45. Spending Time With Jenny In The Darkness
Anti-hero Jackie Estacado and his squeeze Jenny spend a touching moment on the couch while watching To Kill A Mockingbird. With full control given to the player, you can either be a total ass and leave after Jenny falls asleep, or stay and be a good boyfriend.
It’s a touching moment either way, but it also makes Jenny’s eventual murder at the hands of Jackie’s uncle Paulie all the more devastating. Restrained by the Darkness, Jackie has to stand by and watch as she takes a bullet and passes away.
Why it’s great
Developer Starbreeze really knows how to make you feel involved in the game worlds it creates. Giving you a chance to spend realistic quality time with Jenny is a great way of establishing a connection with her.
Which of course makes it all the more poignant when she dies. Plus, the inclusion of the full To Kill A Mockingbird movie was a stroke of genius. If you sat through the whole thing, pat yourself on the back now.
What the developer says
Theo Savidis, lead gameplay designer, Starbreeze Studios
We spoke with Starbreeze lead gameplay designer Theo Savidis about where the concept of the scene came from, “When we were designing The Darkness, one of the things we set out to do was to have the player really hate Uncle Paulie and Captain Shrote.”
“Killing the player’s innocent orphan girlfriend was the of course the obvious choice for this. But first we had to create a bond. So what do you usually do with your girlfriend?”
“Ok, so we couldn’t let them have sex. We can’t do that in videogames yet and as you all know Jackie dies if he has sex after The Darkness manifests itself. So, what is the other thing you do with your girlfriend? You hang out and watch a movie of course.”
“The actual implementation of the event presented a lot of challenges. As we started creating it in the engine, we noticed we needed Jenny to be smaller, to give her a more petite and feminine feel. However all her animations had been done to match the environment with her being unscaled.”
“To solve this we had to create and destroy different versions of Jenny throughout the scene. The first Jenny that greets you at the door is scaled down to 0.86 of the original model scale, we then hid the switch to the next Jenny when the player blows out the candles on the cake.”
“The Jenny that talks to the player and walks into the living room is scaled to 0.95, once you’ve talked to her in the living room she turns and walks towards the couch.”
“We hide the switch here by letting the Darkness say a line and doing a quick fade to black. After the fade, Jenny is scaled to 0.86 again. As the player gets cozy with her we switch her to scale 0.95 and finally as the player gets up to leave we switch her to scale 0.86.”
The iconic scene almost didn’t happen the way it turned out in the final build, as Savidis explains, “The first version of this scene was quite different from the finished version.”
“The player was supposed to be able to decide if he wanted to pull out his guns and shoot up the apartment or jump around like a monkey on the furniture. Jenny’s reactions to these events were recorded, but were never used since we decided it didn’t really fit the mood of the event.”