Trusting Fatshark with Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

Acolytes,

Last week we premiered the first gameplay trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Darktide !

If you missed it, we don’t blame you! It was a busy week for sure, and whilst many eyes are on the year 2077 we want to take you further into the future where it’s grimdark and there’s only war.

The Warhammer: 40K franchise is widely loved and adored by many, and we’re stoked to have the opportunity to work with the brand. Games Workshop has trusted us to craft a co-op game that respects the setting, whilst giving players a familiar yet fresh approach to a format we have been polishing throughout development of both Vermintide titles over the last five or more years.

So can we be trusted to deliver on a game-changing 40,000 co-op smash hit? We think so, but we want to take a moment to convince you all that Darktide is in capable hands.

Who are we?

We’re Fatshark . We’ve been making games together in Sweden since 2008, but many of us have been busy in the industry prior to the inception of the studio.

We love games. We love playing games. We love making games. We play games for the same reasons you do; to escape to another world, challenge ourselves, explore places we can’t explore in person, and experience things we could otherwise not experience. Mostly though, we love games that bring people together! It’s why we made games like Vermintide to be as cooperative as possible. Everything we’ve learned from developing the Vermintide games is being poured into Darktide and setting it up to be the ultimate cooperative experience, not just in the 40K universe but in your entire library.

Why us?

We love Warhammer. A lot . We’ve grown up painting miniatures and poring over rule books. Our home and office libraries are stocked with reading material – novels and adventure books from all walks of Warhammer.

At the helm of the project our Game Director, Anders, had this to say:

I discovered 40K in the early 90s, and as an aspiring artist I got very inspired by all the incredible artworks by legends like John Blanche, Jes Goodwin and Adrian Smith to mention a few. Ever since then 40K has been a part of my life, both in book form, RPGs and miniatures. Lately the more digital my work gets, the bigger the urge to bring out my old brushes and paint!

Getting the chance to work with this project is of course a dream come true (but it is also a huge scary responsibility hehe).

Anders also updates a dedicated instagram account that’s been in the works from the day we first pitched the project to Games Workshop.

https://www.instagram.com/bilewerk/


Executive producer, Steve, has been busy at the helm of the production team making sure the development pipelines remain as clear and unobstructed as possible given the current global situation, but he’s also been fiercely busy both in the office (and at home) getting himself and fellow devs right into the thick of it.

https://www.tiktok.com/@fatsharkgames/video/6897901135470906626

Narrative Director, Mårten, fancied himself a Fantasy fanatic until the End Times, but all it took were the words of Dan Abnett to convert him to a 40K aficionado:

" I grew up pretty much exclusively immersing myself in Fantasy, and when that moved on I started getting to grips more with 40K. Reading the Eisenhorn and Ravenor series’ was when it all fell into place for me - the humanity involved at a deeper level. I think I needed to face people on the streets of the universe to break through the mechanised shell of the 40K Universe. "

Lead level designer, Joakim, wanted to share his journey with 40K.

I started more or less from scratch here, with only a vague grip on 40K. Then came 14 months of reading 40K literature, all in the name of background research into Hive cities and the Inquisition:

  • Eisenhorn trilogy + shorts
  • Ravenor trilogy + shorts
  • 15 Gaunt’s Ghosts
  • Crusade & other stories
  • Dark Imperium
  • DI: Plague War
  • Kai Jericho omnibus
  • Various 40K rulebooks
  • Urban Conquest
  • Vigilus Ablaze + Defiant
  • Dark Heresy
  • The Imperium Infantryman’s Handbook

Currently reading Carrion Throne (then I’m going to start The Hollow Mountain). I got the count to 9814 pages in total so far - that’s 755 pages of 40K every month. Some were digital editions, and some are loaned out, but most of them are in the picture… not forgetting the Dark Heresy role playing campaign!

Senior Character Artist, Johan, showcases just one corner of his extensive library of physical books:

Gameplay programmer and Fatshark Stream celebrity, Tom, has been into 40K for the longest time.

Like every Warhammer player in their late 20’s / early 30’s I first played the tabletop game when I was a kid. It wasn’t until I started working at Fatshark that I began picking it up again, and eventually 8th edition 40K was the perfect excuse to begin playing properly. The tabletop game is now my primary hobby (even beyond playing video games). I frequently attend tournaments and play with some of the best players Sweden has to offer. The lore and IP are fantastic, but for me it’s the hobby and the game that draws me in the most. The opportunity to work with fellow fans on a game that is so very related to my personal interests is a fantastic experience.

Gameplay programmer, Ricardas, did a brief stint updating an instagram account with minis as well, but has since been too busy programming to keep it up to date!

https://www.instagram.com/mechasheep/

Our cinematics director, Tor, admitted not being all that in to Warhammer when he started with us, but (and we quote):

Seriously, I wasn’t all that into Warhammer when I started at Fatshark. But after reading about 15 or more books… the universe man… I [redacted] LOVE it!!! The Inquisition and Chaos and warp and the vast scale of things and Eisenhorn and Ravenor and the art style alien races etc. It’s a spectacular universe and it gives me chills.

If you can’t tell, it’s hard to keep Tor in one single train of thought at once, but no doubt our cinematics are in safe hands!

Various other members of the team have shared some of their workstations and models, some are works in progress, others at a state of completion, and so many more we just don’t have space to share. The hope is that you can see that we’re not inexperienced in the 40K universe and we will be treating the IP you love with the respect and care it deserves.

Honestly, we gave gigabytes of photos of armies and minis. We just can’t fit it all into one blog post. Suffice to say, we want you to be confident that our passion for Warhammer starts in the real world, and is being lavishly pumped in to the development of Darktide.

We can’t wait to show you more in 2021!

You can wishlist Darktide right now, and we recommend Wishlisting, Following and joining the Steam Group to get notified of the latest updates when we publish them!

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Awesome! But personally I will need to see more gameplay and plans for how you are handling in-game systems before I am convinced the same mistakes from Vermintide will not be repeated.

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I love seeing that Ravenor Omnibus, it’s a really nice looking book :smiley:

To get serious: On the matter of trusting you guys, i can only concur with what @spatnack said. To be quite honest, i wouldn’t mind to wait till early 2022 if needs be.
You should know by now that how both V1 and V2 launched and how some of the later DLC’s and updates were handled wasn’t… preferable (It got better with Drachenfels). If something seems fine, but could geta bit more polish, polish it. If the feedback in a Beta is more mixed than positive, put some more time into it, trust the testers.
I know for certain already that at some point, when the exclusivity deal with xbox runs out and the game will get it’s release for PS we will see a little dry run for content. It’s inevitable, i can live with that.

Some people are already quite hyped about the game, and as we all know

did definitely not launch in a good state, and the PR before launch was rather… fishy (pun not intended).
My only wish then would really be to make a Beta well ahead of time, so we as a community can stress test the system as much as possible before the actual release date to iron out all (realistically speaking: most) of the bugs. And by that i don’t mean no Tyranids. Hopefully we will still see a couple or a billion at some point? Fingers crossed.

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Absolutely. We have to give you guys that. I have no doubt it’s going to be a fun game.

But other than that, I have not much trust left. Vermintide 2 is being very poorly supported, due to how much the team is spread out on different projects. The weaves have almost no players due to how you have 160 different “missions”, and much needed quality of life for the base game is still nowhere in sight after almost 3 years. On top of that, recent DLCs are considerably more expensive then they used to be.
And one last thing: the game is so grindy - mostly because of the pure RNG nature of loot, but you can also see the design behind it, like all the play 100 missions as class X, and the seasonals play 100 something weaves - that after a little more than 2000 hours (an insane amount) i’m still missing stuff.
I like the game a lot, otherwise I would not have spent so much time on it, but I think you guys need to have a bit more respect for the players’ time. This reason alone is enough for me not to support Darktide.

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If there’s one thing people aren’t concerned about, it’s your love for the Warhammer world, and your will to make a game that does the setting right. That love practically radiates out of both Vermintide games already, so 100% confidence Darktide will do the same for 40K.

Don’t forget to enjoy making the game as well. That’ll show in the end. :slight_smile:

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That’s a lot of negativity in the comments. I have full faith in you guys. Just make a vermintide in space with some improved systems and we are golden.

Good luck!

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I trust you guys know and love Warhammer, though I do find myself concerned that all support for Vermintide 2 will functionally end when Darktide drops. I do find I like aspects of 40k, and your games are fun - no doubt there - but I’m always going to prefer Fantasy over 40k. Given how 40k gets nearly all the love, I’d be pretty bummed if you guys leave it behind.

And agreed with others, that you really need to respect our time. The grind and RNG in Vermintide are just insane to an insulting degree. On top of that, you guys really need to be sure the game works. Personally, I don’t mind visual bugs so much, but things not working or just making the game unplayable or unstable are not okay.

I do have trust that you guys will make a fun game, though. I just want it to be something that can actually be played. And finally, as Tman says - you guys take care of yourselves, too. It seems like you have a healthy culture at Fatshark, and I hope it stays that way!

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Thing is ‘just Vermintide in space’ is not really what they have in mind as far as i can tell out of the info we got up until now (which includes the trailers, the dev blogs here and the article in PC Gamer, mostly the later). They already said it’s going to be different in some ways, with 50/50 melee/ranged, avoidable ambient enemies and hordes and a bit more horror factor, tighter areas (more bottlenecks), way more customization and variation gameplay-, equipment- and skillwise, etc.

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I don’t mean literal. I just want them to capture the essence of what vermintide is and not change the core formula. The changes you said will not really have an impact on the ‘feel’ of the game, they will (hopefully) just feel like a breath of fresh air.

For example I wouldn’t want them to make the game like DRG, I want them to expand on vermintide, not make something completely new. And what I’ve heard and read that is exactly what they’re aiming for.

Yes, yes but… no. Personally I don’t trust you anymore. Firstly, make REALLY good game and maybe I change my mind.

Oh and one more thing. I suggest other users limit words like “we” and start speaking for yourself because not everyone shares the same opinion :slight_smile:

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If I may ask, why do you not trust them ?

Sure. My trust has been tarnished by such specialties as WoM and many years of ignoring really good feedback from the community gathered here, in favor of a group of “experts” has already lost interest of game right after WoM flop.

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Actually, I wasn’t going to reply to this post at all and the essence of the statement I would have made has already been stated by @spatnack @JayJay and @WhereIsBaoDur.
No one will question your love and knowledge of Warhammer, but unfortunately that is no guarantee that Darktide will not meet the same fate that Vermintide has (so far).

If Vermintide is the definition of a polished game for FatShark, then unfortunately I can’t say I want to support Darktide. As much as I enjoy playing Vermintide and as good as the basics may be, the lack of support in terms of bugfixing, QoL optimizations, the Weaves, crafting, etc. is simply frustrating and after almost 3 years sobering.

Just please keep in mind that the people who share criticism/ideas/improvement suggestions here, the people who have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours in your games have just as much love for the Warhammer universe and your games as you do, just don’t keep ignoring them.

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You are missing the linguistic nuance: “we have been polishing”.

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I don’t mind a conversation about the stuff i said. Which one of the three ‘we’ i used do you disagree with? The one about Cyberpunk, the one about Beta testing or the one about the infos on Darktide? (or any combination of them) Also this conversation should then probably not continue here as it would stretch the confines of the topic.
Just send me a DM.

I trust you guys to be invested into production but the way things have gone leaves me in doubt regarding your ability to service and maintain the stuff you make .c

Vt2 to my memory has never had a period free of big bugs which badly affect gameplay and the experience of playing the game. Multiple features that you´d consider basic were only found in mods, such as UI tweaks showing when someone is grey and so on.

A game dependent on mods to have a UI that properly displays needed info is…yeah.

Then there was stuff when basic systems like the crafting ones were badly made and still are, its still a thing that opening more than a few chests takes long to do and then cleaning out inventory after that takes even longer.

Then there is also the thing about bugs that have been around since the god dang beta such as blightstormers casting through walls or from a few miles off, or packmasters pulling people through walls. Or leeches grabbing from really far away. Or wonky enemy spawns with hordes&specials appearing ontop of you.

Those bugs have been here since the god dang beta!
.
.
.
I trust you guys to be committed to making a game, i have trust issue´s about the rest though and something tells me that i ought to wait for about 1 year post launch before i consider buying it purely for the sake of avoiding really bad performance&design stuff.

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No.

TL;DR : Not only because I’m a bad grim Russian person who hates everything, but because of FS’s history of developing VTs and maintaining them.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to downplay your love for the IP you’re using or the dedication of your art and game design team - they were the ones pushing VTs forward and actually making us love it. But as a software developer, I’m convinced that no matter how much I love the area of expertise I’m working in, the software won’t write itself. It’s a stubborn bugger like that. And unfortunately, FS’s track record in the actual hard skill department is lacking.
When I think ‘DarkTide’, one of the first things that come to my mind are:

  1. the game will not run on anything but the most advanced gaming PC hardware;
  2. the game will have user interface that will have errors in its state machine, will lock up, loop, and generally irritate the living souls out of the players;
  3. the game will probably have this big tumorous growth on its side in the shape of ‘progression’ which will hinder how a player navigates and explores the forms and possibilities that the gameplay provides;
  4. it will be full of even kind of essential features that will be poorly realised for various different reasons.

But you might say: ‘Orson, why so glum? Isn’t that a clean slate project that will be free of all those deficiencies?’ - And my answer to that is ‘Probably not’. And that is why: VTs were around for long enough - years in fact - that we can actually try and analyse the trends at hand:

  1. The game was always poorly optimised. FS chose to forego using existing game engine technology (and probably for good reasons), but what they ended up writing on their own is just significantly lower quality that we are used to seeing. And I’m not even talking about big money projects - there are a lot of examples where way smaller studios managed to pull off feats of good programming and software design. It just so happens that FS does not really fall into their ranks. And the deciding factor for me is this: whatever architectural problems their engine had - they are still there, and that tells me that there are no experts to refactor them, there are no technical advisors capable of managing a project of this complexity, and most of all there is not enough will to actually hire those people to rectify your problems, which is extremely common in other branches of IT development like high-load capable cloud services etc. You gotta ask for help sometime. For that, I’m quite skeptic about the future of DT.
  2. The UEx is a bane of VT2, it was kinda rough in VT1 too, but the second game breaks all records in my book - I’ve yet to come across an interface system that boils my blood quite like early VT2 had. And the trends are kinda weak here as well. We were begging to be able to skip the motherloving CHEST ANIMATION. God, why do we even have them? Don’t you think we know what they look like by say a 100th run? On numerous occasions the active and supportive playerbase asked, suggested, nagged and plainly begged FS to do something about this - let us skip this, let us vote to return to the Keep or to proceed to a next mission (JUST LIKE IN VT1!). Let us not watch the freaking furnace grill drop down every time I want to convert 10 dust. But what has been done to the day? - They let us speed up this fecal matter a little by holding down spacebar. To me it looks like an absolutely cruel joke that I will never ever forget or understand. Time is the only commodity that is priceless - the total number of seconds until you’re worm food. Why do you waste them? And don’t tell me that playing games is a waste in itself - it is recreation, consumption of an entertainment art product, but staring at absolutely meaningless animations is not. Nothing in this world will ever make me change my mind, so don’t bother.
  3. There is enough things said about the progression, how to make it better etc. I’ll just reiterate something I’ve already posted here: L4D2 has no progression whatsoever - all the players are exactly equal from the very first second they launch the game. Did it hurt the game? - Well, if you consider that 10 years later there are 6+ times as many people still playing it than VT2 2 years into it’s life cycle, than yes, it did. Once again, nothing really changed since release, so at this point I consider it a given that the option to change that just isn’t there in the developer’s mind.
  4. I mean really - how hard can it be to code in player outlines so they don’t bug out? How many years should it take a paid professional developer to make a thing like this work? Is there even a real answer to this question? Enemy animations? Players joining in? Freaking bot AI? Pathfinding? The list goes on. And it goes on through years of dev time once again. You’re getting away with it only because in our age game development is the bottom feeding layer of software development, and everything else out there is so so bad.

‘Hey, Orson, why did you take all this time to write this up if the game is so bad?’ - It’s not bad. It’s just that all these shortcomings always stand out more against an immaculate background of character crafting, lore completeness, graphics design, voice acting and core gameplay fun. It is maddening how a thing so beautiful as VT2 can be marred and bogged down by trivial problems that get fixed left and right in any other branch of software dev. It is maddening how a project this well-conceived can have such poor sense of direction on the part of its maintainers. And that is the essence of FS development for me.
It’s been and continues to be an extremely fun journey for me, but I’m absolutely terrified of getting into another game like that, and I’m not entirely convinced that DT won’t be like that at all. Cheers.

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@OrsonMaxwell Harsh, but basically correct.

V1 is definitely a more polished game as FS worked tirelessly to improve.

Sure, V2 has some issues but they are working on a MODIFIED UPDATED version of the Stingray engine. Any time you modify or update a game engine, it opens up a whole new set of issues which FS is trying to work out.

You’ve obviously never played Fallout 76 on launch day, did you? FO76 uses the Creation engine which was MODIFED and UPDATED from the Gamebryo engine which was created in 1997 mind you.

You can say a lot of things about Fatshark but at least they’re not Bethesda :smiley:

At least they TRY to fix issues with their game and TRY to make a decent and enjoyable experience for their players instead of bleeding us dry with crap games made with a 23 year old engine.

I mean, it could be worse.

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I am well aware of the situation regarding the engine. But to be honest, this fact should not be used as a justification for the current state of Vermintide 2. FatShark has chosen this engine and if they have such problems with it, then maybe they should really look for more professional help/staff, as @OrsonMaxwell already said.
By the way, I also think that a comparison with other games should not be a basis for discussion, because it only takes the focus away from the actual problem and does not provide a solution, you should never go by the worse #lifehack.

And if these problems, as you say, are due to the game engine, among other things, and Darktide was/is made with the same, I think that’s just one more worrying reason against Darktide.

If FatShark just wants to TRY things, then they should run their projects as a privately funded hobby and not abuse paying customers as beta testers. That’s not how economy works. Sure FatShark has to get along financially, which is certainly the reason for the outstanding problems, but you can’t expect customers to show understanding for that in the long run either. If you as a company produce your product uneconomically and make the customer pay for it or let them just stall, then you don’t have to wonder if at some point there is simply no trust left. And if I look at this thread so then this is at least for the majority here the case.

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Why not join the Fatshark Discord https://discord.gg/K6gyMpu