The Nightmare – Don’t Starve Mod

A video someone made showcasing the old version of my mod.

Back in 2015, I created a mod for the game Don’t Starve Together called “The Nightmare”.

It was one of the first big projects that I had worked on at the time and something I’m still quite proud of to this day. With the help of a friend to do the art, I released the game onto the steam workshop and managed to achieve a 5/5 star rating from the community which still blows my mind. The mod was a new character that the player could play as. They were a sort of demon cat that would have to rely on shadowy pets to fight for them due to themselves being quite weak.

You and your shadowy pet


Even with all the mods success, it definitely wasn’t without its flaws. The mod suffered from quite a bit of feature creep as I started to believe that adding more and more features to the character would make them better. This of course isn’t the case as it simply made the character more confusing and opened up newer areas for bugs to appear.

I decided to rework the character in 2021 from the ground up. My main focus with the rework was to balance the character so that it didn’t provide the player with such a strong advantage over the other characters that can be chosen. The key area to focus on first was the characters main gimmick: Their shadowy pet.

Originally, the player was given a shadowy companion that would aid them in fighting enemies which was important due to their low health and damage. This pet would simply spawn again on death so there was no real consequence to throwing it at the enemies. For the rework, I decided to allow the player to tame multiple of these shadowy creatures that could be found throughout the world with a special resource that they would have to gather.

An army of shadowy pets

The player could now have multiple companions to aid them for a price. The price being a not exactly common resource that was often difficult to acquire. No longer was the player given a free companion that could do all the fighting for them.

Along with this change was the complete removal of the characters ability to see in the dark. As one of the game major threats is the darkness itself, this ability to see in it made them incredibly strong and nullified the threat altogether. To help balance the character, this was removed completely.

The only thing that was kept from the original version was the character preference for the dark which would boost their sanity (An important stat that all character have) when in it.


When it comes to programming, there unfortunately isn’t a massive amount to talk about.

The mod was written with Lua which is the primary language used by Don’t Starve to create content for their game. The engine itself is written in C++ but due to how everything is setup, you don’t need to touch the engine at all.

I feel working on this rework was considerably easier then it was for me back in 2015. I was very much a rooky programmer back then and had not really understood how important research and reverse engineering previously written code is to being a programmer. I often relied on others to aid in my programming but no this time.

It was incredibly satisfying to go back and have a much better understanding of what I’m actually working on.

The mod on Steam Workshop:

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