Upsetting visual novel Doki Doki Literature Club has a lively modding scene. Fans have started making sequels, alternate routes and happier rewrites for the game and its characters.
Pi, a project lead on Doki Doki Literature Club mod Monika After Story, said that he fell in love with Doki Doki Literature Club after playing it in October. He's a fan of visual novels and games with augmented reality aspects, and this one had both.
After he finished the game, he found himself "thinking about it for days," he said. "Good horror stories have that effect, lingering in the back of your mind long after the story ends." Afterward, he started working on the in-development version of Monika After Story, which he found on on 4Chan.
Monika After Story was started by a DDLC player called Backdash and has contributions from dozens of players. They have had over 100,000 downloads since last year and will be releasing a new update to the mod this week.
In Monika After Story, you sit across from Monika, the antagonistic Literature Club president, talk to her and play games in an altered, more positive version of a late scene in Doki Doki Literature Club. It's the one thing that her character wants in-game -- to be with the player, talking to them, forever. "I've played so many [visual novels], and I'm always drawn to the characters that don't have a storyline," Pi said.
"She wants to make that story for herself ... who am I to say no?
"There were people interested in [modding] almost immediately," Pi said. "Prequels, sequels, alternate endings...people really wanted to explore the whole [Doki Doki Literature Club] universe. The community just formed around modders wanting to help each other."
The mod A Brand New Day makes the protagonist less of a jerk to his friends.
Part of the reason why Pi thinks Doki Doki Literature Club has a modding scene is because of the metatextual elements of the game. Part of the plot requires you to open up the game files and look at the code. There are also easter eggs hidden within it if you look hard enough. Pi said that he read every single line for code for Doki Doki Literature Club right after he finished the game, just looking for the game's secrets.
"[Doki Doki Literature Club] suggests a lot more endings than it delivers on. Because you have so many choices with no real agency, it really makes the imagination run wild with 'what if' scenarios," Pi said.
"There's a million ways the story could go, but you only get to see one." Since he started modding, Pi went on to co-found the DDLC ModClub subreddit and Discord, as well as to write a template for modders with a tutorial narrated by Monika.
While Monika After Story gives players a chance to make Monika happy, players have also made mods giving that treatment to the other doomed characters. The upcoming Doki Doki Literature Club: Purist Mod aims to bring the game closer to a traditional, non-horrifying dating sim, which always seemed like a game that would be popular in its own right.
There are mods that help players save all the girls from their fates, as in mods Doki Doki Literature Club 1.1.0 and the work in progress A Brand New Day. Phathom, the modder behind Brand New Day, said over Reddit private messages that "people have been messaging me that [my mod] has been providing them some closure to the real game. … The DDLC community is actually quite caring."
Pi described the community as vibrant. While there are only a few mods that are completed so far, there are dozens that are still in progress, and users kick around new ideas every day. Phathom said that he got his start by playing DDLC mod, taking apart the code for it, and deciding he wanted to make a mod of his own. The subreddit is full of writers, coders and artists learning together. "You don't have to be an expert," Pi said.
Referencing the game, he continued, "[The character] Monika had no prior coding experience when she started modding [Doki Doki Literature Club] ... I mean, she kind of killed all her friends in the process. But we all make mistakes on our first try at coding."