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A 17-year-old Arkane gem's modders got 'completely blank check' approval from Ubisoft to add co-op, mod tools, and ray tracing

 Dark Messiah
Dark Messiah

I've sometimes worried that I'm the only person who remembers Arkane's sophomore outing: Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, a more fun and loose take on the immersive sim where you get to lead guys into slapstick traps and kick orcs off high ledges. That's far from the case though, as the wiltOS modding team has been working for years now to breathe new life into the game, and they've even gotten the all-clear from Ubisoft to do so.

The project, headed by David Wiltos (ah, "wiltOS," nice) started with adding co-op to the game, but the amount of tinkering that required forced the team to reverse-engineer more fully-fledged mod tools for it, leading to a secondary goal of producing a fully-functioning software development kit (SDK) for other modders.

According to Wiltos in a recent project update, the project now has the blessing of Dark Messiah rights holder Ubisoft: "As of May, we have been given a completely blank check to do whatever we see fit with this mod and the development of the SDK," Wiltos stated. "To quote Ubisoft, they 'don't want to impose any sort of restrictions so that the community can really appreciate the full value of the work that's being put in here.'"

In addition to that OK from on high, Wiltos also announced that the team will be attempting to release modding tools piecemeal ahead of the full SDK, with their priorities being:

  • Focus on one area of the SDK that people are most interested in

  • Isolated that one area as much as possible from the rest of the SDK components

  • Simplify it so minimal programming experience is needed

  • Release the new isolated module and get feedback from modders

  • Incorporate feedback, repeat with changes, until finally moving to next part of the SDK

One of those modding minikits is a toolset to bring ray traced lighting to Dark Messiah. "Nvidia released their Portal RTX mod and subsequent RTX Remix open-source modules, and it got me thinking: How cool would Dark Messiah look with ray traced lighting?" Wiltos explained. "Unfortunately, the RTX Remix modules required the game to run in DX7, which Dark Messiah would always crash with. So I did what any other sane individual would do: got the game working with DX7!"

I thought I loved Dark Messiah, but David Wiltos loves Dark Messiah. Dark Messiah RTX is currently a proof-of-concept and not a working mod for the game, with Wiltos describing it as "a kit to help people make their own RTX mod," but it's probably a matter of time until we get a full-on Dark Messiah RTX mod at this point.

The Dark Messiah co-op team, meanwhile, is still recruiting 3D modellers, artists, playtesters, and more. You can follow progress on Dark Messiah's co-op mod and SDK via the project's ModDB page or David Wiltos' Twitter and YouTube accounts.