The Rise and Fall and Repeat of Dark Tides

Written by Miller

The Dark Tides project has had a long and twisting journey from a simple idea to an unstable production. The eight level add-on was never actually meant to be. It was simply a game design concept; one of many that I had scribbled down on paper.

The day I found Dfuse on the web was a day I won't soon forget. I called up a friend and told him I'd toyed around and made a level, something he might want to see. He played it for two days and then called me back up. He had sent it to three more friends he knew and now they were all getting into editing Dark Forces.

A couple months later I got them together and asked if they'd like to make an actual add-on set for Dark Forces. They all sounded interested, but curious as to whether or not it should still be about Kyle Katarn. And if not, then what should it be about?

That was the question I struggled with for two weeks. I went and sat at my desk one night and began cleaning out drawers. That was when I came across the folder that I had written a couple ideas into. They were all ideas meant to be made into DOOM levels, and their was only one that I had ever really liked. I read the story and thought to myself, "This is it! This could work in Star Wars!". I sent a revised script to Flinn and he in turn sent it along to the rest of the guys. That was the only time when we all agreed on something. One of the guys decided he'd interview me and Flinn about it. We liked the idea, it would be a good way to organise our ideas and get a few more people interested in helping out. We knew that their was no way the project would be done if we couldn't get at least ten guys.

DF96 came out a couple months later and took me by surprise. Not because of the levels, not because of the story, but simply because somebody had actually went and done a big project. Something more than just another quick level. I felt so defeated. I had missed my chance to be the first. I guess this kind of lowered my appreciation for the work all those people had done on it.

That was when the "interview" was written. That infamous piece of writing that started it all. We chose the questions ourselves so that we could say everything about the project we wanted to without wasting time. When we were done, the interview was sent to ten people that we thought might be interested. None of them wrote back, so a couple weeks later, Flinn called me and said to forget it. "Jedi Knight will be out soon enough, we'll do Dark Tides then."

I agreed and put away all my notes. I could wait for Jedi Knight, it would be out in no time. I went surfing the web one day and decided to see what was new in Dark Forces editing. That was when I found the Dark Forces Programmer's Edge, and that was when I found something that made me almost faint. Our interview had been posted. Somebody had mistaken this all for much more than it was. Above the interview was a caption saying "Lucas Arts has announced it's own add-on set for Dark Forces."

I was flipping out as you could well imagine. I told Flinn and all he could do was laugh. He shrugged and said "Well, back to work!" We couldn't neglect the project now, but doing Dark Tides on the DF engine meant alot of limitations. It was just the two of us two make eight levels and eight cutscenes and new textures and weapons and sprites.

Flinn quit early and went back to DOOM editing. He couldn't stand the fact that DF was so completely limited to certain logics and such. It was upsetting to find that I'd have to work alone. I then enlisted the help of my two brothers and another friend named Dean. I lost touch with Dean early on and my brothers quickly started to change the project around on me. My older brother shrugged off work saying that he didn't need dead lines. My younger brother began arguing plot points. And I was left once again to make things work out.

Maybe I should have called it off then, but this was my chance! How could I let it go?

More than a year later, I've left people wondering what will ever become of it. And I myself am not sure.


Three levels. None of them completely playable. I could just never decide enough was enough, and every time I nearly finished a level, another idea came to mind and I would think to myself "I just can't pass that up!"

Five cutscenes. I had to render them frame by frame. An incredible hassle.

Three new enemies. I worked on these guys the most. They were the only ones. I was happy with out of 15 character creations.

A library of sound effects. I use them for other purposes now.

A swarm of 3do files. I just got addicted to it. I made at least 50 of them. All kinds of little archways and computer stands and ships, all texture mapped.

A lot more stuff too, but I don't want to go into it.


I've learned alot from all of this. Yes, I do feel like a failure. I feel like I've let alot of people down. And I just want to sit down one day and wrap it all up and send out those three levels. But I just can't. For every day I don't release it, I feel I need to add something more, to make it worth the wait.


I started hacking quake along time ago. You guys honestly wouldn't believe the things possible. I did it all in secret this time. No interviews. No announcements. Flinn actually got excited about it. And I'll tell you all this much. In a month, we reproduced the first half of secbase, with awesome lighting, all the Dark Forces weapons and the enemies and Power Ups. It was a truly awesome feeling to see what could be done. But we just aren't sure if we still want to do Star Wars.

Jedi Knight came out and I was very impressed. The lighting techniques are fascinating and the possibilities are awesome as well.

Dark Tides has taken a back seat to alot of other projects. Everyday I play around with more and more programming and think of another game idea.

If I were to pick up Dark Tides again, it would be on the Jedi Knight engine, I would have my ten people, and I would get to tell the whole story. I still feel that Dark Tides was one of my best ideas. I just may never put it away.


Sorry guys, for all you know, I might just be a computer program running off of some server. As for Sage and Colfax...those people don't really exist. I'm not gonna explain all of it in detail. Just trust me.