Demise

While Mordor was a fun hobby project, Demise was the first project I undertook with some seriousness. Wanting to take the dungeon crawl gameplay behind Mordor and evolve it into a style that would be more enticing to gamers, I began working on Demise in 1997. Where Mordor cost well under $20,000 to build, Demise was closer to $200,000. I hired a C++ programmer to create the dungeon engine, artists, and people to do the data entry. I believe our team was seven people at its height. I approached Interplay about the game, and they were interested, but wanted to make it a multi-player focused multi-world game (Infinite Worlds). Unfortunately the relationship did not work out, so I continued with the core team and worked through 1998. During this time, Ultima Online came out and caught my attention, and in march of 1999, Everquest came out. This did have an affect on the development of Demise, which I added multi-player functionality to. At the same time, I realized Demise was a great dungeon romp, but it was not a full living “world” like UO and EQ, so in paralell I began to design the “next game” which was codenamed “HORIZONS”. I began work on HORIZONS as I was wrapping up DEMISE, which released in January of 2000.

  1. Hi David,

    I am forever grateful to you for developing Demise: Rise of the Ku’tan!
    What a wonderful game.

    Did you play the sequel Demise: Ascension from Decklin’s Demise?
    And did you like it?

    And are you planning on playing Demise: Revenge of the Tavern Keeper?
    It’s about to hit beta anytime now.
    It would be great if you could write an article about it when it does and post it on your website.

    Regards,
    Dave

  2. Thanks, Dave! Unfortunately, I have not played Ascension. I don’t think I’ve even played DEMISE in the past 10 years; can’t remember the last time. Is there a community hub for DEMISE where people get updates, etc?

  3. Well, you could always give Ascension a go when you find the time.
    I recommend it, a lot has changed. There were many bug fixes (spellcaster #1 bug), items were rebalanced, race statistics were tuned, music/mp3 volume can be adjusted.
    Humans and Dwarves now have the highest XP requirements because they offer the most guilds. Ogre now can become a Paladin.
    Expanded Dwarven Mines…
    There were also many new items, quests, events and storyline introduced after defeating the Kutan Jenal and closing the portal. Also there’s a new black market in town.

    Yes, it is http://www.decklinsdomain.info/phpbb/

    Demise: Revenge of the Tavern Keeper (volume III) is being developed by Decklin. It will have 45 dungeon levels, where each dungeon level is 90×90 squares (Demise: Rise of the Ku’tan (volume I) had 30 levels each 45×45).
    Volume 1 was very big, volume II is huge and volume III will be gigantic.
    Ascension (volume II) introduced the tower concept, as in the higher you go the more difficult monsters you encounter as opposed to a dungeon where the deeper you go the more difficult monsters you encounter.
    Revenge is said to include towers where the equivalent of level 55 monsters will roam… There will be over 100 new monsters.
    Another expected cool feature is that Trolls will have innate hitpoint regeneration.

    Such a nice series of games. Unprecented in scope and character building.
    Mordor was released in 1994 and Demise in 2000.
    Your games have to this day active forums and are still actively being played in 2020. That’s saying it all!
    If you need any reason or incentive to come back as a game developer, just remember what a joy you brought to gamers via your products.

  4. In my opinion, Ascension and now Revenge of the Town Keeper are not a good products, very low quality, very low new items, quest punishment, huge dungeons full of rock etc this is a different game than Rise of the Ku’tan, instead of constant leveling your characters and find new items to make you stronger you need to explore huge useless dungeons where you didnt find any items and gain no exp, and bugs, bugs, bugs…

  5. Sorry to hear that 🙁 I sold the rights to Demise, and the individual who purchased them is responsible for those expansions. I’m glad to hear vanilla Demise still sounds like the version to play 🙂

  6. I wouldn’t listen to critics,where has that ever gotten anyone in life?
    I started Demise: Ascension about a month ago and it is a blast!
    The game is tough and unforgiving (but not Dark Souls harsh), complex yet simple.
    Developing a team and avatars is difficult but once you get the hang of it things go easier. Funny story, when I first started playing I did not know a rescue team could be sent out so easily so I would send a team out to pick up corpses instead..every time. I thought that was the ONLY way to recover bodies haha. I decided the game should be called a corpse retrieval simulator (I was playing blind as I always do at first). Good times. The random way of allowing upgrades is in contrast to Wizardry 6 which I am comparing character development with (as well as Wizards & Warriors). Books + potions found in chests that can destroy an early party with poison etc. Nice! I will have to try the original if I can, curious about differences. cheers

  7. Wow – thanks a ton for the kind words! I had a ton of fun making it; those were the good ol’ days. I think Wizardry 7 was my favorite iteration. I remember playing Wizardry (I) on an Apple II in 1983 (or around that time). Those were the good days!

  8. No doubt re:Wizardry 7…one of my all time favorites. I was always was running through 6 to get a relatively strong starting party. Thanks for creating these niche games. Helping me get through Covid times )

  9. Hey, I can’t believe I found this and the responses being so recent!

    Thank you for Demise man! My first experience with it was a demo on a magazine disc back when it was called Infinite Worlds!

    I never forgot my amazing experience with the game, and over a decade and a half later after I finally graduated university and had a job for a number of years, I remembered the game and went searching for it as a joke (the joke being that I was unlikely to find it at all). The guy you sold the rights to has kept the game alive and made it compatible with Windows 10! I bought the game and I love it; I love, love, love it!

    The grinding aspect is not the best, but clearly it hasn’t stopped lots of folks, some of whom have characters with like 600 levels in one guild, 400 in another, and so on (there are youtubers with gigantic levels behind them).

    I’m trying to learn programming right now and making a game like this is the dream!

    I put Demise down for a while and recently I tried playing Bard’s tale (possibly an influence for Demise?) and you know what? The more I played Bard’s tale the more I realized I wanted to play Demise instead, the more I felt that Demise was the superior version of that game genre.

    I never enjoyed games like Wizardry, which is probably where some of the influence for Demise came from but it was because of how combat was handled. In Demise, you enter a room and the monsters are alive, rushing over to you or just meandering, and you could easily turn and exit the room to flee them. In game like Wizardry, combat just ‘activated’, and you lost motion control of your party.

    Do you mind if I ask how you modeled your dungeons, what were your inspirations? I loved how in some areas you had stairways that would lead up from lower levels to a high landing to provide you with a shortcut back, which you could use once your party could cast flight. I also liked the rooms that were multi-storied and took up portions of other floors (and thus, with ethereal portal you could step through the walls to enter those areas and then drop to a new landing), and also the giant swamp area that took up…what, 2 or 3 floors worth of area in height?

    There are aspects of the game that I would change if I could (the heavy grinding to level up high, the XP penalties to multi-classing, the lack of a water based race for the purposes of traversing and exploring underwater areas, the inability to heal permanent HP loss), but who hasn’t looked at a game and thought the same? I love Demise, and honestly from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. The giant bestiary, the huge maps with amazing textures, the varied dungeon environments, the creatively named creatures with consistent naming conventions (Shuman munsae, Ransae, etc.), the fun exploration spells, it was all awesome and I was so happy to find that the guy who bought the game from you kept it alive and healthy.

    Porting it to steam is apparently a gigantic difficulty, if not impossibility, but that would’ve been amazing if it had been possible.

    At the risk of redundancy, thank you man. It’s game like THIS that made me want to learn game programming ever since I was a kid (and unfortunately a lousy experience with a mishandled and rushed programming course in high school that scared me away from it).

  10. Wow – thanks a ton for the feedback! I highly recommend learning Unity3D; it’s hands down the best free 3D rendering engine for any type of game.

    Wizardry was awesome; if I recall, the creators also received their inspiration from PLATO.

    My dungeons were modeled after the dungeons of numerous PLATO games, including: Moria, Labyrinth, Journey, Avatar, and even Drygulch. All of them were designed based on a 3D grid system, and it worked perfectly for all aspects of dungeon crawling at that time. I did expand this a bit (as you saw) with the multi-level rooms, but kept the core grid-based design.

    If it’s your passion, then embrace it; choose the platform (web vs. Client), programming language (Javascript for Web and C# for Windows) and grab the latest free version of Unity3D and have at it. All you need to do is sit down and start coding it, and the rest will come together. When I started writing the code for Mordor, the first thing I created was the dungeon editor, so I recommend building your “World Builder” first, then you can put the game on top of it.

    I hope this helps – let me know how things go, and good luck!

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