Acid Wizard Studio

Acid Wizard Studio is a small indie game dev studio from Poland. We are currently working on our first game, Darkwood.

For more information on Darkwood, keep on dying

11 March 2014 by Pita


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.

About yourself.

Fear the man of one truth. Don’t let yourself become one.

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20 comments | Categories: Uncategorized

Comments (20)

  1. Awesome blog, thank you guys.

  2. Awesome! Glad to hear another update. Are we looking at another year before this comes out?

  3. Hi,
    Having played State of Decay ‘to death’ so’s to speak, I have a few observations I was constantly aware of:
    – I was aware of how much repetition I had to carry out to keep everyone alive, that started to lower my interest requiring me to finish the game rather than just play forever.
    – Inevitable (but acceptable due to good script) story repetition when I restarted from scratch 3 times if someone died (not sure if 4th would have been ok)
    – awareness of running out of finite resources, which wasn’t so fun when I enjoy the sense of having built a strong castle that can hold the line.

    The first two are exactly what you’re hoping to crack, so I hope you achieve this, it will directly affect how often we keep coming back. The latter, I don’t know how you’re approaching this, but I hope you can consider my point – yes, the game can be hard, with plenty of risk, but it’s satisfying to build things up and manage to hold the line within areas that required plenty of effort, then new areas require another push to get on top of; I’d be interested to know whether you’re going for that, or other ideas such as ‘yes, the game has finite resources’, ‘no, things you need regenerate’, ‘both – you must keep pushing forward to find new stuff’. I hope it’s not exactly like Don’t Starve – for me, the endless death/guessing was a massive turnoff without enough satisfaction payback for the time invested.

    Keep up the great work, looking forward to this 🙂

    • Cool, that’s pretty much the same impressions I had when playing State of Decay myself! But I never restarted, even when Marcus died on me due to a bug.. 😛
      Anyways, we’re rather aiming for “you must keep pushing forward to find new stuff”, and actually try to discourage from staying at the same spot all the time – for the time being there is NO fully safe place in Darkwood. That poses a different problem because of the constant tention and no time to regenerate for the player.. But we’re working on something for that too 😉

  4. Sounds really awesome 🙂 i so want to try this game out.

    i hope soon we get a early access :p

  5. Thanks for the update, I really like the idea of complexity in interwoven stories, puzzles, and characters. The replay-ability factor is so important to gamers. Also the idea of being able to participate in some sort of early access testing would make me giddy with joy, being able to help you guys out!

    Looking forward to more to come, keep up the awesome work guys!

  6. good to hear that this is still a thing that’s happening! some more media would be nice – videos? music? even, just, you know, devs and designers rambling about silly problems they ran into and had to fix?

    • We’re not native speakers so a video where we ramble about some design / development stuff would actually be pure gibberish ;P Anyways, more media from the game coming soon!

  7. Uh. ‘Name’ and ‘Email’ fields appear to be blank. glitch in Firefox?

  8. WAAAA ! We can go on the MOOOOOON O_O !!! I’m kidding 😉

    Now seriously. These days I play Out There on mobile. I don’t know lot of games with permadeath but in this one I die over and over and start again the whole game with the same pleasure. There is a sort of narrative but everything comes randomly, except the fact you’ve got one goal (and a secret one). I doń´t know what are you planning, but maybe you might try something like this with another goal for each chapter.

  9. ruszcie dupala i skonczcie w koncu te gre!

  10. Hmm, when will it be released? Like around April or May?

  11. how many weapon will there be, and how big the world is

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