Shadow of the Curse-Eater Developer Diary

Curse-eaters are drawn to dark magic like sphinxes to secrets—but the moment you arrive on Ushinega Island, something tells you that you may have bitten off more than you can chew. Once a verdant island paradise, you find the island wilting and rotten, its people suffocating in the grip of a poignant and pervasive malediction the likes of which you’ve never before encountered.

Will you unravel the island’s secrets and break the curse? Risk your life in an attempt to consume the curse whole? Or find a way to escape the quarantined island and save yourself?

  • Play as a male, female, or nonbinary curse-eater
  • Explore a magical and mysterious island full of strange creatures and dark secrets
  • Use your unique powers as a curse-eater for healing or destruction
  • Get to know a diverse cast of human and nonhuman characters, seven of which are romanceable—including a fairy, faun, fox spirit, and more
  • Discover the source of the curse and determine the fate of Ushinega and its people

ACCESS THE PRE-BETA DEMO HERE:

http://www.choiceofgames.com/beta/shadow-of-the-curse-eater/

Login: beta
Password: curseinprogress

Note: We are not at the beta stage yet, and these credentials will not provide access to the official beta once we do get there. The CoG staff have kindly agreed to host the game for me in the meantime, as opposed to me uploading it to dashingdon, hence the need to log in. This is an option only available for official CoG games, which SotCE just so happens to be.

Any and all constructive feedback will be very much appreciated! Anything you have to say that will help improve the quality of the game is welcome. I’m particularly interested in:

  • Moments that feel unintentionally confusing/frustrating
  • Tests that feel unclear or unfair
  • Character moments that feel out of character or rushed
  • Any questions you have along the way
  • Your favorite parts and characters!

Please note that the current in-game stats page is a rough first draft; I plan to give it a makeover in the future, but suggestions for what to change/include are welcome in the meantime.


Release Date: TBD

About the Author: Hi! I’m Kim Berkley, and (you guessed it) I’m a writer. Shadow of the Curse-Eater is my first official CoG game, though I’ve written other IF novels before, including The Harbinger’s Head (a Hosted Game) and chiaroscuro (a Twine novella). I love books and video games in equal measure; I’m a big fan of The Lord of the Rings, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, BioWare romances, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the Silent Hill series. I’m also quite fond of felines.

You can find out more about me and my other works on my website, or follow me on Instagram for lots of pictures of books, nature, and video game screenshots. And yes, sometimes cats.


UPDATES:

8/7/23: Hello, world! Chapters 1-3 are now live.


FAQ

Is this a standalone story?

Currently, yes. Shadow of the Curse-Eater is not connected to any of my previous works, though it’s possible that I will return to the world of SotCE in the future. That being said, I may have snuck an easter egg or two in for those who read my other stuff. :wink:

How long is Shadow of the Curse-Eater?

The word count is sitting at a little over 100,000 for the first 6 of 10 total planned chapters.

What is a curse-eater?

You’ll find out more about this in the game, but a curse-eater is a human who can consume the dark magic of a curse as a way to free someone from a malediction. However, the curse-eater can only safely store a certain amount of dark magic in their body at any given time; they must purge their magic occasionally to avoid the permanent, potentially fatal consequences of taking on too much malediction for too long.

Which characters are romanceable?

Most of the main characters are potentially woo-able, to various degrees. If you really want to know, here’s the full roster of romances: Governor Tokara (female silen), Cary Eisport (male human), Ari Wiest (nonbinary fox spirit), Captain Aghany (nonbinary fairy), Malecail Knowe (male werecat), Yarrow Gida (male faun), and Alba Minevra (female harpy).

Can I romance multiple characters?

While you can initiate and pursue multiple romances throughout the course of the game, towards the end you will have to choose one (or none) of your partners to end your story with—provided, of course, you are both still alive at that point.

You can pursue any of the romanceable characters regardless of your chosen sex/gender/physical attributes. Not pursuing a romance right away will not lock you out of initiating it at a later opportunity. You are also free to break off romantic engagements at certain points if you so choose.

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Ooh, how exciting! I look forward to diving in - it’s been a while since I played The Harbinger’s Head but I enjoyed it back then!

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Sounds like the mechanics of a certain Maverick Virus to me… good thing someone is doing a fantasy approach to this! This sounds interesting!

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Just my observations so far, so you don’t have to take these to heart.

It’d be nice to be able to show concern for both the island wilting and the effect the curse is having on the residents. Whether or not some of the people are guilty of whatever it was, not all of them will have played a part, and I feel that should be acknowledged rather than left at the rather black and white “people are involved.”

Governor Tokara seems to both underestimate and overestimate how much is known about the curse on first meeting. She assumes it is known about on the mainland and that’s what drew you to the island, but at the same time speaks as if you can’t possibly know anything. It’s a bit confusing tonally, does she expect you to know, or to not know?

When Tokara and Aghany start to argue, it would be nice to have a more conciliatory response option. Steely seems to only fit with certain personality options, and isn’t necessarily the only middle option that should be there. Adding a bit of an insult to the end of the request for the facts sets my teeth wrong.

I think it would be a good idea to have a more thoughtful option when it comes to Cary’s daughter. Two choices perhaps, along the lines of “I don’t know enough about the curse yet, I decline” and “I don’t know enough about the curse yet to even consider fully curing someone, but I can ease the girl’s pain.” And perhaps a third of “I don’t know enough about the curse yet, but she might die. I fully consume the curse.”

When camping out and considering the curse, you only consider the ship or the village, but when you cure the little girl (if you do) you mention that the curse feels old. Maybe it should also be considered that the curse was pre-existing and something triggered it, rather than just starting recently. It doesn’t matter if that supposition turns out to be right or wrong, but it feels like it should be there.

The morning after camping out, you mention a “sensitivity to malediction.” Could this maybe be used before, as part of your reasoning for camping outside of the village in the first place?

At the greenhouse it would be nice to be able to ask Ari more than one question. Also, the greenhouse is referred to as the infirmary when you leave. Later on that same page, you go into the infirmary.

If playing a more canny or cautious character, I would like the opportunity to ask about the temple, if Ari knows anything about it. Similarly, when it comes to the choice to pray, I think it may be a good idea to have an option to look around and try to determine which/what kind of god was once worshipped there before attempting to pray to it.

At the incident after the publican’s son dies, it would probably be better to note that you were at the infirmary rather than to make “a heartfelt speech.” People that angry don’t want to hear about your views, they want to know that you are actually doing something to help them. (If the kid was that bad off, why wasn’t he at the infirmary anyway?)

At the tree…are there two curses? It’s unclear if the tree being cursed has anything to do with the island being cursed. And if the curse on the tree is years old, why didn’t it affect the ship’s crew while it was in transport? It doesn’t add up (if that’s on purpose for later in the story, please ignore this complaint.)

There’s a missing word when you commune with the tree. You have “A quiet murmur your attention back to the crowd.”

When talking to Ari their reaction assumes the only proposed solution to the tree problem is that you attacked it. I did not chose to attack the tree. It was a little jarring to see “when you tell Ari about destroying the tree” when the tree was destroyed in spite of the choice I made, which was to leave it alone (until I could learn more about it.)

The choice after asking for Ari’s thoughts continues to assume that you decided to destroy the tree, even when you didn’t.

I understand that there’s only so much story to be told, but the choice between romance (with Mal), only friendship or only acquaintanceship seems to be rather harsh. You’ve spoken to this person twice, so while I agree it’s too early for romance or any sort of real friendship, acknowledging him as an acquaintance seems to shut down both paths pretty hard. It’s too hard, I think. A softer text than “best to not get attached” might play better.

The next morning, the text is still assuming that you destroyed the tree.

Nowhere in the game as written is the option or even a whiff of the possibility of investigating the history of the island or the temple, nor is there any mention of being able to investigate where that tree is from or why the governor imported it and if she knows anything about it. It feels as if the character is doing a really shallow job of investigating the curse. Many questions that should be asked are not being asked or even addressed in passing, and many opportunities to speak to the townspeople about the island are not even being acknowledged. Particularly when you are in the infirmary, you could speak to the elderly patients about any stories of the island they have and you don’t. This feels like a missed narrative opportunity. The same goes for the children, asking them for their boogeyman stories, particularly the ones they’ve come up with for themselves (i.e. not been told by adults but possibly by older siblings) could be another good narrative opportunity. How far back the island had been settled and how far back the temple had been abandoned could have bearing on the curse. I don’t know where you’re going with this story next, but right now it looks like we’re kind of bad at our job.

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This is excellent feedback. Thank you for sharing so much detail about what felt off to you and why; it’s going to help a ton when I dig into the next round of revisions on these chapters. Thanks especially for catching that issue with the game thinking you’ve attacked the tree even when you didn’t—that will absolutely be on my list of top-priority fixes to address!

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Oh, lovely! I’m so glad you enjoyed my first game. I hope you have an even better time with this one. :smiley:

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I had to look this one up, but from what I read, I can see why you think so. XD I hope you enjoy my take on the concept.

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I love a good story, and write for fun myself. I know that the earlier your get constructive criticism, the better your chances of ending up with something you’re happy with!

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