21 Feb 14
Nandrew

Coders: 5 Things Your Indie Artist Would Like You To Know About Graphics

In this post, we’re dedicating some time to the flipside of last week’s writeup for illustrators wanting to break into game art. For reasons explained last time, this isn’t just gonna be a straight reversal of the previous advice – a few core asymmetries exist between the work that artists and programmers do, and it’s not about the creative vs logical approach or however else the issue gets generalised. It’s about high-constraint versus low-constraint environments, and the reality that artists are often forced to adapt to a coder’s constraints rather than the other way around.

More importantly, unlike larger studios (where formalised roles of designers and project managers become more clear and compartmentalised), indie projects tend to be dominated by a programmer, simply because there’s no other way for that project to exist short of an artist engaging with some cross-discipline learning. Either way, an artist-driven project would have its own set of problems separate from the ones described here and it’s not the sort of environment that we have enough experience to comment on.

So, let’s assume you’re a coder-boss-type person on a project where you’re telling somebody who’s way better than you at visual design to draw things in exactly the way you want them to. Here’s a few ways to make the artists you work with a lot less miserable about that: More…

12 Feb 14
Nandrew

Illustrators: Four Things Your Indie Coder Wants You To Know About Game Art

Over the years, I’ve learned a bit about the diversity of the drawy-artstuffs field. I speak from the outside, of course – the closest I’ve come to being an artist myself is a one year communication design course (read: layout and colour theory) and the occasional desperate move with game prototypes where I simply couldn’t find anybody to draw things for me.

However, while I cannot tell anybody how to “do” art, I am sympathetic to some of the difficulties that visual creatives have when they’re forced to operate in the weird and wondrous framework of a programmer’s code base. None more so than classically-trained artists, who usually operate in environments which have loose constraints (or none at all) in areas that happen to be of absolutely vital importance to the average programmer.

Sometimes a situation emerges where talented artists in the wrong category hop onto an indie project: the devs are hoping for a particular style, perhaps, or the project exists in a territory where game development is still getting its legs and the required specialists are rare. Or maybe some friends just wanna work together on something regardless of the hurdles.

This can be pretty cool in the long run – particularly if said illustrator is excited and enthused about learning a new form – but there’s a few growing pains that need to be worked past. In my experience, practically all classic artists will need to learn the following: More…

07 Feb 14
Nandrew

“Stoic” prototype video

At QCF Design, we’re actively trying to promote a jam culture at the office to produce more prototypes and experimental work.

As it so happens, we’re also trying our hand at making more videos and sharing some of our experiments with a broader audience. Behold one recent side project, tentatively called Stoic:

For those who can’t see the video for any magical computer reason, Stoic was built with the aim of simplifying ideas present in Frozen Synapse and Toribash to string together epic, flowing action sequences with wild swingy swords and enough blood to fill the arteries of a dozen over-the-top anime villains.

By merging turn-based, predictable combat with real-time playback, players have the opportunity to create impressive, organic-ish fights with tough enemies, weapon momentum and lots of cinematic eye candy.

05 Feb 14
Nandrew

Of Stats and Steam Cards

stats_pageimgThis week we have a double header for you!

We’ve finally built a page that houses all the stats we’ve been collecting. You can now see which enemies are killed the most, which dungeons have the most losses, and which gods give out the most boons.

Draw you own conclusions and share them on the forum.

And hey, Steam users: we’ve also released our community package of tradeable Desktop Dungeons goodies to the big bad world. For your digital swapmeeting pleasure, our artists have produced six game cards, seven profile backgrounds, five emoticons and a partridge in a pear tree.

Spread the word and start collecting!

Desktop Dungeons Stats
Our Steam Page
The Desktop Dungeons Community Hub

23 Jan 14
Nandrew

Next Click: DEATH

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Yerp, it’s an update!

While we work on getting Desktop Dungeons moved to mobile platforms and the like, we’ve been paying some attention to control schemes and selection-related weirdnesses. The bugfixes that come with this patch mostly concern themselves with some of the stranger cases that have cropped up, as well as more common interface problems associated with particular playstyles.

One of the additions we’ve made is the option to switch the default behaviours of the left and right mouse buttons on enemies, meaning that cautious players can opt to have their default movement button select an enemy instead of attacking it, while those more comfortable with classic DD controls can stay just as they are. Such grand choice and agency!

We hope that trackpad users and single-button Mac players in particular will benefit from this change, offering them unprecedented levels of … mouse flexibility? We don’t really know how to dress that up grandly, but it’s a good thing. Now for a quick changelog: More…

18 Dec 13
Nandrew

Undiscovered Territory

One of the simultaneously gratifying and frightening things about the design of Desktop Dungeons is its tendency to keep surprising us after three-plus years of development, polish and community feedback.

Despite being open to a crowd of pre-order enthusiasts for a good few years (many of whom played the game relentlessly from the moment they were able), new strategies, exploits and synergies are still uncovered and shared on a regular – sometimes weekly – basis.

Parts of this come from micro-adjustments in the system, of course. Sometimes a slight nerf or enhancement can shut old doors and open new ones. At other times, new learnings come from an incredibly deep analysis of the system, based on the combinations of several unobvious factors.

Occasionally, and more spectacularly, discoveries are made based on ideas that have technically been laid bare for ages. These plans, when put into action, seem so remarkably obvious and useful that it becomes hard to think of a time when they weren’t a part of the community’s collective consciousness.

It’s flattering from a designer’s point of view, yet also intimidating. Given that a united and experienced community still manages to surprise itself, it’s not unreasonable that testing and balancing such an open system is, at times, an almost impossible task for the small handful of people whose job it is to entertain and challenge everyone else.

This has the result of making many supposedly “obvious” design changes surprisingly difficult to implement, particularly when it’s about bolstering a supposedly weak item, effect or combination. Not only are the potential ripple effects enormous, but we have to strongly consider whether all the power options of a particular game element have actually been considered. Several times in the past, we’ve added buffs that were later discovered to be unnecessary. Or we’ve made a microscopic adjustment to a previously weak item that had a massive, unforeseen effect with the one item, combo or tactic we overlooked.

The core QCF squad are all Desktop Dungeons veterans. We need to keep our skills at least as sharp as the best potential players out there. We need to play – and understand – Acid Casters, Punchomancers, Health Monsters and all the other community-driven builds out there. We have to confidently go through runs like Vicious Gaan-Telet and Portal Perilous, because failure to do so means that an entire family of problems raised by forum members is beyond our ability to address. Playing the game takes up a surprising chunk of our time, even in post-release, yet we still learn so many new things and find ourselves “catching up” every time we browse strategy threads in the community — even with insider knowledge of the game maths, stat checking and experience on our side.

It’s almost certain that, deep within the shadows of the Undiscovered Realms of Gameplay, there’s much more knowledge awaiting all of us. Some secrets are known internally by QCF, discovered by accident or placed deliberately, waiting for the player community to find and use them. Others have probably been discovered by isolated gamers, who exploit their benefits while the dev squad and greater community remain oblivious. And some may still lie in wait, discovered by no one, yet so nearly within our collective grasp.

An unassuming item today could be the key to tomorrow’s killer strat. A hitherto-unused boon may have a special synergy with certain rare finds. And through it all, we’ll continue doing our job: ensuring that we are masters of a game that has proven time and again that true mastery will always be impossible.

It’s one of the most rewarding Sisyphean tasks we can think of.

SisBlog

06 Dec 13
Nandrew

Seasonal Powerdown

Hail, loyal Desktop Dungeons supporters! This week, we made a big push to eliminate the final instabilities in some of the save / load areas of the game. As we prepare to go into semi-sorta-hibernation over the festive season, take comfort in the fact that your item and data loss issues will be a thing of the past.

Players encountering trouble with lockers can take heart. People with missing run data can earn a sense of closure. And there will be cheering in the streets over the preservation of Kingdom progress data!

Several logic bugs that caused saved game history to desync in weird ways when playing from different IPs and devices are a thing of the past. We’ve also brought an end to a few other issues, big and small, that came across our field of attention.

Thanks for the patience, and we hope y’all continue enjoying the game!

Savour the year’s end if you’re into that sorta celebration. Don’t worry — even if we’re quietish for a bit, we’ll still be around to make sure that nothing explodes (unless intended through the fully sanctioned use of BURNDAYRAZ). Here’s the list of most recent changes: More…

29 Nov 13
Nandrew

Ripples and Reviews

This week’s update addresses some important data saving issues reported over the past week, as well as some minor interface weirdnesses and mechanical exploits / disadvantages (we expect to hear a mixed chorus of “hooray” and “awww” about that).

Desktop Dungeons has been going along the expected review circuit in recent weeks and we decided to pick out a few of the more interesting writeups out there. If you want to point your friends (and enemies) at some professional opinions or just check out some creative wordsmithing about DD, check these out. Links and changelog after the jump: More…

22 Nov 13
Nandrew

Saving Grace

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Howdy! This week’s update provides an important stability patch for people playing the game across multiple systems, IPs and what-have-you. Weirdnesses and data loss should be non-existent where they’ve reared their ugly heads before, and the denizens of player Kingdoms can breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that they won’t sporadically vanish and stuff.

We’ve also nailed that pesky Codex bug related to god discovery and the “NEW!” tag hanging around for an absurdly long time. Man, that one bothered us for a while.

And for badge farmers, we have bad news: PISORF finally has a damage type for consideration. Looks like that’s one less cheeky little trick to take advantage of!

There’s a few other tweaks here and there to take a look at. If you haven’t already, you can have a gander at our first after-action report, then give us a bit of feedback or commentary on the QCF Design forums! Changelog follows: More…

21 Nov 13
Nandrew

Post-Release: Some Quick Thoughts

After the thrills, panics and elations of the Desktop Dungeons release on Steam, we’ve had a little time to sit down and think about all the stuff that’s happened. Here’s a few things that we’ve learned from the experience so far:

(1) If you have to release within a week of a major next-gen console, be prepared for a rough ride – and make sure reviewers get their play copies on time. If your game, like DD, is oriented around entirely engulfing a player’s mind, body and soul for several dozen hours before they even get past the first few dungeon tiers, you don’t want to be sliding the keys over to press just a few short days before the world expects them to spend weeks talking about PS4 Launch Title: The Launchening. Due to that humble little company called Sony somehow having more marketing clout than us, we lost a few important site reviews because they couldn’t possibly give us enough attention during the prime news window. More…

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