I like creating games and new worlds to explore, especially games with interesting mechanics or twists. I love indie games, anime, my wife and my cats!


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davidmaletz's News

Posted by davidmaletz - October 20th, 2021

After the launch and final post-launch updates of Aground, we floundered (hah) for a bit deciding what to do next. We made many prototypes - several of which were put on hold, before finally settling on two games. Yes, that’s right, we’re working on two big games right now, and if that wasn’t wild enough, we also just finished a third game in a month-long game jam that you can play right now for free!

Stardander School for Witches


After finishing </reality>, the Visual Novel we made right before starting Aground, we had many ideas for better story-based games. But, at the time, we decided to hold off on them because of how challenging the visual novel market is. However, we both really like the magical school setting and kept trying to think of ways to make our witchy game idea better. We had loads of ideas before, during and after Aground’s development - from a tower-defense based game, to a multiplayer-only game. But, eventually we settled on a management/simulation style game where you can recruit, train, and battle with your witches - sort of like Fire Emblem: Three Houses.


This game is Stardander School for Witches, a narrative-heavy RPG rich in lore and worldbuilding, focusing on Dare (the fae cat you play as) and the witches she recruits. You can view the trailer for Stardander School for Witches below:

Stardander School for Witches will release Fall 2022, and you can wishlist it right now on Steam!

Aground Zero


We also wanted to do something directly related to Aground, but I always want to try something new, and making DLC for the base game just didn’t excite me. I wanted to change the art style, as a lot of people didn’t like the pixel art. The idea for Aground Zero came to me when I was reminiscing about one of our first commercial projects, I Can’t Escape: Darkness (ICED), which was a 3D game. I really liked a lot of the things I did for ICED, especially the lighting system (and I even had plans for a sequel), and I thought - why not make a 3D Aground spinoff? This idea was shortly before April, and prompted the April Fool’s joke of Aground: Minecraft Edition - a farcical but also partially true joke.



Aground Zero takes place during the events of the main game - but deep underground on Earth where you are one of the few survivors of the bombardment. You have to build up a bunker and rescue other survivors and eventually make your way to the surface. While it’ll have the mining and crafting of Aground, it’ll focus more on the base building aspects - taking the ideas from my scrapped colony update for Aground. You can view a short teaser for Aground Zero below:

You can wishlist Aground Zero on Steam now:

Stardander Revenant


As if making two games at the same time wasn’t enough, when the Spooktober visual novel jam came around, we couldn’t resist making a halloween-themed spinoff of Stardander. The core mechanics are the same as Stardander School for Witches, but the story, characters and enemies were all made in the month of September for the jam.


Stardander Revenant is short (1-2 hours) and story-focused, but I definitely like the interactions between the two main characters (fun fact: they are based on our cats). You’ll also have some interesting battles (especially on hard mode) that require you to utilize the spells that your two older witches have learned (and you get to teach them some more spells along the way). You can view the trailer for Stardander Revenant below:

And you can play Stardander Revenant now, for free on Newgrounds:

Wrapping Up

That’s a lot of announcements to go through, and it looks like 2022 is going to be a busy year for us at Fancy Fish Games! Which game are you most excited for? Did you give Stardander Revenant a try?

And, after having made many prototypes, I have plenty of ideas for what to make next! My game ideas document continues to grow (now at 61 entries), so Stardander and Aground Zero are only the beginning! Look forward to a lot more from Fancy Fish Games!


Posted by davidmaletz - April 12th, 2020

Aground has finally reached update 2.0 - and it’s a big one - it adds co-op multiplayer! Multiplayer has now been beta tested and is live and ready for everyone to try!


More big news: we now have an official launch date - we will leave Early Access on April 17th! To celebrate, we created a revised, launch-ready trailer with the help of friend @MJoshua and score remix by Chase. Watch it here:

To play a game in Multiplayer, one player must host a save slot (it can be a new game), and then others can join that save.

To host a save, select Multiplayer, enter a name for yourself and select Host Game, then select a slot to host.


To join a game, select Multiplayer, then enter a name for yourself and select Join. It will show a list of everyone publicly hosting the game and you can select one to join, or you can manually input their IP address to join their game.

We also added a chat feature for Multiplayer - in game, hit Tab to chat, and type /help in chat for a list of useful commands!


Some April 1st shenanigans in the Multiplayer Beta.

We also added our first official translations: by popular demand, Russian and Brazilian Portuguese! We are still planning on adding more, but these translations were included in the big 2.0 update!

I hope you enjoy being able to play with friends, and let me know if you come across any issues! With only a few days until our full launch date, we’re hoping to fix any last minute bugs and maybe add a few more last minute quality of life updates!


Going out is dangerous! Stay in and play Aground!

P.S. Don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - November 25th, 2019

The second (and final) backer planet is out, along with a second batch of “quality of life” improvements to the game. The new planet is called the Depths (for reasons that will quickly become clear), and once again anyone can travel to it by going to the new star system (it’s at the bottom right of the star map).


This planet is mostly about exploration - the quests don’t guide you as closely as the science path. There’s a lot hidden, and it’s better to go into it blind, but if you get stuck don’t forget to try fighting some of the new enemies.


We also added Difficulty Modes this update. Unlike in most games, you are not asked to set a Difficulty Mode when you start a new game, instead you can change it in the settings at any time. We’ve had people complain that the game is too easy, and others that it is too hard, so we decided to give players the flexibility to adjust the game difficulty up or down as they play. Is one planet or boss too difficult? Move the difficulty down. Too easy? Move it up. Since you can change it whenever you want, you never have to worry about choosing the wrong mode. Just be careful with the Permadeath mode - it will delete your save slot if you die - only the most hardcore players should attempt it!

In addition to the new planet, the following changes affect the full version:

  • Added three new bosses to the arena.
  • Added the ability to repair colony ships postgame (after the ending).

These changes affect the demo as well:

  • Added difficulty settings to the options menu.
  • Can export and delete saves right from the saves menu.
  • Added a hammer item that builds blueprints.
  • Added sound effects to familiars so they will occasionally make noise when idling (i.e., a cat will meow).
  • Holding the shift key now reduces your speed to the starting value (walking). This is useful if you’re zipping by with too many upgrades and need some precision, and can also be used with flying equipment.
  • Many other minor improvements and bugfixes.

This more or less completes the single player experience of the game. There are a few loose ends we’ll continue to add - like being able to build the science ship and entering the last incomplete postgame secret area, but these are not major game changers and may not be added until after the full launch. Our main goal from now until March 2020 is adding co-op multiplayer (and we’ll have a few betas along the way). The full launch will come soon after multiplayer is added.


Multiplayer in Aground will be the ability to invite other players into your game. It’s completely optional and server-less, and will not affect the single player experience at all. When you invite people, they can help you fight enemies, gather resources and complete quests - the storyline will be the same, you will just be able to work together.

I hope everyone is looking forward to multiplayer as much as I am! We’re getting close to the full launch, but we will definitely continue to be active in the discord and post updates to the game even after launch! Thank you to everyone who joined us on this journey and trusted us in Early Access!

P.S. Don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - October 25th, 2019

The first of the backer planets is out, along with a bunch of “quality of life” improvements to the game! The new planet is called Unnature Sanctuary, and is now reachable in the star navigator. It’s an optional side-quest planet, but check it out!


In other news, we recently added Minigames to the research lab, and Chase (our composer) released the official Aground Soundtrack!


For Mac Players: You may have heard about the new app requirements for Catalina. The good news is that Aground is already 64-bit, so the game will run. The bad news is that it is not notarized, and I will not notarize it given the complexity of the process for every update and requirement of an apple developer ID which has a yearly fee. From what I have heard, this means that you may have to go through an additional step to bypass gatekeeper. Hopefully this doesn’t cause too much trouble, and I’ll continue to update the game on Mac as usual.

In addition to the new planet, the following changes affect the full version:

  • Some vehicles can now move and attack at the same time.
  • Drone control can now be used while riding the mobile lab.
  • Talon Copse can now modify most equipment.
  • Cables and rails can now be placed on the same tile.
  • Added a mini planet - Mercury. This is the last solar system planet that I plan to add before the full launch (gas giants have nowhere to land, and Venus is very dangerous).

These changes affect the demo as well:

  • The starting quests now let you place the structures where you want to, and give you a blueprint for them when complete so you can re-arrange your base.
  • Most vehicles and bots can now be packed up and deployed.
  • Docks can now summon nearby boats.
  • Trader will ship items from one island to another for a fee (pre bombardment/endings).
  • Dragons can now land on water and never die by running out of fuel now.
  • Mouse buttons can now be set in controls - this allows you to attack by clicking (but clicking on a GUI element will interact with it as normal).
  • Surgery lab can now install vanity equipment.
  • Crops can now be re-arranged in farms.
  • Chests can be given labels.
  • Hotkeys are now sensitive to parameters/modifiers.

This is about half of the quality of life updates planned for the game, and half of the backer planets - so look forward to the other half by the end of November!

Enjoy, and as always, don’t be shy if you have any questions or feedback - we are always happy to hear from our players. And don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - September 9th, 2019

What happens after you beat the final boss? What’s the resolution to the story? This update answers those questions, along with some post game content and areas!


I don’t want to spoil much - but after beating the final boss, try talking to all the NPCs - almost all of them have dialogue changes. You can also choose a homeworld if you talk to the CaptAIn.

At this point, the questlines for magic and science path is more or less how it will be at the final launch, but we have the two backer planets, some additional post game content, the quality of life update (general improvements) and multiplayer still to come!


If you haven’t heard, Aground is now on the Discord Store as well! Definitely drop by our discord, we’re very active there if you want to chat - and you can now see announcements and buy the game directly from our discord server!

Update 1.8.2 Includes the Following:

  • Endgame dialogue/cutscenes for all NPCs.
  • You can now choose a homeworld.
  • Added a third tier hut upgrade for post-game science.
  • Added more destroyed versions of structures for bombardment.
  • Added one of the two post-game secret areas (the key to unlock it was added to the golemech factory, if you know where that is).
  • Added 4 new bosses to the arena.
  • The Exo Mech can now have a shield or light installed.
  • Changed collision detection - it should now lag less with large moving objects (like in fleet battles).
  • The equipment window now shows all status bars as numbers (scaling them down if necessary).
  • Added new SFX.
  • Many bug-fixes, tweaks and minor changes!

Enjoy, and as always, don’t be shy if you have any questions or feedback - we are always happy to hear from our players. And don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - June 26th, 2019

Update 1.7.1 is now live! In this update, we finished the incomplete areas on the colony ship and did some overall improvements and bugfixes for the science path to end update!


The biggest additions are the cafeteria (pictured above) and the museum. These are fun optional areas that flesh out the colony ship and give you a few more options for the tough fights at the end of the game. Speaking of tough fights, a lot of people thought the final boss was too easy... so we made it harder!

We're a little behind now, so we updated the Early Access Roadmap, but we are still confident we'll make the March 2020 full release date.

In other news, we're also on sale for 10% off in the Steam Summer Sale! If you haven't gotten the game yet, or have a friend who wants it, now is a great time to get it!

We're back to working on the Magic Path to End update, which we hope to release by the end of July, so I hope you're looking forward to that!

Enjoy, and as always, don’t be shy if you have any questions or feedback - we are always happy to hear from our players. And don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - March 5th, 2019

The first new major planet is in, and it’s an exciting one! We think you’ll be very curious to see what happened to this familiar planet - along with new NPCs, quests, and features. This planet focuses entirely on the science path - but don’t worry, we have plans for the magic path too! This planet took a little longer than we would have liked, so we adjusted the roadmap, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it. We’re getting closer to the end of the game in terms of content, but we have lots of additional updates planned before we leave Early Access (including the highly requested multiplayer update).


The full changelog for this update is as follows:

  • Added a new star system + major planet to the game! This also includes a new music track!
  • iu_11235_4440657.png
  • Added drones, a new kind of vehicle that can be piloted remotely.
  • iu_11236_4440657.png
  • Added a whole new spaceship… and it’s a big one (no spoilers, it should be obvious if you do all the new quests).
  • Added new quests, NPCs, items, crafting, structures and a research lab. No spoilers, but… I will tell you a com device helps.
  • Teleportals can now be renamed, and are sorted by name. You can organize them by using special characters/numbers before the name, and use this to make a note about important parts of islands. Teleportals are now also locked to the star system they were built in, so the list will only show teleportals in that star system.
  • Added an FTL jump animation for vehicles.
  • iu_11237_4440657.png
  • Placing items in vehicle interiors (workbenches, furnaces, etc) can now take items directly from the vehicle’s storage.

The following changes affect the demo as well:

  • When you discover an item for the first time, the game now tells you! It doesn’t know about items you already discovered in old saves that aren’t in your storehouse or inventory, so it might come up a lot when you first continue an old save, but eventually it will work as intended.
  • Crops and pens can now function without a barn (and be placed without a barn). The barn structure is now just a convenience, where you can harvest them all at once.
  • Added many new sound effects, both to the demo and the full version. We’ll be adding more in the next few updates, fleshing out the sounds for all the attacks, enemies and items.
  • Added a gameplay option to make steel walkways un-mineable (so you don’t mine them by accident). Just toggle the option to make them mineable again when you want to change/move/collect them.
  • Added a gameplay option to hide blueprints from the “All” tab in your inventory. A lot of people complained that blueprints cluttered the inventory and could not be removed - well now they can be hidden, unless you intentionally go to the blueprints tab.
  • For people playing on the keyboard, shift+Z now moves the current object/vehicle to the back. This is useful if you have two large vehicles on top of each other.
  • Many bug-fixes, tweaks and minor changes!

You can play the demo right here on Newgrounds: https://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/701110 !

Enjoy, and as always, don’t be shy if you have any questions or feedback - we are always happy to hear from our players. And don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - January 8th, 2019

Update 1.5.5 brings a lot of new features, and some new content (including a small dwarf planet), and I'm very excited for it as it's the backbone for what will be the final stage of the game - travelling between planets! Spacefaring has always been one of my goals in Aground - I wanted you to be able to eventually build up to travelling between planets, but start the game having no idea that was even possible.


I also set up a Patreon if you want to support my work! It might not seem like much, but every dollar counts!

The full changelog for this update is as follows:

  • Added Orbit and the ability to travel between planets
  • Added a new planet.
  • You can now build space stations in orbit.
  • Added underground structures (and an event that will make them very useful).
  • Added ladders and walkways for stacking surface structures.
  • Added several new songs! Here's a preview of Chase composing one of them:


The following changes affect the demo as well:

  • Cables and rails can now be placed vertically.
  • Structures now operate even when away from the island.
  • Blueprint error guides (they visually show you what is blocking the structure from being built).
  • Combat update! I tweaked how combat works yet again - it is now easier to defeat enemies without taking any damage (by dodging), but also more dangerous to blindly mash the attack key as they will knock you back out of range.
  • 4 more hotkeys have been added by popular demand.
  • Miner now gives a quest about minecarts.
  • Builder will explain sticky items when you build the storehouse, and sticky items now are placed above others in the inventory.

Enjoy, and as always, don’t be shy if you have any questions or feedback - we are always happy to hear from our players. And don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - October 23rd, 2018

Update 1.5.1 is here, and it’s a big one!! You can now follow the magic path all the way through many new quests and areas, right up to launching into space! This means that the entire starting planet is now complete, besides a few side quests and optional features we still want to add.


Alongside this major update to the game, we have a very exciting new trailer to share with you! Made by the talented M. Joshua and scored by our very own Chase Bethea, we are thrilled with how it came out!

What do you think? We hope you love it as much as we do!

In other news, back in late August/early September we showcased Aground at PAX West, which was an amazing experience. We were a part of the Indie Megabooth, and had a very steady crowd of gamers, press, and industry professionals stopping by to chat and try out the game. Pictures from the event are here (featuring our Miner and Alchemist cosplays!): https://www.flickr.com/photos/166774367@N06/sets/72157695274883630/.


A huge thank you to everyone who came by at PAX, especially the awesome streamers and Youtubers we met, who have released so many great videos which have helped to spread the word about the game - including SplatterCatGamingWanderbotsRufioGuy, and many others!


The full changelog for this update is as follows:

  • Added a new magic island with new bosses, enemies, NPCs, sub-areas and structures. Rest in the purple hut after defeating the Old One to start these quests (and check out the place the Old One was defeated).
  • Added many new familiars and new types of nets to catch them.
  • Added spellbooks and a spellcasting skill.
  • Added a magic spaceship equivalent, and the quests to get it.
  • You can now mine the second layer of magic island (although we are still planning on adding caves there later).

The following changes affect the demo as well:

  • Added an indicator when the smelter/kitchen/pen/farm have items ready.
  • Allowed some weapons/items to work underwater.
  • Added spider familiar.
  • Some magic structures can now be uprooted and moved.
  • You can now collect items while riding the dragon (like helium sacs)
  • You can now aim dragonfire manually while riding a dragon by using up/down while holding attack.
  • Many smaller fixes and improvements, including color changes to the background art.

For Modders:

  • Added <loadAfter> tag to the mod metadata. This works just like <requires> (forcing the labelled mod to load first), but won’t cause the mod to fail to load if the labelled mod is missing.
  • Added the evalXml function. This parses the passed argument string as xml and then runs it after the current action block completes. Useful for dynamic xml generation.
  • Added setGlobal and getGlobal, to manage global variables that can be used between saves and in different scopes. These are not saved, and clear when the game is restarted (or you set them to null).
  • Added setPlayer and changePlayer functions. setPlayer changes the player to an already created player object, and changePlayer changes the player to a new object with the passed id. These are dangerous functions.

Enjoy, and as always, don’t be shy if you have any questions or feedback - we are always happy to hear from our players. And don’t forget to join the social channels below if you haven’t already:






Posted by davidmaletz - August 8th, 2018


The early access version of Aground is now available on Steam and Itch.io! Join us on Discord, Reddit, Facebook or Twitter today for some launch day festivities!


It has been a wild ride getting to this point - from the initial prototype over a year ago, an underwhelming reception to the early versions, to an incredibly enthusiastic response to the browser version, an amazing crowdfunding campaign, and update after update of new content and improvements.

And - hopefully - this is just the beginning of Aground’s story!


The early access version includes new quests, vehicles, enemies and areas not in the demo version. And we still have a ton of exciting content left to add before the game is complete.


As we mentioned before, Aground now also has support for mods with the help of mod.io! While we haven’t written a guide yet, there are already a few mods uploaded, so feel free to subscribe to them or join the #modding channel on Discord for help making your own!

We are also pleased to share that a new member has been added to the Aground team! Megan has joined us to help out with social media and marketing. Together we’re working hard to spread the word about the game!

Update 1.4.0 is now Live!


This update includes lots of new content for the early access version (see above), but we also included an update to the free version too! This update includes swimming and many small improvements and tweaks to the game. I also added a secret to the game on Newgrounds to thank them for all their support - can you find it?

I hope you enjoy the early access version and demo updates! And if you played the game, help show your support by writing a review or posting a screenshot! I hope you’re looking forward to the magic path update, which will include the magic path between the demo and outer space!