It has been a cursed couple months for the builders of dungeon crawling PvP extraction game Darkish and Darker: They’ve endured a DMCA takedown, a police raid, DDOS assaults, and needed to distribute a playtest fully by torrent hyperlinks. The builders have now defied Nexon, Steam, Discord, and Twitter simply to get gamers into their free playtest, which is a few exceptionally underdog conduct.

Darkish and Darker’s fourth alpha playtest in February was a shock hit, pulling a peak of over 100,000 concurrent gamers as a Steam Subsequent Fest demo. It was a good time to play in a celebration with associates, glorious fodder for clip compilations, RPG construct theorists, PvP lovers, and at last gave me the non-FPS extraction game I have been needing. 

After that prime of highs, Darkish and Darker has been in freefall for 2 months. Game writer Nexon, former employer of two members of Ironmace, has accused the builders of stealing code and property, which resulted in a police raid on the developer’s South Korean workplace, elimination of the game from Steam by DMCA takedown request, and a brief lived GoFundMe marketing campaign to help with the developer’s anticipated authorized protection charges.

However Ironmace had already introduced a fifth playtest to run from April 14-19 and dammit they have been going to get gamers again into the game once more. So that they requested everybody to torrent it. I am unable to imagine 1000’s of gamers needed to discover ways to torrent within the yr 2023. Issues solely obtained extra wild because the weekend went on:

  • Ironmace knowledgeable gamers that the torrent hyperlink had been eliminated “on account of Discord’s coverage of not permitting hyperlinks to torrents.”
  • Ironmace posted the torrent hyperlink to its official Twitter, which was eliminated for related causes.
  • Ironmace distributed the hyperlink once more by means of a textual content decoder software that sidestepped the ban on torrent hyperlinks.
  • Darkish and Darker servers went down on Saturday for an prolonged time whereas no builders have been round to repair the difficulty.
  • One of many official Discord admins locked the server’s basic chat room briefly to clarify the scenario within the midst of tons of of gamers spamming “HOLD THE LINE” in assist of the builders.
  • Ironmace stated it was affected by “extremely refined and highly effective DDoS assaults” throughout testing.
  • Ironmace in some way accomplished two hotfixes (additionally distributed by torrent) over the course of the weekend.

Dark and Darker concept art - a mage casts a light spell carefully exploring a dungeon with a knight and rogue

(Picture credit score: Ironmace)

And regardless of the overall trash fireplace, gamers are completely loving it. YouTube is filled with movies of Darkish and Darker gamers exhibiting off and sharing their builds. Reddit has threads defending the builders and mourning the tip of the playtest. The largest level of competition within the official Discord is disappointment that Ironmace did not lengthen the tip date of the playtest to make up for the downtime over the weekend. If one other game have been being so tragically messy, its personal followers could effectively have turned on it, however Ironmace is a small indie workforce and Darkish and Darker is only a rattling enjoyable game.

Earlier than the Nexon beef even got here to gentle, Ironmace was presenting itself as an underdog with a mission. An announcement on its web site reads:

We’re a merry band of veteran game builders disillusioned by the exploitative and grasping practices we as soon as helped create. We’re specialists who’ve labored on lots of the largest hits in Korea.

We’ve seen first hand how company game firms promote their soul for the simple payday. We’re disillusioned to see them doubling down on increasingly exploitative practices, changing into extra like casinos as an alternative of bringing pleasure to players.

We’re combating to win again the hearts of players around the globe.

I am going to admit that I wish to imagine that it is a case of a giant writer unfairly coming down on some scrappy builders and that Ironmace’s self-declared anti-exploitation values are real. We could by no means know the complete story of the authorized declare in opposition to the studio, and whether or not we prefer it or not, Nexon could have a case. Even when so, being on the correct facet of the regulation has by no means been a prerequisite for punk.

For now, what we do have may be very clear proof of how extremely tenacious Ironmace has been in getting gamers into its game. After getting booted off the largest gaming storefront on PC, Ironmace went on to subvert the foundations on each Discord and Twitter and power a ton of gamers to discover ways to torrent information for the primary time of their lives all to play an alpha. It was essentially the most punk PC gaming second of 2023 up to now.