26 Jun 13

Keyboards and Roguelikes


The original Rogue.

As work continues on interface and other polish elements, we’ve set aside a little time for extra keyboard controls to control things such as dungeon movement. To those who’ve been waiting for this addition since goodness knows when: now is your moment to rejoice! You’ll have it soon.

There’s always been a case for the addition of directional keyboard controls (countless bus trips spent coding and testing dungeon runs using a laptop and trackpad have demonstrated this admirably). It’s never been at the top of our priority list, though, since it just hasn’t been vital or practical enough to implement until recently – and I mean that in a broader context, oh beleaguered and anecdotal naysayers! And wow, there’s been a lot of debate in this area. More…

21 Jun 13

Such A Draaaaagggg


This week’s update comes with yet another interface tweak for in-dungeon combat: left-clicking on an opponent and dragging the mouse cursor off its grid tile will produce a quick menu similar to the recent pop-up system we’ve been testing out.

Instead of a separate control mode, this integrates itself with the rest of the combat control options (standard clicking and custom selection panel), providing users with another avenue of flexible control while being as smooth and unintrusive as possible.

The pop-up / normal combat toggle option via the in-game menu has been changed to a button layout option for this scheme, and for the time being the option will be changed randomly on new runs so that players can get a feel for both formats. Let us know what you think!

This week’s update has fixed several crash problems that appear to have cropped up with recent changes. Thank goodness for session logging! By now, we probably know more about you than the NSA does … changelog follows: More…

20 Jun 13


Drag Interactions

As I’m sure you’ve seen, in recent weeks we’ve been working on alternate interface strategies. A lot of time has been sunk into making them, just so that we could test to see if they actually felt good to play with (since you can only theorycraft so far). We’re pretty happy with what we’ve come up with so far, as it enables some different play styles, but there is another motivation for these additions: Touch screens.

We’ve known from the start that we wanted to bring DD to touch devices. The time it takes to play a dungeon, and its ‘wait for user input’ nature make DD perfect for devices where you may need to ‘look up’ every now and again. The only problem we foresee is the interface. Touch devices have no real answer to mousing over something, which in DD, has been central to how you gather information (and boy do  you need that information). So all of our new interface code has been to try and allow multiple ‘taps’ to do things, instead of ‘mouseover, then tap’. The current right-click selection will be the default tap-on-an-enemy action on touch devices, showing you combat prediction, and enemy stats, without fear of you killing yourself.

This week, we’re also adding the ‘pop-up’ interface to the normal way of playing. We think that it could be useful for mouse players, and touch devices, as it gives you the options of the thing your mouse is over, right where your cursor is.

I can’t wait to play DD on a tablet.

14 Jun 13


2013-06-14blogImageThis week, we continue messing about with art and interface and specific subsystems instead of adding new features or changing game balance (the latter being the sort of thing we want to a lot less now).

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been hard at work! The right-click selection interface has been refined further in this week’s update. The underlying architecture has been adjusted a bit to accommodate some nasty edge cases though, so we’d appreciate any further reports of mishaps while using the system (we also saw a few reports today that we couldn’t quite get around to in time).

The Kingdom and save/load dynamics have also received some love (thanks, as always, for the reports in places where we almost certainly wouldn’t have thought to look) and we’ve got some miscellaneous changes in game areas that we can’t quite identify under any category more specific than “stuff”.

Sadly, despite what this week’s blog post may suggest, we have no immediate plans for in-game xylophones. OR DO WE? Changelog follows: More…

13 Jun 13

Drink from the Fire Hose

Fire Hose Games has been experimenting with streaming recently, doing things like discussing the intricacies of game development techniques and playing other indie games they enjoy for their audience. Back in 2010 they said some very nice things about Desktop Dungeons, so when the opportunity came up for us to put the newest version of the game in front of them, we jumped at it. That ended up with Marc and I joining Sean in playing Desktop Dungeons in front of complete strangers for a while as Sean asked us all sorts of smart questions. Here’s the recording of the stream!


Just as a programming-related aside: When you happen to be working on path-finding, make sure that it’s as self-contained as possible. I’m having a hard time right now trying to refactor some path-finding subsystems so that Marc can deal with a couple of tricky knockback-from-the-other-side-of-the-dungeon prediction problems. Some lazy coding I did months ago came back to bite me in the ass yesterday…

07 Jun 13

You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Pit Dog

2013-06-07blogImageSo, this week’s update has brought a visual update to a large chunk of the character class effects (that triad of perks which each hero comes loaded with), making the in-game portraits look a whole lot less grotty. Hooray for that! We had a great deal of fun making appropriate themes and visual styles for each set of icons, and we hope that they add a bit of extra visual “personality” to many of the classes.

The right-click enemy selection has been cleaned up drastically, so give it another chance this week if you were interested by the core idea but struggled with its glitchiness. We find it to be one massive goatload of help when it comes to regeneration-based combat, and should be a strong addition to the game’s default interface. Once that’s stable, we should be free to do more for the alternative control schemes.

The Kingdom has also been cleared up a bit to deal with some residual issues concern gold and quest updates. Additionally, we’ve implemented a mechanic that allows players to temporarily go over the gold limit when they bring in a single large haul from the dungeon, to reduce the depressing occurrence of bandit scalps and meat loafs being sold for next to nothing because gold was too close to cap after the previous run.

Thanks for the frequent and reliable bug reports: we think we’ve nailed most of the problems with the new enemy selection, and had a little time to work on some other issues as well. Check the changelog for full details! More…

06 Jun 13

Choking up

Back in the days of yore, the Desktop Dungeons alpha had a very simple generation system which more or less did its job – there was really only one kind of map, and enemies were distributed using a dumb-fire system of random placement.

This caused occasional frustration for players who ran into enemy layouts that veered wildly between extremely generous and literally impossible – most sorely felt when they arrived in a new dungeon only to be surrounded by level 9 creatures!

Fortunately, due to the low metagame investment and the earliness of the game build, this wasn’t a major problem and we smartened up the algorithm for DD’s beta. Lower-level enemies would generally spawn closer to the player’s starting position, and more challenging beasties would – on average – be created further away. Horrific map layouts were basically a thing of the past (with exceptions that we’d work on from time to time!).

As time passed, however, we realised that we needed to put some more fine-tuning into monster positions. New map generators emerged to switch up player expectations and provide variety: open terrain creators, mazes and swamplands all introduced their own sets of opportunities and challenges. More…

31 May 13

Burnt Toast


This week, we’ve put a fair bit of art oomph behind more of the Kingdom graphics. Aside from completing the building sprites (woohoo!), we’ve also revised the quest toast system as shown above. Instead of disjoint boxes and confusing scroll rules, you’ll enjoy a neatly presented banner announcement with all relevant completion info and delightful colours in just the right places. Because you’re worth it.

This week also sees the introduction of yet another dungeon control scheme: if you’re interested in trying it out, switch to the Classic combat scheme via the in-game menu and right click on any accessible enemy for a persistent interaction panel. You’ll be able to wander around, whack other monsters and do dungeoneering stuff freely while keeping that tab handy. Fiddle about, let us know how this compares to the other stuff and report bugs wherever you can – because we’re sure there’s tons of ‘em.

Though this has been true of the past few weeks, we’ll mention again that this is a big interface and graphical update. Check the changelog below for details, and enjoy this update’s new eye candy! More…

24 May 13

New-Age Combat


Welcome to the modern era of gaming! In a supreme flush of forward thinking and divinely-inspired game dev smarts, we’ve implemented an alternative UI for enemy engagement, giving players the option to select a foe and kill it with the help of a quick options menu instead of the classic DD fighting style. Great for mouse users and surprise-click death victims!

The old Kingdom continues to be erased in favour of newer, more accessible interface panels. Information now flows throughout the screen like a unique solid/liquid hybrid of manna and ambrosia. Word has it that next week we’ll be seeing the final round of art for Kingdom buildings, too. Hooray!

This week’s blog post is short and sweet, as we continue to focus on interface changes and improvements. We’ve struck at one or two bugs where possible (including that pesky Gaan-Telet dungeon generation error), so check the changelog for details: More…

23 May 13

Where art and information collide

Kingdom Gold

As is evident by our last few updates, we’re currently making a real push to polish off the interface in DD. I’m sure any coder can tell you that this is not ‘fun’, but it is necessary. You need your interface to convey all the important information players need to make decisions, but at the same time, looking at a page of numbers that resembles an excel spreadsheet is not compelling. So you do your best to group the information and present it in an elegant way, while your overworked artists finish off a different part of the game.

Soon enough we’ll turn the artists loose on the game’s information displays. They’ll do some mockups of how things could look, and there will be some back and forth as they try to make your horrible layout choices look great, while keeping all the relevant info visible and accessible. After that, it’s importing all the art assets into the game (trying to squeeze as many of them as possible into a single sprite sheet), and then integrating the art and the info so it looks as good as the mockups, but is still dynamic.

We’re going for a particular look with the DD Kingdom. We want you to feel like the administrator, leafing through papers about which buildings are in need of upgrades, which trophies are lacking, and filling out/approving permits for the latest adventurer who wants to try their luck out in a dungeon. Up until now, we’ve always made the ‘adventuring permit’ the default side panel for the Kingdom, and while this serves a fine purpose for letting players navigate choices of going on an adventure, it’s not really necessary while just administering the Kingdom.

This week you’ll get the first look at the admin backing panel. We’ll add more stuff to it in the future, and once the artists get a shot at it, I’m sure it’ll look a lot nicer. In the meantime though, it gives you a definite feeling of separation between administering your Kingdom, and preparing a brave adventurer for their impending death.

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