Back in February, Ironmace promised that there'd be one more Dark and Darker playtest before the game went into early access release. The situation became unexpectedly complicated shortly after that, though: A legal beef with Nexon flared up, and Dark and Darker was deslited from Steam.
But Ironmace wants to push ahead with that final playtest, so it's doing things old-school—and I mean literally.
"Rest assured that we are working around the clock to safeguard the continuance of Dark and Darker," Ironmace wrote in a message on its Discord server. "Unfortunately, due to the complexities of our situation, especially across international lines, it is taking time to resolve the Steam situation. In order for us to keep our promise to our fans we’ve had to go old school this time."
In practical terms, that means that if you want to take part in the playtest, you're going to have to torrent the new client. This has resulted in two things happening on the Dark and Darker subreddit:
2. Requests for help figuring out what a torrent is.
For those who weren't around for the glory days of peer-to-peer piracy in the early 2000s, BitTorrent is a communications protocol that enables decentralized file sharing. It's a bit like FTP (you know what that is, right?) except that instead of downloading files from a single source, you're getting them from multiple sources, called "seeds." If you're the considerate sort, you'll also seed the torrent yourself, because the more seeds, the better it is for everyone trying to get the file.
Torrenting was huge for a brief time in the early 2000s, but its use has fallen off dramatically in recent years, which is why so many people seem unfamiliar with technology that was ubiquitous just a decade ago.
To be fair, it's also not the most user-friendly software in existence—this is what the Microtorrent client looks like in action, for instance.
You also need to be a little careful about what you download and where you download it from, because there's a lot of crapola floating around on there. "Do not get the torrent from any other sources, as we cannot guarantee the integrity of any other links!" Ironmace said in an all-caps warning. "All future patches will also be distributed in this manner, and you should only get the links from our official DIscord announcement channel."
Ironmace also said that all future announcements regarding this playtest will be made on the official IronmaceGames Twitter account. (The studio had originally said that announcements would also be made on its Discord server, but "due to Discord's policy of not allowing links to torrents," the Twitter account will be it.)
It's definitely more of a hassle than a simple Steam install, and the download speeds are a little slow right now because of the relatively small number of people seeding the torrent. But the good news is that by all reports it works, and instead of being irritated by the extra work involved, fans are throwing kudos to Ironmace for powering through it.
"This is the most dedication I have ever seen from a studio," kaleoh wrote in the Playtest 5 Megathread. "This is just the best fucking thing in the world. I cannot believe that they made this deadline despite all of the legal issues surrounding the studio. Absolute legends."
There's also some genuinely joyous reminiscing going on, which quite frankly may be my favorite part of the whole thing:
The latest Dark and Darker playtest is live now and free to join (as long as you can figure out the torrent). At last check, it was expected to run until April 19, after which I suppose we're back to waiting and seeing how this whole Ironmace/Nexon lawsuit shakes out.