M1 – A surprise release from Dracula’s Cave
Another game? So soon? You’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve gone mad, but I’m here to tell you about a project that goes much further back than Lion Quest. This is the story of a visual novel I’ve been making on-and-off (mostly off) for the last six years, and M1: A Death in the Desert is finally available for download.
When M wakes up in an abandoned hotel he has no memory of how he got there. In the bedside draw he finds a list with three names and a gun with three bullets, but what he does with this information is up to you. Embark on a violence-soaked post-apocalyptic adventure where the answers to your questions come at a price. How far will you go to discover the truth?
Update August 2017: Since originally writing this post, M1 has become available on Steam. Even better still, game purchases made through itch.io also come with a Steam key. For a full fact sheet on the game M1 now has its own page on Dracula’s Cave (here), and what follows in this article are some (slightly updated) thoughts first written back when the game launched on itch.
Releasing M1 is a strange experience for me. The truth is that I can’t play the game for more than five minutes without wanting to add things or make tiny little changes, and this is the main reason that it’s never seen the light of day – even though almost all of the assets were completed back in 2012. Recently I’ve come to realise that I’m never going to be fully happy with M1, but it’s an interesting game and one I’d like people to enjoy.
Oh, and before you shout ‘Why should I play a game that’s FIVE years old?’ here’s a list of the new 2017-y features and improvements:
–All art and assets lovingly re-sized for high definition
–New menus and all-new title screen. You’ll have to look at this every time you want to play the game so hopefully there’s some benefit to this.
–Serious legibility improvements. You’ll never have to endure the pixely mess of a font M1 once used.
–Improved scene transitions, working sound effects, mountains of rewritten dialogue, entirely new conversations and countless other enhancements.
–Steam integration including cloud saves and achievements.
A Few Final Odd Thoughts
M1 feels exactly like the style of game I remember wanting to make five years ago, and it’s been a somewhat strange experience to finish (or attempt to finish) it now, especially when I contrast it with the different ideas I want to explore with games going forward. Still, there’s always a chance that I’ll revisit it someday – my programming knowledge was limited back in 2012 and the game’s status as an extremely simple visual novel reflects this. I’d love to add in a tonne of more advanced mechanics, but doing so would essentially require remaking the game from the ground up. Whilst I won’t say this will never happen, it certainly won’t be any time soon. It’s already taken years to get to this point.
Please enjoy M1 for what it is, and I will try and do the same.