18 Jan 11

A writey-thing about the gods

Programmers often ask me if I know any Python. Proof that I do.

Oh man, this one’s a doozy. Gods were added relatively late in Desktop Dungeons’ design cycle (after a couple of freeware releases, they still appeared in only a very rudimentary form) and they have always been something that we wanted to swell and make comparable to the excellently-designed religion system in Crawl.

Unfortunately, we’ve enjoyed only limited success before now: the gods are packed with a fair amount of detail in comparison to some of the other core game elements, and trying to balance these divine buggers while maintaining their distinct personalities and (hopefully) interesting play styles has been quite a mission.

Bearing this in mind, the glyph system isn’t going to be the only game balance overhaul we perform in Unity DD. We’ve got a few ideas on where our beloved deities need improvement — here’s some of the tweaks we’ve catered for so far:

– Conversions no longer take up boon slots. Switching between religions — particularly among the good gods — is something that we’d really like to keep intact for Unity DD, as this feature can provide some very rewarding synergy opportunities for more advanced players. By removing the “boon deficit” that this has caused until now, we’re giving some of the weaker gods an opportunity to be far more flexible.

– Basically everyone hates the Earthmother. I’ve even admitted this while on record. In addition to receiving two new boons to take advantage of that pesky petrify/plant walling problem that frequently arises (with occasional, hilarious results), the newfound value of the IMAWAL glyph along with a bit o’ buffage for existing boons like Stone Form should be more than enough to make players realise that good gods can be awesome too.

– One feature which is still on the todo list is a codex which can record god behaviour and keep track of exactly what pleases (or angers) the game’s various higher powers. While new players will start with little to no idea about the numerous piety-altering conditions that the game offers (as is the case in the freeware), this codex will automatically update itself with fresh knowledge whenever any character draws a god’s attention: for better or worse. This means that anyone can build their own comprehensive (and permanent) reference sheet after enough dungeon sessions, making piety harvesting that much easier. Even veterans will find this useful, as the final version of the game will reveal a lot of piety condition adjustments for many of the gods.

– Gods appearances will be tailored more carefully: certain puzzle dungeons will make the presence of particular deities absolutely necessary for victory, while other situations will specifically exclude gods that are more or less useless in that scenario. Where possible, we’ll avoid offering an altar to Dracul when it’s clear that there’s nothing around to kill except zombies.

– Yes, the Glowing Guardian is still going to be ridiculously strict and fussy. And yes, we’re going to make the pain worthwhile for players. We’re just trying to figure out a way in which we can give him some of the most hideously powerful boons in the game without completely breaking balance. Test candidates include ridiculously high resistance bonuses and effects which specifically cripple the dungeon boss.

That’s a few examples addressing the more urgent needs of the god system, and we hope that the cumulative effects of many other, smaller tweaks will transform the shoddy, half-complete model of DD’s current religion into a scintillating monument of deific wonderment that even Richard Dawkins would be proud of.

3 Responses to “A writey-thing about the gods”

  1. Darthcaboose Says:

    Richard Dawkins ain’t got nothing on how awesome The Pactmaker currently is.

    That said, I recently got into Desktop Dungeons and I am relieved to hear that the Earthmother is finally going to be… useful?

  2. dislekcia Says:

    Yeah, sorry about that. The Earthmother having less slots for boons sort of ended up nerfing her pretty hard, although we have had stories of her being super-useful in successful Lothlorien runs as a piety mill.

  3. Lekon Says:

    First off, that python joke is awful. Bad QCF!

    Second: Well, the earth mother WAS handy if you were a transmuter, otherwise, eh, not so much.

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