About ten months ago, I released Eldritch. I followed it quickly with Mac and Linux ports in November and a free expansion in December. I documented the process on this blog, and stated that “the story of Eldritch isn’t over yet.” I was correct, but not in the way I thought.
Sometime during Eldritch’s development, I had looked up H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday. I can’t remember exactly why. I was probably hoping to launch on that date as a tribute to the author who inspired the game’s world and creatures. But his birthday fell on August 20, and I was nowhere near being able to ship on that date in 2013. So I put that idea in my pocket. Maybe I could do a sale on that date next year, I thought.
In early 2014, around the time I wrote the post-mortem article, I was in preliminary talks to bring Eldritch to an unspecified console. Over the following months, I made decent progress on that port, despite my inexperience on the hardware. But with a limited budget and my own uncertainty about sales on the particular platform, I eventually chose to walk away from that and focus on my next project, NEON STRUCT. I began telling people I was done with Eldritch, that I had made the game I wanted to make and I was ready to move on to something new. I released the source code in April, ostensibly an act of some finality. I dove into production on NEON STRUCT, and Eldritch became my past.
With August 20 approaching this year, I reached out to Humble and Valve to set up a 24-hour sale for Eldritch. My representative at Valve offered to make Eldritch the Steam daily deal for that date, but asked if I would have an update to coincide with the sale. I didn’t have anything prepared; Eldritch was my past, right? But landing a highly visible spot on the front page of Steam was a bigger deal than I had expected. So I took a brief hiatus from NEON STRUCT and began preparing a Steam-centric update for Eldritch.
The community had requested trading cards and achievements since launch—as they do with every game—but I had chosen not to add those things for mostly personal reasons. I didn’t understand the appeal of trading cards, and I felt that achievements were antithetical to the “play it your way” mentality of the game’s design. A year later, my feelings on those have shifted. Achievements exist for players who like to get achievements; people like myself who value the “play it your way” design don’t necessarily care about achievements, or are perhaps the most willing to play a game multiple times to get all the achievements. Either way, the presence of achievements should not detract from a player’s experience. As for trading cards, I still think they’re a bit silly; but I have spent funds from my Steam Wallet to complete my Spelunky card set, so who am I to deny someone their trading cards? I’m happy to finally bring Steam achievements and cards to Eldritch.
Adding cards and achievements was a good start, but it wasn’t a substantial update on its own. I wanted to add new content for people who weren’t also interested in those features; and secondary to that, I wanted to experiment with more Steamworks features like leaderboards. After pitching a handful of ideas around, I lighted on the concept of a small challenge mode that would fundamentally change the objective of Eldritch. Where the original levels were always about going from point A to point B (albeit in creative, player-directed ways), this expansion would be about mining the world for resources. Thorough exploration, not speedrunning, would be the dominant play style.
The result is a new dungeon, the Asylum of Azathoth. In this world, the player is charged with collecting and freeing trapped souls; but she has only three minutes in each level to do so before the chaotic deity Azathoth arrives to gobble her up. The difficulty and the pace of the Asylum are unlike anything previously seen in Eldritch, and I am eager to see what strategies players discover to maximize their soul count in the Asylum.
So, is this the end for Eldritch? I can’t say anymore. I have no further plans for it now, but it is a game that lends itself well to expansion. And every time I return to it, I recall how much fun Eldritch is to develop and to play. Maybe I’ll revisit it again in the future. For now, I hope you enjoy this update! Cthulhu fhtagn!