I’ve released DarkMaus on the Steam Store!
It all started from my Dark Souls transformation, where I first ragequit but eventually ascended into a lover of challenging (but fair) games. After Dark Souls, nothing out there was satisfying to me so I had to make my own. Indie games provide the opportunity to focus on gameplay above production values and that’s just what I needed. Along the way, it developed an identity of its own, and later matured into a deep combat experience.
I’m half terrified to have released it, half relieved. This thing was a major labor of love, being created entirely as a hobby project, but also something that I dreaded working on a lot of the time, as it was never making enough progress, or looking as good as I wanted it to. I think many indie developers know the feeling. Thankfully I was able to make a lot of progress in the last 6 months and now I can say that I’m truly proud of it.
I’ve learned a ton in the process too. A few years ago I had no clue how to make art, animation, effects, sound, etc. Now I’ve done it all – at an indie capacity of course.
Here’s to DarkMaus – you were a difficult child, but I love you.
It’s been about a year since I posted, but I’ve made a ton of progress on the game during that time. Here’s the current state of the game as I see it:
- Gameplay 99%
- Level design 90%
- Story 70%
- Music 80%
- Necessities (things like options menus, compatibility testing, save slots) 40%
The last year has been mostly polishing up the gameplay and level design, and getting the backbone of the story in place.
During the invite-only alpha last year I met a guy named Morroque Wrought whose feedback was particularly good. Morroque has done tons of playthroughs, recording his experience and writing up ideas on how to make the game better and where it has weaknesses. Since then I’ve been sending him private builds every few months.
I have very limited time so this type of concentrated feedback from someone I trust is ideal. Other indie devs know that it’s very hard to get quality gameplay testing, particularly on the parts that are far into your game and require multiple playthroughs to have enough context and experience to evaluate.
I made some improvements to NG+ recently such that the game mode really stands on its own. NG+ in DarkMaus is different from the main game in that:
- You keep all your levels and items (but not keys)
- Enemies have more health and do more damage
Nothing unusual there. But I also have:
- A new curse is added with each NG+ (eg by NG+++ you’ll have 3 curses). Curses are things like: enemies have increased vision, enemies can’t be interrupted very easily, or your dead bodies resurrect to fight you.
- Encounters are randomized. Enemies are placed in different locations, in higher numbers, and different types.
- New weapons are available. There aren’t a ton of these, but there are high level weapons that you can only find in NG+ for each weapon progression path.
- ‘Easy’ campfires are removed
Together these mean that each NG+ is a different experience, and you have to always stay aware. Instead of ramping up the difficulty by just making each enemy stronger (which changes their identity), I’m able to achieve the same result by having more enemies with the element of unknown.
In a way, NG+ is the game I always wanted to make, with extreme difficulty that you can only overcome by executing at the highest level.