22 Mar 13
Nandrew

Off to GDC

blogImage-2013-03-22

Hail, fair Desktop Dungeons supporters! Today, QCF is flying from sunny South Africa all the way over to GDC 2013 in the glorious urban utopia of San Francisco, to frolick amidst like-minded professionals and play Game Developer Katamari with as many quirky industry types as possible.

This means that today’s release is a little earlier than usual (yay!) and consists mostly of tweaks and interface adjustments and miscellaneous changes (not quite so yay, but still kinda important).

For the majority of the conference, your best bet on keeping touch with QCF is via the twitter accounts @dislekcia and @aequitasZA , where a whole manner of GDC adventures will be recorded in 140-character form. And in case folks are sad about the disruption to our regular broadcast, we have something special planned for the coming week.

It’s short and sweet this week, there’s a plane to catch! We’ll see you on the other side. And in the meantime, cuddle up with this changelog and give it a good read: More…

21 Mar 13
Aequitas

e-mail!

madrillLast year around this time, we ran a promotion. We let anyone and everyone register an account for DD, and play for free during the week of GDC. This was pretty cool, got us some nice exposure, and made us some sales … it also completely killed the e-mail service on our host for two whole days. We managed to write a mail queue system that would send out 100 e-mails per hour (the limit set by our webhost), but before we got that running, mails were getting lost left and right.

We’ve spoken to our webhost about raising the limit, but they don’t seem to understand that we send out mail ‘on request’ not in mailing lists, but we still need it to be automated. Searching around the internet for a bit turned up Madrill, an offshoot of MailChimp. Mailhimp does newsletter stuff, and they extended the business to do transactional mail. Madrill is nice in that it has an hourly limit, but that limit gets shifted up as your needs increase and as your reputation becomes better (no spam, no bounces, etc).

Switching over to Mandrill means we can open the tap on our side of the mail process a little more, letting through 100 emails every 10 minutes instead of 15 every 10 minutes. Once we have some more  time on our hands, we’ll switch our mail sends to direct through Mandrill immediately, instead of sitting in our queue. What this should mean for you is faster e-mails for password changes, and faster replies when buying copies of the game. Also fast e-mails when next we do a “free for a while” promotion … ;)

15 Mar 13
Nandrew

Sprinkles 2: Sprinkle Harder

GlenrickThis week’s serving of the DD beta comes with several clarity tweaks, most of them related to the graphical interface. Many players will appreciate, in particular, the ability to rearrange the class / race selection screen for more intuitive selection, as well as the increased clarity with altar sparkles.

Digging just a little deeper, one can also find some fun little tweaks: an updated Trisword graphic here, an awesome new enemy pic there … all part of the visual polish process that makes Desktop Dungeons feel more like a completed product. Hooray for that!

As well as the graphical holes, we continue to fill in tutorial niches with the Glyph Academy puzzle pack, adding four new challenges to this week’s loadout. Some of them are probably trickier, but they come unlocked at a point in the game where veterans should be able to conquer them – at least with a bit of thought (and if not, the helpful hint signs are always ready!).

This week is a veritable goodie pack of pretty and we hope you enjoy the update. Doesn’t Glenrick look absolutely dashing? And yes, we’ve let y’all keep the Titan Guitar. It’s fun and silly and we like it. Changelog ahoy: More…

14 Mar 13
Nandrew

Revised puzzle designageism

2013-03-14puzzlesImageSo far, the puzzles in Desktop Dungeons have been an odd sorta peripheral to the main game – they’re hooked into the experience, but they’ve always stood apart as their own special mode and people generally don’t pay much attention to them until they realise that one or two item unlocks happen to be puzzle-dependent.

This isn’t too bad on its own. We wanted to focus on puzzles primarily as tutorials and learning experiences distilled into small, pure sections of educational monster-thwacking. Such situations don’t have much mileage by nature (at least compared with the infinite possibilities of a randomly-generated dungeon run!), but the lessons last for a lifetime. At least when they’re done properly. More…

08 Mar 13
Nandrew

Now with extra sprinkles

As we continue making interface adjustments, we bring our attention to particular areas of player understanding, such as the under-used Taxidermist and improved building labels. As far as the former is concerned, we’re rather aware of the gap in usefulness and eventually want to give it more “mechanical” importance in the game … though a lot of that will be tied in with the evolution of our building interface.

We’ve also been working on more content-based player guides such as the new Glyph Academy puzzle pack, which has six puzzles so far exploring the quirkier rules and situations that come with three popular glyphs. Eventually, we hope that these will serve as a more gracious bridge from complete newbiedom to more intermediate (and perhaps rather advanced) methods of play.

We keep this blog post brief: aside from the interface and content buffs this week, we’ve also taken the time out to smash a few more bugs. ‘Nuff said! Changelog follows for details: More…

07 Mar 13
dislekcia

Game design? Nope, Chuck Testa!

TaxidermistDesktop Dungeons has rather a lot of back-story and the game’s story itself is something we like quite a bit. It’s not all just allegory for our socialist-pinko-commie-brutalist-feudal economic agendas, there’s real artistry there (or so Rodain tells us). It just so happens that economics is one of the major ways that players experience that rich story, and the Taxidermist is the main driver of progressive events in the Kingdom.

Except players are rather steadfastly ignoring our humble stuffing merchant! The Taxidermist is one of the least visited buildings in the DD beta right now and, frankly, we can understand why: It’s not as much fun as selecting races or classes and heading back into a new dungeon. This meant that new players weren’t aware of the story progression a lot of the time, often being completely stumped as to why their monster-head-selling business was tanking and having no idea how close they were to finishing the main story arc!

We spent a lot of time brainstorming how to fix this, suggestions ranged from tying Kingdom progression to monster trophies directly (like it used to be before the beta was actually available to anyone outside QCF) to introducing more in-game story events to make players more aware of the existence of a Big Bad™ as they came closer to a confrontation. We even have ideas that might tie preparations to specific trophies or grant specific trophies minor abilities/boosts that could be applied to buildings – both of these are extra systems though, so our anti-feature-creep immune systems have kicked in really hard at those. Mainly though, we’re looking for ways to make the Taxidermist more relevant to everyday players, have his information be more conversational and emphasise his usefulness as we start upgrading the actual building UI as well.

5 Tiles
Optional extra:
Poison animation concepts, woo!

01 Mar 13
Nandrew

Damage Control

It has been a crazy week for the QCF team – stolen equipment, cut-up faces and bad Soul Calibur matchups have all reared their heads in the past seven days. But we’ve persisted regardless and present, once again, the weekly DD Beta Update (capital letters for special emphasis).

We continue to pick at the Kingdom interface while readying up the next major bunch of graphics. We’ve also hopped back into the dungeons briefly to start work on the enemy effects overview system (a convoluted way of saying that Slow, Poison and other stuff will visibly animate on monsters without needing a mouseover). We even took a moment today to adjust APHEELSIK’s interaction with magic resistance and try out a new balance idea for the less-alive opponents in the DD roster.

You’ll notice that a lot of this week’s changes concern UI and player comprehension tweaks – we consider this to be a good path to focus on right now and we thank everybody for their assistance in picking up on / pointing out these little weirdnesses, particularly the more abstract ones.

Sorry we didn’t get more done this week: one of us is currently short of a laptop and rather cheesed off about it. The changelog is still reasonably chunky in terms of all the little details we brought together, though. Have a look: More…


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