Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! We’re more than happy to announce that a year after our crowdfunding campaign, Darkwood is coming to Steam Early Access! To celebrate, we’ve prepared a teaser showing a glimpse of what’s to come in the near future.
If you have any questions, check out the FAQ section! The Steam store page also has a lot of new info!
You better prepare your old sleeping bag, tent and 12 gauge sawed off shotgun… because the trip to Darkwood is very very near !
Phew! The last month was probably the hardest part of Darkwood’s development to date.
A few days ago we completed the documentation of Darkwood’s world. It was not only a hard task, but a necessary one to continue the project. Now we know more than ever about the world, characters, religion and lore, and our world begins to live… and kill with more style than ever. Some things took longer than they normally would have – partly because we are a young team, partly because of our democratic creative process.
Darkwood is changing. Not drastically, but it is changing, and we believe we should inform you about this. After many prototypes, gazillion hours of talking, and plenty of tests, we had to change Darkwood’s direction a bit. We went back to the drawing board with features like permadeath, skills and the overall pacing of the game, did some prototyping – and voila! Darkwood is now better than ever.
The devil is in the details – and the details make or break the game. The features that we hold very dear: meaningful choices and consequences and storytelling collided with roguelike elements, so we decided to minimize them. We resigned from permadeath and our previous skills and perks system, in favour of other consequences upon your character’s death. This lets us put much more focus on the story, characters and unique encounters. Random generation is still in though, so you can expect a different world to explore each time you start a new game.
UPDATE: To clarify, permadeath will most probably be left in as an option for the most hardcore of players. The fact that your character’s death is not permanent, doesn’t mean that your choices can’t be! Every decision you make during gameplay is final, there are no savegames you can load to undo a “bad” decision (only continuing from where you left off).
UPDATE 2: Skills and perks are left untouched (although balanced differently). The way you gain them is simply different than the previous way, where you were forced to choose from a few skills which were randomized for you. Now you have full control over them.
These changes ignited very long and heated debates among us and required a ton of work to be done, but we’re positive that Darkwood is now a better game for it!
Darkwood is coming, and it’s coming fast. All shall be revealed this month.
PS Kuba, one of the Acid Wizards, has a birthday today!
Today we’re gonna talk about a question that was on our minds for a long time: how do we combine permadeath with a strong narrative in Darkwood? I mean, won’t it be boring when you die for the 312th time and have to talk with the same characters, listen to their stories again and again and do the same old fetch quests? Won’t it be frustrating to lose all your progress after dying and to have to do everything all over again?
After long discussions, brainstorms and hours of talks, we found a solution:
First, implement organic choices that have meaningful consequences.
What do I mean by “organic”, you ask? Let’s say you meet a madman, who explains to you that he is building a rocket in which he intends to travel to the moon. But he needs rare, hard to find parts to do so. You can choose to help him out and bring him the parts, sabotage his creation and give him faulty parts… or simply kill him. Not choosing is also a choice by itself – ignoring his request might also have consequences.
These choices might not present themselves as simply A B C D dialogue options, but can also manifest themselves in the gameplay itself. Some of them will be well hidden and require knowledge you did not possess in a previous playthrough. Sometimes, you might even unknowingly do something that will dramatically alter someone else’s life.
The other choices you make relate to the gameplay itself. Should you, or should not, go to that creepy old house? Will you have enough fuel to keep the lights on for the night? Should you try to survive the night outside or inside the house? Should you kill a man on sight, or take a chance and see who he is?
Almost every risk earns you a reward. Almost every reward comes with a risk. It is a natural system that many of us fell in love with while playing games like Dark Souls.
Just know one thing. Your choices will matter. Some of the consequences of these choices will be visible almost immediately, while others will be relevant throughout the entire game.
Second, add multiple layers of complexity to the narrative, puzzles and characters, who have their own, sometimes very different version of truth than you or the other inhabitants of Darkwood. Think of a movie you saw that made your jaw drop, but you didn’t fully understand it. You go online, check some forums, read reviews, maybe post some stuff yourself. You watch it again, and armed with new knowledge, you begin to discover things that you weren’t able to see before, making watching the movie a whole new experience. This is what we’re aiming for in Darkwood.
Third, divide Darkwood into chapters. When you die, you can start over from the same chapter, instead of the whole game. The choices you made in the previous chapters are saved. There is something you have to be careful of, though – you have a limited number of “lives” at your disposal. If you lose all of them… Then it’s game over for you.
However death is not the end in Darkwood. It’s an opportunity to discover something new about it’s world.
About it’s characters, tragedies, secrets.
Fear the man of one truth. Don’t let yourself become one.
And as a new guy I would like to tell you about my experiences so far.
I came to Warsaw a week ago.
It was a long journey – I’m from Lower Silesia, in the west of Poland, but I’ve left everything behind to work for and with Wizards. To work on Darkwood.
I must say I’m pretty impressed. The game is ambitious, hard and unforgiving, but it gives you an enormous amount of satisfaction. The plot and the atmosphere are really dark with vibes of Stalker (movie) and Roadside Picnic. I really like the core mechanics – they are simple to learn but hard to master, as it should be.
So let me take you for a short tour:
My dog, Jera.
Nidhogg, that we are currently playing. (I’m the best of wizards).
Also it’s the first time when I see a truly democratic game design – a clash of personalities is sometimes unbelievable. We discuss, and discuss and discuss about every element, every tweak, and every little choice in this game. The atmosphere inside the studio is great – we have open work hours, heated debates about video games and literature, and sometimes we even play together.
But mostly, we just work.
They come early and stay late. They are paranoid about spoilers, and details. This game is their life. It’s becoming mine too. Acid Wizards (my mind is still referring to “them” and “me”) are very talented and skillful people. Artur and Jakub took part in many Video Game Jams, Gustaw was a graphic designer, all of them were working in media. I myself have a background in comics and journalism.
It’s kind of an explosive mixture. I like it.
So one journey is over, and another one is just beginning for me. It was harder and more expensive that I supposed it would be, but in the end – it was worth it.
Oh, and to give you something more interesting than my babbling:
Let’s start off 2014 by introducing the newest Acid Wizard – Piotr Rusewicz! After a long initiation process (which of all the candidates, only he survived), we welcome him into our ranks! He will be starting work full time from February, but he’s already doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. Here’s what he has to say about himself:
Hi, my name is Piotr and I’m proud to be the newest member of Acid Wizard Studio. I knew I had to join the team the first time I saw Darkwood. Here I am, so I suppose you can call it a success. In AWS, I will be working as a copywriter, community manager, screenwriter and additional designer.
Writing about yourself is a little bit like trying to make a whole game in one night. It doesn’t work. So, to make a long story short – I have a background in independent comic books (which you can see in this post), video game journalism and literature. Fortunately, my mind is still functional and fully operative, but video games have had a great influence on my life.
I grew up with the PlayStation generation, and have always been in love with RPGs and fighting games. On the other side – as a kid from a small town I’ve always loved books. So games and books have been my passion as long as I can remember. I have an Master of Arts in therapy/pedagogy and I’m a sad idealist. It’s probably because I have played too much Yasumi Matsuno’s games. I believe narrative is the most crucial part of a successful video game. A well-lead narrative – or a lack of it – is what influences the game’s reception the most, especially in the horror genre. When it comes to risk/reward ratio and gameplay difficulty, it is narrative that makes you play in spite of everything. And believe me, Darkwood will try to stop you at every step.
The list of one’s most beloved works can tell you much about that person. Below are my favorite games. These titles have affected all of my previous works profoundly.
Dark Souls, King’s Field, Demon’s Souls, Wizardry, Shiren the Wanderer, ADOM, Planescape, Yasumi Matsuno’s games, SNK fighters, Silent Hill 2, Fatal Frame 2, The Binding of Isaac, Platinum Games works, Max Payne 2, Nier, Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, OutRun 2006, Dragon’s Crown, Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold, Persona 2, Persona 4, Shin Megami Tensei I-III, Deus Ex…
So there you have it! Piotr will be starting work in about a month, so expect more frequent Darkwood related news starting in February!
Today we’re gonna talk a bit about the leveling system in Darkwood. You will come across mutated flora & fauna, from which you will be able to harvest it’s essence. The more mutated it is, the more essence you will be able to gather. Here’s how the menu for this activity looks like:
You select the items you want to “cook”, filling up the syringe with essence. Once it’s full, you can inject it’s contents into your bloodstream, triggering a reaction from your body, enabling you to choose the direction you want to mutate. Most of these cookable items also have other properties and istead of harvesting them for essence, you can use them to heal yourself of wounds, poison, add temporary boosts, or lure creatures with it.
By mutating, a set of new random skills or perks will be presented to you, from which you can choose one. Sometimes, you will have to select a negative mutation. These skills range from basic modifiers like attack damage, health and stamina, to additional abilities like new attack types, effects that last for a limited time, or perks that affect how others react to you.
This means that on each playthrough, you will have to adapt your playstyle to the way your character mutates, while having some control over it. For example, it may happen that you’ll get to play a tough, strong and fast, but also paranoid and almost deaf character. We find this to play a really big part in replayability, so that each time you start over, you get a unique experience. Also, worth noting is the fact that a part of the essence you have gathered lingers on to your next incarnation when you die.
Keep in mind, however, that injecting too much essence in a short period of time may have also other, mostly dire consequences..
In other news, IndieDB’s 2013 Indie of the Year nominations are open, and you can help us out by casting your vote here! Darkwood isn’t released yet (duh) so we compete in the Player’s Choice Best Upcoming category. Thanks!
Some of you have been asking why we haven’t given any signs of life recently, and the short answer is: because we’re busy working on Darkwood.
And now, the long answer:
1. Darkwood is a complex game, and we’re on a tight budget. Money means more time to develop and polish the game, and thinking about what to write or show in an update takes time (more on this below). Not to worry – everything is coming along nicely, but we are extra cautious with some of the recent crowdfunded games that didn’t exactly fulfill their promises due to financial troubles. On the plus side, it looks like you might get a chance to visit Darkwood sooner than we initially expected.. But let’s keep this between you and me for now!
2. Why does it take a lot of time for us to prepare an update? Well, we’re not exactly extroverts and like to keep to ourselves – that doesn’t mean we don’t like you guys, just that when we want to say something, we don’t want it to sound like useless blabber. Also, Darkwood is a game revolving around horror and mystery. Almost everything we say or show, can potentially spoil the experience for you – combine that with the early stages of development we’re on and we’re left with very little stuff to actually reveal.
For some time now, we’ve been looking for a PR wizard to join our ranks and we have some very promising candidates ready for their initiation.. We’ll let you know who survived the ritual (hint: there can be only one)!
Okay, now that we have all the formal stuff out of the way, let me fill you in on what’s been happening recently:
Darkwood has been fully ported to the Unity game engine, which will REALLY speed up future development time. We have a stable, working build with a lot of features working like crafting, traps, barricades, character progression, trading, dynamic AI with lots of different behaviours, random events and encounters, and last but not least, a random world generator, which lets us create a new environment for you to play… each time your character dies.
We’re very happy of how the game is shaping, even now with a lot of placeholder elements, bugs and features missing, Darkwood is a exciting place to get lost in. Here’s a video showcasing some of the environments you might encounter on your visit:
That’s it for today, thanks for reading and till next time!
We’ve been quiet for a while now since the end of our Indiegogo campaign. That’s because a lot of stuff has been happening and also we needed to rest a bit after several very intensive months! We managed to raise $57,323, reaching the free DLC for backers stretch goal! That means we will release a DLC some time after Darkwood’s launch with added features requested by the community, and everyone who backed us on IGG will get it for FREE!
First up, we’ve moved together into a flat! Previously, we’ve been communicating through Skype but it wasn’t always very efficient, so now we hope to really get things going since we won’t waste time on arranging calls or worse yet, writing and reading!
Also, meet the fourth Acid Wizard – Szurek! He’s responsible for security and will bite the head off of everyone that would dare to enter our lair unannounced!
As for Darkwood, we’re very busy porting the game to a new engine called Unity, which will let us support PC, Mac and Linux at the least, but also make it easy to eventually release it later on more plaftorms. So unfortunately no new stuff to show
In other gaming related stuff, you should check out Broforce - a truly brotastic experience for up to 4 bros (free brototype available!).
Also, Rogue Legacy, a genealogic roguelike-like was released recently and it looks awesome!
If we are to continue working on Darkwood and make it a truly awesome game, we need to focus on it 100%. Right now, we make a living out of doing contract work and spend our free time developing Darkwood.
After countless hours of work, we are finally ready to show you a kick-ass gameplay trailer from Darkwood! Go grab your popcorn, set the video on fullscreen and 1080p and enjoy!
The video shows the second part of gameplay, in which the player has to defend his home. Things that will help you survive the night include:
These range from simple metallic nets that do not obscur vision, but provide little defence to massive metal plates, which are hard to destroy but also impossible to see through. Apart from requiring certain materials, building a type of barricade requires specific tools, like a hammer or saw.
If you wish to survive through the night, you will have to provide enough gasoline for your generator, which powers all your electrical devices: lights and traps. The more devices like these you have active at the same time, the more gasoline gets drained. Don’t let your generator get thirsty, or you’ll have to risk going out in the dark..