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Github repositories available

I made some git repos in case anyone wants to mod the game, apply fixes or improve it in some way. As an added note, I'm not responsible for your own mods/forks. Please, try to keep it clean.

v1.3.0-dev5 > https://github.com/ForgottenDawn/.defrag_130-dev5
v1.3.0-dev5.5 > https://github.com/ForgottenDawn/.defrag_130-dev5.5
v1.3.0-dev6 > https://github.com/ForgottenDawn/.defrag_130-dev6

Discord: https://discord.io/forgottendawn

Game Design

Postmortem - Idea Scrapyard

I have been wanting to share a trivia type of post for a while, now that .defrag is permanently out of the picture, at least in my head.

Sometime in 2018, I wrote a rough outline of what would have been the next part of the adventure. I took psy_wombat's feedback at heart, and I thought that the concept could have benefited from offering more past a certain point. Massive spoilers ahead for those who haven't played the game yet.

The story would have bounced back up right after Blob's suicide. I began imagining the plucky comic relief of repairing the fast travel tunnels as more of a filler quest between the two halves of the game. After that, a new quest would appear in the form of mysterious radio transmissions and three ominous red portals scattered throughout the game world.

The experimental "dev6" build contains various unused maps, map templates and assets that would have pointed you towards those new areas. Each of these red portals would have brought you to a highly corrupted, noisy version of the past; three new large areas with some actual hazards and environmental story clues. Of course, I never actually designed any of it, but that was the idea. Purely story-driven areas.

At the end of each new route, you would have ended up on a series of abstract rooms I called the Black Box events, as a nod to .flow and with a minimalist design reminiscent of Mortis Ghost's OFF. These areas would feature some light puzzle solving, as you read quotes from what can be assumed to be any of the main characters'. The idea was to provide some backstory clues for players to piece together before/during the story climax. I think some of that dialogue is still in that "dev6" build I mentioned earlier—haven't checked, it's been years.

The grand reveal, if you can even call it that, is that the mysterious voice calling you on the walkie talkie isn't Blob from beyond the grave, but rather "something else"—the real source of all of .defrag's blights. Ooo, spooky.

Solving all Black Box puzzles would have unlocked more weird cutscenes and various Bill's crew-related shenanigans.

The final phase would have seen the player climb up the Radio Tower to investigate the eldritch source of "noise". Blobber would have given you the gun that blew Blob's brains out as a way to seal the deal once and for all (bit of a revenge fantasy there). I often imagined this section of the game as the most abstract and intense phase. It was intended to be the climax, after all. The Radio Tower would have essentially turned into a slow ascent into madness, filled with all kinds of hallucinations, spatial distortions, interface screws, and increasingly surreal (as well as horrific) imagery.

I wanted the "final battle" to mock the classic RPG Maker's turn-based battle UI, among other things, where you'd finally see your own stats and realize how hopeless the fight really is. Everything is supposed to build up to that final gun shot, so congrats! You've now successfully murdered an alien baby.

With the eldritch horror gone, the world immediately flips its monochrome palette and slowly reacquires color, but with no music! Only few environmental sounds. Fun fact: I originally composed a piece of wistful music to play on loop in every area, but I scrapped the concept in favor of a quieter, more Zen-like experience.

I would have let you freely explore the newly de-noised world. All characters would have had new dialogue and cutscenes, and I would have essentially allowed you to bid farewell to them before departing. I would have hit you with the stinger that Blob and Blobber were related (shocking!), just as you depart for the Womb area and witness the final set of dialogue. And then the true final golden for-real-this-time ending.

If you're still here, awesome! There's more.

"dev6" would have also revamped the UI and introduced new menus. I can't remember what the exact issues were, but the new menus were absolute hell to implement due to RPG Maker 2003's extremely clunky, counterintuitive nature. I also recall wanting to slightly change the quest flow from the first minutes of gameplay to kind of alleviate all the backtracking done in the first playable builds.
Click on "Show" to see various mockups and concept art.

For some reason, I grew fascinated with the idea of having a player room that you could customize to some limited degree. I thought that the concept of Bill renting you a noise-filled rat hole that nobody else wanted in the middle of a pandemic was amusing enough to me that I began thinking of ways to make that space somewhat livable for as long as the player character walked into that world. What if you had posters, a chest of collectibles, audio tapes, or even achievement stickers?

I increasingly wanted to redesign a lot of things, including the Garden area. I started feeling like the Garden was just too big and didn't offer much visually to justify such long winded paths. Sprinkling some Collectibles would have alleviated some of the tedium, because of course you gotta have collectibles, but I felt like their introduction would have only treated the symptoms rather than the root issues, which were structural.

Frustration rising...

It became clear to me that the scope of the project would skyrocket the more I thought about it, and that I would have eventually needed to draw myself a development road map to keep my goals in check.

Between 2018 and 2019, I began maturing the idea of splitting the game into multiple development phases. I pitched my game idea to a "concept planning" class and what I produced during those months became something I dubbed an "interactive teaser". It was a 5-minute demo packed with sensory abuse and a cliffhanger at the end because YEAH WE'RE ARTSY AND WANGSTY. So, perfectly in line with the tone of the game.

I uploaded it here, if you're brave enough and not have a history of seizures. Also, please keep your volume low: https://mega.nz/file/I2wTBAgR#PHDuCZci3Olo9xx3fOAIzmvFKc2qBEbkLBMDumm2g7s

This was also the last time I ever touched RPG Maker 2003. I matured the idea of leaving it behind permanently from how much I struggled creating that teaser. Granted it was an unhealthy combination of school crunching and general frustrations with the game engine, 2k3 didn't make things any better for me and would, instead, put roadblocks in the way of seemingly intuitive (to me) functionalities whose only sin was to not precisely fall into that very specific niche of old-school 16-bit Final Fantasy clones that the engine really loves shoving in your face every time you open it up. When I think of how limited and obtuse of a tool it is, I still find myself mesmerized by projects like Yume 2kki and how creative some people can be with it. It's really inspiring. Unfortunately, it made me hate the tool even more. The more I tried to completely customize the experience, the more the engine would say "No, you can't."

Anywho, I ended up not touching the project for several months. I was burned out from having to crunch a semi-finished product that only represented a fraction of the entire project, and on top of that, I grew absolutely loathing the game engine. Did I say I hated 2k3 already? Huh. Weird. So, I let some time go by to give myself enough space and potentially let some fresh new ideas come into view.

I did, eventually, came up with something. I wanted to rebuild the interactive teaser from scratch on this "new engine" that I still had no clue whether it was going to be Unity or a newer RPG Maker, as I was slowly unlocking the ways of digital arting. Up until then, I was more or less still using traditional media for assets that didn't utilize pixel art graphics.

I would have developed this updated teaser, with some modifications to the screenplay and event flow (I planned to rename certain characters like "Blob", for instance), and then immediately hop on the full game. With the demo scrapped, the project was once again on a limbo.

At some point, I imagined diving into Blob's backstory and his influence on .defrag's world, and envisioned him as more of a legacy character; a hero of another story. I came up with a short concept called ".debug" in which you would play as him in a few short interactive narrative sequences set in the past, what was life before and during the onset of "noise". As the years went by, I thought of potentially reusing the concept as a webcomic, instead. I still felt somewhat guilty that nothing concrete really came out of this concept after years of writing devlogs, and I was starting to lose hope that nothing ever would.

By the time I was steadily improving my digital drawing skills, however, I already had other projects in mind and was writing other stories to the point that .defrag became more of a faint, distant afterthought. I dedicated body and soul to graduating in digital animation during the Covid-19 lockdowns and after, so while it was nice to potentially envision some animated content in .defrag, I realized that it would have taken me forever and half to accomplish and it would have further delayed any updated development plans as a result.

So, there you have it. In a way, for me, it's like saying goodbye to my college years. There was something about that kind of intense anxiety and angst that I don't think I would be able to replicate now that I'm older and on the other side of the tunnel surrounded by all kinds of new projects and prospects.

I know that I would need to be in that dark space again to recreate that same brand of super edgy and oppressive atmosphere, which to be fair, I'm more than glad to let go. There's a kind of visceral, pissed, expressive honesty in those noisy, monochrome environments that I can't really reproduce now without them feeling forced. I sure would not want to feel miserable my whole life for the sake of creating some game you could finish in an hour or two. I simply... changed.

.defrag is a snapshot of my mind from a specific, delicate time in my life where I felt like there was static everywhere I looked. The sensorial overload of the internet, the demanding college life, the pressure to succeed, my interpersonal life and ever-changing relationships, my own buzzing psychological "noise". I sought clarity. I wanted to purge my brain by creating this game and giving something to the world.

I hastily assembled a playable build in 10 days, completely out of the blue, non-stop, and simply went with it, guided by nothing but hubris. It was messy, it was sluggish, it was an often incongruous patchwork of barely functional code and ideas, but it was also emotionally and aesthetically raw in a way that to me, at the time, was also kind of beautiful in its visceral, brutal ugliness.

I did not expect the community response. It was loved, it was hated, it was mocked, it was played, it was analyzed, it was reviewed, it was shared. So, I dared dreaming big. Let's try to expand it. Let's shoot for the stars and see what happens. Let's move it to a different engine. I wanted to please everyone. I ended up displeasing and losing myself in the process. I brought the game somewhere and then... It slowly faded. The noise subsided. And with it, a dream.

Hence why I'm now fine with letting it all go.

Thanks for reading. Have a good one =)


That's All, Folks! =)

​And... that's it! Show's over, folks.

Hi, everyone! I hope you're having a great time. I decided to finally put this game to rest.

Reason for that is simple: I no longer have the drive to even think about it. I moved to different avenues, experienced other types of art mediums, involved myself in various projects... It's time for me to move on.

This is why I decided to reintroduce the last available builds for the sake of letting people experience what went through my head between 2016 and 2018. Not much has changed since then.

Parts of this game still survive in my current art projects as an aesthetic where it's easier for me to express certain thoughts and feelings.

It was fun while it lasted. I'm OK with letting go of whatever this game could have been.

Thanks for everyone's interest, feedback, and curiosity shown throughout the years. Cheers. =)


2020 Update! Where have all the flowers gone?

Hey, everyone! Just a quick public service announcement to answer a few questions I've gotten over the past few months. Long story short, the project isn't completely dead, but it has been put on hold indefinitely. Hooray to development hell!

I'm considering a wealth of possibilities for the project and they all sound great and dandy, but I can't currently afford any of it. That includes a game engine swap (from RPG Maker to Godot or Unity, maybe? Or even Unreal), a rework from the ground up, and a wealth of aesthetic upgrades like fully animated cutscenes. I would love for .defrag to mature into a kind of handcrafted work that welcomes a variety of expressive possibilities and art styles.

Yes, the monochrome, noisy aesthetic won't be lost in the process, but if there's anything that could benefit the experience immersion-wise and make it more of its own beast, then I'd like to sleep at night and not worry about engine limitations with counterproductive workarounds. I will, of course, keep you in the loop once I greenlight the project again and there's enough of a road map to convince myself and any future collaborator that yes, it's feasible and it can be done. As 2020 has been teaching me so far, "we'll see what happens next".

I'd like to thank anyone who dropped by my Discord to ask about the project and all those who keep supporting me through Patreon, Bandcamp and other means. It sincerely means a lot to me, even when life takes the priority from time to time. I will create a dedicated .defrag Discord server once I'll actively resume development. Until then, I will be busy IRL and with plenty of other projects--too many for my own good--including music, game soundtracks, illustrations, videomaking and possibly webcomics.

I'll see you around, whether it's Newgrounds, my YouTube channel, or Discord.


We're out of early access!

Hi folks! So, I've got some good and bad news.

The good news is that the project is still alive and it's about 60-70% done. I've been implementing some neat features that will hopefully make the game feel less of a walking sim and more like the mystery adventure game I've always wanted it to be. Oh, and custom menus. Custom everything would be nice. The less RPG Maker it looks, the better in my book.

The bad news is development is still going to be very slow due to real-life commitments and personal projects piling up like there's no tomorrow. It's unlikely that I'll be able to publish the actual demo before the end of this year, though rest assured the project won't be canceled any time soon. I would probably hate myself intensely if this game doesn't end up on Steam one day.

Starting from now, all available pre-alpha builds at Gamejolt, RMN, and itch.io will be removed due to their obsolescence. If you're curious about the game's development, you can reach me on my Discord server. Please, refrain from DM'ing me unless you'd like to privately test the game.

I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed, streamed, and recorded the pre-alpha over these past few years. Your feedback has pushed me to keep improving and add to the experience in ways that now almost feel like an entirely different project. Your input has been invaluable and for that, I am humbled.

Stay tuned


Demo version in development

Hey guys, what’s up? I’ve been thinking about my development road map for this game, and while I’m doing some pretty good progress, I’m also thinking of eventually substituting the current playable alpha with a proper demo featuring all the changes I’ve implemented thus far.

I’d like to have something that will closely resemble the final product and truth being told, I consider the current public build to be grossly obsolete; it only primitively represents the original concept. As it currently stands, .defrag is almost an entirely different beast.

Some of the dialogue has been revised multiple times (I’m still editing it as we speak), there’s new content and graphics, revamped maps and free exploration, among other smaller details such a custom game icon and in-game font. I might throw in a custom menu UI as a stretch goal, but that’s far from a priority right now.

There’s much to look forward to, honestly, so I’d like to make sure a proper demo version reflects all this incredible development journey I’ve been carrying over the years. The version number will likely be reset to 1.0 upon release, for the past versions no longer represent my current vision for the concept as a whole.

As for the release when, you’ll just have to wait for the moment I’ll substitute the public alpha with the actual demo. Hopefully before the end of 2018, but no promises there.

So, stay tuned, thanks for reading and feel free to join my Discord if you’d like to get in touch about anything (feedback, sharing, or just have a chat!)


.defrag Idea/Suggestion Thread

Hey folks, want to submit your feedback and contribute directly to this monochrome adventure? Now you can!

Feel free to squeeze your creative juices at the following link: https://itch.io/t/205563/defrag-public-alpha-suggestion-thread

Progress Report

Development road map

Progress Report

Work in progress...

Updating the Junkyard and Plant areas.
Click "Show" to view the screenshots.


Is the project dead?

Short answer: Hell naw.

Long answer: It’s gonna take a while, possibly before 2020. =)
Well, here’s the thing. Aside from real life being in the way (seriously, will they ever patch it?), I’m trying to make sure the whole experience flows as it should.

So far, I’ve implemented a wealth of subtle changes compared to the preview version. These changes have been designed to better lead the player to the next important plot point and streamline the events flow without sacrificing walking exploration too much.

I’ve also applied fixes to the graphics and dialogue for the sake of consistency. For instance, Blob’s name is always capitalized unless he’s the one communicating. I will publish the full changelog once the proper version comes out.

I’ve implemented all these changes to drive the point further home, that is, the full version won’t be just a graphical update. A new half of the game is currently being written, as well as a more satisfying conclusion that ties everything up.

So, even if in the preview version it is entirely possible to achieve the best possible ending, it still won’t fully represent the final product. In fact, the conditions to achieve the various endings will change in the full version of the game.

I’ll be sure to share more images and concept artwork in the coming days/weeks/months. So, stay tuned and thanks for your support. =)
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