6: How big is this game anyway?

Hey, welcome back to my daily Dicey Dungeons blog posts, in the run up to next Tuesday’s launch! If you missed yesterday’s, here’s the full list:

7 – What’s changed since the last alpha?
6 – How big is this game anyway?
5 – Who are all these enemies you’re fighting anyway?
4 – What inspired Dicey Dungeons?
3 – What’s it like working with a team?
2 – Have you ever made a game like this before?
1 – Launch day

Today’s question:

How big is this game anyway?

I say this all the time, and I’ll say it again – I think Dicey Dungeons is the best game I’ve ever made. But here’s another thing: Dicey Dungeons is also, by a wide margin, the biggest game I’ve ever made.

It’s only when I actually sat down to figure out how long it was that this fact really hit me. We never set out to make a huge game – it just sort of happened, bit by bit.

My previous two games, VVVVVV and Super Hexagon, are very different here.

VVVVVV takes most players 2-3 hours to complete, a bit longer maybe if you do things like complete the time trials and hunt down all the trinkets.

Super Hexagon, played perfectly, takes six minutes to finish. Many players take… longer. But even then, the game is fundamentally a minimal one. It’s just a very different design – making it was about refining it down until it was right, rather than exploring it and expanding on it, like Dicey Dungeons is. About cutting things out rather than putting them in.

This game is different. It’s taken me about about three times as long to make as either of those – they were six months each, this is gonna be closer to 18. Also: I’m not making Dicey Dungeons alone! VVVVVV and Super Hexagon were just me and a musician; Dicey Dungeons is made by a full team – four full-timers and quite a few others contributing. So, on every axis, this really is the biggest game I’ve ever made.


So, how long, exactly?

Well, let’s do some quick maths! The game has six playable characters. Each of those characters has six “episodes”, which are like levels. There’s also a separate final episode, so that’s 37 episode in total.

A normal player, playing the game for the first time will probably beat the first few episodes in about 20 minutes, but some of the later ones like the Witch episodes take more like 40. On average, I think it probably takes about 30 minutes an episode, give or take.

To “complete” the game, though, you don’t have to do all 37 – you can skip one episode per character, so for a minimum completion, the total is 31.

So, uh, a half hour times 31 is… 15 and a half hours? For a minimum completion. Gosh.

But actually, that’s probably not right. That assumes that players beat every episode they play the first time through, which is… probably not going to happen. But lets be generous, and say that a player wins 2 out of every 3 matches? That brings the estimated minimum playthrough time to, uh, 23.25 hours. And many players will take longer, probably. There are already people with 100s of hours on the alpha.

If this scares you off a bit, that’s really not my intention! I think of the game not as having a lot of content (although, it does!) – but of having a lot of what you I guess you could call “replay value”. In fact, the way the game is paced, I think you’ll see a lot of great stuff even if you don’t bother with the episodes, and just do the introductions for the first five characters.

Dicey Dungeons is what some designers like to call a “stuff” game – a game with lots and lots of atomic stuff in it, all of which plays against each other in interesting ways. A thing about Dicey Dungeons that I’m really proud of is that you really don’t need to see all of that stuff, or even most of it, to have a great time with it.

My hope is that most people’s experience will be much slower, and less focused on trying to “complete” it. Maybe playing a quick episode every few days or so over a long stretch of time! This is how I like to play games, and what I hope Dicey Dungeons is for most players.

* 2 Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Ella on August 26th, 2019

    My experience is much slower indeed. Steam says I have 51 hours on record and I have completed only 18 episodes – none of which are with the witch. Either I’m the worst player of all time (actually possible) or this game is harder for new players with no experience in deck building type games than you suggest with your math. That being said, I love this game. Baby Squid is the cutest.

  2. Ella on August 26th, 2019

    Actually, I am the worst player of all time. VVVVVV takes the average player 2-3 hours to complete??? I think I gave up about 2-3 hours into that game, but I was nowhere near the end. I know because I’ve watched others play it.

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