The DarkCom

Darknet has continued to get reviews and press mentions and Let’s Plays. It has more ratings on the Oculus Store than any other game, and it’s wonderful to know that people are actually playing and enjoying it. All that said, I’m more inclined to measure the game’s success by the number of people who really love the game than by the number of people who merely download and play it.

That’s why I’ve taken such pleasure in the first few real conversations between players on the Darknet community subreddit, /r/darkcom. For a long while, the subreddit was more-or-less a dead zone, where the only posts were my cross-posts from this dev blog. That was expected; with such a slow launch and a small player base, I couldn’t expect a community to materialize out of nowhere.

But in the last month, the subreddit has begun to stir a bit. At first, it was just a couple of players talking about strategies and discoveries and features that only appear in the higher-difficulty levels. More recently, there have been a few discussions about unlocking the game’s more obscure secrets.

I’ve written before about what these secret features add to the game: mystery, depth, and a bit of arcane technical knowledge to distinguish the truly elite hackers. They were always intended to serve as difficult riddles that the player community could solve together, and now that’s exactly what’s starting to happen (albeit on a very small scale).

Read this conversation, or this one. If it sounds inscrutable, then the secrets are working exactly as intended. These are the game’s hardcore players, with a solid understanding of the game’s core features and systems, and this is what it looks like as they work together to delve even deeper. It’s incredibly gratifying to read, and I hope that someday the conversation will include more than a handful of participants.

I love stalking these threads, watching players inch closer and closer to the answers, while trying to resist the urge to give hints and cackle. I don’t expect that all the game’s mysteries will be solved in the near future (after all, there aren’t very many hardcore players yet, and some secrets are for advanced users only), but I’ll be very happy to see what happens as the player base expands over time.

Of course, it’s possible that some of the secrets are just too obscure and will never be discovered. I’d be fine with that outcome too. It would make a nice factoid about the game! But I’ve been warned not to underestimate my players, so I won’t make any predictions. For now, I’m just happy to watch the whole process unfold.

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A game by E McNeill.