Darkest Dungeon And The Perils Of Early Access

Darkest Dungeon is a game I’ve been rooting for ever since I first set eyes on it. As a Dungeons & Dragons player with a ruthless dungeon master, the idea of a game that promised lasting effects and mental stresses on characters forced to face eldritch monstrosities appealed to me greatly.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign and a promising launch on Early Access, things were looking great for this beautifully crafted, intensely challenging roleplaying game. You wouldn’t think it right now, looking at a store page absolutely filling up with negative reviews.

Just what the hell happened?


Early Access happened, is what happened.

Steam’s Early Access program is an interesting, if often abused, way of delivering videogame content to players in an unfinished state. At its best, it’s a way to shape a game before its official release, using direct feedback from those currently playing it. It doesn’t often work out so well, thanks to chancers taking liberties with the system, but its core goal is a noble one.

Darkest Dungeon has, for a long time, been one of my go-to examples of Early Access done right. I even say so on my Steam Curator recommendation. When it launched, it was already in a working state, with a ton of engrossing content. It was challenging, stylish as heck, and its lofty concepts seemed to be working perfectly.

Over time, the game did what Early Access games are supposed to do – it updated regularly. Unfortunately, things seem to have gone terribly awry, with many vocal players believing the game has only gotten worse with each subsequent update.

As Red Hook Studios continues to overhaul the game and rebalance its systems, the general consensus seems to be that they’re just breaking it.

“For several months I watched little tweaks and improvements hit the live build, and at first the vast majority of them were stellar upgrades to an already amazing (dare I say, perfect?) game,” write user Phasmaphobic in their store page review. “But over time the devs focused more on pandering to a small handful of very vocal posters who complained about “broken” character combinations, and abusable mechanics.

“The game transformed from a Brutal-yet-Fun Planning-Focused Dungeon Crawl to nothing more than a by-the-numbers resource grinder with some Cthulhu-analagous imagery pasted over it. Even the top modders have pulled their mods, choosing to boycott the project instead of contributing to what was once a grand gaming experience.”

The main thrust of complaints stab at three new concepts recently introduce – corpses, heart attacks, and PROT.


Corpses are piles of viscera left behind when enemies are defeated. Rather than simply disappearing from the fight, these piles remain where the opponent once stood, getting in the way. Darkest Dungeon is a game about party positioning, and if a “slot” is being taken up by someone or something, it can impact your party’s abilities. A corpse is a literal meat shield, as it stops the enemy party from changing position.

Whereas before, you’d kill a monster and a previously unreachable one would have to shift forward, now you must essentially “double kill” the vast majority of foes before they’re gone. Corpses are quicker to dispose of than their living counterparts, but they do seem to be an unwanted time waster in a game where every single action brings the player characters closer to death or madness.

Heart attacks are another new addition to the game. Previously, a player character’s stress meter would bring them closer to mentally breaking. Once full, a stressed out party member could start refusing aid, causing their allies further stress, or even dealing damage to themselves. It was painful to witness, but dealing with stress was all part of the game’s challenge. Heart attacks have taken the concept further… perhaps too far.

The stress meter can now be filled twice. The initial fill works as it always did – characters break in some horrible, threatening way. It can now fill a second time, and if it does, the character is instantly killed off via a heart attack. Every single critical hit suffered, every moment spent in the dungeon, every little thing that causes stress is now utterly deadly.

Finally, we have PROT, which indicates a monster that’s protected from basic damage. These high defense opponents take less damage from average attacks, and require status-effects such as bleed or blight to taken them down effectively.

Along with these three elements, players complain that opponents’ critical hit chances have become far too high, and that min/maxing optimum parties has become essential to succeeding. Red Hook have also been accused of making it so that permanent negative stats have a much higher chance of attaching themselves to protagonists, reducing their effectiveness in a dungeon crawl, and generally adding so many luck-based elements to the game that the original concept has been diluted.

“The massive amount of randomness that was introduced in the last few patches has taken a once fun, brutal dungeon crawler and turned it into a massive grind fest where you are at the complete mercy of the RNG,” writes darkside96321 on the Steam forum.

“Please stop listening to the minority of people who exploit the parties and then whine about the game being too easy and take the game back to what it was.”


To Red Hook’s credit, it’s attempted to address issues with its latest balancing patch, reducing the strength of PROT and upgrading some character classes such as the Hound Master. Overall, users appear pleased with the fixes, but still take issue with the game’s current incarnation. Meanwhile, the min/maxers themselves see this as the studio “giving in” to the “whiners.”

I hadn’t had time to replay Darkest Dungeon since its Early Access launch window, but I started a new game tonight in order to research the claims. It didn’t take very long at all to see the problems, even post-patch. Corpses are an illogical hurdle and serve only to cheaply extend every fight, PROT just makes a tough game tougher for no good reason, and it didn’t take very long at all to lose my first hero to a heart attack.

The balancing is improved from when I last played, with characters dealing more damage in general, but compared to the bevy of fresh hindrances, it’s not much of a trade off. Darkest Dungeon is no longer quite the game I admired.

It’s hard not to feel for Red Hook, now stuck trying to please two very distinct sets of fans. One group is bound to perpetually complain that the game is too easy, expecting grueling punishment at every turn and min/maxing their parties to exploit any chinks in the game’s armor. The second group just wants the dark and foreboding experience promised without feeling like they have to obsess over party balancing and playing the game one distinct way.

We’re seeing one major pitfall in the Early Access system, as a studio struggles to meet everybody’s demands at once and fails to please anybody. Rather than having a finished product to show the world, Darkest Dungeon instead introduced us to a very specific work-in-progress, and the direction of that progress has turned off a large contingent of invested customers.

This is an issue we see a lot in multiplayer games, as guns and classes get rebalanced and piss off everybody who was enjoying them. Early Access is a trickier prospect altogether, as players risk purchasing one product and ending up with something totally alien to the thing they initially bought.

As a Curator who recommended this, I must say I’m wondering if that recommendation is even relevant anymore. Even though I label my Early Access recommendations as such, perhaps I ought not to do them at all. Clearly, what you once saw is not necessarily what you will get.


Red Hook’s continued attempts to please the audience are admirable, but they’re definitely going to have to come to a point where they realize they can’t satisfy everyone. Their original concept was rock solid, but this constant tweaking may undo the very bedrock of the game’s appeal. A painter who keeps painting over their work, after all, will likely end up with a splodgy mess on the canvas.

Another question worth asking – though we’ll never know the answer – is how much we’d have hated all these changes had they been there from the beginning. Would corpses be so loathed an idea if Darkest Dungeon had launched with it? It’s hard to tell, but we as a species infamously loathe change, and it’s not hard to imagine that seeing a game mutate before our very eyes can have a negative impact on our views.

It’s one significant risk of Early Access. People get used to the game they bought, and when it becomes something else, there’s a high chance they’ll feel misled or at least disappointed. Early Access can be a useful thing, but it can be damaging to a game’s reputation, and may deflate any positive press it might have earned.

As for Darkest Dungeon, I still believe in it. It’s one of the most original and macabre spins on the RPG genre we’ve had in years, and I want it to realize its potential. It’s not an officially finished product yet and there’s still everything to play for. Not everyone’s going to win, but I hope Red Hook gets the best result possible.

  • I really hope they are able to sort out the game. This was one that I was really looking to get into when it came out. Lovecraftian creatures and references? Check. Dark Souls style utter misery and bleak atmosphere? Check. Interesting mechanics? Check. I really hope this doesn’t turn into a pile of shit and fall into the development hell that some games go into and from which they sometimes don’t recover.

  • Selsk

    I was very close to buying this when it went on sale this week. I’ve had my eye on it for a while. But yeah seeing all the negative responses to the recent updates really turned me off.

    I was planning on waiting until it goes off Early Access, but at this rate if they keep going back and forth like this, I doubt they’ll ever call it a finished product.

  • Sperium3000

    Hope they get their shit together soon… D8

  • SNF

    If there’s a conflict between players who think the game is too easy and players who think the game is cheap and too hard…why not just make some of these changes optional? Put those features under a hard mode, or something.

    (I haven’t played the game so maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see how this is an impossible problem to solve)

    • Corrodias

      Seems like a reasonable compromise, if they can handle balancing two modes at one.

    • CleverCrumbish

      This is suggested almost every time a similar problem happens to a game that is still in development and it barely ever works. The problem is that there generally exists a pretty diverse set of split opinions in the fanbase going forward as to exactly what new features are objectionable and for what reasons. Balancing the game against every single feature being individually optional is essentially impossible and realistically you’re really only going to be able to maintain a maximum of three different “modes”, as it were. People still won’t be satisfied, especially when doing this will start to bring in more people who like easy or hard mode for different reasons than those that forced their creation, who will then object when the development path for those modes doesn’t benefit the way they have fun playing the game. Splitting the experience is really just a way of delaying the point where Red Hook have to admit they can’t please everybody and have to select a more defined audience.

  • Archmike

    Sounds like they’ve been got by the feature creep.
    What a shame.
    I think it’s best to give your fans what they need not what they want. Things turn out better for everyone that way 🙂

  • I can’t say that I’ve personally played the game, but I feel like this could be a simple fix for the developers if they just put in two different difficulties. Make a classic mode that removes some of the new changes and then a hardcore mode which ratchets up the difficulty. Similar to the recent Fire Emblems which had a mode where characters couldn’t die permanently.

  • I bought the game off based off of your and Dodger’s videos on it. I really enjoyed the game, but haven’t played it in a long time. Sad to hear they are trying to appease two vastly different groups. As someone who isn’t hardcore, I of course wouldn’t side with the people who min max the shit out of the game. And I get where Red Hook is trying to go with appeasing both sides, but as someone that has played WoW for a decade now, you get no where trying to play both sides.

  • The minefield that is updating. People demand it in a world with internet access, some games need it to stay functional and salable after launch. But when does fixing bugs turn into “this” problem? When is it no longer about fixing bugs but catering to a demanding minority that is using updates as an excuse to essentially rob the developer of his own creative efforts and goals and cater to theirs instead?

    Perhaps this is why nostalgic properties are looked on with such reverence and we frenzy at the thought of them being changed. They couldn’t be changed back then, and it was an absolute we had to live with.

    Now certain people–maybe those who grew up with their complaints being met by developers on a more regular basis–have gotten spoiled. They demand perfection and exception. It’s not about finding a game that fits for you, its about forcing the game to fit you.

    You’re the feral wanderer eating the two-headed lizard, just surviving in the wasteland of video games. And the powder-white war boys have come. They’re gonna run you off the road, repurpose your car, use it for themselves. And you’re left high and dry, nothing but a blood bag.

    This is an apt analogy.

  • Chris

    So bummed about this. I weigh your recommendations heavily as sometimes I find stuff I love. I’ve wanted Darkest Dungeon for a while now but was waiting for the end of it’s Early Access-ness…
    Here’s hoping it’s still a good game if it ever reaches the end.


    I still like the game, got no complaints about the new characters and mechanics.

  • Jack

    This is concerning. I’ve been following this game for a while, but haven’t bought it yet. Was waiting for the PS Vita version that’s supposed to be coming, though I imagine that will take a while.

  • Johndar

    Couldn’t you appease both groups at least a little by just having difficulty modes? Maybe a classic mode that belays corpses and heart attacks, and then a more difficult mode that adds them back in. Class balancing would be another issue, but I think having two game modes would help a little.

    • RedsDead21

      This was my first thought. If you want something to appease to those who want to have to have the perfect party for the perfect occasion, just make some insanely difficult mode tailored for it, while opting to have the less ‘annoying’ or obtrusive features for lower or more…Saner, difficulties. Perhaps that would raise its own problems due to having to split dev time to each.

  • Richard Keohane

    I really appreciated the update. The patch notes were in conversational English and provided insight into what the creators were trying to accomplish. As such, I took it as part of the game… something to adjust and adapt to. The patch notes advertised the game as being much harder, and it was. I lost a lot of characters getting used to the new changes, but overall I came to appreciate what they had done. PROT and corpses made several classes vastly more useful, and “meh” skills became great options because they added DoTs or auto-cleared corpses.

    I am sad that other people did not have the same experience.

  • jericu

    Aw, geez, I haven’t played it since around when it first released too, but this is disappointing. Hearing that they made it HARDER is baffling to me, I won’t claim to be amazing at video games but the game was already pretty tough! Hopefully they can adjust the game back to a reasonable level. At least get rid of the corpse thing, THAT sounds like a pain in the neck.

  • Celerity

    Actually, this is something that really doesn’t make either group happy. The optimizing sorts wanted a game that was difficult yes, but we asked for difficulty and not tedium. We also wanted balance, so that effective gaming wasn’t just spamming the same singular broken style until we got bored, but rather that we’d have a range of tactical options (all of which got nerfed). As for wanting difficulty from the game in the first place, the first 2 words of the description are the game’s title, the second 2 are “is a” and the fifth is challenging. I think it a reasonable expectation, especially when every aspect of the game – setting, atmosphere, stated design direction all rings hollow without difficulty.

    Meanwhile less experienced users or those just not interested in the best possible approaches hit walls because the new changes specifically buff the best options and nerf everything else. Instead of goofing off with whatever silly teams they felt like making they thought corpse removal skills were necessary (it’s a mechanic you’re best off ignoring). They also thought DoTs were necessary and useful, mostly because the developers claimed they were. After they’ve been weak from the start, and then got nerfed.

    If you look at the people that are happy you mostly see people that agree with anything Red Hook does and are the ones that insult you with the moderator’s permission if you’re at all critical of their current design practices and direction – which is something you did not address at all Jim. These aren’t “min maxers” – we laughed at them for having no understanding of the game mechanics before most of the intelligent users were driven from the boards by the rampant censorship. A number that will soon include me as I’ve linked this article and people got bans for less.

  • MiddleIndex

    Lol news to me, ive just got the game and im having a blasted. I dont think I would want it to get easier.

  • Whimsy

    I don’t have a problem with the heart attacks, though with stress being so easy to get and so hard to remove, I think it’d be wise of them to balance them a bit better. I do like the idea that stress is more deadly than just making people act like ponces. All they need to do is give them a chance to “calm down” when they hit max stress.

    The corpses were a terrible decision, though, removing a legitimate tactical decision of enemies to focus. It even gave weird team comps (like those that can’t reach the back row, for example) a chance. Now it just draws out fights in a game where you can’t afford to have drawn out fights. Absolutely terrible idea and they should be removed (at least you can’t miss them now…)

    I still believe they have the best intentions in mind and I think they’ll come to their senses on some of these bad decisions.

  • Dragonzeanse

    Oh dear. I haven’t played Darkest Dungeon much yet, not necessarily because I don’t want it “spoiled” for me prior to release, but I saw it on sale and wanted to have it when that day came. But if they’re having issues pleasing the masses like that, then I’m not sure I want to play the game. Either way, they have my money, and I hope they can ditch those extra mechanics. I’m all for min-maxing, but I don’t like an entire game based around it.

  • TheMagicLemur

    I just wish they could, like, cordon off this shit in a separate game mode. I’m fine with min-maxers getting to play the game they want to play; I’m not so fine with them ruining the fun of anyone who doesn’t want constant excruciating challenge.

    If the game continues to exclusively cater to that style of gameplay, I guess I’m done with it

    • Celerity

      The game angers min maxers most of all as a single overpowered skill type is still dominant and that’s what the game revolves around because all the alternatives are weak, unreliable skills. That and we didn’t want tedium, we wanted difficulty, and we wanted tactics – meaning not disregarding entire skill categories or classes because they do nothing.

  • Spindrift Prime

    Every time I see a complaint about game changes targeted at a “vocal minority” of players, my eyes glaze over a bit. I wish players saw it as enough to explain their problems with a game without pinning blame on some vaguely defined, sinister Other.

    • dennett316

      In this case, it doesn’t seem all that vaguely defined. It was a subset of players who found exploits, used them, complained that it made the game too easy and called for change to stop themselves from using exploits that no-one was forcing them to use in the first place.

    • Cameron Ward

      except it does seem like that “vocal minority” is the reason why the game is not appealing to the mass anymore.

      People liked the difficult and atmospheric experience because they can grab the difficulty by the collar of its shirt and deal with it. Now, due to said vocal minority, the game is only playable for those types of players, which leaves out the majority of players who have dumped hours into it, now can’t play it because the balance of difficulty is now out of whack.

      Sometimes that vocal minority is the worst aspect to any game’s fandom.

      it’s like the people who think difficulty settings would ruin the Dark Souls series, which would for those stoic hardcore gamers, but would be more appealing to people who enjoy the lore and atmosphere of the games, but HATE having to deal with the difficulty.

      • Celerity

        The game is at its least playable state. AoE spam is boring, arbitrary features that enhance imbalance are facepalm worthy. – A Hardcore Gamer.

        Also, I am terrible at action games and still beat the Souls series. You just need persistence and learning.

      • Johnny Publique

        And yet Dark Souls has no difficulty settings, and remains incredibly popular. Seems you are incorrect.

        Catering to childrens demands never ends well.

  • Pangolin

    This is sad to hear. I nearly bought it after seeing the sale, especially because you’d vouched for an earlier version of it, Jim. But the things you’ve mentioned in this article are some of the things I hate to see in a game. It just doesn’t sound fun anymore. I hope they get it to a point where gameplay is less tedious and allows for a variety of play preferences! Maybe you can let us know if you happen to notice when it does. 🙂

  • astra

    i always hate when people complain about a game being easy

    i like easy games
    but if i want it hard i dont bitch to the devs until they cater to me and ruin the game for those who were enjoying it

    its the big reason i didnt like shodow of mordors bright lord dlc
    everyone cried to make it harder and we just got a character with half of everything (though i wasnt using the summon ability like i should and it makes things easier even being that weak)

    so yeah if you want a hard game just handicap yourself and shut up
    when i want shadow of mordor hard i dont play the game mode with the weak character

    i take off my best equipment and turn off enemy awareness indicators and combat prompts instead of ruining shit for other people like a cuntwop

  • Have they addressed the fact that the early builds did not have an ending? And min/maxers are only good to break a game. You see what they did, and go in the opposite direction, unless you build a game for them from the get go. And I’m leery of such games, they become either infuriating or boring really quick.

  • Oddjob

    When I went back and played this recently after learning that they had finally added the Hound Master and the Arbalist, I was just left confused by the inclusion of corpses. The only thing I ever really felt like was ‘gaming the system’ was spamming low damage stun moves on the last enemy until you had healed all of your characters, but shifting the enemy’s line up around and pulling their units out of their optimum positions was just using good strategy. Now with the inclusion of corpses, any fight against an enemy that can summon reinforcements is just a joke.

  • stevenkw

    Can you load the old version? I really enjoyed the pre corpse game. Maybe they will get it right in the end. I was pretty happy with the difficulty as it was and trying out different combinations of party members.

  • LangleyTerra

    I’m actually fine with the changes they’ve made. PROT makes Bleeds and Blights more attractive (since they were formerly useless and are currently still not-super-good), corpses makes attacks that hit back-row targets much more desirable since you’re more likely to need to use them throughout a fight (whereas before, they were good for a round or two and then unusable as all your enemies slid inexorably towards your party’s veritable monster-grinder). Corpses change very little so long as you aren’t wasting turns attacking the things. And if you buy a few extra torches to roll in radiant light, I don’t know how anyone would actually die from a heart attack. The last time one of my characters was Afflicted (100 Stress) was when I was building my level 0 Houndmaster in a Champion dungeon and the mere sight of monsters caused him to burst into flames. Yes, the game is harder, and it now demands a very solid understanding of your party makeup and how to play the game to succeed, whereas before it was simply strongly encouraged. I can understand why this would turn some players away, but the incredible knee-jerk reaction to these changes is harrowing. If I were to have one real complaint its the game’s economy that encourages hero recycling early on in order to afford hero upkeep later in the game, which is both counter-intuitive and grindy. But its been that way since the beginning when people liked it more, so maybe I’m just on drugs.

    • Celerity

      Nah, DoTs are still trash. The game is so imbalanced direct damage divided by 5 is still significantly stronger – and damage over time has a high chance of failure, and low damage if it works. Using DoTs is the specific source of most of the game is now hard complaints, as much like operating a tuba with your feet it is just not the right tool for the job.

    • Avenger93

      Maybe because before you could come up with different line-ups and different plans, that while not perfectly min-maxed still aloowed you to tackle the bosses and whatever else the game threw at you with smart play. Now, you either bring the exact min-maxed party for the job or you can go die. Where before a high dmg frontline could chew through the endless lich spawns, now I have no choice but to bring a tank in front that will spend 2-3 turns killing undead and then suck on his thumbs not hitting corpses or the backrow lich and then 2 other guys who pelt the lich to death from range with a support healy guy to keep everyone alive. Maybe i don;t want to be forced into a single paradigm, maybe I want totry out new things and come up with smart ways to game the system. Right now they are turning it into a puzzle with only one solution for each problem. One strategy that works and a million ways to die horribly. I much prefered the game when it was a million strategies that might work or result in horrible death.

  • onerypopopangoonerypopopango

    This was something I had my eye on since it’s announcement and Jim’s livestream. I didn’t get it myself as I just had several bad experiences with getting games in Early Access that I’ve avoided buying any since then. Quite gutted to hear all these changes as the game flip flops between camps… in the end, the devs will just have to ask themselves: What was it they originally intended to do? Have a brutally impossible game people can only get through through breaking the game? Or is it to have a dark and foreboding atmosphere constantly hanging over the player as they enjoy balancing out sanity and health to survive dungeons? From that writing you can tell which I’d prefer, but then again it’s really up to the developers. Shame though should they choose to opt for the former, as it’ll mean another game I’m not getting when it is finally a complete product.

  • ZeroHour

    and this is why you don’t pay for unfinished products, no matter how promising they first appear.

  • MaxisLithium

    As someone who owns and plays this game, I liked the addition of Corpses. It makes positioning, and movement abilities much more useful. Before, I could put a short-ranged melee character in the front, and never have to worry about him dishing out the Hurt, and my Back Rank attacks seemed to not be useful at all.

    I am not a fan of Heart Attacks.

  • Einsam_Fechter

    Why don’t they just split the starting options. You know have a regular mode that plays closer to the game when it first hit early access (which I loved). Then also have an option to start a hard mode game where you get all the extra hurdle stuff like corpses and PROT. That would make it good for both sides.

  • ElektroDragon

    This is why you DON’T do early access. The game needs to be designed by the designer, not a bunch of idiots with too much time on their hands who do everything in their power to exploit the game and then whine. I Kickstarted this game and recently tried the current build, but after all article I’m afraid to play it.

    • Gizensha

      Mass playtesting, which Early Access allows smaller studios better access to once the game’s at a state where it’s actually worth playing even if not fully balanced yet, can really help a game, on the other hand. Both for finding bugs and for addressing balancing concerns. I’d agree that the developer needs to have a vission for the game and not just go every way the wind blows, but… More playtesters isn’t a bad thing, provided the developer knows how to filter the noise from the signal.

      • Cameron Ward

        Except they should want everyone to buy the game. Appealing to niche crowds is fine, but if the game becomes too difficult and unplayable unless you get a good hand by the RNG and etc., then they should listen to feedback and listen to the mass amount of people who are saying the game is now too difficult for them

        • Celerity

          Making a generic mass market game is exactly what is causing their current conflict. Just look at these comments. You have a game that is allegedly a hardcore Roguelike that is both completely lacking in that difficulty, and has attracted a massive casual audience through mass videos that otherwise would not be interested in this style of game. And then they decided they’d keep those people around because more money, except they’re the ones mad about the current illusionary difficulty and would flip tables if the game actually became hard.

          If Red Hook were honest, a lot of users wouldn’t be here – they’d find a game they were more interested in. And so, if the game ever did become hard that massive explosion of negativity would make this look like a fizzle of sparks. Why? Because instead of them sticking with their core audience they wanted a generic mass market game, and in doing so cannot make any group happy.

          • Cameron Ward

            Im not saying make it easy like a Kirby game or anything, but I want to play and beat the games because of my skill, not because a bunch of bullshit and RNG are in my way. They either need to rebalance out everything, take out features that are causing the negative outbreak, or have a very detailed and in depth difficulty option feature where you can turn off certain aspects of the game.

          • Celerity

            That is fair. It’s also not a generic mass market game as anything featuring difficulty at all will be niche on some level – even the Souls series, by far the most popular is mostly most popular among at least semi serious players. Casuals, or those with merely little time for gaming (they’re not the same thing) are usually disinterested, instead prefering “a story”, or some other aspect of the game be their focus.

          • Cameron Ward

            For me, I really like the atmosphere and designs of everything that are in the Dark Souls games (Bloodborne included), but the difficulty and cheap hits don’t make me want to play the game. Especially after hearing how underwhelming the ending is….that just sucks a big one right there in my eyes. All that work, all that trial by error gameplay, and you get an ending that is underwhelming. Not worth it lol

            I played Darkest Dungeon back in march at an event and I loved the game for its music, turn based gameplay, dreading atmosphere, and Mike Mingola art style. It was hard, but I didn’t mind it. It felt perfectly difficult due to my death being my fault since i chose the wrong team to go and fight this witch boss.

            It’s the same issue I have with roguelikes. I like many of them like Tower of Guns and Galak-Z: The Dimensional, but once you die multiple times and keep having to start over with huge feeling of not making any progress, the difficulty becomes a chore. Even if the game gives you a huge amount of freedom to tackle each level however you want, I just want to have fun when I play the game.

          • Celerity

            Honestly, it doesn’t seem like permadeath is something you enjoy. That’s fine. Really it is. My point here however is that as a result of the mass video advertisement many bought this game that would not normally be interested – so instead of choosing something more suitable for them, they demand the game become something else (easier) and that’s what has caused this conflict. Because if Red Hook did get the balance right at first and focused on targeting challenge gamers, Roguelike fans, etc? A lot of users who are either casual or just not interested would keep walking and find a different game for themselves.

          • Johnny Publique

            in other words, you dont like roguelikes

            DONT PLAY THEM

            stop ruining games for others, thanks

          • Naskoni

            Ha, ignorant jerk troll, Darkest Dungeon is NOT a roguelike!

          • Cameron Ward

            the game isn’t ruined if it can be more approachable to players who rather enjoy the experience than the difficulty. Don’t know what your deal is.

        • Johnny Publique

          too difficult to chew bubblegum and walk?

          are you seriously complaining that thinking is required in a strategic game?

          people like you are a metaphor for everything wrong with modern society

  • HisDivineOrder

    Why ignore the obvious solution?

    Difficulty settings.

    “Normal” for the original way it was without the emphasis on making the game soul crushing. “Soulcrushing” for the new, hardcore-ier way with Heart Attacks, PROT, and corpses with all of the old balancing that the hardcore enjoy.

    They can then resolve to listen to each of the two groups separately and tailor each mode for that particular kind of audience. Plus, they should take metrics (via Achievements) to see how many people play each mode. And how far they get into it.

    Because this is Early Access, right?

    • sillyskeleton

      It’s a good idea in theory, but it would ultimately mean the developer
      has to rebalance the game twice over every time they work on a new
      update. A new character class may be perfectly designed for the hardcore
      mode, but will break the normal mode, etc.

    • FartyMcFartness

      Even then people will complain about it. People complained at the mere idea that Dark Souls could have a difficulty setting. With them saying that “It cheapens the whole experience”.

      • RagAndBoneMan

        What I’ve learned from being a gamer for a couple decades is, people will complain about absolutely everything. You have to ignore some of them. I think having a clear vision about the game you want to make and sticking to it is more important than being torn apart by constant feedback.

  • Michael Treiger

    Ah anxiously waiting for Monday’s Jimquisition *rubs hands*

  • Gizensha

    “It’s hard not to feel for Red Hook, now stuck trying to please two very distinct sets of fans.”

    Though, in this case – one group essentially wanting a more difficult experience while the other feeling that the game was hard enough as was thankyouverymuch, couldn’t this be solved via difficulty levels?

    • April

      Yeah, that seems obvious. Maybe even a difficulty menu, where users can turn on corpses, heart attacks, PROT, fiddle with enemy critical levels, etc. Some will whine that this dilutes the experience, but screw them, it’s my money, let me have the experience I want! Personally, I think PROT sounds fun to work around, but corpses and heart attacks would be tedious hassles.

      • Gizensha

        Ooh, I haven’t seen a good detailed difficulty settings screen since Spheres of Chaos – a trippy (If you set the graphic options right) Asteroids-style game from about 15 years ago – which had a bunch of presets corresponding to regular difficulty levels, but generated the waves algorithmically so allowed you to go under the hood and change the variables that it generated the waves algorithmically from.

        Though I think having the presets that are – presumably – playtested for balance and cultivated for experience is a requirement to make that sort of ‘allow the player under the hood and fiddle with the bits and bobs that make up your difficulty settings to their hearts content’ acceptable. Otherwise it’s kind of the video game equivilent of throwing a half broken board game at consumers and dismissing concerns over balance, etc, issues, that players can houserule it.

    • Cameron Ward

      They could solve this issue by having am extensive difficulty option menu.

      Like how in Smash Bros, you can edit what items are in this match, how many computer players, their levels, and so on

      In this case, they should have all the elements that make the game difficult (corpses, RNG, heart attacks, and so on) and have the ability to switch them off.

      I really hate it when an already difficult game becomes even more punishing. I don’t mind hard games, but when it starts to become a tad unplayable, then why should I keep playing if it’s not fun?

  • Maddy

    Wow, I went back to Darkest Dungeon recently after a break, and…I dunno…I was surprised by these, but wasn’t that cheesed.
    Heart Attack mechanics could be perhaps made a bit better, but before them, you could push a character to the limit and past it, even with an affliction, and not have too many problems. Maybe if it worked like regular dying, with there being a CHANCE to die via heart attack, rather than certainty, it’d be better.
    Corpses I found…EASIER, actually, but I always have weird party combinations with a dozen attacks targeting the backline, so, yeah.
    Prot was annoying, but even before these changes I was a big believer in bleed and blight mechanics, so yeah.
    And I don’t mean to say you should “git gud” or anything. It’s that, due to my specific playstyle, if this hadn’t been mentioned as such, I’d never had thought of these as a bad thing.

  • Celerity

    So I keep seeing difficulty levels mentioned over and over and over again. It’s not gonna work – both because the devs specifically said they are not interested, and because the “Game is hard” crowd will always find it overly difficult regardless of the actual challenge level. And the “Game is easy” crowd? I am the modder user Phasmaphobic is referencing. I needed about 2-5 times more difficulty before the game felt difficult at all. It offers a grand illusion of difficulty and great imbalance, but the actual difficulty is not present without some form of hard mode – and then you need a full class rebalance as you can’t pretend broken skills and classes work anymore so that Grave Robbers, or damage over time etc are useful.

  • ArdentDrops

    This reminds me of an article from Polygon about another early-access
    game, The Long Dark. Hinterland Studios, the guys who are making TLD,
    realized that this was a problem from the start. While they accept
    feedback from the users, they already had a vision in mind and stuck
    with it. You really should read the article! (Maybe even do a review?)
    Here’s a link: http://www.polygon.com/2015/3/3/8139699/the-long-dark-early-access-gdc-2015

  • Hairy_yan

    Similar experiences editing and writing. The more people involved during ‘creation’, the more conflicting visions you have to satisfy. If you have multiple editors it can become impossible to achieve consensus (god forbid editorial panels).

    The biggest difficulty is knowing when to admit that you just need to go back to an earlier build /draft. Once you start tweaking you turn into Father Ted with his raffle car and either end up with something broken, or hit ‘restart’. Either way feels like failure.

    The truth is, you need to limit input during a creative process and you need to be disciplined and be prepared to hit reset. Not doing so shows a lack of experience – it is a challenge compounded by Early Access, but it is not the fault of Early Access. I hope that makes sense, I haven’t had me morning coffee yet 🙂

    • Hairy_yan

      Fyi, ‘peer review process’ – it is a fine line between being helpful and utterly destructive,especially with new and inexperienced authors and editors.

    • Robowar

      > Once you start tweaking you turn into Father Ted with his raffle car

      Just wanted to commend you for this wonderful reference.

      • Hairy_yan

        All of life’s mysteries can be unlocked by dedicated study of Father Ted 😉

  • I guess I’m one of the ones who really enjoys the soul-crushing difficulty of the game. Frankly, having the corpses in there makes line ordering even more strategic. I do think the corpses need a little bit of work (for example, you shouldn’t be able to miss them), but overall I’m very happy with the game.

    The thing is, people are always going to complain. Whether it’s Rust or Starbound or Darkest Dungeon, there is a type of player who’s never going to be satisfied with what the game developers are doing. I’ve always suspected that it’s that particular kind of player who goes on to make something like Slaughtering Grounds and then can’t handle any kind of criticism, but I don’t have any proof to back that up other than my observations of personality types.

    • Cameron Ward

      Well, that’s fine if you like it, but you represent the niche that does and is quite possibly ruining the game for everyone else.

      Not everyone wants punishment every time you take a single step. The version of the game I played months ago back in march at an event was perfect, except that the heroes needed to do more damage. These new changes just seem borderline tedious and due to these new additions, the balance is out of whack, which is why people are now complaining that the game is now way too tough and relies way too heavily on randomized levels and chance to make it through a dungeon.

  • Machtkampf

    Why not have completely different modes? Fun Mode and Sadistic Mode anyone?

  • Sam


  • ChaoticPesme

    Felt the same way about Warframe and Starbound. Especialy Starbound where they have, on top of not quite being in the same game genre anymore : Forum moderators that keeps censoring threads even to this day, very questionnable updating methods, and shaddy devs who you’re wondering what they’ve been doing with the Early Access money.

    • Celerity

      The censoring is something he didn’t mention at all but it is happening in this game. Deleted posts, locked threads, ban threats, actual bans… it happens. Usually these posts vanish within a half hour of their creation unless you’re high profile in which case they might leave you along. The specific reason for this mass negativity is not the state of the Corpse and Hound patch – it is how Red Hook Studios reacted when faced with the overwhelming negative feedback. Reviews cannot be censored.

      And the reviews you see with hundreds or over one thousand votes? They generally had well under 100 2 days ago. They became popular because Red Hook released a patch that puts on a show of addressing criticism without actually doing so and went on sale at the same time – except all these new users coming in from the front page see 70 straight negative helpful reviews – no joke and the one that was already at the front of the list was Phasmaphobic. It backfired hard and is why they’re acting fairly reasonable now.

      • Ian Goldberg

        Or maybe because the Devs made a mistake and are trying to redress it? I mean they released a contentious update and are trying to scale back changes that upset the community. I don’t see anything particularly wrong with that.

        Many of the posts and posters that got banned were more than just criticism, either they made things personal, derailed unrelated topics or were just spiteful to certain individuals. (At least from what I’ve seen) Do I agree with the way the forum’s been moderated? No. I think they’ve used a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel so to speak, but from the actions of the Devs I sincerely believe that they’re not trying to suppress criticism of the game.

        • Celerity

          Have you seen ALL the censored posts? There are literally 15 pages most recounting the specific examples of Red Hook’s shady behavior. This censorship started a few days after the 7/15 patch. That’s what provoked this mass negativity – not just the patch itself.

          And “derailed unrelated subjects” is exactly what the current group of mindless supporters do. They find a critical thread, spam it with derailments and brazen insults and get it locked and they are not even warned. I have literally seen one instance where a moderator informed someone that was supporting them and is directing hostility at a critic that they should behave themselves. Only one. There’s at least one hundred baiting incidents in the last week alone. It’s very one sided. They’d ban me and Phasmaphobic in an instant were we not high profile – and many have been banned for less as they figured those people would not be missed.

          • Ian Goldberg

            Yeah… The Community’s acting ugly all over, again I can only react to what I’ve seen, but that does sound shady. I feel like it’s debatable as to what really caused the majority of the outrage but blocking threads indiscriminately NEVER helps. Urgh what a mess.

            As someone’s who’s been enjoying the hell out of the game it’s quite disheartening to see.

          • Celerity

            It’s not really debatable, I can tell you. Before 7/15 it was generally positive. After, when that patch was universally negative it provoked a negative response – which afflicted the devs and mods with Abusive, and started the censoring. That made the negativity magnify and exponentially grow, then shift on reviews as those could not be censored. There’s also some coming from the misaimed fandom protesting the illusion of difficulty because they believe it is actual difficulty.

            They then made a patch that makes a show of fixing things without actually doing anything and had a sale at the same time as at this point reviews – positive or negative just ceased, which suggests everyone either said their part or was scared by the several straight pages of negative helpful reviews. Of course all these new users see this and become wary or decide against it outright and that’s where the explosion of votes comes from.

            A few of the more hostile supporters blame me as if I am the source of all problems, all negativity. I am not Jim Mother Fucking Sterling, I don’t have a huge audience, I can’t throw hundreds or thousands of votes around – the vast majority of this I have zero connection with. You’d think that would quit when I left the forums entirely for a month and they exploded far worse without me.

  • Leon Voisey

    I think the simplest fix for all this would just be some difficulty settings “turn heart attacks on/off”, etc.

    • Cameron Ward

      Yeah. I don’t mind hard games at all, but once the game becomes too hard, it doesn’t become an enjoyable or playable to some degress, it becomes a chore. That’s why i’m getting sick of roguelikes that rely too much on player skill and luck of the RNG. Just let me have some fun.

  • Helmic

    An excellent blog post by someone that worked on Nethack perfectly explains what’s going on here, http://nethack4.org/blog/strategy-headroom.html

    He uses a concept called headroom. High headroom games allow you lots of leeway to play a game, allowing for a variety of playstyles. Nethack and early Darkest Dungeon are both high headroom games. Low headroom games, by contrast, require very specific strategies to beat. The Binding of Isaac and FTL are both examples as you have little choice but to play the cards you’re dealt and aim for a compatible strategy or build.

    The mistake the devs made was changing a high headroom game into a low headroom game. The game encourages choice with the large roster of characters and build options and encourages you to get attached to individuals so that their deaths have emotional impact, but the latest versions clash with that design by restricting your strategy to certain setups that can exploit specific challenges.

    This is where the “game is easy” chodes get it wrong. They’re confusing headroom with difficulty. Dark Souls, while not nearly as difficult as its reputation implies, is still quite hard. It’s also incredibly high headroom, with nearly limitless viable builds and playstyles rewarded and plenty of freedom to complete the game on your terms. Tic Tac Toe is about as low headroom as it gets, if you don’t know the specific move order you will lose but even children can force draws forever.

    The solution is to rebalance the game so that there always several effective ways to get around an obstacle. This means diminishing the importance of precise party compositions. The game is inherently high headroom, it lacks the simplicity of Binding of Isaac that allows every playthrough to be so different. A low headroom design won’t bring the benefit of player improvisation as they’re always in charge of their resources, making it work as a low headroom game would require an entire redesign of the town.

    More generally, all indie devs need to take player feedback with a grain of salt. People will say a game that is hard for others is too easy for them because it boosts their ego, just like people who claim to love black coffee want to appear sophisticated. That’s not too say you should ignore their input, but best in mind that a have merely being harder didn’t make it better. Players come into Darkest Dungeon expecting tension and gradually losing heroes to sanity loss, so long that’s delivered most fans will be happy.

    • Celerity

      “Confusing headroom with difficulty.” I find this hilarious given that Red Hook has specifically amplified overcentralization/low headroom whatever while aiming for difficulty and not reaching it. Meanwhile challenge gamers want it hard, but don’t want One True Wayism because that’s boring as fuck. I also specifically and personally made this game both vastly more difficult and have far more viable options, so there’s that.

      • Helmic

        Increasing difficulty in a turn based game without reducing options is pretty difficult, however, as the genre is driven entirely by decisions. There isn’t some reflex or execution or situational awareness test to challenge the player, they only ever fail if they make a bad decision.

        One True Wayism isn’t quite the same thing as low headroom, either. There are lots of ways to beat Binding of Isaac… but only one or two ways per playthrough. This is the strength of low headroom roguelikes, they force the player into a variety of playstyles and reward thinking on your feet and mastering the system as a whole rather than just a subset.

        So they’re stuck with the task of making a high headroom, turn based RPG that’s also difficult. The best solution is for there to be precise balance between character builds, but that can be nightmarish to get right without making them all too similar or introducing cheese that makes the game “too easy” for those that exploit them, the DnD 3.5 problem.

        • Celerity

          Difficult is not impossible – and after reading the article it’s a false choice. Yes there’s games that let anything work but only provide challenge if you create it. Yes there’s hard games where only the best stuff works and it is an exercise in One True Wayism. But you can also have difficulty and diversity. You can have right and wrong options – and more than one of each. You can make a game that punishes stupidity and recklessness but not experimentation.

          What’s more, you can specifically do this within Darkest Dungeon. It requires heavily revamping the entire combat system but it can be done and again, I’ve done it.

          As the game is now though? If made hard at all the imbalance would become strongly apparent immediately as now it is easy and forgiving, you can make dozens of mistakes and still win and not even realize that they were mistakes. So while now some might think many options are viable, that is succeeding in spite of them and not because of them. That in turn has promoted a lot of bad habits.

          • Helmic

            Wait, are you that nutter that was accusing the devs of bribing Youtubers for positive coverage without any actual proof? I don’t see how having made a mod gives you that right.

          • Celerity

            I theorized it and admitted I had no actual proof at the same time. I also mentioned the many things that do have proof. Speculation is legitimate if clearly labeled. Also, the specific video maker in question gave a backhanded review anyways, but that less than positive undertone was missed by them.

  • artisticMink

    I’ve played a lot of DD at its initial release on steam and then let it rest for a while. For one, i don’t want to play it to death, for the other the balance just wasn’t there yet. Which is alright.

    Now however, i can somewhat understand the community reactions. I feel like they attempt to implement features for the sake of it. But then, that’s the thing about a true Early Access game: It tries new concepts and either keeps or ditches them, depending on if they work or not. I think the whole concept of EA is troubled at the moment. A majority of devs uses the EA program as extended preorders while minority actively develops and tests their games and mechanics during the EA phase. As it should be in my personal opinion.

    I feel like the whole Early Access concept is currently in a very bad position.

  • Brerlappin

    Dirty Bomb is suffering from this to some extent too. I know its not early access but it is open beta, which is sort of similar. But the game I had bene playing and enjoying for 20+ hours suddenly became an annoying fuckfest once Phantom got introduced. And it seems like every update produces something new to whinge about. The player count has shot down drastically and the mostly positive reviews on steam are now getting replaced with negative ones

  • iamthedave

    I’ve been with DD from the beginning, and I think corpses were necessary. People looking at it from a distance, or who played a bit and then stopped to wait for the full release to avoid burnout, probably don’t notice the main problem the lack of corpses created: skill redundancy.

    About half the characters in the game had skills that were 100% pointless, because all you EVER had to do was hit the front lines as hard as possible as fast as possible, because then the back lines become the front lines and you’d have the entire thing over in about two turns. Entire character classes were virtually invalidated by this.

    With corpses, back-row hitting skills have actual value. You can still play an obsessive front-row killing team, but it’s no longer the one optimal strategy. A more balanced team composition that can either stun the back row or remove corpses as they appear (there’s a few skills that simply remove active corpses) is now required, and you can use almost any combination of characters to achieve that.

    Corpses increase strategic choices significantly. People are whining because they had their one true playing style and don’t like that it got taken away.

    The PROT and heart attack changes are altogether a different kettle of tentacles though. Corpses might be an inelegant, if effective, solution to a problem, but PROT just annoys people by making tough enemies invincible, and heart attacks force you to cancel dungeon runs due to bad luck. Those definitely need looking at.

    For my money, though, DD is better off with corpses than it was without.

    • Celerity

      Ah, the classic corpse straw man. As every formation ever is a front row that does nothing and a back row that does something, why would you hit the enemies that do nothing first? This has always been incredibly suboptimal (yet lazy) “Entire classes” were not invalidated by the mid tier Crusader, and borderline unviable Leper. They were invalidated by low base damage, weak skills, unreliable skils, or some combination of these.

      Alternately, you take advantage of the game’s extreme power creep and literally have your characters yell at the screen once or twice and it dies, corpse or no corpse. Corpses tell you your weak tactics don’t work – they actually buff the strong ones. And regardless of whether you’re an optimizer or not, buffing the already best option and nerfing everything else is something I think we can all agree is a terrible idea.

      • Coming Second

        “Why would you hit the enemies that do nothing first?”

        Because those enemies most certainly DO do something, whether it’s causing every single one of your characters to bleed, stunning or doing massive AOE damage. As it was pre-corpses, everyone piling into rank 1 was the optimum strategy, because not only were you removing a dangerous enemy from the game asap, you were pulling the rest of the enemy towards your tanks.

        Also RH have done plenty to make once weak class like the Grave Robber and the Plague Doctor viable on their own terms. They haven’t simply stuck the corpse mechanic in and called it a day, as you’ve implied here.

        • Celerity

          No, they don’t. Front row enemies are just there. They technically take actions but those actions are no threat. Back row enemies are either almost high damage or stress, etc. So you either AoE the entire screen at once and it dies, AoE most of the screen and it dies then poke the rest, or if you’re early game and don’t have the power creep going for you you just hit the back row first with your best damage.

          There was nothing optimal about wasting turns.

          Also, GR and PD are still terrible and non viable.

          • Coming Second

            Everything you’ve said here is completely wrong, I’m afraid. However it’s worthless arguing it further with you, because RH have just now very kindly released a patch that will enable you to disable corpses. So you can now go back to playing the game you want.

          • Celerity

            Corpses are a straw man and not the only, biggest, or most significant problem. Also, I find AoE spam incredibly boring and being bored or using broken skills and also being bored doesn’t appeal so I fixed the game so it has actual difficulty/depth/tactics myself.

      • iamthedave

        Entire classes were invalidated by the obscenely overpowered Hellion and Highwayman. You might not think so but unfortunately, you’re wrong on this one. The Crusader and Leper both saw some use, as the Leper could be twinked to do utterly absurd damage with his crit buff skill, but in the bad old days the late game involved spamming two abilities and watching everything die. It was a setup utterly toxic to the game’s long term life and it needed changing. The corpses are just another part of that process where they make it so every class has a role, and it comes down to which ones you want to use, instead of a choice between a bunch of classes that are the clear, obvious best, and a bunch of classes you can choose to use if you want to play the game wrong, or until you’ve played it enough to realise that the obvious best classes are the ones you should be using.

        For my own experience I’ve been doing rather a bit better since corpses were introduced. Maybe they fit my play style better, maybe I just happened to play the game in a way that naturally gels with them. I’ve not seen any persuasive arguments on why corpses are bad. The real issues were high protection and missable corpses, both of which are fixed.

        I’m not saying the game is perfect yet, not by any means. But I’ve found corpses a complete improvement over the way things were, and I’m far from the only person that sees the same.

        • Celerity

          Ok. Delete Highwayman and Hellion from the game. Are Grave Robbers suddenly relevant? Plague Doctors? Jesters? Houndmasters? Bleed? Blight? Stun? Buff? Debuff? Move? No – on all counts. Removing the good options does not magically make the bad ones quit sucking.

          Leper is a “Timmy Trap” – like the MtG archetype, he makes big impressive looking numbers but doesn’t actually do anything, isn’t actually that powerful, and is only even [i]viable[/i] because accuracy bonuses are so abundant they negate one of his three weaknesses – even then, Rabid Crusader is more damage/accuracy/utility/everything.

          The game is still about spamming one skill and it is still the same skill. No change. Zero. None. Nada. It’s still about trivializing the game, and that’s a process that never involved killing the front row first. Corpses specifically buff AoE, as making enemy formations static and stagnant means you just stack wide area effects and it doesn’t get wider area than “Hit entire screen at once”.

          And as for claass choices? The weak got weaker! They were clearly and explicitly nerfed. So it’s cool you can repeat the same tired memes about them, but all the math and logic says you’re wrong.

          Regardless of where you stand regarding optimization, I think we can all agree Balance Fail 101 is making the best better and all else worse.

  • Shen

    Gosh, if only there was some sort of menu through which one could choose options. I seriously fail to see how this hasn’t been solved and squirreled away already. How it was before? Bam, that’s your default. Want it harder? Go to the options and turn on the bollocks you want. Sorted, everyone’s happy and anyone who isn’t is not worth listening to.

  • ZoddTheHuman

    All of the ideas mentioned sound interesting. However the balance seems to be way off. I enjoyed the shit out of the game way back when in one of the first versions. It was plenty hard for me, but I don’t think these mechanics increase the difficulty as much as they do variety.

  • dfernand

    I got a beat-down from a witch 5 months ago and just gave up.

  • Graceland

    I have an alternative solution. If the Dev’s are going to cheat to make the game hard to the point of being un-fun to all by the most obnoxious players, then ill just cheat in response by editing the games rules via a cheating program to re-balance it back to a reasonable playable experience that used to exist. This is one of those instances where cheating doesn’t feel like cheating anymore, it feels like making the game right again.

    The dev’s aren’t the only ones that get to change the games rules around. I’ll be doing this until some options menu comes in to fix this nonsense.

  • Rover86

    Isn’t this something that can be solved by having a normal mode and a “hardcore” mode?

  • Comadreja

    Interesting article, worth reading even for DD uninitiates like me. Also sad news, since I was interested in the game but those new mechanics seem off-putting just from the sound of them. The good thing is Early Access cuts both ways, hopefully the devs will eventually decide whether it’s really worth it to keep course or return the game to its original and superior incarnation. All in all, it seems many of the creative problems that used to plague AAA game production are cropping up again in the indie scenes (the “corruption” of a game’s design and intent through badly focused testing in this case.)

  • Ronan Doherty

    This why steam needs a rollback feature.

    • Leo Anderson

      Like what GOG has =)

      • Celerity

        Yeah, no legal way of getting old versions.

  • Edz Greaves

    Why not just implement A TOGGLE SWITCH.
    Simple solution.

    • SpiritBearr

      The problem would quiet down until the achievements come out and the conversation returns regardless of whether or not the togglable stuff will be required,

      • DJ Schway

        Everyone just seems to snap at me when I bring up achievements on Steam forums, so I don’t think it would be a huge issue.

        I do think the toggle switch is a simple and quick solution that could at the very least alleviate the issue temporarily.

    • cipraziel

      Not that simple, that would mean that future balancing patches will have to be doubled: one version for the older version and one for the newer one.

  • marvelator

    Some people need to realise that just because they like being chained to a bed of nails and being flayed with barbed wire, doesn’t mean everyone else does.

  • Something_Depressing

    Thank god for Jim Fucking Sterling covering this. Please be the Messiah we need and continue to spread the word about this you are the only hope of Darkest Dungeons players to get some form of satisfaction. Please unite us almighty Sterling that we may be instruments of thine will.

  • Cooltrainer Ian

    This same kind of thing happened to me with supreme commander 2. it was made by squarenix instead of the previous developer who made the first game a horrible slog when your resource allocation was surpassed by construction demands, to the degree that the game would compensate and slow all build times down to the same trickle and crawl as your resource generation. (in other words: if you had enough resources to pay for something in full, it would take say 2 real life minutes. if you did not, that time could go up exponentially to, realistically not hyperbole, 10 minutes or more of real life time). while i enjoyed aspects of the original game, i loathed this one.

    so when the sequel came out by squarenix they used a more traditional rts formula where if you didn’t have the resources to build something, you simply COULDN”T and instead if you queued up stuff they would wait till you had the resources and then build each thing in the order you requested it. this made me happy as an rts veteran. 2 minute build time was always 2 minutes. well sometime down the line they patched the game because of some whining bitches to make the sequel work like its predecessor and for me that was an uninstall. somehow, magically, i went from being able to beat the campaign to not being able to win a single skirmish match. there was no in game menu setting to let you choose how resource management worked, i simply had to accept the rug being pulled out from under me.

    • Thanatos2k

      Grey Goo does this too and I absolutely hate it. The things I queued first when I had the money to build them should have priority and build IN FULL before it starts siphoning money off to other things I decided to build later.

  • allmightywaterokant

    In an attempt to answer the question at the bottom about whether these changes would be welcomed if they were there from the beginning. I bought the game after corpses, heart attacks, and PROT were introduced and I didn’t have any large problems with. Corpses were something I actually liked the idea of forcing the player to plan ahead with who to kill and when. PROT and heart attacks on the other hand I have mixed or no opinions on. PROT I never actually encountered in any of my play time and heart attacks were something I found… complicated. It gives incentive to keep stress to a minimum (as if there weren’t enough of those) and it meant stress management was an even bigger part of party planning and fights, however, the biggest problem with it is that a few select enemies or interactions that could raise stress in such a small amount of time there was no way to compensate.

    • FrozenFocus

      My problem was seeing the game in action early on and then playing it for myself recently after the patch was introduced, and no I haven’t played the game before, just now I’ve started playing it and I’ve restarted about….6 or 7 times now.

      To me, the problem comes in when you have too many systems working against you and not enough working with you:

      1.Corpses are unnecessary as there are enemies that will shuffle your party up constantly, usually at the start of an encounter and wasting time to get through 3 corpses with your melee fighter who can only attack the front row (God bless if you’re lucky enough to get a guy with an attack to the back row) just to get rid of the last remaining enemy who in the meantime crits you for 12 damage every turn, cause their crit chances seem to have been buffed, or hes been stacking stress to the point where you might as well leave the dungeon otherwise one or 2 of your party members die of a bloody heart attack. The solution is either get rid of that system, make a way to clear corpses faster/easier, or let us get to the back line in some way so we don’t spend 3 turns trying to kill whatever’s left killing heroes/increasing stress.

      2.So a laundry list of problems already, but wait, there’s more! PROT has been introduced, and while it wouldn’t be such a problem normally, as the general idea of armoured targets makes sense, the implementation is horrible, as it makes coming across MAGGOTS an almost guaranteed dungeon failiure, and the only way to get past the armour is through DOT’s, but they take time, time you can’t afford to waste for the more time you waste, the more stress you get and hp you lose, and we come back to getting out of a dungeon with almost no rewards and having to put everybody in stress relief cause a overgrown 6 HP maggot nibbled on em. Solution? Not sure, for the idea makes sense, but rethink the implementation? Think of some way to get through PROT without wasting so much time on bloody maggots. (I have come to despise them with every fiber of my being)

      3.The last problem is the Diseases that your party members might get from a run. These, again, wouldn’t be a problem if they wouldn’t be applied on your heroes from the very bloody start of the game. Getting the Black Plague on ANYBODY from the first dungeon you run means that guy is as good as dead and you might as well just dismiss him or have him killed as soon as possible.
      If they made these come in the later game, where they would be more manageable, it would make more sense, because in the early game where you don’t have the money or time to spare to try and save a character from being utterly useless, why even bother?

      And to top it all off, there isn’t ANYTHING in the game that is supposed to give you an advantage, however slim it may be, over any enemy in the game. Nothing. No stress relief/resistance, no way to kill enemies faster, not even more rewards if you even manage to get through a dungeon. If they changed it so the materials you find in the dungeon at the time (food,shovels,keys,medicine) was kept in a separate inventory, even that would have made everything a little bit easier, cause then you wouldn’t be spending as much money on those things in the first place and you could focus more on stress relief-ing every hero that’s gone insane.

    • Chris N

      Considering you haven’t encountered the PROT mechanic, I don’t think you’re really able to justifiably comment on whether the current batch of changes would affect your experience of the full game as a new player. Furthermore, you had a bias going in considering your knowledge of the negative opinions others had of these mechanics.

  • Naskoni

    Jim, you said “Corpses are an illogical hurdle and serve only to cheaply extend every fight”. Well you might want to have a look at what Red Hook thinks of such feedback here:
    Because posting such stuff is perceived as directly or indirectly personally insulting the devs, which can and does lead to forum bans.

    • MattyAustralis

      No, you were just being an ass.

      • Naskoni

        Yeah, because criticizing and “insulting” game mechanics is exactly the same as insulting the devs… Guess Jim is being an “ass” for thinking corpses are an illogical hurdle and cheap too…

        • MattyAustralis

          See above. Shammara pretty much nailed it. You’re the only one who doesn’t see that you were being insulting and personal about it.

          • Naskoni

            Oh, hardly, its just that those that happened to think likewise were not only banned but had their posts deleted as not to leave a bad impression that there is actually any censorship at all. Plus my post was targeted at Jim and not towards the local trolls. I’m pretty sure he can decide for himself on what merit such posts get ban threats or outright bans.

          • Johnny Publique

            take your insufferable holier than thou attitude and ‘help’ some other game, pretty please

            youre stinking up the place

          • Naskoni

            The fanboy troll butthurt is real!

    • Shammara Blanchard

      You were being an ass. You literally called devs that are probably working more than 40 hours a week, “lazy” and, “incompetent” many times in your post.

      You were insulting them

      • Naskoni

        Funny, guess reading comprehension is not what it used to be, because I distinctly recall calling “corpses” such (but for certain people the difference seems to be completely lost), namely badly thought-out, lazy and cheap. Which I stand by. Sort of what Jim does here too. I don’t see the word “incompetent” in my post at all either. Although I do now think they are precisely that.

        And how hard they work is irrelevant if almost everything they produce is crap that happens to be ruining their own game. Thus this article.

        • Shammara Blanchard

          Nice try. But calling something a lazy-ass mechanic is just the same as saying that the devs are lazy. You are insinuating that they are lazy since they used a lazy mechanic.

          You then said corpses were the last straw and called them, badly thought out (Nice grammar), lazy and cheap. So you are saying the devs used a poorly thought out, lazy, and cheap mechanic. Again, that goes back on the devs. By saying their techniques are this, you say they are by default.

          Then you think you know better by saying they wasted time with the mechanic, directly downing the time they spend working on the game and saying they do not communicate.

          Then to be nice, you tell them they are tripping over themselves lately.

          It is not reading comprehension that needs work here. It is you actually knowing what the heck you wrote!!

          • Naskoni

            Sure, sure, my point was – had Jim posted this very article under a no-name account on that forum he’d get the ban hammer as well. After all he does call corpses an “illogical hurdle” that “cheaply extends the fight”. Guess the devs are illogical (i.e. stupid) and cheap according to your world-class logic?

            And holy cow, how could I dare post anything but praise for the game and all of the recent changes. Jim is obviously such an “ass” for daring to criticize them too! How dare a critic criticize?! And if a studio is actually incompetent, lazy or cheap saying so should getting you shot right on the spot! I mean Jim criticizing all those jerk devs on Greenlight and all, the nerve!!! Even criticizing the game itself is the same as sending death threats and all!

            Guess the world would be such a better place if people were allowed to post only STRICTLY positive feedback:

          • SteveThompson1

            There’s a difference between being an asshole and posting constructive criticism in a manner that means to help the dev realize the flaws in their design to make the game better.Cool your jets man.

          • Celerity

            In general? Yes. For Red Hook, and specifically Cadogan? No. Hell, even though things have calmed and the critic side is behaving themselves (the supporter side is still baiting, and not being called on it much) he’s still at it with his grand posturing and clear eagerness about banning people.

          • Chris N

            I’m going to have to disagree here, and throw in some surprise as well, considering the venue of where you’ve said this.

            Calling part of someone’s work “lazy-ass” is *not*, at all, a criticism of the person. Jim emphasizes that countless times in his videos, especially in reference to certain frequently-mentioned publishers who take things personally. The entire point of criticism like this is to point out ways for things to improve. I’m frankly surprised that you would have this kind of view as someone who follows Jim’s work, considering how direct and forthright he is with his criticism.

            All that said, the tone of the post Naskoni linked was a bit harsh, and they were rightfully chastised for it. Banning? A bit much. I also think the “we’re in early access, don’t criticize us” response is pure bollocks. This whole thing is turning into a shitshow like so many early access releases, sadly.

          • Celerity

            What post? The one where Tycrus praises the devs with a specific example? Or did you mean the Hitler remark, which was a bit silly?

            And while it is true that there’s a difference between saying someone’s work is lazy ass or you are, Red Hook does not realize this. They have defined “personal attack” as anything that makes them or their game seem bad, even obvious stuff like “Everyone is not good at everything, that is what teams are for.” Apparently you should claim they are omnicompetent as saying Chris (the artist) is bad at programming is considered insulting. Even after I admitted my own strengths and weaknesses I could not convince either the moderators or the developers this was not a personal attack.

            Also, it’s a matter of profile. Tycrus is high profile because long involvement/high hour count, I am because even higher involvement, Phasmaphobic is because of this review… if you’re a nobody they’ll just remove you, thinking you won’t be missed. They will erase the evidence so quick it’s not obvious unless you have notifications turned on for the forums.

          • Chris N

            The post that Naskoni linked, upthread, as I said in my post.

            I’m not defending anyone’s actions here, just saying that criticizing someone’s work is not criticizing the person. Oh, and banning for criticism is dumb. That’s all. 🙂

          • Celerity

            Ah, so you did mean that one. I’m not sure what was harsh about it at all, which is why I asked and there were others that were being harsh but not unfairly so I figured you meant something else.

          • Shammara Blanchard

            Maybe not. But to me, it implies that the person did lazy work. If you are saying a person is doing lazy work, are you not in turn calling the person lazy.

            I just find there are better adjectives to use. 🙂

          • Celerity

            I’ve done a poor job on things while generally being dedicated. It doesn’t reflect on my overall performance or mindset – it just means I didn’t care about that one thing or made some mistake.

          • BlooPaladin

            Naskoni wasn’t banned for that post. He and Celerity have been all over the Steam discussions (and in these comments) being a complete ass. This wasn’t the first time he’d been warned about his tone.

          • Celerity

            Naskoni was banned for calling the game’s design lazy ass, he got no warning before. I was threatened with a ban for suggesting they hire a balance contractor. They claimed they “warned me” before but the warning mentions no names and is in a thread where no one is misbehaving at all and even now that things are calm on the critic side (plenty of baiting still from the supporters) he’s still eagerly looking for any reason, as if actively undermining the relative calm.

          • Johnny Publique

            Exactly. They are douchebags of a high order. So sorry.

          • Naskoni

            Yeah, care for some links to go with your lies?

  • Tiernan Taylor

    As someone who recently bought the game I find that corpses are never anything more than a slight nuisance and the heart attacks are good for keeping you on your toes. While older players of the game may be frothing rage because the changes have made it a “lesser game” it is still a pleasant experience and a satisfying challenge. Do not be deterred by the negative reaction to the changes, I cannot speak for what it was like beforehand but it is a great game in it’s current state.

    • Cameron Ward

      You sound like the minority who enjoy these changes, aka the reason why it’s getting negative reviews.

      • Tiernan Taylor

        The negative reviews seem to be from the people who played it before the update as far as I can tell. I’m not saying the game is better for the updates it may have been better before corpses and heart attacks, I don’t know. I’m saying that as a new player they haven’t been getting in the way of my enjoyment. I understand the frustration but the game is still pretty bloody good. I can’t really enjoy/hate a change I haven’t experienced.

        • Celerity

          Some is, some is new users. It’s a mix of people with all game time in the past 2 weeks and returning veterans. A lot of the positives either have 0 gametime in the last 2 weeks or all of it (and a low number, suggesting they didn’t even beat the game once).

      • Johnny Publique

        the negative reviews seem to be coming from whiny manchildren

  • Roy Davies

    Funny, this is exactly what happened to games like World of Warcraft, travelled so far from the original design thanks to listening to the wrong people that it has killed it off.

    I played a bit of darkest dungeon when it came out (enough to fall in love with it… turn based games are a guilty pleasure of mine) but i decided to leave it for a while, until the content was finished so I can experience it in its fullest

    now I’m not sure if I want to

    • Nekochan

      That is pretty much why I quit WoW.

      When Cataclysm came out they changed the core mechanics of the hunter class from a mana based top loading damage class that opened with their big hits and worked down to smaller hits to finish off an opponent, to a focus based bottom loaded damage class that opens with small inconsequential attacks and maybe just maybe they will build up enough focus to deal their signature moves before they get killed.

      They also eliminated ammo from the hunter class removing a LOT of their damage which came from having special kinds of ammo that they could buy or craft if they took engineering as a crafting skill (pretty much the one and only reason I chose this crafting skill was to craft ammo that could give me a damage boost) and when they eliminated this mechanic most engineer hunters faced the job of plowing under all the work they did leveling up their mining and engineering skills and taking something that would be useful under the new system like leatherworking and skinning and having a LONG grind to level up their new skills.

    • John Araujo

      Someone made a comprehensive list of these kinds of changes in WoW, and it really is sad to look at: https://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comments/3g8nez/comprehensive_list_of_all_rpg_elements_removed/

  • Chris Maillet

    One thing I’ve noticed in Early Access games (well, the few I’ve bought and played anyway) is when the developer adds a feature that is almost universally hated, they never remove the feature, but instead try to “balance” it.
    Personally I consider that an insult to their supporters, a developer who is incapable of admitting they’ve made a mistake. Instead of announcing “no one likes corpses so we’re taking them back out” then waiting for the community response to guide their actions, they’ve just left them in the game but instead try to “balance” them into something acceptable.
    Personally I’ve never been a fan of “balance” in games, if everything is exactly as effective as everything else, where’s the challenge? I get a much greater sense of enjoyment taking a character or piece of equipment, and using my brain to figure out how to use it to the best possible effect.

    • Naskoni

      Unfortunately many devs consider it a matter of pride as removing something that turned out to be a dumb idea, for them, means “giving in to the whiners” and admission of not being as competent as they’d like to be perceived. Especially if that idea happens to be the brainchild of the lead designer so that nobody on his own team would dare question the validity of said addition.

      • Feroquiera

        once otherwise paying customers tell you that they’re no longer keen to buy the game because of a reviled alteration, (these “corpses” certainly sound as though they qualify) then, the businessman wishing success for his firm (whether worker, or owner) should understand his own game and his audience, enough to realise that something’s gone wrong and seek to course correct.
        If they know neither their audience, nor have they sufficiently rigidly defined their game prior, then entering Steam Early Access is more likely to resemble a plunge into some dark, cold water, than the establishment of a testing dungeon adventure.

        • Naskoni

          Well, there are several problems regarding this particular studio.
          First, they have seemingly raised more than 5 million from both Kickstarter and Steam Early Access sales thus they seem(ed) to think that they can afford to ignore any and all criticism. They have, to this date, never, not once, engaged in any sort of dialogue with the Early Access players in that information flow has always been a one way street, namely their patchnotes. No public tests or the like were conducted except for purely technical bug fixing such as game crashing fixes and even that happened only 2 or 3 times in total.

          Second, instead of actually attempting to accommodate the player feedback their reaction was to do their very best to either drive away their bigger critics (open, public forum threats), ban them if that didn’t work and as of late simply delete all of their posting history as others started asking questions how come people get banned for such stuff. This, in itself, created a ton of backlash. The Steam store page turned red seemingly overnight. Owners of upvoted positive reviews eventually simply took them down. Modders ceased their support. This article happened.

          Third, seemingly as a result of both of those sales have seemingly plummeted because the current ongoing sale has a deeper discount than the one during the Steam Summer Sale, when the game was still in decent shape and people gladly recommended it.
          So far none of this has convinced the studio that what they are doing is wrong in any way. If anything their efforts to silence critics have gone even up. All in all they seem to be hitting each and every branch on their way down…

          • Celerity

            Yeah, I linked this on the Steam forums. I fully expected it’d be my last post as I read between the lines and realized they’d ban me for absolutely any reason I could find – so my last post must be good. Shockingly, they did not. They are stupid and arrogant but not suicidal, and if they even look at me wrong the critics will have their face for lunch. Same for any other high profile critic that wasn’t already banned.

            Shockingly, the first post was a dev. It was just an empty PR statement, and when I asked specific questions about the criticisms they’ve received starting with the easiest I got nothing. But… no ban. Yet. It will happen though.

          • Johnny Publique

            wow, you have the most inflated opinion of yourself of anyone I have read in a long time, and thats saying something

            I saw you on the Steam Forums too – you are out of line

            have fun eating crow

        • Celerity

          As an after thought I created a mod that removes corpses and does nothing else. It got 3,400 downloads in 2 weeks – beating out both of the other most popular mods that have existed for 6 months at the time and had far more effort/thought/content behind them and specificially retained the many users who directly said “Remove corpses or I quit”.

          I then removed it because why am I retaining money for them after their abusive Early Access practices?

          That’s what people think of corpses and why they’ve became a giant strawman/face of the problems, as if it is the only one. It is actually the least offensive.

  • Alex

    Since they introduced steam cloud, all of my save games just vanished into thin air. I attempted to follow various tutorials and move folders around with no luck. For me, that was enough cause to turn a recommendation into a downvote. I shouldn’t have to restart from scratch every time they choose to integrate new systems into their game.

    The constant rebalancing and pandering sounds like a whole other layer of bullshit on top, though. I’ll be staying away from this one for a while I think.

    • Chris Maillet

      You can disable Steam Cloud in the settings menu. Personally, I don’t use anything with the word ‘cloud’ in it.

    • Naskoni

      They’ve had bugs that corrupt save file irrespectively of whether Steam Cloud is enabled or not for some time now. It makes sense to manually make a backup copy of your saves every now and then, even if the files themselves are not particularly easy to find without a guide.

  • oraoraikuze

    moral of the story, you cant please everybody, they shoulda just sticked to its original plan.

    • Celerity

      They should have, the whole source of contention is that they moved away from the initial design vision they sold us all on.

      Even the people critical of me also pragmatically admit Red Hook coldly decided a bait and switch was more profitable for them.

  • Jeff Degginger

    Am I the only one who felt the game was essentially a mess prior to the patches? It clearly always relied on luck based mechanics involving critical hits and stress and what not and was always incredibly punishing to unlucky players in the first four hours or so before you’ve built up the town and established your heroes.

    It does not surprise me in the least that they’d continue adding luck based mechanics to a dice roll game. I can see why people would be upset with it, but I don’t think they realized what they were playing. Darkest Dungeon always seemed to revolve less around a consistent strategy and more a preventative series of tactics. A resource drainer that asks you to maintain perfection lest you let yourself fall to the whimsy of the games dice roll mechanics which are not in your favor at any point in time.

    Maybe the balance was there in the initial build of the game and I just missed it after wiping a couple of times.

    Corpses sound incredibly dumb though, haven’t played since that was added.

    • Johnny Publique

      exactly; its a game about minimizing negatives, managing luck

      however you have clowns looking at it through xcom glasses which simply dont apply; its about exposing yourself to the least bad option

      • CaitSeith

        I think games like that should have that kind of instructive explanation at the start. Kinda like Amnesia: The Dark Descent recommends playing in the dark and with earphones.

  • peter

    This makes me a bit sad. It’s not a game for me, but I wanted it to be successful and well-received

  • Cameron Ward

    To me from what I have seen of this news, they balanced out the game, only to make the new additions unbalance. When I played it earlier this year in march, I felt like, while in need of the main heroes needed to do more damage, the game felt good to me.

    Definitely seems like they need to stop listening to the tiny group of people who want punishment every single step of the way if the current mass of people are hating these new tedious issues.

  • Harvey Kay

    They could solve this by adding difficulty settings – Normal and Brutal, then changing the balancing depending on that.

    • Cameron Ward

      Yeah. Like, keep the more tedious or tricky elements to the higher difficulties.

    • Simon_Keyes

      Yet there’s also people who take offense to the idea of difficulty options. *gives the Souls-fanbase a quick sideways glance*

      • MKohanek

        Well, to be fair, different difficulty standards in a game with multiplayer aspects like Dark Souls is something entirely different from a single player game where you playing on an easier difficulty has no impact on another player’s game

    • LK_Marleigh

      Customisable difficulty options have been around for donkeys years, don’t know why developers don’t use them more to avoid this sort of faff

  • Matt Cox

    Why not make the three elements that are throwing off the game optional? I haven’t played the game yet, but would that mess up anything? Making the corpses, heart attacks, and PROT selectable options will let the min/maxers to their min/maxing things and the other folks can have their more open experience.

    • XionEternum

      I used to be a WoW min/maxer back before Cata(and onward) ruined everything. I knew the culture around min/maxing even though I didn’t actively participate myself. I was content being a rare one that was helpful and taught everyone within their own capacity how to play optimally. MOST min/maxers however are a bunch of self-entitled elitists that aren’t satisfied with “challenge being an option” and want it forced upon the masses to weed out the weak. The thing they forget here is that those masses also helped fund the game they want to be more challenging. You will find the same mentality in DotA-like games as well. Don’t get me wrong though; they would tolerate “challenge being an option” as is by design in Dark Souls, but they would still whine themselves about it.

  • Day_is_Over

    So the day one game was complete and should have been released as a complete game.

    • Naskoni

      No, it was never complete, and still isn’t. The day one game didn’t contain a lot of the game mechanics and current changes that made it largely completely unfun, very grindy, more random (in a bad way) and generally speaking tedious. Which is why many people would actually prefer to continue playing the original version that had somewhat less content but none of the stuff that makes it currently unplayable for many.

  • Space Blizzard

    Games like this always seem to attract a certain number of players who will continually complain about it being too easy or not “hardcore” enough. My thinking is that developers should largely ignore those people, since they generally represent a small niche of players who have decades of experience with old school RPGs, and who want a game that is laser-targeted at them and them alone.

    • Cameron Ward

      That’s what I’m thinking! Ignore the niche crowds that want punishing every single time you take a single step, and listen to the larger amount of people thinking the game is way too hard

    • BAH!

      More than that, I think Red Hook should make the game they *want* to make, regardless of who likes it. Even if it turns out not very popular- or even very good, it’s still all but guaranteed to be better than the end product of trying to please a split fanbase.

      And if it turns out poorly, then RH can take it and use it as a lesson in its entirety rather than trying (and apparently failing) to learn as they go.

      • Cameron Ward

        Well, I would agree they should stick to the game they want to make, BUT due to what is going on with these new changes that are apparently making ti more appealing to a very very tiny niche crowd, it’s turning off the bigger consumer base. They should make it a popular game and there are ways to keep it difficult, but appealing and easy to get into for everyone.

        • BAH!

          I strongly disagree. Strongly. And you should consider what you’re saying.

          If they make the game they want, then they make the game the want. It doesn’t matter who it appeals to or how many. It’s they game they wanted to make, and its audience will find it. If it turns out well, they’ll know. If it turns out poorly, they’ll *definitely* know.

          If, during the Early Access process, it turns into a game you don’t like, that is completely, 100% your problem. No developer has ever been under any obligation to make something you or I like. It’s good to find ways to accommodate multiple demographics, but actively trying to make your game appeal to the largest possible number of people automatically results in a worse product every time.

          The only caveat to this philosophy is that the creator is creating out of passion, not a desire for profit.

          • Cameron Ward

            I’m not saying make it easier, but they should consider that a lot of gamers are not the super hardcore “i like dying for making one simple mistake” kind of gamer. Keep the difficulty high, but lean back on managing health and sanity (like the earlier builds had).

            When I played the game back in march, the only issue I had was that the heroes should do a tad more damage. I didnt mind everything else because it was my fault I went into a dungeon with the wrong team.

          • BAH!

            “…but they should consider that a lot of gamers are not the super hardcore “i like dying for making one simple mistake” kind of gamer.”

            No, they shouldn’t if that’s not the game they want to make. If they make such a game, then you should consider not buying and/or playing it. Pretty simple.

            Keep in mind, I don’t actually know *what* they want to make. I don’t know if the recent changes in the game reflect their actual vision or are merely a reaction to what they feel is their “core audience”. But it’s not relevant. I am merely stating that it is always* best for a content creator to create what he wants, rather than what he thinks we want.

            *with one qualification, as stated before

          • Celerity

            It isn’t clear what their design vision even is anymore. It’s not what they originally say and it seems all over.

            They did a showy patch because of all the negativity (which backfired, as they also went on sale at the time), and then made them optional because of the comment section here but these aren’t the only problems with the game, just the most obvious. And Red Hook is stuck – making the game they originally said they’d make means all the people not interested in the brutually difficult experience initially advertised (such as most of this comment section) aren’t interested and making an easy game means bait and switching their core audience, which we aren’t happy about.

            My advice: Don’t use mass video content creators as a means of advertising, find something that specifically targets people interested in your style of game. Or else you will have this same problem.

          • BAH!

            On the flip side, you could not invest in a product that’s still in development with the expectation that it’ll turn out exactly like you want it. Or you could not invest at all. That’s my strategy, anyway.

            I’ve read many of your posts, both here and on Steam; and while I feel I understand your grievances with both the devs and the “other side” of the argument, I think the one fatal flaw you and others are making is that you assumed the game would come fit your expectations more over time. I really don’t know why you would assume that. Early Access is the epitome of “buyer beware”- without all the snarky insinuations.

            At the moment, it strikes me that RH’s apparent disregard and disrespect for their customers is the important issue. The way the game is turning out is a minor problem (if such it can be called) in comparison. My suggestion: Let RH do what they want with their game, and you can write a review when the dust settles. Instead, focus on how they’re treating the community. Fighting against censorship of reasonable people/ideas is something most everyone can get behind.

            EDIT – And while I don’t feel you were being totally unreasonable on the Steam forums, you were definitely being a nuisance. And you starting to do it here, too. Just be aware.

          • Celerity

            Now that’s a very fair assessment and indeed this turned me off Early Access entirely when I was previously ambivalent. It’s worth noting however that it seemed like the game I wanted right now, at the time I bought it. I only realized it wasn’t realizing its potential (yet) after purchasing it and even if Steam Refunds existed at the time it was beyond the 2 hour mark. Something like 5. I did believe in that potential – the same potential that fooled so many, including Jim Sterling himself, and I believed it’d be realized. And yes, that was a mistake. But even if I weren’t blind, the only thing that’d change at this point was me leaving as another game that turned out disappointing, instead of me getting involved with the community, fixing it myself, and then seeing just how much they value the time and effort of others.

            The flip side of this is you see a lot of “it’s EA, it will get better” from the supporters. And yeah, if there’s no evidence improvement will occur it probably won’t. As for a review, I’d hit both but emphasize more on how improvements are treated and what that means as merely having weak design isn’t something most will care about especially since people are apparently fine with buying a game and then modders doing all the work of fixing it (laughable in this case, when I ceased mod support because even they could not save the game and no others take it seriously at all).

            I’m curious though about just what part of my recent posts were objectionable? On Steam I just ignored the mass baiting and focused on the subject. Sure, they weren’t happy with me for deconstructing the many flaws with the game, or remarking factually that game breaking exploits such as Infinite Life/Stress existed since day 1 and I had the game’s strongest supporter prove it so people would trust the source. But, bias aside nothing I said actually violated a fair ruleset. I made sure of that, so if they censored me anyways (as they did) while putting on a grand show (as they did) there would be no doubt of their true intentions.

            Here, aside from a few idiots I’ve smacked around I’ve focused on facts and been the voice of reason. So where’s the problem?

          • BAH!

            By “nuisance” I meant you’re posting *way* more than is necessary or even reasonable. You should have reached a point by now where you realize your words are falling on deaf ears. I know it’s frustrating to see something you love go to hell- Sonic and Konami fans still have fresh wounds; but repeating yourself is no longer beneficial. And to be fair, you’re not the only one. There’s a couple others in this section who are *much* more obnoxious and, in my mind, unwelcome.

            Also: I guess you took my advice? That’s cool.

          • Johnny Publique

            in other words, all games should be easy, as the trend has been going, to appeal to mouth breathers


          • Cameron Ward

            No. I am not saying make it easy….dont know how many other times I need to repeat this. Keep the high difficulty, but either rebalance or take out the features that made the game less fun.

          • BAH!

            Please, *please* do not give Publique any more of your time. It’s obvious he’s not interested in dialogue. The same goes for Naskoni.

            There are plenty of reasonable people here willing to hash out ideas. But neither of the two I mentioned are on that list.

          • Naskoni

            By the same token you have no idea what you are talking about, thus why are you any better than the jerk troll over there?

  • Christopher Hughes

    All this doom and gloom seems seriously overblown, these specific changes don’t really change the gameplay terribly much. The reaction to corpses is probably the weirdest to me, were people bringing entire teams that couldn’t attack the back ranks? That would have been a bad strategy even before the corpses, and they just make that more relevant. Honestly, I didn’t even realize that heart attacks were a thing, I’ve never had one happen. Typically, by the point you’ve got someone who hits 100 stress and goes crazy, they break down the effectiveness of your party so much that it’s totally necessary to abandon the quest unless you’re extremely close to completing it. The prot thing is a little excessive though. A couple enemies that were already little bit too strong, like the swinetaur, are a damn nightmare when they have prot. If they rolled back prot a little in a previous patch, that might have helped though, I haven’t played in the last few weeks.

  • SilentPony

    I’ll admit I complained about the crappy quirk system. Yeah, getting a character who is nocturnal and diurnal is really stupid and needed to be patched out.
    Likewise God fearing and faithless. Had that happened and it needed to be patched out.
    The game was always built on a random number generator and it was goofy and stupid and arbitrary.
    Even had Slow Reflexes and Quick Reflexes on the same character. And it was fucking stupid and I complained about it.

    The game may have “lost its edge” but its edge was based entirely on doing well on a random number generator and nothing else. So I ain’t gonna weep too much if they patched out rolling 7s on a D6.

  • mrshair

    A very interesting write-up. I held off on buying the game, so I can’t offer much concrete comment. Of course the obvious solution is difficulty options, but that’s certainly not an easy solution, in terms of balancing. I’ll be interested in seeing where this winds up.

    • Cameron Ward

      What they should do is have an extensive difficulty menu. Have elements that you can turn on and off so you can enjoy the foreboding atmosphere and challenge, but not have so many RNG elements and other gimmicks get in the way of enjoying the game.

    • sukkTHEfacc

      you held off because it isn’t even a game yet…it’s a work in progress with art and code. Once it’s packaged and released, it’s a game. Until then, they can change anything about the code.

      • BAH!

        Technically, they can do that after release, too.

  • sukkTHEfacc


  • Corvid

    It’s difficult for me to feel a huge amount of sympathy for people who play non-competitive games with flowcharts, spreadsheets, and a FAQ in front of them and expect everyone else to conform to their play-style. I just purchased a copy of this as a gift for a friend, and it’s beginning to sound like it was a mistake.

  • OctopussGrift

    The solution really feels like it should be to have the ability to turn certain features on and off.

  • Scott Gregson

    Shit. I’ve been holding off getting this cos I’m short on money and can’t get my comp up to scratch. I thought it was only Early Access so they could add in the other areas/levels! Didn’t realise they were fu… erm, tinkering with the game to that extent. Don’t die on me yet, Darkest Dungeon!

  • Thanatos2k

    Sounds like the devs are playing whack-a-mole with user feedback. Someone complains about something – fix it! This causes someone else to complain about the thing you changed – fix that! Keep doing this until you’ve pissed off everyone.

    If you’re throwing up a forum and saying “Tell us what’s wrong!” and then using that as the basis for your balancing you’re doing it wrong. The only people who will post are the ones with problems, while the vast majority who think your game is PERFECTLY FINE will say nothing. By only listening to the ones with problems – you ruin the game. For all the shit we give focus groups, at least they are successful from eliciting a response from everyone involved.

    Sometimes the devs need to just make decisions that will NOT please a portion of the playerbase. It comes with experience to know when to do it and when to know to ignore people who are complaining about something.

  • Steven White

    Man, that’s sad. You didn’t need a crystal ball to know listening to the masses is WORSE than listening to a focus group because they feel no need to give you a canned answer they think will please you. The devs should have only used it to see where people stood on their vision and if it functionally worked, not try to give everything they wanted. People don’t know what they want until what they don’t want smacks them in the face like cold dead fish.

    Now they’re going to have to release Darkest Dungeon Classic. OR have all this mess turned off in the main game and create a “will breaker mode” or something.

    • Naskoni

      But they aren’t listening to the “masses”, they are listening to a close circle of jerks under the direct protection of the forum mods, who make sure that anyone that argues too much with the few select gets the ban hammer for arbitrary reasons with a vague, at best, correlation with the Steam forum guidelines. Here, one the “best” examples in action:


      • Johnny Publique

        at first I thought you were talking about the real fans who support Red Hook’s vision

        then I realized you were in fact talking about the manchildren

        oh those poor babies, what will they do if they have to chop through corpses? ye gods

        • Naskoni

          If by “real fans” you mean people as infantile and lame as you seem to be, then yes, that is precisely what I mean there…

  • Daryl Corey

    Just another reason to never support Early Access

  • pixl_man

    They could’ve just made those changes optional.

    • craigstealsheep

      Seriously? Why not just have a hardcore mode? So many games have this.

    • RaBiB

      They did => Build #10217
      – Corpses and Heart Attacks can be disabled via the Options menu (Accessible only once you’ve started a campaign, and these settings are campaign-specific)

  • Square Peg

    Reminds me of trying to play Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, where every other time you’d log in you’d get a “free character re-spec” because they changed everything drastically, so you’d have to fuss around rebuilding your character and then try and get used to it being different.

    Except that wasn’t some indie-dev early access game, it was a world-class MMO, a would-be “WoW Killer”. Well, we see how that went.

  • katherine 0852

    I only got the game yesterday and, you know what? I LIKE the corpses. I can imagine what the fights were like before (burst down first enemy, repeat) and it sounds absolutely dull. I suppose if you were used to playing like that and didn’t make any effort to learn, yeah, it would seem like it prolongs fights. Me, I can more often than not ignore/work around corpses. By my rough count, I’ve attacked ~5 corpses in 16 hours of play.
    The same goes for monsters with PROT: I like it thematically and IMO it makes DoT’s worth using (on monsters without PROT, they’re either merely adequate or useless due to resist).
    Worth noting also: I’m not even a hardmode-junkie. Normal is the highest I ever go.
    Yes, this game is difficult. But not overly/unfairly so, even for my casual tastes o_0

    As such, all I can see this whole controversy being is people being upset they have to (re-)learn.
    My advice for those upset: treat it like an entirely new game that you don’t know yet. It’s honestly not that bad.

  • Brian Seiler

    Well…I’d be lying if I said that this didn’t make me feel better about my decision not to purchase the game, and the fact that I reject Early Access as a thing in the first place. Putting aside the fact that Early Access basically tasks consumers with beta testing a product for a company and paying for the opportunity (the reverse of the way it’s bloody supposed to operate), but this is exactly the kind of thing that I feared would happen. I only barely have enough time in my life right now to play games that are finished and have already become the thing that they intend to be – if a game changes out from under me while I’m trying to play it…just no. Do not want.

    I will say that I’m disappointed that things turned out the way I expected, though, because I was really hoping that they wouldn’t. I’m interested in the concept and the game sounded good in the beginning, but I have to agree with the “whiners” – every change I’ve heard so far makes me less interested in the game.

  • Celerity

    Well, we see another showy change that leaves all the other problems alone. While all the feedback was ignored, this suddenly got a toggle implemented on corpses and heart attacks (and not protection) near instantly. And yeah, corpses just exasperated imbalance but that imbalance was still there – heart attacks were an actual good change.

    There is no indication yet they will fix the other, many flaws they’ve introduced, or quit the censoring however.

  • Seems like this whole issue can be bypassed by creating a separate mode with all of these new innovations for the hardcores, and keeping the core experience at where the non-hardcores enjoyed it.

  • Booster Colton

    To please both sides they could, although it would probably require to much work, release a Hardcore mode for the min/maxers and revert it to how it was before for everyone else. Its a simple idea at least.

  • Dr Mel

    Man, and I came close to buying this recently. It always seemed promising, but I wanted some more meat on the bones beyond just a dungeon crawler. Since it was on sale, I figured at least the price was right.

    I think there’s also something to be said here about not being able to please all of the people all of the time, but it seems like the developer needs to simply decide what kind of game this is supposed to be. Once they do that, then they can work on perfecting it instead of progressing by addressing claims of whoever’s screaming at the moment.

  • Wayne H Charron Jr.

    Why not have both? I don’t see why they can’t have a walled off “challenge mode” with those parts in the game, and the regular campaign would have the older, simpler game mechanics. There, problem easily solved.

  • Cameron Ward

    EDIT: apparently, the devs made a long post about turning off features like heart attacks and corpses. Good start!

    This is what needs to happen. The either need to ….

    A. start rebalancing

    B1. make all these new aggravating features part of a super nightmare/hardcore mode.

    B2. Make multiple difficulty modes

    C. Make an in depth and detailed difficulty option menu, where you can turn on/off certain features like corpses, heart attacks, and such

    D. Dial back the tedious difficulty and focus more on the reasons why people fell in love with the game the first time (the tough, but really-atmospheric-turn-based-RPG-dungeon-crawling gameplay that didn’t rely heavily on RNG and luck is why I fell in love with it)

    E. A mixture of all of the above

    • Johnny Publique

      Actually, they just need a baby mode for you and your ilk, with core features like corpses disabled and no achievements.

      When the babies grow up they can play the normal game and get achievements. Problem solved.

      Of course the game relies on RNG! It has CRITICAL HITS that do double damage! Are you incapable of understanding this game is about managing bad odds?

      if you want to sleepwalk your way through a game, play candy crush

  • AppleSpider

    It wasn’t so much the updates that killed this game for me. Rather, it was the fact that a Wizened Hag did away with my favourite Leper because I had forgotten how I should line up against her.

    Still, the game was worth every penny.

    • Cameron Ward

      Yeah the game is fantastic. still one of the better examples, but this recent turn is so….off putting in a sense

  • La Chica Incognita

    Played it a bit in the beginning and recently played more before and after these big changes. Here are my general thoughts:

    First of all when it was first launched I found it brutal, probably a bit too brutal. Nothing seemed to work out for me and I never felt I was leading people into a dungeon to dredge up whatever I can find but instead felt like it was a race against an ever decreasing sanity meter I could do very little about. It had potential and it was interesting but I lost interest quickly.

    I came back before the last major patch and found the game vastly more approachable. I still failed, I still went mad but I felt that this time around it was MY fault. I messed up a run because of underestimating the amount of food I needed or I brought a frankly silly combination of characters to the table that logically shouldn’t of worked out. I found a little (very little) more content added in the form of a few bosses here and there but generally felt the game was a lot more balanced and rewarding to play. I was looking forward to the new editions of the next patch.

    Lastly the patch hit and this was where I lost interest again. Corpses didn’t seem like a particularly bad idea at first, it forced me to use a couple of skills I had previously not really glanced at but overall the experience grew tedious. Characters felt like they no longer worked as well as they should and logical well crafted parties seemed doomed to failure for no really good reason. I felt the game returned to it’s not-quite-fun state it launched in. I ASSUMED it was due to the new “features” needing balancing and gave the game a rest…kind of sad to see weeks later people are still complaining about them.

  • Just Some Guy

    People complaining about Early Access, and the like often just focused on the issue of a game being abandoned, and not being finished. Some claimed they had some perfect formula to determine if that would be a problem, or not, which was in itself pure nonsense of course considering the mountain of unknown factors. Others would try quoting the blurb from Steam about how you should only go for it if you like the game as it is now, and accept that it’s possible it may never be finished.

    I would always tell people that they’re ignoring one of the other big issues of a game still in development, that it may be changed into something rather different over the course of time. It may have started out as something you really liked, but eventually become something you just hate. It’s why I never pay into these pre-release games, whether it be pre-orders, Early Access, founders packs for online games, or so on.

    • PegEss

      Then don’t complain if no one makes creative or unique games anymore and just does sequels of sequels. Without publisher money, how the hell are most devs supposed to finance a game? Some of the best games I’ve ever played were created using crowdfunding. That is why I despise people that think like you. You only help the Call of Duty/Ass Ass In Creed monotony that has overtaken mainstream gaming.

      • Just Some Guy

        If what you said was true, all we’d have is sequels, and remakes of pong. This whole crowd funding thing is relatively new, but we have had all sorts of imaginative, and excellent games made for decades before it. Since crowd funding we have seen some pretty good examples of BS going on, where they may ask for boat loads of money, then never really deliver. Also indie devs can be far worse for jackassery than the more established ones.

        There has also been many indie games made without crowdfunding, or it may have only helped speed it up. FTL is something people keep pointing to as being something that never would have existed without Kickstarter, but by the time they made their Kickstarter campaign it was just about done, and there was a playable demo. It just helped fund them so they could get it out sooner, and pay for music I think.

      • Just Some Guy

        One more thing to add. There are, and have been an assortment of other ways for businesses to get funding for many, many years before crowdfunding became a thing. The big difference between those, and crowdfunding is that in the other means of funding the business is expected to return the amount received, plus some extra in time. With crowd funding the business is basically just getting donations, as what they return to those providing money would cost them little, to nothing in comparison to the amount received.

  • Marcelo Ou Hare Pirani

    This is just too much ado about nothing, far as I can see. If they can patch the game back to the state it was before, they can just as easily make the new features optional and create a sort of Hardcore Mode for min-maxers.

    And on a more personal note, I”m disappointed in you, Jim. How come you didn’t consider that option in your article?

    • Naskoni

      Who knows, maybe because since February this studio has a rock-solid, proven record of actually NOT fixing their fuck-ups in any sensible manner, but to compensate for it they stack more and more broken ideas and stupid/illogical game mechanics on top of each other as supposed solutions, only to end up having to fix those too in the very same amateurish manner.

      There is no reason to be optimistic on any level. The ONLY reason they released a patch today that seemingly, finally, proved they actually give a fuck about their own community is that very article from Jim and the very sudden effect it had on their sales. It might as well be a temporary glitch which will pass out as soon as their sale is finished and attention shifts elsewhere.

      Jim was way too merciful on them and still hasn’t removed his recommendation because he still wants to believe they won’t screw it up completely, which I find completely unrealistic given their track record.

      • PegEss

        God damn, gamers have become the most toxic, cynical and hateful group of people short of extremists in the middle east and the tea party.

        • Johnny Publique

          no, just the manchildren

          • Naskoni

            Given the brainfarts you are posting here, you seem to be talking of yourself…

      • Johnny Publique

        or maybe because Jim wants some controversy to get clicks

        • Naskoni

          Or maybe the devs want his recommendation to stay so they can make more money off the backs of clueless customers that happen to trust that very Jim and his recommendation?

    • Cameron Ward

      The dev apparently made a recent post saying they are making those features optional

      • Celerity

        A few of many, and just the most vocal ones. Specifically those mentioned here – so without Jim Mother Fucking Sterling Son we’d have more silence instead. On the other side of this he did not address the community censorship at all – and while this current mass attention has forced their hand and made them be more forthcoming about details, how long will it actually last? Only actions matter here.

    • Celerity

      Dunno, but I can tell you as there is nothing hardcore about corpses it would only fuel the fake hardcore mentality from those defeating fake challenges, then insulting Jim directly and getting told off for it and spamming the Steam threads in response. Which is a fair part of this community’s current toxicity – “Git gud” only works as feedback when you’ve both done it yourself first, and explain for others how they can follow suit. You see some of the same tired memes regarding them here, it’s mostly an epidemic on the game’s own forum though.

      • Gabriel Gabbardo

        I’ve never played Darkest Dungeon.

        After a quick perusal of its official forums, I’d say some 75% of the community’s current toxicity is you, and your strange obsession over this game.

        • Celerity

          Current toxicity. If you look at the boards currently, what you will see is a lot of fake hardcores posturing about “gitting gud” regarding the corpse mechanic, some exasperated intelligent users, the developers sometimes, and some frustrated normal users. And then me that has focused strictly on game mechanics flaws and ignored the negativity and baiting. Hint: My username is not Pothocket.

          So yes, it’s all me. Sure. Ok. There’s only about 5 dozen salt posts from pothocket alone because he insulted Jim for no reason on his own forum, got smacked away, and then whined about it everywhere. But yeah, it’s all me. Mhm!

        • Johnny Publique


          Over 1000 posts in the game forum attributed to this person.

  • daniel

    So even when a game seems to be going the right way people will find a way to ruin it for everyone…

    Well that’s the final nail for me early access games are not worth wasting money on period.

    • PegEss

      So please PLEEEEAAASE never complain about mainstream gaming being unimaginative games that are sequels of sequels. It is people like you, who have an obsessive need to find fault in anything and everything that ruins anything good that comes along. The only ay any of us is going to get a great, imaginative and deep game is by supporting small developers thru things like crowdfunding and early access. If you don’t, you give up the right to complain how no one makes the games YOU want, because when they try to, you’re not there to help make them a reality. Either put your money where your mouth is or SHADDUP.

      • daniel

        No problem most games that go on kickstarter now are rehashed games from 20 years ago anyways.

        ”I can make a new castlevania SotN if you give me money” no i am good SotN still wroks and is not going anywhere.
        ”I will make a great point and click adventure game like i did years ago if you give me money” and then Tim Schafer wasted all the money and half fans had to cough up the rest.

        And even in early access devs screw the pooch so often for example i bought Hand of Fate on early access i played it liked it made a youtube video telling my viewers how awesome the concept is and all that.
        I kept playing and then patch after patch came and ruined the fine balance of the game most choices with a 3/4 success chance became 1/4 making it almost impossible to get basic items in thhe game if steam refunds had existed then i would have refunded it right then but no dice that money is gone.

        And now DDD also bought it played and made a video on it and you read what happened the game as it is now is not something i would ever buy and it is nowhere near the amount of polish and balance it had when i bought it and again no that money is wasted.

        That money could have easily been spent on a finished product.

        And you don’t know me so don’t make any accusations about ”people like who have to find a fault in everything” no i don’t but i have limited money to spend on my hobby and i rather not waste it and if early access and kickstarter have a a higher failure chance then succesful ones it is a risk i am not throwing my mmoney in.

  • Enry

    Both corpses and heart attacks have as of now been made optional features that you can play having them turned on or off: http://steamcommunity.com/app/262060/discussions/0/528398719793209528/

  • Not everything has to be balanced or fair. Lovecraft’s stories are about chaos, why force them into a rigid game box? Heart attacks can just be heart attacks. Make the game and assign it a theme that fits, or take your theme and borrow from the language of games to make it semi-functional, but don’t take your theme and run it through a meat grinder until it is some kind of platonic solid.

    • couky

      Do not confuse a book and a game, pleassssssse!! A game is meant to be fun, unblanced game make it no fun.

      • Sorry, but fun in the way you seem to mean it (a way that precludes books?) doesn’t seem to fit the theme of this game. I think this game is based on H. P. Lovecraft’s works, which clearly have more in common with books than say Chinese Checkers.

  • David Kerns

    I just started yesterday when it was on sale and I disagree with you on every point. This game isn’t hard at all.

  • Freewheeler

    The new update made so you can disable both corpses and heart attacks for individual campaigns. So they’re still trying to balance between the two groups – and seem like they might be doing a decent job of it.

  • Mattspeakswords

    It seems to me that this happens in a whole load of games which are provided as a service too. MMO’s and MOBAs face the issue of the very vocal minority every day, and only the very experienced ones have the conviction and the due process to really assess what is constructive feedback. Some feedback is always comes from the place of someone who has spent long enough with a game to know all of its ins and outs, but is certainly not a game designer.

    We all do it, play a game so much that we forget what it was like to play it for the first time, or worse forget why we loved the game in the first place because we’re playing the metagame. A designer can’t afford to do that, yet this is what red hook have done.

    • Celerity

      I figured out the metagame well before my first run was done, just saying.

  • Milestone_RP

    Eh, I see a pretty big problem with the way they’ve been handling this whole thing anyways.
    They keep tweaking the game based on people who have complained “the game isn’t hard enough”. Said people make that complaint based pretty much off of them playing the same twink’d “optimal” parties over and over again. I’d THINK, thusly, if you want the game to be harder, you’d get out of the safe little meta-cocoon you’ve made for yourself and play with different party configs, then.
    It’s like the people who say “Final Fantasy 5, that’s an EASY game!”, then proceed to just powerlevel the same cookie-cutter party of OP’d job/skill combos.

    The moral of the story being, I guess, “stop trying to make concessions based around what people claim to be the metagame”, especially in a GODDAMNED SINGLE PLAYER GAME.

    • Celerity

      Final Fantasy 5 is not sold on the basis of its difficulty. I’m not offended by it not being difficult and if I do want it difficult I’m not offended I need self imposed challenges and/or difficulty mods for that purpose.

      I am offended when I don’t get what I pay for, in this case a difficult tactical game. It is an easy game, and “Spam AoE, same as 2/3.” is a good tagline for its full strategic metagame The thing is it’s still easy when you don’t do that. When you use the broken, ineffective skills and classes the difficulty is so non present you can make literally dozens of mistakes a run, still easily win, and not even be aware they were mistakes because the game gives no feedback when you make an error. Succeeding in spite of the terrible state of your choices has no appeal, either.

      And anyways you can make a game hard and also have more than one correct way of going about it.

    • Just Some Guy

      You get the same thing in MMOs. Some people go on, and on about how easy the game is, then use some grossly overpowered, twinked to hell, and back set up very few would ever be able to mange to supposedly prove their point when challenged. If you tell them to play something that’s not insanely overpowered for the content if they think it’s so easy, they tell you off for even suggesting something like that.

    • Billy Bissette

      The same thing happened to a lesser degree with Abyss Odyssey after it was released. Users were split between people who found the game way too easy and those who didn’t, and ACE Team generally seemed to side with the diehard players who felt the game was too easy.

      Thing is, short of being insanely unfair instakill, the game was pretty much destined to always be easy to that diehard crowd. Such people, as long as they keep playing, are always going to find ways to exploit the game systems, whether it is spamming a particular attack or some complex manipulation of multiple factors. They’ll be able to outfight, or out-exploit, any remotely reasonable and many non-reasonable challenges.

      In the meantime, you are just making the game less entertaining for anyone who isn’t one of those diehard “too easy” players.

      You can look at fighting game bosses as an example of why you can’t get a reasonable challenge catering to the diehard crowd. Fighting game bosses are routinely extremely cheaply designed. The rules get bent or even broken in their favor. Their moves have no attempts at balanced placed upon them. Various dirty tricks are used to up the difficulty. And people still beat them, because non-learning AI is exploitable. And the people who beat those bosses call them “easy”, and say that they need to be made harder to be made more interesting. But making the bosses even cheaper doesn’t really make the fight more fun for anyone. For the people who will find a way to win, it will remain easy and boring. For the people who lose, well they just get annoyed that they lost to an intentionally unfair and unfun design.

      • Celerity

        Fighting games don’t really focus on the non compettive aspect much and anyone that wants a challenge knows they will only get it from another person. You can also have difficulty without cheapness, just perhaps not in a fighting game.

        That said, any game, no matter how difficult will become easy once mastered. That’s fine – and doesn’t mean the game needs become harder. The difference, however is that mastery of a difficult game requires dozens or hundreds of hours – at which point you feel accomplished for beating the game. If it takes 1-5, as it does with this game, make it harder complaints have more merit (and complaints that the developers are adding tedium instead of difficulty have even more merit as that makes both hard and easy game fans mad).

        There is a strategy game I have in which I can defeat opponents 2.5 times my level on the highest difficulty. I’m not offended by this as it required great experience and a better plan before I could even attempt it. I don’t think that game is casual because I can take encounters specifically designed as “unwinnable” and then win anyways because that required effort.

        This same game also has a Casual difficulty, and going through without any strategy will only let you barely win there so a little thought is required but there are massive differences between its 3 difficulty settings.

  • couky

    That’s a sad thing to say but indies are gotta stay indies and not pro if they don’t give a damn about balancing their game properly.

    For example, I am playing a mobile game who has RNG too but well I am pretty happy with it because I can build properly my team without fearing to loose because of a lucky (repeated) crit shot of the eenmies. There is no fun in that in Darkest Dungeon.

    Yes, that’s sad for me to admit that a mobile game is more balanced than this indy :

  • Butz

    “Clearly, what you once saw is not necessarily what you will get.”

    This is why if you’re going to recommend Early Access games that you need to keep track of their development and any changes in order to adjust your recommendation, or worse, remove it entirely if the game doesn’t shape out the way you hoped it would back when you recommended it. A pizza can look damn tasty while it’s cooking in the oven, but you may not always end up with a tasty pizza for a variety of potential maladies as it cooks (taken out too soon, left in too long, something unseen in the pizza spoiling its tastiness, etc.).

    What I’m trying to say, Jim, is treat your Early Access recommendations like you’re cooking a pizza. Also, I could really go for some pizza right now.

    • Celerity

      Fuck. So can I.

    • HisDivineOrder


    • Sapphire Crook

      Who knew video games could evolve into pizza one day.

  • BlooPaladin

    RedHook released a patch today that allows corpses and heart attacks to be toggled off in the menu system! It seems that they have really reacted well to player feedback on this.

    • PegEss

      read the above post.

      • Sapphire Crook

        This means literally nothing when you can change how posts are sorted.

  • HisDivineOrder

    So… Heart Attacks and Corpses are optional now. I’m betting that everyone ELSE complaining had no effect, but Jim F’ing Sterling Son got the job done because of his REACH. This post changed things for all of us.

    Normally, I wouldn’t think just one guy could accomplish such awesomeness, but… Jim Sterling says, “Hey, this sucks!” and points out his is one of the most prominent curator recommendations.

    And the next day, those design decisions they once said were integral to the game experience become optional.

    Yeah. So the rest of us don’t matter, but the people who do matter? They must matter a LOT. That doesn’t really make me feel better about the situation and it shouldn’t make anyone else feel better unless they so happen to love EVERYTHING Jim Sterling happens to love. 😉

    That said, I’m glad Jim got the job done here. I just can’t decide what I think of Darkest Dungeon atm.

    • Celerity

      Dead on. Not just about this but anything. Without negative attention, they don’t do anything. Even their most prominent and experienced community members get ignored along with all feedback they provide until you get a situation like this where you occasionally get a response just because everyone is calling them out. It’s far more… adversial than I’m happy with. No screaming and rage should be required for detailed, 2 way communication between devs and users.

    • SkullScience

      Not strictly true as I am guessing the original changes (corpses, heart attacks, PROT) were made without Jim’s input and were more trying to please a hardcore element. It is good to see it has become optional but would this have happened without the input of Jim Sterling.. unfortunately that seems rhetorical irrelevant of the ‘correctness’ of the outcome for the majority.

    • Naskoni

      But that’s the thing – for over a month Red Hook demonstrated beyond any doubt that they couldn’t care less about what people thought of corpses or the latest changes. To the point where they started actively censoring such feedback on their forums. The ONLY reason to implement the change making corpses and heart attacks optional was the avalanche of negative reviews, the hundreds of upvotes those got during their current sale and Jim’s article to top it all and deliver the decisive blow.

      They still don’t give a damn, they are still determined to go on screwing their own game and they are still haven’t even understood what is it that people hated so much about their systematic chain of stupidity-infused decisions that led them here in the first place (they explicitly stated that they still believe they were basically completely on track with their design decisions and that that is the only right way to play their game).

      If it’s going to take such a shitstorm every single time for them to do something as simple as that, then frankly I see no reason to rejoice or be optimistic about them getting it right at release.

      • Johnny Publique

        If I were one of the manchildren whining about the difficulty of this game and slandering it lately, I would be ashamed.

        Everyone knows Jim is a bit of a wee babe when it comes to difficulty, but by catering to the whiners, blood is now in the water. The game will be driven by the agenda of the manchildren.

        • Naskoni

          This is not about making the game too hard, it is about making the game illogical, stupid, tedious, broken, cheap and un-fun. Sort of like your thought-train…

        • Matrim

          “Everyone knows Jim is a bit of a wee babe when it comes to difficulty”

          Who has beaten all the recent Souls titles…

          Noticed you’ve had this account for less than a month, and so far you’ve only ever posted on this discussion and all you’ve posted is trollish “get gud” tripe…hmmm…

          • Celerity

            You are correct, and if you check the forums you will see plenty of fake elitists spamming the same shit, usually with private profiles after you check and they have 5 hours in all or 0.0 hours in past 2 weeks (and are talking about a change made yesterday).

            Before the trolls say it, I also have a private profile for anti stalker reasons but it’s clear I actually know what I’m talking about and don’t throw blind insults (or insult non idiots at all).

          • Matrim

            Six months later, I think we can safely say “sock puppet.”

    • Celerity

      Not only that, but you’d think they were stupid, arrogant, but not suicidal and would not censor people with this many eyes on them. That was wrong. It turns out if you link this article, and keep the thread focused on discussing it as well as specific changes that need be implemented that’s a massive rule violation, mostly because it makes the game look bad. Meanwhile, the many people that baited and insulted me, or Jim, or just spammed the thread with drivel were completely ignored – and the 3 or 4 reports I did make, of the 100 or more offensive posts that existed were regarded as abusing the report post feature.

      The truth, of course is that they were very fucking salty I brought this Sterling Smackdown down on them. While they put on a good show for 12 hours and almost seemed that they would change, they are still the same incompetent developers driven by the same petty egos and they are still pulling the same scams – and chasing away anyone smart enough that they can see them for what they are.

  • Jinx 01

    I felt this way about Starbound. I adored the open-universe exploration of the original “Koala” releases and just wanted more content and levels of that. Instead a bunch of people whined about wanting more “structure”… and they turned the game into a bland, linear affair. Plus they put a warp gate to an “outpost” in *every damn system*. So no matter where you go, there you are. The sense of exploration, of being alone in the universe, was utterly destroyed.

    Lucky I backed up the old version :/

  • Matthew Greet

    I bought the game based entirely on Jim Sterling’s Squirty Play video and I loved it. It was fun designing parties, devising combat plans and having to adjust it on-the-fly due to luck. I looked forward to every update.

    Then corpses. It killed off combat plans and was logically stupid. I play RPGs and I haven’t seen one where corpses interfere with combat, not even Call of Cthulu. It stopped being fun. I promptly lost interest. I wasn’t even aware Red Hook made them optional till I saw the comments here.

    I agree with Sterling’s analysis. Logically, Sterling should have withdrawn his curator recommendation but one man can’t continuously re-evaluate every recommendation. It seems recommended Early Access games should be occasionally rechecked.

    • Celerity

      He really should. Not because of this, which is just the tip of the Iceberg that will sink this game that seemingly could not fail, but because of the general design practices and censorship this company practices. Critics get suppressed/censored/banned, supporters get a free pass on all forum rules and moderation immunity. They only want things that make them look good as they spam for sales – a process that fueled the negativity which started small because of Corpse and Hound, then grew exponentially when the censorship started, then grew exponentially again when people saw the sale, check the game and see 70 negative reviews in a row.

      So they make a showy patch that tricks the masses and doesn’t fix the real problems, and then claim it wasn’t because of Jim Mother Fucking Sterling Son and that they needed a full week for a fucking on/off switch on 2 features. Which honestly isn’t completely unbelievable given their extreme incompetence but most likely is them just protecting their petty egos as they are extraordinarily predictable. They hope this will silence the wave of hate – and perhaps it might have, because the person is smart and the people are dumb, panicking creatures.

      And then they went and ruined their illusion of heightened community involvement and feedback by doing the same censorship bullshit again! I dunno if Cadogan is their agent or a double agent sabotaging them as a company but if they only had their bad design decisions most people wouldn’t give a fuck.

  • disqus_4Uz0jGLf25

    Any comments now that Heart Attack and Corpses are optional? I think that was a good move.

  • Tiernan Taylor

    heart attacks and corpses optional now. Hooray! Everyone’s happy!

  • TheHoundHalf

    Having purchased the game after stumbling across Jim’s original video last week and loving the hell out of it, I was really surprised to read about the Steam forums for the game detonating in the way they did. I hopped on over there to take a look myself and… well, yeah. Not in the best state.

    Obviously a new patch has been rushed out to address some concerns, and I think the developers actually listening to the community and making changes is a really positive thing (the exact opposite of the ‘take the money and run’ attitude that seems to exist across a large chunk of early access), I just also feel really sorry for the guys at Red Hook for being torn between the community and what seems to be their own long-standing design goals.

    Additionally, one of the biggest ‘troublemakers’ (although he made a lot of good points at times, from what little I’ve seen) over on the forums has just been unceremoniously banned. Don’t know if this going to calm things down or whip up an entirely different kind of storm…

    • Naskoni

      They’ve been waiting for him to post anything, really, on the forums as to ban him for some time now. He was given a ban warning basically telling him to either stop posting or get the ban hammer. Only difference is that they haven’t deleted his posts as of now, which is what they usually do so that nobody can see that people are banned in the first place and of course to be able to claim that there is no censorship at all.
      Funnily enough, none of the troll jerks that flame and flame bait every critical thread are ever banned. Reporting them for flaming or such results in moderator warnings not to abuse the report system (original, or?) which also carries the ban penalty.
      This is nothing new, has been this way for over a month and getting progressively worse as of late. They don’t want anyone seeing negative threads that get bumped on a regular basis, as that hurts sales and sales is all this is all about.

      • TheHoundHalf

        I’m not surprised, to be honest. Whilst the guy did make some good points here and there he was hyper-critical at the best of times, and ego-maniacal at the worst. That’s not to say his ideas weren’t good ones – in fact, he seemed to have a better handle on the original stated design goals than the developers at certain points – but his delivery was sorely lacking. Can’t help but feel that if he’d approached things differently he might have done some good overall.

        Also, the developers stated that Jim’s re-review had nothing to do with the new patch, but still…

        • Naskoni

          If you follow the Steam forum as regularly as I often do, you’d notice the posts that usually disappear without a trace within the hour. A lot of negative posts I have personally seen that were, calm, constructive and raised valid points simply disappeared, including posts that clearly demonstrated that what the Cadogan mod was doing had absolutely nothing to do with the oft cited Steam rules. If they cannot justify it by making you look bad they simply delete your posts. It’s a stupid feature of Steam of not showing that posts even existed when they were deleted, which is taken advantage of regularly.

          The manner of delivery is irrelevant the moment one’s posts start getting too much traction, his negative thread gets bumped often enough to the front page and people start taking notice – he gets added to the “black list”. Arbitrary reasons such as “derailing threads” and “trolling” are used nowadays. Threads such as “Should I buy?” are moved from the General Discussions section to the Feedback and Suggestion section if they get too negative and popular as new players don’t usually check there, even though such threads are neither suggestions nor really feedback… I mean there was a thread asking for other similar games that got locked because it was “irrelevant”. The list goes on.

          One gets to read regularly official posts from the mod proclaiming that there is no censorship and no proof of such (makes one wonder why he has to repeat this so regularly).

          At the end of the day they simply strive to drive all critics away so that nothing would drive potential customers away. And they have largely succeeded at that.

          • Johnny Publique

            wow, do you believe that tripe?

            the manchild is strong in these two

          • Naskoni

            What a nice surprise, one of Cadogan’s lapdog troll jerks has found his way to this article. Tardbucket, is that you?

          • TheHoundHalf

            Oh gods, now they’re all here! What have I done?

            On a serious note though, as someone new to the whole thing it really doesn’t look that shady. It may just be because I’m not paying close enough attention/wasn’t there when shadiness was going on, but I still feel more sorry for Red Hook than riled up by them. I’m enjoying the product they’ve got out at the moment, and I don’t think the changes have detracted from the game anywhere near as much as people seem to think.

            Then again, as someone before said, there are a lot of accusations flying around, and it’s rare (but not impossible) to find smoke without fire.

          • Celerity

            Well of course it doesn’t. They ban users, delete posts so we see no banned users, and then claim no censorship is occurring. They let their supporters make their community more unwelcoming than a MOBA or shooter, and then claim they value civility. They say they want a difficult game and it’s about stacking one stat, spamming one button, and killing one screen of enemies in one hit.

            Actions speak louder than words.

          • Naskoni

            No worries, even if the game does a remarkably bad job at explaining any of its mechanics, especially since many of them make no sense whatsoever, purely the art, the music, the narrator and the overall atmosphere will be enough to have fun in the beginning.

            Once you figure out how to play it, it will almost become trivial and boring, fast.

            Looking at this:


            its almost impossible to believe they sold 400 000 copies on Steam so far. The initial thrill wears off pretty damn fast, as you can see on that graph. Every bump is a bigger patch. The current sale didn’t manage to bump it even to the level of the last of the better patches without any sale at the time.

        • Celerity

          My delivery was fine. However it was also ignored for months, same for every other intelligent user that figured them out. No one has infinite patience and when they see growing evidence of apathy/deception, they will lose patience and will become short. Regardless, I’ve never made 5 dozen empty posts in an hour just insulting people. Quite a few Red Hook supporters have – and they’re not even warned.

          Also, I’m hyper critical because there are many flaws. Make fewer mistakes, and I don’t point out as many because they don’t exist. Since most games aren’t actively and deceptively shit, me pointing out the flaws in a game usually consists of calmly remarking a few minor things bug me then shrugging them off and enjoying the game anyways because I shed negativity quite quickly provided it’s not the only thing there and there is a bright side I can look on.

          They put on a show of acting like presentation matters, they’re not biased, their actions don’t match their words. There’s usually baiting posts right before or after a moderator post that are ignored.

          • TheHoundHalf

            As I said, I’m incredibly recent to the discussion, so I can only go off of what I’ve personally seen. Your delivery may have started off fine, but… eh… Let’s just say that the first name I got used to browsing through those forums was yours, and I wasn’t always thinking ‘well, that’s an incredibly reasonable and well-balanced comment’.

            But, as I also said, that shouldn’t have invalidated your points. It’s not like you were some ranting madman, you did have a pretty solid core of things that I think could definitely have improved the general experience.

            I sit, as ever, painfully on the fence.

          • Celerity

            I don’t see how anyone can be undecided at this point. You see how they treat both critics and supporters, you see the state the game is in. You see how they treat anyone not fully approving of the game (letting everyone insult Jim as well as me, for example, and calling reporting that abusing the report feature).

            They almost seemed like Jim Sterling Son smacked some sense in them. And then Cadogan, as always ruined it. Now I ignored him and his warning at nothing and kept the thread focused and ignored baiting. The ban report says I ignored warnings (did not break an unbiased set of rules), and argued with moderators (didn’t even address him).

            They’re really stupid for doing this while everyone is watching them, instead of quietly removing me when most quit caring. And in doing so, provided an overwhelming amount of ammo – and there’s already 15 pages worth on censorship alone.

          • TheHoundHalf

            I sit on the fence because I have some personal understanding of the kind of situation red hook is in, with two different groups of people having two wildly different visions for something you’re still in the process of creating, neither of which completely align to yours. It was shitty when I was in the middle of a similar thing, and that was on a much smaller scale and without any money involved. They actually have money, time, livelihoods invested in their game. And while the fans can lay a claim top numbers 1 and 2 on that list, only the developers can own number 3.

            I want to see the game that Red Hook wants to make, even if there are parts of it that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to me. That doesn’t stop me thinking that there have been missteps and some really stupid policies at times, but it does let me see the thing pretty objectively.

            Fence and arse, still in contact.

          • I do agree that it should ultimately be a decision based on the dev’s rendition of their work, but working from the Early Access/Kickstarter business model also complicates it a little bit more, I feel. When one thing is promised, supplied, and then taken away in place of a different product, many of the original supporters are going to feel personally screwed over, granted they enjoyed the original product.

            It’s sort of like if someone bought a steak cooked medium rare, started eating it, and then the waiter comes through a bit later and replaces it with a different cut of steak cooked well done. It’s tougher, less appealing to someone who might have enjoyed the original content, and overall deserving of the consumer’s scorn if they’d like their first steak back.

            Granted, I haven’t bought or played this game at any point, so that’s a very outside-looking-in perspective, but I think a consumer has the right to complain when the item they purchased is changed drastically, even when there is the unfortunate fact that they could have simply been burned by the crowd-funding pre-release business model.

          • TheHoundHalf

            Your steak analogy is a good one, but it’s missing an important facet. I think it’s more like if somebody ordered steak in a restaurant from the trainee chef who, desperate to make a steak to your liking without compromising their idea of what a steak should be, gives you half of the steak done his way and then waits for some feedback before rushing off to the kitchen and cooking the rest bite by bite to try to accommodate you. You as a customer were perfectly aware that the chef was a trainee, but that doesn’t stop you being disappointed if the fifteenth bite tastes of old coal and motor oil.

            … or something.

          • Celerity

            In this case, it’s like ordering a steak and get something that looks like a steak until you bite it and it then tastes like hamburger. When you complain they ignore you, when they keep complaining they call the police, say you are harassing them and have you arrested.

          • Celerity

            They say they want a difficult tactical game.

            I know I want a difficult tactical game – it was that initial promise that attracted me. There should be no conflict, yet there is a massive one.

            And then when you give feedback, the supporters spam you and the moderators censor you. This is classic Abusive Early Access 101 and we’ve seen it in near every negative Jim video ever.

          • Lazogna Lazogna

            I agree with you often, but you do often lack diplomacy in your delivery. They might have been irked by your criticism of the game but it was criticism of the company that got you the real backlash.

            I doubt getting banned hurt your feelings, but it does cost you your voice in the storefront.
            If you insinuate, in any way, that a dev is scamming or greedy (even when it is demonstrably true) they WILL take it personally and make you a target. I make it a point to just bite my tongue when it comes to that stuff.
            Calling a dev incompetent, tends to be a lot easier for them to brush off than calling them thieves.

          • Celerity

            Oh, they get very offended by both. They even said when I specifically assured them it wasn’t personal and I didn’t hate them that it (meaning me pointing out mechanical flaws in their game and factual observations about their behavior) was deeply personal. They even had a big argument once because I said not everyone is good at everything – even after making it clear I wasn’t saying they were good at nothing and this is why you have a team.

            As for the manner of my delivery, they said themselves only emotion based arguments sway them, and then strained my patience for 7 months. I was very nice at the beginning for the first few months.

            And sure I can’t post in the toxic forums anymore but people use the review section as a warning and despite their attempts at deception working a little it’s still mostly red.

          • Lazogna Lazogna

            Your history with DD sounds a lot like mine with starbound, only the DD whiteknights seem to be a bit less rabid.

          • Celerity

            …Less rabid? There’s worse out there?

            The latest development is that very popular negative reviews others than those confirmed taken down by their writers are now gone.

    • Celerity

      It’s blatant censorship at the worst of times. See people can spam the thread with baiting and insults directed at me (because I was critical of the game) or Jim Sterling (because he was). If I merely ignore the baiting and keep the subject focused on discussing both the article, and specific problems and solutions in the game they become very unhappy with me as that makes them look very bad. And if I report 3-4 of the roughly 100+ offensive posts made that day alone? That is abusing the report feature. People can bait me, I can’t say anything. Despite his repeated claims otherwise. There is currently 15 pages of evidence against them. Most of it involves catching censorship in the act and I miss a lot because he’s very fast and often deletes posts before I see them and can screenshot them.

    • Johnny Publique

      to be fair, he was spamming abuse reports, endlessly baiting and generally being a douche

      you can have him crash on your couch if you want

      • Celerity

        I reported 3 of the 100+ baiting posts made that day alone (all of which were ignored by the way, supporting Red Hook grants immunity). I also didn’t bait a damn thing, I just talked about the game flaws. Not my fault there are so many. That and the article – no one cared about the endless insults leveled at Jim either because he dared not think this game was the Best Thing Ever.

      • TheHoundHalf

        Having only been involved in the Darkest Dungeon steam community for a few days, I didn’t see any of that.

        Slightly confused as to why he would want to crash on my couch, though…? It’s not a great couch, after all. And I don’t think we live in the same country. I’m not even signed up to couchsurfing!

        • Celerity

          Oh, don’t worry. This is one of those toxic fake hardcores who think RH can do no wrong spamming this comment section under a different name. Looks like a slightly fancier John Doe, doesn’t it?

          Also, the censorship is so bad there’s now a sticky about it. “Civil community.”

  • Julius

    It an “elephant in the room” thing, but –
    Can’t they just introduce difficulty system? Easy/Medium/Hard?

    • Naskoni

      It has been brought up many times and was ignored by them just as many times. Guess its way too much work / brain activity for them…

      • Mark Graydon

        Well, they addressed the topic in a statement they made yesterday, so it’s hard to argue they’ve been ignoring it.

        • Celerity

          They made a damage controlling public statement after Jim Sterling Son saw their game. They put on a show about improving, almost seemed they would, then after a few hours it’s the same silence and rampant censorship while a toxic but supportive community is unchecked – and now there’s a stickied thread specifically about the rampant censorship.

          Yes, a very civil community Tyler.

        • Naskoni

          Really? And by hard you mean it only took them since, what, February, to even mention it in the first place? Nah, not ignoring it at all… I’d believe it when I see it ingame…

    • Dragon Nexus

      Ugh, sure appeal to the filthy casuals by adding an EASY mode. Yeah absolutely! Why don’t we just install a WIN button while we’re at it? God forbid anyone plays anything challenging that might require them to think once in a while!

      (Am I doing it right? Do I need to froth at the mouth more when I say that tripe?)

    • Taegan Swarthout

      What’d be better is a system like the new Thief where you have certain elements turned on or off to customize the difficulty.

    • Johnny Publique

      There will be a baby mode on release with achievements disabled, akin to cheat modes in some games, so you can play with some intended features disabled.
      Im hoping it will have a picture of a bawling manchild on the button, but who knows.

      To get achievements, you play the normal mode.

      • Cameron Ward

        how about you stop being an ass to everyone?

        • Celerity

          This is what the Steam boards are full of. Fake hardcores like him that could never deal with actual difficulty so he pretends corpses are difficulty and then spams.

  • MiddleIndex
  • Celerity

    Hi, are you still on the outside looking in? This is all you need know about Derpest Dungeon.

    The censorship of criticism by the developers of an independent development company has become so strong that a developer has sticked a thread about it.


    “All viewpoints are welcome on this forum. However, central to Valve’s guidelines are that treatment of other forum goers should be respectful and civil (see “General Rules” in the above link).

    We reserve the right, as moderators, to enforce these rules. Our goal is to promote a healthy community through the exchange of ideas, feedback, constructive debate, and sharing of game-related tips and ideas.”

    Don’t believe me, or think the moderation was legitimate? Pick a thread at random and I can virtually assure you you will find fake hardcores spamming insults, “git guds”, and baiting at anyone not entirely happy with the current state of the game and blaming all displeasure on corpses even if they were explicitly not the subject of discussion and even though you could just turn them off now if you cared. These people do not even get warnings unless they get really extreme and rarely even then as reporting them is an abuse of the report feature. Why? Well they’re supportive of Red Hook, so they get immunity. Guys, have we seen this before?

    Proper name:
    D_G_T_L H_M_C_D_

    Buy a vowel.

    Yeah, very respectful and civil community you got there. OMGScoots And as much as I’m sure a few would flip that around – of course I’m fucking sarcastic and mocking now, let’s see you watch your favorite game degenerate for seven months and not be angry.

    • Arthur van der Burgh

      Dude. I don’t own Darkest Dungeon, haven’t checked in on the steam
      forums yet and am just a curious observer from the sideline. When I read
      your first three posts on this site (jimquisition) where you proclaimed unfair censorship, that you
      were banned and that there was a toxic community, I wanted to believe you.

      more I scrolled down however and realize that on just the Jimquisition
      alone you have like 60 posts containing pretty much the same opinion?

      you’ve done the same on the steam forums (and I suspect you have) then
      to be honest, I would have banned you too, regardless of delivery,
      timing, wether you were opposed or proposed to the developers or even
      what you’re saying. You could be writing down solutions for world hunger
      and war for all I care, you simply take too much liberties with how
      loudly, prominently and frequently you’re saying things and drowning
      everything else out.

    • Arthur van der Burgh

      Dude. I don’t own Darkest Dungeon, haven’t checked in on the steam
      forums yet and am just a curious observer from the sideline. When I read
      your first three posts on this site (jimquisition) where you proclaimed unfair censorship, that you were banned and that there was a toxic community, I wanted to believe you.

      The more I scrolled down however and realize that on just the Jimquisition
      alone you have like 60 posts containing pretty much the same opinion?

      If you’ve done the same on the steam forums (and I suspect you have) then
      to be honest, I would have banned you too, regardless of delivery,
      timing, wether you were opposed or proposed to the developers or even
      what you’re saying. You could be writing down solutions for world hunger
      and war for all I care, you simply take too much liberties with how
      loudly, prominently and frequently you’re saying things and drowning
      everything else out. You’re the person banging drums who needs to be escorted out of the conference so that everyone else can get on with their day without developing a major headache.

      • Celerity

        Of course I’m active now, making sure that everyone is well warned. On the forums in the less than one day timeframe involved? It was me linking the Jim Sterling article and keeping the subject focused on both it and specific problems/solutions. Meanwhile you had a bunch of supporters running in the thread and launching insults at me, Jim, and anyone who didn’t think this was the best game ever, the moderator threatening me when me and my side is behaving and ignoring them and finally banning because they weren’t happy I brought Jim Sterling Son down on them.

        Hell, there’s like 50 posts there just from one of those supporters going on Jim’s reddit and immediately insulting him, getting told off for it and then coming back and crying there. Even the other supporters thought he was in the wrong!

        And also, before this less than a day timeframe? I willingly left the forums for a month and they became far more negative without me. So don’t give me that.

      • Celerity

        So, you have personally witnessed what I am talking about and seen what the forums are like without me. Do you understand now why my response has steadily escalated over time? Because if you think the people brazenly insulting you and immediately assuming you were me will be banned now or ever you are wrong.

  • CaitSeith

    I feel like this is the kind of damage to a game that the critics where saying Bioware did to Mass Effect 3 when they made the Extended Cut ending. The difference is that here I would agree.

    • TheHoundHalf

      That’s a parallel I hadn’t thought of.

  • svnhddbst

    i think this is where having “challenging” and “ridiculous” difficulties in the settings menu would be good. challenging = no corpses or PROT, slightly higher average rolls. ridiculous = corpses, PROT, average lower rolls.

    • Marcos Danilo

      i dont really think some of those ideas are bad, but just badly implementing.
      for example,

      the corpse, could be managed in diferent ways, lets say, fire magic, would burn the enemy leaving only its skelleton(if its a “normal enemy”) that wont affect in any way, while freezing or petrifing would turn them to stone, easily breakable, and something like acid or lightning would turn the enemy into goop, or dust… that way, you could make the decision of using something weaker but more pratical, not only that but make the corpses more usefull, like resource gathering, maybe a slime would turn into a pool of acid, that damages who steps on it, but could also be colected to be trown as an item at the enemy, maybe it can distract feral creatures, and making them easier to fight… in other words make it more strategical, instead of a burden.

      like wise, the heart attack, could be turned into a age system, were older age affect the player in diferent ways, like, the characters could be young, middle age, old. so each “tier” their phisical stats becomes weaker, and everytime they fill their stress bar, they have a bigger chance of a heart attack, but at the same time, older characters would have better magical abilities, and more experience(meaning stress build slower).

      the problem is, instead of making the game more complex, they are just adding the dificulty, with out giving anything back, to make it more fun.

    • Naskoni

      I honestly cannot comprehend why anybody normal would actually discuss, with a straight face, a game feature such as having generic corpses that a player has to literally hack, or even “better” bleed, in order to reach back rows of enemies. This “feature” doesn’t introduce any meaningful challenge or actual difficulty – its intelligence-insulting piece of game design stupidity. I’m not aware of any other game that has ever had such stupidity in it, which if nothing else makes corpses rather… original…

      • BAH!

        From what I understand (not having played the game myself), corpses force the player to implement tactics other than “hit the front row with everything you’ve got”. It seems a fairly simple way to do that, though perhaps an easier one would have been “enemies don’t change positions in battle when a comrade dies”. Again, I haven’t played, so maybe there’s something I’m missing.

        That said, it also appears that it’s not just one thing, it’s the combination of “new features” that are upsetting people- and for reasons that don’t have to do with “getting gud”. From what I understand, these changes are increasing difficulty in the same way Nintendo increases difficulty in Mario Kart: in a very frustrating and unfun way.

        But then, I don’t know why I’m replying to you. It’s pretty obvious that you don’t have any intention of having a meaningful discussion.

        • Naskoni

          Well, from my personal experience – corpses play a role only and really only when you focus on the foremost guy in a row of 4. Once you kill him the other three would shift one position forward before, thus one more guy is then in reach of your melee heroes, so they can hack him in turn. Now, however, once you kill that guy a corpse in his stead will prevent the others from shifting forward. So, if you want to move them forward now you have to basically “kill” the corpse. You can even apply DoTs, such as bleed on it (bleeding corpses to death, get it?), even if that corpse happened to be a skeleton that normally can’t bleed at all…
          Thing is, that was rarely, for me, the most optimal way to deal with parties, since usually the enemy ranged units and the units that dealt “stress” damage are always on slots 3 and 4 (out of 4). Thus focusing on the front mobs meant that in the end you got a lot more stress killing them from the front to the back in turn than using other skills or your own ranged units to simply take out the back rows first (especially if the front row was a tanky mob with more health but lower damage. There are hero skills that can rearrange the enemy position, including, but not limited to, simply pulling a mob from position 4 directly to position 1 (which is what corpses never prevented). And that is before you even consider AoE skills that usually hit the first 3 positions and can sometimes wipe the enemy party before they get their first turn at all, making corpses completely irrelevant to begin with…
          Corpses didn’t increase depth or increase difficulty to any sensible degree, even if they made some boss fights (where the bosses spawn mobs constantly) somewhat harder. If anything corpses force people that find corpses a problem to take specific heroes and use specific skills (that might otherwise be completely useless in their own right). Given the array of skills that could reshuffle the enemy ranks anyway they hardly achieved much in the first place.
          For me corpses was the last straw, the final proof that these devs haven’t gotten the first clue about what game design is nor what the heck they are doing with their own game. ESPECIALLY since that was such a minor problem compared to everything else that was (and still is) broken in the game for months and is not fixed to this very day. Instead of focusing on actually needed changes they obviously spent time on such crap (literally) and even changed hero skills to make them clean corpses easier. And that is even before starting to wonder how retarded it is of them to expect us to appreciate a game feature asking people to hack or bleed corpses (a whole new meaning to “beating a dead horse”).
          So, you see, for me corpses were not a solution to anything, it tried to solve a problem I never had in the first place, certainly didn’t make the game better and I considered it an insult to my intelligence and proof that these people are inexperienced, clueless and arrogant enough to implement such stuff and declare outright that it made the game better in every possible way. They claim they were right even now.
          Despite the game being in Early Access and them constantly claiming they appreciate player feedback such changes are NEVER put to the test, even if Steam allows beta patches to be installed by those who want to do so and test changes before they make it into the live build. Such changes are also never discussed or even listed prior to coming to the live build. It is expected that people would simply take them for what they are, like them and praise the devs for their hard work. Criticism was simply ignored in the past. Now it is actively censored.
          Corpses were not THE problem with this game and game studio, but they were, and still are, the face of the problem for they demonstrate so well everything they do wrong and for the wrong reasons.
          I don’t know why I bothered replying to you either, since you have no idea what I’m talking about in the first place…

          • Celerity

            Can I like this more than once?

        • Celerity

          It doesn’t actually work that way for reasons starting with the fact the front row does nothing and the back row does something so why would you hit the enemies that do nothing first?

          It’s the classic strawman yes, and it counters something that sucked anyways. Meanwhile, the good tactic (AoE) is a wide area attack and this is exactly what corpses incentive and buff by making encounters static and stagnant. Don’t even get me started on hitting corpses intentionally so you can use infinite life/stress exploits on them…

          Corpses are also a straw man in the sense the supporters act as if it is the only problem with the game and if you can turn it off (complete with misaimed elitism from clueless noobs) the game is perfect. This is not actually the case and every other game design and community management problem remains.

          • BAH!

            The front row does nothing? Like, nothing at all, ever? Not once?

            That strikes me as extremely bizarre design.

          • Celerity

            Let me rephrase before the pedantry starts.

            Back row enemies do almost relevant damage, or stress, or something else you might actually care about.
            Front row enemies are just there. Yes they do technically take actions, those actions do nothing meaningful. Even if AoE dominance were not a thing, every fight ever would be kill back row first, then front row regardless of situation or circumstance, which is the exact opposite of what these fake hardcores were doing and gives a good impression of how little they actually understand.

            It’s not like you get melee enemies that hit super hard or anything, anything that wouldn’t make every formation sameish.

            Attacking the front row first is lazy, it’s actively anti optimal. Corpses are just there so you do things in the One True Way by spamming AoE, as wide area attacks are buffed by static, stagnant encounter formations. That and enabling these fake hardcore attitudes by overcoming illusionary challenges, at which point they have all the attitude of an elitist but none of the skill and temperance that comes with it. It is this super toxic community more than anything else – even the censorship that scares both new and veteran users off.

          • BAH!

            If that’s what you meant, then that’s what you should have said instead of copy/pasting an overly-obtuse and frankly condescending reply for the third time.

          • Celerity

            Complicated descriptions make the game seem far more than it actually is. My summation was clear enough provided you were interested in a discussion and not nitpicking.

          • BAH!

            I assure you it really, really wasn’t. In reality, it read like one of those “toxic” community members you so revile pretending to be civil, deigning to explain his lofty and well-considered opinion.

            They’re not the problem. Red Hook is not the problem. Not all of it, anyway. You’re just as much a part of it as anyone. Truthfully you’re actually worse because you’ve convinced yourself that it’s for the “good of the game”, and you’ve decided to practically commandeer a portion of someone else’s site for your cause. I’ve seen only one of the “opposition” here, whereas there’s at least three of you; so who’s the real problem?

            Seriously, get over Darkest Dungeon. It’s clearly not a good game, and probably never was. The devs don’t care what you think and they never will. Leave a negative review and move the fuck on.

          • Celerity


            NOW it reads like a shit post. Happy? Anyways, I’m posting here because Jim hit a few problems of MANY, and should he ever become aware this company he once supported is really just a larger, more successful version of the many random indies that abuse Early Access…

            And there’s one other person and he came on his own and does his own thing. I am not the keeper of anyone else.

            As is negative review, or better yet don’t buy at all is the best option. Unfortunately not everyone sees that.

          • BAH!

            I never said you brought others of like mind with you, but they’re definitely here, nonetheless. Whereas, even after this article being posted in the Steam forums, I’ve only seen one “toxic community member” show up. How strange, don’t you think? I mean, if they really were as bad as all that, they’d be over here in droves flooding the comments with their “opinions” and “git guds” and “whining”. But they haven’t done that. You know who has?


            But you still can’t see it, can you? You’re too focused on the belief that “you’re not as bad as them, and you care about the game”. You may not be as overtly obnoxious, but you, Naskoni, and that third fucker are all still grand asshats.

          • Celerity

            Who even is this third fucker, because I don’t see him?

            Also, I haven’t said anything about gitting gud.

            So this whole you’re just as bad thing has no merit.

          • BAH!

            It’s truly amazing just how powerful denial can be. People will purposefully miss points based entirely on unrelated details. But whatever. Let me show you how it’s done:

            I’ve said my bit. I’ve clearly explained my position. It’s become obvious that my words unwanted. I am now un-investing myself, and you can do what you like. I just wish you’d do it somewhere else.

          • Celerity

            No actual explanation = full of it. Got it. Later.

          • Naskoni

            What point? Get a point first so I can purposefully miss it afterwards!
            Sounds like someone is getting pretty butt hurt over arguing over a game and its mechanics that that someone has no clue nor understanding of and thus failing to even understand what the heck this whole ordeal is all about actively bitching and telling people to fuck off…
            By the way, whatever the heck your IQ is – go google Darkest Dungeon, choose Videos and watch a couple. It really doesn’t take a lot of intellect to find a gameplay video and educate your sorry ass on how the game works instead of spitting drivel and telling others they are asshats, eh? The time you spent bitching here would have been otherwise better invested in doing that..

          • Celerity

            We all know how misleading the videos are though…

      • svnhddbst

        which is why having the ability to turn it off would be good for you.

        • Naskoni

          The ability to turn off corpses is already in the game as a direct result of Jim’s article. Thing is – corpses are only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the problems, including what corpses supposedly attempting to improve, is very much still there.

          • svnhddbst

            and it’s here that my limited knowledge of the game shows.

          • Celerity

            This makes you better than the fake hardcores spamming about how leaving corpses on is “Playing the game correctly” because you must endure tedium… granted, given their grind as content and game philosophy I would say that thread does accurately represent their “vision”…

  • Benson

    Well just a few points.

    Red Hook probably COULD please everyone by adding an easy/hard mode, each reflecting the specific concerns of the two parties. I mean, on party loved the old build and the other likes playing games with math, would it be that hard to implement both builds of the game just under different difficulties? Most of the work should already be done for them….

    And perhaps if you review more early access games you could put a “As of August 21 2015 my opinion on this game is:”

    Now, off to solve world hunger with my amazing intelect! AWAY!!!

    • Enuo

      Godspeed good sir!

    • That’s what I thought, go the fallout route and add a hardcore mode

    • MrFrancisYorkMorgan86

      I like that you left us to solve world hunger by spelling “intellect” incorrectly. Who knew that the letter L was such a rich food source?

  • Tubey84

    Devastating to read this as it was the Early Access game I actually bought thinking it was a no-brainer. Loaded it up once or twice when I did buy it (many months ago), loved what I saw but decided to leave it in the library until it was more cooked.

    That now seems like a colossal mistake. Bah.

  • Lloyd

    Well, while we generally may not like change I think that we can still tell good change from bad. Regardless, the important thing is to pick a direction and stick to it. Trying to go everywhere will get you nowhere.

    I’m just sad because, hearing all the good word about it, I had been wanting to try it sometime. But from what I’m hearing now it seems I may have missed that boat forever now.

  • Tropxe

    So many games or series have been screwed up by listening to the fans too much. It’s like trying to drive a car with about 100,000 back-seat drivers all screaming different things at you.

  • Leon

    Couldn’t they put the corpses, heart attack, PROT as a different mode or harder difficulty

  • Apollo Justice

    I feel like the solution to please both audiences of this game is rather simple. Put difficultys/modes/newgameplus in or have a dinamicly changing difficulty like bloodborne with its insight. Let people decide how they want to play the game.
    Now I get that that may take away from the beautiful simplicity games like Darkest Dungeon / Binding of Isaac / Don’t Starve etc. have on first playthrough, so maybe the dev team should just go with their own vision instead of trying to please everyone, in the end.

  • hylisk

    I havent played Darkest Dungeon yet since I dont play any Early Access game on principal regardless of how good it is. However, couldnt the developers just add another level of hardcore difficulty setting where players unlock the new features such as Heart Attack, etc.? Is there reason why they couldn’t do that? (other than adding another layer of difficulty requires balancing, etc.. the usual difficulty regarding adding new layer into the game.)

    • mrskwid

      i think the the devs have sed that they don’t want to add difficulty options but in the last update the option to turn corpses and hart attacks off was added but this still leave PROT witch sound really bad.

      • anomalous material

        Soooo, they don’t want to have difficulty levels, but they are allowing us to set, what is in effect, difficulty levels. Sheesh. Just make PROT a toggle as well then and it sounds like it will mostly turn back to what it was before.

        Like hylisk, I don’t play Early Access games (any more, I have done in the past, and not been burned either). I was looking forward to the ultimate release of DD, but it sounds like I will be waiting a little while longer to see if this gets dealt with at all.

  • Jon Skinner

    It makes me really sad to read this, I haven’t played this game since it’s first week or 2 out in early access and I loved it to death. Then I told myself I’ll play it again once it’s released fully and have been waiting, I’ll still reinstall it upon release day but if it’s as bad as you’ve descriped I’m afraid it’s going to find it self uninstalled rather quickly, such a shame.

  • Courtney’s dad

    The solution here is so simple; don’t listen to any fans at all and use their own judgement and creative instincts to shape the game, along with some well-curated local playtesting. Design by committee used to be thought of as a bad thing, and shit like this is why. I mean, what’s the point of gaining years of professional experience designing games if you’re just going to let your own perspective be overruled by the first set of idiots to find their way to your comment box? Empowering consumers is fine, to a point, but empowering creatives is what elevates a medium.

    • Celerity

      That’s exactly what they’re doing right now and look at the result! They don’t understand their own game so of course they don’t understand how it works, what the problems are, and what the solutions are.

    • Naskoni

      As already pointed out – they have actively ignored any and all feedback so far, with the exception of this very article which produced immediate results. Beside that they give every indication that they are going to continue ignoring any future (ordinary mortal player) feedback too.

      As for gaining years of professional experience – it is profoundly obvious that the art guy has such, the music guy has such, the narrator guy has such and for the most part the programmer guys also have such. The guy responsible for the overall game design as in game mechanics and so on most obviously has next to none so how can he possibly be using it? He was the “genius” that seemingly gave birth to the profoundly “original” idea of having players hack corpses because only in his mind such idiocy is actually a valid game mechanic.

      But this is almost literally “beating a dead horse” 😀

  • Nathan Aldana

    This is why min/maxers are toxic. Whether in a singleplayer game or an MMO< they are never satisfied until only they and their immense "skill" allows them to lord mastery of the game over all the unwashed proles "stupd" enough to just want to have fun.

    • Celerity

      Get over yourself, and anyways when the game gives the “choice” between 50 damage or 5, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for the best possible character or not because the game makes the “choice” insultingly obvious.

  • anomalous material

    So many people have said it – allow difficulty levels (or at least the ability to toggle various features on or off – thinking the customisation in Thief 2014, or even the Hexes in Victor Vran). I won’t be naiive and claim that can’t be much work, because I have never designed a game before. Still, the game is still being developed and they are obviously still tinkering with difficulty and balancing, so maybe there is hope that they will tinker this in there as well.

    • froyton

      Was going to make pretty much the same comment. Give people the option to enjoy the experience they had when this game first hit early access, and then provide a separate mode that will get the vocal minority to STFU and not ruin the game for everyone else. Like you said, a non-dev can’t really comment on how hard it would be to implement, but it does seem like it would make almost everyone happy.

      • MM

        I was also gonna say the same. Whatever happened to difficulty levels?! This is like Game Design 101, from the 80’s or even earlier.. (didn’t arcade machines had handicap switches?)

        Anyway, I’m a programmer and this should be easy. Specially *while* you’re still adding them. Now that they’re already in, then maybe not so much depending on how mangled they coded it but, I don’t see how it would be much harder.

        And for a project like this they should be using version control software, which means they could just roll back the changes they need and tack them under the proper difficulty / mode (normal / hardcore, etc)

      • Kaocrat

        Early Access needs to be more like Minecraft where you always have access to all previous updates of the game and are never forced to play the most recent build.

  • Naskoni

    An update – Jim has eventually decided to take down his Early Access recommendation for this game. It is formally no longer endorsed by him.

    • anomalous material

      Ouch. I really hope there is some kind of positive resolution made on this. I truly wanted to buy the game when it came out, but I wanted to buy something like what I saw at the beginning.

      • Celerity

        I’m afraid that game has never been available officially and that has been the real point of contention here.

  • Demian Phillips

    This is exactly how Dont Starve got turned into an unfun chore for me. I had my eye on this and was waiting for final release because of getting burnt in the past. I will see what final release is but this kills my hope.

  • Boodor85

    As someone who played a bit of it when it first started, I already saw the issues with the community when I started heading to forums. The vocal minority of min/maxers are infuriating as, if you tell them how you play in any way other than their own boring, tedious way, you have to shit at the game and therefore your opinion about it is wrong. I am okay with PROT as an idea, if it weren’t implemented so recklessly. The reason corspes and heart attacks are the worst is that they waste precious, precious time. Time that turned into stress – and that stress turns into a dead character after a while.

    We already had characters that killed themselves before if their stress got too high. Just go back to it and the game works well enough. There is literally no point to having the things there other than to infuriate all but the most min/max-y douchebags in the community. Am I glad they added buttons to disable that shit? Yes, it means that everyone is happy. Just fix PROT so that it isn’t a broken mess and DD will be just as good as it was when it launched, if not better.

  • Naughtron

    Holy shit! What a sad story to read. I loved what I had played back in January, and decided to hold off until the game was official. Sounds like an absolute shit show now. Mental note to myself, never ever pre-order anything ever again.

  • Saku Suonpää

    Why not just patch in 3-4 difficulties? Tough but fair, know your shit or die, sometimes the dice says DIE DIE DIE no matter what you do and the final not even min-max will save you difficulty.

    Seems like an obvious fix

    • Kaocrat

      I suspect that is what they will actually do when the game gets its full release. In the meantime they can gather data on which mechanics annoy which kinds of people and figure out how to group them. Seems like “beginner/easy” mode would have no corpses/heart attacks, Intermediate would have corpses (plus maybe a low random probability of heart attack at 200% stress), and then “Advanced” would have the new features as they currently are.

  • Nicklas

    I have hold of my purchase, in wait for a complete experience. It’s sad to hear that it maybe in vain, just have to stick to my guns and hope for the best.

    Thanks for the article Jim, and thank god…

    • Naskoni

      … for him!

  • Shaamaan

    It seems to me the fault is entirely on Red Hook. Allow me to explain.

    They had a vision for a game. This is good. They have created an early access version of that game, which was also good. They released updates which, once again, was / is good.

    The problems began when they started to listen to fans. Now, listening to customers isn’t a bad idea in general, and I wish more companies would do that. But they should treat fans of early access for what they are – fans and, well, beta testers.

    There are 3 possible scenarios that could have played out from that point on:
    a) Red Hook sticks to their vision and takes player input as minor suggestions, possibly tweaking the difficulty here or there as needed (again – stick to their original idea first and foremost). Whether the game is good or bad is entirely up to them.
    b) Red Hook doesn’t want to, but follows the most popular suggestions / comments. At this point their game is no longer “their”, in a sense. A very bad way to go about things.
    c) Red Hook follows comments / suggestions because they are in-line with their vision of the game. In this case, if the game is too hard and becomes a number-crunching game, then it’s entirely Red Hook’s fault.

    I realize that all of the above “outcomes” could, in theory, be very similar. But I’d wager it’s pretty clear that in all those cases RH has no one else to blame but themselves.

    • Celerity

      You have it backwards, it’s really more like this. They had a vision of a game, released an Early Access version of that game. The game did not fit their own vision, the one we first came for. They did not listen when the fans explained otherwise, because they were outnumbered by the casuals only here because favorite video maker x likes the game and would otherwise have no interest. RH chases new, more profitable market while putting on a show and eventually just makes both sides very annoyed.

  • AncientSpark

    A big problem with sentiments like these is that the line between min-maxing and generally recommended good play is pretty blurry. A lot of people, for example, complain corpses extend fights. Which is true, for default parties that don’t pack pulls/pushes. But it’s not necessarily that “min-maxy” to expect the party to carry a pull/push in their party because a huge cross-section of the classes in the game has at least one of those. And once you have those, fights are very barely extended; in some cases, it’s actually a benefit because you can permanently trivialize some encounters by using the corpses to force enemies to retain their new forced positioning.

  • The Undead

    The Heart attack mechanic and the corpses should be definitely removed, they really don’t add anything to the game. Harder to kill monsters are okay.

    • David Feichtner

      Just deactivate them in the option menu.
      Both have a box you can tick off or on. They are purely optional.

      • Naskoni

        They are optional as a direct result of this article.

        The game was broken in many respects even before those two “game mechanics” even made it into the game and it remains largely broken even after they can now be deactivated.

        The irony is that both corpses and heart attacks were implemented in an incompetent attempt to correct existing issues, only to make things substantially worse…

        • David Feichtner

          What about the game is “broken”?
          I don’t get it, seriously. I frequently lose some people and I also have to abandon quest to save my characters, yes, but that is the whole purpose of the game. Its supposed to be hard.
          And both corpses and PROT were a welcome reason for me to re-evaluate the Plague Doctor class, since she used to be pretty useless, but now, her blight and bleed skills rip through PROT enemies and she can dissolve a whole bunch of bodies with one bomb. Just tell me: What is broken about the game? I really don’t get that point of critique. We can discuss balancing, fine, but lets not pretend that its unplayable.

          • Naskoni

            Guess you couldn’t bothered to read anything posted before you graced us with your presence?

            As for the game not broken – after the 7.15 patch it became completely unplayable for me – I just couldn’t put up with the amounts of stupidity added to the game. And if you had reached the higher tier dungeons with the initial prot levels you might have understood why.

            The fact that you think corpses and prot actually made for a better game means, for me personally, that you haven’t understood even the basics of the game, as neither of those made it better in any way, just substantially more tedius and grindy.

            As for those additions forcing people to use otherwise useless skills – I’ll quote somebody off the Steam forums:

            “People don’t see why they should have to use previously useless skills when they are still useless because you can just bypass lazy difficulty mechanics.”

          • David Feichtner

            So… me disagreeing with you means that I am dumb and don’t understand the game.
            Ok, I get it. Sorry that I do not reach your greatness.
            Next time I disagree with you, I will remember my place.

  • DarkMercy

    Please take this with a grain of salt, as I’ve yet to purchase the game.

    Corpses make initial class selection and positioning that much more important. You don’t need to kill those “meat shields”, just plan around them so that you will be able to reach enemies in each position. With the right setup, you can use them to force enemies into favorable positions. Part of the problem with enemies automatically changing position is that they may move to a worse position for their class. If the enemy is best (for them) sitting in the back shooting your team, then why would he purposely walk forward because his buddy died and then lose his great positioning? A better option would be allowing the enemies to move into that free position if it is to their benefit, but not requiring a blind move.

    PROT does make the game tougher, but seriously why have enemies like maggots that die in 1 hit? PROT at least made them a fight, without it they are a free chance at healing. PROT, when done right, rewards groups with different styles of attacks. If balanced properly, enemies would still have the same, or nearly so, effective health without the need of having a huge health pool. Obviously just slapping on PROT without adjusting the base health would be a poor idea.

    As stress builds, something eventually has to give. Previously, it was just the mind…So why not the body as well? Perhaps, as a permanent loss due to stress is so unfavorable, desertion could be an option when they can no longer handle stress. Heroes already go missing from time to time and if they really get freaked out or believe the end is nigh, wouldn’t they just run away? This could last the entire dungeon or perhaps a few dungeons.

    • Sai

      Position changing wasn’t your enemy moving forward into a vacant position, even though the combat screen gave it that appearance. It represented breaking through the front line enemies and forcing the former back line into close combat. In that sense, corpses shouldn’t be a pure meat shield, but instead might impart a chance to slip on the corpse and fail your attack or even injure yourself when attempting to move past. I’m not sure if the current combat system could account for such a complex mechanic, though, as attack range is position based. The devs would have to somehow treat the enemies that are still alive as being one position forward, but still account for a corpse being in front of them.

  • David Feichtner

    Ok, I have to comment on this because Darkest Dungeon is currently one of my favourite games and going so far as to un-endorse it for the latest updates goes really far in my mind.
    First off: 2/3 of the controversial content is purely optional. You can easily deactivate corpses AND heart attacks in the options menu. Switch them on or off whenever you want.
    Second: Both PROT and Corpses serve a very simple purpose. They force players to use normally unused skills. Many classes have have skills, which damage would not scale well on a simple damage/use level and have been given skills that scale with blight/bleeding (such as the grave robber making enemies vulnerable to either) or will instantly destroy all corpses on the field (like the Occultist or the Leper). It forces you to re-evaluate your roster and maybe try out skills you have ignored so far. Now its no longer useful to blunt force through things with the Hellion in the first row eating through everything, you have to mix things up much more. I found that to be a good thing. I refreshed the game when it started to become stale.
    Finally: It’s still Darkest Dungeon! The feeling is still the same, the updates are still coming and there are no micro transactions, no currency exchange crap and a full experience.
    We can all talk about the changes (which are 2/3 optional) and if and how they affect the game. But it hasn’t turned bad all of a sudden. Its still a high quality game and probably the best Early Access game on Steam.

    • Chris Johnson

      You make decent points, I also enjoy the game, but do realize that his article published on the 19th of August and the patch changes you reference were from the build that came out on the 21st.

      • David Feichtner

        I admit, I screwed this up. I only decided to write this comment after seeing the options in the menu of DD and I didn’t check the change-log.

        • MrAtn

          I’d also like to mention that “forcing” the players to play a certain way is kinda the opposite af an rpg.

          • David Feichtner

            Sorry, but that is kinda like saying that Final Fantasy is not an RPG because you have an insanely hard time beating it with 4 thieves.

      • anomalous material

        Sounds like they have listened and seen the obvious path to pleasing the most people.

  • Corporal Touchy Breath

    These changes disappointed me quite a bit. I really liked Darkest Dungeon as it was. When it came out, it was a perfect blend of punishing but fun. All of the updates seem to be intended to make the game more and more punishing, which is fitting for the game and its theme, but it detracts from the fun factor exponentially. Before, I felt like I was playing a game where all of my characters were inevitably doomed, but each decision I made could potentially prolong their life and make them more powerful in hopes of staving off the terror of the dungeons for as long as possible. Now I just feel like this game is here to pummel me with futility until I don’t even want to play it anymore.

    An important thing you brought up though was how reviled these features would be had they existed from the beginning. PROT and Corpses I think would have been complained about, but not to the extent of being considered controversial. Positioning has always been important and I think, had I not already gotten used to playing without them, I would have liked this feature for highlighting the importance of your party’s position. That said, it would probably have been overkill, considering once your heroes begin losing their minds positioning can become fully impossible to manage and this can fuck over your entire run. Making it more difficult to handle this was probably excessive. Heart attacks however I would have hated even had they been included from the beginning. Stress is designed to be impossible to effectively managed. Your heroes WILL reach max stress and it WILL have an impact on your game, even if you do everything you possibly can to keep the stress down. That’s just part of the core design of the game. Taking something that is guaranteed to happen and turning it into an instant death mechanic was a terrible idea. Being able to turn a feature off, while appreciated, doesn’t make it a good feature.

  • Taylor Huizenga

    It would be fairly safe to say that Darkest Dungeon wouldn’t have been nearly as popular if those changes were there at its release on Greenlight. The core mechanics of the game were very important and made the game the right amount of challenging without the need for too much grinding. It always felt like a desperate race to get to the end of the dungeon and each choice could mean the death of a team member or your entire party all together. If Red Hook made difficulty settings catering to both types of players, they could have everybody win. I don’t see that happening but I can’t see why they wouldn’t try something like that. This is their first game as a studio and should be taken care of.

    • Naskoni

      I’d have to agree with that. Including the bit about people that say that had these changes been there from the very beginning people wouldn’t complain about them today – which in my case would be completely true – I wouldn’t have bought the game in the first place with such mind boggling daftness in it as to complain about how they’ve ruined it later on.

  • Bosch

    I’m a bit surprised to see no mention of the decision to make corpses/heart attacks optional (at least for now). Was that not implemented at the time this was written? It seems like a very unusual course of action for a developer, and I have to wonder if it could be taken as a reasonable compromise, or if it’s still too embedded in problems I’ve failed to notice. It feels like something that would warrant a little update/addendum for input, anyway. Still, interesting reading nonetheless.

    • Celerity

      No, it was implemented as a direct result of this article, or more precisely its comment section. He then saw some other, much more troubling things and withdrew his curator recommendation.

      • anomalous material

        What were the other more troubling things then?

        As far as this episode here goes, I would be happy with the latest changes being made optional. Then each person could taylor the game a little bit to their abilities or desires.

        But if there is something worse that would cause The Sherriff to remove his support then it would be good to know what that was and why. Is that in a podquisition, or reported somewhere else?

        • Celerity

          Evidence that a group of Early Access developers is censoring criticism for starters, and their latest antics are censoring popular negative reviews a few hours after another game did the same thing. Those reviews still exist but no longer show as “most helpful” meaning that people checking now will see mostly positive reviews with low vote counts instead of the negatives with 500-1k votes each. And I checked and only Phasmaphobic’s (1.5k votes) was removed by its author and that’s outright gone, you can’t still see it on some other screen.

          As is though it doesn’t seem Jim was happy about this being but the smallest of many problems. He hasn’t made another article about it though yet.

          • anomalous material

            Ahh shit. That kind of stuff? I wonder if his Jimquisition today was a veiled threat to them then, even though it directly targeted other developers for other dodgy practices, but also hiding negative reviews.

            I really hope they don’t go down that route, or if they do, that they don’t go so far that they cannot turn themselves around.

            Thanks for the follow up, too. Helps to fill in many gaps.

          • Celerity

            Oh, they already are. Cross reference the main page with the community hub page, see how many don’t appear despite being high vote count negatives.

            The devs responded on a review for the first time ever with a blanket denial of all wrongdoing but they’ve been caught in so many obvious and blatant lies their word means exactly nothing at this point.

            The main thing that makes it suspect is people complained about this happening on another game hours before it happened here. They logically would track Jim’s posting after he criticized them because that’s what they do – they stalk my posting despite having zero interest in my feedback, at which point it becomes obvious they figured out how the other game did it and did it themselves but in a less blatant way than just hiding a wall of 2k+ vote negatives instantly.

          • anomalous material

            Well, that’s DD off my to purchase list then, at least for the moment until they clean their act up. Pity, I was looking forward to buying it.

            I expect we will get something else scathing from the Sheriff some time in the near future directed at them again, either in writing or in another Jimquisition.

          • Celerity

            They ain’t fixing nothing. If you criticize them they ignore you and eventually censor you. They also operate under certain delusions, namely that corpses – an enemy that by definition does not fight back somehow adds difficulty despite the complete lack of a corpse explosion/revival/eating/etc mechanic that would make corpses actually harm you in any way, and that therefore someone complaining about corpses, or about the presence of difficulty is praise (don’t say the game is easy as hell, even though it is easy as hell once you grasp its shallow learning curve or they will rage).

            And let’s hope he smashes them good before they trick another wave of new users with the Cove. Their last sale already backfired hard – thus their having high vote count negatives that needed censoring just so it wouldn’t be a near solid wall of red.

          • Alex Wilkinson

            I can understand you are upset the developers changed their game from your view but do you have any real evidence to back up these claims?

            I have consistently enjoyed Darkest Dungeon and I do enjoy the changes that have become so controversial but to say the developers are not listening to the people is a bit disingenuous don’t you think?

            Also no one complained when the man at arms came out and he was far too too OP.

            If the developers have been engaged in dodgy review screening then I will be rather disappointed in these practices but I don’t really see much evidence?

            Anicdotal evidence doesn’t mean anything and the reason more positive are shown on the most helpful could come from one of many different reasons. Maybe a lot of normal players didn’t agree with the negative comments? Maybe people read the comments and found it wasn’t useful? Sure it could be the devs but I think it is unfair to assume it with no real evidence.

            It feels more like the vocal minority as the devs have shown they are changing things to meet a middle ground.

            I think the issue is Darkest Dungeon was always going to be a niche title due to the relentless difficult curve but it just attracted the masses and maybe not everyone was ready to dive into a game quite so punishing especially after you have your favourite group that took days to create.

          • Celerity

            Yes, and it’s been said already enough times. What is disingenious is suggesting that I merely don’t like the changes and dismissing objective claims based on that. It’s more disingenous when someone who is on the outside looking in tells someone that has been a part of this from the start that no, they are listening because I enjoy the game anyways. Seriously, what kind of non logic is that? Answer: The same kind that gets us tedium presented as difficulty.

            People did complain about power creep, and more relevantly anyone can cross reference reviews on front page vs reviews on community hub right now.

            Finally, there is absolutely nothing difficult about Derpest Dungeon. Nothing at all whatsoever. You overcome the game’s shallow learning curve, which begins and ends with you realizing that you spam damage on the enemy’s face and doing anything else makes you suck and fail, and then you win. Now the game actively misleads new users, especially casual users creating this meme that the game is in any way difficult, usually resulting in them acting like the best thing ever and then falling for basic tricks like Wilbur more than once.

            And that’s the point of contention with their target audience – you gotta completely redesign the game so it actually offers any of the things it says it does, otherwise it’s just an exercise in spamming one button until you get bored of grinding. Which doesn’t take long at all – and this coming from someone who would willingly grind for hours if it were even remotely interesting.

    • anomalous material

      The change was made a couple days after, apparently. Just no addendum.

  • MrAptronym

    It seems like, developers of all kinds of media are in constant contact with their fan bases today, but haven’t quite become adapted to that change. Way too many ill-conceived changes and outright pandering is happening in all forms of media.

    A good game needs a cohesive vision, and the deluge of feedback games in development can now get seems to undermine that. It is great if you can accept critiques and see where things really need to be changed, but a huge amount of input is muddled, nonsensical or bad. Like TV shows that just become masturbatory in-jokes for their fandoms, games run the risk of losing their cohesiveness and originality in an attempt to appease a fanbase. (Which will be impossible if you have more than one fan.)

    Honestly, games are very complicated these days and people often do not even know what it is they really want or like about a game. I am not saying that to act superior to anyone, it happens to me too. Look at FFXIII, absolutely everyone complained that the game was too linear. That was the accusation everyone including me made, but with hindsight, I feel like the problem was actually monotony and pacing, not that it was linear. (No towns, minigames, exploration or even NPCs to break up the constant running and fighting, very even tone for much of the game) I had to replay FFX to realize that.

    Your players will, for the most part, not understand the systems and components of the games that well. You need to take what they feel and give them what they actually need… or tell them to fuck right off when you need to.

  • James Glass

    This shouldn’t even be an issue. Why don’t they just have different difficulty modes? Does it already? Either way this shouldn’t be a controversy. Just have a normal difficultly and make it the way it was in early access, challenging, but not masochistic. Then you have a hard mode where everything is cranked up to 11, for all the super hardcore plays that want to min max. They could even do what Xcom: Enemy Unknown did and add in a bunch of extra difficulty modifiers. So maybe you still want to play on normal but you’d can optionally turn on heart attacks separately.

  • Nobody

    Good News! They have mad the heart attack and corpse features toggleable.

  • Eric Sebena

    Jim- I don’t think you need to be concerned about whether or not you should recommend early access games. If you have to do something, then I’d recommend putting “Update” sections in your comments under the recommendations, but anyone who is logical and pays attention to your work will be able to acknowledge the very nature of an early access game and won’t hold it against you.

  • Raphael Kurlansik

    I just started playing this game, after waiting months to purchase it. I have no issue with any of the features you mentioned because I had no expectations going in. Having a blast with it, and would totally recommend this game to fans of dungeon crawlers!

  • BigSexyGenius

    7 Days to Die and ARK: Survival Evolved are two more games that have, in my opinion, jumped the shark during EA due to a small contingent of hardcores complaining that everything is vastly too easy.

  • NoGodsOrKingsOnlyBowser


    I know I’m late to the party, but I did make a mod intending to smooth out some of the rougher edges of the game as it is right now. Less grinding, more viable party formations, and hopefully when official mod support comes out I’ll be able to add in-game hints as to curio interactions so that you don’t need to play the game with a wiki open 😛