Back in March, Steam delisted the much-anticipated indie title, Dark and Darker, amid a lawsuit with its then publisher Nexon. Nexon’s allegations about stolen assets from their game P3 brought Ironmace, Dark and Darker’s developer, under scrutiny. With a cloud of suspicion looming, Ironmace’s decision to push forward despite the odds presents an interesting (and cautionary) tale of determination. Today, I’ve got a handful of updates for you on the game, so if you’ve been following this story, you’re in for a few surprises.
Adding microtransactions was ‘realistic’
One of the more significant updates is the introduction of an in-game store. While microtransactions often raise eyebrows in the gaming community, Ironmace’s CEO, Terrance Park, sees it as a “realistic” part of running a live service game.
The goal, as expressed by Park, is to strike a balance between achieving profitability and being fair to players. To steer away from controversies tied to loot boxes, the team is trying to avoid randomized loot boxes and items that exploit players’ Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). In a move to recognize and reward its dedicated fanbase, they’ve also released a “founder’s edition/add-on pack”.
A new publisher after the Nexon Fiasco
After the challenges faced with Nexon, Ironmace has now teamed up with Chaf Games as the publisher for Dark and Darker. While Nexon’s allegations of Ironmace appropriating game code and assets continue to be a subject of legal discussions in the U.S. and Korea, Ironmace itself holds fast that these claims are fake news, so to speak.
The game promises a unique blend of gameplay, combining elements of RPG mechanics, roguelike exploration, and battle royale dynamics. There are two editions available: a standard one for $35 and a special “Hold the Line” Founder’s Edition for $50. Players can earn or purchase in-game currency, Blue and Red Shards respectively, to unlock a range of cosmetic items. And while it’s no longer available on Steam, the game managed to pull in an impressive number of over 110,000 concurrent players on the platform.
Updates and Hotfixes
Listening to player feedback, the devs have rolled out a new update focusing on enhancing the overall gameplay experience. Key hotfixes include improved anti-cheat mechanisms, a richer variety of items in Ornate, Lions Head, and Golden Chests, and gameplay refinements. The Cave Troll encounter, in particular, has seen specific changes addressing gameplay strategies and bugs. Continuous efforts are being made to ensure a comeback on the Steam platform.
Here’s what’s changed:
- Better anti-cheat system integration.
- Refined drop rates for various item grades from chests.
- Expanded Goblin Merchant’s item range.
- Cave Troll encounter improvements and adjustments.
- Fixes ensuring players don’t get trapped by doors and chests in the game environment.
An ongoing mess with a lesson
For those excited about this title, Dark and Darker is currently available in early access for PC via its own website as well as its new publisher, Chaf Games’ site. You’ll also be happy to know that Ironmace still hopes to relaunch on Steam at some point in the future. Leave a comment if you have thoughts on whether such a launch without Steam can kill a game’s success or not. So far, it looks as though they’ve done well for themselves on the concurrent player base, but I still wonder how much larger it would have been if platformed by Valve.
With these developments cropping up since our previous coverage, the takeaway is that the game and its team, whether guilty or not, serve as a testament to the complex landscape full of legal landmines indie devs navigate in an effort to get their game to market.
Keeping clear lines between you and any company you work for, and being transparent about how you’ll use assets if you’re working from home are good bits of advice. More importantly, very clearly separating yourself from the potential for blurred lines in a situation where your game closely resembles your contract work would be wise, because then you just don’t look like a thief, right?