In Part 1 of Desktop Dungeons: Design Analysis, we looked at the core game play, interconnected choices, and tension of Desktop Dungeons. We saw that, despite its simplicity, this “ten-minute, one-screen” game offers the player endless variety through cleverly stacked core mechanics. In this part, we continue looking at what lies beneath this award-winning game; how choices are given meaning not only through their complexity, but also through the role they play in structuring an experience — an experience that progresses with the player, an experience that speaks a story.
A little more than a year ago, Rodain Joubert, innocently, put his latest creation on the NAG forums for community feedback. Even the first, raw prototype was liked right away. It was immediately accessible, and surprisingly rich. The 10-minute games that were promised were inevitably stringed together into many hours of play.
And there was lots of feedback. New versions were released, and a good game was transformed before our eyes into something special. At some stage, the gurus Danny Day and Marc Luck from QCF Design entered the scene; more versions came out, and something special became something that was nominated for two IGF awards, and finally won the IGF Excellence in Design Award.
And right now, players across the globe are waiting impatiently for the full version.
Desktop Dungeons has been skilfully designed. Here we will look analytically at that design, and learn some lessons that we can apply to our own games.
There are a few ways to learn about good game development. One is to frequently read up on game development articles and opinions. Another method involves just practicing and refining your work through, well, actual game development. Both of these concepts, however, are enhanced gloriously when married with the concept of simply playing other people’s games. When you come across something that you love, taking the time to study it from a game development perspective can yield untold rewards and glory.