tinydark exists to make ethically designed, memorable games, with the player's positive experience at the forefront. We are founded on a love and passion for games, recognizing that there are ways to create games responsibly without sacrificing player engagement or sustainable monetization. We believe the core of the relationship between designer and player should be built on trust and respect. We loathe dark patterns and seek to prove that success can be achieved without employing systems that only benefit the designer.
We champion community and positive player-to-player interaction. Developers regularly interact with players via our Discord, and can be reached privately if needed. We take an empathetic approach to moderation both in-game and in the community; we have strict anti-ban policies and prefer temporary sanctions if we cannot resolve the issue.
It isn't easy to responsibly engage a player, and not all dark patterns are evil when employed responsibly. What matters most to us is that a player shouldn't feel they have to return to a game or else suffer negative consequences.
In a persistent multiplayer environment, this may be impossible to achieve: the reality is that participation may be required to keep your character alive and engaged. We think it's fair to say that a player should log into a character once every 24 hours: one check-in per day for multiplayer games. We expect to always offer Vacation Mode if you'll be away from the game for a while.
When it comes to singleplayer, it's far more simple: while we want you play and enjoy our games as often as you like, you should never come back to a spoiled state. Take our launch title Bean Grower as an example. When your beans are ready, they sit in the plot until you return to harvest them. They don't rot or lose value. We also won't employ arbitrary time-gates unless they are core to the game design.
There are many additional points we could make here, but for brevity's sake, check out the Dark Patterns website for a list of things we're well aware of and try to avoid!
Generally, we're into one-time purchases for singleplayer games and affordable ($3-$5) subscriptions for multiplayer games. Subscriptions are bought outright and re-upped at your discretion: there is no auto-renewal process.
We will never litter our games with ads nor enforce interstitial advertisements after completion of a game loop. You should never have to stop playing so that you can be sold something!
- Ethics in the Videogame Industry: A Mythbusting and Scientific Approach - Celia Hodent
- Dark Patterns (listing)