Indie Darkwood to Capitalize On Your Fear of the Unknown

Just as the perspective may well f–k with you, the art style is deliberately designed not to do you any favors, Stachaszewski said. The perspective is awkward, for a start, and the pixelated art is made to be confusing on purpose. The developers want to engender a sense of dread in everything: is that crumpled form a harmless dog, or a sprawled corpse? It’ll be tough to tell.

But the top-down perspective carries its own problems, at least from a development standpoint.

“Jakub, the animation wizard, had a lot of problems with getting into animating the characters from this perspective,” Stachaszewski said. “We draw everything by hand, so sometimes it’s hard to create something from a perspective you’re not accustomed to. This also makes it very hard to proceduralize the items that characters hold, so each item that can be interacted with from your inventory has to have it’s own animation set, also drawn by hand.”

So where does an idea for a top-down survival-horror game come from? Stachaszewski said there was no grand inspiration, no great story of three guys having beers and yelling about what an incredible game could look like if someone could just make it.

Instead, the ideas for Darkwood came the way a lot of things do: slowly and through iteration, born of a dissatisfaction with what’s available in video games and the desire to make something new — and “awesome.”

Adding to the desire to make a game that would satisfy Acid Wizard Studios’ brand of awesome was a desire for more creative work, Stachaszewski said.

“We’re three friends who met in college and started to play games together over the years,” Stachaszewski said. “We were all working doing mainly content for advertising, and one day got fed up with being limited creatively, so we decided, ‘Screw this, let’s make video games.’ So we’re prepared to live on bread and water for the next year just to make Darkwood a reality.”

It’s not likely to be easy in any case, though, although help from players interested in the game will definitely help. After three weeks on crowd funding site Indiegogo, Darkwood hit its funding goal of $40,000 this week with another week left on the timer. Now the team is reaching for stretch goals, like DLC, additional language translations and a multiplayer mode.

Stachaszewski said the $40,000 goal of the Indiegogo campaign is just about the bare minimum required to make the game and keep the three developers alive in the meantime. Now that it’s funded, the plan is for Stachaszewski, Kuć and Kordas (the latter of whom is 28; the other two are 25), to finish up their remaining contract work — mostly for web design for advertisers — and concentrate on Darkwood full time.

That should be a little easier with the campaign fully funded, but with the requirement of hand-drawing all the graphics for Darkwood, it sound as though it’ll still be an intense development period. Darkwood is slated for release sometime in mid-2014 on PC, Mac and Linux.

Find the Darkwood Indiegogo campaign here, and its Steam Greenlight page here.

Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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