06 Jan 12

Thinking about the End-game

If you’d seen us working the last two days, you’d never have guessed that this tired, drained and somewhat irritable trio had just been on holiday for nearly two weeks. The break was good, great even, but when the time came to get back to work on Desktop Dungeons, we jumped straight into the deep end:

“How do players win the game?” ended up taking over our first design session for the new year and turning it into something we needed to sleep on and come back to the next day.

It’s a tricky thing to think about: We already had some things that we planned to offer to players that had finished the game (somehow) and wanted more, but where do you draw the line in terms of what’s finishing the game and what isn’t? The Desktop Dungeons alpha doesn’t even really finish at all – either you run out of things to try that are difficult, or you get discouraged by the difficulty at some point and stop playing.

In the end we agreed that finishing the game was actually all about player perception. We wanted people that weren’t necessarily super-hardcore DD players to have something to aim for that would give them a reason to improve as well, our goals became:

  • Players of all skill levels should have a target they can aim for that’s been signposted from the beginning of the game – This is hard to accomplish when a game is actively played by both casual and hardcore users, you don’t want to exclude either one from the game by forcing only one progression path.
  • The challenge shouldn’t be the hardest in the game, but it should be something that requires skill, not resources – Essentially, this means that finishing the game needs to be something that happens mostly in the meta-game around the Kingdom, not in the random dungeons themselves. This is why the alpha didn’t have a finishing condition, it didn’t have the setting for it.
  • The game’s narrative and setting should push players towards a logical conclusion point that makes sense to them – Don’t force players to adopt or learn a new mechanic that’s introduced only to cause narrative tension. Plus we really don’t want to code new features at this point…
  • Players that have finished the game should still be able to enjoy playing Desktop Dungeons afterward – We don’t want to chase players away, we want to reward players in what has been the mid-game of the beta progression. All the vicious dungeons and mean quests should still be around.

We’ve settled on an idea that we think solves these problems quite nicely,  whilst staying true to the ethos that makes Desktop Dungeons feel the way it does: You’ll trigger a game-wide event (aimed mostly at the Kingdom economy and the player’s coffers) by collecting all the different types of monster trophies. This will actually be possible quite early in the game: Some players will reach that milestone quickly, others will take a long time to get there. Once you’ve overcome the event’s dungeon, the game will continue to open up with more challenges and slightly changed meta-game rules.

Like the cruel Leonidas, we’re going to ask that you stand – merely kneeling will not be enough. But once you’ve proved you can, the game will challenge you to keep doing so.

12 Responses to “Thinking about the End-game”

  1. James Taylor Says:

    I would like to apply for a spot on the team

    I am a Professional programmer
    i have 7+ years of game design programming experience. i have seen the game, Desktop Dungeons, and thought to myself, “i can easily help them make professional codes in GML, to do more advanced functions” seeing that they use Game Maker, so here i am, applying to be a member on the team.
    Here is a preview of my scripting powers in Game Maker
    It is incomplete, and outdated, but still a pretty good example of my skills. but i can do more now, then what i can do then.
    so, can i be a part of the team? please email me

  2. dislekcia Says:

    I appreciate the sentiment and I have to applaud the nous to offer the way you have, but I’m afraid that we don’t need more programmers at the moment, nor is the game still being developed in Game Maker. Sorry.

  3. James Taylor Says:

    ok, thanks anyways

  4. RavenBlack Says:

    A suggestion for the pre-endgame, having just reached the endgame – it would be nice if there was a quest, like the witch-quest (where it’s just a thing that might or might not come up) to unlock the gods and classes that are unlocked by random subdungeons.

    As it stands, I have no tavern quests remaining but still haven’t unlocked the crusader or vampire, and the game isn’t giving me a hint as to what I have to do to get them. So I don’t know if, like for the witch, I have to be adventuring in a specific locale to find the relevant subdungeon(s), or if it’s just bad luck that I haven’t stumbled across them.

    Also, to keep completionists engaged after they’ve finished the game, and given that the tavern is supposed to be where you go to find out “what to do next”, dumping out some “100% dungeon X” quests when there’s nothing else left couldn’t hurt either. 🙂

    Finally, before I forget, there should probably be a quest for “collect all the taxidermy items” that comes up when you’re a few short – for a time I had no quests listed because every time I’d done the Labyrinth I’d killed Rex first, so I had acquired no noserings.

    Also a quest for unlocking gods would be good, because I still lack the chaos one (which is a little strange because I’ve encountered its subdungeon twice). Again, I don’t know if I have to be adventuring in a specific area to unlock it or just play-and-pray, because the game offers no hint.

  5. RavenBlack Says:

    Just found a full-on proper game-breaking bug (and lost the appropriate forum I think a bug report should go to?) – if you kill a monster on a floor that you’re not on, it dies, you get experience, but the square it’s in continues to be occupied and unbeatable. A mouseover on the square says the monster is still there and predicts “win” but it you repeatedly try to attack it it will kill you.

    To reproduce, go to the tower of gaan, find a monster with death protection, knock the death protection off it with a fireball, then go back up to the top floor and kill a small monster without exploring. The 1 hitpoint of burning finishes the downstairs monster off, and the bug results.

  6. dislekcia Says:

    Thanks, will see if I can reproduce this when we’re back in South Africa 🙂

  7. DigiCiti Says:

    Hey guys,

    I have been a follower and supporter of DD for quite some time now. There are a lot of things making me ansty about the actual beta period.
    I bought the beta some time ago and LOVE LOVE LOVE it.. But Im not always connected to the internetz or am on a slow internet connected pc, like now. Im sure there are loads of us becoming impaitient and would like to know when we can have a standalone copy to enjoy whenever we like?
    i check the blog (qcf and dd) quite frequently and frankly Im blown away by all the accolades and updates that you have made/recieved I truly love the game and your humor. But playing the alpha is getting a bit redundant. Can we have some news on a full release shortly? or at least some kind of hint as to when we can expect to see it. You guys are killing me!

    Thanks in advance,

  8. Aequitas Says:

    Hi DC

    Thanks for the support. I do understand your frustration with having to play in a web-browser, but writing some sort of auto-updater for a standalone version would take us ages.

    I can tell you that we’re not trying to keep the game in beta. We’re working as hard as we can to get the full release out. There are just some things that take time, and that a small team like us can’t make go any faster :/

    I would love to give you an actual release date, but as we move towards finishing the game, we keep getting feedback from the beta testers that has us changing things …. that unfortunately pushes up our delivery time.

    As soon as we have something solid to share, we’ll post it on the site.


  9. Digiciti Says:

    Thanks! Appreciate the response and Im sure once it goes 1.0 all hell is going to break lose in the indie game world. Will be a proud day for your supporters who have followed you since alpha.

    looking forward to it!


  10. Daniel Says:

    I’m new to the community (I just bought the beta this week although a long time alpha fan) but on the subject of “end game” I wonder if the Devs have considered supporting a dungeon creation system. Allow for certain variables to be changed, perhaps making random generation a toggle-able option, starting class,items,gods etc.

    It never ceases to amaze me the creativity of the community when given modding tools. Have you guys already considered this route?

  11. dislekcia Says:

    Yup, lots of people are asking for a dungeon editor. Right now, the game isn’t really set up to support one and it would take a lot of time to get one working. We’ve prioritised finishing the actual game first 😉

  12. Daniel Says:

    I definitely agree that finishing the game if far more important, but perhaps it could be somewhere to go once you hit that proverbial wall.

    Of course, there’s always crazier options like investigating cooperative dungeons with multiplayer puzzles and beefed up bosses. Perhaps LAN support? Or maybe even competitive multiplayer? I can sort of see the appeal to racing another player to certain goals while also trying to manage my unused tiles and everything else inherent to the single player experience.

    But I can also imagine that if a dev kit would be a lot work then something like multiplayer support would be a monumental undertaking too. Just throwing out ideas though. I appreciate the response 🙂

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