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The Horror Has Arrived!

I told you it was coming. I told you, but you didn't believe me. Now it's here, and you have to answer for your ignorance. It's waiting for you, lurking in the darkness, and you have no idea what you're getting into. The horror has arrived.

Mythos: The Beginning has finally been released into the world. As of this time of writing, the DRM-free version of the game is live and ready to purchase from the Dark Gaia Studios website. That's not all, though. From now until this time next week (October 6, 2014), you can get your copy of Mythos for only $4.99 by using the discount code MYTHOSROCKS.

So, yeah, that's it. After four whole months, my latest game is finally ready the masses. The real question is... are you ready for Mythos?

At the current time, the game is only available via direct download from the Dark Gaia website, but -- just like with Legionwood 2 -- other portals are in the works, including Desura and Steam, which should be live within a few weeks. In short, if you're one of the DRM faithful, you'll eventually get your chance to play Mythos as well.


Progress Report

Development Update #4: Final Touches

Well, horror fans, this is it. The last Mythos development update.

After a nearly four month long development cycle, the game is finally nearing completion. Pending some last bits of polish here and there, and another short round of testing, release day is in sight.

What a journey Mythos has been for me. It began as a short one month project intended for Degica's NaGaDeMo contest, but it's grown into something so much more, and I'm genuinely proud of what I ended up putting together. After the burn out from Legionwood 2, I thought it would be at least a year or two before I got stuck into another fully-fledged commercial project (and hey, there is my second novel, which still needs to be finished) so I would never have expected Mythos to evolve into what it is today. What started with one small addition soon turned into ten small additions, then a total revamp, and before I knew it, I was withdrawing from the contest to expand my side project into a "proper" game worthy of a commercial release.

Today, I finalised the final Otherworld area in the game, and wrapped up two endings -- additions that were conceived during last month's beta testing cycle, when I decided to delay the game to bring more Legionwood 2 elements (namely, the ability for the player's dialogue choices to result in actual consequences later) into the mix. The number of different ways the beta testers found to complete the game truly astounded me. You can play Mythos as a normal RPG, training up to defeat every enemy; or you can play it as an adventure game, focus on non-combat skills and never have to fight a single battle. After seeing how non-linear the game really could be, I felt like it would be stupid not to expand that element of the game into something worthwhile.

My plan at the moment is to release the game on September 30 at the Dark Gaia Studios website. Steam and Desura releases are also in the works, though as with Legionwood 2, may be a few more weeks down the track.

I'd also like to take this chance to mention the IndieGoGo campaign I ran for One Night 4 way back in 2012. Although the funding goal was never reached, the proceeds of that campaign did eventually allow development on Mythos to begin. Hence, if you were one of the backers of that campaign, please feel free to contact me and you'll be able to receive a free copy.

Last but not least, I'll be running a sale on release day to allow people to get Mythos at a discount. I'll be making another update before then though, I'm sure.

Progress Report

Development Update #3: Beta Testing!

It's beta testing time! That's right folks, Mythos is now basically complete and all that remains before release is to test it. The number of people who volunteered to be beta testers is simply amazing: when I put the call out, I received PMs from 33 different people, all asking to be added to the list. Who would have known an RPG based on cheesy old horror movies would (apparently) be so popular?

Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for such interest so I had to cut down the pool of beta testers to 10 people. I tend to find that it is much easier to keep track of things with a smaller group of testers (plus, I don't actually have 33 beta keys to hand out, and it takes a few days to set up more), so I have randomly selected 10 names from the list and have sent out keys to the lucky recipients. If you were on the list and you didn't get one, please accept my apologies. I totally didn't expect so many people wanting to test Mythos, but I thank you for your support.

So, with the beta builds sent out and testing underway, the last thing to do is to decide upon a release date. At this point, I'm still a bit hesitant to give Mythos an exact date (and those of you who've followed me for a while will know I usually fail at meeting them) but I would love to have the game released by the end of August. I've set aside three weeks for beta testing and a couple of additional days to fix any last bugs (depending on how many are reported), but it's completely feasible at this point that Mythos will be available on my website by mid September 2014, with Steam and Desura versions to follow a little later.

Ultimately, you should know that Mythos is coming very soon. Like a creature of the night, it is ever so slowly coming for you. It won't be long now.

Game Design

Development Update #2: Progression

As of this week, I've reached two important milestones in Mythos: The Beginning's development. Firstly, last Monday marks exactly one month since beginning work on the game for the Indie Game Making Contest. Secondly, at the time of writing, Mythos has finally reached 50% completion. Depending on how you look at things, this may seem like a marathon feat of endurance -- I've only been working on the game for a month, and it's already literally halfway done.

But here's where we reach a slight problem: the "half" of the game that I have done so far only amounts to just over three hours of gameplay. Assuming the second half is just as long, we're looking at a final playtime of around six hours. That's pretty short for an RPG, but it's higher than average for a survival horror game. By making a game that attempts to be both a traditional C-RPG and an old-school survival horror game, I'm running a considerable risk of alienating certain players. RPG fans will think the game is far too short, while survival horror fans will likely find it far too long (for reference, Resident Evil 2 can be completed within 2 hours).

So, what exactly is going to be in Mythos? For the most part, Mythos is structured in much the same way as my earlier One Night games -- the objective of the game is to explore an abandoned building, gradually unlocking new areas and rooms over the course of the game until you've gathered the necessary items to defeat the final boss. In Mythos, this exploration is divided up into five main "stages": the children's ward, the main building, the catacombs, the upper floors and the Old Ones' world. In typical RPG fashion, each new "stage" contains harder monsters and puzzles. For the most part, these areas are unlocked and visited sequentially, but as Mythos is a survival horror game, they also contain key items and puzzle elements that prompt backtracking to a previous area.

That all sounds quite typical for a survival horror game but, as pointed out before, it's pretty simplistic as far as RPGs go. There is a way to address it, though: re-playability. So far, the direction in which Mythos is going greatly encourages making each playthrough of the game different. Unlike in a normal survival horror game, Mythos has three different character classes, four non-combat skills and over 25+ combat abilities -- that's quite a lot of ways to build your character.

Rather than artificially padding out the game to make it a longer RPG, what I intend to do is emphasise the existing RPG elements and make each character experience the game in a different way. As you can already see in the demo, the order in which you progress through a given area can change depending on your character's abilities. Characters with Subterfuge can unlock certain doors without needing the key. Characters with Persuade can convince NPCs to help them out and make parts of the game considerably easier. Characters with high Intelligence can bypass puzzles entirely. My goal in Mythos is to allow for each character to have different ways to progress in the game.

So, while the game may not turn out to have an epic final playtime, it's designed so that you probably won't see everything in one playthrough. Didn't master your Occult Lore skill? You'll miss out on some extra story details. Don't have the final level of Subterfuge? You'll miss out on an item that subtly changes the ending. Each character's exploration of Harborough Asylum will be unique to them -- that's what "role playing" is supposed to be.

Game Design

Development Update #1: Difficulty

Well, it's been about a week since the public demo of Mythos went online, and in that time I've received from pretty good feedback on which direction the game should take.

A hot topic that's been brought up a few times (and something that seems to be an issue with games I make in general) is the game's difficulty -- namely, that the fights are pretty damn hard. As such, I'm currently taking the time to go through what I've made of Mythos so far with an eye to re balancing the combat difficulty and making the Easy Mode toggle actually affect the stats of enemies.

First of all, I should point out that, just like in the Legionwood series, the unforgiving difficulty of Mythos is a conscious design choice, for several reasons. Mythos is unique among my games in that it's both an RPG -- one that's inspired by old-school tabletop games, at that -- and a survival horror game. I believe that in a horror game, the enemies should be a threat. Players should be scared of them. If they're lucky and play smart, they might be able to kill a few, but they should definitely end up dead if they try to take on all the enemies head on. Furthermore, the combat, being based on tabletop RPGs, is resolved through dice rolls, leaving a lot to chance and making unlucky deaths rather common. My goal with the combat in Mythos is to make it fast and ferocious, giving the player a sense that they're underpowered.

However, with the feedback received from the demo in mind, I've actually come to realise that many people who've played the game so far don't actually have a lot of prior experience with survival horror games. Because Mythos is an RPG and not just a horror adventure game, a large portion of its players are RPG fans that haven't played a survival horror game before. For these people, it's quite a shock that any random enemy in Mythos can destroy the player character relatively easily.

So, how will I deal with this problem? It's simple. Mythos is intended to be a hard game. It's for people who like to feel a struggle to survive. It's for veterans of AD&D and Vampire: The Masquerade, who know that one dice roll can change everything. But that doesn't mean someone with no experience of either of those things can't play it. Mythos currently has an Easy Mode that can be toggled from the Config menu. At the moment, this only affects the cost of EXP upgrades and makes health items more common, but I'm going to spend a significant amount of time expanding it to affect combat, as well. There will be two sets of enemies in Mythos -- one for each difficulty mode -- and Easy Mode will make the monsters a lot less ferocious.

The idea is that, with Easy Mode on, the game will shift focus a little. Instead of being a survival horror game with RPG elements, it will become more of a straight-forward RPG. It will be possible to fight all of the enemies and grow steadily more powerful, just like in a normal RPG. In that sense, "Easy Mode" is probably a misnomer. Mythos isn't just about combat, and the game will still be a challenge, even if the monsters are a pushover. It'll just become a... different game, in a sense.

Hopefully this will enable players of all skill levels to enjoy Mythos. We'll have to wait and see :)
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