Steam Greenlight helps thousands of indie developers get their games out there in the eyes of the public in the hopes of having the community’s support in pushing their game to a full release. As any other game enthusiast, I occasionally browse the games on Greenlight and look at all the contrasting ideas and concepts that went into each one. I was about to call it a day on my indie window shopping, until I came across one game in particular, a game that piqued my interest so much that it actually inspired me to do this two-part feature – Darkwood, a top-down survival/horror title.
Acid Wizard Studio, the team behind Darkwood, have something truly special on their hands and so I conducted an interview with the team to give you all a small glimpse behind the history of Acid Wizard Studio and the development process of Darkwood.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourselves and what inspired you to start developing games?
A: Hello, we are Acid Wizard Studio – Gustaw, Kuba and Artur. We’re from Poland and we love video games. That’s pretty much what inspired us to do what we do – we dreamed about being game developers since we were kids. If only we knew this job was so hard… 😉
Q: How did you first come to know each other and what were the events that led to the founding of Acid Wizard Studio?
A: We all met each other in high school. Over the years we’ve been playing various games together, mostly co-op, and thus started having conversations on game design and the like. At one point we’ve decided to quit our jobs and try to make something we really care about, and so Darkwood was born.
Q: For gamers unfamiliar with your work, please tell us about your latest project, Darkwood, and what sets it apart from any other horror title?
A: Darkwood is a game about survival, exploration and fear set in a mysterious forest somewhere in the territory of the Soviet Bloc. What sets it apart from most of the horror titles out there is the unorthodox perspective. It’s not something that will appeal to everybody, but we believe that combined with our art style, it’s something unique.
Q: When you guys first formed Acid Wizard Studio, did you guys already know that you wanted to create a unique horror experience?
A: Nope! Actually, we’re not really horror fans. It actually started off as a simple tower defense game to try and see what game development is all about. Then we started adding things that we thought were cool and started seeing some aspects of the top-down perspective that we think haven’t been really utilized before.
Q: What does a normal day of developing Darkwood consist of? Does it involve copious amount of caffeine?
A: It seems that we are not only weird for a human being, but also weird for a game developer. We rarely drink coffee, but a day without tea is unthinkable for us. The average day is about 95% work and concentration, with a break for Mortal Kombat or UFC Undisputed.
Q: What games, if any, helped inspire/influence the type of game Darkwood would become?
A: I think you’ll be able to see tons of inspiration from other games, ranging from classic titles like Fallout, Star Control 2, to newer ones like Project Zomboid, Teleglitch or Don’t Starve.
Q: What are the obstacles that you had/have to overcome as indie developers?
A: Well, we’re without a publisher, so we have to do EVERYTHING by ourselves, and game development is a complex affair. But it’s nice to have control over everything.
Q: Are there any elements or components that were originally planned for Darkwood that you had to scrap due to time constraints or any other complications?
A: Yes, most prominently we’ve made permadeath optional. This was mainly caused by the need for a strong narrative and more unique characters and events, without sacrificing the current difficulty of the game.
Q: How excited were you guys when Darkwood was finally greenlit on Steam?
A: Very! We decided to eat a bathtub of acid, but then we saw titles like Broforce or Chasm were in out batch, so we ate three.
Q: In hindsight, were there any concerns getting the votes to be greenlit?
A: Well, yes. At that time, we had very little idea about the industry as the whole (we’re still very new to it and mostly operate outside of it, locking ourselves in our wizard tower) and being greenlit back then was way harder, so we weren’t 100% sure if we’re really gonna get there at some point.
Q: Everything seems to be coming along quite well for the Acid Wizards; does it feel like Darkwood is coming together the way you guys hoped?
A: Yes, we’re really happy to say that Darkwood is shaping up to be something really unique, even at this early stage of development, and we have a ton of stuff left to add that will make the experience even better! It’s a miracle we actually made it this far with all of the features we put into the game in the time frame we had, considering we had no prior experience in developing games.
Q: Lastly, what are Acid Wizard Studio’s long term goals?
A: Apart from finishing Darkwood? I honestly don’t know. We’re so focused on this project that we rarely think about other things.
The Acid Wizards played a huge part in making this feature possible. I want to give them my thanks (again) for lending a helping hand and for being really awesome about everything! The first part of my feature focuses on Darkwood and the horrors that wait within. Click on the link provided to learn all that you need to know!
Darkwood is now available for Early Access on Steam on PC! Mac and Linux support is coming soon.