When developing a game… or doing anything else really… things don’t always go as planned. You can hold meeting after meeting, lay everything out in great detail, draw up flow charts and story boards, and still, not everything is going to go exactly as planned. This is apparently the case for Path of Exile‘s monster type The Undying.
In a rather informative dev blog, the Grinding Gear Games team tells the story of this creature, starting with the developer’s initial plans for them. According to the post, The Undying started out as City Stalkers: “undead beings who roamed the shaded areas of Sarn, wrapped in bandages.” With an obvious vampire-y thing going on, they weren’t incredibly fond of the light — something that resulted in their movements being restricted.
The intention was that the first areas of Act Three (when The Undying were introduced) would be nice and quiet, without a lot of activity. Of course, if players strayed near the shadows, they might run into one of these extremely powerful City Stalkers. The desired effect was a mechanic that forced players to be aware of where they were. In the sun, they’d be safe. But sooner or later they’d have to venture into the shadow. They wouldn’t have any other choice. They also wouldn’t really be able to hurt the Stalkers, so they’d have to be sneaky — at least until they found a way to put them down.
Of course, as mentioned above, things don’t always go as planned, and the devs discovered a variety of problems with the design of these monsters — all of which are set down in the blog post. In general terms, they found that the mechanics for this whole shadow thing just weren’t practical and moreover, were a bit to aggressive for the players. So, what seemed like a really cool idea at the time was eventually scrapped and The Undying were born instead.