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.

08 Aug 13

ALL of the Quests!

goldbloomblogimageyPlayers of our Special Edition may rejoice – we’ve fully populated the quest content for the Goat Glade, rewards and all! The trio of multi-dungeon campaigns on offer are fiendish, varied and fiendish (while also being a little fiendish) guaranteeing hours ‘n hours of entertainment for even the most hardened veterans.

We’ll be listening to feedback carefully over the next few weeks, so if you have interesting / depressing / ferocious experiences within the Goat Glade challenges, please let us know about them!

The game continues to be prettied up in several areas — you’ll notice the shiny nature of the new Codex tabs, and there’s a bunch of cool little animations to help stat comprehension and juice up everyday dungeon experiences more.

And while on the matter of the Codex – we’ve already taken some of the minor tweaks and adjustments into consideration, and will be adding more content (especially in boss and lore areas) in the coming weeks. Should be great!

Bugs are, of course, still being squashed on a day-to-day basis. They’re frisky little rabbits, no?

Well, this week’s update comes a day early. Why? Public holiday in South Africa, y’all! Despite our 4-day work week, we like to think we’ve crammed in a good dose of gameplay to get you going for your (read: our) long weekend! You may now enjoy the changelog: More…

06 Aug 13

MyGaming Interview Raw

Last week MyGaming contacted me with a couple of questions about the South African games industry, the resulting article has just gone live: SA gaming industry growing despite “isolation”. I think it can be quite interesting seeing how an article gets produced from the raw questions that you get asked, so I’ve posted the email the article was based on below. (Big thanks to Jeremy from MyGaming for being cool with posting the questions he asked, as well as responding to my incessant poking to get Make Games SA linked in the article)

Live-coding a game to audience requests. Fun!

Unrelated to article, from this weekend’s Make Games workshop at UCT.


02 Aug 13

The Codex Has Arrived!


So the game feature that we’ve been promising / imagining / threatening for a good long time has finally arrived on the doorstep of Desktop Dungeons beta players everywhere!

Shaking off the dust from a whirlwind journey through time and space, the marvellous Codex of collected Desktop Dungeons wisdom gives players a quick reference guide for just about everything in the game – item and boss descriptions, status effect glossaries, god personalities and even lore collections for story junkies.

The Codex doubles as the game’s main menu, so to reach it from the dungeon OR Kingdom screen, just hit that button! Any problems can be reported on the forum thread here.

Rubbing shoulders with this new, bookish update is an all-new Special Edition Triple Quest, which begins the (super-difficult) journey towards explaining the existence of the Goatperson, the nature of the pre-Kingdom world and other storyline mysteries that aren’t 100% covered in the basic campaign.

It’s hardly necessary to expand on how exciting this week’s update is, but in case you were still in doubt: we fixed some bugs, too. Yes, bugs! Check out the changelog for all the juiciest details: More…

31 Jul 13

Noticing Death

Edge Highlight

There seems to be a recurring issue with new and old players alike: Dying. For the most part, we don’t want to remove the threat of a gory, unnecessary death from Desktop Dungeons. We think that without it, newcomers’ interactions with the game will devolve into a spiral of ‘test-attacking’ everything until they’re completely out of resources. At this point, the game becomes *very* boring, and the urge to ‘try again’ is lost.

At the same time, we don’t want you to click on an enemy and become a mutilated husk of used-to-be-adventurer! We want you to win! We want you to beat that dungeon by the skin of your teeth and walk out, monster trophy held high! We want you to mouse over that over-muscled goat, and know, without a shadow of doubt, that clicking on it will lead to an incredibly grizzly, highly pixelated death.

Up until now, the only indication of this has been a depleted health bar prediction and the word ‘dead’ in red letters on the enemy panel. Clearly, not everyone is looking at that 5% of the screen at crucial moments, so we’ve taken it one step further: We’ve added a pulsing red border at the edge of the screen that appears as you mouse over an enemy that will kill you. Hopefully, this will make it much more obvious that clicking on that level 8, when you are a measly level 2, will see you splattered all over the dungeon floor. Soon we’ll look at adding a sound at the same time.

26 Jul 13

Goat Moar



The response to last week’s unveiling of the Goatperson has been absolutely fantastic – it seems that the new character has breathed a helluva lot of new life into many veteran DD profiles.

We’ve worked on tightening the screws on the new character this week, and taken the time to fix lots of minor issues (many, many interface bugs) that have been plaguing our dear player base. Along with that comes some god tweaks (some errors erupted for the very first time due to the Goatperson’s unique altar-hopping!) and more graphical input for various aspects of the game.

In the background, we’ve made progress on Codex artwork and laid down some foundation for more SE content (you didn’t think we were stopping at the extra character, did you?). We’re looking at another fairly important update sometime over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Remember folks, the Goatperson and all eventual content related to the Goat Glade is only accessible to Special Edition buyers (yeah, we thought we’d just sneak in that cheeky lil’ reminder). Check the swollen changelog this week and continue enjoying the new class: More…

25 Jul 13

On The Drudgery Of Detective Work

The graph below is something that I’ve become incredibly familiar with over the last week. That’s not to say that I wasn’t familiar with Unity’s profiler before, anyone with a reasonable eye on performance will use it every once in a while as a game matures, but this past week has been one of those. The reason is visible in the graph. A memory leak. Small, but definitely there:

Keep looking! Ignore the crazy!

Did you find it? Here’s a clue: It starts off as the lowest line and ends up not being the lowest one… Yup. That strange burnt ochre that shows how many materials there are currently. The key here is that this is (pretty much) normal gameplay (apart from me spamming a specific game event) and the number of actual game objects stays relatively constant throughout. That big spike in the blue texture memory line? That’s what happens when you cast a fireball. More…

19 Jul 13

Special Edition Character Now Available!

GoatManThis week introduces the much-anticipated Goat Person as a new character to play. This fascinating creature is only available to Special Edition buyers and extends the game in several interesting ways without being overpowered or conveying a heavy in-game advantage over non-SE players.

Along with this new toy, we also present a surprising array of cosmetic changes in both the Kingdom and the dungeon. Interface and effect art continues to be improved and replaced, while we’ve also begun pioneering extra animated touches such as stat change info on the resource bars.

If you need more juicy info on the new character, we’ve already written quite a bit – just check the link above. And don’t forget that you can still upgrade your pre-order of Desktop Dungeons if you got the standard version. Aside from that, check the changelog below for all of this week’s nibbles: More…

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