Why don’t we start off the new year appreciating Crate for this game we all so dearly love? I’ll start off the appreciation thread with a long-winded story.
I started playing GD in early 2013, during the alpha build 11, and had been following it since it since its first announcement. My first copy was pirated, I admit, but I think the multiple copies I’ve bought since then have hopefully made up for that little sin. I can barely fathom that I’ve been playing this game for almost six years now. It flew by like it was just three. This game has been with me going from a young man to an established adult, and through that journey I’ve probably come to care about Grim Dawn too much. It’s reached the point where even for an articulate and verbose person like myself, it’s difficult to put into words what this game means to me.
At first it was just about an ARPG obsession instilled in me at a young age. I’ve mentioned multiple times here on the forum and on the Discord Server that before GD it was Diablo 2 that held a place in my heart as the insurmountable king of the genre. The lore, the atmosphere, the build diversity, the pacing, the itemization, the soundtrack (this aspect still being hard to beat), and more all charmed me. Meteorb Sorceress was my main. For years after D2 I’d play every single ARPG that came out and find them inferior. I would boot up D2 again every 2-3 years to see if it was nostalgia blinders affecting me and yet playing through the WHOLE game again, I’d conclude it was a masterpiece ahead of its time with a magic touch to it that developers were finding difficult to recapture. I got so desperate that I’d download foreign titles without language localizations and get through them without being able to understand any of the text except the numbers, all in the hopes of finding a game that could finally free me of urge to feel the wonder and joy I felt when I first played D2. I had some hope for Torchlight, but it never went the distance. Before that, however, was Titan Quest.
Titan Quest was the first game that came close to surmounting D2 in my heart. The itemization was superior, and it was the only ARPG I had played at that time that felt truly fresh and exciting post-D2. I played the shit out of it. However, I felt the criticism it got was surprisingly fair. The pacing was a bit slow for my tastes, some of the atmosphere felt a bit stale at times, etc. etc. (The expansion was amazing). I could see how if I played TQ first I might feel it was better than D2, but as it goes with an innovative product it cannot simply be better than the older model to supplant it but much much better. Funnily enough I hadn’t touched the TQ forum until the community was dwindling down and it was there that I found Medierra. His writings on game development and specifically the genre touched my soul. As just a player I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I had been mulling over and studying what I loved about D2 and the genre in general, what made it special and difficult to produce, why no game afterward was winning me over, etc. for years and thought my understanding was pretty deep. Yet here was a writer whose posts immediately revealed to me a man with magnitudes deeper understanding and insight for ARPG’s than me. Not just because he had the advantage of being a game dev, but because he was a visionary. It was love at first read. Medierra, from what I’ve seen of your interviews you appear to be a humble man but from the bottom of my heart I believe you and Zantai are geniuses of the genre. I followed him on-and-off ever since.
When the kickstarter was announced I was interested but skeptical. I’m not personally a supporter of early access titles, having seen all the ones go wrong. (I’m not like against other people supporting it, I’m just rather conservative with my spending) But by the time the kickstarter ended I found I loved the alpha builds so much I was willing to lose some $$$ to support this hopeful project. To this day Grim Dawn is the only early access game I’ve supported and so I guess that means my success rate is 100%. I remember when we thought doors had too much health and when blademasters were OP. I remember how good it felt to use devastation for the first time. I remember being blown away by the extra hp from Mogdrogen’s Pact. Before all that I remember the very moment I teared up and realized GD was going to surpass D2, all the way back in Build 17.
But all this preamble fails to encapsulate what GD means for me. You see, I’ve always scored low in conscientiousness, one of the big 5 personality traits. This has affected my whole life as I’d oscillate between finding creative ways to thrive through side gigs vs. going through some harder times where I failed to do so. All the while being away of my personal flaws and steadily working to improve on them. And somehow through all this GD was the most consistent thing in my life. Perhaps thing I really learned to choose and stick to through thick and thin, unwavering. I won’t melodramatically propose that this is exactly what taught me to do so elsewhere in my life, but it’s hard for me to doubt it as a significant factor. And through this community, both in its kind moments and toxic ones, I saw reflected some of my own goodness and ugliness. I worked on that too. Many other things ofc irl impacted me even more greatly, my friends, my gf’s, etc. but GD was always there.
Most importantly is just that GD continues to make me happy. I smile while I play GD. After at least 6500 hours I still smile playing the game. Not always ofc but consistently. I still discover new details, new builds to try, new ways to have fun and amuse myself within this lovingly crafted world. When I dumped a wonderful gf because I realized our relationship wasn’t entirely healthy and I knew I wasn’t yet mature enough to do what it takes to get it there, GD offered me some small comfort. When I took care of my mother through her breast cancer treatment (it’s been gone for a long while now thank goodness) GD offered me a way to take my mind off it. When I felt like I’d never be able to hold down a stable lifestyle GD offered me an escape and a reminder that if I could find something I truly cared about, I’d stick to it in my own way. And today as a happy, established adult with a wonderful life, GD is still here for me.
Thank you, Crate Entertainment, for making my favorite game. Thank you coders who kept updating the engine, fixing the bugs, expanding on what was possible within GD. Thank you writers for giving us lore that continues to blow those who read it away, filling us with emotion, a sense of mystery and that wonderful balance of answers and lack of answers to all our questions about the world of Cairn. Thank artists for modeling the enemies I love to slay, the items I seek to endlessly collect, the beautiful textures and variety of spell effects. Thank you, musicians and sound designers, for making the game one I enjoy with the volume turned up. Thank you Zantai and whoever else fiddled with and continues to fiddle with the in-game numbers to create a kind of complexity and amount of possibility only a small amount of your consumers truly appreciates or even think deeply about. You spoil us. Thank you Medierra and everyone else on the team who helped you brainstorm this fascinatingly deep world. Thank you, Grava, and anyone else who has handled the level design in the game for making the areas I enjoy traveling through so much. Still in this game sometimes I just stop, zoom in a bit, and enjoy the life you’ve breathed into the game. And if I forgot any other position, thank you too. Thank you, every member of Crate, for putting so much passion, effort, sweat, thought, care, and time into this project. I will follow all your future work and support you to the bitter end. You’ve done more for me than is easy to imagine. Truly, thank you.
Edit - I hope this doesn’t intimidate anyone from writing a short and quick reply for Crate! Definitely not my intention if so. You might be surprised how even small words of kindness and goodwill can go a long way for the receiver!