which meant we lost a lot of quality and features that only DX9 could supply. Thankfully, with enough work, it's clear we can get past it!

Water sources have now returned! In Dark Messiah water is entirely shader based, meaning the brunt work of what makes the water look so good is dynamic processing of graphics. Things like an object under water for example will have refraction. Within the RTX mod settings, I was actually able to create a replacement that would not only continue to refract, but also have light bounce appropriately for raytracing to take over and even create an almost "moisture" to the air around it. The results are stunning and I'm hoping to finalize some more pictures on the beach areas of Dark Messiah. Additionally, more dynamic function behavior has been replicated with the asset settings in RTX Remix, such as our now fully shaped smoke puffs (with light bleed through!) and more comfort in the tool has allowed us to map the actual material (metal, wood, etc.) on various parts of a single texture for more realistic behavior.

Before and qfter of Stonehelm with only SOME terrain remastered assets


The asset work does not stop there however. What we quickly found was that while we can restore the various normal / detail maps of the original textures of Dark Messiah to beef up RTX, maximizing what RTX can do would require remastering assets with the modern video game standards used long after this game's creation. With Lerman at the helm, he's now hard at work recreating the classic assets while still making sure they respect the original art style. Here's some more pictures, note that not all the textures have been remastered, but you can already see a real difference.


We'll be going level by level and remastering each individual asset. The good part is that Dark Messiah tends to re-use a lot of them, but also separates them by level name, meaning we can have unique designs for different parts of Stonehelm or stages in the game, should that be needed.

The final news, and I can't say much about, is that I have been chosen by NVIDIA for a few weeks now to be a part of the early access for the Full RTX Remix Toolkit. With it I can't wait to see what we can do given what I've already been able to accomplish with just the run time!


Co-op Mod, Playtesting, and a Little Treat!

With Balim's co-op fixes for the campaign plus some more coding fixes on my end, I had an entire plan to do a public testing release around Thanksgiving for the co-op mod, but as I gave it a final check to a few people, there were some stability related issues on other operating systems. Now I think I've solved that, but it brought up the fact that I've been doing testing with way too small a pool of people, even for the OS things. With that, I will be adding picking people out that have applied to join our closed testing starting on January 29th and will open up the testing on cupid's day of spells, February 14th. If you are interested in being part of the testing for this mod, make sure you apply in that link!

Our testing hierarchy will be the following:

  1. [CLOSED TESTING] OS Stability related issues
  2. Open testing here on out for OS Stability and General Stability related issues
  3. Testing of co-op campaign playability and basic Dark Messiah mechanics
  4. Testing of custom co-op mechanics and custom singleplayer map playability
  5. Testing of custom co-op maps, scenarios, and more!

The headspace is that we need to make sure the thing doesn't crash and burn on launch, then make sure you can get through the basic campaign without much changes. Finally, new mechanics and existing custom maps can start being tested for coverage before finally introducing completely new maps and co-op gameplay. With all this said though, we may sprinkle in a few custom things the level designers thought are cool or us programmers added in. We just want to set out a priority list in a way we can wrap our heads around.

The last thing to mention is that Granto put together a short-but-sweet singleplayer map for people to mess around with as a small demo of Dark Messiah's core mechanics and a new adventure soon to come. There's multiple paths, multiple enemies, and multiple secrets for you to tinker with. Download it at our downloads page!

Cliffside Encounter (Granto Demo)



Powering the Undead Priestess

Now with all the major mod stuff out of the way, let's talk models! Riddick has been hard at work ironing out the final pieces of armor for our Undead Priestess. He has just managed to finish up her specialized armor: the Mage T1 and Mage T2 robes.

Our goal for these armors were simple: Make her on the way towards becoming a Lich without making her look too much like an enemy. Additionally, give her a femme fatale feeling, as she reaches her maximum potential and becomes the deadly force she was meant to be. For Tier 1 we have a simple skirt-robe inspired from the original necromancer design, and we begin to add wounds encompassing her body, specifically where she casts. The final tier is where things get fun!




Building on what was already there, we finally bring in her spider worship. Giving her a mesh-spider-web-like cloak allows her to channel more of her magic energy efficiently. As a consequence of that, we see real wounds across her, and her eyes completely consumed. We also need to make sure her original garments also take some form of damage, so we added some burn holes for good measure. Since these are the robes of her chosen career path, they need to be beefed up as the "canonical" armors she would wear when making sure the prophecy is fulfilled.


We still need to get the Xana Armor (Demon Form) done, but much like the specialized armor there is a lot of consideration that goes into it. Hopefully I get to share some of that soon.

While Riddick worked on that, I worked my way into adding her into the game with great success! One of the main concerns we had was the animation set and the loss of detail. In a bittersweet victory, we didn't lose a shred of detail, but it came at the cost of messing some of the animations up. Sareth is a big guy, and the skeleton is slightly different from the Priestess. Actually, some bones don't even exist on the multiplayer player models because they aren't really needed, so we need to give her a final pass and some correct female-structure animations to inherit.

Focusing on her design in casual gameplay, a concern that started growing was whether you can really tell this person is on your side or not. Keeping to the character's career path, and especially for the undead faction, we're anticipating the issue and already trying to brain storm. With that said, we're extremely happy to see how well she integrates with the world, and everything we've learned on this long journey can now immensely speed up our integration of more multiplayer models. Let's go Riddick!


The Human Archer Steadies His Arrow

Now that we have SSJGregory on the team, we can start pumping out more characters and expand this roster! I asked him what he wanted to work on, and he had already jumped in on the Human Archer as our next official character for Sareth's posse. Much like the Undead Priestess, we're giving him a full pass for each armor type. It's also extremely convenient, as this allows us to explore some of the human faction's armor choices and propagate them to other characters in the future.

There are a few considerations to take with an archer that are somewhat similar for to a spell caster. For starters, an archer must always have a clear drawing path for his quiver, and having a casting glove / gauntlet for efficiency is a must. Additionally, we need to consider the role of an archer and how they would likely position themselves. An archer plays from the back, granting support, but even when up close they have an expectation on where they will be attacked. With some inspiration from real life archer designs, Greg took the first plunge into the Warrior tree of armors.


The first tier, the Chainmail armor, is somewhat simple. We can follow the Undead Priestess' lead and give him chainmail armor, but we also give him a coif to match the stonehelm guard's design. This is also a standard design for armored archers in medieval times as well, due to the flexibility around the neck! We also refine the chest but only the front, as Archer's are less likely to be attacked from the rear due to positioning, but we keep his left arm protected so he has a way to turn and protect himself. We can't remove all his leather yet as he's still keeping just his vitals protected. You can immediately see we keep his arrow casting armor clear means he can properly fire his weapon and reset too.


For his tier 2, plate armor, we lose the flexible coif for a more rigid helmet that provides better protection. We also give him back support and refine more of his body with better material so he can take more hits. Through all this his casting arm stays untouched and he still keeps his chainmail base.


Finally for his Tier 3, Shadow Steel, we consider that the human equivalent of this armor has some magically imbued properties for protection. The base idea stays the same, we refine all around to the more durable material. However, as this armor is more rigid and is still meant to protect, we give his casting arm a more durable and flexible fabric. The base color scheme is also kept reminiscent of the actual Shadow Steel armor that Sareth wears. An idea Greg toyed around with was the beliefs the character has. Since Stonehelm is a free city, many ideologies pass through it, and Greg felt that leaning into the original Shadow Steel imbuement of Ylath would be an interesting direction to take the final tier. Upgrading his protecting arm to a more dragonscale type armor felt right.

It'll be exciting to see where Greg takes this character, and if anyone has any suggestions or feedback feel free to leave us a message!


Closing Remarks

This is a gigantic post and I don't want to inject a developer diary video on top of it. You'll also notice I didn't include any SDK updates, but rest assured we have something truly amazing coming up and I think we'll be ready to show that off next article along with what Granto and Qwerty have been cooking up this past month. You already know the drill, feel free to follow any of our socials and drop a message if you have any questions or want to talk. Make sure you apply to be a playtester or join the team if you want to help! Until next time my fellow crusaders!

Discord: Discord.gg

YouTube: Youtube.com

Twitter: Twitter.com

A Call to Arms

A Call to Arms

News 22 comments

It's been a while but we're back and certainly not empty handed. RTX toolkit release, Ubisoft's full blessing, and a rally to join the team? Oh my!

A Cinematic Breakdown

A Cinematic Breakdown

News 5 comments

It's time for you to learn how cinematics work, and how I fixed them in co-op!

Character Special - The Undead Priestess WIP

Character Special - The Undead Priestess WIP

News 4 comments

Meet our first new playable character, and learn some of our design decisions as we move to finish her modelling. Note that it is a work in progress.

The Sizzling Summer Status

The Sizzling Summer Status

News 6 comments

Ubisoft legal news, animations, custom entities, and some character design perspective!

Add file RSS Files
Cliffside Encounter (Granto Demo)

Cliffside Encounter (Granto Demo)

Singleplayer Map 1 comment

Finding yourself in front of a strange ruin on the cliffside, you try to get inside and investigate what is hidden within..

Comments  (0 - 10 of 72)
SeBoy
SeBoy - - 1 comments

The RTX mod permanently broke my game... how do I reset ALL settings that got changed with RTX. I reinstalled the game, deleted all config files, I even had to manually change the direcX level and mat_bumpmap ect. (because deleting the start parameter line is not enough) now I still have problems with the game like no particle effects. r_drawparticles does not change anything. I cannot figure out how to simply reset the settings...

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Guest
Guest - - 687,512 comments

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diablow
diablow - - 262 comments

Thx for bringin back one of my absolute fav games.

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NertyNert
NertyNert - - 69 comments

cheers and godspeed

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aXewrath
aXewrath - - 12 comments

So glad I've kept my Win7 pc for this. Can't for the life of me get DM to work on Win11.

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diablow
diablow - - 262 comments

it works fine on win10 with Dark Messiah Enhanced (DME) Texture Pack
even in 21:9 aspect.

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0x43485544
0x43485544 - - 4 comments

Is there a timeframe that is in mind for the release of your SDK or is it too soon to speculate on that yet? I am very interested in seeing a revival of this game. Seeing custom levels or even more advanced projects begin to arise for this would really be a joy. I've always been fond of the combat mechanics in this game and to see what might be possible with it if robust tools are made available to the modding community at large is a very exciting prospect.

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JjForcebreaker
JjForcebreaker - - 904 comments

That is a lot of exciting news!

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skdursh
skdursh - - 472 comments

This is the first time I've ever heard anyone getting worried about releasing a mod for a game outside of cases where someone is trying to do a direct 1-to-1 remake of a game which is obvious copyright infringement. You don't need a companies' permission to mod a game or to make tools which enable one to mod it either.

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yeizonex
yeizonex - - 49 comments

You don't understand. They had to disassemble closed source binaries from the game in order to make this, and they were hesitant to release those changes because they would be basically opening CLOSED SOURCE stuff to people. Those binaries are owned by Ubisoft whether we like it or not so they'd have the right to sue people for breaking it, nobody is allowed to disassemble, take ownership, modify or tamper with those binaries, you are only given a LICENSE to USE them as they declare in the end user agreement you agree upon when playing the game.

Now, them giving green light for the modders to actually do it is something awesome and more companies should do it too.

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KingDavidW Creator
KingDavidW - - 82 comments

This is pretty much spot-on, this is a product of three different companies, some of which have been bought and licenses have been changed. There is a bit of "better safe than sorry" over here, as our solutions were pretty much approved once consulted with, but the real risk here is that you would be able to basically recreate this game within the source engine thanks to the reverse engineered code, which would prevent you from having to buy the game in the first place. With reverse engineering it's at the disclosure of the owner of the license to enforce certain aspects, in this case we have permission in writing, so we're clear to move without it coming back on us. Unless something drastic changes.

This is also because the intent is to open source it like you said as well, if we kept it as modules and never open source it, there would never be any issues

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skdursh
skdursh - - 472 comments

You absolutely can disassemble any software you want. The NSA, a government agency, literally puts out their own disassembly toolkit to the public called GHIDRA for free to facilitate it. You are literally allowed (by American law at least) to alter any software you want so long as you legally own an original copy. You aren't allowed to pass those original files along to others who don't own them, but you absolutely are allowed to pass along the tools you develop which allow others to access those files from their own legally purchased copy. It's also arguable that a disassembly constitutes a wholly new software which isn't in any respect the property of the original developer because a disassembly isn't the exact original code used, it's a cleverly inferred interpretation as to what the code does which is recreated. The complete disassembly of many games, including games like Mario 64, is available to the public on Github. Do you really think that Nintendo of all companies wouldn't be doing something about that if they could?

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yeizonex
yeizonex - - 49 comments

Do you know what an EULA is? Read any from any or software. It doesn't work that way. You can do whatever you want on your own as long as they don't find out (or they just don't care), but as soon as you open it to the public you are bound to get sued if they choose to do so. You don't own the copy of any game, you only own a license to use that copy. Only exceptions are DRM free games.

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RexBellator
RexBellator - - 4 comments

How about you let people live their lives? Open doors instead of closing them? Of course not. How else would you feel superior despite the fact you're an unloved incel?

Whether you want to accept it or not phobias are real and debilitating; there's no reason those people should be left out especially over a feature that could be implemented with only a modicum of work by the developers. It benefits them as well as the end-user. But more importantly it has ZERO effect on you, yet you feel affronted by such a request. That says more about you than it does anyone who has a phobia.

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skdursh
skdursh - - 472 comments

Phobias don't get cured by coddling those with them and demanding others do extra work (FREE work especially) to satisfy their illogical needs is wholly unethical.

Seethe more, I still won't care.

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