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id Reveals Cancelled Survival Horror Title Darkness: 'We Would Have Been Keeping Doom 3's Faults'

Speaking with Shacknews today, id Software's John Carmack and Matt Hooper revealed details of the company's cancelled big-budget game Darkness.

And as it turns out, Darkness was cancelled in part because it was, well, too dark.

Conceived as a survival horror title, Darkness would have begun with a plane crash, with the game taking place on an island. Darkness also would have included jump-out-and-scare horror, in the vein of the company's last title Doom 3. But after 18 months of work, production was abruptly halted when the developers realized Darkness was covering ground id had previously tread.

"We would have been keeping Doom 3's faults," said Carmack, who agreed that complaints of the "contrived nature of monsters hiding in closets" and overly dark environments of Doom 3 were "completely valid."

Shacknews artist's rendering.
Carmack also explained that the often-poor sales of pure survival horror games factored into the decision. As Carmack related the story, he and id Software co-owner Tim Willits made the decision to cut the game one afternoon, then asked the project leads to gauge the staff's reaction.

As production of Darkness had already been extensive, Hooper noted that the announcement of cancellation was a delicate process within the company.

"There was some fear that we would alienate the artists," said Hooper. "We started just feeling it out. There wasn't that much of a push-back, because the coolest thing about Rage on the design side.. is that we can pull in and add these little elements."

"There were a lot of cool aspects of Darkness," continued Hooper, "especially on the psychology horror side, and some things we could have pushed for, but Rage allows us to.. to me I was just elated, because I got to do a lot more things than I would ever do in the survival horror genre."

"You get to punctuate [the gameplay of standard action titles] a lot more with triumphs and successes, and you just don't get to do that very much in survival horror," added Carmack.

"You know, you want to say 'I'm victorious,' not 'I'm not dead.' It's just a fundamentally more rewarding genre to be in."