Three months ago, we launched our action-horror mobile game Darkest Nightmare on closed-beta. Since then we have received a lot of feedback from our precious beta-testers. One by one, we started to weigh their criticism and implement some to Darkest Nightmare.

Our biggest concern back then was one player’s feedback, wherein he tells that although the game may be great, a major element of it distracts him from appreciating the great art. This beta tester is referring to the casting circle, which is located at the bottom half of the game.

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This is indeed a big problem which we only realized after it has been pointed out. Because of this player’s statement, we decided to remove the spellcasting circle. In replacement, we implemented a freeform drawing system for spellcasting. This allows the player to input spell symbols without taking their eyes off the action.

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Erick suggested using pattern or gesture recognition based on alphabet letters. We tested the idea and made a prototype in two weeks time.This decision led to further changes, such as changing the game type from level progression-based to endless. Yes, Darkest Nightmare is now in endless mode, featuring more horrific creatures popping out in the dark.

We’ve also set up boss battles after the player completes the first wave of enemies. What do you think of this Cthulu-inspired monster here, drawn by our very own Abby?

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This drastic change also resulted to a new system, where the academy no longer exists, and so does the refining-crystals system.

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The point of the academy is for players to spend something on with their refined crystals. We removed the academy and the essence-based economy to simplify the game. It got to a point where we were focusing more on the midcore free-to-play monetization and retention features than the gameplay itself, and with a team as small as ours, diverting even one person’s attention from what makes the game fun is a big deal.

We dialed back on the complex economy, which was taking a lot of time to balance, and focused more on making the combat and spellcasting systems fun.

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We have turned the refining system into the game’s currency — you now use crystals to purchase from the new shop.

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Buy borders and embellishments for a visually appealing gaming experience!

We’ve tweaked our user interface a bit, removing the header where the refining materials used to be.

See the changes! Sign up as a beta-tester here.