Xander Davis (pictured above) used to work for Vigil Games. He worked tirelessly for them in order to craft the UI for Darksiders II within the space of a single month, with only 2 other people to work with him within that space of time. He was later fired, and somebody else took his place, but according to his accounts, the UI in the finished Darksiders II was 90% derivative of his work, and yet his name was not even in the credits for the game.
“If I hadn’t said anything, nobody would’ve even noticed. Who reads credits anyway? No one. I know it probably doesn’t even matter. But you know, what? I read them. It matters,” Davis said, taking to Twitter to vent his frustration. “After the hell that I went through, after giving Vigil everything and more, like so many others, after doing my job and doing it well and leading with no support, in record time… once I saw the credits, I simply couldn’t stand to let that pass.”
Davis had been designing for High Moon Studios on Transformers: War for Cybertron and Lichdom from studio Xaviant prior to Darksiders II.
“In October, I interviewed at Vigil. They wanted to get someone out there as fast as possible because their UI was in a state of emergency,” he said. “I thought this was great! ‘They really like me’ But, no, they were just desperate to solve their problem and anyone would do.”
Davis was tasked with creating a UI for the game in its entirety within the space of 30 days, which he managed to do and more by working harder and longer than anybody else in the studio. After this deadline, the game had a month before it would ship (that is, before the game was ever delayed). “Let’s say it’d be pretty crazy with 30 days left to ship to revamp gameplay UI with a team of three people. That’d be crazy at any studio. Despite completely revamping the UI, that wasn’t good enough,” he commented. “Vigil kept pushing harder.”
During the month of January, Davis would work until 2 AM every single night, he said that he would be the only person left in the building whilst everyone else was off. There was one night when he fell asleep at his desk whilst working, and then, after waking up, immediately worked another 14-hour shift during the weekend. Then he was fired.
“Vigil had mass layoffs in March. Entire UI team was laid off. Credible source says they kept one on via retainer who was chummy w/ owners,” he wrote. “I was let go a month after DMO changed, they merged the other UI team, & Herb Ellwood swooped in & stole my job. After all my hard work. Herb Ellwood only had a contract with THQ. He used the team merging (which we needed to make ship) to secure a salary. Mine.”
Davis said that the constant stream of layoffs went on at Vigil after he was fired, and for the duration of the time that he was looking for a new employer. This event has been life-changing for Davis, and he plans to start up his own independent studio called Astrogun, while he’s funding it with the money he earns working on the UI for End of Nations. Davis wishes to develop a title for the Ouya in the near future.
“Triple-A studios have put me through some very dark times and I’m wondering why does triple-A talent have to put up with it now with UDK, Unity, and more platforms than ever. Why does anyone need to work in triple-A anymore?” Davis said. “I think as we go forward into the next generation, game dev talent will get sick of getting screwed over and being relocated from state to state. Why? When you can go do it yourself.”