Acid Wizard Studio is a small, independent game dev studio from Warsaw, Poland. We are currently working on our first game, Darkwood.
Contact us at wassup@acidwizardstudio.com. If you dare.

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Changes

11 April 2014 by Pita

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.

mirror_6

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!

kuba_urodziny

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71 comments | Categories: Uncategorized

71 comments on “Changes

  1. Sir.Twiggy on said:

    Once again the anticipation is killing me! The atmosphere and vibe of this game is something I’ve been dying to sink my teeth into! I have to agree though, broad strokes are important but fine touches make or break games! Super excited to see where development has lead you!
    Much hype!
    <3 twiggy

  2. CChDlhfdlkjewhiolfwef on said:

    Thanks for the update, I don’t mind admitting that I’m more than a little disappointed by the dropping of those roguelike elements (too many games – even those that pertain to horror – provide so little in the way of genuine challenge these days).

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      Sorry to hear that :( We’re sad to let it go too.. But don’t worry, the game is still very challenging and WILL kick your ass!

      • lkjewhiolfwef on said:

        Good to know, though it appears Darkwood will not now be the game I was hoping it would be when I decided to back your efforts.

        In any case, very best of luck with the game.

      • Leonardo on said:

        Please add a skill randomization option. Dungeons of Dredmor fashion.

  3. Billy on said:

    Not sure about the change to perma-death. Was a big part of why I was buying in, as I wanted the experience to be as unforgiving as possible. Personally I don’t think perma-death would have interfered with a story, in many ways it would have made relationships more valued as you never know how fleeting they may be. Just my opinion, still looking forward to it.

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      There are a ton of ways to tell a story, and unforunately our way of telling it in Darkwood didn’t exactly go well with permadeath.. But even though your character’s death isn’t permanent, doesn’t mean other things aren’t! There is still only one savegame and all your choices stay and can’t be reversed, and there is still a lot of room for challenge :)

  4. reverenddak on said:

    Um, you’re breaking the rules dudes. MAJOR. I’ve backed out of a Kickstarter once before, and it was because of a major design change. Dropping permadeath is pretty much a deal breaker for me. The rogue-like aspect is KEY, HUGE. Now it’s going to be another power-game, I’m sick of those. I want my characters to die, or it ain’t scary. What’s the point of random adventure design if you’re going to just run your refreshed character through the same dungeon, again? Why bother making it random? I hate that. Ugh. I’m really annoyed.

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      To be honest, I was personally very annoyed too when the idea to drop permadeath came up (as a big fan of roguelikes). So I totally know how you feel, but right now I’m absolutely confident that we’ve made the right choice and Darkwood will still be a feast for demanding players. Also, permadeath will most probably be optional and fit in nicely, but only for veterans!

      • reverenddak on said:

        Single Save, not sure what that is. Is it basically pause? That’s fine. Permadeath being optional? Then that’s not “dropping” permadeath. Though it should be default. You should also change the description of your game if it’s no longer old-school hard nor roguelike with permadeath. I get that newer generation gamers like multiple lives, unlimited even, but permadeath is pretty indicative of old-school crawlers like this game was supposed to be, originally. I kind of want my money back, sorry.

        • yakbuttereatr on said:

          Just enforce it yourself and start a new game every time you die. How is this a big deal

        • Rufus on said:

          I have to agree with you, permadeath is nice not only because choices you make with NPC or about the story can prove to be lethal but because the whole exploration part can’t be scary if permadeath is not waiting at everycorner.

          Everyone will go in that hauted house with low health if anyway you’ll respawn somewhere else… Oh i lost some stuff, i’ll just go back and take it OR, i’ll just have left my backpack around before entering the house and could get it even easier.

          Having your game balanced around permadeath is what makes the game awesome.

  5. David on said:

    Sounds like you made some solid choices that make me even more excited to see the final product. I’m actually not disappointed with the retiring of permadeath as I had my concerns that death might be too easy and lead to frustration. Love that story and replayability are still the driving force.

  6. Definitely disappointing that you’re the dropping of permadeath and roguelike elements, was certainly a big part of the reason I was interested in this. I do hope death will have more meaningful results than just dropping total HP or something equally mundane, actual consequences for your mistakes are always far better than shallow gameplay oriented results – especially if these mechanics are meant to be acting as a replacement for something as drastic as permadeath.

  7. VaggR on said:

    as much asi would like to say its ok..i too feel a bit disappointed to hear that permadeath is gone…still i can only judge the final product..so im still with you wizards

  8. toipot on said:

    I’m also a bit disappointed by the dropping of roguelike elements, especially the permadeath.
    For me the permadeath isn’t so much about the difficulty level, but making your decisions more meaningful when you can’t just reload an old save when things don’t go your way. The pressure really ratchets up when you know a bad decision could end your game.

    That being said, I understand some things just don’t gel together in game development and sometimes you have to cut features to make things work. But I hope you keep some of the roguelike spirit alive with the storytelling.

  9. Stanislav on said:

    I dislike permadeath anyway. I bought the game because the atmosphere looks promising and the world looks very unique.

    And by the way you can solve the problem easily: let players to create a hardcore character like in Diablo, give them special achievements, slightly faster levelling and hurray, everyone gonna be happy.

    And please, guys, don’t forget that your budget is limited and release “something” soon. It has been 11 months since the indiegogo campaign.

  10. Monkeh on said:

    As a backer, I’m pretty disappointed, since I mostly backed this because of my love for recent “permadeath-roguelikes” (Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, Rogue Legacy, Teleglitch, Risk of Rain, etc.).

    I’m hoping for the best here, but right now I’m not too happy about having backed this project.

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      Sorry you feel that way, but I think the final game won’t disappoint you, as it’s still very permanent in the consequences of your actions, and gives room for a lot of cool stuff we added which wouldn’t be possible otherwise!

  11. RpTheHotrod on said:

    Completely changing the initial “pitch” design plan is a pretty cruel move to those who pledged money early. However, I’m a big fan of storylore…so let’s hope this drastic change in development direction makes up for it in the storylore department.

  12. Brian on said:

    I trust you. The game must be what you want it to be. I backed it because you guys demonstrated incredible talent, not because it had specific features. Permadeath is such a minor part of the appeal and it sounds like the decision to move in a new direction was carefully made. Remain passionate and all will be well. :)

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      Thanks! It was very carefully planned and it actually tested our friendship, as actually most of the team was in favor of keeping permadeath (as we’re big fans of roguelikes) and we had some very heated discussions.. But Darkwood is better now, and that’s all that matters!

      • Brian on said:

        Glad you’re still friends. I want to add: Don’t be discouraged or too easily swayed. Fans are fickle and can’t see what you see.

        • ljhglikghjeiorhgoiue on said:

          Fans can be fickle alright, but I expect a little more of those developers who choose to crowdfund their games. Poor show Wizards – I am disappoint (and with very good reason)!

  13. Madness on said:

    I am happy to hear of permadeath’s demise. I often play games in god mode just to avoid the time-waste of dying. It’s about the story and fun experience, not the annoying frustration of dying. And for the masochists, it’s still an option.

  14. Apollo on said:

    I’m so happy to see the game changing, evolving to better each ! I can’t wait to play it ! Thanks again AcidWizard

  15. Ian McBride on said:

    So basically these were the only two things that I was really excited about for the game.

    The roguelike/permadeath combo basically spelled infinite replayability to me, if there’s now a motion to re-focus the direction of the game on story telling, doesn’t that essentially mean that the gameplay options are going to have to fit into the confines of a narrative arc?

    I want to have faith still but I cant see getting the same sense of excitement, fear, or satisfaction out of yet another game that wants to tell me a story at the expense of gameplay.

    The very best of horror games are the ones that make you seek out the story, where the world doesn’t shove a plot down your throat, but rather tantalizes you with fragmented exposition hidden in the shadow throughout; Darkwood had seemed like it was going to take that approach until now and that has me slightly worried.

    Not only does a loose narrative format favour the longevity of the game, but again, it’s also all the more satisfying from a horror-narrative perspective when you as a player have to piece together the happenings in the world via your own intuition and cleverness rather than being fed a story in the fashion that we have become so unfortunately accustomed.

    Hmm..

    Is it planned at any point down the road, maybe even after release, for there to be an option to disable the story and just have the world to adventure around and survive in?

    SURVIVAL MODE

    (I think that’s honestly what most people were expecting from the game, and it’s something that we would all really enjoy.)

    • I just want to add my voice here to this excellent comment. The main appeal for me was the roguelike/permadeath gameplay and theoretical endless replayability and that was what sold me on backing Darkwood. I have enough story-driven games in my library, most of which I’ll never get to.

      I understand that you have probably made the right decision for what you are doing but I am utterly disappointed that the main gameplay mechanic I was looking forward to now won’t be in the game. I, too, would welcome a Survival Mode.

  16. Cichy on said:

    I wonder if someone else was able to notice some sort of a motion in your recent update ;)
    This is FREAKING awesome. Please, please keep up the good work.

  17. Chris on said:

    Backed the game because of the incredible atmosphere and disturbing encounters. So I’m pretty okay with this. It begs the question though: What will these consequences that were mentioned be? They need to be enough to encourage careful, thoughtful play, so I’m excitedly awaiting your next update.

  18. As an early backer of the game I am very disappointing at the major gameplay changes to Darkwood. It’s a pretty big slap to the face for the backers who were sold during the kickstarter, but now you are changing the gameplay direction. With your lack of updates, very little communication with your fans and shift from your original pitch during the kickstarter, I have to say I am severely regretting backing this game. I hope you consider putting more effort into communicating with the people that supported you and financed your efforts, but for now it seems like you don’t even care about us.

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      I’m sorry to hear that, but everything we do (literally everything, as Darkwood has taken over our lives since the crowdfunding campaing) is to make the game as best as it can be, even if it forces us to post only one update per month.

      I was one of the people on the team against dropping permadeath (because I’m a big fan of roguelikes and how we communicated Darkwood during our campaign), so it’s a burden on my heart that we had to make this decision.

      You will be able to play Darkwood very soon now and I hope we will make it up to you with how the game plays!

  19. Zindon on said:

    Thanks for the update, and I’m glad to see the development of this game is still going strong. I personal enjoy perma-death in some ways but I still think some games are better without it. Seeing how darkwood is really taking shape and becoming its own beast I expected a change and really backed you before hand to see what game you could create not a game I specifically want (or all my games would be like FTL). I am sure the changes you needed to make were vital to make a good goal or story, cause that what really brings the immersion home.

    Keep up the great work guys!

  20. Sam Lunny on said:

    So just to clarify, are RPG elements like skills and perks entirely out or just minimized?

  21. BbBOREK on said:

    GDZIE JEST MOJA GRA!?!
    CO mnie tu kity wciskacie ze tak ciezko zapindalacie jak widac ze sie przelewa…w lodowce juz miejsca nie macie tylko kebszczak na kebszczaku i kiszone ogorasy! Pies tez juz nie chodzi tylko trzeba go nosic! MOWIE…GDZIE JEST MOJA GRA! Znam waszE numerY…dlugo was znajde..yyyy!?! Kur….Gdzie pieniadze sa za las!?! Zeby was pierony siarczyste! Krew nagla zaleje!…

    Dobra robota, trzymajcie tak dalej! Kocham was!
    Caluski dla calej ekipy od psychofana:*
    Borek.

    English translation:

    ….FUCK!…

    Love U Guys:*

  22. Just to say I totally believe in you because you seem to work hard to make the best game possible. So I’m ok with your decision :) … (I feel obliged to write because of the disappointments)

  23. No “probably” about it. Please guarantee you will leave a perma-death option in the game. It is a vital mechanic to roguelikes, as well as a major selling point to many of your backers.

    I understand you feel it does not fit your design as well as you’d like. Please leave the option for players to make up their own minds about it as well.

  24. MacFarlane on said:

    I think I can understand how storytelling and permadeath would conflict. You play a game, learning a story along the way. Parts A, B, C, D are told. Then you die. Your character starts at A again, but *you* still know B, C, & D. In a sense it can give players an advantage because they may zoom past the middle parts, but it can also be annoying if you keep having to go through the same progression.

  25. I’m gonna poop when this game is released.

  26. Squats on said:

    So i’m a bit confused, what aspects of gameplay are directly affected by the exclusion of permadeath?

    Also, what are the chances of having a sort of ‘survival mode’ unlock after you complete the story of Darkwood? Sort of a way to test our might in the unforgiving world that is Darkwood? That could really bring up the replay value of the game and i can see myself sinking countless hours into that.

    Can’t wait for this game, i’ve been stoked on this since last may!

    • Squats on said:

      I’m sooo happy to see the game coming along!!! It’s the only time i’ve funded a project, and that means a lot! I absolutely cannot wait to sink every waking hour into this game.

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      A survival mode IS possible in the long run, but we haven’t really thought about it.

      The main difference with making permadeath non-mandatory is that the world does not completely change each time you die, and you don’t lose ALL of your progress. These things of course affect all of the other gameplay elements in one way or another..

  27. Another question. Given that ‘story, characters and unique encounters’ are now the focus of this game, could you confirm whether environments will be procedurally generated?

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      Yes, the world is randomly generated each time you start a new game. There are locations that always have to spawn which are related to the main storyline, but there are also locations that are chosen from a random pool, and sometimes very rare.

  28. Naiya on said:

    First off, that mirror ghost thing nearly made me shit myself when i realized it was moving, so that is a good sign.

    Second, when you say that consequences will still exist even without perma-death, I kinda imagine something like dark souls where npc’s you killed stay dead, covenants hate you if you offend them, even if you do die to them. Will it be something akin to this in game? Or will it be like bioshock where you just lose a bit of money? Because that system sucks ass. If you can’t say anything, I understand though.

    Can’t wait for the release, so good luck on the home stretch!

  29. UndeadGuru on said:

    Fantastic update. I keep wondering what the first image means, is it some kind of hint? It looks like a cocon or something…

    BTW, I have full confidence that you guys are going to make an awesome game. Keep up the good work!!

  30. Naiya on said:

    I thought of another question. In the post about skills, you mentioned that some the “mutations” as they were called at the time, were going to negatives/weaknesses. Are those still in the game in any way? Like, you need to eat a few skills that hurt you to get a really amazing skill? Or as some sort of penalty for doing something?

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      At this time negative skills are in, and you can balance them against positive skills yourself. But we’re not going to post this info officially as we’re still testing this.

  31. Hey guys, I’m even more excited for this now – I think you have made a great choice in focussing on the atmosphere and story while also allowing permadeath for the hardcore. Being too difficult was one of my fears (as I’m a family man, I honestly don’t have time to repeat things to death!) so allowing options for multiple playstyles is not only great design, but smart too – as it’s more inclusive. Have seen a lot of disappointed comments – it’s your vision, and pleasing everyone is impossible so hang in there and I applaud you for making tough but smart decisions, please don’t be dissuaded by the reaction – folks, chime in and support these guys so they know there are just as many of us who are excited about this direction and the efforts being made to balance pleasing the hardcore rogue-like fans and others who are less focussed on that genres typical permadeath features.

  32. RAGEatGAME on said:

    I have to say I have been not the best about reading the updates to Darkwood. Something told me to click on this one, so I did and here I am. I understand there needs to be changes at times, and it helps the overall game, BUT I (like many others) bought into a Darkwood game that was a Rouge-Like, hardcore game with permadeath (not an option) that would challenge us like the games of old with a NEW WAY to tell that story. To me, it almost sounds like the team decided it was “too hard” to make the Darkwood we were promised, and so corners are now being cut to make a game that will be less than it was when we decided to help you out. Now, I understand you do not want to delay the development, and it is not an easy job. However, this has to be the biggest bait and switch I’ve seen from an Indie publisher yet. Sacrifices have been decided for this game because someone, somewhere on the team (or possibly some if not all) decided that it would take too long or was too hard to make the game originally thought. We’re you too ambitious? Was time not factored in correctly or poor time management? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. You have every right to make the game and it’s end product YOUR game. Just don’t ask me to help back a project with MY money, then decide to not deliver on what I (and many more) were promised. I may not have given you all MILLIONS, but I AM an investor in your project. That gives me, and the others who handed you money, the right to voice our concerns and dislike of changes you have made without any input for us. A simple POLL of what was most important to us would have helped, and we could have seen what the minority REALLY wanted. Instead, you took those decisions into your hands and left us with a game we didn’t want or ask for when we ponied up money. It’s hard to hear, and it’s hard for me to type this, but it’s the truth. I just hope you guys don’t sour the people like myself from supporting OTHER Indie developers in the future with this type of behavior. All the best, but I honestly don’t anticipate playing your finished game now, it’s not what I wanted. I have plenty others to choose from.

    • Acid Wizard on said:

      Thanks for letting us know your opinion and I’m really sad to hear that you’re disappointed..

      Just wanted to let you know that this decision was not made because we had to cut corners. It’s quite the opposite – we had to design and implement completely new systems, and scrap existing ones, which cost us a lot of time. Permadeath was implemented early on, and almost everything around it was done, it just didn’t work the way we wanted it to. Continuing to base the game around permadeath after realising it’s just not the best solution would be the easy way out.

      I still hope you give Darkwood a try when it’s out!

      • RAGEatGAME on said:

        I appreciate your reply and taking the time to respond. I wrote that right after reading the update, and I can say I may have been more in shock at that time.

        That being said, I still feel the same, BUT I promise two things to you.

        1) I will play the game when it is released to try it and see all your hard work.

        And

        2) I will play it on my Twitch.tv stream (twitch.tv/RageAgainstTheGame) to allow my viewers to experience to make their decisions and support you all. The more people who hear about this, the better I say. Just because I expected one thing and am getting another, doesn’t mean my viewers can’t make a conscious decision to purchase and support your game that IS released by seeing what it plays like.

        Again, thanks for taking my constructive (I tried to be) criticism based solely on an update and responding to me. It means a lot, and it shows how passionate you developers are.

        Best of wishes,

        RAGEatGAME

  33. Perpendicular on said:

    Yeah – obvious frustrations aside – this news just doesn’t add up. First off, it’s just not on moving the goalposts – so significantly – so late in development. Indeed, it appears the game is still being misrepresented over on Steams Greenlight pages, which begs the question:

    Exactly when was this decision made?

    If it was made a while ago, shame on you for not letting prospective late backers know about this fundamental shift in focus. If it was made more recently, it sounds to me like you threw out a lot of content and have given yourself no time at all to meet that shortfall in terms of what the game will now be missing.

    To say that I’m disappointed to have backed this project is to say the very least of it I’m afraid!

    Not good!

  34. dokool on said:

    Entitled whiners. Entitled whiners *everywhere*.

    I’m not a huge Roguelike fan but the campaign video sold me on you guys being able to create a great world and what should be an engaging gaming experience. If anything, getting rid of permadeath (even if it’s still available as an option) is actually a relief.

    I’m confident that you guys will put out a great game regardless of what changes during the design process. Anyone who *doesn’t* understand understand that change is inevitable over the course of any project clearly isn’t smart enough to crowdfund.

    Keep up the great work!

    • RAGEatGAME on said:

      I can’t tell if you’re a Troll, or just trying to start an internet fight with someone, but I’ll assume your comment was written with the intention of simply supporting the Developers and are open to actual discussions. That being said, there is a difference between what you call “whiners” and stating the opinions based on changes on a product INVESTORS put their money in.

      “Whiners” or “Entitled Whiners” as you have said typically are someone who bitches and moans about a game before it’s released because it didn’t meet their expectations and have NO MONETARY interest. This isn’t a deal about expectations, but misrepresentation.

      The crowd source (Investors) into a studio is based on what the person asking for money (Developers) have stated the end result would be. When that changes without any input from the Investors, you’re damn right there will be some discussions on this.

      You may not agree with it, but that’s business. So take it how you wish, but you’ve obviously never been in business for yourself (if you have, I don’t need the specifics) or ever Invested in anything (Investors do not always equal customers).

      • You seem to have misinterpreted what Kickstarter/IndieGoGo are, and believe that you have a right to be upset that someone else is taking their product a different way.

        You did not invest. You donated. Therein lies a HUGE difference. Acid Wizard did not have to give you incentives to back them, but they did. There is no obligation for anyone who starts an IndieGoGo or Kickstarter to have to deliver on the product that they said 100%. If they need to make changes to fit their vision and the majority of consumers, then they will. You gave them money for it, and you are not entitled to that money back.

        Don’t go around claiming you’re an investor in this game because of a donation, and then telling people they don’t know business. You may have a right to complain, every one has a right to complain about whatever they want. Whether you’re going to get anywhere with them, or whether they are baseless or not, is a different story.

        • RAGEatGAME on said:

          It has nothing to do with “believing I have a right to be upset”. There was a fund raising effort for X. I Invested in their plan (you can say donated all you want, it’s my investment) given to me by the developers at that time. The definition of Investment is: the action or process of investing money for profit or material result. The material result here was the copy of the Game. They didn’t HAVE to provide this as you stated, but that’s where DONATION ends and INVESTMENT begins.

          The developers changed that plan to Z after taking said Investment without any input from all those that backed X.

          It has NOTHING to do with being upset, it’s business, not personal. It has EVERYTHING to do with Misrepresentation.

          Their update here stated “Darkwood is changing”. As others have pointed out, their own submission to Steam Greenlight is now incorrect and misrepresents the “new” Darkwood. When you talk about me misunderstanding what Kickstarter/IndieGoGo are, perhaps you should read what I’ve said. I never once asked for my money back, I never once said I was “upset” as you stated. I had every right as an Investor to put my reservations out there to the company that changed it’s original plan. If the plan would have been different from the start, who knows how many wouldn’t have Invested their money OR on the flip side, how many more people WOULD have?

          • dokddokool on said:

            You’re not an investor; you donated to the project. You’re misrepresenting your own position, not that of the developers.

  35. Mault on said:

    I am pretty disappointed to hear that the permadeath element has been scrapped. However, I still am very excited for this game. I have faith in you guys. :)

    P.S. I think adding a permadeath option for the hardcore players is a must. I’m only mentioning this because you said you will probably add a permadeath option for release. Adding that option (that was originally a mandatory staple of the game) will please both sides. Anyway, good luck and I hope to hear more from you all soon!

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