Hey! It’s been a while since I posted anything here. Let’s catch up!
Since March this year, I’ve been working on a new game called Dicey Dungeons! You might have seen me talk about it a bit on twitter. It’s a deck-building RPG that I started making for this year’s 7 day roguelike. (I’ve gone a bit over the seven days now, though.)
I’m incredibly excited about this game, and could talk all day about why I think it’s great – but what’s really huge about this project for me, personally, is that I’m doing something that I’ve NEVER done before. I put a team together.
Team Dicey Dungeons is me, and three other full timers – Niamh “Chipzel” Houston on the music, Marlowe Dobbe on the art, and Justo Delgado Baudí on the programming. I’m also getting help from Lars Doucet with steam workshop and modding support, and Dana Trebella, who’s helping me figure out how PR and Marketing works in 2018. Oh, and I’m translating the game into 16 languages. It all kinda just happened, one person at a time.
I feel very lucky. The team is amazing, and I think our game is gonna be great. It’s the most fun I’ve had making stuff since I first went indie, and I think that’s something you can really feel when you play it. I spend as much time playing the game as working on it.
But, occasional gifs on twitter aside, I really haven’t been as good about talking about this game as I should be, and I want to try changing that. So, I’m gonna try blogging about how things are going a little bit more! Here’s what’s been happening lately:
I’m just back from San Francisco, where Marlowe, Niamh and I showed the game in public at Double Fine’s Day of the Devs! Marlowe has shown earlier versions of the game before, at local events in Portland, but this was my own first time demoing the game in public.
Day of the Devs is a really fun event! They show 70 or so unfinished games at different stages of development, open to the public, for free. And the line up was amazing! Check out that video, omg!
Dicey Dungeons went down really well. Everyone who played our demo played all the way through to the end, which is honestly a great sign in an environment like this, and we got a lot of really, really enthusiastic feedback. I have a ton of useful notes about improving stuff in the early game that I’m looking forward to implementing.
Personal highlight of the day: a kid, who had played the game twice, dragging their friend over to try it out. I overheard them say “it’s actually really good“! Yay 😀
In the early days of the project, I was doing updates every week, then every two weeks, and then… whenever they’re ready. Open development is still pretty new to me, and I guess this is just how things go when a project gets bigger and more people get involved.
v0.15, our next update, is shaping up to be the biggest update we’ve done yet. We’re finally taking on some of the really big, scary problems with the game that we’ve kept pushing back. This includes:
A quest system! I’ve got this cool idea for a meta progression system that I’m dying to try out. People have talked about wanting more from each playthrough – about making the game longer, or harder – but that’s not the direction I wanna take things in. I want to keep Dicey Dungeons short, snappy and fun – and instead, push the design in other directions – weirder, more playful. A good reference point I think about here is doing a level one run in Dark Souls: it’s not interesting because it’s hard, it’s interesting because it gives you this narrow focus on a subset of the design, and makes you think about the systems that you know in a new way.
Finish the Jester! I want to finally finish up the Jester character, and take them out of alpha. Being so different from the other characters, the Jester’s definitely been the toughest character to get right. They’re getting pretty close to done now, though.
Smarter Enemies! I’ve been working on a new AI system, using the same algorithm as AlphaGO, Monte Carlo Tree Search. It’s, uh, maybe a little overkill for Dicey Dungeons, actually. But it is nice to finally have this problem figured out!
Tutorialisation! I want to finally do some work to improve the early game for new players. This includes new features that make it easier to figure out what’s going on, like tooltips and being able to see the enemy deck on your turn, but also better signalling of what’s happening with animations and sounds and UI, and a short tutorial mode to explain how to play. All this stuff is really overdue!
Story! Or, the beginnings of it, at least. We’ve been putting this off for a while, and we’re not planning anything too elaborate – but we have a lot of ideas about this world we’ve created, and we’re looking forward to introducing some of it in the next update.
I consider all five of those things essential for the next update, and we won’t release it until we have all of them. This means that things are going to take a little longer. Thanks you for your patience!
There’s an argument to be made, especially with roguelikes, that you can, maybe should, work on it indefinitely, constantly tweaking and changing and adding stuff. I don’t agree with that. Ultimately, I believe it’s best for there to be a definitive, final version of Dicey Dungeons. We don’t know exactly when it’s going to be finished, but we are thinking a lot at the minute about what we want in v1.0 of the game.
If you’re interested in the final version of Dicey Dungeons, the best thing to do is wishlist us on steam, which will notify you when the game’s released:
Thanks for following us through all of this. We’re really excited about this project, and hope you’ve enjoyed playing all the early alpha builds so far! <3