27 Sep 13

Chest Bugs and Vapour Rubs

achestThere’s nothing that says “still in active development” quite like a healthy colony of interface, progression and mechanical errors popping up every week. We have mixed feelings about the number of these little guys that are still cropping up, but at the very least it means that we have a regular bunch of sharp-eyed forum users who have nothing but our best interests at heart (at least until we finally discover what secret agenda has kept them playing the beta for all this time).

So, this week’s changelog is a nice chunky example of what happens when we panic and realise that a three-update-buildup of game issues is busy glaring at us more furiously than a level 10 Meat Man’s death prediction glow.

We’ve been inserting more graphics and animation tweaks this week while gaining steam on more behind-the-scenes stuff (hint: a certain Danny “Lithuanian and proud” Baranowsky and Grant Kirkhope are really excited about the version of DD they’ll be seeing this weekend).

Prepare to read the word “fixed” a lot if you dare gaze any further! Here’s this week’s changelog: More…

20 Sep 13

The map is here!


Okay, technically the map has been in for a really long time already. But now it actually looks the way we want it to.

That’s right, the realms of Desktop Dungeons are no longer a barren waste of parchment-coloured desert and dirty brown dungeon buttons. The same treatment that our Kingdom screen recently enjoyed now extends to the full game world, revealing a magical adventurescape of vibrant colour and custom-drawn hazards. Hooray for that!

Woot! Short blogpost this week because the fancy new mapscreen has been the crux of our playerside output. We’ve also worked up the first iteration of a somewhat more spiffing login screen, and done more of that recent behind-the-scenes stuff. For additional details on some of the mild bugfixes and design tweaks we made on the side, changelog follows: More…

13 Sep 13

Gold Star Stickers


Our new Kingdom map is nearly ready for in-game awesomeness! We just need to finish up the different states required for all of the dungeon graphics (yep, they have different appearances based on completion criteria), then it’s off to plugging them in and watching them go.

In the meantime, open up the in-dungeon menu when you have a moment and check out the cool new badge graphics we’ve got for you! Finally, your unique and hard-earned dungeon achievements have been honoured with equally unique and hard-drawn dungeon badges from our unique and hard-pressed dungeon artists!

This has been another week of text fixing, with a bit of narrative improvement and some flesh-out-ness when it comes to lore and Exclusive Edition content (several EE characters so far being dispensers of this additional lore, so keep an eye out for them). From a UI perspective, we should have dealt with that pesky bottom cut-off problem that’s been plaguing the Kingdom’s dialog boxes for a few weeks. Please send us a report via e-mail or our gigantic thread o’ bugs if you still encounter graphical glitches. Screenshots are always helpful in these cases.

Aside from that, there’s been a few minor in-dungeon tweaks including a BLUDTUPOWA / Goatperson nerf. Not our idea, honest. This one’s on you guys.

A rather incremental week, though it has been filled with content and adjustments that we’re not allowed to talk about. Is that a valid carrot to dangle or not? Either way, changelog follows with the stuff we DO get to divulge: More…

06 Sep 13

Army of Heroes

blogArmyGood news! We’ve made some sweeping, game-wide tweaks this week and players of all levels and Kingdom progressions should see some improvement in today’s update.

The new animation system is gaining momentum and we’ve been focusing on making everyday dungeon interactions like fighting, killing and piety gain that much more visceral and satisfying. It takes time, but the effort has been well worth it so far.

The general dialogue went through a considerable overhaul. Most of it is subtle reorganisation and condensation. Portraits, icons and character sprites have been corrected and updated. A few more advanced tutorials have been put into place. Lore and codex adjustments have been made. Et cetera et cetera. These past few days have really been an eye-opener regarding just how much text exists throughout the game.

(Oh, and female characters finally have their own name lists populated!)

We’ve also done our best to improve information flow, particularly with player gold. Two important changes in this regard are the new once-off advisor tutorial replacing the annoying gold cap popup in the Kingdom, and the ability to preview monster trophy values in-dungeon.

Finally, for those of you plugging through the Special Edition campaign: yep, slightly easier again. Particularly the third one. Maybe. Though we don’t know whether or not we went overboard in throwing an entire Kingdom’s worth of heroes at those final dungeons to help you along …

The changes this week are subtle. Profound. Powerful. Occasionally generous. Now would be a pretty decent time to fire up a new profile and test out Kingdom progression if you want to look at how much better it’s doing nowadays. Just saying. Otherwise, changelog follows: More…

30 Aug 13

Further Scrubbing

tut4-bleatAnd that’s another pass on the early game progress done.

In our neverending quest to streamline the learning experience for new players (and cram as many lessons into as small a space as possible without sacrificing everyone to the vengeful god Waloftext), we’ve added more icons, helpful pointers, concept explanations and aesthetic improvements to make stuff “pop”. The map isn’t in just yet, but that’ll be in as soon as our artists come out the other end of the UI spam that they’re being forced to endure.

From a bug (and performance) perspective, we’ve made a few important optimisations which should improve the game radically on systems that previously suffered! Even our less oppressed players should notice fewer halts and hiccups in their overall game experience.

Be on the lookout for weird hiccups in the progress if you decide to play through this week. We discovered and squashed a surprising number of long-standing gremlins towards the end of this cycle, but we tend to fall into a horrible habit of playing the game absolutely perfectly every time we go through it and that doesn’t really do much for exploit catching. So annoying.

For those concerned about balance, some of the Goat Glade quests are subtly easier this week – though for the most part they remain resolute in their difficulty. Sorry. But look at this lovely changelog! Isn’t it just lovely? Yeeeess. Yes it is. Precious. Things below: More…

29 Aug 13


Anyone who has played the early parts of Desktop Dungeons recently will have noticed the new cadence of the toasts, advisor hands, and building spawn animations. The systems that control these elements were built at different times, and sometimes by different team members, so getting them all to get in line was a real challenge.

The event system that the whole game runs off was actually very helpful in terms of controlling what appears when, with no overlap. I was able to create a handler that listens for all the events in charge of firing off these disparate pieces. It intercepts all the events, and adds them to a queue, waiting for some event to fire notifying the handler that the next event in the queue can be sent out. Some extra code was added to the pieces themselves, to let the handler know when they are ‘done’ and the next piece can be activated.

This all allows the user to move through the messages at their own pace, and it allows us to set the order that we want things appearing in. This is really important for new players, as they’re being asked to absorb all the basic DD systems in just a few short messages.

23 Aug 13

Map Tease

2013-08-23blogImageIn our everlasting Quest for Pretty, we’ve continued improving the flow and animation of early game progression. Sit back and marvel as the Kingdom animates and builds upon itself using the architecturally-patented Smoke And Nonsense Effect.

The image you see accompanying this blog post is sadly not in the game yet. But it is the game your game could look like.

One day.


Yep, that’s right, our crosshairs are set on the map screen up next, and we want it to be bee-yoo-ti-ful by the end of the whole process (click on the image for a larger size of the current draft). We’re also sprucing up seemingly unimportant stuff like the profile switching panels, the typeface and size on toast announcements, and a bunch of other little things which do their bit to improve the player’s suspension of disbelief. Soon, there won’t be any loose ends left at all.

Aside from cosmetic and interface issues, we’ve also tackled one or two bugs (those have finally been getting rarer). Then there’s smoothing out the questline in the Goat Glade (the first one is much easier and more stable than it was a few weeks ago). You should check the changelog for other bits ‘n bobs, you know?


  • Added sequencing queue to early game tutorial events.
  • Changes to early game tutorial content.
  • Replaced many text buttons ingame with paper text buttons.
  • Replaced many older style panels with paper panels/speech bubbles.
  • Fixed a bug where PQI would send players to tutorial 4.
  • Fixed a bug where applying poison to an already poisoned enemy would not play the poison sound.
  • Fixed a bug in score screen where a gold value could be negative.
  • Changed the panel order on Goat Glade to stop some odd looking panel shuffling.
  • Updated sliders/scrollbars with new graphics. Implemented dragable scrollbars.
  • Fixed bug with JJ deaths related to hit order in Spider Script 3
  • Spider Script 2 druids now move out of the way and don’t drop wall crushers
  • Converting between gods ignores Indulgence
  • Added building destruction and addition animations
  • Optimised particle systems slightly


21 Aug 13

An Attempt At Game Stories

Narrative concerns in Desktop Dungeons have always been a little weird. Its short-session, rotating door of one-shot characters doesn’t lend itself to extended storylines. Its semi-linear nature makes it difficult to have a “main” storyline (we ended up dressing one tale out of several as the “campaign” because we needed a solid backbone for metagame progress). Its random nature means that it’s difficult to ensure that all parts of the story are heard at the right times.

In other words, conventional storytelling is out.

At some point, I became thoroughly gripped by Dark Souls and marvelled at its perfection of “fuzzy storytelling”. The game world was fully equipped with bits and pieces of information about what the hell was going on, and as you discovered more of these pieces you were able to start forming theories about where you were, what you were doing and why the world was so dark and messed up. More…

16 Aug 13



This week has been a big win for interface design and new players – along with some more flashy new animations in the general Kingdom area, we’ve rebuilt large sections of the early game progression to be less overwhelming for new players, helped along by a brand spanking new advisor tutorial system that guides players along in a nice hand-holdy (or hand-pointy) way.

This is paired with a bunch of Codex refinements and content re-additions (yeah, we couldn’t leave the lorehounds hanging) and several improvements to our recent animation system. There’s also a frightful amount of new art in the pipeline that we just couldn’t cram in — trust us when we say it’s absolutely mind-pop-sploding. Yep, that word.

Giant disembodied pointy hands of justice! We couldn’t get absolutely everything we wanted in this week, but the core systems seem a-ok and that’ll be refined by the next update. Please report any problems! Changelog follows: More…

15 Aug 13

Game Art

Making things pretty. That’s all it is; which seems so straightforward. In reality, making art for video games can get complicated very quickly. Besides needing your fundamental art skillset of composition, colour, technique and all the rest of the artsy fartsy background, you need a whole additional technical understanding to deal with the pipeline of game making. Even an essentially 2D game like Desktop Dungeons, which I reckon is on the easier end of the game art spectrum as there’s more of a wysiwyg dynamic, takes some hefty technical consideration.


You need to know your tools. Know how your images are being interpreted and reproduced in the game, learn what can and can’t be procedurally reproduced in the chosen pipeline . In my experience there’s often a lot of to and fro to get a file exactly right and building non-destructive source files is critical. At any point in a game’s production a change can be called for that may be buried deep in work you produced months ago;  those layers had better not be flattened together and don’t you wish you’d labelled them better now?

Another huge aspect of this production art is the need to prototype quickly, as an artist in a pipeline you need to be able to get an idea down quickly, particularly in those occasional cases when you’re only the stylus-wielding cog for someone else’s vision. Sometimes you need to explore art directions that get scrapped to find the one that works, the quicker you can scout, the better off your work.


The cutting room floor; not a good camp-site.

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