The Darkspore Development Team, or Dev Team as it's been called, is the group of people from Maxis studios that works on the Darkspore game

Development Team Edit

The Darkspore site has some information about some of the members:

Michael Arsers Edit

Michael Arsers

Gameplay Engineer at Maxis

Michael Arsers has been at Maxis for 3 years and is currently a gameplay engineer on Darkspore. He primarily develops the game’s dynamic AI with the goal of crafting exciting and unique experiences for each playthrough. In addition, he has been working towards bringing competitive gameplay into Darkspore. On a slow day, he’ll just make creatures shoot fireballs or add improvements the player’s HUD. Prior to his work on Darkspore, Arsers was an engineer on Spore, focusing in cameras, controls, and Creature/Tribe gameplay. Before joining Maxis, Arsers was already busy making games under the guise of studying at Cornell University. During his years in the frozen hills of upstate New York, he worked on five games, assisted teaching other aspiring game developers, and experimented with accelerometers before they were cool. Somewhere along the way he earned a degree in computer science and quickly fled to warmer climates. Arsers’ passion for games isn’t restricted to their development. He is an avid gamer and tries to play as many games as possible. While partial to FPS and MMO games, he feels he can learn something from and find joy in almost any game, regardless of genre.


Fred Dieckmann Edit

Fred Dieckmann

Lead Designer at Maxis

Fred Dieckmann is the Lead Designer on Darkspore. He has been at EA for over 15 years, allowing him to work in all aspects of making games and serving in roles like Tester, Technical Artist, Producer, and Game Designer. In all of those roles, he had always loved game design and was usually called on to bounce off game designs, design levels, or help with UI design (which to this day, he still regrets). He has worked on a wide variety of game genres from platformers like The Simpsons, and racing games like the NASCAR series and Andretti Racing. Dieckmann joined the team at MAXIS by bringing the SIMS to the console world, with the The Sims, The Sims Bustin’ Out and The Sims2. Like most game designers, he is a gamer at heart, playing everything he can get his hands on, and is often seen playing them in meetings.

Jeff Gates Edit

Jeff Gates

Programmer at Maxis

When Jeff Gates developed an addiction to Night Mission Pinball on the 8088 at the age of 5, some might have considered his eventual role as a video game programmer inevitable. But in fact, it took further addictions to Rogue, King’s Quest, Pool of Radiance, Starcraft, Diablo, and Quake 3, a delusion of being a physics professor and a stint at an internet start up before a friend finally told him, “You know, you should just apply to a game company.” He did, and never looked back (except for one brief moment where he considered making rocket ships, cause, yeah, that could be awesome…) As far as he knows, games provide the most interesting problems to work on and the most interesting people to work with, i.e. the best job a person could have. Jeff joined Maxis in 2005 to work on Spore after being inspired by Will Wright’s famous GDC presentations about the game. He was the engineer for the Cell stage, and made contributions to the Space and other stages. On Darkspore, Jeff is most proud of his work on the game editor and the small role he’s played in helping the team’s amazing artists and level designers create the worlds of the game. Prior to working at Maxis, Jeff worked on Blizzard’s Diablo 3 (including back when it was in space, but after it was a pirate game). And a way long time ago, Jeff helped make a website called You can catch Jeff online as ‘greysphere’ in League of Legends and Starcraft 2.


Casey Weaver Edit

Casey Weaver

Software Engineer at Maxis

Casey Weaver is an engineer on Darkspore responsible for creature customization and loot. He adapted the revolutionary Spore Creature Editor for Darkspore, giving users the most exciting Action RPG editing experience yet. Weaver also developed an all-new dynamic loot system that provides millions of possible items to collect. After finishing up The Godfather at EA, Weaver was offered a chance to work at Maxis. His work on Spore spanned both the Creature and Tribe phases. Weaver enjoys playing many games. His current obsession is League of Legends. He really enjoys the cooperative gameplay and endless supply of player characters with totally unique abilities. Weaver is excited about collecting and customizing all of the unique characters in Darkspore.


Paul Sottosanti Edit

Paul Sottosanti

Systems Designer at Maxis

Paul Sottosanti has been designing games since childhood and designing them professionally for over six years. The first five were spent at Wizards of the Coast, where he designed cards for games like Duel Masters and Magic: the Gathering, including a lead design role for the Morningtide expansion. Eventually he moved to the digital space as lead designer of the successful Facebook app Dungeons &Dragons: Tiny Adventures. When Maxis began looking for a systems designer for its new project, Darkspore, Paul couldn’t resist joining the team. Between his education in computer science and communication design from Carnegie Mellon University, his knowledge of paper gaming picked up at Wizards of the Coast, and his extensive experience playing games of all genres and platforms, he brings a uniquely valuable perspective to the project. When he isn’t knee deep in complicated Excel sheets, you can find him working tirelessly to build the most powerful and menacing heroes the Darkspore universe has ever seen.

His EA screen-name is MaxisYegg

Daniel Kline Edit

Daniel Kline

Software Engineer at Maxis

Daniel Kline has been a professional AI/Game Programmer and Designer since 2001. AI engineers occupy a funky place in the classic developer hierarchy. He’s spent much of his career getting paid to think about the science of game design, game mechanics, AI, the role of “story” in games, and the procedural methods for generating stories and specialized content. He’s a deconstructionist systems designer, a monster-maker, and the guy whose (building) your trusty companion. His story encompasses shipping 5 titles with companies such as Activision, Blizzard, LucasArts, Eidos, and Midway. Kline was the Head AI and Gameplay Engineer on Star Wars: Force Unleashed, and the AI programmer on Diablo 3. As a designer, he built the first two levels of Call of Duty: Finest Hour. But no longer! In 2010, he joined the team at Maxis as a Software Engineer where he is responsible for AI Development and game design. Recognized as a leading thinker on interactive storytelling games, he’s spoken on panels and given talks at GDC and universities, and blogs about them alongside other game issues at Game of Design.

Thomas Vu Edit

Thomas Vu

Lead Producer at Maxis

Thomas Vu is an 8-year veteran of the video game industry, producing and designing some of the biggest and most high profile games including Simcity 4, the Sims 2, Warhammer and Spore. He is currently the Lead producer and Cheer Captain of Darkspore, where he wants to continue in the Maxis tradition of making great games that push the expectations of what games can ultimately become. Prior to working at Maxis, Vu collaborating with NASA and the ISS in La Jolla, experimented with genetic recombination at Salk’s Institute in San Diego, and worked on a countless number of start-ups in the internet craze of late 90s. In his spare time, you can find him leaping around with Jax in League of Legends, building marines and siege tanks in Starcraft 2, or killing zombies in Left for Dead.


Michael Perry Edit

Michael Perry

Executive Producer at Maxis

Michael Perry is a 20-year video game industry veteran, during which time he has enjoyed working in a variety of roles on several games with some amazing people. Perry has returned to Maxis to produce Darkspore, the next major game from the studio, after most recently serving as Creative Director on EA’s The Godfather video game. Earlier, Perry programmed several versions of Will Wright’s SimCity, produced and designed the award-winning title SimFarm, and produced Yoot Saito’s award-winning title SimTower. He led the architecture design and development of the groundbreaking Sims Exchange on web site. He also directed the game design of several versions of The Sims for console, including the award-winning The Sims Bustin’ Out. Perry even scored the soundtrack for one game, for which he profusely apologizes and sincerely promises to never do again.

Lauren McHugh Edit

Lauren McHugh

Software Engineer at Maxis

Lauren McHugh currently works on many of the core systems for Darkspore, including an ability system that enables the team to create a wide variety of exciting abilities such as teleporting through a wormhole, summoning pets, or surrounding the player in a plasma column. McHugh also works on areas like physics, animation sequencing, player attributes, UI and game flow. While on the Darkspore project, she’s had the opportunity to improve the player experience in many ways, such as reducing the player’s perception of lag or computing damage in a consistent and intuitive manner. Prior to her role on the game, McHugh developed gameplay for the original Spore game. McHugh joined the team at Maxis directly out of college in 2005. She is an active member of the game developer community, who has volunteered at the Game Developer’s Conference several times, and in 2007 presented on a panel at the conference to describe Spore’s behavior tree AI system. McHugh enjoys playing games, especially MMOs. Her favorite part of these games is cooperating with her friends to overcome challenges, which is why she’s very excited about becoming an avid Darkspore player herself.

Her EA screen-name is MaxisMikella

Malcolm Azania Edit

Malcolm Azania

Writer at Maxis

Malcolm Azania is the lead story writer for Darkspore. Azania, under the pen-name Minister Faust, is the award-winning author of From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain, and the critically-acclaimed The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, both published by Del Rey/Ballantine. He was a contributing writer for BioWare’s Mass Effect 2, co-wrote the ME2 downloadable mission for Kasumi, and wrote Gift of the Yeti.

Theresa Duringer Edit

Theresa Duringer

Assistant Producer at Maxis

Theresa Duringer in an assistant producer who works on Darkspore as Community Manager and manages integration of user generated content for non-playable characters. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2006 with a BA in Psychology. Her focus on cognitive science in school continues to inform her perspectives on game development and design. After signing on with EA to contribute on Godfather for Xbox 360 and PS3, she moved to Maxis to join the Spore team. As a Maxis web developer, she works with Flash, JavaScript, and JSP, creating UI and doing graphic design. Outside of work she dabbles in animation, photography, and painting. She enjoys ballroom dancing, scuba, and of course, vegging out for hours on end to play video games.

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