Announcing: Darknet

Today, I'm proud to finally announce my next game: Darknet. I've been working on it quietly for a while now, and the time has come to share it with the world! It's by far my biggest project yet, and I'm aiming to make it into one of the defining early games of VR.

Here's the gist: Darknet is a cyberpunk hacking game that will be a launch title for the Oculus Rift. Taking inspiration from Hollywood's vision of hacking, Darknet engulfs the player in a VR world of nodes and networks, code and data, viruses and firewalls. In terms of gameplay, it's best classified as a strategy game, but with elements of roguelikes, puzzle games, action games, and more. It's hard to describe in terms of genre, so it's probably best to put your preconceptions aside and get ready for something different. :)

Darknet is the revised and expanded version of Ciess, a little game that I made in 3 weeks for the VR Jam (a competition that was hosted by Oculus and IndieCade). Ciess was a simplistic prototype, but I put a lot of effort into bringing the cyberpunk fantasy into reality. In September, those efforts were rewarded when Oculus awarded Ciess first place in the VR Jam, praising its "fluid and immersive VR interaction" and saying that it "is immediately accessible with a low learning curve, yet offers deep and addictive gameplay".

Since then, I've added tons of new features, arranged for new art and music, and redesigned the game's mechanics to allow for truly deep strategic gameplay. Darknet is bigger and better than its predecessor, and it's by far the most ambitious game I have ever set out to create. Oculus has being saying that some developer is going to make the Doom or Halo of VR: a foundational, platform-defining bombshell. I aim to fulfill that prophecy with Darknet.

The plan is to release Darknet when the Oculus Rift launches, whenever that may be. At this point, the game's features are defined and the core gameplay is implemented, but there's still a lot to do. I've decided to follow in the footsteps of other indie game devs and continue development out in the open. Specifically, I've created a subreddit for the Darknet community, /r/darkcom, where I'm running a "perpetual AMA" (Ask Me Anything). Feel free to drop by and ask me whatever you'd like, and I'll try to respond to all of it!

I'll also be sharing a lot of my work via the Darknet dev blog, and you can get announcements via Twitter, Facebook, or a mailing list if you prefer. I've already posted the first dev blog post, describing one of the more fundamental changes from the old game jam prototype. Soon, I plan to release some limited playable demos of the game, so stay tuned if you're interested!

If you're attending GDC, and you want to be one of the game's first players, I'll be there, and I'll be happy to give you a demo. Contact me to arrange a meeting at GDC, or find me at the Media Indie Exchange if you're in the press.

Hack the planet,

E McNeill


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